A lucky week of flash for me. After being stunned by a win over at MicroBookends with “God of Diggers”, I woke up today to the results of Flash! Friday vol. 3–9: “Slobber and Sympathy” nabbed an honorable mention while “Ripple Effect” earned me a sleek Dragon Badge:
Shout out to the judges of Dragon Team two, Tamara Shoemaker and Mark A. King (exquisite flash writers themselves), who have the unenviable task of sifting through so many incredible entries. We worked with the element “theme” this week, with the focus on “a fleeting moment”. And our picture prompt came from NannyDaddy:
“Slobber and Sympathy”
On Monday, he turned up in the parking lot with his soggy overalls and hound-dog frown. By Thursday, you bring an extra umbrella. He looks at it as if it were an alien skeleton, but then takes it.
“Looking for something?” you ask, the question nagging you all week.
“Dog,” he grunts.
“Ah.” Poor sod. You remember Pepper, your gangly German Shepherd, and the LOST posters you drew, complete with blue crayon tears. Her orange nerf ball remained under your pillow until puberty. “Family dog?”
His brow rumples. “Got no family.”
Now you get it. Navigating the drizzle is a preferable purgatory to a hollow apartment. Your condo doesn’t allow big dogs, but Ralphy has enough terrier-spunk in him to fill the space. The occasional gnawed-up Nike is a small price. “How long you had him?”
“Saw him one time. Gave him some bologna.” The man glances at his fingers. “He licked me.”
Now you understand. A brief ray of kindness piercing the fog of urban anonymity. You’re glad you brought him the umbrella. “You want to see him again.”
“Sure do,” he sighs.
The wistfulness in those two words makes your tear ducts tingle.
He rubs the back of his hand. “Gotta find out if the mutt had rabies.”
Whenever rain spatters the Paradise parking lot, she rises from the pavement like petrichor. Her form shivers like the reflection in a wind-ruffled puddle. What is a ghost but a dire event that ripples across the pool of time?
Five years, I’ve watched shadows replay Cecilia’s last moments against curdled clouds. I know the tragic song by heart: her giggles, the staccato of her stamping feet, the squeal of tires, her mother’s ragged cry, the fade in and out of sirens.
Here she comes now, a carousel whirl of colors. Red ladybug boots, yellow bumblebee raincoat, green umbrella. She stomps and hops and crows the magnificence of her splashes. The driver’s too busy balancing an apple pastry on his latte thermos to notice.
I leap forward waving my arms. It startles her from her puddles. There’s a flash of recognition, but my snarling face chases her between the parked vehicles. Away from harm.
The squeal and thud cuts my pantomime short. Her mother screams.
I’d witnessed her death since before she was born, and hell if I’d just let it happen. The violent death of a child ripples both ways across the pool of time. The death of an old codger like me won’t–not even if he’s her grandfather.