Parallel Tuesdays

In Time (a 500-word story)

Here’s some flash fiction for you, inspired by writing challenges from two fabulous writers, Ozlem Yikici and Haley Whitehall.

Ozlem Yikici’s Transparent Tapestries prompts:

  • Painting/Photography by an Artist: Maurice Utrillo’s Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, 1931 (It was this beautiful painting that planted the seed for my piece)
  • Random lines of Poetry by Poets: Lighthouse by Gerard Woodward
  • An Art Movement/Writing Genre: Purism

Haley Whitehall’s Dreams prompt:

  • This challenge is dream inspired. Everyone has dreams of some kind–day dreams, nightmares, goals for the future, thoughts about being someone else or living a different life. (This prompt immediately brought my opening line to mind.)

The Ruined House

In Time

In my dream, I make it home in time.

I walk right past the bookshelf near the checkout at the market. The light at Jackson and Vine is green. I pass the Town Square before Mr. Wilkes pulls out in his ancient station wagon, going fifteen miles an hour down the street. I cross the railroad tracks before the signal goes off and barriers come down.

When I get home, Sammie tackles me with a hug.

Louis hands me Benny and kisses my cheek before putting the groceries away.

Benny babbles and claps.

Sammie shows me the picture she drew while I was out.

We see the light in the sky through the windows. Hear that piercing whistle. That whomp.

We won’t make it out. Not any of us. But we’re together.

But I didn’t make it in time. I was stuck at the railroad crossing. On the other side of the longest train on earth. That’s where I was when I saw the light in the sky that turned the world black and white for a moment, like an old movie.

Or an episode of Twilight Zone.

Sometimes the dream is so vivid I forget it’s not real. I want to stay there, in the before world. I don’t want to be here alone in the after.

“Heads up, Nance.” Mark passes me a bottle of Jack Daniels he keeps in his backpack for outings like this.

I take a swig like a pro. I never used to like anything harder than a wine cooler but the whiskey has grown on me. When I’ve had my drink, I pass the bottle to Karen, the new one, on my left.

We roll on down Jackson in the back of Hank’s pick up. Past the Town Square. Past where the church used be. Past the railroad crossing that will never signal again.

Mark’s sixteen year old daughter Liz, the only other one of his family to make it, stares past us all.

I know what she’s looking at. If you look just right, you can see the ghosts of the buildings that used to stand here. The white ash on everything could be snow. There could be people walking down the street and across the square. Arm-in-arm.

“Where were you? Before?” Karen asks.

There are six of us in the back of the truck but nobody answers.

I look at the bottle of whiskey still in Karen’s hands. “I wasn’t home in time.”

Karen passes on the bottle without taking a drink. “I was–”

Mark rolls his shoulders. Tips his head from side to side, stretching his neck. “We’ll talk later. After. Gotta get ready now.”

Karen closes her mouth with a snap.

I look at the sky. “Barriston?”

Mark shakes his head. “Farmington.”

A groan goes around. Farmington was hit worse than us. A lot worse.

“Reports of survivors. We gotta go get ’em.”

Silence.

I feel the weight of the gun across my thighs. “We’ll get there in time.”

***

No Write Thing Wednesday Blog Mash Up. It will return week after next.

***

What kind of dreams and stories do Haley’s and Ozlem’s prompts inspire in you?

 

Photo Credit
The Ruined House by Trey Ratcliff, on Flickr | CC BY-NC_SA 2.0

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20 thoughts on “In Time (a 500-word story)

  1. You have a fabulous blog! I’m an author and illustrator and I made some awards to give to fellow bloggers whose sites I enjoy. It’s not a pass on award. This is just for you to keep. I want to award you the Brilliant Writer Blog Award for all the hard work you do!

    Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.
    ~Deirdra

  2. Sonia this was brilliant -in all sense -I have an idea what happened but want to know what EXACTLY did happen. Hats off to you -you did a smashing job -yet again! 🙂

  3. Thank you! This one kept nudging at me. I heard the first line in my head and saw Ozlem’s picture prompt. I kept rolling it around and that came out. One of the things I love about flash fiction is how much it can surprise me, the writer. The stories almost always take a turn that I didn’t expect. 😀

    1. LOL about the dark turn. Someday I should write something sweeter. They just never come out that way. At least the stories I tell the kiddos at bedtime aren’t dark. 😀

      Not sure about the facelessness. The new comment sys is wonky sometimes.

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