Winged Fruits

Photo courtesy of WikimediaImage’s collection at Pixabay. The following story was originally written as an entry to Ad Hoc Fiction Issue 153, which required the use of the word ‘Trim.’ (The type of tree in the image is not the same as that in the story, but that hardly matters.)

We planted a stratified samara after he had taken root. We didn’t know which was bigger then, but when we were finally able to bring him home from the hospital, he had an early lead.

His advantage was short-lived, however. The staked sapling that sprung from the seed grew into its own stability quickly. His growth seemed typical, but became inconstant with the fickleness of his heart. By their third year, the ash was firmly vertical, while he was crooked and coiled into himself in discomfort. We pried him upright every month thereafter so we could trim the tree to his size, partnered victims of our desperate, fleeting control.

The tree now looms with its own clusters of keys — rich, green winged fruits unfurling toward the earth. Despite its wondrous sprawl, the ash won’t reach his heights. And neither will we, beneath them both, committed to the shadows we’ve borne.


Photo prompt courtesy and copyright property of Dale Rogerson supplied for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields‘ Friday Fictioneers challenge. Others’ drabbles based on the image are available through the Inlinkz button at the bottom (and participation is welcome).

A cotton candy web hangs between dusk-touched branches. The pink and purple threads aren’t disguised in the lowering light, their allure only heightened by the pastel sky.

Flinches flexing through the web show I’m not the only one engrossed by it, the flap of wings too frail to sound. A clutch of legs nimbly tightrope the strands with reverence for the patronage. The legs and wings tangle in creative differences as the wings are worked into another masterpiece of the gallery. And as I marvel at the cruel truth behind art, I fail to notice mosquitoes artlessly siphoning my blood.

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Row 23

Photo courtesy of Unsplash user Tuce. The story below was originally written as an entry to Ad Hoc Fiction Issue 152, requiring the prompt ‘Gum’ be used.

The cruelty of assigned seating cornered me against a wing. At her boarding, I feigned a nod of greeting, but acted astonished by the majesty not yet below while ignoring her struggle to store her luggage. She ultimately managed as I marveled at the baggage handlers’ utter ennui beneath us and how the window’s reflection divided the task and tedium between us in Row 23.

She took her seat with a smile and I attempted to reciprocate, lifting at least my ears. To my relief, she declined the unintended invitation to talk. Instead, she wordlessly proffered a piece of gum. I meant to dismiss the stick, but the sincerity in her eyes stalled my cynicism. Though I was heading in search of warmth, I knew no climate would match the kindness expressed in her almandine irises, so I cherished our conjoining by the margins of our armrests in Row 23.

Dolce Strokes

Photo prompt courtesy of Anshu Bhojnagarwala for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields‘ Friday Fictioneers. Others’ efforts can be found below.

The music of her touch resonates through the stone. She traces the curvature of its information with pianissimo fingers the way she shyly strummed the song of our first dance on my shoulders.

Notes swirled with pinks and blues and greys play to the tune of Devoted, a spectrum of experience buoyed by the notion. An acrid dolore registers from Father, a title in staccato she argued against including, though she ultimately had no control.

With dolce strokes of her tender chisel, she etches and Husband, then caresses her amendment and tucks the marriage license I’d prepared into a bouquet.

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Photo credited to Suzanne D. Williams via Unsplash


The reflection of my chest stammers imitating the reflex of life, but there must be more within me. My inquisitive fingers hovering, fibers of skin accede to a delicate unthreading of my intimate costuming.

The first discovery is a spring of blood that wells onto the plateau of my belly, then traces down through my navel valley, streams between wispy hairs, and drips away between my legs. Next unearthed are my ribs, the mythical source of give-and-take. The rebar arches that held me together also held me in. At last, my archaeological excavation uncovers a nest. Its unhatched contents stir as I cradle it, then blossom into crescent wings that gravitate to my back and encompass my entirety.

Fluttering before the cheval glass, my chest swells with new exuberance. As I lift, I watch the spring of blood still dripping away like my past life unfulfilled, though swollen with possibility.

Originally an entry for Issue 151 of Ad Hoc Fiction, requiring the use of the word ‘Skin.’

The Itch and Burn

Photo courtesy and copyright property of C.E. Ayr lent for the use of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields‘ Friday Fictioneers writing prompt group. Join in as a contributor or reader below.

We blamed it on his allergies, the itch and burn of his eyes contagious. Tributaries of tears emptied in the bay of space between our bodies, a gap more distant than we know how to mend.

I knew he was allergic, but he insisted; said it’d be nice to have some little critter busying around the house again. We thought it’d give life to the space we can’t fill.

He refuses to take medication; says he’s fine. I’ve gotten rid of the cat, but the tears still stream, and my eyes itch and burn every time I look at him.

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When Happiness No Longer Bubbles Over

“The tinker and his tightrope-dancing badger.” Illustration by Sanchi Ogawa, published in Japanese Fairy Tales by Teresa Peirce Williston (1904), Rand McNally & Co. (The date should make it in the public domain.)

As I’ve heard tell, the tinker never lived up to the saintliness of his friend. Tea-kettles crowded his mansion, which he warmed against his body in his bed every night, moonlessly hoping to awaken another friend from the sleeping metals.