If you missed last week’s episode, you missed a great one. You can watch the replay here.
Jamie put her heart into today’s prompt, which is to use the following five words in your story: beat, craft, pass, undermine, woman. Enjoy, and make sure you reach out to her to let her know you want her to finish this story!
“Not sure, but I think we can get five dollars a piece for ‘em,” Millie said, sucking her finger where it had touched the end of the glue gun.
“Gettin’ a blister?” Cora’s face was scrunched up the way it always did when she was worried.
“She’ll be alright,” I said. “You just put your head down and keep on workin’. These bows ain’t gonna put themselves together.”
But it was no use—Millie’s injury apparently warrented further inspection, and, as a result, a trip to the kitchen for a bit of aloe.
As the girls scurried off to do that, I heard the crunch of feet on gravel and looked up to see Mr. Frank coming up the drive. My insides made moaning protestations I could feel in my muscles and reflexively I gripped the staple gun I was holding a bit harder than I meant to, but I kept working and managed to keep my face stony as I greeted him.
“Fine day we’re having,” he said, looping his thumbs through the loops of his levis and turning to look up at the sky, as though I had asked him to produce a personalized weather report. I thought about telling him he ought to remove his aviators and get a real and right look at the beautiful sky but then decided not to bother. My staple gun misfired and I suppressed the urge to curse or to even make like I’d intended for things to go otherwise, instead casually setting down the gun and picking up the glue gun the girls had left behind.
My heart gave a bit of a panicked flutter as the girls came to mind but they’d retreated into the safety of the house and so, again, I remained passive, even as Mr. Frank came to the table where I worked and picked up the staple gun. I didn’t like having him so close to me, close enough I could tell his wife cared to spend enough of his hard earned money to buy the fancy fabric softener, close enough to smell the pipe tobacco he kept rolled and tucked into the chest pocket of his flannel.
I wished I could tell him to leave.
“Mommy, do we have any bandaids?” It was Cora’s voice. The two angel faces peered out at me from the slice in the screen I’d been meaning to replace. My eyes instinctively flicked to Mr. Frank, and his eyes were exactly where I knew they’d be, even though he’d tried to shield ‘em with those aviators. He wore the same, sickening smile he always put on whenever he saw my girls.
“Go on back inside,” I said, as calmly as I could, though my mind was on Mr. Frank, looking for even a singular twitch of a muscle indicating intention to move and calculating who between us could reach that screen door faster, or if the staple gun could be put to some sort of good use after all, should it come to that.
“Where we keep the bandaids, though?” Cora insisted.
“Got some under my sink. In the little bathroom. Go on, now.”
I could breath again when the little faces retreated into the cool darkness of our home.
“Shouldn’t let ‘em undermine your authority like that,” Mr. Frank said, with a cluck of his tongue.
“You’re right,” I said, and made movements like I’d been just about to be wrapping up for the day and go inside. “I think I’ll go on in there and give ‘em a good beating.”
He barked out a dry laugh and swiped a finger across his eye. Stalling. Like I might invite him inside. But I’d put a beating on the table and not a luncheon, so he’d have to go on home to his woman and his coon hound.
I’d won this round.
“I’ll be seeing you,” he said.
I didn’t respond. I just reached up and pulled down hard on the cord to shut the garage door behind him.
That’s all for today!
Jamie Hershberger enjoys writing shorts (short fiction) under the pen name, J. R. Nichols. She is the creator and curator of www.writingshorts.net and the editor of The Writing Shorts Newsletter. Her flash fiction has won several contests and has been featured in two anthologies.