Friday Flash Fiction

Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
Photo Courtesy of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

This picture has a lot of inspiration packed into it. I made the mistake of reading a couple of entries and now have to see what new twist I can make on the same prompt. I usually don’t read until I’ve come up with my own. Now to let go and see where the creative river takes me.

Word count: 101

Flux

No man ever steps in the same river twice – all things are in flux like a river.” Elmer said quietly to himself.

“What you going on about?” Opal shook her head. “Old coot.”

He looked at the river, knowing his own feet had stepped there, younger feet, back when his world was new.

Heraclitus had it right. His life barely mattered and any impact would wash away like a footprint in the sand, gone before the next foot landed.

“Don’t forget to shut that damn window. You’ll catch your death.”

Nodding faintly, Elmer closed his eyes, hoping for just that.

To see other stories, please visit the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields site here.

© Erin Leary

Out of Season

IMG_20150503_104915
I love spring. It has always been my very favorite season – something about the suddenness of things bursting into life after being dormant all winter fills me with hope and gives me a feeling of wonder.

I have posted about the beauty in my garden as the early bloomers appear or about the glory of the nesting Great Blue Herons as they begin the cycle of bringing their chicks into the world. They are reminders that spring is here and all is right with the world.

Things have a time, a purpose, a season and the pattern is familiar and comforting. Then my thoughts drift to my sister, my friend, my constant companion. We often talked by phone as I took my walks that led me past the herons, especially toward the end of her life. I’d walk and tell her what I was seeing, describing the hungry chicks calling for their food like rusty hinges squawking with life.

It dawned on me earlier this week that I am almost exactly the age she was when she died. That thought stopped me in my tracks. I can’t imagine being ready to leave my life. It is staggering to think about, really. Her time was cut short – she was an out of season loss. Not everything conforms to the patterns or the timing of nature. It’s been five years this year that she lost her fight with pancreatic cancer and it’s gone by in a flash, while every day without her has felt too long.

As I think about it, I am reminded to live each day fully, as she chose to: to revel in the everyday things and marvel in the beauty of the world. She was an inspiration as she approached the end of her time with us. She wanted nothing more than one more day in case she had the opportunity to meet someone new and maybe touch another life with meaning. She was an optimist and kept her childlike wonder even as she faced the death sentence she’d been given. I loved that about her. I loved so much about her.

Jan, in her field of gold
I saw a picture of her flash by on my screensaver yesterday. It was taken a month or so before her death. She is standing in a field, lit up with golden sun at the end of the day, looking fragile but peaceful. She told me before she died that she visualized her home in heaven – she believed fully in what comes next – and saw it in a field just like that, lit with golden sunlight. Seeing that picture, I am filled with joy, then sadness at losing her, then anger at it coming too soon. All those emotions roil through me in a split second and then I say a silent “I love you, I miss you, it’s not the same without you” and smile. Everything has a season. Hers just came too soon.

Friday Flash Fiction

Sean Fallon
Photo Courtesy of Sean Fallon

This made me think back to the days when finding the right battery was critical to my young kids. It seemed like every single one of their toys needed a different kind. And then, once I found (or more likely, purchased) the batteries, I’d regret it because it usually meant they were toys that made noise.

I’ve always thought there’s a special spot in hell for people who design annoyingly noisy toys.

Word count: 102

Powerful

“Hey! My Gameboy stopped working! What the…”

“Mommy! Darling Dance-A-Lot stopped playing…”

“Waaaaah!! No sound…”

My kids made more noise than the toys I’d surreptitiously sabotaged. I knew it was short-lived, however. I had a plan.

“Here – try one of these,” I said in my most convincing voice. “It’s something you’ll love.”

Eying me suspiciously, they turned to look. I held out the treats, calling them to me like the Pied-piper.

“Books, my sweets. Quiet, lovely, books.”

With a little persuasion, they settled in with their new found friends, each one a doorway to a new world. A much quieter world.

To see other stories, please visit the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields site here.

© Erin Leary

Why Women Rock

Twain Quote

In my “About Me” section on this here blog, I have a list of 25 Things About Me. Number 5 on that list is “I sometimes think that I relate better to males than females but I wouldn’t revoke my membership in the sisterhood for anything. Women rock.” and that sums up my thinking about my women friends to a tee. I have some amazing women friends and I count myself lucky to be in their company.

Some of these women have known me since I was a child – Laurie J. and I met in second grade. Lori M. and I were college roommates. Others are from high school, college, various jobs I’ve had along the way in my career – but all of them have a singular theme: With these women, I have given up pretense. I am my true self, imperfections and all. That is why they are so meaningful to me.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure (and it really was just plain old fun) to spend a weekend in Coronado with 23 women from my college days at Stanford. Some I knew really well. Some I was just meeting that weekend. But the fun part was we could all be ourselves and show up at breakfast in PJs or running clothes or fully decked out and ready for the day and be equally accepted. It’s the best feeling in the world to be with people who just let you be you.

group 3
This group has been doing this in one form or another for over 25 years. It was something that started as people realized seeing each other only every 5 years at a reunion wasn’t going to cut it. Now it happens when someone plans the weekend, not on a set schedule. Sometimes it is only a handful of women going somewhere truly exotic – but at the core, it is this bond of familiarity that keeps people coming back.

My first outing with the group was white water rafting in Oregon about 15 years ago. Lori invited me and I figured it was a great way to spend a few days with her, never really factoring in the rest of the group. I had a great time with everyone and I felt comfortable being in their company. I remember one trip to Lake Tahoe a few years later where I was really struggling with my sister’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and had a very heartfelt, honest conversation with one of the women there who happens to be a doctor. Her compassion and truth touched me deeply – and helped me prepare for what was ahead in a way I might never have been able to do.

Group 2

When we get together, there is always laughter and stories and wine and food. We are a loud group to be around, but the kind of group you look at and think “I’ll have what they’re having.” We just have fun. We talk about kids and work and parents and challenges and successes – no subject is off the table. And your feelings are always allowed.

This particular group includes some amazingly accomplished women – doctors, lawyers, finance professionals, education professionals, stay at home moms – it’s a cross section of talent. This diversity means you get some really different perspectives and ideas. I have loved seeing how conversations ebb and flow when I am with these women. And following one get together, someone shared this article, an excerpt of which is below. Apparently, we’re not the only ones to believe in the power of female friendship.

A friend of a friend wrote last summer that she just finished taking an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was on the mind-body connection – the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman, whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends.

At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.

Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences.

Physically this “quality girlfriend time” helps us to create more serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well-being.

Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes. But their feelings? Rarely.

Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.

There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged – not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking!

Talking with a girlfriend is as good as going to the gym? Sign me up.  In another article sent by one of this last gathering’s attendees focuses on the value of women friends as we grow older. It’s safe to say I don’t need any convincing at this point – I know the power of these friendships first hand. They have held me up through all the slings and arrows of life’s misfortune and cheered me on when I was riding high.

227128_2006090921901_1532514918_32167117_6372996_n

I have women friends that I do weekends away with who are from earlier in my life and we can pick up where we left off in a heartbeat. It’s comforting to be with people who know your whole story and see you for not just who you are today, but that younger woman you once were. That makes me feel connected in a way that is truly special. It’s something I realized I really missed when I lost my parents and sister – these women know me through and through. As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I know it matters to be fully known by someone else.

I’ve often thought that I would love to be able to gather all the women who are special to me in one place for a Grand Salon – to have them mix and mingle with the sole purpose to be to bond with each other and become a larger support system. That may have to stay a dream, but I think it might be time for me to at least plan the next weekend adventure.

I remember my mom talking about “the girls” when she would plan an afternoon of bridge or a lunch at our house. These women were from her younger days, the mysterious time of her life when she wasn’t just our mother, but her own person. Those girls have all passed away, but mom kept her female friends going strong until her own death. She must have figured all this out long ago.

I plan to follow her example and so to my dear friends, old and new – thank you for being in my life, thank you for all you have shared with me, and thank you for letting me be me. Every single one of you rock.

 

Friday Flash Fiction

Al Forbes

Photo Courtesy of Al Forbes

A car like this would have been on the road only a century ago. Imagine how much has changed since 1916. This was the future – and it has shaped our world in many ways.

Word count: 100

Blame it on the Wheel

“…Wind, rain, and flooding continue across the Midwest, no relief in sight.” The radio signal was sketchy, but the ominous news was clear: more of the same and getting worse. The old farm was a target for rising waters.

Amber looked around her grandparent’s farmhouse, focusing on her favorite picture of them. They stood beside their new Model T, black and shiny, smiling shyly at the camera, ready to take on the future.

After all the years of carbon emissions from 1.2 billion cars worldwide, things had changed. And the future they were racing toward was suddenly very different indeed.

To see other stories, please visit the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields site here.

© Erin Leary

Friday Flash Fiction

Sandra Crook

Photo Courtesy of Sandra Crook

“Like sand through an hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives….” Thus opened a soap opera that reminds me of my childhood. My mother never watched them, calling them nonsense and pap. I took a short foray into them in High School when it was cool to watch All My Children.

This hourglass looks like a hybrid hourglass/sundial device. I’m not sure how it works, but it’s certainly intriguing.

Word count: 101

Days of Our Lives

“Mom! Where are you?” Ellen stomped around the house. Her mom knew she needed a ride to the mall.

“MOM!” Exasperated, she saw the keys on the hook. She’d be 16 soon. Why couldn’t she drive herself?

Her mother was always saying time was relative – whatever that meant. Why couldn’t she be like normal mothers?

Ellen battled the nerves in her belly. Nothing to driving, really. Easy as falling off a log.

Peeling out, her last view was her mom frantically waving her arms. Glass splintered and time shifted on impact as the final grain of sand slid through the hourglass.

To see other stories, please visit the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields site here.

© Erin Leary

Friday Flash Fiction

The Reclining Gentleman
Photo Courtesy of The Reclining Gentleman

Stunted tulips, graceful daffodils – harbingers of spring this chilly time of year. The age old cycle of rebirth and renewal, played out by planting dry bulbs in the fall, letting the chill fingers of winter spur them back to life. Sunshine, water, and a little fertilizer is all it really takes to bring beauty into the world.

Word count: 101

Nitrogen Rich

“Your garden is so lush! You always have the best crop in the neighborhood.”

Color rose to Alice’s cheeks. “Ain’t nothin’ really. Just a dab hand with the fertilizer and nature’ll do the rest.”

Everyone had enjoyed the extra bounty this last harvest – tomatoes, zucchini, peas – all had been prolific.

“I make my own fertilizer – them compost bins are the trick. They take all sorts of scraps and turn it into magic. Nitrogen Rich, I call it.”

Alice smiled as she recalled the last words Rich had said to her. She’d take her garden over that bad seed any day.

To see other stories, please visit the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields site here.

© Erin Leary