18 February 2009

February 2009 FFC: BLUES

Here's the drill - Click on the links, read the flashes inspired by the theme: Blues, leave constructive comments (and yes, it's okay to criticize as long as you are not attacking), and have it done before the 25th. The March FFC main theme will be posted during the first week of that month.

Thanks for playing!


B. Anonymous

Terry Atkison

PJ Carroll

Kathleen Frassrand

Cara-Mae Hackett

Ben Solah

Blues by Anonymous

I thought I'd be over it by now.

It's been a month, almost five weeks, and it wasn't like you were with us for long enough to really make a difference.

But you did.

Our lives changed when we saw those two pink lines. Six months of hoping, trying, crying, praying, culminated in a slender plastic dipstick, gripped tightly in my trembling hand.

"Honey, you did it!" I called from the bathroom. I carried the test into the living room, my smile so big I thought it'd crack my face.

His face reflected my joy and he held his arms wide, waiting for me to leap into them.

At that moment, everything changed. All the despair, the worry, the frustration that I'd felt for over a year slipped away, replaced by a bubbling euphoria that I thought I might never experience. We debated trying since our future was so uncertain, but I stubbornly insisted that we couldn't put our lives on hold. Now I finally had something to hope for, something concrete that wasn't affected by the outside world. My normal worries suddenly didn't seem very important; they were no longer the hinge in my daily existence.

Something more profound had filled my heart.

We were cautious at first. You're not supposed to tell anyone in the first couple months, but I couldn't contain my excitement. I called my mom while my grandmother was visiting, and through the magic of the internet and webcams, I watched my happiness spread to their faces.

One month turned into two, and my clothes were getting tight. It still felt surreal. Part of me didn't believe it had actually happened but I couldn't deny my growing belly. My hip-huggers found a new home in the back of the closet and I took up stock in long shirts and leggings.

The holidays passed and we started counting down the weeks – only two left! – until we could tell the world. After so many months of sadness, I was getting used to this constant state of elation. I spent hours online learning about everything I'd need to know, preparing myself mentally and physically for your arrival, which seemed so far away. My doubts and insecurities didn't seem as important as it had before you existed. The only thing that mattered was that you were here, you were real, and you were ours.

Then the blood came.

It wasn't much, but my heart plummeted to the floor. I knew it could happen, the odds weren't on my side, but that logic didn't stop the tears that streamed down my face and dripped onto my bare legs as I sat in the bathroom.

"Honey," I called from the bathroom. My voice was shaky this time. His shocked face mirrored mine and the frantic phone calls began. The doctor was on vacation, nowhere to be found. We ended up at a clinic where I had to wait hours before anyone could see me.

While you slipped away.

Finally, someone brought me into a room and confirmed what we already knew. You were gone. You were too small. There was nothing they could do.

More waiting. Something about me not being able to eat for six hours before they took you away from me. Then an IV, more blood.

A scary room with three men who didn't speak English, their masks concealing their faces. I'll never forget their eyes as I drifted into unconsciousness.

Waking up with my husband at my side, I knew the sadness in his eyes matched mine, and the ache in my heart was as heavy as his.

He helped me to the car and the awful day continued as we undid our good news.

I slept.

I didn't want to eat. What was the point?

Two days into the year that was supposed to be the most important of my life, we lost you. While everyone around me was excited for a new beginning, I wanted nothing more than to turn back the clock, or rip away the calendar pages to this time next year.

The days crept by, turned into weeks, and now it's been over a month. It feels final now.

Not better, just final.

The Pencil by B. Anonymous

The pencil in Paula’s hand twisted and spun around her fingers like the lead twirler’s fire baton in the annual Strawberry Festival parade. The redhead’s nervousness showed only in that pencil’s activity. She hated hospitals and having to wait in her great aunt’s room while the lady was undergoing some test or other was almost unbearable. The pencil danced among her fingers, then suddenly jumped and flew across the room, clattered against turquoise-flecked linoleum and skidded under the bedside table on the other side of where the hospital bed would be when her great aunt returned.

“Damn!” Paula looked toward the open door after her expletive as though she expected a nurse to waggle a finger at her. Relieved when no one appeared, she crossed the room and knelt down to get the pencil she’d inadvertently tossed. She blew a dust bunny off the end and polished it with her shirttail before standing. Seated again, she examined the writing implement for dings and scratches. Paula still couldn’t believe that after all these years Great Aunt Leone had given her the one thing she’d coveted most since her childhood.

Paula was seven the first time she saw Auntie Leone use the fancy jeweled pencil to dial a telephone. Leone removed the metal cap from the eraser end and used that end to dial an old-fashioned rotary telephone that had a handset that Paula thought must have weighed twenty pounds when she had to talk to her mama on it. Auntie wanted the little girl to stay the night so she and her great niece could have a proper tea party and then, after cleaning up, go to an early movie and then to the ice cream parlor for club sandwiches and sundaes.

Aunt Leone held the tiny pencil encrusted with shiny blue and red stones just as if she were about to start writing except for the pencil being upside down. She spun the dial, one number at a time, the light from the desk lamp glinting on her aquamarine nail polish (the first Paula had ever seen outside of magazines) that perfectly matched the crystals on the pencil.

“Miss? Your aunt should be back in a few minutes. I’ll get her lunch tray ready. Will you be feeding her today?” One of the floor nurses looked in through the open door.

“What? Oh. Yes. If she wants me to, that is. With Auntie Leone one can never be sure.”

“Yes ma’am. She’s, as my grandpa used to say, a pistol!”

“That she is. And thanks, by the way.”

“Sure. I don’t know why they have to take people for tests just when lunch is about to be served.”

The nurse turned and left and soon Paula heard her Aunt Leone chastising the young man who was bringing her back to the room.

“Are you sure we’re on the right floor, Berto? I don’t recognize those flowers there.”

“It’s ROberto, Miss Leone, and yes, it’s the right floor. Those flowers must have been delivered after I took you downstairs.”

“Well, who are they for? Are they for me?”

“I’ll see if they’re for you after we get you settled, miss. Hang on, here’s that big turn.”

The nurse’s aide guided Leone’s hospital bed carefully through the door and slid it perfectly into place. After locking the wheels and checking to see that his patient was comfortable, he smiled at Paula.

“Your aunt was a very good girl for the x-ray techs today. She only slapped one hand while she was down there.”

“Now don’t be telling tales on me, young man!” Aunt Leone’s cheeks showed pink at the man’s teasing. “That girl’s hands were freezing and so was that table! Now go see if those flowers are for me or not.” Then Aunt Leone clicked her tongue which was something she did when impatient or embarrassed or a little of both.

“Are you hungry Aunt Leone? Your lunch will be here in a little while.”

“No point to eating it, Popeye.”

“You haven’t called me that since I was around thirteen and you said I reminded you of Olive Oyl because of my skinny arms and neck, Auntie. Why now? And don’t think you’re going to distract me from getting you to eat lunch.”

“There’s no point in eating if I’m just going to be dead in a week anyhow.”

“Who told you that? I don’t believe it. You’re in here for routine tests. If anything bad was wrong with you, Dr. Scott would be in here with a team of specialists. You know that’s true.”

“Nope. No point. I overheard them talking down in x-ray. There’s a shadow covering my lungs and heart.”

“A shadow? What does that mean? Let me call a nurse.”

“You called? I have your lunch, Miss Leone. I bet you’re hungry.”

“Not eating lunch. No point.”

Setting up the lunch tray, the nurse asked, “Now what has you all riled up, Miss Leone? You’re one of our best eaters.”

“She thinks she’s dying because she overheard something about a shadow on her x-ray covering her lungs and heart. She’s sure it means she’s about to keel over.”

“What? From a shadow? I don’t think so. Just a minute. Let me call down to x-ray. They couldn’t have gotten your films developed that quickly. I’ll be right back. Meanwhile, you start eating your lunch. It’s macaroni today and little cherry tomatoes and green beans on the side like you asked.”

Aunt Leone moved food around her plate and took a long drink of her iced tea, but she didn’t really eat much. After a few minutes she gave up, pushed the tray table away from the bed, and sighed.

“If everything were okay, she’d be back by now,” the old lady barely whispered.

“Everything’s fine, Miss Leone.” The nurse was back. “According to the x-ray tech, they had a bit of an accident with your unexposed film. One of the girls was showing another some new make-up and spilled eye shadow all over everywhere. They were talking about eye shadow on your film, not a shadow on your lungs or heart.”

“Oh. Okay then. Now go warm this up for me, please ma’am. Nothing’s worse than cold mac and cheese.”

After mouthing, “Thank you,” to the nurse, Paula said, “I’ll do it Auntie. They let me into the floor kitchen now so I can take care of it for you.”

“That’ll do. Now then, Popeye! Where’s that pencil? I want to do a puzzle while I wait.”

09 February 2009

Welcome Flash Writers & Readers!

This blog is the home away from home for members of the Flash Fiction Carnival: Facebook Edition.

To be a member you must belong to Facebook and either be invited by an admin or recommended by someone who is already a member, preferably two or three. You do not have to be a published or professional writer or have a college degree. You do have to have more than a passing interest in writing creatively and a desire to flex those creative muscles by writing at least one themed flash fiction piece of @ 1000 words every month. You do not have to have a blog to be a member, but most do. If you don't have a blog you can post in this space per the instructions given via Facebook in group messages.

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The first 5-Day Theme for February 2009 is BLUES. Links and/or flashes will go up @ Valentine's Day.

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