The Flood – Part 6

I wake up to torrential rain hammering the house. Almost sounds like it’s going to come through the bloody wall. I reach over and check my phone. It’s seven fourty four in the morning. Damn it, I slept in. Yesterday took a lot out of me I guess.

I turn on the bedside lamp and then sort through the pile of clothes on the floor for sweatpants and a t-shirt. I check in on Tess but she’s sound asleep, Zoe’s light is off so I keep walking.

One of the chairs is pulled away from the kitchen table and an empty coffee cup is sitting in front. The door to the basement is wide open with yellow light flooding out, so I make my way down. John is crouched in the far corner, his rain jacket still shedding water, covering up a hole in the floor with a wood panel.

“Mornin’ John. Everything okay?”

“So far. Just checking the sump.”

I can smell the must and damp, but everything looks dry enough, “Think we’ll be okay?”

John gives me a sideways glance, “Just got back from out across the way. Creek’s higher than I’ve seen it before, and there’s standing water in the fields already. Have to see what happens, worst isn’t here yet.”

“Damn. Well, I should probably get breakfast started, you hungry?”

“Yeah, should eat I guess. Be up shortly.”

I start up the narrow staircase, “Sounds good. Holler if you need a hand with anything.”

“Will do.”

 

*******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

 

 

The Flood – Part 3

It’s Sunday morning. That means Tess was up at six, that she got dressed in her favourite outfit, and made herself breakfast with whatever box of cereal she could reach. Now she’s standing in front of me, holding the journal close to her, just like every Sunday.

“Morning baby.”

“Morning Dad.

She’s watching me, waiting for me to ask. “How is Grandma this morning?”

Tess smiles and clutches the journal tighter, “She’s good. It’s eight o’clock, time to get up.”

“Okay, I’ll be down soon.”

“We need to make sure we leave in time, so we’re back before Mom comes.”

“I know baby. Just need to wake up a little.”

“Okay.” Tess skips to the open doorway, but turns before going through. “Don’t fall back asleep.”

“I won’t”

“Promise?”

“Cross my heart.”

She gives me a tight lipped nod and then disappears.

Sunday is the day we go to visit Grandma. Except Tess carries Grandma around with her every waking moment. She’ll spend hours a day talking to the journal. At the cemetery, Tess will stand in front of Emily’s headstone, not saying a word. I don’t pretend to understand it.

I turn over and reach for my phone. It is in fact only seven fifty five. More concerning is the text from Janine that was sent only a few hours ago. She’s not coming. Something came up. She asks me to tell Zoe and Tessa that she’ll make it up to them. Sure I will. Just like every Sunday.

 

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Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

The Flood – Part 2

The door slips from my fingers and slams behind me. I cringe at the noise, but the house remains quiet. The kitchen is dim with only the small light over the sink on. Colourful flashes and low music are coming from the living room. I pop my head in to see Zoe curled up on the couch, thumbs tapping away at the screen of her phone.

“Hi Sweetie.”

She doesn’t look up, “Hi Dad.”

“Tess already in bed?”

“Yeah, she went up half an hour ago.”

“Did she brush her teeth?”

“Yeah.”

“Good, thank you.”

I’m careful to avoid the worst of the loose boards as I climb the staircase. Tess is in bed, head turned away from the lamp on her nightstand. The journal is open across her chest, rising and falling with each shallow breath. I kneel beside her and reach out for the journal. Her eyes flash open and I freeze.

“Hi Dad.”

I pull my arm back, “Hi baby. Did you have a good day at school?”

“Yeah. We made Father’s Day gifts today. You have to wait until Father’s Day to get it though.” She smiles wide, tongue poking through the gap in her teeth.

“I guess I’ll just have to wait then.” I smile and kiss her cheek, “Love you.”

“Love you too.” Tess wraps her hands around the journal and closes her eyes. I pull the string on the lamp and ease my way out of the room, closing the door behind me.

 

*******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

 

The Flood – Part 1

There’s not much but the sound of my boots on the gravel and the Cicadas in the field. I see the orange glow from the old radio just inside the barn door. It’s never really turned up enough to hear, but it means John is out working.

I walk in to find him working a sanding block along one of the hull planks of his dad’s old boat.

“You’re back.”

“I am, just wanted to let you know.”

John nods but keeps his focus.

“How are things going out here?”

“Well enough I guess.”

I scan the walls of the barn, covered with tools and smaller projects in various stages of completion. Some dusty from neglect, some fresh and bright.

“How do you find the time for all this John?”

“Didn’t know time needed to be found I guess.”

“Fair enough” I say, “Still, not sure why it’s so hard to do sometimes.”

John pauses and runs his hand along the hull. “Maybe because we have to fight for everything good in our lives. Maybe, the answers are inside us, we just need to pay attention.”

I drop my head and smile at my boots, “Yeah, I’m getting a little tired of hearing that.”

John lifts the sanding block and gets back to the task at hand. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

“Not your fault I guess. Well, I should head in and make sure the girls are ready for bed.”

“Give ‘em a squeeze for me.”

“Will do. ‘Night John.”

 

*******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

The Flood – Prologue

This is my experiment of producing a story, 250 words at a time.

I’ve participated in a writer/artist collaboration for the last two years called Voice & Vision. Basically, a writer and an artist team up, the writer provides a piece up to 250 words, and the artist provides a piece within a set physical dimension. They each then produce a new work, based on the others initial offering. This year I submitted a story based on an idea I had for a bigger piece. I actually wrote more than one in the same theme, so I decided to take what was already written and expand on it, while keeping each installment at exactly 250 words. So here we are. I hope you enjoy it.

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 John sat on the front porch, hunched forward with his elbows on his knees. A figure shuffled down the laneway, silhouetted by the deep hues of the setting sun. William raised a hand in greeting as he neared.

“Evenin’ Will.”

“Evenin’ John. So, it’s ready is it?”

“Suppose so. Come have a look.”

John led William around the corner of the house and through a break in the Lilacs. A small round table stood in the center of a worn dirt patch. The same table that Emily and her friends would sit around and gossip over afternoon tea. That was a long time ago though.

John’s creation was in the center of the table. It was about the size of a bread box, but not at all the right shape. Even in the long shadow cast by the house, the object stood out. It was vivid, like it was more real than everything around it.

John scratched at the stubble on his chin while William circled the table. It seemed like an eternity of heavy boots dragging through dry soil, but after a time William paused and bent down. He raised a calloused finger and squinted his grey eyes.

“Decided to keep that did ya?”

“Made sense at the time.”

“It’s good. I like it.”

John pursed his lips and nodded. His shoulders dropped as he hooked his thumbs in to the pockets of his jeans.

“So? Think it’ll work?”

“It’ll work just fine. Ya done good John, yes sir.”

 

99 Words #22 – What is Love?

Baby?

Hi sweetie.

Hey there…

Umm, what are you doing?

I just wanted to say, I loves you…

Oh God, please don’t.

But I loves you…

Stop it.

I eats the ends of the banana bread loaf so you don’t have to.

Why do you have to be such a dork?

I never leaves you an empty toilet paper roll.

Knock it off right now or I’m going to smack you.

Don’t be angry, I Ioves you!

You make me angry, because you’re a dork!

But baby…

I said stop it.

I…

Don’t do it.

LOVES YOU!

Smack

Ow.

*******

Written in response to Carrot Ranch Communication’s July 13, 2016 flash fiction challenge prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the emotion of anger. Hey, it’s in there…

July 13: Flash Fiction Challenge

99 Words #21 – About a Cat

The Jaguar hasn’t moved in awhile. I watch him, while he watches me. Every now and then he flicks an ear on his broad head, or blinks in a way to suggest I’m of no real interest. Still his eyes stay focused on me, and mine on him.

We seem to share some sort of connection, though it isn’t from any sense of being alike. This magnificent beast, once wild and without equal, sits humiliated in his cramped cage. I stand before him, alone in a room full of people, completely lost in what I am told is freedom.

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Written in response to Carrot Ranch Communication’s July 6, 2016 flash fiction challenge prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a cat.

July 6: Flash Fiction Challenge

Homework Gone Awry: Song Titles

This is How it Goes

You & Me

A Story No One Told

 

Falling Faster Than You Can Run

Everything Changes

Heart in Two

 

Nothing to Say

Nowhere to Go

I Just Don’t Understand

 

My Broken Heart Belongs to You

When It’s All Said and Done

I Don’t Want You On My Mind

 

Don’t Worry About Tomorrow

Close Your Eyes

Let it Go

 

*******

This came about as a challenge to write a piece of poetry using only song titles. I don’t claim to know what I’m doing as far as poetry goes. But then again that’s pretty much the case with everything I do in life.

How many titles do you recognize?

 

99 Words #20 – Smile

I’m sitting here thinking about cancer, and I’ve decided that life isn’t fair.

Celebrities get shout outs and hashtags, while our friends and family are taken from us and nobody knows. Everyone is talented. Everyone is important. Right?

I’m lost in thought, when the boy pops up in front of me. He’s grinning ear to ear, tongue sticking through the space where a tooth used to be.

“Hi dad.”

Just as quickly, he disappears. I realize that maybe I’ve got it all wrong. It’s not about recognition, it’s what we do with the time we are given that counts.

 

 

The Night Victoria Snuck Out

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Metallic hinges groaned open after having been stationary for many years. Shadows shifted in the unlit entryway. A sharp nose and squinted eye appeared from behind the opening door. There was a pause, a sniff at the wet night air, and then Victoria emerged from her hiding spot.

She tightened the ragged shawl that constituted her disguise around her face. Startled by a procession of four wheeled transport carts making their way around the square, she nearly tumbled backwards in to one of the rose bushes that stood sentry outside the entry way.

Victoria composed herself with a heavy sigh, and began shuffling toward the side gate. When she was half way across the courtyard she had another scare. Just around the corner of the long stone wall came laughter. Victoria turned to see a group of men gathered together, enjoying a cigarette in what remained of the night now that the rain had passed.

Victoria turned to continue on her way, but she had already been spotted. She tried to move at a comfortable pace, not wanting to raise immediate suspicion, but still the heavy clap of boots on the cobblestones continued after her.

“Hello there! What business do you have outside of the palace this evening?”

Victoria clasped the shawl over her face and turned to face her pursuer. She tensed as the man came near. “So sorry Sir, I seem to be going daft in my old age and’ve lost my way.”

“But…” the man paused, eyeing Victoria closely, “Grandmother?”

Victoria sighed and dropped her hand from her face. She kicked at a small rock in front of her, “Bugger.”

“Grandmother! What on earth are you doing?”

“George! Hush now, I wish to avoid unwanted attention!”

“But Grandmother, why are you sneaking about at this time of night?”

“I don’t believe I owe any explanation to you young George, but if it must be known I wish to see Mister Cody once more.”

“The man from the Wild West performance? Whatever for?”

“He wished to give me a private showing of something he referred to as his ‘white sheet rodeo’, I was intrigued.”

“Grandmother!”

“Hold your tongue young George, you are family but do not forget that your future is very much in my hands.”

“Yes Grandmother…”

“Now, it appears that the traffic along the carriage path has diminished, be a dear and latch the gate after I’ve gone, will you?”