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.

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

Writer’s Block

After days of turmoil and cotton brain and nothing coming to fruition, I decide that what I need is to immerse myself into the intricacies and eccentricities of humans spinning the stories of their life.
I place my book upon the table. For a few moments I celebrate its emptiness, and then I start to write. One after another the words tumble from my imagination, like untidy clothes strewn on the floor waiting to be gathered and sorted.
The phone pings and I pause, taking stock. As I scratch out line after line I can almost feel the page’s disappointment at my feeble efforts, its pristine surface now ruined.
The coffee machine huffs in the background, but the real critic is the astute plant staring right at me, ridiculing every word that I write.


In response to Bikurgurl’s 100 Word Wednesday: Week 91 challenge, based on a photo by Toa Heftiba

La ville colorée

I stare at the map in my hand.


Photo Prompt © Dale Rogerson

This was the address.

After the miles of wilderness, I had driven through to get here, this entire town was a riot of colours. I could just as well have been in Legoland. All the houses were either Brick Red or Royal Blue or Crimson Yellow. The doors were decorated with ornaments and string lights.

I reach the fountain with its beautiful translucent corals and turn right. Even this narrow alley has colourful umbrellas flying above, as if the starless sky was much too bland.


Photo Prompt © Bikurgurl

I look around, wondering if I was on the set of some film, seeking out the hidden cameras. All I see are the pedestrians walking in pairs, always in pairs…


So I am cheating a little here, combining two prompts.
The first is
Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers prompt of 21 September 2018 based on a picture by Dale Rogerson, and the other, Bikurgurl’s 100 Word Wednesday: Week 89 prompt based on her picture taken at the Seattle Aquarium.

The untamed artist

Her need to paint was her compulsion. My need to see her happy was mine. She painted on paper, on canvas, the furniture, the walls, the windows.

Her parents blamed me for enabling her. “She needs medication.” “The house looks ridiculous.”
But all that mattered was that painting kept her calm.

“Look at her, splattered in colour everywhere, streaks on her hair and under hair nails.”
Yes, look at her, so beautiful, so radiant, a piece of art.

Then one day the brush slipped out of her fingers, and her work here was done.

I painted her on the outer wall, for the world to see. My gorgeous wild artist.
So beautiful, so radiant, a piece of art.


In response to Bikurgurl’s 100 Word Wednesday: Week 87 photo prompt

Daddy’s little helper

I never know when the memories will hit, or what will trigger them. A crisp uniform. Well polished shiny shoes.

Most definitely shiny shoes.

There is a technique to polishing shoes. Wipe – Polish – Buff – Shine. Daddy’s little helper was well trained in that.

And when daddy was about to leave to work, it was my responsibility to hand over his applets and badge, and fetch his shoes. And sometimes when I accidentally got my finger prints on the shoes, well that was the time for a quick spit-shine.

Yes, its strange the things that trigger those memories.

In response to Bikurgurl’s 100 Words Wednesday: Week 80 challenge based on a photo by Bikurgurl.

Class of 2012

People, so many people, students, parents, all with dreams in their eyes and hope in their hearts. A milestone reached, a journey embarked upon.
Their joy rises up like a tide engulfing me. I begin to smile.

A gentle hand on my shoulder. Principal Johnson. He always finds me.
‘Mrs. Mason, why do you do this to yourself?’

‘A reminder of the last happy day of my life,’ I think.

Six years ago my Tommy was valedictorian.
Then there was the after party. ‘Don’t wait up mum, I’ll probably be late.’ he had warned.
He should know better. Mothers always wait up.

I’m still waiting.


In response to the 100 Word Wednesday : Week 75 challenge based on a photo prompt by Bikurgurl

Suburbia’s Wild Child

Hannah Morrison was suburbia’s wild child.

Zipping around on her bicycle, zigzagging through manicured lawns, tying coloured ribbons to trees, planting God-awful garden gnomes, decorating for Christmas in summer.

Children need discipline, she needs to learn boundaries, perhaps a boarding school might help – there was no dearth of self serving suggestions offered up by harried neighbours.

Poor Mr. Morrison kept fit walking around the neighbourhood picking up after his daughter, while Mrs. Morrison had become an expert at baking ‘apology’ pies.

Then one day it all stopped.

Suburbia lost its colour and character. No doors opened to surprises anymore. It was as if all life had bled into little Hannah Morrison’s grave.


In response to the 100 Word Wednesday: Week 74 challenge, based on a photo by Bikurgurl

Amicable Separations

It was their 23rd wedding anniversary, yet he was late. He didn’t care enough to remember, and she didn’t care enough to mind.

It was past midnight when he eventually let himself into a pitch dark house. Suddenly the candles came on. “Jeez Malinda, you gave me a fright.”

“Well, its our wedding anniversary, or rather it was. I wanted to do something special for you. It been far too long.”

“Thanks baby. I’ve eaten, but I could sure use the drink.”

She watched him gulp down the exotic cocktail of vodka, orange juice and Sprite, generously sweetened with antifreeze, and even encouraged him to drink one more.

By morning he would be sick. In twenty-four hours he would be in the emergency room sliding into renal failure. She had planned everything meticulously. His mistress would be on duty then.


In response to Bikurgurl’s 100 Words Wednesday: Week 67 challenge.

Looking down

Baba, is that the building you helped build?

It is so tall. My eyes cant see all the way up. They get lost in the clouds. Did you really go all the way up there? Did it not scare you. I would be terrified. The day we heard that one uncle had fallen and died, ma cried so much. We prayed everyday that Allah would keep you safe. Can we go up and see?

We don’t need to buy tickets. You just tell them that you want to show your children what you built.

Why not?

The tickets cost an entire month’s salary!

It’s OK baba. I’m sure its prettier to look upwards, than down.

In response to Bikurgul’s 100 Word Wednesday: Week 54 challenge, based on a photo by Roman Logov