Tag Archives: FOWC

The Magical Garden of Immortality [fiction 587]

Beautiful garden

The diner looked like any other, and Mitch was skeptical he’d come to the right place. He opened the door a crack and peered inside, expecting to see a dimly lit room full of candles and woo, but instead the light was bright and people were drinking their coffees and eating sandwiches.

A gruff voice behind him said, “You going in, buddy, or what?”

Mitch stepped inside. A waitress told him to take any seat, so he found a small booth for two and sat facing the door. A menu stood in a silver holder with a picture of a lush fruit bowl in the South Seas on the cover, and he picked it up. There were the usual salads and burgers, shakes and pies, on offer.

“You ready?” the waitress said, appearing in front of the booth with pencil and pad.

“I, um, heard that this place was a portal,” Mitch said. “But all I see on the menu is lunch.”

She rolled her eyes. “Check the back.”

Mitch turned the menu over. On the back was a list titled “Infinity Realms.” It was a double column and his eyes began to glaze over reading through the small curly font.

“Usually people know the one they want before they get here,” the waitress said. “And they just tell me the code. We’re kinda busy today and portals close at one.”

“Okay okay.” Mitch had made his decision this morning, after months of agonizing, and he wanted it done. “I found it. The code is XB8720A75.”

“A popular one.” She smiled. “Do you want fries with that?”

“No thanks. Just coffee, black.”

She returned in a minute with his coffee. “I’ll let you know when your portal is ready. You can pay now though.”

He handed her a cashier’s check. It was all he had; that was the deal.

As he waited, he imagined his realm. It would be full of natural beauty… leafy trees, a riot of vivid blooming flowers, butterflies and birds, a sparkling waterfall, lovely warm sunshine… a meadow to lie in, woods to wander in… but also people to admire his works, unlike here. They’d read his poetry and appreciate it. Women would respect his intelligence and deep thoughts instead of brushing him off as an oddball. They’d all compete to date him, but he’d only spend his time with the nicest ones who had tender temperaments.

“Okay.” The waitress reappeared. “Go to the men’s room.”

Mitch walked to the back of the diner and opened the door to the men’s restroom.

Swirling colors

It worked!

Mitch was no longer in the diner, but in a gorgeous garden where he’d live forever and be loved and appreciated. He bent down to sniff a fat yellow rose, but was disappointed when he couldn’t pick up a scent.

“Hi honey, welcome home!”

Mitch turned to find a naked redheaded woman slinking toward him. She reminded him of his third grade teacher. “Hi,” he said, embarrassed. “Would you like to hear some of my poetry?”

She wrinkled her nose. “Poetry? Ew. I want to devour you in a wild frenzy of lust! How does that sound for your last moment of consciousness ?”

“Not great.” Mitch backed away. “I don’t want to be devoured. This is the Garden of Immortality, remember?”

“Oh honey!” She laughed. “You must have put in the wrong code. This is the Garden of Immorality, and I’m the chief cannibal. Meet my friends…”

Mitch stared in horror as hungry naked women emerged from the trees.

~*~

Written for MLM’s Magical Garden Prompt.

Written for Teresa’s Immortality Prompt.

©️2020 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Christmas Eve Morning [flash 278]

Santa and Christmas cookies

“Mom, Bryce and I cleaned the fireplace so Santa won’t get all dirty when he comes down the chimney tonight,” Brianna announced.

Kim nodded. “Great work. Now can you pick up your rooms so your cousins don’t have to sleep on top of books and clothes and bags of chips?”

Brianna rolled her eyes. “Fine, but they won’t care! All they do is play some dumb flower game on their phones anyway.”

“I care,” Kim said as she resumed looking through the fridge for expired food to toss in the trash before her sister arrived to judge her.

“Honey,” her husband said as he brewed up some coffee at the counter, “why are you throwing away my favorite pickles?”

“Because I don’t want to listen to Karen lecture us all on the evil effect of salt again.” Kim began going through the cabinets. “I’m dumping these cookies too.”

“Not the pecan sandies!” Tom looked aghast. “Don’t you think you should dial it down a notch? What are we having for Christmas dinner anyway?”

Kim shrugged. “Karen said she was taking care of everything so we could relax. Isn’t that nice of her?”

“Oh, my God.” Tom passed his wife a cup of coffee. “We’ll all starve to death!”

“Don’t be silly.” Kim smiled at her husband. “Our perceptive neighbors next door are keeping emergency rations warm for us. We’ll just have to find excuses to sneak away at different times. The kids are already coordinating their exits.”

“Brilliant! But let’s have these pecan sandies to fortify ourselves with.” Tom opened the bag and handed a cookie to Kim.

Bryce and Brianna entered the kitchen. “Cookies for breakfast! Yay!”

~*~

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

My Visitor [flash 300]

Bare trees in fog

The first time he visited I immediately recognized him. I was here because of him, and yet I had done him worse. The area surrounding me was vacant, so I figured he’d strayed too far on his dog walk. But the next morning he appeared again, strolling around as if this were a park instead of barren land at the end of an ancient railroad line.

When he came the third time, I knew it was not a coincidence. He walked past the leafless trees to where the crumbled stones rested.

“Hello, friend,” he said.

I of course said nothing. I waited.

His dog seemed disinclined to explore and stood by the man as he spoke again. “I’m sorry I did not come before. I wasn’t sure where you were. But I know you’re here. I can feel it. A kind of… electricity.”

He pulled a penlight from his pocket and directed it at the stones, but none had names. He switched off the light. The dog made an anxious whimper.

“It doesn’t matter. I know you’re here,” he repeated. “And I wanted to tell you, if it makes any difference now, that I forgive you. That’s my purpose in tracking you down.”

I didn’t do anything, not that there was much I could do.

He made a noise, possibly a laugh or a sob. “Anyway, I just wanted to say that, odd as it may sound with me still alive and you… well, whatever. If you need that to be free or something, you have it.”

Maybe I did need it. I felt even lighter as he walked away, the dog trotting briskly ahead. My last ties to this place felt as if they were dissolving in a pool of mist and I could float up to the stars…

~*~

Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge 44

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Treasure [flash 200]

Canoe into the blue

“Lou, are you sure this is the right way,” Sandy asked her husband. “The air smells weird. Didn’t the treasure map say we were supposed to pass a short fat tree with crimson flowers?”

Lou checked his compass. “I calculate that we will reach the crescent rock in fifteen minutes. Besides, that tree back there had crimson flowers.”

Sandy shook her head. “No, they were just pink.”

“Kind of a dark pink though, right?”

“Not really, Lou. Candy pink, like the sweater I wore last Valentine’s Day when we went to that steak place. We indulged in the decadent triple chocolate mousse after. Mmm…”

“What steak place? The one on Oak or the one off Westport?”

“Oh my God!” Sandy yelled. “You don’t remember where we went on Valentine’s Day?”

“Shhhh, Sandy!” Lou hissed. “Don’t give away our location. There are other treasure hunters looking for His Flagrant Mistress.”

“That’s a dumb name for a ship anyway,” Sandy said. “We’ll probably just find a giant chest full of romance novels.”

They both erupted in laughter until they shushed each other simultaneously. “Even if we don’t find treasure,” Lou said, “this sure has been a super fun day.”

“Yes, it has.”

~*~

Written for Sadje’s What Do You See 7.

Image credit to Pinterest.

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

One-Liner Wednesday

This is somewhat true for me. I’m still missing my mom 11 years on, and she was definitely someone I “had,” a huge part of my life, but otherwise… yeah. It’s pretty easy for me to dump material possessions as I downsize (again) for moving. But it was difficult for me to let the “soul mate” dream go. I’ve never had a soul mate, which may seem ironic for a romance writer, so when my 20-year marriage ended, I became more determined than ever to find this person. It took 5 years of increasingly frustrating and depressing situations for me to realize I had to let the dream go for my own mental and emotional health. I talk about this a lot because it helps me reinforce it to myself. I just today posted in comments to 2 blogs how much happier I am without the wings of this dream beating in my brain.

But it was a struggle to lug the thing to the trash bin and leave it there.

~*~

One-Liner Wednesday

Image found on Google

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

A New Life [flash 201]

When she was a child, she played in a magic garden with a sparkling unicorn and a rainbow of butterflies. One day, she jumped in a glittering aqua pool and was pulled out by rough hands. Scared, she stared into an unfamiliar face.

“Foolish girl,” the old man said. “That river is dirty. Don’t go in there again.”

“What about my white horse?” she cried.

He laughed but not unkindly and returned her to the orphanage, where they punished her for escaping again. A few years later, they sent her out to work for a wealthy family to earn her keep. She cleaned their floors and sometimes was allowed to help in the kitchen, where she might stir a pot of sauce or cut up vegetables.

One day, she was in the driveway helping the chauffeur wax the white limo when the old man appeared, the one who pulled her from the river. He didn’t seem to recognize her however.

But when he walked past he commented, “When you’re eighteen you can get your license and learn to drive my limo. Maybe a car can replace the white horse you left behind and you can create a new life for yourself.”

~*~

BrewNSpew Cafe

Image credit to lovethispic.com

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Lexi Needs A Ride [fiction 1195]

[This is a multi-part story. Lexi Brown is trying to escape her past and create a new life for herself in Otter Village, 500 miles from where a traumatic event occurred 6 months ago. In our last episode, we read that Vicky informed Lexi of Dan’s intent to drive to Otter Village and how he seemed to have disappeared along the way.

Here are the posts in order so far:

Falling
Sisterly Chat
Smoothies
The Angry Brother
Trust Issues
Something You Don’t Know
Moonlight
Who Needs Drama?
Entanglement
Dan Drives North
Geolocation]

For the first time since she’d moved to Otter Village, Lexi regretted giving up her car. She’d had a cool metallic blue Mazda with the personalized plate BLUWAVE. It had not been her intent to be political, only whimsical, and after Jim’s infamous death, the plate made her easily recognizable to those who liked to snap her picture. As soon as she’d arranged for accommodation here, she sold the car and her furniture, booked a flight, and ubered to Carolyn’s. When she needed a ride, there were Uber drivers here, though you could wait a half-hour or more, unlike the city where one would pop up two seconds after you texted.

Uber app

Tonight, after Vicky’s call informing her that Dan had apparently disappeared en route to Otter Village, Lexi really wished she had her own car available. She felt trapped, having to rely on Ubers or the kindness of people like Carolyn to drop her off when she wasn’t feeling well. She paced across the porch, trying to decide what to do.

Her first impulse was to call Kevin, but no. Their romance was only just starting and it wasn’t right to impose upon him. They had already planned a fun event tomorrow and she didn’t want to ruin everything with a Saturday night drama. This ongoing Dan problem had nothing to do with Kevin. She needed to deal with Dan and make him understand that she’d tried to help Jim, but he hadn’t wanted help. She’d already told Dan that at the funeral, but he’d tuned her out that afternoon. She didn’t blame him; grief did strange things to your brain. Yet, she hadn’t wanted to restart the discussion again either.

Cemetery flowers

Lexi stayed outside a few minutes longer, worrying about Dan… stranded? Hurt? The victim of a crime? Where was he now? What had happened to him? Finally the cold was too much and Lexi went inside, grateful for the warmth of the boarding house. She hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so she wandered into the kitchen.

Peering into the fridge, she wished Carolyn hadn’t left for the weekend. Her landlady would probably be willing to help look for Dan. She was a very kind person. Lexi shut the fridge, deciding she wasn’t hungry after all. She went into the great room where the TV droned… an old James Bond movie was playing.

“Hey Lexi,” said a guy on the sofa. It was Mike, the newest resident. “Whassup?”

Lexi forced herself to sit on the opposite end of the sofa, even though her nerves were still jumping. “Mm nothing. Was wondering if maybe I could get a ride…”

“Now? I’m a bit wasted.” He grinned. “How about in the morning? In the meantime, I’ve got a fine selection of party favors in my room, if you’d like to join me. When the landlady’s away, the cats will play. Isn’t that what they say?”

Ugh! That’s not what they said! Lexi felt utterly disgusted, though she usually didn’t care what the other housemates did. Calm down, she admonished herself, this isn’t Mike’s fault. “I’ll pass,” she said. “I have to go out.”

“Bummer,” he said, turning his attention back to the screen, where Bond had begun to play cards with a bad guy.

Lexi left the room and went upstairs to her own. She pulled up her Uber app and was just about to request a ride to the airport, in hopes of renting a car and abandoning her promise to Vicky and Nick, when her phone buzzed with a call from Kevin.

“Hi! How are you?” Too late, she realized her voice was jittery and over-bright.

Kevin laughed. “Good! You sure sound peppy for having worked all day. I’m tired, I confess, but I did sneak in a five-mile run before sunset.”

“Nice! I should do that.”

“We’ll get plenty of exercise tomorrow on our beach walk,” he said. “It’s supposed to be another gorgeous day. Cool but sunny. We could have a picnic…”

“Sounds fantastic!”

“Lexi, is everything okay? You seem a little on edge.”

She didn’t want to lie. “Oh, the usual. Haha, you know. My sister! All that.”

“Hmm.” Kevin paused, the silence making Lexi more nervous. Finally, he continued, “Did your sister call with more news about Dan today?”

“Yes.” Lexi sighed and picked up the otter beanie baby on her night table. It was still as adorable as the day Kevin gave it to her at the festival, back when they were friends “light,” before their kiss, before she’d begun confiding in him.

Beanie baby otter

“And?” Kevin prompted. “You can tell me, Lexi. I really will understand. I know it’s not your fault this stuff happened. I too have had…”

“What?” She eagerly seized on that morsel. “What brought you here, Kevin? Why did you leave Chicago?”

“Whoa,” he said. “Actually, I’d like to tell you about all that, even though I won’t be doing myself any favors. It’s not a pretty picture of me, but fair is fair, since you’ve been honest with me. How about tomorrow though, in person?”

“Sure.” Lexi sat on the edge of her bed, still holding the otter. “But for now, I have to go. Want to meet here at noon?”

“Sounds good, but… what happened with Dan?”

“You’re so persistent! Are you sure you’re not a reporter?”

“Just tell me. I’m starting to imagine awful things.”

“It is awful.” She stood up and began pacing again. “He was driving up here and, well, vanished.”

“What do you mean vanished?”

“Vicky said he called her Friday, implying he was coming up here to talk to me. Then in the middle of the night she got a missed call from him with a garbled message like he was in trouble. He won’t pick up now or return texts from her or Nick. Nick traced the last call to coordinates about two hundred miles south of here, but his car GPS was still moving back to the city.”

“He could have changed his mind.”

“Right, but that message…” Lexi shook her head. “No, I think he got in some kind of trouble.”

“I can see why you’re concerned, but isn’t it more logical to assume he lost his phone and turned around?” Kevin sounded so sensible and comforting.

Lexi didn’t want to argue. “Yes, Kevin, that would be more logical.”

“Soooo, you’re going to get a good night’s sleep and I’ll see you at noon? We can stop at the market for picnic goodies on the way to the beach.”

“I’m going to get an Uber to the airport and rent a car to go look for Dan,” she told him. “But the rest of your plan sounds perfect.”

“You can’t do that, Lexi.”

Immediately irritated at being told what she couldn’t do, Lexi said, “And why not?”

“Because rental car places are all closed by now.”

Tears welled up in her eyes. How could she possibly sleep tonight or enjoy herself with Kevin tomorrow when Dan might be lying injured on the road somewhere? “Okay, thanks.”

“I’ll be there in ten minutes to help you go look for that idiot,” Kevin said and clicked off.

Dark deserted road

[to be continued]

~*~

Image credits Pexels, Pixabay, and Google.

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Glow [flash 341]

Golden glowing sunrise with a pink and lavender sky

“Let’s use the darker shades now to layer our sky,” Anita instructed. “We want to get a sense of the deep lavender hues of the waning night, and then we’ll put the bright light of the golden sun last.”

She stood back to admire her painting in progress–her best one yet. She was really nailing this Glow series. But then she glanced over at Michael, who seemed to be having quite a bit of difficulty. Poor guy. He didn’t seem to be focused. She walked over to help him.

“Hey, honey. That’s a really good start.” Anita swirled her own brush through his pink mixture. “Let’s just brighten up your sky a bit here and here, okay?”

He was so non-responsive. But that was the trouble with guys like Michael. You gave and you gave and they didn’t care at all. They acted like you should worship them or something. The hell with that!

“Now look, sweetie. You’ve got way too much chocolate brown there for the tree. For heaven’s sake!” Anita began painting over Michael’s tree with conviction. “I’ll fix it. It’s always my job to fix things, isn’t it?”

She stepped back to view his canvas. Much better. “What do you think?” She nudged his shoulder and he toppled off the chair and onto the floor.

“Dammit!” Anita was annoyed. Now she’d have to take time away from painting to get Michael situated properly in the chair again, which wasn’t easy given how stiff he’d become already. She bent down to pull him up and noticed that he’d begun to smell.

Painting class was officially over. Anita picked up her finished canvas and her unused paints and put them in her truck. She doused the studio with gasoline and tossed a flaming rag through the window before driving away. As she headed for the freeway, she saw the glow of the burning building bathe the early morning sky.

She really didn’t cope well with rejection. Hopefully the next man wouldn’t be such a jerk.

~*~

The Daily Echo

~*~

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Entanglement [fiction 875]

[This is a multi-part story. Lexi Brown is trying to escape her past and create a new life for herself in Otter Village, 500 miles from where a traumatic event occurred 6 months ago. In our last episode, we read that Kevin was having second thoughts about getting involved with Lexi so soon after he had to deal with his own romantic drama back in Chicago.

Here are the posts in order so far:

Falling
Sisterly Chat
Smoothies
The Angry Brother
Trust Issues
Something You Don’t Know
Moonlight
Who Needs Drama?]

Lexi was ashamed of herself for checking her phone every five minutes like a lovesick teenager. It was just a kiss on the beach, for heaven’s sake! Well… a few kisses. Under a romantic full moon, in his warm embrace…

Cell phone in hand

Stop! She stuck her phone in a drawer and busied herself with laundry. She was not falling for Kevin, despite the fact that the first time they met she had literally fallen off her bike and he helped her up. It was too soon. She needed to chill here, not get involved in a new emotional entanglement.

But a bike ride was an excellent idea. As soon as her clothes were out of the dryer, she’d take a long one. It was a great thing to do on her weekday off work and especially today to clear her head and get re-centered.

She grabbed her phone before she left the house. No messages. Kevin was probably busy working, plus she wasn’t naive. A moonlit walk and a few sweet kisses didn’t necessarily mean that much to a man. Just because she felt all fluttery at the memory of last night didn’t mean he felt similarly. He might not be thinking about her at all. Maybe he took romantic walks all the time with various women.

Peaceful pond with ducks and trees

Biking down to the beach, Lexi took deep breaths of the fresh air. Another gorgeous day! She couldn’t help but smile at people she passed on the path. Even though she didn’t want to get close to folks here yet or reveal much about herself, didn’t mean she couldn’t be friendly. It was a relief not to be wary and tense all the time like she’d been back in the city. The news from Vicky about Dan had flung her back into that whirl of stress, but being with Kevin had magically swept it all away.

Her feet slowed; her ebullient mood popped like a child’s bubble. She turned off the path and stopped, gazing out at the crystal blue waves breaking on the sand. It was still warm enough to play in the water, but the school year had begun, so the beach was relatively empty. Lexi took her phone out of her backpack and saw that she had a message.

She allowed her mind to drift back to last night and how good it felt to be with Kevin. He was so understanding. Even though a new relationship hadn’t been on her radar when she’d escaped the big city after her husband’s death, now it seemed exciting when the idea circled around a certain sexy dark-haired hotel manager. Maybe a good, slow-building relationship with a nice, steady, calm, even-tempered man would not be stressful…

Smiling relaxed man with coffee at picnic table

She unlocked her phone. The message was from Vicky. Dammit! Okay, she’d listen later. Lexi got back on her bike and in a surge of energy pedaled for miles up the coast. By the time she turned around and got back to the rooming house, it was dusk and her legs felt like overcooked noodles. She put the bike away and climbed the stairs an inch at a time.

“You okay?” Carolyn the landlady asked at the second floor. “You hurt your back?”

Lexi shook her head. “I overdid it on a bike ride. Just lost in my thoughts. Pretty silly.”

Carolyn laughed. “That can happen. Go lie down. I’ll make you a cup of tea and bring you some Advil. I think there’s leftover veggie lasagna. Want me to check?”

“That’s so nice of you!” Lexi said as she hobbled toward her room.

“Well, of course, dear.” Carolyn started down the stairs. “We’re all little refugee birds up here. Thanks for making those yummy cookies for us last night.”

As Lexi arranged herself in her room, stretching out in her comfy chair, she thought about Carolyn’s comment. Little refugee birds. That’s why people came to Otter Village, to escape something. Not just Lexi, but Kevin too. She’d been so wrapped up in her own head she hadn’t thought about what his story might be.

Why was Kevin here? She recalled him saying he was relatively new, around three months, but that was a month ago. So, what had made Kevin leave Chicago four months ago? What was his story? He had never told her.

Bird flying over city buildings

But then again… she hadn’t asked. There was no reason not to. He knew all about her life. After she rested for a bit, she was gonna call him. But first, Vicky’s message. She’d procrastinated long enough…

“Hey sis, call when you can. It’s nothing urgent. Just an update on the Dan situation. He kinda confronted me again, but this time Nick was waiting in the car, so things got a bit heated. Nothing terrible! It’s just that Dan is really pissed we won’t give him your new phone number, so he threatened to drive up there and find you in what he terms ‘hickville.’ Nick said he’d slap a restraining order on him, but Dan said he had a right to take a vacation where he wants, it’s a free country, blah blah. He backed off on the finding you part, but I’m worried about it. Nick thinks he’s all talk, but I dunno…”

[to be continued]

~*~

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Karma Chameleon

Chameleon

This may sound odd coming from an atheist, but I believe in karma. Now, this is not the first dictionary definition of karma, with reincarnation and yada, but my own notion of logic and being held accountable. Cause and effect, baby.

Forex, if you drive like a rude, reckless jerk, sooner or later you’re going to pay for that. Maybe you’ll rack up a pile of tickets and eventually lose your license or get hurt in an accident. Unfortunately, you may end up hurting others. Then you’ll get dumped in the $$$$ end of the insurance pool. Cause and effect, no supernatural interference necessary.

I am of course aware that this karma (or whatever you prefer to call it) does not work perfectly. Some jerks seem to cruise through life, breaking rules and screwing people over, with zero consequences. Or so it appears. I don’t believe they suffer some “hell” after death; perhaps they experience suffering we simply don’t know about. Or they just escape penalty for their terrible behavior. It happens. As we used to say on Usenet, shurgs.

And what about the total other end of the spectrum? I’m talking about wonderful folks like my mom who are inclined to help everyone they can and are full of general goodness and virtue? We don’t always see these people get rewarded, and sometimes they suffer when they shouldn’t. Again, (a) we don’t always know all the facts, and (b) it’s not a perfect system. Shurgs.

Have I come to believe all this merely as a way to reconcile events in my own life? Yeah maybe. And so what? I’m as guilty as anyone else for wanting order to things, and maybe more. Probably lots more!

~*~

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.