Grim’s List Seems An Awesome Idea

I saw a beautiful tweet today. It seems my writing hiatus is ending.

 

Periwinkle Blue

The scream of a blue jay broke through the shadow of the trees, a war cry as it battled a squirrel in the yard she pushed her daughter by. She paused to dab at her forehead with a silk scarf while her toddler cooed at the squirrel. She enjoyed this street, with its trees so old they cracked the sidewalks, sheltering the stately homes that carved out a well-manicured niche from the old-growth forest.

Periwinkles tumbled down the lawn to kiss the base of the towering tree the squirrel skittered up for safety. Sweet little flowers the color of the dress she wore, that woman he introduced her to at the party. She couldn’t remember her name. She looked so much like the woman on the news, the one that went missing.

She dismissed the thought. Her child thought the billowing white flowers were popcorn. She smiled at the thought of telling him when he came home, it was cute enough that maybe he would listen. Where would she be without him? Could she be without him? Could she do that to their daughter?

A flash of light on fluttering leaves startled her. She was embarrassed at how high she jumped. The leaves were pretty though, flitting in and out of the light. They reached the park, she hadn’t noticed. The clang of the iron gate reminded her of prison bars, but it would keep her child safe while she relaxed.

She sat on the fading bench and browsed her phone, looking for a podcast to enjoy. She tried one of her favorites, always good for distraction. A few minutes into it, she closed it. She tried reading earlier, she already knew she couldn’t focus on a plot. She decided to watch the birds.

The birds are in usually in pairs this time of year. Male birds preening and dancing, showing all their flash and none of their substance, female birds in awe of their skills and flattered with their attention, to be later disappointed when they find themselves chained to the nest.

A tiny white pebble caught her eye, reminding her of the tooth she found wedged between the boards on the porch this morning. She decided to push her daughter on the swing. Maybe the laughter of children would give her the peace she needed.

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Tarot deck: Archeon. Tarot Prompt: Queen of Pentacles, reversed.
Interpretation: A sensual woman, gentle but strong. She loves beauty, pleasure, walk is in the light of prosperity with dignity and grace. A patient, compassionate listener.
Reversed: Falling into despair. Sharp, cutting, regret. Guilt, trapped in past misdeeds, bad choices, falling. Rather than a wealth of joys, narrowed in focus to a singular intrusive thought.

389 words. More tarot stories.

P.S. – Another repost, but things are smoothing out around here some and I should be able to write again soon.

The Loop

I almost lost the trail. Here it is, a bit of pink thread, the right shade for the child’s skirt on a tangle of rusted junk. The sun threatens to set, warm light giving a soft glow to the glitters of glass along the sides of the alley. Which way?

The old man returns, stepping out from the shadows. I suddenly smell old paper and hear something rustling. The stern lines on his face are softer, looking oddly gentle. Tired, maybe.

“I’m close, I can feel it.” I say.
He looks down the alley, glancing over his shoulder at the decrepit house with the creaking swing set, then back ahead of himself, his eyes resting on a bus stop’s advertisement, some hotline number for those in crisis. “You need to know where to go.”

“We’ll find her. She went one way or the other, she wouldn’t have had a lot of time before dawn to get to her mama.”

Pa smiled softly, “Well, when you find it, it will feel like you’ve been there before.” He’s gone again. He seems to be fading. Doesn’t seem to make as much sense as he used to. Unless he means that’s part of their magic he told me about. That charming thing they do.

I look at the old swing set. I bet the little leech used to play on that. I step carefully through the cut fence. I can feel them. This place hums with suck, a sickly aura that saps you right down.

I look through the little broken window on the door, down a hall stained dark and trashed by squatters. For a second, I hear a woman screaming, and have a flash, a weird impression of a beautiful woman standing in the middle of the hallway, a child hiding in the corner behind her, the woman holding a baseball bat, her face distorted with rage and hatred. Must be haunted.

I enter the hall, start looking around for places you might be able to hide from the sun. Basement seems too obvious a choice to really be safe, but I’m not so sure these things run on a fully working brain. They seem kind of like animals, might be working on instinct alone, brain trashed when they stop being human. Steps are probably in the kitchen.

Kitchen seems familiar. Did I dream of this tile? That’s right. The old man told me. The right place will feel like deja-vous. I pull out my Maglite and start down the stairs. There they are. Two piles of freshly turned earth. Just like I knew there would be. I grab my stake, and head toward the shallow grave of the bitch monster who killed my wife and daughter, the one I will kill or die trying.

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P.S. – This story is a repost, because this week I’ve got my hands full. Remember when my dog passed a couple of months ago? Well, we’ve been worried that Bear, the remaining dog, would be lonely without his wife, so we got him a child bride.

Lacy

Her name is Lacy, she’s five months old, and she likes me best. I found out later that’s partly because Joe the dog lover hung back for a couple of days to make sure she bonded with me over him, because Bear and Isabelle were his babies even before he met me. So his birthday is today, and for it he got me a puppy.

So, right now there is more learning about dog training going on then writing, but it was nice to re-post this. I have dreams that someday, someone will ask just the right question about this story.

Happy Father’s Day, Joe

I can’t be there to give you a gift or a back-rub today, so I wrote you some crime genre flash fiction. We love you and miss you. See you soon.

Carnival Prize

Oh, that’s an heirloom from my husband’s side of the family. Oh, no no no, that doesn’t belong to a girl, no that’s nothing worth stealing. Are you thinking he bought stolen goods? No, that’s from a trip to his mother, she’s in a nursing home and he went to visit her last weekend. He hadn’t seen her for a while, so they had a long chat and at the end of it, she gave him this. It was her sister’s, she passed last year, bless her heart.

Oh, no, he doesn’t go out to visit her regularly. Actually, he hasn’t seen her since he was a teenager, to tell you the truth. He got mad about something that he won’t talk about, but I know he thinks she raised him wrong, but I know how important it is for your mental health to bring those things to a conclusion and he’s been so stressed I told him maybe a reunion with his mother would be just the thing he needed. And he didn’t want to listen at first, but he thought about it and agreed so he spent last weekend away and visited her.

Anyway, it isn’t very valuable so if you’re hunting stolen goods, I don’t think you have to worry about this one. It’s from a carnival his mother and her sister went to, they won a knickknack in a ring toss.

It’s an heirloom, but only because it was passed along in a will. Nothing valuable. I asked and that’s what Mark said it wasn’t that it was old, it’s sentimental from a trip they took together to Tampa, nothing worth stealing.

No, I’ve never heard of her. Is she a resident at the nursing home? Dead woman, no we don’t know any dead women, young or otherwise. What, no it doesn’t belong to some girl. I just told you.

He’s not sleeping around on me, if that’s what you think. He didn’t take some girl to the carnival. He never smells funny or makes odd phone calls. He hasn’t been distant, or clingy, or guilty, I’d know, there are signs for that.

Look, even if there was an affair, so she what? She calls the cops to retrieve this five-dollar piece of junk? Why would she do that, why wouldn’t she just call me?

What? Oh yes, you said she’d passed. Well anyway this isn’t hers and we don’t know any dead women, so thank you for your time and I need to get back to my chores now, there’s only so much time in the day.

No, I told you. My husband doesn’t know any dead women. I’d know, he would have told me. Obviously, he would have mentioned if a friend of his died.

And see there, that proves it wasn’t an affair, he would have wanted to go to a funeral. He would have kept an affair secret, he would have lied about their relationship, but he’s a kind man, he would have gone. He would have said she was a client from work or something. Well, see there you go. If you don’t even think he knew her then why are you bothering me?

Okay, so a girl was seen holding a toy like this one and walking with a man who looks like my husband, but having an average appearance isn’t a crime, she’s seen holding this toy and walking with a man she just met that night, and she ends up dead. That’s a shame. That’s a very sad story but this thing is a cheap carnival prize from the boardwalk, why would you think it’s the same one? That’s ridiculous.

No, he wasn’t seen at a carnival last weekend, it was a man who looked like him. I told you, he went to visit his grandmother. Why would you need to search the house? What other girl? What toy rabbit? The one I got for Valentine’s Day?