Fire&Ice: Sol 11/19

§ Rebekah says: Surgery is a funny thing. A bit like writing, in a way: the prep (fix the hair to make sure it stays out of the surgeon’s way; tidy the bedroom & make sure last wishes are written up clearly somewhere just in case), the procedure, the recovery, the scar. OK, I didn’t say it was like the fun part of writing. 😀 Still, in past medical procedures I’ve sometimes heard echoes of writing’s intentionality; its hard work; the fears it requires I face; and the catharsis it often brings.  And then there’s the way it insinuates itself, carves itself permanently into the different me—hopefully a better me!—I now am as a result. 

By the time Sol 11 shimmers to a close tonight, I should be contentedly recovering from my latest surgery (and story 😀 ).  I dislike talking about it here (or at all). But 2020 seems to be an especially ripe time for fear-facing and truth-speaking, doesn’t it? So here, today, is a little piece of mine. Thank you for bringing your own wonderful, fear-facing, soul-sharing, tears-and-laughter-evoking writerly selves to Fire&Ice, and for walking through this brief shadow of time with us. How glad I am you’re here. 

QUESTIONS? Tweet us at @FlashFridayFic, shoot us a note here, or tap any of the judges.


Fire&Ice Guidelines: 

Time: The Fire&Ice contest is open between exactly 12:01am to 11:59pm on Fridays, Washington DC time (check the current time here). Entries submitted outside of this window are welcome, but will be incinerated ineligible to win.

How to Play: Write and submit an original story 1) based on the photo prompt and 2) including EITHER the fire dragon or ice dragon‘s requirement. Pay attention to the 3) varying word count constraints! Story titles (optional) are not included in the word limit. At the end of your story, add your name or twitter handle, whether you chose the fire or ice dragon’s element, and word count. That’s it!

Be sure to review the contest rules here.


JUDGES: Today’s judges are Tamara Shoemaker and Eric Martell. Check out their bios on the Fire&Ice Judges page.



Each Fire&Ice prompt includes 1) a photo, 2) a required element (choose between the fire dragon or ice dragon’s offering), and 3) a specific word count. Your story must include all three requirements to be eligible to win.

Photo for Sol 11/19

Fire & Ice PromptRequired elements:

Fire dragon option: Include an unexpected joy


Ice dragon option: Include an unexpected sorrow

Today’s word count:  between 185-195

113 thoughts on “Fire&Ice: Sol 11/19

  1. The Flawed Lens

    There’s a you-shaped hole in my life, and you are standing right there.

    How do you celebrate when each day feels like a loss? Do you do the motions, put up a streamer and pretend it’s an occasion?

    Stick a blank card in an envelope and call it a birthday?

    Wait by the wall while someone else hugs you in congratulations?

    Who left? I don’t think I did. I don’t remember.

    I don’t see you any more, not through my own eyes, not through your clouded ones.

    I don’t think you see me.

    But between us layers of cracked glass cut up our shapes until we are unrecognizable. I am not the shape of a mother, you are not the shape of a child. We are bits and shards in separate rooms.

    Am I a me-shaped hole in your life?

    Radical acceptance, is what it is called. Self-compassion.

    I can’t see through your eyes, but you can’t, either.

    Once your shape and mine fit together, like they were supposed to. Now I am shaped like a permanent, living mourning. You are shaped like absence.

    I wish for each of us a future we want.


    194 words plus title
    Unexpected Sorrow

    Liked by 16 people

  2. Maeve
    It’s the waiting that kills you. The phases of waiting. The faces of waiting.
    “I’ll drive you,” I said.
    “I could find someone else. I have friends.”
    “I said I’d take you. End of story.”
    She relented. It’s wasn’t easy for her to accept help. Maeve has lived on her own for decades. Even when Pete lived with her, she was mostly on her own. He was into the bottle most days. A shadow of whatever kind of guy he was in his youth.
    The hospital was an hour away. Her day surgery meant I’d have to wait. I was stretching my tolerance for cities, for crowds, for unkind humanity especially with this COVID thing and my natural inclination to resist human proximity.
    These past seven months, mostly I have just called friends on the phone. Maybe even more than before.
    Especially Maeve.
    We wore masks.
    She sat in the back seat.
    We arrived.
    We parked.
    Covid free parking.
    I walked her in.
    Wandered around.
    Sat in my car.
    Wandered around.
    Then they found me.
    “Complication,” they said.
    “Complications?” I asked.
    “Aneurysm, we think. A stroke. We’re so sorry.”
    I drove home without the mask.

    195 words
    Ice dragon option: an unexpected sorrow

    Liked by 12 people

  3. The Rumpled Bed

    She leaves the house long before dawn, pushing Boy in a hand-me-down wheelchair as Girl flaps along the carefree breeze while hanging onto the lower lapel of Mama’s sweater.

    “Where are we going?” Girl asks but Mama can’t waste time by answering her; nor breath as she must conserve that energy.

    They reach Hitsujiyama Park around lunch time. The pace slows until she’s sure this is where their father, an American soldier, had made love to her for days on end, saying that the electric moss phlox color scheme was no match for her inner fire.

    She buckles and screams; remains inconsolable. Her wet onyx eyes comb over the slumped Boy, who is really a man but went back in time after he suffered a fate almost as bleak as his dead father’s.

    “I wish you could speak,” she pleads, looking into his blank eyes. There’s no sign of recognition.

    “What about my words?” Girl asks. “Do they not mean anything, Mama?”

    “You’re just a child,” Mama says as Boy slumps down further.

    “Aren’t we all?” Girl asks as another soldier she knew well becomes a thing of the past.

    Ice dragon – sorrow
    194 words

    Liked by 8 people

  4. 4pm. They said they’d come at 4. Promised they would, this time. The whole family. All of them. She stared at the jigsaw of the place she hadn’t been to. The place she’d never be. Sifted through pieces. Pink, like a newborn. Like her first born. The one she lost. The one who didn’t survive. The one she cried for, still. The pieces came together. Bit by bit. She rubbed her fingers, pulled her shawl over her knees. Watched the blossom fall outside her window. Nearly over. Nearly done. Her street was quiet. Her life was quiet. Grandfather’s clock chimed.

    4pm. They said they’d come. She eased out of her chair. Into the square kitchen. Pulled down the packet of biscuits, the ones with chocolate on. She saved them for the family. For the small ones. Boiled the kettle. Poured the water. Put the cosy on. All on a tray. Carried it through to the good room. The best room..

    The minutes ticked by.

    4pm. They said they’d come. The tea cold. The biscuits untouched. She waited for the knock that didn’t sound. Closed her eyes. Listened to the clock chime. Her jigsaw left unfinished.

    195 words
    Ice – sorrow

    Liked by 12 people

  5. Return to the Wailing Wood

    In the ancient flatlands of the Angles, trees jut from the peaty soil and spear cornflower skies. The woodland is a cathedral of the vertical in the sliced horizons of the fens.

    In this sacred place, once a year, the children that never lived are granted a single day of life.

    And today, for just one day, unseen, Meredith plays.
    Her mother pushes her living brother through the lilac blossom, his wheelchair dragging in the mulch.
    His birth trauma forever with them, in everything they do.
    His skin scarred by puncture marks from needles, and healed wounds from snapped and twisted bones. Mother is scarred too, in very different ways.
    And Meredith was supposed to be next. A few years later. But mother had prayed, above all things, for her to be healthy. But it was not to be, and she was lost.
    Later… the third child was born; a gift, of hope and unexpected joy.
    But this picture is not complete. For if you look closely, the living sister reaches back, into empty space.
    For Meredith is more than two fading ultrasound scans, she is forever with them, and not just for one day.


    195 words
    For our Meredith, lost Feb 2002

    Liked by 14 people

  6. Proper Boundaries

    Dividing the pink yarrow sea that lies behind the hospital moves the squeaky wheels of my permanent roller chair.

    I close my eyes and imagine pheasants, avoiding the brightness of my first outing since the crash.

    “We’re getting close, Haru.” My mother kisses my head as if I’m still a little boy preparing for bed.

    Close to what, I wonder? Nightingale, my mother’s favorite perfume, fills my nostrils with the sour smell of Japanese plums.

    My little sister’s holding the handle. Humming against the wind, her legs step widely like the blades of a windmill.

    Mom pauses to pull up the sleeves of a red embroidered jacket. It’s all that’s left of my inheritance after paying the surgeons.

    “When can we go back?” Can’t they both see I’m exhausted from holding up my own head?

    We reach the end of the wooden walkway. My sister comes around to kiss my cheek. “Haru, now’s time.”

    My mother lifts the chair, “Your next journey will require more love than we can give.” She strains and tips the chair down, dumping me onto a pelt of pink flowers. My body gaining sacred protection with each roll down.

    194 words
    unexpected sorrow or joy? reader decides…

    Liked by 11 people


    The scent of the creeping thyme cascades from the brow in a heady waterfall and Lara’s little voice blooms with happiness.

    ‘I love the flower meadow! I think it’s made of candy floss and flamingo feathers and puffs of sunset that have fallen out of the sky!’

    Her red shoes tap out an arrhythmic percussion on the boardwalk, interspersed with papery slides as her soles replicate her arms, flung open to embrace the magic.

    She has remembered every word of the song played so often at home and, like a bell, her voice tinkles:

    ‘I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
    Feel the power of the rain making the gaaaarden grow.’

    I smile to myself. There’s no rain today.

    Lara sings over and over. I know these words. This tune.

    ‘I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
    Feel the power of the rain keeping me good.’

    Suddenly, my chair stills.

    Lara stills.

    I hear Anna breathing.

    I am bathed in a rosy glow, inhaling the soft breath of the pink clusters.

    ‘Was that Daddy singing, Mummy?’

    Anna sniffs, blows her nose. Probably nods.

    I feel her joy, and I know she feels mine.

    Word Count: 195
    Fire Dragon Prompt: unexpected joy

    Liked by 11 people

  8. Life Finds a Way

    This park has become our spiritual home. Living colours form chaotic patterns, changing year on year, swirling and turning against themselves. Men have built paths, trying to impose order but always having to work around what nature wants.

    We come here every year, in the Golden Week. We came when we were just two; we came when we were three and I did not know yet; we came before Ichika could walk, and we took turns to push her; we planned to come when we were four. We came on the sunniest of days, when the view was so bright it hurt to look; we came even when dark clouds hung overhead; and we come still. Only I push now, but Ichika will grow taller, stronger.

    She calls the flowers her little ballerinas. Petals dancing in fuschia and rose, jostling to be seen on a crowded stage, falling and tumbling down the slopes, blushing with shame.

    We stop before a patch of discarded slippers. Baby pink.

    “I’m pregnant. Your brother…”

    His left index finger twitches; in flat, metallic tones, he tells me he is happy.

    Word count: 185
    Element: fire

    Liked by 8 people

  9. What Colour is this?

    “Monday. Come on, Steve. M-UN-DAY.”
    Who cares what day it is? They’re all the same.
    “Come on, give it a go. M…”
    “Monday,” I say.
    She looks at Kayleigh. “It’s no good. Let’s try colours again.”
    We’ve had colours already this morning.
    She holds up a picture of a peony. “What’s this?”
    “Peony,” I say.
    “Come on, Steve. Pink. P-INK.”
    “Pink,” I say. “Pink peony.”
    “P-INK,” she repeats.
    Is she deaf or something? I’ve just said that. I say it every morning. We’ve been doing this for months now. Years.
    I raise my voice, “PINK.”
    Now, she’s holding up a picture of a cat. “This is black.”
    “Try it, Steve. B-LACK.”
    I’m tired. I can feel my eyes closing.
    “Let’s leave it for now, shall we?”
    Kayleigh nods and wheels me into the kitchen.
    “What juice do you want, darling?” She’s talking to Kayleigh. “Orange or pink?”
    Kayleigh chooses orange. She always chooses orange.
    Mum leaves the room. She doesn’t give me any juice.
    Kayleigh looks at me. “What colour drink do you want, mate?”
    “Pink,” I say.
    Her face splits into a grin and she hands me a glass of strawberry juice.

    Liked by 12 people

  10. Full Bloom

    The loud buzz of an industrial mower wakes me with a jolt from a flying dream. The communal lawn getting its bimonthly attention. If my legs still worked, I would rush to the window for one last look at the daisies before they became part of the decaying green pulp piled at the pavement edge. The din fades and I know the job is done, petals lopped sideways, cut in half. Just like me. In a week I’ll see their heads pop through, like zombie green shoots waving white petal flags.

    Annie knocks and let’s herself in. Ever smiling, as though her happiness will filter into me like summer sun. She praises my muscle tone as she bends my legs this way and that. The pain is a welcome shock. I’d grown used to the numbness but this burning electric, although intolerable, is new and precious. She smiles, tells me to keep working and I’ll be back on my feet by summer. Hooks her baby finger in mine in a childlike promise; we make a great team. Just like a daisy chain I say as she lets herself out.

    189 words
    Fire dragon

    Liked by 9 people

  11. The feeling of trepidation as we entered the house is the last thing I remember before it happened. For a long time after everything was strange, more like living through distant memories half-remembered.

    Until that day my father was more like a brother to me, his mind had been altered such in the war that he was more like a small child. From his wheelchair we would delight in everything together as I ran alongside and my mother pushed him along.

    No one could ever explain it, how and why my husband suddenly returned. If he knows, he has kept it to himself. All I know is a light that had disappeared from his eyes returned and he saw me once more. I think it was that place, though, somehow, those beautiful flowers.

    As a child I believed in dragons that had been chased away from their home, settling and dying here, becoming pink flowers. That those flowers contained a magic that could unfog the mind and cure any ills.

    The final part of that dreamlike time I remember quite clearly. My daughter, who I had never properly met, offered me one of those flowers.

    195 Words
    Fire dragon option: Include an unexpected joy

    Liked by 4 people

    • Fun twist, shifting the foggy mind to that of the speaker (how much is hidden in that phrase “who I had never properly met”!!)! Love the idea (of course 😀 ) of the mythical flowers being the remnants of dragons, with the power to restore wits and memories. A great read.


  12. I am a child.
    (I am a woman.)
    I am old.

    “I want to hold all the flowers!” I say, laughing.
    (“How wonderful pink is,” I say.)
    “I always dreamed flowers like these existed somewhere,” I say.

    “I was warned you might come,” says the security guard, who’s just caught up to me. Despite the garden’s max-oxygen, his face is flushed. “This is so freaky. Which one of you do I even talk to?”

    I stretch out my arms, imagining a pink flower waterfall.
    (I ignore him and push my wheelchair forward.)
    I drop my head and close my eyes, breathing deeply.

    The guard follows, scowling. “What you did is wrong. Against science.”

    “I want to run,” I say.
    (“Separating would dissolve the time-split,” I say. “Hold tight. We’ve only minutes.”)
    “I’d forgotten what full lungs feel like,” I say, crying.

    The guard’s still watching me, curiosity and revulsion rippling across his ashen face. “Why can’t you be content out there? The garden wasn’t designed for greyfolk like you or me.”

    I look around, the world awash in glorious, living pink.

    “No; but it will be,” I say, and

    I grin.
    (I grin.)
    I grin.


    195 ineligible, T minus 5h to surgery, words
    Fire dragon: joy

    Liked by 14 people

  13. Flowers bloom brightly 
    In the picture the child continually stares
    The picture found in a book hopefully 
    Quietly never uttered for cares.

    Excitement begins to grow
    Upon a snatched whisper 
    Surely dreams do come true
    Such pleasant secrets a hopeful whisker.

    Flowers bloom brightly
    Surrounding all the pathways
    Filling the pathways with  rejuvenating energy 
    Pathways of relaxation and  joyous days

    Hills and borders growing a colourful sight
    Pleasing pathways of peace
    A Satisfying sight of Joy and light
    Perspective pathways and release

    Time never does pause still for one or  all
    Busy lives continue their duties regardless 
    Yet amongst the colour momentarily standing tall
    A joyous fleeting moment remaining timeless 

    Flowers bloom brightly 
    A smile showing delight for each and all on the pathways 
    These Paths filled with rejuvenating energy 
    Of Peacefulness promise days

    Throughout the park the colour and plain contrast sight
    Allows continuous momentary standstills against time
    Time herself wipes away her tears watching in delight
    Before rushing us  forward again seemingly benign

    Lives past and present stand together still
    A shared peaceful promise 
    Respectable, respectful, resilience 
    Kindness and reassuring a renewed premise

    ( Fire – unexpected joy, 185 words, @lindorfan)

    Liked by 7 people

  14. Where the Flowers Still Sing

    He was already dead. I could feel nothing, but slight vibrations as his head rolled from one shoulder to the next.

    When I met Michi, he teemed with chaotic energy like his bones were rioting. The bones weren’t cooperating like they used to though, so the energy went to his eyes, devouring all the sights he could.

    His favorite spot was Lake Motosu, with its sheen like a crystal ball, telling fortunes of a future he wouldn’t get to see. But the present was enough.

    Time had a way of flattening even people like Michi, and when that happened, she couldn’t take it anymore. They called it physician-assisted suicide in the West, but here, it was a mercy killing. She became a physician by necessity, but was tired, and had to think of the little one.

    At that point, I became an unwilling hearse. His warm hands were no longer there to guide me. To guide us.

    After she dumped him into the water, she had no more use for me, and I was discarded among the flowers, with my wheels still spinning.

    I found Michi again, in the petals, dancing and bellowing their fragrance.

    Word Count: 195 words.
    Element: Fire.

    Liked by 6 people

  15. Candy-colored Apocalypse

    It was a candy-colored apocalypse. She remembered ominous dark clouds over the Food Mart, the parking lot crowded with cars. At the entrance, a young man, or old, in a wheelchair, holding a cup for handouts. Help a wounded vet, he said. Thank you have a nice day.

    Which war were you in, she asked the vet, and the sky flashed blinding bright. She heard screams in the darkness after.

    Now she was in a field of pink flowers. There was a little girl crying and holding her hand. The young-old man was riding in his wheelchair.

    I’m Karen, she said. Who are you?

    My name is Madee, said the girl. It means beginning. I’m Pete, said the vet.

    Where are we? said Karen.

    It’s like heaven, said the little girl Madee. Are you angels?

    This must be some kind of drug, said Pete. Hallucinogens in the air. Us or Them, they’ve both been working on it.

    You could be my dead husband, Karen said. Madee, you could be our daughter, the daughter we never had. I guess this is our world, now. We might as well be a family.

    190 words

    Liked by 11 people

  16. Human Resorces

    Every spring Mrs Johnson waits for the appointment time and place. Always April. Always when the blossoms smear their colourful indifference over the landscape.
    Every message mocks her with the order.
    Mrs Johnson dresses carefully. Today matters. Joyce is excited. She wants to dress in her best. She knows today is important.
    Mrs Johnson bathes Jeremy carefully; she shaves him, cursing puberty’s casual indifference to irony. She unfolds his Warriors jacket and squeezes him into it, saddened that it always fits.
    Mrs Johnson eases him into the chair, trying so hard to ignore his depleted body.
    Mrs Johnson walks through the park savouring yet begrudging every passing second. Joyce’s excitement is palpable. One day, Joyce will understand. Not today. She wills herself not to reach out and touch him.
    The committee receive her with due formality. This is business. While Joyce skips away, Jeremy is checked and passed. This time he will lose a kidney and fibula.
    The committee remind Mrs Johnson of her responsibilities. Minders must not become emotionally attached to clones. She understands. One day he will be fully depleted; she will return with Joyce alone. Then it will be Joyce’s turn.

    194 words
    Ice requirement. Unexpected sorrow

    Liked by 6 people


    Normally he would propel himself, but today Nikko was tired.

    And besides, he was texting.

    So Hiromi pushed him, pushing herself through dark memories. Of that day, the harmless looking fall. But a severed cord, a severed future – the ball not kicked, the tune not danced.

    The light gone from his eyes. His retreat, to deep within himself.

    And the bewildered anger of his little sister.

    “He won’t play with me.”

    “Why does he just sit there?”

    “Why is he always grumpy?”

    And then

    “I hate him.”

    Over time the light returned. He began to push himself. There are two meanings to that phrase.

    And today he won a race. The green medal-ribbon danced at his neck as his thumbs sped news of his success to his friends.

    He had friends again.

    Behind them, Hana skipped as she chattered.

    “Did you see him? Did you see him fight off that boy on the bend? Did you see how fast he was?”

    And then

    “My brother’s the best.”

    Nikko’s neck turned blossom-pink. His thumbs paused. Hiromi’s breath caught as he turned, looked into Hana’s eyes, and smiled.

    “So is my sister.”

    190 words
    Fire dragon element

    Liked by 7 people

  18. The Clouds in October

    We grab the wheelchair of the disabled, tighten our grip around the tiny hands of the children, and we run for the clouds in October. They hang low in the sky, ominous, pompous, creamy thick. The setting sun sheds his last rays of light on the enormous masses of fluff, that then change colour from a white grey beige to a deep, yet somehow vibrant blue, darker than the air surrounding it. It’s obvious camouflage. The clouds want you to see them, intimidate you with their imposing presence, a silent menace for all mankind. Because they don’t float away. They hover over our heads. As if suddenly there is no wind, not the slightest breeze. As if suddenly the world has come to a standstill, ready to collapse. The clouds will crash on top of us, swallow us whole and who knows what’s inside? So we run for our dear lives. We look behind us in fear, while not trying to stumble. And we sorrow over our death, unexpectedly early, difficult to accept, but there is no other way. We cannot escape the clouds in October.

    186 words
    Ice Dragon: unexpected sorrow

    Liked by 4 people

  19. Title: She Who Invites

    The flowers were Sobo’s favorite color, but she kept her head bowed. Mama pushed Sobo’s chair so fast, I ran to keep up. Mama cried, but Sobo had smiled. She hadn’t smiled in a long time.

    Mama rolled Sobo into a meadow, and the pinkish-purple flowers waved in greeting. Still crying, Mama bowed low to Sobo and hurried away, pulling me with her.

    “Sobo! Sobo!” I cried, trying to wrench free. “Mama, why are we leaving Sobo here?”

    “Let her come,” Sobo said.

    I ran to Sobo and knelt among the flowers, hugging her knees. “You can’t stay here, Sobo. What if it rains?”

    “Sweet child, this is where I need to be.”

    “But why?”

    “Because this is where Izanami will come and issue me her invitation to be a part of creation. You will see. I will be reborn and last forever. Now, you go with your mother, and watch for me.”

    As my mother led me away, I looked over my shoulder. A glowing cloud surrounded Sobo, and when the cloud disappeared, Sobo’s chair was empty.
    # # #

    Unexpected joy
    192 words

    Liked by 6 people

    • What a lovely twist on the origin story. “Go with your mother, and watch for me.” <– love these final words (I'm imagining the powerful impact they must have on the grandchild's life to come!), and the nod to Japanese mythology.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. What Remains

    As Hana approaches the phlox fields, her stomach gives a lurch. She hasn’t gone blossom-viewing since the difficulties. But it’s May, and that’s what’s done.

    Breathing her discomfort down to a flutter, she steps onto the paved river that flows through the profusion of moss pink. Crowds once thronged these fields, annual group photos backdropped by shibazakura brilliance. Even during the difficulties, a few would venture here searching for normalcy.

    Normalcy. No. She cannot be tugged by the hand into the childishness of the past, nor bent by the loneliness of the future. Even those who survived the difficulties succumbed to the anguish of comparisons.

    There’s only now.

    And now, her feet trample humble blossoms. Shame halts her. Straying from the path is not done. She’s ruining it for… everyone… else.

    The flutter becomes an earthquake.

    She drops her parasol and runs–away from comparisons, from normalcy—until she collapses at the crest of a knoll.

    Petals kiss her cheek. She breathes in their earthy pungeance. The sky bends over her to nuzzle the rosy horizon. Evening shades to indigo. Stars wink at her through the darkness.

    Although it’s not done, Hana remains all night.

    195 words
    Fire prompt: unexpected joy

    Liked by 8 people

    • You’ve captured so perfectly nature’s siren call: there’s something about a field of flowers making it just impossible to stay on the pre-set path (sorry, botanical gardens! 😀 ). I like the parallel here between that call and Hana’s journey in dealing with “the difficulties,” and how it doesn’t matter that we don’t know details. It’s not done—but maybe sometimes it is.


  21. Hanahaki Blues

    The thing about love, is it blossoms whether or not you’re ready for it. It starts with a daisy— no, it starts before that, in the break room, when Xo pulls a pen from her hair and it spills down her shoulders like ink. Alicia coughs up that first flower that night. It curls up in her palm like it wants a nap. In the morning, it’s begonias. By the end of the day, she has enough for a spit-watered bouquet.

    Maybe Alicia should present it to Xo— she wouldn’t need to speak the language of flowers to understand: the pulmonary bloom will spread until they overwhelm her lungs and heart— that, or Xo cures her by telling Alicia she loves her back, and means it. Problem is, Xo is married. To a man. Why does she even have that kiss-off of a name?

    Alicia hacks up violets during Happy Hour, and it turns out Xo is fluent in floral, because she follows Alicia to the bathroom and demands to know whose love is infecting her. Alicia won’t answer, but Xo already knows. “I’m separating,” Xo says, like it’s a non-sequiter.

    191 Words
    Fire Dragon: Unexpected Joy

    Liked by 9 people

  22. Alice, On The Mountain

    The hill we climb is the life we lived.

    The words of the Priestesses came to Alice as they climbed. The day was warm even at that altitude, and despite the efforts of pushing Alma’s chair and half-dragging Ava, she was happy. They were the three generations and their task was a solem joy. The sun shone upon them, the flowers looked to the sky and they supported each other as they climbed. This was the life they lived.

    But as the gradient sharpened, Ava’s singing quietened and Alma slumped in her chair and Alice was left to carry them all along. Was this the life she lived?

    Finally, at the summit, the air thin and cold, they said goodbye. Alice bent and kissed her mother’s head, Ava hugged her tearfully, then they tipped the chair forwards, sending Alma to rest with her mothers, to make Ava’s someday mountain that little higher.

    Then Alice turned the chair and sat in it, gathered her child into her arms.

    “Hold tight,” she whispered.

    Then she kicked off and they hurtled back downhill, racing into the blossomed wind, Ava whooping with joy.

    This was the life they lived.

    195 words
    An unexpected joy.

    Liked by 6 people

  23. Freedom At A Cost

    Eiko was glad for once that his emotions did not show. As Asuka pushed him further away from the Institute he was elated – his excitement untinged by guilt or fear. After years being trapped in his screwed up body the wheelchair had been his closest companion since the illness. His once athletic body now crumpled and stubbornly fused; he just longed to walk.

    Asuka kept looking over her shoulder expecting to see security guards. It couldn’t be long before they’d notice Eiko had gone. She’d nursed him for years in that inexplicable facility. She’d seen him staring out the window and he seemed to react to nature programmes; he deserved some time outside. Her daughter tugged at her, ‘Look, our car.’

    As she manoeuvred the wheelchair to the door Eiko’s time had come. Asuka leaned over to undo the buckles and he leant in and kissed her on the lips. She didn’t withdraw immediately. A mistake. The unique parasite that had crippled him left Eiko for this younger, fitter host. He wondered when she’d notice its impacts. At least he knew he would walk again soon.
    Suddenly grief came over him, ‘What have I done?’

    WC: 195
    Ice: an unexpected sorrow

    Liked by 6 people

    • I wonder if the grief is just sorrow or actual regret–I’m guessing the former, since we’re told Eiko doesn’t feel guilty. Either way I bet Asuka will have something to say about this down the road! As well as the mysterious Institute, which is clearly up to No Good. This reads like a classic Twilight Zone episode (except then Eiko would need to suffer retribution somehow of course).

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Sol 11/19
    Roots (Title)
    Entwined throughout all the hills

    The Color Remains

    Silence flows the dialogue of sun and wind, the passage of the sun across the sky, interspersed with the relief of the clouds. Distant conversations; polite, quiet; flow in and around the ambiance of pastel.
    In triplicate it resides, age and coloration, undulating across the past, present, and future. Reflections of the natural world made into a bouquet of perennial results.

    White, Violet, And
    Magenta spreading across

    Visage of The Now

    There are no sounds, save for the breath, and the anxious anticipation of getting through the obligation and on towards, the next destination. No glances to the left or right, no slowing down for the smaller size of shoe. Just movement to accomplish the desired outcome.

    Had they been only alone, no one would know of the stride. None would be aware of the hands and the pace, how time had reached across the distance traveled by the planet, about and about the sun.

    Instead, a peaceful day is just another means to ends, to satiate obligations made and kept.
    Death looms for all

    Evergreen Today
    Perennial Tomorrow

    Today, Just Flowers

    Ice Dragon: An unexpected Sorrow
    Word Count is 191

    Liked by 5 people

    • This piece struck me as a thoughtful shifting/elaboration on taking time to smell the flowers–how much we miss, when today’s flowers are “just another means to ends.” Such a good reminder, with a timeless twist.


  25. Whispers in the Mouse’s Ear

    Attic stairs and creaky floorboards were rainy afternoon fun for two adventurers. “Shh. Quiet, like a mouse!” They tiptoed to a wooden box. Dee lifted the lid to their treasure chest. “See? Mama keeps old dress-up clothes and stuff in this trunk.”

    “What’s that chair in the corner?” asked her sidekick. “It has wheels.”

    “Mama doesn’t like us playing with that. It’s Uncle Andy’s.”

    “Uncle Who?” She pushed the chair; the wheels squeaked.

    Dee’s attention was on the bounty of treasures before her. “He left before you were born, when I was little little. Mama said the chair was because of his sit-stick five-roses.”

    “You remember him?” asked the littler sister.

    “Uh-huh. Mama pushed him up the park hill one April. The flowers were all a-bloom, and we picked a bunch.” She found a floral straw hat. “See? He put the prettiest ones in the hatband. Then he gave it to me and told me never to forget him.”

    “Those flowers are all dead.”

    “Yeah,” Dee said with a sigh and a smile. “But you should’ve seen it, Drew. The sun was shining bright, and the flowers were so pink!”

    190 words, unexpected joy

    Liked by 8 people

    • What a sweet scene–Dee’s memory of her uncle is not of pain but of a spring day bursting with flowers. I love how she passes this memory on to her brother, and how the flowers are kept in the attic chest with other treasures. And what a PUNCH with death being remembered with “a sigh and a smile.” Such a simple, sweet, childlike reaction.


  26. Day Out

    I didn’t really want to go anywhere, let alone a field trip. Not since I got sick. Can’t really walk. Stamina is gone. Sometimes it’s hard enough just to hold my head up. I knew what it would cost my daughter too. Pushing me over hill and dale while chaperoning a passel of kids. No. I did not want to go.

    But it was my daughter’s turn to volunteer, and she couldn’t just leave me home alone in my chair. And it was my granddaughter’s favorite trip of the year, the flower farms. She loved the colors and smells and the way the wind blows through the blossoms.

    Off we go. I hated every second. I saw the struggles my daughter made to handle everything. I sawe how my granddaughter wanted to ooh and ahh at the flowers but couldn’t.. Garden paths aren’t welcoming to wheelchairs

    I felt torn up. I know my daughter did too. Just as we were licking our wounds and heading home though, my granddaughter climbed up in my lap and said “Thank you Pop Pop. I’m glad you were here,”

    And now I want to go everywhere.

    192 words
    Unexpected Joy

    Liked by 4 people

    • oh I love this!!! This story beautifully illustrates the difference the love of a single person can make in shaping a person’s attitude. What a lovely thing for the granddaughter to say, and what love the grandfather has for her in return. Talk about perspective-shifting.


  27. Thank you all for your words!! Sol 11 is now CLOSED. If you missed the deadline, you’re absolutely welcome to still post your stories (we’d love to read them), but please know they’ll be ineligible for judging. Until Sunday, dear friends!


  28. Rolling his chair to the window, he placed his feet on the tiled floor. It was cold under his thin socks.
    Marry me, she whispered. He watched the moss grow on the sill; pink. A tulip sprang up near his leg, gently tapping his knee.
    You want to marry me? He choked out.
    Her eyes were drops of dark honey; she looked at him amused, chuckling nervously.
    Yes, he said.
    Tulips sprung up everywhere in the room. Red. Yellow. Purple.
    He closed his eyes. Ten years. And a girl?
    Spongebob teeshirt, dark hair. He had pushed her out of the way as he’d run out. So much rage.
    She didn’t feel the pain, they told him, it was instant.
    As if that made it easier.
    The metal from the car crash twisted into his days.
    Breathe in, breathe out, they’d told him. Count your breaths.
    Someone was calling his name. He ignored them; they continued.
    What is it, he barked, the moss melted into the tiles.
    You have a visitor, the nurse said gently.
    He rolled his chair around to a young woman with honey eyes.
    Papa, she smiled.
    The moss started to gather again.

    Words 195/ fire dragon

    Liked by 8 people

  29. Three Little Birds

    For a moment, the cage of cares is open, and the wingless birds soar above a sea of pink with waves of mauve and splashes of salmon.
    Their joy buoys them above aromatic clouds.
    The heights of their joys are equal, but the shapes unique.

    The youngest experiences the familiar joy of youth.
    No cares from which to escape, she is accustomed to running, laughing, delighting. The miles of flowers are new, and so are the ruby dress and shiny shoes. But her joy is not.

    One experiences the unfamiliar joy of speed. A breeze. There are no curbs, stairs, or doors. No obstacles to rolling as fast as his mother’s love can propel him.

    And she experiences the joy that only a parent knows. The untrained eye might see weariness. But beneath the determined look is relief, that for once, a plan went according to plan. The car, the weather, the traffic, the rule makers, the medicines, the cash flow, lunch all cooperated so that the three of them could have 10 minutes of quiet and beauty.

    For once, she has two happy children.

    188 ineligible words
    unexpected joy

    Liked by 7 people

  30. Pingback: Human Resources #flashfriday #prompt #flashfiction | TanGental

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