Saturday Six Minute Challenge

Flash Fiction – One Last Try

Margaret hated gardening. That was the lie she’d always told herself to avoid it. The truth was watching something grow with the help of her tender loving care made her heart soar. She didn’t really mind getting dirty. The stress of making sure no birds ate her precious seeds was acceptable. Having to use a water hose because it rarely rained in West Texas was something she could do without complaint. Even delicate plants that need more or less constant attention were not really a big deal. A sore back and aching knees wasn’t asking too much. Sunburn? Well everyone needs vitamin D anyway.

No, the real problem was the vermin. Margaret tried gardening many times throughout her long life. Every time, at some point in the process, one of the pests would show up. Inevitably this occurred once she let her guard down and truly started enjoying herself. She wasn’t afraid of much, but if she had one true phobia, it was of the hungry, jumpy, and deceptively cute monsters. They were sneaky and had sharp teeth.

Thinking about the horrid, treacherous creatures gave her the chills. Talking about them was out of the question. She couldn’t even stand to look at pictures of them.

One bright morning Margaret stood on her back porch wearing old clothes, a floppy hat and a determined scowl. I’m too old for this fear horseshit, she told herself. She knew, soon enough, she wouldn’t be able to get down on the ground and work hard to make something grow. One last try before the end, which her doctor said would be before too long.

She walked to her chosen spot in the yard and checked carefully for anything out of the ordinary. There has never been one of the hated beasts on her property but she wasn’t taking chances. She’d only lived there thirty years, not nearly long enough to be sure one of the little bastards wouldn’t show up.

At first she worked slowly, carefully. As the morning pressed on her confidence grew. Margaret never once let herself get complacent as she worked. Constant vigilance was key. She worked until she got tired, which was much sooner than she’d hoped.

She slept well and woke early, eager to get back to work. And so it went for three days as she got her new garden ready, then planted. She tended her handiwork daily, staying watchful.

Finally it was time for harvest. This was further along in the process than Margaret had ever gotten. She headed out to her garden with joy in her heart. Not even halfway there she saw it. She dropped her bucket and shovel. A terrified screamed escaped her before she really processed what she was seeing.

Sitting in the middle of her garden, gnawing on one of her carrots was of the hated critters. It almost seemed like it was trying to look cute and innocent.

Anger replaced fear. Margaret ran towards the vermin waving her arms, trying to scare it away but it stubbornly held its ground, with only its eyes growing larger to show any sign of reaction.

“Shoo! Shoo!” She yelled.

“Okay, okay lady. It was only one carrot,” said the child who’d desecrated her crops.

Margaret picked her shovel up and followed the kid as he left her yard. She kept her distance in case it changed its mind. It eyed her warily the entire time.

She closed the gate behind the boy and locked it. Walking across the yard she felt a sense of triumph. Margaret had faced her biggest fear and won. Satisfied she went to take a nap, forgetting about the garden.

Well this is what happens when I don’t write for a while. Between my back problems and getting sick this week, my creativity seems to have taken a leave of absence. Still, I’m happy to have written anything.

A Valentine’s Day Story (My Six Minutes of Writing for Saturday)

The following is my six minutes of writing for the day. I think it took a little longer but I was eating lunch while I wrote it so I’m not sure. It’s not the best tale ever told but I’m posting it anyway to show that even though I was busy, I found the time to write. As I mentioned I wrote it during lunch, at a fast food place, in between stops, while out shopping. I try to always keep a spiral or small notebook with me wherever I go for just such occasions. It was actually nice to write something with a pen again.

He looked like a Jeff, so that’s what I’ll call him. I was at Sam’s picking up a few things when I first noticed him aimlessly wandering. At least that was the impression I got until he walked past me and I saw the look on his face. Flustered would be an apt description. Honestly, it was so busy in the place, I wouldn’t have noticed him if he hadn’t worn that almost panicky expression.

Throughout my shopping trip I saw Jeff often. Each aisle, each section. It struck me as odd that he would stop in front of a shelf and stare at a few products for a while, but never picked anything up. Walk, stop, stare, head-shake—repeat. He didn’t even have a cart.

For some reason, each time I saw him, my pity level grew. I had no idea what this man was looking for but I knew he wasn’t finding it. Perhaps he left his list at home and couldn’t remember what was on it. Maybe he was going to get yelled at when he got home, if he forgot something.

Poor Jeff. He didn’t need paper towels or paper plates, although he considered both. Bread and chips were rejected. Dish soap? Nope. Wine—almost. Frozen goods? Apparently not. I saw him looking at laptops and tablets, towels, spices, cereal. You name it, he stared it down and left it behind.

After a while it occurred to me that no matter where I went, he was there. I glanced around and saw that other people in the area I was in were coming to the same conclusion. A nice older lady walked up to Jeff and asked if he needed help finding something. He merely shook his head and kept wandering around.

He never really looked at her. In fact, I think it’s safe to say he didn’t truly see any of the hundred or so people in the store that he weaved around and dodged in his search.

I heard a couple talking about him. Both agreed that they felt like stalkers for watching Jeff, trying to figure out what he was doing. I felt a twinge of it myself.

Finally I finished my own shopping and checked out. The man with the unknown mission had disappeared. After loading my car, I drove in front of the doors to get to the next store. I had stopped for some people to cross and before I could hit the gas pedal, out walks Jeff. He was carrying a terra-cotta pot full of pink tulips. He was wearing both a relieved and proud smile.

I couldn’t help myself, I laughed—loud. I’m sure he heard me because he turned his head, made eye contact, and his cheeks and neck reddened.

I knew the recipient of the flowers would never know what Jeff went through to get them. She would never hear how her husband/boyfriend captivated an entire store with his pursuit, but she would probably be very happy.

The moral of this story is two-fold. First, waiting until February 14th to buy a gift is stressful, don’t do it. Second, a warehouse club is probably not an ideal choice for last-minute romantic gifts.

Partial Rough Draft: Salad

“Can I just have a salad?” the young dragon asked his mother.

The mother glanced at the corner where dinner was eaten. “No, there is a perfectly good meal in front of you.”

“But it’s squirming. You know I don’t like things that move when I’m eating them. Besides, it’s looking at me. Creepy.”

“If it’s that big of a deal, I will kill it for you and throw some lettuce on it.”

“No. I don’t want to eat something that once lived. That’s disgusting.”

Mother dragon sighed. Kids and their new ideas. What was she supposed to do with her son. She didn’t understand why her child wasn’t like all the other dragons, but she couldn’t let him starve. “Fine. You may go and find a village garden to ransack. If you’re going to insist on this then you had better at least destroy a house or two.”

The younger dragon nodded vigorously. “I promise. Maybe I’ll maim a few of the villagers while I’m at it.”

“You do that. Oh and release your dinner. The rest of us have eaten and I don’t want it to spoil.”

He opened the chained cuffs of the creature his mom tried to force him to eat. “Now, lead me to your village.” The dragon followed as the human fled from the cave.

This is the beginning of a flash fiction piece. I don’t know where I’m going from here. it might not even be the beginning. If I could think of an ended I would probably be in better shape. All I know is I’ve had dragons on my mind for a couple of days and when I sat down to do some FF, this is what came out. Nothing would sway me from the dragon path. I’m hoping now that I wrote something about them, I can move on to a non-fantasy story. Probably not. Now I’ll obsess with finishing this one.