Category Archives: Five Sentence Fiction

By storm

Twelve years ago today she had sat, half on, half off the settee while he spoke to her of love, heartache, and one great loss that had hidden details; nuances he had felt compelled to share with her.

Relishing his voice while simultaneously contemplating the sheer improbability that this handsome, forthright man was opening up to her for any reason other than the fact that he was lonely and perhaps starving for a conversation that did not involve condolences and pity, she had found herself faced with a dilemma: whether to answer his question with a trite and complacent “I’m fine, busy, but fine,” or to reward his openness with her own.

She had chosen the latter, immediately releasing a torrent of pent up emotions and angst over her mother, whose worsening dementia, sudden weight loss and growing despair had kept her teetering precariously on the edge just shy of insanity.

Instead of recoiling at her insensitive sharing; after all, his far more pressing needs should have kept her silent, he had listened intently, his eyes penetrating her soul, so that speaking anything other than truth had become impossible, and it was only then, when she had exhausted her thoughts, that he had offered her his unfettered, unfiltered opinion.

This, she realized while packing for their annual unofficial-anniversary sojourn, is when they had begun making memories together; their souls becoming inseparable after one conversation, after which nothing else had existed but the amazing love that would take them, unexpectedly, beautifully, by storm into the wildest and best ride of their lives.

Lillie McFerrin

This week’s word: memories

Arriving

Wake up, greet the day with wonder, smile, and breathe deeply, effectively locking away the fear, uncertainty, and doubt; useless worries once you learn to feel grateful for every moment. That’s what they told her would make all the difference, would set her path straight and true from here on out.

Over the years she had fallen headlong into these beliefs, sharing them with anyone and everyone she encountered, for she never simply met people, she embraced them; took them into her spirit, even if only for a moment, to connect in a way that said “I see a bit of you and you matter,” so that regardless of any hardship they might be enduring, she had made an honest attempt to privately honor and acknowledge their unique and important journey–thereby enriching her own.

Her incredible strength, the fears she had overcome by sheer force of will, the hard-won self esteem that had included long hours staring at Playboy images just so she could feel herself crumble in sick comparison, only then being able, years later, to take each shattered piece of herself and finally embrace the amazing beauty of women, with their intoxicating curves and complex, swirling emotions–acceptance that had included her own imperfections, and yes, her own beauty.

She had reflected on all of this in the seven minutes between Honey’s (not her real name) act and her own, even repeating the mantra that had rebuilt her: I love my strong, healthy, beautiful body, as she stripped down to her G-string and tassels, imagining the smiling faces of the men she would entertain, and the fun she would have doing it.

Today’s post is part of Lillie McFerrin’s weekly “Five Sentence Fiction” challenge–this week’s word: faces

Lillie McFerrin

If I told you

You will blush if I tell you what he did to me.

If I told you about the way he kissed me, his passion devouring my lips like fine chocolate, you would be okay, your face impassive, colorless.

Even if I told you about us falling into bed, hungry as wild animals deprived too long from succulent, wild kill, you would merely smile at the imagery.

But if I told you about the way he looked at me, with his eyes wide open and tender, with his heart fully on his sleeve, talking to me, loving me completely, you would blush because what came next obliterated everything rational.

It’s hard for me to tell you what he said, to actually say it without blushing myself, but you must know, I have to share this: “You feel like breathing,” he said.

This week’s word: blush

Lillie McFerrin

Assassin

Simple, shy, and unassuming, she was always shocked to read accounts of her escapades that described her as a “cold, calculated killer.” Though admittedly her world was a dark existence, devoid of deep, meaningful relationships, it was anything but dreary. The fact that plying her trade meant keeping out of sight during the day felt as natural to her as the habitual preparation required for every kill: better put, she loved her job.

Who could have guessed that the world could produce such a quiet, stunning creature so physically beautiful that her unwitting victims practically begged her to kill them? She had no shortage of suitors, it’s just that she couldn’t help devouring them at night.

Join the fun that Lillie McFerrin inspires with her “Five Sentence Fiction” prompts. This week’s word is “Night.” Hurry…you have through Wednesday to link up.

Lillie McFerrin

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How dare she!

My readers have been clamoring for a new post (ok, it was only one reader, and he wasn’t actually “clamoring”). Nevertheless, it got me writing…

Without sleep, or morning quiet time, or exercise, or healthy food, or adequate hugs, or a challenge, I look like this darling kitty. I may be exaggerating, but if so, not by much. Do not mistake me for high maintenance. I repeat, with emphasis: I AM NOT HIGH MAINTENANCE.

High maintenance costs big bucks, right? It’s designer clothes, Manolo Blahnik (I had to look up the spelling) shoes, diamonds in various karats, and a host of impressive friends only one level separated from Kevin Bacon. After all, I scream when I have to go shopping, and even louder when I have to take time to try anything on, get a haircut, paint my nails, or have my eyebrows threaded. I would rather, honestly, be doing just about anything else, even cleaning up the scary pile of dishes in the kitchen.

To clarify, high maintenance is falling apart if hubby doesn’t notice the designer clothes, Manolo Blahniks, diamonds, new hair cut, pretty nails, or freshly arched eyebrows– without inquiring about the costs. Complete, unquestioned adoration is required, plus deep pockets, and an even deeper understanding of the important syndromes: the “honey I have a headache” syndrome, the “I’m too tired from shopping and drinking champagne to fix dinner” syndrome, and the “Are you really going to wear that?” syndrome.

I, on the other hand (she says grandly), am quite happy in sweats, jammies, t-shirts with tiny holes, jeans, flip-flops, and various other mantles of schlumpiness. I don’t even care if hubby does not notice how pretty I look in them, and I don’t get headaches (low testosterone works wonders), nor come home too drunk to fix dinner (I have other excuses): decidedly low maintenance, albeit often a bit low on the low-maintenance side, like having blood pressure so low that I can’t donate blood. Perhaps I could go shopping and then give blood.

Ah, but I banter back and forth with myself, and with you, dear readers, while avoiding the honest-to-goodness reasons I DO qualify as high maintenance, the reasons ALL OF US do too.

Life is fan-flinging-tastically measured, and not necessarily to our individual tastes. That dream we had yesterday and tuck away for tomorrow may never happen if we don’t amp up the expectations (of ourselves, of others), and make it happen, or at least delve in far enough to realize, upon careful examination (or trial and error), that it is a different dream we want after all. By not exploring our yearnings, by not heeding our most poignant needs, by not being honest, we are short-changing ourselves, and a host of other people who look to us for inspiration (or for excuses). We must not stand idly by…or life will, in its inimitable and accidentally pernicious way, pass us by.

I have been watching my mother, now 84 and struggling with some dementia, my whole life. If there is such thing as a bone that is lazy, she does not possess it. She worked hard every single day I knew her. I’m certain that even when she was on vacation, she worked hard to keep everything clean and organized, to keep herself perfectly dressed and coiffed. But what I do not know about her, sadly, is what her dreams were. Perhaps they became dreams for others, the inescapable wishes every parent has for their children: that they will be safe, happy, and decent members of society (and that they will come visit every now and again). Did she have dreams when she was a child? Surely she did, but I am quite certain that once she began having children, she relegated them to the past, chalked them up to whimsy, or figured that someday she might get back to them.

Why is this relevant now? Because she is unhappy. Her life is nearing its end, and I’m sure she is thinking, “Was that it?” I am seeing the bitterness that she has always carried yet masked in her busyness, in her caring for others. I believe she never gave herself permission to explore her desires, though she always encouraged me to explore my own.

Furthermore, I believe she didn’t know how. Life threw her many crooked wrenches, and each time it did, she used them to re-build her life as best as she could, but never to her ultimate satisfaction. Her ability to dream; perhaps based on the expectations of her generation, or because she grew up with an alcoholic father, or perhaps even because she never got over my father, was stifled by the story she wrote for herself, the one in which the plot did not include her own satisfaction.

This morning I decided that I am just fine with my high maintenance needs, the ones I listed, and the ones I have kept tucked away behind certain expectations. I may not desire fancy things, but I do crave the kinds of pursuits that speak to me as an individual, not merely as a person playing a role. A mother who takes off for a week to dive into the ocean and take photos? How dare she! A mother who gets take-out because she was so busy writing she lost track of time? How dare she! A mother who goes back to college in the middle of homeschooling her children? How dare she!

Next week I am taking off for the day, to pick up one writer, then another…on a trek to Santa Barbara to have lunch with three other writers, writers I’ve yet to meet face to face. A whimsical, wonderful day for me, despite the responsibilities that cry out for me to stay home and take care of them. How dare she!

Ellie

“Keep going, just like a…” he hollered, and I began to respond, even before he was finished speaking, having heard those words ‘ad nauseum’ my entire life, and as such, bellowed back on top of his words, “I can’t, it’s not working, I’m not a butterfly, and I told you already, I’m not good at this.”

“Doesn’t matter, just keep going, keep flapping your wings!” he said silently, though I heard him loud and clear, out of long habit.

I found this kind of encouragement from my father so frustrating when he was alive, believing him to be an optimistic fool, the kind of man who wouldn’t know a brick wall if he ran smack into it, someone who actually believed in impossible dreams, achieved them, against all odds, then transferred such dumb luck into an unrealistic faith in me, his only daughter–a girl so ordinary that even bees didn’t land on me, even if I wore bright yellow.

It was thirty years later, at the summit, as I took in the surreal view of pastel clouds and razor-sharp mountains, drinking in the thin, pure life-giving air, when I knew that he had been right all along, and that whether or not I beat the cancer viciously fighting against me, I would be victorious if I would only “keep going.”

A sudden flash then, an epiphany even, as the saying on his office door, the one everyone read as they came inside to seek his advice in near droves–everyone except me, that is, for I had ignored it and his advice completely until now–pierced my vision, as if it were written across the surreal scene before me: Success is perseverance in disguise.

Lillie McFerrin

This Five Sentence Fiction post is a response to Lillie McFerrin’s weekly one-word writing challenge. This week’s word: perseverance. Click on the badge above to visit her site, access the link to other entries, and even add your own creativity to the mix.

It is my great honor to dedicate this post to my sister, Ellie, who fought valiantly against cancer for 16 years, and who never stopped trying to encourage me daily to seek my wildest dreams and embrace my writing passion fully. I love you sis.

photo copyright Britton Minor and The Jaded Lens Photography. All rights reserved.

Vanessa

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By the time she noticed him staring at her, she had already done three stupid things, and was about to do a fourth.

1. She had picked her itchy left nostril.
2. She had vigorously scratched an unmentionable spot.
3. She had shifted her too-tight g-string panties back into place.

Just prior to adjusting her ample bosom, its creamy skin puffed up and over the top of her scoop-neck ‘T’ just like baked, over-filled muffins, she caught his eye, her mind suddenly pondering how on earth she was going to explain to the incredible and sexy Professor Kent what a nice, educated girl like herself was doing working at a place like Hooters, her face warming, then burning, into what she could only imagine was a violent shade of scarlet.

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    This “Five Sentence Fiction” piece was based on Lillie McFerrin’s prompt: scarlet

Ben

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It was 1788, and Ben had just realized how long it had been since he had fully relaxed; breathed deeply and just blended in for a change. Ever the popular, intelligent, erudite inventor, statesman, (ladies man) and much more, he had grown weary of seeming like someone he was not; the public persona, while it had its definite perks, no longer satisfied him.

But it was quite difficult to shed all that had defined him for so long; in fact it seemed impossible. What he longed for was a bit of escapism, and so he decided, right then and there, that he would disappear, become a man of obscurity–a man whose adventures and full abandon would be nobody’s business but his own. Little did he know that reckless abandon was never meant to define him, as he would rest in perpetual infamy, a man of seemingly perfect composure, preserved nicely on the first United States postage stamp, and on nearly (there were botched experiments) every one hundred dollar bill in existence.

This week’s word from Lillie McFerrin’s site is “composure.”

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Booty

It shows the three of them, all lugging massive, still-gurgling, dirty, dead bodies behind them, trudging up the hill; straight up, in fact–a legendary photo that finds many folks shaking their heads in disbelief; shunning the impossible fable.

But history, as well as cold-hard-facts; crime data to be exact, tell us that between July, 3062 and March, 3075, Ruth, Delilah, and Annabelle Sparrow, seemingly innocent and sweet grandmothers, traveled the United States on a crime-binge of unbelievable proportions, ridding town after town of unmentionable tattoo-less men of prominence and greed. No one, neither police, nor widowed wives, not ex-girlfriends or grieving mothers tried to stop them, despite the heinous and open nature of their deeds.

If legend holds true, and I believe that it does, hoards of people in city after city after state after state, cheered them on, cooked them meals, and showered them with jewels for eliminating the riff-raff; the men responsible for perpetuating the lies of freedom that had not only cost everyone their dignity, but had also kept the United States from inclusion in the nearly world-wide peace treaty negotiated between now-powerful nations who had long ago embraced transparent and honest-dealings; foregoing super powers for humanism.

It would be two hundred years before a gigantic time-capsule found at the bottom of Lake Geneva, which used to be filled with luscious green water, would reveal more pictures of three toothy grinning grandma-rebels, plus the incredible booty these unlikely pirates had collected in those few years just prior to the occupation of the former United States.

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Just Weeds

If it hadn’t been for the wide open space; the five-thousand acre oasis requiring a two-hundred-twenty-five mile drive down a long, dusty, rocky, rutted road to get there, and a couple of laid-back neighbors who could not care less what I do with my land, I would have been busted a long time ago. But I have no time to ponder these blessings, this unexpected serendipity that has fertilized my dreams and nearly brought to fruition not only a near-lifetime of labor, but also the answer to the world’s most desperate prayer.

Today I will boast, yes boast, that all of my long-held beliefs have been true; that big-business, money-monging, greedy assholes are responsible for the unthinkable disease that permeates a planet that used to have–yes, I know this will sound unbelievable–green grass, fresh-grown vegetables, fruit trees taller than I, humans who stood over six feet tall, blue skies, a crashing, ebbing, flowing ocean (yes, I know this word is archaic), a cheese-ball moon (humor you can’t possibly understand), and children who could play in areas called “parks,” with structures built, not for work, but for play…pure, unadulterated, non-diseased, unbelievable freeplay.

Laugh if you will, but be among the shocked; those who will bow down, still open-mouthed, and beg for manna that could easily garner me god-like, heady praise, unlimited profit, and unthinkable power (Don’t be disgusted-I want none of it!), all for the simplest of cures; cures that could, if not for the political stand-still of two parties who choose being “right” over “doing” right, forfeiting peace in the process, eradicate cancer and a host of other diseases.

Today, an army of those who have trusted me, worked by my side, cast aside nay-saying family members and feigned death for this project, will march proud and strong; demonstrating and carrying the cure for cancer in their pocket, a cure that was right under our ignorant noses and only needed dirt, uncontaminated water (don’t ask!), sunlight (of which we barely had enough), and time until the perfect harvest.

Lillie McFerrin

This week’s word prompt was Harvest