Flash Fiction, Story #2

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As per my previous post, I recently entered a Flash Fiction contest. This is the story I wrote for the second heat of the contest. I’m out of the running now, but to my surprise, this story got more points than the first one did. This surprised me because I thought it was awful. I can’t even make myself reread it. 🙂  This contest required writing a 1,000 word story with assigned elements and submitting it in 48 hours.

My second assignment: In no more than 1,000 words, write a story in the “Fairy Tale” genre that is set on a construction site and includes a clam shell at some point. You have 48 hours – GO!

The Tree Teller

Three motherless girls, born to an ogre, struggle to escape his cruel grip on their lives.

Once upon a modern day, deep in the middle of a forest, lived a less than likable ogre of a man. Ogre did not have any sons. Instead, as he would tell anyone who listened, he had three worthless, motherless daughters.

Many years before, the ogre-to-be married a beautiful woman. She loved and was devoted to the then handsome man. The woman was undaunted by the fact that he lived in an RV and led a nomadic life managing the construction of remote transmission lines.

After the birth of their first daughter, the couple’s relationship changed. Ogre had been openly disappointed that his wife had not borne a son. Although Bella was lovely as a summer sunrise, he could see his daughter as nothing but a dimwitted waif. Ogre began to occasionally beat his wife in frustration.

During his wife’s second pregnancy, Ogre was optimistic. However, another girl was born and she was ugly. Although Elena was inexplicably intelligent, her father viewed her as an eyesore. Ogre’s aggression towards his wife escalated. The beatings were increasingly savage and came with regularity.

Ogre hardly acknowledged his wife’s third pregnancy. Ogre needed a son to inherit the business and he would kill his wife if she had another girl.

A third daughter was born. Bertha was healthy and sturdy. The woman knew she had to leave before she was murdered in her sleep. Unable to provide for them, she was heartbroken at having to leave her girls behind. She slipped her wedding band off, poked it into the seam of her infant’s ragdoll, and disappeared into the night.

Ogre was astounded to learn his wife had abandoned them. He kept the girls though, to keep his RV straight and make his meals. Threats and fear held them captive. As they grew, each girl was assigned a task within the family’s construction business.

Beautiful but dimwitted, Bella earned her keep by traveling to distant towns and attracting strong, young men to work for Ogre. Elena, dowdy yet brilliant, was the company’s accountant. Unusually strong, Bertha was the Ogre’s mule. She spent her days on the construction site digging post-holes for fencing.

One morning as she returned from town, Bella noticed an unmarked path leading off the road. Curious, she followed it and found a clearing filled with wildflowers. In the center sat a tree trunk as large as a silo. At the base of the oversized stump was a bright red door and a sign that read: Tree Teller.

Bella tucked a copper colored lock of hair behind her ear and knocked. A willowy woman answered and invited her in. The girl explained she was traveling by, saw the stump, and wondered what a Tree Teller was. The woman explained that she was a reader of palms, a teller of truths. A Teller who lived in a tree. The girl asked the Teller to read her palms.

The woman explained she would read for a piece of gold. Having no gold, the girl thanked her went on her way. Bella recounted her adventure to her sisters. At the mention of the fee of gold, Bertha reached into her cleavage and extracted a gold ring hanging from a ribbon she’d tied around her neck.

“Where did you get that?” her sisters cried. Bertha pointed at the battered, old ragdoll her mother had left her. She’d found the ring inside years ago. Knowing it belonged to their mother, she wore it close to her heart. The next day, the sisters snuck away to see the Tree Teller. The woman welcomed them in and read their palms.

To beautiful Bella she said, “Do not believe everything the ogres of this world say. You are lovely and kind. You have the ingenuity to put your good looks to work. Do not believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Make it so.”

To the intelligent Elena she said, “You are a remarkably smart girl, but you lack common sense. You will hold yourself back from future success if you let yourself be physically ridiculed. Acknowledge and embrace your brains and beauty. Take pride in your poise and appearance. Do not let the ogres tell you otherwise. Make it so.”

To able-bodied Bertha she said, “You are hardworking. Do not take orders from ogres. You are capable and clever. You were born a protector. You have the strength and cunning to rid the world of ogres. Make it so.”

As the girls thanked the Tree Teller, Bertha reached into her blouse with a tentative hand. She pulled out the gold ring and offered it to the woman in payment. Tears swelled in the Tree Teller’s pale blue eyes. The girls saw not only the Tree Teller’s tears, but her recognition. Bertha was the first to regain her emotional equilibrium because the Tree Teller grabbed her broad shoulders in a vice-like grip. Icey eyes now ablaze, the Tree Teller implored Bertha, “Make. It. So.”

When they returned, Ogre was furious at the sisters’ unexcused absence from their construction site and demanded to know where they’d been. Ogre called Bella stupid and backhanded her when she lied. Ogre called Elena an ugly liar as his fist connected with her cheekbone. He didn’t bother asking Bertha because he knew she wouldn’t answer. He took a swing at her, but Bertha caught his wrist in her hand. She deftly bent it backwards and dropped him to the ground. Ogre cried out in pain and astonishment.

“You will never hurt any of us ever again,” Bertha hissed. Her well-directed kick audibly cracked his ribs. Bertha was quick to grab a nearby post-hole digger. She straddled Ogre and held the tool high above her head. With precision and control, she plunged the clamshell deep into Ogre’s chest and extracted his callous heart. Bertha made it so.

The sisters, now free of Ogre and reunited with their mother, sold the construction business. They relocated to a fabulous city and lived happily ever after.

Flash Fiction

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I recently entered a Flash Fiction contest and Katie asked to read my submission, so here it is my friend. It’s goofy, no doubt. This was my first attempt at Flash Fiction – bear with me. This contest requires writing a 1,000 word story with assigned elements and submitting it in 48 hours.

(P.S. – The contest is still happening. I miraculously received points on my first entry, but have no unrealistic expectations of making it much further. And that’s ok. I was elated to have received any points at all on my first attempt.)

My assignment: In no more than 1,000 words, write a story in the “Crime Caper” genre that is set in a bicycle shop and includes a glass eye at some point. You have 48 hours – GO!

Quick Change

     Tally estimated the alarms had been blaring for three minutes. She held her backpack up to another display case and swept the items off the shelf into her bag.

     “We’ve gotta finish this up and get out now,” she yelled at Joe.

     “I know, I know.” His backpack was bulging. “That’s enough. I’m sure it’s even more than McNally hoped for. Let’s go.”

     The couple slipped out the backdoor and into the alley. Their heavy packs bucked and bounced against their backs as they sprinted down the block.

     Out of breath, Tally burst through the backdoor of Benjamin’s Bargain Bikes and into the cluttered workshop. Joe was right behind her, urging her forward and out of his way.

     “We’ve got maybe ten minutes until the cops start scouring the area. We need to change as fast as we can and get the hell out of here,” he said. A glance back down the alleyway confirmed they hadn’t been followed, so he bolted the door. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”

     “It’s going to be fine. Trust me,” she said. “Benjamin, we’re here,” Tally hollered toward the show room as she shrugged off the small but heavy backpack.

     “You don’t have to yell,” Ben shouted back. “Everything you asked for is in the supply closet, Tally.”

     Dodging dismantled bike frames, Tally hurried to the closet. Joe wasn’t ready for it when she tossed a set cycling clothes at him. The garments hit him the chest and landed in a heap on the greasy floor. He grimaced.

      “I’m going to get dressed in here,” she said and shut herself inside.

      “Why? I see you naked every day.”

      “Well, Benjamin doesn’t,” she said.

      Joe took off his clothes and stashed them in a barrel of used gear lubricant. He grabbed the bike shorts off the floor and looked at them, unamused. “This is not going to happen. My ass is not going to fit in these shorts, Tally. We don’t have time for games! Shit.”

     “Make it work,” Tally said. “We need to look like recreational bicyclists. It’s the fastest way to get across town and make the delivery to McNally.”

     After wrangling herself into the cycling attire, Tally emerged from the closet in a neon-yellow outfit that clung tight in all the right places. Joe however, was going to split a seam if he took too deep a breath. Both of their shirts sported Benjamin’s triple-B logo in the largest possible font.

     “How do I look?” Tally waggled her hips at Joe and twirled.

     “Could you be any more conspicuous?” Joe blurted. “Neon is going to draw everyone’s attention and once they see you in that getup they won’t be able to take their eyes off you.” Joe turned toward the sales floor, “Benjamin, are kidding me?! These shirts have your logo on them, are you trying to implicate yourself? Shit.”

     “No, man. It’s advertisin’,” Benjamin said. “Yowza Miss Tally, you’re lookin’ fine.” His toothy grin was overshadowed by the hollowed out socket of his right eye.

     “Thanks Benny Boy,” Tally said in a falsetto, punctuated with a seductive wink.

     An involuntary shiver shot up Joe’s spine when he looked at Ben. “Jesus H. Christ,” he muttered. “Benjamin! How many times do I have to tell you that I cannot look at you when you look like that? Where the hell is your eye? Put it back in for Christ’s sake. And what’s with Tally’s clothes? She’s going to stand out like a bikini model on a giraffe hunt.”

     “That’s the idea,” Ben said. He fished a glass eye out of his jeans pocket and popped it into his mouth as if it were an oversized gumball. After sufficiently lubing it, he slipped it into his face. Tally laughed when Joe cringed. Ben massaged his eye with the heel of his hand, “Cops won’t be lookin’ for people ridin’ bikes down the street, ‘specially a sexy one that’s attractin’ attention. They’ll be lookin’ for shady hoodlums lurkin’ in the alleyways. Why’d anyone want to hunt giraffe?”

     “Because they’re idiots,” Tally said strapping on a shoe. “You do look good in those shorts, Hot Stuff. That crotch padding is really flattering on you.” She gave Joe an affectionate pat on the butt as she went to grab their packs. She slipped them into larger bags embellished with the BBB logo.

     “Yeah. Right,” said Joe. He snatched a bag from Tally and slung it over his shoulders. “Let’s get a move on.”

     The two bikes Benjamin had prepped for them were parked on the sales floor. As they fastened helmets and adjusted seat heights, the bell attached to the front door jangled. They turned their heads in unison, but did not react in the slightest as two police officers made their way toward the sales counter.

     “There’s been a robbery a few shops up. Who’s the owner of this store? We have some questions,” one of the policemen said.

     “I am sir. I’ll be right with you.” Benjamin made a production of thanking Joe and Tally for their dedicated patronage and held the front door open so they could wheel their bikes out. Tally thanked him for his stellar customer service. One of the cops whistled his approval of Tally’s outfit as the couple exited the store. Tally smirked at Joe.

     Outside, she pouted in her falsetto, “You may owe our Benny an apology.” Mischief shined in her eyes as she mounted her bike, “Our silly disguises seem to have worked after all.”    

     “You may be right,” said Joe, relieved to be out of the shop. “By the way, that cop might have been whistling at me, you know.” Joe pushed away from the curb.

     She admired his butt as he pedaled off. His shirt was riding up and his ass crack was visible just above the waistline of his bike shorts. She couldn’t help but smile. Maybe he was, Hot Stuff. Maybe he was.

Lucky Friday the 13th

Happy Lucky Friday the 13th

My close friend considers Friday the 13th her lucky day because it was the day she was adopted. Today it is my lucky day too. After a week of waiting, and five excruciating minutes on hold this morning with the Derm’s office (long enough for my brain to conjure up all sorts of horrible scenarios), I got confirmation that the mole biopsy “was normal and no further treatment is necessary.” Could they not have called me sooner? I’m not a fan of the “no news is good news” philosophy. I need confirmation. I need a live person to tell me all is well. And it would be nice if they could tell me sooner than later. It would be nice if THEY would call ME. All that of wait and worry for nothing, but I AM grateful. And lucky. OK, I rambled a lot yesterday, so I’ll keep this post short.

Have a lucky Friday the 13th and always wear your sunscreen. 🙂

skin cancer awareness month  skin-infographic

 

Biopsy Bingo

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My PSA for the month: Wear your sunscreen!

To date, I have only ever had basal cell carcinoma (BCC) skin cancers. As skin cancer goes, this is the best kind. It isn’t deadly, but does have the potential to be disfiguring if left untreated. So far I’ve been lucky, the worst of my disfigurement is a 4-inch scar on my back. A battle scar. A conversation starter (Wear your sunscreen!). It could have been worse – I’ve had two removed from my lower eyelid, but luckily I found them early and had a great Mohs surgeon. No visible scars under my eye – whew.

This started in my early 30s. I’m now in my 40s and it has become somewhat of a normality. I see my dermatologist at least twice a year and he regularly freezes off offending spots. Now and then there is a biopsy for something suspicious. In total, I’ve had six BCCs and several atypical moles. So far, so good. You’d think I’d be completely blasé about it by now, and I usually am when it comes to biopsies for BCC. But when the Derm does a biopsy on a mole, I live for a week or so with that nagging feeling of impending melanoma doom. Biopsy Bingo – do I have the winning number this time? Or should I call it the losing number?

I had a checkup last week. He froze a spot on my ear, as I expected he would. What I did not expect was for him to decide to biopsy a mole on my calf. A mole we’d talked about before. One that he previously didn’t see a problem with, but now decided he didn’t like. Humph. That was a week ago this morning. I am guessing that it’s fine, because if it were bad they would’ve called me right away. Right?

I hate weeks like this. I tend to brood and go a little crazy. Waiting for a BCC result doesn’t bother me anymore. Getting an early detection, positive BCC biopsy result is like finding out you need a root canal. It will be a short term hassle and a tad painful, but not a huge deal. In fact, I would argue that a root canal is worse than Mohs for an early detected (smallish) BCC. That has been my experience anyway. However, waiting for the result of an abnormal mole biopsy is another thing. An abnormal mole could be melanoma (Bingo!). It’s like holding a lit match that you cannot drop and waiting with trepidation to see if the flame goes out before it gets to your fingers. If you’re lucky, it will. So far my matches have burned themselves out. But deep down I know that one of these days I’ll get burned. And so I sit here waiting to see if I this is the week I will feel a singe.

Coincidentally, May is Melanoma Awareness Month. There are plenty of articles online waiting to scare the shit out of me. Plenty of skin cancer blogs for me to ponder over when I’m bored and waiting for the call. Melanoma Girl, a blogger I have followed for several years now, passed away a few weeks ago. Although she ultimately succumbed to ovarian cancer, she had melanoma first and ran an amazing awareness campaign. SPF = Sexy Pale Female. It was brilliant. She was only 45.

For my own sanity, I won’t wait much longer. If I don’t hear from the Derm today, I’ll call first thing tomorrow. Even though I KNOW they would have already called if it were bad news, I can’t spend another weekend with that little nagging worry. I mean, it’s supposed to be 104˚ here in Phoenix! Perfect for lying out by the pool and getting a little sun…from under my umbrella. 🙂

Don’t forget…wear your sunscreen! Be proud of your SPF!