Elbow Grease

Photo prompt © C.E.Ayr

 

“It’s been a while since they lived here.”

I nodded. The place was filthy. A bit stinky, too.

“Nothing a little elbow grease won’t fix.”

I wished she would shut up. The property manager’s eagerness to sell the place was obvious. Her neglect of the place was, too. She might’ve spent a bit of elbow grease before showing the space.

No matter. The sorry state of the cottage might lower her price to my range.

“Why aren’t these garbage bins outside?” I ventured.

“Oh,” she fidgeted, “those are … um … kind of urns. They’d wanted to be buried in them, indoors.”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

 

Sentry Sign

 

“Can you believe this weather? The sun is …” she stopped cold, her jaw frozen in mid-sentence. Her heart thundered, threatening to escape the confines of her chest.

“Mauve?”

Eric’s voice sounded as if filtered through molasses. Someplace in her stunned mind she noted to herself that she finally understood why cartoonists slurred speech and movement into agonizing slow-motion during moments of high-drama. It was as if the world itself spun differently. Time simultaneously lingered and lost all definition.

Her finger labored against a suddenly-too-heavy gravity. She pointed at the gravestone.

“The swirls,” she managed, her tongue was a parched brick in a desert.

She forced herself to breathe and swallow. Paradoxically the motion released some moisture back into her arid mouth.

“It is the mark of my ancestors,” she whispered. “A sacred, secret, rarely-used Sentry Sign. I’d only seen it once. I didn’t even know they’d been to this land.”

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

 

The Error

daniela-holzer-u_3rD02dmkw-unsplash

Photo: Daniela Holzer on Unsplash

 

She hadn’t intended for it to go this way.

She’d taken pains to be intensely selective of what she allowed. She’d researched every step, scoured barely legible ink on faded notes and prepared for every eventuality. She had kept her eyes peeled for any red-flags that should not be ignored.

She was careful.

And yet. There it was. Completely different than intended.

Her error.

She already repeated all the steps and realized her mistake. Her wonderful mistake.

It did not turn out as she’d expected.

It turned out fantastic instead.

She bottled it.

The aromatic error that will become the star perfume of the age.

 

 

 

For the RDP Monday challenge: Aromatic

 

All Caught Up

IMG_0192a

 

She leaned back, took a long look around, and sighed in satisfaction.

He’d love it. She was sure he would.

It took three full weeks and dozens of hours, but now every piece of paper he’d ever owned was alphabetized and catalogued. The photos organized by color, location, and main character. The receipts tagged and ranked by preference: favorite things first, the things he’d never order again, last.

He was due home by nightfall. She could only imagine his delight.

The office was transformed. So was the garage. She even organized the nets and oar for an artistic touch. Bronzed all his mementos so they matched.

No more desk and drawers. No more folders. No more boxes with a mishmash of photos and cards. Goodbye to letters stacked together by arbitrary designations of correspondence, when they could be more logically sorted by zip code (or when there was none noted, ordered alphabetically by addressee’s given name and divided by paper-type).

It had been a Herculean task, but she was undaunted. Who but her would take it on to help him out?

She couldn’t wait to show him how she’d got him all caught up.

 

 

For Keith’s Kreative Kue #236

 

 

Empty Promises

Photo prompt: © Fatima Fakier Deria

 

He came down to find the kitchen cold. The coffee machine bereft of beans, the range orphaned of the pan that sizzled on it every morning as far back as he could recall. His lunch boxes waited on the table, naked in their transparent emptiness.

He was sure that the vacant orange juice glass was put on them just to spite.

He never believed her that she’d up and leave if he kept ‘forgetting’ her papers. He never thought she’d have anyplace else to go. But there he was. Alone. The servant that had been a fixture for him, gone.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Not a Hare

Photo © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

 

“Mama,” Benny shook me. “Something’s in the bushes!”

I must’ve dozed off.

It had been nice to have the campgrounds for ourselves.

Till now.

“Perhaps a hare.” I tried. Would a campfire keep out cougars? I felt for my utility knife. Our only weapon. Ridiculous.

Benny frowned. “It’s crying.”

It was. My heart thumped as I stalked toward the sound.

My flashlight illuminated the tear-stained face of a child. A child?! She had to be younger than Ben. Alone?!

I gasped.

She shivered. Fear or cold or both?

“Come, Sweetie,” I cooed. “We won’t hurt you. Let’s get you warm.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Scouts Honor

Photo: © Ted Strutz

 

“Where exactly does your uncle live?”

“You’ll see.”

I narrowed my eyes. Larry relished building tension. Perhaps mandatory in magicians, but guaranteed to annoy offstage!

“This better not be a trick!” I warned.

“It’s not,” he responded. “Scouts honor.”

“You’ve been kicked out of Scouts.”

He laughed.

We traipsed through deserted woods. No house anywhere. Not even a cabin. Just scraggly trees, weeds, and a spooky car wreck. Larry made for the latter.

I followed warily, smelling trickery.

“Here,” he reached under the hood, pressed something, unveiled stairs. “Ta-da! Uncle’s Red’s subterranean house!”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Morning Manners

grooming Inbar Asif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

One cannot head to pasture

On a fine, chilly morn

Without checking to see if

One’s mane’s properly adorned.

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Surprise

 

Choo-Choo

train ride SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

You can captain a boat

Drive a car

Pilot planes,

But there’s nothing quite like

Driving this

Mini-train.

 

 

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Drive

 

Birthday Surprise


PHOTO PROMPT © Jilly Funell

 

Her heart fluttered in her chest. She wiped sweaty palms on her jeans and tugged her cap lower on her head to manage jitters and glare.

She’d worked on this all summer. In secret. His birthday surprise.

She moved closer to the building, automatically scanning the terrain even though she knew it like the back of her hand.

There he was, waiting.

“Hi Dad!”

His face lit up and he and turned toward the elevator. “I’ll call it for you.”

“It’s okay, Dad,” she grinned and pushed up from the wheelchair. “Just give me your arm. I can walk up.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers