The whirr of wheels

(100-word flash fiction)

She awoke to the whirring of wheels. And the squeals of children’s laughter.

First it was her brother’s bicycle, old and tired, whirring as though gasping for breath. Then, the brazen brassiness of her cousin’s brand new bike.

The thin, tinny whirr surely was the postman. Followed soon by Lassie’s bark, as she thudded across the grass, brave and annoyed.

Her own bike, with no whirr, just a bumpy clack-clack.

Then, the firecracker crack of the collision.

She heard all that just as clearly as she had heard them twenty years ago.

They were the last sounds she had heard.

~~~

Today’s photo prompt is so intriguing, maybe because I like shadows, but strangely enough no story presented itself. I had to wrest something from the Muse who, I think, does not wish to be disturbed in its musing. But here it is, the weekly flash fiction fix orchestrated by the indomitable Rochelle. If only all addictions were just as pleasant and good for health 🙂

Photo prompt –

PHOTO PROMPT © Jellico’s Stationhouse

The box

(100-word flash fiction)

She hovered over the harbour. Like a benign wind fairy. Charlie, her creator, had painted the sky and clouds on her.

A large metal contraption that had been gliding over the water had stopped next to the unmoving land.

She zoomed in closer. The contraption spat out a pathway and then boxes after boxes started swaying at the tip of a large metal arm.

Then, right before her sensor, a box broke loose from the arm and fell.

It landed on the land and split open. Her camera went berserk as she recorded bodies, piled on top of each other.

~~~

Continuing my fascination of looking at the world through the eyes of non-humans. This time it’s a drone (in case you were wondering 🙂 ) But couldn’t get much emotion in because I used up all the words in descriptions 😦

Nevertheless, I enjoy being part of the weekly meetup of fellow Friday Flash Fictioneers (ha! too many Fs 😀 ). All of us being shepherded by the fabulous Rochelle, who, unfortunately, is not addicted to fuchsia 😦

Note to Blogger bloggers – if I don’t comment on your posts, it’s because it’s too time-consuming to go through all the verification steps. But I do enjoy your posts 🙂

This week’s photo prompt –

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria

Creative February 13 – The edge

For today, flash fiction.

The edge

The two ducklings are friends, one slightly older than the other. They are not yet adults but are old enough to go paddling on their own, their mother having taught them to look for food.

One day the younger one, looking into the far distance over the river, says, “I wonder what lies beyond that.” The older, looking in the direction of his gaze, replies, “I too have been thinking about that and so asked my mother. She said it’s the ‘edge’ and we must go nowhere near it. Her voice sounded ominous”.

“But why? Why must we not go near it?” The younger is impatient in his curiosity.

“I’ve seen twigs and leaves disappear into it and when it rains, the sound it makes becomes louder, so the ‘edge’ must be a dangerous place.”

“Has anyone gone there?”

“No. Everyone just obeys the rules.”

“Let’s go and find out. Then we can come back and tell everyone stories of how it is beyond the edge.”

“I don’t think my mother will be very pleased if she finds out if we are planning such a thing.”

“Let’s not tell her, let’s not tell anyone.” The younger is very excited now.

“I’m not so sure. What if there’s something out there that makes that loud noise. It could eat us alive?”

“What if there isn’t? How are we going to know unless we find out?”

“You go find out and come back and tell me.”

The younger is a bit deflated. He can’t muster the courage to go alone and his friend’s decision seems final and so he decides to shelve his plan.

But his curiosity won’t give him any peace. Everyday, he takes breaks from his foraging to gaze longingly at the water bubbling and disappearing into the ‘edge’. “It must be going somewhere and wherever it’s going there will still be water and food. If no ducks live there, there might be even more food, so why did they make this silly rule?”

A few days later, it’s morning and all the ducks are out paddling and diving for food. The younger one slowly and imperceptibly moves closer and closer to the ‘edge’. His friend, not suspecting anything paddles along. When they are away from the others and quite close to the ‘edge’, the younger declares, “I’m going to the ‘edge’. I’m going to find out today what lies beyond.”

And before his friend can even react, he paddles furiously towards the ‘edge’. The water has picked up speed, as though it’s all excited too about going to the ‘edge’. It is now flowing faster than the youngster can paddle. He stops paddling and gives in to the flow, turning back to steal a look at his friend who is staring at him, beak agape.

When the duckling turns again, he is at the tip of the edge and the next instant he is over it. For one long wondrous moment, as though time has moved into slow-motion mode, he gazes at the river, gleaming in the morning sunlight, as it snakes its way through the valley. The mist embracing the sides of the hills are melting and snaking up towards the sky, wispy-fingered. In the long distance, sunlight is glinting off the windows of houses. Before he hits the rocks below and gets smashed to death, free-falling over the tumbling masses of water, just one thought takes over his entire being and fills it with lightness, ‘beyond the edge is such a magical place!”

~~~

Creative February 3 – The man at the funeral

THE MAN AT THE FUNERAL (a short story)

She has just joined the funeral party and is standing at the fringe watching as the priest prays over the coffin and the family look on grave faced. Mr.Mills had been one of the founders of the small company in which she worked as an admin assistant and she had decided to attend the funeral out of respect, not because she was required to. She had met him a couple of times at company meets and he had seemed kindly though astute. Once, when she had had car trouble in a thunderstorm and no taxis could be found, he had given her a lift home and had waited till she had safely entered her apartment before driving away.

She finds herself standing next to a young man who when she glances at him seems to be staring at the coffin bright-eyed, as though he was fighting back tears.

‘That’s unusual’, she thinks. She had never seen him at the office and he was standing too far back to be family.

“Did you know him?” She asks softly, half turning her face towards him.

“He was my father,” he says simply and just as softly.

Her shocked, full-faced gaze at him is involuntary. Yes, he did have Mr.Wells eyes, clear blue and kindly, almost vulnerable.

“Then why are you here and not with the family?”

“He didn’t know I was his son.”

“Oh!” She is stunned out of speech. The priest’s intonations weave in and out of the silence.

“And you knew all along? And chose to keep quiet?” Her curiosity finally forces her to speak.

“No, I found out only this morning.” He pauses for a deep breath. “When my mother called and told me to look at the obituaries page for a Mr.Mills. Then she said ‘he was your father’.”

He takes two more deep breaths, the second coming out in a long sigh.

“That seemed strange because all these years I was told that my father had died in the Gulf War when I was still unborn. She said ‘No, I lied. I met Mr.Mills when I had worked as a call girl for a brief period.”

“But you could be the son of any one of her clients.”

“Yes, I did ask. She said she had done it for a very brief time during her final year of college when she had run out of money. And she had had only one client who had taken a liking for her and had helped put her through college. After she graduated she got an office job and they didn’t meet again, but meanwhile she had become pregnant with me.”

“Couldn’t she have married him, they probably liked each other?”

“He was already married.”

“Oh!” She is thinking how life’s a bitch sometimes.

“He could have at least supported your upkeep.”

“Yes, but she didn’t tell him about me because she was a call girl not his girlfriend and it was her mistake not his. If she had asked him, he would have probably given her money but he had just started a business and she didn’t want to burden him with the consequence of her mistake.”

She was quiet for a while, chewing upon this.

“Why didn’t she tell you all this earlier?”

“She felt it would be better for my self-esteem to have a soldier for a father who died in a war than be an outcome of a mistake.”

She nods to herself, thinking about the soundness of the logic. Sometimes a lie is certainly better than the brutal truth.

“Then why tell you now?”

“She somehow heard a few weeks ago that Mr.Mills …. my father’s health was deteriorating, so she decides it’s time to tell me, just in case I wanted to meet him. She was summoning the courage to tell me, waiting for the right time. She hadn’t expected him to go so quickly.”

He lets out a deep sigh, bumpy and broken.

“That must have been one power conversation you had this morning.” She says trying to sound light.

“Yes, life changing it was.”

The casket is now being lowered into the grave and it gives her a chilling thought.

“Did you get the chance to say goodbye?” She looks wildly from the casket to him and back and forth. “Maybe your should throw some earth into the grave, just to give you a sense of connection.”

“I was at the church service. Even though no one knew me, I went up and kissed him on the forehead.” His voice begins to crack. She moves closer and places a hand on his arm. “I wanted to hug him badly, this father I had but never had. I wanted him to fill up all the empty spaces in my life where a father should have been.”

She glances at him and again his eyes are bright with held-back tears.

They stand like that, quietly, till the grave is filled up and people begin to move away. Two strangers held together by something greater, more profound than either of them have experienced in their short lives.

She wonders why he had bared his heart to her, a total stranger. The secret must have been too overwhelming for him to bear alone. They continue to stand there till everyone’s gone. She pats him on his arm as if to say goodbye. There is now peace on his face as he continues to gaze at the mound of freshly moved earth.

“Your father may not have known you in flesh but his spirit will always be with you. In a way, his death has brought him closer to you than his life would have.”

He turns slowly to look at her and as though the thought has turned on a light switch within him, a smile slowly spreads across his face. It spreads and spreads until his entire being is filled with radiance.

As she walks towards her car, she is glad she followed her impulse to attend Mr.Mills’ funeral.

~~~

Written for the Dailypost prompt ‘groupthink’ which said ‘Write a post that includes dialogue between two people — other than you.’