28 September, 2021

I Jinxed Myself

I missed Flash Fiction Friday last week. Oops!

Actually, there have been a few Fridays that got away from me, leaving me to play catch up and write on Saturday. I allow it (my blog, my rules) because Saturday here is still Friday in the US.

This time, Friday got away from me and it wasn't until going to bed on Saturday night that I realized I hadn't written a story. Well, I don't have a ton of readers who would notice, so... no big deal. 

It crossed my mind that I am good at keeping the fiction going unless there's a death in the family, so I thought, "Haha. People will think someone died." No one had died.

Until Monday.

Yup. My dad died in the wee hours of Monday morning. My family had almost made it through one calendar year without a death! Almost. But I jinxed it by not writing. (I don't really believe in jinxes, but all I can do is make jokes.)

I laughed. I laughed at the irony. I laughed at the fact that I had talked to my mom in the morning, and then she called me that night as I was settling in to watch TV to say everything had changed.

One of the reasons I can laugh, and not be sad and weepy and mourn-y is because we expected this and talked about it even before we moved away from the US in 2016. My dad was in renal failure then and refused dialysis. Doctors said he needed the dialysis to stay alive. He lived 5 more years, so suck it, Medicos! And it wasn't even kidney failure that got him.

Well, I don't think so. When I talked to Mom she'd only been awake an hour and a half and hadn't even had coffee yet. Between that and a bad connection, I'm a little vague. He'd been in a nursing home recovering from a broken shoulder, and something went wrong so they'd sent him to the ER in the night.

Anyway, Dad was living on borrowed time, and he wasn't happy with life anymore. He was ready to meet his maker and reunite with two brothers, a sister, a daughter and a grandson.

So there you have it. Last week's absence explained. I'll be back with more fiction on Friday. For sure!

18 September, 2021

Fiction Friday - The Dollhouse

Steve stopped at the kitchen door as he left for work and turned back to Sierra with a question on his face. She gave a quick nod and wave as she turned back to attend to Suzy's breakfast: their signal that it was a "Dotty" day. "Say good-bye to your dad, Suzy."

"Bye, Dad!" Suzy ran over for an extra hug, her  five-year-old arms wrapped around his legs as he bent down to ruffle her hair.

"Have fun at school, Sweetie," he said as he closed the door and she returned to the breakfast table.

"So Dotty's mom called and she's coming over today after school with you. Won't that be fun?" Sierra sat with her coffee across from this cute little girl who didn't understand the whole situation.

"Yay!" she raised her fork and a cheer with her mouthful. 

As soon as Suzy finished they left for the school, Sierra ensuring that the doors were all locked and windows closed. It wasn't her house, after all. When she returned from dropping off her "daughter" she'd check the status of the house to ensure Lorna would find everything satisfactory.

Lorna was Dotty's mom and in a way, Sierra's boss. Sierra had auditioned to play a woman in her late 20s for a "long-term, reality-based gig". It paid well, and this house was a big improvement on her studio apartment in a rat-trap of a building. At the audition Steve was in the room on the same side of the table as Lorna for the initial interview, then he joined her to improvise a few scenes of home-life moments. It was a boring audition and Sierra left with no interest in accepting the role.

Then she heard about Suzy. Suzy had met Lorna's daughter Dotty on the first day of kindergarten and they became instant best friends. But Lorna was a wealthy divorcee trying to control her daughter's environment. Lorna didn't want her daughter thinking all marriages ended. Her best friend had to have a solid, traditional home-life if Dotty was going to spend much time there.

And so Sierra was hired, and Steve, Sierra and Suzy were moved - at Lorna's expense and insistence - into a nice surburban home. They were provided with everything they needed, and a few things according to what Lorna decided Dotty needed in her life but not in her home-life. 

She didn't want her daughter to expect everything to fall into her lap, so Suzy had cool toys that Dotty loved to play with but would never own. Suzy's family took Dotty on an RV trip to Niagara Falls. Or Mt. Rushmore. Or just to a theme park for a day. All on Lorna's tab.

Dotty days were days that Steve and Sierra followed a script of sorts, while Suzy remained oblivious, playing with her friend at their house. Steve had to be home at a set time, smiling and happy, and until then Sierra monitored the girls' play and brought them Lorna-approved snacks. 

It wasn't a terrible job, but as she prepped the house for the afternoon play-date, Sierra wondered how long this role would last. She felt like she - and Steve, and Suzy - were the dolls living in Dotty's dollhouse. And every child's dollhouse was moved to the attic sooner or later.


Today's story was inspired by the song "Dollhouse" by Melanie Martinez.

Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.

11 September, 2021

Fiction Friday - The Attack


Rajiv paused to let his words sink in. His older friend just didn't understand how the world was these days.

"How can we be considered guilty? We don't even know those men!"

"I know Samir," Rajiv nodded in solemn agreement. "We don't know them. We are not guilty. People who know us know this. But we look enough like those men, and we are from -"

"We are not even from the same country!"

Rajiv sighed. "No. We're not. Just a neighboring country to theirs. Do you think any of the people around us know that? The people who live in our building? Who see us at the store?"

He could see the sorrow in his neighbor's eyes. Rajiv had removed Samir from an escalating argument at the local convenience store and brought him back to his apartment down the hall from Rajiv's. Some ignorant stranger had accused him of the attack, and Samir became defensive. The worst possible response.

Rajiv grew up here and understood the sentiment. He also understood the confusion people had, annoying as it was. "Samir, what if Nadia and I run errands for you for a little while?"

"I'm not helpless!"

"I know you aren't, but if you fight with everyone who says something insulting to you right now, you may not be -" He hesitated to use the word "safe" because that would cause a new debate. "It's just for now. People will figure it out, and those who know you will learn the difference."

"It's insulting."

"It is. People can be mean when they themselves are hurting. Think of when your wife died. You got very angry with me for nothing! But we're okay now." Since the death of his wife Samir had gradually morphed into a good imitation of the stereotypical grumpy old man. "Now it is their time to be hurting." He didn't acknowledge that he and Samir also hurt from the attack. That was secondary. "Let me get your groceries today. Please?"

Rajiv was able to help Samir in this one way, but he wasn't his keeper. There would be hard days ahead, for everyone.


Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.

04 September, 2021

Fiction Friday - The First Day


DeLuca sat up straight in his chair. He took a deep breath and assessed his mental situation.

Calm. Centered. Controlled.

His meditation period was over. 

It was the first day of school and all the experienced teachers had warned him that the hardest part was controlling your own mind. A wandering mind while trying to infuse information into the young malleable minds in his care could be disastrous.

Ever since the pandemic in the early 21st century made distance learning readily available to the masses, technology had grown so that no one sat in classrooms like in ancient times. Everyone connected their brains through the net plan. DeLuca had a special chair that framed his skull and projected the lesson from his mind to his students. It was critical he stay on task. 

Children had something like electrodes tethering them to a work station where they could jot down notes to keep their brains focused. They were trained to learn without the tether during a special term in middle school, when students had to learn to do it mind to mind.

They got frequent breaks. That was nice. Focusing too intensely on one thing could create catastrophic brain-drain. 

Even with frequent breaks, a teacher's work was never done, and so controlling his mind was critical. Many new teachers had breakdowns on the first day. DeLuca didn't want to be one of them.  

It was almost time. He sat in his designated chair and leaned back, opening the "classroom" on his center's net plan. Local students began connecting and he could take roll. Focus. Focus. Focus.


Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. This story was inspired by the prompt "A new teacher's first day" given by Liz A. of Laws of Gravity, in a comment on my previous story, here. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.