The King

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Aunt Shoo put the final dollop of meringue atop the key lime pie. She placed it back in the oven to bake the meringue top.

I watched through the glass window – small back in those days – at the caramelizing sugar. “Aunt Shoo,” I asked, “What’s a key lime?”

“Well,” Aunt Shoo replied, bending closer to my tender height, “It’s the kind of lime Elvis liked, and it makes the kind of pie Elvis liked, so it has to be the best.”

“Who’s this ‘Elvis’?”

Her face blanched. “Come with me,” she said before leading me upstairs to her shrine.

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This was written for the December 5th Flash Fiction Challenge on the Carrot Ranch, key lime pie. This is based on my real-life introduction to key lime pie, wherein my Aunt (who I called “Shoo” at the time because I couldn’t pronounce her real name) claimed it was Elvis’s favorite and thus should be enjoyed. Was it really his favorite? I don’t know. But she was convinced of it, and therefore I will believe it until told otherwise.

Also I don’t actually know if she has a shrine, I just thought that was a nice touch.

By Knowledge or Faith

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When I was little, I celebrated the rays of the sun diffracting around clouds or through the branches of trees.  The angelic light spread like a halo around the object, and I thought it proof that some higher power were real.  This light from above had such a strange quality, one that wasn’t replicated daily or even weekly.

In college I learned of Snell’s law, of diffraction, angles, translucence, and wavelength.  A miracle, somewhat holy, became a set of numbers and laws.  The magic of cloud-halos was lost as the harsh loneliness of science and knowledge took its place.  The faith that God was there with me, showing his presence with the shape of the light, was no more.

But that doesn’t mean the faith never mattered.

(127 words)

***

This was written for the 199th FFfAW Challenge!  Thanks to Jody McKinney for her lovely, nostalgia-bringing picture. 

Skeet Skeet

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It always burned my dog-hide that my little brother was more athletic than me.  It didn’t matter what game it was – whether football, basketball, bowling, or even shooting, he was always top notch whereas I was something much lower rung.

Every day after Thanksgiving, my extended family would get together and do some skeet shooting.  There was no winner, but there certainly were losers.  I was the lame-o nerd who ‘wasted expensive bullets’ and usually just threw some skeets.  Hell, even my cousin who smoked so much that he couldn’t run a lap around a football field could shoot better.  My grandpa who has super progressed glaucoma would laugh.

Every time I was forced to attend, the prayer slipped through my lips, dear Lord, why does the alternative to skeet shooting have to be shopping? 

(135 words)

***

This was a rather detailed picture to write a story about for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers #194!  Just in case family members from my Facebook read this, know that this was only loosely based off real life, and I’m not mad. 

Thanks to Yinglan for the picture!

Memoir Monday – Regrowth of the Woods

I grew up surrounded by new woods.  The trees were young, regrowing from the clear-cutting of eastern forests that had happened only a couple generations ago.  I always felt a connection to these woods, since my father and grandfather and great grandfather before him had all been loggers, dependent upon regrowth, conservation, and subsequent destruction.

Sometime when I was younger, my dad gave up the trade in favor of building houses.  I think this was the right decision for him, since he actually had a mentally difficult time cutting down trees (he’d mark trees in our forest that he wanted to save with a blue ribbon), and that neither me nor my brother became truly invested in the trade.  We learned the values of logs, qualities of wood, and the meaning of ‘dodey hollow.’  I enjoy wormy chestnut more than the average human.

And so, with all these eastern deciduous trees, my dad of course loved fall.  The quality of the leaf color could indicate the health of the environment overall, especially the amount of rainfall from the summer.  Reds, yellows, and oranges abound in seasons where the trees are healthy and the rains are not too heavy.  Several years after he’d logged a section, the leaves returned.

I used to take long hikes through our woods in the fall.  I’d put on an orange toboggan, meant to keep me safe from hunters (our land had no fences), and hike up to unknown places like Kent’s field or Circle Top.  I can’t imagine why I thought I was safe from the bears and cougars without even a shotgun, but middle school me didn’t seem to care.

Just before I became an adult (and I mean just, since I turned 18 only a month later), my parents split up.  Though I agree it was the right decision, my mom sold her part of the land, and I expect to see nothing from the parts my dad has retained.  Late one fall, I drove over to some of the old hiking grounds, found the spot where I suspect my dad had murdered my dog, and buried letters avowing remembrance.  That was the last time I hiked through those woods, and I doubt I regrow like the trees that marked Spud’s grave.

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This was a true story by H.R.R. Gorman. 

Stealing Bicycles

When I was in college, I had a professor who had been in the military before going into academia. He had a long, rectangular hole cut in a large ammo box and then chained the locked box to the wall in the break room. This box was where we were supposed to turn in homework, and the TA would come in to pick it up at the due date and time.

One day, a classmate of mine was unable to complete a homework assignment because his young daughter was very sick and going to the hospital. He hurriedly shoved what little he’d done into the box and ran out the door to be with his family.

The rest of us, slogging dutifully through fluid mechanics, looked to the box.

“He’s a good guy – why should his daughter being sick screw him over?” Tibs asked.

“This isn’t right.”  Big B, ungratefully sober at the time, crossed his arms.  “Can’t let the prof flunk him for that.”

“We could do his homework for him,” I offered, “But they’d catch us since it’d be in our handwriting.”

Tibs lit up, clicked his fingers, and announced, “We don’t have to do his homework – we just have to convince the TA to cheat a little for us…”

So we wrote him this note:

TA note

For those who can’t load images:

Dear TA,

I have your cat/child/dog/significant other/car bike.  If you ever want to see them again, you must pay me in full with a 100 on this Homework.

Thanks, <REDACTED>

<Whited out stuff>

P.S. I know where you live:

<TA’s REDACTED ADDRESS>

In the middle of writing this note, we found out that the TA didn’t have a cat, dog, significant other, or car.  Instead, he rode a bicycle around everywhere – hence the strikethrough.

Under the whiteout was “Tibs and H.R.R. on behalf of <Redacted name of student with daughter>.”  Big B had decided that was too much, so in an attempt to copy some of the professor’s strange antics, whited it all out and just put the screwed student’s name.

We found the TA’s home address (!?!) on the university’s website, added the final threat, and shoved it in the ammo box.

The TA evidently found it hilarious, and I gather actually gave the poor man a couple pity points on the homework when he found out what had happened.

***

Though it didn’t quite fit the prompt, I was reminded of this event and inspired to write it down by the Purpl Dragon Prompt 315.

The Long Drive Home

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She was quiet, hands clutched tight to the steering wheel, cheeks still puffy from sobbing.

He was noiseless in the passenger seat.  He gripped his water bottle tight, as if afraid it would disappear.  His clothes hadn’t been washed since he’d taken them off a couple weeks ago, and storage hadn’t done the lingering scent of sweat any good.

The skin on her hands was thinning, and her hair greyed at the temples.  Her lips wiggled, constant reminder of the words she couldn’t let out.  Instead she reached into the purse in her back seat and removed a granola bar.

He snatched it.  His hands were youthful, his face not yet stubbled with hair.  His arms were covered in bruises.  Swiftly his fingers found the serrated foil and tore open the package.  Though crumbled from having been in the purse for so long, he gobbled it down.  His eyes fluttered in pure delight at the taste.

She reached for the console, but then stopped midway, leaving the radio off.

He looked pensively at her, wishing she’d turned the dial.  “Are you mad at me?”

She swallowed.  “I’m glad you’re coming home.”

“But are you mad at me?”

She silenced him with a quick turn off the highway and a narrow avoidance of oncoming traffic.  The road turned to gravel beneath the wheels, crunching loudly and jolting the car.  She held the wheel steady and kept the tires from shifting over the loose rocks.

At the end of the long drive home, she shifted the car into park and killed the ignition.

They sat in the car, hesitant, testing the lonely air in their lungs.

“Are you mad I got taken to juvie?”

She looked at his face and stopped fighting back her tears.  “I still love you.”

***

This was written for the 19th September Carrot Ranch 2018 Free-Write challenge. “The Long Drive Home” was the prompt.  I was having an absolutely horrible day at work, and I wrote this during that lunch break.  As a result, all I could remember was this semi-memoir type of work.  I wasn’t either of the characters in the above, but I knew them.  When his mom left to get him from juvie, I didn’t envy her.  I don’t know how the drive went in real life, but this is how it occurred in my head. 

On October 1st, on the Carrot Ranch Facebook page, the TUFF challenge begins with an announcement of the winners.  If you want to read a really cool set of flash fictions, stay tuned!  I may or may not get in, but either way I know this is going to be fun!

Headliners

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Before retirement, my aunt was a hairdresser at Headliners Haircutters.  I’d sit in her chair, get my messy locks lopped off, and wait for the phone to ring.

“Hello?” my aunt would answer.  Someone would speak, then she’d yell, “Debbie!  It’s for you!” and proceed to listen to all the gossip across the party line.

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This was written for the Sammi Cox’s weekend writing prompt #71, “Headline.”  This is a completely true story, though I do feel that it fails to have a plot. 

The Kreme Master

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I celebrate

By biting through to jelly.

Glaze, dough, raspberry,

Bleed out for my happiness

And suffer to give me joy.

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Thanks once again to Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday challenge!  This week Colleen gave us free reign to write with any words we please while she celebrates 100 Tanka Tuesdays.  Because my first date was approximately 10 years ago at this time of year, I decided to celebrate by remembering that first date to Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  

The Preacher’s Wife

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Preacher Jackson was pretty popular round the community.  He was a farmer during the week and spouted hellfire and brimstone on Sundays, and almost every Sunday was invited over to someone’s house for lunch.

His wife, Miz Annie, was always quite the guest.  Never content with being treated, the woman would always pack a cooler of deviled eggs or a passel of beans.  People would sometimes wonder if it wasn’t her food and hospitality that brought more people to Jesus than her husband’s exhortations.

That made it all the harder for the entire community when she came down with the cancer.

The doctor’s office was far away, and even Miz Annie would admit she’d hidden the condition for longer than was good for her.  It didn’t take long before she became bedridden and the death watches began.

When it was clear the last moments were near, Miz Annie took Preacher Jackson by the hand.  Her skin was thin as paper and her face pale as a sheet.  She’d not gone through radiation or chemo, so her hair was still present and her mind still very much intact.  “I won’t leave you,” she said.  “I won’t leave you ’til you leave me.”

Preacher Jackson shook his head.  “I love you.  I wouldn’t leave you for anything.”

And so he stayed by her side, only leaving for bathroom breaks and the barest requirements.  Ladies at the church brought by food to sustain him (Miz Annie wasn’t eating anymore).  Preacher Jackson’s and Miz Annie’s three children tried to get him to sleep in his own bed, but he refused and insisted on the small chair next to the deathbed.

She slipped in and out of comas, and her breathing slowed.  Preacher Jackson’s fingers were on her neck, feeling for a heartbeat, about as often as they were wrapped around her hands in the hope she’d wake up again.

At last, while Miz Annie’s friends Miz Kathleen and Mama Grace were visiting, Preacher Jackson stood to take his leave.  He wasn’t a spring chicken, and he still had to do the duties of a living man.

Right when he was zipping his fly and preparing to return to her bedside, he heard gasps and sobs coming from the bedroom.  He barely washed his hands and completely failed to dry them before he rushed back.

Miz Kathleen and Mama Grace were holding each other’s hands, stunned while tears and short sobs ran down their face.  Preacher Jackson tumbled past them and put his hand to his wife’s, finding it still warm but completely still.  A touch to her frail neck told him what he feared most – she’d gone while he’d left.

At long last, Miz Kathleen put a hand to his shoulder.  “It was beautiful,” she said, “It was… I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“We saw the spirit leavin’ her,” Mama Grace added.  “It was like a white dove, and it flew out the window.  You should’ve been here, Preacher.”

Preacher Jackson wept on her bedside.  She’d gone, left, without him there to see her off.  She’d done just as she promised.  Had he stayed too long?  Had he made her suffer by his side?

With Preacher Jackson beside himself, Miz Kathleen and Mama Grace called around to start the wake.  They curled Miz Annie’s hair and slathered her dead face with make up so she’d look natural.  Preacher Jackson’s house soon became a pit of food and filled with reverent, gloomy worshippers that wanted to see the body of a woman so certain to be a saint.

The next day they put her in the ground and covered her grave with flowers and polypropylene ribbons.  It was rare for such a showing to be seen for anyone, man or woman.

It took a long time for Preacher Jackson to return to the pulpit.  But when he did, the fire didn’t burn as hot, and the brimstone wasn’t so painful.  It may have been Mama Grace and Miz Kathleen that saw the miracle, but he understood God’s message.  Up until now his official title meant he showed people how to get to heaven, but her flight from her body was proof she’d known the path better anyway.

***

If you’ve read my garbage for a while, you might remember Mama Grace showing up before.  I’ve kept her in mind since publishing that because someone commented that they found her complex and interesting.  This story is based off one she told me when I was little.  In fact, it was so long ago that she told it to me that my descriptions are surely not quite to the exacting standards they should be.  As such, I took a few liberties by keeping Mama Grace as the only real-life character and making up the situation surrounding what I do remember. 

What I know is true is that she was tending to a dying woman once (a preacher’s wife), and she swore that she saw the spirit leave the body like a dove, reminiscent of when the spirit came upon Jesus after baptism.  I’m not sure if people believed her or not, and I’m afraid to ask around in case no one else remembers this tale. 

Mystery Challenge #2 – Mystery Me

I’m going to do all of the raynotbradbury Mystery Challenges this week!  The second challenge is “Mystery Me,” or “What would you do if you woke up on the street with amnesia?”  I’m assuming this means to write about yourself, so… here we go.  I’m also assuming this is the type of amnesia where you retain your personality and functional knowledge, just not your memories.

I also posted challenge #2 first because my product for challenge #1 fits my Saturday posts a lot better.

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The drop of water on my face was warm.

I twitched my nose and batted my eyes awake.  The air was heavy and damp, and the smell of a thunderstorm loomed near.  As I sat up on the park bench, I wondered where exactly I was and why I was sleeping outside.  I would say that I usually slept in a bed, but for some reason I couldn’t remember if that were exactly true.

I felt of my body, hoping to find information about who I was.  Nothing.  At the same time, nothing hurt when I touched it, so I had to assume I was safe for the time being.

The rain was coming.  A museum sat across the street, assuming I was reading the sign correctly, which would mean people were present.  I didn’t know anyone to contact, but hopefully someone there would know a general contact.  Hopefully I’d not be turned away or hurt…

***

I think this means I’d be pretty boring as an amnesiac.  I think my instincts would be to find someone and get help.  Wow, I’m boring, haha.