The Moor

Make Love Not War. The sign flaps in the wind as the dark skin man sitting cross-legged on the cobblestone road plays his guitar. The guitar case lies open at his feet—a few dollars, anchored by stacks of quarters, inside.

“Why does everything have to be political?” Bryan asks. His wife has stopped to listen to the music, dig some change from the bottom of her purse, but Bryan notices the sculptures on either side of the guitarist. A crescent and star painted on one bull’s horn, the other’s ear—a universal symbol of Islam. The word “peace,” its presumed translations in foreign script.

“Darling, how can love be political?” Janice claps her hands over her head, spins in a circle, and stomps her feet like a Spanish Flamenco dancer. The wind lifts the hem of her skirt over her knees.

Bryan shrugs. “I just don’t like being told something obvious.”

“That’s the problem of this world,” Janice says. “It’s not always obvious.” She folds a twenty and drops it into the guitar case.

word count: 175

—Nortina


photo-20160328032234526Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is a weekly challenge where you write a story in 75-175 using the provided photo prompt as inspiration. Click the froggy icon to read other stories inspired by the photo and add your own.

 

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Chance Encounter

She pauses outside the elevator, her foot in the path of the rattling metal doors.

“I don’t bite.” Though his smile reveals sharp canines that tell a different story.

“You’re in that band.”

“Tribe of domination. Submit to our temptation,” he sings and curls his fingers, beckoning her to enter and relieve the doors of their anxious open and close motion.

“I told myself I wouldn’t get on an elevator today,” she says as she tiptoes next to him. “Had a rotten dream last night. The cable snapped and I went into free fall until—” She raises her arm and claps one hand down into the other. “Splat!”

He jerks back his neck. “Ouch.”

“It’s always fun to dream about your own death.”

“Death by heavy metal is better.” He reaches into his back pocket, pulls out a card that says Backstage pass, and tucks it inside her bra. “Hope to see you at the concert tonight. It’ll be fire!” he says through a smirk and exists the elevator just as the doors open.

word count: 174

—Nortina


photo-20160229092555202Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is a weekly challenge where you write a story in 75-175 using the provided photo prompt as inspiration. Click the froggy icon to read other stories inspired by the photo and add your own.

 

Phantom of Sixteenth Street Cathedral

The Sixteenth Street cathedral had been under renovation for nearly a year. Mr. Hughes and his team were contracted to May, but frequent mishaps forced them to postpone the deadline indefinitely.

“It’s cursed.” Judi stared up at the four working men on the scaffold. Jake, balancing on two beams, looked woozy from his previous malaria infection. Mr. Hughes and Ryan both wore back braces from the last fall. Burt had a mask over his mouth. Was he still coughing blood?

“But the church is holy ground,” Shirl said.

Holy doesn’t explain away the slave auctions, Judi wanted to tell her, held in the basement below the sanctuary Sunday evenings after service. The evidence was in the library archives. Christian men defended their atrocious acts with the Bible, but still preferred to grope the appendages of human beings in secret.

“The spirits don’t want to be disturbed.”

“You’re freaking me out with that crazy Voodoo stuff!”

“Interesting you’d find that crazy.” Judi counted four men on the scaffold, but spotted a fifth on the roof.

word count: 174

—Nortina


photo-20160222081613639Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is a weekly challenge where you write a story in 75-175 using the provided photo prompt as inspiration. Click the froggy icon to read other stories inspired by the photo and add your own.

Whisperer

“Spring’s on the horizon,” he whispers through the cool wind.

She shivers and wraps the knitted shawl tighter around her bare arms. “Do you see the light yet?” she asks tight-lipped, watching the children on the see-saw point and stare.

“So eager to get rid of me.” He smirks, and the wrinkles in his cheek disappear into the scenery behind him.

She shrugs and plucks a leaf from the shrub planted next to her. She crumbles it in her fist, opens her hand and lets the crisp brown pieces flutter to the ground like confetti.

“Everything’s dead.” She swings her foot into the dirt, kicking up dust.

“Not this.” He pats the bench on which they sit, and she can see the bright coat of red paint through his pale skin. “Not our love.” He beats his chest, and the hollow sound echoes through the park.

“Excuse me? I aim to feed the ducks.” A elderly woman carrying a loaf of bread sits in his place, and he evaporates around her curled body.

word count: 173

—Nortina


photo-20160208115053605Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is a weekly challenge where you write a story in 75-175 using the provided photo prompt as inspiration. Click the froggy icon to read other stories inspired by the photo and add your own.

Black Widow

“She’s talking about her six dead husbands again,” the front desk nurse said as I signed my name into the visitor’s log of Cedar Retirement Home.

At seventy years old and in the best shape of her life, Grandma could easily pass for fifty-five. However, with my busy Flight Attendant’s schedule, she was often lonely. So I checked her into an assistant living facility where she would always have an audience.

While the other residents were much too far gone to understand, she enjoyed their company—the wanderers in colorful fuzzy socks whose minds permanently resided in the early 1900s, the stroke victims whose numb left sides left them with the ability to utter only a few words (they were the best listeners).

Grandma sat in an armchair nearest the entrance door. Four other seniors huddled around her.

“…the hood slammed right on his head!” Grandma was saying.

“Husband number three.” I turned to the nurse. “He died fixing the engine on his truck.”

“Your grandma sure has the worst luck!” she said.

word count: 173

—Nortina


rattletrap-963641_960_720Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is a weekly challenge where you write a story in 75-175 using the provided photo prompt as inspiration. Click the froggy icon to read other stories inspired by the photo and add your own.

Morning Dive

When we were kids, they told us never to go swimming during a thunderstorm. The lightning could strike the water, fry our little bodies and stop our hearts. But what were the odds, right?

Russell is drunk again. He walked into our one-bedroom apartment at eight this morning, trailing a 40 behind him, wet hair clinging to his forehead. “The water’s swarm,” he slurred.

I didn’t mention that I had to walk the kids seven blocks to school because he took the car, that my checkbook was missing, that Breen’s cleats for football would cost $160—$160 we don’t have; $160 Russell manages to find for beer and online poker.

“I’ll take a dive,” I told him.

The water is freezing. Silly me for believing a man whose blood boils in alcohol. The waves sweep around my feet as I squat and splash my face, the salt from the ocean burning my eyes. Better to be blind than to watch Russell mold our son into his likeness.

Rumbles of thunder approach from behind. Better to be struck by lightning.

word count: 175

—Nortina


photo-20160118105818411Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is a weekly challenge where you write a story in 75-175 using the provided photo prompt as inspiration. Click the froggy icon to read other stories inspired by the photo and add your own.

The 13th Couple

“U.S. Marshalls gunned down the poet turned America’s most wanted in this very bar.” The tour guide knocked on the wood of the pool table. “Some say his ghost still lingers.”

GG squeezed Rick’s hand. He wrapped his arm around her waist, pulled her closer, kissed her right temple. “There’s no such thing as ghosts,” he whispered.

“Why were they chasing him?” one of the tourists asked.

“Kidnapping and rape,” the tour guide answered. “She was only thirteen.”

“I heard he married her.” Rick lifted GG’s chin, winked at her.

“That’s disgusting,” a woman standing behind him spat out.

“Edgar Allen Poe married his thirteen-year-old cousin. Was madly in love with her.” Rick bent down, kissed the top of GG’s ear. She purred under his touch, turned her head to the side, extending her neck.

“Poe was a creep too,” the woman muttered.

Rick dug his nails into GG’s hip, leaving pale crescent moons in her skin.

GG squeaked.

“Apologies.” He took her hand, guided her to the back of the bar where they disappeared.

word count: 175

—Nortina


photo-20160111132111179Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is a weekly challenge where you write a story in 75-175 using the provided photo prompt as inspiration. Click the froggy icon to read other stories inspired by the photo and add your own.

Feast

CSI crew members sifted threw the dirt in the backyard barbeque pit on their hands and knees. In the kitchen, they snapped photos of the stove, collected samples from the pots and pans—leftover chili, dry rub ribs on a foil sheet, a cut of flank still warm in the cast iron skillet. They sealed bottles of Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, basil leaves, Montreal steak seasoning, and minced garlic into plastic evidence bags.

“I don’t think they’ll find anything outside,” Williams said as he wheeled a skeleton into the kitchen. “Take a whiff.”

Johnson leaned forward and inhaled. The hint of hickory smoked bacon filled his nostrils. “Oh my god.” His widened eyes nearly met at the center of his face. “Where’s the rest of him?”

“I imagine whatever we don’t find on the stove, or in the freezer, will be in her stomach.”

Johnson doubled over, dry heaving into the pit of his elbow.

“Hell hath no fury, right?” Williams said dryly.

“Yea, and Satan hath no appetite.”

word count: 169

—Nortina


photo-20160104141846369Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is a weekly challenge where you write a story in 75-175 using the provided photo prompt as inspiration. Click the froggy icon to read other stories inspired by the photo and add your own.

 

Fickle Teenage Love

Meet me at midnight under the giant Hershey’s Kiss.

Rachel pressed her phone against her chest. This was it. As the bells rang, and the confetti flew, and the star atop the decommissioned water tower descended upon the town of roughly 1,000, Rachel would receive her first kiss. At 12:01, her year of love and happiness, conjured by the pressing together of lips with the boy of her dreams, would begin.

Rachel’s father leaned back and popped the tin lid on the bottle of sparkling cider. “Let’s stay in this year.”

“I agree. I’m tired of the waterworks,” her mother add. “That tower still leaks, and Rachel’s always crying because some boy didn’t meet her like he promised he would.”

Her father looked up. “Who is it this time?”

“Bryan.”

“That emo kid? Heavens no! You are staying in this house,” her mother commanded.

“God! You’re ruining my life!” Rachel screamed then stomped up the stairs, two at a time.

“And now the waterworks.” Her mother rolled her neck. “Open a bottle of wine, would ya, sweetie?”

word count: 175

—Nortina


photo-20151228061913907Written in response to this week’s photo prompt for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers–a weekly challenge where you write a story in 75-175 using the provided photo prompt as inspiration. Also written for Days 28-29 of 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans.

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas…

It’s not even cold outside. The weatherman expects record-breaking highs Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with temperatures around 70 degrees, maybe even warmer.

The only precipitation we’ve had this winter is rain. I hum to the pitter-patter of raindrops. I twirl my umbrella in my hands, imagine it looks like a spinning dreidel from above. Water droplets slip off the edge and fall to the warm sidewalk. Steam rises from the concrete as the rain cools it, creating a thick fog.

Through the heavy mist I see the shadow of a man. I stare at his feet as he approaches me, his movement swirling the waves of gray. The heels of his boots clink on the sidewalk but make no sound. He extends his hand, touches my shoulder. Goose bumps spread along my arms, beaded like braille. He reads my arousal, grazing his fingertips down to my wrist, sending a chill throughout my body.

“Oooh, Jack,” I say, “you always know how to make it feel like December.”

word count: 167

—Nortina


photo-20151221094040602This piece is a combination of Day 22 of 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans (I use the term hooligan loosely for this story) & Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (a weekly challenge where you write a story in 100-175 using the provided photo prompt as inspiration).