Flash Frenzy, round 39


I set the arrow in place and pulled it back. Breathing deep, I willed my hands to steady, and sighted in on my target. Lumpy and orange, the pumpkin wasn’t a threat –but there were real threats not that far away. The thump of the arrow told me my aim had been true, and I walked across the field to retrieve my kill.

“Make sure you clean that arrow, Wil,” Robin called, “and then come help me break this down. We’ll have pumpkin stew for dinner.”

I had the job of protecting what was left of our family, but Robin’s job was probably the harder one. Our mother had tried to teach her how to cook and take care of us, but there just wasn’t enough time. And now we three were on our own.

The stew was ready by the time I’d cleaned and sharpened my arrows, and Robin was trying to get Little John to eat some of it. He was just one, and adjusting to food other than goat’s milk, so there was an awful lot of orange goo flying through the air. Robin grimaced. “I’m never going to get this out of my hair, Wil.”

Her eyes were sad, and I knew she was talking about a lot more than the pumpkin. “It won’t be much longer, Robin. We’ll be sleeping in beds and wearing warm clothes before the snow starts to fall.” I gave her what I hoped was a gentle smile. “And you’ll have your hood up tonight, so no one will make fun of your hair.”

We’d timed it right, and Robin and John were in the middle of the road just as the carriage was coming around the bend. If they recognized her, they’d run her over, but that’s what her hood was for. And, if everything worked out, they just needed to stop for a minute.

Up in a tree on the side of the road, I set an arrow in place and sighted in on my target. This one was a threat, but if I didn’t think about it too much, I could pretend his head was just a pumpkin.


MWBB, 2-23


Kelly hadn’t said no. She hadn’t said yes, either. She hadn’t said much of anything, actually, but had merely picked up her fork and resumed eating her Cobb salad. I stirred my bisque, afraid to lift it lest I spill pureed tomato on my only suit. And we both ignored the shiny ring in the center of the table.

We didn’t talk the remainder of the meal, other than muttered pleases and thank yous to the wait staff. The champagne sat unsipped, though there was a part of me which desperately wanted nothing more than to pass out and hope this was some sort of a dream. And then without so much as a throat-clearing or deep sigh, she spoke.

“Five years ago, I would have said yes in a heartbeat. I was younger then, and I still believed in miracles. Five years from now, I might say the same thing. There will come a point when it won’t matter anymore.” She stopped, tightening her lips. “That’s not what I mean. It matters. You matter. I matter. But I don’t know how much I matter to you.”

“A lot. You matter a lot.” I spoke because it was my turn, not because I was expecting my words to change anything. But there was a rhythm to this kind of conversation.

“I know you think I do, or you want me to, but I’m not sure. There’s too much of you locked away in that cabin in your mind for me to really know what I mean. I’ve always hoped you would let me in, but I don’t think that will happen, not now. Do you?”

And now I paused. Too long, and she’d think I was stuck in that cabin. Too little, and she’d think I wasn’t being serious. The thing was, she thought she knew what she was asking. We’d talked about honesty, intimacy, all the things loving couples shared, early in our relationship. And that was when I’d told her about the cabin.

There was too much in the world that shouldn’t be shared. We each had those thoughts – the things that were best left alone inside our heads. The fantasies about coworkers. The nightmares about our deaths. The hate. The loneliness. The lust. The fear. Those weren’t things that good people shared. But too many people let those things out, and that led to misery, and heartbreak. My parents told me that complete honesty was crucial in relationships, but they’d died on opposite coasts, surrounded by no one.

So I’d made this place for me to store my demons, far from the vulnerable bonds between people which, when severed, could never be repaired. I could visit the cabin when I needed, or when the demons needed, to release the dark when the pressure got too much. My parents were interred there. And my first girlfriend. And Marlene, who I’d thought I might marry but who hadn’t been able to keep her darkness to herself. And over the years, I’d perfected it, so that I could love and be loved without the risk of letting things out, and no one had been the wiser.

But once I began to think that Kelly might really be the one – someone who didn’t share her dark places, as I did not, I told her about how I was able to be the man I was. And she tried to steal that from me.

She wanted into the cabin, to walk through the pines and the birch, past the willows, and to feel the heavy oaks surrounding her. She wanted to walk barefoot on the rough-hewn floor, and to smell the decay that never left old-growth forests like this.

It had been a mistake to let her know about the cabin, I knew. And I’d hoped she’d forget about it, or decide that she loved me enough to not know all my secrets. But that wouldn’t happen.

I didn’t really have a choice anymore – I would have to let her in.

It was a shame, I thought as I hefted the shovel into the loamy soil. I did so love her. But at least this way she’d always be with me.


Flash Friday, 2-44, entry 2

Some Children See Him

Tommy had only seen a clown in person once before, at Mitchell’s birthday, but he’d seen a lot on TV. He didn’t think this was a make-you-laugh kind of clown, however, despite the big red grin painted on his face. For one thing, Tommy knew he was still asleep – the doctor had told him that the medicine would keep him that way until the surgery was over. And for another, this clown was glowing.

“Hi Tommy.” His voice was friendly, though his eyes were sad. “Do you know who I am?”

Tommy hadn’t before, but with the asking came the knowledge. He swallowed, at least as much as someone in a waking dream swallows, and nodded. “You’re here to take me with you.”

“I am.”


“The doctor tried her hardest, Tommy, but sometimes that isn’t enough.”

“Will I be able to see daddy again?”

“Someday, Tommy. Someday.” And as Tommy started to glow, there was a faint, extended beep.


Flash Friday, 2-44, entry 1


Mikey knew mommy didn’t want him to know she was crying, so he waited until she’d left before wiping her tears from his cheek. Rachel was too little to be left alone all night, and he was nine, so it’d be alright. It’s not like he was alone – there were nurses and doctors and the little red and white button if he needed anything.

But Mikey didn’t think he’d push it. The operation had gone well – as well as could be hoped, the doctor’d said – and he wasn’t in much pain. Besides, the medication made him sleepy.

But there weren’t nurses and doctors around, not in Derry General, and not so late at night it was really morning. Not enough to notice the figures floating down the hall. And Rachel would’ve slept fine at Missy’s house, so Mikey’s mommy could have stayed with him, after all.

At least that way she’d have heard him scream when the clowns started eating.