Persistence

Flash Fiction Friday (6)

“I want to spend the rest of my life in a small town in Spain in a quaint house with a green door,” said Caroline confidently to her class during her first day of freshman year in high school. A few of the students laughed and her teacher’s face revealed the doubts within of her student’s life goal.

Caroline proudly told her mother about her goal. Her mother nodded but remained silent. After a few minutes, she responded, “That’s miles and miles away from Ohio, Caroline. How are you going to get there?” Caroline looked down and shrugged. For having such an ambitious goal, the freshman teenager had no concrete plans of making it happen. “Hmm…” replied her mother.

After speaking to her mother, Caroline quietly told her father about her goal. Her father said, “Okay, great.” They didn’t speak of it again.

But the next day, Caroline’s mother took her to the bank and opened up a savings account in Caroline’s name. “If you’re going to live in Spain, you better start saving now. The old lady K down the road is looking for someone to trim her plants and pick her a fresh bouquet of flowers every week from her garden. You can start there. Just make sure you wear gloves.” Caroline couldn’t have felt more loved than in that moment from her mother.

Her mother was never a woman of many words, but a woman of productive action. She helped get Caroline a few more jobs after that and took Caroline to the bank once a week to put money into her savings. Caroline’s mother allowed her to earn money at home to pay for bills by cooking dinner, washing the cars, and taking care of the chickens. And when Caroline left for college, her mother had tears rolling down her cheeks. A calm cry from a strong woman. It was the first time Caroline had ever seen her cry. “Don’t give up on Spain. Remember that.” Caroline nodded, hugged her parents, and drove away to college.

Caroline majored in Spanish, fell in love with a few boys, was heartbroken by all of them, made great friends, made worse enemies, and spent her last year traveling abroad in Spain where she found herself standing in front of a quaint house in a small Spanish town with a yellow door. “C’mon!” called her friends waiting for her to jump in the van. They were passing through and grabbed a bite to eat when she saw it. Cobblestone walkway leading up to a small, bright white house that was recently painted. Whether by coincidence or fate, her life dream in front of her. Others rushing and her standing still. Her heart pounded, her head rushed, her insides tumbled. Could this be it? she thought. She hesitantly walked up to the door and slowly gave it a few knocks, half hoping that no one would answer. But an old, short Spanish woman with deep wrinkles around her eyes and sucked in cheeks opened the door. Words weren’t necessary; the old woman’s eyes kindly greeted Caroline and the house smelled of garlic, saffron, rosemary, and bread. Caroline spoke to her in Spanish, introducing herself and politely asking how much the house was worth and how long the woman had been there. The old woman listened intently with her brown eyes locked on Caroline. Finally, she nodded, closed the door for a moment, opened the door, handed Caroline a piece of paper, and closed the door. Caroline stared at the paper, too focused to hear the van honking behind her. She must have read it a dozen times.

“Veo tu pasión. Soy dueño de la casa. Mi hija heredará la casa. Hablar con ella.”

Caroline laughed the more she read it, tears welling in her eyes. “I see your passion. I own the house. My daughter will inherit the house. Talk to her,” Caroline spoke the words slowly and loudly in English. At the bottom was a few numbers scribbled, which was the old woman’s daughter’s address.

Fifteen years ago, Caroline told her dream to her teacher and her parents. Five years ago, she met an old Spanish woman who lived in her dream house and was willing to sell it. A year ago she moved into her dream house – a quaint house in a small Spanish town. And the first thing she did was paint the door green.

Image: Canva

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Beach Love

Flash Fiction Friday (4)

“I’ll go upstairs and get your things,” Mr. Wright said quietly as everyone ate their breakfast at the table.
“No. I’m not going,” Zoey replied, setting her fork next to her untouched eggs and sausage.
Her three younger sisters stared at her, mouths gaping open.
“What do you mean you’re not going, Zoey?” Mr. Wright asked curiously.
“NOT GOING?!” Mrs. Wright shrieked. “You’re the oldest and would be the first! The first to go to college! FIRST! Do you hear me Zoey Grace?! They offered to pay for your schooling! OFFERED! We wouldn’t have to spend a dime – ”
“Well they can offer it to someone else,” Zoey shot back at her mother’s unbearable voice echoing throughout the house.
“Offer it to someone else?! SOMEONE ELSE! And let our family run out of money?! BROKE?! Out on the street! No money! No food and no-”
“Zoey, let’s take a walk,” Mr. Wright replied through a small gap in Mrs. Wright’s shouting.
Outside, the tall grass rolled gently in the breeze and brought sea salt from the ocean with it. Zoey took a deep breath in. The salty air filled her lungs and a bit of joy sprung from her heart. The seagulls squawked at each other every so often and dove for fish in the water. She had once fed a seagull from her hand but had to run when the food ran out. Mr. Wright and Zoey walked for a while in silence. She listened to the ocean waves and let the sand squish between her toes, another familiar feeling that caused her heart to overflow. Mr. Wright had taken his daughter on many walks on the beach, both to have a good chat to bring her to her senses and to listen to her heart. He wasn’t sure which category this one would fall in.
“Why are you choosing not to go?” Mr. Wright asked to start the conversation and break the silence.
“Oh, I can’t! I decided last fourth of July where I was brave enough to light my own sparkler! My own father! My heart is here – with the ocean, with the sand, with the seagulls, with – ”
“With him?” Mr. Wright interrupted, looking directly into his daughter’s blue eyes. Although he wasn’t for certain there was a boy, Mr. Wright had seen that same look in Zoey’s eyes years ago in Mrs. Wright’s eyes.
Zoey glanced at her father and looked down before reluctantly nodding. Mr. Wright sighed and nodded to acknowledge her before looking out to the ocean.
“I cannot make you do anything. Of that, I am sure. And if you don’t go to college, I will never hear the end of it. Of that, I am absolutely certain. And,” Mr.Wright said, looking back at his daughter and gently wrapping his arm around her, “Zoey, if he cares deeply, he will hold on or he will follow. Of that, I know.”
Zoey nodded and looked out to the ocean as if searching for the right answer.
Mr. Wright left her to make a decision and eat his breakfast. Regardless of her decision, the man was hungry.

Image: Canva

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Bakery

Flash Fiction Friday (2)

She drank her coffee while the rain gently tapped on the window as if asking to be invited in. It made her smile, partially because the thought of rain coming from her ceiling was silly but also because her plants needed the rain. Peonies, roses, begonias, bluebells, camellias, hydrangeas. She had quite the green thumb and a beautiful garden to show for it. “Morning love,” her husband’s voice, two warm arms around her waist, and a routine kiss on the shoulder greeted her. “Hey honey,” she said back to him, leaning her head against his chest. They stood in silence for a few minutes watching the rain and listening to the coffee maker brew another cup.
“Is it supposed to rain all day?” he asked, knowing that she knew the answer.
She shook her head, “No, just this morning.” Another small bout of silence and the coffee maker beeped.
“Do you want to bake today? I picked up that butter you like at the market yesterday,” he said grabbing his cup of coffee, knowing that she’d probably say yes.
“Baking is my favorite. And that butter is perfect for it,” she added, smiling at him.
“Of course. Oh, and I have a surprise for you. C’mon!” he said, grabbing the car keys suddenly.
“But I’m still in my pajamas!” she objected.
“Well, you’re not naked. Let’s go!” he motioned to the door, unaware that he was still holding his coffee cup.
“I haven’t finished my coffee and you haven’t finished yours,” she declared.
Matt quickly grabbed her coffee cup and dumped the rest of it in a Thermos to go, doing the same with his. He hurried out to the car with the keys and two Thermoses as she followed.
“Matt, what’s going on?” she asked confused.
“Here! Put this on,” he said, handing her a bandana. “It’s supposed to be a surprise.”
She rolled her eyes but put the bandana around her eyes anyway and secretly, she loved it. Surprises came only a few times a year and she sincerely enjoyed them. She knew not to ask questions. Matt wasn’t one for giving up details easily.
A twenty-minute drive, a few turns, and a few of her favorite tunes later they had arrived.
“We made it, but keep that on. We’ll get out first,” he demanded.
He helped her out of the car and laughed as she took baby steps on the sidewalk while holding onto his arm. It was funny watching her use her toes to feel the steps before she took them, especially since they were only getting out of the car and walking a few steps onto the sidewalk.
“Now can I take it off? I probably look ridiculous in this city full of people standing in my pajamas with a Thermos in one hand and bandana around my face. Now Matt?” she asked, more curious about what he was trying to pull.
“Wait for it. Wait, and…now!” he proclaimed.
She pulled off the bandana and saw an old, empty brick building with large, dusty windows and a “for rent/for sale” sign in the window. The bricks were dark colored from the rain and the mortar between them was a dark gray, once a vibrant white. The windows were in good shape and the design on top of building store belonged to a shoe store that had moved deeper into downtown.
“So…I’m standing in front of an old brick building in the rain because…why?” she asked perplexed.
Matt smiled nervously and looked down.
“A bakery, Emma. I want to open a bakery with you,” he replied softly. “I know it’s your passion and this just went on the market and I just thought that you’re so good at it and everyone loves everything you bake. Some of my coworkers have offered to pay for your cakes! And the market isn’t too far away. We can get all our ingredients there, which I know you love because they have amazing stuff, you know? We have an appointment on Thursday so we can cancel if you don’t like it. I mean, it is Saturday – we have time. You don’t have to like it but do you like it?” he rambled breathlessly, finally ending with a hopeful yes.
She smiled for the third time that morning, nodded her head, and hugged him in tears.
“I’ve only dreamed of owning a bakery,” she whispered to him through her tears.
“I know,” he replied squeezing her tighter. “C’mon, let’s go home and bake with that butter to celebrate,” he said merrily.
And they did.

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Camping

marketing tips for beginners (1)

Some people say I’m homeless. Others say I’m crazy.
I say I’m camping.

When my son’s father left us and the house was taken, it was all I had. An old, vintage blue and white-topped Volkswagen with pillows, sleeping bags, clothes, a cast iron skillet, a backpack, water bottles, and Christmas ornaments. Ah, and my wedding ring, but I pawned that as soon as I could. My 5-year-old son needed to eat and I didn’t need a wedding ring anymore.

The fighting started in January two years ago. It was snowy and icy cold that year. The frigid wind could frostbite your nose in 20 minutes, especially if you were walking against it without a scarf. We promised to never lock each other out of the house no matter how bad the fighting got. Maybe because we loved each other just enough. Or maybe because we didn’t want blood on our hands. Either way, the promise was kept.

By May we weren’t speaking. He once brought me flowers and didn’t say a word, just laid them on the kitchen table. I’m not sure why, but I think he was trying to show our son how to treat a woman. I found it honorable, but disappointing. A beautiful bouquet, but no follow through. A silent conversation begging for some kind of verbal language. But nothing.

By the fall, our mouths had grown cold from the death of our words over the months of silence. The quiet in our house bothered me so my son and I spent the majority of our time outside. On November 9th, I noticed an array of things missing – the couch, our end tables, our nightstands, the recliner. Over the next few days, more things slowly disappeared until the only thing left was our bed, my son, and I. On Thanksgiving, we ate trail mix. And by Christmas, that bed was gone and we were living in that old, vintage blue and white-topped Volkswagen with pillows, sleeping bags, clothes, a cast iron skillet, a backpack, water bottles, and Christmas ornaments. He had taken everything, except what was mine.

“Mama! We need the drill!” A small voice calls out, holding up a board. Those dark brown curls and grey-blue eyes look at me excitedly. Those strong hands pressing hard against the wood. And those freckles. Those freckles he gets from me. My sweet, strong son.

“Yeah, baby. I’m coming,” I tell him, grabbing a few more screws from the box. The old man who lives down the way, Tom Wicker, let us borrow his drill, his ladder, and bought our screws. In fact, everything for our cabin home was donated by him. The wood, the tractor to set posts, the square, the saw, the tin roof, the windows. Everything. He lets me use his address on my son’s school forms, lets us live on his land for free, and sends his teenage sons to help us if we need any. We even eat dinner at his house on Friday nights. He usually orders pepperoni pizza. The only man I’ve ever trusted and the kindest soul I’ve ever met.

“Go get the vegetable basket, honey. We need to do some picking today!” I tell him, excited for the response I always get. He turns around, looks at me, smiles big, and jumps up and down before running into the cabin and getting the rickety vegetable basket. That boy sure does love gardening! That $200 I got for my wedding ring got us a hoop house and carrot, potato, corn, onion, garlic, broccoli, strawberry, and blueberry seeds. And Mrs. Hosher gives us eggs and chicken from her coop. The only thing I get at the store is rice.

“Mama! Are these ready?” he asks, careful hands mulling around the carrots. “If the top is close to an inch long, then it’s ready baby,” I tell him. He uses his finger to measure but then gets my sewing tape out of his pocket. I smile. We’ve been working on his estimation skills, but he always likes to make sure.

We live in a home-built cabin on a man’s land, live off of crops and pizza, cook over a fire outside, and bring water in from a well.

Some people say I’m homeless. Others say I’m crazy.
I say I’m camping.

Thanks so much for reading friends! From now on, my creative writing posts will be on Fridays! 🙂 Kick off your weekend with a good read!

Image: Canva

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Friendship

bird

The rain beat down steadily to its own rhythm. Not a heavy rain. But a light, comforting rain. A rain that complemented the brightness of the sun. She watched it and drank her tea from the porch. Of everything that spring brought, rain was her favorite.

A small flock of birds flew into a bush one by one to find cover from the rain. They each had the same routine – fly into the bush, shake water off their feathers, waddle deeper into the bush, and sit on a branch. They were all medium to large sized and bright shades of red or blue. Except for one. The last one was small and brown. She wanted to call him a sparrow, but she knew that wasn’t right. Sparrows had black and white stripes on them. This one was brown with a white chest. No special designs, no bright colors, not an intimidating size. He was different, and the others made sure he knew it, squawking at him and pulling at his feathers. He was a contender for a space in the bush, which even though had enough physical space, apparently didn’t have enough territory.

After they had plucked two feathers, he began squawking back at them. Although the small brown bird was outnumbered, he was spirited. He squawked as loud as he could, which was quieter than the rest, and dodged the other birds’ beaks rather quickly. He even nipped at one of the large red birds with his small beak. What a fearless bird, she thought. After he squawked at one of the medium birds trying to pluck more of his feathers, the other large bird with blue feathers and a pointed head decided to attack fiercely with its claws. The small brown bird tried to dodge it but was unsuccessful. He let out a small screech and fell to the ground after the blue bird released him.

A few moments had passed, but the small brown bird was still. She kept watching him, waiting for a sign of life, hoping that he was still alive. He was so petite compared to the others and had such lively movements. She couldn’t help but silently cheer for him. Finally, he stood up and wobbled until he fell again. He repeated that process several times. He’s hurt, she thought. She quickly put down her tea cup and walked over to him, lifting up her dress so as not to get it dirty. The small brown bird tried hopping away from her, seeing as she was much bigger than him, making him feel afraid. But she gently scooped him up and brought him closer to her chest. “Shhh. Shhh. It’s okay. You’re okay little one,” she whispered. The small brown bird was shaking so she stroked the bird’s head to calm him. It only took a few minutes for him to calm down but his breathing was still shallow and quick. She gently walked him to the porch and sat down with him. He looked at her eyes and she smiled at him, still stroking his head.
“You put up quite the fight out there, you know that?”
His small black eyes kept contact with her hazel ones.
“I can see you don’t have any friends. Neither do I.”
Silence.
“What should we name you? Hmm…I know. Sans Peur. It means fearless in French. A good fit, don’t you think?”
He chirped and after a minute, closed his eyes, breathed normally, and let her gently stroke his head.

The friends sat and watched the rain together. The light, comforting rain.

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Drunken Eyes

scortchwriting

There were pieces of blood covered ceramic on the floor from a coffee cup he had hit her with. “At least it wasn’t glass this time,” she thought. Every time he hit her with glass, it ended up in her skin somehow. Every time. Somehow. Most of the tweezers in the house were well used and a tad bloody. She gave up trying to clean them after the fourth time. Or was it the fifth? No, the sixth. She remembered because it was her birthday.

“At least he always leaves after,” she thought, picking up the shards and tossing them in the trash. It made cleaning up more comfortable. No one to tell her how to do it the right way. No more control or manipulation. Just a time of quiet with her and her thoughts in a large, empty house. Peaceful but sometimes, a dangerous thing.

She bit the rag in the bathroom and poured hydrogen peroxide on her face. The stinging sensation felt more and more enjoyable every time, even though she usually screamed through the rag in pain and cried hot tears. Hot tears filled with anger, betrayal, frustration, hurt, desperation, vulnerability. “At least the cuts aren’t so deep this time,” she thought, glancing at the deep scar in her jawline that was once a gushing gash. That one took stitches. Homemade stitches.

Once he turned to larger objects rather than smaller ones. He threw an end table at her from across the room and broke her leg, which made things difficult at work. She didn’t enjoy lying to her boss, a sweet old man who was a pushover on holidays. She also didn’t enjoy sticking to the same story when others questioned her with doubt. Peering in the mirror at herself, she paused. “At least I can walk this time,” she thought.

She threw the bloody rags and clothes into the washer and started it, hoping the stains would come out so she could wear the same thing to work on Monday. Sometimes they did. Sometimes they didn’t. If they didn’t, she wore something that wasn’t stained. Sometimes it was clean. Sometimes it wasn’t. Once she waited overnight to wash the clothes and they were stained so she threw them out. He wasn’t happy and he made sure her body felt it. “At least I’ll hopefully have clothes this time,” she thought.

She sat on the couch and opened a half empty bottle of bourbon. She contemplated opening the scotch, but it would only anger him. He might kill her if she did. Besides, bourbon was her go to sorrow drink. It was the only thing that did it for her anymore. And it helped with pain. “At least…at least…at least I’m not dead,” she thought hesitantly before turning on the TV. But that hesitation bothered her. She had never hesitated in that way before. There was a pause, a moment, a what if.

The front door opened wide and he walked in. Drunken eyes, sober breath, and a decisive walk of a determined man. “Hey baby! Come on!” he said cheerfully walking into the kitchen. Her eyes widened, full of fear, anxiety. Cheerful was not a mood that existed in that man unless sex was on his mind. But sex never happened in the kitchen. At least not anymore. Every ounce of her told her to run but she couldn’t. She took one small step forward. Trembling hands. Another small step forward. A knotted stomach. Each step brought a new feeling. But only a few more steps forward and she was there in the kitchen. Standing in front of him. “You know, we don’t have to do this anymore sweetheart. I’m done doing this with you baby. I’m just done,” he said smiling.

Her throat tightened. She wanted to speak, respond to him. Mostly in fear. He had never come home so early and still drunk. “I guess what I’m trying to say is, well, we’re done. I’m done with you.” A minute of silence passed. Time that felt like a hundred hours strung along in slow motion. She didn’t know what he was saying, what to expect. His eyes finally found hers. “So,” he said, “here we are.” He reached into his coat pocket and pulled something out. It looked like a thick stick, but the kitchen lights were too dim to make it out. Until she heard the sound. Click and lock. It made sense then. Oh, how it made sense. A thick stick in his pocket was his switchblade. His very long and sharp switchblade.

And that’s when she found her legs. Those ounces of herself building up to run, waiting anxiously to get out. They exploded underneath her in an instant, pushing off the ground with power. She heard laughter. It took her a little while to realize that it was her laughing. It had been awhile since her lungs had experienced it. She laughed so hard she cried. She laughed so hard she found her voice. She laughed so hard that she couldn’t hear him. “At least I can run faster than him,” she realized and laughed loudest of all.

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Ivy & Love

ivy

The ivy crawled up the side of the wall like a monstrous spider with long, leafy legs, hiding the brick underneath it. Except that some of the leaves had already started changing color. And Rosalyn had never seen a tricolored spider.

“Do you suppose that the ivy could trap people, Mrs. Henderson? It’s so thick. Perhaps there are people living inside the ivy?” Rosalyn asked.
The old woman’s eyes twinkled with playfulness as she laughed cheerfully, “No, my dear! Ivy doesn’t trap or house people. If it did, gardeners would have an awfully hard time taming it. Although it does grow very thick, doesn’t it?”

Mrs. Henderson was the kindest and most spirited person Rosalyn had ever met. She laughed more often than the birds chirped and showed kindness and gentleness to everyone in her path, even Ms. Millis, the lady in charge of the orphanage, who was in fact the most unkind and mean-spirited person Rosalyn had ever met. Once, a strand of Rosalyn’s hair was hanging below her collar so Ms. Millis cut off all of Rosalyn’s hair and told her, “Tuck your hair in and don’t become a trollop!” That was her third day at the orphanage. She was six years old. But now, fourteen years later, Rosalyn felt oddly comfortable next to Mrs. Henderson even though she had only known her less than a day. She had never known so much laughter, kindness, or gentleness. There was something about it that made the old woman oddly beautiful, like a swan in its prime. And trustworthy, something Rosalyn had never known, making her feel odd about her high comfort level. “Ah! Here comes town! Or I suppose here we come to town, huh?” Mrs. Henderson said, smiling and interrupting Rosalyn’s thoughts.

Every building was different – brick, stone, large, small, wooden signs, glass windows with signs. Some of them were extremely detailed, others not so much. Most were small shops, some were rather tall, and a few were towering over the others. Rosalyn pressed her face against the car window and followed the building with her eyes until the sight of it was beyond her range. Of course, growing up in an orphanage in the country never provided such sights. Except when Ms. Millis made Alice stand naked in front of the rest of the girls for stealing one of Ms. Millis’ dresses. Daring that Alice was and Rosalyn had learned so much from her.

“Oh Rosalyn. Isn’t that a sight?,” Mrs. Henderson said. Rosalyn looked excitedly hoping for another large building or quaint shops filled with flowers and trinkets or Oxford University. But instead she saw several boys her age standing outside. What could be so exciting about that?

One of the boys saw Rosalyn through the car window and winked at her. “He’s a rather fit one, wouldn’t you say so my dear?” Mrs. Henderson asked, nodding and smiling at the young man. But Rosalyn didn’t smile, nod, or wave. In fact, she immediately broke eye contact with the boy and turned around to stare at Mrs. Henderson. She wanted to speak but couldn’t do anything but gape at the old woman. It took a moment before she recovered enough to speak. “Mrs. Henderson! How could you say such a thing?! You’re an old woman who’s married!” Rosalyn whispered horrified, her cheeks blushing pink, half embarrassed by the old woman and half surprised by the boy who winked at her. No one had ever, in fact, winked at Rosalyn. Though her friend Anna once told her she was pretty and that her brown hair matched the branches that moved with the wind. But Mrs. Henderson laughed playfully, “I may be an old, married woman, but I know a looker when I see one. Who knows, maybe you might get married to one someday.”

“Married?!” Rosalyn shrieked so loudly that the driver turned his head. “Mrs Henderson! I have never, do not, and will not plan on getting married, regardless of whether a young man is a looker or not. Oxford University is where I’m going to earn my degree. They just started allowing women to earn degrees last year you know. And I fully intend on doing it.”

The car came to a sudden stop. Rosalyn was so busy talking with Mrs. Henderson about her inappropriate comments that she hadn’t noticed their arrival. “Oxford,” Rosalyn breathed out. The smooth stone walls and castle tops made Rosalyn swoon with joy. The polished glass was so inviting. The vines growing up on the walls begged to be touched. The courtyards longing to have books upon books read in them. And the library! Oh, the library! Rosalyn was finally here, in front of the place she hoped to fall in love with. It’s charm already working. “It’s…it’s…oh, it’s – ” Rosalyn spoke almost breathlessly. “A stone building,” Mrs. Henderson said, finishing Rosalyn’s sentence with a completely different ending. Rosalyn smiled at the old woman’s frankness and simplicity. “Well yes. But beautiful, Mrs. Henderson. It’s beautiful.”

Rosalyn began to step out of the car when Mrs. Henderson gently grabbed her arm. She looked sad. “Will you really never marry, my dear? Even if you spend the rest of your days alone?” she asked Rosalyn softly with pleading eyes.

“Even if,” Rosalyn answered confidently. But, turning to the old woman, she said, “Don’t worry, Mrs. Henderson. If I find a looker, I’ll send him your way.” And, with a wink, Rosalyn closed the car door to walk into her future.

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