Family Meal, a scene

(one scene of a possibly longer piece)

I was the elephant in the room.

My failed suicide. My successful relationship. These were the things that nobody were supposed to know about, but of course, everyone did.

Between bites of roast beef and carrots, the room was thunderous in its silence.

When my scars itched I scratched them. I didn’t hide them under long sleeves, under the table, under layers of deception. I looked down the table at my father looking down at his meat as if it were some grand mystery. At my mother who glared at me as if I were some less grand mystery. Across from me my sister’s fork rattled against her plate.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake Jacob!” she hissed.  A whisper louder than a shout in the tense silence of the dining room.

This time my mother’s fork rattled.

Down the table my father’s shoulders jiggled a little, then lurched, then he snorted, then he laughed. Danny gave my knee a little squeeze under the table, a smirk on his face as my mother stormed away from the table.

“Sorry,” my father said. “Sorry. I…just…I…” then he melted into another table shaking bout of laughter.

My sister followed my mother, tossing her white napkin in a flutter over her plate, where it drank thirstily from the gravy and turned brown.

My brother-in-law looked from my fathers bouncing shoulder, to my sisters fleeing back, to the puckered pink/grey vines that wound up my arms like tattoos.

“So, Jacob.” he asked. “What happened? I mean, what really happened?”

“I fell in love,” I said. All eyes briefly turned to Danny, then back to me. “I fell in love,” I said again, “and then I fell apart.”

All eyes were on me, and they were full of curiosity, but also of concerned.

I was the elephant in the room, but most people like elephants after all.

Advertisements

Universal Betrayal

The universe has a history of swallowing things whole, and for the most part, nobody ever cared.

Socks go missing all the time.  And the bodies that belong to Tupperware lids.  Random buttons on sweaters.  Occasionally children.  Whole cities once or twice, cruise ships full of tourists, airplanes full of bravado.

Sometimes things lost show up again in random places.

A single shoe on a suburban sidewalk, waiting.  Hubcaps in treetops.  Stray dogs in parking lots.  Husbands in hotel rooms with other peoples lost spouses.  The bodies of those children, but never the rest of their essence.

The socks stay lost though, and the Tupperware.

***
Inspired by the prompt, Betrayed.
***

If you enjoyed this you might also like:
Look at Me
Candle Magic
Leaf Falls

****

Like my work and want to read more?  Keep me going!
BUY ME A COFFEE!

House of Ash

The Following was Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – Feb. 11, 2018 Challenge prompt below:

23-j-hardy-carroll-11-february-2018

Photo Prompt Credit © J Hardy Carroll

Mrs. Hudson looked ill when Tina arrived to babysit. She had a dark smudge of something on her hand, across one cheek.

“You don’t look well,” Tina told her.

Mrs. Hudson’s eyes ticked towards the hallway, and the door at the end of it.

“Addie’s been….ill. I gave her something. Just, leave her be unless she calls you. I don’t think she’ll need you.”

Then Mrs. Hudson was gone, and Addie had been silent the whole time.

Tina walked softly down the hall. A fire extinguisher by the girls door was strange. The smell of smoke stranger still.

“Addie? Angel, are you okay?”

The smell of burning was almost overwhelming inside the room, but there were no flames. The room was dark, the strangest thing yet. Addie was afraid of the dark, she always had a night light on.

“Addie, are you awake honey? You okay?”

Blue lights flashed from nowhere, lit the room with a teasing strobe.

There, finally, was Addie. Crumpled on the floor in the center of her room was a tiny wasted, blackened mummy crumpled in the center of a scorched circle.

Tina’s scream was drowned out as a siren whooped in the night.

(198 words)

****

Read more challenge responses HERE.

****

You might also like these other fictions by me:
Primordial – FFfAW
Look at Me
Puddle Jumping

****

Like my work and want to read more?  Keep me going!
BUY ME A COFFEE!

Primordial – FFfAW

The following was written for the 153rd Challenge at Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. It was inspired by the photo prompt below:

photo-20180205154613659

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Yinglan. Thank you Yinglan for our prompt!

****

The abominations rose in pairs from the sea. Their scales, fins, and bulbous goggling eyes, didn’t belong on dry land, but there they were.

They wandered the beaches and streets, calling to each other in low moans and deep-sea howls. Pairs came together in writing masses shattering glass and crushing vehicles. Sidewalks became slimy with their mucous.

Coastal cities emptied as humans fled inland. The tidal lands left for the primal beings.

Tides came in and went out. Beaches cleansed themselves. Sands became pure, unmarred by anything other than the creatures themselves.

This was the way of things until one night each pair of creatures turned to the sea and marched as one back into the surf.

As quickly as they came they were gone, leaving behind only their two toed footprints and seafood smell.

It was only later that the gelatinous egg sacs were discovered where they had been deposited in every most corner, the dark life inside already quickening.

That was the first generation.

This is their world now.

(171 words)

****

If you liked this flash fiction, please check out the linky below to read different stories inspired by the photo above


****

You might also like these stories by me:
Anonymous
The Clean Room
Candle Magic

****

Like my work, want to see more?  Support a starving artist:
BUY ME A COFFEE!

Something to Smile About

photo-20171016163112319

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Grant-Sud. FFfAW

“Why do you do that?”

Morning sunlight peeked over the horizon, songbirds offered their first chirps. His voice cracked too loudly in the new day.

“What?” She stood, dusted debris off her tights, slipped her chalk into her dress pocket.

“Those stupid smiles. Why you gotta draw them everywhere?”

“When I was 7 my daddy killed my kitten,” she said. “Right in front of me he did.”

“That ain’t nothing worth smiling about.”

“Daddy’s gone now. You’re here and this wall is pink. Pink is my favorite color, you’re my favorite person, and there is always something to smile about.”

He shook his head, walked toward the office to pay. Her heart blossom with a brilliance to rival the rising sun.

In the car she took out her chalk, sketched a smile onto the dashboard and waited for him to take them home.

(144 words)

*****

This was written in response to a Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers prompt.

Visit FFfAW to read the rules and share your own response.

To see more of the prompt responses visit the inlinkz below!

Look at Me

Turn around.

She had her back to him now, still, again, it made him angry.

Look at me.

She always ignored him, always, always.

She ignored his notes.  She ignored his flowers.  She hung upon him when he called her.

Turn around.

She played his heart like an instrument.  She strummed his emotions like she strummed her guitar.  She didn’t know him, didn’t see him.

Look. At. Me.

She heard something, maybe his desire for her resonated. She turned around, walked to the window.

See me.

She squinted into the dark, not seeing what she heard, not seeing, still not seeing.

See me.

He reached in the open window.  He touched her hand.

LOVE ME!

She sucked in a breath, eyes wide, chest heaving as her scream built.

Crescendo.

****

Image Credit

Poachers

Josiah had come into the forest looking for a clue but instead found a flowing crimson skirt in the water.  The river was turning to blood.  A wide swath where he stood, it narrowed upstream.  An accusatory arrow, pointing back to its origin.

A deer, he thought, or some animal.  Something shot and left to die, to waste.

“Ass-hats,” he murmured to nobody, resettling his pack on his back, making sure he could reach his camera.

He had started bird-watching two summers ago, but this year he had found several carcass abandoned in the woods.  Usually deer, sometimes a wild pig, once a bobcat the latter still alive and bleeding.  These animals were left for the other wild animals to scavenge on.  The inhumanity of it was too much for him.

He’d gone to his head once, complaining about poachers.

“You can’t poach a deer, son.” His dad had dismissed.  “Besides, it was probably an animal killed it anyway.”

Animals didn’t hunt with spears and bows, Josiah knew.  Animals didn’t leave their kill to waste and rot either.  Something was going on in his woods.

Now, ripples of red led him back upstream.  He thought to take pictures of whatever victim had fell in the water.  Maybe catch an arrow shaft, a clear bullet hole.  Have evidence.

The trail of ichor didn’t lead to the fawn hide of a dead doe.  His eyes stopped at a swatch of creamy white,  a leg, a thigh.

A nymph.

He gasped, camera stopped midway to his eye as he realized he was looking at a woman.  More than likely human, because nymphs didn’t exist, she stood naked and blood smeared, her side turned to him, her head down.  She wasn’t aware he was there.

Her hip was bleeding, her stomach, her breast covered in scratches.  She seemed to be washing the blood off her body.  Something dark floated in the water in front of her.  Her clothes she supposed.  But if she had stepped in the water to bathe, why wouldn’t she have taken her clothes off at the shore.

Her hair was deep burgundy.  What a day for red things, Josiah thought.  Then wondered, was it really red, or was it more blood?

He knew he should say something, felt like a pervert peeking on her.  Clearly she was hurt, needed help.  After all the crimson skirt that led him here came from the pool of blood awash at her hips.

Still, he couldn’t stop staring.  Bloody, disgusting, she was beautiful.  Raising the camera he pushed the button.

His camera was digital and nearly silent.  He used it to hunt birds with and didn’t want a flash or click to scare the timid ones away.  But silent as it was she heard it.

Her head snapped up, turned towards him in an instant.  Her eyes flashed, later Josiah would tell everyone that they ACTUALLY flashed, giving of their own light.

Her lip curled over her teeth, locked in a snarl.

Hatred flowed from her as thick as her blood, and Josiah blushed, looked down at the black mass near her feet.  Was it moving?

“S..s…sorry.” he stammered.  “I just saw the blood in the water and I thought…  Are you okay?”

He felt pulled to look at her again.  Not at her body, but at her eyes.  Brown, flecked golden, flecked a glowing yellow.

She stood up straighter, eyes still bright, teeth still barred.  As she straightened a fresh gout of blood poured from the biggest wound in her side. One hand she kept clenched at her side.  The other she reached out towards him, red covered palm up.  Fingers beckoned.

Again he found himself thinking how beautiful she was.  How perfect her body was.  How much he wanted her.  Behind those thoughts he knew they were wrong.  This whole situation was wrong.  But something more primal was pulling at him.

He took a step towards the water, a second.  A third and his boots were in the water.  A fourth and tainted water poured into his boots. She never moved.  She stood, hand out, teeth showing, chest heaving, bleeding everywhere.

“STOP!”

The sound blew though the woods.  Birds scattered, the woman flinched slightly and a man stepped out of the trees.

His clothes, his face, his weapon raised and aimed towards the river, each part of him looked as if it had grown out of the dirt with the rest of the wild.

“Help her,” Josiah said. “She’s hurt!”

“She’s savage son.” The man said.  “Come away from her.”

Behind him something splashed, moaned.  Ignoring the man he made to turn back to her, but she was coming to him, hand still out, teeth still barred

“I SAID COME AWAY!”

The mans voice was stronger than whatever primal spell the bloody woman had him under he looked past her, seeing that the dark form in the water had a face, had a body, had been the source of most of the blood after all.

The woman seemed to flicker, and he felt a sensation in his skin, in his bones.  The world thrummed and there was a woman there, but she was also more.  Something dark and hungry and he didn’t want to see it, refused to see it.

He turned to run for the man in the woods, to the safety of the spear he had, to seek shelter behind his commanding voice, but she was on him already, strong fingers digging into his shoulder.

Her body was cold and he could smell the blood on her, the bile on her, could feel her hot breath on his throat and he found himself immobile.

The man in the woods shook his head slightly, ever so slightly and he saw him shift, saw the spear coming forward, its silver tip glinting against the darkness of everything around him, taking up his whole world.

Then there was pain.  The spear ripped into his shoulder.  Her teeth tore into his neck, something else raked across his back.  Something that felt like live electrical wire.  He thought momentarily about the human mouth, and how bites from people tended to fester.

Later….

He opened his eyes to the same pains that had closed them.  The shoulder hurting the worst, pumping fire down his arm, into his torso.  Merging with the lightning bolts of electric pain in his back.

He was alone.  He felt it before he opened his eyes.  No man.  No woman.  Frogs sang at the waters edge.  Stars flicked above him like celestial fireflies.

The camera was gone.  His pack was still there.  A dirty bit of paper fluttered from beneath its strap.

“I’m sorry.”

Only two words, looked like they might have been smeared in blood, and he wasn’t sure what they meant.  Sorry for what?  For who?

Somewhere far away he heard an animal cry out in the night….and the electricity in his spine responded.

****

Inspired by savage.
Also inspired in part by She Wolf.

****

If you enjoy this story you may also enjoy thse:

Sugar Free
Panic
Anonymous

****

Please comment and share!

Anonymous

The woman stood on the beach, at the barest reach of the ocean waves. Foaming water danced over her toes, salty wind tossed her hair, but her body was still.

The children stood several yards behind her, rigid as if hypnotized by her immobility. Holding hands they try to match her stillness, but the wind is strong. The girl rocks back on her heels. The boy squeezes her hand harder, as if afraid she might lift up and blow away entirely.

Farther back, in the small seaside town, someone screamed. The scream turned into a howl. The sound was all pain and animalistic terror, no humanity left by the end.

Someone had either been caught out or been called out.

The monsters were smarter than the movies had led everyone to believe. They remembered names and knowing someone’s name was a powerful, powerful tool.

Still, the woman stood, as if transfixed by the reflection of the moon on the unsettled water. The foaming tips of spent waves now washed over her ankles. The tide was coming in.

“What if it’s not her?” the girl whispered.

They couldn’t see her eyes but knew the slope of her shoulders, and before she left she had taught them to question everything always.

“What if it is?” the boy answers.

Something had called their father out, and he had gone willingly into the night. She had been gone for years, but she knew his name and had given them theirs.

The dunes came alive with whispers. It could have been the wind blowing in the sea grass but the grass was calling out names.

The boy tugged the girl’s hand, pulling her aside, pulling her away. She wanted to look back because it might not be her. What if it WAS?

Shadows crawled from the dune, low and slinking, the whispers louder, louder, louder then stopping as the shadows reached the spot where the ocean met the sand.

At the water’s edge, the woman turned her head towards where the children had stood a moment ago, but seeing no one she knew she turned her eyes back to the moon.

(356 Words)

Rooted

garden-1020507_960_720Ashleigh had grown roots.

It wasn’t something she intended to do, but having happened she couldn’t make it unhappen.

She had stood still too long, and the place had gotten to her.  Feathers feelers came from the soles of her feet, reaching down into the dirt of the town while the dirt reached up to embrace them.

Threadlike things those roots were and her friends tried to convince her it wasn’t too late.

Her friends didn’t have roots.  They could travel and stay gone and never feel the effects of being uprooted.

“Just come with us,” they would sing and coo.  “There is no reason you can’t.”

She had intended to graduate.  She had intended to go to college.  She had intended to move to the big city, to get a good job.  She had intended to grow, to go away, to never look back.

She stood in her own yard, looking at the horizon she could never cross.  In her blood she could feel the history of the town, being fed to her by the hairs on her feet.

“You can grow here,” her mother told her. “You can thrive.  I’ve done well.  Look at your father.  You’ll be happy like we’re happy.”

Her mother’s roots were strong and firmly planted.  They reached and traveled far under the dirt of the town, embracing it all.  In the spring her mother flowered.  Her father was broad and strong and his roots so deep she thought he would live forever.

They had done very well.  They were very happy.

But they could never leave.  Never for long.  Outside of the town her parents aged and wilted.

She knew it would be true for her too.

Her roots were young, but they were roots.  They would grow far, like her mothers.  They would grow deep like her fathers.

Closing her eyes she sighed and turned her face to the sun.

Ashleigh had grown roots, and now she would thrive.

Inspired by: Roots