My mind has been so cluttered lately, I haven’t been able to write. Once upon a time, when I was similarly uninspired, I posted this article of word-prompt essays. These flash-fiction articles were fun to write. I hope my new readers like the as much as my earlier ones did.
(Prompt words are in italics.)
Dream Come True
Her hair was once a mass of chestnut curls but has gone to white-yellow frizz, her eyes were such a deep brown they were almost black, now they glow blue behind contact lenses, breast implants… once the fresh-faced prettiness of the girl next door, a nose job has carved her face into a cookie cutter beauty… she cries… a lot… but only when no one can see her, and today she is going to do something that no one, not even her therapist will expect. She kicks off her street shoes and undresses hurriedly, anxious to get into her uniform. She won’t have to cry anymore. She has been waiting for this for years.
Barefoot, but otherwise dressed, she stands before the full length mirror and giggles.
“No, mi amiga! This is wrong! You no can laugh now. You must be fierce, la mejur loca, no?”
“Si, Lucia, you are right — Crazy Woman!” Composing her features, Maria Carilla del Sol sneers into the mirror, and the Sargent in the mirror sneers back at her. No one back home, no one on earth would have believed that this is Maria’s dream. What she had prayed for all her life. Her father would beat her mercilessly if he knew what his money had gone for, but she is thankful he had that much money.
Finally, Lucia brings that which turns the former Mexican beauty into Sargent Josephine: the skates.
Sgt. Jo laces the skates over her ankles and stands to test the fit. She rolls rapidly around the locker room and returns to spin in front of the full length mirror. She snickers at the heavy make-up covering the face of cookie cutter beauty, and the outlandishly frizzy hair. She tests her most fierce look, hardening her eyes, curling her upper lip.
The secret handshake
Casey knew their secret handshake, she had watched from the bushes behind her new home while they were deciding what it would be. She pulled a baseball cap over her short sandy hair and checked the mirror.
“Not bad,” she told her reflection. “That one guy’s hair’s longer than mine. They won’t know I’m a girl.”
She loaded her jeans pockets with her treasures: a horse’s tooth she got from her uncle, the vet; a polished Apache tear stone from Arizona; a shard of green glass smoothed to satin by the ocean; and an old pocket knife with a broken, dull blade.
Mustering up her courage, Casey marched right up to the clubhouse door and knocked on the rickety old thing. She heard the commotion from inside come to a hushed silence before someone opened the door a crack. Somebody peeked out with a nose sunburned enough to rival Rudolph.
“This here’s a private club,” he sneered. “Ain’t no one allowed in here ‘less they know the secret handshake.”
“I know it.”
“Well, I do,” Casey crossed her arms and glared at the kid with the nose sticking out of the clubhouse door. He shut the door in her face.
“What’ll I do?” she heard him ask.
“We’ll just have to see if he knows the handshake,” came the response amid a chorus of “Ain’t no way” and “That’s impossible!”
Casey stood back as five eight-year-old boys pushed their way out the clubhouse door. One of them, the one who’s hair was longer than Casey’s, announced: “I’m the president of this here club. It was my idea and I don’t ‘member ever seein’ you here.”
“Yeah, but I can join if I know the handshake, and I know the handshake,” Casey challenged him.
Thrusting his right hand out at her, the president said: “Prove it!”
Casey planted her feet wide and gripped his wrist with her right hand. Three pumps, one, two, three – then she slid her hand down his until their fingers were locked at the second knuckle. One, two, three. Then she popped him in the shoulder with her left fist, just as he popped her, and whipped her hand back from his.
The president scratched his head and looked at the other faces of his club. “Guess we’ve got a new member.”
She washed and scrubbed the elephant feeling sorry for herself the whole time. Ethically speaking, she deserved the punishment, but she still hated the sentence. If the city hadn’t wanted pets at the parade, they should’ve prohibited them. She didn’t know the dumb elephant would’ve spooked so easily at her yapping Yorkie as to run into the crowd of parade enthusiasts.
But she was sorry about the dead Australian Shepherd.
The Aussie’s owner had watched with his old cowboy hat in his hand and a tight grip on his dog’s collar as the flag passed, marking the beginning of the parade. Missie barked at the elephants coming behind the flag, and the next thing she knew Missie ran at an old bull and he charged, trampling the Aussie.
The elephant’s trunk swung back and goosed her butt. She spun around to glare into that massive face only to see him smiling, as if to say, “Cheer up. I could’ve run over the cowboy.”