Saturday, August 22, 2015

Flash! Friday: Playing With Fire & The Storm

by Michael Seese

I could have done a lot with this week's Flash! Friday.  

As always, of late, this picture was optional.


Required was the novel inspiration: Canterbury Tales, a collection of tales by a troupe of pilgrims. The story elements were:

* Conflict: man v man
* Character (choose one): a knight on a quest, a patient wife, a treacherous wife, three foolish gamblers, a talking rooster, a saint who survives execution
* Theme(s) (choose one): subterfuge, corruption, justice, pranks, courtly love
* Setting: long road en route to a shrine

That's a light of characters. Alas, we can only enter two stories. I wanted to come up with something allegorical, so I wrote "Playing With Fire."

Long after the wine had begun flowing, and shortly before it would spill, three boastful tongues wagged as they bluffed their way through the game. The antes escalated, as did the tenor of the conversation. It started innocently enough...

"You two need me," said one. "You know you do."

"We got along just fine without you," said the second, sounding slightly sloshed.

"I agree. You did," the first countered. "But you've gotten soft. Now, I support you. I give you a bed to lie in."

"You may be strong, grounded. But in time, I can wear you down."

"Ooh! I'm trembling."

The third finally spoke.

"You both seem to forget," he said, coolly, "that I was here at the beginning. Well before either of you came along."

"That may be so, old man. But I could crush you now."

"And I could snuff you out like that."

Their insouciance proved too much. His temper flared, and he upended the table, scattering the cards. Seeing the smolder in his eyes, they realized they had crossed a line.

The Earth quaked.

Water started running at the mouth, babbling words he hoped would placate their friend. But his anger was not to be extinguished.

"Game over," said Fire, striking a match.

Then something more down to earth in "The Storm."

I barricaded the basement door, and huddled in the relative safety of a corner, holding my little one close. I struggled to stifle the tremble that seemed intent on burrowing through my body, starting at my extremities, not stopping until it took root in my heart. I needed to be, or at least appear to be, brave for him.

We sat in silence as the storm raged above us. Mikey shuddered each time a plate shattered, or a chair splintered.

"Do you think my Legos will be OK?" he asked.

"Tell you what. If anything happens to them, I'll get you new ones."

"Really? Even the Star Wars AT-AT?"

"Anything you want, little man."

A momentary lull tricked me into believing the storm had passed. But it was just gathering steam, building to the next onslaught.

"Where the fuck are you!" Though slurred, the words clearly conveyed the sobriety of the threat.

"Ooh! I heard an F-word," Mikey said.

"I know. Don't repeat it. Ever. Not at school. And certainly not in front of Grandma. Promise?"

"Promise. I'm scared, Daddy."

"I am, too. But don't worry. It will be over soon. And in the morning, Mommy won't remember a thing. She never does. You'll see."

It was weird writing about an abusive, drunken wife, as wife is neither. But the prompt didn't say a "treacherous husband...."

There is no Janet contest, so this is it for the week.


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