FLAKING OFF THE WALLS

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A gust of warm wind rushed in with the man from the foyer. The chandeliers rattled; dust whirled down onto the carpeted floors.

“Lily and Becky?” he asked.

“My sister couldn’t…”

“Yes, it’s you and your sister. The gig’s outside the castle. 6am to 8pm.”

Lily nodded.

In the abandoned megaphone-shaped auditorium, ghosts of opera-goers gazed at their own paint flaking off the walls. Mr. Reynolds excused himself with his best beggars-can’t-be-choosers look; rushed backstage echoing orders. Now a car horn reached Lily’s ears from outside. Becky, of course, double-parked! By the entrée des artistes – the Irony of it.

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2019/04/11/april-11-flash-fiction-challenge/

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AS THE FLAMES FLING HIGH

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In the smoky gray courtyard, the firing squad is lined up, awaiting those to be shot. The former smoke while the latter lit candles in the night on their windowsills. But a section of the confiscated buildings is on fire and firefighters are trying to tame the ever-spreading flames – those who live in the area are out firing questions at officers ill-equipped at this fired-up injustice. The morning sun rises firing the tops of burned-out trees. “Fire! Fire!” a second of hesitation too many, “Fire, fire!” And all, at present, is gone up in tiny little bits of smoke.

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2019/04/04/april-4-flash-fiction-challenge/

BACK TO THE COUNTRY – THE GOLDEN CITY

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Through the woods, at the end of a track that goes along a stream (mom swears she used to bathe in it as a child with her friends) there’s a mill and the modern-day idea of a quaint cluster of small farmhouses – a B&B proves the point, and so does an old shed, of mossy bricks and rotten beams, untouched by the renovating fury, showing a massive wooden plough, stuck in time and dust and cobwebs. In El Dorado somewhere in the Andes, ploughshares were made of silver, and this gripped the imagination of a farmer who might have heard of the legend. One morning, as he went about his day, he must have stopped and pondered whether it was worthwhile to send at least one of his nine children to check if that was true. (Mom says they would rest under that giant oak after bathing and then run back to the village before sunset, so no one knew where they’d been.)

OUT WITH THE CLASS

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“This is obviously not art.” “Because they changed Best of Luck with Best of F…?” “Please!” He was making another point. The giggles died down, outside the station, writings everywhere; they thought those fonts were not available in Microsoft Word. It was also the, well, artistic process: at night, on the sly, “how can they see the colors if it’s dark?”, “it’s not legal, you know.” Surely writing that This City is Anti-fascist & Always Will Be was a cliché, but the unassuming flower next to it, thin black stem, red petals starting to wither, welled up an inexplicable tear.

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2018/12/06/december-6-flash-fiction-challenge/

GREENER THAN GREEN

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She liked the smell of eggs in the morning, not their taste; so he had them and she was happy. The steaming cup of coffee was for her; he preferred tea. Looking out, she had to admit that the pomegranate tree was the most beautiful tree in the world, its green greener than green, and the shape of its leaves so delicate. She also prayed, without religion, that if routine ever crept in, then lightning could strike her – under her favorite tree! – although, wait, lying there on the grass, a branch of the magnolia would intrude un-aesthetically on the shade of the pomegranate, and she liked the magnolia but that branch was so irregular! She got up and made for the garden. “You’re not making much sense…” And she stopped, wondering if the voice she’d heard was his, or the sweet abstract buzz of those who have gone but can still communicate.

In response to: https://fivedotoh.com/2018/10/24/fowc-with-fandango-abstract/

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BACK TO THE COUNTRY – PRECISION

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Grandma used to hang the laundry on those wires, and it would float in the breeze. She had a basket to put it in when dry and I guess I’d follow her up the sloping garden and onto the big expanse of green grass. Behind us, grandpa was picking peaches, apples and pears, orange apricots. Or he was busy inside, at other times, at his income tax – “he uses a calculator and then does it all again by hand to see if the calculator is right!” she’d say. Now their two sons balance his checkbook and he doesn’t seem to care, even laughs at their precision. And the laundry, seldom out to dry on the rusty poles and saggy wires, somebody else collects it. It’s the smell that takes you in – the smell has stayed the same. And the bees, fortunately, buzzing around the flowers. There, those have changed. There used to be so many more.

UNTIMELY BIRDS (1969)

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A sunny day hadn’t been enough to dry the soil in the fields; the nimble heat of a mild Thursday little had managed against the mud in the lanes. No one had mowed the lawns and the weeds stood proudly as if they had been wheat. An isolated house in the hazy sunlight was no longer blocked by other constructions. They’d built other (houses) to hide quite a nice specimen of ancient dwelling, even though now weeds had taken over and surrounded the ruins, like a lost past come back alive. They put their luggage down. It banged through the rafters and the walls. There was no echo, though, as they uttered some words. Untimely birds broke the dawn outside with their singing – but it was almost noon – surely thinking, in their instinctive way, that the dust and dirt lifted by such a house cleaning would leave their throats dry the following morning.

THE NAZIS AND SOMEBODY’S AUNT

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“Now, we’ve got to be quick, and silent.” “I want to stay out more.” “The curfew!” (which had, already, tolled the knell of parting day.) No one could be out. He was, in theory, patrolling the streets, dark, tasting the sea close by. Spring breezed through the alleys near the port. The two were heard; He tracked them down, drunk, one intention only. “We’ve got to run faster.” They got home, big wooden door, which he started banging on, ordering to come out. The girl was rushed upstairs, the aunt lingered by the door to bolt it with her own person. He had liked the freshness of the girl and her white flappy skirt. One gun shot, as if straight through the wood he could see, by the periodical beam flashing from the lighthouse. The stars were out. And the aunt fell, the girl saw, gone. He left, young, lurching through the night with a warm gun.

The Nazis and The Pig