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Archive for October, 2014

Once again, you get it right.

a diary of a mom

Last night, I posted the following on Diary’s Facebook page.

A little over a year ago, my dad sent us a beautiful set of brand new dishes as a (very) early Christmas present. I was thrilled, as I’d been dying to replace the ones we had. Brooke was not as enthusiastic. In fact, she would not, could not eat green eggs and ham or anything else off of the new dishes. For over a year, she has steadfastly refused to go near them.

Tonight, without a word, she went into the cabinet and grabbed a dish. A “new” one. She de-sandwiched her ice cream sandwich on it. She brought it into the den and ate her unsandwich, as though eating off of a plate that she’s been avoiding like the plague for more than a year was the most natural thing in the world. As she brought the plate…

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In Aber Falls, North Wales

In Aber Falls, North Wales Dreams and fantasies 

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Round 2 of the Flash Fiction Challenge came at a seriously busy time for me.  I had about 5 hours of total writing time on this story.  My prompts were:

Genre: Sci-Fi
Location: An all you can eat restaurant

Object: a water gun

Where the Water Flows

 In near-future California, the need to create alternatives for energy and water sources foments extremists on both sides of the divide.

Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light…The Eagles, Hotel California

*****

“Hello, Sis.”

My hands began to shake. I nearly dropped my mobile onto the floor. I took several deep breaths before responding.

“Well, Tony. Imagine hearing from you. It’s been, what, four years?”

“Something like that.” The pause, this time, was at the other end of the line. I heard a sharp intake of breath, and a sentence travelled quickly along its exhale. “Sorry I wasn’t there. You know. For Dad.”

I looked down at my feet, counting the tiles that outlined the space I occupied. “Well, I somehow managed to get through. Though probate is turning out to be a bitch, since they want me to prove you’re dead before they’ll settle the estate.”

“What?” Tony’s laughter echoed down the line. “Being an international criminal doesn’t exempt me from inheriting? ‘Wanted – At Large’ isn’t enough to write me off? I want my half of that diner, sis.” We both laughed a bit awkwardly, and then Tony turned serious. “I can’t stay on the line. I need to see you. You still opening the diner every morning?”

“Yes, since Dad died. Every morning at 6. I took leave of absence from the lab.”

“Be there early. All next week”.

*

I turned on the grills and started the fryer heating. The incessant whirring of the air conditioner created a soothing white-noise for my pounding head. Four days had passed. I hadn’t slept much. I looked out the diner windows. The sky lit with purples and pinks, and the shining halos were beginning to glow. My childhood had been illuminated by those halos. Everyone had believed Mom and Dad were crazy, building their diner off the 15 Freeway at the infamous Zzyzx road exit. They’d thought the name would draw crowds. At first it did. The real draw, however, was the halos.

First installed in 2013, the landscape of the Mojave Desert was now filled with thousands of reflective mirrors and towers that created those shining orbs. They had fascinated me. I studied their effects, and began to experiment with other ways to help our drying environment. Creating potable water in the desert, without wasting energy? That became my obsession. I’d achieved it.  My Hydrologic towers, filled with hygroscopic brine and photovoltaic cells, dotted the desert landscape.

I prepped the first batch of biscuits for opening, and tried not to remember the halos were also what led Tony into eco-activism.

*

I heard a thud coming from the back hallway, and tensed up. Seconds later, Tony came around the corner.  The pulse in my neck thrummed; that rakish smile was the same, but weariness had etched itself into Tony’s face. My only sibling hesitated, staring at me. “The window in the Men’s is still broken. No one thought to get that fixed?”

I practically sprinted into Tony’s arms. I felt a bit of my weariness ease into the embrace. I felt like home.

*

I poured us both a cup of fresh coffee, and we slid into the booth beneath the chalkboard sign. Still in Dad’s handwriting, it read “All you can eat breakfast, $10.99”. I hadn’t brought myself to erase it yet, and I caught Tony’s eyes lingering on the old-fashioned script.

“How was he, at the end?”

“Surprisingly, better than I was.” I took a sip of my coffee, setting it down with a gentle clink on the Formica table top. “I think he was just ready to be with Mom.”

“Yeah.” Tony stared out the window at the halos lighting the sky, and turned a critical eye on a tower beneath one. “I wish I could have…” he trailed off.

“So did he.”

We stared down at our cups for a few minutes. Finally Tony cleared his throat.

“I need your help.”

*

“It’s a gun?”

“Not in the sense that you’re thinking of.  It uses your technology, Sis. It pulls moisture from the air, in any environment. The water collects here”, Tony pointed to a small square within the structure of the gun. “Once there is enough water, this cartridge containing compressed carbon dioxide solidifies the water.”

“Into an …ice bullet?”

“Exactly!” Tony beamed proudly. “This secondary compartment compresses the gases released, and …projectile. Activated by three sensors on this side, of course, so no accidental firings happen. But I can only get it to fire once. I  need more.”

I reached out to touch the box. Its width fit in the palm of my hand well, with the length easily four times that. The whirring of the air conditioner grew louder in my ears. I looked up at Tony when I realized it was not the air conditioner, but the sound of drones. Two or three, perhaps.

Tony’s face heated with anger. “You didn’t. You wouldn’t!”

I ached with sudden sadness. “I didn’t, but I would have. If I’d known. If I’d known this” I pointed to the gun, “was what you needed me for. It’s intended to get through security, anywhere? This proves no matter how much we loved you, Mom and Dad and me, that the stories about you were true. The embassy. The train. The hospital. You did them all, didn’t you? To save what? A few hundred birds?”

Tony sighed, and stood up. “I wasn’t involved directly in the hospital, no, but the organization was, yes. It’s unfortunate. I didn’t want children to die.

“Well, they did. And now here we are.” I picked up the box and stood, walking to the window. I could see the drones approaching from the west, flying away from the halos which could damage them.

Tony approached, and then stood beside me. I felt the warmth of an arm around my shoulders, and smelled the soap, clean and simple, that Tony used.

“You know they won’t hold back because you’re with me, right?”

“I know.”

Tony sighed. “You know I would never have hurt you, don’t you?”

“Yeah. I know that too.”

I slid my arm across, grasping Tony’s hand. We entwined our fingers. We waited.

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