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Writers unleashed their cries of freedom in the form of flash fiction. Freedom is not for everyone. What frees one, often confines another. Tragic? Not if you write fiction. Freedom is an ideal that builds great tension in a story. This week, writers found clashes at the heart of freedom.
The following stories are based on the September 17, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) let freedom ring in your story.
Freedom From a Body by Ruchira Khanna
Mohan was laying on his side with tears trickling down his cheeks, and he was quick to wipe from his spare wrist while the other one was occupied with the intravenous drip.
His body was screeching in pain, and he wanted a way out from this disease whose malignant growth had penetrated in his bones thus making it unbearable.
“It is just a matter of time” the docs said.
Family members were stroking his legs with the hope to give him some relief until he finally breathed his last, and got a well-deserved freedom from the diseased body.
Death Row by Amber Prince
She sat facing the thick glass that separated her from him, tissues clenched so tight in her fists they would be of little use to her if she needed them. Her eyes never leaving his as the needles were inserted into his veins, which would soon transfer the poisons into his body.
The time was coming. They had both been waiting for it, dreaming about it even.
She would no longer have to fight her hatred for him. He would no longer have to endure his own hatred of himself.
Finally they would be free. And she smiled resentfully.
Freedom Flash by Anne Goodwin
They stopped at the first layby after the ferry. Jack hopped out to fetch their fleeces, the fog thick as their dread of returning to deskwork after three months drifting across Europe like a couple of hippies.
Darren rushed round the back as a bedraggled figure staggered to his feet from under the dormobile. “How the …?”
“Must’ve tied himself to the axle at Calais.” Jack grabbed his phone. “Gotta report it. I’m not getting done for harbouring illegals.”
The man shivered. Darren wondered if it were fear or cold. “Gotta get him a cup of tea.”
Variations of Captivity by Sarah Brentyn
She stared at the dark window seeing only her reflection but knowing that, beyond the pane, he stood. He watched. What did he see? She wondered. Leaving him did not give her the freedom she wanted. It was a bold move, a departure from her character, to pack up and disappear. But she hadn’t disappeared. Not from his sight. She couldn’t run anymore.
The metal felt uncomfortable and cold on her leg where the gun rested. They were facing off. He, outside invading her privacy, taking away her sense of safety. She, inside contemplating trading one prison for another.
Guilty by Larry LaForge
“Your Honor, we find the defendant NOT GUILTY.”
Jeffrey’s family mobs him as the judge orders his release. The high-powered lawyers hired by his wealthy parents have done their job.
Reasonable doubt. The lawyers said they could create it, and they did.
“Freedom!” Jeffrey’s father exclaims while patting his son’s back. Family and friends hug him with relief and joy.
But Jeffrey remains subdued.
Linda Mykerson is dead. The Mykerson family is devastated. Jeffrey knows what really happened and is haunted by a truth he cannot escape.
He’s not going to jail, but Jeffrey Macbrile is anything but free.
The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.
Merlin’s Gambit by Tally Pendragon
I had a vision: a myth called freedom; I went back there to explore it; and I discovered the astoundingly simple truth that They have tried to hide from us for more than 500 years now. I looked forward into a time when the hiding of this secret produces the worst devastation, unbelief and confusion. I had to try to do something about the plight of mankind, so I formulated a plan, simple enough in its design, yet anything but simple in its execution. This book that you hold in your hands now is the outworking of that plan.
The Chalkboard by Sarah Unsicker
Chelsea watches the seconds tick by on the monochromatic clock. Sixty seconds is an eternity, and freedom lies fifteen full minutes away.
“Focus on your work,” the teacher says, her eyes fixed on Chelsea. Can’t she hear the robins twittering outside, or see the sky, bluer than blue?
Chelsea laboriously copies the lesson from the chalkboard. Meaning is lost as she concentrates on the words.
Other children finish their work. The bird beckons her to the warm sun.
Five sentences in, the freedom bell rings.
Chelsea will never know what is written on the other half of that chalkboard.
The Price of Freedom by Geoff Le Pard
‘When will you drop this vendetta, Mary?’
That’s what Paul had said. It wasn’t like she was free to choose. She hadn’t asked for an illegitimate half-brother contesting their father’s will. She had been patient, tried to explain. But all Paul had said was, ‘What about me? What about Penny?’
It hurt, the suggestion she was dragging them along. She wanted to say it was her problem and she would sort it, but the gaunt look on Penny’s face told a different story. Her father had created this prison but she had taken her family inside with her.
Freedom Flash by Irene Waters
“Now. tomorrow after we walk the dogs we’ve got that art course. It goes for four hours. Have to leave it on time cause Rosie is coming 2.30. Then have to walk the dogs as Barbara is expecting me at six.”
“I can’t listen to any more. I just want my freedom.” He stamped his foot.
“What do you mean?”
“I just want to be free. I want the freedom to wake up and decide then what I want to do – not have it all planned out.”
“You do nothing but….”
“ I wish.”
“Your freedom will be my gaol.”
Bull Fighting by Charli Mills
“It’s my God-given right to clean up on Rock Creek.” Cob tensed his muscles, reminding Sarah of a tethered bull. Dragging boards by a nose ring drained the bull’s fight. Cob raged freely.
“Who does he think he is? Wellmen had better get back here with my payment or he and that skinny little wretch of woman he’s shacked-up with are out on their duffs!”
Sarah flinched at the familiar words used to describe her situation with Cob. Shacked-up felt oppressive especially with him on the prod. “Cob, just calm down. Come to bed.”
It was her only protection.
Stray by Pete
It took me years to learn the game. To sit or raise my paw like a half-wit, all for a few nibbles. A scratch on the head.
It’s difficult. The snap of a twig or the crunch of a leaf and my primal instincts flex. But still I wait.
Near the creek, meaty fingers fiddle with my harness, I’m told to be a good boy. I pant with exhilaration as the straps fall from my shoulders.
Galloping into sunset, the whistles grow faint. But I wasn’t born for show or tricks.
I am not a good boy.
Sound is the element writers explored this week, using it to announce some sort of change to the story. Sometimes it is the absence of sound that speaks loudest. Creativity is limitless, as are the types of sounds that writers use as harbingers.
The following stories are based on the August 27, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use sound to announce some sort of change. Enjoy reading the results!
Jackpot by Larry LaForge
Amidst the constant ding, ding, ding a deafening sound suddenly blasts: whoop, whoop, whoop.
Eddie knows immediately things will never be the same.
Despite the commotion, Eddie’s mind drifts back. “Here’s a dollar,” his pal Jack had said last week. “Give the slots a shot for me in Vegas. I totally trust you, man.”
All eyes in the casino are on the flashing dollar slot machine showing a million dollar payout. Cheers erupt. Before the play Eddie had mumbled, “This one is yours, Jackie boy.”
Eddie ponders his dilemma as the casino settles back to normal.
Ding, ding, ding.
The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.
Rivals by Pete
The casual evening sun roamed the horizon, and just over the volley of drums and clashing of cymbals, the sinuous thread of horns cut through the thick of August as the marching band prepared for the season opener on Friday. Ridgeton’s two high schools, Stonewall and Fairmont, kicked off each year at City Stadium, and this year’s clash carried the additional weight of mending the divide that had captured the town. The heat wouldn’t relinquish its reins for another month. The wounds would take a lifetime to heal. But for now, the sounds of rivalry echoed throughout the streets.
American Road Trip by Sherri Matthews
Annie turned towards the rumble of the V8 engine as she watched the low-rider inch slowly towards her where she stood in the street.
“Whose that?” she asked, raising a hand to her eyes against the blinding headlights.
“Don’t look at them!” Ken hissed.
“But…I was only….”
“Turn away, now…!”
Annie froze as Ken took a swig from his beer bottle in a failed attempt to look cool.
At last the gang drove off deep into the LA night while Annie heard the distant whines of a police siren.
This wasn’t the American road trip she had bargained for.
For Those Who Have Ears to Hear by Tally Pendragon
The roads were still good, if lacking their former glory. A man appeared, out of nowhere, carrying a staff and smiling. “I believe this is yours,” he said, and put it into Merlin’s hands. In the silence Merlin could hear the slithering. As it grew closer, his mind expanded, until restored silence brought a bright flash. With his consciousness so newly awakened he was not surprised to see that a green and purple dragon had wound itself around the staff, its head resting on top and it’s wings folding themselves neatly into the gaps. Now his purpose was clear.
Openings by Geoff Le Pard
‘Leave me ALONE!’
The door bulged as it slammed shut. Mary’s daughter’s muffled sobs were replaced by Carly Simon.
‘What’s up?” Mary flinched when she felt her husband’s hand.
‘She hates me.’
Paul listened. ‘She’s got your taste in music.’
‘It’s not funny.’
‘Why would she hate you?’
Mary didn’t answer. She pressed against the wood. ‘What was that?’
‘I didn’t hear anything.’
When Mary opened the door, the room was empty, the window open. ‘See?’
‘But where’s she gone? What’s going on?’
‘Bloody Rupert, that’s where.’
Paul hesitated. ‘Oh for god’s sake. This has to end, Mary. Now.’
Silence is Not Golden by Sarah Unsicker
Tears blend with my own. I hold the squirming child in my arms while I tread an endless circle around the room, alone, and afraid.
We lie down together. I fall asleep to the sound of her sobs.
The room is gray in the twilight when I wake up. There is an eerie silence as she lays still next to me.
Seconds feel like hours as I unwrap the sheet from her head. I bring her limp body to my chest to give her my breath, my warmth, my heart.
Never have I been so happy for her tears.
Making Change by Chris Magnuson
It rained last night. The ground is wet. The sky is dark blue to the south; storm clouds looking wicked. I look to the north. The sky is a lighter blue with fluffy clouds dotted across it. The breeze is soft, then strong. The sun is warm on my arms, back and legs. I start in on one end. I grab hold of a weed and pull. With each pull I hear, “schlep…..schlep… The sound is of weeds resisting their removal. I keep pulling. “Schlep…schlep. I check the sky occasionally. Schlep….schlep. Ah, finally I have a weed free garden.
Castles in the Ground by Sarah Brentyn
Ella fished her pink plastic shovel out of its hiding place next to the boiler. She scraped it against concrete, pretending the floor was sand. A cardboard box full of yellowed newspapers and mouse droppings became her beach pail. She hummed and built a castle, her little hands shaping tall towers. The basement was dark and cramped but she imagined sunshine and sky.
The click of the lock startled Ella. She froze, hand poised in mid-air, heart beating like a caged hummingbird. A creak from the first stair roused her. She scrambled to hide the shovel for next time.
The Crows by Irene Waters
“Look at those crows circling.” Marcia said “Gives me the creeps knowing someone’s going to die tonight. Like vultures waiting to take the soul to another place.”
“Don’t be stupid. That’s just an old wives tale.” Peter’s exasperation was apparent. “Just because they’re circling doesn’t mean anyone’s going to die.” They walked on in silence, lost in their own thoughts.
Crrrrrack! Peter looked up at the noise to see the branch falling rapidly toward him.
Boom! The ground shook from the force of the impact. Marcia shook her head as she looked at Peter’s lifeless eyes. “Old wives tale huh?”
Through the Floor by Susan Zutautas
Steamy hot water beat down against my sore and weary body. It had been a long frustrating day but the shower was massaging it all away.
Humming Thunder Road, and starting to feel rejuvenated, I reached down for the soap and heard crackling and splitting noises that were very loud.
When I came to Al was kneeling beside me repeating over and over, “wake up.”
“Why am I in the basement?”
“You were taking a shower and the tub fell through the floor. Try not to move too much, an ambulance is on its way.
“Seriously, oh my God!!!”
Sound Flash Memoir #1 by Norah Colvin
Awakened suddenly, I didn’t dare breathe. The sound was unrecognizable: guttural, movie theatre loud in surround sound. I sat up. The sound continued. I wasn’t dreaming. I nudged Bob. No response. Gripped with fear but needing to know, I tiptoed to the window and peeked through the curtain slit. I expected to see The Creature from the Black Lagoon. There was nothing. Now it came from the front, inside the house? My son! I tore down the hall. He slept peacefully! Back to the bedroom. Bob awoke. “Did you hear that?” he asked, wide eyes staring . . .
Flight From North Carolina by Charli Mills
Coins clinked in Cob’s burly hand as he jingled the liberty dollars Dryer paid for the two horses. Sarah couldn’t see how many. What mattered was boarding the Johnson City train before any Wataugans tracked their midnight ride. Waiting in line at the busy depot, Cob leaned against the wall watching folks like he was at a Sunday picnic.
“You keep fussing your bonnet, Rosebud, everyone on this platform’s going to think you’re fugitive.”
Sarah put her hands down and glared at the black locomotive. The whistle screeched and Sarah grabbed Cob’s arm. “We’ve gotta get on that train.”
Harbinger Flash by Anne Goodwin
Though the hoot of the train brought relief, she maintained a mask of indifference as it loomed into view clouded with steam. The weight of the crystal radio had all but wrenched her arm from its socket but she held the case as if it contained nothing more than some lacy lingerie and a freshly starched blouse. Five minutes, ten at most, and she’d be safe.
The thud of jackboots on paving rose above the hiss of brakes. A carriage door swung open. Before she could reach it, the soldier raised his rifle and roared down the platform: “Halt!”
Sound Flash Memoir #2 by Norah Colvin
The boat tossed mercilessly. I battled to contain my insides while all around were losing theirs into little paper bags offered unceremoniously to obliging staff.
Finally, just before landfall, I joined in. Then it was over – for me. Bob’s queasiness laid him up for the night; but I went to tea.
The path back to the cabin was unlit but for a splash of moonlight. Suddenly horrific wailing assaulted my ears. Was Bob being murdered? I hurried back. He was fine, but the eerie sound unsettled us far into the night.
In the morning we laughed: mutton birds nesting!
Flash Fiction Challenge by Laura Burke
“Ice accumulation will be like the killer storm of 1988.” The weatherman droned on, endless coverage in the background. “As temperatures drop, snapping limbs will sound like gunshots.”
Cabin Fever. It’s a thing. Time for bed.
Midnight. So far, no tree limb gunfire. I imagined limbs on power lines, electricity gone, frozen pipes, roof damage.
The covers wiggled. My dog squirmed, stretching her frame against the curve of my hip, burrowing her nose under blankets. She stilled. Except for her snoring.
Gentle white noise filled the room, rhythmic and seductive. The outdoors melted away. My mind stilled. Sleep, finally.
New prompt on Wednesday. All writers welcome!
This week writers unpacked their book bags and delved into school. From slates to bullies, kindergarten to college, boys and girls feature in this week’s flash fiction. Grab an apple and read the stories that made the grade.
Stories are based on the August 20, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about school.
Chocolate Balls by Norah Colvin
The final school bell tolled and the students erupted from the building like a burst box of chocolate balls, scattering in every direction and at varying speeds. Some stuck together along pathways safe and sure. Others crashed and bumped over roads less traveled seeking excitement, new discoveries and secrets to explore. Others stopped abruptly, their journeys foiled by stubborn obstacles. Still others, rolling upwards, failed to maintain the momentum to carry them over and beyond with those more adventurous others.
Who would know?
Inside the box, they were identical, centers hidden. Outside, their uniqueness was on show.
Kindergarten Days by Sarah Unsicker
It was the first week of Kindergarten, and Chelsea was already tired of sitting in her chair. She had spent most of the long summer outside. The transition from summer to the school day had been torture.
Mrs. Smith handed out worksheets. Was expected to copy some strange doodle.
Chelsea didn’t understand why she had to learn to write numbers. She wondered how anyone could differentiate the squiggles. Chelsea stared at the paper for a minute before the bell rang. It was time for recess! She would gladly take this work home if she could go outside to play.
Academic Advice by Larry LaForge
Coach Bruno Culberston counseled his football team the day before school started.
“Sit in the front row,” he told his troops. “Make frequent eye contact with the professor.”
He asked an assistant coach to demonstrate proper sitting posture.
Coach Culbertson continued. “Always look interested. Write stuff down in your notebook. Nod your head in agreement when the prof makes a point.”
The players took it all in.
“Remember, always call your teachers Doctor, even if they’re not.”
After several more imperatives, a kid in the back raised his hand. “Coach, what about studying?”
“Oh.” replied the coach. “That too.”
The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.
School Flash by Irene Waters
“Come on. We’ll be late.” Billy urged.
“I don’t wanna go.” said Harry.
“But it’s fun. Readin’, Ritin ‘n Rithmetic. Hurry up.”
“I should be helping at home with the milking.”
“You wanna do that for ever.”
“Too right I wanna. What else would I do? Soon as I’m fourteen I’m out of here.”
“Not me. My kids are gonna wear shoes.”
“Help me Harry. All these blasted forms. Never thought I’d need the three R’s. Blast this government. Blast this GST.”
“Lucrative business accountancy these days Bill. I’m sure glad I put my head down and studied hard.”
A Father’s Pain by Charli Mills
Deputy Coffey left the McCandles house after informing Cob’s father of his son’s disappearance. And of the charges.
James stood in the parlor, staring at the framed tintype of his son in military uniform. He was never meant to be a soldier, but a scholar. His son–David Colbert. Cob to family and friends. He grabbed the frame, ready to smash it on the plank-wood floor. Instead, he hugged it to his chest and sagged to the floor, careful not to make a sound. He didn’t want to distress his wife.
“Oh, my son. That woman wasted your schooling.”
School Flash by Anne Goodwin
Twin stone staircases led to a wooden door, the numbers 1873 embossed above, grand as the entrance to a castle. At school I’d learn to read, and never have to go without a story. I’d mount those steps like a fairytale princess, entering one day by the left side, the next the right.
I didn’t realise the letters above the stairs spelt BOYS on one side and GIRLS on the other. That my mother would laugh, plead, then slap me on the legs and hoist me up like a sack of coal when I raced towards the wrong one.
Nervously Waiting For the Strap to Come Out by Susan Zutautas
Nervously I waited for the door to the principal’s office to open. What was I thinking kissing Josh at the assembly this morning?
“Miss Varden please come in,” summoned Principal Green. “Have a seat. Since we both know why you are here today, I would like to know if you have read the student handbook that you received upon registering here at Bishop Allen Catholic Academy.”
“Yes sir I have.”
“Did you read the rules relating to student conduct?”
“What does it say about public displays of affection Miss Varden?”
“That it is not allowed here at school.”
Stalked by Paula Moyer
When looking back on sixth grade, Jean knew something was amiss, but
what? If she simply said “I had trouble connecting with Mrs. O’Brien,”
what was she leaving out?
It was the eyes, watching her as they watched no other student. What
was it about her eyes?
Years later, as a grown woman, Jean was walking her dog. As she left
the house, she saw the neighborhood feral cat scrutinizing a bird.
When she came back: no cat, no bird. Just a pile of feathers.
Then she knew. The cat had Mrs. O’Brien’s look. Jean was her teacher’s prey.
Back to School by Ruchira Khanna
Pedro ran through the checklist once again the night before the big day; making sure he does not forget anything.
Slept on time with the excitement to meet his friends the next day, and describe all his summer adventures. The idea of studies and homework was just a thought, yet!
Dawn arrives, and he was quick to get ready without any reminders.
Reached school, and was devastated to learn that he and his friends were in different classes.
He was sitting in a class with new faces.
However, his temperament and desire made him new friends in no time.
Back to School by Sarah Brentyn
Susan sat in class as obscene rumors about her were whispered near her ear. Nasty notes always seemed to show up on her desk. She was shoved in the hallways and tripped in gym.
School looked different to Susan than it did to other students.
Bathrooms weren’t places to pee or fix makeup, they were hiding spots to catch her breath and cover up bruises. Lockers weren’t spaces to keep her books, they were instruments of torture and confinement.
But Susan didn’t run from misery, she gathered strength from it. And she looked forward to her high school reunion
Mighty by Pete
Clutching my bag I take a deep breath, comforted by the fact that I’ve already read the entire English book and Mom’s tutored me with the math all summer. She’s a good teacher, but still, I missed over 100 days last year.
I hear the nerves in her voice. She tells me to pace myself, to remember what Dr. P said. I hate the fact that I have to choose. I’m tired just thinking about it. School is the last chance I have at being a normal kid, and I’m not ready to surrender that to some stupid disease.
Accidental Kidnap by Geoff Le Pard
‘Mrs North? This is Penny’s form teacher, Miss Marks.’
‘Yes?’ Mary turned away so not as to be overheard.
‘Penny says her uncle is collecting her from school today. As we have never met him we like to check…’
‘What? Now, listen to me…’
Mary wished the solicitor wasn’t listening. When she finished, he asked, ‘Sorted?’
‘Far from it.’
‘Were you talking about Rupert?’
‘Yes, my bloody half-brother. I have to go.’ She stood and said, ‘He said Penny had asked to see his mother. Can you believe that?’
To Mary’s surprise he said, ‘Yes, I think I can.’
Remembering School in Elmira by Charli Mills
Mama washed my hair the night before, braiding it tight the next morning. I had a slate board and chalk—expensive luxuries. Papa had already left to pound spikes so he missed seeing my gleaming black braids with yellow ribbons. Mama watched me cross the tracks to the new schoolhouse before she returned to doing the rail-men’s laundry.
“Addio, mia cara,” she called as I walked away. To school. I cannot tell you how much it meant to Mama and Papa that their only child would get to go to school. “L’America è buono,” they’d say despite cracked hands.
New prompt on Wednesday. All writers welcome!