Flash Fiction Friday: Screaming Into the Void

Hello Readers, Writers, and Friends,

I broke my toe.

The breaking of a toe functions as a physiological insult. My gait, my balance, my activity level: all these things and more are in total disarray because of a bone less than an inch long and its unfortunate contact with a large glass jar of green chilies. The jar was unharmed. And this whole affair is the more to be lamented because there is so little one can do for a broken toe besides ice it, stay off it, tape it to a neighboring toe for stability, and hope for the best as the weeks needed for healing go by.

The whole situation is excessively stupid.

That is not why I didn’t post last week. That had to do with school ending and child related craziness. Similar amounts of craziness have ensued this week due to the toe situation. But despite the ever present throbbing, I am here with you to write a little something.

This week’s prompts are: astronaut, bounced check

We hiked into the desert to watch the lunar eclipse on the 15th. My camera wasn’t quite up tot he task, but it was glorious to witness.

It takes a real sense of calm and discipline to become an astronaut. It takes all kinds of other things too, but if you are going to resent out into the black void, then ensuring you maintain the machinery of your mind and body are crucial. They screen way more vigorously for the right mental attributes than for physical strength or academic prowess.

So when a micro comet knocked out the outbound communications equipment, and the backup was patchy at best, we didn’t panic. We knew we were due to switch out with the next team in the coming month. They would bring new equipment with them when mission control realized they weren’t getting good responses from us beyond acknowledging we had gotten their messages. No big deal.

We went about our daily tasks: training in the zero gravity to keep our muscle density up, checking the various experiments and recording the relevant data, we even got our normal messages from home.

Three days in, that’s when it happened.

I opened the blinking light of my notifications to find a message from the bank. And a message from the company that owned my mortgage.

My check had bounced.

“What?!”

My exclamation was so loud in the relative confines of the station that it drew half the crew.

They all just stared at me, waiting.

“The check bounced,” was all I could say.

It didn’t make sense. It was set to automatic withdrawal. My wife would have been sure to put enough money in the right account. This had to be a mistake.

“You fix when you land,” assured my hefty Russian colleague. “They won’t take astronaut’s house.”

My Russian friend was clearly unaware that in America the banks didn’t care who you were if you didn’t pay your mortgage.

But more than the stupid check and the status of my loan I couldn’t stop thinking about Patty. What had happened to my wife that our affairs were in such a state of disarray? Here I was eating food that had to be slurped out of a pouch, doing hours of physical labor just to maintain enough muscle mass not to be crushed by earth’s gravity on return to earth, doing important science that might change the future of humanity and what was she doing?

Not keeping track of the bills, that was for dang sure.

I could almost imagine that I saw our house imploding through the window as I stared down on entirely the wrong continent.

“I have to talk to her!” I said.

Everyone just shook their heads. The broadcast time was too unpredictable, too unstable. It had to be used only for necessary comms with mission control.

“So your wife ran away, big deal.” My Russian friend was trying to console me again. “I have lost three wives already. It is what you do when you are in space all the time.”

But he didn’t know Patty and me. We were in love. We were true partners. How could she do this? Was she ok? Maybe she was in the hospital. Maybe she was in an accident of some kind. Maybe she was in tahiti with that personal trainer from down the block that she was always talking to on Facebook.

“I have to talk to Patty!” I made a lunge for the hallway that led to the comm capsule. But it was four against one. They velcroed me into a sleeping bag and then to the wall.

I’m told I screamed for the better part of two days before I lost my voice, but I don’t really remember.

They transferred me into the return shuttle like that, all trussed up.

It turns out Patty fine and it was a bank error. And as it turns out I have a real sense of calm and discipline as long as I can talk to my wife. That’s why I work from home now.

A quick confession. As I was italicizing the text I added a line. I know that’s kind of a no-no, but I couldn’t resist. Which is why you don’t go back and reread things that are meant to be one-off pieces. No review, no corrections, so no point in rereading it. But I thought I should tell you that fell prey to the temptation and cheated, a tiny bit. I hope I am forgiven, and I’m wondering if you can tell which line came after the fact.

~Anika

Flash Fiction Friday: A Dear Little Friend

Hello Readers, Writers, and Friends, It’s been a minute, I know. Between Easter, sickness, new meds, old meds, and general entropy life has been somewhat chaotic around here of late. I am not complaining. Just letting all of you lovely … Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: At the End of the Path

The key to any endeavor is consistency. Moving on. Resistance, a term of art coined my Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art, is kicking my butt of late. I’m not “blocked.” (Which isn’t a thing anyway.) I’m … Continue reading

Mini Fiction Monday: Once and Future Waves

Hello Readers, Writers, and Friends,

Welcome to another installment of Mini Fiction Monday. Here in the States it is a holiday. President’s day to be precise. So there has been hiking and much whining from children about doing chores on their day off. The sooner they learn there are no days off, the better. And given that so many of our most outstanding leaders have birthdays in February perhaps we should add that as a litmus test for the candidates over the next few cycles. It may be arbitrary, but it couldn’t possibly make matters worse. A nice, quiet Pieces could be just what this nation needs. But enough politics.

Now is the time for fiction. For a mini fiction. A tiny something to make us smile and give our week a lift, right from the beginning. I remind you that I don’t edit these. I free write them, with only the autocorrect to save me from my woeful typistry. As always, I hope you will join me, take these prompts and use them on your own to generate a story you can share or keep all to yourself.

This week’s prompts are: a character of the Arthurian legends, ocean

This is from the last time I saw the ocean, which was too long ago.

The ocean keeps and tells secrets.

Every wave a whisper of some cryptic sentiment, lost to its depths. Some ancient, others only days old. But when the ocean brings you a clue, a new revelation with he tide, you ought to listen.

You have to be very careful though. Because if you let it, the ocean will sweep you away to, making you just another secret it’s hiding away.

It revealed me to my mother. Washed me ashore in a row boat.

And then it revealed me to myself.

I was sitting on the rocks, fixing a fishing net, there was nothing to do but fix the fishing nets or fish with the fishing nets or gather the reeds that mother would use to make the fishing nets, when the wave left at me.

IT broke over the rocks, and pulled me out into the water.

I hated the water. Just like I hated the cold. But I was a strong swimmer. Mother insisted.

When I rose tot he surface I was already far from shore. I could see our little house perched up on the hill, looking out to sea with its blank little windows.

And the ocean kept pulling. It pulled me out, and away and down. Only to spit me back up so I could see that I was hopelessly far from the beach, from home.

The waves pushed. And I let them. I knew better than to fight a rip tide, and this one felt as though it had hands, gripping my ankles, yanking me here and there. I almost wondered if I was meant to be another stolen secret that the ocean would keep until it washed me ashore somewhere, but then I saw it.

In the deep, shining from its burial in the silt of the seabed, was the hilt of a sword. It defied its surroundings without even a barnacle on the hilt. I knew it wouldn’t pull free, and that I would die trying to lift it, let alone swim with it home, but I gripped it anyway.

And then she was there, smiling at me. A lady made all of water and light.

The sword came free in my hand, and buoyed me up and up.

The foam roiled around me, and I lost track of which way the shore was. I swallowed more water than I breathed air, but the choking didn’t stop me from hanging on.

I flailed and splashed, and finally i gave up all that and just clung to it, with both hands. Trusting that whatever this was, it would get me home again.

Then feet found the bottom, I walked up onto the sand, not a stones throw away from he rocks where my fishing nets still sat, as though the waves had no use for them at all.

The sword found its true weight, now landed, and I had to drag it, exhausted as I was, up the hill.

Mother was calling me from the door of our house.

“Arthur, supper time!”

Mini Fiction Monday: Hell Hath No Fury

Hello Readers, Writers, and Friends, I made it to Monday, and I feel good. I do feel obligated to let anyone who read Last week’s post on resilience that there are many ways in which I am a total wimp. … Continue reading