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Category Archives: Tuesday Tales

Love’s last flight

100_9530The sunset flight had been her birthday gift to him last week, and his face had lit up at the thought of crossing one more thing off his bucket list; he really needed to start adding to the list so as not to be bored senseless in his old age.

She had perused customer reviews on the balloon company’s website and studied ten years of meteorological data, trying to find a window of opportunity when cancellation due to weather was least likely, then finally just closed her eyes and pointed to a random square on the calendar.

She’d regretted her impulsive selection process when the sound of rain pattering against the windows awakened her before the alarm this morning, but the showers had passed before she’d even reached the bottom of her ritual mug of Earl Grey and the balloon pilot had rung at lunchtime to confirm their flight would depart as scheduled.

As they drifted silently above a breathtaking patchwork of carefully tended fields, bisected by an undulating ribbon of sparkling gold, the pilot gave a slight nod and she raised her glass of complementary champagne to toast the dwindling bucket list.

Then, with only a moment’s hesitation, she turned her face into the sun and tipped her husband over the side of the wicker basket, a new widow’s tear-choked prayers following his ashes as they billowed out in the balloon’s wake.

“Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist,” says Lillie as she offers up her weekly challenge on Lillie McFerrin Writes. The word she chose for this week’s inspiration was ‘flight’.

 

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Posted by on July 9, 2013 in Challenges, Fiction, Tuesday Tales

 

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Primitive Heat

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“It’s a bit crowded in here tonight,” he shouted above the din. “Fancy a tipple back at my place?”

The lingo still sometimes made her giggle, but like all the other American women she worked with in the London office, her knees went weak at the sound of a British accent, especially one as deep and smoky as his. He was sexy, dark-eyed and lean-bodied, and she’d enjoyed flirting with him as they teamed together during the pub quiz.

“That’d be lovely. Let me get my coat.”

Leaving the crowded pub, he linked his arm with hers and guided her through the misty night. As they ambled down the narrow streets of the village, he warned, “My place is nothing fancy.”

She’d been invited home by enough Englishmen in the last four years that she no longer batted an eye at those cautionary words. It was usually code for, “Please excuse my ancient musty, dusty cottage, with its sloping floors, low-hanging beams, icy cold drafts, and primitive plumbing.” She didn’t mind a cottage with a little character…it wasn’t like she was moving in. A quick romp, and she’d be back in her warm, modern London flat before sunrise.

“Here we are,” his warm voice informed her as they neared the end of the lane.

Shock stopped her dead in her tracks. In all of her dating life, she’d never been invited to such a crude abode. Thin tendrils of smoke climbed skyward, winding around poles that reached toward the hazy brightness of a moon that could not quite escape the veil of clouds. He stood beside the taut hide which formed a perfect cone around the poles and raised a flap, waiting with an outstretched hand to usher her into the softly lit interior.

Desire ignited when she spied a pallet of thick furs on the floor. The fire they were about to kindle in this wigwam would burn away all thoughts of the usual hasty wee-hours escape to a lonely London flat.

This is my response to Trifecta’s Week Eighty-four challenge, using the third definition of “crude” in a story of 33 to 333 words. I just made it, with 333 words exactly!

CRUDE
1: existing in a natural state and unaltered by cooking or processing <crude oil>
2 archaic : unripe, immature
3: marked by the primitive, gross, or elemental or by uncultivated simplicity or vulgarity <a crude stereotype>
4: rough or inexpert in plan or execution <a crude shelter>
5: lacking a covering, glossing, or concealing element; obvious <crude facts>
6: tabulated without being broken down into classes <the crude death rate>

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Fiction, Tuesday Tales

 

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Parted

HPIM2135Saffron sea parted
Not miracle nor east wind
Thanks be to John Deere

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Posts I commented on today:
(In case you missed the reason for this, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge in April, and though I posted every day, I was lousy at visiting and commenting on other participants’ blogs. So for each day in May, I’ve vowed to visit and comment on three posts from the various blogging communities whose members have supported my efforts. At least one post MUST be from a new blog I haven’t yet visited.)
R–Random Acts of Kindness (The Single Dad Pad)  new blog of the day
Day (452)–Nobody…Yet (The Better Man Project)
Tiger Beetle (the squirrel nutwork)

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Poetry, Tuesday Tales

 

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Untouched

evening dandelionEvening Dandelion © Anthony Beyga

I can’t find my coffee mug…my wedding album…my grandmother’s quilt…my neighbor…my car; nothing is where I left it. In fact, if I hadn’t been home when it hit, I’m not sure I’d be able to find my own street.

I close my eyes and push lazily with a bare toe, setting my swing in motion, imagining it’s just another peaceful May evening in the park, the sun’s last golden rays warm against my eyelids. I open my eyes and ponder a perfect globe of a dandelion, fuzzy seeds ready to be launched to far-flung corners of the carefully manicured soccer field. Ironic that just one block over, the noble, gnarly live oak that has graced my front lawn for more than a century is now impaled through the side of the neighbor’s garage.

I lean back and pump my legs, hoping I can soar high enough to rise above the sirens, the cries and shouts, the scrape of debris being pushed around, high enough to see my husband walk through the devastation to find me here in the park, where our disaster plan says we will reunite.

 

Although I’d love it to be so, I just couldn’t work my schedule to be able to participate in StoryADay May. It’s a personal problem…it takes me hours upon hours to churn out any fictional story, no matter its length or how much prompting I am given. However, I fully expected to find lots of inspiration in the month’s worth of daily prompts, so I have been archiving them for future use. I decided to pull one out today, as I had no original inspiration of my own for this week’s Tuesday Tale. As instructed in the 2 May prompt, I went to the Flickr Explore page (never been to Flickr before…what have I been missing!?) and chose the first photograph that caught my eye. Okay, so most of them caught my eye for one reason or another, so I picked the first one that immediately led my sluggish brain to a story. My heart goes out to all those affected by the devastating tornadoes in the States this week.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Fiction, Tuesday Tales

 

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Jogyesa

lanterns for Buddha's birthday at Jogyesa Temple, Seoul
Neither the honking of impatient drivers navigating the busy Seoul streets nor the happy chatter of awe-struck tourists distracted Yong-jun from his mission. In the courtyard of Jogyesa Temple, he stood shaded by thousands of traditional hanji lanterns hung in honor of Buddha’s 2557th birthday, just as he had each year since 1969. No longer a spring chicken himself, Yong-jun’s neck and eyes protested the strain as he read each of the prayer tags dangling below the brightly colored lanterns. The tags danced merrily in the soft May breeze, making his deliberate examination all the more difficult.

This one hopes for a good score on an exam, these two both seek romantic relationships, that one wishes for his new baby will be born healthy and strong, the one over there pleads for relief for her father’s painful cancer treatments.

Yong-jun was certain that all of these prayers were heartfelt and deserved to be fulfilled, but none was quite right. He continued to read, shuffling slowly down each row, mumbling the words of anonymous supplicants under his breath, frowning occasionally at an especially somber prayer, and laughing out loud at the triviality of others…praying for a Happy Meal instead of bulgogi for dinner, indeed!

With a gasp of surprise, Yong-jun’s gaze locked onto the neat hangul penned on the tag of a lime-green lantern. He knew those words because they were his, written sixty-two years ago in a letter to his infant daughter, hours before he placed the motherless baby in the arms of the matron at the orphanage and marched off to war. He had given explicit instructions that the letter be delivered to Soo-yun when she turned 18, for it contained the message she could use to contact him if she so desired. Now the words he’d been praying to read each May for the past forty-four years finally fluttered before his eyes: “This Seokgatansinil, the one called Perfect Lotus Blossom wishes to meet her father.”

I’ve chosen to incorporate two challenges in today’s post. The first is The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern. Between the hanging lanterns and the painting of the temple itself, there is no shortage of pattern in this picture I shot at Jogyesa in the days leading up to Buddha’s birthday in 2009. I also wanted to work in the Trifecta: Week Seventy-seven Challenge, in which I was required to use the third definition of deliberate (3: slow, unhurried, and steady as though allowing time for decision on each individual action involved ) in a piece of 33 to 333 words (I did it in 327).

 

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Buddha

 

Every Wednesday, Yumiko came with her stool and her sketchbook and perched delicately in my shadow, applying pencil to paper to capture the scenes around her, sometimes worrying the small details for weeks on end. Shinji, with cameras dangling from his neck and bags of lenses criss-crossing his lithe frame, circled me week in and week out, intent on capturing the subtle differences in the sunlight on my face as the spring days lengthened into summer, but never unaware of those who shared this sacred ground with him. Today, the clicking of Shinji’s shutter grew louder as he maneuvered into Yumiko’s space, framing candid shots of the uniformed high school students boisterously posing around my base for a classmate’s iPhone snaps. Yumiko put her pencil aside and opened her bento bag, peeking from beneath the brim of her sunhat to offer Shinji an onigiri with a shy “Dōzo.” Bowing his thanks, he sank to the ground next to her, and small talk over the shared meal of rice balls eventually turned into tentative requests to view each other’s work. As Yumiko scrolled through his camera’s digital archive, Shinji flipped the pages of her sketchbook, expecting to see my profile but finding his own likeness filling several pages instead; that discovery sent a thrill through him and simultaneously made him a little less nervous about her reaction to his memory card’s imminent revelation of the portraits he had furtively stolen earlier today with his zoom lens.

 

I’ve combined today’s letter, B, from the A to Z April Challenge with the Weekly Writing Challenge: Iconic from The Daily Post…and threw in a six sentence limit just for fun. I realize Buddhism is not an exclusively Japanese religion, but Daibutsu, the giant Buddha of Kamakura, is THE iconic image of my time in Japan. Every time I see a photo of this Buddha’s placid face, I am reminded of the gentle people, beautiful scenery, and all-encompassing peace I found in Japan.

 

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Altruism

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Frog sat by the road, playing his guitar. Turtle walked slowly up the road.

“Hello, Frog,” said Turtle.

“Hello, Turtle,” said Frog.

“Why are you playing such a sad song?” asked Turtle.

“It is November,” said Frog, “and my friend Toad has gone to bed for the winter.”

“That’s not so sad,” said Turtle.

“Last winter, Toad was too cold,” said Frog. “He did not sleep well. When he woke up in April, he was very grumpy.”

“Hmm, I guess that is a little sad,” said Turtle.

Frog said, “I wanted to buy Toad a big warm blanket. I saved money all year. When I went to the store, I did not have enough money to buy even a small blanket.”

“Oh,” said Turtle, “that is very sad.”

Turtle thought for a moment.

“The circus is in town today,” he said. “You should go.”

“Do they have cheaper blankets at the circus?” asked Frog.

“No, Frog,” Turtle laughed. “You can play your guitar at the circus. People will pay to watch a frog playing the guitar. In one day you will have more than enough money to buy a blanket for Toad.”

“That is a great idea!” said Frog. “Do you really think it will work?”

“Yes,” said Turtle. “Come on, I will take you. You can ride on my back and practice your songs.”

“Oh, thank you, Turtle!” cried Frog. He hopped on the turtle’s back.

Frog and Turtle set off down the road. Frog played a happy song and dreamed of a new blanket for Toad. “Toad will be warm,” he thought to himself. “He will sleep well, and he will wake up happy in April.”

I came across this lovely specimen of taxidermy at an antiques fair, and the creepy duo got me thinking about one of my favorite, not so creepy, childhood books, Frog and Toad Together. Arnold Lobel’s style is hard to replicate, but I hope the spirit of my story is in keeping with the incredible friendship he chronicles in his Frog and Toad books.