Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 9

You have been so patient with the rollout of updates here at Flash! Friday. THANK YOU! Our goal is for this to be a place where writers at all levels of skill and experience will feel welcome and safe to share their work, and for us to grow together as writers. That the Flash! Friday contest itself is so vibrant and warm already is because of your efforts, and for that I owe you even more thanks.

We have two more new things to unveil before taking a rest (not a long rest, however; can anyone say “spring contest with cash prizes”??). Beginning next week, Flash! Friday will offer new content five days a week by adding our Tuesday “Spotlight” feature. Be sure to stop by to read interviews with publishers, literary agents, authors, editors, and whatever myriad other fascinating folks we can hook our talons into (PS. Feel free to drop me a note if you’ve got suggestions/connections!). That means our posts will run like this:

Monday: contest results

Tuesday: Spotlight interviews

Wednesday: Warmup Wednesday (unjudged) w/ photo prompt & unique challenges

Thursday: Sixty Seconds interview with the newest contest champ

Friday: the Flash! Friday contest

Saturday/Sunday: community comments on FF stories; occasional Flash Points (story critiques) or original Flash! Friday team writings/posts

Don’t forget to sign up at the top of the sidebar for email reminders. You won’t want to miss a thing; too much fun stuff going on all the time here. And while you’re at it, tell your friends! Writers and readers alike are welcome here. As are another precious and vital group: those who give financially. Thank you to the donors who make our efforts here possible.

 

rof2

Last but not least in today’s announcements: beginning today, writers may be eligible to join the Ring of Fire for the January round. To request use of the Ring of Fire badge, please contact the Dragon Team here, citing:

(1) your name/penname,
(2) the three dates this month you participated (today counts toward January eligiblity; the count began January 23),
(3) your home city/country/part of the world (be as specific or vague as you choose; this is meant to draw us closer as a global community, not to invade your privacy), and
(4) a 10-word bio & a single link to your choice of blog/Twitter/Facebook/other social media.

Then your name will go up on the Ring of Fire “Wall of Flame” page; once your name is posted, you may download and flash the Ring of Fire badge on your own blog/Facebook/Twitter etc. Ring of Fire eligibility starts fresh each month; once you’ve earned the badge, you’ll keep the rights to use it unless you go a month without participating at least three times. Reminders about that later. **Repeated note** Since we started counting January 23, today & next week will count for both January and February eligibility. 

♦♦♦♦♦

DC2Judging today is Dragon Team Two, made up of mischief-making dragon captains Mark King and Tamara Shoemaker. Follow their judging shenanigans at their team Twitter account here! While I’m not sure of their view of dancing in the rain, I can guarantee you they’re chomping at the bit, waiting to get at the stories you feed them. Check out their judge pages to see what, specifically, they look for in stories.          

 ♦♦♦♦♦

Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Thursdays.  

Now, grab your umbrella (or leave it behind!) and dance with us in the rain.

* Word count: Write a 200-word story (10-word leeway on either side) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (min 190 – max 210 words, excluding title/byline) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Monday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Thursday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity.

AND HERE IS YOUR TWO-PART PROMPT:

(1) Required story element (this week: theme. The below theme must play a central role in your story. And please don’t drive yourselves mad working it out; we mean an important moment that passes too quickly. Think along the lines of a moment you wish could/would have lasted longer):

a fleeting moment

 

(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:

 

Rain (Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica). CC2.0 photo by NannyDaddy.

Rain (Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica). CC2.0 photo by NannyDaddy.

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413 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 9

  1. “Stealing”
    by Michael Seese
    210 words

    By law, every room at a daycare center must have a direct exit to the outside.

    That’s critical.

    Sitting in the office, talking to the center’s director, I pray she can’t tell I’m sweating bullets. I try to be cool, but then nearly blow it when she asks my name, and I start to give my real one.

    As she drones on about the center’s certifications and award programs, I stare at the claustrophobic walls. The photos mock me. Happy parents, happy children.

    I hate myself right now. But desperation often consumes one’s morality.

    The director walks me to the “big room,” where toddlers play on the floor. The red sign to salvation is straight ahead. I look out a window and see the bus one stop away. It’s time to move. I reach into my pocket and finger my cell phone, speed-dialing the number I had entered outside. A distant phone rings.

    “Excuse me a minute,” she says.

    My legs will me to the door. I put my hand on the cold metal and freeze. I look back. She’s watching me.

    I run over, give her a quick hug, and whisper, “Daddy’s gonna miss you. But don’t worry. They’ll take care of you.”

    Then I disappear from her life.

  2. A Fallen God (210 words)
    @brett_milam

    Rain crooned its rhythmic, soothing cadence down upon my head. My temples were in need of massaging on days like this; when the sun hid behind the clouds in reverence, when darkness rolled over the sloping hills like an interminable fog and when memories seemed certain to befall you.

    Memories had a thickness to them, like a chunk of peanut butter latched to the back of your tongue.

    Back when my stomach was a bit flatter, my hair fuller and my head harder, I was a downed pilot during Hitler’s war. One of many, in fact.

    Fire, blood, screams, these were the unsexy shadows of war. In one instance, I was a god soaring among the clouds and in the next, a god of a different sort staring into the bluest eyes I’d ever seen.

    Those eyes with tides of warmth and love — a stranger’s love — washed over me, in and out, reassuring. Brushing up against death’s cold shoulder suddenly didn’t seem so terrible.

    With the anesthesia taking hold, her eyes floated into the dreamscape. She likely saved hundreds more and I returned to the States.

    Some days, like today, when loneliness and longing congealed into self-hatred, I think she never existed. Then, I see her eyes again.

  3. Brief Candle
    by JM6, 208 words, @JMnumber6

    Gerald’s boss caught him just as he was about to leave.

    “I need you to call our lobbyist in the capital right away.”

    “Can’t it wait?”

    “No,” his boss answered. “If we don’t get to him within the next ten minutes, we’ll miss our opportunity to slip a provision into the new bill before the vote.”

    Gerald hated when his boss started saying “we” when what he really meant was “you.” Except when it was time to take credit. Then, the “we” suddenly meant “me.”

    “But today’s the day,” Gerald said. “We’ve been waiting all year.”

    “Sorry, Ger. We all have to sacrifice for the company. You have to call our lobbyist. I have to go schmooze the mayor outside.”

    With that, Gerald’s boss left. Gerald looked at the clock. Maybe, just maybe, he’d make it in time. He had to be transferred four times but he got to the lobbyist and confirmed the bill would be amended before the vote. Finally, he rushed outside.

    Gerald walked into the empty plaza just as the rain began again, pouring down with its familiar intensity. He’d missed it. The first sunlight in six months and his boss had made him miss it.

    Later that day, Gerald *didn’t* miss his boss.

  4. His Legacy
    by: @RL_Ames
    200 words (not including title)

    The rain is incessant. It falls so hard it creates a fine mist that bounces off the cement and soaks the shoes and pant legs of all those brave enough to be out in the deluge.

    He stands, waiting, watching. The umbrella he holds doing little to keep him dry.

    His clothes are worn. A testament to the years of hard labor he’s performed. He’s out of place amongst the sea of city slickers who hurry past him, bumping and nudging him thoughtlessly in their hurry to reach their destinations.

    Finally, he sees her. He stands up a little straighter, uselessly patting down his damp hair. She approaches him, eyes wary, steps slowing the closer she gets.

    He pats the front of his overalls, searching and finding. With trembling, fumbling fingers, he brings it out, careful to protect it from the rain.

    “What are you doing here?” Her words are harsh, maybe louder than she intended in her effort to be heard over the rain.

    “I thought you’d want this. It was your mother’s.” He holds out his hand, and she takes it from him, hardly giving it a second glance before shoving it into the pocket of her overcoat.

    “Thanks.” Her only words. Then she’s gone, and he’s alone.

  5. Harrison Crosses Camphertown Square

    Crossing the town square, sheltered by an umbrella, the moment represents a lifetime.

    As a child I played here. Running across the new concrete surface with abandon. Back then the rain was thrilling.

    As a teen I gathered with friends. It was where I met Maria. We talked, joked, danced and fell in love. When it rained, it was all the more romantic. We were invincible.

    As young adults we crossed there fresh from the marriage vows and off to start a life together. Our love made us unconquerable.

    Soon we saw the first cracks there, as we watched our children play, Frank, Agatha, and Henry. Until Agatha’s accident, and then we had our first serious scar.

    The square saw the boys grow up, and move away. They patched the surface as best they could.

    More recently I followed Maria across the square, being carried out to the old graveyard. By then the concrete was fragile and fragmented beyond repair.

    Today I cross the shattered pavement, an old man, also broken.

    They tell me the square will be replaced. The old torn out and replaced with new.

    By the grace of God, the same will be true of this old frame. The old will be made new.

    207 Words
    @CharlesWShort

  6. The Hunting Ground

    I closed the door behind me and tiptoed into the night.
    If they caught me sneaking around in the dark, I would have to explain the rifle. I forced myself not to run. If I should drop the gun…and if it should discharge, the fun would be over.
    A light rain was falling as I settled into my hiding place under cover of a big oak tree. I heard a slight shuffle and raised my rifle, then waited, barely breathing.
    He took his time; the rifle was heavy, but I held it still. I watched…I waited…I saw him. Slowly, I eased the hammer back, the taste of victory on my lips, and squeezed the trigger.
    I dropped the gun and watched, as he crumpled to the ground, then lay still. I reached down to pick up the rifle, but all that was there was an old umbrella. In the fleeting moment when I looked away, the trees, the briars, and the squirrel disappeared, taking an eight year old boy with them, leaving only wet pavement, and an old man in the place where he once hunted and roamed.
    As the sun came up, I walked slowly home and closed the door behind me.
    205 Words
    @marthajcurtis

  7. @bex_spence
    191 words

    Distraction

    Rain cascaded down the window, droplets dancing on the pane. Rich sat at his office keyboard; computer screen flickered in front of him. Distracted he watched the rain, stared through the translucent patterns, saw the artificial light catch in the hypnotic molecules, glimpsed the solitary man far below.

    Alone in the rain, in the dark square, heavy skies falling down, he stood stock still, staring into the distance. Rich watched for a while, the man never moved. He wondered of his venture, what kept him standing still. Dreams of secret missions, of a long lost rendezvous, perhaps his heart was broken, returning to the scene. Could be his love was waiting, would come running through the rain.

    Thunder cracked loud and invasive, office buildings all around, perfect for a sniper, for a single shot of death. Still the faceless man stood, relentless he was unmoved by the noise, by the torrential rain, pouring upon him.

    Something so sad about the man in the rain, heavy hearted Rich turned away from the window, from the tears of the world, forgot the lone man, forgot his dreams, returned to his keys, to reality.

    • I love the moment you give us here, fleeting and almost inconsequential but clearly having such a profound effect on Rich. People watching can lead to some of the most intriguing stories. 🙂

    • Well done… the fleeting imaginings of one trapped in corporate prison. Perhaps Rich will return to thoughts of the lone figure during his lunch break while typing out the great American novel…

    • You’ve captured a moment we all experience when we shut ourselves off from our own little realities for a moment to wonder at others, an escape if you will. Nice story.

  8. Flash-Mob (208 Words)

    Her voice was so clear, you could identify each note, every syllable of every unknown word – you felt the joy of that song. Solitary, in the dead-centre of the square, so small but standing so damn tall. She turned as she sang, and the crowd started to build, people craning their necks to see what brought the others. As he watched a man brushed passed and joined the young singer, his broad shoulders heaved as he took a breath and his deep resonant voice joined hers in perfect harmony.

    Others joined from various parts of the crowd singing a beautiful melody. He was held captive by the flash-mob-choir, as were the others. It was as if they were being sucked in, the singers were a force of gravity, holding their audience like a stellar ring. Their voices enveloping & caressing, soothing away the cold, wet rain, no chill factor could take away the warmth emanating from all there.

    Then, as soon as they had appeared, the choir and the crowd just dispersed, their ghosts seemed to haunt the square, their diaphanous spectres wafting in and out of sight in the squally sheets of rain.

    He was left amazed and bereft, then turned and headed back to work.

    • I really like this story – the way the mysterious figure gives so much to the imagination and then is forgotten just as quickly!

    • “It was as if they were being sucked in, the singers were a force of gravity, holding their audience like a stellar ring.” Gorgeous imagery! And thank you for giving me a new word (“diaphanous”) to slip into the vocab bank. 🙂

    • You’ve captured an absolutely perfect fleeting moment. One of my best memories of living in NYC was an evening that I stopped to watch a tap dancer perform, backed by a full drum kit and an upright piano underground in Union Square. I normally rushed through that station, irritated, but those couple of minutes transcended the usual city muck.
      Thank you for reminding me of that.

    • ” It was as if they were being sucked in, the singers were a force of gravity, holding their audience like a stellar ring. ”

      Beautifully done – I love this line. You can almost feel the pull through the computer screen.

  9. @feclarkart
    193 words

    He Travelled Under a Dark Star

    “I’m looking for Joshua Blake” the woman rasped.

    Way back, when we were all in High School, I remember Joshua – he was a twisted soul. There was some trouble, I remember it now. His pa was found dead, bled out in front of young J, the mother just gone, so much blood.

    J was never the same after that, he fought, he swore, he ran off, eventually he was fostered out of town and I never heard of him again until now.

    “I haven’t heard that name in years” I replied.

    Peering closer, the resemblance lurches at me, I can’t help gasping out loud “Who are you?”

    “I am his mother” she said.

    Some things seem inexplicable, impossible to understand. Hit so quickly and then vanish. You turned your back and missed all the action didn’t you Joshua? And then, there you were jaw slack baffled, pleading for an explanation that made sense to you.

    The ice dagger, no less deadly for its melting; the small puddle of water seemingly so innocent went unseen.

    There were no answers for Joshua, and never will there be; he travelled and died under a dark star.

  10. Before Lunch… (206 Words)

    At LAST… it’s stopped raining James thought as he opened his window. Outside clouds were scudding across the skies as flashes of blue appeared and were swallowed by ravenous clouds. One break brought sunlight and just as quickly, was snuffed out by a menacing black cloud.

    The square below looked mournful and empty, like a stadium needing fans to give life. Sitting down fresh air blew into his tiny office and more emails floated in, reminding him of work that needed to be done. He could not stop himself from looking out the window as the wind high above fractured the clouds, tearing holes as more blue sky could be seen, sunlight spilled through and lit up the wet square below. Another cloud precipitated a brief shower, the light struggled incessantly through the grey, offering a haunting shimmer to the paving stones of the square.

    The rain had passed, replaced by wind. Over the tops of the office blocks he could see a fading rainbow, as if the water had washed away the bright colours. Looking down he saw Frank, their building’s janitor, strolling across the square, umbrella up – just in case, heading out for lunch, before a fresh deluge of bodies poured onto the square

  11. The Little Town of Overall.
    (201 words)

    The Bowler Hats are here again. They find The Yokel usable, easy pickings for bureaucratic menace. Pinstriped sophistication and clipboard tones ensure our compliance.

    They have made their visits here, and to the other farms, twice a month for the past six months. They’ve told us we need a cure. Pesticide Poisoning. So we roll up our sleeves and bow to their bowler-hatted knowledge while they inject us with untruths.

    Yellow. Ripe. Firm. Puckered. Ripe. Yellow. Withered.

    Like a ballerina in a series of pirouettes, I spot the peach in the lucid moments I come round from the spinning blur.
    This tool and its measurements are crude. But its purpose is far from simple.

    Day Zero. Day Four. Day Two….Eight. Four. Zero. Fourteen.

    It is my proof. I have travelled fourteen days, and back again, in the minutes they have been here.

    There is little conversation. Their efficient manners dictate the pace – our very Civil Scientists. Their technology comes in briefcases. They warn of hallucinatory side effects – residual knowledge pre-empted and dismissed with clockwork precision – and so the subject lies beyond its Subjects.

    But I fight back. I use what I know, and peaches are what I know.

  12. Work Commute

    The rain changed from second to second, it spat strongly then dribbled; like God was testing the water pressure. John was glad he had brought his umbrella, despite his housemates assertion that owning such a thing was tantamount to admitting homosexuality. It was comments like this that made him wonder why at thirty-two he lived with four other guys. He decided today he would look for a place of his own, that’s how most of his days started.

    “Excuse me.” The soft voice against the harsh rain hitting his umbrella seemed like a contradiction. “Where are you going?” John turned to see a woman, slightly hunched like she was trying to duck under the rain, with her blonde hair stuck to her cheeks. John didn’t know what to say, the question seemed out of context. He quickly checked she wasn’t wearing a Bluetooth headset.

    “Barclays.” John eventually answered, it’s where he went six days of the week.

    “Wrong way. I was hoping for a lift.” She pointed at the umbrella and giggled. It was only when she left that John realised she had wanted to share his umbrella. He thought about chasing after her and asking her out, but even as he was thinking it he knew he wouldn’t.

    Word count 209

    @sunderland101

  13. When?

    Waiting for the Luas, daydreaming, this bugger spits on my shoe laughs and runs off. No reason, no apology, nothing. I’m disgusted with myself in that moment as I hang my head and say what I feel I am nothing. Why am I ashamed? I meet the eyes of the fella on my left he says “No respect”. I thank him hiding behind my umbrella. What am I thanking him for? For speaking to the middle-aged woman only noticed because someone spit.

    If they’d smile, I’d smile back. I can hold a conversation and even sometimes be witty. When did my personality fade into the background? When did I disappear?
    Here’s the tram, prepaid ticket so no chat to the driver. I don’t talk to anyone, be intruding, so is the problem with me? Or is society sinking into everyone for themselves mode?

    The rain didn’t fully wipe the spittle, I’m glad it’s a reminder that I have to change. I’m worth more. I smile the teenager opposite avoids my gaze and squashes himself into the window, if he could crawl through it he would. He thinks I’ve lost it, I giggle. Any wonder I’m alone? I amuse myself sometimes I’m my best company, but only sometimes, worth remembering that.

    210 words excluding title
    #flashdogs
    #fiction
    @susanOReilly3

  14. Hey Presto!

    Presto ambled quietly around the park. He used his umbrella as a makeshift walking stick, to ease his weary joints. Why had he waiting so long to hang up his pointy hat?

    Suddenly the air was filled with a high pitched cackle. He sighed wearily, “Good morning miss. How may I help you?”
    “I’m Izzy. I’m going to earn my cat by defeating the most infamous of wizards.”
    “You mean retired wizard. You know the rules, I’m no longer fair sport.”
    “The elders will make an exception. Raise your wand and die like a man.”
    “I’ll do no such thing. If you plan to end me you shall do it in cold blood.”

    Izzy shrugged. Her first fireball was wide by several feet. Presto tutted, “Your stance is all wrong, your weight should be on your back foot.”
    She screamed in frustration. The next one was closer, the embers singed his beard. Presto raised his hands in surrender, “Better, but you’re so busy attacking you’ve forgotten to defend yourself.”

    The umbrella opened with a whoosh, revealing the wand underneath. The rain spell worked instantly. Presto ignored the wails from behind as he took a pleasant stroll in the rain. He had to hand it to retirement, it was never dull.

    210 words
    @todayschapter
    https://www.facebook.com/CraigAndersonAuthor

  15. A Precious Glimpse

    Rambling rants of a disturbed mind
    genius in his day, one of a kind
    fighting against some archenemy
    flailing and arguing continuously
    family visit heartbroken
    in their eyes, no need to be spoken
    on a good day he ignores
    their presence, one of his chores
    on a bad day swearing and cursing
    a painted smile they’ve been rehearsing
    the man they knew is long gone
    but in their soul, his memory shone
    they keep hoping for a breakthrough
    a precious glimpse of the person they knew

    One day the rain came
    he gazed out the window frame
    they brought him outside
    and he began to stride
    for a fleeting moment
    he filled them with content
    skipping like a young fella
    smiling under the umbrella
    he always loved dancing in the rain
    his joy, their gain
    they wished it would last longer
    and right now they feel stronger

    They hug and cry bittersweet tears
    as his delight suddenly turns to fear
    umbrella is thrown at them like a weapon
    like a wounded pup he starts yelping
    they gingerly approach, he flinches in fright
    they share his and each others plight
    ensconced once more in his armchair
    brushing fastidiously his hair
    sighing they retreat
    hoping once again they’ll meet

    210 words excluding title
    @susanOReilly3
    #poem
    #flashdogs
    #flashfiction

  16. Piece of Mind

    ‘Hello Mum.’

    ‘Who are you?’

    ‘It’s me, Mum. Sally.’ I cup my hands over paper-thin fingers. They are cold, but this time, she doesn’t pull them away. ‘I found some old photos; down the back of the dresser. Mum?’

    ‘Who did you say you are?’

    ‘It’s me, Mum. Look – photos!’

    I spread the faded memories out on the table that barricades her into her chair. Blurred images of a woman I once knew.

    ‘They lock me up here, you know? I’m a prisoner…Sally, is that you?’

    ‘Yes, Mum. Here, take a look – who’s that with you?’

    I slot a photograph into her curled hand and ease it up toward her face. Watery eyes look at me, through me, and finally turn to the picture.

    And that’s when it happens. A brief moment where her body blooms, a small smile eases onto her face and, fleetingly, my mum, June Hornchurch, fish on a Friday, ‘Have you wiped your feet?’, Earl Grey with lemon, ‘That Terry Wogan’s a nice man’, is back.

    ‘Mum?’

    She turns to me.

    ‘Who are you?’

    And so, I mourn her again. My tears fall like spring rain, washing away a moment of truth.

    196 words
    @_sarahmiles_

  17. Shower (274 words)
    Moi (no twitter ID)
    My first entry, I hope you enjoy it.

    The rain was inevitable; you only had to glance at the dark, angry storm clouds that stretched ominously in every direction to know that, but wasn’t it exciting, waiting for that outcome.

    I stood on the balcony outside of my office, my coat wrapped tightly around me in an attempt to keep out the chill and then I heard it, the first wave of rolling thunder to rumble across the city. I glanced down at the courtyard and an old man hurried across, his umbrella already up in an attempt to protect him from what was about to happen.

    The flash of lightning lit up the sky, a luminous portal compared to the dark minion clouds that seems to compress into even more darkness and then the rain fell, firstly just a few large splats at my feet before growing in a progressively heavy crescendo of water. The old man had luckily made it to the arches on the other side of the courtyard as the deluge hit and the rain fell so hard it was bouncing up off of the floor creating a low level mist.

    I smiled as the maelstrom continued, I loved this weather, it felt cleansing washing me of my sins, although maybe sins was just how I felt about it, Another roll of thunder, further away this time and almost immediately the ferocity of the storm lessened , the rain eased off and suddenly stopped, the only clues to it having happened were the soaking pavements and the still dark skies which boiled and jostled in the sky. I stepped back into my office disappointed that it hadn’t last longer.

  18. The Tracks of my Tears
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com)
    202 words

    I can forget until it rains. Because when it rains, the red appears. Or reappears, I should say.

    They claim it’s just different-colored cement. But I know better. I know it’s blood. I know who’s buried underneath.

    It was a moment of rage, of insanity, of desperation, the night I killed my wife and children. Too long without a job, too long without a paycheck, too long without respect.

    I’d bathed my sorrows in the last of the gin, her voice echoing around me, taunting me, goading me.

    “You’re no man,” she’d screamed. “You do not do right by your family. You are killing us, with your booze and your laziness. Killing us!”

    I’d needed to silence the voice, silence the condemnation.

    So I had. A gun in the drawer, for self-protection, I’d always said.

    I protected myself, all right.

    No one saw me. No one knew. I said they’d gone on a trip to visit family, back in the Old Country, and never come home. Knowing me, my failures, my shame, everyone believed.

    Only I know they are there, in the soil under the square, hidden there before this had become another vast wasteland of pavement.

    Only I, and the rain.

  19. Josh Bertetta
    “Fat Charlie and the Now”
    210 Words
    @JBertetta

    Fat Charlie liked to walk the courtyard after the rain.

    He inherited the name Fat, among all the others, from his parents and though he’d long lost the weight, the name stuck to him much as the bottles of beer stuck to their hands.

    Fat Charlie wasn’t supposed to amount to anything and even though he’d found himself a loving wife who bore him a child, none of it amounted to anything.

    So said the voices in his head after all these years.

    Long ago he’d moved from the farm to the city, but when you live in the concrete jungle it’s hard to get to the roots of things.

    “Live in the Now” would become quite the vogue. So he tried to find it because they said in the Now you can find peace.

    A decade he searched.

    Then one day after a rain he discovered, in walking the courtyard, in looking at the grey sky reflected in the wet grey pavement, the Now is gone by the time you name it “Now.”

    So he gave up the search. The Now, he knew, wasn’t real. Nothing but a fleeting moment.

    Then, he saw it.

    Life, a sequence of fleeting moments. Finally Fat Charlie smiled, let go, and found peace.

  20. Monday
    By Laura Carroll Butler
    210 words

    She hated Mondays more than any other day. This Monday it was raining and so she would have to deal with wet shoes and stupid men. They were worse on Monday, their mouths a vomit of complaint about the weekend, the game, their wives. They clustered close enough to her desk so she would hear them, but far enough away for HR to ignore. She would pretend not to hear their stories and jokes, pretend she wasn’t blushing from the innuendo. Did any of them have a sister, a mother? The young ones had enough sense to leave when the talk became too racy. It was the middle-aged, married men who were the worst, taking delight in ripping their wives whose only function it seemed was to care for their children and provide fodder for their water-cooler stories. She wondered if they resented her for being here in their domain, a married woman with a child, like their wives, but on their turf.

    She dodged the puddles and smiled wryly. What if she just walked in today and told them all off? The younger ones would duck their heads in shame, the older ones smiling smugly and telling themselves she must be on the rag.

    But she needed this job.

    • This sours my blood to acid. Perfectly frustrating depictions of a woman in a hostile work place. And the last line? “she needed this job.” No recourse. Well done, Laura!

    • I’ve worked in places like that, you learn to develop a ‘look’ that usually shames them into silence! But other times, just like your poor character, you have to shut your ears and pretend not to hear. Resonated strongly.

  21. Blue Tortillas,

    I miss the conflict, the pain, and the anger. I can’t help it; that was the best part. Strife brought out the best in creatures. That is when they are grateful. That is when they accept their role below me.

    The gentle rain falls as I walk across the empty piazza.

    I miss their kindness. I miss watching mothers helping children, of strangers wishing each other good day. Their creativity was unmatched. That is when they loved me most.

    I’m not sure why I carry an umbrella. The rain doesn’t hurt me, and there is no one for me to carry out the charade for. I guess I carry it to remember them.

    I have issues. I became addicted to their reliance upon me. The more they begged, the more it stroked my ego, and the more it made me resent them.

    No, it made me love them more because they needed me.

    Then why did I destroy them?

    I lay in the rain, crying, while remembering the prayer that put me over the top: Someone begging me to smite the creator of blue tortilla chips. Now I can’t help but wonder if it was a joke.

    Of course it was a joke. I overreacted—again.

    206 Words
    @michaelsimko1

  22. Out In The Open

    Freedom smells like rain.
    That’s the first thing I think when I walk out of the train station.
    The city is dimmed by a false evening brought on by the heavy clouds and I still find it beautiful.
    I stop just short of the open air of the square to buy an umbrella, blue and hopeful.
    I push open my umbrella and walk out into the square.
    While people occasionally hurry by, eager to be someplace dry, someplace else, a destination instead of this place of transition, for me, here is enough.
    I smell coffee wafting across the square and I think, “No, freedom smells like coffee.”
    I can imagine sitting at the cafe counter and ordering the darkest blend offered, bitter but aromatic, adding cream and sprinkling cinnamon on top. Or I could have a mocha, with heavy dollops of whipped cream.
    I could order whatever I wanted. No one to tell me I could only have black coffee, to remind me that no one wants a wife who’s not only stupid but fat, too.
    Freedom smells like choice.
    I won’t let my mood match the color of the sky but instead begin to walk toward the inviting lights of the cafe.

    Until a brutal hand grips my arm.

    210 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  23. The Anointing

    Todd Strader
    @toddstrader
    Word Count 208

    The umbrella was stuck.

    “Oh for Christ’s sake confounded contraption,” aged fingers fumbled about the umbrella pushing this; pulling at that trying to coax it open. The old man was tempted to bag the whole ordeal and head back inside but his grand daughter insisted he see the doctor immediately. She was on her way.

    As she drove the woman prayed, her tears wetting her cheeks like the rain across her windshield. “Please, please, please” is all the prayer she could muster. She would have liked to offer something more elaborate, something along the lines she heard in church but “please” was the best she could offer.

    As she drove and the old man struggled against his demon umbrella, the simple but earnest prayer rose to the clouds. The clouds received it, wrapped it to a bit of dust and married it to vapor. It grew heavy and began to drop.

    “Ah ha” the old man exclaimed . The woman caught sight of her grandfather just as his umbrella flashed open. One last “please” escaped her lips. And just as the the sheltering shield rose above his head, the man looking skyward, a single last drop slipped by and splattered across his forehead. Heavens blessing had found its mark.

  24. HE SHOULD BE MINE

    Intelligence is glory. He oozes with it. Friends ogle his drawings, chat amongst themselves as though he is not present. All conversation is meant to fawn at his ego. He seems untouched and unaware of his popularity.
    I make a joke. It’s from nerves. No-one seems to hear except him. He chuckles beneath the murmur of constant babble in the room. Sunlight blinds my view but he stares at me for a full thirty seconds, if only from the corner of his eye. I know he does. Even though I daren’t look up, I can feel his attention on me.
    I am almost certain he has a soft spot for me. Elated, my heart nearly bursts. I know I will do nothing about it. He is too shy to respond to my confession of love, even if I did manage to rouse the guts to tell him.
    I will slide out of his lime light and wander back outside, away from the fans and friends who cheer everything he does from his cartoons to jokes to tree climbing antics. My drizzling heart held firmly within my coat, the rain comforts. Washes away those inner tears of humility at not being brave enough to tell him he should be my boyfriend.

    Tamzintheuk
    210 words

  25. Take Two
    @voimaoy
    201 words

    The rain shows no sign of letting up, waterfalls cascading over the canopy roof of the Main Post Office downtown. The film crew drips and waits. Calvin, the director, splashes across the empty plaza. ” Come on, you guys, we don’t have all day. Where’s Howard?”

    “He went to mail a letter,” someone says, gesturing inside.

    Howard appears, adjusting his overalls. He swings the umbrella, testing it in his hands.

    Everyone takes their places, ignoring the steady downpour. “Take Two!” Calvin says.

    Howard steps into the plaza, twirling the umbrella as if that were the most natural thing in the world. He leaps and jumps, executing a perfect landing on the slippery stone. He makes it look so easy. He turns to face the cameras, flashing a smile that says anything is possible.

    “And cut! We’re done.” Calvin says. “Good work everyone. The Weather Ready folks will love this spot. Now let’s get some coffee. Howard, you coming?”

    “Just a minute.” Howard says. He stands in the plaza, feels the rain on his face. He smiles at the clouds, at the people passing by. He laughs as only those touched with grace can laugh. He twirls the umbrella. He tries a little slide.

  26. Rainy Reunion
    Evan Montegarde
    209 words

    The rain fell heavily on my umbrella as I traversed an empty Red Square. It seemed all of Москва had moved elsewhere at that precise moment and I was utterly alone with my wandering thoughts. I first saw Irena standing by the silent edifice of Lenin’s Tomb, oddly bereft of the usual sentinels.

    “You are dead Irena,” I said as I approached. She smiled warmly and in an instant vanished.

    I turned around toward St. Basil’s Cathedral and saw the great golden doors open wide and glowing light shining within. A lone cleric stood waving.

    I am dead I thought, finally.

    I recalled the day we marched victorious in long goose-stepping lines through the sun-drenched square, Stalin waving ominously from the Kremlin. I had lost my entire family and most of my beloved comrades during the Great Patriotic War. I never felt like a patriot, just a survivor. How I had longed for death then but the Nazis did not cooperate. I still long for her embrace now.

    Irena appears again and takes my calloused hand and smiling we both walk silently across the empty dreary pavers toward the cathedral. The cleric is still smiling as we pass within; the sweet smell of incense fills my mind.

  27. Stormy

    I love watching lightening from the safety of my 5th floor office window. Watching the folks below scurrying along, battling against the wind to keep their umbrellas facing the rain. The five of us in the office always stop what we’re doing and migrate to the big picture windows whenever there’s a storm. We usually stand in silent awe listening for the snap of thunder and waiting for the light to fracture the sky.
    Today was no different apart from the fact we’d got a new boss, and we wondered if he’d be as malleable as our old one, who would allow us many small concessions in return for the occasional brush of a hip. This new chap was younger though, better looking, doubt if he needed any ‘perks’.
    No one turned when he came and stood among us. Beside me I could feel his presence. His soft grey suit sleeve brushed my arm. I could smell his musky aftershave. His minty breath. Almost subconsciously I shifted my balance towards him. I was being presumptuous. Flirty. Dirty.
    I felt him shift towards me. Without looking away from the rain, and with no words spoken, two bodies started their own storm.

    200 words
    by luckykaye

  28. Raindrops
    @hollygeely
    210 words

    “He left me,” I said.

    Jacques wasn’t the best lover, or even a nice person, but at the time I though no one would ever love me. It had taken me ages to win Jacques’ attention and after a month he was gone.

    “I’m sorry,” Devon said.

    I was curled up on his armchair, soaking wet from the rain. I should have realized his sacrifice, since he’s so particular about his furniture, but I was too upset.

    I imagined my emotions were like a storm and my tears were raindrops that might drown me. (I can’t help it. I’m a writer. I know it’s not traditionally masculine to cry, but I do when I’m upset.)

    “I’ll never forget the night Jacques first kissed me. I wanted it to last forever,” I said.

    “I wish I could help,” Devon said.

    The pain in his voice wasn’t sympathy. His face was so honest it shamed me. Why had I been so wrapped up in myself? I’m not the only one on Earth who feels inadequate sometimes.

    I pictured Devon in my storm offering an umbrella. We stood under it together. I suddenly needed to hug him.

    I didn’t wish for that moment to last forever, because I knew better days were ahead.

  29. A Fleeting Dream
    @EmilyJuneStreet
    207 words

    They had come on a dream: to leave behind the fast-paced, money-grubbing life they had lived in the States.

    She had imagined greenery, a garden, goats. She had dreamed their children, eyes like his. “We’ll have a healthier life in Costa Rica,” he had said. “Rainforests and eco-living.”

    She had painted paradise in her mind.

    ***

    She sits inside watching the rain. “Rain like you’ve never seen,” people had warned her.

    She has tried and failed to make friends, to learn Spanish. “Gringa, macha,” men hiss when she dares to walk out—old-world sensibilities rule here. Men see her as loose if she ventures out alone. Women wonder where her babies are, why she doesn’t attend church.

    Down pours the rain. Men pass, shielded by umbrellas.

    Where is he? Afternoon rolls into dusk. The simple life has become complicated. He disappears for hours. Once-easy love now strains.

    “It’s you,” he has said. “Happiness is between your ears. You decide.”

    Concrete stretches beyond her window. Leaving the city requires hours of driving in diesel-tainted air. There is no garden, no goats. Her neighbor begs for money to buy crack. Their own money runs thin.

    Rain fills the street. Water rises to the crack beneath the front door.

  30. Full circle

    @geofflepard 210 words

    He said it was his fault. They said he needed to forgive himself first. No one blamed him; he couldn’t know the girl would run out. It was raining, he couldn’t have seen her, only a glimpse. He nodded, they said, like he understood. When it rained he’d go back to that school car park. They said he saw her face in the reflections off the puddles, her smile dissolving to shock. She was in a coma; he said he knew she’d die. One year after, he parked his car; the hose pipe and Stanley knife were new that day. When they found him, he was smiling; happy at last, they hoped.

    They say I’m lucky to be alive. I was too young. I tell them I don’t remember. They say I mustn’t blame myself. I stand on this spot and see him reflected in my tears. They tell me I need to move on. They tell me I couldn’t have known what he would do.

    I tell him he is to blame. I tell him I don’t understand. I tell him I have tried to move on. I see his smile, in that puddle turning to shock.

    I park my car. The Stanley knife and hosepipe are new today

  31. Making Repairs
    (203 Words)

    Today, when he unclogged her kitchen sink, she’d smiled at him. Mike thought his heart might explode in his chest, a thousand fragments of bloody joy. She was so beautiful when she smiled, her face lit up, the way candles illuminated the saint statues in church. That’s what she looked like, he thought, as raindrops pelted his umbrella. A Madonna. You shouldn’t be thinking of a Madonna the way he was thinking of Mrs. McCarthy in 220B.

    He was going to mass now, and he was going to pray to quit thinking about her. Quit wishing her pipes would need fixed, or her radiator would go on the fritz again. Geez, the woman had two little kids to take care of, and somewhere there was a Mr. McCarthy. He’d never seen the man, but he knew he existed. His name was on the lease. He’d checked. Her name was Siobhan. How in the hell did you say that? However you pronounced it, he was sure it was beautiful. He needed to ask somebody.

    “You should go out with my friend Mona, “his sister Rosa said. She was probably right. He’d been alone too long since Jackie left him. Maybe Friday he’d call Mona.

  32. A Break in the Clouds

    The day hung dark and gray, rain cascading down over the city. Herman trudged across the square under an umbrella, his heart as heavy as the clouds. Lizzy’s will brought in money to help save the homestead, but he’d give it all up to have her with him just a few more years.

    Tears slid down his cheeks as he shivered. He’d forgotten his coat in his truck, but the grief rattled him more than the cold.

    “God, Lizzy, I miss you so much, darlin’. I wish you were here with me again.”

    He wiped his eyes and squared his shoulders as the wet flagstones lightened. The patter of the rain stalled and a gentle, warm breeze snaked through the square. Herman tipped the umbrella back and gazed into a break in the clouds.

    Glorious golden sunshine bathed the upper reaches of the thunderheads and a rainbow arched perfectly between the fluffy masses. The breeze caressed his cheek just before the clouds closed again and the rainbow disappeared. Herman gasped and shot a look around. No one else had seen the display. They all had their heads down under umbrellas or hoods. Only he’d received Lizzy’s gift. He continued homeward, his heart light.

    @SiobhanMuir
    203 words not including title

  33. THE LIGHT WENT WITH HER

    It’s with a heavy heart I weave a path through the causeway. Umbrella resisting the rain but does not protect me from tears which swell beneath the surface and well up and insists on rolling down my cheeks.

    A memory of golden wisps of hair which interfered with her sleep, waking her pale skin which barely otherwise remembered to breath. Every time, the moment she opened her eyes faraway visions mirrored within, beckoning from heaven and offering her a new future there.

    Life re-entered her each time I prayed but I knew the day would come eventually. Love making became hard. Not wanting to hurt her I reverted to gently stroking the hair from off her face.
    Even that became painful. She pushed me away many times in the end. The days were special even though we made many arguments. She wanted me to marry again. I said, no way! In the beginning but she persuaded me saying, there are so many women in this world who could do with a kind man, like me.

    I do not feel kind. I feel angry and furious at God for taking her from me. I will never forgive Him!

    197 WORDS
    Tamzinwhite

  34. Best friend

    @geofflepard 210 words

    Eight, that’s all.

    She came into my life as an afterthought but became a permanent presence, on the coldest day, the warmest night. A snuffle here, a growl there, careful, questioning, reading me like a book. She knew every nuance of my moods; when to duck random fury, when to press warmth into desperate hands.

    She saved me so many times. The bark when the TV smoked. The growl at the druggie burglar. Forcing me out into the rain, dragging me across town getting me back on my feet after the bypass.

    After Maud left, she was my sanity, undemonstrative yet constant.

    She was the point of attraction: Shirley’s opening eased by her frolicking in the rain, dancing circles as the sun came back into my life after months of grey skies.

    She tries to tell me. Twisting, turning, the awkward sit, the lethargy. Finally lying on the hall floor watching the front door.

    Shirley holds her; I lift her head. For the briefest moment I see through those ever trusting eyes, hearing her voice at last, love and desperation. She knows I’ve heard and closes her eyes. I try and breathe life into that extended jaw but I’m too late in so many ways.

    Eight. That’s far too young.

  35. Stairway to Heaven

    The storm was a wild one.
    Just as I hoped.
    Thunderheads barged across the sky, jostling and bouncing off each other, like gang members steaming a train. Their shouts were the thunder, born of those gale driven collisions, and knives flashed as sudden lightning.
    The rain, my constant companion, lashed me with its spiteful force, drenching my clothes and stealing my body heat.
    My shoes, leather slick and greasy from their soaking, squelched and slipped with every step on the flooded flags.
    I carried the umbrella high, heedless of the miniature torrents streaming from its spikes with every change of angle as I walked.
    The umbrella wasn’t for the rain, it was for the lightning.
    They say it never strikes twice in the same place. I hoped the old wives tale was not true here.
    Reaching the centre of the deserted square, I turned a slow, deliberate circle, peering through sodden, blinking lashes for any trace of others.
    No. For the first time, I smiled to be alone.
    I was sure, with the unshakeable certainty of a dream, that if I could only be touched once more by the flaming finger of the Gods, I would be transported as she had been.
    I would be with my love again.

    209 words
    @nickjohns999

  36. Crisscross Dreams

    Four of them huddle under one rainbow umbrella. Each rainbow stripe brightens the faded color of each child’s shirt; their faces flush with the excitement, their crisscross limbs slicing muddy water. A reprieve for my weary eyes that see the inside of the auto repair shop all day, the glowing sparks, grimy oil stains, and grumpy faces hard at work! Squeal of children’s laughter invigorates me.

    I want to stop and watch the kids play, perhaps join them. But a middle-aged man in overalls stopping to chat with a bunch of young kids will not go over well with authorities. I worry about any unsavory eyes falling on the kids’ unsullied joy.

    “Jimmy, stop that and come back already.” Sound of a doting mother’s voice breaks my reverie. The Oldest shushes the younger ones, gathers them, and orders them to form a chain of hands. “Let’s go home.” He commands like a well-trained soldier, the elder brother, the family patriarch.

    “Coming Mom,” I answer instinctively. “Come on Dolly, Neely. Where’s Bobby?” My voice has an unexpected edge. The receding outline of Bobby chained to a bulky man’s hand pops in my mind. I was not able to stop him that day, on a beautiful moment like this. Thirty years ago.

    Pratibha
    @needanidplease
    210 words
    https://theliterarynest.wordpress.com/

  37. The Mugging – 209 words

    Mark slid his hand truck under the stack of burger buns. Tipping the stack, he walked it down the ramp of the trailer. At the backdoor of the restaurant, the previous two stacks were still waiting to be taken inside by his co-driver. There was no room for this one.

    “Division of labor …… Right,” he said to himself. “George is probably munching on a Whopper. What a Loser.”

    There was nothing he could do. George was lead driver. Mark tipped his stack back up and lit a cigarette. He considered this new driving gig. A full weeks pay for a 36 hour run delivering buns to Burger Kings in New York City and Long Island. Leave Thursday night, back in Lewiston, Maine dark thirty AM, Saturday.

    He noticed a man with an umbrella walking in his direction. The back door opened and the first stack disappeared inside. Mark tipped his stack. Something poked him in the back.

    “Give me your wallet.” Mark turned to face umbrella man.

    Oddly, Mark felt no panic. “No wallet. I have ten dollars in my front pocket though.”

    “Ten dollars? That’s all?”

    “We eat for free. I don’t need money.”

    The mugger snatched the ten spot. “Cheap ass truck drivers.” He walked away.
    _____________________________

    Back story – This incident actually happened to me. However, the guy was not carrying an umbrella.

  38. Gampa

    I come here often. Every time it rains, in fact, you may find me here. I walk the paths we walked, still holding the umbrella slightly to one side—more to her side than mine—protecting her as I did once, from the raindrops.

    I can still feel her tiny hand in mine—still see her smiling up at me—so beautiful, so perfect.

    I see her tiny yellow raincoat and cap, tiny black galoshes as she splashes through the puddles. “Hurry up, Gampa,” she says. My beautiful granddaughter, bald beneath her raincap—she enjoys these walks to the bakery for our special treat—rainy day cupcakes.

    Now her joy has been stolen—replaced by pain. Her cancer came back, throwing her out of remission and into the hospital. Three months now, she has been there, her body in the grip of the cancer; doctor’s and drugs doing all they can to save my special girl.

    I leave her side only when it rains. I’ll bring her back a rainy day cupcake. I know she can’t eat it, but sometimes her eyes flutter open and she smiles a sad smile for me. I smile back at her as my tears echo her pain.

    203 words
    @CharityPaschal2

  39. Mumbai rains
    208 words
    @lsunil

    They stood near the grilled windows looking out at the pouring rain.

    ‘Do you remember the day when we were stuck in the Mumbai rains? I had thought you would propose to me then,’ said Suni laughing at him.

    ‘Would you have said “Yes”?’ he questioned mockingly.

    He walked out into the pouring Mumbai monsoon rain with an umbrella which is really useless if you are trying to not get wet. He walked past the square which was beginning to get flooded. He thought of the day 30 years ago.

    The offices had closed down early due to heavy rains. The public transport had also come to a halt. People drenched to their skins were trying to walk back home. He had left the office with Suni and Abel.

    It was pouring relentlessly. In minutes, the three of them were completely drenched. He was mesmerized by Suni’s animated talks and her laughter. They had stopped for a quick samosa at a roadside stall which had an overpowering delicious smell. Ginger tea with hot samosa and spicy sauce in the cold rain was heaven.

    That was the moment he had fallen in love with Suni. But, hesitated to tell her and the moment was gone.

    And Suni married Abel.

  40. Scientists
    Their first date, the cinema. A film about scientists and theories, but mostly about love and triumph. He wanted to say; the movies can never explain science. The maths, the physics; it’s too complex, too involved, too beyond most people. It can never be more than montages: symbols scrawled on giant blackboards, chalk snapped, a few long nights of genius stalled. Then one transition from exasperation to revelation and crack! the ground is broken, mankind is enhanced, all in the crunch of a handful of popcorn. Nothing learnt, but everything felt.

    This was his first date with a man, his transition. He wanted to hold a hand, if not the one beside him now, then one from the near future. He let the film tell him its story. He shared the popcorn.

    Outside, under drizzle, they hugged and left it at that. He walked home, his umbrella loose in his hand, his feet as light as the space between stars. He watched the rain create ripples in puddles, like numbers colliding, like time explained and revealed and hidden again. Things could be explained and those exact same things stayed mysterious. That, he knew now, was exactly as he liked it. Exactly how it should be.

    205 words
    @DHartleyWriter

  41. INELIGIBLE ENTRY POSTED ON BEHALF OF JUDGE TAMARA SHOEMAKER

    I loved the prompt so much this week, I just had to write for it. Here’s my completely ineligible entry, posted by the oh-so-gracious Dragoness so as to maintain our blind judging policy. Enjoy! 🙂

    Tamara Shoemaker
    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 196

    The End

    You see the way it should have been.

    The breath-taking portrait of happily-ever-after
    Shatters painfully beneath the black-and-white photograph of what-is-now.

    You are my soulmate, you should have said. You are the other half of me.
    But the words hang empty, bereft of breath,
    Deflated before they are even uttered.

    A thousand reasons teeter on the edge of the silence,
    Crowding in, pressing my thoughts into a whirl
    Of panicked need.

    It takes only a moment,
    One second of shrinking courage,
    One fleeting gasp of meeting-eyes,
    And it is over.

    All the excuses you could offer her,
    She can foil with the other side.
    For all your beginnings,
    She can weave the ends.
    The story is already written.
    There is nothing left to do.

    You should have had the courage to tell her then.
    But you didn’t.

    You should have begged.
    But you didn’t.

    You should have done anything but what you did.
    Instead, you stare at her as she slowly shakes her head.
    When she turns from you,
    You rotate the other way,

    Two backs, facing each other,
    Two directions, opposite sides of the same picture.

    Just . . .
    Mirrored reflections in the rain.

  42. @UK_MJ
    The Eye of the Beholder
    210 words

    She wore a new hat.

    It was straw, almost beige and trimmed with silk flowers that brought a little spring into the rather dreary courtroom.

    He wore a borrowed suit. The heavy black wool was tight in the shoulders and short in the arms. His daddy’s suit, probably. Maybe an uncle’s.

    But he was young and handsome and she fairly sparkled with happiness when the simple gold band was put on her finger.

    “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

    For a moment, the newlyweds simply held hands and smiled at each other.

    “Well, kiss her, boy.” The judge prodded the new husband in a voice made of old gravel. “Less’n you want me to come down there and do it for you.”

    “Yes, sir!”

    With the precious marriage certificate tucked in her purse, the couple walked out into the same rain that had followed them into the courthouse an hour earlier. Under a bedraggled umbrella, they kissed again.

    Behind them, an old man hesitated before stepping outside. The blushing bride impulsively stuffed the umbrella into his hands.

    “Here you go!”

    He stared at her, surprised.

    “Ma’am, this rain will soak you clean through!”

    She grabbed her husband’s hand and, laughing, ran with him out into the storm.

    “What rain?”

  43. BLINK OF AN EYE

    Brian S Creek
    209 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    It doesn’t take me long to realise I’m dead.

    In retrospect, the heart attack was a debt owed on years of bad treatment towards my innards. Too many doughnuts and too much beer will eventually cause the old machinery to clog and fail.
    For a while I wait because TV has taught me to expect a doorway or a tunnel of light. Instead I feel something gently pulling me away.

    Outside the world is a different place than when I left it. Gone is the street on which I’ve lived for forty odd years. So too are the cars, the shrubs, and the streetlamps. My house is but an island in the centre of a sea of grey stretching as far as the eye can see.

    And it’s raining.

    I grab my umbrella and start walking across the expanse. After a while I begin to feel strange, as if a door in my mind has opened and everything there ever was is slowly rolling in. Human beings question so much during life and it seems the universes irony is to answer them all in death.

    I take a deep breath as I realise my life was but a blink of an eye and I’ve become part of something bigger.

    • Beautiful! I love the thought of being pulled away rather than being blinded by light. Though I’m not sure I’d like the afterlife to resemble the picture. :p

  44. Blue Ribbons

    There should have been rain. A proper highveld storm with black clouds, thunder, and the tick-tick of hail on roofs before the ice sting your skin as it falls and bounces on the black tar. The tears of the heavens should have beaten my angry pain on houses and cars and umbrellas.

    Perhaps it should have been autumn. Yellow and red leaves. The smell of fresh compost in the back garden. The rough bark of the apricot tree beneath my hands and knees as we scaled the branches.

    Perhaps it should have been spring. Cicadas and bees. Flowers and the smell of cut grass. Climbing into the neighbour’s garden to pick mulberry leaves for our pet silkworms in their empty cereal boxes. Giggling as we tore leaves from the low branches. Deep purple mulberry stains on fingers, mouths, and bare feet.You always wore blue ribbons in your hair.

    But there was no rain. No leaves. No cicadas.

    Only burning summer sun. The undertaker’s driveway. A face at the security gate.

    I handed the woman the bundle. The wrinkled, shaking hand didn’t feel like mine. A moment ago we’d been kids traipsing through gardens. Together. “

    Blue ribbons,” I said. “For her hair.”

    For a moment I smelled mulberries.

    Words: 208
    @CarinMarais
    http://www.hersenskim.blogspot.com

  45. Foy
    @db_foy
    208 words

    Life is a Curious Thing

    After 10 years of quitting coffee, popping naked handstands, counting days and calculating odds, his Sara gave up. Her spirit, dragged from anticipation to disappointment, from hope to despair, broke from the bruises. She bought her first espresso, double shot with cream, and surrendered.

    Alongside her he plodded, his heart strong for everyday struggles, and weak for emotional ones. On good nights, she let him kiss her, staring vacant; on bad nights, only the pillows and blankets kept her warm.

    Then, without trying, that single line got its perpendicular mate. Life breathed joy into her deflated soul, filling out its corners and swelling her chest with purpose. He smiled because she smiled, feeling no more connected to her smooth stomach than before but happy to feel her warmth and caresses again.

    In 6 short weeks, it was over.

    There he was, shoved outside the circle of understanding. He watched her pain but his own belly never twitched from it. He tasted the salt of her sorrow but that sea wasn’t drowning him. Sometimes he even wondered how she mourned the lose of a life she’d never met.

    Until that prescient day in the downpour. He froze mid-stride. She was slight, a perfect blend of them both. Their future.

  46. Ranee Parker
    @RaneeParker
    Word count: 200

    Rained Out Desire

    He stood alone in the rain, staring wistfully into the dark night.

    Grabbing his phone from his pocket, carefully keeping it safe from the opaque drops hammering down from the sky, he dialed the number. The ringing sound reverberated through the rain.

    “Talk to me.” The words were meant to instill calm in the moment but the tone echoed urgency.

    “Hey. It’s me.”

    He regretted the call the second the words were out of his mouth. Why couldn’t he have gone about his night as planned? Why did he always insist on messing everything up?

    “Where are you?” The urgency increased. Words weren’t necessary. The reason for the call at this hour was understood. It was always understood.

    “I’m at the corner of 5th and hell.”

    Dammit! He was so close to getting what he wanted. If only he could have held off just a bit longer before making that call.

    “I’m on my way. Don’t leave!”

    He debated running. Taking off to the nearest pub and draining a pint or two before his conscience arrived to talk him down.

    He was so close he could taste it. But instead he waited, safe from his demons for one more night.

  47. How many times
    @lizhedgecock
    196 words

    ‘You need a jumper, it’s cold out. What do you mean, you don’t have a jumper?’
    ‘No, you can’t ride your scooters because I’ll be fetching you in the car tonight.’
    ‘Where’s your school bag? And don’t forget to hand your homework in.’
    ‘There’s no point giving me the letter now! We don’t have any empty yogurt pots!’
    ‘Why are your trainers at school? They don’t live at school!’
    ‘No, you are not taking in a selection of minifigures.’
    ‘Did you look for it in the lost property?’

    ‘I HATE you Mum!’
    ‘I forgot.’
    ‘He said we could hand it in on Thursday.’
    ‘Ohhhhhhhhhuuuhohhh!’ (with undulation)
    ‘We have to bring a box in today.’
    ‘Well, we were digging on the field…’
    ‘He isn’t my friend any more…’
    ‘I totally didn’t see that hole.’
    ‘Can we go in the car? It’s raining lots…’
    ‘Why can’t I walk to school on my own?’

    And they worried away at me until the walk to school became catching up with them at the school gate, then seeing them over the big road, then watching them from the drive.

    I miss the shouting, the whining, and of course the embarrassing hugs.

  48. Fleeting Showers

    205 words

    The rain started to fall at six. From the second story Carl watched the gentle downpour coating the concrete with a watery sheen which scattered neon glow from the strip club opposite, reflecting and diffracting the shivering light until it was a broken and fractured effigy of reality, like the false representation of sexuality and love which was offered behind the heavy wooden door with its smoke-stained glass window.
    Carl watched the pitter patter of drops, the growing puddles, the splashes as the rain got heavier. His shift had half-an-hour to go. Cheri would still be on shift. She was his favorite dancer. There was a disconnect to her movements, like she was integrated in the dance but isolated from her louche surroundings, from the greedy leeriness of the men round the stage, from the aloofness of the smartly dressed boys from the nearby investment house who splashed cash and thought that entitled them to take liberties in the same way they took champagne cocktails.
    The moments Cheri danced were moments Carl considered sacred; a sacrament that took them into a holy realm. Carl didn’t know if she felt this. But he knew they were moments as fleeting as the passing shower.

    @clivetern

  49. @betsystreeter
    197 words w/o title

    WALTER’S WAY

    I got no Earthly idea how come I didn’t fall. There is not one special thing about me. You can ask anybody.

    My teachers gave me the news way back when. You are some kind of backwards kid, they said. Whack-a-doodle. Can’t even write your letters the right way round. Going a whole lot of nowhere, you are.

    Wrong-Way Walter. Crosswise to the proceedings. Ran the ball to the wrong end zone once. Wore my pants on my head to school once. People remember that stuff.

    Well, I’ll be darned if that wasn’t my first grade teacher I just saw fly by. Boy, she doesn’t want to go. Look at her scream and flail her arms around. Soon she’ll be a dot in the sky like the others.

    I caught a little mouse in my umbrella just now. Guess he was in the right place at the right second, lucky critter. Take it easy, mouse, it’s you and me, now. Careful, don’t go too close to the edge, you’ll get a one-way ticket to space right quick. That’s the order of things, now. It’s all tipped over.

    There goes the mayor.

    I wonder who else didn’t fall.

  50. Little Heaven.
    @CliveNewnham – 201 words

    A glassy sphere falls, catches the eye. It hits the dirt and throws up a corona of dust, unlocking a picture of suns intertwined… pushes the spade aside.

    Carefully I lifted that fragile crown and ceremonially looped it over her golden curls beneath the blue. Her bubbling laughter as I painted our palace in the sky, how happy our little princes and princesses would be.

    Her fingers let go the yellow orb, holding on only to that hope, that magical spell, that final waxy, white petal – “He loves me,” she sighed, then laughed again. She kissed me, our first, lips to rose-soft lips; her adoring eyes liquid… too often liquid.

    Little princes and princesses playing, never knowing they never had a chance to become kings and queens…

    More drops have fallen spreading pox across the dirt…

    Yellow and orange spots spattered all the grass even then, even here, where we romanced. It was inevitable of course. Eventually all the grass withered: the oats, the wheat, the corn, the rice…

    The rains come and go, don’t make a difference.

    I bought this plot for us years ago, our little heaven. Here we lay together now, amongst the gravestones; just me waiting.

  51. Make It Rain Down Lord
    210 words

    Mark flinched when the door slammed open, sending rain and soggy leaves dancing across the kitchen floor…the one he’d just cleaned.

    He focused on that because if he was staring at the mess he wouldn’t be looking at Sarah’s face.

    “I saw her.”

    The words settled between them, sinking into the chasm created from sorrow and grief.

    Mark inhaled slowly then exhaled, before heading for the mop.

    There was so much to clean, it wasn’t as much as it had been when it wasn’t just the two of them but it was still so much.

    “She was in the rain and she was smiling,” Sarah continued and Mark wondered if she knew how hard it was to constantly be cleaning…floors, lives, his own thoughts.

    “You can’t even look at me! You won’t ev-even…” Sarah’s voice cracked and Mark wondered if he’d have to clean that up too. Gather up the shards of his wife’s psyche before they cut too deep for him to fix.

    “I don’t care if you don’t believe me. I saw her!”

    Sarah was screaming now and Mark sighed before glancing at her, then beyond her.

    “Did you have a good day, sweetie?”

    Sarah blinked in confusion, “What?”

    Mark sighed again, “I wasn’t talking to you, Sarah.”

  52. Words of the Saviour

    206 words
    @el_Stevie

    The waters slunk by, unwilling to be noticed by anyone who should chance to be watching as it cradled its prize. It needn’t have worried. There was only one witness and he was certainly not inclined to retrieve what the river clung to. Instead Rob gazed at the reflections that danced upon the stilling waters, timbered arms reaching up to the skies in a naked hallelujah, seeking to escape from the darkness in which they were rooted; as even he was.
    The struggle had been brief and, he hoped, final. Yet still his father seemed to be seeking a way back, trying to break through. Rob could see the familiar grasping hand ghosting above the surface, searching for the son it had once held, once beaten, once disowned. But whilst the world had become the son’s church, Rob could not completely escape his father’s teachings and a sermon floated back on the tide of memory ‘For the son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing’. The words of the Saviour, thought Rob as the waters closed over his father in a final baptism, seeing in them his absolution. ‘For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise’.

  53. His Last Daydream

    210 Words

    There’s a story about a man who stole a look and was given a strange punishment, a story Andrew thought about every time he’d crossed the square to work.

    This time, as was usually the case, Andrew found himself imagining how it would’ve looked that fateful day as the man had casually made his way.

    In his mind’s eye Andrew saw, superimposed upon the modern scene, all the trappings of its former self from the muck strewn ground, to the old town hall and stalls of all kinds.

    It became more real as he walked, the sounds and smells appearing too, until Andrew imagined the cart as it approached and, as it drew alongside, he thought about what, if he’d really existed, that poor man might have seen.

    In an instant he was there, Andrew left the dream and entered reality. The cart was in his peripheral vision, its occupant reaching down to adjust a shoe. Out of curiosity, Andrew turned and saw too much.

    A voice whispered, “Thank you,” another condemned him and Andrew found himself cursed to ever walk across the square, resetting as he reached the far side back to the first. Always he must walk, always with his head firmly down.

    Until another imagined strongly enough.

    @jamesatkinson81; http://haberdasheryofstories.blogspot.co.uk/

  54. Judgement
    204 words
    personalvapes@gmail.com

    They say God works in mysterious ways. I say, his touch wallops ya like getting hit by a bus…

    There I was, see, out for a walk. The air was damp, soggy, full o’ water. The kinda morning you carry that umbrella, knowin’ it’s gonna pour if ya don’t. Everything was wet, the blacktop deserted, but full of shiny, oil-slick reflections.

    One winked at me.

    Oh, sure, you’re thinking: “Bit early to be nipping the sauce, here,” but I swear to God…there was an eyeball reflected in that pavement, and it winked at me!

    In that second, I could feel…everything. Every drip o’ water in the clouds, every speck o’ dirt in the wind. I could feel my blood racin’ inside, and every cell o’ my heart squeezin’ madly to pump that stuff through me.

    And everything could feel me, too. I don’t know how…but I got judged, hard, by everything what makes up the Earth.

    That eye in the pavement crinkled, narrowed, like one does when they’re pissed.
    I knew then…I KNEW! Give up the dames, the booze, the smokes – stop living on the edges, and get back to the straight and narrow.

    Then it was gone, like fog in the sunshine.

  55. @awenthornber
    206 words

    Raining more than ever.

    The tears fell, and mingled with the rain dripping down my face, rain and tears can’t be separated, unlike dreams and man.
    I struggled to open the umbrella, my hands shaking too much to separate the spokes and push it open. I was glad of the rain, sun would be too painful.
    I remembered the sign I had ordered, black background, gold edging and lettering, ‘Dan Hunter and Son’. It was due for delivery next month.
    Sally laughed when I told her, but she understood my excitement. Our son would be joining me in my business.
    My son.
    The lump in my throat grew and the pain in my chest intensified.
    I thought of the phone call, the rush to the hospital, running down the corridors until I reached the ward, bursting into the room as the doctor checked the heartbeat.
    The blood smeared face and body of my son, my beautiful son, lay in my wife’s arms.
    I filled with pride, reached to hold the tiny hand, and as I did so I realised that something was wrong.
    Solemn faces, shaking heads and tears spoke more than words. Grief squeezed my heart, I fell to my knees by the bed.
    My son. Born to early.

  56. Slobber and Sympathy
    210 words
    @rowdy_phantom

    On Monday, he turned up in the parking lot with his soggy overalls and hound-dog frown. By Thursday, you bring an extra umbrella. He looks at it as if it were an alien skeleton, but then takes it.

    “Looking for something?” you ask, the question nagging you all week.

    “Dog,” he grunts.

    “Ah.” Poor sod. You remember Pepper, your gangly German Shepherd, and the LOST posters you drew, complete with blue crayon tears. Her orange nerf ball remained under your pillow until puberty. “Family dog?”

    His brow rumples. “Got no family.”

    Now you get it. Navigating the drizzle is a preferable purgatory to a hollow apartment. Your condo doesn’t allow big dogs, but Ralphy has enough terrier-spunk in him to fill the space. The occasional gnawed-up Nike is a small price. “How long you had him?”

    “Saw him one time. Gave him some bologna.” The man glances at his fingers. “He licked me.”

    Now you understand. A brief ray of kindness piercing the fog of urban anonymity. You’re glad you brought him the umbrella. “You want to see him again.”

    “Sure do,” he sighs.

    The wistfulness in those two words makes your tear ducts tingle.

    He rubs the back of his hand. “Gotta find out if the mutt had rabies.”

  57. @stellakateT
    203 words

    Sparking Synapses

    A fleeting moment of lucidity, I remember it well, before the synapses and neuron transmitters took over or in my case failed to spark. Most of my memory has been eradicated; sometimes a vision invades my brain space and a tiny part of my life passes in front of me. Just now I remembered walking in the rain with a big black umbrella shielding me from the deluge. I’m wearing my work clothes so it must have been years ago or even last week. Time doesn’t mean much now.

    A girl arrives to make my breakfast. I know its morning because night has disappeared, I sit at the window, she smiles at me. She says she comes everyday but I haven’t seen her before. She’s says I have visits three times a day provided by social services. I wonder if she’s speaking in a foreign language it all seems incomprehensible to me. I never have visitors not since the little green men skewered my brain and sent it to Mars. It’s all to do with medical science they told me, conquering earth more like it. I tell no one. Thank God it wasn’t brain devouring Zombies then I’d be like this for ever.

  58. Just a moment
    192 words
    @mishmhem

    He stood stock still as the rain water streamed passed him on its way to the storm drains. Everything seemed to be on its way somewhere else, too rushed to pay attention. It was the nature of this world.

    The gypsy woman had promised him his time would come and he didn’t want to miss it.

    He couldn’t miss it.

    He calmed his breathing and cleared his mind- hoping to catch the moment before it was gone forever.

    When his moment finally came, he almost missed it. It seemed so small and insignificant at first.

    One moment he was standing in the rain, and the next, the rain seemed to freeze in midair as the rays of prismatic light played across his face and skin. He smiled, delighting in the beauty of it all, and then, before he totally lost focus he pulled out a small recording device and activated it. He would remember this moment forever, for it would remain his and his alone.

    He smiled as the small creature tried to flee, panicking when it realized it was trapped.

    They’d been right. Hunting moments in the time stream was easy.

  59. Timeless Truth
    (201 words)

    “Frank! I’m in the garden. You must see this. HURRY!”
    A kaleidoscope of dancing butterflies. Dandelion fluffs floating on the breeze.

    Ephemeral.

    “Frank, grab the kids and get out here! It’s AMAZING!”
    The warm whispering of a rosy dawn. The jubilant cheering of a carroty sunset.

    Fleeting.

    “Frank! Quick, out on the porch! Come see!”
    Eagles soaring below burnished billowy clouds. Mountaintops peeking through mist.

    Momentary.

    “Frank! Look out the back door. Rainbow!”
    A ribbon of color touching heaven and earth. Fog creeping across the valley.

    Cursory.

    “Frank! Ooooooh! Help me move my wheelchair closer to the window.”
    A languid full moon hovering over the horizon, the spinning Earth sending it into shadow.

    Brief.

    “Frank! I love a good thunderstorm. Describe it to me.”
    Blazes of brilliant energy illuminating the darkness. A whirling wind shaking the steadfast oak.

    Beautiful.

    “……….”
    Cold silence ringing across a wet and lonely landscape. Memories surviving under the umbrella of a shared life.

    Gone too soon.

    “Mary, I miss you.”
    Her joyful eyes reflecting in azure skies. Her laughter echoing in morning birdsong.

    Enduring.

    “Mary, I see you.”
    Her spirit swirling with leaf fall of ruby and sunshine. Her love lingering on.

    Alone, but together.
    Forever.

  60. “Waiting, Always”
    by Michael Seese
    206 words

    Until the day he died, Louis stood waiting for her. Waiting for his Chloe to emerge from the Métro station and cross the Place de la République. She would see him, and smile. He would kiss her lightly on the cheek, then take her hand and walk her home.

    They might not have met were it not for a moment’s intrusion. One rainy April afternoon, as Chloe crossed the cheerless Place, a passel of pigeons took flight. Startled, she recoiled and deposited the contents of her sodden umbrella on a man passing by.

    She blushed.

    Je suis vraiment désolée/.

    Louis simply beamed.

    They were the unlikeliest of matches. She, an advocate. He, a laborer. She might not have given him a second look, had she not noticed the grace with which he shucked the water from himself. Taking an uncharacteristic gamble, she asked if he, by chance, enjoyed dancing.

    Mais oui. Beaucoup.

    That magical moment eased into 45 years of wedded bliss, three children, and eight grandchildren.

    And so, until the day he died, Louis stood waiting for her. Waiting for his Chloe to emerge from the Métro station and cross the Place de la République.

    Even though his Chloe had passed ten years before him.

  61. Goodbye
    (210 words)

    Ryan moved silently through the woods, hoping to get close enough for a clear shot. Peering through the bushes, he saw his enemy crouching beside a tree.

    “Bang, bang, you’re dead Joey,” Ryan yelled as burst through the bush, his stick rifle at the ready.

    Joey slumped over and fell to the ground, blood pooling beneath him.

    “Contact left!” Ryan shouted as the wet jungle exploded in anger. Moving steadily towards the enemy, Ryan raised his weapon and began firing. Around him, grenades thundered and ripped flesh from bone. Bullets bit into the trees next to him and men screamed out in pain, but he carried on. Firing at the enemy crouching beside trees, Ryan kept shooting until the order came to cease fire.

    With the action over, Ryan hobbled back to Joey and knelt beside him. The rain ran down his face as Ryan turned his childhood friend over and looked into his lifeless eyes.

    Thunder echoed as Ryan walked across the parking lot at the veteran’s hospital. As it began to rain harder, Ryan opened his umbrella to keep the rain from running down his face.

    For a fleeting moment, he saw Joey lying on the pavement, a puddle beneath his body.

    He never got to say goodbye.

    • Snap… “For a fleeting moment, he saw Joey lying on the pavement, a puddle beneath his body.” I saw this vividly, gave me chills!

    • I saw two fleeting moments here, a brief childhood memory and that at the end, enhanced the tragedy considerably.

  62. The Hunting Ground
    @marthajcurtis

    I closed the door behind me and tiptoed into the night.
    If they caught me sneaking around in the dark, I would have to explain the rifle. I forced myself not to run. If I should drop the gun…and if it should discharge, the fun would be over.
    A light rain was falling as I settled into my hiding place under cover of a big oak tree. I heard a slight shuffle and raised my rifle, then waited, barely breathing.
    He took his time; the rifle was heavy, but I held it still. I watched…I waited…I saw him. Slowly, I eased the hammer back, the taste of victory on my lips, and squeezed the trigger.
    I dropped the gun and watched, as he crumpled to the ground, then lay still. I reached down to pick up the rifle, but all that was there was an old umbrella. In the fleeting moment when I looked away, the trees, the briars, and the squirrel disappeared, taking an eight year old boy with them, leaving only wet pavement, and an old man in the place where he once hunted and roamed.
    As the sun came up, I walked slowly home and closed the door behind me.
    205 Words

  63. One Defining Moment
    210 Words
    @mishmhem

    Mac looked across the parking lot, the rainwater making the place sparkle. Even in the half light that shone through the darkened clouds, it looked special.

    He thought about all the ‘could have beens’ and ‘might have beens’ that his life had become and paused. One change and none of what followed would have happened, but then, he’d never have met Missy.

    One chance meeting that had changed not only his life, but hers as well.

    If he had been a moment later, if she’d been a moment sooner, they never would have met. If her battery hadn’t died… If he hadn’t had a set of jumper cables in his car they would both still be alone.

    So many pieces that fit together to make the mosaic of their lives, and that one chance moment when he’d touched her hand and known they were destined for each other.

    You could argue about cause and effect, kismet and karma until the end of the world—but it always came down to one fleeting but defining moment when everything changed.

    His life had changed in that moment when they first met… hers had changed when she’d looked in his trunk. Now he had two bodies to bury.

    At least she wasn’t alone.

    • Ack! What a left fielder! I love the total 180 this story took. Your mind is already moving ahead, to that fairy tale happy ending and them BAM! Unique and disturbing.

  64. That Which is Unseen Speaks the Loudest

    “Good morning.” The businessman – or solicitor, or shopkeep, or whatever – tipped his hat and moved on, barely registering my existence as anything other than a vaguely human-shaped object which had passed briefly into his sight. He didn’t see me for who I really was – he couldn’t have. He didn’t see that my umbrella was moth-bitten to the point where one would rightfully assume that it was the next thing to useless. He didn’t see the grimace on my face, the pain from the corn on my left foot balanced by the plantar fasciitis in my right. My boots kept my feet dry enough, but they had given up any semblance of quality support somewhere around when the umbrella was new. He didn’t see the way my left hand curled into a fist to keep the thin gold ring from falling off fingers that were once strong enough to dig trenches but now struggled to hold onto a railing. He didn’t see the hand that had once fit so well into mine on so many walks because its owner was now worm food under the grass at First Anglican. And he didn’t see the gun in my right hand, aimed at my temple.

    But he heard the shot.

    207 words
    @drmagoo

  65. Visions in a Morning Sunstorm
    205 words, @pmcolt

    Even though my wife thinks I’m crazy, I’m out here every morning at six o’clock on the dot: overalls, lunch pail, and hardhat. Retirement is for old people, and I’m barely seventy years young.

    When I was a child, this was all cornfields. I spent many a summer day busting my back in the fields. At night I dreamed about life in the big city. The minute I got my license, I picked up the want ads and found work in town. My crew and I worked our magic across the landscape, metamorphosing horizontal agriculture into vertical architecture.

    Today when I close my eyes, I don’t hear rain slapping broken pavement: I see the sparks from the welding torches setting the girders into place. Thunder claps like the staccato rhythm of the riveters, and the bass rumble of the earthmovers.

    Sometimes, when the lightning flashes I catch the faintest glimpse of the wonders to be, hear the sounds of children laughing in the park, and the bustle of people rushing to work.

    As the clouds break around the sunrise like a ring of fire in the sky, I stand awestruck for a moment, and wonder why anyone would think I would ever give this up.

    • Shows that age is relative, who’s to say when a person should stop. Some great imagery here, comparing the storm with the construction work going on – in particular ‘Thunder claps like the staccato rhythm of the riveters, and the bass rumble of the earthmovers’.

  66. I’m an Idiot
    209 words
    @jaydeejapan

    They approached each other, both holding umbrellas in the pounding rain.

    If she asks me to stay, I will, he thought.

    I wish he would stay, she thought.

    They made eye contact and smiled. Gary’s heart thumped. He heard the heartbeat in his head.

    Hannah’s stomach twisted. The butterflies were very active.

    Gary’s eyes drew downward, then locked onto Hannah’s.

    “Hello,” he said. “It’s not so nice out, is it?”

    Hannah nodded. “Pretty bad weather.” She touched her hair and sighed. “Uh,” she started.

    “You know, it’s not the best weather to leave on a plane in,” he said.

    “No, I don’t think so. You should—“

    “I mean, it’s really depressing, not that it’s dangerous,” he added. “They always fly in rain.”

    Hannah smiled. “Yeah. Look, Gary—“ She hesitated.

    Gary cocked his head to the side. “Yes?”

    She shook her head. “Mm-mm. It’s nothing.” They looked at each other. “No, it’s not nothing. Gary—“

    Gary waited. He looked down at his watch.

    “Gary, good luck. I’ll miss you,” she said. She looked calm, but held back a sob.

    Gary looked down. “Good-bye.” He walked past her.

    I’m an idiot, thought Hannah. Why didn’t I say something?

    I’m an idiot, thought Gary. I thought she loved me.

  67. Cynthia Buck
    @cynthiafbuck
    203 words

    “Familiar Stranger”

    Tessa sat at a small table by the window. She had her tablet and her iced mocha in front of her, ready to finish her article. Her deadline was fast approaching and she wasn’t even halfway done.

    After about an hour of working, Tessa took a stretch break. She stretched out her arms, rolled her neck, then looked out the window. Someone caught her eye.

    The older gentleman was wearing overalls, which you don’t see a lot of in the big city. But when Tessa caught a glimpse of his face, she couldn’t believe it . His face looked a lot like hers. Could it be him?

    In somewhat of a panic, Tessa darted out of the coffee shop after him. She had to get a better look. Just outside the door, her legs froze and she couldn’t move. She stood there, watching the strange figure moving further and further away.

    Tessa realized it was a crazy notion. Maybe she was crazy. It was just a few seconds, but the man in the overalls looked like her long-lost father. The man who abandoned her and her mother twenty six years ago.

    Her falling tears started to mix with the raindrops on her face.

  68. Jinny’s Grin

    Jinny grins again –
    Green teeth gaping; razor sharp.
    Pondweed gapped between them.
    She smiles still wider.
    I run.
    I pass.

    Tomorrow now
    Become
    Today,
    We meet again.

    Matted hair
    Floats,
    Forming surface spawn.
    She beckons;
    I balk.

    Tomorrow
    Becomes now,
    Once more,
    Today.
    We meet
    Again.

    With staring eyes
    She shocks me
    Still.
    A moment;
    Eye by eye.

    Tomorrow now,
    Becomes today,
    Where
    Once again,
    We meet.

    With wide ope’d arms,
    She grasps submerged,
    From ‘neath
    Our dividing
    Meniscus.

    I run.
    I pass.
    Leave her
    Behind.
    Where what would harm
    Stays harmless.

    Tomorrow becoming
    Once more
    Today,
    I know again
    We’ll meet.

    Thin faced,
    She calls me
    To her
    Slowly,
    Where air and water
    Greet.

    I reach.
    I stop.
    I do not pass;
    Held fast by
    Impulse’
    Seeking.

    Today becoming
    Fast now
    The morrow,
    My will departing;
    Fleeting.

    Twig armed,
    She drags me
    Down
    Where
    Breath
    Surrenders;
    Ceasing.

    Tomorrow
    No more;
    No more,
    Today –
    We meet

    Where
    Waters still
    Surround
    Us.

    Held close,
    Stagnation caresses,
    Surrounding
    The limbs
    We lock.

    She drags,
    I drown;
    Breath ceasing,
    Tears careless

    Lost rains
    Amidst constructed
    Oceans,
    Collected,

    Together
    We merge;
    Tomorrow become now
    Today forever.

    Through murky depths
    I glimpse my Once Me
    Before he passed
    Unbeknownst
    Her water’s edge.

    (209 words)

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog

    • I love this. The use of repetition of tomorrow and today brings a chilling, hypnotic effect to the poem, a pull to keep going back to somewhere you don’t want to go. Excellent.

  69. The Dance
    (209 words)

    Frank put his left foot in.
    He took his left foot out.
    He scratched his head.
    And then he shook his butt all about.

    Nope, that wasn’t it.

    Frank tapped his left foot.
    He tapped his right.
    He tapped them both together, then one after the other. He tapped a tune with his feet, swinging his umbrella around like he was Fred Astaire.

    That wasn’t it either.
    And he was no Fred Astaire.

    Frank held his arms up in front of him and formed a beak with his thumbs and fingers.
    He opened them four times.

    Nothing happened.

    Frank put his thumbs in his armpits and flapped his arms.
    He bent his knees and wiggled his hips for times.
    He straightened his knees and clapped four times.

    Still nothing.

    Frank put his umbrella on the ground.
    He placed is hands on his hips and stuck his chest out.
    Keeping his torso straight, he danced an Irish Jig.
    He jigged around the umbrella.

    The rain kept coming.

    Frank sighed, but he had one more trick up his sleeve.
    He ran around the parking lot.
    He gargouilladed.
    He pirouetted.
    He cabrioled.
    He sissonned.

    It just rained harder.

    If only Frank could remember the sun dance for more than a fleeting moment.

  70. Father from Home
    A.J. Walker

    The rain arrived right on time, bouncing as high as the bus station. Russell needn’t have checked his watch but did so automatically. There was still no sign of the San Jose bus; buses were less reliable than the weather.

    He signaled for the waiter to fetch another Imperial then he turned back to his notes. Time had taken on an illusive quality on this trip. He had to check that it had really been yesterday that he’d been up in the cool of the mountains scouting for the three wattled bellbird – he learnt that their call was so loud that these rare birds were surprisingly easy to find.

    The tinny cafe radio went on to another familiar chart song and Russell felt all the smiling faces around him. The rain had cooled them all and the lack of a bus was not a concern. They’d get home; eventually.

    He heard a man whistling. He started when he saw him with the umbrella on the tarmac below. He looked just like his father. Eventually the man turned and Russell saw the gap toothed grin of a local. The image of his pasty father blown in away in that instant.

    His dad was still there though, he could feel him watching.

    (210 words)
    @zevonesque

    #FlashDogs

  71. North and South.

    I looked over the barren fields, dry wells, famished cattle, and dug my blackened nails into the thick, crumbly earth. My parched lips made a last feeble effort to cry for mercy.

    I remembered how just before the meteor struck our planet, she had appeared and walked through me. I felt a shudder and my body froze for less than an instant.

    “Ask and it shall be given,” she said.
    “I want to live,” I begged.
    “Go south”, she whispered and was gone.

    That’s why I was there, dying in the waterless south.
    Once again, I sensed the shadow of the spectre approach.

    “Ask and it shall be given,” she teased.
    “Water,” I implored. “My people need water.”
    “Go north,” she whispered and left.

    I turned to my people and said, “We must go north.”
    They followed hopefully.

    When we arrived, the streets were wet. We rejoiced and drank, and thanked the Gods.

    The next day, the flooding started. Within days we were living in boats, frantically searching for dry land.

    The fleeting ghost returned once more.

    “Ask and it shall be given,” she smiled.
    “Will it always be like this?” I cried.
    She nodded and left.

    @LucciaGray (200 words).

  72. @colin_d_smith
    204 words

    Sam watched the old man shuffle across the road, rain bouncing from his glistening umbrella. He looked like a laborer with rolled sleeves and overalls, but he was too worn and weary to be working. And he twitched like a skittish cat, responding to the slightest noise, the merest splash or shout.

    Then his head turned. It was a fleeting moment, but in that moment Sam recognized him.
    He could never forget that face.

    Fifty men in a prison cell, whipped and beaten by those hands. Sneered at by those lips.
    And Sam knew that look. Intimately. They wore it daily as the man selected one of them at random. Dragged one of them from the cell. They heard the scream. The shot.

    Sam was freed from the prison after five years. It was another ten before he was free of the fear. The man never stood trial, never knew a prison cell..

    Sam wanted to rush out into the rain, lay his hands around that evil neck. Watch those merciless eyes bulge. Hear him breath his last. But as he watched the man looking over his shoulder, jumping at noises, he let go of his anger and smiled.

    Who’s the prisoner now?

  73. “Quitting Isn’t Complicated”
    By Sydney Scrogham, 209 words, @sydney_writer

    He left before it rained.

    He’s across from me on the couch, sitting crisscross applesauce, and he picks at the hem of his brown t-shirt. My hands sandwich between my legs as I bounce my knees up and down against the grey-blue couch cushions—like a butterfly without flight. Shadows from my legs make dark, mountainous humps in the low, orange light. His green eyes jump from my gaze to his hands and back again.

    “Um…” He pushes a hand through his black hair.

    Words surge up my throat, but I pin them down with my tongue. I want him to say it first. Right then, that short phrase I’ve been waiting for staggers from his lips.

    “I—I like you.”

    My face lifts with warmth and I release the breath I’ve been holding. Every bit of skin on my body tingles. How have I overlooked him all this time? I scoot forward until my knees bump into the solid resistance of his legs. His green eyes are like a mirror, able to see and reflect all of me, and I can’t stop the surging glow within me.

    I say, “I like you, too.”

    Forever, this is all I have left of him.

    Because he left before it rained.

    • Oh dear, I was hoping for a happy ending. 😉 I love the story that you wove here–it really immerses your reader in the moment. You’ve used some great visual imagery. I particularly liked: “l bounce my knees up and down against the grey-blue couch cushions—like a butterfly without flight.” Great job!

  74. Goodbye, Alice
    (210 words)

    “She was the one. It was those eyes. When she looked at me, I felt she knew my innermost dreams and passions.

    “I was only seventeen when we meet, but I knew from across the yards she would be mine.”

    “It seemed eons passed waiting for her to approach the master of ceremonies. Tension filled the air from my competitors. My own heart stood still in my chest as her escort walked her to the front of the stage.”

    “There was such a clamor as we all sought for her attentions. But when the dust settled, she went home with me. Nine years. Eleven beautifully formed children. Twins three times. I was so proud. She had made my dreams complete.”

    “Sure, it started off small. Most wonderful things in life do. But now, the family room’s back wall was covered with certificates… ribbons… and trophies… from her and the accompanying family.”

    Memories flooded me. I knew it was more than the pouring rain cascading from my cheeks. The rendering truck could still be heard as it accelerated onto the main highway. Slipping down the embankment coming in from the pens was more than the old girl could handle.

    “I think I will wait until morning to tell the two girls.”

  75. The Death That Follows
    (210 words)

    It rained that night. It was the kind of rain that seeps into your skin and makes you feel like your very bones might rot. My umbrella did little to curb the chill as I walked across the slick pavement, headed home after yet another long day at the docks. I should have left when everyone else did, but rent was due and I needed the extra work. Funny. Those were the kind of things that seemed important back then.

    I still hadn’t made enough, though. I was so worried about how I’d come up with the extra cash that I didn’t hear the footsteps until they were right behind me. When I turned around at first I thought no one was there. A fleeting moment when I thought my over-tired mind was just playing tricks. If only that had been true. But when I turned my gaze forward once more, the bloodied fangs and starved eyes that awaited me were no trick.

    That was the night my human life ended and my undead life began. I would never worry about rent or work again. I would never hold my wife or see the sun, either.

    Now, the hunger is all there is. Well that, and the death that follows.

    ~Taryn Noelle Kloeden
    @tnkloeden

  76. The Siren

    Driving rain smeared the city into a toxic claustrophobic blur. Zoe shuffled with the rest of the grey-faced cattle into the underground maw of the train station. A monotonous voice chastising them for their foolishness upon entering, muttering through white noise about the impact of weather on escape.

    Thankfully Zoe lived in an unfashionable part of the city, “fleapit and flea ridden” as her mother had once remarked, so the platform was devoid of commuters. Even a bench, scratched and chewing gum camouflaged, beckoned Zoe to rest weary feet. Moist hands delved into wetter pockets, her phone battery glaring red, chastising her neglect.

    Suddenly a rush of air billowed out from a tunnel, a maverick entering stage left, carelessly dancing through a deserted system yet, tragically for Zoe, heading the wrong way. Celluloid frames of yellow light spooled past, teasing warmth and dryness.

    A squeal of complaint, the foolish disgorged, the lucky spirited away.

    She was sat there on the other side of the glass. Scarlet hair, elfin cheekbones, startling green eyes that pinned Zoe to terra firma. A beat passed as Zoe fell deep into emerald, Alice chasing the rabbit.

    A breath and the girl etched a row of numbers onto glass.

    Then the film started again.

    206 words
    @imageronin
    #flashdogs

  77. Baptism (210 words)
    @howdylauren

    Water cleanses, the priest says. My body purified, my soul renewed, white as snow. He asks me for my heart and soul, his booming voice echoing off the vaulted ceiling and stained glass. Yes, I say. A moment submerged, and God Himself reaches into my chest and twists His fingers around the black cancerous masses on my heart, tugging them loose and chiseling off the remaining scabs. Like any wound, it will take time to heal, but I feel lighter.

    He pulls me up, I gasp for air. Could it have happened so fast? I had tried for years to be clean, with burning showers, furiously trying to wash away my guilt by scrubbing the blood stains on my skin. And now, the shameful memories of my life behind closed doors, relieved in a moment. I am finally clean.

    The congregation begins to sing the hymn. Auntie smiles at me from her front row seat, because she knows.

    Walking out of the church, Auntie and me, that’s when I see him. Watching. Invading my moment, as he always has. The blackness spreads, a sickness through my heart once again.

    Auntie frowns, looking down at my foot, firmly planted in a puddle. I had gotten mud on my white baptism dress.

  78. Y.C. + L.E. Forever
    200 words
    @laurenegreene

    Yanni was my first love. One of those crazy childhood crushes. I wore my Walkman with oversized headphones, and danced to his incredible piano playing. I told my Mom I wanted to play just like him, but after twenty tearful lessons I quit. The Wurlitzer stood in the corner of my childhood home, gathering dust for the next few decades, before my mom sold it at a yard sale.

    “Twenty dollars,” she said, as if that sum was large enough to pay for my lost childhood dreams.

    So standing outside the piano bar, holding the umbrella above me in the pouring rain, I was surprised to see him, Yanni, banging away on the piano.

    I rushed in, full of myself in that moment, thinking of my dreams as a child, and I tapped him on the shoulder.

    “Oh sorry, I thought you were someone else,” I said when the spectacled man turned to face me.

    Distraught, I walked out the door and across the parking lot towards my car, feeling that the dreams of my childhood had been dashed once again. The puddles looked like tears forming rivers on the road. The magic was completely lost in one fleeting moment.

  79. @allie_lahn
    210 words

    A Lifetime of Milk

    Carl stood under the umbrella, looking out across the downtown square. In coveralls reeking of machine oils and sweat, made worse by the rain. On the farm, Carl remembered, nothing was ever made worse by rain.

    The old man’s farm. Paved over. A lifetime of milk and red earth-tinged memories. Sprouting tall buildings now, where sweet corn and green pastures once flowered. Where an old cow giving birth kicked the daylights out of his five-year old head. He got to name that one, ol’ Milk Dud, on account of how much his head bled.

    And now he was the old man. He couldn’t have told you how it happened, but it did, and the city came up all around them. Lost the farm, hired on at the factory. At least he and Barb had the kids.

    A tiny spasm wracked his hand and the umbrella slid out. Carl winced. The arthritis was flaring up, more and more these days. He collapsed to his knees. Why the heck did he come back here? And in his coveralls! He stuck out like a sore thumb. And in fact his thumbs were sore, and the truth was that being here made him feel there wasn’t a thing left worth livin’ for.

  80. MOSAIC
    WC = 208, exclusive of title, 02-06-15

    Only the Master Creator could have designed the mosaic Joe walked on. The ochre brown hardpan crackled beneath his farmer’s boots, leaving miniscule pieces of the clay as if in a feeble attempt to mimic God’s cruel art.

    Huffing in the night air, well expecting to cough back dust, Joe detected arid, acrid, electric gases. A change. The atmosphere where Joe stood also stood its ground.

    Flicks of horizontal flash lit the faraway flatness. A roiling thunderhead promised a roundhouse punch to this parched land, unlike previous months of posing clouds. They were more cumulus fluff and less nimbus business. But now, the advancing front battered Joe’s hot envelope, bringing well-defined lightning that sliced open the sky’s door and allowed to pass pent up cool air and………rain.

    Hard rain. The kind that washes gullies in hillside land. Joe’s land looked as if an iron had sizzled it flat. And now it lay back marinating in the bath of a season lost. Like a silk sheet the water languidly pooled as the tempest raged east.

    Joe understood the message of his God in the reflection of some future or past field of corn: rows and rows of ten foot tall, tasseling giants. And then it dissipated into the mosaic.

  81. Gray
    205 words
    @tilley_girl

    The old man shuffled slowly across the empty plaza, the umbrella he held up against the relentless rain a weary burden. He was tired, so very tired. Knowing the end of a long life was on the horizon. It had been a good life, with a devoted wife and four upstanding children. A long career as an insurance adjuster, a pleasant retirement. Steady, reliable, predictable. A life safely lived.

    He sighed, peering across the gray slate of the plaza, up into the grayness of the sky. In his more morbid moments, he felt his life was gray. Always making the expected choices. Except that one day. The day that he had come so close.

    V-E day. This plaza. Oh, so many years ago. He had been newly engaged, it was what the families wanted. But that day he had been alone, allowing the jubilant crowd to move him along. When he bumped into her, her chestnut hair flying as she turned around, the warm red of her dress was like a beacon to him. She laughingly threw her arms around him and they kissed, so naturally that he knew he had made a terrible mistake. He could have color. He chose gray. It was expected.

  82. 74 Degrees and Overcast
    202 words
    @BradyTheWriter

    Melinda wanted to focus on all of the loved ones she would miss, or the memories she would lose, or the fact that she would never see her grandchildren again. When that didn’t work, she tried to think about the accomplishments of mankind, the entire course of evolution, and the natural wonders of the world. She should have cared about these bigger things that about to vanish, but she could only think about her egg salad sandwich from lunch. She’d only wanted to savor her favorite meal one last time before the end of the world, and she’d run out of paprika.

    She’d tried to make the sandwich without the spice, but one bite of the bland, blobular concoction made her gag. She punched the sandwich and headed outside with her umbrella. Melinda, at least needed see what she could of the asteroid before it obliterated the planet. The emergency signal recording continued to educate her that the object was the size of Texas. It’s didn’t say they should seek cover. The voice was resigned to only repeat this solitary fact over and over again. She didn’t mind that the world would ended on a rainy afternoon, but that sandwich was infuriating.

  83. Day 20330.

    When he was sure no-one was watching, he folded the umbrella, raised his head to the swirling clouds, raindrops danced from closed eyelids to chin.
    It had rained on their last night. Warm torrential explosions, parting waves, crashing thunder beats onto the white sands of Koh Rok.
    “Let’s find cover”
    His hand lost hers as he moved towards the trees. He turned, saw she was laughing, naked, the sodden dress at her feet. Wet, hungry, kisses, fingers locked they walked into the sea.
    She dived in, teasing him, white foam crowning her black hair. Bodies submerged, became merged. Both changed forever.
    He didn’t know why she wasn’t there when he left. He knew something had happened. Stopped her.
    6764 days had passed. He had moved from city to town, searching. He didn’t stay anywhere long but when he told his story they looked at him oddly. 3 days together.20330 he had lived. Time had stopped for him that day.
    He stood smiling, waiting till the rain stopped. A new town tomorrow.

    **********************************************************************************************************************
    She spun, arms outstretched, grey hairs glistening in the lightning strobe. She loved storms. She wondered if he ever thought of her. He was her first thought when she awoke and last at night. She would find him again.

    @VanessaLester 210 Words

  84. Attention

    Kevin adjusted the large headphones. The sound of the rain on his umbrella had begun to seep in, but the adjustment sealed out the noise. The unpatterned drops on the nylon would have tugged at his mind and pulled him off course. Street lights reflected on the saturated concrete. The lights warped and danced in the periphery of his vision. They would have proved too tempting a diversion to his mind were it not for the headphones and the phone in his pocket, with the app that repeated his mother’s words in his ears every minute to remind him of the task she had set for him.

    Adderall, Ritalin, talk therapy, physical abuse: nothing had worked. Nothing, it seemed, could consistently keep Kevin on task. Except perhaps the headphones and the reminder app. Since implementing this method, his Mother had only had to employ the smartphone’s GPS tracker on two occasions. The headphones killed two birds with one stone by blocking out auditory distractions and providing Kevin with a regular reminder so visual stimuli would not dissuade him from his goal.

    As Kevin stepped into the corner store and out of the rain, the phone prompted him once again:. “Ambien, Marlboro’s, Jack Daniel’s”

    Mother had a system of her own.

    @acmarkz
    210 words

  85. E. S. Johnston @averageadvocate
    WC 209
    “Wonderful Me”
    ———————–

    I cursed before they heard; they must lay-in-wait although I could vow I was alone. But then again, maybe I imagined splashing puddles. Just soak it this moment of zen before you have to run again, I told myself.

    The handsome barista handed me my venti, double-shot, hazelnut cappuccino. With a wink and sly smile, he told me I looked like I could use it gratis. Nevermind what that probably meant. Instead I squealed as if Harry Potter apparated in front of me and gushed my gratitude, backing up until I hit an armchair. Promptly falling into it, I inhaled the steam until my cheeks burned red and I was forced to leave bliss behind.

    I slammed the door, braced against it in case intruders tried to follow, fumbling for the lock. But it was just silence. The banshees must not have noticed my absence–yet. I sat down in the cramped space, my head in my hands. Eventually I had to push the silver handle and walk back into the wild forest.

    I blinked and smiled, shutter snapping. It was serene, as far-off swallows waltzed under the symphony of sun’s setting rays. Then I heard “MOMMY” screeched, giggles, and clatter as my lot needed me in the van.

  86. Ripple Effect
    210 words
    @rowdy_phantom
    #flashdogs

    Whenever rain spatters the Paradise parking lot, she rises from the pavement like petrichor. Her form shivers like the reflection in a wind-ruffled puddle. What is a ghost but a dire event that ripples across the pool of time?

    Five years, I’ve watched shadows replay Cecilia’s last moments against curdled clouds. I know the tragic song by heart: her giggles, the staccato of her stamping feet, the squeal of tires, her mother’s ragged cry, the fade in and out of sirens.

    Here she comes now, a carousel whirl of colors. Red ladybug boots, yellow bumblebee raincoat, green umbrella. She stomps and hops and crows the magnificence of her splashes. The driver’s too busy balancing an apple pastry on his latte thermos to notice.

    I leap forward waving my arms. It startles her from her puddles. There’s a flash of recognition, but my snarling face chases her between the parked vehicles. Away from harm.

    The squeal and thud cuts my pantomime short. Her mother screams.

    I’d witnessed her death since before she was born, and hell if I’d just let it happen. The violent death of a child ripples both ways across the pool of time. The death of an old codger like me won’t–not even if he’s her grandfather.

  87. The Umbrella

    John Bolden hated the steely-grey city. Every time he came into its concrete clutches it was nothing but heartbreak. He sat on the wet steps in front of the monstrous edifice that was his bank. His elbows rested on his knees and his palms covered his face. It was the only way he could hide the shame of his failure.

    How could I have been so stupid, he thought. What would Maggie think if she saw me now? That blessed ol’ gal, she’d tell me it wasn’t my fault. That I didn’t know I needed an appointment to discuss this whole foreclosure business. Maggie always did have a good heart.

    “Excuse me, sir?”

    A beautiful brunette in a red two-piece power suit walked toward John.

    “What are you doing without an umbrella? You must be crazy.”

    “No Ma’am, I’m John Bolden.” He smiled and extended a hand. She smiled back and shook the hand.

    “Here take mine.” She thrust the black umbrella into John’s arms and walked away before he could protest.

    John watched her disappear into the grey smudge of rain and city. She is one of the good ones, like Maggie, he thought. He smiled briefly then began his long, sad walk to the Greyhound station.

    208 words
    @goldzco21

    #flashdogs

  88. All In My Mind

    I can still remember the last time. The clouds parted, the downpour paused, and light peeked through.

    I don’t think of the date. How much time has trickled past, swept along in the perpetual flood? Puddles ooze around my feet, pulling as I try to move away, to hide. No refuge in sight, they convince me to stay, to sink.

    Soaked through, I’ve forgotten warmth, but there was a moment. The brush of sunlight seeped through the press of fabric, lightening the wet weight that drowns me. In its rays I caught a crisp breath, a lie refreshing my lungs.

    An exhale later the rain resumed. It always does. A mist, a sprinkle, a drizzle, a shower, grow into a deluge, sealing me in, rooting me to the spot.

    Any spot, every spot. A step here or there, even if I could take it, would change nothing.

    In the distance sometimes, a haze flickers beyond the water. As I blink away the drops clinging to my lashes it disappears.

    I’ve long ago learned to ignore the illusions, the deceptive glimmers of hope hovering beyond my reach.

    But it touched me, once.

    (191 words; @AriaGlazki)

  89. Never Enough Time
    by JM6, 210 words, @JMnumber6

    The old man walked into the empty parking lot, the rain tapping on his umbrella with the insistence of a tax collector.

    Over there, wasn’t it? He could almost hear her voice.

    // I’ve got this, Dad.
    // I know you do.
    // Stop smiling. You’re making me nervous.
    // Good. A little nervousness will keep you sharp. Come on, then. We don’t have much time today.

    He crossed the lot. This was where he’d taught her to drive. He’d tried to make her the safest driver on the road. He’d tried so hard.

    // Kid on a bike!
    // Where?!
    // There. See how the car slid sideways when you stomped on the brakes? That’s what you need to avoid.
    // You almost gave me a heart attack!
    // I know, but you have to be ready for anything.
    // Sheesh! Let’s go home. I’ve gotta study.

    There was never enough time.

    // Want to go for another lesson?
    // No time. Big test coming up.
    // You’re sure?

    Glancing at his watch, he knew he had to get back and change. She’d be coming home soon. If only he’d taught her better. If only he’d known he should have taught her how to avoid IEDs.

    Never enough time.

  90. Mallory
    204 words
    @sara_tranum

    The cold water squished in the fisherman’s boots as he plodded forward, toward the beckoning sea wall. Leaving his ship, “Fair Maiden Mallory,” always gave him pause, but today was the toughest of the year. It was like reliving the loss of his wife, which was magnified on this day, on this anniversary. Once a year. Every year.
    She was beautiful. Fierce and strong, Mallory knew his habits…his moods…his needs. She could anticipate his actions and kept the fisherman balanced.
    For a short while, the fisherman had known love and laughter. Their home was always warm, full of light and sounds of joy, especially after their boy was born. But soon after his complicated birth came Mallory’s death. The fisherman was unmoored and without a compass on the annual reminder of the abrupt end to the happiness that had so briefly filled his heart and life.
    The fisherman paused, staring back at the thickening gray clouds beyond the hull of his ship, anchored and bobbing on choppy waters. His son would be waiting, all of the family gathered for Sunday dinner. All but Mallory, his wife.
    The fisherman continued on, socks heavy with cold water that puddled around his clammy feet with every step.

  91. The Storm
    by Alissa Leonard
    @lissajean7
    195 words

    The first drops sizzled on the scorching concrete, spitting and sputtering in a lonely dance destined to disappear. The searing heat transformed into a sweltering sauna, stifling and sticky. Breathing became unbearable.

    Soon the tapping and pattering gave way to a drumming and thrumming, a pulsing and pounding. A deluge opened up and drowned the world. It thundered and throbbed and thrashed against life. Against love. Against ever seeing sunlight or starlight or something. Anything.
    Engulfed in the flood, hope seemed ephemeral.

    Sputtering and spitting, but breathing still, the beat of the rain became the beat of your heart – strong and steady and ceaseless.

    Eventually the torrent became a trickle. The frenzied barrage of darting drops became drips and splatters and pitter-patters.

    The water puddled and leaked and seeped into the barren ground, nourishing what was sterile. From death and destruction, came life. A sprout. A sapling. A mighty oak towering magnificent and majestic.

    And all because of a moment – an impossible, intolerable, unbearable, unimaginable moment – when you stood in the downpour letting wave upon wave upon wave crash and crush and clobber you in an unceasing, unremitting avalanche.

    And after everything, you stood.

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