“You left the goals section blank,” the peppy young recruiter says, handing Jane’s intake form back.
“I want a job.”
“But this isn’t just any old job placement office, honey; if we don’t know your goals then we can’t help you reach them, so we need to build your dream, find the career with your name on it, develop an education plan and set you up with productive life skills, get you set to take all the steps you need on your own road to success and fulfillment just waiting for you!”
Jane sighs. “I’m fifty and staring down the barrel of fifty-one, I don’t have a college degree, I’m arthritic and post-menopausal, I’ve lost everything including my retirement and I don’t even have a permanent home, that’s how over I’m starting over, and I’m exhausted, please understand that, and frankly a paycheck next week is a lot more inviting to me than some gauzy daydream career at the end of a road I can’t afford and just might die on, don’t you think, honey?”
Every week, Denise Farley at Girlie on the Edge hosts the Six Sentence Stories flash fiction blog hop. The rules are simple and few: 1. Write a story. 2. Exactly six sentences. 3. Use the prompt word. That’s it. Come join us! It’s fun! This week’s prompt was REACH.
Becca reads the “Lifestyles” article about wife-carrying contests in Minnesota, then clicks out with a snort. That’s exactly the kind of thing Richard would have liked, manly and competitive and funny.
She’s walking past the plate glass window when the vastness outside it, the view itself, seems to knock her sideways. Not now, agoraphobia, she thinks, I have to go to work, but it’s too late. The room dips and spins and she drops to her knees.
The laughing wife in the article photo flashes. Yes, she could use a wife-carrier right about now. But Richard’s not coming back.
I’ve been letting flash fiction languish, but I’m back! Every week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a carried wife.”
“…so then, they couldn’t figure how to break into the safe, so they got some dynamite and blew it up!”
“All that money, blown to shreds. My dad’s friend the cop said when they got there it was still fluttering around like snow. All that cash, just confetti.”
“Order now, kids,” the teacher snapped.
Jane had turned her head, feigning a deep interest in the bare trees outside the homeroom window. Thirty years later, her face still burned like fire at the memory.
Her father had gone to prison, and she hadn’t seen him since. The safecracker’s legacy.
Every week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the safebreaker’s daughter. Who is she, what did she do, and where? Go where the prompt leads you!”
“Jane,” says the social worker in a there-there-just-don’t-get-riled tone, “I know you’re frustrated with how long your situation has been going on, but I must ask you not to discourage the other members of the group, and remind you that you need to just relax and trust the process.”
Jane snorts. “Clawing your way up out of unemployment and poverty and finding people who will give you real, tangible help is not a process. The word process implies that something is happening, something is changing. So let’s call it what it is: a stagnation, or the Abyss of Bureaucracy and Judgment, or a Sisyphean Task.”
The social worker flushes red as applause sounds.
Every week, Denise at Girlie on the Edge hosts the Six Sentence Stories flash fiction challenge and blog hop. The rules are simple: (1) Write a story, any genre. (2) Six sentences, no more and no less. (3) Use the prompt word. This week’s prompt was PROCESS. Fun sixes from other authors are at the link. Come join us!
Caroline peers over Jane’s shoulder at Jane’s reflection in the mirror, her breath hot. “Why doll yourself up?” she says. “You’re not going to find a boyfriend here.”
Janes snaps the compact shut. “I’m not here for a boyfriend. I’m here because it’s my job.”
The restroom door slams shut as Caroline huffs out. One step closer to fired, Jane thinks.
It’s not a job, it’s a war zone. War zones require war paint. Magical protection: It’s not blush, it’s a shield. Transformation: Look like who you want them to think you are.
Maybe she should buy some woad.
Every week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in need of a coat. What is being painted and why? Go where the prompt leads!”
“You should ride along to the gym with me some time,” Michelle tells Jane, flexing her arms.
“I hate the gym.”
“That’s a terrible attitude,” Michelle insists. “It’s not good for you, just sitting in class and at work and studying all the time.”
Jane glowers. “I walked three miles to the bus stop this morning through snow and ice and lugging this backpack of books, and I’ll do the same thing going home, so I’m pretty sure I’ve got exercise down, thanks.”
Every week, Denise at Girlie on the Edge hosts the Six Sentence Stories flash fiction challenge and blog hop. The rules are simple: 1. Write a story. 2. Any genre. 3. Six sentences exactly. This week’s cue was EXERCISE. Fun sixes from other writers are at the link. Come join us; it’s great brain exercise and a good time!
Becca sips from her garnished glass. “What is this?” she asks, surprised.
“Strawberry and mint,” Michelle tells her.
Becca sips again. “Not bad, for fancy food.”
Becca gulps. “New-fangled. Yuppie. Millennial.”
“New-fangled? My grandmother made this, like her grandmother did. It’s old-fashioned as the hills.”
Becca frowns, sips again, raises her glass to Michelle in appreciation. “I was raised by a mother who thought broccoli and eggplant were ‘weird food.’ Her only seasonings were salt and pepper. I learn something new with every meal invitation I get.”
“What shall it be next time?” Michelle laughs. “Saffron? Or lavender?”
Every week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: ” In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes strawberries and mint. The combination evokes color contrast, scents, and taste. Where will the combination take you? Go where the prompt leads!”
Shrug. “It’s the rule. If you’re still here after three months, we make way for others who are actively looking.”
Jane bristles. “I am active. I’m here at least twice a week. I’m applying, interviewing. I want a job. I need a job.” Tears press.
Eyes drop. Silence.
“Just wait,” Jane says, “until you’re fifty, with all the skills and triple the experience, and nobody wants you anymore.”
Every week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: ” In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about growing older. It can be humorous, dark or poignant. It can be true or total fiction. It can be fine wine or an old fossil. Go where the prompt leads!”
“El vestido,” Jane corrects. “It’s a masculine noun.”
Chelsea blows out an exasperated breath. “Women wear dresses! How is a dress masculine?”
Jane shrugs. “I didn’t invent the language. Try learning the article along with the word, and don’t look for male or female quality about the object itself. A pen may look phallic, but la pluma is feminine.”
“Well, it’s stupid.”
Jane picks another flash card. “The test is tomorrow. Be glad you’re learning Spanish and not Polish. Polish has five genders.”
Every week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about gender. It can be fixed or fluid. Explore the topic on your own terms and open your mind to possibilities and understanding. Go where the prompt leads!” Fun flashes are at the link. Join us; it’s fun!
“Jane, have you done this week’s supply order?” Michelle barks, snapping her fingers.
Jane feels that familiar ice creeping down her spine, and with Herculean effort looks steadily at her screen and keeps typing. “It’s on my list to get the supplies ordered as soon as I finish these court letters.”
Fingers snap again. “It needs to be done.”
Jane calls up a steely stare to meet Michelle’s molten one, and the contest is on.
When images of women giving that don’t-you-even-think-about-fucking-with-me stare come up, my mind goes straight to Game of Thrones. I couldn’t pick just one, so here are all of these intrepid ladies.
Every week, Denise at Girlie on the Edge hosts the Six Sentence Stories flash fiction blog hop. The rules are few: 1) Write a story in six sentences, no more, no less. 2) Any genre. 3) Use the cue word; this week’s was CONTEST. Fun sixes from other writers are at the link. Join us!