Tag Archives: spirits

The Lonely #fridayflash #fiction

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Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflash. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

The Lonely is from the “way back” archives. It’s based on my all-time favorite song, Thunder Road, by Bruce Springsteenwhich, to me, defines freedom.

The Lonely is rated PG-13, based on my standards.

The Lonely, by Deanna Schrayer

Mary jumped when the screen door slammed behind her. The family left three days ago and the quiet was enough to make every noise deafening. She tuned the radio propped on the window sill to a scratchy AM station, the only one that still played her favorite music. Now Roy Orbison was crooning for the lonely, as if he could read her mind. 

She would not feel lonely.

She sauntered to the porch swing, and adjusted the pillows, squirming like a cat, her battered dress slipping up her thighs.   

The jar flies stopped singing just before a boom of thunder rocked the porch, sending Mary bolt upright. She saw the downpour coming, and sucked in the humid air. Oh how she loved a good thunderstorm!

The wind picked up and Mary rushed to go inside. But she stopped cold when she saw him. Frankie stood at the edge of the porch steps. 

“Are you ready?” he smiled, that same demure smile that unraveled her like a ripe peach so many years ago. Now.

“I, uh,” Mary stumbled, “How did you get here?”

“Never mind that,” he said, risking a boot on the first step, “just come with me.”

“Come with you where exactly?”

“Mary, don’t turn me away again. You know why I’m here, let’s go.”

 “Frankie, I can’t.” She felt her voice crack, her heart rise to her temples. She refused to let him see her cry, to let him make her cry. She turned to run inside.

Faster than the lightning that bounced around his feet, he was against her. She could feel the heat vibrating off his chest. Her legs trembled. But she didn’t try to run as he pulled her auburn curls from her collarbone where they’d melted, nor as he placed his hot lips on her shoulder. Mary wondered how she could be frozen and melting at once. This is what he’d always done to her.

“Mary,” he whispered as he brushed her cheek, “I know you’re scared, but you can’t run anymore. You can’t hide from me, you know that. I will not leave without you.” 

 “Frankie, I….I can’t.” She pushed off him and fled straight into the rain, now hammering the earth with a vengeance. 

As the mud splashed her bare feet Mary gulped down the cries. Why wouldn’t he leave her alone?  Twenty years he’d been gone, then all of a sudden he was here, demanding she leave the life she’d grown accustomed to, just to be with him.

She glimpsed the dilapidated covered bridge through the haze. A faint light shining through the overgrowth halted her. There sat the Camaro, the same brilliant cherry red it was the last time she’d been in it. And there was Frankie, leaning against the grille, strumming his guitar. 

That night replayed itself with vivid clarity. 

Prom night. Frankie had asked Mary to be his wife in front of the whole class, just after they were crowned king and queen. How could she say no in front of all those people? She let him slip the ring on her shaking finger as she nodded her head yes. 

But she couldn’t let him think she meant it. 

There was no question she loved him. Still, she didn’t want to be the reason his dream of becoming a rock star faded to nothing.  He was driving her home when she asked him to pull over. Of course he obliged – he’d thought she wanted to show him just how much she loved him. 

Frankie pulled Mary to him and kissed her for a long time. “God, Mary, I love you so much.” He freed her long curls from the silver barrette and smothered her neck with kisses as his fingers loosened the spaghetti strap of her emerald gown. 

“Frankie…” With effort, Mary pulled away from him, “I need to talk to you.” She hung her head, couldn’t look in his eyes. 

“What is it? Are you okay?” Mary felt his eyes move to her stomach and knew he was afraid she was pregnant.

She pulled the ring from her finger and held it out to him, “We can’t get married Frankie. I want you to chase your dreams, to play your music.” Her breath came in quick, heavy gasps, but she’d said it, she’d told him the truth as she’d promised herself she would.

The ring sat in her hand between them like a hot potato.

 “Mary, I love you. You are my dream.” He slammed his fists on the steering wheel and held tight to it, his arms stretched taut. He didn’t look at her, just sat staring through the windshield. “My music means nothing if you aren’t there to share it,” he said.

“I love you too Frankie, I love you with all my heart. I just can’t marry you. It…it doesn’t feel right.” Mary leaned towards him as if trying to get him to look at her.

Without a word Frankie jerked the car into gear and spun the tires through the mud as he pulled into the pounding rain.

The ring bounced out of Mary’s hand and hit the dashboard, landing on the console with a raucous ping!

“Frankie! Slow down! I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” She held onto the door handle, and grabbed the dashboard with her other hand.

He was up to fourth gear already, the engine screaming.

“Slow down!” She was sobbing now. “Frankie, you’re going too fast! I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry!”

His eyes did not meet hers. They didn’t seem to meet anything. 

*

Now Mary stood staring at Frankie leaning against the car, playing his guitar. Smiling. And she remembered.

All these years she’d been running to that bridge when he showed up, running away from him, and she never saw it. She couldn’t get past the point where she’d looked over and saw Frankie’s forehead cracked open, fresh blood streaming down his nose, his eyes fixed open.

That’s as far as her memory had taken her.

But now she saw it all.

She’d tried to open her door, but it was no use. She was stuck. She caught a glimpse of her face in the cracked rear view mirror that had twisted toward the passenger side. In one jagged piece of glass she saw her own head bleeding, in another, her own eyes open.

She knew now, and she flew to Frankie’s open arms where, once again, he took her breath away.

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The Perfect Wedding Gown #fridayflash #amwriting #fiction

Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflash. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

Your lovely comments on my Friday Flash, The Message, two weeks ago, encouraged me to continue with the story and I’m happy to say I now have the next scene: this week’s Friday Flash, The Perfect Wedding Gown. I’m not too fond of the title of this one though so please do toss out your suggestions.

Although The Perfect Wedding Gown works as a stand-alone, it’s even better if you read The Message first. This story is rated PG, according to my standards.

Image by Jeff Tabaco via Flickr
. Image by Jeff Tabaco via Flickr

The Perfect Wedding Gown, by Deanna Schrayer

“What do you think Mom?”

Elana and the salesgirl were looking at me expectantly but I hadn’t heard a word they’d said. Instead of the two wedding gowns the salesgirl held I saw those letters, the misty words my dead sister had scrawled on the bathroom mirror: EL DIe. I glanced at the girl and furrowed my brow at Elana, making her believe I was possibly developing a migraine, (I certainly couldn’t relay the truth of my wandering thoughts). “I’m sorry,” I said, raising my hand to rub my forehead, “I’m not seeing them clearly enough.”

My daughter looked to the salesgirl. “Can we dim the lights a bit please?” The tiny girl scampered about, obliging us in an instant. She hung the dresses on the rack next to the mirror and disappeared behind the upholstered screen. In a moment the harsh industrial lights were replaced with the same soft pink glow the lobby of the bridal shop reflected.

“Are you all right Mom?” Elana said, placing her hand on my forearm, “Do you need to sit down?”

She looked scared and I realized I must look like death. “I’m fine honey, just a little bit of a headache, that’s all.” I smiled at her, willing her to forget about me altogether and get on with enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime day. “That one,” I said, pointing to the ivory gown on the left, “That will be gorgeous on you, I know.”

Elana smiled and seemed to release a long pent-up breath. The salesgirl returned. “Have we decided?” she said.

Elana clapped her hands together. “Yes,” she said, running her hand down the front of the smooth strapless dress, “I want to try this one.” She had a hard time controlling the dance in her feet as she bounced on her tip-toes while the salesgirl moved the dress behind the screen.

I saw my sister then, in Elana, the way she had always twirled around, showing off when she got a new outfit. I remembered that day Lucy had come in from shopping with her friends and rushed to her bedroom to put on the leopard print cat suit. She’d been so excited and all I could think was how ridiculous she looked, in that jumpsuit, like she was all dressed up to go trick-or-treating. Lucy had never dressed like a normal person – every piece of clothing she owned was outlandishly exaggerated – but her style turned heads, that was for sure; the cat suit in particular had turned the most wrong one it could have.

I heard the swish swish of satin and taffeta and looked up from my reverie. I was astounded by the beauty standing before me that was my daughter. The wedding gown she wore was the closest I’d seen (of the six she’d tried on so far) to the one she’d dog-eared and starred five times in her Bride’s magazine. Simple as the dress was – ankle length, strapless with an A-line waist and just a peek of lace at the hem – Elana absolutely shined in it. Her long, dark tresses were pulled back in a French twist and secured with a pearl butterfly clip, a few strands curling down around her flawless face and touching her sharp collar bone. Her cheeks were full and pink and her sapphire eyes seemed to stand out as the pièce de la résistance of the ensemble. My daughter was glowing like the new bride she was about to be.

She had been standing perfectly still before me, not even glancing in one of the six mirrors surrounding her, smiling like a five-year-old awaiting much anticipated appraisal, but now she pushed up on her tip-toes and pirouetted. She looked for all the world like a ballerina in a music box. Still, she kept her eyes on me. “Mom?” she said when she came to rest and held out her arms, “This is the one, I think,” and she bit her bottom lip.

It was obvious her mind was made up but I knew she was seeking my approval, as if her mother’s word had always been and would always be the last one. I sat staring at her, greedily holding on to this rare and cherished moment.

“Mom?” Elana said again and I looked into her eyes and told her, “You are the most beautiful young woman I have ever seen.”

Elana squealed with delight and bounced over to where I stood in front of the fake fireplace. She wrapped her arms around me and squeezed me, tight. “Oh Mom, its perfect, isn’t it?” she whispered in my ear.

“Yes, yes honey, it sure is. Colton will love it.”

Elana pulled away from me and ran back behind the screen. “I’ll hurry so we can go get some food in you,” she said, “Oh Mom, I’m so excited!” Her voice was a bit muffled behind the tufted screen but I would’ve felt that excitement had she not said a word.

I opened my wallet to get my credit card and breathed a sigh of relief that this day had turned out to be as much fun as I’d hoped, that my dead sister had not ruined it after all. When I looked back up Lucy’s eyes shot daggers at me, from all six mirrors.

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The Message #fridayflash #amwriting #fiction

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Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflash. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

I’ve had a lot going on lately and haven’t written much fiction (though I’m writing A Lot of nonfiction) but I’ve missed posting for Friday Flash so I thought I’d allow this scene [from that novel I was writing a while ago] out of hiding.  I haven’t edited at all so I appreciate kind, constructive critique.

I hope you enjoy The Message, rated PG, according to my standards.

The Message

The Message, by Deanna Schrayer

I don’t know why I was dreading this day so much. It should be one of the happiest days of my life, but I had this sinking feeling in my gut that something was wrong. But what? What could possibly be wrong about watching your only daughter try on wedding gowns?

I turned the temperature of the water up and let it pound the top of my head until it stung, hoping to wash away these horrid thoughts. Maybe it was just residuals of the nightmare I had last night. I needed to start the day over. When I couldn’t stand the heat any longer, I turned the water off and grabbed my towel as I stepped out of the shower. The room was freezing. It warmed as I dried off and slipped my robe on, but when I walked to the vanity a sudden chill ran over me. I reached down and turned on the wall heater, which shocked me like it does when there’s a drought and everything you touch causes static electricity. 

I looked in the mirror and was struck numb. I felt the scream rising like a corpse from the grave, but nothing came out; my breath caught in my throat and stuck there. In the steam on the mirror was the letters “EL DI”. Goose bumps shot up as if I’d developed a sudden allergy to air. 

I shook my head to clear it. This had to be some optical illusion. I hadn’t slept well last night, I was just tired. Yes, that’s it, I was seeing things. But as I stepped closer to wipe the mirror with my towel another letter began to form. I watched, unable to move, as the curve of an “e” slithered through the mist, deliberately scrawled right after the “i”. I stood stone still, as “EL DIe” was scratched on the mirror. 

When I found the strength to move, a surge of anger snaked its way from my gut to my head, giving me superhuman strength. I screamed as I wiped the ugly words away, “God damn it Lucy!” I couldn’t see her, but I knew she was there. I smelled the Opium, I felt her. 

I jerked the cabinet door open and grabbed the Windex, and paper towels, then frantically washed away every speck of evidence on that mirror, yelling at my sister as if she really was beside me. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Why in God’s name do you want to scare me like this?” 

My tirade continued as I worked to release the anger, spraying every crack on the walls, scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing. “What do you want? Why are you doing this to me?” As I jerked around to clean the tub my foot got caught in the rug and I went sprawling across the floor, twisting my ankle as my knee slammed the stone tiles. “Ow! Shit!”  I didn’t move, but something, someone, grabbed hold of my ankle and pulled it out of the rug, causing me to crawl away with gusto. 

I sat on the floor, trembling, but otherwise afraid to move, unable to move, but then my arms began flailing every which way, reaching out to strike my sister. They connected with nothing but thin air, but I knew she was there. And I hoped I had punched her, hard.

After a few minutes I was exhausted and shaking so hard I thought I might break in two. My ankle was throbbing and I felt like I was coming up from under anesthesia. Lucy was gone, I couldn’t feel her anymore. I wrapped my arms around my shoulders and was surprised to find I was bawling.

I heard El coming through the bedroom, her voice as cheery as I’d ever heard it. “Mom, you ready to go?”

Slowly I picked myself up off the floor and turned the water on to drown out the sounds of me clearing my throat.

“Mom?” Elana called again.

“I’ll be right out honey,” I said, hoping I sounded excited.

I didn’t know why my sister was haunting me with these chilling threats. She’d ruined enough of my life when she was alive and I was not about to let her ruin any more of it, now that she was dead. But I didn’t feel the conviction as strongly as I should have. I should’ve been paying more attention.

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