Élan

Amanty_Airdrome_Building_47_-_France

Amanty Aerodrome Building 47 – France

At the squadron’s makeshift bar, Lt. Mansfield Parkman (Princeton, Class of 1917) poured himself and Lt. Edmund Whitney (Class of 1918) another glass each of cognac, lifted his and said, “To our brave comrade, Albie Filmore, who lived, flew, fought and died with the greatest spirit of élan!”

At a small table across the floor of the leaking shed, Captain Fred Meek, a veteran of three years flying for France and now the United States, drained his own glass and said, “Yeah, Philmont seemed a spunky little fella, but buzzing around hellbent for election chasing Boche as he did, I figured he was bound to ‘go west’ in about a week’s time.”

“His name was Filmore, and how dare you sully the name of a brave young man while Taps still echoes in his memory?” Whitney said, charging from his canvas chair toward Meek with fists clenched.

“Easy there, Lieutenant, I was only making the observation — and you’d be wise to take to heart — that Filmore’s or any other pilot’s élan or whatever you romantic boys wish to call it doesn’t keep a watch out for you or your tail feathers, nor stop 7.92 mm machine gun rounds, at 12,000 feet,” Meek said, staring icy warning at the new pilot.

When Parkman gathered up Whitney and escorted him from the tent, Meek turned to his drinking companion, a fellow veteran flyer, and said, “Depending on the weather, I give each of those spunky idiots no more than five élan-filled days before they join their friend”…and it was four.

A shaky five-sentence fiction based on Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word  SPUNK.

Shedding That Skin

Lamia_by_Herbert_James_Draper_(1909)

 

The Lamia, by Herbert James Draper, 1909

“Yeah, that cheating Marina whipped my ass pretty bad this time, so I figured I’d call it a game…late in the fourth, gar-bahge time, ends of the benches clearing, fans streaming out to their cars.” Phil replied with a hangdog sigh.

“Phil, your sports analogies aren’t just stupid, they’re profoundly stupid, make you sound like a spineless, deluded idiot, letting this girl go without a fight,” his buddy Ken said.

“Oh, I wouldn’t say I’m going down like a total worm, Kenny…more like a snake,” Phil said, as he moved his hand back and forth while slowly pushing his arm forward in a serpentine motion.

In that hand he held his cell phone, and upon its screen a photo of himself and Jeffrey’s girlfriend Jeannette Bardo, their clothes half-shucked, locked in an embrace in Jeannete’s room, where in the background appeared a calendar that showed the date from two weeks before.

“Texting this to Marina and that tool Jeffrey, just to let them know we’ll be just fine,” Phil said, and brought his index and middle fingers, curved like a rattler’s fangs, down upon the screen, pressing SEND.

A quick free write flash fiction piece based on Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentience Fiction prompt VINDICTIVE.

Unforgettable

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“Okay, Dad,” Rebecca Swann said to Ray Bentley as she showed him old photographs, this one her late mother and Ray’s wife of fifty years, “who’s this woman?”

“I dunno, I can’t make it out and I don’t remember anyway,” Ray said with a toss of his hand, tuning toward the wall of the nursing home’s common room.

“It’s Mom, Dad, don’t you remember?” Rebecca said and put the photo back into the pile of Ray’s black and white forgotten memories.

Rebecca saw a small group enter the common room, touring the facility as a potential home for the elderly woman toddling along with her walker, when she heard her father take two deep sniffs, saw him turn, and watched him beam as he blurted out, “Helen?”

The elderly woman brought her disheartened gaze up from the floor and saw not an 78-year-old man seated at the table in front of her, but rather the 19-year-old who had given her the brand of perfume she wore for the past forty-eight years, the one called Unforgettable, and she smiled a teary smile, broke away from her children, crying “Ray!”

As someone whose certain memories seem to be sifting away more each day, I was moved by Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word FORGOTTEN to express the power certain crazy stimulants have on memories you would think long lost. I love how that works.

The Open Gate

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“Did you not set a guard or lock the stockade gate?” The Fort Orange commander asked Simon Schermerhorn, wincing as a surgeon bound up his wounded leg, of the massacre at Schenectady the night before.

“It was so cold, sir, and we had sent out Mohawk scouts to forewarn us if any French or their native allies were coming, so we felt safe and…not exactly,” Schemerhorn said, dropping his chin to his chest and sipping more hot rum to warm him from his freezing cold ride along the Mohawk River to Fort Orange.

Outside, the wind blew the deep snow, almost obscuring the trees from the guards set along the fort’s western stockade, the one facing the place named for Mohawk phrase for “beyond the pines,” where a French and Indian raiding party might be lying in wait to attack after sacking the village, killing many inhabitants still in their night clothes and carrying off many captives.

“With all that potential for attack and wiping us all out, what do you mean, ‘Not exactly,’ Herr Schermerhorn?” the commander said.

“Well, sir, it was horrible cold and we were feeling fairly safe, waiting to hear from our scouts, so we left the stockade open and did set a guard of…two,um, snowmen,” Schermerhorn said, wincing again, but not in pain.

With a slight simplification and distillation, here is a conversation between Simon Schermerhorn and the military commander of what would one day be my hometown, Albany, New York. On the night of Feb. 8, 1690, Schermerhorn escaped the massacre of the village of Schenectady and, wounded in the leg, set off on horseback through the snow and cold, following the Mohawk River east, to warn the garrison at Fort Orange. Legend has it the authorities in the village were feeling safe that night and indeed did set a guard at the open gate of two snowmen. This five-sentence fiction was inspired by the anniversary of that night and Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word, OPEN.

Then Trust Me

Trust Me

“Nancy told me today Sasha’s coming to visit her tomorrow, so I’m going over to see her, my savior,” Lacey said in a tone as pregnant with hope as her belly, which was in its second trimester with our child.

I sighed long and loud with the memory that a year and a half earlier, Lacey had engaged in an affair with Sasha, who Lacey’s statement implied had saved her from me, or the me from three years before Lacey and I met, when I was head over heels in love with Sasha, who was utterly irresistible to everyone, knew it, and was comfortable with it.

“Sorry, that was just me being selfish and stupid…I told you I’d never be that way again, and I haven’t been…I mean really, right?”

“Then trust me,” Lacey said, rolling herself up to kiss my cheek, then rolling back and closing her eyes, an angelic half-smile on her face.

I rolled over, too, facing the wall, and didn’t sleep the rest of the night, thinking about her.

A Five Sentence Fiction based on Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word: TRUST.

Love Letter

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“She’s been scribbling away on a sheet of paper she’s been hiding from us for three days now, Doctor, and even after I take the pencil away from her, she finds another somewhere,” Nurse Cindy Nichols said.

Dr. Warren Fulbert tapped away at his tablet, scanning Eloise Silverman’s charts for the recent history of her latest regime of medications, therapies, diet and behavioral analyses and said, “Everything seems the same as it’s been since she was committed before her trial, Cindy, so get her a crayon, five milligrams of Haloperidol IM, and let’s keep a close eye on her so she doesn’t hurt herself or cut up someone else’s…oh, and bring me that drawing or whatever it is.”

“She’s due for group in a few minutes, so we’ll flip the room and get her a new sheet of paper and crayon while she’s down in therapy,” Nurse Nichols said.

After rounds, Dr. Fulbert returned to his office, where he found a gray sheet of paper on his desk with a sticky note from Cindy Nichols.

That’s when Fulbert looked closer at the paper and realized it wasn’t gray, but rather was covered edge to edge in the same sentence, written hundreds and hundreds of times, one atop the other, that said, My darling Peter, why won’t you come?

A mashup five-sentence fiction based on Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word, MARRIAGE. I tossed in a dash of the tale of Héloïse and Abélard and a splash of inspiration from that photo up there of a letter written in 1909 by Emma Hauck to her husband while she was in a psychiatric hospital.

54 Across

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“Joel, you’ve got to hurry up here and see this,” Andi Simkins called one Late Sunday afternoon from the patio window to her husband down in what Joel called his Subterranean Lair.

“I’ll be up as soon as I finish this part of the Times crossword, hon,” Joel replied from his leather lounger, as the Giants versus the Eagles provided a background soundtrack from his 50-inch flatscreen.

“Lemme see…54 Across…seven-letter word for skyline,” Joel mumbled to himself, with an Eagle’s player’s interception of a late-day sun-blinded Giant receiver’s potential catch sending the Philly crowd into a mega-decibel frenzy in the background.

Andi called one more time, “Joel, please, you’ll miss this if you wait much longer….”

And when he didn’t answer, Andi sighed once again, stood by the patio doors, and recalled all those afternoons Joel would tangle his fingers in her auburn hair and she would beam at him with her gold-flecked blue eyes, as they’d watched the sun sink, a searing communion of light and heat, beyond that southwestern horizon.

A five-sentence fiction based on Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word HORIZON.