“Release the Dragons” – Flash Fiction

Jack’s study is wallpapered in a  1940s paper that features a lot of Van Dyke brown and golden apples. It’s a bit fuzzy and feminine, but because of the browns, it retains enough masculinity that Jack can deal. Had the papering been in roses and pinks, he would have torn it off long ago.

There are bottles of scotch lined up on a shelf, specialty types and expensive, and they add to the ‘his study’ vibe, at it really is all Jack. The rest of his house might be feminine, considering it’s his wife’s domain, but thankfully the study is all his. Down to the strange decorations on his wall; African masks and Native American spears, cigar boxes tucked into the book shelves, stacked books, a messy desk, dim interior. The study is Jack. Jack and the study are one.

The scent of the room is warm. Not so much as musty, but dust has a warm smell, and the crammed interior leads to there being more dust than might be in the rest of the house. Jack’s wife gave up on trying to keep his study neat and tidy. A little dirt never hurt anyone.  The books are new smelling, with glue and fresh paper and ink, but there are also older books. Books with yellowed pages and spicy with age. Leather covers with the warm and sharply metallic scent from the leather. There is a leather chair, worn from years of Jack sitting in it to their dogs  claiming as their own. An open cigar box smells of the sharp resinous smell of Spanish cedar and the unburned smell of tobacco. There is a warmth and coziness to the room and it is homey feeling without the pretentious feeling that it needs to be homey.

It’s a balmy Saturday afternoon and Jack is enjoying a small glass of scotch while he reads the latest historical book  on the Second World War. He has a great love of that particular war and has too many books on the subject. His wife, Sadie, is baking cookies in the kitchen and there is the warm smell of vanilla and burned sugar when the back door buzzer goes off, startling Jack.  The damn thing sounds like a fire alarm buzzer, it’s about as dramatic as one, and his three grandsons get a huge delight ringing the thing.

Jack sighs as he hears the trampling feet and voices garbled into a cacophony of sound. There seems to be a barking dog in the midst as well.

“Release the dragons,” Jack mutters as the heard of grandsons, a new dog, and a friend from school all pile into the hallway outside his door. He hails them, downs the rest of his scotch and slowly gets up.

Saturdays are for his grandsons even if they are about as disciplined as a herd of dragons.

 

I was complimented on how I describe a room and write it out recently. I think I have to give that credit to Zane Grey and Emilie Loring, whose work has inspired interiors and exteriors enough that I like writing about spaces. I want to have you, the reader, picture it in your head like I describe, but I realize each of us is different. Ah, one can dream.

So, for now, enjoy this snippet of flash fiction.

Kate

Gossamer Wings and Bathing Selkies – Flash Fiction

It’s gossamer wings he sketches with a bright, brand new No. 2 pencil. Airy, delicate things attached to her frame. As she stands poised over the water, in a modest bathing suit, cherry red, and a red bathing cap, she’s from another age as she prepares herself for the cold punch into the mountain lake. For now, she’s warm on the granite rock, but the lake is fed by snow melt.

But as he sketches her, she’s a fairy, unreal and a pixie. She’s not just ready to leap into the water, but standing on a lavender bloom poised to take flight. His fingers smudge the oily pastels into the paper, spreading the fantasy as reality, with a whoop suddenly dives into the clear water.

He pauses for a moment, his fingers hovering over the paper as she surfaces, laughing and gasping. He’s tempted to grab another blank page and sketch in a selkie as she glides seal-like through the water. If only his muse would hold still, he might be able to capture the magic in her.

I pulled the prompts Gossamer, lavender, No. 2 Pencil, and yellow this last weekend at the writing group. Mel said this was a pretty good use of the prompts.  I think I’m inspired by Celtic stories still, hence the selkie. For those curious, the film Ondine with Colin Farrel is marvelous for the selkie tale.  And when I was picturing the fairy wings, I was thinking of Cicely Mary Barker‘s fairies. I’ve always loved them.  And old fashioned bathing suits from the 20s.  I had this vintage poster image in my head, but I’m not even sure it’s real. It’s funny how you can imagine something you think you’ve seen, but you’re not sure it’s real or made up.

On The Persian Rug – Flash Fiction

tumblr_mxqu06swUg1t5bhezo1_500He found her lying on the Persian rug in the old library. The late afternoon sun shone in through the tall windows creating rectangles of brightness on the old red and gold rug. She lay there in her green sweater and low rise jeans, worn so soft they moulded to her every curve. Her sweater, a bright leaf green, had ridden up revealing the shadowed indentation of her navel and a two-inch strip of smooth and toned abs.

Her dark hair was spread out in a fan around her head; a halo  of night. In her right hand, resting between the curved mountds of her breasts, she clutched her small, black mp3 player. The earbuds were in and she was tapping her tennis shoes in rhythm. Her eyes were closed, but occasionally her velvety lips moved as she lip synced.

He was amused as he watched her, so relaxed, lying flat on the floor. He round an arm chair and sank into the red velvet seat to wait for her to finish out whatever she was listening to. He wasn’t in any hurry. The day was done for him and there was something relaxing and soothing about watching her spread out on the floor.

It was a quarter hour longer till she stopped her toe tapping. He had just settled fully into the seat, readying himself for a nap when she sighed and took the earbuds out and opened her eyes.

She tipped her head back and saw him watching her with a slow grin.

“How long have you been there?” her husky voice asked.

“Not long.”

“Why didn’t you let me know you were here?”

“Because. I like watching you.”

She turned a slight shade of rose pink, but didn’t answer as she tried to gracefully sit up and wrap the wires around her player.

“Shall we go get dinner?” He asked as he grabbed her hand to pull her up.

“Okay,” she replied and they walked out of the old room, her arm tucked into his, leaving the golden rectangles to shift and fade as the sun slowly sank.

“I’m very afraid of dying.” – Flash Fiction

Just a little piece I wrote in today’s writing group. I had the prompt of Bossa Nova, mulberry, and page 157 which in Paul Coelho’s book , The Devil and Miss Prym, gave me the title of the piece.

The atmosphere of the room is smoky and dim as he sits in the worn leather chair sipping a glass of port. The port is aged and thick. Richer than mulberry jam spread on toast. The rich sounds of a bossa nova song come crackling out of the old speakers. The crackle is either from the scratched record or the ancient stereo. Who knows, and nobody cares. The music needs the static to tone down the oppressive beat, the trumpets hitting too high a note here and there.
“I’m very afraid of dying,” he says conversationally, to no one in particular.
The younger man, sitting opposite him sipping his whiskey eyes him with an arched brow.
“You are going philosophical? How much port have you had?” the young man asks. He’s not really young, but forty to his sixty seems practically juvenile.
“Phil, when you get to be my age, you’ll get it,” the man says.
“And what brought this on?” asks Phil.
The man sighs. Even he’s not sure. Maybe he has had too much port. Or maybe seeing his friend go through so many treatments only to waste away until nothing is left but skin and bones and pain and sorry. Till your mind gives up and one day you just don’t wake up.
Phil can’t understand. He’s never had to lose someone. Never hardly been sick.
Just wait till your sixty, thinks the man. Heck, wait till you’re fifty and you can’t get out of bed each morning without everything hurting. No, young people just don’t get it.

 

My parents always talk about how when you reach fifty it’s all down hill.  Boris said he felt it at 48. Honestly, at times I feel like I’m already feeling it, but I am dreading getting older. And other than that, this is just something that came out of the prompts. Nothing more.

Kate

Under The Clock Towers – Flash Fiction

clock tower

Circus Lane, Edinburgh, United Kingdom by Omar Yassen

Shafer nursed his pint of Guinness at the worn bar under the Clock Towers that sheltered the old tavern. The pub had been there so long the wood bar was dark and greasy from years of dirty palms and spilled drinks. Dents and gouges marked the wood giving it character and a sense of presence to the smoky interior. Old men of a certain age sat huddled in groups, round tables or in the hard wooden booths. There was an air of silent comradery to the mumbled conversations that filled the pub with a hum that had neither a beginning nor an end. It was as it had always been, ever since Shafer was old enough for his first pint.

That was long ago; though not so long that he was ready to join in with one of the groups of men. That and he was still a loner. Always had been. Maybe it was his occupation that kept him from joining in. He knew too much about everyone there. He knew who had been unfaithful to which wife, or who owed so much on their bill at the pub. He dealt in information, using it like currency. Though he never used it for favors. He was, at best an honest dealer.

People came to him for information, he gave it to them, and they paid, leaving happy with the news, or at least, satisfied, albeit disturbed at times. But he couldn’t help how people took his information. He never promised to sugar-coat it. He was blunt and to the point. If people didn’t want to know the answer, they shouldn’t ask the question.
Despite what he knew, people still treated him with a modicum of respect. He supposed it was because they were afraid he might report any illegal activity to the authorities, which he could have done numerous times. But he had a reputation of discretion and he liked to keep it that way. It was bad for business if you were a snitch.

The door to the pub swung open and an icy blast of January cold blew in through the door, biting at the heels of the charming woman who stepped in hesitant and unsure. She quickly shut the door behind her as some of the patrons emitted growls of displeasure at the cold surrounding their old bones

Shafer watched her as her eyes adjusted to the gloom. She was as lovely now as when she had come to him two weeks ago. Dressed in a long, forest green wool jacket, buttoned up to the neck with brass buttons, she looked very prim and proper. And so out of place in the pub that Shafer decided to be nice and rescue her from her fortress of uneasiness. He tapped his glass creating a slight ring and her eyes flew towards the sound. He saw a smattering of relief in her eyes as she recognized him and made her way around the tables to the bar.

Normally he would have met her in his office, but the walls there had ears, especially with the information he had found out. Here, at least, no one cared that much about secrets. Beer had a tendency to loosen the tongue and nothing was ever taken seriously.

“Mr. Shafer,” the woman greeted, her eyes darting around the room.

“Mrs. Ballington.”

“You said you had some information for me?” She questioned as if unsure of the message he had sent her telling her so and where to meet him.

“I do. Would you like a drink?”

“No. No, thank you.” She nervously moistened her lips

Shafer sighed. He hated to do this with such a decent lady.

“Could you just tell me?” she nearly whispered.

“Yes. Your husband is having an affair. In fact, he’s having three.” He sighed again as he saw the way the words hit her and she started to crumble.

 

Wow. So I don’t normally finish a piece of fiction thinking, “wow,”, but this time I certainly did as I read this on Saturday at my writing group. D and I sat there and I just knew it was a good piece.I want to finish it, but I’m not sure how, or where I’d go with it. But with the word prompts of clock towers, forest green, and Guinness, I went from being totally uninspired an hour prior, to being super excited at the end. I’m loving this flash fiction moments that hit. They are really inspiring.

I sort of saw this as a piece that could take place at any time, though with the coat the woman wears, I think steampunk. A long green jacket that goes almost to the floor, with those brass buttons that I picture as being shiny. And I see the woman as an auburn haired lady with her hair up almost Gibson girl style.

I do hope you enjoy and I’ll see if I can make this go further.

Kate

Purple Mountain’s Majesty – Flash Fiction

Here is a piece I wrote just this weekend during my local writing circle. I have been making up my own writing prompts using scrapbook paper  and a prompt, a color, and a number on the little slip of paper. For those wondering about great colors… Try Crayola colors on Wikipedia. I love the titles, always have, Midnight Blue being an absolute favorite, along with Mint Green and Chartreuse.   Or try paint chips. A wealth of color names and ideas come from paint chips. Well, the writing prompts went over great, and one of the ones I chose had Crayola’s purple crayon, Purple Mountain’s Majesty, on it. So here’s the inspired piece of flash fiction.

Via Robby Hare blog

She sat at her morning spot, the nook on the east side of the house. Not really a nook so much as a seat under the window with a wide enough ledge to set her coffee cup. It was her time of  uninterrupted moments. Her time without a husband calling for something to be ironed or where were his cuff links. It was before the mountain sunrise. It was almost before the stars had set. The time between time.

She sat reading Amar Singh’s Diary about Imperial India. She had picked the book up on a whim at a library book sale. Maybe the color had intrigued her. Or maybe it was because it was about India. She always wanted to go to India but had never really put the idea into motion. So she read about it.

While she read, she idly flipped one of her son’s crayons over and over in her left hand. Somehow, her nook had been confiscated recently to be an art studio. There were crayons in cups on the window sill and abstract drawings taped to the wall. Jeremy was a mini Picasso. Or just a very ordinary five-year-old boy.

She glanced at the crayon in her hand. Purple Mountain’s Majesty was the color. How fitting to be holding a color that matched what she could see and what was her favorite view. A shadowed purple, not as clear as Lavender or lilac, but so pleasing. The color was waxy and warm in her hands. She set the crayon down just as the first diamond ray of the sun peaked over the jagged mountains.

Yes, the view was most definitely Purple Mountain’s Majesty.

 

Enjoy.

Kate

Playing With Words, Or What I Found In An Anne Lindbergh Book

So I have become a frequent member of the local Saturday Writing Circle at my local library. I’ve mentioned it in passing with a short piece of Flash fiction I wrote recently.  One of our writing prompts comes from the mix mash of pieces of paper with either a word or a number on it. If you choose the number, you walk around the room, which happens to have all the books the Friends of the Library sell, pull off a book, turn to the page number you chose, and use a word from that to write from. I almost always choose this method because it’s broad and there are a bunch of words you can find in one page.

This last week I chose a book by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and who would have thought that a wealth of words could come from page 220 (the date of the day I was writing) of the book, “North to the Orient?” This book has a story behind it as well. I chose the book partly because a few years ago my family and I were going through our books, discarding what we were not going to read. Several of the books were Anne Lindbergh books my grandmother had gotten from her mentor years ago.  I kept a few and got rid of several. Well this dark blue book, sitting on the non fiction shelf, called to me. Just because I thought it would be familiar in that I knew the author. Well, after reading the page, I decided I HAD to take it home and read it. When I got home, I told Mrs. B about it, and she asked dryly if it was one of the books we had gotten rid of. Well, I flipped to the front cover and there was the nameplate with the name of my grandmother’s mentor.  Oh how things circle around. Ironic that I am now reading a book I discarded three years ago.

But now onto page 220.  While I didn’t use all of these, what caught my eye were these words or phrases:

a small island of roofs, sea of flood, the two words were separated, the world of nightmare, the world of reality, the flash of waking, magic lamp, hair-bridge, the pull of a trigger…….

A sentence: ….magic rests on a knife-edge—a lam, a tinderbox, and “open sesame.”

Aren’t those wonderful? I continued on with my story of Reality of Dreams, which relates to The Magic Orb I wrote several years ago. C.B. Wentworth wanted me to finish that piece of flash fiction and I have sudden inspiration to finish the story. I now have a way to finish the story. I think. This is what I have been working on at my weekly writing group.

So while I won’t share all of the story yet, I am going to post bits and pieces at time. But do you play with words? Do you hunt for words in books? I have found it a really good way to find inspiration. The Reality of Dreams was inspired by words in Cannery Row, and a Tea Shop Mystery book by Laura Childs.

So, how do you get your word prompts? I’d love to know.

Kate

Reality of Dreams – Flash Fiction

So there I was, sitting in my writing circle. I can say ‘my’ because I’ve gone twice, I know the lovely ladies, and I have plans to make it a ‘must’ every week.  So I was sitting there with my circle this morning (Saturday) with express plans to write some flash fiction.  I grabbed the piece of paper with the number 85 on it and went around the room pulling books off the shelf and turning to page 85 for a prompt. I found two that worked for me and this is the piece of flash fiction that came from it.  Incidentally, I was envisioning Andrew Lee Potts from SyFy’s Alice that was a few years ago.  I adored him as Hatter, a scatterbrained and kind of cute/sexy ‘mad’ Hatter.  He made the part so wonderful that he is what I picture when I think of the Mad Hatter.

So Hatter is who I picture in this piece.  Enjoy.

 

Timothy sat in one of the two Louis the Fifteenth chairs that were in the center of a winter garden. The early morning light was blue and frosted fog. He looked down at himself, startled and yet complacent to see he was wearing a mourning suit, complete with tails and a grey top-hat. All around a fine snow fell, not on him or the chairs, but around the circle of stone housing this hidden garden. The sun was a weak diamond in a milk ice sky.

“Oh boy,” he though on a sigh, “Now where am I?”

These dreams, or transportations, were happening more frequently these days. What was the dream? Reality or the dream itself. Did he really belong here or was there something dreamlike to be said for sitting in a garden on very expensive chairs?

Would he wake up back in his normal life with a stale cup of coffee in his hands and a deadline to beat? Maybe that was the dream. Or more accurately, a nightmare. At least here, all he had to do was think about something and it appeared.

He glanced down just as a snifter of brandy appeared in his hand. Yes, this was definitely a much better place to be. He wondered how long he would stay this time. But he wasn’t going to waste a good brandy on thinking about what ifs.

He took  a healthy sip, closed his eyes, and settled into his seat as the burning liquid warmed him in the cold winter morning.

 

So, there it is. Honestly, my first start was very different, but I am so happy with this and now it makes me want to continue and write about Timothy. What is he? Where is he going? What does he do? Who else might be in this dreamlike land? And is he dreaming?  So many questions!

Kate

 

The Nutcracker – Writing 101 Day 13

Ella watched in wonder as the ballerina’s twirled and spun around the wintery stage. For years she had wanted to see Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet. Now, here she was in a magnificent theater, not far from Rockefeller center and the magnificent Christmas tree. It was truly a magical, wintery wonderland time of year.

 

My flash fiction is always longer than about 200 words. This comes in at fifty two words. Whoa. I was listening to classical winter like music, and since Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet has been one I am dying to see one day… It was in my head.

And because I like this image I’m adding it to the post

Kate

Artist Mad – Writing 101 Day 12

“Gah, the blue! So stupid!” The woman railed and flung her arms wide, disgusted, at the painting hung under delicate lights to enhance its bold colors. She stamped off towards another painting, her red kitten heels slapping the  white, wood floors.

Behind her trailed the younger woman and man, her arm through his, as she leaned close to his bent head.

“And why did we bring her?” Janell muttered to Todd as they stopped at another painting in the very white, very austere gallery. This was another abstract piece. Slashes of olive green with bits of red, ocher, and turquoise dotted and swirled in an alarming pattern. It was not a comfortable painting. Janelle arched a brow, but kept her comments to herself.

An original Sharon Meyers piece titled "What Doesn't Kill You, Murders You In Your Sleep

An original Sharon Meyers piece titled “What Doesn’t Kill You, Murders You In Your Sleep

“It’s. . . ah . . .” Todd trailed off.

“Horrible! Too bold. To impertinent. Too Imperialistic.”

“Well, um, it’s not that bad,” Todd said, then flinched as the woman rounded on him, her long grey hair snapping, icy blue eyes burrowing into the tall man until he slouched in fear.

“It. Is. Disgusting.” The woman snapped at him, then whirled and marched off towards another painting, pushing through the groups of people holding champagne flutes. They had come to the opening gala of the artist, Sharon Meyers. A celebrated painter if one was to believe the critics. And one usually did.

“Imperialistic?” Janelle asked, but Todd just shook his head and sighed.

By all accounts, or as far as Janelle could tell, the evening had been a smashing success.

Several paintings had been placed in new homes and the curator of the gallery had been all smiles. Despite the railings of a crazy, mad woman who had practically insulted every painting there and the idiocy of the people purchasing the artwork.

Janelle sighed as she watched the other woman rail at another painting.  She tugged Todd to her side. 

“Next time your mother shows a series of paintings, leave her home,” Janelle requested and winced as Sharon Meyers pointed a sharp, red nail at a scared man who was admiring an abstract flower.  “She’s going to scare off any prospective buyers of her work.”

Todd just groaned and reached for another glass of champagne on a tray as a waiter passed by.  His mother was completely insane. But it was art….

I write a lot of critiques, what with book reviews and general opinions. So I decided to forego a traditional critique and write a bit of flash fiction. I had several ideas as I wrote this, and it was quite fun. Ah, those crazy artists out there. Me being one.😛

As for the painting…. Well, it is an original Sharon Meyers piece…. *wink wink*

 

Kate