Copse

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Like the abandoned building itself, the adjacent land had surrendered to disuse, transformed after four decades into a disorderly copse. Thin aspens and birches crowded against each other like commuters on a railroad platform jostling for an open door. No tree in the untamed collection allowed sufficient space for any other to grow to its full potential. Overhead leaves provided a dense canopy in summer, yet in lifeless winter the grove extended pale fingers into the grey sky. Rejuvenation would come in the longer days of spring; until then, the lot idled in a restless slumber.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

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Better Use

PHOTO PROMPT © Fleur Lind

He replied curtly, hoping but not expecting to pause their argument, then tossed his phone face-up onto the dashboard.

The western horizon was colored in wine as he exited the rest area. The ruddy brilliance promised good weather that evening, into the following day. Perhaps that would take an edge off their confrontation.

Oncoming headbeams filled the cabin with light, and he saw in his windshield the phone’s reflection. He’d received another text, no doubt from her, but he was driving now and would arrive in ten, fifteen. Enjoying the fading sunset seemed a better use of his time.

For this week’s Friday Fictioneers, I chose to ignore that the cars in the photo prompt appear to be driving on the left side of the road.

Eleven

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Coal. Since the building was over a century old she assumed the stairway’s original purpose was to deliver fuel for basement coal furnaces.

The locked gate at the top couldn’t prevent detritus from littering the eleven steps. Oak leafs, plastic bags, wrappers and receipts. Discarded after windswept journeys.

Midafternoon sunlight allowed her to see that the bottom steps were largely uncluttered. Less wind, but gravity… she then saw the gray box on the wall. A transmitter for wireless meter readings, mounted above the third step. The installer must’ve cleared the steps during setup.

“New superseding old,” she murmured, walking away.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Bills in Jerusalem

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

This Jerusalem neighborhood had the feel of Europe, with its absence of automobiles (forbidden within a three-block area) and the gently curving pairs of trolley tracks embedded in its streets.

With 20 minutes to spare before his tour bus departed, Joe walked deeper into the neighborhood, occasionally stopping in front of a shop.

“New York?” Joe looked toward the speaker, arms crossed and leaning against an open doorway. He was olive-skinned with a dark beard and an inquisitive face.

“How’d you know?” Joe asked.

The man tapped his chest, and Joe remembered he was wearing a Buffalo Bills t-shirt.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Bad Day for Sneakers

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Butch’s house was a ten-minute walk along the street but only four through the woods. In summer Hugh could bike around the trees.

Most of the half-inch snow from Tuesday had melted, and the mid-20s air would keep the ground reliably firm. Hugh only wore boots when he had to; they didn’t seem necessary today.

The woods were no problem, but when he approached Butch’s house he saw the stream running along its east side had widened. It was shallow but frozen only along the edges.

Boots would’ve been perfect. In sneakers, he’d have to trudge up to the road.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Where I Was Sad

PHOTO PROMPT © Lisa Fox

Her daughter was upset by her grandfather’s death, but she hadn’t known how badly the 11-year-old had been hurt.

Something unusual on the deck caught her eye; objects were on the clothesline they’d strung for drying beach towels. She opened the slider, and gasped.

Her daughter’s stuffed animals were hanging by clothespins. Froggy, Tweeter, Pus, Tuuk, all the rest.

“Meaghan!” she yelled, an answer coming from the bedroom. She raced up the staircase and saw the girl lying in bed, reading. “What happened to your animals?”

Without looking up, she replied, “They didn’t want to be where I was sad.”

Went a little dark today for this week’s Friday Fictioneers, but that’s where the image was taking me.

Phase Window

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

“Not now,” she whispered futilely. The phase energy prickled her fingertips like frostbite, and when it crawled onto her toes and forehead she knew the unpredictable change was proceeding.

The kitchen around her began fading from her sight as new objects appeared simultaneously. “A street,” she murmured. She wasn’t wearing a jacket, but fortunately the weather in the world she was entering seemed pleasant.

Mid-way through her transition, she realized how the two worlds appeared like a reflective bay window, its view of the outside world mingling with the reflected image of the interior. Sighing, she surrendered to the change.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Spectrum

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

“We can Uber,” he suggested.

“Really?” she responded. “Using the name of a technology firm as a verb?”

“Well we’ve refered to this condo as our Airbnb, so there’s a linguistic precedent.”

She laughed while turning to the condo’s bay window. The horizon’s sunset seemed divided by the nearby bridge, a solid burnished red beneath the stone and metal line but a faint yellow quickly giving way to blue above. She wanted to enjoy this natural spectrum further, but was also hungry. “How far is the restaurant?” she asked.

He checked his phone. “One point four miles.”

“Let’s walk instead.”

After taking a week off to enjoy a tropical vacation, it feels good to return to Friday Fictioneers.

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.