A Life on the Silver Screen

Hello hello, and welcome to this week’s six-sentence story, based on the word of the week SCREEN. I revisited a character from the week WRAP, who was making their debut film. Follow our narrator 32 years later as she looks back on her life of fame, and asks the hard questions.

It had been 33 years since she looked up at the silver screen, and cringed as she watched herself in the movie that had launched her career.

Things were much different now, she had the money, the fame, the career, and it was both everything she ever wanted, and nothing at all.

She had heard the line “if you aren’t enough before the gold medal, you won’t be enough with it,” but she hadn’t heeded the warning, and now she sat starting down 60 with a list of accolades as long as she arm, feeling empty.

It wasn’t, as some of the traditionalists would say, a lack of family, because even alone as she was, there was no part of her that regretted the choice not to marry, to have children, and if she had any regrets it was letting go of friends to pursue this dream.

It was only when she had the money to retire that she asked herself what she was doing, why she had done this, and it seemed that there wasn’t really an answer to that question, at least not for her.

She felt like she was 20 years late to her midlife crisis, too late to make changes, so she pressed send on the email to her agent, agreeing to the audition for the kooky grandma, not because she wanted it, but because she didn’t know what she wanted, and why not keep on going with what she had.


Making the Magic Circle

Hello hello, and welcome to this week’s six-sentence story, written for the word of the week TENSION.  I tool this one and used the crafting version of this word and came up with a bittersweet 6.  Follow our narrator, as she attempts a craft for her daughter. Anymore than that would spoil it all…

She stared down at the overworked piece of garbage in her sore hands, and was tempted to just give up and buy one on amazon, after all Tilly wouldn’t know.

She would know though, and of all the things Tilly had asked her for, asked Santa for that she wouldn’t be getting because money was tight, it was the stupid coasters were the thing Tilly had put as her most important request.

Chloe had a bunch of them, and was lording them over the other girls, making them the go to status symbol in their grade level.

Tilly didn’t understand that the other girls’ moms probably already knew how to crochet, weren’t working two jobs to make ends meet, and mostly say at home, so finding the time to hand make yarn owl coasters wasn’t a stretch for them, like it was for her.

Part of her wanted to tell Tilly she would have to accept that, but her daughter had already lost her father, her home, her old school, and all of her friends, so she couldn’t bear to tell her should couldn’t have this, not when she could afford it.

So she unravelled the lump in her lap, went back to the first YouTube video, “and this is how you hold the yarn to create tension,” it was going to be another long night, but it would be worth it Christmas morning.

50 Shades

Hello Hello and welcome to microfiction Monday, this weeks prompt was “Write a Fable”, which I absolutely fell in love with. Follow Fanny as she experiences her justice system from the side of the defendent, I will say it is not as saucy as the title implies, and the following trigger warnings apply: Murder, Attempted sexual assault, extreme justice, dark AF. Hope you enjoy.

The rating system had always seemed fair before Fanny found herself at its mercy.

Where a jury was made up of twelve people, the new system presented the facts to 10,000, simply as they were, with no emotion, embellishments, or heartfelt pleas for mercy to sway the raters before they chose innocent or guilty. There were only two punishments, exile to a penal colony, or death, though some would argue given the conditions at the colony, it was a question of which was worse.

Upon implementation, crime rates plummeted, and for the first time in her life Fanny felt safe walking home alone at night in the city. She did so each night, and she was honestly shocked when the man held her at knife point, and told her to take off her clothes.

She fought, she got the knife, she stabbed him, and despite the fact it was in no way her intent, that knife struck an artery, and he died.

Intent however, was classified as an embellishment, as was a description of her fear, the way it felt to have him standing over her, the fact he had 100 pounds on her, and even the fact that with her broken heel she didn’t think she could outrun him.

She looked at the facts of the case as they were presented, and hoped for death, because there was no accounting for circumstances, and should she be sent to the colony, she might as well have surrendered to her fate. 

Suddenly, the idea of a few guilty people getting off on the mercy of other, seemed like less of a tragedy than it once had, and Fanny sobbed as she recognized the price of the thin veneer of safety that had been created.  She never realized that she would be the one to ultimately pay.

*Moral of the story: Not everything is black and white, reality is full of shades of grey.*

Dark Discoveries

Hello hello and welcome to a dark short story.  What is that I hear?  What’s different than usual?  Well probably nothing, but it was written for the prompt from the Belleville Writer’s Collective:

‘He might have said anything, knowing it was his final hour’ – The Buddha’s Last Instruction by Mary Oliver

So follow the story of our narrator, who chooses not to follow instructions, and discovers something very unsettling.  Don’t want to spoil it, but dark and creepy, so reader be warned. Note, best read aloud, and to that effect I am trying to upload audio to this for the first time ever.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I pulled the brown photo album out from where he said it would be.  If I’m being entirely honest, I didn’t expect to find anything when I reached up into the attic from the top of the closet.

I sat with it on my lap for a while before I opened it, looking down at the cover’s embossed gold lettering, PHOTOS, and considered doing as he asked and tossing it into the fire.  Looking back, I wish I had.

I braced myself before I opened it, hoping that I wasn’t about to see a collection of vintage nudes, but that would have been better than what was inside.

I flipped through the pages absently, and then what I was seeing really hit me.  I ran trembling fingers along the brittle plastic sheet, feeling the raised edge of the Polaroids underneath, 4 to a page.

The ones in the beginning were fading out, the date written in blue ink providing a stark contrast to the thick yellowed border at the bottom edge of each photo.  The terror though, that was still as visceral as I imagine it was the days the pictures were taken.

As I moved through the album, the pictures became clearer, far more of them than I could have imagined, even if I could ever have imagined something like this.

The transition to grainy ink-soaked paper was jarring, a reminder of how angry he had been when his trusty old camera had broken, and replacements were astronomically expensive.  We tried to get him one with film, but he was insistent on not being dependent on someone else to make his pictures, why didn’t it occur to us to ask why he didn’t want anyone else to see.

We went together, Jannie, Donnie and me, to get him the digital camera and printer, and while it wasn’t a Polaroid, he was glad for a way to continue his photography.  I never did ask him about it, never saw another picture he took outside those ones of us the day we gave it to him.  Now I know why.

The newer Polaroid’s hadn’t had a chance to fade yet.  I tried to imagine him taking these with the pastel pink camera I bought him at Michaels, when “instant” pictures became the new fad a second time.  I felt like a million bucks looking at the smile he had on his face when he unwrapped the box Christmas morning and saw the camera, I had gotten him, now I feel like garbage.

As much as I tried to deny that he did this, was a part of this, evidence to the contrary hit me page after page.  A two year gap in dates during his recovery, the barely legible scrawl that followed when he still had weakness in his left arm, and the sharpening penmanship as he fought his way back to full mobility.

I remember thinking how strong he was in the face of the stroke, how determined he was to recover, and I thought it was for all of us, so we didn’t lose him, but he probably wasn’t thinking about us at all.

Another few years and the writing starting going downhill again, the last photo was dated a week before we first brought up the subject of a nursing home.  I thought he was being stubborn when he resisted over a year, but looking at the basement in the background, it must have taken him almost that long to get rid of the evidence in the condition that he was in. I always thought it was strange that he put so much work into it for a place he was soon to be leaving, but I thought he was in denial.  He wasn’t though, it was all calculated, every bit of it.

I closed the album, and looked at the fire.  What do I do now?  Do I heed his wishes, and toss it?

I wished more than anything that I had listened to those last gasping words he said on his deathbed, that I had thrown it out without looking, or that I had ignored him entirely, dismissing the instructions as a product of the dementia, but I hadn’t, and now I had a choice to make.

This could give a lot of people closure, but at what cost?  He wouldn’t suffer for it, he was gone.  It would be me, and Jannie, and Donnie who paid the price.  It would be my son, my daughter who was six months along with her first, so her son too.

I found myself on the stool in the closet, tucking the album back into the attic, before I had even really thought about what I was doing, but I couldn’t bring myself to pull it back down, not now, maybe not ever.

I closed up the attic, and swept up the stray bits of insulation from the closet floor like I was trying to sweep away the memories of what I had seen.  I didn’t have to make a choice on what to do with it today, but until I did, there would always be a small part of me thinking about the album in the attic, and my father’s last words, “pictures…. attic…. burn them…. don’t look.”