Writing: a new flash fiction

I try to put a new short fiction on my webpage at the end of each month. For August, I’d already done the five part experiment for POV, so I decided to keep this story short–very short. More like flash fiction.

I just finished the romance I’ve been working on, and it put me in a happy, gooey mood–unusual for me. And it made me want to write a different kind of romance, not the fresh ups and downs of new love, but the enduring comfort of knowing someone for a long time. It’s on my webpage (in the left column under Loretta), but it’s so short, I thought I’d just stick it here:

A Mill Pond Romance of a Different Sort

Mom was having another bad day. I turned her every morning and every night, like the doctor told me, but she was still getting a bed sore on her bottom. I noticed it when I changed her diaper before breakfast. Her skin was so thin, her body so fragile.

After I fed her, I plumped her pillow and put her favorite musical in the DVD player. We talked while I started a roast in the Crock Pot and straightened up the house. Noah came over in the afternoon and lifted her into her wheel chair, so I could push her onto the front porch, and the three of us could sit outside, inhaling the freshness of a mild spring. A breeze drifted off of Mill Pond’s lake, and two ducks flew overhead. Mom usually noticed, commented. Today, she didn’t.

I sat on the porch swing with Mom’s chair pulled close beside me. Noah sat in the rocker across from us. He took a sip of the lemonade I’d brought him, sat the glass on the wicker table, then wiped his hands on his worn jeans.

“It was mighty nice of you to invite me over for supper tonight, Loretta,” he said.

“Without your help, I couldn’t get Mom in and out of bed.” I reached across to pat his knee. “Supper’s a small thanks for all you do for us.”

“I’d help you anyway. You know that.” He would, too. There was no more thoughtful man than my neighbor. After he’d lost his wife four years ago, I’d taken to having him come for supper. When he retired two years ago, he’d taken to helping me with Mom. Just having him around, in the house, gave me a sense of comfort. We often sat on the porch on warm afternoons, enjoying a midday break.

I raised my voice so Mom could hear me. “The daffodils you planted sure look pretty this year.” They bobbed their heads in the flower bed nestled under the pink crabapple tree.

Mom glanced their way and nodded. She shivered a little, and I pulled the blanket higher on her lap and buttoned her heavy sweater. Then she raised her arm and pointed to the end of the sidewalk. In a shaky voice, she said, “Look, Loretta. Lou got out of work early.” Her lips curled in a smile. “What are you doin’ home so soon, hon?”

I exchanged a glance with Noah. My dad had passed twenty years ago. Up ‘til now, Mom’s body had failed her, but her mind was sharp. I’d considered that a blessing. I reached over to touch her. “Are you doin’ okay?”

Mom gave a peaceful sigh. “I’m tired. I need to rest. Your dad and I are taking a trip soon.”

Goosebumps rose on my arms. When I stood, Noah rolled Mom’s wheel chair back inside the house, and I helped him get her into bed, then fiddled with her blankets and pillows until she was comfortable. She closed her eyes briefly, then blinked them open. She reached out and patted Noah. “Lou gave you his approval. You and Loretta will make each other happy.” Then she shooed us out of her room.

Noah looked at me and blinked. I felt restless, not sure what to think, how to feel. I went to the kitchen and pulled my apron over my head. “I’m in the mood for a pie.”

Dad had always loved lemon meringue pie. I found myself rolling out dough and whipping egg whites. Noah stirred the lemon filling. After we took the pie out of the oven and placed it on the wide window ledge to cool, we went to check on Mom.

I knew she was gone the minute I looked at her. A body isn’t the same once the soul leaves it. I remembered staring down at Dad in his coffin. A body, nothing more.

Noah came to stand beside me and reached for my hand. We stood there, looking down at her, and a ray of sunshine burst through the window, engulfing us in light. Noah gave my fingers a squeeze. “I’m glad your dad approves.”

I smiled. Mom and Dad would be happy now, and so would Noah and I.

(I have two other short Mill Pond romances on my webpage, if you’re interested. http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/)

Writing–flash fiction

This is not my usual post. It’s not even my usual type of writing, but I wrote this short-short for a blog contest. Didn’t win, but I still like it. So I thought I’d post it on my own blog. Just for fun.

Dirk’s Ring
Judith Post

The phone rang. The receiver was only inches from her hand, but she’d never reach it.
Clarissa didn’t bother to open her eyes to listen to the message on the machine. She couldn’t open her eyes. It took too much work.
“Hi, hon, just wanted to let you know I’m working late tonight. I’ll grab something to eat on the way home. Save me a kiss.”
Bastard. Going for an alibi. Her fingers were slick with blood. She moved her thumb and finally pushed off her plain, gold wedding band, letting it fall beside her. That ring had sealed the deal. She’d been touched that he offered something so simple instead of trying to impress her. But he’d had plenty of time to perfect his routine, hadn’t he? His last wife had died, too. And to think that’s another thing that had attracted her to him, how much he still loved the young bride he’d lost.
She tried to chuckle, but could only gurgle.
The knife was so sharp, and the slice had been so quick, she hadn’t felt any pain. The blood flowing from her throat had made her too dizzy to stand, though. She’d tried to crawl to the phone, leaving a smear of blood in her wake—her oak floors. Could someone get the stains out? Lord, she loved this house. He’d tossed it to make her death look like a robbery gone bad.
Spots danced under her eyelids. She’d rub her arms, if she could. She was cold. Then something warm pressed against her. Soft fur caressed her skin. Cheesenip’s purr rumbled, and she felt something inside her relax. Her orange cat had gotten away. Dirk had tried to catch him. The two of them never got along. That should have told her something right there. Her fingers itched to stroke him, but the spots were beginning to fade. Black seeped to erase them.
Oh, well, she’d known this might happen, hadn’t she? Terri, the practical Virgo, had never been fooled by Dirk.
“Don’t you think he’s a little too perfect?” she’d asked.
Dirk always said the right thing, made the right gesture. Was he too good to be true? There’d been warning signs she’d ignored. When was she going to make her investments joint? Was her house ever going to be their house? And flashes of anger showed more often when she resisted.
Why had she resisted? Had she always wondered? Did Dirk love her or her money? Would he stick around if she didn’t comply?
They didn’t have children. Dirk told her that he wanted to enjoy “couple” time before they had kids. She had no close relatives. The looks he darted her lately said he thought things weren’t quite right between them. He must have decided not to wait, that the courts would award him, her husband, all of her properties.
He always could read people well, but he was in for one heck of a surprise. Terri would care for this house—the house Clarissa left her when she’d made changes to her will. And she’d take good care of Cheesenip. She’d promised to when Clarissa gave her the envelope with the words “In Case of my Death” scrawled on the front. The letter inside spelled out that the police should look closely at her husband. Clarissa had left Terri a large chunk of money, so that she and Cheesenip could live in comfort.
And the rest? Clarissa had willed everything else to a program that provided free neutering for stray cats—a catch and release program. If people took in kittens and then tossed them out when they were tired of them, like Dirk collected and killed wives, her money might make a difference.
This time, as the black claimed her, she did smile.
Dirk hated cats.