19 April, 2021

Personal Politics #AtoZChallenge P


Cordrey walked down Main Street like he owned the town. He didn't. Not really, but the way things worked in this little corner of the world, he might as well have. Borgan Falls was in a remote part of the state. Cordrey had connections with the County Sheriff's office, and that was just as high as control went out here.

If Cordrey was okay with what you wanted to do, it would be okay. He'd see to it that no trouble came your way. The State didn't pay attention. No real trouble happened out here to make their little town cross the governor's radar.

"Oh, Mr. Mathers, do you have a minute?" An attractive brunette was speed walking to catch up to him, her cowboy boots clacking on the pavement. Cordrey turned with a smile. "Always a minute for you, Gina."

She returned the smile with no thought and reached into her back jeans pocket. "Thanks, Mr. Mathers." She had pulled out a folded piece of paper. "For your next campaign." She handed him the folded check. "From my husband and I."

"Why, thank you Gina. And thank Paul for me. Elections always pop up faster than I expect." He chuckled in that phony "someone's watching" way. "I appreciate your support."

"You have the support of everyone at 'Heels Up', too, Mr. Mathers. Don't forget we're having that party this weekend. You and Connie are welcome as always." It was a formality. Cordrey and Connie Mathers would never be seen in Gina's bar on the outskirts of town. But the "party" was after legal opening hours and Cordrey would keep the officials cool about it. 

He didn't know his own son was expected to be there. His son was part of the MDMA supply chain throughout the region. Dad was so busy accepting bribes and greasing palms that he didn't know what happened in his own house. Most others in town knew his wife was taking her own bribes and favors, but she kept that from him. Squirreling it away, Gina thought, but for what no one knew.

Further down the street, a greying woman with ample hips under her peasant skirt popped out from a store front as he passed. "Mr. Mayor, please! Five minutes of your time!" She had harassed him every day this week, and at least once a week for over a month prior. Usually he didn't stop to chat.

Cordrey plastered his most sympathetic look on his face - he thought. "Mrs. Plummer, yes. I have just a moment before I'm due in chambers." He called his office "his chambers" even though he wasn't a judge, not a lawyer, never majored in political science. He was good at the game of Politics though, and therefore had become Mayor Mathers.

His smarmy smile didn't fool her for a minute. "Mr. Mayor, you must do something about the vandalism in this town!" Mrs. Plummer was the proud owner of the only IGA in town. If you needed groceries in quick order, you went to her. For high volume shopping most people drove the 15 miles to the box store in the next town. Everyone utilized the IGA, but her business was one of the holdouts that didn't grease the Mayor's palm, and therefore her concerns were often unheard.

"Mrs. Plummer, the police are quite busy and understaffed due to budget cuts. If you catch the vandals on camera, maybe we can do something about it. Without any evidence, it's a bit of a witch hunt, don't you agree?" His eyebrows raised in feigned concern. She sighed and folded her arms, frowning. "Have a nice day now, Mrs. Plummer." Cordrey tipped his hat to her and continued up the street to his office.

He was not accosted by Mrs. Plummer on the street anymore for the next three months. 

One night at dinner his wife dropped the bomb that she'd heard someone was opposing him in the next year's election. "Connie, my sweet, my most illustrious campaign manager, tell me, who will I be running against this year?"

Connie was cutting her steak, looking down at her plate as she said, "Um, Geraldine Plummer, actually."

He burst out laughing. "Wow. That relic? We'll bury her."

Connie raised a forkful of meat to her mouth. "Not 'we', my sweet. I'm managing her campaign this time."

The instant frown was a shadow of the shock he felt. "What? No you're not. You're my campaign manager." She was a rain-maker, very good at what she did. She had managed higher level campaigns before she fell in love with Cordrey and opted for this rural life, managing his campaigns and household for years.

"I'm your wife. I'm Geraldine's campaign manager." She chewed a moment, looking at him, then smiled. "Don't be offended. It's not personal; it's politics."

Thanks for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! All month I'll be writing flash fiction, with the theme "Audience Participation".
Now it's your turn, lovely audience member. Do you have a writing prompt to suggest? Don't worry about choosing a letter of the alphabet, just leave me a word, a thought, a place, a concept... anything! and I'll add it to the list.

My "Personal Politics" story came from the prompt "Politics" provided by Iain Kelly of IainKellyWriting, in a comment left on my M post, here. I never talk politics, so I was hesitant to take on the subject, but I'm letting my readers call the shots!

 

18 April, 2021

Opal's Opponent #AtoZChallenge O


"I'm sorry Dad, for everything." Opal struggled to say those words. Not just because apologizing is hard, but because she wasn't used to seeing her father lying in a hospital bed, looking like such a weak old man. She'd certainly called him a weak old man during her tumultuous teen years, but did she really think he was? Maybe in the heat of a fight.

"Don't be sorry," he said. "I raised a strong, stubborn daughter. I know that. And I'm proud of the woman you've become. Have I ever told you that?"

He hadn't. Theirs was not a cozy relationship. Growing up, Opal had seen him as less an ally and more of an Opponent. She had grown so used to the opposition that she'd intentionally take an opposing view just to fight him on something. That debate skill helped her become a powerful attorney, but the hard relationship behind it made all future relationships hard, too.

She shook her head in response, unable to form words as tears welled up. It was enough. He saw and reached out a hand. Opal hesitated, but took his hand. His bony hand, with flesh like crepe. Her dad's smile reached his eyes with a mischievous gleam. "No..." Releasing her fingers he pointed to the wheeled table nearby. "Care for a re-match?"

Opal stared at the table. A chess set was prepared for play to begin. She hadn't played against her father since her brother's funeral seven years ago, and that had turned into a blow-up. They hadn't even spoken since then. Could they play a game of chess without it turning into a fight about something?

Moving as if in a dream, Opal pulled the table between them. Knowing he was too weak to grip a piece in his fist, she did the honors, allowing him to select sides. He got black. She'd be white. Opal zoned in on the pieces, touching each with a tiny movement, centering them in their places. Then she began.

They played without speaking. It was the quietest match between these two Opponents in her entire life. She knew her father was weak, and assumed his thought had to go into each move and not conversation. For her part, Opal was in the zone, but had a nagging thought at the back of her brain: This would be the last time they were Opponents. In anything

Her father was at death's door, and Opal wouldn't be coming back to the hospital, even if he hung on for a few more days. It was their final match. Neither one ever "let" the other win. It was a code of honor. The first time she had won against him, she was exultant. Thereafter, losing was a torment to her. As the match wound down to checking and moving out of check, Opal saw she was going to win. 

For a moment, she thought of throwing the game. It was only a passing thought, though. He would know it was intentional, and to throw a chess match would be an insult. 

After winning her final chess match against her dying father, Opal left him to rest. She had noticed a change in the noises of the room - the beeps and hums of the machines seemed slower now. "Rest in peace, Dad," she whispered as she closed the door behind her.

Thanks for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! All month I'll be writing flash fiction, with the theme "Audience Participation".
Now it's your turn, lovely audience member. Do you have a writing prompt to suggest? Don't worry about choosing a letter of the alphabet, just leave me a word, a thought, a place, a concept... anything! and I'll add it to the list.

"Opal's Opponent" came from the prompt "A final chess match" provided by Tired Hamster of Very Important Stuff Here, in a comment left on my N post, here.


17 April, 2021

Not Again #AtoZChallenge N


The rangy warrior looked around the room, checking out his rivals. Who would he be pitted against? A half-dozen hopefuls were seated sporadically about the space, each eyeing the others with suspicion. In a short while, they would be chosen to pair off. "May the best man win."

In another room, the warrior's true Nemesis sat doing the same. Different contestants, different audience, similar battle to be faced.

When the time came, they went out onto the field of battle, each man armed with his wits and whatever strength he carried with him. His opponent was not as strong as he, but had long legs and great speed. It would take all his wits to lay traps against the tall man and so level the playing field.

In the next arena, Nemesis was doing similar maneuvering. They would see each other at the end, no doubt.

A grueling hour passed before the judges determined who would move to the next level. This time the warrior bested his opponent with no trouble. He was on fire. Not because of his opponents in this arena, but because he knew his Nemesis was doing the same elsewhere. Winning each contest didn't matter as much as making better times and more points than that Nemesis did. 

And he couldn't find out how they fared until both arenas closed for the night. That was the passion that kept him going. 

Exhausted after a day in the arena, the warrior returned to his car. He had done well for himself. It only stood to see what happened in the other arena. He drove through the vast parking lot to where she awaited him outside the rival arena. Natali bounced over to the car with more energy than she had a right to have if she had fought half as well as he had.

She took the passenger seat and leaned across to kiss him. "Hi, honey. How did you do?"

"Took second," he growled, waiting for her summary.

"That's great!" she gushed. "I mean, I won, but second is awesome!"

"Not again!" She hadn't asked about his time. It didn't matter yet. They'd compare times over the newspaper in the morning. If he had beaten her time it would be her turn to say "Not again!" She, his greatest love and worst Nemesis.

Thanks for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! All month I'll be writing flash fiction, with the theme "Audience Participation".
Now it's your turn, lovely audience member. Do you have a writing prompt to suggest? Don't worry about choosing a letter of the alphabet, just leave me a word, a thought, a place, a concept... anything! and I'll add it to the list.

My "Not Again" story came from the prompt "Nemesis" provided by Anstice Brown of Curious Daydreams, in a comment left on my F post, here.


16 April, 2021

Mabel #AtoZChallenge M

 

"You could go by 'May' you know," Beth was advising her friend. They were filling out college applications and Mabel was dying to start fresh in a new location. 

"My mom would kill me. 'I gave you a perfectly good name that honors your grandmother,'" she ended in a high-pitched sarcastic voice. "Not even a middle name that I can go by." She flipped through the college catalog in front of her. Beth pulled it away. 

"Why are you looking at those guys? Don't you want to go to college with me?" Beth was applying to her dad's alma mater, and shoved the brochure across to her friend. "I have an extra application form here if you decide you need it," and she waved a blank form that she pulled from underneath the one she had started writing on.

"I don't think my parents can afford this school." Mabel was turning pages but her mind was elsewhere.

"That's what scholarships are for. Besides, you'll never know if you don't apply." 

"Okay, hand it over."

"Yay!" She held the form out of Mabel's reach as she added, "Now... we both have to fill them in perfectly because there are no extras." She smiled and released the paper. "Go for it, 'May'!"

Mabel smirked at that and picked up a pen. The room got quiet, but for the sound of pens scratching on paper. As she finished hers, Beth asked, "What did you use for your name?"

"I'm waiting. Left it blank for now." She was intent on what she was writing. Beth's mom came in at that moment.

"You need anything? I can get some sandwiches going in the kitchen." Both girls nodded and the parental unit was gone.

Finally Mabel's pen rested on the table and she dropped her voice. "Do you think I can list your address as mine?"

"Why?" Beth had dropped her voice to match Mabel's secrecy. Mabel raised the form so that Beth could see the top "personal information" section. Beth grinned. "I don't mind, but the school might. I approve your new pseudonym, May."

"May-Belle. I'm hoping my mom will understand."

Thanks for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! All month I'll be writing flash fiction, with the theme "Audience Participation".
Now it's your turn, lovely audience member. Do you have a writing prompt to suggest? Don't worry about choosing a letter of the alphabet, just leave me a word, a thought, a place, a concept... anything! and I'll add it to the list.

My "Mabel" story came from the prompt "Pseudonym" provided by Anstice Brown of Curious Daydreams, in a comment left on my F post, here.


15 April, 2021

The Labyrinth #AtoZChallenge L

"And in school we learned about prairie dogs and they live underground!" Chauncey told his parents over dinner. "Mrs. Hill said..." They were keeping his schedule as normal as possible in this changed world, so dinnertime was still the time to talk about their days. "Their tunnels go all over, down in the dirt," he was carrying on, "Did you know they live here? I mean, not here in town, but..."

"I know where they are," said his dad. "I got to see them when I was a kid, once."

"Really? Was it so cool? Can we go?" He turned his innocent eyes to his mom. "Can we, Mom?" He knew nothing of things like "immune deficiency" or "pandemic". Dolores smiled at him first, then turned to look at her husband.

"Well, not yet, Sweetie. Rick, when we're able to get out on a family vacation? What do you think?" Chauncey didn't know what was happening in the wider world. Didn't know his mom had been laid off. If they could make a vacation happen sometime, it would be all up to Rick now that they were a single-income family.

Dolores was at home with Chauncey most of every day. It was a relief that he was so excited by learning new things. When he latched on to an idea, they could work that into other activities, videos, or online games. Prairie dogs were the latest passion. "Sure buddy," Rick ruffled his son's hair. "As soon as we can take a vacation, we'll go see prairie dogs. You can even help me plan the trip!"

Good idea. Dolores smiled. That would be a good way to help occupy his down time.

That night when they went to tuck him in, they found his canvas retractable tube tunnel stretched from the door to his bed. He was in bed, sitting up and looking at them with a grin. "I'm a prairie dog! That's my tunnel!" Dolores was slim enough to get down on hands and knees and crawl through. Rick was broad across the shoulders. He tried, but only pushed the first support ring into the next before backing out and shrugging at Chauncey.

"It's okay Dad. You're human. You have to walk."

The next day Rick had some boxes in the bed of his truck when he got home. Dinner was late, but much the same. "...And there are all these rooms underground. They call them burrows. But burrow also means to dig..."

At bedtime they could see Chauncey had burrowed his way to poke his head out of the blankets way down at the foot of the bed. "I'm a prairie dog! Mom, you're a prairie dog too. Come into my burrow! Dad, you have have to sit on top." So Dolores crawled through and got under the covers while Rick sat on top and read a new book he'd found about a prairie dog town. "Wow!" Chauncey said at the end. "I can't wait to visit the prairie dog town!"

"Well, maybe you'll see it in your dreams tonight," said his mom as she moved him up to his pillow for final night-nights.

As they went back downstairs she asked her husband, "What's in the truck, hon?" Dolores had seen the boxes when Rick was backing into the garage.

He gave her waist a squeeze. "Let's make a burrow," was all he said as they crossed toward the garage door.

Hours later, Dolores looked around, aghast. "It's a labyrinth! I live in a labyrinth."

"It's a burrow and he'll love it." He had bought or bartered for more crawling tunnels that they'd arranged throughout the house leading to all the rooms Chauncey used: bathroom, kitchen, living room... they had one that led right up to the seat of his chair in the "formal" dining room where his school computer was set up. Rick had even arranged random dead-ends filled with favored toys or piles of books. Where there were no tunnels, they had built faux walls by moving furniture, to keep the labyrinthine feel of a prairie dog's burrow.

"He'll be entertained all day. And you know it's only until the next thing comes up." Rick was grinning with pride at their in-home Labyrinth.

Dolores put an arm around him. "You're crazy, you know that?" She kissed him on his cheek. "Maybe on the weekend you should at least *look* at possible trip destinations." They couldn't set a date but they could at least keep their son's hopes alive.

Thanks for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! All month I'll be writing flash fiction, with the theme "Audience Participation".
Now it's your turn, lovely audience member. Do you have a writing prompt to suggest? Don't worry about choosing a letter of the alphabet, just leave me a word, a thought, a place, a concept... anything! and I'll add it to the list.

My "The Labyrinth" story came from the prompt "Labyrinth" provided by Anstice Brown of Curious Daydreams, in a comment left on my F post, here. I must admit, I let the story write itself, so if you're a little lost, so am I!

 

14 April, 2021

For King or Kingdom #AtoZChallenge K


"Keith, if anyone can pull this off, it's you."

Keith sighed. Everyone in town - certainly everyone in the Riverside Tap Room this night - knew he was great at telling tall tales and making them believed. No one called him a liar, but they turned a blind eye if he was taking advantage of an outsider. He was a good guy to those he loved, and he loved this place. "He'll know it's a scam if I'm involved."

"Really?" Came a sarcastic voice from near the bar. "You think the King knows the first thing about any of his subjects?" It was a fair point. King Fredrich ruled this valley and all the visible mountains surrounding it. He called in taxes and fees from every corner, but never provided care or needed services. The people took care of themselves and their neighbors as best they could, with no aid from the King. So where did the taxes go?

This late-night discussion in the Tap Room included prominent citizens from most of the towns and big businesses, and some of the area farmers. Basic aid was needed and they devised a plan to get the King to share some of the gold in his coffers.

Not share. He would never do that. 

Keith would have to con him out of any gold they could get. "To make this believable I"ll need at least one partner. No designer does all his own work." Not to mention, Keith knew nothing of fashion design.

Frieda stepped forward. A farmer's daughter who was back on leave from design school, few in this room knew her, let alone the king. "I can help. I can draw up the designs, you can make it look like we are catering to his fashion tastes." King Fredrich was a clothes horse. That was the weakness they would target to get him to spend some of his wealth on his people.

Not spend. He would never do that. Not on them. But he'd spend it on clothes.

A young man slowly rose from his seat at a table in the back, looking to his father for approval. The father's eyebrows rose, but he waved Jonas ahead. "You'll need to have a go-fer. I can do that. Every designer has someone to run and do things." 

It was settled. Keith accepted the help offered from the two young people. Everyone else returned to their homes to allow the trio to work out details. 

By dawn the trio were gone.

A week later the keeper of the Riverside Tap Room was telling the latest news that a designer and his team "from the Coastal Kingdom to the west they came!" to King Fredrich's court. He was leaning over a table where Jonas' father was drinking ale with some farmers of the nearest hamlet. "Aye, this man, this 'designer' brought a team with him and presented himself at court, bold as y' please, saying the King's fashion sense was 'known far and wide' and wouldn't it be his honor to make him some fancy togs!" He laughed at his own tale and saw relief on the faces at the table.

Meanwhile at court, over a bottle of wine, Keith was sowing his seeds in the King's ear. His team stood to the side, having grown by two since leaving the tavern and village behind. "I see your people are very loyal to you," he was saying.

"My trusted advisors. They handle everything for me, and yes very loyal."

Keith smiled. "It is good to be surrounded by wisdom."

"True. I don't even have to leave my own halls," King Fredrich replied, refilling his cup. "Advisors, counselors, servants. You understand. You have servants, I see." He nodded back to the four people along the wall.

Keith followed his gaze. "Ah, my staff. They are each useful in their way." He took a sip of wine in silence. "You know why I am here."

"I am given to understand you wish to make me a suitable ensemble." The King was fingering his cuff as he said the words, not making eye contact.

"If you are interested. Let me show you my work." Without waiting for approval, he waved Frieda to come to him. She had a book full of her designs from school. Keith took the book and opened it before the King. "Most of these would not be fitting someone of your eminence, of course, but I..." 

The discussion went on until they were escorted to rooms in the castle. Keith had promised new designs by the morning. 

Frieda and Keith were up late working together. She was drawing, and explaining to Keith the fabrics and colors that her designs were based on so that he'd sound knowledgeable to the King. When they showed the King in the morning, he had some alterations to suggest, which they agreed to, of course, and then Jonas came forward to take the King's measurements, with one of the new kids jotting them down in a book.

As Jonas was acting the part of tailor, Keith reviewed the altered designs and broached the subject of payment. "Now, these fabrics are not cheap, Your Highness."

"Good. I do not wear cheap clothes." 

"And this change you suggested here? Will require an extra yard or two..."

"I do not care. Spare no expense."

"Very well." Jonas and the lad finished and moved back to stand in the shadows as the King and "Designer" Keith walked through a garden to ate cakes in a gazebo. The King was interrupted by no less than three of his advisers as they walked. When their conversation resumed, he was not in a pleasant mood.

"You are from the coastal kingdom. Your people manage to keep streets in repair and wells functioning. My people do not do anything." The King settled into a seat in the gazebo as a servant poured for them. "I'm surrounded by idiots." Looking back across the lawns he added, "I'm not sure which of my advisors I can truly trust."

It was the final part of Keith's plan. "Of course, Highness. If I may be so bold..."

"Bold?"

"I have an enchanter on my staff who could enchant the clothes so that only the wise and intelligent see them. That way anyone who displeases you could be removed." Their point was to accept his payment and remove the gold into the Kingdom to repair roads and village wells as needed. That was the only removal required.

Over the next week, an advisor came to check on their progress every other day. "Why do I not see anything happening?" he asked Keith, as he stood in their suite of rooms, where Jonas was sewing air and Frieda pinned nothing onto a mannequin.

"You cannot see this gilded fabric?" Keith asked, wide-eyed as he lifted and pet the air. The young "enchanter" standing by the basin smiled at the advisor. "Best you say nothing to the King then," he said. 

"There is an enchantment to separate the wise from the foolish." Keith trusted that this advisor would spread the word among the household. The King's staff might all be taking advantage of him, individually or as a team. But he bet they'd all tell the lie to get away with it.

At the end of the week, King Fredrich returned for his fitting. "My advisor tells me these garments will glitter in the sun brilliantly," he gushed as Keith walked with him to the workroom. "I cannot wait to wear them, and to see who is worthy of being my loyal servant."

Keith watched the King's confused face as the staff went through the motions of fitting him in his new clothes, to the extent of snipping extra stitches to make them hang better. "Look in the mirror, Highness," urged Keith. "You will surely be be dazzling on such a sunny day!"

***

The King led a processional through his grounds, but not out into the city where he never went. He had doubts, but dare not skimp on the payment. Keith and his team left with the gold, which was used to do the things in the Kingdom that the King should have been doing all along.

Thanks for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! All month I'll be writing flash fiction, with the theme "Audience Participation".
Now it's your turn, lovely reader. Do you have a writing prompt to suggest? Don't worry about choosing a letter of the alphabet, just leave me a word, a thought, a place, a concept... anything! I'll add it to the list.

My "For King or Kingdom" story came from the suggestion that I try writing "fractured fairy tales". A suggestion provided by Gail M Baugniet of Gail M Baugniet - Author, in a comment left on my G post, here. Not my best, but it's written.

13 April, 2021

Jack and Jill #AtoZChallenge J

 

Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water.

...Or did they?

"Oh crap oh crap oh crap!" Jill freaked out as the blood oozed from Jack's head and spread in a dark stain on the blanket. They had flipped over in the heat of the moment and heard a crack as his head knocked hard on a rock beneath the blanket. A blanket now spreading red as Jill tried to remember if her First Aid class had taught about how to slow bleeding from a head wound.

He was still conscious, thankfully. "Head wounds bleed a lot," Jack murmured. "It's probably not as bad as it looks."

Jill placed each hand down on either side of his head and looked wide-eyed into his face. "How do you feel?"

"Annoyed," he smirked. "I didn't finish. Did you?"

"Cha... teh...uh..." Jill collapsed back to where she'd been straddling him. "At least you didn't break your sense of humor."

He groaned in response. "Uh... off? Please?"

"Oh right." Jill swung her legs to one side and straightened her dress anxious to do something. "What do we do now? I have to get you to a hospital. What will people say?" His wife was gonna be pissed! "Can you sit up? Or roll over?" He rolled to one side, moving the head wound to the top. He was reaching for his jeans. 

"Can you...?"

"Sure," Jill handed him his jeans. In that minute Jack realized he'd have to talk her through this step by step. Jill was a hot piece of tail, but clearly not great in a crisis.

"Okay, Sweets? I'm trying not to move too much. You'll have to help me."

"Of course!" She leaned in to kiss him, but must've seen Jack cringe because she pulled back. "What do you need?"

"Underwear. Find it. And pull it on me. Gently." Jill nodded and crawled around, finding them half under his legs. She put each foot through and carefully worked them up to his hips.

"That's not right," he said. "Do you see the fly?"

"What? Oh. Crap." She pulled them back down, less gently this time, making Jack grunt with the effort. After pulling them up the right way Jill guessed the next step and took his jeans back from him. She made sure they were the right way round before fighting his foot into one leg. With one foot in, Jack interrupted her progress. "My cell phone, please? It's in my jacket."

"Who you calling?" Jill asked while digging in his jacket.

"After I'm dressed, you'll need to help me back to the parking lot. I'll have the EMTs meet us there." Jill's eyes widened. Her parents absolutely could NOT know about this. He was already dialing, so Jill moved to get his pants up. "I have a head injury," she heard him saying. "Yes, me. I'm conscious, but there's a lot of blood."

He moaned in pain as he lifted his hips to help her, putting weight on his shoulder and head. "Ahhh! Hit my head on a rock, falling near the spring... yes, someone is with me to help. Can you meet us at the Spring Road parking lot? Thanks."

He hung up. "They wanted to talk to you, but we need to talk first," he said as he put the phone down. Jack saved Jill the trouble of doing up his zip and button. "Listen Jill, they're going to ask you what happened. You brought a blanket and your backpack, to study by the spring. I slipped while I was out hiking and you heard me. You have books in your bag?" Jill nodded. "Pull them out." She didn't move, intent on listening to the rest of their alibi. "Now! You may need to tell them what you were studying. Do you have homework in those classes?" She was holding up two text books. "Or, maybe there's one that you're struggling in and wanted a change of scenery or the quiet of nature to help you think?"

"Okay, okay!" Jill compared the two books. "Medieval history. I can say that being outside away from technology helped. Thanks Jack." She smiled at him, but the smile evaporated as he corrected her. "Professor Williams! Professor Williams! Always!"

She put the books away and he started moving to get up. "Okay, now help me up, slowly. Use the blanket. Try to wrap it around my head where I've already bled on it." As she tried to maneuver the bulky fabric, he continued. "You were studying, I was walking the trail, mis-stepped and you came to help. Got it?"

She was nodding as they started slowly making their way to the parking lot. They'd find out soon enough whether their story held water.

Thanks for visiting my #AtoZChallenge! All month I'll be writing flash fiction, with the theme "Audience Participation".
Now it's your turn, lovely reader. Do you have a writing prompt to suggest? Don't worry about choosing a letter of the alphabet, just leave me a word, a thought, a place, a concept... anything! I'll add it to the list.

My "Jack and Jill" story came from the suggestion that I try writing "fractured fairy tales". A suggestion provided by Gail M Baugniet of Gail M Baugniet - Author, in a comment left on my G post, here. I'll have to do another one and try to keep it more innocent.