#FlashMobWrites 1×34

Welcome to #FlashMobWrites Week Thirty-Four

Come one, come all! This is an open flash fiction challenge with a musical inspiration, hosted by authors Cara Michaels (formerly of #MenageMonday, #WIPflash, and #RaceTheDate) and Ruth Long (of the wicked fun #LoveBites and #DirtyGoggles challenges).

Mob Rules

  • The challenge begins: Fridays @ Noon EDT (Eastern USA)
  • And ends: Saturday @ Midnight PST (Pacific USA)
  • Word count: 300-500 (no less, no more)
  • We love you and wish to heap praises (and random prizes) on you, so be sure to include your name (no, it doesn’t have to be your real name) and a way for us to get in touch (Twitter handles are encouraged)
  • A prompt choice is offered by each judge. Choose one (or both!) and include it in your story as given.
    • The prompt may be split between sentences, but no order change or dropping words.
    • Words may be added before or after, not in the middle.

The Inspiration

For your musical enjoyment only. You do not need to reference the video or song themes in any way for your story.

The Prompts

Cara Michaels: “stranger to love”

Ruth Long: “a bad habit”

Now pick your prompt(s) and post your story in the comments below!

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17 thoughts on “#FlashMobWrites 1×34

  1. @cynthiafbuck
    462 words

    Finally Seeking Help

    Flipping through a months-old magazine, I start to wonder why I’m even here. I’m not questioning the profession of psychiatry or those who practice it. I’m just wondering if therapy is for me, and whether or not it will help.

    Then I remember I came here because I’m tired of feeling alone, and I haven’t been able to stop on my own. It couldn’t hurt to give this a fair shot. I take my hand out of my hair, which I didn’t even realize was there.

    Everyone has habits. Some are good, some are bad. Some habits are understandable, some will get you laughed at. Some of us make no secret of our habits, others of us try like hell to keep them hidden.

    I’ve certainly tried to keep this particular habit of mine, the reason I’m here, a secret from everyone I know. I try not to do it in front of other people, and if anyone has noticed, they haven’t said anything to me. The only other person who knows is my hair stylist, but only because it’s her job to have her hands all in my hair.

    I pull my hair out. I have been for years. That is my shameful habit. Actually, I should stop calling it that, if I can. It’s a real disorder called trichotillomania. There are support groups for those suffering from this disorder. Documentaries have been made to spread light on trichotillomania. I didn’t know any of this until a few days ago when a desperate Internet search opened my eyes and showed me that I was not alone, as I had always thought.

    I immediately booked an appointment with a psychiatrist, and well, now here I am. I want to get better, but I just don’t know how. They say that’s the first step—admitting you need help. I’ve finally realized that I need help to understand why I pull my hair out. If I can understand why I do it, maybe I can work towards stopping.

    I faintly hear the receptionist say something. She says it twice before I realize it’s my name that she’s called out. I’d been twirling my hair with my left index finger, using all my energy to not pull out any individual strands. I quickly scooped up my purse and shuffled to the door she was pointing to.

    My therapist looked to be about the same age as my dad, with some grey at the temples and smart looking glasses. He stood and shook my hand. “Ms. Winston, why don’t you have a seat and tell my why you came to see me today?”

    I sat as instructed, took a deep breath, and looked him in the eye. “I’m here because I have a bad habit.”

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hero of Your Own Story

    “Cabers, eh? We had to carry something like that during BUD/S training. It was a pain in the ass.” Greg snorted.

    “I bet. I’ve seen some of the training from afar.” She shook her head. “I think I’ll keep my status as average.”

    He smiled, his gaze assessing. “I think you’re anything but average.”

    She tilted her head. “Okay, I grant you I’m not your typical woman, but I have my average moments. It’s kinda like a bad habit. We all have them.”

    “It’s a bad habit to be average?”

    “Well, yeah. Shouldn’t you be the extraordinary hero of your own story? I mean, you’re a SEAL. There’s nothing average about SEALs.”

    “I can’t argue with you there.” He scraped up the last of his meal with his fork and sat back in his chair. “That was really good. Thank you.”

    “There’s more if you’d like some.”

    “No, I’m good. I will drink about a gallon of water, though.” He rose, talking his plate with him back to the kitchen. “Where do you keep your cups?”

    “Cupboard above the toaster. Would you put the kettle on, please?”

    “Sure.”

    Zamora paused and blinked. She’d asked him to start the kettle as if he’d become a long term boyfriend or roommate. Don’t go there. He’s military. She was just giving him a place to crash until he got his own on Monday. Tuesday, tops. But it had been natural to ask him to do something around the house.

    Weird. She hadn’t had a roommate since she’d first moved out on her own. She’d valued her privacy and independence. It seemed stranger to love Greg’s company than her usual solitude, but she found having him in the house felt comfortable and soothing rather than an intrusion.

    She cleared her plate from the table, wondering why she felt so comfortable around him. He’s a Navy SEAL. They’re alpha, OCD, and arrogant. How can I be comfortable around him?
    “Everything okay, Zamora?”

    She jumped, damn near dumping her plate onto the floor. “Where did you come from?”

    “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” He tilted his head. “Are you okay? You’re wearing a frown.”

    “Yeah, no, I’m good.” She shook her head and dredged up a smile. “Let me dump these and I’ll get my oils for your massage.” She left her dishes in the sink and made a beeline for her Reiki materials, including the calming candles. Hell, she’d need them almost as much as he would.

    411 #WIP500 words
    @SiobhanMuir

    Liked by 4 people

  3. “Kelly, that guy’s looking at you,” Nadine commented as we sat at the bar.
    “Can he see my scars?” I asked
    “Kelly you have to let that go. Not everyone sees your scars,” Nadine answered.
    ‘You lie well, but I know people see them. How can they not? I have a scar beside my mouth and one diagonally down my left cheek and hidden ones beneath my clothes,” I declared.
    “And yet you still turn heads,” Nadine exclaimed, “It’s become a bad habit for you to hide yourself in your house each night. People want to get to know you, but you’re closed off and afraid. This is tough love, but you have to try to open yourself up and not be a stranger to love anymore.”
    “I had to have a friend whose favourite story was Beauty and the Beast growing up.”
    “Kelly, you’re a hero you saved those kids from certain death.”
    “Anyone would have done it” I declared.
    “No most people wouldn’t have risked their own life.”
    “You’re Kelly Kincaid,” said the man who had stared at me from across the bar, coming up to me.
    “Yes,” I answered then turned my back to him.
    He came around me and said, “I just wanted to thank you personally for saving my son’s life.”
    “Your son was one of the kids?”
    “Yes, say why don’t you and your friend join me for a drink?”
    I joined him and we talked the night away. I’m afraid we left Nadine out of the conversation a lot. We found we had a lot in common. He talked about his son who spent part-time with him and part-time with his ex-wife. Henry asked me out and I found myself blurting, yes.

    Weeks went by and Henry asked me to marry him. I hesitated but then he kissed my scars one by one, until I found myself wrapped in deep embrace, legs entwined, and fingers touching everywhere, whispers, and then sighs exchanged.
    “You’re so beautiful to me inside and out,” Henry declared holding me naked within his arms.

    I found myself undone. I accepted his proposal for in his eyes, the beast had become beauty and I could face the world with him by my side. As for my friend Nadine she was my maid of honour and a few months later, I was her matron of honour when she married the best man.All of you who say there can’t be a happy ending you’ll find that it’s not true; open yourself up and you too can find a happy ending. Nadine and I are proof of it.
    436 words
    @SweetSheil

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Partners

    The five of us reconvened. Five is a good number for poker. So is six but I had no particular preference. Banter was light; the evening’s energy had lessened. Senator Roscoe Tyrell was not noticeably missed. His type are often not there, even when they are.

    An hour later, we ran out of steam. It was time to shuffle on home. The morning was taking shape, however.

    “I’m at the office by 8 a.m. sharp,” Hollis Shelby advised. “I don’t know what I can tell you about Hazel that somebody else couldn’t.”

    “We’ll see, Mr. Mayor. We’re new to you all so we don’t even know what will be useful.” I said.

    “Nine good?”

    “Done.”

    “G’night, boys,” Hap Granger thundered from his porch. I looked back, saw a shadow move behind the blinds of a lit room on the second floor.

    “Goodnight, Hap,” John and I sang out in unison, sounding, I thought, a bit like Judy Garland and Gene Kelly singing an off key rendition of ,“For me and my gal.” Of course, I had quaffed a few too many shots of Hap’s best brew so my hearing could have been somewhat impaired.

    John drove in silence. I babbled some and then shut up. Close to Gabi’s house, I asked John about the look he had when he had re-entered the room.

    “Yeah, “he said, “I took a bit of a reconnoitre. Quite a big House. Latrine upstairs is over the side porch. Excellent listening post. Hap’s a civilian but I would have expected more from a hard-ass like Tyrell. Loose lips….always a bad habit.”

    “So?” I asked. It was like pulling teeth with John, sometimes.

    “Well, the gist of what I heard is that Hap is bulldozing Tyrell to work harder to get the Feds to sell the land where the internment camp is to his consortium. They’re nothing but a pack of post war profiteers.”

    “Anything about Hazel Twigg?”

    “Yeah…A couple of things…Tyrell said something like… and I had a bit of trouble hearing…something like ‘it would’ve been an easier sell if Ace and that bitch had stayed on board…’

    This was not something I wanted to hear. Ace had held out on us.

    “Anything else?”

    “They were trying hard to whisper but Cap’s one of those naturally boisterous guys…I heard…seagull…maybe…lucky… and I’m pretty sure I heard Vegas.”

    “Seagulls? We’re too far inland I would think. You sure?”

    “I have no idea. I do know that Ace may not have been as forthcoming as he appeared. Or maybe we failed to have a more meaningful heart to heart with him.”

    For the rest of the short drive back to Gabi’s, we plotted our next steps.

    “Maybe we should divvy up our efforts,” suggested Quarry.

    “I’m your apprentice,” I said. “Robin to your Batman.”

    “Huh?”

    “The serial…the comic book?”

    Quarry shook his head.

    “Never mind, John. Let’s stay a duo.”

    I had clearly spent more of my life than Quarry had spoiling on the vine of triviality.

    500 partnership renewals
    @billmelaterplea

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Paul John Welsh
    @pauljohnwelsh

    (475 words)

    Mildred and her Pony –

    Mildred had a horse, a pony horse. For most passers-by looking on agape, both descriptors were the same thing, but this was common, this constant lack of recognition of Patsy’s pony attributes. Patsy was only twelve hands high, so there you go. Mildred was an expert on that sort of thing, always. Part-time zoology aside, Mildred tied Patsy up outside every place she went. Mildred had watched a lot of old Western movies, and so, she’d perfected the whip-around the wooden pole horse tie-up that all the Cowboys did with their horses and ponies. That thing they did just before they went into the Saloon for whiskey, poker, hookers, spittoons, fights and badly constructed furniture. And now, as a modern-day cowboy-woman, she was trailblazing that old pioneer skill for future generations of American Women’s Liberation! Mildred was unique.

    Mildred took Patsy everywhere, and that space cohabitation, everywhere, for anyone else, was a bad habit for an ordinary decent girl to have, especially if you happened to be on that particular bus, train or street, and without a shovel or an opportunity, or choice, to open a window. Mildred had never taken ‘Her Patsy’ onto a plane, it remained an ambition, though, but it was unlikely since airport security was severely tightened since her country was severely brutalised. Then, because Patsy couldn’t get a ticket, Patsy had to stay at home, with sugar cubes, apples and hay. Mildred never had any real reason to think there was anything wrong in her relationship with ‘Patsy’ her palomino pony; didn’t a particular girl’s toy doll have the same sort of thing going on with a man?!

    Contrary to all the popular opinion flying around, Mildred didn’t care, couldn’t care less. At least she was no stranger to love when it came to companionship, unlike her ex-room-mate, Charlotte, who was now a high-flying executive for a soda company. They’d fallen out over who was to get the Doll’s House after their real College Sorority House went up in flames after a tequila trick had gone badly wrong; they’d never spoken since. Mildred and Patsy had met after that terrible event, at a weekend ranch event for real girlfriend trauma victims. Mildred and Patsy hit it off, they couldn’t communicate in a real or analysable way, but went on holiday together, despite the barriers and boundaries, and to forget that horrible Charlotte; they bonded.

    Mildred had never put a saddle on Patsy, because Mildred was a member of the ‘League against Saddles on Horses’ or ‘LASH. For Mildred, the saddle was a sign of man’s determination to bridle up the wants, desires and ambitions of all freethinking ponies and horses. Here, Mildred and Patsy together as one, making a stand alongside their Equine Sister Mares and some Geldings, whereas Stallions, and Charlotte, on the other hand, could rot in hell.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. The hidden Venus had been one of the obsessions of my life. I’d spent years hunting her down. More than I should most likely admit too. But now I had her. She had cost me more than my home in New York had and that had cost me a pretty penny.

    “Miss Haverns. She’s ready for you now,” my assistant told me as I stepped out of the elevator.
    “Very good Mr Jacks, you know what to do don’t you?” He nodded to me and stepped into the lift and the doors slid shut. The Venus was under a black silken material. Taking hold of it I pulled it off and stood back.

    I’d not see her since I was a youngster. Not since him. I let my hands run over the cold marble, feeling its smoothness under my fingers. “It’s been a long time. Too long,” I said as I walked around her. I wished that I could move her hair aside so I could see her slender neck. I wanted to check to see if it was there. Moving in front of her I lean down so I could see between her raised arms and her collar bone, nothing.

    I placed both my hands on her now and let them run over every inch of her. Then I froze.
    I let my fingers keep exploring that area and traced my fingers around it. It’s really her.

    I could feel my heart beating faster. I could almost hear it. It was the original. There had been many copies made. But this was the first.

    tragic girl in Marble was what her creator called her. She’d been renamed when the Romans took her. But I knew her actual name.

    I looked at her face, covered by her hands. Her name was founded on the fact that you couldn’t see her face. But this was the one he created. The scar alone was confirmation of that. A scar on her bottom.

    Picking up the phone I called Jacks, “We need to contact your friends. We’ll be in need of the documents.” As soon as he confirms I put it down. She will need ID.

    “I was a stranger to love before I met you. Then they took you from me. Now I have you back.”
    I walked over and waved my hand over the book. Its cover flipped open and pages fluttered and then settled.

    Reaching down I picked it up and started to intone the words. Rain started to fall on the statue. Each spot that hit it turned the cold marble into warm flesh. I inhaled at the same time she did and seconds later she fell onto the floor. Quickly putting the book aside I lean down and cradle her in my arms.

    I’ve waited two and a half thousand years to hold her in my arms again, since he took her from me.

    My sweet, beloved, Aketa.

    489 words.

    @laughingandy

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Strays

    Watching her sleep—in my bed—it did things to me. Things I had no business thinking about, much less feeling. She smelled of stale beer and cigarettes, of sunshine after the rain. I shoulda left her in that alley. Just fucking walked away after I assassinated the Hell Dog. That had been my mission—take the fucker out, get my Nightrider patch. I did both. But she was there. I shouldn’t have left any witnesses. But…

    “You have a bad habit, Cowboy. Bringing home strays.” Dancer, the club’s VP, leaned up against the door to my room.

    He was right. I fed some feral cats and a couple of dogs out behind the garage. Tinker didn’t give a damn, though he razzed me about havin’ a soft heart. I do. When it comes to kids and critters.

    “She’s not a stray, Dance.”

    “You don’t even know her name.”

    “I will.”

    Dancer shrugged and added one last bit of advice as he left. “Bad time to be fallin’ for a stranger.”

    To love this life meant giving my all to the Nightriders. But I was a Wolf and when a mate drops into your lap? Yeah, not walkin’ away. Not now. Not ever. Not even for the MC.

    The girl sighed, stretched, opened her eyes. I didn’t move.

    “Uh…hi.” Soft voice. Shy.

    “Hey.” I stayed put instead of pouncing her like my wolf wanted. “I’m Cowboy.”

    “Emily.”

    “You okay?”

    She didn’t answer right away, taking time to look around, and just breathe a bit. “I guess.” She turned big blue eyes on me. “You killed him.”

    “Yup.”

    “Because of me?”

    “Nope.”

    Emily’s eyebrows crunched together as if my answer confused her. “Uhm…”

    I shook my head. “You don’t wanna know, babe. Wrong place, right time.” Her expression said I’d confused her again. “I’m sorry you were there when I took out the Hell Dog, but I’m glad you’re here.”

    “I don’t understand.”

    “Better if you don’t. I did what I had to do. And I met you. That’s good.”

    “Still confused here.”

    “Are you scared of me?”

    “I…” Her voice trailed off. “I should be…I mean since you…you know.” I nodded, waiting for her to continue. “But I’m not. You didn’t hurt me.”

    “I didn’t. I won’t.” Hell, I couldn’t.

    “You’re a Nightrider.”

    “Yes, ma’am.”

    Her smile peeked out. “I see why they call you Cowboy.” She inhaled, looked down at her hands gripping the sheet, her smile fading. “Can I go home?”

    “You got anything waitin’ for you?” If she had a boyfriend. I’d have to kill him.

    “Just Jake.”

    Yup. Gonna be bloodshed.

    “Jake?” I asked slow, but my voice was tight and my claws came out, slicing into my palms as I fisted my hands.

    “My dog.”

    Dog? Whew. No clean up on aisle five. “We’ll go pick ’im up. And your stuff. You’re movin’ in with me.” Oh, yeah. Dancer was gonna kick my ass. I was definitely a sucker for strays.
    ****
    500 words
    @SilverJames_

    Liked by 4 people

  8. @jasonlefthand
    499 words

    Nights stretched on longer and longer the more I went without the love. The last two months were detox, an attempt to live my life the way I wanted to live. Clean and normal. Or perhaps, it was self punishment.

    My apartment was dark and dingy. There was a drip in the sink. It was the only voice in the darkness. The drip, drip. I brushed my hair into a ponytail. I was tired of sitting. I needed that love. I smelled it from outside, the oozy good moods seeped in from under the door.

    Face and faces, living emoticons, swept past me. I ached to reach out and caress the next face, to lean into that chubby man and be happy. Then I’d kiss that woman and feel excited. I knew it was wrong, but I felt sick. Maybe I was finally dying. I leaned against the side of a brick building and hid my face. I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself, but I was a terrible actor.

    “Hey there,” he said. I looked over my shoulder. He was a young man, bearded, with neat blonde hair. “Are you feeling OK? I didn’t mean to scare you.” His hand was on my shoulder. I felt the love. It was inches away.

    “Hello!” I said, “My name is Heather. What is yours?”

    Maybe I was a little forward. He made a face as though I was too friendly. His smile almost disappeared, but he caught himself.

    “Hello,” he said, “I’m Adam. Can I escort you home? It’s dark, and it can be dangerous out here for pretty girls like you.”

    It took me a few seconds to realize me was complimenting me. We walked down the sidewalk. Maybe he loved me. It was not impossible. I knew I looked decent. My nose was straight. I had curly hair, but that wasn’t a fashion crime. Love. I was a stranger to love. The feeling was a phantom on my shoulder forcing my head around to look through his clothes, through his flesh and into the beating engine that promised so much.

    “I want you,” I said. I was done being nice.

    “You do?” Adam said, “But we’ve only met. Come on. I’ll get you home. You live this way, right?”

    I could not help myself. Detox failed. I reached out, as he had his arm around my shoulder, and gently caressed his bearded face. All of his good memories, his first kiss, the one time he banged the hot girl from the office, the last cold beer he had, the birth of his daughter, the happy tears that rolled down his manly face. It was all mine.

    His eyes lost that sheen of happiness. He let me go and clutched his chest as though I ripped out his heart. He fell to his knees in the middle of the busy sidewalk. I took a deep breath and skipped away. I had a big smile on my face.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Cold seeped from cinder-block walls. Bright lights overhead could not dispel the dread that seeped under the plain white door at the end of the narrow hall. It was a walk I’d made before, almost three times in the six months he’d been gone.

    Another body that may or may not be my son. Behind that door, bodies waited in freezers to be cut opened, examined, their organs weighed, and hopefully a cause of death found. Behind that door, people like myself went to look at the faces of the dead and hopefully identify them.

    A wail crawled under the door. A distraught person had identified a body. The kind woman walking me toward the door placed a soft hand on my arm.

    “We’ll wait a moment,” she said.

    I nodded. We stood in the hallway, our skin pimply from a cool draft. Winter in Southern California was unusually cold this year.

    The door creaked open and two women walked out: one in the blue slacks and khaki shirt of the Orange County Coroner’s office, the other wearing a light blue skirt and black blouse. She had her hands over her face, shoulders shaking. I wondered if that would be me today.

    “All right, Mrs. Hannover, we can go in.”

    My escort, Julie, walked me through that door. Antiseptic burned my nose as someone in a white paper gown with a blue mask over their nose and mouth and clear protective glasses cleaned a metal bed. I focused on the bed in front of me. On it, a tall figure lay under a white sheet.

    “Dr. Schweben? Mrs. Hannover is here to ID the body that was brought in last night.”

    A heavy set, tall man wearing a white lab coat walked over and shook my hand. His kind brown eyes exuded sympathy as he walked around the table in front of me.

    “You were called because the body matches the description of your son. Are you ready?”

    I nodded. I wished my husband were here, but he had to work. The doctor put on gloves and carefully rolled the sheet down to unveil the face. A young man stared up at me with unblinking, cold blue eyes. His nose was too long, his chin too wide, and his ears too big.

    “No. That’s not my son.”

    “I’m sorry,” the doctor said. “Thank you for coming down.”

    Julie walked me away, back down the cold, narrow hallway. I washed my hands in the ladies room before I left. Someone had lost their child and didn’t know it yet. Mine had run away. Six months and not a word out of him. I could only hope that he’d found a stranger to love.

    @Aightball
    452 words

    Liked by 3 people

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