The Orb from Beyond

One of my favorite weekly photo fiction prompts is Sunday Photo Fiction.

I always enjoy the artwork from Al and his Mixed Bag.

That first day, the Orb floated down to us, gently, cautiously.

It was nearly transparent, but not quite, as though it were using some sort of camouflage to allow for the proper background, but blurred, like it couldn’t get it quite right.

It didn’t matter. What mattered was inside. The beings were similar to us. They stood nearly two meters tall, varied colors of flesh, though most in that first Orb were light colored.

“We come from the next planet,” the shortest one said. “The planet farther from the galaxy’s star.”

There was no need for translation. They spoke our language adequately. They admitted to studying us for some time. They had also let us know they were coming — in peace they told us. We had readied in case they lied, but that was three cycles ago. They hadn’t lied.

I was there the day the Orb landed. That image is frozen in my mind.

I’d dreamt of traveling to other worlds since I was a boy. Now here I was, on board one of their Orbs, heading to their planet.

I couldn’t wait. The name of their world played over and over on the tip of my tongue: “Earth.”

 

Well played

Sunday Photo Fiction time (I’ve been away too long) and another opportunity to turn a picture that’s worth a thousand words into a picture of 200 words or fewer — hopefully.

Where to go with that oh-so-harmless-looking well?

“Back to the well,” Jax said, a wry smile on his face.

It was a running joke. A well with no water, sandwiched in an alley and flanked by a flower bed that never needed watering. No one knew why. The soil was permanently wet and the flowers forever nourished.

“I’m welling up,” I replied.

The running joke had become a game. How many bad puns could you come up with before drawing a blank.

“Well said,” Jax answered.

“Well played,” I replied.

“Well enough?”

“I’ll allow it, though I don’t feel well about it.”

“Well done.” Actual awe in Jax’s voice.

“Well, I am the best.”

“Well, why not feel that way,” he said. “You’ve done well for yourself so far.”

“Ouch, a double helping of wellness,” I mocked.

“That doesn’t count,” he jumped in.

“Well, if you’d have waited I would’ve had another retort,” I smirked. “But you were well ahead of me getting out a response.”

He looked at me, then back at the well. It just sat there, not even echoing our bad jokes because there was no depth to it. Jax had no response.

“Well,” I stood up. “I guess I win.”

Friday Fictioneers: Moving down river

A weekly photo prompt challenge from Rochelle that I’m excited to delve into. My first attempt at Friday Fictioneers. Check it out too, so you can take a shot at it. And see if you too can keep it under 100 words.

Last night the kids took to dumping an old shopping cart into the muck.

Ever since the power plant up river had built a dam, Laketown had dried up.

With no river lifeline, the jobs had set sail along with the fish.

Even the schools were dwindling. Most of the time my two didn’t go, and I didn’t see much point in sending them.

We’d be shoving off too, and soon. Before I spent my last twenty on a forty. The RV was on empty. And so was I. Not sure which one I wanted to fill up more.

 

The long road forward

An interesting photo here. Much to ponder. Plenty to take in. A beautiful morning. Now, to write about it in this week’s edition of Sunday Photo Fiction.

Sunday Photo Fiction

I stopped at the edge of town. The road veered eastward, giving me no other choice. I set my bag down and turned to look one last time at the village that raised me.

But my time had come. I was ready to become a man. Venture into life. Explore the unknown. Find out what was around that eastward bend.

No one was pushing me out of town. My folks weren’t telling me I had to move out. There was no rush for me to leave. Yet I had to.

I’d vowed not to return until the time was right. I needed to move on. Make some money. Make Mom proud. Show Dad I could do what I set my mind to. Take my lumps and get back again.

I stretched my arms wide. Twisted at the waist. Drew in the deepest of breaths to smell the fresh, spring morn.

I picked up my bag, turned around and walked home.

Tomorrow. That would be best.

How blogging is making me grow as a paid writer

As a journalist of more than a decade, I’ve been getting paid to write for years.

Most of it has come as a full-time reporter/editor, but I’ve done a little freelancing on the side — always great to pick up some extra dough (and extra exposure) from someone outside of my day-to-day realm.

But until recently I’d never done any blogging. With the release of my digitally published (read: nontraditional route) debut novel “The Soul Detective” I’ve obviously wanted a little more exposure. Like so many of us, I’ve researched just how to do that. Blogging was the No. 1 suggestion.

In addition to the added exposure, the shocking bonus value has been my own creativity. Journalism is often a somewhat controlled, somewhat semi-stagnant writing environment (trust me, I know). But since I’ve begun blogging, I’ve found myself creating ways to explore a type of writing freedom in my everyday work. Suddenly, because of the creativity and all-freeing power handed to me via blogging, I’ve found myself using more descriptive words that had not previously entered my occupational material. And often it happens without effort. The words just pop out onto the virtual paper.

I’m loving it because it’s such a novelty to see words that rarely enter my vocabulary suddenly cropping up in my work.

I haven’t had any intention of yielding from blogging. And this only encourages me to continue to do it. Yes, it’s extremely rewarding personally. But now it’s bearing fruit professionally, too.

 

Searching for an answer

A challenging Sunday Photo Fiction this week — at least for me. But that just makes it more enjoyable, testing a writer’s skill to see what they can come up with. With that, off we go into a thickening fog that is quickly consuming everything our eyes perceive.

foggy

As the fog swallowed the bridge, the waters calmed. The waves that had been slapping the shoreline were now simply pawing at the sand that warmed Johnny’s toes.

He dug them deeper before he turned to Jules.

“So, what do you think?”

She glanced at him and then looked away, staring somewhere into the fog that now enveloped the Atlantic Coastline as far as the two could see.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I know it’s not much of a response, but it’s the only one I have now.”

Johnny let out a soft sigh — something between frustration and resignation.

He put his arm around her shoulders to pull her close. She shrugged him off.

“I love you, Johnny,” she said. “But it’s not the right time.”

The fog had sifted its way ashore, lapping at Johnny’s toes, Jules’s sandals.

Johnny said nothing. Instead, he watched the fog climb his legs, swirl around his midsection. His eyes followed as it climbed Jules’s bare legs, for she was standing now. Soon, its density had grown so thick, he couldn’t see her.

From somewhere not close, he heard her.

“Bye, Johnny,” her fading voice said. “I won’t forget you.”

The Family Bog

Another chance to dwell on a beautiful photo and see what springs to mind courtesy Sunday Photo Fiction. One of my favorite exercises, regardless of where it takes me.

50-03-march-9th-2014

The flood of emotion swelled  when I realized what picture had fallen from the stack.

Twenty-some years old and the photo was still as vivacious as ever. The old camping spot.

The last place Dad had been happy.

Tommy and I were in our late teens the last time we’d camped there. “The Family Bog,”  Tommy had dubbed it.

While my brother and I cherished the spot, Dad downright loved it.

“Catch and release, boys, that’s our game,” Dad had told us every time we dropped our lures. “Not that we’d eat anything out of that pond anyways.”

My eyes wandered across the various greens and yellows splashing  the photograph. I smelled the moss on the water. Heard the birds in the trees. The frogs sung us to sleep, while the crickets and campfire battled for our attention. Felt the stone of the landing where we dangled our feet and lines. Heard the dull clack of the pebbles  when we hit the floating stone in the middle of the rock.

Then I heard my dad’s voice a week after that last trip. Sitting at dinner, eating mom’s pot roast.

“Cancer. Eight weeks.”

He got up and left the room.

He was gone forever seven weeks later.