Wild Flowers

It was the frame that first drew her attention. It glinted at her from across the room. She glanced around to see if anyone else had noticed. They hadn’t seemed to.

She was in a little antique shop that she had almost missed amongst all the other stores on the square. She was traveling, just passing through but had stopped in a town in the middle of nowhere USA for lunch.

Pulling off the highway she was going to stop at Mcdonalds or Burger King, but she could see the town square from the gas station she fueled up at and decided to take a break, explore  a little, hopefully find a mom and pop lunch counter or diner, which she did.

“Down Home” was the name of the café, she was thrilled with menu options that included real vegetables and home cooked foods like meatloaf and pot roast. She had the pot roast with a salad and homemade rolls.

Once her stomach was full, Irene turned her attention to the rest of the square. She loved finding unique shops filled with interesting things that you couldn’t buy in bulk or find at Wal-Mart. It made her a popular gift giver. “Oh I’ve never seen anything like this before!” was an oft-used phrase amongst her friends and family. She prided herself on it.

Antique stores were particular favorites of hers. Old furniture just had a certain feel about it, like it was bursting with memories she couldn’t read. It was also built better in her opinion. Solid, sturdy. Not particle wood crap like they sold so much of today. Built to last.

It was a small shop, but it was jam packed full of merchandise, from giant armoires to ancient handbags, there was even a collection of old pipes. She was admiring the pipes when the picture caught her eye. Pipes reminded her of her grandfather, sitting in his rocking chair, encircled in smoke, the smell of pipe tobacco surprisingly pleasant considering she could not stand cigarette smoke.

From the corner of her eye she saw something glimmer. She looked up and craned her head around trying to determine what it was. She wandered to the back corner of the store. She had to weave in and out of dressers, curio cabinets, a canopy bed and plenty of old chairs.

Hanging on the wall was a watercolor in pastels of ladies laughing and sipping tea in a gazebo surrounded by a field of flowers. The golden frame around it had caught her eye from across the room, but up close the patterns in the painting itself were mesmerizing. If she stood very close, the flowers ceased to be flowers and just became dots of color, a dizzying number of them!

She wasn’t sure what was so fascinated about the dots, but she couldn’t stop staring at them. As she leaned in closer to the painting, she could swear she could hear the soft murmur of women’s voices, the tinkling of their laughter. She could smell the wild flowers; feel a gentle breeze caress her face.

She moved closer and reached her hand out; convinced it would go right into the canvass. She felt sure that if she just took a step forward, she would be there, sitting in the gazebo, sipping tea, forever in the wild flowers. The field of flowers began to move, as though waving in the wind, the entire painting seemed to shimmer, then……

“I said excuse me ma’am, may I help you?”

The voice startled her. More than startled, her heart nearly beat right out of her chest! What on earth? She shook her head, trying to clear the fog that had settled in it. It was like trying to claw away cobwebs from her mind. Irene was getting older, but she wasn’t so old that her mind was gone.  She had not yet succumbed to the trials and tribulations she had watched her grandparents go through, confusing one child for another, not knowing what year it was, not knowing where she was at.

Yet at that moment, she struggled mightily to remember who and where she was and what she had just been doing.

“Ma’am, are you ok?” The voice came again.

“Uh….y…yes, sorry.” She looked at the sales clerk who was watching her warily at this point. She was a young woman with auburn hair piled on top of her head in a knot and a long, flowing skirt with matching sweater. Her name tag said her name was Karen.

“I was just, just………” Irene trailed off, again, not quite sure what she had just been doing.

The painting! She had been admiring the painting!

“I was just looking at this painting……..” she trailed off as she turned back toward the blank wall, blinked a few times then turned to face Karen again.

The young clerk looked even more concerned now, “Would you like to sit down? I can get you some water. Is there anyone I can call for you?”

It was the pity in the younger woman’s eyes that finally snapped her back to herself. Call someone for her? She wasn’t old and decrepit yet, she still had many good years, hell, decades, in her!

“I’m fine!” She snapped, drawing herself up to her full height, “just got lost in thought for a moment!” She lied, “Thanks for your concern, really, but I’m ok. I really should be going now.”

She was momentarily confused as she headed for the exit; it was full dark outside though she had just entered the shop a few minutes ago, in broad daylight. She paused and asked the clerk what time it was.

“Almost nine o’clock ma’am, closing time.” Karen replied chirpily.

Irene knew she had entered the shop just before two in the afternoon. She swallowed, mumbled thanks and headed for the door.

“Irene” she heard, but it wasn’t Karen’s voice. No, it was the soft murmur she had heard from the painting, complete with the tinkling of laughter in the background. She fought the urge to turn and find the voice, to stare back into those dots, to stay forever in that field of wild flowers. Shaking, she forced herself to push her way out the door and hurried back down the road to her car without ever looking back.

 

 

 

Freedom

So my writing is starting to have a flavor, a texture if you will.

I have wanted to be a writer since I was in middle school. I wrote short stories and poetry back then. I wrote poetry all through high school and my twenties. Then I met my husband, had a bunch of kids. Life happens.

I kept waiting for inspiration to strike. Then I started reading advice on writing and all of it boiled down to one thing. Stop waiting, stop procrastinating, stop making excuses and WRITE.

So I did. I stared four months ago. In that time, I have churned out three completed short stories, multiple pieces of flash fiction and have put just over 10,000 words to paper on the book I’m currently working on.

What I’ve noticed in my flash fiction is a recurring theme with my main characters and that is freedom, escaping the mundane, leaving behind a painful past, claiming their futures in unconventional ways, taking charge of an unhappy life by setting out on an adventure to the unknown. Be it a girl getting on a strange space craft even though she has no idea what it is or where it’s going, or a girl throwing all of civilization to the wind and taking off into the wilderness with a pack of wolves, or a business executive leaving this world behind for a more primitive one, I can see a distinctive thread emerging.

And I kind of love it! Does it reflect some internal journeys in my own life? Sure! Does it reflect what’s going on right now in my life? Maybe. As I stand on the threshold of what I have always done and what I have always wanted to do, yes, I suppose it does.

It amazes me to see an actual writing style starting to emerge. I’m watching my own metamorphosis. I was distressed at first not to be able to settle into a genre, then shocked that my first two short stories were horror though I had no desire or intent to be a horror writer nor did I imagine myself one. Then I gave up trying to label myself and just wrote! And it was glorious! I love that stories sometimes pour out of me. I just had to learn to give them that opportunity!

I gave up on waiting for inspiration to strike and took charge of my writing. I gave up on worrying about selling any of it, ever and that has been the most freeing thing of all. I just write because I love to write! When I write, I create whatever comes into my mind, there are no limits and no boundaries! And that, my friends, is freedom!

Sara, Strong and Tall

The cougar stared into her eyes. Sara stood stock still, so close to the cat that she could feel it’s breath on her face. She stood without fear, tall, straight backed and staring right back into the cats eyes.

After a few tense moments, the large cat yawned and looked away. The wolves that surrounded her relaxed as the cougar turned and walked lazily back into the forest. Sara herself drew a breath of relief and stretched her back and arms. She felt completely exhilarated!

Leaving the human village behind her had been the best thing she had ever done. She felt at home here in the forest and it wasn’t just because of the wolves. It was the freedom! The lack of humans and their judgments, their silly rules, their inexplicable hatred and fear of the things they didn’t understand, of her.

Yes, this was her world now and she happier than she had ever been.

This is a continuation, see the original here.

The Vessel: Return to Earth

This is a piece of flash fiction that piggy backs on another. You can find the original here.

“You must put in the code.”

She paused, perplexed, “What?”

“You must put in the code.” The mechanical voice came again.

She was standing at the door of the apartment building that she had been to a million times in her life. She had never needed a code before.

“uh……okay…..” she murmured as she glanced around to see if anyone else noticed this anomaly. Apparently no one did.

She sighed. Well if this wasn’t just about right. Things had just not been going her way ever since she decided to board a strange spacecraft and take off to parts unknown.

Returning to Earth had seemed like a good idea. A bit of time had gone by and she thought maybe she owed her ex an explanation. Or not. He was kind of a jerk. Still, seemed like stopping by was the right thing to do since she was in this part of the universe.

She touched the com in her ear that connected her back to the ship.

“Frank!” She demanded, “Can you get me the code to this thing?”

She swore she heard a metallic sigh from the other end of the com. Who knew computers could be so moody?

“You’re going to see him? After what he did to you?”

“Just tell me the code please!” she snapped.

“Fine, but don’t blame me when this ends badly. Scan it.”

She pulled out her little handheld device that Frank had given her and moved it back and forth over the keypad.  There was some bleeping and crackling as the numbers lit up on the screen and then the door swung open.

“Thanks!” she chirped as she pocketed the device and turned her com off.

The Vessel

The Vessel Part Two

The Vessel: Food Edition

 

The Drummers

He sat straight up in bed, sweating. The bedside clock read 2am. This time he knew he wasn’t dreaming. He heard the sound of drums distinctively, thrumming, the rhythm so out of place yet so familiar to him.

Tossing the covers aside, he hurried to the bedroom door, following the sound. He slipped quietly out the door and down the hall. At the top of the stairs, he paused, wondering why he wasn’t afraid. Surely the sound of tribal drumming coming from your living room at 2 am should frighten a sane person. It should definitely frighten a person who lives alone, who knows he didn’t leave the stereo or television turned on. The logical part of his mind told him that he should be frightened, or at the very least, concerned. And yet.

And yet, he was not frightened, he was not concerned. He was intrigued, he was curious, truth to tell, he was excited!

He had first starting hearing the drums several weeks ago. He heard them at random times throughout the day and night. At first, it was really more a rhythm in his head that he couldn’t quiet place. Like a tune stuck in your head, but he was sure he knew no songs that employed only percussion instruments.

After several days of it being stuck in his head, he started hearing it for real. The first time he had been at work. He left his desk and wandered down the hall trying to find where the sound was coming from, but it always seemed to be coming from the opposite direction he was walking. His coworkers didn’t hear it. Weird, he had thought at the time.

The first time he had heard it in his sleep, he assumed he had dreamed it but this time it hadn’t stopped when he woke up. He was sure he was awake.

He made his way down the stairs and into his living room. Across the room from him was a door that he had never seen before. Streams of mist were trailing out from under it and filling up the room. The drumming sound was definitely coming from behind that door.

He felt no fear or apprehension as he strode across the room to the door. He felt only eagerness to finally find the source of the drumming.

Opening the door he found himself standing at the threshold of a different world; a lush, tropical jungle alive with sounds. He heard birds calling to one another, lions roaring in the distance, and from within the distance tree line, the constant thumping of drums. He stepped unhesitatingly into the jungle.

Coming to the edge of the trees, he could see into a clearing. He saw a circle of drummers with painted faces, dancers in the middle of the circle, twirling and swooping with long cylinders that had smoke coming out of them as they swayed around a crackling fire. One of the drummers glanced up and gestured a greeting to him. It was both a welcome and an invitation.

He glanced back at the doorway to his living room, to the portal to the world that was both his old world and his new one somehow. Instinctively he knew that this jungle was his original home, that this is where he belonged.

He waved his hand and watched the door to his living room close then he turned and stepped into the clearing.

 

Authors note: Thanks to Little Fears for the prompt.

Wolf Girl

The villagers were afraid of her, she understood this. She had always understood this. From the time she could walk, people crossed the street to avoid her. It had something to do with the wolves.

From her earliest memories, she remembered wolves. She remembered her mother, the sound of her voice, the smell of her and she remembered the smell and the feel of wolves. The first time her mother had walked in and found a wolf standing over her cradle, she had gone into hysterics, so she had overheard her father say, but she had been unharmed.

The wolf had left the house peacefully but returned a few days later, taking up a watchful post at the edge of the woods near the house. Other wolves eventually joined the first. Her parents had been fearful at first, but eventually came to accept the wolves’ presence as normal. They were always there, but never threatening.

When she was old enough to play outside, that’s when the wolves came right into the yard. Again, the first time this happened, her mother had been first terrified, then amazed when she saw that the wolves weren’t threatening in any way. At least twenty wolves had surrounded her and there she stood, in the middle, arms flung wide, head tipped back, twirling in circles, with wolf pups dancing and jumping next to her, laughing!

Her parents tried not to show that they were afraid, but the villagers were openly frightened. No one wanted to be her friend, other children weren’t allowed to play with her, but she didn’t care. She was happy and content to run with the wolf pups and nap in the woods, snuggled up against a mama wolfs fur. Her parents stopped worrying about her safety. Indeed, what child was ever safer? The few times other children turned from taunting to trying to shove her, a circle of snarling wolves drew tight around her. After that, the other children just ignored her.

She had heard the whispers though. That her mother was a witch and her father was a werewolf. Or that her mother was the werewolf and her father a powerful warlock, or that she wasn’t their child at all, but a changeling or a fairy child found abandoned in the forest.

But she knew the truth. The truth that the real monsters were the normal humans. The ones that watched her with fear and loathing, the ones that would hurt her given the chance and for no other reason than they didn’t understand her. They didn’t understand the wolves or her affinity for them, with them. So the feared her and what they feared, they hated and what they hated, they would kill if they could.

But she knew things they did not. She knew the wolves’ secrets, their wisdom, their ways and she knew she could live with them if she chose. She would never feel afraid in the forest, surrounded by the pack.  There was only one sensible thing to do. She had to leave before the villager’s fears drove them to do something horrible.

Standing at the edge of the forest, one had draped across the mother wolfs neck; she stared down at the village full of people that would never be her pack. Never be her people. As the sun edged up over the horizon, she exhaled into the chill morning air, drew in a deep breath, then turned and disappeared into the forest.

Uri

The twigs snapped under her paws as she dashed through the forest. The shrill scream of a bobcat urged her on, faster. Heart pounding, limbs aching, she had to get away.

She sat up in the bed with a start. She leapt out of bed to search for her familiar. The dream she had just experienced made her scared for him. It was not the first time she had dreamed his thoughts. Uri was a large, orange tabby cat who roamed the woods at will. He was independent and maddeningly aloof at times. It was not uncommon for him to stay out for days at a time. He always showed up eventually and the psychic connection she had with him always reassured her that he was fine.

She stood on her front porch, eyes searching the woods desperately and cast out a binding spell to ensure the bobcat could not hurt her Uri. Then she returned to her cottage to make her morning tea. Twenty minutes later her wayward cat sauntered in as if he hadn’t a care in the world. As if he hadn’t just almost been eaten by a bobcat.

“You’re welcome” she said as he strolled past with studied indifference and parked himself in front of the cracking fire.

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