short story

Crossroads

The following is by Writer’s in the Grove member, Lorelle VanFossen, inspired by Prompt: Three Random Words with Same First Letter and Share. The prompt was to write down three nouns that start with the same letter and have nothing to do with each other, then pass them to your neighbor for the writing prompt. The words were truth, trouble, and transition.

She stood at the crossroads of her life as well as the intersection of Hindspitter and Fredricksville Roads, next to her car, a boring, blue Mazda like millions of other broken down, boring blue Mazdas on the road over the past twenty years, ignoring the steam hissing from its tightly clenched jaws. She chewed a broken thumbnail, the result of five minutes trying to force open those jaws to inspect the damage. It remained closed, as did her options for rescue.

Her cell phone gave up contact with civilization about 5 miles ago. Sarah stood in the middle of nowhereville rural Oregon, on the eastside where rain rarely visits. The old junker barely made it over the pass and couldn’t cope with the rising morning temperatures, and neither could she. She gave up on the thumb and ran a sleeve across her forehead. It didn’t help.

With no car in sight, the truth was life looked as bleak as these roads. She had 20 minutes to either magically repair her car or get rescued to make her job interview in Fredricksville. This was a long way to come for a job, but there were few options left closer to Portland. Fifty-six job interviews in six months since losing her high school teaching gig, it must be a world record. Job hunting was expensive. With no wand or wizard in sight, she could hear even more money sliding down the hole in her already empty wallet. Damn car.

A vulture swept down and landed on the Hindspitter street sign and hissed at her.

“Wait your turn, buddy,” she glared at him. “I still got some fight left.” She leaned back against the overheated vehicle and closed her eyes against the relentless sun, considering her lack of options.

Who names a street Hindspitter? Was there a family who owned this hunk of desert, or some unfortunate who died along the wagon road, his name forever immortalized with a blue road sign? Hindspitter. Imagine introducing yourself. “Hi, I’m one of the Hindspitters.”

The car hiccuped and spat a new burst of steam out the front grill.

She sighed and replied, “Wrong end.”

Too Big for the Bike

The following was inspired from the prompt, “The Novice.”

Child bicycle with training wheels and flowers in the spokesHe was too big for the bike. Knees splayed awkwardly outwards, feet slipping off the pedals, hunched over the handle bars determined to hang on, the bike pitched from side to side, training wheels bent up so far, they didn’t touch the ground. It was time. Time for the training wheels to come off. Time for the big boy to ride a big boy bike.

It was two years past the growth spurt that should have graduated him up from his purple and pink bike, red plastic ribbons hanging in a tattered shower from the ends of the white handle grips, purple metal showing through the torn plastic. The plastic flowers, once carefully woven in and out of the wheel spokes, were bend and faded, flapping against the support bars with every pass.

His face puffed fiery patches across his pale cheeks as he struggled for speed along the long driveway. He leaned into the curve of the circular drive and a training wheel grabbed the pavement. He lost control and went down hard. Tears welled up but he gritted his teeth, rose up, and straightened himself and the bike.

“Kiddo,” I called as gently and evenly as I could. “Those wheels are hurting more than helping.” I stayed still on the path to the house, toes even with the edge of the pavement. It was the furthest away he allowed me to be, watching his every movement. “Maybe it’s time to take them off.”

His head whipped around and his grip turned white on the handle bars.

“No!” He twisted the bike around and stomped toward me. “I need the wheels!”

“Looks like they are getting in your way.”

We looked down at the training wheels, little tread left on them. He’d insisted that the wheels remain tightened as an extra braking system, keeping his speed under control, and his fear. Two years of abuse had locked up the nuts rather than loosened them. The tread was worn in even patches, making the wheels blocks not circles. The metal extension brackets were pointed more to the sky than the ground, twisted and scarred from too many crashes. (more…)