A Bump in the Road

Green blue oil film wave (Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay)

At first, we thought the black liquid was oil, that we’d struck it rich and that we’d be able to retire and live in leisure. We actually started writing down all the ways we’d spend the money.

Our first choice was an estate out in the country, with wide open spaces for the kids to run around. We had such grand dreams to finally get Emily the Little Laboratory Kit she always wanted. We reveled in the vision of seeing Dylan’s face when we brought home the Fender Stratocaster he’d looked at with longing every time he passed Moe’s Music Store window.

All those dreams shattered though when the local prospector said, “Sorry, gentlemen. Not oil.”

Sean’s face fell. “What?”

The prospector shook his head. “This isn’t oil.” He tapped the mason jar my partner and I had brought in.

“Well then, what is it?” My heart sank to my stomach.

He shrugged. “Don’t know, but not oil.”

Sean looked at the prospector with suspicion. “How do you know?”

“Been around oil my whole life.” The prospector leaned forward. “This looks like it, but see how it moves when I tilt the jar?”

The prospector tipped the container to the side and showed us the slow, sludgy movement of the black liquid. “Oil don’t do that.”

I grabbed the mason jar back from his hands. “Where can we find out what this is?” I took Sean’s hand and gave it a squeeze. The look I gave my partner said, Don’t give up hope.

The prospector gave another apathetic shrug. “Some lab, I s’pose. I’m no scientist.” I pursed my lips and nodded. “Thank you.” We rose at the same time and walked out to our truck.

This is the first installment in a short story called “Better Than Fiction” that I’ve decided to serialize. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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Memory Found

Kerri watched as the bedroom door eased open and a man’s head popped into view.

“Kerri, honey, are you alright?” He inched in slowly, as if afraid he might startle her, like she was a rabid animal.

She breathed deep and nodded her head. She couldn’t bring herself to speak, because she could not recall his name or his face for that matter. Where was she? Who was he?

The man nodded and flipped a lamp on in the bedroom and turned the hall light off. “Sorry you didn’t find me when you woke. I just wanted to get my things ready for tomorrow.”

Kerri tilted her head in confusion.

“For my trip? Remember, I’m leaving for a conference?”

Still, she couldn’t remember what he spoke of.

He let out a sigh. “Maybe this was a mistake. You’re not ready for this yet.” He turned to leave the bedroom again. “I’ll just call and cancel, tell them I can’t make it.”

“No, wait.” Kerri reached out a hand. “It’s okay. I’m fine. Just had a nightmare.”

He looked back at her, as if unsure if she spoke the truth.

She swallowed hard and smiled. “Really, I’m fine. You don’t have to worry about me.” She still hadn’t responded with his name. Though she had no clue who he was and where he was going, she felt they must have had a close enough relationship that her vague reassurances would be enough to ease his mind.

He settled back into the bed beside her and nodded. He leaned over and kissed her forehead, and the gesture made her smile. Whatever memories were missing, the sensation of familiar intimacy hadn’t gone.

“Get some sleep,” he whispered in her ear as they lay back down.

Kerri watched as this man that gave her a feeling of warmth at the very center of her chest closed his eyes and fell into a restful sleep. She couldn’t help but watch as he breathed evenly, the tension from before slowly fading from his face. After a few minutes his breathing turned into a soft snoring, and the sound made her giggle.

Without thinking, Kerri reached a hand out and ran it through his hair, a gesture that felt so familiar and practiced, and yet in that moment seemed alien to her. She worried at her lower lip as she struggled to find his name and face in her memory.

The energy of worrying finally got to her. Kerri drifted into sleep, her hand still on the man’s head in a gentle caress. As the world around her turned black once more, a single word popped into her head: Tom.

She tried to jerk awake at the revelation, but instead of finding herself in the bedroom, she found herself in the topsy turvy dreamland once more. This time though, she remembered what she needed to know. Tom awaited her whenever she returned to the real world.

For more of Kerri’s adventures, see part 1 and part 2.

Memory Missing

Kerri furiously tore through the sheets and pillows, seeking him out. Why couldn’t she recall his name? And who was he to her?

Her mind, still fuzzy from the dizzying dream that felt all too real, searched frantically for the memory of whoever he was, something to cling on to. As her hands worked through the bedding, now tearing the fabric apart with inhuman strength, she wracked her brains, but nothing came.

The desperation left her breathless, and she began to gasp for air. Her fingers tangled into the sheets, tightly winding the fabric around and around, cutting off circulation until finally she simply ripped it apart into tiny threads. Kerri looked down in dismay at the ruined sheets, dropping them suddenly from her hand like a hot pan. How did she do that?

Before she could get a hold of herself, the sensation of not knowing turned into a panic attack. She took long inhalations, but to no avail. She rocked back and forth in the bed, her lungs burning for air they couldn’t get. It seemed as if the room were shrinking around her, and she hunched lower and lower into the bed, trying to maintain space between her body and the walls. The harder she tried to breathe the less air flowed through her lungs.

Tears streamed down her face as she felt she might pass out again. A terrified scream escaped her mouth, and the sound triggered a light in the hallway to turn on. Kerri saw the flicker of shine come through the crack in the bedroom door. The realization that she was not alone was what finally settled her racing heart and eased her breath. Someone was here with her.

This is a continuation of another story. See part one here.

In the End — Sharing

Another great piece on the Drabble. How can someone be so riveting in so little words?!

By Donna L. Greenwood “When they drop the bomb, there’ll be nothing left worth surviving for,” he said. And then they dropped the bomb. I couldn’t bring myself to gobble up the pills or drink the vodka he had provided. He had no such trouble. Halfway through the vodka, he told me a joke about […]

via In the End —

Sharing from the Drabble

By Richard Helmling As the ash piled up on the sixth day, they finally decided to head south. “Por favor,” they made their son practice as they drove. They avoided El Paso because the last radio broadcasts they had received said it was impossible to cross there. So they found a seemingly desolate stretch of […]

via Inversion —

A short piece but it packs a punch.

Childhood Pranks —

Reblogged from The Drabble. I couldn’t not share this one. Too funny.

By The Urban Spaceman Two weeks into summer break and bored out of their minds, Tommy and D.J. rode their bikes two miles to the abandoned church in the countryside. They spent three days chiselling the image of a giant penis into an outer wall, and the rest of the summer giggling over their artistic […]

via Childhood Pranks —

Forever Golden

Wrote this a few years ago for an assignment in my first creative writing class at UCF.

It was their fiftieth anniversary, the golden one. Fifty years ago on this day Theodore and Ethel were married in her father’s blooming garden. It had been filled with red and pink roses, white and purple carnations, purest white gardenias, and orange and yellow chrysanthemums, their sweet aroma dancing in the air around the young and hopeful newly weds.

She had worn her mother’s wedding gown and he had used his mother’s wedding ring. The sun floated in the sky, a brilliant, golden orb. There were only three witnesses to this matrimony, and they were Theodore, Ethel, and Father James. Both Ethel’s and Theodore’s parents were dead. They did not need to invite friends or distant family. They had each other.

After the brief ceremony, Ethel and Theodore remained together in the garden, reminiscing on times past and looking forward to the future. They danced to far away whispered music, hearing the strings of the acoustic guitar being plucked delicately from somewhere within them. Fifty years later, Ethel and Theodore still danced in the garden, appreciating the flowers’ sweet scents and feeling the golden setting sun warm them from the inside out.

“Theodore darling, can you believe it’s already been fifty years?” Ethel asked in a hushed voice and with a smile on her face.

“The best fifty years of my life,” Theodore responded tenderly, stroking her hair with a gentle hand.

“Do you remember the wedding?”

“Like it was yesterday,” he answered softly, a distant look in his eyes.

“You looked so handsome in your uniform.”

“And you were stunning in that dress,” Theodore replied lovingly.

“It was just the two of us.”

“That’s all we needed,” he said.

“We danced all night.”

“I held you just like this,” he whispered.

“We planned our future completely.”

“And all those dreams came true.”

A serene sigh escaped Ethel’s lips. The sun had almost completely set by now, leaving a perfect line of gold on the horizon. She and her husband swayed to the long forgotten melody of fifty years ago. The garden’s blooms were beginning to wilt away, but their fresh fragrance still lingered in the cool, evening air.

“Happy anniversary, honey,” Theodore said dreamily to his beloved wife of fifty years.

“Happy anniversary, Theodore darling,” Ethel replied, exhaling happily.

Hand in hand, they walked out of the garden as they had fifty years ago, and thought upon that golden sun and what it would bring them next.