Word Count?

In it’s latest “enhancement,” WordPress has removed word count lookup. Since many flash fiction challenges have word limitations, not having this feature makes this platform less desirable.

Please, PLEASE stop removing useful features in order to add more “hip” features, most of which I’ll never use.

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Walk Away

PHOTO PROMPT © Starsinclayjars

“Your appointment’s in three days,” she reminded him. “Don’t you think –“

“that he wants me to continue paying for rehab?” He ripped the Velcro straps circling his walking boot. “No pain in two weeks. I refuse to be an ATM.” He slid the boot off his foot, replacing it with a Croc from his backpack, before setting the book in the brush next to the sidewalk.

“You shouldn’t risk re-injuring yourself,” she demanded. “And… you’re not leaving it there, are you?”

“Time to walk away,” he said without looking back. “Time for that damn thing to be somebody else’s problem.”

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Unavoidable Reality

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Only 32, she already had a retiree’s weariness. A well-paying but uninspiring job, series of failed romances, family both physically and emotionally distant.

She disliked turning lights on within her house in the morning, as artificial illumination violated the comfort of sunrise. This wasn’t an issue eight months of the year, but the darkness of November’s reality was unavoidable.

Navigating the kitchen cupboards was difficult this Friday morning; she’d have to relent next Monday. She sat with coffee and stared out at the reluctant dawn. She’d have to leave in five minutes, but could allow herself to enjoy this moment.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Small Victory

PHOTO PROMPT © Brenda Cox

He’d been told free parking in the city was impossible to find, but the municipal garages were expensive. After dropping off his companion at the street fair entrance he decided to explore for a few blocks. When he saw a car enter the street from an alley, he drove with hawkspeed.

Surprisingly, there were several open and legal spots available in the alley. He parked his rental behind a jalopy, its frame decades out of fashion and covered with vibrant green paint.

Less than a block from the fair. He exited and locked his car, pleased at his small victory.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Covering Expenses

PHOTO PROMPT © Bill Reynolds

She’d been performing longer than she could remember but not long enough to feel jaded.

One of her bands had stayed together long enough to release a barely-noticed album. Revenue still hadn’t eclipsed the studio’s share.

Finding work as a backup performer required extensive travel, so she bought a trailer with the last of her ex-husband’s money. Between gigs she’d sometime set camp, hook an amplifier to her guitar, and announce a roadside concert on Twitter. A couple-few dozen fans would attend, toss a few bucks into a coffee can. She barely covered expenses, but earned enough to keep going.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

The Guilty Pleasure of a Kronos Agent

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The regulations are strict – no currency or valuable items can be transported back through the Temporal Portal. However, Kronos Agents are allowed to bring items without value back into the present.

Agents are scanned thoroughly on return from each mission. Declaring anachronous items is not mandatory for retention but is definitely helpful. Items that pass inspection are bathed in a benign isotope. No item with this isotope can be legally bought or sold, although a health black market exists.

KA’s have a reputation for being notorious pack-rats, their basements filled with ephemera collected while maintaining stability in the temporal matrix.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Solemn Ally

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

I actually think he’s inspirational.

His demeanor’s constant, like the blinking Low Toner light on the mailroom printer. I’ve neither seen him smile nor raise his voice, not even to alert me that I had left my laptop in the conference room, choosing instead to run and catch up to me.

Whenever he arrives in a room all occupants go quietly serious, not in fear but in acquiescence to his powerful solemnity. He’s like rain on a playground, all frivolity banished until his presence departs.

I can’t imagine befriending him, but he’s a better ally than most of my colleagues.

Contributing regularly to Friday Fictioneers makes me appreciate contractions.

Morning Message

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

“No coffee,” he told the waitress. “But can I have a pen and notepad?” He’d forgotten to bring them down from his hotel room in his lethargic rush to breakfast.

As they’d suspected, the dining area was nearly vacant. Yet a sleepless night had convinced him to abandon the planned rendezvous. The foggy curtain of mist outside matched his mood.

“Will this do?” the waitress said on returning.

“Yes,” he replied. The cellphone-sized pad was the perfect size for his minimal thoughts. He wrote:

I can’t. Sorry.

He set the notepad aside and waved to the waitress for his bill.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Prepared

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

They’d lost power over a day during the last storm. The approaching front was equally menacing, but he’d be ready this time.

The lamps were bought for décor, continuity with the past in their 21st century home. They hadn’t even bought oil until discovering how easily their electrical service failed in bad weather.

After filling the reservoirs and lighting the wicks, he turned off the kitchen lights. The lamps’ soft amber flames resembled sprites, spiritual entities breathing the air of a world alien to them.

He extinguished the flames and turned the overhead halogens back on. Ready this time, indeed.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

The Log

Make that two short stories published:

Permafrost, a literary magazine run by the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, has just published “The Log.” It’s a story I drafted all the way back in 2015, a fact demonstrating that the creative process often requires a great deal of patience. The fictional small town setting is the same as my first published story, “Second Intention,” although the characters are different.

What’s that aphorism – the first time’s an accident, the second is a coincidence, but the third constitutes a trend? I’m one more published story away from making my patience pay off.