Free Fiction Thursday – How We Danced

Good morning, everyone! How’s your Thursday going so far?

Last night I watched part of The People’s Choice award show while I ate a late dinner. I was pleasantly surprised when Nathan Fillion won, not surprised at all when Hunger Games won, and felt fairly old and out-of-touch when the musical performers were on stage. I think I may finally have to admit I’ve reached the same stage in life my parents did when they didn’t recognize any of the songs my teenage self listened to, nor did they care to learn. Pretty soon I’m going to be yelling at kids to get off my lawn.

Well, maybe not that soon.

Okay, time to quit nattering about my creeping decrepitude and get on with the fiction. This week’s story is a contemporary fantasy about love, old age, and how a special moment can be recaptured even when we think it’s long gone. I hope you enjoy “How We Danced.”

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HOW WE DANCED

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2012 Annie Reed

Tonight the test hurt.

Claudia let out an involuntary cry as the lancet pierced the pad of her index finger.  Blood welled out, a fat red droplet, and she looked away.

“I’m sorry, Mom,” Gary said.  “I had to dial the thing up.  Last time, I hardly got enough on the strip.”

Claudia kept staring at the blank ivory wall of her room.  She didn’t need to see the numbers on the tester’s readout to know her blood sugar was too high.  She’d had a fuzzy-headed feeling all day, the muzzy, sleepy grogginess that went hand in hand with her disease.  No amount of wishing made the feeling go away, and now the high number would be charted, and tomorrow the staff would take away her pudding.  They thought she wouldn’t notice.  They didn’t realize she noticed everything.

Like the sickly-strong scent of the floral room freshener plugged into an outlet on the other side of her room, the aroma meant to mask the odor of bedpans and ammonia.

Like the steady moaning of the woman in the next room when she fell into a fitful, nightmare-filled doze.

Like the gradual loss of compassion in her son’s eyes as he made his twice-weekly evening visits, always accompanied by the twice-weekly testing of her blood.

Her family couldn’t afford to keep her in a nursing home, and no one in the family could care for her in their own homes.  Gary was single, but his job barely kept him afloat.  Claudia’s daughter lived halfway across the country with a husband who had his own health issues.  Gary had explained the situation to Claudia when he’d moved her into this group home after her stroke.   He’d talked to her like everyone did, like she was a little child who couldn’t understand anything.

Claudia understood everything.  The stroke had left her unable to talk, unable to walk, unable to do almost anything for herself, but it hadn’t left her unable to think.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – First Steps

Good morning, everyone! It’s time for Free Fiction Thursday, which means it’s also one more day closer to Friday. Yippee!

This week’s story is “First Steps,” a blend of contemporary fantasy and women’s fiction. Fifty years ago Callie fell in love with her best friend. High-school sweethearts who spent their lives together, Callie still loves her husband, but most days Jed doesn’t even know who she is. Frustrated with her life and worried about her future, things look bleak for Callie until one magical night when everything changes.

Enjoy!

 

FIRST STEPS

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2012 Annie Reed

 Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press

The first steps were the hardest.

Jed used to tell her that back when they were both in junior high and she complained to him about having to walk the balance beam in gym class.  Callie didn’t have the world’s greatest balance on land, much less on a four-inch wide beam of wood three feet off the ground.

“I’m going to break my neck,” she’d said over a tray full of cafeteria food.  “You just wait and see.”

Jed had smiled at her.  “Not your neck.  Your arm, maybe, or your ankle.  You know… stuff you don’t need.”

He’d stuffed a piece of french bread pizza into his mouth, pleased with himself.  Callie would have smacked him a good one if Mr. Thedes hadn’t been on lunchroom duty.  Mr. Thedes had no sense of humor.  He was almost as bad as Callie’s dad, who would break her neck if she got herself suspended for fighting with her best friend in the cafeteria.

The first steps are the hardest.

Jed had been right, but he’d also been wrong.  Second steps weren’t any easier.  Sometimes all you could do was take one step after the next and let your body walk on automatic while your mind drifted away somewhere else.  Some place pleasant.

Wherever you needed to go to get yourself through what lay ahead.

Callie parked in an empty space in the back row of the nursing home’s lot.  Monday evening, only an hour left for visiting, no wonder the lot was only half full.  Callie could have parked her car closer, but she needed the time—the extra steps—to prepare herself, especially tonight.

(read the rest of the story here)