Fresh Perspective

“We’re just in a bit of a funk, Brad.” Tish smiles at her husband across the kitchen table, a stack of bills between them. She goes to the stove for the kettle, refills their mugs.

“This is more than a funk.” Brad hurls the bills from the table. They sail, unpaid, unpayable, though the air before settling on the floor.

Tish laughs and Brad, loving the merriment of her voice, is encouraged. He stands and pauses to take a sip of his watery tea before proceeding to stomp on the bills, arranging his face in the best frown he can muster. Continue reading

Equator

You headed east. I, west.

Every step doubling our distance.

Halfway round the world, we met, eyes questioning.

You stepped from the path, altered your course slightly north.

I continued west, remaining true.

~

This was written for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge:
This week we’re asking for exactly 33 of your own words about love gone wrong.  But we’re asking that you not use any of the following words:

love
sad
tears
wept
heart
pain

 

 

 

 

Manipulated

“That new?” Terri nodded at the date inked onto Jenner’s arm.

“Emancipation day.”

“Divorce finalized?”

He spat. “Yup.”

Terry felt faint stirrings of hope. Since high school, she’d pined after Jenner. “I wish you’d settle down. Carnival life…”

“Is perfect for me.”

“I see you once a year.”

“I’ll come for Christmas.”

Terry sighed. Ten-year-olds in manure-caked boots and faded denims cowboyed across the fairgrounds, blue ribbons angled across puffed-out chests as they elbowed their way into food lines: Deep fried pickles. Cheese on a stick. Cotton candy and…

“How’d your pie do?”

“Judging is tomorrow.” A group of girls in shorts of questionable length strode past, waving their fannies like American flags. “I won’t win.”

“Don’t say that.”

“Nellie Johanson’s won everything this year, same as last.”

“Preacher’s daughter?”

“She buys jelly and repackages it in her own jars. She bought an Amish quilt and put her initials on it.”

“I can fix Nellie.”

“Woman ain’t broke.”

“She will be.”

“How you propose to do that?”

“Carolina Reaper Slingblade.”

“Hot sauce?”

“Just a touch.”Jenner made a pouring motion. “Let’s manipulate Nellie’s recipe a bit.”

“We can’t do that!”

“When everyone’s dreaming of ribbons, we’ll dose that pie up good.”

“You need your own sleep.”

“I sleep on my feet ten hours a day. Taking tickets, buckling kids into seats, pushing a green button. I could do with a bit of interest in my life.”

Of course, they got more interest than they bargained for. Fairground officials were interested. Police too.

Nellie ran to the IGA and bought a new pie which, naturally, won first prize.

Jenner was fired.

Terry was permanently banned from the fair.

Was it worth it, the newspaper reporter asked, skepticism scattered across her face.

Terry took Jenner’s hand. “We exposed Nellie for the liar she was.”

Jenner gave a secret smile, knowing that his wife didn’t give a diddle about exposing Nellie. “Naw. It was worth it because it brought us together.”

“Finally,” Terry said.

“Yup.”

 

~

This was written for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was manipulate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance of Color

“We paint our world in shades of expectations and dreams.”

“My dreams. Society’s expectations.”

“It’s a balance.”

I look again at the black and white. Will some color to bleed onto the print.

 

 

This was written for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge: We were to write to a photo prompt in thirty-three words. The image may be found here:

 

 

Eloise Gramine

The Banker stood at Eloise Gramine’s door, suitcase in hand, a doleful look spread across his face like rancid butter.

“Raven kicked me out. Can I stay until my next paycheck?”

Eloise stood aside; allowed The Banker to enter. She studied her slippers, noted the small tear along the right toe.

“Aren’t you going to say anything?”

Dust moats slanted past the faded red curtains and shattered on the hardwood floor. “It’s good to see you.” Continue reading

New Words to Say

The first time I saw the tree, with slants of red that glanced through bare arms that scraped the sky, I feared no new words could draw it. I was wrong: There will e’er be words to say.
This was written for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge.
On now to this week’s Trifextra challenge.  This week we are asking you to count syllables.  And words.  It’s a lot of math for those of us who might be more accustomed to dealing with words, but we’re confident you can pull it off.
We are asking for a 33-word response to the following snippet:

The first time I saw. . .

Here’s the catch: all of your 33 words must be one syllable each.  We’re going low-brow on your this week.  Or not.  Can you class it up under these restrictions?  Give us your best.

To clarify, we are giving you 5 words.  We want another 33 from you, for a grand total of 38. 

 

Change

Charlie and Ruth liked to get to the diner early on Sunday, the old Buick angled in to a parking spot right in front of the diner’s windows so that Charlie could ensure nobody was stealing his old Buick, not that anyone would want to steal that old boat of a car, Ruth always thought.
“Three eggs over easy,” Charlie told the waitress when she tried to hand him a menu. “Sausage. Toast, no butter. You new here?”
The waitress blushed, fingered the lace at her collar. “Can you tell?”
“You’re doing fine, sweetie.” Ruth hated the way her husband was so darn bossy all the time, acting as if the entire world ought to know what exactly what Charlie Browning wanted. She opened her menu and pretended to study it, even though she, like Charlie, always ordered the same thing every day. “Half a grapefruit, please.” She smiled at the waitress, noticed her name tag read Carolyne. She liked that spelling, liked the way it was just a bit different. “With a maraschino cherry, please.” She regretted the second please. Charlie would tell her she was groveling later, in the car while they were driving home. “And two Belgian waffles, no whipped cream.” She folded the menu and gave it to Carolyne.

They waited in silence, watching the holy-rollers, as Charlie called them, stream into the diner, talking loudly and animatedly, all smiles and perfume.
“This here’s our place,” Charlie said, when Carolyne set his plate before him, after one of the church-goers had received their breakfasts. “We come here religiously.” He picked up his fork and stabbed at his eggs as if they were somehow to blame. He plucked the maraschino from Ruth’s grapefruit and put it in his mouth.
“I really wanted that.”
“Whatever.” Charlie cut his sausage in half with the side of his fork.
Ruth decided then and there to order what she wanted tomorrow: Grits. With a side of sausage gravy. She smiled. Charlie would be angry.
This was written for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was whatever.

How to be Cruel

Nick, not that anyone’s asked. Eighteen years.
People spit on him. Kick him. Tell him to get a goddamn job. Hold their breath as they pass.
Occasionally a kid’ll toss a quarter his way, his parents wearing torn expressions: pride colored with embarrassment that their child saw what they did not; anger that their son has given away his bubblegum money, their money, money they actually worked for.
Or those those holier-than-thou bits, white turtlenecks neat beneath Christmas sweaters dancing with reindeer and jolly elves, even the big guy himself.
Not God, of course. Nobody wears a sweater knitted with a picture of God.
Nick laughs in spite of himself, in spite of the fact that he’s sitting on a sleeping bag that hasn’t been laundered in fourteen years. He pictures the face of God stretched across the chests of the men walking up to him, scripture dripping from their lips, promising what they cannot deliver.
College kids busy past, discussing Camus or Thoreau; Kierkegaard or Kafka, believing with all their minds that intelligence will protect them.
Not so, he wants to tell them. Not so.
A kid hands him a dollar. He’s too smart to turn it down. He knows the parents believe that he’ll spend it on dope.
The parents are wrong. He accepts the dollar without making eye contact with the kid. Parents like it when he cowers. Makes them feel a bit more important; like their money has been well-spent.
“Merry Christmas,” the kid says and Nick gives the briefest of nods. He watches the family pass, thinks of his own family, gone eighteen years.
He looks for them every day. He knows he will not see them. He is not God.
“Here, Father.”
He starts, looks up. A girl kneels before him; hands him a basket of food.
He does not recognize her. She is not his girl.
She’s just a kid being respectful. Just a kid being kind before the world teaches her how to be cruel.
This was written for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge.  The word was father.

Brandy

Midnight: Calico paws at eggnog; discovers brandy.
Five AM: “Santa’s a cat!” The children indicate paw prints scattered beneath the tree.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Dad says. “Santa’s human.”
“He’s an elf,” Mom insists.
This was written for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge.
Charles Dickens, in A Christmas Carol, wrote “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.” We are giving you exactly 33 words to make us laugh out loud and spread some festive cheer.


Spring Thaw

Doreen poured a cup of coffee and sank her chair: the Victorian parlor chair with red velvet upholstery that she’d scored curbside fourteen years ago. “Didn’t pay a dime for it,” she told visitors staring at this throne parked in the center of the cabin. She ran her hand across the armrest where Frodo had been allowed, nay, encouraged to chew freely and with gusto.
“My boy’s teething,” Dink would say, every time Doreen protested. She shook her head. That damn dog had been teething for nigh eight years.
“This chair is the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said. And Dink, loyal vagrant of a husband, that part-timing, two-timing, constant-whining lazy-ass of a husband had let Frodo destroy it.
For three days, Dink had been gallivanting, rustling the skirts of the pretty young things that dotted the mountain like wildflowers. Every spring it was the same: Snow dissolved into rivulets. Robins appeared in the oaks. The soil loosened itself. Dink, hoeing the garden plot, would all a’ sudden get that look in his eye. The look that said, I ain’t getting any younger.

“It ain’t easy,” Doreen said, patting Frodo’s head, “to go into town when everybody there knows whose bed Dink’s keeping warm.” She knew the tricks: The averted eyes. The polite inquires after her garden. The wide circle people swept with their mouths around the topic of her husband.
Doreen watched as the lights from Dink’s pickup snagged on the windows of the cabin and dragged themselves across the floor. “He thinks he’s gonna melt my heart with pretty words. He thinks he’s gonna’ traipse in here and tell me he’s a changed man.” Doreen shoved Frodo off her lap and stood. “But he’s wrong. Cause I’m the one changed.”
She grabbed her suitcase and let herself out the back door.
She didn’t need to hear Dink’s words.
She’d heard them all before.
She’d made it past the garden before she stopped.
That chair.
She couldn’t leave it.

This was written for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was melt.