The running boy

The car slows to a an almost halt.

“Who lives here?” she asks me, staring at the strange derelict structure that appears to rise from the shrubbery and dissolve into the trees. “Do you know that old man?”

I jerk around to find a sickly face looking out from the broken window.

“No.”

There had been a man, tall, strong, who lived on this land, with his young wife and son. During the day he would tend to his fields and cattle, while she tended to the house and the boy. It was when the sun sank that the devil came calling.
He drank, and swore. He beat and pillaged the woman. The little boy knew that he must hide in the closet until the devil went away and his mama came for him. She had told him so.
One day the devil was much too loud and far too mean. The boy hid in mamas skirts and waited. He waited but mama never came.
So he sneaked out to look for her.
There she was, lying on the wet red floor, with a knife sticking out, while father snored upon the bed. The boy knew what he must do. The devil had to be exorcised like in the movie. Pulling out the knife he went and struck the devil. The man woke up with a great big roar. But boy jumped off and ran and ran and ran.

I don’t know where these strange memory flashes come from.
I do not know the boy. I do not know this man.

She slips her hand over mine as I start the car up. “I really don’t know why I came here,” I mumble as I drive away.

Beside my car I see the little boy still running.

 


In response to Michelle’s Photo-Fiction #94

Those dimples

I remembered him as the kid who sat at the back of the classroom, always attacking the plump girl with his paper pellets. But when I would turn around to glare, he would disarm me with the biggest smile that housed the deepest dimples. Those darned dimples sent my heart in a tizzy every single time.

Now thanks to social media I was meeting him after almost 20 years.

The beach was his idea. I would have suggested a café. But then he was always a child of the winds.

He was still handsome, the dimples were just as mesmerising, his eyes still sparkled, and my heart still fluttered beside him. We caught up with the present, we caught up with the past, we spoke of possible futures.

My heart stopped fluttering and settled into a blissful calm that only childhood friendship could bring.


Written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, 116th challenge based on photo prompt by The Storyteller’s Abode

Collateral

Memory is a deadly disease; it is my cancer of the soul. It gnaws away at my heart, a constant pain that kills me every day just a little bit more, replacing living with a darkness that overshadows each moment. In this darkness I can’t get the sense that anything is important at all, neither life, nor death, nor pain. I yearn for the restful embrace of slumber, to be able to sleep just one night without the sound of pitiful voice drenching me in cold chills.

I look outside the window waiting for dawn to come and bring the world alive again, to remind my desolate heart that there is hope yet, that out there is a whole planet of sentient beings that live and love and laugh and grow. I wait for dawn to shed my world of its mourning black and dress it in the colours of sunshine again.

But for now all I have is this starless sky. Even the moon is not shining tonight, as if she too lay frightened, quivering, taking refuge behind unseen clouds. The vice on my heart keeps squeezing, unrelenting, and all that my heart can do is beat warm blood around my veins in a hope that the storm will eventually end.

300w-88

The intelligence had been solid, the coordinates correct, our planning and execution meticulous, yet everything went so very wrong. The bastards had thrust guns in the hands of boys and left them as sitting ducks. I knew the moment the firing started. Those were not the screams of men. But there was nothing to be done. The target had moved on. We had to move on. That’s what I kept telling myself. We had to move on. There is always collateral.

And now the screams just won’t stop.


Written for Michelle’s Photo-Fiction #88

Toot Toot

At age 5, the railroad was a magical place, for you could hop on a carriage and travel to the remotest corners of the world.
And when the Choo-Choo went Toot-Toot, he would jump up and down clapping with glee.

When he was 7, he was all grown up. The Tooting no longer excited him. It was time for bullet trains and space travel. Why limit yourself to the earth when space is just waiting to be conquered.

By 12, he was too old to believe in magic and too young to believe in hope.
The old train was retired to the top most shelf and taken down occasionally to be dusted.

At 17, life finds him on the other side of the tracks. The train has meaning once more. The train takes him home.

Train

In Response to Frank’s Tuesday Photo Challenge – RGB
The red, green and blue carriages of the Choo-Choo.

Of choices made

A man makes sacrifices to get the things he wants, else the things he wants become the sacrifice. Life was a well weighted cost-benefit analysis with no right answers.

So when lady luck had finally condescended to glance in his direction, he knew it was time to step forward and get acquainted with the world. And yes, choices were made, sacrifices made, relationships shunned, the moral compass had spun around a few times to his varying true north.
But the past was the past and he had put his demons to bed.

True, sometimes, somehow, like now, the ghosts of the past still came out to haunt. For a moment he could hear the laughter of little boys riding the cart, he could smell Mrs. Simpson’s freshly baked cinnamon rolls, he could feel Jamie’s soft woolen coat draped over his shoulders.
But he had already closed the door on that chapter of his life. There was too much water under the bridge.

With one last wistful look at the cart, he drove away.

Inspired by: Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, Week of 18 April 2017
Photo by: Yinglan Z

Again

Today it may be a jetty of no importance, but years ago it was the meeting ground of the most sought-after girl gang in town – or so we would have it said.
Six young girls who ran as free as the wind blowing through their hair, whose imaginations soared like the seagulls overhead, and whose laughter bubbled buoyant as the lapping waves. Here we converged every day to discuss vital matters such as school gossip, girlfriend politics and boys. It was here we went to laugh, to cry, to plot or to vent. On this jetty we sat dangling our legs making up silly songs or played girly games like hopscotch until we ran out of time and breath. At dusk, tired and sweaty, we would strip down to our undergarments, run down the jetty like the banshees that we were, and jump into the cool waters, holding hands tightly.
Always together – all for one and one for all.

“Let’s do it,” says Cathy.

“Are you crazy? We are thrice as old and thrice as heavy.”

“So?”

We look at each other, the six of us, now together again.

“All for one and one for all. Jump.”

 


Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction prompt based on photo by Jules Paige

Of little girls and big little girls

March – A year back it was that time of the year when I moaned about tax cuts and school exams. That my dad also happened to be born in March was incidental. A day to shop for a gift and a card and then dinner out on ‘the’ day – that was pretty much how it went.

In one year, my world sorta went upside-down. March is now that milestone I wish he had met. One tries to be mature about it. Focus on all the years we had together. Dwell on the good memories. Be glad that he was active till the end. Accept the will of God. After all isn’t that what faith is – Unconditional surrender to the will of God. On the surface of it I’m conducting myself like a champ.

But then there is the little girl inside. The one who crawls out every now and then and asks, why my daddy? Why not a few more years? People live to be a 100. Why not him? And then the grown up girl hushes the little one. Because the grown up girl is quite logical you see. She can say things like, look at all the little girls who never got to grow up with their daddies. Or would you have rather that he stayed on and suffered. And that makes sense to even the little girl because she knows that daddies are supposed to be big and strong and happy and smart. So she goes back to her slumber.

The big girl is relieved, for a while atleast. Washes off her tears, pulls her big girl pants up, wears her everyday smile, and gets back to life. She manages quite well. Someone had advised her, that the best thing that you can do for your parents is to live a life that brings credit to the upbringing they gave you. Sure daddy may have made a few mistakes, and there was a lot that she so wasn’t following, but he loved her, and she loved him, and that was undisputable.

And then one morning she opens up her computer, and someone asks her to write about March, and what do you know, the little girl is back again.
Why my daddy?….

socsbadge2016-17


Written for the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt “March”

Reflections

She rode down the Centralbron every day, and each day was a reminder of him and what could have been. The towers and spires bore silent testament to their epic romance. But vicious words squelch even blazing passion.
She couldn’t recall what started it. All she knew was that they had reached the point of no return.

Time had not healed wounds and her heart still trembled like the shuddering reflections she passed every day.

She knew she deserved happiness. She deserved to move on free of him.

It was time to take another path.

100WW

Written for Bikugurl’s 100 Word Wednesday challenge based on photo by Matias Larhag.

Roots

 

The memories come like a yester-year slide show.

Eww mom, this place if crawling with bugs. I can’t stay here.

If this place is good enough for your father and me, it’s good enough for you. Just because your some big city lawyer now, don’t forget where you came from.

Ugh, the respect-your-roots speech again!

*

Come stay with me mom, you can’t live alone.

I spent 52 years with him. Do you think I can leave him now?

But…

*
She lies beside him now.

The place is still crawling with bugs.

Somehow they seem inconsequential.

 


Written for Friday Fictioneers with photo prompt by Shaktiki Sharma