A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Her favourite flower was roses. Various mediums depicted Dorothy’s unapologetic floral partiality. Printed fabrics of light and dark hues dressed her windows and tables and crocheted patterns draped over her armchairs in stern solidarity.

A ceramic, gold-tipped single rose pendant dangled at her throat.

Another strange and eccentric old woman to the outside world. She knew what people said about her.

Her mother was named, Rose. Died giving birth to Dorothy.  Years later, her daughter had been Rose too. She remembered the tiny coffin that took all the love Dorothy knew to its equally tiny grave.

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Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Write a story in 100 words or less. Submit yours by clicking the frog icon and read other’s flash fiction.

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Smoke gets in your eyes

PHOTO PROMPT © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

 

It was a surprise for Berr. Cooked meat, with a new tool that Eli called fire. Over many moons Kaya’s friend taught her how to make fire.

Berries and a fist of boar meat, which Eli gave to her, spread out on the rocky floor. A sound alerted her to Berr’s entrance.  Dragging Eli by his hair, matted with blood. The light in his green eyes muted by death.

“You belong to me. No one else.” his voice echoed around the small cave. The smell of blood and roasted meat overwhelmed her. Kaya threw up, tears burning her eyes.

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What an awesome, inspiring image! Certainly was challenging but I enjoyed writing this story that weaseled its way out onto my blog.

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The challenge is to write a story in 100 words or less. Submit it to the link (frog icon) below and read other flash fiction too.

Hope you’re all had an awesome week and here’s to an amazing weekend!


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Metamorphosis and negative spaces: Knowing what life should NOT look like

I hit rock bottom a few years ago. Depression. Growing self hate. And eventually resentment towards others. Completely lost. I didn’t know who I was. I’d like to say that I turned it around, made myself proud. But I continued to fall and scrape my face on new lower levels of rock bottom. Like some sort of horrific video game of inverted qualifying levels. Each wrong choice qualifying me for a lower level of even greater despair. It is a bottomless black pit.

I was an amazing person. And then one day she was gone. And there was only a shell. Ironically, my compassion, supernatural empathy and resilience was what led me to this dark place. These should have been the very qualities to lead me to my personal success.

What happened? I was missing one key quality. Self-love. Self-compassion. That inner guidance system was completely muted because I listened to all kinds of guidance outside of myself, including but not limited to religion, family and society.

Yet life is great and God is greater. Even on the wrong path you find reflections of the path you should have taken. IT calls to you. People come into your life to nudge you towards that inner light, to remind you of who you really are.

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An editor reached out to me a couple of years ago, across miles of Atlantic Ocean, to write a piece on Muslims in Botswana. This was a time when I was starting my fiction-writing journey and I submitted a short story to her anthology. She very kindly asked me why I submitted fiction when she specifically asked for a true-to-life non-fiction piece. She could have just left it at that and gone her own way. Instead, she encouraged me to find my true voice by telling me the old adage, the truth will set you free.

I was so afraid of opening up, that I had tremendous anxiety while I wrote it. I had to dig deep, confront inner demons and obstacles that told me not to do it. Fears that told me I shouldn’t stick my neck out like that. Yet, everyone knows that to be a writer, I need to be able to express myself. And if I want to connect with others through my writing, I need to do that in an authentic way. Years of being told to be quiet, to not rock the boat, to not express myself was being undone. My desire to be more than I was, was greater than my fears.

I knew then, that it didn’t matter whether it got published or not. It was clear that it came my way to help me find my voice. To connect to who I really was at a time when I was lost. Adrift in a choppy sea of life trying to keep my head above others’ expectations of me and rules for my life, with no rescue in sight.

Was it a coincidence? No. In hindsight, I see that I had begun to express a desire deep within me to live a happier life. It may have been mere whispers. Perhaps at a sound frequency beyond human hearing. It was a true desire and the universe responded. Finding my voice opened a window that let some light into my dark pit. I could look out this window and see a different path where wildflowers grew. Scattered. Bushy. Unrestrained. God-forbiddingly wild. And oh so colourful and bright.

Again, it wasn’t a straight line learning curve. I didn’t leap out of the window into my future. As a self-proclaimed visionary, I could no longer picture any type of future for myself. I spent many more months that stretched into years, gazing at possibilities. Sometimes inspired by it, other times trembling in absolute fear of it.

There were many other people since then whether they know it or not, some I was fortunate enough to know in person and some who I’ve only seen on YouTube videos, that helped me to find my way. Please, all you wonderful people don’t stop inspiring others. You never know whose life you are saving with a kind word to a friend, a motivational video or blog post.

I recently found my scrap-book from when I was 17 years old. I posted some artwork from it last year here. That young woman had big dreams. Massive. She wanted to make a difference to the world. She wanted to teach people how to fish, not give them fish for a day. She was all about empowering others.  Even in her darkest times, what gave her joy was seeing others succeed at what makes them happy. (Perhaps because she wanted that so much for herself too.)

She so much wanted to contribute to the world she forgot to save herself. Piece by piece she gave away herself away. She gave others the gift of complete acceptance but would never accept herself. She would speak up for others but would never express how she truly felt and what she truly wanted. Society makes us think that this is a good thing, but I’ve since learned that the very people who want you to give up who you are in order to be who they want you to be, would never do the same for you. What’s more, they would not help you when you fall into that black hole of despair and desperation having lost yourself completely. And further, they had no right to expect me to be anyone else but me.

 

 

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quote by Buddha

 

I have begun making changes. Deep, soulful changes that require absolute courage and resilience. But I know I have those things, I’ve seen them in action for others. I just need to use it for myself for a change.

Will I ever be free of those dark emotions, and dark pits? They have dragged me down so many times before it is hard to believe I will ever be completely free of it. So I’ve accepted them as part of my life. I’ll go even further to say that I am grateful for those dark emotions and shadows that linger on the edge of my consciousness, as they are guideposts to tell me that I have made a wrong choice somewhere. That I thought something or chose something that was not true to me.

In my journey to self-love and self-compassion so far, I have learned what it means to change the world by starting with yourself. I have learned that you can do anything, but not everything. In fact, it was exactly this mindset of ‘I can do anything’ that led me to do things I didn’t want to do, and keep on doing them longer than I should have because I was actually good at it. I’ve learned that my compassion is not complete without compassion for myself.

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It is easy to regret the past fifteen years of my life, lost to bad choices. However, I consider myself an artist. Of sorts. I love how art reflects life. In art, there is a concept of negative space. In simple terms, negative space refers to the space around and between objects that allows it to stand out clearly. Images like the one above are commonly used in fun psychological tests. Depending which negative space you see first, determines which object stands out for you. (Did you see Katniss from Hunger Games with the bow and arrow first, or did you see the larger image of the profile of her face?)

If I zoom out and look at my life as one massive artwork, of light and dark spaces, I can see that I have been exactly where I was supposed to be.

All those wrong choices, mistakes and lessons learned, they were dark for a good reason. They were the negative space around the object of my life’s artwork. While I was there, I was figuring out what I don’t want. Who I don’t want to be. And painted it black. (or white – depending on which colour you choose as your negative space) And so I was shaping and creating my life.

It is the same space and thought, which Rumi, Buddha, Kahlil Gibran and many others referred to when they spoke on the topic of pain and sadness. You cannot know happiness without knowing sadness. It takes knowledge of one, to know the other. Or in terms of negative space, it provides the contrast for you to know what happiness is not. And more specifically in my case, who I am not.

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Ancestral treasures

PHOTO PROMPT © Renee Heath

Tshepo was silhouetted against the setting sun, beer bottle raised against the dying light. “To our success!”

“Cheers to that!” Brenda, Gift and Tshepo tipped their bottles together.

“Do you think the police will find out we stole it?” Gift whispered.

“Nah.” replied Tshepo, after some thought. “It’s not worth much anyway. Doubt anyone will miss it.”

“It is priceless to us.” said Gift, firmly.

Gogo was a great artist.” mused Brenda, gazing at its colours as a tear fell onto her cheek. “She’d be happy to know her painting is home. After all these years.”

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I based this loosely on true stories of Jewish families who have had their family assets, arts and jewellery, seized by the Nazis. And whose living relatives fight court battles to reclaim these priceless treasures today.

Gogo means grandmother in some African languages, particular to the Zulu language.

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Write a story in 100 words or less. Submit your story by clicking the blue frog, and read more awesome flash fiction too.

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Russian roulette

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

 

Klaus couldn’t make up his mind if the invention of the sticky, resilient tape was a good thing for mankind or a bad thing.

Andrei clicked the safety buckles around his torso. Klaus counted five clicks of safety.

He leaned over slightly to peer over the edge of the cliff. He estimated a three point ​five second drop to death. “You sure it’ll fly?”

Andrei glanced at his DIY paraglider made entirely out of duct tape and grinned. “Only one way to find out.”

Later, Klaus chuckled as Andrei slipped through the air like a feather. Lucky son of a…

100 words

Phew! Saved by the word count.

I googled unusual uses of duct tape and found that a duct-tape parachute was one of them! Some are just downright hilarious. Including a hammock, furniture upholstering, CPU boxes, and even a wallet!

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Write a story in 100 words or less. Click the blue frog to add your story or read over 70 different stories based on this same prompt.

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In a Jam

PHOTO PROMPT © Priya Bajpal

As a busy, single mom of four robust boys, organisation was key to handling life. Storage was a major element in the parental organisational plan. Mason jars were Sal’s new thing. They could store anything from bits and bobs, jam, pencils, coins, spices – you name it.

Devon had even found it useful for his school project. Some odd-looking crafty thing. She didn’t ask any questions. The main thing is he did it on his own. Later at work, she questioned the jar’s usefulness, when she reached for her lunch (salad in a jar), and pulled out Devon’s project instead.

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This was a challenging picture for me. It’s a bit late but I wish all my fellow fictioneers a Happy and Prosperous New Year! Looking forward to another year with this awesome lot.

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Write a story in 100 words or less. Click the blue frog to  read more flash fiction or to submit your own.

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He aint heavy, he’s my brother

Copyright – Adam Ickes

He waited for hours, watching. Waiting. Hidden behind a tree. Or pretending to stroll on the park lanes. People didn’t notice Thomas. Not when he asked for coins in his cup, and not as he circled this part of the park. His eyes fixed on the pair of boots abandoned on the low wall. He waited for the owner to claim them. Everyone ignored them, just as they ignored Thomas. Taking a deep breath, he crept closer and plucked them off the wall. Safely on his way, he felt pleased his brother would have a good pair of boots.

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Written for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Write a story in 100 words or less.

To those celebrating Christmas, I wish you a very Merry Christmas with your family and loved ones!

Click on the blue frog to submit your own piece, or to read more flash fiction.

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One of my favourite songs as a child.

Lost and found

Copyright –Douglas M. MacIlroy

 

When he first entered his cabin up in the woods, the strange item caught him off guard. Not strange as in unknown, he was old not ancient, but strange as in not belonging to him. He could use a computer, even operate this laptop version too. Only he didn’t own a laptop. Even stranger still was the young woman who rose from her hiding place behind the kitchen island, hands in a surrender position at her shoulders.

She looked familiar. Then he remembered. Dusty. Hazy. Her face on the news, posters and milk cartons. Years ago. Missing. 

“Dad?” she said.

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Getting my flash fiction in just before the doors slide closed on this Friday Fictioneers train.

I don’t know how this guy didn’t know he had a daughter. It seems people have lied to him and a missing girl (on the run or kidnapped) comes to find him. Guess they’ll have a lot to work through! Once she proves she is his daughter, that is.

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by the gracious Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Write a story in 100 words or less. Click the blue frog icon to submit your story or read what others have written.

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Love and friendship in a zombie apocalypse

PHOTO PROMPT © Dawn M. Miller

 

Trix leaned against the wall. His broken leg wrapped pointlessly with a shirt. Soraya looked around the tunnel, packed with grimy, injured survivors. Weary from fear.

“I was going to ask her to… marry me.”

“I’m sorry, Trix. But she’s gone. She wouldn’t have made it.”

“If she’s alive… she needs help.” Words dribbled out of his cracked lips.

She held a water bottle up to his lips. The thought of Mira alive, alone with those things, moved her.

“Fine. I’ll go back for her. But I’ll need weapons. Lots of them.”

He nodded to his gun, “Start with this.”

100 words

A hundred words was not enough to portray the scene. Settled on this version.

It’s been a while. Looking forward to mingling with you wonderful people once again!

Written for Friday Fictioneers. Write a story in 100 words or less. Click the blue frog to add yours or read more flash fiction based on this week’s image prompt provided by Dawn M. Miller.

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