For this week’s challenge, I have re-worked one of my most popular short stories (and also one of my personal favourites) “Death By Roses.” You can visit the original post here. Hope you enjoy them both!
Death by Roses. What kind of a perfume name was that?!
She selected it from the rows of delicate bottles standing behind glass doors; hoping her sister would like the present.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Ooooooh! Death by Roses!!! How did you know?”
“Just a hunch! Glad you like it.”
Her sister squirted and sprayed herself liberally, before spraying the bouquet over everyone.
Feeling pleased, she didn’t notice at first.
Then her mother screamed, “I thought you’d grown out of your anaphylaxis!”
The video footage was grainy, but Taylor recognized them easily.
That was definitely a male, and a female, collecting her mail. She furrowed her brows, trying to make sense of it all.
She had known something was up. She hadn’t received any mail for weeks now. Which was unusual. I mean, there were always bills! she thought.
So her friend Jess had suggested she set up a trail camera. It was easy enough.
The first bit of footage she’d reviewed, had captured a wayward moose. That in itself was an interesting theory. She’d imagined it, carrying her post away and reading it in the comfort of, well, wherever it was mooses (or was it meese?) live.
But this. This was something else altogether. She strained her eyes, confirming the identifying features she knew so well.
The moussed hair was a dead giveaway. Nathan was never one to leave his vanity behind. What Taylor couldn’t understand was why his new girlfriend was part of it. She didn’t even know her!
Or at least, that’s what she thought.
The footage continued and the girlfriend turned around. Giving Taylor no doubt, as to who it was.
Jess wiggled her fingers and gave the camera a cheeky smile.
Taylor was furious! Jess had mentioned she had started a new business on eBay. She’d just never clarified what. Taylor looked at the packaging of the trail camera, and the final pieces fell into place.
Seems eBayer cash4jess81, would do anything to make a buck!
June 7, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about man glisten. It was a fun term coined by two men with glitter in their beards. What more could it embrace? Look to the unexpected and embrace a playful approach. Go where the prompt leads
He was in with half a chance of solving this grisly murder. He just knew it!
Detective Bailey had been tailing the suspect for a few days now, and every sense was tingling; telling him he was close.
He sipped a mouthful of yet another bad coffee, and grimaced. He hated the stake outs the most. If not, just for the coffee!
He drew the binoculars up to his eyes and trained them on the small, darkened window. Still nothing.
Relaxed, he leaned back in his car seat and turned on the radio. He whirled the dial until the radio squeal found his favourite golden oldies channel. Queen’s “Bicycle Race” song was playing.
He smiled and began singing along, “Bicycle! Bicycle! I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike…”
Suddenly, there was a blast. The windscreen of the car erupted in a shower of glittering shards and Detective Bailey felt another vehicle slam into the passenger side of his vehicle.
Reaching for his gun with one hand, and bracing himself with the other, he looked up and into the eyes of his suspect; staring at him from the wheel of the other car.
And then he ran for it.
Pawing at the door, Detective Bailey opened it and spilled out into the street. He half-crawled, half-sprung to his feet and gave chase.
He saw the darkened, form ahead make a sudden dash down an alley that Bailey hadn’t even known was there.
The detective’s size eleven shoes echoed clunkily on the road. If the suspect didn’t know he was after him, he did now!
The alley was dark and Detective Bailey scanned the various dumpsters and other unmentionable alley paraphernalia, for his man. He heard the clinking of a chain link fence, as it settled back into its resting position. It had obviously been recently scaled.
“Dammit!” he swore loudly.
He had lost the suspect…
Just then, a shrill and commanding voice, pierced my conscience. “Excuse me ma’am. You can either borrow that or put it back on the shelf, but please stop narrating the book out loud! You’re disturbing the other patrons!”
I closed the book, smiled sheepishly, and slunk out of the library…
Author’s Note: Dedicated to all my friends at Bravehearts On The Murray Dragonboat Club. I was privileged to paddle with this club from 2010 – 2013. More than just warriors on the water, they are a competitive dragon boat club, with a rich history, providing friendship and support for those who have had a cancer diagnosis.
Also, a victory video from when I paddled with the Cowboys in Melbourne (yes, I’m in it)…
Many years ago, a fearsome dragon terrorised the land. The dragon had a hunger that could not be sated. It ate the livestock, the wildlife, and even, on occasion, the children. After a particularly brutal attack, the villagers decided it was time to take action.
The dragon loomed high in the sky and one by one, arrow by flaming arrow, they eventually brought it down.
The dragon plummeted to earth with a mighty thud. Taking its last shuddering breath, it crashed into the land and sea. Waves settled over its powerful body and it came to rest.
And so, the tale became legend, as good tales are wont to do. Scientists call it erosion. But if you look carefully, you can still see the dragon…
“The thieves took everything except the dog.” Sally noted.
She looked around the room, taking in the upended furniture, open drawers and general disarray. It was a far cry from the usual meticulousness, that was characteristic of her home. They had taken anything of value.
She surveyed the missing items, creating a catalogue in her mind:
– the brand new LCD/LED television and DVD player,
– the BOSE surround sound stereo system,
– the Versace dinnerware set she’d received as a wedding gift,
– her treasured Christofle silverware, and
– various Waterford crystal pieces.
They’d even taken the ornate urn with her mother’s ashes! They must have mistaken it for a vase or jar, she supposed.
A hot ball of anger began to well deep within her. She turned to the mutt who was lying in his usual spot in the armchair.
“This is all your fault!” she screamed. “Where were you when we needed you?”
He stared back at her, his eyes unblinking at the accusation.
Her husband stepped up behind her, and gently laid a hand on her shoulder.
“Oh, Sal,” he comforted, “I know you’re upset, but being angry at Buster won’t help things.”
He spun her around and searched her face, begging her to be reasonable, “After all, it was your idea to get the taxidermy done, instead of getting a new dog.”
“I know, I know,” Sally sobbed. “I just miss him so much. He was the best guard dog ever.”
Amy pressed the “Sold” banner across the For Sale sign. She thought about the commission she was making and smiled. She had really upsold this one, completely overstating the value. Suckers, she thought.
She put her hands on her hips, stood back and surveyed the property one more time. As she turned to leave, she noticed smoke billowing from the back of the house. An orange glow flickered.
Shoot! Amy cursed, frantically grabbing for her phone.
Although the fire department responded quickly, by the time they’d arrived, the house had gone up in smoke…and Amy’s commission along with it!
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – May 17, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about property values. Perhaps its a home, business or pencil museum. What makes them go up or down? Go where the prompt leads.
Monogamous. Bonded for life. Couples are known by synchronous, trumpeting calls. The female initiates, standing with wings folded and beak pointed skyward. The male mirrors, but with wings flared. The performance begins.
One bird picks up some grass, tosses it into the air, and catches it in its bill. The bird then jumps into the air with outstretched wings, bows, struts, and bobs its head up and down.
First, the brolgas dance for their mate; then dance in pairs. Finally, they dance together as a whole group.
I observe them through my binoculars, amazed; thinking, “The charisma of cranes”.
Author’s note: The brolga is a common, gregarious wetland bird species of tropical and south-eastern Australia and New Guinea. It is also known as the “Australian Crane”. It is a tall, upright bird with a small head, long beak, slender neck and long legs. The plumage is mainly grey, with black wing tips, and it has an orange-red band of colour on its head. Brolgas are well known for their ritualised, intricate mating dances.
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction – May 10, 2018. Task – In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story defining “the charisma of cranes.” For centuries, cranes have inspired art and philosophy. You can write a crane story or create something new out of the phrase. Go where the prompt leads.
My Fitbit vibrated against my wrist. “Let’s go for 250!” it invited. Clearly, it was unhappy with my quiescence. I looked at the clock and realised I had indeed, been sitting in front of the computer for over an hour. I was surprised. Time had passed so quickly, yet yielded little in return.
I cursed the blinking cursor, briefly wondering if that’s why it was called that. I smiled at the idea of others cursing their cursors. I got up, stretched my legs, circling the room until my Fitbit vibrated with satisfaction.
Suddenly, an idea came! I sat down and commenced writing for Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt…
This rain is really coming down hard! she thought, I can barely see the lines! She craned her neck, and gripped the steering wheel tightly, trying to stay in her lane. Suddenly, bright red lights flared in front of her. She slammed her foot on the brake pedal but it was too late. The car slid on the wet black coming to rest, in the back of the car in front of her. She pulled over, and got out of the car to talk to the other driver. Relief washed over her as she realised it was her husband!
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction – May 3, 2018. Task – In 99 words (no more, no less) use a line in your story. You can think of the variation of the word meaning, or you can think of visual references. Go where the prompt leads.
I was looking forward to the fishing trip. I always loved the thrill of the catch… well, most of the time. Sometimes I came away hungry! Arriving at my favourite spot, I saw a couple of men were already there.
Ah, some healthy competiton, I thought. I set myself up and waited. A few fish were congregating, but were disappointingly undersized. They wouldn’t sate my appetite!
Suddenly, I spied a good-sized, juicy-looking trout. I swooped in; snapped up the wriggling fish in my beak, and flew away.
“Hey Bob! That bird just stole your fish!” a man onshore yelled.
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction – April 26, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a fish tale. It can be about fishing from any angle, about those who fish, or what might be caught. Go where the prompt leads.
Gravel crunched under my feet, as I began the hike through one of the youngest eco-systems in the world – the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Geothermal areas were marked on my map, as well as native plants and bird-life, to look for.
Feeling grounded, I breathed in the fresh mountain air, imagining the breeze was really the forest exhaling along with me. I rounded the corner and saw steam rising from the aptly named baths in front of me. Glaring sun broke through the canopy.
Out of the fire and into the “Frying Pan Lake“? Shinrin-Yoku at its best! I thought.
Prompt: Daily Post Daily Prompt – forest; and also, Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction – April 19,2018, Task – In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about forest bathing. You can use the Japanese term, Shinrin Yoku, or you can make up your own ideas about the phrase. Go where the prompt leads.
I tried to focus on the priest’s sermon, but the light fixture behind the altar, kept drawing my attention. How realistically it flickered; shadows dancing behind the coloured glass even though it wasn’t turned on! I craned my neck and squinted my eyes, trying to see what was moving. Suddenly, there was a high-pitched shriek. The congregation looked, confused, but I knew from where the sound had emitted. A black wing unfolded over the edge of the light fitting, as the creature found a more comfortable position. A bat who’s found himself a new bat cave! I thought incredulously.
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – April 12, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bat. You can use an association to the winged, cave-dwelling critter, or you can explore the word for other meanings. Bonus points for including a bat cave. Go where the prompt leads.
He’d been attending for a whole month now and failed to catch the eye of the beautiful red head. What’s the point? he wondered. He’d tried every move he’d been taught. Showing off whenever he’d had the chance. He’d even tried to engage her as his partner, attempting eye contact but to no avail. She always chose the squat, sweaty man. He just didn’t get it.
She was so lithe, so graceful. She fairly glided across the floor. The man was clumsy and awkward, and so much older than her. What did she see in him? he stewed.
Sighing, he collected his towel, and packed his dance shoes into his shoulder bag. Maybe he’d give it one more week. He thought of the creamy curve of her neck, the gentle way she held her frame. He wanted her to slip into his strong arms and nestle there for the entirety of at least one lesson.
Rather than dash away, as he had during the previous weeks, he decided to loiter; lag behind and see if he could intercept her departure and make his case.
He busied himself tying his street shoes and fussing with his sweatshirt, all the while monitoring her movements out of his periphery.
His jaw clenched as she clasped the older man’s hand fervently and left the floor. The man led her to her own bag before letting go; pressing her arm firmly and heading back towards the instructor.
It was now or never! he thought, seizing his opportunity.
He strode over to where she sat. She appeared lost in thought, her gaze unfocused. He smiled and waved at her, with no response.
Great! She’s ignoring me, he chided himself despairingly. But he’d committed himself now, so he persisted.
Smiling again, he spoke, “Hi. I’m Simon. You were amazing out there tonight.”
Her head lifted, and she smiled. Her perfectly white teeth and blue eyes shimmering in the soft lighting of the wings.
“Thanks,” she replied, bashfully.
Did he detect a blush creeping up her cheeks?
“I love to dance,” she continued, “but…it’s so hard for me, you know…”
Her voice trailed off and she looked away.
Confused, he sat down beside her.
“You know…what?” he probed gently.
“Alicia?” a gruff voice interrupted. “You ok?”
He lifted his head and saw the older man standing over them. Like a cat. Protective; ready to pounce.
She nodded, “I’m fine dad.”
Ahhh, dad! he realised, pleased.
“Well, good. Ah, here you go,” her father replied, guiding a small white stick into her hands.
“I’ve got to go,” she told him.
“Will I see you next week?” he implored, still not comprehending the situation.
She laughed. A musical tinkle, that made his heart sing.
“I guess you will see me,” she stated matter-of-factly, “but I may not see you!”
And with that she unfolded her cane and tapped her way out of the room, no longer dependent on her father’s arms.
He watched her leave and was more determined than ever.
Next week, he knew he would be the one to guide her around that room.