The Ruins

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Wearing a special HazMat suit developed in early 2018, Jennifer was one of the environmental scientists who was outdoors in the Fall of 2028 taking soil and air samples. Her team was working in the Washington, DC/New York City/Boston corridor.

After a North Korean missile had struck Japan, the U.S. had bombed North Korea. They got off a missile toward South Korea. Using several nuclear-tipped ICBMs, Beijimg had fired on the east coast of the U.S. and the U.S. had destroyed the capital of China. What was left of the U.S. government had been moved to Columbus, Ohio.

Radiation poisoning spread over the eastern portion of the U.S. Many teams like Jennifer’s were deployed over the entire region. People were surviving, but few survived along the northeast corridor. They had determined that it would be years before the food would be safe to grow. Water was being purified.

Jennifer went inside the in-ground shelter to make her report. No real change from the last time. She recommended importing as much food as possible and relying on the western U.S. for the rest. She laid her head on her desk and cried.

Sunday Photo Fiction

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“This doesn’t feel wrong,” Rebecca said, as she and Patrick were saying their goodbyes before going to the airport. “We’ve waited so long to be together and it feels so natural. How could it possibly be wrong?”

Patrick smiled his soft, gentle smile at her. “Sweetie, from other people’s perspective, you know our relationship would be considered wrong. They wouldn’t understand. From a moral perspective, I guess it is wrong, but it certainly doesn’t feel wrong to me.”

“Nothing in my life has ever felt more right,” says Rebecca, as they hug and gently kiss. “How could this wonderful thing between us ever be considered a vice?’ Patrick just smiled and put his arm around her shoulders as they walked to the taxi.

Patrick had to fly to New York City to attend his daughter’s piano concert at Carnegie Hall. She was a classical pianist on a meteoric rise to fame. Patrick was meeting his wife and younger daughter there. Rebecca, a published author, was flying home to her small town in central Virginia where she lived with her husband and dog. She still worked as a writer. She and Patrick had been able to manage an interlude together in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. A longer interlude than usual but it was never long enough for them, especially not for Rebecca.

As Rebecca climbs in the taxi that will take them to the airport, she looks at Patrick and thinks back. She had been in love with Patrick for a large part of her adult life. She had fallen in love with him a few years after she had married her husband, unfortunately. Patrick had also fallen in love with Rebecca and he was also married. It was just one of those things. Almost a love at first sight thing. Rebecca was not yet a writer and was hired at Patrick’s place of employment — a large bank in Atlanta, Georgia. He was a junior bank executive. She was a little younger and an even more junior bank executive. There was an instant attraction between the dark, handsome man and the blonde girl.

Rebecca smiles at Patrick as they race toward the airport and remembers how they resisted their attraction, though briefly, all those years ago. Finally, they gave in as they enjoyed being together so very much. The enjoyment they found in each other’s company gradually led to sexual attraction and their relationship blossomed into a full-blown affair. Rebecca finds it hard to believe that was 35 years ago. She and Patrick have marveled at how they have found each other again after all this time. They have giggled about their ages now and then.

Patrick has been divorced and remarried since that time. Rebecca has been married to the same man. Both are content in their marriages in their own way but something has always been missing from their relationships and they have concluded that it is that mysterious something they have only with each other. That something neither can quite put their finger on but something they both need to be happy.

Almost to the airport now. The moment when they leave each other that they both dread. The two start chatting about what each will be doing during their trips to their destinations and after they arrive. Effectively just making small talk in order to avoid saying the important things they both want to say but think unwise under the circumstances.

Rebecca starts feeling like she always does when she leaves Patrick. Like she is about to lose a part of herself. She has so enjoyed the past few days. Curling up in his arms to sleep at night. Sitting across the table from him at breakfast. Having an intellectual conversation with him. Much more personal things that she can’t stand to consider right now.

Patrick turns to her and breaks her reverie. “Almost there,” he says. Rebecca can’t speak for fear of crying. The taxi pulls up to the taxi stand and they get out to retrieve their luggage. As they kiss and say goodbye, they promise to talk to each other soon. They are about to rush to different terminals. Rebecca grabs Patrick’s face and is able to choke out one sentence. “You are my love,” she says to him. “I miss you already,” he responds.

She turns to grab her luggage. When she turns back, Patrick is gone.

Rebecca hears a loud ringing. Suddenly, she realizes it’s her cell phone. She was having a dream. The dream. The dream about Patrick. She reaches for her cell. A blocked caller ID. It’s the middle of the night and she says to herself, “Don’t pick up the phone. You know that he’s only calling because he’s drunk and alone.”

Now, finally, she can turn over and go back to sleep.

Copyright @2017 Rosemary Carlson

#SimplyMarquessa

#SoCS 9/23/2017 – Hot/Cold

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When a writer is running hot on a writing project, it’s easy to write. The ideas are coming hard and fast. Creativity is at its highest. Everything is going well. You’re not always running hot. Sometimes, either you or the project grows cold for no particular reason. Burnout may be the case if it’s a long project. When that happens, it may be time to switch projects for a while. Writers usually have several going at once. A couple on the front burner. A couple on the back burner. Several in the desk drawer. That’s the case with me.

I’m in the middle of a long writing project that’s grown a little cold to me. It’s sagging. I’m not sure of the direction I want to take. I feel my creativity flagging. My ideas are not flowing as freely. My characters are getting boring to me. So, I’m going to shove it to the back burner for a month or two. I’m going to see if I get my enthusiasm back for the project. It’s a project that’s important to me, so I am, in fact, sure that I will. I need some thought, some new sources of inspiration, some time to sleep on it, some time to think of the direction I should take. Such a thing often happens to a writer in the middle of a novel or in the middle of any long writing project. You lose your way. Particularly if it is a complex story, with lots of characters and subplots. Mine is that – a complex story.

While I work on getting my mojo back for my long project, I’m going to tackle a shorter project. I think it’s going to be a novella. Novellas seem to be gaining popularity among the reading public as we have less time and more commitments. After doing my market research, there are new publishers out there for this shorter work. I’m not going to give too much away about my project, but I’m excited about it. I have a good idea which may actually dovetail into my longer project.

Stay tuned!

 

Cheep!

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Cheep! Cheep! Jaqi’s eyes flew open. It was the smoke alarm. The battery was dying and she was trying to sleep.

Her husband had sent her to the beach days ahead of him. She couldn’t reach the smoke alarm. She laid there and tried to ignore it. Cheep!

Jaqi heard another noise. She got up and grabbed her purse. Her Smith and Wesson pistol was in it. As she stepped out on the balcony to listen, they grabbed her from behind.

When her husband arrived three days later, all he found were her old beach sneakers beside the bed.

Working the Canyons

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She tried to keep in the shadows of the tall buildings. The buildings made the streets like canyons. There were nooks and crannies. It was easy to hide. She slipped from building to building. Then she waited before she went to the next building. If they found her, they would take her cargo and kill her.

Svetlana was a Russian girl working for the Americans. She was a mule, but her cargo was only information. The Russians would do anything to stop her delivering it to the Americans. They weren’t far behind her, but they seemed confused concerning her whereabouts. Svetlana was good at what she did.

She could see the place where she was supposed to meet her American contact. She slipped in and out amongst the trees. Right before she walked in the door of the restaurant, she heard a gunshot. She smiled. They missed. She was here.

150 words

Photo Credit to Pamela S. Canepa

#SoCS – 9/16/2017 – Gratitude

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Gratitude is an emotion I don’t think I express often enough. Tonight, I feel gratitude, but a range of other emotions as well. I’m grateful that I’ve been lucky enough to find out that my little home in South Florida only sustained minor damage from Hurricane Irma. There was some minor outside wind damage. Nothing that isn’t fixable. I hope there isn’t any damage on the inside. It, according to a friend and neighbor, doesn’t seem to have had any roof leaks. I think I dodged a bullet where some, where I live, weren’t so lucky. The infrastructure on my island is having a little more trouble getting up and going. The National Guard has been called in to help folks out with issues like food, water, and ice, along with getting the power and water back on.  This is on one little island off the Florida Coast. Extrapolate that to the entire State of Florida, very little of which was spared. When we can go back is anyone’s guess.

Along with grateful, I’m also puzzled. I’m hearing very little news coverage of the cleanup and fixup efforts in Florida and Texas. Considering that Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey affected something close to 15 million Texans and Floridians, not counting us snowbirds, I don’t quite understand this. Where is the national news coverage? Cities in Florida were devastated. We all know about Houston. The Florida Keys are a news story themselves. If I’m missing something, including the right news coverage, someone please point me in the right direction. I watch very little television and almost no frivolous television, so maybe I am missing the coverage I would like to see.

I’m also sad tonight. I have heard some disparage others who have second homes in South Florida that they either lost or that sustained damage. Maybe that seems like excess to some folks, or conspicuous consumption, but as someone who has a very small and modest second home there, I would like to say a word about it. I worked very very hard for many years in order to be able to afford to live in Florida during a few winter months each year. It took a lot of education and even more years of hard work. I’m sure I’m speaking for many people with second homes in another state. Others could have worked as hard as I did and reaped the same rewards. It is unnecessary and cruel to celebrate loss of property for people who spent their whole lives working for it. Rant over.

#MarquessaChallenge – At First Sight

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It only happened to Rachel once. Maybe because, after that one time, she never let it happen again. If it had happened again, she hadn’t recognized it. She had walked into his office that one day, the day she’ll never forget. His desk faced the right wall. The door was open. He was at his desk, looking down, reading something. She reached in to knock at the open door which swung open to the right. As she knocked, he turned toward her.

She had to keep herself from gasping when his eyes met hers. They were laughing eyes. Dark, dark brown in color. Mesmerizing. They grabbed her eyes and held them.

He said, “Can I help you?”

Rachel couldn’t speak. She had forgotten why she had come to his office.

She mumbled, “Sorry, wrong office.” Then she fled down the hall. Back to her own office. She was breathless when she sat down at her desk. She knew his name. She quickly remembered why she had gone to see him. She couldn’t go back, but she had to. He was going to be her professor in a class this semester.

Rachel was a research assistant at the University of South Florida. She was pursuing her Ph.D in Computer Science and Technology. Peter Fitzgerald was an Associate Professor in the Department and her professor in an upcoming class. Rachel felt like she’s just been hit by a train. Could you really fall in love at first sight? Rachel was far too sensible to think that. It was just a moment. Everyone had moments now and then. It would pass and the next time she saw him, he would be just another man on the street.

What Rachel didn’t know is that Peter had felt the lightning bolt as well. He wondered who that girl was. Was she an undergraduate student? A graduate student? He had to find her. See her again. He walked around through the halls of the Technology Building, but he didn’t see her anywhere.

Early that afternoon, Rachel had Peter’s class. She dreaded it. How would she face him after fleeing his office. She slipped in from the back as he was calling roll. After class, he walked up to her.

“You didn’t get here in time for roll call,” he said.

“I’m sorry, Professor Fitzgerald.”

“Please follow me to my office to fill out some information for me.”

Suddenly, Rachel realized she was daydreaming. That day had been so long ago. Rachel couldn’t imagine why it had popped into her mind while she was driving down the road in South Florida. She hadn’t thought of Peter in many months, although he did pop into her head from time to time. She was successful in shoving him out of her head these days. She was happy with her life. When she did think of Peter, she usually thought of the end of their relationship. Today, instead, she had thought of that very first day.

The Glory Days. They had certainly had them. For years. The last time she saw him, those brown eyes didn’t sparkle any more. He said he was happy, but his demeanor and his eyes said something different. He had settled. Settled for what made him content at the moment. That was all right with Rachel. He wasn’t hers to save or care for.

Only one thing made Rachel sad now. She wished she could have emotionally let him go sooner. She would have lived a happier life. Instead, she had waited and hoped that one day, they would be together. But, it was not to be. She’d had relationships. Lots of them. She’d even been married. No one had ever touched her heart and soul like Peter. Now she wondered if it was because she never gave anyone else the chance. It was probably too late now.

Rachel remembered the day when Peter looked at her, after they made love, and said, “In your eyes, I’ve found the missing pieces.”

She felt bound to him then. That was right before he left her forever.

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#fictionfriday is brought to us by Simply Marquessa

He’s Toast

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April was up at 5 a.m., fixing Keith’s breakfast. Eggs and toast. Marriage didn’t seem good to April. He never made her feel loved. She tried all kinds of things to endear herself to him. This morning, she had even cut little heart shapes out of his toast.

Keith walked into the breakfast room and sat down without speaking. She served his breakfast. He started to eat and looked at the pieces of toast.

“April,” he said, “if all the bread has holes in it, take it back to the store.”

April threw the skillet on the floor and walked out.

 

Photo Credit Kelvin M. Knight

Pretty Terrible

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Marianne has been in with the doctors a long time. That’s what Marianne’s husband, Joseph, was thinking as he sat in the hospital waiting room. He noticed the flowers. Pretty. He hated hospitals. He’d just focus on the flowers while he waited on Marianne.

“Excuse me. Mr. Hayworth?”

Joseph jumped. He’d nodded off, staring at those flowers.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Hayworth. Your wife has a collapsed lung. We accidentally caused it to collapse at the end of the procedure. She has to stay until it resolves. She’s in Room 412.”

Joseph was still trying to wake up. He jumped up, thanked the doctor, and shook his hand. The doctor left and walked quickly down the hall.

“Now what?” Joseph thought.

He walked over to the flowers, snatched them out of the pots, and started walking quickly to Room 412 to see Marianne.

140 words

Photo Credit Shivamt25

The Ghost Road

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They were driving the most challenging road they had ever driven. He had altitude sickness. They had been to the Grand Canyon. When they left for Phoenix, they took a wrong turn and ended up on a road that clung to the red rock mountainsides and took breathtaking drops down.

The road straightened out. They knew they shouldn’t turn on a dirt road. Phoenix couldn’t be this way. But they followed the GPS.

Later that night, her cousin called the police to report them missing. They scoured the desert. There was no sign of them. Not ever again.

Photo Credit Danny Bowman