One last thing

Day 6: Address
No Novel November 2019

Painting of a low-rise apartment building complex - Israeli Apartment House by saltytowel on DeviantArt

Cora leaves the black suit at home and covers her shock of red hair with a stocking cap despite the summer heat. Although no one would likely recognize her after what’s happened during her time away, she’s not taking any chances. The last thing she wants is for some former “friend” to shanghai her down memory lane as she wraps up this final piece of unfinished business.

This used to be their apartment. She feels a twinge of heartsickness looking at it, sweet nostalgia for another life in which she thought she had everything she wanted. But it’s easily silenced. That’s exactly what she came here to do, after all.

She closes her eyes, draws a lung-bursting breath, and lets it out one molecule at a time.

I forgive you, Jeremy. For not understanding. For being weak when I needed you to be strong. For running away without leaving. I release you to yourself and take back what’s mine.

The air is fresher somehow in the next breath. Lighter, freer.

She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a handful of gravel that she hucks at the bottom right window. The familiar face that appears there drops instantly from anger into gobsmacked disbelief. His eyes widen, his jaw drops.

Cora grins and waves.

Then there’s a crack of blue lightning so bright he falls away from the window. When he scrambles back through the curtains, she’s gone.

He wonders if she was ever there at all.

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

Preserved

Day 5: Pickle
No Novel November 2019

Mason jars monochrome by rollingfishays via Deviant Art

I watch Gramma prep the glass jars by washing them with blue soap and clouds of hot water before roasting them in the oven as high as she dares set it. The massive pot—the one she used to bathe me in when I was little—hisses under its lid, fixed to boil.

She waves a thick, soft arm in my direction without looking. I scurry from my seat at the kitchen table to join her. It’s the first year I’ve been allowed to watch, and I don’t want to miss a single step.

We don’t speak as she pours plain white vinegar into the jars. Or as she measures coarse salt in the palm of her callused hand. Or as she pinches dill and cracks pepper and spoons coriander. I pass her the sugar; she likes them more sweet than sour. The contents of the jars cloud and swirl until I can’t make them out even by squinting.

We work in silence until she puts the lid back on the roiling pot and starts the timer.

“Why do you save up your memories like this, Gramma?” I whisper.

She pulls me into her side. The puff of air between us smells like yeasty dough, like brine, like home. “You just never know when you might need them,” she says.

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

Nothing to See Here

Day 4: Nothing
No Novel November 2019

Polymer clay sculpture of a sideshow carnival magician with cards, white dove, and white rabbit - The Magician 4 by wingdthing via DeviantArt

“Any volunteers?”

Several hands shot up from the crammed benches in front of the ramshackle stage. The carnival had arrived at its final stop, and the crowd had showed up with first-night enthusiasm. Everybody loves a big finish. And Mister Mysterio, Master of Magic and Mysticism, intended to give them one.

“Yes, you! The lady with the intriguing hat. Come right up. Don’t be shy.”

The volunteer tiptoed up to the platform where Mysterio took her hand with exaggerated chivalry and walked her to an oversized box festooned with patchy stars.

“And now, Miss…Sandra, thank you…Miss Sandra will enter the Shadow Box where I shall make her disappear!”

Sandra giggled nervously and stepped inside.

Mysterio rolled his shirtsleeves to the elbow. “Nothing up my sleeve.” He took off his worn bowler. “Nothing under my hat.” He stomped on the boards. “Nothing under the stage.” Then he bowed to the lady and closed the door with a click.

With a flourish of his wand, the magician tapped three times on each wall of the box. There was a sound like blowing a bubble in reverse, then he turned the knob and opened the door.

The only thing inside was an evaporating green mist.

The crowd erupted, and Mysterio luxuriated in the applause. But when he headed offstage rather than back to the box, the cheers turned to angry murmurs.

“Ah, ah,” he chided, wagging a white-gloved finger. “I promised to make her disappear. I never said anything about bringing her back.”

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

Flight & Fixation

Day 3: Window
No Novel November 2019

Black and white photo of a car driving on an empty highway at night under a sky full of stars - Night drive by theedgeofme via deviantart

FLIGHT

The scenery rolls by at a steady clip. During the day, I prop my feet on the dash, letting them bake under the windshield’s magnified sunlight. At night, I tuck them under me in the seat to keep warm. All the while staring out into the desert.

Cacti, mesas, windmills, and piñon pines dot the landscape and leave faint trails as we speed past. Glowing eyes peer from the blue-black night, pretending to be stars dipped too low in the sky.

Nothing unusual.

I don’t know where we’re going, and I’ve forgotten where we’ve been. There’s only the drive, the open window, and the pursuing bright shadow flitting behind each mile marker we pass.


Macro close up of a blue eye - Eye 7 by cantthinkof_aname via DeviantArt

FIXATION

His eyes draw me in, the depth of their blueness unrivaled by Caribbean seas, their golden flecks worthy of Midas’ jealousy. These eyes that have caressed the curves of countless women and now rest only on me. I get lost here, soaking in his unbroken gaze, reveling in being the sole focus of his attentions.

They say the eyes are the windows of the soul.

Too bad these eyes aren’t attached to one anymore.

These stories are part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Day 2: Hidden
No Novel November 2019

A dark forest with a bright light at the center leading out - first light by sprocket2cog via deviant art

He emerges from the jungle overlooking a sudden valley and frowns. This isn’t what he wanted to see after three weeks of hacking through vines, subsisting on MREs and a LifeStraw.

The valley below is empty. Lush, green, vibrant with life—but empty.

It takes him an hour to skitter to the bottom where he sits on a boulder to soak in unoccluded sunlight. He’s so tired of being wet. He’s decided to move to Arizona when this is over. Which is going to be sooner than expected, given the utter lack of an ancient temple of chaos where there should be one.

After a few minutes, he sighs and glares at the valley. Might as well look around. Even if the expedition is a bust, he’s still a scientist, dammit.

He starts at the edge of the clearing and works in tightening circles, examining stones and plants. None of it is interesting, but he keeps going, mind wandering. What will he tell the department? The investors? His wife?

He falls down hard halfway to the center.

Rubbing his head, he looks around frantically, but there’s nothing. He can clearly see the rise of the jungle in front of him.

He can also see his own shadow looming over him, cast against a wall that isn’t there.

“What the—“

Before he can finish the sentence, his shadow’s black hands shoot out, clutch his shoulders, and yank him through the invisible wall.

And the valley is empty once again.

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.