The Past

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It was fall. The leaves were just starting to turn and it was still warm. Not hot, but warm. The nights were crisp. They were on vacation in a beautiful place. There was a crescent moon and they went for a walk to get a better look. It had been years since they had even taken a walk together. There was no romance between them.

The landscape was flat, but there was a small hill in front of them. They climbed the hill to get a better look at the moon. In front of them was the ocean. He took her hand to help her up. He held on. Her instinct was to let go, but she made herself let him hold her hand. It had been years since they had even held hands. His hand felt foreign to her.

The moon over the ocean was beautiful, casting another moon into the ocean. He had always enjoyed the moon shadow but had never seen it very often over water. Usually just on land. She was a child of the sun. Over the years, she had become afraid of the dark. She didn’t know why. She found herself taking deep breaths, hoping to avoid a panic attack because of being in the dark. He gripped her hand tighter. He knew.

They stood there for a long time. Talking. Reminiscing about all the past years. He wanted to talk about the good times. She could hardly bear to remember the good times, but she tried. Good times with him seemed so very long ago. When he mentioned them, she tried to remember and laughed with him even when she had forgotten something he remembered completely. She had blocked out so much.

He told her he’d like to spend the night there on the beach. That he had sleeping bags in the car. It was his birthday. She hated to disappoint him. She felt like she had spent years disappointing him so she agreed. He found a good place and put the sleeping bags and a cooler with her water and some snacks down. They got in their sleeping bags. If he had done this years ago, she would have been pleased.

They laid there and talked for a while. Not about anything significant. Just about the beautiful place they had found here ten years ago. He reached for her hand. He fell asleep while they were holding hands. She laid there awake for a long time, thinking of how they had been only roommates for so long. How she didn’t know how to be anything else with him now. His hand was warm and made her feel safe. It made her remember the night they met. How he’d made her feel safe that night too. So long ago. She listened to the ocean all night.

She thought of what his mother had said all those years ago.

”It doesn’t matter if you love each other. You come from two different worlds. It will never work out in the long run.”

How right she had been. But, for some reason, they had always hung on to each other even though they would have been so much happier with other people.

She watched the sunrise, her hand still in his. What he didn’t know is that, now, she was sick.

 

The Ghost Road, continued #writephoto

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Below is a flash fiction story, “The Ghost Road, written for a challenge. It is continued below the line for this prompt:

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.

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This is a continuation of a previous story, “The Ghost Road,” above.

They followed the dirt road for miles. She kept telling him it couldn’t be the road to Phoenix no matter what the GPS said. He seemed like a man possessed, determined to follow this ghost road no matter what. She was getting frightened. He was acting strangely.

Finally, he said, “I want to see where this road goes, Phyllis.”

”Chad, we’re obviously not on a road to Phoenix.”

”I know, honey. But I’m curious. Let’s just follow it a little farther.”

Phyllis found herself thinking she wished she was still driving. He’d had altitude sickness most of the way, but after they had turned on this dirt road, he had felt better. If she were driving, they would have turned around.

”All right, Chad,” she replied, “but only a little farther.”

Chad drove on, bumping along the dirt road. The GPS had long since stopped talking to them and appeared stuck on the location where they turned off onto the dirt road. Phyllis suddenly saw something ahead. It was so hot in the desert that day that the air was shimmering and she thought it might be a mirage, just a product of her imagination. Chad saw it too.

”Phyllis, there are buildings ahead of us.”

”I see something, but the air is shimmering from the heat and I wasn’t sure it was really there.”

”I’m going closer. Maybe it’s a town.”

”How could it be a town, Chad? This is a dirt road out in the middle of the desert with no services anywhere around. Who would live there? Anyway, it is probably miles away and seems closer than it is.”

”This is obviously what the GPS was pointing us toward. Let’s just have some fun and go exploring.”

For some reason, Phyllis got the feeling that Chad wasn’t just having fun. He seemed more like a man on a mission. She remained quiet as Chad drove closer and closer to the sand-colored buildings. Finally, Chad started to slow down as they came close to a small collection of old buildings seemingly built out of the sand of the surrounding desert. They didn’t see any other people.

“This is creepy, Chad. Let’s turn around and go back.”

”Look at that sign, Phyllis.”

Phyllis looked in the direction Chad was pointing. There was a sign that said, “Phoenix, Arizona. Population: 283.” She turned in amazement to Chad.

”The reason the GPS led us in this direction is because this is Phoenix. Maybe it is the first early settlement of Phoenix,” Chad said with astonishment.

”That can’t be. It would be a tourist attraction.”

”Then why, Phyllis, does the sign say Phoenix, Arizona? There is only one. This is an Arizona ghost town! Let’s get out and walk around.”

Chad and Phyllis parked the car and started to walk around the abandoned Phoenix. Some buildings were missing a roof, others a wall. Some were intact. They went inside some of the buildings. One had a skillet on a wood stove and plates on the table as if the people had left in a hurry. Another had blankets on twin beds in a bedroom and an old, rusty spur hanging on the wall. Another seemed to be an auditorium. A thick layer of desert sand was on top of everything.

Suddenly, Phyllis heard music.

”Chad, do you hear that? Music?”

Chad and Phyllis walked outside the old building and there, in the middle of the street, was an old-fashioned cart with the words “Dr. Green’s Medicine Show” written on the side of it and a tiny man standing on top of it screaming at a previously non-existent crowd of people. Everyone was dressed in old-fashioned clothing.

The couple looked at each other.

”See, Phyllis, this is a ghost town, complete with entertainment,” Chad said.

They walked around the show and Chad started looking around as if he’d lost something.

”Phyllis, the car is gone.”

”I can see that. Someone has stolen it.”

When they turned to walk back into the ghost town to report the crime, it was full of  people. The buildings were filled with activity and looked almost new. There were men on horses, as well as men driving horses and buggies through the streets. Chad and Phyllis looked at each other and didn’t know what to say.

A large man with a holster on and a gun walked toward them.

“Can I help you fine people?” he asked, “I’m Sheriff Martin.”

”Our car has been stolen, Sheriff,” Chad said.

”Your what?” replied the Sheriff.

”Our car.”

”Young man, you have had too much of Dr. Green’s elixir. I don’t know what you’re speaking of.”

With that, the Sheriff started to walk away. Phyllis ran after him.

”Sheriff, please stop,” she said.

The Sheriff stopped, turned around, and said, “Young lady, please go somewhere and cover up. You’re walking around in little more than your undergarments.” He walked off again.

Chad called after him, “Sheriff, what town are we in and what year is it?”

”Son, this here is Phoenix, Arizona and it is the year 1857.”

Phyllis fainted and Chad knelt down to revive her.

 

 

 

 

The Tower – #writephoto

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She spotted the old Gothic tower as she went to the bed and breakfast on the tour bus. She was determined to visit the tower, located right outside the small village. After lunch, she walked the mile or so back to the tower, climbing the ancient stone steps.

She gazed at the tower, watching the ravens fly around it. Ravens were often associated with death and bad luck. She wasn’t afraid. She approached the tower. The ravens squawked at her, a cacophony of noise. The tower was compelling. She ignored them and kept walking.

She reached the door of the tower. The door was hard to open. There was a sign saying, “Keep Out.” She pulled open the door and stepped inside. There was a brilliant light and she saw the most beautiful art on the walls. The inside looked so large compared to the outside.

When the tour bus left the next morning, they were missing one woman. The tour guide tried to find her. She was never seen again.

 

The Death of a Small Town

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Granny Atkins sat, hidden in the shadows, on the porch of the old house looking at what used to be a busy street in her hometown of Littleton, West Virginia. Drug addiction had killed this town. Littleton wasn’t even a town anymore. It was a death trap. Only a few people her age remained here. The rest had fled or died off. Her generation had worked on the gas wells, but they weren’t pumping much anymore. There was no work.

All that remained were a few families trying to raise some children. They didn’t have any money to move away. The teachers taught drug awareness classes in the only remaining school, but when the heroin came to town, it didn’t matter. The kids used it anyway. They got crazy, burned buildings, and overdosed.

Littleton was a ghost town now. Soon, she would be a ghost too.

Little Dude in Rehab

 

Carnage

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A small crowd of protestors formed in a midwestern town in the U.S. They were taking a chance of being arrested by the roaming police of the U.S. government.

“Aaron, I’m terrified that we’re actually doing this,” Mandy said.

Aaron replied, “We have to be brave or we will never get our freedom back.”

The crowd was protesting the discontinued social programs, particularly those that provided them food and medical attention. The President had all social programs abolished in 2017. Since then, the disabled and the elderly people in their community had suffered and many had died.

Now it was 2019. There were few jobs. People tried to farm, but the change in the climate made it almost impossible. Aaron had organized this small protest.

A young girl was carrying a sign that said, “Love.”

They heard the police before they saw them marching in. They stood their ground. The police began the carnage by knocking the sign out of the young girl’s hands.

162 words

Photo credit to Elaine Farrington Johnson

Retribution

red fox

Jack lived in a quiet, wooded subdivision outside of town. The lots were large. Lots of privacy. Jack and his friend, Charles, liked to hunt. They said it was for fun. Everyone knew it was because they enjoyed the kill.

Jack and Charles didn’t think they had to go far to kill a deer. There were many all around Jack’s home. Jack set up a tree stand and baited the deer. Every year, he shot at least one right in his yard, in the midst of the subdivision.

Jack and Charles hunted other animals as well. There was a family of red foxes that lived in the subdivision. They were sly and crafty. Even though the men tried to lure them out to shoot them, they were smarter than the hunters. They never shot a red fox.

One year, Jack took his deer to the taxidermist. To his surprise, there sat a red fox, ready to be picked up. As Jack left the shop, he could have sworn he saw that fox move. He turned around to leave. The last thing he felt were the teeth of the fox sink into the back of his neck.

Sunday Photo Fiction

Photo Courtesy Natural History Museum of London

 

 

Obsession

WARNING: ADULT CONTENT. MATURE AUDIENCE ONLY

Sighing, Rebecca finished her Coke, paid her tab, and started back up to her room in Atlanta. Patrick had asked that she meet him there. Even though they had been lovers for the most of 35 years, it had been a long time since she had seen him. Rebecca had just escaped to the hotel bar. She hadn’t known Patrick had once again remarried when she agreed to meet him. He had just told her, along with telling her that his wife was a vindictive woman with the capability of harming both of them. Rebecca was quite upset.

She went upstairs and let herself into the room. Patrick was watching television. He didn’t speak as she came in. She put down her purse and sat down in the chair by the window.

“Patrick, can we talk some more?”

“When you left, Becca, I didn’t know if you were coming back. How could you make me feel like that?”

“Patrick, don’t be ridiculous. My luggage and all my stuff is here. Of course you knew I’d be back. I just had to think. You told me some really shocking stuff.”

“So what do you want to know?”

“I want to know more about Wendy, Patrick, since you say she could actually hurt me.”

“I didn’t mean physically hurt you.”

“Why don’t you explain exactly what you do mean, Patrick. You said she went to your ex-wife and told her about the two of you. That is pretty shocking to me since you had three underage children.”

Patrick got out of bed and put on his robe. Rebecca noticed he had obviously been to his room as he had brought some of his stuff over to her room. He sat down in the other chair at the table by the window.

“Becca, she would be likely to do to you just what she did to Elizabeth. She tried to ruin her life. I told you that she is a computer hacker, right?”

“Yes, Patrick, but that is against the law.”

“Becca, hackers are seldom caught.”

“So what would she do, Patrick? Spill it.”

“She might try to hack into your bank accounts and credit cards, Becca. She could clean out your bank accounts and run up your credit cards.”

“There is fraud protection on all of that, Patrick.”

“Yes, but it would be a giant pain for you to take care of it all before real damage was done to your credit. She could also steal your identity through your tax returns or credit records, Becca, and that is much more serious for you.”

“It would also be much more serious for her when I lead the feds right to her.”

“Becca, you wouldn’t do that to me, would you? I’d already be in enough trouble with her if she found out about us.”

Rebecca just sat there and stared at Patrick. Who was this sitting before her?  What had Wendy done to him? Was he really married to such a woman? He said he loved Wendy. How could he love someone like that?

“Becca, are you going to walk out on me?”

Rebecca sighed and looked at Patrick. “No, I’ll stay, but Patrick, you really should have told me about Wendy so I could make an informed decision.”

“I knew you wouldn’t come,” Patrick said.

“No, Patrick, you didn’t know that.”

Rebecca got tears in her eyes and her voice sounded choked up as she spoke, “I’ve loved you for so many years. Even these past twelve years, I’ve never stopped loving you. I had to come. I had to see you, to see how you are, to be with you. You knew this. You took advantage of it. You should have thought enough of me to at least tell me that you’re married to a crazy person.”

“She’s not really crazy, Becca. Just insecure,” Patrick said softly.

“OK,” Rebecca said. “Whatever you say. I’m going to bed. If she comes here, don’t let her chop me up in my sleep.”

Rebecca undressed and got into bed. Patrick followed her, turning out lights as he went.

In the dark, he said, “Becca?”

“What?”

“Do you still love me?”

“I’ve always loved you, Patrick, and probably always will.”

“Do you regret meeting me?”

“Patrick,” Rebecca said, “Don’t you think it’s about 35 years too late to worry about that? To answer your question, no.”

“How could you possibly not regret meeting me? I’ve ruined your life.”

“Patrick, we’ve had this conversation before. You haven’t ruined my life. In many ways, you’ve made my life.”

“Could you tell me what you mean? I know you’ve told me before but I need to hear it again.”

“I can’t ever remember a time when you weren’t good to me, Patrick. We’ve had our fights, but you did your best to be kind under the circumstances. I can’t imagine that any two people could have loved each other more intensely than we’ve loved. You’ve shown me the world, from Europe to the Caribbean to South America to North Africa. I would have never gotten to see any of that without you and you made it as romantic as you could possibly make it. I still think of the nights we spent in those castles in Portugal. You’ve made me laugh more than any other person ever could and love harder than I thought possible. How could I possibly regret knowing you?”

As she talked, Patrick listened. Not the Patrick who had the plan, but the Patrick she met all those years ago. He was the Patrick who had finally been diagnosed with bi-polar syndrome when he was in his 20s. It had plagued him all his life. Rebecca was the only woman who had ever accepted him as he was. They shared some common characteristics. Not his bi-polar tendencies, but they both liked to have fun, take a little risk, and they just seemed to fit. He often wondered why he’d never asked her to marry him.

“I still love you, Becca,” Patrick said. “I always have.”

On the other side of the bed, silent tears slid down Rebecca’s face. She knew that on some level, Patrick meant what he said. She knew he couldn’t sustain any relationship. He’d also loved Elizabeth. In some way, he probably loved Wendy. Not only was his bi-polar condition uncontrolled, but he was a highly intelligent, very complex man with many facets to his personality. The bi-polar syndrome made him very insecure.

“Patrick,” Rebecca said, sobbing, “Surely you know that I would get down on my knees. I would do anything for you.”

Patrick took her in his arms and they began to make their kind of love.

Copyright @2017 Rosemary Carlson

SimplyMarquessa

 

Above the Weeds

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She took a walk that hot, sweltering day, taking her puppy who was learning to walk on a leash. She lived in the country and the road in front of her house was deserted. A day could pass, hours would go by with no traffic coming or going. She thinks that her sneaker caught on broken asphalt and down she went. She was walking too fast. For some reason, she couldn’t get up. Hours passed. Her puppy laid down beside her. She raised her hand in desperation, hoping someone would see it above the weeds.

3LineTales

Lost Life

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The old man and the boy slowly walked into the old factory facility even though there was a “No Trespassing” sign.

The boy said, “Why have you brought me here? There’s nothing I can do.”

”I worked here for 24 years. Then, they closed it up. I didn’t get my retirement. You’re going to help me get it going again.”

The old man’s eyes were wild in his head. His hands were shaking. The boy came to the old man.

”Grandfather, it’s gone. There’s nothing we can do.”

He put his arms around him. The old man shook and cried.

 

99 words

Photo Credit J Hardy Carrell

 

Kindred Spirits

“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