Tag Archives: Red Writing Hood

Mena Photakis

He’d been enchanted by the woman since they’d both arrived. She’d spilled out of the passenger seat of a Chevy pickup, waving as the driver sped away with a cheerful toot-toot. He was carefully disembarking from his taxi, strapping his briefcase awkwardly to his rollaway and fishing in his wallet for cab fare. She was barefoot, wearing a small hiker’s backpack and a long, sleeveless dress. Her hair flowed down over her shoulders, her breasts, the pack, her arms; the wheat-blond strands were easily more than two feet long.

She was three places ahead of him in the security line. A little girl in front of her struck up a conversation. He watched as she crouched down, lean and willowy, to admire the child’s sparkly sunglasses and ballerina doll. She laughed with the child’s mother. He shifted his luggage out of the way of a passing people-mover and his briefcase toppled.

Over her shoulder, the child grinned at him. He waved a file in reply.

The woman sailed through security, tossing the pack nonchalantly onto the conveyor, padding through the metal detectors with a sweet smile. While he hastily retied his wingtips and fished his watch from the little white bin, she pulled a pair of folded ballet slippers from a side pocket of the pack and slipped them on, balancing on one foot, then the other.

He fidgeted in his seat at the gate, anxiously watching the departures board. From time to time he looked over at where she sat, cross-legged on the floor by the window, using the backpack as a back cushion. Weak bars of sun, filtered by the terminal’s dirty glass, played in her hair. She’d gotten coffee and some kind of flaky pastry, the crumbs from which she brushed from the pool of fabric in her lap.

He’d only just gotten up to check with the Gate Attendant about his aisle seat when the little girl from the security line crashed into the back of his knees. Her face was streaked with tears; she was towing the ballerina doll by it’s long pink hair.

“I can’t find my Mommy!” They were the scariest words he’d ever heard. He turned to plead with the attendants for help. When they questioned the child, she only shook her head and clung to his pant leg.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “We’ll find your Mommy.” He patted her hair and cast wildly around the gate area for some sign of the little girl’s family. Instead, he turned to find the woman, backpack on one shoulder, hair coiled up on top of her head, holding her hand out to him.

“Mena Photakis. I met this little girl earlier. I’ll help you find her Mom.”


Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodThis week we’d like you to write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece set entirely in an airport. Take us on an adventure in 450 words or less.

Et In Arcadia Ego

Joanie, saw this and thought of you. Who else could I think of? “Yes. We must hurry if we’re going to dance.” – PS, watch the flame.

It wasn’t her father’s tiny, square lettering. This was the hasty scrawl of a passionate man. Marguerite dropped the unfolded page of college ruled paper on the table. Like it’s hot, she thought, suppressing a ridiculous giggle.

When she’d asked her mother if there was anything she could bring, she’d expected a list: the red sweatshirt-bathrobe, her Chanel #5, a Russel Stover sampler, the new Linda Lael Miller. Anything but this.

The endless tests, the needles and fluid lines were taking their toll, and Marguerite sensed her mother drawing inward.

“On the shelf above my writing desk,” Joan had said to her daughter, eyes glittering with pain and some emotion Marguerite couldn’t define, “there is a book, a play. Arcadia, Tom Stoppard. ”

The book lay splayed out on the floor. Marguerite had opened it, intrigued by its plainness. A paper bound Samuel French script, like a dozen she’d used in high school and college, pale blue, like an exam book. She’d flipped to the beginning, skipping the first billings and the dramatis personae, and spent nearly an hour, curled like a quotation mark over the kitchen counter, swept into the play.

When her phone shrilled she’d dropped the book, the note fluttering and skittering across the linoleum like a wounded moth.

“Yes. We must hurry if we’re going to dance.” She’d nearly torn a few pages, feverishly skimming for the quotation, certain it would be in the play. There in the final pages, a young Regency woman in bare feet, waltzing with her tutor by candlelight on the eve of her seventeenth birthday. Watch the flame.

Who else could I think of? Marguerite’s chest tightened. In her thirty-two years, no one had ever spoken such casually devoted words to her.

Joanie. No one was allowed to call her mother Joanie. Not even Dad. And it wasn’t her father’s tiny, square lettering.


Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodInspired by Angela’s return to longhand, and the more personal, less-distracted feelings she derives from putting pen to paper, your prompt is this:

A stand-alone scene, fiction or memoir, in 500 words or less, involving a handwritten letter.

Wrinkled Continent

He missed the old days, before security tightened up, when you could meet a flight at the gate, watch the passengers emerge from the jetway.

It just isn’t the same down here, he thought, looking at the luggage spewing out of the chute onto the conveyor belt below.

He watched the travelers pouring down the escalator. His eyes searched out her face, but his body called out to her first—a tightening in his fingertips, a rush of electric current in his cells.

Her dark hair swung, an unruly curtain hiding her profile. He knew her by the way she clutched her phone, the way her fingers on the cross-body strap of her bag betrayed tension.

She looked out over the clusters of people around the carousel; her gaze scanned without settling on him.

Could he be wrong? Was that not her?

She stepped off the escalator, combing back her thick hair and shifting her bag from hip to back. She saw him.

He wasn’t aware of going to her, only of the relief of having her in his arms. He wrapped her in everything he’d wanted for the moment. They swayed, clinging silently to each other while the crowd flowed around them.

She’d always described herself as a burrower, and he smiled against her hair as she tucked her face into the collar of his shirt.

When he couldn’t stand it any more, he drew back. He framed her face in his hands and studied her. Half a heartbeat to understand her face, the other half to align it with memory. Heartbeats slowed, a bass line thrumming between them.

They were close enough to draw breath from one another, twined and entranced, but he hesitated.

Her eyes, green- and brown-flecked kaleidoscopes, mirrored the fierce joy racing through him, but he hesitated.

Sometimes I wish I could just wrinkle up the continent to be with you.

“I’m getting on a plane,” she’d said. “You’ll be there, won’t you?”

The inexplicable cord that bound them snapped tight and drew him to where they now stood, close enough for him to count the pale freckles under her eyes.

No more hesitation.

He pressed his lips to the corner of her smile, caught the peony scent of her perfume when her wrist brushed his cheek. Her fingernails traced the hairline behind his ear and she sighed into him.

Even as one kiss ended another began, neither one willing to relinquish the other’s long-desired mouth until the noise of the terminal began to seep through.

He pulled away, leaving one last chaste kiss on her cheek. She looked up, met the eye of a passing commuter and blushed furiously.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hi,” he replied.


Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodYou have 450 words to write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about the forbidden or the taboo. 

This one is a rewrite of an old favorite, cut down from the original and retouched. You may interpret what is forbidden and why as you like.

I’m also linking this up with Trifecta‘s open writing challenge for July.

The Preacher’s Boy, Part Three

A flash fiction series in three parts today, each part is rooted in one of the writing challenges I’m participating in this week. If you missed the first two, start here and follow the links forward. Here is Part Three:

Her rich fiancé’s family took Gillian and her parents away to be buried with their boy under the Spanish moss at Bonaventure. Martin’s Pa held a service to remember them here in the parish church, what remained of them nailed tight in pinewood coffins.

“Nobody needs to see that beautiful girl all burned up,” Martin’s Ma said. She was friends with Gilly’s Mama all her life, even though Missus Cooper married a doctor and brought their daughter up polished.

Not too proper to have a gentleman in her room after dark, Martin reminded himself grimly.

Sweating in the front pew, patting his Ma’s hand while Pa prayed over the trio of burnt bodies, Martin thought he saw a glimmer of spun-gold hair, a dazzle of diamond fire, in the cooler shadows under the gallery. The mingled scents of kerosene and rose-water tickled his damp upper lip.

Awakening from restless, crackling dreams that night, Martin heard a scratching at the window. Heart thumping, he untangled his legs from the damp sheets. Lighting a candle against the dark, he stared out into the inky, moonless night. He cried out when a scorched hand pressed up against the glass. His heart stopped long before the candle’s hungry flame devoured his room.

The whole town turned out for Martin’s funeral. He was buried in the parish graveyard, miles from the Spanish moss at Bonaventure. The preacher from the next parish gave the sermon. While his Ma wept for his death, Martin’s Pa buried a secret deep in his soul.

No one would ever know about the starburst diamond ring he found clenched in his son’s blackened hand.


Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodThis week, your prompt is a simple concept that can be fraught with complication. You have 400 words to write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about freedom, in any way that makes sense to you.

Freedom is found and lost here, even if the ending is rather a grim one.