The Bend in the Road

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Richard looked at the steering wheel in his hands and felt fear.

He drove fast. He had to get away, but he reflected on his surroundings. He had always loved this highway with its view of the ocean. Now it was a place where he felt trepidation.

Richard kept looking in his rear view mirror. He saw something in the distance. He recognized Arnold’s car. Arnold was a vengeful coward with a fragile ego and muscles the size of softballs.

Arnold was a sociopath. A mean, whisky drinking liar who tried to con everyone he knew. His friends saw him as a fun, nice man, but he wasn’t.

Arnold was behind him now, swerving and trying to run him off the road. Richard knew he might as well pull over. He got out of the car.

Arnold bellowed, “You owe me money. Time to pay up!”

Richard could tell he was drunk. Arnold came running at him, swinging his fists. Richard was ready for him, standing at the side of the road. As Arnold reached him, swinging and yelling, Richard stepped aside. He stepped the wrong way. Right over the edge of the cliff. Arnold ran right into Richard’s car.

200 words

*Thanks to Susan and Anurag Bakhshi for photo prompt!

 

 

 

Pillars – #writephoto

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She walked among the pillars of the old building on the monastery grounds to gather her thoughts. She found it cool and serene here. Many things had gone wrong in her life recently. Not only in her life, but in the lives of some of her friends and family. She touched the cold, gray marble of one of the pillars in the colonnade and she felt a frisson of emotion. She yanked her hand away. It was exciting and frightening. Slowly, she touched the pillar again. The same emotion overcame her. She felt strength. Through her mind and body, she was flooded with the strength to meet her problems head on. She didn’t want to take her hand away, but she finally did. The strength to fight on remained.

She walked to another pillar and touched it. She was shocked with the emotion of hope. Hopelessness about her life had permeated her world for so long that she had forgotten what it felt like to feel hopeful. She felt strong and hopeful. Ready to tackle the problems in her life.

She had to touch another pillar. She could not imagine that it would cause any further emotion in her. Strength and hopefulness had already been granted to her. She touched the pillar. A sense of worthiness flooded through her. She had felt unworthy to tackle her problems. To even live her life. For years now, she had felt no self-worth at all and, by touching this pillar, that changed. It gave her great relief and made her feel that not only could she solve her problems, but she was worth the life she was living.

After she caught her breath and composed herself, she decided to try touching only one more pillar. She walked to one near the front of the colonnade and put her hand on it. She smiled and the smile got bigger as she left her hand on the pillar. She felt gratitude. She was grateful she was alive. Alive to live the life she had been given.

Strength, hope, worthiness, and gratitude. The pillars in the colonnade at the monastery gave her those things that day. She asked herself whether it was real or not. Did they give her those things? Or was she just ready to feel them on her own?

She’ll never know.

 

Thanks to Sue Vincent for the great photo prompt!

Don’t You Love Me?

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”I thought we came to the Beach Bar to have a drink and then go parasailing, Michael? We haven’t even made it to the bar. You captured me way out here,” Gale exclaimed.

”C’mon, honey. I’ve missed you all day,” Michael said as he tried to steal a few kisses.

”Later, Michael. I’m thirsty for a beer and I really want to do some parasailing this afternoon,” Gale said as she pushed against Michael’s chest.

She pushed away and Michael turned away. With his back to her, he said, “Honey, don’t you love me?”

”Michael, don’t you even use that line on me,” Gale said.

Michael turned around grinning and grabbed her, kissing her again.

”Do we really have to go parasailing today, Gale? Let’s have one beer and then go to my apartment.”

”I know when I’ve lost an argument,” she said and started walked toward the bar.

Michael didn’t know that, once she made it to the bar, she wasn’t going anywhere with him after this.

168 words

 

Thanks to Priceless Joy and Michelle DeAngelis for the photo prompt.

 

Spectral – #writephoto

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She had brought her equipment out earlier in the day, before nightfall. It was set up, ready to go. Ready to detect any spectral presence at the old fort. She didn’t bring her team this night. She had decided to check out the old fort alone in an effort to disturb things as little as possible. She was an experienced ghost hunter, although it was a hobby and not a vocation. Her field was physics and she was a teacher.

She sat in her car at the end of the road approaching the old fort and observed for a while. Other ghost hunters had examined the fort after reports by tourists that they felt cold spots within the fort, usually associated with a spot of light and an apparition who possibly used to reside there. That didn’t make a lot of sense to her since the fort was mostly open to the elements now. She wanted to do further study.

It was a foggy night. It seemed to be an odd fog. There was no wind, but the fog was swirling around. She quickly got out of her car and went to her equipment set up some distance from the old fort. It was definitely picking up paranormal activity in the area. But what type? She suspected she knew.

The fog thickened. It seemed to swirl more and the ghosthunter had her answer. This was not your typical ghost or your typical fog. This was an ecto-mist or ectoplasm. A ghostly mist identified by the swirling pattern. She knew she must wait quietly. Ectoplasms sometimes developed into full-blown spectral apparitions.

As she watched, the fog darkened as it swirled and then stopped. There was the outline of a being sitting on the ground. She started snapping her camera although all she could see was a man wearing a white wig in an elaborate red costume or uniform. She couldn’t see his face clearly, but she could see that he was holding a rock in his hand. He was holding his head in his other hand. Within fifteen seconds, the dark fog took him away and normal fog settled in around the fort.

Given the time period in which the fort was built, rocks and cannons were all with which they had to fight. He must have been a wounded soldier.

Driving back to her home, she was thrilled with her photos and her discovery. She found herself feeling very sorry for that soldier so many hundreds of years ago.

 

Thanks to Sue Vincent for the great photo prompt!

The Stake Out

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“Don’t you think it’s obvious to rub the fog off in one spot, Stan?”

”No, Joe, I think it would be more obvious if he saw two guys sitting here in a car on a side street just hanging out,” Stan replied. “It would look like we’re on a stake out.”

”This guy is a nasty piece of work, Joe. Plus, he’s smart. He and his buddy had to have real smarts to pull off that bank heist.”

”How smart can he be? He’s covered in that red stuff from the marked money.”

The two men noticed a man in a business suit walking down the street. No car was around. It was many blocks to the business section of the city. The man kept looking around.

After the man walked a block up the street, Joe and Stan started the car and slowly followed him. He started to run. Joe jumped from the car and ran after him. He pulled out his gun, started to shoot, and Joe dropped to the ground.

 

Thanks to Priceless Joy for the prompt and wildverbs for the photo!

@Rosemary Carlson 2018

My Epic Workplace

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Job: Environmental and ecological freelance writer focused on climate change. Epic workplace: A house located in the woods. Connected both by wire and wirelessly to the Internet and the news channels. A powerful Mac computer and a standing desk. Subscriptions to all major research databases. Memberships to all major news organizations such as Getty. Three televisions to access the major news channels at the same time.

In today’s world, this would be my epic job and my epic workplace. A workplace where I could advocate for responsible ecological policy that would have a positive impact on slowing climate change.

 

*Thanks to Charli Mills and the Carrot Ranch for the great prompt!

Turning – #writephoto

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Abigail was curled up in a corner of her sofa going through the photos in the photo album she had kept. She’d just finished a huge project. She’d gone through her mother’s personal belongings. A lifetime of photos, letters, other personal things. It had been very hard, very emotional. Her mom had been gone for a long time and, only now had she been able to bring herself to sort through the dozens of boxes she had left behind.

She knew now, after the discoveries she had made, that her mother had spent a lifetime climbing a mountain like the beautiful mountain in the picture she had taken years before. She’d never known her mother until she went through her things. Odd how you could live with someone all your life and never know them. There was so much more to her mother than she’d ever known.

Abigail looked up from the photos, thinking to herself how she could have been closer to her mother and understood her so much better if her mother had only talked to her. If her mother had talked to someone. She didn’t. She closed herself up in a cocoon and when she did talk to family and friends, it was only about the good stuff. She wouldn’t open up, confide in anyone. Pride. Foolish pride. Pride that cost her family, friends, loved ones, and the affection of her husband. But, perhaps most importantly, her daughter and her own self-respect.

Her mom came by that pride honestly. Her family was so prideful that it silenced them, even between each other. There was no such thing as an apology, an honest discussion, or real interaction. Abigail was glad she was more like her father’s family. Of course, they were proud, but they weren’t afraid of expressing their feelings and they didn’t feel jealous of each other. Looking back, she felt sorry for her mother.

Abigail had been turning away from her mother’s family for many years, even before she realized why she was. There were a few members of the family that were still in her life but very few. As she grew older, she had no patience for the type of pride that cost you loved ones. It was common in Appalachia, in the mountains.

She looked back at the photo album and realized that it was time to turn away from the kind of life where pride was more important than love. She closed the book.

 

*Thank you for the challenging writing prompt, Sue Vincent! What a beautiful photo!

The Old Professor

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The old professor looked at the beautiful full moon shining over the city.

“Are you sure you’re ready to retire, Robert?” his friend, Arthur, asked.

”I’ll never be ready. It’s my life. It’s time though.”

Robert was packing boxes.

“Do you have to move? No one is left for you where you lived 25 years ago,” Arthur commented.

”I’ll go through my papers. Write my memoir. I’ll always be a professor, Arthur. I just want to read, write, and research, That’s all I need.”

”Live here with me, Robert. I need your company.”

Tears streamed down Robert’s face as he smiled.

 

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff and Friday Fictioneers and photo attribution goes to Gah Learner.

Overtaken

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Ruth knew there was a burn ban. The ban was until 6 p.m. and it was almost dark. She thought she could burn the trash. The fire had gotten away from her. She and Sam were using blankets to try to beat down the flames.

The small volunteer fire department was on its way. Sam had called them before he ran out to help her. The fire was heading toward the forest behind their house. There were homes back there. Families, children, wildlife.

“Sam, I don’t hear any sirens yet,” Ruth screamed.

”You know they’re all ten or more miles away. We have to keep it at bay until they can get here,” Sam replied over the increasing roar of the fire.

Ruth and Sam were both members of the fire department. They couldn’t leave the blaze long enough to get their fire-fighting equipment. Ruth knew they could stop the fire on the ground with their equipment, but she had just seen it jump to the top of a tree.

The volunteers started pulling in the driveway, putting on their gear as they jumped out of their cars. Someone got the pair’s gear out of the house.

The fire was roaring through the underbrush, advancing fast.

“We have to build a berm to try to stop this,” Sam said.

”It’s too hot. You can’t get in there,” someone screamed at him.

Sam grabbed a shovel and went in. Just as he did, the fire took on new life and overtook him.

 

Posted to IndiesUnlimited. If you like this story, please go to this site and vote for it after 5 p.m. Tuesday. Thank you!

Photo attributed to K. S. Brooks

 

Watcher – #writephoto

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She didn’t walk every day. Only when she had time and they didn’t need her. Only when her weary body could force itself out the door to walk below the ridgeline. She told herself she walked for fitness. She knew she really walked for the fitness of her mind. She would often walk for a short distance, but when he was there, on top of the ridge, she would walk for an hour or more. He fascinated her. Somehow she knew the big, gray wolf was male. She didn’t know how.

She would glance up at the top of the ridge after she had walked away from the house. Most days, she saw him standing there. Facing her. High up on the ridge. As she walked, his walk paralleled hers. She walked the path at the base of the ridge while he walked the top of the ridge. Walking at the same pace she did.

They carried out this ritual for months, the woman and the wolf. Through the summer and into the late fall. She couldn’t imagine why he walked with her, though some distance away. She wasn’t afraid. On the contrary, he made her feel calm. She knew he wouldn’t hurt her. She started sitting down and resting halfway through her walk. He stopped and rested when she did.

One day, early in the winter, she was resting halfway through her walk and she heard the leaves crunch behind her. She sensed it might be him, so she sat very still. The crunching stopped. She sat for a few more moments. Then she got up to walk and saw him mere feet from her. She knew not to meet his eyes. She just started walking. He followed her, this time on the path right behind her. When she turned to go home, he also turned and followed her home. He waited for her to go in the house, then he walked off into the woods.

The wolf and the woman became walking companions. He started walking in front of her and led her up the hill to the ridgeline. When they stopped and she looked down the other side, she saw the men. Men were logging the woods and logging was prohibited in those woods. It dawned on her that this was what the wolf had wanted her to see. He wanted her help.

She reported the logging to the authorities and it stopped. During her next walk, the wolf was waiting for her. When she got to the path, he did the most surprising thing. He leaned his big body against her. Very gingerly, she reached over and took a handful of the ruff around his neck. They stood for a long time like that. Then, he walked off into the woods.

After that day, the wolf didn’t walk with her anymore although she saw him occasionally watching her from the ridgeline. She thinks he accomplished his mission — to get her help in reporting the loggers. He probably had a den, a mate, and pups nearby. She missed his company.

What she didn’t know is that he had become her watcher. She could walk the woods in safety because he will watch out for her as long as he lives.

 

Thanks to Sue Vincent for the lovely photo and writing prompt!