Flash Fiction Friday: A Second Chance

alex-blajan-95176-unsplash

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

Trish walked down the hallway, gripping her books to her chest, her lunch bag dangling from the fingertips of one hand, her head down, eyes on the floor. She felt the stares, heard the whispers and giggles, and saw the pointing fingers from the corners of her eyes.

At the end of the hall she bolted through the doors into the courtyard. She strode to a bench half-hidden by a couple large bushes and sat down. She placed her books on the bench beside her and sighed, then removed the baggie holding her peanut butter and jelly sandwich from her brown bag.

A shadow fell across her face and a hand set a can of Coke Zero on the bench next to her. Trish looked up into the face of an average-looking young man with light brow hair streaked with gold where the sun’s rays touched it—Brian Douglas, her church pastor’s son. He smiled at her.

“Coke Zero. Your drink of choice?”

She nodded. How did he know that?

“I noticed your brown bag and thought you might need something to wash your food down.”

“Thank you,” Trish mumbled between bites of her sandwich.

“Mind if I join you?”

Trish frowned. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Brian plopped down on the grass in front of the empty half of the bench. “Don’t worry, they won’t suspect anything with me talking to you. They all know where I stand on that subject.”

“That’s what I used to think.” Trish finished her sandwich and pulled out a baggie of celery and carrot sticks. She took one of each and offered the bag to Brian. It made her uncomfortable to eat in front of someone.

He took the baggie, helped himself to one of each, and passed it back to her. “So the rumors are true?”

She studied his face, his eyes, for any signs of judgment, but all she saw was compassion. She nodded as tears pooled in her eyes.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Trish popped open her Coke and took a long drink. What was up with this guy? He had always tried to talk with her at church, was always polite, but she hadn’t paid much attention to him. “Why do you care?”

There was a long pause as he looked at her. She shifted her position on the bench, his gaze making her uncomfortable.

Brian took a deep breath and released it slowly. “I’ve been interested in you for a long time. That’s why I always make an effort to talk to you at church.”

She quirked an eyebrow at him. “How come you’ve never made an effort here at school?”

“Well, you didn’t seem real interested when I approached you at church, and here, you’re part of a crowd that has no interest in me. I guess I thought I’d have a better chance getting through to you at church.”

Trish wrinkled her brow. Was he still interested in her after hearing the rumors? She’d just admitted the rumors are true. “What do you want from me?”

He leaned forward. “I’d like to be your friend, get to know you better, and see where that leads.”

“Did you miss my nod? The rumors are true. I … gave myself to Randall McQuade in the back seat of his car Friday night.” She choked back a sob.

“Trish, I understand you made a mistake and that Randall McQuade is the biggest jerk in the school to make such a fool of you.”

Tears spilled from Trish’s eyes and slipped down her cheeks. “My parents don’t know, but I’m sure it won’t be long. They’re going to be so disappointed in me. How can you, the pastor’s son, still have an interest in someone like me?”

Brian rose from the ground and sat on the bench next to her. “Trish, we all make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve a second chance. And you sure seem like you could use a friend right now.”

She sniffed and nodded. “Just so you know, he used protection, so there shouldn’t be any more … complications.” She hung her head.

Brian put an arm around her. “You’re going to be okay. And you should tell your parents. It’ll be better coming from you than if someone else tells them and adds to the story.”

“I know you’re right, but I’m scared.”

“Call me afterward.”

He stood to go.

“Brian, why are you so interested in me?”

“Because I think you’re smart and pretty, and you seem like someone I would enjoy spending time with.”

“I’m going to need some time. And when we start spending time together … we’re going to have to take it slow.”

“Not a problem.” He smiled. “I’m a patient man.”

Locked In by M J Lau

I must confess, it took me quite a while to finish reading this book — not because it didn’t have a good story line, but because I don’t play video games and am not a part of that world. However, MJ Lau did a very good job of capturing my attention with the life of his main character, Everett, and the interesting plot line.

The title, Locked In, alludes to being locked into a video game, and that’s exactly what happens to this group of teens. They play the game with a virtual reality game system and get locked in — they can’t log out. But Everett has an escape (you’ll have to read the book to find out what it is), and he believes he is the only one who can save his friends. Things get really interesting when Everett finds out what has caused everyone to be locked in.

MJ Lau created interesting characters, and Everett’s life outside of the game has its own complications. MJ also writes in a way that I could picture scenes in my mind and even though I am not a “gamer”, I understood the scenes and plot of the video game.

If you have a teenage gamer in your life, or if you are a gamer, I’m sure you’ll enjoy Locked In by MJ Lau.

Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

I received a free copy of Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen in exchange for my honest review for BookLook Blogger.

Jonah has a heart of gold and he would like to be the guy who gets the girl, but Jonah has a physical deformity and suffers from debilitating epileptic seizures, while Stormi is beautiful and seems perfect, although there is something quite unusual about her as well — she seems to know things and many of the adults in Gullery are a bit intimidated by her.

Even though Jonah feels that he can never win Stormi’s love, Stormi prefers Jonah’s company over most other people’s. They seem to understand each other and are able to sympathize with each other.

Jonah has a job taking care of the one prisoner in the town jail but doesn’t know why the prisoner is in jail, and Stormi won’t go anywhere near the jail.

As the story moves along, Jonah and Stormi experience an adventure that reveals a secret that’s been kept for years in Gullery, a secret that could change everything.

You will care about Jonah and Stormi and find yourself routing for them for several different reasons.

Unfolding will keep you turning pages as you travel on the adventure with Jonah and Stormi, experiencing strange occurrences and finding the truth. You will want to turn pages to see if Jonah really can get the girl in the end.

Unfolding is a strange ride, and I did feel that the ending was a bit lacking, but all-in-all Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen is a good read.

Flash Fiction Friday: First Kiss

“Come on! What’s taking you so long?”

“What’s your rush?”

“I’m supposed to meet Carrie at Cinnabon at 2:00.”

I roll my eyes. Going shopping with my big brother and his girlfriend was not my choice, but my parents said I’m too young to go to the mall with my friends at this time of year. Yeah, it’s nearly Christmas and the mall will be packed.

I grab my coat, scarf and purse and follow Tommy out the door.

After circling the parking lot three times, we finally snag a spot. We arrive at Cinnabon at 2:10.

“Where’ve you been?” Carrie taps her toe.

“I had to bring Lucy.” Tommy tilts his head back and right.

Carrie peeks around. “Oh, hello, Lucy.”

“Hi.” I add a little wave and a smile, hoping to smooth her ruffled feathers.

Carrie grabs Tommy’s hand and tugs him a few feet away from me. She speaks to him quietly. Whatever she’s saying, I can tell she’s pleading with him about something.

He nods. She smiles. He puts his arm around her and gives a little squeeze, as he turns to face me.

“Lucy, didn’t you say some of your friends were coming to the mall this afternoon?”

“Yes. I’m hoping we’ll bump into them somewhere.”

“Well, why don’t you give one of them a call and we can be sure you meet up.”

“O-kay.” I pull my cell phone from my back pocket and dial Serena’s number. She answers after the second ring.

“Serena, this is Lucy. Are you in the mall? You are? Great! I’m in front of Cinnabon. Okay, see you soon.”

I hang up the phone as my brother watches and then, “Well?”

“Serena and Megan are just around the corner. They should be here any . . .”

“Lucy!” Two girls turn the corner and scream. They rush over and give me hugs as my brother rolls his eyes.

“So, what’s with your brother and the girl?” Serena whispers in my ear.

“Look, Lucy. Why don’t we set a time and place to meet and you can go with your friends and I can shop with Carrie?”

I raised an eyebrow at him. He must be joking. Dad would kill him if he found out, and I’m not sure I’d fare much better.

“I know what you’re thinking, and I promise if Mom and Dad find out, I’ll tell them it was my idea.”

“What’s the catch?”

“Catch? No catch. So how about we meet right back here at 4?”

My friends squeal and jump up and down.

“Okay, I guess.”

Carrie smiles and begins dragging Tommy down the mall. I’m still looking after them when Megan grabs my arm. “Let’s go. Todd, Randy and Jason are somewhere here in the mall. They want us to meet them for sodas in the food court.”

“No way!” My doubts have just been replaced by visions of a gorgeous guy, but my conscience poked me. Mom and Dad wouldn’t like this either.

We spent an hour with the guys in the food court. When we got up to leave, Todd pulled me aside.

“Lucy, I really think you’re cute. I’d like to spend more time with you. Would you go out with me?”

My heart was pounding so hard I thought it would leap out of my chest and my palms were sweaty. This was a dream come true.

“Um, a yeah, I’d like that, b-ut,” I stuttered.

“Is something wrong?”

Oh, those blue eyes! I could drown in them.

I lowered my head to look at the floor and heaved a big sigh. “This is gonna sound so lame.”

Todd placed a finger under my chin and gently lifted my head. “What is?”

“There’s nothing I’d like better than to go out with you, but my parents say I’m too young to date.” It all came out in a rush and I could feel the heat burning in my cheeks.

After a moment Todd smiled revealing his killer dimples. “There are ways around that.”

I wanted to follow him anywhere, but. “Oh, I don’t know.”

He leaned toward me and placed a soft, gentle kiss upon my lips. “Think about it.”

My knees were weak and I couldn’t utter a sound. I simply stared into those blue pools and nodded.

As soon as Todd walked away, Megan and Serena bounded over. “We saw that! He just kissed you! Oh! That’s too awesome!”

Yeah, too awesome and destined to be the first and last kiss I would ever receive from Todd.

Flash Fiction Friday: Another Heart Broken

The door groaned and the floorboards creaked under Toby’s weight. Angela clung so close to him, he could feel her breath on his neck. “Isn’t this trespassing?” She whispered into his ear.

“This old house has been abandoned for years.” His voice echoed in the large foyer. “Realtors haven’t been able to sell it.” He gazed into her large chocolate brown eyes.

“Because the real estate market hasn’t been real good since the last recession.”

“Because it’s haunted.” He searched her face for a reaction.

She frowned. “Oh, come on. You don’t really believe in haunted houses, do you?”

“Don’t you?”

At that moment, footsteps sounded on the upstairs floor.

“Maybe we should go.” Angela turned toward the door.

Toby slid his arm around her waist and drew her close. “I thought you don’t believe in haunted houses.” The corners of his mouth hitched upward just a bit.

The door slammed shut. Angela’s body jerked in Toby’s arms. The sound of scratching came from a windowpane in the next room. Toby could feel Angela’s heart thumping against his chest.

“I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation for these noises.”

“Are you trying to convince me or yourself?” Toby nuzzled her ear and placed a kiss on her jawbone. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. I’ll protect you.”

He made a trail of soft, warm kisses down her neck.

Butterflies fluttered in her stomach, then Toby’s mouth claimed hers and for a moment she was lost in the desire that welled up within her.

When the kiss ended, Angela’s knees were weak. Toby took her hand and started toward the other room. Angela looked at the folded blankets under his arm and realization struck her. She stood still.

“What’s wrong?” Toby reached to brush the backs of his fingers down her cheek.

“I don’t want to do this.”

“That’s not what your lips and body told me just a moment ago.” He leaned to kiss her again, but she placed her hands firmly on his chest, keeping him at arm’s length.

“We’ve talked about this before. You agreed to wait until we’re married.”

“I know, but I can’t wait any longer. I’ll be leaving for college at the end of the summer and you have one more year of high school.”

“Yeah, and what will happen when you’re at college away from me?”

He flashed his irresistible grin. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

“Or college babes start flirting and the heart forgets.”

A hint of anger shone in his eyes. “Oh come on Angie. This isn’t the dark ages.”

The sting of tears threatened at the back of her eyes. “I gotta go.”

She turned.

“If you walk out that door, we’re through.”

She spun around, her chestnut waves becoming airborne before settling on her shoulders. Her eyes flashed. “Then this was your goal all along. I really thought you were different than the other guys. I’m sorry you aren’t what you said you were. Have a nice life.”

She ran out the door and down the block, slowing only as the tears blurred her vision so much she could barely see.

Were there no virtuous men left in the world?

 

 

Flash Fiction Friday: A Song for an Unwarranted Request

She lies in the hammock, her place of refuge. The attacks had come again today; the name calling, the pushing and tripping, knocking books from her hands.

She didn’t fit into any of the school clicks, and she didn’t want to. They all had their stupid codes; the way they dressed, the things they did, the sports they played, or the level of their I.Q.

She liked being a mishmosh of unusual and unique things, but their cruel words and actions still hurt.

Some days were worse than others, and this one fell under one of the worst, so she had run home, tossed her schoolbooks on the kitchen table and retreated to her hammock. She breathed in the scent of lilac from the blooming bush in the corner of the yard, closed her eyes and slowly exhaled. Then she began to sing, a low and mournful song of loneliness and rejection.

When her song ended, a voice, so quiet she thought it came from the breeze, said, “Don’t stop. It’s beautiful. Your voice is the most beautiful I’ve ever heard.”

Her eyes popped open, and sitting on the ground two yards away, sat the most handsome boy she had ever seen. His hair hung to his shoulders in dark, unruly curls, his faded jeans had holes in the knees, and his pectoral muscles and biceps bulged through the “Star Wars” t-shirt he wore. His chocolate eyes studied her.

It was the first time she had ever wished she looked more like everyone else. He probably thought the purple streak in her hair was from hair dye. Did he think her black tights, short purple ruffled skirt and hot pink tank top and fingerless lace gloves odd? Did he notice that her eyes were two different colors; one emerald green and one cerulean blue?

“Please sing something else. Something less depressing.”

She didn’t know where this gorgeous guy had come from and she wasn’t sure she could sing knowing he was so near. She felt warmth creep into her cheeks, she took a deep breath, closed her eyes once more and she broke into another song. This time a song of hope, as she hoped this boy was not like all the rest.

Author Interview: Laura L. Zimmerman

lauralzimmermanpic-1
Would you tell us a little bit about yourself, Laura?
Absolutely! I’m an at home-mom of 3 girls–ages 14, 12 and 5. I homeschool the two oldest and spend the rest of my time writing. (Haha. That’s a joke for all those stay-at-home moms that have “lots of time” on their hands, right?) I’ve been married to my “Mr. Darcy” for 16 years–we met in YWAM where we both served the Lord for a few years. I love to write Middle Grade and Young Adult Fantasy and Sci-fi, and am excited to be a monthly contributor to the Almost An Author website for the Fantasy/Sci-fi column! I currently reside in AZ but grew up on the east coast in MD and PA.
When did you become interested in writing?
I’ve always loved to create stories! When I was little, I liked to make Fashion Plate drawings and then make up stories to go along with the pictures. I remember using my mom’s old typewriter and the frustration of making errors and having to use white out–then the excitement of getting to change over to a Word Processor in high school! Lol. Overall, stories have always been a big part of my life. It wasn’t until I was married with the convenience of a computer and time home with my babies that I found I wanted to start taking all those ideas I’d had over the years and actually try to write a book.
Do you have a special writing place?
Well, we moved a few months ago so I lost my official writing space–which happened to be in the spare bedroom/junk room! So now I store my writing desk in my bedroom. I had some back issues from sitting for so many hours, so my husband has insisted on ‘proper’ elevation of screen/keyboard/mouse. So it feels pretty official, anyway! 😉
What books or authors have influenced your writing? In what way did they influence your writing?
I want my writing to be the best it can be, so I’m one to take plenty of notes at meetings or conferences, and to read books on improving my technical abilities. But then I notice I focus too much on technical stuff and can forget my ‘voice.’ I would say the writers that influence me most have very unique ‘voices’ that help remind me to stay true to my writing style, even if it might break a few rules here and there. Authors that come to mind are Ingrid Law–who has a fantastic Middle Grade voice!– and Tahereh Mafi–her poetic style of writing breaks from the norm but makes the deepest parts of my emotion scream ‘yes!’ I also enjoy Lauren DeStefano who has a more introspective style of writing, and Jennifer A. Nielsen with her amazing ability at weaving mystery throughout her novels that make my jaw drop!
Who are some of your favorite book characters and why are they favorites? Have they influenced the way you create your characters?
This is a tough one for me because I don’t want to sound cliche, but ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’ are my favorite books for a reason! Scout has always held a special place in my heart. She was an innocent forced to grow up and face the harsh realities of the yuck in our world. The powerful emotions she experienced through each lesson she learned hit me hard–maybe because I was just a teenager when I first read it. And Elizabeth Bennet is the every girl that we all deny lies deep within. She’s that spirit that refuses to conform yet can’t get out of her own way to allow love to find her. As much as I like to think I’m balanced in my beliefs and that I never play the part of the hypocrite, I think Lizzie is a good reminder that we all make poor choices based on our individual filters, but that it’s never too late for forgiveness and reconciliation. I do think both of these characters influence the characters I create, although maybe in different ways, depending on the story!
Do you have a writing routine?
Again, before I moved I had a fantastic routine of writing first thing in the morning! But now my youngest daughter is in kindergarten and I have her at the bus stop during the time I would normally write. So, unfortunately, I don’t have a routine at the moment. I do have a goal of writing and editing each day, and shoot for about 2 hours total of a mixture of both. Some days are better than others! Lol!
Do you set writing goals for yourself? What kinds of goals and are they short or long term?
Yes!! I have daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals! My personality thrives on meeting small goals along the way. I find when I have no ‘To Do’ list, nothing gets done. I love the sense of accomplishment that goes along with crossing off another item from my list! A daily goal might be as simple as “Tweet a line I wrote”. Long term goals usually involve the completion of a rough draft or a full edit of one of my manuscripts. For 2016 I’ve already written 2 brand new rough drafts and have a goal to complete 1 more, to give me a total of 3 brand new books I wrote this year!
Are you a member of any writing organizations or critique groups? 
Yes. In Pennsylvania I was active in the ACFW State and Local chapters, as well as Lancaster Christian Writers and Scribes Oasis. Since moving to Arizona, I’ve joined a small critique group one a week, and have begun to attend a library writer group twice a month. I’ve also connected with the ACFW Phoenix chapter here. I always have an eye out for new groups to join, since I am most encouraged just by being with other writers! 🙂
Have you attended writers’ conferences? 
Yes, I’ve attended the LCW Super Saturday a few years in a row and was excited to attend the Write His Answer Conference in Philly and Keystone Conference, last year. With my move, I’ve sadly missed the conferences I wanted to attend this year. But hope to jump back in this winter/spring with some conferences out west!
What advice would you give to a new writer?
Good question! Well, first off, I would say never give up. I’m sure you’ve heard that time and again, but really, don’t ever walk away from your talents. God gave them to you for a reason and they can be used to glorify Him, even if your work isn’t published in the traditional way. Also, surround yourself with those you admire! If you want to be a writer, make friends with writers! Not only is it encouraging, it will help hone your talent and make you better at what you do!
Thank you, Kelly, for having me! I had a great time with this interview!! ❤
Bio: 
Laura L. Zimmerman is a homeschooling mom to three daughters, and a doting wife to one husband. Besides writing, she is passionate about loving Jesus, singing, drinking coffee and anything Star Wars. You can connect with her through Facebook and Twitter @lauralzimm, and at her website, www.lauralzimmerman.com . Laura is represented by Cyle Young with Hartline Literary Agency.