Star of the Silver Screen

Welcome to my contribution to Friday Fictioneers. Each week, about 100 writers from around the globe respond to a photo prompt with their 100-word stories. You are welcome to play along.

This week’s photo comes to us courtesy of Santoshwriter. It reminds me of a song from a well-known Disney movie, and in researching both the song and the movie, I began to think about the elderly people in our society who have so many experiences and so much wisdom to share. May we all learn to listen before it’s too late.

Copyright Santoshwriter

Copyright Santoshwriter

Star of the Silver Screen

“Drip, drip, drop, little April shower . . .” The familiar music fills my mind with memories. I try to smile. A stroke has left my face heavy, my speech slow, but in my mind, I can still see the room filled with easels, the two fawns, the hundred or so artists.

“Grandpa George helped draw Bambi.” My granddaughter has read my thoughts. The eyes of her three-year-old son grow bright. For a moment, I am admired.

I open my mouth. Only a whisper emerges. My age and infirmity frighten my great grandson the way that crashing thunder frightens Bambi.

***

Follow the link for more details about the making of Bambi.

The Band Plays On

This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for October 10. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create.

This week’s photo is courtesy of our hostess, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. My story this week weighs in at 99 words.

Copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The Band Plays On

Teri took a deep breath and opened the door. Light from the windows illuminated her son’s music room. Layers of dust shrouding recording equipment served as a grave reminder. She would never again shout for him to turn it down. Today, all she wanted was an opportunity to hear “that noise” once more.

“Honey.” Teri jumped at the sound of her husband’s voice. “You okay?”

Teri nodded as he wrapped his arms around her. “I saw his two friends at Best Buy yesterday. They’re working on a new recording. I think they need this stuff more than we do.”

The Long Road

Author’s note: This is my entry for the weekly Writer’s Hangout challenge on LinkedIn. Find the group over there and join in if you’d like to play along. This week the prompt was “It’s a long road.”

 

 

Sten [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sten [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“Parenthood is a long road.” How many times had Laurie heard her mother say that?

 

When Laurie was a little girl, her mom uttered those words repeatedly. Occasionally, she spoke them in exasperation. Usually, however, Mom would recite the adage while lecturing her oldest daughter on life and the joys of parenthood.

 

From her earliest memories, Laurie wanted nothing more than to be a mom. The way her own mom talked about parenthood sowed seeds of expectation made Laurie all the more eager to give birth to her own offspring.

 

In adulthood, Laurie found becoming a parent more difficult than it appeared. The primary problem lay in finding a father for her children. Her first fiancé called off the wedding less than three weeks before the big day. Laurie spent the next decade nursing a broken heart.

 

Laurie’s professional life roamed from promising opportunity to tragic disaster. She could hold down a job and always received stellar reviews from supervisors and peers, but nothing she did filled the hole in her life. Her younger brother and sister married and had their own children while Laurie remained single and childless.

 

Requited love finally found Laurie at age 36. Cautious by nature, she took the courtship slowly and finally walked down the aisle the year she turned 38.

 

Although Laurie now had someone to father her children, conception proved challenging. Two years ticked by. Despite her happy marriage, the inability to have children of her own remained a constant source of sorrow. The pain deepened as she and her husband said goodbye to aging family members—a favorite aunt, an uncle, her husband’s father. Laurie’s circle of life remained incomplete as no children came to fill the voids these losses created.

 

One Sunday afternoon, Laurie received an unexpected call. Her 65-year-old mother had been rushed to the ER. Undiagnosed heart disease killed her before Laurie or her siblings could get to the hospital.

 

At the wake, Laurie sobbed uncontrollably. “I’m so sorry, Mom. I’m so sorry.” Only her husband understood the barren sorrow that tore at her soul.

 

A week after the funeral, Laurie’s husband calls her over lunch. “Honey, I just received a call from the Department of Family Services.” Laurie’s mind reels. The couple had applied with several adoption agencies only to be denied because of their age, and foster parenting always seemed to Laurie like nothing more than another series of heartbreaks.

 

“Wade, you know I can’t deal with having to say goodbye to foster children. I cried for weeks after each semester when I taught school.”

 

“They want us to adopt.”

 

Laurie’s heart leaped into her throat. Tears began to stream down her cheeks as Wade explained that a second cousin of his had been arrested for drug use. “Her child has severe emotional problems, suffers from radical attachment disorder. DFS can’t find a foster family to take her, and they’re reaching out to family members as a last resort.” Wade paused, “Honey, I can’t think of anyone who could love this little girl any better than you. It won’t be easy, but we’re a team. We’ll do it together.”

 

Laurie swallowed hard. It had been such a long road to parenthood. “You know what my mom would say,” she finally managed.

 

“Parenthood is a long road,” the couple said in unison.

 

Click HERE for more information about Radical Attachment Disorder.

For Survival’s Sake

Creative Commons, photo by Eugene Zelenko, share alike 3.0

Creative Commons, photo by Eugene Zelenko, share alike 3.0

 

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Mirjam’s weak voice echoes through the cavern.

Swallowing the bitterness rising in his throat, Jan nods and coaxes a flame to consume the dry wicker of his dead son’s bassinet. His responsibility is now to Mirjam and her children. He discovered them here after the village collapsed, killing his family. Resisting tears, he makes funny faces to entertain two-year-old Noah, who is starting to fuss.

Their colony in the Outskirts had been founded during the Dissonance by those choosing to dwell underground rather than battle the dangers on the surface. After 300 years of subterranean life, the inhabitants couldn’t endure exposure to the sun. Although the surface war had ended, evolutionary developments rendered most surface vegetation and the meat of surface-dwelling animals inedible to Jan and his four companions. The colony’s old storage cave provides shelter and a limited cache of supplies.

Bartholomew and Nathaniel, Mirjam’s twin boys, clamor into the cavern from the tunnel where they were searching for supplies. “Find anything good?” Jan asks.

Nathaniel shakes his head and holds out a nearly empty knapsack. Jan wonders at the maturity that has aged the child beyond his eight years.

“I found water,” Bartholomew, the more adventurous of the twins, announces. “Nate wouldn’t let me climb down to look for swag fish though.”

“Good for Nate,” Jan replies. “And good for you for finding that water, Bartholomew.” He tousles the boy’s unruly locks.

Jan feels a knife twist in his soul as he watches the pride brighten Bartholomew’s dark eyes. He misses his own son deeply.

The knapsack holds a few lichens and a handful of gurba, cave-dwelling worms that have become the group’s primary source of nutrition. The twins help Mirjam sit up near the fire so she can turn the few edibles into something comparable to stew. She insists on preparing the meager meals, despite her illness.

Jan’s stomach rumbles as he eats his portion. Their supply of biscuits ran out a week ago, and the boys are finding less on each foraging trip. He worries that they might get lost in the passages or, worse, that an earthquake might crush them as the first quake crushed his family and the rest of the village. The high-ceilinged cavern is safer—although not completely free of danger—should another quake occur.

“I’m going with the boys tomorrow.” Jan addresses Mirjam abruptly.

The woman stares at him blankly. Usually Jan spends his days searching the surface for other survivors.

“The water—the boys aren’t strong enough to climb down to it. I am. If there are swag fish living in it, that water might save your life.”

***

Jan squeezes along the tunnel behind the twins. After a couple hours of clambering through twisting passageways, Jan begins to feel anxious. The boys have been exploring farther into the cave than he knew.

Suddenly, the passage begins to shake. The tremor isn’t strong enough to cause structural damage, but falling debris pins Bartholomew’s left leg to the passage floor.

“How much farther to the water?” Jan asks.

“Just a few meters, where the passage heads right,” Nate responds.

Jan quickly clears the debris from Bartholomew’s leg. It’s broken, but the boy’s cuts and scrapes don’t look serious.

“We might have some trouble on the way back, but your mom needs us to check that water. You stay here while I go down.”

Jan leaves the boys and soon emerges into an open space. Directly in front of him, the cave floor falls away. He grabs a loose rock, tosses it into the empty space, and listens for a splash. After evaluating the depth, he takes the rope from his knapsack and secures it to a stalagmite. Tying the other end around his waist, he prepares to rappel down the cave wall.

At the bottom lies an underground lake with a gravelly shore and space to camp along the far side. In the murky depths, Jan can make out the ghostly forms of swag fish, and he knows his new family won’t be dying—at least not today.