Flash Fiction

WEP, OCTOBER 2019 CHALLENGE, BARREN! A HORRIBLE HARVEST, A Poem by Pat Garcia

October harvest

 

 

 

 

 



Barren!

Dried, red, sand,

Layered in its elevation as far as her eyes could see.

Thicker than dark, dried, red, blood,

A color that haunted her.

No flowers,

Not even the heads of weeds sprang through from the dark, red, bloodied ground before her.

 

 

Stripped of its fruitfulness.

Beaten down by the hot red sun,

The land was barren.

Its fertility annihilated.

Listless,

Lifeless

But she could relate.

 

 

Night dreams whispered harshly when she slept,

Vile taunts, hideous laughter at her ludicrous situation.

She waited desperately,

Hoping each night, his seed would finally unite with her seed.

So, she could stop dreaming.

 

 

Stop hearing,

The hatred rasp of the man above her.

Stop seeing,

 The hostile stares of the women in the village.

Stop feeling,

The pit of her isolation.

 

Why?

Was something wrong... with her?

Him, it could not be, he’d said.

His ability to impregnate, he’d never questioned.

Had she tricked him into marrying an infertile womb, he’d asked?

 

 

Barren!

Tears moistened her eyes.

She’d hoped her empty womb would bring forth the fetus he demanded.

Had hoped last month's beating would have been the last,

And she could rest in peace,

If only for nine months.

 

 

Barren, she muttered,

Her head hung low.

What a horrible way to try and bring forth a harvest?

Coerced,

Just like the dried, red, sand,

Which yielded no flowers, no weeds,

Intimidated by the sun.

 

 

Her womb produced no embryo.

 

 

Closing her eyes, she dreaded the upcoming night.

His return,

The scathing words,

The first shove,

The backhand hit,

Her stinging face.

Her plea for mercy.

 

If only she could deliver the first egg,

So, he could marvel at the results of his impartation,

Her beatings would stop.

Her womb could rest from his brutal attacks,

And her barrenness would be no more.

 

 

Shalom aleichem,

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Pat Garcia


The WEP CHALLENGE, AUGUST, 2019, THE RED WHEELBARROW by Pat Garcia

 

Netta scrutinized the red wheelbarrow placed before the floor to ceiling window of the living room.

 

That wheelbarrow isn’t just attractive, but it’s a downright elixir for the soul.

 

She stood between the doorframe of the door, across the hall from the living room, admiring and examining the object of her curiosity. It stood so majestically before the window in its bright red color as if it was giving a queenly audience. She could have sworn the thing was smiling at her.  

 

Her husband, Jonathan, had turned it into a flower bed. He had chosen the living room stating that he could admire his handy work when he returned home every evening.   

 

Netta shook her head.  In the sunlight, the red wheelbarrow seemed to wink, but a wheelbarrow couldn’t wink or could it? 

 

Filled with red carnations, bright lilies, and purple and white orchids, the red wheelbarrow had changed Jonathan. He was no longer the man she’d married over a year ago.  

 

Netta laughed at her first reaction to Jonathan’s discovery. The normally depressive, surly and non-talkative man had come home and burst into her bedroom full of excitement.   He’d found something he said, that she just had to see. She’d been curious. Since she’d known him, she’d never seen him get excited over anything. She went out with him that day to see what had put a smile on his face.

 

She’d met Jonathan at her favorite Italian restaurant. She’d been sitting at a corner table with a big plate of spaghetti and a mozzarella and tomato salad. She’d just happened to look toward the entrance door of the restaurant and had gazed directly into the saddest but prettiest eyes she’d ever seen. He’d stared back at her and then had walked to her table and asked if she minded him sitting with her.   Her mouth had been full of spaghetti, and the only way she could answer him, without spilling the food out of her mouth had been to nod in acceptance.

 

Jonathan had ordered after introducing himself and then began asking her questions which made her hesitant. When he’d asked her about her marital status, her eyebrows had furrowed, and her heartbeat had quickened. She’d not been so sure that it had been a good idea to let him sit at her table. Then, Jonathan assured her that he was no danger to her but was looking for a person to share his home with. He’d said he wanted the comfort of knowing that a trustworthy person was living with him and needed a wife but not one to share his bed. Just a faithful wife to be there. In fact, he’d insisted on putting that clausal in their marriage agreement.  

 

At first, Netta didn’t believe nor trust him. She thought he was some kind of ax murder or a cannibal who wanted to kill and eat her. Her vivid imagination had her already packed away in plastic freezer bags in small portions in his freezer. With her chubby size thighs and big arms and breasts, she was quite sure, Jonathan would have had enough meat for a year.

 

Netta really didn’t know why a man from out of nowhere was asking her, a stranger, to marry him. What she did know was that she said yes.

 

No one gets an invitation to marry just for the sake of keeping someone company.

 

 

Four months ago, Jonathan began restoring the rusty, erosive wheelbarrow. She had watched him through the window every day astonished over his patience and how painstakingly he would grind away the rust. Day by day, he ground, and soon Netta could see a bit of metal on the front side of the wheelbarrow. The more Jonathan rubbed, the more she saw rusty erosive spots vanished, and metal appeared until there was no rust at all.

 

 

It was as he began to prime the wheelbarrow that Netta noticed a change in him personally. He was no longer, surly, and sad when he returned home. His eyes seemed brighter, and he became more attentive to her, bringing her chocolates, or earrings, or flowers.

 

Netta let out a deep breath. She’d never thought a red wheelbarrow would bring two people close to each other.

 

After two months of working on the wheelbarrow, Jonathan had finished priming it and then started painting it red. The first coat of red paint brought him into her bedroom.

 

“Can it be true that red awakes passion?” Netta asked, talking to herself.

 

Red surely did something to Jonathan, but the change started with the wheelbarrow.

 

Netta had no answers. She could only say that Jonathan no longer had sad eyes. They were still the prettiest she’d ever seen, but now they sparkled, and she saw joy, and her bedroom had become theirs.

 

                                                                                                       ***

 

 

Shalom aleichem,

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Pat Garcia

 


THE WEP CHALLENGE, JUNE 2019, CAGED BIRDS DON'T SING By Pat Garcia

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Kathie Mae sat and stared at her surroundings; everything was in place just like he liked it.

The cream coloured sofa just at the right angle, three meters away but right in front of the large floor to ceiling window that faced the street before their house. The window sparkled. The brightness from the sun shining heftily through it. The mahogany wood piano, opened, displaying its ivory black and white keys, and a portrait of her hanging over it, singing.

 

Kathie Mae looked at the portrait and examined the eyes of the woman she no longer knew. Yes, the eyes in the picture were brighter, livelier, and mischievous filled with hope and the desire to conquer the world. Where had all that gone?

 

The clock ticked away the minutes; her heartbeat quickened with every passing minute.

Soon he would be home.  In an hour or two, Kathie Mae would have to stop her wandering mind from going back to the past.  

Whoever thought that having everything that money could buy meant fulfilment had to be gravely disturbed she thought and heard Louisa knock softly on the living room door.

“Come in, Louisa.”

“I don’t mean to disturb you, but I’ll be leaving soon. Is there anything else you want me to do?”

“No,” Kathie Mae said and gave her a hollow smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “What are you going to do this weekend, Louisa?”

“I’m going to do what I do here every day,” Louisa said. “I’m going to clean my house.”

Kathie Mae chuckled. She’d talked to Cesare about reducing Louisa’s days to three times a week, but he’d insisted that she had to come every day except Sunday. When he returned home, he wanted to see an orderly, well-kept house without any clutter. That when she’d begun to notice that well-kept meant everything including her.

“Well, take some time to enjoy your Sunday, Louisa. Everybody needs rest.”

“I will.  If I had a husband like yours, I’d be in Heaven,” Louisa said. “It would be so nice to wake up and not have to do anything.”

Kathie Mae shuddered at Louisa’s words. The woman didn’t know what she was asking for.

Would she really like living in a cage?  The changes Kathie Mae had had to undergo bombarded her mind.

 

 

Black men love long hair, white men love afros, but what about what women like. Were there no women in the world outside of the Stepford Wives?  

Cesare had told her to get rid of her coils. Why were they so distasteful and unruly for him? Afro, he’d shouted, Afro!  An Afro was what Cesare expected her to wear. Little by little, he’d whittled away at her until she’d become the pretty hull that he wanted her to be.

Soon, she didn’t recognise who she was. When she looked into her mirror, she saw Cesare’s creation. The one he wanted to come home too. She’d managed to save only a tiny small piece of who she was hidden deep inside her and would visit whenever she could.

 

 

“Are you alright, Ms. Kathie Mae?” Louisa asked, frowning.

She had drifted so deep into the small piece of herself that she’d forgotten that Louisa was standing before her.

“Yes…Louisa. I’m sorry…No need to tell Mr. Domenico…about this. I…was just thinking about what you said,” Kathie Mae said.

“Okay, I won’t mention it this time, but I don’t want you to slip away like that. You scared me. Mr. Domenico said it’s dangerous when you slip away.”

“I’m alright, Louisa. I didn’t slip away. I was just thinking about what you said, ”Kathie Mae repeated even though she didn’t remember what Louisa had said.

“Good, then I would like to leave early if it is alright with you,” Louisa said.

“Sure, why don’t you do that,” Kathie Mae said, “I’m waiting on Cesare to come home just as he wants me too.”

“When are you going to sing again?” Louisa asked.

“Sing? Oh yes…I did sing once, didn’t I.”

“Why don’t you know, Ms. Kathie Mae?”  Louisa asked. “You sing so beautifully, with heart and soul.”

“One day…Louisa…one day, I’ll tell you all about it,” Kathie Mae said. “Now go home.”

 

 

Kathie Mae heard the front door close and listened as Louisa turned the key in the lock.

She walked to the living room window and stood so Louisa could see that she was in the house. A fake smile on her face, Kathie Mae waved at Louisa. “

Caged birds don’t sing, Louisa. “They dressed as puppets without souls. Caged birds don’t sing,” Kathie Mae murmured while waving to Louisa.

 

Kathie Mae went back to the sofa to sit before the window, so Cesare could see her when he came home and looked at the window from the sidewalk.  He would wave. She would wave back. He would walk up the steps and open the door to the cage and say darling before he locked the cage for the weekend.

Caged Birds don’t sing.

 

Shalom aleichem,

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Pat G


WEP CHALLENGE, APRIL 2019, The Alabaster Box by Pat Garcia

 

 

 

Jewel box

 

The Alabaster Box

by

Pat Garcia

999 Words

Eula sat on the sofa next to Francesco staring at the box in front of them that she’d placed on the coffee table. Francesco, whom Eula called Cesco, had pulled her close to him; her head lay on the left side of his chest, as she snuggled close to him.

“What do you think is in it, Cesco?” She murmured.

“I don’t know, Eula,” Cesco said. He caressed her arms with his fingertips. He didn’t like it when he came home and found her confused and devastated from situations suddenly thrust upon her. His job gave her enough reason to worry.  He needed her to be happy when he held her in his arms.  “What did the people at customs say when you picked it up? Did you have to open it and pay tax?”

“They said the weight was five pounds,” Eula said and sighed deeply. “Because it took twelve years to get here, I guess they winked an eye and just gave me the box.” She shivered. The only time she ever trembled was when she felt Cesco was in danger. Other than that, she never trembled. So, why was she shaking now?

Lying with her head against his chest, Eula’s mind went back to the conversation she’d had with her aunt two years before she died. Her aunt had told her, she’d sent her a box but had not told her what was in it. It was supposed to be a surprise, but the box never showed up. Eula thought her aunt had put the wrong address on the box, and it had just disappeared.  Now, her aunt had been dead for ten years. How could a box get lost for twelve years and then show up she asked herself? “One thing for sure, I won’t know if it's the surprise package that I should have received from my aunt twelve years ago until I open it,” she said.

She felt Cesco’s chest shake. He was always the one with humor. Cesco could find laughter in everything even though he faced death every time he left their home to carry out the job that he loved so dear.  “What’s so funny, Cesco?”

“The situation.  Your aunt has sprung another surprise on you. I never met her, but I’m quite sure she planned for the box to be delivered twelve years later.” His chest continued to shake as he said, “From what you’ve told me she was quite a character.”

“You’re too funny, Francesco Abramo.”

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Eula removed her head from his chest and sat up straight. She leaned toward the table before them and picked up the mysterious box.

Francesco handed her the scissors.  “Open it, Tresore mio,” he said. “That’s the only way we will solve this mystery.”

“I can’t believe that a box from my aunt takes twelve years to get to me,” Eula said, taking the scissors. “It’s unreal.”

“Eula, since I’ve known you, I can believe anything. So, open the box. If it is the package from your aunt there is a reason why she wanted to surprise you, and it’s in that box, and maybe it came at the right, appointed time like you say to me all the time. “

Eula cut along the sides of the box carton and lifted the lid upward. Twelve-year-old newspaper greeted her. Looking at the date of the publication in astonishment, memories of her childhood danced before her eyes. She could see herself as the little dark-skinned Eula with a broom in her hand, not quite five years of age trying to sweep her aunt’s porch.  She pulled back the paper wrapping and handed it to Cesco. “It’s news from my aunt’s country village.”

“Eula,” Cesco said, reading the headlines. “A lot was going on when you were little.”

“There was always a lot going on Cesco. My aunt kept the most of it hidden from me. I only got bit and pieces that a child my age couldn’t understand.” She smiled at the memory of her aunt’s thwarted attempts to stop her from asking too many questions; her smiled widened as she took an alabaster box out of the carton. As she turned the box slightly sideways, light sounds like balls rolled inside the box. Why in the world would her aunt send her an alabaster box? Nothing made sense.

“Tresore mio, open it. I’m getting impatient,” Francesco said.

“Cesco, I’ve never seen you impatient. You’re so patient with me.”

Francesco chuckled. “I’ve got to take care of my little old lady. After all, you’re older than I, and I want to have you around me forever.”

“Ha, ha, ha,” Eula said and opened the Alabaster box. Five beautifully colored alabaster eggs laid loosely within. She shook her head totally perplexed. Why did her aunt send her five beautifully colored alabaster eggs? Picking one up Eula noticed that it had an incision all around the middle. Taking the egg in her hand, she lifted the top part of the egg. Eula’s eyes widened. She turned to Francesco. “This is amazing,” she mumbled. “Where did she get the money?”

“She probably saved it up all her life,” Francesco said, “See if the other eggs have slits.”

They did, and Eula lifted the top part of each egg. Each had a sparkling surprise.

Francesco let out a hearty laugh at the puzzled look on Eula’s face. “If customs had known what was in the box, they would have called an inspector to judge the value of those sparkling babies.  Your aunt was quite a character.”

“I always knew she was a clever fox, but I never thought something like this would ever cross her mind,” Eula said, chuckling.

“Tresore,” Francesco said. “She was one smart lady.”

“Yes, she was,” Eula said. “An idea to send me an alabaster box filled with alabaster eggs stuffed with emeralds could only come from aunt Hattie.  A clever fox she was.”

 

The End                                                                                                 

 

Thank you for reading The Alabaster Box and have a lovely Easter.

Shalom aleichem,

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Pat Garcia                  


WEP CHALLENGE, FEBRUARY 2019, A NEW BEGINNING By Pat Garcia

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WC: 992  

      Emma Lou Beasley whirled and twirled, springing around her kitchen like a three-year-old. Her feet danced to a beat only she could hear.

    Joy for approaching a birthday Emma Lou thought she’d never see made her twist and turn and shake her head with her braided afro that swung with every movement.  A milestone would be reached in twenty-eight days, and a childish glee of giggles spilled out of her mouth as she let out a gleeful shriek.

    Not every day that you turn sixty, yippee!

    Her busy and sometimes harried life, without ever having children to love and a male to care about her as his one and only were truths she’d finally accepted as a fact of life. After all, her entire family had prophesied that her marrying days were over when she’d turned fifty. They’d convinced her that she’d entered the age of Spinsterhood.

    Emma Lou researched the life span of Spinsters and found that spinsters didn’t have much longevity. Startled she set out to change that by reaching her next decade.

     In twenty-eight days, I’ll be sixty. Yippee!

    The twelfth beat of the gong on Emma Lou’s grandfather clock struck and stopped her from swinging her broad hips. She rushed to the hallway closet, grabbed her jacket, left the house and got into her Volkswagen Beetle and headed toward the city.

    Twenty-eight days!

     She planned to buy a small gift for herself every day up until the twenty-eighth day. Then she would splurge on herself and go out to that expensive, suave restaurant on Broad Street that she’d always wanted to go to but had been afraid to enter. She was going to walk in there with her head held high, her braids dancing around her shoulders, and treat herself to the most fabulous dinner that she’d ever dreamed of.

    Emma Lou arrived at the House of Daniello’s an exclusive store where she’d seen the Pastel, sky blue dress that she hoped would fit over her thick hips and ample bosom perfectly.

    Blue, the colour of hope was her encourager and favourite colour. With her blue dress, she would take on the next ten years’ challenge.

    A car pulled out of the parking spot opposite the House of Daniello’s, and Emma Lou chuckled.

    A good omen.

    She glanced in her rear-view mirror to see if any traffic was behind her. Astonishingly, no cars were coming from behind or coming in front of her.  Tapping the gas pedal lightly, she made a U-turn and wheeled her royal blue Beetle into the spot like Michael Schumacher. 

    He couldn’t have done it better!  

    Emma Lou laughed, her body shaking with laughter.

                                                ***

    Daniello stood by the third-floor window in his office overlooking the main street to the entrance to his shop as Emma Lou made her wild U-turn. He chuckled at how she’d taken possession of the empty park spot. When Emma Lou opened her car door, he noticed her legs first.  They reminded him of the thick, dark chocolate sticks that his brother produced in his chocolate factory.

    At the age of fifty, Daniello, with two marriages behind him and a narrow escape from a third woman, who had blinded him with her roguish charm, had given up being happy and wrapped his life around his fashion house.

    Where are those women who love from the heart?

    When Emma Lou crossed the street laughing and started walking to his store entrance, he flew down the steps, instead of taking the elevator, to the main floor.  Emma Lou captivated him.

    Signalling to his sister, Lucia, that he would take care of the dark, skinned woman who had just walked in, Daniello stood at the end of the aisle and observed how Emma Lou bounced to him as if she was a ball on water. Her eyes mirrored gaiety and innocence combined with a warmth that he yearned for. Her smile drilled holes into the armour around his heart.  

    “May I help you, Madam?”

    “Thank you, but I’d like a saleslady,” Emma Lou said, thinking the man couldn’t be working for the store wearing blue jeans, even though he was sporting a Ralph Lauren’s Polo Shirt.

    “At your service,” Daniello said, holding back his laughter at the shock in her eyes. She didn’t know who he was. Most women would have been falling all over him in ways he didn’t appreciate.

    “Oh…Do you work here?” Emma Lou said, flustered.  “What I mean is that I’ve never been waited on by a man in a women’s dress shop,” she said as she gazed into his shiny onyx coloured eyes.

    “Well, there’s always a first time, Ms…” Daniello said, checking out her hands. No ring.

    “Beasley.”

    “So, Ms. Beasley, what can I do for you?”

    “Well…” Emma Lou stuttered, “actually I was thinking about buying the blue dress in the store window, but I think I’ll come back later.”

    “You would look awesome in that dress,” Daneillo said. “Any particular occasion?”

    “In a way,” Emma Lou said, “I always celebrate February because that’s my birthday month. You think that colour suits me?”

    “The dress and the colour suit you perfectly.”

    “Well, thank you,” Emma Lou said, happy that her dark skin colour didn’t show how much she was blushing before this nice young salesman.

    “Ms. Beasley, may I address you by your first name?”

    “Why, of course. It’s Emma Lou.”

    “So, Emma Lou, when’s your birthday?”

    “February 28th, and I’m going to treat myself to something good every day this month.”

    “I’m doing something similar this month too,” Daniello said.

    “Oh?” Emma Lou asked surprised. “Is it your birthday month too?”

    “No, not my birthday,” Daniello said and chuckled, “but February has just become a significant month. Do you mind us celebrating it together?”

    “I don’t know you, Mr…” Emma Lou said softly.

    “In twenty-eight days, you will, my dear Emma Lou,” Daniello said, smiling at the woman whose gaiety had captured his heart.

                                                                                        ****

The End

 

Hello Everyone, 

I may be a little slow getting around to everyone's submission in this first WEP Challenge, but I will get to them. 

Thanks in advance for your patience and understanding. 

 

Shalom aleichem,

Photo on 01.12.18 at 14.01 #2

Pat Garcia


WEP Challenge, December 2018, It's Christmas by Pat Garcia

           

 

A 2018 Christmas10

           

 

           He always liked her braids tied with yellow and purple ribbons. Said it reminded him of coming home.  Dee-Bay put an extra ribbon on the plait laying on her forehead.  Today, they would celebrate Christmas.              


          Days with him flew by quickly.  Then, suddenly they would slow down, becoming days of torment and time dragged. The sudden illness impregnated in his mind, which influenced his body movements and robbed him of his memory.  One day after another she watched him turn into a shallow hull, dwindling away, disappearing somewhere in a nebulous part space that only he had access to. A place where she couldn’t go.

 

    Pulling her best white dress over her head, she pondered over what the day would bring as she took in the chaos of her bedroom. Scattered clothing, blue, green, yellow, red, and purple ribbons lying on her pillows, and shoes stacked in shoe boxes that she never wore except when she visited him.  They reflected the turbulence now embedded in their marriage.

                                                                                                       ***

    She dreaded the visits. To see him suffer had become unbearable, yet she continued to keep him home, to be that caregiver that he needed. Daily, she headed downstairs to observe the still, silent shell that lay in their guest bedroom.  Aware that for a few seconds, minutes, or hours he might return, and laugh, and remember who he once was.

 

            Dee-Bay gazed into the mirror. Each ribbon sat almost perfectly on her head, including the one laying on her forehead. She picked up the box with the letter B and pulled out her blue patent leather shoes and put them on and went to her closet and pulled out the box with the big, thick, white candle with a golden sword carved on it.

 

    After taking a last glance in her mirror, Dee-Bay left her bedroom to check and see if he had decided to return to celebrate Christmas.

 

    With her head filled with a bunch of yellow and purples ribbons, Dee-Bay peeked into the room.

 

    “Dee-Bay,” he said, and his laughter filled the room.

 

    “Yes!” Dee-Bay said excitedly. He’d remembered her name. He’d called her Dee-Bay instead of Yep. No need to play the small theater role that she played every time she entered his room when he forgot who she was. She’d asked, who am I? His eyebrows would furrow, his eyes would crunch together, and he would suck in his cheeks trying hard to remember.  

 

    Then she’d sang, “Dee-Dee-Bay, Bay, Bay.”

    And he’d say, “Yep, Yep, Yep.”

    Dee…Dee…Bay, Bay, Bay,” she’d sang again.

    With his deep baritone, he’d repeat, “Yep…Yep…Yep”, as if that were her name.

                                                              ***

    “Dee-Bay walked into his bedroom with the head full of yellow and purple ribbons tied around her braids bouncing up and down.  Recognition flowed between them.

    “Does life just disappear,” he asked.

 

    “No,” she’d said. “Life goes on. That’s what I believe.”

 

    He turned to look at her.  His gaze burned her soul.  He hadn’t recognized her for days.


    “How long have I been gone?” he asked.

    She took out her mobile and said, “Twenty-one days, eight hours, fifteen minutes and thirty seconds to the tee.  I’m surprised you’re here.”

 

    He grinned.  “But not for long. It’s time for you to get on with your life.”

 

    “Stop worrying about me.” 

 

    “Never. Will you please light the candle?” he asked, impatiently.  “It’s Christmas, Dee-Bay.”

 

    Dee-Bay smiled. “Of course, whatever you say, Sir.” She placed the candle on the window ledge and lit it.

 

    “What day is it?” he asked.

 

    “Thursday. Why?”

 

    “Just want to make sure, it’s Christmas. I’m tired. Just hanging on for Christmas. “

                                                            ***

        The doctor had told her if he came back at all it would be temporary. That he would drift in and out until he decided that she would be alright without him.

 

    “I must hurry and make you a cup of tea and bring you a piece of the Black Forrest Cake that you love to eat?”

 

    “Yep,” he said.  “Ribbon, yellow ribbon. Give me one, Yep.”

 

    Dee-Bay glanced inquiringly at him.  

    His voice had become slurry, his hands trembled, and his eyes had turned glassy. He was slipping away.  “Who am I?”

    “Yep.”

    Her heartbeat doubled. Knowing there was nothing she could do, she reached inside of herself to get the tone that might grab him back from the depth of the dark pit in his mind.

    “Dee-Dee-Bay, Bay, Bay,” she sang as she gazed at him looking for some sign of recognition.

    “Yep, Yep, Yep,” he sang in his slurred baritone.

    “Dee…Dee…Bay, Bay, Bay.”

     “Yep…Yep…Yep,” he repeated.

    Bay left the room hurriedly to go make the tea before her tears fell. Knowing that he might be gone to his other world when she got back, she stood before the door to the patio overlooking the children’s playground waiting for the tea kettle to whistle.

    “Dee-Bay?”

Shocked to hear his voice in the kitchen, she turned around. “How did you get up? What are you doing in the kitchen?”

    “I remembered your name. I’m alright now, Dee-Bay. Thanks. I've got to go.”

    Dee-Bay rushed out of the kitchen into his bedroom. There lay his body lifeless in bed. His right hand held her yellow ribbon, and he’d blown the candle out before he departed.

                                                                               ***

 

I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a prosperous start in 2019.

Shalom aleichem,

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Pat Garcia


  

 


WEP August 2018 Flash Fiction Challenge, Janie B and A Change of Heart, By Pat Garcia

 

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The bed placed against the wall facing the huge bedroom window gave Janie B a good view of the lake. Two willow trees one on the left and one on the right of the garden framed the garden’s center, presenting her with a surreal picture that stirred up her grey cells and made her think. She ran her fingers through her tiny afro. Massaging her scalp, she shook her head, not quite believing she’d succeeded.

The curtains clapped as a breeze from the patio swayed their movement.  Janie B smiled at her imagination and gazed out of the window to observe the moon beginning to rise with its lightly reddish tint.

 That she was sleeping in the same cabin where she was once held as a prisoner was no longer a millstone around her neck. The horrible experience now captured, a part of her past vanished with Paolo Mendoza taking her through the chaos to freedom. Each nightmare had become a therapeutic playground where he led her farther and farther into a discovery of the strength lodged inside of her.  

Meeting him changed her heart about the way she grappled and dealt with the dangerous situation she’d experienced.  His methods had given her a new life.

She would never forget his bursting into the cabin as her captor tied the last piece of purple yarn around her neck. He’d been climbing the mountain and come upon the hut. How strange that just as a stranger had captured and tortured her another stranger would be the one to save her.  Now, Paolo was responsible for her lying in bed with a smile on her face. He made her take on the demons from that awful day. That was Paolo. Stern, loving, and kind, yet his gentleness amazed her.

Paolo was no big daddy. He wasn’t even sympathetic or compassionate when it came time for her to take another step toward her freedom. He didn’t let her hide behind shame.  Didn’t allow her to bury her hidden wounds. Always confronting, he forced her to take an in-depth look at her heart attitude. Made her see what she didn’t want to see. No, she couldn’t hide with Paolo Mendoza.

He didn’t duck. He challenged. Like the day he forced her to drive his Aston Martin. The first time she’d returned to this cabin. She hadn’t wanted to, but he’d insisted when she started having nightmares. He even demanded she learned how to knit.   It never occurred to her that he was preparing her to attack the horror of what happened in the cabin so she could free her mind. She’d knitted him a purple hat. Then, he had wanted a red scarf, and then he’d asked her to knit him some yellow gloves. That was Paolo.  The leader of his team of silent raiding frogmen, his cruelty to her displayed itself in coercing her into facing whatever was hindering her from being the lively woman she’d locked behind the doors of her heart.  

Janie B turned to lie on her left side and spooned herself against Paolo’s back as she gazed out the window. Sleep evaded her. Typical.  Even though she’d triumphed, she couldn’t quite believe she was sleeping in the cabin. She’d just done a three-hundred-sixty-degree pirouette.  Her heart was still doing somersaults as she thought about how she’d spun herself out of the last part of the terror that had befallen her.  She released a deep sigh and kissed Paolo’s back.

“Why can’t you sleep, JB?”

“What happened today has got me spinning, and my heart keeps flipping.”

Grunts of laughter shook his belly region.

“You looked mighty good in that red wedding dress, Babe. In fact, you looked like my dream.”

“Umph. Whoever heard of a 42-41-48 size woman getting married in a red dress. The dress hugged my big hips. It was ridiculous.”

“I love the ridiculous, JB.” He removed her arms from around him and turned to face her. “Put on your red dress, baby, cause we’re going out tonight,” he sang with his deep throaty baritone voice while he did his best to imitate Tommy Tucker. “Put on your red dress baby cause we’re going out tonight.

Janie B couldn’t help but screeched as she laughed and joined in “And you’d better wear some boxin gloves,”she sang back to him in her contralto voice, “in case some fool might wanna fight.

“I love it when you sing, JB. It’s a confirmation,” Paolo said and yawned.

“About what?”

“About your heart, JB,” Paolo replied while drawing her closer to him. “About your heart, sweet lady.”

Janie B chuckled. “Mr. Mendoza, you have a lot to do with my heart change.”

“Let’s say, I prodded you into conquering your dragons. You have nothing to fear.”

“You kept me from becoming a recluse. I’m no longer the fearful, frighten heart you found in this cabin.”

“I know. That’s why I had to marry you quickly. Didn’t want anyone else snapping you up.  Never thought I’d encounter my big beautiful woman by climbing up a mountain.”

“Paolo, look,” Janie B almost shouted, glancing toward the window pane “A deer with horns!”  

“Those are antlers, JB. He’s admiring you.”

“Well, he can stop admiring and go away.”

Grunts of laughter came from Paolo. He turned so he could lay on his back and gaze at the deer while keeping one arm around Janie B. “Put on your high-heel sneakers, Lordy, wear your wig-hat on your head,” Paolo murmured in his sleepy, sing-song voice, and Janie cackled like a hen gathering her baby chicks.  “Put on your high-heel sneakers, child. Wear your wig-hat on your head. Ya know you're looking mighty fine, baby, I'm pretty sure you're gonna knock 'em dead.”

 

 

 

Shalom aleichem,

Photo on 14-10-2016 at 08.45

Pat G


WEP - June 2018 Challenge, Unraveling The Past by Pat Garcia

 

Unraveled yarn

Unraveling The Past

 

Janie B sat behind the steering wheel of her Aston Martin gazing down at the old dilapidated mill by the lake. Balls of yellow, red, and purple yarn lying in the passenger seat beside her. From a distance, the two houses looked as if they hadn’t changed. Memories flooded her senses. Her hands behind her back, the yellow yarn tied around her wrists, cutting off the circulation of blood. Every now, and then she’d done her best to wriggle her fingers to keep the blood flowing, and a weird yodel like a wolf howling would come out of his mouth. His eyes would light up, and he would slap her face.

He walked toward her with the red yarn mumbling it was the blood yarn to bind her ankles.  Tears filled her eyes. She wouldn't let him see her cry. As he tied her thick, dark brown ankles together, a spark of laughter flew out of her mouth. Instead of gasping at the pain, she wanted to laugh. The thick red yarn wedged into her skin, biting against the black hair on her legs. 

Who was this guy?  Why did he hate her? Why did he kidnap her?

He slapped her face again. She wiggled her fingers and wiggled her toes to keep her blood circulating.

The slaps to her face, the whip stinging her back, the pawing dirty fingers of her oppressor, pressing some of the purple yarn in her mouth, choked her as he wrapped the yarn around her neck.  Purple for a royal grave he’d said, but she didn’t feel royal; trapped into a concoction of a crazed man thirsting for revenge.

Who was he? Why did he hate her? Why did he kidnap her?

Each minute the purple yarn tightened around her neck. Each movement of her head brought no relief. Turning her head meant choking. The purple yarn threatened to give way, her saliva, the need to swallow was bringing it closer and closer to clog up her throat.  

Too weak to fight back, she welcomed the darkness that death offered. With her eyes closed, she waited.

A door flew opened, a loud crash, a touch of wind touched her nakedness, and the coldness of a damp cloth went across her face.  

Paolo found her. He stepped between her and the man, between her and death.  Paolo became her savior. 

 

The car door opened. His hand touched her shoulder bringing her back to reality. 

“I don’t think I can do this, Paolo.”

“Put the yarn in the bag, JB.”

“Paolo didn’t you hear what I said. I don’t think I can do this.”

“I heard you, JB. Put the yarn in the bag. It’s time.”

 

Janie B reached over and picked up the three balls of yellow, red, and purple yarn and packed them in her bag.  She sighed and shook her head trying to shake away the fear.

“Look at the lake, JB. See how peaceful it is?”

“Yes,” she whispered.

“That’s the peace you seek.”

“But why did I have to come back here to find peace, Paolo?” 

“Because this is where you lost it,” Paolo said as he helped her out the car. 

 

                                                ***

 

Shalom aleichem,

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Pat Garcia


WEP - APRIL 2018 CHALLENGE, Janie B, by Pat Garcia

April Challenge
Janie B didn’t know what hit her.  Standing in one of the dressing rooms of a noble boutique, she turned to look in the mirror. Janie B assessed the form-fitting sheath dress. She shook her head in disapproval. The dress hugged her hips a little too tightly. Not that her big hips stirred up feelings of shame, deep within her heart, she liked her big hips. Wouldn’t slim them down for nothing in the world.  They gave her character and an image of being a tough girl that took no shit. Very few people knew that inside she was like a frightened kitten who needed to be accepted for what she was and not for what others wanted her to be. She took her hands and rubbed them down her side, pulling on the material, trying to loosen the tightness of the dress. The cloth didn’t budge. Her hips got bigger, and the knees to her big legs seemed to peek out at her laughing. Not a dress for her.  It was too short and too tight.

 

Country girl that she was, she didn’t understand why Paolo chose this boutique. It was way above her price range. Paolo had said he knew the owner. When they entered, a bell tingled, and from the back of the shop, a chic, plus-sized woman came out smiling. The woman hugged Paolo.  She had also given Janie B a powerful embrace and kisses that shocked her. Janie B was a loner, stayed mostly to herself. She’d adjusted to living a life alone––that is until Paolo stormed into her life. That was her strength.

 

She looked in the mirror once again. Her nappy, coarse, hair had lost its shape. Pulling the dress over her head had taken care of her hair appearing orderly. She smirked. Putting it over her head was easy. Even getting her thick arms through the sleeves presented no problems, but the largeness of her breasts had caused her to take a deep breath and pulls in her lungs to get the upper bodice over them.

 

Red. Paolo chose the colour. Red appealed to her.  It made a blatant statement about her self-confidence, a character trait that she struggled with. She grunted and caressed her face as she looked into the mirror. Red enhanced the colour of her shiny dark brown skin. She hadn’t noticed that before. Maybe it was because she had never worn the colour red since one of her colleagues told her that red didn’t become her.  That had wounded her deeply. Up until that time, she’d thought red was her colour.

 

 

Behind her, the door to the dressing room opened. Not bothering to look into the mirror, her nose told her it was Paolo. She could identify him by his fragrance anywhere. He’d been waiting for her to reappear and model before him. She mumbled her exasperation about the dress.

 

“You look gorgeous,” he reiterated, and he turned her to face him.

 

“Paolo, what so gorgeous about big hips, big legs, and big breasts. I think you’ve gone and lost your sanity.”

 

“If I have,” Paolo said, “then I’m glad it’s with you. Tonight’s the night.”

 

“Maybe, we should reconsider our plans.”

 

“Why?” he said and kissed her cheeks before claiming her lips.  “Have you changed your mind, JB?” he asked calling her by the pet name he’d given her.

 

She gazed up at his chin, avoiding his eyes.

 

“No,” Janie B said. “I just want to give you more time to consider what we’re about to do.”

 

“Oh, JB,” Paolo said, “Stop worrying about me. It’s not me you want to give more time but yourself. I know what I want to do. Do you?”

 

Janie B placed her hands on his chest and stretched them out.  She stepped away from him putting distance between them. He’d crashed into her life out of nowhere. She’d been caught on her blindside. His friendly words, his checking up on her over the past year, and his taking care of the garden and showing her how to hang wallpaper and other small jobs that she lacked the know-how to do. He had grown in her mind over the months to be the almost perfect friendly man who just happened to be there for her. In her eyes, he’d become her hero.

 

When he had told her what he did for a living, she’d opened her heart even more. As an agent for Interpol, he travelled to many of the northern African countries. He didn’t often talk about his job. She talked; he listened. Six months ago, she’d asked him to talk about himself. He’d said later. He’d come to hear her talk. That was the night, he’d told her that he would be gone for six months. He requested that she write him long emails and share her days with him.  She’d done that.

 

His return had brought back a man hungry for her total commitment to him.

 

“I asked you a question, and you didn’t answer,” Paolo said, breaking into her thoughts. “Do you know what you want to do?” he asked repeating his question.

 

She raised her head a little higher and look into his sea-green eyes. The scar on his neck palpitated quickly. Her intuitive insight into him had shown her he was dreading her answer. Yes, she loved him. Should she or should she not?  She sighed, Shakespeare, hit the point correctly in his Hamlet soliloquy, ‘To be or not to be, that is the question.’

In her case, to commit or not to commit to a man younger than she; who hailed from a different culture; who counted his days like pebbles on a beach –– transient. Should her heart dominate?

 

“Yes. The path that we’re about to set out on has taken hold of my heart,” Janie B said.  “I want to explore it and see the end.”

 

With her red dress hugging her body, she shortened the distance between them and embraced her future.


IN TOO DEEP, WEP CHALLENGE, FEBRUARY 2018, Until Death Do Us Part by Pat Garcia

In too deep

 


Gianluigi arms embraced the window sill. His head bent looking down at the empty street.

 The quietness didn’t alarm him. The two street lamps that shone in darkness comforted. The shadowed forms that mirrored them reminded him of the difference between life and death, between high and low, between deep and trivial. Soon he and his three team members would venture out into the vast unknown, not knowing the end until it was over.

 The street lamps flickered. The shadows too. Life is like a flickering lamp. Its depth unexplored until you face the ultimate sacrifice. Emotions too deep rose within him. Her fragrance, like a wisp, slivered up his nose causing his mind to wander away from its Moorish thoughts. As if he were looking through a slide projector, pictures of her flashed before his eyes, bringing back the pleasant memories of their last night together. His Gretta, the woman who stirred up his desire to return or her melancholy of loss if he didn’t.

 A breeze from an open door entered the room. Not moving, Gianluigi didn’t look to see who had opened it. He knew who it was and waited for the question that was always asked. It had become their good luck charm. Just knowing that he had done it, had somehow become a placebo for his team and gave them the assurance to walk out into the deep, darkness where they played for the highest of stakes, their lives.

 “Have you called Gretta?” Gabino asked, making himself known.

 “No.”

 “Are you going to call her?”

 Gianluigi turned and moved away from the window. He regarded his dear friend and partner.

 “I don’t know yet,” he answered. “I know she’s not asleep. She never sleeps when I’m away on duty. She catnaps,” and he grunted before he continued, “It’s her way of battling the fear of losing me.”

 “What are our chances, GL? Gabino asked, calling him by his pet name.

 A sliver of laughter escaped Gianluigi’s mouth before he said, “As always poor to middle. The big guns will lift us out, dead or alive, if we get hit.”

 “Like last time,” Gabino said. “It took them forever to get in. Another quarter of an hour and we would have been gone.”

 “I know,” said Gianluigi. “I wasn’t ready to depart.”

 “Are you ever ready, GL?” Gabino asked as he looked at Gianluigi. Gabino took his special handkerchief out of his pocket and blotted his forehead as he waited for Gianluigi to answer.

 Gianluigi gazed at the sweat drops threatening to run down Gabino’s forehead. The more he wiped, the faster they appeared.

 “No, never ready but assured that I’m doing the right thing. Living my life to protect others.” He walked to his bed and pulled out the case that held his rifle from under the bed. “Where are Paolo and Carlos?”

 “They’re coming,” Gabino said. “They’ve just finished talking to their wives.”

 “Good. Have you talked to Tessa?”

 “I did that before I came to you,” Gabino said, laughing.

 “Alright. Give me five minutes, and we meet at the door, suited up to take our hostage.”

 “So, you’re going to call her.”

 “Yes. She’s a part of me, and I want her to know that.”

 When Gianluigi took out his mobile, Gabino left his room.

 

                                   ***

 

Gretta sat in his chair. Twice, she had closed her eyes to catnap. Both times, she had failed. Her sleep, elusive, was neither here nor there since her marriage to the thirty-nine-year-old agent, Gianluigi Battisto, whom she had promised to love till death parts them. Since she had given that promise, she seldom slept when he was away.

 Her mobile rang once. “When do you leave out?” she asked anxious to hear his voice. His call meant that they were mentally connected to each other.  For her, that was a good omen, and sitting in his chair, she lifted her face upward and said a silent prayer.  Her life had changed. The introspective and reserved man who had very little to say had demanded her heart, and she had given it to him.  

 “As soon as I hang up.  I take it you’re in my office,” he said, not really asking. She seldom varied her routine when he wasn’t around. She spent the majority of her time in his office. She ate and slept there instead of around the large oval table in the dining room of their seven-room condo.

 “As always,” Gretta said, feistily. He laughed, and she relished the sound of his laughter. It was alive. He was alive. For now. She suppressed the desire to scream, don’t leave me alone, and she closed her eyelids to stop the impending tears. Silence hovered between them.

 “Where do you want to celebrate your birthday, my sweet invincible Gretta?“

 “I’ll wait until you get back and then we’ll talk about it. After all, who celebrates birthdays when they’ll be fifty-five?” And she choked the sob that tried to escape her throat. “You’re the one that’s invincible, my sweet.”

 “I love you, Gretta,” he said.  “It’s time to go,” and he hung up.

 She held the mobile in her hand. He hadn’t given her time to say, I love you too. The tears that she’d held back fell, and she laid her head against his comfy chair and cried herself into a crazy nap where bullets whiz by her head and men screamed while women cried.

                                                                                     ***

Her mobile rang. She thought it was in her dream until she felt the vibration in her hand. The face of her mobile said, Gianluigi Battisto.

 “Gianluigi?” she whispered, stunned.

 She heard the laughter in his voice. “Who else would be calling you at the break of day?”

 “You’re safe.”

 “I’m hungry,” he said. “What time is breakfast?”

 “Is everyone well?” she asked, holding her breath as she waited for his answer.

 “We’re bruised and tired, but we’re all well.”

 “Thank God,” she murmured. “Come home, I’m waiting.”