I figured today’s prompt was a good one to close out November, NaNoWriMo, and the NaNoWriMo editions of 5MinuteFiction. How’d it work for you.Mine fell sorta flat. Maybe because I’m doing revisions this month and not new writing? Hmm, who knows.
Congrats all! Their entries are below along with a poll for you to vote in and decide this week’s WINNER! Be back tomorrow morning at 9:00 Eastern to find out who wins!
“Cursed sleeves.” Kenshin swore aloud as he tried, yet again, to fix the trailing ends of his formal kimono sleeves so they didn’t hinder his movement. Doing his duty was one thing, of course he would never ignore a summons from his daimyo. He just didn’t understand why all this frippery was necessary. He was supposed to be a samurai, a warrior, not some simpering woman, sweet smelling and layered in delicately embroidered silks. Despite the ornate kimono, his status was clear. Even dressed for court, his swords were in their usual spot, snugly nestled in the folds of his obi.
“Murakami-sama better appreciate this.” The low grumble went unnoticed by the hangers-on he passed in the corridor. They might be dressed alike, but it was very clear that these so-called advisers would not pose a challenge, should he find a reason to oppose them, so, for the most part, they faded to the side to allow him to pass.
“You summoned me?” he murmured as he bowed, straightening to look his liege in the eye.
“I need a favor from you, my friend.” The daimyo paced restlessly, eyes fixed on the floor as he concentrated on just exactly how to explain what he needed. “It’s my son.”
“Hiroshi-kun?” Kenshin’s breath caught, surely his lord didn’t know the truth. His life flashed before his eyes, and he lingered on the last memory he had of his lover. He took a deep calming breath, waiting to speak until he was sure his voice would be steady. “What did he do, get some pillow girl pregnant?”
“Nothing like that. But it’s time he left home and lived life away from his mother’s influence. He’s much too womanly, always going on about art and music. As a friend I ask for this favor. Take Hiroshi under your wing. Teach him what it means to be samurai. Protect him from my enemies and his own foolishness. There is no one else I trust to do this for me.”
Kenshin bit his cheek to keep it from twitching. ‘He knows’ his mind taunted. ‘Any minute now the guards will appear to take you into custody. You’ve been sleeping with his son, he can’t forgive that.’
“As you wish, my liege.”
School had hardly been back in a full week and he couldn’t seem to think about anything else most of the time.
First grade. The playground. The time he kicked a home-run with bases loaded in kickball. Mrs. Laramie’s class and how she always smelled funny. The heaters in the classroom, the old kind that were big and metal with a hundred coats of glossy paint and they had to fill with water. Opening the windows during the winter when an unexpectedly warm day happened because the hot water couldn’t be drained fast enough.
The first time he was allowed to stay up late enough to watch all of ‘Gone with the Wind’. Seeing his father cry while watching the final episode of M.A.S.H. Crying when his father died.
Heidi, the first dog he ever knew. The time she ran ahead and attacked that copperhead that was on the trail.
Christmas at the mall. The first time he ever saw Santa Claus in real life.
All of these memories and more passed through his mind as he steeled his nerve. Lilly Khols was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life. It was all so strange and he didn’t really try to understand it. But this was something big.
As his entire life (that he could recall in just a minute or so) passed before his eyes, Stanley Weeber reached out and yank Lilly’s pigtail and boy did he yank it but good.
This just might be love, he thought.
As Juris fell, he realized he’d overplanned. He’d lived 114 years, done good, had few regrets. He’d always figured he wouldn’t have time to see it coming, so he ritually reviewed his life, most every day for the last 30 years at least. The good parts he smiled about. The bad parts he tried to learn from, and the regrets he tried to banish. He’d gotten quite good at the review – enough that the whole “life flashing before your eyes” thing was close to literally true – and summonable at will, and it always brought him a smile.
There really wasn’t any way he’d have been able to foresee the cascade of failures that sent him over the edge of a hundred and fortieth story balcony in Dubai. If he had to go, he supposed, it was quite the dramatic step to take. So he he thought about his life, and smiled.
Problem was, by the time he’d reach the 30th, he was bored.
It was happening in slow motion, like in some clichéd movie. David saw the gun pointed at him, wielded by the girl who had been the head of his fan club before he’d taken a restraining order out on her. He remembered, in that instant, all the stupid crap he’d done to get to this point, the fame and fortune. How could he have possibly thought that selling his soul was a good idea? At what point in his childhood Sunday school lessons had they glossed over the fact that it was a colossally bad idea?
‘At least I’m going out with a bang… like Cobain, Lennon…’ For a second, he wondered if they’d made the same deal. Then the trigger was pulled, a loud bang… and then Ember was in his arms, slumped down limply. A bullet hole was visible in the middle of the white blouse, quickly becoming stained red.
“I… I couldn’t let it happen…” she whispered, before the light left her eyes.
Darci found herself alone in her thoughts. After talking to her youngest sister about what happened back when Darci was in college…it all became clear.
Darci thought back to how terrible she treated Jamal back when they first met. He apologized for accidentally dropping a bucket of red paint on her head…and she attacked him verbally every chance she got.
She thought back to when they were on dance committee’s back in high school. Jamal tried to be fair and listened to everyone’s ideas…and because hers weren’t good (even she knew it) she attacked him for telling her so.
Darci thought back to when they were in college and she baked cookies for her then boyfriend. Jamal ate them all…and for some reason, she baked twice as many to leave some for Jamal.
She thought back to when Jamal came to her dorm to warn her about her boyfriend cheating on her. In his anger, they shared one of the sweetest kisses she’d ever known. That kiss ended her relationship with her then boyfriend. Because of the anger she’s always had for him…she didn’t believe what he claimed and blamed him for everything else that happened to her.
She thought back to a month before, when she saw her ex boyfriend married to Jamal’s ex girlfriend…the woman her ex left her for. Darci couldn’t handle it. Seeing them happy together…she turned to alcohol.
Jamal was there, drinking with her to make her feel better about herself.
That’s what started this whole sham of a marriage, wasn’t it?
Except…it didn’t feel like a sham anymore. Hasn’t for a while now. Darci fought her feelings that have done nothing but grew.
But, it’s been growing all her life, hasn’t it? Love has been growing all this time. Right before her eyes. Darci was just too stupid to see it.
Her vision grew bleary…the tears making the view from her window run together like water colors. She saw all the times Jamal showed his love for her, and how she fought him at every turn. Darci groaned mercilessly at all the chances she missed at making their marriage for real. Jumping up, she decided it was time to make things right. Just as she grabbed her purse and turned towards the door, her door knob was twisting…
When the door opened, it was Jamal.
He was holding those ominous annulment papers in his hands…