#ThrowbackThursday Fiction: Murky Waters

On this last Throwback Thursday of the haunted month of October, I’m giving you arguably one of the scariest stories I’ve ever written. “Murky Waters” was originally featured on Latashia Figueroa’s blog for Halloween 2015. Check it out here.

Ever thought about what makes a great ghost story? Well, I think it all starts with a visually haunting image and a very distinct setting. This story takes place in Burgaw, North Carolina, by Burgaw Creek, which often spits up more than just water whenever it rains . . .


Murky Waters

Uncle Macon had been dead a year when Aunt Bessie saw bodies rise from Burgaw Creek. Her ankles rolled as she turned to run, and she fainted behind the house. Bedsheets clipped to the clothesline sailed in the wind gusts, sheltered her from the drizzling rain. Or so, that was what she had told us.

Mama and I drove three hours to Burgaw to check on her. When we arrived, the toilet was backed-up, the water shut off.

“We had a really bad storm come through last night. You know Burgaw Creek floods every time it rains,” Aunt Bessie said. I squirmed in my chair at the kitchen table, squeezing my inner thighs together as warm urine bled through my jeans.

“How have you been using the bathroom?” Mama asked.

“I been makin’ do,” Aunt Bessie said, which meant she hadn’t been flushing. Two days of Aunt Bessie’s waste clogging the commode with what was buried in Burgaw Creek—natural or supernatural—caused the bile to rise at the back of my throat. I feared that if I sat to pee, a hand would reach up from the feces and mud, pull me under. There was no place outside for me to relieve myself. The backyard was flooded from the creek. The treeless front yard faced highway 53, where peeping Tom truck drivers could catch a passing glimpse of me naked from the waist down as I squatted in the overgrown grass.

Before the highway was built, the area had been farmland. Uncle Macon’s father grew corn, green beans, okra, snap peas, turnips, and potatoes. He also had a few animals—chicken, cows, pigs. He didn’t budge when the government came to buy his land. He refused to sale the home he had built with his own hands. However, the pressure and money was too great for his poor family, and the government eventually plowed the road down the center, dividing the farm, separating the animals and crops. It was difficult to tend to the other side with a two lane highway standing as barrier. The weeds grew up over the front porch of the old farmhouse, concealing the lost rural era from mass consumerism.

***

We checked into a hotel in Wilmington, and Mama called the plumber, who promised to pump the septic tank the following afternoon. I was thrilled that we didn’t have to stay at Aunt Bessie’s. Burgaw was hot. It was only a thirty-minute drive from Wilmington, but the temperature differential was easily fifteen degrees. Wilmington had the breeze from the ocean, but Burgaw was situated in a pocket of humidity. With the backed-up sewage in Aunt Bessie’s yard, it made for a sweltering stay.

“How are you doing, Aunt Bessie,” Mama asked after we had settled into the room, turned the television to channel three so Aunt Bessie could watch Eyewitness News.

“I been alright,” she said, dragging out her vowels with her nasal voice. “Wish you’d come see me more often.”

“You know I have to work. And Cassandra’s still in school.”

“You ain’t graduate yet?” Aunt Bessie asked looking in my direction.

“In May,” I said. “Gotta study for exams so I can pass.” I sat in the armchair by the window, reading Toni Morison’s Paradise. I had reached the haunting final chapter after the elder men of Ruby lay siege on the Convent, gunning down all of the women, only to discover their bodies vanished hours later.

Aunt Bessie pulled a slim red photo album with black trimming from her oversized pocketbook. “I finally got the pictures from Macon’s funeral developed,” she said, flipping through the pages. “They did really good with the flowers.” She turned the album to Mama, pointed to a picture of Uncle Macon in the casket. “That’s his favorite suit. I made sure to have it dry cleaned before the wake.” Aunt Bessie brought her fist to her mouth, coughed into the tissue to camouflage her voice cracking as she spoke of her deceased husband.

Mama jerked her head away. She pressed her lips together into a thin line, pinched her eyes closed, a single tear gliding down each cheek.

“What can you tell me about the people you saw in the creek?” Mama asked, switching to a different, though no less disturbing subject.

“I saw them through the sheets, just standing there. You know, Macon used to see people around the house. I just thought it was his sickness, but now I see them too.”

“Did they look scary?” I asked.

“No, just lonely.” She didn’t say anything else, and we didn’t badger her for more details. After Uncle Macon died, Aunt Bessie shocked everyone when she asked to be taken home instead of spending the next few days at a friend or family member’s house. She’d said that she had to get used to living by herself; that if she left, she wouldn’t be able to come back.

The heat hadn’t yet arrived when we returned to Burgaw late the next morning, the dew still on the grass in the front lawn.

“Who cuts your grass, Aunt Bessie?” Mama asked, looking at the tall blades.

“I have someone come and do it,” Aunt Bessie answered.

“Well, whoever that is, you need to call them. You don’t want to worry about snakes.”

We waited in the kitchen while the plumber worked on the septic tank. Aunt Bessie stood in front of the window overlooking the backyard and Burgaw Creek.

“I hope it don’t come up a thunder cloud,” she said. I straightened in my chair, looked up over her shoulders through the window, seeing nothing but blue sky.

Mama touched her at her shoulders, guided her to the kitchen table. “Why don’t you sit,” she said softly. “I’ll check on the plumber.” She eased Aunt Bessie down into her chair and left out of the back door.

The kitchen was silent save for the ticking of the clock on the wall. Aunt Bessie sniffled, wiped her dry nose with her knuckle. “Sometimes Macon comes to visit me.”

Unsure if she was recounting pleasant memories of Uncle Macon alive or if she had actually seen his spirit, I asked, “What do you mean?”

“Sometimes I would be in the den watching TV, and I’d hear him coming down the hall.”

The wooden floorboards creaked behind me. The sound of boot heels approached the kitchen from the front bedroom, echoing through the hall.

“He’d come to the door and say, ‘It’s gettin’ late, Bess. Cut off that TV and come on to bed.’ ” She smiled and looked at something over my head. The hairs on my neck pricked up. I sat frozen in my seat, afraid to turn around and see who or what stood behind me. I nearly wet myself to the sudden slam of the screen door as Mama reentered from the backyard.

“Girl, why you so jumpy?” she asked.

I swallowed air, my throat dry as if dust had been poured into my mouth. “Is the plumber done yet? I have to pee.”

“Yea,” Mama answered. “It cost me 300 bucks.”

I ignored her rant and scrambled to the bathroom, ripping off my pants and falling onto the toilet, nearly tipping it forward, prying it from the mildewed tile floor. To my left, the white lace curtains on the window ruffled in the air flowing up from the vent below. I never liked windows in bathrooms. They denied me privacy. I felt I was being watched in my most vulnerable moments.

In the distance, I heard a low rumble. I stood, holding the zipper of my pants at my knees, and looked out the window. The grayish-blue clouds had accumulated. The wind had picked up. The bedsheets hanging on the clothesline flapped furiously. I watched the creek just behind them, half-expecting to see a person, maybe Uncle Macon, emerge from its murky waters. I licked my dry lips, the movement of my tongue tickling the back of my throat. If I were to see a head, or a hand, or a soggy bedroom slipper, would Mama dismiss me as we had Aunt Bessie, and she Uncle Macon? What were the odds that three people would hallucinate the imprint of a face—eyes, nose, an open mouth—through the thin bedsheets along the banks of Burgaw Creek?

—Nortina

#ThrowbackThursday Fiction: Harvest Wedding

Happy Throwback Thursday! This story, originally published October 8, 2014, started as journal assignment for a fiction writing course in college. The prompt was, “When I first heard the song . . . ”

At the time, the song I constantly had on repeat was Trey Songz’s “Almost Lose It,” which is about a wedding. Unfortunately, this wedding turned horribly sour. If you ever read or seen the Spanish play, Bodas de sangre, you can guess what happens. Actually, the original title for this story, when I turned it in for class, was “Blood Wedding.”


Harvest Wedding

Saturday afternoon in mid October. The leaves were just beginning to change colors. Beautiful reds, and oranges. With the right wind, they would break from their branches and swirl through the air until they found the right beautiful woman’s head to adorn. I was that woman, and I was walking down the aisle at Mt. Zion AME, about to start a new life with the man of my dreams, Prince Rossario. He truely was a prince; dressed in a crisp, black tux with the burgandy of his vest peeking above his jacket. Our colors were orange and Merlot red, the same as the fall leaves. The perfect harvest wedding.

As I stepped closer to my future husband, I saw the tears in his eyes sparkle. There was a gravitational pull in his gaze and I let it take over my muscular functions and pull me closer to him. I was gliding, not walking, down the aisle.

Everything was as it should be until someone came bursting through the doors behind me. Instantly, everything and everyone froze. Even the wedding song had abruptly stopped with a scratch just as it was reaching its climax. Prince’s glowing face immediately darkened into a look of dread and fear as his eyes grew wide, tore away from mine and moved past me to the dark figure standing behind me. A loud gasp came from the throat of the best man, Johnny, as he turned a disbelieving look in Prince’s direction; his bottom lip quivering.

My heart stopped and my tears that were tears of joy only seconds prior, quickly turned cold and anxious as they sliced a path down my cheeks. I slowly turned around to face the creature that had deliberately stolen the attention of every one of my guests in that sanctuary. To my astonishment, I came to face Constance Applewood, an old friend—really acquaintance—from college who had dated Prince before I came into the picture. She obviously wasn’t invited. I made sure of that. What bride wants her fiancé’s ex-girlfriend at her wedding, slouching in the front row, patiently waiting for her moment to object to the marriage and invoke chaos throughout the church as she pounces on the innocent woman in white, clawing her nails into her flesh, not quite sure if she wants to kill her rival or just scare her away, but indisputably willing to do anything to get her man back?

Prince thought I was being overly dramatic to think that Constance would go through such lengths. He assured me that his and Constance’s relationship wasn’t even a relationship; just two good friends who spent a lot of time together and occasionally had sex once or twice or three times; a faux-relationship that ended once he met me. Of course I had to remind him that less than a week after we started dating, I found “HOMEWRECKER” keyed into the side of my black Toyota Camry.

Seeing Constance stand before me confirmed that I was right not to invite her. Unfortunately, the absence of an invitation didn’t stop her from crashing my wedding. It wasn’t her presence that had shocked me and everyone else in the sanctuary. What inflicted horror into the eyes of the guests, myself, and the wedding party was a wedding dress identical to mine. From the rhinestones that trimmed the bodice to the ruffles of the gown to the design of the lace on the veil to the length of the train behind her, it was all the exact duplicate of mine. The only difference, an unmistakably huge difference, was that here dress was black. Even the bouquet she held in her hands was composed of drooping, brown flowers and weeds. The tears pouring from her eyes caused the murky mascara to run dark veins down her face. She began to shake as her screeching voice wailed, “This wedding is over!” She dropped her bouquet to reveal the shimmering, sharpened blade of a butcher knife.

“Oh, God!” someone screamed from the crown, and suddenly, chaos erupted throughout the church. Everyone swarmed toward the exit doors, unsure of the terror to follow but certain that they weren’t staying behind to find out. Guests were bouncing off of one another, trying to elbow their way through to freedom. Babies could be heard squealing in the background as they were being torn from their mothers’ arms in the midst of the mayhem. Young children were being trampled under the combination of high heels and penny loafers. In the center of all the running, tripping, falling, jumping, flailing of arms, tossing of clutch purses, scratching of pew legs across the floor, tumbling and crashing of flower vases, the epicenter of all the screams and shrieks stood Constance. Her obscure eyes pierced into my soul and it was as if she were pointing the knife right at my heart. It was reminiscent of the cheesy dramatics of a C rated action film, except there were no cameras rolling and no director to scream “CUT!” so that my stunt double could take my place. Oh, how I wished it were that way.

When the pandemonium finally subsided and all that was left in the church were those still frozen at the altar, and Constance and myself—more like yin and yang—standing in the middle aisle, silence engulfed the church once again. The tension in that sanctuary was so thick it could be cut with a knife. Unfortunately, tension was not Constance’s intended target. I dropped my bouquet and ran to the altar to stand next to my groom.

Prince wrapped me in his arms and spoke up to the menacing woman in black. “Constance, have you lost your–”

“Shut up!” she interrupted him. “You don’t get to speak.” She took a few steps closer and everyone scattered to opposite corners of the church. Johnny inched to the door behind Constance, hoping to escape unnoticed. Three of my bridesmaids created a barricade of pews in the far left corner. My parents and future in-laws hugged each other while trembling underneath the organ. Prince and I crouched behind the podium with the reverend. It wasn’t the best place to hide because no sooner than peeking over the edges of the podium did I find Constance hovering over us with the blinding blade in her hand.

Prince held up his hands in surrender. “Constance,” he started. “I get it. You’re upset.”

“I’m upset?” she blurted, in shock of Prince’s little words to her.

Reverend Jacobs stood up and approached Constance. “Sweetheart, give me the knife. We can resolve this in a peaceful manner.”

“Stay back!” she demanded, pointing the knife to his chest. She turned to Prince. “What does she have that I don’t, huh? Is, is her hair prettier than mine? Is she skinnier than me? Does, does she please you better in the bedroom?”

I wanted to correct her by saying that I was a virgin, but images of her carving me with the knife reminded me of the importance of silence.

“What is it?” she continued.

“Constance.”

“What is it!”

“I love her!”

I melted when he spoke those words. I wanted to jump into his arms, kiss him passionately, and profess how much I loved him too. Constance could not succeed in breaking us up or this wedding. I was confident of that. Her behavior, no matter how irrational, would not force him to change his feelings for me. He knew the day he met me—Super Bowl party at Johnny’s house. I was wearing a Richard Sherman jersey and held a hot wing in one hand and an open Bud Light Platinum in the other. He walked right into me and promised me that I would be disappointed and that Peyton Manning would expose Sherman for the mediocre cornerback that he was. By halftime, he was begging me for my number.

“But you don’t love me.” Constance’s voice had softened. She begin to lower the knife.

“Constance, we were never that serious. You gotta know that. When I started dating Alicia, you told me you were fine with it.” Prince held out his hand for the knife. I rose to my feet as gracefully as I could without stepping on my train and inadvertently stumbling into the butcher knife that separated me and Constance. I stood behind Prince, wrapped my arms around his waist and looked at Constance over his shoulder.

“I didn’t think you were gonna marry her!” she said. “I thought . . . I thought . . .” She turned her back to us. “I guess it doesn’t matter now,” she whispered, shrugging her shoulders.

Prince started toward her, but I pulled him back, squeezing his torso with the little strength I had. He turned to the reverend, who stepped to Constance and touched her shoulder. “Sister,” he began.

Constance didn’t turn around. She raised the knife above her head, and before the reverend could snatch it away from her, plunged it into her chest, right into her broken heart. I screamed. My parents and in-laws hidden underneath the organ screamed. My bridesmaids behind the barricade of pews screamed. Johnny has already exited the sanctuary.

Constance’s body collapsed to the floor. The reverend dropped to his knees. His hands hovered over the end of the knife in her chest, debating if pulling it out would help save her life, or just accelerate her inevitable death. He bowed his head to pray, his hands still hovering over the knife.

Prince broke free of my grasp and ran to the opposite side of Constance. He cupped the back of her head in his palm and repeatedly slapped her check, screaming, “Why? Why would you do this?” When he looked up at me, I could see the tears in his eyes. They didn’t sparkle. They didn’t tug at my heart, draw me to want to be closer to him and his bleeding ex-girlfriend. I backed away, let the weight of my wedding gown press me down to the floor. I heaved loud sobs, and when I saw the first teardrop land on my left hand, void of a wedding band, I knew we had missed our harvest.

—Nortina

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#ThrowbackThursday Fiction: Reunion

It’s Throwback Thursday! You know what that means . . . Time for another blast from the past. I absolutely love this story, “Reunion.” It’s probably one of my favorite stories I’ve written on this blog. Originally published January 20, 2015, you could call it a fictionalized autobiography. I still feel this way around teenagers. It’s the main reason why I would suck as a teacher—at least a high school teacher. Hell, sometimes even middle school students scare me. I’ll stick with the babies and toddlers for now. 

Speaking of reunions, my high school reunion is coming up in three years. I’m not all that excited about it. I doubt if I would even go, but if I do, I would really like some accomplishments ticked off my list, so those bratty popular girls who made my life hell won’t think I’ve done nothing for the last ten years.

Those accomplishments would be to finally get a full time job, have all my student loans paid off, have my book published, and be moved out of my mama’s house . . . or married, whichever comes first. But to meet a guy, date him for a while, fall in love, and get married all in three years sounds a bit illogical. Then again, I have a coworker who did just that. Got hired full time, started dating a girl who like guns and dogs and snowboarding just as much as he did, had a baby, bought a house, and now they’re getting married next month. All this happened in a span of two years! So, at this rate, hell, anything is possible.

But I’m not holding my breath, so let’s get on with the story . . . 


Reunion

It’s been ten years since I graduated from high school, and they’re still doing the same old, tired cheers.

“I don’t see one white girl,” my older sister, Anita, whispers to me.

“Basketball cheerleading squads are predominantly  black. They’re like step teams. Even at some of the white schools, unless they’re those rich white schools. The white girls cheer during football season.” I wonder if I assume this is true because of my Sociology degree, or if it only applies to my small, North Carolina hometown.

We are seated in the small gymnasium of Ben L. Smith High School to watch my nephew Domenic play in the final game of the season before playoffs. He’s a freshman playing on the varsity team, and is one of the leading scorers. The game is deep in the third quarter and the opposing Page Pirates have just come back from a fifteen point deficit at the half to take the lead, but I can’t seem to take my eyes off the cheerleaders.

They are sitting in the first three rows of the middle section of the bleachers. There are nine or ten of them, all black. When they say their cheers, slapping their thighs and stomping so loud, the bleachers shake, their voices are so deep and gruff, it’s as if they were yelling at the players instead of cheering them on. An occassional high-pitched chirp exists the mouth of one of the girls, though I still can’t pin point which one it is. Maybe it’s one of the skinnier girls on the end, with the long black weave—the AKA in training.

Their green uniforms are tight—too tight for underaged high school girls. They don’t have to bend over too far for anyone to see their butts. The two biggest girls on the squad look to be wrapped in seaweed. Their stomachs poke through their waist high skirts like the pouch of an older woman who has had at least four kids. When they step onto the court to do toe touches for made free throw shots, I cry for the strained seams. At least they’re sitting down for most of their cheers, though. The girls on the dance team moving with the marching band on the other end of the gymnasium are only wearing tights and t-shits, and they’ve been romp shaking and dropping it like it’s hot since halftime.

Were we that raunchy in high school? I can’t remember. Maybe the kids in my class were just as grown as these girls are. I wasn’t among them, though. I was always  that mousey girl who faded into the background and observed everyone else having fun around her. I still am.

The boys are just as intimidating—and they’re tall. Why are they so tall? I feel as if I’ve reverted back into my awkward teenage years, hunched under a bookbag twice my size and hiding behind a book to avoid all eye contact with anyone who may feel invited to tease me. A boy wearing a snapback, sagging skinny jeans, and a gray t-shirt sits in front of me. He reminds me of the guy I lost my virginity to junior year. Wayne Allred was his name. Wayne had the reputation of turning all the good girls out, and junior year he had his eyes set for me. I would say the sex was consensual, but I didn’t have much of a choice. He had a reputation to keep, and whether we did it or not, he was still going to brag about it in the locker room to the guys. So I let him lead me to the balcony of the auditorium after school while the theatre students rehearsed Hamlet on the stage below. It wasn’t pleasant at all—nothing like the movies. He was rough. He covered my mouth with his sweaty t-shirt to muffle my yelps. A week later my guidance counselor called me into her office to talk about a boy I’d been hanging out with after school. She hinted that she knew more than she was letting on, but she wanted me to tell her myself. I didn’t say a word. The rest of the year I went straight home when the final bell rang.

“I’m gonna get some nachos,” I say to Anita. I walk along the sidelines, ducking just as a blocked ball comes hurling my way. Despite not getting hit, the students in the bleachers burst into laughter, and I feel all eyes on me. I scurry out of the gym to the concession stand in the lobby.

“Nachos with cheese,” I tell the PTA member behind the counter. I slide her a wrinkled five dollar bill. She puts the money in the register, gets the last nacho tray from the rack behind her, and hands it to me. I pick up one nacho—the hot, melted cheese dripping from the chip—and sticking out my tongue, I put it in my mouth and chew slowly, savoring the saltiness from the nacho and the smoothness from the cheese. When I look up, two teenage boys are staring at me.

Crap.

“What’s up, girl,” one says. He pulls up his oversized pants and licks his lips.

“Hello,” I say. I lower my head and turn towards the gym, but he grabs my arm.

“Wait. What you in a hurry for? You got a name?”

“Raquel.”

“Ok, Raquel.” He rubs his chin, as if he had a beard to finger through. “My homie wanna holla at you.” He points to his silent friend next to him wearing a faded Robert Griffin III Washington Redskins jersey.

“I’m too old for you.”

“Oooh,” Oversized Jeans says, teasing his friend.

“Man, whatever. I don’t want her ass,” Jersey Boy says, waving me off as he walks away.

“All you had to say was that you wanted me,” Oversized Jeans says to me. “So, what’s good?” He holds out his arms, inviting me in.

“I’m too old for you,” I repeat, though I really don’t feel like I am. I feel as though I’m shrinking into a younger, more timid self. This boy’s hold on my arm makes me nervous. His grip is tight like Wayne Allred’s when he lead me up the stairs to my shameful deflowering.

“What’s too old?” he asks.

“28.”

“You ain’t no damn 28,” the friend says, returning to the conversation.

I look at the Student Resource Officer standing next to the door to the gym. He intentionally doesn’t look our way. What’s the point in having police in schools if they don’t bother to intervene when someone’s getting harassed?

“Let go of my arm,” I whine.

“You really 28?” Oversized Jeans asks. “You don’t look it.”

I guess I wouldn’t when half of the girls at this school look and dress older than I do. While in the gym, I saw a girl wearing jeans with large cutouts at the thighs, revealing fishnet stockings underneath. Another had a baby on her hip. A part of me hoped the child was just a younger sibling, but I knew better. Anita herself had Domenic young, but at least she was out of high school.

I snatch my arm from the boy’s grip and start towards the gym. I can feel them walking behind me, their eyes examining me. I know they’re going to follow me to my seat, sit directly behind me. They’ll talk and joke about the way I look loud enough so that I can hear. They’ll debate about what sexual positions I like, and what new things I might have learned since graduating high school—territory they haven’t yet discovered. They’ll dare each other to make a move on me. Oversized Jeans will stay behind after the game, and on Monday, brag to Jersey Boy, that I let him hit after everyone left. They’ll compare my 28-year-old vagina to that of the girls they’ve had sex with or imagined having sex with. Ten years later, and I’m still the subject of teenage male sexual exploration.

I turn away from the gym and instead walk out of the front doors to the parking lot. Anita will just have to text me the score and how many points Domenic made later. I’ve had enough of high school.

—Nortina

#1MinFiction: Fireweed

When I saw the seeds in the tramway gift shop, I had to buy them. They said no food, plants, or natural products off the ship, but nothing about what we could bring back on.

Safely tucked away in a hidden pocket of my purse through customs, when I get home I plant them in the red clay and sparse grass of my backyard.

I never knew how fast this stuff could grow.

Nortina


Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. For the next several weeks our prompts will be Alaska themed. Check out this week’s one-word prompt is fireweed, which is EVERYWHERE in Alaska!

#1MinFiction: Ice River

It’s hard to believe that glaciers are massive rivers of ice, that you can trace the current in how they curve around the mountainside.

“About 300 feet melted off last year, so it’s a rapidly retreating glacier,” the tour guide is saying.

I nudge Jon with the end of my paddle, “Still think global warming is a hoax?”

He only rolls his eyes. “We’re on vacation.”

—Nortina


Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. For the next serval weeks our prompts will be Alaska themed. Check out this week’s photo prompt of the Davidson Glacier in Haines, Alaska (not too far from Skagway)!

Adopted

He glanced back again, surely more times than was necessary. They had lost his trail and were no longer following him, at least he prayed they weren’t.

Anita said they were being tracked, and it was becoming glaringly obvious why.

When he walked through the front door, the first thing he spotted was it lying on her chest, nibbling at her breast, sucking the milk that was never meant for it.

He could only refer to it as it. Humanizing it would create an attachment, and he needed a clear and focused mind if they were ever going to escape for a third time.

He tossed Anita the dufflebag by the door, prepacked with the essentials—three pairs of clean underwear, jeans, a t-shirt, tennis shoes, a grand in cash, hair dye, colored contacts, prosthetic teeth to create new identities again (he knew a guy in Juno who made fake IDs; they’d visit him first), a bag of mixed nuts and chopped fruit for sustenance, bottles for the baby (they couldn’t risk stopping to breast feed while on the run).

“Sirens are close,” he said. “We gotta split.”

“Just a minute. He hasn’t eaten all day.”

Dammit, woman, he wanted to scream. The baby wasn’t even theirs. And could he even call it a baby? It looked nearly three, but apparently its mother never weened it, and so Anita cradled him against her raw nipples, pressed its head down to latch on, as if it were an infant, an infant like the one they lost at the hospital when her body ejected him from her womb five months too soon.

His son.

Not this source of all their troubles, lying there, drinking the drugs still circulating in her system that killed his precious baby boy. That grew into an even bigger burden the closer the police came to finding them.

He peeked out the window. Flashing blue lights reflected on the apartment building across the street. If they climbed down the fire escape, they might still make it, but Anita would have to leave the boy.

He sighed and folded on the floor. It was pointless. From the day she scooped it up from the playground sandbox, Anita would never let it leave her side.

—Nortina


Written for Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt, hosted by Candice Coates over at I came for the soup… The objective is to create a story in 20 minutes using the above line in bold and the picture provided.

#1MinFiction: A Bride At Last

That I wasn’t his first choice humbled me.

But when he kissed me, delicate lips caressing mine, after we exchanged vows, and planted the lotus blossom in my hair, and that night, fitted his hips between my legs and filled me till I overflowed, soaking my bangs with the sweat of his brow…

I prayed my sister, three months dead, would not be jealous.

—Nortina


For a new flash fiction challenge: Monday’s One-Minute Fiction—write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. This week’s prompt is a photo. Click the link to join in!

 

 

 

#1MinFiction: Lawn Work

“It won’t chase you if you don’t run!”

“And let it sting me? No way!”

I duck under a bush next to the fence and hear the low buzz by my ear.

No need to shear the hedges today. My frantic swatting has taken care of the overgrown leaves.

—Nortina


Ever hear a bee buzz by your ear and totally spaz out like you have Tourette syndrome? The one thing I dislike about summer…

For a new flash fiction challenge: Monday’s One-Minute Fiction—write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. This week’s prompt is about nature’s asshole: wasp. Click the link to join in!

Friday Fictioneers: Brief Reprieve

I pretend I don’t hear gun shots afar off.

Fourth of July’s in three weeks. It’s just fireworks. Drunk frat brothers shooting off exploding rockets for practice.

But I back inside just to be safe, close the sliding glass door to the balcony and lock it.

Money and privilege doesn’t mean a thing these days. You can be a United States congressman and still be targeted. How many presidents absorbed the bullet? How many of them lived?

I’m only here for the weekend though. Be back in Chi-Town by Monday, where I recognize the gang bangers who shoot me.

word count: 100

—Nortina


PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Friday Fictioneers challenges you to write a story in 100 words or less using the provided photo prompt as inspiration. Click the froggy icon to read other stories and add your own.