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.

Brushfire Madness

Her fingertips crackle with spent fury. Her tears sizzle and steam when she swipes her eyes.

It was not her intention to kill, only to destroy. One thatched cottage, not two dozen. But bitter ash-rain devastated the homesteads; those who survived the burning horizon would starve come winter.

“You’re stronger than you know. I told you that,” he says. “But I also told you, you lack focus.”

Fresh rage sparkles over her skin. “I won’t make any more mistakes.”

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodFor Friday, a short challenge. Below are three fairly generic passive phrases. Your goal is to make them active in a short scene, either fiction or non-fiction. You can choose one, two, or all three to play with, but you only have 100 words.

  1. [he/she/I] was devastated by […]
  2. [feeling] was experienced by […]
  3. [person/thing] was possessed by […]


Isaac’s Crossing

From The Physician and the Siren. Continued from La Mouette:

“I could see all the way to the moon that night, Rose,” he says. “As if it were a thing I could touch. And that ship was more like home than land had been, than Britain waiting for me on the other side of the Atlantic.” His face crinkles into a smile. “I blame you for that.”

Her expression is inscrutable.

“You’ll know the feeling, I think, of sea sparkling under that white light.”

He reaches into his coat, pulling out and opening a gold locket. He cleans the glass with his sleeve before sliding it across the table to her.

“I wasn’t thinking farther ahead than her next meal. For months, I kept the child alive on gruel, but I swear she drank the salt air. When I arrived in London, it was to a family in turmoil. My sister newly widowed; she and my parents still in mourning for my presumed death.”

Rose’s finger hovers over the two miniatures. One of a baby, fat-cheeked and auburn-fuzzed. One of a milk-skinned child, fine of face, with wide gray eyes and a head of brilliant red ringlets.

“Are they very like her?” she whispers.

“They were made well, though she is rarely so still.” He laughs. “I call her Sirena. After your ship. Romantic perhaps, but—”

Rose touches the glass over the painted child’s cheek, her eyes stricken. “She was no fever dream.”

Isaac reaches for her hand over the portraits. “Felicity, my sister, and I took her to Brighton to visit the sea just last year. She spoke of nothing but ships and sailing for a whole month afterwards.”

Rose pulls back her hand and with them the locket. “She touched my cheek.” She pushes back from the table, disrupting a less than savory foursome playing dice.

A bear of a man in a black beard and oiled leather growls. “Hé!”

Ignoring the men and their game, Rose pushes through the tavern crowd.

“Where the hell are you going?” In his haste to follow her, Isaac knocks into the gamblers’ table, sending dice and coins rattling to the floor. The bear rises, grabbing Isaac by his coat.

He can’t see Rose around the huge sailor. The larger man shoves him back and he scrambles for purchase against the table, hitting the floor hard and rapping his head against the chair Rose had been sitting in.

The black-bearded man pulls his fist back, but the color drains from his face as the steel point of a blade dips into his fleshy neck. The assailant’s pale, fierce face and spiky russet hair are Isaac’s salvation.

Rose presses the blade harder, her low voice cold as the knife in her hand. “Relâchez-lui. Maintenant.”

As Isaac stands and straightens his coat, Rose drops the knife on the table and spits on the floor. “We should go.”

Outside the tavern, the moon is rising full and low over the harbor, as if it were a thing he could touch.

writing prompt, to the moon, creative writing prompt, memoir prompt, fiction prompt
Image courtesy of Jason Bache via Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0. Click image to return to source.

This week Write on Edge offered the phrase “to the moon,” and a 500 word limit.

A Beer at Flaherty’s

Charlie Grady nursed a Miller High Life long gone room-temperature. Flaherty’s was a shithole, but it was a place to go after Sheila kicked him out that morning.

He was going to have to hit the road in search of some quick cash. His Corolla wore every one of their three-hundred-thousand miles together poorly. The car needed work, and he needed a place to sleep. He swallowed the flat dregs and put a five on the bar.

Chip Flaherty took the bill with a nod, mopping the ring off the bar as he picked up Charlie’s spent bottle.

Too many people knew him in Worcester. Time to move on.

He was about to get up when the regional cable news came back from commercial.

“Wild weather in Vermont’s Champlain Valley left several local business owners scrambling to rebuild, especially with foliage season just around the corner,” the anchor said. “Lara Chase has the story.”

Charlie watched b-roll footage of Vermont while the measured tones of the voice-over took him to the small college town of Thornton. The report cut to a brunette reporter interviewing a young woman standing in front of a yellow house. The hills rolled away behind her to one side, cow fields to the other.

“Well, fuck me,” he muttered.

“Not on your life, Charlie,” Chip said. “What is it?”

Charlie, watched, transfixed. The young woman was the spitting image of Hope.

Chip peered at the screen. “I’d do the brunette.”

“Shut up,” Charlie snapped.

“Hey.” Chip smacked the bar. “What the fuck?”

“I think that’s my daughter.” An idea began to form.

“You never told me you had a kid.”

Charlie focused on the television. The house was in good shape, fresh-painted with flowers in the yard. An import station-wagon was parked near the garage.

“I have a kid,” Charlie said with a shrug.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodThis week we’re going to play Victor/Victoria. If you typically write from the male perspective, switch it up to the female. And if you generally write female, go for the male.