A Forthcoming End: Sneak Peek

Like I’ve said during my Friday posts: I’ve been busy at work planning for Summer Reading. What does that mean? It means I don’t have a lot of time to write–at least, not write chapters in my current stories that I think are up to the quality they should be. And yet it is story day on the schedule, so… quite a dilemma. But then I thought it might be fun to try my hand at some “flash fiction.” It would be a good writing exercise for me and still (hopefully) provide an enjoyable read. So I found a prompt and challenged myself to write that story in only 500 words or less.


As per the prompt, I decided to head back to Todd Everett the crazy world of spies and prophecies. To read the first story in the Forthcoming series, start here.

Prompt: Write a “sneak peek” of a story that you haven’t worked on in a while.

It wasn’t simply raining–torrents were lashing against the window, streaking along the glass like clear snakes across black sand.  The view outside the window was dark.  The trees that surrounded the small house were invisible to the storm outside–the only evidence that they even existed were the sounds of branches thrashing in the wind.  Nothing could be seen save for the reflection of the man staring fervently at the glass.  He was a rough man, with a beard as coarse as the thoughts racing through his mind. 

Henbane eyed his reflection, though he was hardly taking any notice of it.  He numbly realized that his blonde tresses were longer than he liked; some of the bristles were actually beginning to resemble hair.

            But time had been a precious commodity lately, and personal grooming was among the lowest of his priorities.  The highest priority, however, was the cell phone placed carefully on the table in front of him.  He refused to look at it, unsure of what sort of news he was really wanting–he knew what he was expecting.

            And what he was expecting would surely be a good report.

            For Cyrus, at least.

            Henbane turned his head slightly.  The image in the window copied the action, displaying the black patch that was placed over his eye.  Golden thread was finely woven into the material, but the elegance of the fabric did not detract from what it hid–a gaping hole where his eye used to be.  Henbane’s jaw clenched at the memory.

            Losing an eye was dramatic.  But a person was supposed to lose it because a bomb exploded, sending shards of glass into the retina.  Or a stray bullet struck the iris.  Heck, Henbane would’ve even settled for a bee-bee gun accident.

            He glowered, his fingers tightening reflexively into a fist.  It wasn’t the injury itself, it was how he’d gotten it–a pen shoved right into the socket.  Not dramatic at all. Not spectacular.  In fact, it was comedic. 

            Henbane didn’t do comedic.

            But, of course, there are some people that laugh at everything.  People who make jokes to hide their insecurities.

            Henbane thought this made those insecurities all the more visible; it was like putting a building in front of a neon sign–it might be concealed, but the sign’s light can still be seen, flashing dangerously below the surface.

            Henbane preferred fighting–there was no way anyone could doubt how he was feeling if his fist was connecting with someone’s jaw.

            He grinned.  Some people only feigned control over their emotions–and by “some people” he meant the exact person responsible for his missing eye.  Henbane breathed deeply.  That certain person (he thought each syllable with venom) had slipped past him too many times.  His luck was bound to wear out soon.

            Henbane would make certain of that.


Copyright Sarah Davidson 2021

200 and Counting

Like I’ve said during my Friday posts: I’ve been busy at work planning for Summer Reading. What does that mean? It means I don’t have a lot of time to write–at least, not write chapters in my current stories that I think are up to the quality they should be. And yet it is story day on the schedule, so… quite a dilemma. But then I thought it might be fun to try my hand at some “flash fiction.” It would be a good writing exercise for me and still (hopefully) provide an enjoyable read. So I found a prompt and challenged myself to write that story in only 500 words or less.

Prompt: Write about someone who keeps picking up different hobbies but never manages to stick with them.

                Adelia always thought she was indecisive. Sitting still had never been option for her, but never had settling down. She had gone through so many hobbies: She’d tried stamp collecting, but had ended up turning them into collages.

But when she tried making collages, they turned into scrapbooks. When she tried scrapbooking, she found her photography was too artsy. And when she tried to be a photographer, she found she enjoyed the walking and hiking to find the perfect picture more than the picture itself.

So she started hiking, only to find that it wore her out and the time she spent sitting down, jotting down her thoughts was much more enjoyable. So she decided to try poetry. But she couldn’t keep her thoughts short enough to be true poems, so she decided to try writing novels instead. But writing people was difficult, so, as research, she started people watching.

That was a lot of fun, but then she noticed all of the many, many ways others occupied their time: Reading, and dancing, and kickboxing, and drawing, and videogames, and a million other things.

                So she decided to try them all, but each one only lasted for a while. As enjoyable as each hobby was, it always led her to something else that seemed even better, even more fun.

                In the end, Adelia counted up that she had tried over 200 different hobbies–from collecting lunchboxes to mountain-climbing.

                Perhaps, she thought, she just wasn’t meant for a hobby. Perhaps she was too inattentive, too easily distracted.

                She scrolled through the photos on her phone–each memory, each excursion….

                And then she smiled.

                She did have a hobby after all!

                Her hobby… was to collect hobbies!

                With renewed energy and enthusiasm, she leapt up from her couch. What hadn’t she tried yet? Surely another 200 hobbies awaited her….

                Next stop… mountain biking! And then maybe beekeeping…. or axe throwing…. or….


Copyright Sarah Davidson 2021

Characters Anonymous

Like I’ve said during my Friday posts: I’ve been busy at work planning for Summer Reading. What does that mean? It means I don’t have a lot of time to write–at least, not write chapters in my current stories that I think are up to the quality they should be. And yet it is story day on the schedule, so… quite a dilemma. But then I thought it might be fun to try my hand at some “flash fiction.” It would be a good writing exercise for me and still (hopefully) provide an enjoyable read. So I found a prompt and challenged myself to write that story in only 500 words or less.

Prompt: Write a story entirely in dialogue.

Note: This one is me kicking myself a little bit. Ah… all those poor characters I’ve abandoned thanks to Writer’s Block. The first character is from a story I started for this blog–it starts here. I’m hoping one day to come back to it. In fact, it’s probably highest on my priority list. (Just don’t tell the other characters.)

                “Um… my name is Bo.”

                “Hi, Bo.”

                “Right… well… this is my first time at, um, Characters Anonymous.”

                “Welcome to the meeting, Bo. I know it can very hard to admit that the Writer has forgotten about us.”

                “Yeah, you can say that again.”

                “Why don’t you tell us your story?”

                “Well, I can tell you what I have. You see… the story started out with me as an old man–”

                “But you don’t appear to be any older than… 18, 19?”

                “That’s right. Because then the story went back to when I was a teen. And I was running away. But then I got kidnapped by this guy who left town a few years before.”

                “Is he here with us?”

                “No… he’s still holding out hope that the Writer will come back to our story. She took a lot of time and care describing him.”

                “Denial is all part of the process. Tell us what happened next.”

                “Nothing. She left the two of us driving down the road, going to Montana.”

                “Why Montana?”

                “I don’t think she knew.”

                “We all understand. Would anyone else like to share their stories–or at least the stories that they have.”

                “My name is Shad.”

                “Hi, Shad.”

                “I only got one chapter. All I know is that I like exploring caves and I want to go to college to be an archaeologist.”

                “Not much to go on, huh?”

                “No. I feel very lost.”

                “Bo, do you understand that feeling.”

                “Literally. I’m on a highway going nowhere!”

                “At least you’re above ground. The Writer left me in a cave!”

                “Anyone else?”

                “My name is Cal.”

                “Hi, Cal.”

                “All I know about me is that I’m a troublemaker, but that I’m best friend with a good, upstanding kid named Jeremy. We’re roommates in college.”

                “Anything else?”

                “I think I’m funny. The Writer was smiling when she wrote some of my dialogue.”

                “That’s more than I got….”

                “We all feel for you, Shad. We understand. But now it’s Cal’s turn.”

                “It’s just that… here I am, with this imagined life, but nothing to do with it. I’m just–”

                “Stuck?”

                “Yes.”

                “We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt lost. We’ve all felt stuck. But here’s what we have to remember: The Writer hasn’t stopped writing.”

                “So there’s hope?”

                “As long as the file is on the computer, there is always hope.”

                “Do you think my story will be next?”

                “Why would yours be next?”

                “Mine should be next!”

                “No, mine! Come on, archaelogy! That’s a great start!”

                “What part of ‘kidnapping’ did you not understand?”

                “But I’m funny! That makes mine way more enticing, right? Right?”

                “Everyone, everyone–please calm down!”

                “She’s going to pick me!”

                “No, me!”

                “QUIET!”

                …..

                “The computer is turning on.”  

Copyright Sarah Davidson 2021

A Ghostly Excursion

Like I’ve said during my Friday posts: I’ve been busy at work planning for Summer Reading. What does that mean? It means I don’t have a lot of time to write–at least, not write chapters in my current stories that I think are up to the quality they should be. And yet it is story day on the schedule, so… quite a dilemma. But then I thought it might be fun to try my hand at some “flash fiction.” It would be a good writing exercise for me and still (hopefully) provide an enjoyable read. So I found a prompt and challenged myself to write that story in only 500 words or less.

Prompt: A nighttime walk. Where is the destination? And why is your character goin there?

This was the route: through Ridgeview Cemetery, behind the houses on Ross Avenue, and then a sharp left on Buckcreek Road.  That brought Nate right to the Ascher Theater. The houses on Buckcreek Road were perfect. (All small towns have at least ONE street with perfect houses.) Nate’s house certainly wasn’t perfect, so he didn’t live on Buckcreek Road. He lived on Dahlia Drive, with the Ridgeview Cemetery directly behind his house.  Most people wouldn’t have liked the location, but Nate thought it was perfect.

                There were a few things everyone knew about Nate.  First, he was weird. Second, he was the Chief of Police’s son.  Third, he was in the running for valedictorian.  A part from that, however, people didn’t really know Nate.  They didn’t know his favorite color, or biggest fear, or pet peeve (which was, coincidentally, people saying “like” all the time).  And no one–NO ONE–knew Nate’s secret, though people wouldn’t have been surprised that he had one.  Nate was the type of guy who was meant for secrets.

                He was also the type of guy who liked cemeteries.  Not that he hung around tombstones every day after school, but graveyards had never scared him.  The Ridgeview Cemetery had always been his backyard: perfect for hide-and-seek or some quiet thinking.  But now that he was older, Nate  viewed the cemetery differently: It was also his shortcut to the Ascher Theater.

                Nate came to the crumbling stone wall that separated his house from the Ridgeview, hoisted himself over it, and landed squarely in the grass.  His backpack jangled as he hit the ground, and he adjusted it, advancing quickly through the graves. He didn’t stop to look at any of them.  He’d been in the cemetery enough times to know that none of the tombstones were very interesting; all the epitaphs were the similar: Loving Mother, Daughter, and Friend.  Boring. 

                Nate stopped suddenly, remembering that he may have forgotten his tape recorder at home.  He checked his backpack, relieved to find it was there, nestled next to his flashlight and notepad.  Satisfied, he continued on his way, pausing only long enough to smirk at his favorite grave: Philo McDermott. (He was described as being a Loving Father, Brother, and Friend.)  Nate only shook his head: epitaphs tended to simplify everyone six feet below.  He thought Philo’s marker should at least read something more descriptive: Maybe he was a farmer?  Or a teacher?  Anything to make Philo seem like he had once been a real person.

                Nate already knew what he wanted on his grave. (Not that he thought about it much.  He was only eighteen; the worst thing he had to worry about was the ACT.)  His ideal epitaph would read: Nathaneal J. Brenner, Fun Friend, Eccentric Personality, and Curious Scientist.

                The last was especially true on Thursday nights.

                And tonight was Thursday.

                It was little wonder that someone who grew up next to a graveyard would take up ghost-hunting as a hobby. And the Ascher Theater was one of his favorite spots.

                The Ascher Theater was to Ellery, Ohio what the Coliseum was to Rome: It was a landmark, a monument.  It was old, decrepit, and falling apart, but no one dared to tear it down.  It was doomed to sit and rot… until Nate’s uncle bought it.  Manny Brenner was a theater professor in a college twenty miles from Ellery.  He’d bought the theater as a personal project, and for the past six months, he’d allowed Nate to ghost-hunt. 

                Needless to say, Manny was Nate’s favorite uncle. 

                Nate came to the edge of the cemetery, jumped over the other wall, and found himself on Ross Avenue.  It was bright night,  the full moon turned everything blue.  Orange streetlights sent odd shadows across the sidewalk.  In any other town, the effect would have been eerie.  But not in Ellery. 

                He eventually made it to the theater and reached into his pocket for the key. He opened the door only wide enough for him to slip inside; he could smell the renovations: sawdust and paint.  He closed the door behind him with a click, revealing his flashlight like a Samurai brandishing a sword.  The feeble light strayed across newly plastered walls, rolled up rugs, and abandoned tool boxes.  There was an old mirror that was turning black around the edges.  Nate caught his reflection: In the dim light, he looked like a ghost. 

                He  laughed at the irony, then made his way into the main house.  Nate thought he had a decent imagination–not a great one, of course, but it was alright–and he tried to picture what it must have been like to walk these aisles in their prime.  It would have been an experience: The seats were made of velvet, the stage was huge and draped with thick, crimson curtains.  Golden cherubs adorned the stage, all staring  sweetly at the audience.  The balconies were small and rounded, all painted with intricate designs. 

                Nate settled into the front row.  He’d been coming to the theater every Thursday for the past six months, and he still got a rush at the start of every excursion.  After a moment, he reached into his backpack for his tape recorder.  His favorite ghost-hunting method was EVP: Electronic Voice Phenomena.  The idea was that if he spoke out loud, a ghost would answer him.  He wouldn’t be able to hear it with his own ears, but the ghost’s voice could come through on a recording.  He hadn’t heard anything yet, but he was persistent–sometimes to the point of being foolish.

                In a few moments, he had everything set up. He turned on the recorder and settled into a chair.

                “They say that ghost lights were put up in theaters to keep the ghosts at bay,” he started. “This theater hasn’t had one in decades. So…” He paused. “Ghosts, come on out.”


Copyright Sarah Davidson 2021


Note: I’m really bad at keeping stories at 500 words. (It’s so few!) But this was a lot of fun to write, and it was inspired by a time I was able to go ghost-hunting in a nearby theater in college. I feel like there’s a lot more I could write with this, just with my experience alone!

Forthcoming: Past Life

Like I’ve said during my Friday posts: I’ve been busy at work planning for Summer Reading. What does that mean? It means I don’t have a lot of time to write–at least, not write chapters in my current stories that I think are up to the quality they should be. And yet it is story day on the schedule, so… quite a dilemma. But then I thought it might be fun to try my hand at some “flash fiction.” It would be a good writing exercise for me and still (hopefully) provide an enjoyable read. So I found a prompt and challenged myself to write that story in only 500 words or less.


Additional note: This one is a little bit over 500 words. (I think it hits about 555… which is oddly satisfying. In accordance with the prompt, this some backstory for Chay from Forthcoming. Haven’t read that one? It starts here.)

Prompt: A prequel moment from a story you’ve already written.

“Who were you?”

            Chay hadn’t expected his new partner to speak. The previous silence in the apartment had suited him.

But apparently his partner didn’t share the same preference.

            But the apartment’s silence had suited him. 

            His partner moved toward him, sitting beside him on the couch.  Chay instantly tensed.  He wasn’t exactly the “social type,” but it seemed as though The Department had partnered him up with a real talker.

            Great.

            “You’re not very talkative, are you?”

            Chay didn’t respond–that should be answer enough.

            Somehow that didn’t stop the other man from continuing. “If you’re that concerned about rules, you’ve joined the wrong organization.”  Chay felt the other man lean back, as though in contemplation. “I know The Department says we should forget about… before… but who can really forget?”

            “I would like to,” was all Chay replied. He’d hoped his bluntness would send a clear message: No more talking.

            But no–this was the most persistent person Chay had ever met.

            “Well, what’s your name now?” 

            Chay looked up. This question was simpler, safer.  “Chay.”

            His partner considered it, his lips twitching slightly.  “Interesting choice.”  Chay couldn’t help but notice how his eyes seemed to have a permanent sparkle to them.  In fact, this was the closest that Chay had ever been to his partner. Before now, he’d only ever seen him from a distance.  He was a fairly young man, though older than the barely 20-year old Chay.

The Department had insisted upon pairing him with a veteran, but he looked more inexperienced than Chay did.  In fact, his partner had a very adolescent quality.  He had dark hair, which fell slightly below his ears and limbs that seemed to need constant movement in order to be happy.

            “So what was your name before?  It must’ve been something boring for you to pick a name like Chay.”

            Perhaps he was more experienced than Chay had given him credit. He’d worked the conversation back to his initial purpose:  to find out Chay’s past.

            Good luck with that.

            His partner frowned as Chay did nothing more than stare resolutely at him.

            “Fine, keep your secrets,” he shrugged, and in an instant, his frown was replaced with a crooked smile.

            Chay didn’t respond. This good-natured personality was going to get on his nerves quite quickly.

            He was glad when his partner left to begin reading a file that Chay wasn’t permitted to read. (Which was the worst; The Department had sought Chay, and yet they were treating him as though he was a child.) So Chay was more than surprised when his partner returned and held the file under his nose. “Wanna read?”

            Chay knew his eyes had widened.  His partner was ignoring–no, blatantly disobeying–a direct order from The Department.

            And he didn’t seem the least bit worried.

            “I think The Department has the habit of underestimating people,” he explained.  “In fact, I think knowledge is power, and power is what we need against a person like Cyrus Stokes.”
            “Who?” 

            “Well, technically, I can’t say anything.” Another one of those stupid grins.

            “Give me the file,” Chay spat, snatching it and beginning to read greedily.

            His partner laughed. “I think we’re going to get along, Chay.”

            Chay didn’t respond, but he had to admit–his partner, he supposed, could have been worse.


Copyright Sarah Davidson 2021

Wanted: One Arch-Nemesis

Like I’ve said during my Friday posts: I’ve been busy at work planning for Summer Reading. What does that mean? It means I don’t have a lot of time to write–at least, not write chapters in my current stories that I think are up to the quality they should be. And yet it is story day on the schedule, so… quite a dilemma. But then I thought it might be fun to try my hand at some “flash fiction.” It would be a good writing exercise for me and still (hopefully) provide an enjoyable read. So I found a prompt and challenged myself to write that story in only 500 words or less.

Prompt: Write a “want ad” for an unusual position.

Wanted: One Arch-Nemesis

Must be maniacal, clever, and ruthless.

Prior experience not necessary.

Maniacal laugh a plus.

Must have working knowledge of any or all of the following: Nuclear fusion, chemical biohazards, abnormal psychology.

Mutation or madness considered equivalent experience.

If interested, please begin diabolical plan and broadcast it. I will meet you at the most opportune moment for heroics.


Copyright Sarah Davidson 2021

An Experiment in Beginnings

Like I’ve said during my Friday posts: I’ve been busy at work planning for Summer Reading. What does that mean? It means I don’t have a lot of time to write–at least, not write chapters in my current stories that I think are up to the quality they should be. And yet it is story day on the schedule, so… quite a dilemma. But then I thought it might be fun to try my hand at some “flash fiction.” It would be a good writing exercise for me and still (hopefully) provide an enjoyable read. So I found a prompt and challenged myself to write that story in only 500 words or less.

Prompt: Write the opening to a story “in medias res.”

Jem was vaguely aware that someone was going to come get him.  He was sitting, hugging himself, fingers digging into his arms so hard that it hurt.  He felt like he should scream; he was wet, not just with the rain but with some other liquid, thick on his clothes and skin. 

A flash of light brought him somewhat to his senses. There were voices, and Jem tried to wave, to let them know that he was here, but his body didn’t want to move.  It wanted to stay there, hunched over, staring at the ground, waiting to wake up.  Because this had to be a dream, right?  Things like this didn’t happen in real life; they happened to characters in books and movies, imagined only by the minds of sadistic writers so that audiences could lap them up like thirsty dogs.  Lest the masses forgo their stories.

The voices were coming closer, and Jem closed his eyes.  What would he say?  More importantly, what would they say?  There was no way he could explain any of this.  He could hardly believe it himself, let alone expect someone else to understand.  They wouldn’t.  They would blame him, say it was all his fault–

Though it was, wasn’t it?  Jem shook his head, blocking memory after memory from his mind.  He didn’t want to think about that, but he knew he would eventually have to recount the tale.  If only it could be better, if only it ended with a “happily ever after” like the stories he’d enjoyed as a child.

But who likes stories like that, anyway?

Copyright Sarah Davidson 2021


Hmm…. this was kind of fun to write. Not sure what would happen next, but it was definitely a good writing exercise. I tend to start stories with a very clear “beginning.” Kind of like, “Hi, I’m the character. Here’s the story starting.” I kind of feel like I need to branch out of my comfort zone and write more stories by just dropping the reader in. The more I think about it, some of my favorite books start that way. So… this seems like a pretty successful writing exercise. It definitely gave some food for thought.

Just Checking In

Like I’ve said during my Friday posts: I’ve been busy at work planning for Summer Reading. What does that mean? It means I don’t have a lot of time to write–at least, not write chapters in my current stories that I think are up to the quality they should be. And yet it is story day on the schedule, so… quite a dilemma. But then I thought it might be fun to try my hand at some “flash fiction.” It would be a good writing exercise for me and still (hopefully) provide an enjoyable read. So I found a prompt and challenged myself to write that story in only 500 words or less.

Prompt: Two very different college roommates.

Jeremy did nothing haphazardly: the suitcase on his bed was filled with neatly folded clothes; his books were neat and organized; his bed was set….  unlike his roommate, who freely tossed everything to the side. 

     Cal was currently out of the room, presumably in class (though the odds were far more likely that he was simply “out”).  Cal’s half of the room was marked by papers, clothes, boxes, and food, all scattered helter-skelter across the floor and desk.  Cal called it “organized chaos” (which was an excuse for lazy people, in Jeremy’s opinion).

     As he rolled up another pair of jeans, Jeremy examined the suitcases contents.  Frowning, he straightened and went to the closet, catching a quick glimpse of his reflection:  tall and skinny, he had never quite lost his sickly appearance:  he was naturally pale with a hollow face and eyes that seemed slightly too large for his face.  His light brown hair was short, but his bangs never failed to get into his eyes. 

     He blew his hair of the way now, searching through his closet: his favorite t-shirt was currently MIA.  Just as he was beginning to get frustrated, his cell rang and he rushed to it, catching it on the third ring.  “Hello?  Oh, hey, Mom.  Yeah, I’m packing now.  Hold on, let me put you on speaker.”   

     “Jeremy?  Jeremy, can you hear me?

     “Just fine, Mom.”

     “Right, well, are you alone?”

     “For the time, Mom.”

     “Good.  Calvin hasn’t been… pressuring you, has he?”

     “No idea what you’re talking about, Mom.”

     “You know exactly what I’m talking about, Jeremy.  Is he in the room with you?”
     “No, Mom,” Cal replied, diving back into his closet.

     “Well, I was just calling to check on… things.” 

Mrs. Bowers was a genuine pessimist, always expecting the worst in people.  But with Cal, her worries were well-founded: Cal looked like a troublemaker: Messy dark hair and eyes that always shone with mischief.  He was loud, reckless, and unpredictable.

But, as Jeremy always said:

“Cal’s not as bad he wants people to think he is, Mom.”

She made a tutting, disbelieving sound.

“Mom, everything is fine.  Don’t worry so much.”

“Well, I think–”

“Hey, Mrs. Bowers!” Cal appeared in the doorway, grinning sardonically.  Jeremy didn’t know if Cal had been listening; if he had, Cal showed no signs of being offended.

“Is that you, Calvin?”  Mrs. Bowers snapped.  “What kind of trouble have you gotten yourself into now?”

“Mrs. Bowers,” Cal replied, clutching his heart, “I’m hurt. I’ll have you know I’m maintaining a 3.5 average.”

“I thought it was a 3.0?” Jeremy interrupted, sticking his head out of the closet.

“Shut-up, Jeremy.  I’m trying to lie to your Mom so she’ll like me more.”

“Get out of here!” Jeremy sniggered, throwing some jeans at Cal’s head. 

Cal ducked out the way, smirking.  “Death by denim?  Really?”

Jeremy rolled his eyes as Cal advanced into the room, plopping onto his bed.

“Anyways,” Jeremy continued, rolling his eyes.  “I’ll be coming down over the weekend for my birthday, Mom.”

     “But,” Cal exclaimed, jumping up and jogging to the phone, “until then, we have him!”

     “Calvin Grayson, you’d better not–”

     “Don’t worry, Mrs. Bowers,” Cal began in tones of mock-condolence.  “We’re just taking him to some strip clubs, maybe a bar or two.  The usual.”

     “CAL!” both Bowers shouted at the same time, but Cal only smiled cheekily, saying, “We have homework, Mrs. Bowers.  Talk to you later.”  He swiped his fingers numbly over the screen, tossing it onto the nearby bed.

     “Did you just hang up on my Mom?”

     Cal shrugged.  “She needs to let her little baby bird fly,” he crooned.  “Honestly, that woman has a tighter grip on you than a freakin’ viper.”

     “I can still hear you!”

     Cal jumped, and Jeremy started laughing.

     “You didn’t hang up the phone, Calvin,” Mrs. Bowers continued, her voice rising in pitch, “And you can bet I am going to tell your mother!”

     “Oh shit,” Cal hissed, nodding to Jeremy.  “I’m headin’ for Canada!” He ran to the door, yelling, “Au revoir!”

     “See ya’ later,” Jeremy shouted after him, shaking his head.  He packed the last of his clothes into his suitcase, saying, “Now, where were we, Mom?”

     “I don’t know about that boy… and I don’t know about you, Jeremy, for hanging around him.”

     Jeremy rolled his eyes, settling onto the bed.  Somehow, his Mom always found a way to make the problem about him.  They were both caught in the constant cycle of “high expectations;” Mrs. Bowers was doomed to be forever disappointed, and Jeremy to be forever frustrated.

     “Cal’s a good guy, Mom.”

     She made a pft sound.  “He’s a long way from the boy in the first grade, Jeremy.  And even then he wasn’t all that ‘good.’”  Mrs. Bowers continued to talk about calls to the principal’s office, notes sent home, and–of course–that stupid frog.

     “Meriwether was the best thing that ever happened all the times I was sick,” Jeremy argued.

     His mom made another one of those odd noises.  “Yes, well, one way or another, I’ve made my point.”

     Jeremy rolled his eyes again.  “Sure thing, Mom.  But Cal was right–I seriously do have homework.”

     “Of course, sweetheart, study hard.”

     “Will do.”

     “Love you, Jeremy.”

     “Love you, too.”  Jeremy hung up the phone (for real), leaning back against the wall.  Across from him, on Cal’s side of the room, was a full length print of Starry, Starry Night

     Jeremy stared at it, becoming lost in the hues of blue and yellow.  He couldn’t help but wonder why someone as rebellious as Cal would hang art on his wall.  Some old punk band would describe him better, like The Clash, or Velvet Underground, or The Ramones, or–

     “Is it safe again?”

     Jeremy jumped.  Cal was at the door, eyes darting from side to side wildly.  Jeremy nodded solemnly, and Cal flung himself on his bed.  He looked evenly at Jeremy.  “What?”

     “You should act better around my Mom.”

     “Oh, please,” Cal said sarcastically, “your mom thinks I’m a saint.”

     Jeremy laughed.  “Yeah right.”

     Cal straightened, as if he’d been jolted with electricity.  “Should I be offended?”

     Jeremy didn’t respond, just shook his head. (Though that was probably response enough.)

     Cal narrowed his eyes at him, thought for a moment, then proclaimed: “I’m late for class!” He grabbed his camera off his desk, spun around and snapped a picture of a surprised and frazzled Jeremy, before darting into the hall.


Copyright Sarah Davidson 2021

————

Yeah, so…. This is obviously more than 500 words. (It’s roughly double.) But I just started writing and kept going. It kind of flowed. I really liked it, and I might just return to this sometime as an actual, novel-length story. I had a lot of fun writing the relationship between Cal and Jeremy, and I’m wondering more about how they became friends and what the future holds for them….

Whenever Tommy Brought Flowers….

Like I’ve said during my Friday posts: I’ve been busy at work planning for Summer Reading. What does that mean? It means I don’t have a lot of time to write–at least, not write chapters in my current stories that I think are up to the quality they should be. And yet it is story day on the schedule, so… quite a dilemma. But then I thought it might be fun to try my hand at some “flash fiction.” It would be a good writing exercise for me and still (hopefully) provide an enjoyable read. So I found a prompt and challenged myself to write that story in only 500 words or less.

Prompt: Describe a childhood playdate.

I used to get flowers from Tommy Ross when I was five years old. They were faux flowers with no scent and they always felt rough under my fingertips.

I’d used the flowers to play house: I would set the table with my mini dishes and tiny cups, placing plastic ears of corn and roast beef on the precious “china.” The flowers would always be the centerpiece–a beautiful dinner for me, and my stuffed elephant Peanut, and my favorite rag doll Pamela Ann.

If I could talk Tommy into it (and I usually could) I would make him be the daddy while I would play the mommy. He would roll his eyes and act like the game was the worst possible thing in the world, but it would never be long before he’d be scolding Pamela Ann for putting her elbows on the table and would be rocking Peanut like he was colicky baby.

But we would only play that game on the days that he would bring me fake flowers.

Tommy Ross lived next to a graveyard.


Copyright Sarah Davidson 2021