Izzy didn’t believe in luck, until that cat crossed her path.
She had always been certain that events in her life were the direct result of her own decision making and efforts.
But that cat. That damned cat.
It changed everything.
Izzy had always been in control. Self-assured. Confident. She was a fortress, impenetrable and locked up tight. She didn’t let anyone or anything in, and she didn’t want to.
Which was what was so annoying about the whole situation. In one split second this cat had undermined everything she’d worked for. Just like that.
She glanced resentfully at the small obsidian mass of fur, contentedly purring on the passenger seat of her car. He didn’t even seem to realise, nor care, that he’d had such a close call. Nine lives down to eight now.
Her eyes darted back to the road again, as she gripped the steering wheel tensely. No, no, no, her subconscious chanted.
Only a couple more blocks, she reasoned. Then this would be someone else’s problem.
She whirled her vehicle into the drive of the animal shelter, breathing a sigh of relief as she flipped off the engine.
“Right hairball,” she stated firmly to the cat, “time to go.” She unbuckled her seatbelt and reached over to grab him.
She gently lifted his warm, silky body. He really was very cute. Maybe…
Nope! she thought. Let’s go.
She snuggled the cat close to her chest, lifting the flap of her jacket over the top to keep him warm. After all, it was cold out.
Izzy crunched her way up the gravel pathway, trying to determine where the entrance was. She stepped up onto the verandah and tried the first door.
She wandered slowly along to the next. “Welcome to the RSPCA” she read on the small plaque.
Ahh, she sighed. Here we go. She pulled the handle but was met with more resistance. It too, was locked.
She swore under her breath as she took in the sign, “Opening Hours 7:30 – 5pm”.
Flicking her wrist, Izzy observed the time 5:07pm on her watch. Seriously?! she thought.
She pondered what to do next. Maybe, she could just leave him on the doorstep? No, that wouldn’t work – he’d just wander off; maybe back onto the road again. Was there an after hours number to call? Her eyes scoured the colourful signage for more information, but to no avail.
“Looks like you’re out of luck bud,” she said to the cat.
He looked up at her with his spooky yellow eyes, challenging her otherwise.
“Well you can’t come with me!” she objected.
The cat opened his mouth, and yawned.
At this, she laughed.
“Honestly, you don’t want me to be in charge here.”
But the cat’s gaze was unwavering.
“I look after myself, not others. It’s not personal, it’s just how I am,” she babbled.
The cat blinked.
She was beginning to see, there was no point arguing.
“Well, I guess, if it’s only for one night,” she conceded.
At that, the cat snuggled back into her chest and began to purr. Mission accomplished, he seemed to be saying.
Izzy’s heart melted and knew right then, that that cat wouldn’t be going anywhere. He was undeniably, all hers.
It was Lucky indeed, who showed Izzy what she didn’t even know she was missing.
August approached in a golden sweltering haze. The customary way she entered a room, really.
Her hair fanned out around her shoulders as she sped across the floor. The glower in her speckled hazel eyes alerted me, this was not a social visit.
Drawing a deep breath, I forced a smile and said, “My darling! What a surprise, and delight.”
“Oh cut the crap,’ August retorted.
“Why, now. There’s no need for hostility August,” I crooned.
“Spare me the platitudes,” she scoffed. “I’m not in the mood.”
“Yes. Ok, yes, That I can see. So why not tell me the problem?”
“You know very well you icy bastard.” She was positively radiating rage. The heat of her anger danced a trickle of sweat down my forehead.
Well, she had me there.
I did know; I just wasn’t sure why it was always such a problem. Better to beg forgiveness now, I conceded. Make it easier for next time.
“August, honey – you know how this works.”
“But it’s so unfair!” she whined. “People like me! People crave me. I make their lives so much happier. Happier than her, anyway. What does she have that I don’t?” she demanded.
Without waiting for a reply, she continued.
“Honestly, all I want is a few more days. A week. Two, max.”
“August, I’m sorry. I am. But it’s just not possible. You’ve had 31 days, and that’s more than some. Think about poor February for instance.”
This caused her to pause, so I went on, seizing the momentum.
“It’s not like you won’t have another chance; and you can build up your energy again – shine bigger! Brighter than ever! Eleven months is nothing in the big scheme of things. Give your fans time to miss you, and I assure you, you will be adored even more,” I promised.
Her eyes softened, and she smiled.
“I guess,” she said, ruefully, “I mean September is such a hot mess, how could they not adore me?”
“That’s right,” I soothed. “You’re so right beautiful August. They call it “the fall” for a reason – how could she live up to you? Now chin up. You’ve got your last day to enjoy!”
August beamed as she air kissed each of my cheeks goodbye. It was true. Bathing in her sunshine was glorious.
After she had gone, I sighed and leant back heavily into my chair. My temples throbbed from a headache that was developing and I needed a drink.
That had been a close call with August. And it didn’t make it any easier knowing I now had September to deal with.
My job wasn’t easy. Nope. Not at all. But as they say, “Time stands still for no-one.”
It’s all a blur – once the meltdown begins. That familiar sinking feeling, consumes me again.
My face blanches as I realise what I’ve done. It’s too late now though. It’s happened.
“What were you thinking?” my beleaguered mind screams.
“That’s the problem… she wasn’t,” replies my subconscious, smirking, “Always the way, once she gets a few drinks in her.”
My head spins as I scrabble to assemble jigsaw pieces of the previous night.
But it’s no use.
There’s nothing there.
Time hosts invisible memories.
Sick to my stomach, all I can do now is ask, “Who else knows?”
She had known this was inevitable. Lying down, she submitted to her fate, took a deep breath, and swallowed hard. Fearfully closing her eyes, she waited. It wasn’t long before the torture began. The unicorn was really going to punish her. First of all, it flicked at her skin with its coarse tail. Contemptuously, teasing her. Circling her. Feigning as though to charge, but merely brushing past. She winced with each whip of the tail, sharp as razor blades, indeed drawing small droplets of blood with each stroke. It finally stopped, but she knew it was far from over.
She braced herself for more. Without warning, roughshod hooves began to stomp over her. The delicate skin of her back soon became pressed with their crescent moon shape. Tender and sore, she was continually trampled. Taking deep shuddering breaths, she tried not to scream although tears had begun trickling down her cheeks long ago. She swiped at them viciously, loathe for anyone to see her submit to the pain. Four muscled legs danced over her. The flank of the beast was shiny with sweat and clearly defined veins popped from within. Its body was a strong and magnificent construction.
I’ve never see a unicorn in the flesh before, she thought deliriously. The pain had now reached blinding heights. Sharp, searing agony consumed her being. When at last, she thought she could bear it no more, she heard (or imagined) a voice say, “I’m nearly done”. With that, the unicorn’s ivory horn speared her. She gasped as she came face to to face with the mythical animal. A bright light came into focus. “Am I dead?” she asked. The tattooist rolled his eyes at the melodramatic customer in front of him. It’s always the ones who want bloody unicorns! he thought.
Our small crew of lighthouse keepers, landed in the spring, on the station off the coast of Isle Royale. We stayed for the entirety of the shipping season; due to leave in the fall. But the remoteness and inaccessibility of the light, made provisioning risky; burdensome for those ashore. In the end, we got down to a single can of tomatoes.
You find out man’s true nature under such conditions. One has to survive, and there are ways to dispose of the bodies, out here on the rock.
A light for the ages, brought out darkness in our souls.
The sky looked like ink, no stars, just black; that’s how it began.
Shelley took a deep breath as she waited for the curtains to open. Braced for the notes that would signal her cue, a hush fell over the audience as the first tentative strains of music swirled through the theatre.
She stretched and eased herself into the well-rehearsed moves. Her form gliding effortlessly across the stage. As the crescendo approached, she began to spin.
This was why she’d become a dancer. With each turn, she felt she could truly fly.
Carrot Ranch, May 16: Flash Fiction Challenge, Prompt – In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes in search of trees. It can be one particular tree, a grove, woods, or forest. What makes the tree worth seeking? Go where the prompt leads!
Carrot Ranch, March 21: Flash Fiction Challenge, Prompt – In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a bucket of water. What is the condition of the water and what is the bucket for? Drop deep into the well and draw from where the prompt leads!
I finished the linear coat of gloss and smacked my lips together with satisfaction. I had formed the perfect Cupid’s bow.
I smiled and winked at myself in the mirror, thinking about the bare-faced person who had been looking back a mere 15 minutes ago.
I opened the catch on the windowsill. One, to let in some fresh air, and two, to listen for the familiar engine that would herald his approach. He was stringent about being on time, and I wanted to be ready.
But the minutes came and went, and still he didn’t come.
Agonisingly, they ticked by. It was a little melodramatic I know, but I was literally watching the second hand. ‘Round and ’round it went. Each rotation a slap to the face, until finally, I conceded.
He wasn’t coming.
I pummelled my fists against the table, unable to harbour my frustration and disappointment any longer.
Crestfallen, I began to wipe away the face, I had been so pleased with. My reflection gave me the silent treatment. There was no need to put into words what my heart already knew.
Kihei, Maui had deceptively more on offer than I’d thought. I sat my weary self down, noting the lazy colonnades made by benches and umbrellas. Even they had had it – pulled in and folded down for the evening.
I sat swirling my cocktail, hoping it would ease my aching muscles. The sun dipped below the tree line, drawing long shadows on the ground and I’m almost tempted to ask a passing cyclist if I can hitch a ride. The thought of walking up the hill, is overwhelming.
I waved goodbye to mum and noticed dark grey clouds in the frame of my windscreen.
It seemed rain was imminent, so I put my foot down on the accelerator and started the 20 minute drive home (depending on traffic).
As I snapped on my indicator and turned onto the motorway, fat drops splattered slowly, almost haphazardly on the glass.
The wipers moved back and forth clearing my view, and I gripped the wheel more tightly, bracing for the inclement weather.
A sudden bang, made me jump.
It was soon followed by another.
Momentarily confused, I realised that the rain had now turned into glazed, white balls of ice. And they were coming down hard. Smashing into the bonnet and roof of my small car. Its boxy shell no match for the wild will of the hailstones. I guessed their diameter around 4-5cm.
Cursing, and scared, I looked around frantically for shelter. The steep embankments on the side of the road offered me no option. I saw an overpass ahead, and limped along cautiously, pulling up underneath.
With baited breath, I waited out the freak storm. The hail continued to slam down violently behind me, and the wind wailed eerily through the tunnel. I glanced in the rear vision mirror at the drivers behind me, their faces named with the same fear and concern as mine.
Then, as suddenly as it began, it was over. Shaking, I pulled back out onto the motorway and drove the rest of the way home.
I emerged safe and unharmed, but the same could not be said for my car.
I gaze absently at the raindrops trickling slowly down the window pane. Not really seeing them, but looking beyond. The unfamiliar street scape is making me anxious.
I moved back to the city just last week and each time, it startles me to see buildings instead of wide open spaces. I even added a little greenery on the window sills in a feeble attempt to abate my need for the bush.
A wave of homesickness washes over me, and I once again question, ‘Have I done the right thing?’
I guess only time will tell. That, and a little faith…
Dressed in their finest, sleek grey suits, they glide along effortlessly. A graceful, yet determined southbound march. Playing follow the leader, they duck and weave around each other. Occasionally pausing to wave to those watching.
The parade is a long one, traipsing half the length of the globe.
Suddenly, with a mighty push, a mother leaps majestically from her position in the parade, and lands with a triumphant splash. Her newborn baby calf copies her in tandem, delighting those viewing from the shore. It’s learning. Every September, the kings of the sea, make their parade of nations to feast.
Author’s Note: Each September we holiday at Scott’s Head in NSW and enjoy the Humpback whales’ annual migration south for the summer. These were snapped and filmed just yesterday…
Carrot Ranch, September 20: Flash Fiction Challenge, Task – In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a parade of nations. It can be literal, or it can be a phrase that you use to describe a situation. Explore what it could be. Go where the prompt leads.
She watched him surreptitiously, as she closed the liquor cabinet.
She took a quick gulp of the burning whiskey, and just for a minute the clock seemed to stop.
She took in his tall, hulking frame, electric blue eyes, and shock of black hair. He ruffled a hand distractedly through it, before somehow, he sensed her, looking at him.
She quickly looked away but not before a hot blush stole across her face. With disgust, she felt her pure lust for him; imagining herself lying under him, her own golden hair crowned upon the pillow.
Shelby swore softly under her breath as she realised he was now walking her way.
She turned and rushed out of the lounge, into the food store, hoping she could hide from him, in the kitchen. She wasn’t ready for this, all the turbulent emotions he was evoking in her. It was too soon.
From her concealment in the cupboard, she watched him survey the apparently empty room. He went to the sink, peeked out the window and across the lawn as though expecting to see her running through the grass.
Shelby realised she was holding her breath and silently, she prayed he would leave – look for her no more. Then she wouldn’t have to reveal herself to him.
She stayed strong in her resolve, even when she saw the single tear rolling down his cheek. It was nothing compared to the thousands she’d shed for him. If he wanted her back again, he had truly missed the boat this time.
Finally, he turned and left her in the darkness, and the party went on around them.
She slid down the wall, and reached for a packet of crisps.
Bobbie Jo wouldn’t know class if it crawled into her knockoff Prada and went home with her.
Mandy shook her perfectly poised platinum bob and made a “tsk” sound. She would have to speak to someone about the lax staff, letting someone of that caliber into the country club. Anyone who lacks such decorum should hardly be allowed past the front door step!
I mean, really! she thought, haughtily. What next?
She turned, picked up her real Prada and stormed elegantly out of the venue. After all, she had a plane to catch.
She arrived at the airport, and directed her driver to the private hangars. She was looking forward to travelling on her own jet, and not having to deal with the nuisance of other passengers.
I mean, really! she thought, haughtily, When one had a financial position such as she, why not?
She primly collected her overnight bag and business suit, resting on its hanger in a sleek protective bag, and handed them to the steward.
Her stiletto heels clinked on the metal steps as she climbed into the small, but perfectly formed Learjet.
She clipped her seatbelt loosely around her hips, sighed contentedly and leaned back in her seat. Mandy pressed the service button. She deserved a champagne.
The steward brought her a delicate glass of Moët and Chandon. She took a sip and analysed the fine little bubbles, softly popping as they reached the top of the chilled glass. She realised the steward was still standing there.
I mean, really! she thought haughtily. Wanting a tip already?
“Uh, ma’am?” the steward began, nervously. “Um..well..”
“Yes?” she probed, becoming irritated.
“Well, ma’am, I just need to let you know, there’s been a slight change in the plans for our flight.”
Mandy sat straight up in her seat.
“What? What change?” she snapped. She could not be late for this meeting!
The steward continued, “Our regular pilot, Captain Blake, has fallen ill, so I’ve been advised to let you know, there will be a replacement filling in for him.”
“Oh, fine. No problem,” Mandy said, relieved. Why was this idiot even bothering her with such details? she wondered. I mean, really! She didn’t need to know such trivial matters.
“Anyway, Captain Beaumont just wanted me to let you know,” the steward continued, before wandering off down the aisle.
Beaumont? Captain Beaumont? Mandy thought hard. Why was that name so familiar?
As the pieces fell into place, Mandy was horrified as Captain Bobbie Jo Beaumont, entered the cabin, waggling her fingers at her, and giving her a knowing grin…
I placed my knife and fork together gently on the plate, and wiped my mouth with the fine linen napkin. I leant back in the chair and sighed a deep, contented breath.
As I exhaled, I felt uncomfortable pressure – my pants, digging into my rotund belly. I furtively glanced around the restaurant, sure that no one was watching, reached down and popped open the top button.
Out of nowhere, I heard a voice.
“Everything ok ma’am?” a waitress asked, as she cleared my empty plate. She looked pointedly at my stomach.
July 5, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes buttons. You can use the word plural or singular in different expressions, or focus on how buttons relate to a story. Go where the prompt leads.
June 28, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is a sketch or about a sketch. It can be “A Sketch of a Romance” or “The Sketch of Aunt Tillie.” Go where the prompt leads you to scribble.
June 21, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about “not all is lost.” It can include recovery from disaster, an unexpected insight after a fall, or however the phrase moves you. Go where the prompt leads.