15 Random Prompt Words – Flash Fiction Friday – ’Til Death Do Us Part

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For this week’s 15 random words I’m using:

tadpole

mix – vegetable – disagreeable – immense – aboard – invincible – food – intend – old – hand – alike – romantic – muscle – bad

Above are screen prints of the words it gave me (I got them in 3 batches because otherwise they were covered by ads).

Flash Fiction Friday

This week I went with an alternate POV scene from ’Til Death Do Us Part. It won’t be obvious from the start, but this is a scene that occurs in the story. This time it’s told from Devon’s 1st-person POV.

At the same time, it seemed like only yesterday and yet forever ago that I’d felt invincible. I frowned, remembering how the lyrics of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” had run through my mind aboard that damned plane. I’d been flying high, both figuratively and literally, having just completed a successful freshman year as a linebacker for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and was on my way to a fun-in-the-sun vacation with a couple buddies. I’d felt on top of the world…right up until we’d dropped out of the sky. Being one of only four survivors of a plane crash should arguably reinforce that feeling of invulnerability, but it didn’t.

Sitting in the shade, a few yards into the northern tree line, I looked out over the immense expanse of ocean and shivered despite the heat. I used to think of myself as a romantic, but now, sometimes if felt as if the only thing keeping me from acting like a disagreeable old man in a perpetual bad mood was the kid, “Buddy.”

I didn’t intend to be difficult, and mostly I kept the ever-lurking hopelessness that triggered the occasional outburst at bay.  I rolled my shoulders and shook out my hands to metaphorically push the threatening melancholy away.

I sighed and stood, listening for Buddy, then cut through the interior toward the large rock where we tended to gather. It was our “table” for meals, and it was where Henry kept a basket with extra food for snacking. Fish, fruit, nuts, seeds, and seaweed…day after day after day. Henry tried to mix it up with his meal prep, but after a while, they all seemed alike. Maybe, not entirely, but the menu was short. What I wouldn’t give for a big juicy steak, or a piece of fried chicken, or a hamburger. I even craved vegetables—the non-seaweed variety.

The thought of food reminded me I was thirsty, so I detoured by the Papaya tree grove where our little fresh water “spring” was located. It was little more than a deep puddle that slowly but continually refilled itself, but it was one of the key reasons we’d survived all these years.

With my hands cupped, I scooped a couple mouthfuls before noticing a batch of tadpoles had hatched. We would have to be careful with the water for the next couple months so we didn’t harm them. Henry had schooled us early on about how the tree frogs on the island kept the fruit flies in check. Without the frogs, the flies could easily decimate our fruit supply.

Startled, I jumped to my feet when a scream pierced through the background noise of the ocean’s waves. Buddy! Something had happened. Something bad. My gut twisted with fear as I took off running toward the heart-rending sound, then spun, because Buddy was apparently darting around the corner of the island as he shrieked.

I turned to take the path that led to where the screams had come to an abrupt halt, but now Garrett was hollering my name. Like Buddy, his voice was a moving target so I kept going in the direction I was already headed.

When I burst out onto the beach, Buddy’s arms and legs were wrapped around Henry, with his face buried in the man’s neck, and Garrett’s head spun back and forth. He turned and ran back in my direction, then veered toward the water’s edge with his arms waving. I ground to a halt with my heart in my throat, confused, until I saw it.

A plane—no, it was close, silent, and too small to be manned—a drone was flying past us. I chased it, screaming, “Stop! Stop!” and waved my arms like a lunatic until it was out of sight. But it circled and returned from the other direction.

Circling meant we’d been spotted. The drone operator knew we were here. It couldn’t actually stop, as I’d reflexively yelled, but did he (or she) realize we needed help—that we were stranded? Probably. Our general appearance would make that apparent, and if not, our hysterical chasing and arm waving would’ve put any doubts to rest.

The three of us came together in a huddle on the beach. Henry patted Buddy’s back, but his ragged breathing and wide eyes belied his own fears for the future, mixed with his obvious excitement. Garrett panted. “Sticks. We need sticks so we can write in the sand.”

“Of course,” I said. “I’ll get some.” I brushed my hand across my eyes to clear the tears of relief that welled up as I ran down the path to our wood-stand. When I arrived, the muscles in my legs gave out, and I stumbled to a stop and leaned against a tree for support.

“I’m going home,” I whispered to the universe. I pictured the look of shock that would appear on my parents’ faces when they got the news. My brothers—after five years they wouldn’t look the same. I snickered, remembering how I’d just been thinking about the foods I missed as if they were what was important. No, that craving was overpowered by the yearning to see my family—a longing I’d suppressed for too long to keep despair at bay. I’ll see you, soon, I added silently, then I grabbed three sticks from the kindling pile and dashed back to the beach.

As always, because I can’t resist a good challenge, I’ll take the first 15 prompt words given to me in the comments, below, for next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please. I’ll make up the difference using a random word generator site if I don’t get 15 here.

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Quick links to my website pages with buy-links, blurbs, excerpts, review snippets/links:

’Til Death Do Us Part | From This Day Forward | To Love and To Cherish


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15 Random Prompt Words – Flash Fiction Friday – Vows Series

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For this week’s 15 random words I’m using:

sudoku

carrot

lighten – level – self – language – wistful – warn – precede – end – weak – stiff – simple – wobble – fine

Above are screen prints of the words it gave me (I got them in 3 batches because otherwise they were covered by ads).

New rule…up until now I’ve used the words exactly as they show up on the random word generator lists. Starting this week I will only promise to use a form of the word. One issue is I write in past tense, and the verbs on the list are always present tense. That can make for some awkward wording if I’m not allowed to modify the form of the word. 15 words is enough of a challenge…I want a little flexibility overall.

This week I went with a bonus missing scene that would be primarily from ’Til Death Do Us Part, but it could also arguably fit in with Nash’s flashback dreams from To Love and To Cherish. I’m going to include it in the bonus scenes links for both since it features an MC from each and is pertinent to both stories. This scene takes place right after Henry has arrived back home, Sam and Nash clash, and Henry and Buddy are leaving to go stay for a short while with Sam’s parents, so Sam and Nash can have their much-needed discussion in private.

I’d originally included a similar scene in ’Til Death Do Us Part, but ended up removing it in favor of keeping the readers in suspense (along with Henry) as to how things would resolve.

It’s told from Sam’s 3rd-person POV.

Flash Fiction Friday

Sam would’ve rather been anywhere, doing anything, than staying where he was, watching Buddy precede Henry as they walked out the front door with Harley. He’d rather stand in front of a classroom full of incoming freshmen and use the words “epic fail” to describe his recent actions—or lack thereof. He’d rather have his career depend upon the outcome of his entry in a timed Sudoku contest against the math department professors. Hell, he’d rather get his balls waxed. In other words…anything.

If he needed a carrot on a stick to motivate him to turn around and face Nash, he supposed it could be the promise of getting Henry back after he’d suffered this long-overdue conversation.

Henry had been correct. Sam needed to do his level best to handle this properly. Much as he’d love to lighten the mood, to do so would be unfair to everyone involved. Sam straightened his shoulders and cast one more wistful glance out the window as Harley’s pickup backed out of the driveway, then turned to face his now-former fiancé.

Nash still stood with his arms stiff at his sides, his fists clenched as if he’d like nothing better than to unleash his admittedly righteous fury on Sam.

“I’m sorry,” Sam said, hoping a simple, sincere declaration would be a good start.

But, Nash’s face grew even redder. “Fuck you!” he shouted. Shrieked, really.

Sam wobbled on weak knees. Where the hell had that come from? Sure he’d known Nash was upset, as he should be, but they’d never raised their voices, let alone shouted at one another. That had come out of nowhere, with no warning. Language deserted Sam as his jaw dropped.

“First you couldn’t make a straightforward decision. Him or me? Do I stay or do I go? Then when you finally fucking did you couldn’t even pick up the goddamned phone and call me? Fuck! You!” At least Nash wasn’t yelling anymore, but his voice was cold and hard as he bit out the words.

What Nash said wasn’t entirely fair. Nash had contributed greatly to Sam’s indecision. He was the one who’d made the point that Henry would certainly have changed in five years and might not even want to get back together with Sam. It was almost as if Nash had seen the writing on the wall and actively lobbied to sway Sam’s decision.

But Sam didn’t want to make this about himself. This needed to be about helping Nash cope with the abrupt end to their engagement.

“I am sorry,” Sam whispered. Tears threated to fall as he ran a hand through his hair. “I do love you. Please remember that. You deserved better than a breakup over the phone, but I should have thought about how that reunion scene was being broadcast on TV.”

Nash stared at him for a moment, then his eyes became unfocused, and his gaze dropped.

“I didn’t want to hurt you,” Sam continued. “I would never have caused you pain deliberately.”

Nash sniffed loudly and lifted his gaze. The torment in Nash’s eyes ripped through Sam’s heart. Sam stepped forward instinctively to offer a hug, but Nash put up a hand, palm out. “No.” Nash shook his head. “That won’t help me anymore. It would hurt.”

Sam stilled, and his arms dropped. “What can I do to help.”

Rolling his shoulders and clearing his throat as if consciously trying to pull himself together, Nash looked around the room and said, “You know what? I’ll be fine. The sooner I clear out of here and move on with my life, the better off I’ll be. If you want to help, take a pass through the house and see if there’s anything I’ve missed packing.”

“Of course.” But Sam couldn’t bring himself to move his legs.

Nash wiped the back of his hand across his wet eyes. “I want to be ready to leave when Harley gets back.”

Stomach clenched, Sam nodded and stepped away. Nash might not want a hug, but Sam needed one desperately.

“Sam?”

Sam turned at the sound of the softly spoken word.

“I…I love you, too. That’s why…” Nash snuffled. “You know.”

“I know,” Sam murmured.

“Maybe…maybe one last hug for the road. I don’t want to end things like this.”

Sam’s hands trembled and one of the tears that had been threatening finally traced down his cheek. He opened his arms, and Nash stepped into them. “Thank you,” Sam whispered into Nash’s hair.

As always, because I can’t resist a good challenge, I’ll take the first 15 prompt words given to me in the comments, below, for next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please. I’ll make up the difference using a random word generator site if I don’t get 15 here.

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Quick links to my website pages with buy-links, blurbs, excerpts, review snippets/links:

’Til Death Do Us Part

From This Day Forward

To Love and To Cherish

15 Random Prompt Words – Flash Fiction Friday – ’Til Death Do Us Part

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For this week’s 15 random words I’m using:

Saturn

rainy – immense – blue – sweet – gorgeous – club – bone – wilderness – jolly – shock – endurable – rail – shaky – muscle

Above are screen prints of the words it gave me (I got them in 3 batches because otherwise they were covered by ads).

This week I went with a sweet little bonus continuation scene for Henry and Sam of ’Til Death Do Us Part. It’s told in Henry’s 3rd-person POV.

Flash Fiction Friday

As always, because I can’t resist a good challenge, I’ll take the first 15 prompt words given to me in the comments, below, for next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please. I’ll make up the difference using a random word generator site if I don’t get 15 here.

Henry cracked open one of the French doors leading outside to the patio and whispered, “What are you doing?”

Sam turned from where he stood gazing at the predawn southeastern sky and smiled. “No clouds in this direction. Come look at the stars with me.”

Likely it would be rainy later, but it was nice to get this glimpse for now. Henry slipped out and joined Sam under the large blanket he’d wrapped around himself. Sam’s arm muscle flexed as he pulled Henry close.

Pointing toward the horizon, Sam said, “Mercury’s rising.” Trailing his finger in a line up and to the right he added, “That’s Saturn next, then that bright star is Antares. Just past the moon is Spica, and that’s Jupiter right above it.”

“Back on the island…” Henry’s voice was shaky, and he paused to take a deep breath. They were seeing a therapist together as well as separately to help them deal with this upheaval in their lives, and he’d learned that bottling his feelings was a big no-no. “I, uh, would do that corny thing people make fun of in movies—I’d look up at the moon and wonder if you were doing the same.”

It was such a cliché, but it had helped make the separation more endurable. Then in the daytime sometimes he’d looked out over the immense expanse of wide blue ocean and tried to determine the exact direction that would point to home. Home to Sam with his gorgeous, always-kind eyes and sweet quirky smile.

Sam landed a kiss to Henry’s forehead and held him tighter. Sam was as sensitive and serious as he’d been before their separation, but he was also happy. Not in a boisterous jolly kind of way, but it was clear enough to Henry.

“I did the same in the early days, before giving up hope,” Sam murmured into Henry’s hair.

“I worried so much about how you were managing.”

“It was such a shock. I felt like I was all alone in the wilderness trying to make sense of my life. All I wanted to do was rail against the airline, the bomber, fate…the universe.”

“Welcome to the club.”

Sam snorted, then shivered. “I’m chilled to the bone. Let’s go inside.”

“Aiden should sleep for another couple hours, at least.” Henry waggled his eyebrows.

Sam’s crooked grin appeared. “That sounds much better than the coffee I was planning.”

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Random Prompt Words – Flash Fiction Friday Nov. 18, 2016 – ’Til Death Do Us Part

screenshot-2016-11-16-16-36-36For this week’s 15 random words I’m using:

syllable

grind – smooth – assignmentchesttopimprovetrenchinterestconcedetasterotationbedroomtentdominate

Below is the short-short I wrote using these words, creating a scene using the characters from ’Til Death Do Us Part. FYI, for people who haven’t read the book, the 1st person POV character who isn’t named in the scene below, is Henry.

Flash Fiction Friday

“Look, Aiden,” Sam said. “See all the cows in that field?”

Sam never missed an opportunity to engage Aiden’s interest. My chest swelled with pride in my husband. To say that Sam was a natural at parenting would be an understatement. How had I ever thought to deny him the opportunity?

We were whizzing along a straight, smooth stretch of highway heading toward a campground. I’d say it was Aiden’s first camping trip, but in truth, much of his life thus far could be described as one long camping trip. It would be his first time sleeping out in a canvas tent, anyway.

“Cool.” Aiden craned his neck, scanning the field. “I learned about cows at school. Milk we drink comes from cows, right Dad?”

“Right,” Sam replied.

“Remember, Papa?” Aiden asked. “You took me to the store with you, and we looked at all the milk labels ’cause I had an assignment about that stuff. Then we bought two different kinds so I could taste the difference, remember?”

“I remember.” How could I forget? He’d chattered nonstop about everything he’d learned on the topic. Both being teachers, Sam and I were always looking to improve our son’s knowledge of the world around us, but occasionally the reverse happened. I’d learned a few things that afternoon listening to him.

“Are any of them bulls? I learned those are the boy cows, but I didn’t learn about silly bulls yet. I heard another teacher tell some kids about silly bulls, but I didn’t know what that is.”

“Silly bulls?” I asked. I quirked an eyebrow in Sam’s direction. I was the one who’d raised Aiden for most of his life, but I had to concede that Sam was better at interpreting Aiden’s meaning when the kid got confused.

Sam smiled, then turned in the passenger seat to face Aiden. “Did you overhear a science teacher talking, or was it a language teacher?”

“It was Mr. Dubois. Sometimes he teaches kids how to speak French, but sometimes he teaches English stuff, too.”

“Ah,” Sam said. “I think the word you heard might have been ‘syllable’ rather than ‘silly bull.’ A syllable is how a word naturally breaks up into parts when you say it aloud. Like ‘Aiden’ had two syllables. Aye and den.”

I caught a glimpse of Aiden in the rearview mirror. He wore what I thought of as his “thinking face,” with his brow scrunched up in concentration.

“Hmm. When Ms. Hitchens told me about the solar system I learned really long words. Revolution. That’s what the earth does around the sun. Reh-vuh-loo-shun. Is that four syllables?”

“That’s right,” Sam said. “Very good!”

Rotation. That’s why we have a daytime and a nighttime. Ro-tay-shun,” Aiden enunciated. “Three syllables?”

“You got it,” I replied.

Aiden turned to look out the window again. That lasted all of about ten seconds before he asked, “How much longer before we get to the camping place?”

“About twenty more minutes,” Sam replied.

“It’s going to be so cool,” Aiden raved. “Sometimes I miss sleeping in our old hut, Papa, with Devon and Garrett. But, I really, really like sleeping in my very own bedroom, too.”

I liked having him sleep in his own bedroom, in his own bed, too. And not simply for privacy purposes. That kid could dominate a king-sized bed like no other. Sometimes he’d end up sideways in the bed.

“If it gets cold,” Aiden continued, “it’ll be extra good, ’cause it’s warmer sleeping with other people, right?”

“Right,” Sam said. “Don’t worry, though. Our sleeping bags are very warm, and we can always layer our trench coats on top if we need to for extra warmth.”

We passed another field of cows. My eyes widened as I caught sight of a bull mounting one of the cows. Nothing escaped Aiden’s notice. No way he wouldn’t ask about a couple of bovine working on a little bump and grind. I held my breath and waited for his inevitable question.

Sam choked back a laugh, and my peripheral vision picked up his shaking shoulders. Obviously, he’d seen it, too.

“Dad, Papa, look!” Aiden exclaimed. “Why is that one cow trying to climb on top of that other one?”

I sure as hell didn’t want to field that one. I kept my mouth shut and waited for Sam. He usually handled Aiden’s questions, but a quick glance at his slack jaw told me he wanted to punt this one back to me.

“I know!” Aiden said. “That’s a ‘silly bull,’ right?”

Once again, because I can’t resist a good challenge, I’ll take the first 15 prompt words given to me in the comments, below, for next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please. I’ll make up the difference using the random word generator site if I don’t get 15 here.

Click here for more information and review & buy links for ’Til Death Do Us Part.

Deleted Scene – ’Til Death Do Us Part

I thought I’d share a scene from ’Til Death Do Us Part that was deleted during the editing process. It was a nice little tying-up-loose-ends scene, but it didn’t advance the story.

Although it would have been a distraction from the storyline and was rightfully ditched, I think it’s a scene that might still be of interest to fans of the story. Here it is…

Second Lieutenant Gavin Faraday placed the headset he’d been wearing on the console and rubbed his hands over his eyes. It had been a tough shift. He’d had to follow some challenging orders, but he’d made it through without losing his drone. He stood and made his way to the exit, relieved to be finally off duty for the day.

“Mail room wants to make sure you stop by today, sir,” Sergeant Canton said as Gavin passed by.

Gavin nodded his acknowledgement and walked out the door. He expelled a deep breath and relaxed his shoulders, allowing the stress of the day to ebb. He turned left instead of the right he’d planned. When the mail room clerk saw him coming, she bent down and retrieved a large box from underneath a table.

Who the hell was sending him a huge box like that? He looked at the return address. Hawaii. It had shipped from the Coast Guard base in Hawaii.

Back in his quarters, Gavin carefully sliced open the top flaps and folded them back. Inside was a large, very worn, but still attractive basket. When he lifted the cover off the basket, he found an 8” x 10” color photograph of the four castaways he’d discovered that appeared to have been taken shortly after they’d disembarked from the Coast Guard cutter in Hawaii.

On the photograph were the words, “To Second Lieutenant Gavin Faraday: Thank you!” and it was signed by each of them, including the childish scrawl of one who’d only ever written on sand before, but he was able to make out the letters spelling “Buddy.”

Gavin was glad he’d remained anonymous and therefore able to avoid the media spectacle that had surrounded the event, but he’d be forever proud of the part he’d played. He smiled to himself, gently folded up the flaps on the package, and carefully stowed it out of the way.

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’Til Death Do Us Part

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Flash Fiction Friday #06 – ’Til Death Do Us Part

Flash Fiction Friday

Flash Fiction: There isn’t a standard specific definition for this term beyond “extremely short”, but for the purposes of my “Flash Fiction Friday” posts it will mean a precisely 100-word story scene written from a photo prompt.

Today’s prompt picture is:

Disclaimer: The images used in this blog’s posts are found from different sources all over the Internet, and are assumed to be in public domain and are displayed under the fair use principle. Click the image to be taken to my source for today’s photo prompt.

Since the men in this painting match both the coloring and relative sizes of the main characters in my recent release, ’Til Death Do Us Part, I thought I’d make up a bonus scene featuring them. Sam is the blond, Henry the brunet.

Sam landed a kiss to my ear, then wrapped his arms around my shoulders. I held him tightly around the waist, and we stood there rocking as the tub filled. Simple, uncomplicated moments like this were what I’d missed most of all. I felt so absurdly safe in Sam’s arms. Sure I’d longed for his advice, his company, full-on unrestrained sex, and even his corny sense of humor. But, there was something about the warm, calming sensations that a mere hug delivered that went above and beyond.

“Henry?” Sam whispered.

“Hmm?”

“I love you so much. Just so damned much.”

If anyone would like to join me in a Flash Fiction Friday link-around, please get in touch. My email address is near the bottom of the “Find Me on the Web” page (see tabs at top of this post).

 

Wednesday Words #01 (PT’s #68) – ’Til Death Do Us Part

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I recently started following PT Wyant’s blog, Novel Notes, and stumbled across PT’s post today titled Wednesday Words #68 (4/13/2016). Number 68, so obviously this is something PT’s been doing for a while now. Anyway, the idea is that a few prompt words will be posted just after midnight, eastern time, and followers of the blog are encouraged to write a bit of flash fiction (approx. 500 words) using those words/ideas. This week’s prompt is: an old desk, a dancer, a ship.

I decided I would use this prompt to write a short scene in the head of “Garrett,” one of the side character’s in my recent release, ’Til Death Do Us Part.

This is my short-short (coming in at 436 words) using that prompt:

It was late afternoon, and after an early dinner Garrett plopped down on the sand of the eastern beach. He watched as Henry, Devon, and Buddy—now probably approaching two years of age—splashed each other playfully at the ocean’s edge.

Garrett enjoyed the privilege of watching Buddy grow. The sweet little boy reminded him of his own children. It had been over a year since he’d seen them, and he regretted not spending this kind of quality time with them as they’d grown.

Here on the island, Garrett regularly helped Henry keep an eye on, and entertain, Buddy. There were so many ways a curious toddler could injure himself on an island like this, it was imperative that one of them watch the young boy at all times. They’d learned that the hard way shortly after the child had started walking.

He thought back to when his own boys, Grant and Evan, had been pre-schoolers. They’d come skipping into his office at home where he’d be sitting at the grand old desk he’d inherited from his grandfather and implore him to come play catch with them. “Later,” he’d say. “We’ll do it this afternoon.”

How many times had “this afternoon” never happened? Oh, the afternoon had come and gone, but it had done so without Garrett going out to play ball with his sons.

And how many of his daughter’s dance recitals had he missed, traveling for work? Too many. She’d grown to be a fantastic dancer. He’d managed a few of the recitals—enough to realize that—but he’d missed far too many.

If he was given another chance with his family, things would be different. Instead of living the words of Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle, he’d be the most hands-on father a family could wish for. Family, not his career, would become his number one priority. Even if it meant fewer “things,” because he finally understood. It had taken losing all material possessions for him to realize it, but he now appreciated how unimportant they’d been in the overall scheme of his life.

He stood and began a circuit of the island, scanning the horizon for a ship that never seemed to come. No ships, no sailboats, no fishing vessels, no airplanes, no fucking hot-air balloons. Nothing. This trip around the island was no different from any of the others before it.

Back on the eastern beach he joined the others at the ocean’s edge. Buddy ran to him, splashed water at his chest, and squealed “Got you, got you!”

Garrett laughed and gently splashed back. “I got you, too, Buddy.”