Saturday, January 10, 2015

Flash! Friday: The Saving Breath and Temptation

by Michael Seese

There's an interesting bit of back story behind this week's Flash! Friday entry. Monday night, as I was doing the dishes, I thought about the previous week's winning story, which I thought was very good. Out of nowhere came an idea. I had the basic lead-in, and "brain-wrote" the last 60 words or so. After finishing the chores, I typed them in. The next day, I completed it.


As I was doing that, I was reminded of a story I wrote for the Janet Reid contest way back in November 2013. IT DIDN'T WIN, but I still liked it. Since the stories for Janet are 100 words, I had to expand it a bit. (Which I always can do.)

Then, yesterday Rebekah posted this photo.

And I posted "The Saving Breath."

Gas hissed from the valve under the unmistakable sign: FLAMMABLE. Sydney struck another match, only to watch it go out.

"Damn it! Why won't any of you light?"

Alone, more alone than ever, she tried again. And again. Luck still would not even blow a kiss her way.

She fell back, crying. So much had gone wrong lately, beginning with that night. She had ignored her parents and the weather alert, and decided to drive to Cameron's. She always drove carefully, more so in the snow. She remembered missing the curve just in front of his house... The pond... Her car sinking... Gasping for air... Cameron's arms around her... His heroic push...

Then watching him slip beneath the ice.

"I miss you, Cameron. I miss you so much."

"I miss you too, Syd. But it's not your time," he whispered, blowing out yet another match.

Fits pretty well, don't it?

And I was feeling inspired, so I added "Temptation."

Temptation does not call.

It sings. It whispers, coos, breathes softly in your ear. Jeanne rocked on the ledge, her feet dangling over eternity, struggling with the decision.

I'll catch you, the voice said. I promise.

Jeanne had lived a life full of promises, most of which rotted and died. Her ex-husband had promised it would be a one-time job, that no one would get hurt. He was wrong on both counts.

"I've done ... so many bad things," she said.

Everyone sins. We accept that. We forgive. We welcome.

"Then I'm ready," she said, taking the literal leap of faith. Immediately, something felt wrong.

"What's happening?" Jeanne cried out. "Where are you?"

A warm blast singed her face. The voice returned. It no longer sang. It hissed like steam, and smelled of sulphur.

I suppose I neglected to warn you. To tell you how far you were going to fall. But I'll keep my word. I will catch you.

Come back tomorrow. Janet Reid also served up a flash fiction contest, and (naturally) I wrote something for that.

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