Tag Archives: flash fiction

#FlashFictionFriday: Rain Falling on a Young Girl’s Face

Here_comes_rain_again

Rain falling on a young girl’s face,

Falling down, down,

Rolling down, down.

Went where she shouldn’t.

Broke the rules,

Broke their trust,

Broke her dreams,

And all because he seemed so nice.

Too young to drink, but drank too much,

Said no, she wouldn’t,

Said, no, he couldn’t,

Said no, he shouldn’t,

When he pressed her,

When he forced her,

When he mocked her.

Rain falling on a young girl’s face,

Falling down, down,

Rolling down, down.

Punished her for breaking the rules.

Can’t bear the shame,

Can’t bear the guilt,

Can’t face her family.

Rain falling down, down her face.

Who will raise her up?

Who will sooth her pain?

Who will say “It’s not your fault?

“He had no right.

“He had no right.

“You broke the rules, but He had no right.”

Rain falling on a young girl’s face,

Falling down, down,

Rolling down, down.


Sources and Attributions

Rain Falling on a Young Girl’s Face © 2017 Connie J. Jasperson

National Sexual Assault Hotline (No matter who you are–woman, man, or child–you are not alone: click https://www.rainn.org/ or call 800-656-HOPE)

Image: Here Comes the Rain Again, By Juni from Kyoto, Japan (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Filed under #FlashFictionFriday, Poetry, writing

#FlashFictionFriday: The Author’s Dilemma—Milking the Dragon

Milking the Dragon was first published in its proto form here in May of 2012. It was one of the first flash fictions I posted here, and with a little polishing and reshaping, it has become one of my favorites.


Writing fantasy has its drawbacks. For one thing, your creativity must never flag, which is my current dilemma. My work-in-progress is stalled. I keep repeating the same old crisis with slight variations. Readers notice when you milk an idea over and over, no matter how you change the scenery around it. Unfortunately, my head is stuck on dragons, and I’m not sure what to do at this point. It’s a medieval fantasy, and dragons are the medieval thing, right?

I could probably do better without all the interruptions, though.

“Ahem. You there.” Sir Belvedere stands at my elbow, looking over my shoulder. “Are you the person plotting this book?”

Surprised, I nod, wondering where this is going. Usually, my heroes just leave me to the task of writing and don’t feel compelled to harass me.

“Well, the dragon is dead. Did you notice?”

Again, I nod my head. “Yes. I wrote that scene, and if I do say so myself, you were magnificent.” Heroes require obscene amounts of praise, or they become sulky, and Sir Belvedere is no exception.

“Thank you,” he replies, attempting to appear modest and failing. “Well, the thing is, Lady Penelope has thrown herself into wedding preparations.”

“Yes, I did know that,” I reply. “I’m designing the dress.”

“Well, I’ve been booted outside. Apparently, no one needs the groom until the big day so, heh-heh, here I am… bored… looking for something to do.”

I never noticed it before, but my hero is rather unhandsome when he scowls. Note to self: give Sir Belvedere a charming pout to disguise his serious lack of a chin.

Sir Belvedere taps his foot. “Well, really, what sort of author are you? Here we are 32,527 words into your novel, and you’ve already shot the big guns! You wasted the big scene! I mean really, unless this romantic comedy is a novella, you just blew it big time.” Apparently, he also whines.

I’m shocked that this man who owes his very existence to my creative genius should speak to me thusly. “What are you talking about? I have lots of adventures and deeds of daring-do just waiting to leap off the page, and occupy your idle hands.” See? I can give a dirty look too, and I don’t whine about it.

“We-e-ell?”

I despise sarcastic heros.

“You have 70,000 or so words left, and I hope to heck you don’t intend to spend them on wedding preparations.” He looks at me expectantly. “I have nothing to do! Find me a Quest! With a capital ‘Q.’”

By golly the man is right. I have timed my big finale rather poorly, and now I must come up with something new for him to do. Hmm… maybe trolls. No, too reminiscent of Tolkien… I know! A magic ring! Nope, still to Tolkienesque.

I need to reflect on this for a while. I gaze at Sir Belvedere, wondering what I was thinking when I designed this air-headed piece of eye candy in a tin suit. “I can’t work with you staring over my shoulder, so find something to do for a few minutes.” Good Lord, I should have made him less impatient and given him a few more social graces. “Look, why don’t you sit here, and play a little ‘Dragon Age’ for a while?” I park him in front of the TV and give him the game controller.

“What the hell is this?” he looks first at me and then at the object in his hand. “I’m sure you find this odd-looking thing quite entertaining, but what is it?”

Sighing, I show him how to turn it on, and help him set up a character file. For some reason, the palladin wants to play as a dwarf-mage. That takes an hour.

Go figure.

Finally, I can sit down and invent a few more terrifying plot twists to keep this bad boy busy. The trouble is, all I can think of is dragons, but he’s already fought one, and killed it. Reviewers turn vicious when you milk plot twists. Of course, that means he has acquired a certain amount of skill in dragon molesting… heh-heh… but what good is that sort of expertise?

“Ahem.”

I look up, only to see Lady Penelope’s stepmother, Duchess Letitia, standing at my elbow. “Yes?”

“I’m sorry to bother you, but we’re in desperate need of a certain magical ingredient for my special anti-aging cream.” She looks at me expectantly. “My stepdaughter’s wedding is a big deal. As you’re no doubt aware, I’m being forced into retirement after this, as the plot you originally designed said Belvedere and Penelope will assume the throne upon their marriage. You published it on your website, so it’s canon now. That means I’m done, kicked to the curb in the prime of my life.” She dabs the corners of her squinty eyes with a silken handkerchief. Her voice turns crafty. “Since this wedding is doubling as my retirement party, I simply MUST have my beauty cream.”

“And that ingredient is…?” I hope it’s not a complicated thing because now I have two bored characters nagging the hell out of me.

She beams and says, “Dragon’s milk.”

How odd. Another thing I never realized until this moment—Penelope’s stepmother looks positively evil when she smiles like that.

“I’m sure our dear Sir Belvedere can get me some since he’s just sitting around pretending to be a dwarf.”

Duchess Letitia’s malicious smirk offers me no end of possibilities. I consider this for a moment.

I could rewrite the original battle scene, add a bit here, tweak a bit there, and subtract the dead dragon part… ooh! Sir Belvedere could get singed milking the dragon… Lady Penelope would have to rescue herself and then him… but what the hell, he’s a hero, right? Bad days at the office come with the territory.

I look over at Sir Belvedere, who is now bashing my coffee table with the game controller. Okay, this boy definitely needs to get outside and play in the fresh air. “HEY! Sir Belvedere, I have a task for you! Take this bucket and get some dragon’s milk. It’s a matter of life and death.”

Yes, folks, I have decided to milk the dragon.

He looks up, wild-eyed and sweaty. “I will in a minute. I need to get to a place where I can save. Gah! No, no, no! I only have one health potion left!”

That’s another good plot twist. Note to self: have Duchess Letitia volunteer to supervise the stocking of Sir Belvedere’s kit with “medical supplies.”


Credits and Attributions:

The Author’s Dilemma—Milking the Dragon, by Connie J. Jasperson, © 2012-2017 All Rights Reserved. Milking the Dragon was published in its first incarnation on Life in the Realm of Fantasy in May of 2012

Illustration from The Romance of King Arthur (1917). Abridged from Malory’s Morte d’Arthur by Alfred W. Pollard. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. This edition was published in 1920 by Macmillan in New York. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fe/324_The_Romance_of_King_Arthur.jpg

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Filed under #FlashFictionFriday, Dragon Age, Dragons

#FlashFictionFriday: Valentine Run (part 3 of 3)

Valentine Run Cover copySleep came slowly and was filled with vague and disturbing dreams. Waking half an hour before the alarm, Reina showered quickly, preparing for the run to Valentine system. In the mess, she stopped to chat with the crew who were all laughing at Cookie’s silly puns. Still chuckling, she entered the pilot’s ready room.

Ladeaux and Ryo had not yet arrived, but then she was always first. Ryo’s involvement with Ramona Flores meant he was always the last to arrive. The door opened, and she looked up, smiling as Brandon Ladeaux crossed to his locker.

“Here we go again.” His weathered, but still handsome features smiled back. “I hope we don’t have to do anything too spectacular to get this pile of rocks to Valentine Station.” He saw her look.  “Silly me. They’ll require spectacular measures, no matter what I wish. I’ve prepared accordingly.”

“Good,” she replied, fighting the feeling of finality, the fear it was the last time she’d see him. “Once we’re done rumbling with the Alzhaa, we should be well out of their space. Hopefully, they won’t follow us all the way to Valentine.” She finished closing her shipsuit and stamped her feet into her boots.

“If the Alzhaa strike the way they have up to now, they’ll expect the captain to stop running, to stand and fight. I wonder how adaptable they are. They’ve never shown any adaptability so far, but maybe they’re hiding it.” Brandon’s smile elevated him to handsome. He stood up, leaning against the wall, closing his shipsuit. “Are you in love with Cora?”

“Nope,” Reina’s laugh was unforced. “No chemistry in that way, right? Just a friendship between equals that was never meant to be anything more than it was. But now, I’m Captain Laine’s subordinate. I like her and respect her ability. She is a great leader and, believe me, I’ve worked with many who weren’t. She lacks experience in battle, but who’d have thought battle tactics would be required for captains of cargo ships? Besides, I wouldn’t jeopardize her career by taking advantage of our friendship if I did love her that way.”

“I’m proud of you.” Brandon pulled his boots on, stamping his feet down into them. “I like to think I would be able to be that noble.” He grinned at Reina, obviously liking what he saw. “I tend to take advantage of every situation that I can. Life is too short to let the good things pass you by. I’m not that decent a human being.”

“Yes, you are,” Reina grinned again, frankly admiring his charms. “You’re the most decent man I know. Not a real smart man since you’re still driving a sled, but quite decent!” They were still laughing when Ryo entered the ready room.

“Are you hoping for this to be over? I sure am.” Ryo bent over, burying his cheerful face in his locker, rooting around for something. Having apparently found what he was looking for, he dropped to the bench to begin suiting up. “So how are only three of us going to do a running firefight? When we practice in the simulator, we always start out as one of six.”

He had asked the question Reina had been asking herself all morning.

Ladeaux replied, “The formations are the same as when your sim squad gets whittled down to three. You’ll have your flight plans, well in advance, so you’ll know what formation.”

“I’ve always had a support role during our battle since the Captain conscripted me. La Fontaine, Morgan, and the others did all the dirty work. I’ve been training in the simulator for the last two weeks, but I have no idea what we’re getting into, how it differs from the sim. I was never in the service, right? I’m just a mech with a pilot’s ticket. I’ve seen the stuff you do, Jacobs, so you’ve got to be good enough. Same with you, Ladeaux. I’ve heard stories about you and seen the way you work too.”

“I’m still here.” Reina’s chuckle was wry. “I haven’t done an actual running firefight in years, though. Because of that, I too have spent time in the simulator these last few weeks. I’m going to do exactly what Ladeaux tells me to do. At this point, you just want to survive, and teamwork is the key to survival in this sort of a melee.”

Ladeaux said, “Don’t worry, Ryo. You have a finely tuned sense of survival. It won’t be much different than the simulator, which you’ve been acing. I set it up with every possible hindrance I could think of, so… but have you played Split Infinitum?”

Ryo turned red. “Um… yeah. I was quite the sim gamer, before Ramona. I guess I had too much free time.”

“The principal is the same, except when you lose… it’s more than merely game over. From what I could see, the game control panels are similar to these old gunsleds.”

“I did notice that. It’s probably why it’s been easier for me, both as a support sled in combat and in the simulator.”

Grinning at Ryo’s worried expression, Ladeaux walked over to his desk and sat. “With only three of us, we have to work together to make up in cleverness what we lack in strength, so I’ve come up with something new to spring on the enemy. We’re going to make them think they’ve taken the Saracen out.”

Ryo smiled nervously and glanced at Reina, who was curious to see what that plan would be.

Ladeaux inserted his notebook in the com-dock and flipped it on, paging back and forth until he stopped at a screen with diagrams. “So, this is my plan for dealing with the first wave.” He tapped the desk, and the holoscreen sprang up, fully lit, displaying the diagram from his notebook. “You’ll get phase two uploaded to your sled if this works. We shouldn’t need a phase three.” Ladeaux’s briefing lasted for fifteen minutes, then they went on out to the deck and the waiting gunsleds.

>>><<<

Promptly, one hour after the Saracen began the run, the first four Alzhaa cruisers showed up. They followed the usual pattern of assaulting the Saracen en masse. Ryo and Ladeaux converged on them from the ten and two o’clock positions, and Reina came up from under the Saracen at the six.

The first three cruisers were sitting ducks. The fourth was a little more work, but they too finally went down. “Looks like they’re running out of pilots too,” Ryo quipped. In a short time, the Alzhaa cruisers were debris, and the Saracen was still traveling as fast as she could.

“Four down, God knows how many to go,” Ladeaux’s voice crackled over the comsender. “Judging by how long it normally takes their ships to arrive, we should see the next action as we near the edge of Alzhaa space. That’s when the fun begins. Rest up while you can.”

“I don’t think they knew what to do, with us not stopping to fight like we usually do,” Reina commented. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe they aren’t as adaptable as they should be. So what about the plan for the next wave?”

“I’m loading it now,” Ladeaux’s voice was calm.

“Got it,” Reina looked at the diagram. “I can do this. You been reading old adventure novels again?”

Ladeaux laughed, as she hoped he would.

There would be absolutely no margin for error. If Reina was off by even a hair, the special delivery wouldn’t detonate the Alzhaa shipdrive. If she did manage to drop it on the sweet-spot, even running like hell might not save her. There was no time to calculate what would happen when they briefly turned the enemy ship into a mini-nova. The resulting wave could manifest as a disc or sphere. Either way, no matter how fast she ran, she would be caught in the backlash.

“Are you okay with it?” Ladeaux asked, concern coloring his voice.

“Well, someone’s gotta do it, and I’m the one with the experience and the death wish, so yeah,” Reina replied. Her tone was wry as she said, “I did promise to go easy on the fuelcels as much as possible though.”

“You’ve enough juice to do this and make your getaway. Either way, the fuelcel situation won’t matter after we’re done here,” replied Ladeaux. “If this works, you’ll be retired again. If not—still no worries, right? Even if you manage to deliver the goods, who knows what’s going to happen? There’s a first time for everything, and this is definitely a first.”

“Well, they won’t be expecting this.” Ryo’s muttered comment sounded worried. “Won’t they know the difference?”

“Don’t worry,” Reina replied. “Physics are physics. Some things are bound by certain laws whether you’re breathing methane or oxygen. If they choose to investigate, this battle will be long over, and little will remain for them to examine.”

Ladeaux’s voice sounded as sure and confident as ever. “Jacobs is right. The burst will happen in every spectrum, and should hide our movements for several days. If they don’t send a third group after us immediately, we’ll know we’ve been successful at concealing our escape. We’ll be long gone, and all they’ll have are unanswered questions. I think they will choose not to investigate.”

Two more hours had passed when four Alzhaa cruisers appeared. The three Mirandan gunsleds detached from trailing the Saracen, turned, and engaged the battle, leaving the Saracen to continue making a run for it.

Dropping into a wedge, the three sleds strafed the enemy bloc of cruisers with their lighter weight torpedoes, and then peeling apart from each other, they swung back. Ladeaux took out the rear cruiser using heavy armaments. Letting their shields pulse the debris away, Ryo took out the next one in line.

Immediately Ryo and Ladeaux made themselves into the visible targets, encouraging the two remaining cruisers to converge on them as they pretended to turn back toward Alzhaa space. The Mirandan defenders continued following the usual pattern they always had except for one thing: the Saracen continued fleeing toward Valentine at its top speed. Only the gunsleds were heading back to Alzhaa space.

Reina pulled back, arcing over the top of Ladeaux and Ryo. The three gunsleds formed a triangle, with Reina trailing. Suddenly, one of the Alzhaa began peeling away, apparently realizing the Saracen was getting away. Reina was on it, firing and dodging as her volley caught the enemy’s bridge, herding them back toward their companion. Just as Ladeaux had hoped, the other cruiser had caught on that the Saracen was still running and slowed down to turn back.

Reina rotated under and came up nearly on top of the stern of the fore cruiser and delivered her bundle dead center. The instant she launched the package, landing it squarely in the vent. Reina pulled up and fled in the opposite direction, heading at full throttle for Valentine.

Several seconds passed, and then the cruiser flared, shining too brilliantly for human eyes.

Bracing herself for the worst, Reina gritted her teeth. Her gunsled bucked and shuddered as the leading edge of the shockwave overtook her, but somehow her shields held together as, briefly, she rode the wave, gaining a little speed as it passed her. Relief nearly overwhelmed her. “Ladeaux! It worked. Good plan.” Tears of relief stung her eyes, and her headset crackled with hoots of joy as Ladeaux and Ryo celebrated her survival.

Her joy abruptly turned to disbelief. “No….” Reina groaned as the display showed the shockwave catching Ryo’s shields. She watched as, almost in slow motion, his shields buckled and failed under the onslaught. The pieces of Ryo’s gunsled joined the cloud of debris that rode the silent tsunami traveling back toward Alzhaa.

Ladeaux’s gunsled pulled into formation alongside her. With the destruction of the Alzhaa ship, the implants for head-to-head communication were working again, and she removed the headset with a small sense of relief. “I guess it’s just you and me, now.” Ladeaux’s mental voice didn’t betray his emotions, but Reina knew he felt the same sense of incredulity and depression she did. Her heart ached for Ryo and the loss of his future with Ramona Flores.

The rest of the day was uneventful. Reina and Ladeaux landed their gunsleds on the flight deck of the Saracen. In the captain’s ready room, there wasn’t much to say. “Thank you, both, for everything. You two need to get some rest. If anything comes up, I will let you know, but it looks like we’re home free now. We’ll be watching to be sure. In the meantime, Acting Science Officer Jacobs, you’re no longer flying. I’ll see you both tomorrow at the regular staff meeting, but you two are off until then.” It was a dismissal if ever Reina had heard one, but given Cora’s wounded pride, she’d expected it.

As they walked back to the pilots’ ready-room, Ladeaux flashed Reina the cheeky smile that captivated her. “How’s about we get together sometime and have a drink to Ryo and all the others who should be here but aren’t?”

Reina looked at him, standing there looking as sweaty and exhausted as she felt.  “Let me get a shower, and I’ll see what Cookie’s got that’s fit to drink. Half an hour, in my quarters?”

Ladeaux’s eyes lit up. “I’ll be there.”

Reina smiled, feeling the weight she hadn’t realized she carried leaving her shoulders.


To Read Valentine Run  Part 1 click here

To Read Valentine Run Part 2 click here

Valentine Run, Part Three, © Connie J. Jasperson 2011-2017 All Rights Reserved

Valentine Run is dedicated to my parents who loved nothing more than a good space opera, in memory of those hours we spent gathered around the flickering light of the TV, watching the original Star Trek.

Cover Art © Innovari | Dreamstime.com – Space Cruiser Spaceship Photo

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#FlashFictionFriday: The Sea Doves (reprise)

I’m traveling for a few days, so today I’m revisiting a post from August of 2016. This little flash fiction, The Sea Doves, was written in Cannon Beach, Oregon, one of my favorite places.


sand-dollar-leodia_sexiesperforata_derivada_2013An older lady walking with a cane, and a young boy of about four strolled along the beach, following the line of shells and debris left by the retreating tide.

“Grandma, what’s this?” The boy picked up a round, flat shell, with a design that looked like a flower etched on the rounded top.

“It’s a sand dollar,” replied the grandmother. “When the little creature inside dies, it leaves its teeth behind. Their teeth are shaped like doves. If you shake it you can hear the doves inside, rattling around.”

“Real doves? Like the ones by our house?” He peered intently at it, turning it over in his chubby hands and then, holding it up to his ear, he shook it.  He  danced with excitement, his eyes bright. “I can hear them!”

They walked a while further and the boy bent down again, picking up another sand dollar. “This one is is broken. What happened to the doves? Did they fly to my yard back home?”

The grandmother chuckled. “Perhaps they did. Shall we open one and see if they’re the kind of doves that fly?”

“Okay. I’ll find one.”  After a few moments of searching, the boy shouted, “I found it.” Quickly bending down, he picked up his find and held it out to his grandmother. “Can you open it now?”

“We’ll need a rock,” said Grandma. “Get me a good rock for pounding on things, about the size of your fist.”

Soon the two were bent over a driftwood log, with the sand dollar lying ready to be opened. “What should I do?”

“Give it a good whack. Not too hard, but just enough to crack it open.”

The boy shook his head. “I’m too strong. What if I smash it? I’m much stronger than you, so maybe you should whack it.”

Laughing again, Grandma complied. Soon the shell was opened and the little dove-shaped teeth were exposed.

The boy waited for a moment, then asked, “How come they aren’t flying away?”

Grandma thought for a moment. “Perhaps they only fly when we aren’t looking at them. Maybe we have to close our eyes and wish as hard as we can.”

The boy did so and after a moment Grandma said, “Look!”

His eyes flew open and he saw in the distance five white birds, flying away. “They did it! We let them loose! But they turned into seagulls.”

Grandma fingered the tiny bones in her pocket. “You’re right. Those were seagulls. Maybe they only turn into sea doves if we let them break out naturally.”

“Okay. We won’t hatch any more. I think there are enough seagulls on this beach right now. What we need are sea doves.”

Grandma agreed. The two walked on, stopping occasionally and examining the amazing finds left behind by the tide.


Credits

The Sea Doves, © Connie J. Jasperson 2016 – 2017 All Rights Reserved

Leodia sexiesperforata, By Louis Agassiz (Motier, 28 de mayo de 1807, – Cambridge, 14 de diciembre de 1873) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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#FlashFictionFriday: The Cat was a Bastard

I love rhyming poems especially those with a simple, traditional feeling meter. And, every now and then I get in a silly mood, a moment where a single line will stick in my head, a simple, off-the-wall sentence that becomes something upon which to hang a comic poem. When that happens, all bets are off and this sort of thing is the result.

In this case, it was the stray memory of a joke my late father frequently told (and my mother deplored), “Home is where you can spit on the floor and call the cat a bastard.” This inappropriate oneliner morphed in my head to: The Cat was a Bastard, an equally inappropriate poem, displaying my low origins and affection for gallows humor.


boss-cat-id-72054715-mariia-sigova-dreamstime

The Cat was a Bastard

 

Around the corner and down the lane

Hurtled my car through hard, driving rain.

And from the brush near the verge of the road

Came running a cat, now dead as a toad.

 

I stopped the car, to check on the corpse,

A cottage did see, the cat’s home of course.

And bearing the body through pouring down rain,

I pressed on the doorbell, and then pressed again.

 

A lady quite elderly, shriveled, and old,

Opened the door and eyed me, quite cold.

“Your cat, I presume?” I gravely inquired.

“He’s met his end, with the aid of my tire.”

 

Her gaze was quite steely, as coolly she said,

“And what’s it to me that the old wretch is dead?

“I always knew his would be a bad end,

“His tomcatting ways he never would mend.”

 

Mystified, I thought an error had been made

For she looked like a cat-lady, proper and staid.

“Are you speaking of this cat, Madame?” I said,

“This flat-headed cat, who surely is dead?”

 

“The cat was a bastard,” the woman replied.

“We’re glad to see the old lecher has died.

“An untidy end for the bastardly cat,

“The lazy old thing who ne’er caught a rat.”

 

Shocked, I just stared, then set down the corpse

And turned to depart, bewildered, of course.

Let this be a lesson to tomcats who stray,

Don’t cross the road on a cold, rainy day.

 


The Cat was a Bastard © Connie J. Jasperson 2017, All Rights Reserved

Stock Illustration:

Boss Cat ID 72054715 © Mariia Sigova | Dreamstime.com

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#FlashFictionFriday: The Dog’s Tale

I used to spend a lot of time in the backyard, howling. What can I say? I was young and impulsive in those days.

However, Dave bought me this new collar, which, while it’s really nice to look at, has an inherent flaw. It becomes terribly uncomfortable when I howl or announce the arrival of that vandal who shoves trash through the slot in our door. He seems to be targeting our house. Since I can no longer yell at him to go away, I nip at his fingers through the slot. But he’s crafty now and doesn’t get close enough for me to do any damage.

I’m not complaining, though. I’m no different than any other girl. I’m quite partial to jewelry, and since Dave is my human, I always show my appreciation for his thoughtfulness, even though he has no idea what sort of collar I’d really like. It’s the thought that counts.

However, I hope he understands that the new cover he puts on the sofa when he leaves is not very comfy at all. It buzzes and zaps me when I step on it, so I have to sleep on the floor. At least he doesn’t put me in the kennel when he’s gone, the way some humans do. Bonzo, the dachshund from next door, spends all day in his kennel. I’m only forced to sleep in mine when Dave and that woman have a sleep-over.

It took a while, but I have Dave trained pretty well now. He’s a considerate man, and never forgets to feed me, and he has never once left me alone in the car on a hot day. It’s a good life.

I’m feeling sleepy now, so I’ll just go nap by the front door, and wait for the vandal. He shows up nearly every day just before noon. Today, if he’s careless, maybe I’ll finally draw blood, and he’ll stop throwing trash into our house.

pomeranian-tb2


The Dog’s Tale, © Connie J. Jasperson, 2017

This little bit of flash fiction was inspired by the above photo, found on Wikimedia Commons.

Image: Pomeranian, By Chunbin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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#FlashFictionFriday: #NewYears2016

472px-judith_leyster_merry_trioAt this time of the year, I find myself looking back at my own life, and feeling such gratitude for the blessings and the bounty my husband and I have enjoyed.

All in all, 2016 was a good year on the home front, with the low points being more than balanced by the joys. My suspicion is that people who don’t know what it is like to suffer a little pain don’t appreciate the true beauty of life.

In some ways it has been a hard year, true, but through it all I had the joy of grandchildren, the love of my husband and our children,  great books to read, and music to surround me. I have rediscovered my gratitude — both for the bounty I enjoy, and the people I am privileged to share my life with.

On New Year’s Eve we will enjoy a dinner party at the home of close companions. We’ll party in the company of my sister and her husband, a few comrades from our old school days, and several soul-mates we have only met comparatively recently. We’re a mixed bag of nuts, as close as blood-relatives, a gang of retirees who support each other through the highs and lows of life.

May your new year bring you joy and prosperity and the ability to appreciate them. May you have the good health to enjoy them, and may your imaginary friends never stop talking to you!

In the meantime, I offer you this poem (originally posted on Jan 1 of this year):

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New Years Eve at the Drunken Sasquatch

Bloody Bill reigns from behind his bar

Over the rowdy throng.

And I shall nurse my cider mulled

And sometimes sing along.

 

The Leprechaun plays Hendrix, loud,

The vampire sings the blues.

The dragon racks the billiard balls,

The Reaper chalks his cue.

 

We’re having such a lively time

The floorboards sway and heave.

The Drunken Sasquatch is the place

To spend a New Year ’s Eve.


New Years Eve at the Drunken Sasquatch, © 2016 Connie J. Jasperson

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#flashFictionFriday: Science Officer’s Log

Today’s flash fiction was inspired by the recent announcement of the  European Southern Observatory‘s discovery of a roughly Earth-sized planet orbiting our nearest neighboring star, Proxima Centauri.  Planet Proxima b is larger than Earth, but could have liquid water on its surface. Proxima Centauri is around four light years from us. It’s a small red dwarf with a radius of around 60,000 miles (97,000 km), which is around 14% the size of our sun. It  is estimated to have a mass of around 12% of that of the sun, and is 1.4 times the diameter of Jupiter.


Science Officer’s Log

  • Week: 15
  • Month: 4
  • Day: 15
  • Year: 47 (Post Earth Era)
  • Logged by: Jamal Baines, Acting Science Officer

Last week our ship arrived at a three-star system, and stopped at the edge.  I’m not sure why we’ve stopped because, before they disappeared, no one thought to warn me it was going to happen. It’s been two weeks since the adults who used to run things disappeared. Not sure what happened, but I don’t think they planned to leave.

I’m fourteen now, so I should be an adult about things, but I miss my mom.

The internal system is functioning as it should. Maybe we were supposed to stop here. The telescopes are observing the dwarf star of the trio, and I’m logging the information as it comes in. I just don’t know how to interpret it yet.

From outside, our ship seems like an immense moon or a small planet, but it’s an asteroid ship. We’re self-supporting so things are pretty complicated. When I first joined the science pod, Dr. Abrams told me that because we live underground, we’re safe from radiation and most stray comets.

I don’t know if anyone will ever go outside again, because I don’t know if anyone apprenticed in the maintenance pod was trained to pilot the O.A. Shuttles.

We finally got all the kids together for a meeting, and we have an idea of how to go forward.  I’m not sure what I’m supposed to write here because we didn’t do anything other than deciding who was going to do what. The younger kids are afraid, and everyone agreed we needed the older kids to take charge.

Shelena’s oldest, seventeen, and she is captain. Darius is fifteen, and he’s first officer. They were apprenticed in the bridge pod, so she is most familiar with how Captain Gonzales ran things, and Darius is good at keeping things organized. Shelena knows where all the information is, so at least we’ll have that, and we can continue our education. I got to be science because that’s where I was apprenticing. Sanjay is 17, and is in charge of sickbay, for the same reason. The androids are functioning perfectly, handling the work humans don’t usually have to do, like running the mess hall and the sewage treatment plants.

There are only fifty-six of us old enough to have been apprenticed into the ship’s management systems for any length of time. The others are working in the areas where they were, still trying to learn from those of us more advanced. The pre-teen kids not old enough to have been apprenticed are minding the babies and little ones.

Darius thinks the adults got sucked into a dimensional rift. I guess that’s possible, but I can’t see how. But regardless, we have to support the farms, because they’re what keeps this ship’s environmental systems running. So, just like before the adults disappeared, we’re all taking our turns working in the agrarian pod. Things are pretty easy to work, if you know the controls. So far, we’re all getting along, no quarrels to speak of.

That’s all I can think of for right now. I’ll write more tomorrow because Doctor Abrams always kept a daily log, so I should too.

J.B.

This artist’s impression shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System. The double star Alpha Centauri AB also appears in the image to the upper-right of Proxima itself. Proxima b is a little more massive than the Earth and orbits in the habitable zone around Proxima Centauri, where the temperature is suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface.

This artist’s impression shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System. The double star Alpha Centauri AB also appears in the image to the upper-right of Proxima itself. Proxima b is a little more massive than the Earth and orbits in the habitable zone around Proxima Centauri, where the temperature is suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. Artist’s rendering by This artist’s impression shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the solar system. The double star Alpha Centauri AB also appears in the image. Proxima b is a little more massive than the Earth and orbits in the habitable zone around Proxima Centauri, where the temperature is suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. Credits: ESO/M. Kornmesser


Science Officer’s Log © Connie J. Jasperson 2016

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#flashfictionfriday: The Sea Doves

sanddollar

For more information on the life cycle of the common sand dollar, go to http://www.gma.org/tidings/sand-dollar

An older lady walking with a cane, and a young boy of about four strolled along the beach, following the line of shells and debris left by the retreating tide.

“Grandma, what’s this?” The boy picked up a round, flat shell, with a design that looked like a flower etched on the rounded top.

“It’s a sand dollar,” replied the grandmother. “When the little creature inside dies, it leaves its teeth behind. Their teeth are shaped like doves. If you shake it you can hear the doves inside, rattling around.”

“Real doves? Like the ones by our house?” He peered intently at it, turning it over in his chubby hands and then, holding it up to his ear, he shook it.  He  danced with excitement, his eyes bright. “I can hear them!”

They walked a while further and the boy bent down again, picking up another sand dollar. “This one is is broken. What happened to the doves? Did they fly to my yard back home?”

The grandmother chuckled. “Perhaps they did. Shall we open one and see if they’re the kind of doves that fly?”

“Okay. I’ll find one.”  After a few moments of searching, the boy shouted, “I found it.” Quickly bending down, he picked up his find and held it out to his grandmother. “Can you open it now?”

“We’ll need a rock,” said Grandma. “Get me a good rock for pounding on things, about the size of your fist.”

Soon the two were bent over a driftwood log, with the sand dollar lying ready to be opened. “What should I do?”

“Give it a good whack. Not too hard, but just enough to crack it open.”

The boy shook his head. “I’m too strong. What if I smash it? I’m much stronger than you, so maybe you should whack it.”

Laughing again, Grandma complied. Soon the shell was opened and the little dove-shaped teeth were exposed.

The boy waited for a moment, then asked, “How come they aren’t flying away?”

Grandma thought for a moment. “Perhaps they only fly when we aren’t looking at them. Maybe we have to close our eyes and wish as hard as we can.”

The boy did so and after a moment Grandma said, “Look!”

His eyes flew open and he saw in the distance five white birds, flying away. “They did it! We let them loose! But they turned into seagulls.”

Grandma fingered the tiny bones in her pocket. “You’re right. Those were seagulls. Maybe they only turn into sea doves if we let them break out naturally.”

“Okay. We won’t hatch any more. I think there are enough seagulls on this beach right now. What we need are sea doves.”

Grandma agreed. The two walked on, stopping occasionally and examining the amazing finds left behind by the tide.


The Sea Doves, © Connie J. Jasperson 2016, All Rights Reserved

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#flashfictionfriday: October Sky

Louis_Français-CrépusculeIt had been the coldest October I could remember. Rafts of ice floated up and down the lake, blown by the winds, breaking up and re-forming as if dancing a ballet. The leaves had been off the trees since the end of September, almost as if they couldn’t fall fast enough.

It was in the last, quiet hour before sunset when the real beauty of my rustic lake home was revealed to me. The sun drifted its way behind the hills as the wind died off to nothing. The lake became a mirror reflecting the pink-blue-purple-gold of the sky and the deep green of the evergreen forested hills. It was a green so deep that it appeared to be black.

I would sit at my frozen picnic table with a steaming mug of coffee warming my hands, watching the snow geese and the western grebes. Only the voices of the loons and the geese pierced the blanket of peace I had wrapped about myself.

When the colors had faded, and I could no longer feel my fingers, I would go back into the house and stoke up the fire, still in the thrall of the lake’s spell. Then, only when I had absorbed the tranquility of my lake, would I pick up a brush and enter my world of canvas and color.

On the first morning I saw the naked trees stark against the incredible sky, I knew I had to somehow capture the power. Attempt followed attempt and soon my house was littered with the “almosts.” The bones of the trees were right, but the essence of the sky was missing. Each night I worked longer and more feverishly until one day I realized that I had to back off and gain some perspective.

And so it was that in the small hours before dawn one morning I put away the brushes and paints, and covered the canvasses, frustrated by my inability to capture the essence of the lake and the sky that was mirrored in it. Exhausted, I fell into my bed drained and unable to concentrate, yet sleep escaped me. My mind was filled with the loons and the trees and their sky.

At last, knowing it was futile to try to sleep I rose and made myself tea. Wrapping a blanket about myself I walked out to my small sitting room to watch the trees greeting the pale dawn. The warmth and fragrance of the steaming cup of tea made me feel rested as my bed never had, and the familiarity of the ritual soothed away my frustrations.

The serenity of the moment deepened, a sense of sacredness pervaded the garden. Willingly, I gave myself to the experience, allowing the essence of the moment to seep into my soul.

The air felt strange, alive and crystalline, and the trees beckoned to me. I could feel them calling me to come out and greet the sun with them, and bemused, I answered their call. Stepping outside, still wrapped in my blanket, I walked through the frozen grass, until I was in the orchard among the trees on the shore of the lake.

Looking west to the black-forested hills, I held my breath, overcome by the feeling of anticipation that infused me. Something told me I stood on the verge of an event, vast and unfathomable, though what it could be I couldn’t imagine.

Gradually I realized that the ground was vibrating, and had been for a while, shaking as if a giant walked nearby. As I became aware of the vibrations beneath my feet, a deep rumbling began to penetrate my reverie, shattering the peace. The unfamiliar thunders grew louder with every moment, and the birds fell silent as if waiting to see what approached.

Huddling nervously in my blanket, my eyes were drawn to the north and there, emerging from the mist I saw machines—great, huge, monstrous machines I had no words to describe. They came slowly and relentlessly down the middle of my lake. The waters rolled and boiled around them as they passed me by, paying me less attention than they did the trees. The ice floes broke and tipped crazily, riding the waves that danced about the giant treads.

The line of machines continued south, grinding through the swamp, going I knew not where and coming from where I could not imagine. As they came, the waters grew, and waves began splashing at my feet and then my knees. At last, realizing that I was in trouble, I turned and raced for the higher ground and the safety of my house.

Still the waters rose, following me, and still the machines came rolling down from the north.

I closed the door and stood to gaze out the window at the rising waters and the monstrous machines that continued their unrelenting journey south. The waters rose, and my house began swaying, creaking and groaning under the water’s assault.

I fell to my knees praying to the God I didn’t believe in, but he wasn’t listening.  My house shook and rocked, and lifted with the rising water, turning slowly as if to say goodbye to the lake and the hills to the west. Dishes and furniture careened off paintings and walls—my life in small objects passing before my eyes. I looked, disbelieving, through the shattered windows and saw the inconceivable sky spinning around like a child’s top spins.

I covered my head, and screamed my prayer, but the only answer I received was the sure and profound sound of breaking glass and furniture shattering.  At last, when I believed it would never stop, the floor I clung to gave a great lurch and the noise of destruction stuttered into silence, a silence every bit as loud as the din had been.

Throwing back my blanket, determined to get out of the wreckage while I could, I saw the last of the machines going south into the broken swamp. The trail they blazed through the marshland was a great scar that would never heal, and I wept at the sight of it.

I surveyed the damage to my home with stunned eyes. My house was now perched all askew upon a slight rise that had been perhaps fifty feet behind it before. Everything I had ever owned was now in full view of anyone who might choose to make a leisurely visit to my remote home. Every item of clothing, every bit of dish, smashed or whole, everything dangled from the branches of the broken trees, displayed everywhere.

Despite the carnage, the sky hung pink-blue-purple-golden and unchanged while the naked trees made lewd gestures with my most personal of possessions. The ridiculousness of the situation penetrated my shock, and I began laughing, and falling to my knees I laughed until I couldn’t breathe. Eventually, my laughter became sobs, and I howled until I was spent.

The silence was too much, making me intensely aware of my frail mortality. Stepping through the rubble, I gathered my canvasses, paints, and brushes. Miraculously my easel was untouched, and so I did the only thing I could think of.

I painted the pathetic wreck of my house reflected in the perfection of the lake and the hills.

I painted the obscene trees against the incredible sky as they proudly displayed the debris of my life.

And then I painted those awesome machines as they paraded past me, not realizing that I was there and not caring.

When I was done, three paintings leaned against my ruined fireplace. Exhausted, I found my bed and righted it. Crawling into it I finally fell asleep, resting dreamlessly.

When my eyes opened, I was disoriented. I awoke in my bedroom and looking around, I could see no signs of the previous day’s events. In disbelief, I went to the kitchen and found all my kitsch and accumulated knick-knacks still to be there, whole and in their tasteless entirety. There were no broken dishes, no broken furniture.

Awed and amazed at the power of the dream I had just experienced I set about preparing my breakfast. “Idiot,” I muttered, still feeling rather giddy. I wondered what my sister would say when I called to tell her about it.

Making a cup of coffee, I went to sit by the window in the sitting room.

As I passed the fireplace I froze. Three pictures leaned against the uninjured hearth.

One was of obscene trees decorated with my personal possessions, silhouetted against an incredible sky. In the second picture, my sad house perched askew on the hill, broken and sad, framed by the astounding sunset.

And the third picture was a terrifying image of gigantic, grotesque machines tearing up my lake, plowing through the swamp with the waters roiling wildly about the monstrous treads, beneath the sky that had eluded my skills until that night.

Even I had to admit that the power of the paintings was overwhelming.


October Sky © Connie J. Jasperson 2016 All Rights Reserved

Written circa 1992 and originally published On Wattpad, December 2012

Republished on Edgewise Words Inn, April 2015

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