Jack’s wife and daughter waved from the pier as he sailed away. Later, a rogue wave rolled over his craft. He wished that he would live. Afterward, he clung to the capsized boat, wishing that he would see his wife and daughter just one more time. He wished for warmth and soon the sun rose high above the horizon, feeling like a warm hug. Then he saw them, along with the bodies of a hundred others who had been dragged out to sea when the tsunami hit the small group of islands they had known as home. Three wishes granted.
A thread-thin gold chain with a teeny picture of Blessed Mother holding baby Jesus hung around my mom’s neck. I noticed it as she bent her head down in prayer. The charm caught sunlight and radiated a bright yellow into my eyes—it soon hurt to gaze. I looked away and said, “Mom, your necklace is practically blinding me.”
“Count yourself lucky,” she whispered.
I rolled my eyes and walked towards the stairs. The afternoon sun spilled over the carpet, making the fibers ablaze. One step up, another…
A constellation-pocked blue dress swelled into my eyes. I, too, felt bliss.
“You're too young to go to an R movie,” her father insisted.
“But Steve's 18, so I can get in with him,” the fifteen-year-old replied.
“You're too young to see an R movie is what I meant. Subject closed.” Her father turned and walked away.
She ran into her bedroom and locked the door.
She decided to make up another excuse when Steve called back; the truth was too humiliating, especially now.
Then she pulled the plastic stick out of her sweater pocket and stared at the little window in the center which was no longer clear.
Jack, on his ninth pint, will moderate his drinking.
Marge, lighting up a Marlboro, is going to quit smoking.
Hilary, chomping on pizza, will go on a diet.
Martin and Harry, knocking back tequila shots, are going to get fit.
David, ogling the bimbos at the bar, will be faithful to his wife.
Colleen and Alan, babysitter hired, dancing as if they’re still eighteen, will spend more quality time with the kids.
It’s past midnight, so technically their resolutions are already broken.
Yes, overall they’re a sorry crew.
But before you scorn them – think, which one of them are you?
Victor was nervous as he eyed the crowd. He’d modeled a thousand times before, in every imaginable kind of clothes, and he knew he was good. But today he was in a new location, trying a new style, and he was jittery as he approached the runway.
He looked around and saw that his fellow models looked as unsettled as he felt. He’d definitely been there, and silently wished them good luck.
“You got this,” he thought. “You’re a solid performer, and the companies and crowds like you. Have some self-confidence.”
“Next we have Victor!”
He breathed deeply. Show time.
We pass dozens of them huddled in doorways of closed shops along the cold city streets on our way to the pub.
There appear to be more of them each year.
“Happy New Year” some of them say in zombie tones in a pathetic effort to get a coin or two.
We give nothing.
I seem to be the only one who sees the irony in this greeting from those without hope.
Yet after a few pints they will be out of sight out of mind and I too shall drink the night away unhaunted by the poor souls outside.
Something different this week, and I should confess that my part (the last six words in brackets) isn't fiction at all. This is a collective work assembled mainly from three emails FFF has received this week – GL
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Beth and Lisa, exploring the old Jerusalem on Christmas, would arrive at Via Delarosa, the passageway traversed by Jesus Christ carrying his cross. The path leads to the Holy Church of Sepulchre, built encompassing the crucifixion-site and the first tomb.
They lined up with other visitors. Soon they noticed four elders sitting near a store-front were playing a traditional game using a pair of dice. Suddenly, four security personnel appeared and started to interrogate the players, a blatant case of indignant profiling based on look and presumed ethnicity.
“Power against human decency,” exclaimed Lisa.
“Peace thus remains elusive,” opined Beth.
She screamed a lot before the end.
When Jaxx said she was infected and had to be put down, he just wanted to kill her. The madness in his bright eyes allowed no argument. He threatened to shoot anyone who disagreed and leave them for the Walkers.
I felt sorry for the nameless girl who crossed paths with our supply run and expected us to save her. Instead, Jaxx did ... things. He always was a twisted bastard. Not one of us, but she deserved better. He had known her before, unlucky enough to meet again in less civilized times.
Peter had an acronym. A current necessity. Some more attractive than others, admittedly. And not IBS – though linked.
PIBS was his, occasionally categorised as PRIS. In that he shared a syndrome, almost as vital as an acronym. Even stuff deemed hateful six months back was acceptable now. What wasn’t now acceptable was de rigueur then. Got that, Harvey?
PRIS – Persistent Rectal Irritation Syndrome – sounded like a life sentence.
Scratchy Arse, they labelled him when, albeit furtively, assuaging his grievance.
Now, in this enlightened era, he scratched and yelled his acronym: “PIBS: Permanent Itchy Bum Syndrome!”
In his circle, who argued?
Temperature hovering near 8-degreeC, it drizzled the entire day matching to city’s gloom from a recent upheaval due to a super-power’s sudden political decision. Greta Reynolds, a German devotee attending the Christmas Eve Mass inside the Church of Nativity, whispered to her friend Marla Dieter: “In no way, I could have postponed my trip to this holy event, based on the action of a single person. I thought we Germans already taught the world the consequences of unchecked dictatorial power.”
Ms. Dieter responded: “History has a tendency of repeating itself. I don’t believe in this case we learnt that yet.”
Over a century ago a monk from a western land came to Mar Saba, not far from Jerusalem, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and dwell in a cave by the monastery.
He'd witnessed war, the massacre of civilians and wanted to cleanse his soul. However, the "Furies" tormented him even more on cold, clear desert nights. There was no holy protection.
"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" he cried out into the indifferent mountain air.
Not many days later, certainly not 40 nights, he threw himself off the sand-coloured cliffs to oblivion...or perhaps into the light.
“So are you making any New Year’s resolutions?”
“None at all?”
“Because I can never keep them and, when I don’t, I get frustrated.”
“How about you?”
“Well, I’ve made one.”
“What is it?”
“It’s no big deal, really.”
“Come on. No, wait. Let me guess.”
“Take up golf?”
“Learn a new language?”
“I give up. What is it?”
“To be more content with what I have.”
John was hiking on Triund Trail leading to a gorgeous valley surrounded by the Himalayan Mountains. Soon, he noticed many of the fellow young Indian hikers had constantly been munching on brand-named salty-snacks, while gulping sugary-drinks. Previous morning, he’d read a newspaper article in which the doctors were reporting higher rates of obesity coupled with diabetes in the younger generation.
Now, John understood. As the westerners started to restrict these junk foods, the multi-nationals found new addicts in Asia. These profiteering companies have capitalistic obligation to the Wall Street without any moral obligation to the citizens of poor nations.
The sun hadn’t come out for days, and the townspeople were not happy. Sure--a white Christmas might be nice, but no snow was falling. All they saw were gray skies and cold winds.
Then, on Christmas Day, the clouds parted and the rays of the sun shone through. For an hour or so, the blue skies and warmth improved everyone’s mood and brightened the holiday. The gray returned thereafter, but for a brief period, the rays of light did wonders.
The residents were so ecstatic that they booked flights to Hawaii for next December. Warmth, vacation, and holidays--paradise!
Happy Christmas from Friday Flash Fiction, whatever your faith.
Once, everyone woke on Christmas Day to two gifts: first, everyone was nice to each other; and second, everyone shared wealth with those less fortuntate.
Remarkable things happened. Folk discovered that being nice to others meant they were nice back, which was pretty cool. They discovered that making the poor richer meant they could buy more: everyone became richer. They discovered that making people in poor countries well-enough off meant they only travelled to be friends with other people. And now that they weren't frightened, folk could spend less on protecting themselves. Everyone was richer and happier.
Happy Christmas, everyone.
I see him every morning, standing at the corner. The light there changes so fast that he can usually make it only to the first car stopped at the light. I always hang back.
But I feel bad for him in his ragged clothes. As the temperature drops, I worry about him.
He’s begun wearing a Santa hat. This morning, I pulled up to the light and rolled down my window.
“Merry Christmas, sir!” he said.
“Good morning,” I said, handing him my winter coat.
“Thank you!” he said, flashing a gap-toothed smile.
“Merry Christmas,” I said, pulling away.
Hi, I'm your Mrs Liddle, your health visitor. I've come to visit baby.
Is he well? Oh, good. Now you really mustn't wrap baby too tightly, you know, babies need to move their arms and legs.
Is he sleeping well? Yes, of course you do get pestered a lot with visitors all wanting to see baby, but I'm the important one, remember. My, you've had three kings and three shepherds already? Really? Well, if you say so...
Now, mum and dad, about these gold diving helmets you all wear. Baby's head isn't strong enough to support something like that yet...
Your heart took more direct hits than you could stand, still you kept your own counsel.
You could brace for life’s next messy, intricate adventure as it races toward you. But if you can’t countenance that, then retreat—drop off the grid, ignore texts and calls, hide indoors, eat from boxes. If someone does manage to make contact, bore them with details of your mythical back surgery: since the operation you’re walking on a cane, swallowing pain medication with debilitating side effects, and when you’ve fallen you’ve struggled to pull yourself up.
Chances are they’ll not call again.
Shawn raised his head from the sand. Wind lifted his lank, blonde hair away from his eyes, all while lifting his screams from beneath the monkey bars to the surrounding school buildings.
Everything smelled of mangoes. His left arm felt funny.
Mrs. Yamamoto reached to help Shawn up from the ground. She came with a strong cloud of L'Aimant perfume. Picking Shawn up by the cuff of his uniform shirt, she steadied him against the door of a nearby utility closet.
“What’s matter?” Mrs. Yamamoto asked in clipped English. “You hurt?”
Shawn raised his broken left arm.
“My arm moved.”
Devoid of any inspiration, but nevertheless determined to win at all costs, Mary-Leeann entered the writing competition many times over. Many of her submissions were merely rewritten copies of material written elsewhere, but another ploy was to re-submit the same entry several times, each with a different title.
She appeared not to understand that she was cheating – cheating the organisers, cheating her fellow competitors, but most of all cheating herself.
That she hoped to deceive everyone was perhaps the biggest insult of all. But then cheats often delude themselves into thinking that it's everyone else who is stupid.
Santa returned from a long night of gift-giving, only to find that someone had broken into his workshop and stolen his Christmas tree.
“Now who would do such a thing?” he asked noone in particular.
Mrs. Claus and Sparkle the elf came out of the house and walked over to Santa. Mrs. Claus handed him a cup of steaming cocoa. “We never heard a thing,” she said.
“Well, you haven’t shredded the Naughty List yet, have you, Sparkle?” he asked.
“Oh no, Santa, I would never do that. I wouldn’t want to end up on it myself, next year!”
Twelve-year-old Kula was staying with her grandmother on Hawaii’s Big Island for Christmas. While unpacking, she glanced out her window and saw an enormous, snow-capped mountain. Kula stood with her mouth agape, enchanted by its natural beauty.
“First time seeing snow?” Her grandmother asked.
“Yes,” Kula said. “I never thought I’d see it in Hawaii.”
“That mountain is called Mauna Kea. Poliahu, a Hawaiian goddess of snow, lives at the mountain’s peak.”
“Like how Santa lives in the North Pole?” Kula joked.
“Oh, she’s better than Santa, Kula,” Her grandmother said. “She’s real. In Hawaii, magic is real and year-round.”
John had fought the Viet-Congs for several years in the steamy jungles of Vietnam. Several of his fellow Marines were captured, spending years in Hanoi Hilton, the moniker for the torturous prison. Over the holidays, he and his wife were visiting their son Mike, stationed in Europe. Following John’s footsteps, Mike also joined Marine Corp. As a gift, he handed over to John a winter-jacket bearing the logo of his current vessel.
After thanking his son, John checked the label for the manufacturer. The inscription said “Made in Vietnam”. John enjoyed the irony, thanking globalization for bringing “Peace on earth”.
Grinning, I handed Hannah, my wife, her Christmas present.
Hannah squeezed the present. ‘What is it?’
“Open it.” I glanced at Malcolm, my brother, and winked. He shook his head.
Hannah unwrapped the present and pulled out a red bra and thong. She smiled and checked the label. Damn! I thought. Hannah’s smile faded. “I’m not a size eight.”
I grabbed the present from Hannah. “Sorry, that’s not yours.” I passed it to Sharon, Malcolm’s wife. “Sorry for ruining the surprise, Malcolm.” I need to stop wrapping presents for Malcolm, I thought.
“I’m also not a size eight,” said Sharon.