Conspired

Mari sat in the passenger seat, waiting for Mark’s return. They had come to the Marina for the Independence Day fireworks and been there most of the evening.

It was just before 10pm, and the fireworks display would be starting any second. Mark had a crush on Mari since high school, but was never brave enough to ask her on a date. Even she could see it and she encouraged his attention, but events conspired to keep a relationship from developing.

First there was Brian, her “dud” ex-boyfriend, who was the perfect rebellion relationship to inflict on her parents. But like the firecrackers in the distance, he was all noise with none of the flare. She was glad when he finally left town and that ended their relationship.

Whistle….pop! A bottle rocket exploded nearby.

Then, Mark left to go to college across the state. They exchanged a few emails and texts, but it had been two years since Mari had seen him in person. Mark called her up and invited her to the display at the Marina. Her curiosity compelled her to accept.

Crackle-crack-crack-crack. More firecrackers.

Mari looked up to see Mark standing at the front of the car with a sheepish grin. He held two cups of cherry slush.

Sizzle…whoosh…boom!

The first firework went off behind him. The impact of the sound rattled the car window. Mari smiled and got out the car. They climbed on the hood and watched the perfectly timed and placed explosions, filled with color and sound.

Sometimes events conspire to make perfect moments, too.

*******************
Written in response to writing prompt on Poets&Writers, to write a short story that takes place at fireworks display. This is more of a character study, or maybe flash fiction, but the prompt definitely helped me.

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Conspired

Foundation

“Why I can’t get something on paper,” Bill thought to himself.

He tapped his fingers intently on the table in a rolling rhythm of four beats– from ring finger to thumb. Rapping over and over.  That motion always seemed to calm him, though it irritated Allyson.  He always did that when he was trying to think, sometimes too hard.  His wife only heard the noise and didn’t understand the coping strategy.

Bill stared at the white screen of his laptop…tapping his fingers.

His writer’s block had worsened in the last several days.  He had a submission deadline looming for a set of four stories, and was struggling to get the final one written.  To help alleviate the stress, Allyson had suggested they come to her family’s cabin for a four day weekend.

Normally, he could type out ideas with little effort – they would roll from his thought process through his fingers to the screen.  Editing was always more difficult. He couldn’t bear to chop up his work.  His short story drafts were legendary in his writing group for their superfluous detail and he always plead ‘stream of consciousness’ writing.

Bill ran his fingers through his hair, and stood up from the table.  The laundry buzzer sounded off four repeating beats. After switching the load of the spare bed comforter to the dryer, he returned to kitchen table to continue his writing.

He sat for a moment, then he began to type some random sentences about the idyllic scenery at the cabin. It was situated on the edge of ridge with a stream running beneath it, in ravine about 50 feet down a steep grade. There was a spectacular view from the porch, where you could look across the ravine to rolling hills and watch the morning mist burn away.

His thoughts were interrupted by a thumping sound from the laundry closet. Thump, bump bump, thump.  The dryer rumbled, but the noise continued.  Bill rose from the table and went to investigate.

Opening the dryer door revealed a bloody smear inside the drum, and resting on the partially damp comforter was a severed left hand.  He stepped back, startled and confused.  Then he noticed the dried blood on his shirt.

It all unraveled in his mind as he stumbled backward.

“Hon…why don’t you take a break and go outside to clear your head?” Allyson called from the bedroom. Bill looked around in disbelief, the sound of the dryer was still humming in the laundry closet.

Bill poured a cup of coffee, and stepped outside on the front porch. The morning mist was rising away from the hills, revealing the undulating landscape. In the distance, there was the sound of a woodpecker.

Tap, tap, tap, tap.

Bill smiled, then drank a gulp of coffee.

Foundation

Day 26: loose connections

At the reception, I was soaking up the surroundings – sounds, facial expressions,
body language – all of it swirled inside my head
as I walked around the room.
When I empty it onto paper, all of this may
or may not come out intertwined with other words
to make an event that never happened
happen.
******
I spend the afternoon vacuuming the area rugs –
the ones that are burgundy with geometric framing
that direct me around and around the perimeter.
After I’m done, I empty the canister of its contents –
All the dust particles are grey
except for the black pet hair from the hallway runner
where my dog sleeps.

Day 26: loose connections