Dear friends and readers,
If you’re a frequent visitor then you’re likely aware that I’m fond of flash fiction, and Ms. Rebekah Postupak’s Flash! Friday weekly competition in particular. I found this week’s prompt incredibly touching, and wrote a little story to go along with it. Unfortunately, Friendship clocked in at just under 600 words.
Now, I’m pretty good at hack and slash editing, but to cut over 400 words from this piece, I believe, would have killed it. Or maybe the writer in me just don’t want to let go. Either way, here it is, my story written to the tune of this week’s photo prompt and cooked to medium rare with the dragon’s bidding “friendship”. I won’t call it an entry, because the word count is way overboard for that and I’m judging this quarter anyhow, so I’m automatically disqualified from the running.
You, however, are not. I do hope you’ll head over to her blog and check out this week’s Friday!Flash prompt, and maybe even join in the fun. This is Alyssa Leonard’s last week judging, y’all make it a good one. – Jess
Two pecks o’berries ain’t so bad the first mile or so Rose carries ’em along that hot, sandy path. She passes by my front porch every day on her way to Mrs. Ellery’s house, off to tend those wild twin toddlers. Terrible twos, my ass. All them boys need is a good willow switchin’ to set ’em straight. And poor, spindly Rose a child herself. Them boys give her what for, but what else is she gonna do? A body’s gotta eat, and food don’t come free.
Well, not until that drifter come to town. He waited for her to pass every day, come and sat right there in the grass. Dressed all fancy-like, too. I thought he couldn’t be up to nothing good. Damned if he’d done her any harm, though. Everyday he offered her a biscuit to chew on, and a bottle of cola.
One day, though, he brought somethin’ else. He sat down at the side of the path, as always, and set beside him a neatly wrapped package. He pulled a bundled-up biscuit out of one coat pocket and her drink outta t’other, as usual, and set ’em down next to the gift.
Rose never sat with him. Same as every other day, she ate her biscuit and drank her coke, and thanked the stranger. I suppose he weren’t no more a stranger, not to her thinking. Even so, she wouldn’t sit with him, and as far as I could tell, she didn’t ask about the package. As she turned to leave he handed her the brown paper parcel. When she refused to take it, he opened it up and handed her a pair of shoes. She took the shoes with grateful tears and sat beside him to put ’em on. He smiled, though I could see the tears shining in his eyes all the way from my rocking chair.
That day, after Rose went on about her business with a brand new pair of shoes and a full belly (and an even fuller heart I reckon), he finally came to sit with me. He told me a story about his girl he’d left home while fighting in the war. His girl died in childbirth, along with his baby girl who they’d already named Anne-Marie. Over the years since, and it must have been nigh on twenty or more if the gray in his beard told time true, he’d often thought of his girls.
Coming into Philadelphia and spotting Rose right off, filthy and sun-dried, his heart caught in his throat and ached for the poor child. In his grief, anger rose at the injustice that he should have fought to save so many and couldn’t count on anyone to save his own. Shame and guilt rose to take its place. Then, an idea occurred to him, a seed of hope planted deep inside.
He couldn’t adopt Rose – that wouldn’t be right, not him a man on in years and a bachelor to boot – but that didn’t mean he couldn’t provide for her.
Together, we watched her become a little girl silhouette as the glaring sun beat down on her. When tears afresh sprang to his eyes, he hastily wiped them away with a kerchief. I think that’s when I fell in love with him.
From that day on, we sat on my front porch and rocked together, a barren spinster and a broken stranger, and waited for our little friend to come.