Young Love

Rock Valentine

Tanner felt nervous.

He hugged his robot Valentine’s box tightly. Mom had helped him paint it yellow last night, and he had added sparkly stickers and funny eyes. Inside were cards for all the boys and girls in class.

Tanner looked at all the boys and girls in his class, safely, from the doorway.

“Well, hello, Tanner!” Mrs. Foreman called. “Come on in!” He could see her waving from her desk.

He held his box closer.

“It’s all right,” his teacher said. She stood and walked over to him. Bending, she looked at his eyes. “Would you like some help?”

Some of the children glanced over, including Ella. Tanner’s mom had helped him make a special card for Ella last night, too. It was a pink heart that said, “I love you.”

Mrs. Foreman smiled. “I’ll walk with you,” she offered. Together, they went to his seat. He set the yellow robot on his desk.

“All right, class!” Mrs. Foreman clapped. “Time to hand out Valentine’s!”

Quickly, the children pulled out all their cards. They began happily filling each other’s boxes.

Tanner pulled out the pink heart. As soon as no one was looking, he dropped it into Ella’s unicorn mailbox.

He still felt nervous, but also happy. He hoped she would like it.

 

(Entry for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Valentiny Contest.)

Plantae uel Animalia

Forget me not
(Picture from Memory Foundation.)

If you were to assign a flower to my childhood personality, you might search among the less-desirable weeds. I wouldn’t have minded; I’d have stuck my prickly, unwanted self even further into your business.

My grandmother, however, was a soft-spoken, kind-thinking sort. I never heard her raise her voice nor speak insult. She was more like the gently-swaying field flowers of springtime, shyly smiling to a beckoning sun.

While people greeted my coming akin to a dandelion outbreak, we all recall my grandmother’s mischievous blue eyes with forget-me-nots.

At least dandelions are my son’s favorite.

Dandelions

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge.

Jeweled

Jewel often asked what her name meant; why Mother also carried it.

“You’ll see,” Mother demurred.

Their crumbling dictionary said Jewel was a stone that refracted light into color; but what was refracted? What was color?

Other things, odd things -things Jewel couldn’t quite define- also set them apart.

“Cheer up; tomorrow’s another day,” Mother reassured a stranger, in passing. How did she know he was sad? Jewel wondered, looking back at the black and white face.

One day, at school, Jewel finally knew. Amidst the monochrome playchildren; her friend, Tom, smiled.

In that glittering instant, he glowed yellow.

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge

The Real Illusion

Dragon

(From draconika.com)

Her nightdress billows in moving mists of rainbows; toes curl precariously over cloudforms.

She cannot see, so closes her eyes.

And now, appears the wooden bridge. It skips across to the sandy seashore
-the shore outside a castle’s wall
-whereat lies a fearsome dragon, curling smoky out-breaths in the sun.

A shining knight advances, drawing schlinking steel to fight the fiery, glinting, scalesome beast.

“Oh, dear,” cries Princess, from above. Her swooping scarf-hat trails the crumbling window ledge.

The nightdressed girl smiles, treading where adults fear. She perches, perfectly happy, at the cliffside edge of fantasy.

And jumps.

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge

Boots

They were nearly there, near the sunlight-glinted theatre doors. An overhead clock pointed to ten-past starting.

She looked back, down the warm-yellow sidewalk. Slowly but always steadily, he came with his slanted plodding. He’d never had an impeding injury; she teased that he walked in unknown imitation of his own, flat-flooted father.

Sinking sunset rays flared an occasional reflection from his eyeglasses as he turned to look behind: at their parked car across the street, to either side: interesting geological landscape, and forward (finally): to his waiting wife.

She held out a hand; smiling, loving. “Let’s go, Boots.”

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge

Wet Ink

Neon Dragon

“Nearly done, darlin’.” Her makeup-lined lips pursed over prominent, yellowed teeth; a purpled tongue-stub protruded in concentration.

“Sue’s the best,” they’d said, in town. “Just ask for Sue.”

I flinched, involuntarily. “I wouldn’t do that,” she warned. Her potato-skin face never changed expression. Cataract-blue globes never strayed from the machined needle beneath her age-veined fingers.

“Just don’ get the snake,” an old-timer warned. “You’re not gettin’ a snake, are ya?”

A stool creak, a whoosh of compressed vinyl stooltop, and Sue was done. I peeked, tentatively, and gasped in amazement. Slowly, I shifted my shoulder and neck-view forward and backward to see the deep golds, reds, and blues of the dragon’s ink-birthed scales.

“Tommy got the snake,” the diner owner supplied, not looking up from her countertop rag-wiping circles. The group all shuddered and returned to their lunches. Morbidly determined, I’d headed out the door and down the single-lane road to the flicker-light neon of the town’s only tattoo parlor.

Sue looked …the same. Her shriveled glare-stare blinked once or twice as she methodically cleaned the tip of the needle. “Don’t you forget to let ‘im dry,” she scolded, wagging the tool my direction.

Who was Tommy? Why did it matter that he’d picked the snake?

I nodded to Sue, paid, and left through the tinkle-ting of the chipped-paint shop door. A light snow was beginning to fall. Absentmindedly, I slipped on my jacket. It was cold, everywhere except my still-wet arm…

 

This is my fuller-length version of Wait for It to Dry.

Photo credit: Mendar Bouchali on Unsplash

Wait for It to Dry

Neon Dragon

“Nearly done, darlin’.” Her purpled tongue-stub protruded.

“Sue’s the best,” they’d said, in town.

I flinched. “I wouldn’t do that.” Her potato-skin face was expressionless. Cataract-blue globes never strayed from her age-veined fingers.

“Just don’ get the snake,” an old-timer warned.

A stool creak told me Sue was done. I peeked, gasped, and shifted my shoulder to view the deep golds and blues of the dragon’s ink-birthed scales.

Sue looked …the same. “Don’t you forget to let ‘im dry,” she scolded.

I nodded, paid, left. Absentmindedly, I slipped on my jacket. It was cold, everywhere except my arm…

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge

Photo credit: Mendar Bouchali on Unsplash

Star-fall

Someday, soonday my detachment from familiarity will send me soaring, burning, melting
Painting lightscape brushstrokes on empty air-void blackness:
A fantastic farewell sky-faint; a final, fiery death-stunt
For unknown, sight-blessed audience.

Up, from sparkling sprinkle-glittered hills,
Glowing backlit forms will gasp in distant, wondered silence –
My dying skydance, reflecting glints of living fellows;
Laughing, pointing limbs following my curtain-call bow.

Frosted pine-pinnacles will point, in vain,
Where once I sat, aglow, forever and a million years
Before the laughing, lasting exhalations mouth their frozen, “Wow;”
Their million dream-thoughts floating sky-high, tailing me forever.

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Entry

Adventures, Right Here

Quick! Open the door to hide from siblings’ seeking. You’ll need a fur coat -there, at your elbow.

Now; watch a filthy-fingered store owner glare at young boys, as she discovers a well-placed rat retribution.

Laugh the painful glee of snappy satire; chortle in appreciation of the cynic.

Sing along to “Come, Thou Font,” or “Camptown Races.”

Hold your breath for 20,000 leagues. You’ll need a harpoon; no, don’t ask why.

¿Que pasa, amigo? ¿Te gustaría aprender español?

Come, my fellow bibliophile, to the library. Only here may you travel so broadly, and taste-test such varied fare.

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Entry

Only In

I want to leave, permanently.

When reality has nothing beyond piles of housework and fighting children, their susceptible health worsened by the toxic temperament you seep with-

When a positive attitude is a mask, crafted by sugared substance and numbed emotions-

When the events you look forward to must, inevitably, include your offspring or some expensive caregiver-

When your soulmate shutters his heart against the pain of association, and says you are only darkness-

Only in the Mind of Depression is it logical to stand at the top-post railing of Life and contemplate the sweet possibility of permanently leaving.

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Entry