Twenty-Six – Flash Fiction

early-morning-runTwenty-six. That’s how many songs were on his playlist.

Twenty-six. That’s how old he was, give or take a few months or days.

Twenty-six. That’s how many miles he was training to run. Miles he would run in a marathon that was taking place on his twenty seventh birthday.

He smoothed his hand over his freshly shaved head before putting in his earbuds, turning on his iPhone, and going to his playlist.

Morning, before the sun came up over the mountains, when the air was cool and fresh, was when he liked to run. His feet would pound the pavement in an ever repeating rhythm as he ran through the quiet streets of his neighborhood. Mini-vans and cars silent in their driveways. Sprinklers on their automatic timers watering emerald lawns and sidewalks, the excess running into gutters. It was a world of another world. The inside of a snowglobe before you shook it and all the snow or glitter sprinkled down. It was his and his alone. He could relish the peace of the moment as he ran, stepping into this world within a world. Forgetting for a moment his life that was waiting for him. Forgetting the uniform he put on every day. The uniform, where the minute he put it on, he became someone else and people regarded him differently.

He could forget his life as the music washed over him, as he repeated the same mantra over and over. Twenty-six. Twenty-sic. Breath in. Breath out. One more mile. One more moment of himself.

He turned the corner of his street and saw his young son sitting on the front step of his house. Gloria, the next door woman who watched his son when he went on a run, was drinking her coffee as she stood next to his boy.

“Daddy!” his son called and the world in glass faded away.

All that mattered was his son.

 

This was a prompt from  The Daily Post. Daily Prompt: Your Days are Numbered. The prompt being to use the number 26 as a role.  It’s funny how a post can start off one way then have a mind of it’s own and just go from there.  There was nothing specific when I started this other than twenty six sounded like a nice long playlist. Then I pictured a man running in the morning. Then the man had a shaved head.  And suddenly the whole story morphed to being for someone and about someone I know. This is just for him and he is going to get his own copy in the mail.  Hopefully he doesn’t read this on a regular basis because then the surprise is gone.

It always blows my mind how a story can come out of just one thought.  How plots and characters just grow into a story.  Well, this is for someone I would like to call a friend.  And for all of you to enjoy.

Signing off

~Kate

I Feel Like Sushi! – Flash Fiction

“I feel like sushi!” she announced as she looked up from her book.

He looked at her cautiously. “Is that a metaphor?” he asked warily. It was common for her to spit out strange metaphors at the oddest of moments.

Her laugh was like little bells.  “Heavens no! I want sushi.”

“Well that’s nigh impossible now,” he said, indicating the clock that read 1:30AM. “Plus, you really shouldn’t be eating that now,” he said, hinting at her very pregnant state.

“I know, but it sounds so good,” she sighed.

They went back to reading.

“How about tacos?” she blurted out.

“That we can do,” he said, smiling at her very strange switch of foods, but sliding out of the covers and slipping into his jeans, nonetheless. Ah, the things he suffered through to make his wife happy. But tacos sounded good to him too.

 

It’s amazing what kind of flash fiction you can get out of the back of a magazine with an ad for Siri. The first line is from that ad.  Enjoy.

Signing off

~Kate

The Captive Maiden – A Review

Let me preface this book review with a bit of commentary regarding fairy tales. Right now, anything dealing with a fairy tale is my thing. I blame Once Upon a Time for making me focus on that. I also blame Once Upon a Time for ruining fairy tales for me. I will never be able to read another fairy tale and not think of Snow White as being Emma Swan’s mother or Prince Charming being Emma’s father. Captain Hook will always be a sexy Irishman, and Rumpelstiltskin is this evil, but kind of cool villain.  So, all that being what it is, I had to choose a fairy tale story when it came up in the list of available books to request from Thomas Nelson/Booksneeze back in December. That also being said, I had to keep reminding myself that in all the classic fairy tales, Emma Swan is not best friends with all these heroines!

The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson is a retelling of the classic Cinderella story.  Taking place in a province of Germany called Hagenheim in the early 15th century.  Duke Wilhelm rules and his son, Valten, Lord Hamlin is our ‘prince’ to Gisela’s ‘Cinderella’.

Gisela lives with her nasty stepmother and two stepsisters just outside Hagenheim.  By sheer luck, or the grace of God, she happens to meet Valten in the Marketplatz when he is disguised as a commoner, though she knows who he is.  He invites her to the jousting tournament that is to be held the next day.  Gisela comes to the tournament, despite her stepmother telling her she can’t go, and is crowned the Queen of Love and Beauty.  There she will remain, until the tournament is over, but not before dancing at the ball with Valten.

However, evil forces are at play, from the evil stepmother who sells Gisela to Ruexner, a knight who has a vendetta against Valten! Will she escape?  Not before being tricked, captured, rescued, captured, and rescued again!  There is so much action and suspense hiding among the pages of this story.  There are good friends and helpful monks who come to the rescue of both Gisela and Valten.  And Gisela is far from a damsel in distress, though she is a damsel, and at times, she is in distress. (thank you Megara from Hercules for having that tidbit always in my brain) Gisela can fend for herself!

Does it all turn out okay in the end.  Well I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but think. It is a Cinderella story.  Usually the maiden does get the ‘prince’.

The Captive Maiden is a nail biting book. I had to keep jumping ahead of myself to make sure it was going to turn out okay because I was so certain everything was going to go wrong. My heart was in my throat several times.  I’m not sure why I didn’t stop and remind myself that it’s a Cinderella story and of course it is going to turn out okay.  Melanie Dickerson may have written this for teens, but honestly I feel it it is for teens and up. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Valten is quite gallant and believable as a struggling young man that has to settle down and is finally ready to when he meets the girl of his ‘dreams’. Gisela is feminine and charming, but still a strong woman character. None of that weakling damsels in distress. I love the one line where Gisela says that maybe she will rescue Valten instead of him rescuing her! It’s reminiscent of Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. And Ruexner is a truly horrible villain next to the stepmother.

I like how Melanie Dickerson kept the religious aspect from getting too much in the way of the story like some authors are wont to do. The inner prayers of both Valten and Gisela are so believable since they sound like what I would say to God when I am struggling with something. One doesn’t have long conversations with Him when in the middle of something happening. It’s short prayers and little thoughts.  You can really feel the panic and frustration of Valten and Gisela. Also, the monk is quite believable and charming as a guide, giving wisdom and guidance to two struggling young people.

I think this was a charming book and I’m glad I could read and review it. I am now quite interested in reading Ms. Dickerson’s telling of Snow White in her book The Fairest Beauty.  I would give the Captive Maiden 4 out of 5 stars.

This book was provided for me from Thomas Nelson books free of charge for a fair and honest review.

Signing off

~Kate

Maybe He Had A Better Reason For Leaving – Flash Fiction

farmers-wife-magazine Maybe he had a better reason for leaving. Maybe it was the summer sun that first started the wanderlust. Whatever the reason, on day Janis watched him walk out of their front gate, not knowing when she would next see him.

He left no plans, no way to contact him; He only said he’d be back in the fall. Whatever that meant.

Janis watched him close the white picket gate, the one he had built last summer and walk towards town proper. She dried her hands on the dish towel she held, just shaking her 33-06,FrmrsWfhead.

“Silly man,” she muttered, smoothing down her apron. She wasn’t surprised he was leaving. Every couple of years he’d get this look in his eye and by the next day he’d have his knapsack packed. He’d go off finding adventure, though he never told Janis what he ended up doing on his treks. He could be gone a week or months. Once he was gone only two days, but another he was gone almost a year.

She didn’t know if he had another woman, she hated him if he did, but she doubted him fooling around. There were plenty of women around here who would have gladly taken him into their beds. No, the look in his eyes was not the lust for human flesh, but of fresh air, mountain peaks, and sandy beaches. Sometimes she would find bits and pieces of nature hiding down at the bottom o f his knapsack when he’d return. A small shell, a green rock, and once she found an old arrowhead.

For Janis the reprieve of married life was always a chance for a renewal of herself.  She slept in, not needing to make his breakfast. She enjoyed her poached eggs on toast without complaint. She tried new hairstyles and bought a new outfit or two. She would hire a couple of local girls and they would tear apart the house, cleaning it from top to bottom, then Janis would rearrange the furniture or paint a room. She’d have a gardener come in and give the whole yard a nice clean up, getting all the spots He never got to when he was at home. She’d splurge on a new rose bush or something exotic and fancy that would last only the summer season.

She’d invite her friends over for luncheons and teas. They’d gab about kids and husbands, though Janis never mentioned Him other than to say he was on sabbatical. They all knew what that meant. The ladies would discuss flower arrangement and wallpaper options. Painting versus staining re-purposed furniture. Then Janis would show off her new redone room and all the ladies would ooh and ah, commenting on how they wished their husbands would let them redo a room whenever they wanted to.

The friends would leave and Janis would clean up the house to a spotless state, fix a small meal and eat dinner watching one of her favorite movies. Something he wouldn’t like and try to talk over. She’s go to bed whenever she wanted, sometimes late, sometimes early. And every night till he came home, Janis would cry herself to sleep.

Who would have thought a short story or flash fiction piece could come out of a Harbrace College Handbook?  The first line and title of this piece was a line of correction under commas in my Harbrace. I was reading it the other day and this line caught my attention and I knew I had to write something. Not exactly sure if I have the commas in the correct spots (I’m a comma girl and I use way more than I ever should), but I’m happy with how this turned out. I have a fifties or sixties esque thought pattern in my head for Janis. Like she does her hair in the flip styles and wears big patterned dresses with bold flowers. Well, whatever she looks like, this was fun to write out the other day in a matter of moments on a piece of lined paper. Sometimes inspiration strikes from the funniest of places. And this story did not even come close to what I had in my mind, but hey, sometimes the character takes you places you never knew were hiding.

Signing off

~Kate