Posted in flash fiction

Bec the Brave

The only way in or out of this dying town is marked by the ghost of a strip mall. It decays on the corner of the highway under the steady blinking of a traffic light.

Bec cocked her cap to the side, her curly ponytail escaping in wild fragments, and watched the yellow blinking reflect in Juan’s eyes.

“We all had to do it.” Juan tips his board with the worn toe of his converse. Bec surveyed the faces around her. None were much older than her thirteen years but in dying towns like this even children race to the finish line. “You gotta do it too.” Lit cigarettes bob as the boys succumb to snickers and jeers. “I’ll go with ya though. Mom thinks you’re fragile so I gotta.”

“We all had to go alone.” George, the de facto leader and smallest boy, jabs a stunted finger into Juan’s back. “Nobody cares what your mom thinks.”

Bec’s stomach flips, sending waves of nausea travelling up her throat.

The boys shift under George’s glare. “Just cuz she’s a girl she gets to bend the rules?” Even Juan, nearly a foot taller, shrinks back at the boy’s venom. “Nah, she goes alone, just like all of us.”

One by one the boys, cigarettes slack between dirty fingers, turn away.

“We’ll be waiting here when you come back Bec.” Juan said quietly.

She’d always heard it was the jump that was the worst part. As Bec watched the concrete pass beneath her worn sneakers she wondered how anything could be worse than the walk.

The highway offered a constant din to this dying town, lulling it to sleep, shaking it awake and giving it the rhythm of its days. Blurs of lives flew by, but never did they pull off at the exit.

Often residents wondered, “Why would they? We’re cursed after all.” There was nothing to see, nothing to do, but fall into small town waste.

Bec chose a spot overlooking the east bound blurs, cars flying towards the beach, towards the cities. East towards the sunrise and new beginnings.

Malfunctioning street lights threw her shadow against the broken street. She turned slowly, watching darkness engulf light like a monstrous wolf. She brought crooked fingers upwards, letting the wolf’s fangs gnash at the edge of a canyon like crack. Bec let out a low hollow growl, “All the better to eat you with my dear.”

Then the monstrosity was gone, replaced by a girl with her hands outstretched. Her attention was pulled back to the highway din below.

“Now or never.” Bec sucked in the cool air and, one foot after the other, climbed onto the concrete railing. Beneath the holey toes of her sneaker’s lights streaked by. Above her the sunrise was beginning to pierce the clouds with subvert pinks and oranges. Bec steadied herself against the cool concrete light pole and let the breeze tousle her curly ponytail.

“Now or never.” She whispered.

 

Deena watched Jason’s knuckles as he gripped the steering wheel.

“I’m just saying.” She hissed, “I don’t think it’s worth it.” Jason’s free hand pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Look, can this fucking argument wait? We’ve been driving for like 8 hours. Now really isn’t the time.” Her eyes fell on the rear-view mirror where she could see their two children, one asleep and one only pretending.

“Shawna.” Deena cooed. “You don’t have to keep pretending to be asleep.”

“Great.” Jason growled, his knuckles becoming an uncomfortably pale shade.

Shawna pushed a tuft of red curls back from her face. “Are you and daddy going to break up?”

“What? No! Of course not honey!”

“Debatable.” Jason snarled. Deena shot him a sideways glance as she pushed her seatbelt out of the way and leaned into the backseat.

“You know no matter what mommy and daddy love you and sissy very much.” Shawna twisted her small hands.

“Oh shit!” The car jerked violently as a pale figure descended in front of the hood. Jason twisted the steering wheel rapidly but it was no use. The SUV collided with highway barriers, distorting and crunching as it cartwheeled over them.

Bec watched the car move in slow motion, hard plastic and luggage exploded from it like fireworks. When the mangled remains finally came to a stop people dashed to the wreckage while screaming and jerking their arms in the air.

One by one four pale figures gathered by the wreck.

Deena stared at her daughters. They were somehow there but not, full of color and life but also devoid of all. Jason stared at his own hands, “What happened?”

“Strange, isn’t it?” Bec offered with a shrug. Four sets of eyes focused on her. “But you’ll be ok. We all are.” She pointed towards the highway exit. “This way.”

“Oh my god.” Firetrucks and ambulances descended on the scene with metal grips to free bodies from the car. Deena’s eyes traced a dark path across the road into the grass. Slowly her hands traced her face and neck.

“You’d taken your seatbelt off?” Jason’s gaze followed his wife’s.

“Um, maybe this isn’t a great idea. You know, kids, might not want them seeing all that.” Bec nodded towards the blinking yellow light. “We just need to go up here.”

In the strip mall parking lot the boys waited, never ending cigarettes clutched between their lips.

“I’m impressed Bec.” George eyed the family. “Hi, what’s your name?” Shawna ducked behind her mother as the short boy’s attention fell on her. “No? Ok. What about you? What’s your name?”

“I’m sorry.” Jason blocked his oldest daughter from the boy’s questions. “I don’t know what’s happening. Are there … I don’t know, adults or something we can talk to?”

George shrugged, “Sure man. Just keep going up that road. They’ll be waiting for you.” One by one the group turned their backs, fading away.

Deena gripped Jason’s hand. “I’m scared.”

Jason shook his wife’s hand free, “Just follow me.”

Word Count: 998

Edited to add, because it fits well and I have nothing new for it RDP 10/30: Dead

Posted in stream of consciousness

Here We Are

Stream of thought writing, I guess this is going to be a weekly thing now –

Prompt – Inkling

Music – Steve Reich – Works 1965-1995

Inkling.

It starts with a drop, a spot of ink infecting, spreading in the water.

It was all so clear

Until

You loosed the ink composed of your fear.

Now it’s here, spreading, floating, clouding

A situation we thought was through.

Tied up and tossed aside

Like a neatly composed pile of trash.

But here we are

Lost in each others eyes.

At least I am.

I have a feeling

You are too but we can’t, can we?

Inklings aren’t enough

They don’t spread through the veins,

Becoming all we are.

Do they?

Be still, they say, let it be.

Let it disperse, the way ink should

Eventually the floods will carry it away.

Except I’ve been waiting

And it’s still here

Floating and spreading

Infecting all we’re becoming.

But of course

They say

There was never another way.

The inkling was always there

Just hidden away by fear.

You’re not scared

And I’m no longer afraid …

So what is this inkling that remains?

Time inches by

Sand through the hole we’ll never hold again.

Spread by the wind like the ink in water.

How many seconds has it been?

How long until this dam breaks

And our infested waters overflow

Carrying away everything we know,

Our fears?

Our belief?

Time’s up.


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Posted in Word Prompt

Silent

I’ve kind of had pseudo writer’s block lately. I want to write and post stuff but I don’t feel that what I’m writing or posting is all that great. It’s kind of a weird spot to be in. I’m hoping something helps to push me out of it but for the past few days I’ve been very “blah” about it all. Here’s a little something for the daily prompt, brave. 

WordPress Daily Prompt – Brave

I am not a brave person.

I am scared of roller coasters

And the dark

And silence.

But we’ve been silent

For so many years now.

I’m less afraid

Of the quiet

And more afraid of the sound.

Posted in Word Prompt

Night Time Conversations

WordPress Daily Prompt – Mighty

I’ve had writer’s block lately. I’m just not happy with much that I’m writing down. I’ve been relying pretty heavily on previously written stuff to cover the prompts (or skipping them altogether like yesterday). This is a piece I wrote for the creative writing class I took in college.

I have a 7 year old; a small girl with dark hair and honey brown eyes. The complexity of human emotion is encompassed in her wide smile, her small hand balanced on her hip and the other clutching a blanket. She fights back against a world wrought with images of who she should be. She fights against monsters that dance through her head.

“Mama,” she says with a smile as she expands a non-existent belly, “I’m fat.” Poking her outie she stands tall and squishes the small amount of baby fat. She doesn’t understand the way world is already molding a spot for her. In a seven year old mind it’s all fun and games.

I demand to know who told her she was fat. “You are not.” I say, “You are beautiful.” Thin arms surround my neck.

“Aw, you’re beautiful too mama. I love you.” As I corral her into bed.

For the moment she is seven, wearing a pink, frilly night gown and carrying a purple dog. Her paint chipped nails clutch my hand and beg me to stay by her side. She is too young yet to navigate the world of a teenager but there she stands, already pushed to the threshold, already peering inside.

“Mama,” she says as she runs small fingers over her arms, “I’m hairy. Jackson made fun of me today because he said I had hair on my back.” Her small lips pout, her eyes water. “He tries to be the boss of me. I told him he is not.”

I count the freckles flowing across her cheeks, considering my response carefully; only to come up with, “Oh honey, you are right, he is not the boss of you.” She presses herself into my side and wraps my arm around her shoulders. She doesn’t realize that these things are for real, forever; that these are the things she will fight, she will resist, as she gets older.

“Mama,” she whispers on the verge of sleep. “A girl at school said that because my skin is tan and yours isn’t that I’m not part of your family.”

I run my fingers through her dark hair. “That is silly. Of course you are part of my family. I gave birth to you, just because you don’t look exactly like me does not mean you aren’t mine.” A light sigh followed by fluttering eyelashes.

“My teacher said I’m the Indian princess for Thanksgiving.” She rests her head on her Tinkerbell pillow and pulls her green quilt to her chin. I kiss her cheek as her eyes close for the night.

She doesn’t know that I was suspended for defending myself against a boy who constantly harassed me. She doesn’t know the names her grandmother has been called because of her tan skin. She doesn’t realize that the monsters in her mind are tame compared to the world’s interpretation of a pretty girl or a different look.

There’s a world in front of her that’s settled and set in its ways; that will require the bravery of a seven year old who does not care.

There is a day, not too far in the future, where I will have to explain. I will have to comfort her and tell her it will be alright. She will fold her body into her covers and I will rub her back. I will tell her that the world expects certain things from her because she is a girl, because she is pretty, because she does look different, but that she is capable of so much more.