Autofocus

Daddy I need to pee. Little hands tugged at the man.

Stop shaking me. I’m trying to focus here.

But I need to pee. Badly.

Why didn’t you go before we left?

I did. It’s coming again.

I shouldn’t have got you that soda. Next time you’re wearing a diaper.

I’m too old for diapers.

Ya. Then your old enough to hold it in.

The cars zip by. The little boy hobs from foot to foot. The man waits for the perfect composition.

Please daddy. A silent whimper.

Focus. The camera captures the perfect picture.

It misses the flowing tears.


In response to Bikurgurl’s 100 Word Wednesday: Week 97 challenge, based on a photo by Sebastien Gabriel.

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The Lady Under The Bridge

You can’t tell from the clothes whose inside until they look up, but there is just something about the way she’s fussing with the pleats of her skirt that makes me pause.

Paper frail hands unwrap a headscarf, which is then neatly folded and placed atop a clean stone. She’s a lady.

Steel blue eyes meet mine. I’ve been staring too long.

We smile.

Ever so tantalizingly she tugs up the skirt, as knees move apart.

I wipe my sweaty palms on my pants. The all too familiar twitching has started.

On another day perhaps; today she’s not selling what I’m looking for.


In response to Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers challenge of 16 Nov 2018, based on a photo prompt by, voila, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Sticks and Stones

I have a bone to pick with my airlines. They have preponed my departure to 0730 hrs, so checkin at 0530 hrs, which in turn implies morning alarm at 0430 hrs.

Holidays are supposed to be about late night; not early mornings.

Hmm… Ms Lazybones will have to miss her beauty bath.

Can’t go late for checkin either cause to the latecomer go the bones. With my luck, I’ll probably get stuck with some brawling brat.

Gnaw the bone which is fallen to thy lot. Stop complaining, child, says my conscience. I had week relaxing with friends; and you cannot have a fish without bones.

In response to the Stream of Consciousness Saturday challenge word Bone

I know she can’t

Can you please stop repacking!

I want to shout that out to my mum, but I know it’s pointless. Travelling stresses her out, and she deals with it by packing.

It does not matter which part of the civilised world she is going to, she gears up like she is heading out into the wilderness. There are supplies, and then there are emergency supplies, and then there are backup supplies in case the emergency supplies fail.

She’s going for a week; with enough medicines for a month. Just in case we go into a state of emergency and all the airlines AND pharmacies shut down!
And mind you she is going to visit her brother; so it’s not like she is going to be stranded all by herself with no one to help her!

We need to leave the house at 7:30am tomorrow. She has two alarms set for 6am, has reconfirmed that I have set my alarms too, and that the Uber has indeed been booked for 7:15am, ’cause you know those fellows are always late!

It’s 11pm right now. The suitcase is packed (or at least I think so, but I’m not placing my hand over the Bible or anything), and we have moved on to the next critical step in decision making – which handbag shall she carry? The purse, which should suffice to carry her wallet, some makeup and tickets; the big purse, in case she wants to throw a bottle of water in; or the big tote, in case she wants to go shopping…
Fifteen minutes back I excused myself claiming that I needed to do a web check in.
Fifteen very quiet minutes; so quiet in fact that I’m beginning to worry if she has abandoned Project Purse-selection, and gone back to repacking the suitcase.

I better go check. If she doesn’t even go to sleep, then all those alarms are going to ring tomorrow morning for absolutely no reason!

In response to Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday word prompt – “can.”

Retail Therapy

“The French Riviera is so beautiful. Be safe. Love u.” – mum

If looks could kill, Pia would have scorched the damn phone.

Be safe – Really!
If she actually cared she wouldn’t have dumped her off at her father’s place, knowing well that the man was never home. That was the reason for their divorce, wasn’t it!
But no. Now his workaholism is ok, cause it keeps the alimony rolling in.

There was nothing that she wanted from Guess or Boss or even damn Louis Vuitton. But she sure could max out the credit cards she had flicked from her father’s wallet.
Maybe that would get his attention.


In response to Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers challenge of 19 October, based on a photo prompt by Jilly Funell

The Pampered Daughter

She was the pampered daughter.

Designer clothes, Barbie dolls, expensive trinkets, she got whatever she wanted; even college, even though it was on the other side of the river. She was never expected to work, but they agreed that an educated mother could give her children a better upbringing.

Of course, she was warned to stay away from the riff-raffs from the fishing hamlet. “We employ the lower caste, we don’t fraternize with them,” grandfather had explained.

But used to having her own way, she thought that she could convince them that she wanted Rajesh.

“So, what if he lives across the river? The only thing that divides us is a bridge,” she argued.

They brought her Rajesh; but he was missing a heartbeat.

Some bridges cannot be crossed.

The pampered daughter can have whatever she wants. So long as those are things that don’t impact the ‘family honour’.
After all, a girl can’t ask for too much!


In response to Priceless Joy’s 187th Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge, based on a photo by Michelle De Angelis.

Sleepless

My hands are frozen, my legs feel like heavy lead. My head is pounding, every cell in my body screaming for oxygen. I’m going to die. I don’t want to die. I scream for help. But nobody is looking for me. The only one looking at me is him. Unseeing, unblinking, his eyes grotesque and bulging. “Help me,” he pleads.

Insomnia haunts my nights; fatigue rules my days.
I reach for my PTSD pills. I don’t want the chemicals, but I can’t survive the dreams.

Because sometimes the dream changes; sometimes the unseeing eyes are mine.


Foreword:
Trauma effects not only the survivors but the rescuers too.
In 2011, the World Aquatic Health Conference recognised PTSD as a legitimate concern amongst life guards, particularly because the profession regularly employs teenagers and requires making split second decisions that have life and death consequences.


This work of fiction was written in response to Bikurgurl’s 100 Word Wednesday: Week 92 challenge based on a photo by Alex Iby

Happenchance

It took a series of vicissitudes to lead to this shemozzle.

Perhaps it all started with Farmer Raju’s ultimatum to the Councilman.
Just because he lived miles away from the nearest town, he could not be denied high speed internet. The Prime Minister had himself stated – A Strong India is A Connected India.

Had the bi-elections not been coming up, were Raju not considered rather influential in the community, and were his vote not necessary, the councilman might not have insisted that the fiber-optic cables be laid within 24 hours.

Had the workers not been forced to dig up the highway in the middle of a scorching summer day, they might have had the temperament to ensure that the road relay work was carried out properly.

Had the understaffed roadways department not left ditches on the side of the road, then the garbage truck driver trying to avoid this poorly tarmacked road, might not have swerved into the ditch, broken his axle, skidded, tilted over and splattered the entire trash content of his truck across the Sideway Motel’s front yard.

And because the garbage truck never made it to the Waste Management Plant, its contents were not pulverised or incinerated, Detective Ramesh now stood before a body, wondering who dumped it in the trash.


In response to Susan’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of 14 October 2018, based on a photo contributed by C. E. Ayr.

Walls

Brick by brick he boxes himself in.

There is a hammer in my hand and I’m tempted to strike at those walls, but experience has taught me a lot. Hammers reinforce. For every strike, he builds up another layer.

I must be like flowing water. Calm, soothing, undemanding, persistent; wearing the walls down so gradually that even the brick doesn’t know.

His counselor and I have managed to open a few windows. The playful light beams dance about keeping him from plunging into the total dark.

But there are other hammers. Hammers that I neither wield nor control. My eyes do not hold enough water to sooth their blows away.


In response to Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers challenge of 12 October 2018, based on a photo prompt contributed by her.