Visionary (Part Three)

Today, we learn the fate of Claire and her family, introduced to you in Monday’s Micro-Fiction Monday…

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“Visionary”
Part Three of Three
By: Rachel Carrera

Three weeks later, the Keene house was abuzz about Van’s upcoming business trip to Elmhurst.  Billy grinned.  “Dad, will you bring us back a present?”

Susie hugged Van’s neck.  “Daddy, be sure to send us some picture postcards.  I’ve got some three cent stamps you can take with you.”

Van stood and straightened his tie.  “Of course I’ll send you postcards and bring you gifts, kids.  And what would your mother like me to bring home?”

Tears shimmered in Claire’s red rimmed eyes.  “I’d like you not to go, Van.  Please change your plans.”

He rolled his eyes.  “Kids, it’s time for bed.  I’ll see you in the morning at breakfast before I leave.  Goodnight.”  After the kids went upstairs, he gently grabbed his wife’s shoulders.  “Claire, we’ve been all through this before.  I have to go.  It’s for work.  Nothing’s going to happen to me.  Now, would you please calm down?”

Her body quaked.  “I can’t!  Van, I’ve had the same dream all week long.  You can’t go!  If you do, you could be—”  Tears spilled down her cheeks as she buried her face in his chest.

He sighed and patted her back.  “Hon, I don’t know why all of a sudden lately you think you’re some sort of soothsayer, but I couldn’t get out of it if I wanted to.  The Smithfield account depends on me making this trip, and Mr. Watley left it in my hands.  If I can secure this account, I could get a promotion, then we’ll be set.  Besides, don’t you see I have to go now to show you that there’s nothing to those dreams of yours?”

She buried her face in her hands and gritted her teeth as she put her back to him.  “You can’t.  You just can’t…”

*     *     *

The following morning, Claire’s eyes were bloodshot as she spooned up four bowls of oatmeal.  A loud crack of thunder made her gasp and jump just as Van and the kids entered the kitchen.

Van peeked out the window.  “Wow.  That’s gonna be some gully washer.  I hope when I get on the road, I can outrun this storm, and it doesn’t rain all the way to Elmhurst.”

Billy stuffed a bag of marbles in his pocket and flopped in his seat.  “How long is it to Elmhurst, Dad?”

“Six hours.  Don’t worry; I’ll call when I get checked into the hotel.”

Susie smiled a faraway smile.  “Imagine, a luxury hotel.  You’ll probably have room service, and valets, and everything!  Daddy, that’s just so… dreamy!”

Van chuckled and eyed Claire who was looking down.  He frowned.  “Aww, come on, Hon, lighten up.  I’ll be home in four days.”

She silently shook her head and stirred her oatmeal.  “Never mind me.  Just do what you have to.”

He exhaled loudly.  “Kids, go get your teeth brushed and gather your books.  I’ll drop you off at school on my way.”  As they made their way upstairs, he held Claire’s hand and tucked her chin to face him.  “Honey, please, don’t make this harder than it has to be.”

Her chin quivered.  “Van, don’t you understand?  I love you, and I don’t want to live without you.”

He smirked.  “Claire, I’m going to Elmhurst, not Mars.  I’ll be back Thursday evening.”

“No, you won’t!”

He rolled his eyes and picked up his suitcase.  “I don’t have time for this.  I need to get going.  Now, kiss me goodbye.”

She turned her face away as he tried to kiss her.  He shook his head.  “Alright.  I’ll call you when I get to the hotel.”

She nodded and sucked back her tears as he and the kids stepped outside.

A few minutes later, Van came back in with a red face.  His stride was purposeful as he headed to the kitchen sink and washed his hands.

Claire followed him.  “Where are the children?”

He dried his hands on a dishtowel and scowled.  “They walked.  Someone cut both back tires on the Pontiac!  I’m gonna have to call Howell’s Garage and have it towed.  I can’t believe you’d do this to me.  Claire, really!”

He jumped when the phone rang, and he picked up the receiver.  “Hello?  …Yes.  …Oh?  …Oh, okay.  Next week, then.  …Alright fine.  Thanks.  …Yes, goodbye.”

He narrowed his eyes.  “Honey, did you seriously think I wouldn’t find out that you called Mr. Smithfield’s office and rescheduled my meeting?  Look, I don’t know what’s going on with you lately, but this is ridiculous!  You could’ve very well just cost me my job!  Claire, I’m seriously starting to question your decision making abilities.”

Tears streamed down her cheeks.  “Van, I did it for you!  Can’t you understand how much I love and need you?  The children need you!”

He rolled his eyes and threw his hands in the air.  “This is unbelievable!  I love you, too, but I don’t understand why you think something’s gonna happen to me!  You’re not prescient!  I’ve had enough of you and those silly dreams!  Now, you really need to—”

They both turned their heads when their neighbor, Maxwell, knocked then walked in.  He carried a portable transistor radio, and his face was grim.  “Van, thank God you’re still here!  I was afraid you’d already left!”

Van furrowed his brow.  “No, I had car problems.  Why?  What’s wrong?”

Maxwell turned up the radio.  “Because the bridge over Owl Creek just washed out.  You’d have been there right about now.  They said the fog’s so thick up there, you can’t see your hand in front of your face.  Eleven cars went over the edge before anyone realized what had happened.  They’re trying to get a crew in there to pull them from the water, but with the rain and fog, they say it’s doubtful they’ll recover anything.  Van, it’s a lucky thing your car broke down, or you’d be a goner.”

The End

*     *     *

Time to chat:  Do you believe visions can sometimes accurately predict the future?   Do you believe we’re sometimes sent dreams for a reason? 

Visionary (Part Two)

It’s time for the second part of yesterday’s Micro-Fiction Monday.  Hold on to your seats…

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“Visionary”
Part Two of Three
By: Rachel Carrera

Early the following morning, Claire whimpered in her sleep.  “Nooo!”  She bolted up and gasped loudly.

Van stepped out of the bathroom with shaving cream on his face.  “Good morning, sleepyhead.  What’s wrong?”

Tears glistened in Claire’s eyes.  “Oh, it was horrible!  I had a dream that Billy got hurt.  He fell out of a tree and broke his left arm.  Oh, I hope Howard Stevens’ tree fort isn’t very high.  Van, you don’t think—”

He wiped the shaving cream off with a towel and made his way to the bed.  “Honey, I think Billy’s just fine.  The Stevenses would have called if there was a problem.  Besides he’ll be home before nine so we can eat breakfast and get to the furniture store for the lamp sale.”

Her body still quaked as she stood and hugged him.  “Alright.  I know you’re right.  It’s just that–”

“Darling, let’s not start this dream business again.  You saw what happened with Susie last night.  Now, please, let it go.  Let’s have a good day together.”

She sighed and forced a smile.  “I’m sorry.  I’ll go start breakfast.”

A short time later, when the front door opened, Claire ran to greet Billy and hugged him tightly.

Billy winced.  “Mom, you’re smothering me!”

Tears poured down her cheeks.  “Oh, let me look at you.  I’m just so glad you’re alright.”

Van stepped into the foyer and tousled his son’s hair.  “Of course he’s alright; aren’t ya, Champ?”

Billy furrowed his brow.  “Why wouldn’t I be alright?  Mom, you’re acting crazy.”

She smiled through her tears.  “I’m sorry.  It’s just that I had another dream, and, well… I’m just so happy to see you!”  She hugged him again and kissed his cheeks.

Billy grimaced and wiped the side of his face.  “Eww!  Mom, come on!”

Van chuckled.  “Son, go put your BB gun and your suitcase up in your room, and tell your sister breakfast is ready.”

As Billy hustled upstairs, Claire said, “Be sure to wash your hands!”

When the family ate, Billy swirled his waffle in syrup and asked, “So, Mom, what was that dream about?”

Susie raised an eyebrow and pursed her lips as she eyed her mother.

Claire took a deep breath and blushed.  “Oh, I guess it was just nothing.  I dreamed that you fell out of a tree and broke your left arm.  I was just certain that you fell out of Howard’s tree fort last night.”

Billy chuckled.  “Mom, Howard’s tree fort isn’t even this tall.”  He gestured to his chest.  “It’s on the lowest branch of that old oak tree.  His mom was too scared to let his dad build it any higher.  There’s no way I could fall out of that.”

Van laughed, and Susie cracked a smile.  She picked up a bowl of blueberries and handed them to Claire.  “Mother, I’m sorry about the way I acted last evening.  I was simply horrid, and you must have hated me.”

Claire blushed.  “Of course I could never hate you, Darling.”

Van straightened his tie and smiled.  “So, is everyone ready to go help your mother pick out a new floor lamp?”

*     *     *

That night, Claire woke twice following dreams of Billy breaking his arm.  Too terrified to sleep after the second event, she tiptoed to the living room and read, praying morning would come soon.

A short time later, Van yawned as he wandered into the living room and sat next to her.  “Claire, you really need to get a handle on these dreams.  Maybe Dr. Steadman can come over after church and prescribe you a sleeping pill.”

She waved her hand.  “No, I don’t want to bother him.  His daughter’s in town visiting, and besides, we’re going up to Hallinger’s Falls.  We’ve already promised the kids.”

He rested his arm around her shoulders.  “Was it the same dream?”

She snuggled into his chest.  “Yes.  Billy falls out of a tree and breaks his left arm.”

“Hon, he already told you Howard’s tree fort isn’t four feet off the ground.  Nothing’s going to happen to him.  Now, why don’t you go pack us a picnic basket, and get breakfast ready, and I’ll go wake the kids.”  He stood and extended his hand.

She took his hand and stood.  “Alright.  Do you want scrambled or poached?”

“Poached.  And, Hon, please don’t mention this to the kids.  There’s no reason to keep calling attention to these silly dreams.”

She took a deep breath and forced a smile.  “Yes, dear.”

*     *     *

After church, Claire tried not to yawn on the drive to Hallinger’s Falls.  She simulated a happy façade as the family sang “My Darling Clementine” and “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad.”  When they arrived, she forced a smile as she unpacked the picnic basket.

After everyone ate their potato salad and fried chicken, the kids went exploring, and Claire and Van held hands as they walked along the river’s edge.  “It’s really beautiful out here, isn’t it?” he asked.

She nodded and stifled a yawn.  “It sure is.  Honey, I’m really sorry about this week with all my dreams.  I guess I was just being silly.”

He kissed the side of her head.  “Oh, Darlin’, your silliness is one of the things I love about you.  But I hate that you’re losing sleep and worrying yourself and the kids.  If you could just allow yourself to relax…”

As they came upon a few trees, Claire gasped loudly when she saw Billy balancing on a high limb with his back to them.  “Billy!” she shreiked.  “Get down from there now!”

Billy jerked his head around, and as he did, he lost his balance and fell to the ground.  “Oww!  Oww, my arm!”  He clutched his left arm as he curled up in a ball.  His lip quivered as his parents raced to him.

*     *     *

Two hours later, the emergency room doctor wiped his hands on a white hand towel as he approached the family.  “Mr. and Mrs. Keene, Billy’s going to be just fine.  It’s a clean break.  He’ll be in a cast for a few weeks, but otherwise, he’s just a little bruised.  My nurse is cleaning the plaster off him, then he’ll be ready to go.”

Claire let out a loud sigh of relief.  “Thank goodness!”

Susie’s eyes grew large.  “Mother, it’s just like in your dream.  Billy did fall out of a tree and break his left arm.  The only difference was it wasn’t Howard’s tree.”

Claire furrowed her brow.  “Actually, I didn’t know if it was Howard’s tree or not in my dream.  I just assumed since he was playing in Howard’s tree fort—”

Van rolled his eyes.  “Would you two cut it out!  Now, listen, I don’t want any talk of these silly dreams once Billy gets back.  Hon, I don’t mean to cast blame, but if you wouldn’t have startled him, he probably wouldn’t have fallen.”

Claire’s jaw dropped open.  “Are you saying this was my fault?”

“I’m not blaming anyone.  It was an accident.  I’m just saying that—”

Billy’s face beamed as he ran down the corridor to his folks.  “Mom, Dad, look at this cool cast!  I can’t wait to have all the guys sign it!”

Claire cut her eyes sideways at Van, then forced a smile and hugged her son.  “I’m just glad you’re okay, Sweetie.”  She planted a kiss on his cheek.

Billy grimaced and wiped his face.  “Aww, Mom!  Not in public!”

*     *     *

Stay tuned…  Tomorrow brings the conclusion to Visionary

Let’s talk:  Have you ever believed someone who claimed they experienced a vision?  Do you have a favorite picnic spot in your area?

Visionary (Part One)

It’s time for another Micro-Fiction Monday.  This time, today’s story is even longer than usual, so I’ll be dividing it into three parts.  You can find Part Two here tomorrow.  Now don’t be afraid…  This is only fiction…

*     *     *

“Visionary”
Part One of Three
By: Rachel Carrera

Claire gasped as she bolted up, then rubbed her eyes as she looked around the dark room and tried to gather her bearings.  Van’s soft snoring next to her assured her that she was home in bed.  It was only a dream.  She rubbed her arms until the goosebumps disappeared, then snuggled next to her husband as she willed herself to fall back asleep.

The following morning, Claire yawned as she scooped scrambled eggs and bacon onto four plates.  “Billy, Susie, breakfast is ready.”

The kids came running downstairs, and Van straightened his tie then set his fedora on the table as he snatched a piece of bacon.  “Good morning, Darlin’.  Did you sleep well?”  He kissed Claire’s cheek then sat at the head of the table.

Billy and Susie scrambled to get in their chairs as Claire untied her apron and handed Van the newspaper.  “Not really.  How about you?”

Van opened the paper without responding then raised his eyebrows.  “Oh, King George died.  It looks like England’s got a new queen.”

Susie yelped.  “Oww!  Mother, Billy hit me with his yoyo!”

Claire brought the plates to the table and said, “Billy, you know we don’t bring toys to the table.  And what are you wearing?  You can’t wear dungarees to school.  After you eat, you need to march upstairs and change into your corduroy slacks.”

“Aww, Mom!”

Van raised an eyebrow.  “Don’t sass your mother, son.  So, what’s everyone got planned for the weekend?  I need to take your mother shopping for a new lamp Saturday, and I thought we might drive up to Hallinger’s Falls for a picnic after church Sunday.”  He lit a cigarette then bit into a buttery slice of toast.

Billy wiped his milk mustache with the back of his arm and grinned.  “Howard Stevens’ dad just built him a tree fort, and they asked if I could spend the night Friday.  I’m gonna take my BB gun, and we’re gonna play Davy Crockett.”

Van smiled.  “Of course you can, son.  What about you, Princess?”

Susie smiled and smoothed her pinafore.  “Donald Fredericks asked me to the Valentine’s Dance Friday night.  I was hoping Mother would help me let down the hem of my red dress.”

Claire tensed, and the color drained from her face.  She dropped her fork to the floor with a loud ting.  Her eyes grew large, and the tendons in her neck protruded.  “I… uh… oh, Susie, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

Van picked up the utensil.  “Billy, get your mother a clean fork.  What’s wrong, dear?  You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Claire’s hands shook, and tears welled in her eyes.  “I… well… I had a dream last night, and, well, I just don’t think Susie should go to the dance.”

Susie frowned.  “What?  But, Mother!  You know I’ve been waiting all year for Donald to ask me out.”

Van patted Susie’s hand.  “Claire, a dream?  Really?  What kind of dream?”

Claire bit her lip and blushed as she averted his gaze.  “I know it sounds ridiculous, but I had a dream that Donald would ask Susie out.  She was in her red dress the night of their date, and he telephoned to cancel.  It broke her heart.  Oh, Van, we can’t risk having him hurt her like that!”

Susie’s jaw dropped open.  “What?  Mother, I’ll have you know that Donald’s a very nice boy!  He’d never do such a horrid thing!”

Claire knitted her brow.  “Susie, you were in tears, and you couldn’t be consoled.  I just don’t think—”

Van chuckled and patted Claire’s arm.  “Now, Darling, I have to agree with Susie.  Relying on a dream is a little farfetched.  Besides, my firm is trying to get the Fredericks account, so I don’t want to make old Jimbo angry if my daughter doesn’t accept his son’s invitation to the dance.”  He looked at Susie.  “Of course you can go, Princess.  Now, you and Billy had better get on upstairs and brush your teeth before you’re late for school.”

Susie stood and kissed Van’s cheek.  “Yes, Daddy.  Thank you.”  She and Billy rushed upstairs with a loud clamor.

Claire hung her head and rubbed her temples as Van stood.  He rubbed her shoulder then grabbed his fedora as he said, “Don’t be such a mother hen.  Susie’ll be just fine.”  He kissed her cheek, then took his briefcase and left.

*     *     *

Friday after school, Donald drove Susie home and accompanied her inside.  “Hi, Mrs. Keene, I’m Donald.  Susie thought it would be a good idea for me to meet you before the dance tonight.”

Claire forced a smile as she shook his hand.  “Of course, Donald, it’s good to meet you.  Why don’t you and Susie go sit in the living room.  I’ll bring you some cake and lemonade, and we can get to know each other.”

Donald tipped his head.  “Yes, ma’am.  Thank you.”

For the next hour, Claire served Donald six slices of her famous apple crumb cake as she asked him question after question.  As soon as he drove away, Susie scowled and put her hands on her hips.  “Mother, I can’t believe you!  Why’d you have to ask him so many personal questions?  That was so embarrassing!”

Van walked in the front door and hung his hat as Claire said, “Honey, I was just trying to see if his intentions were honorable.  I told you that in my dream he—”

Tears welled in Susie’s eyes.  “Oh, you and that silly dream!  I don’t want to hear another word!”  She spun on her heel, then raced upstairs and slammed the door to her bedroom.

Van shook his head and kissed his wife’s cheek.  “Hon, I told you to leave that dream business alone.  You’re name’s Claire, not Clairvoyant.”

*     *     *

A couple of hours later, Susie emerged downstairs in her red dress with white polka dots and red kitten heels.  “Mother, I can’t find my white cardigan, and can I please borrow your pearls?”

Claire sighed.  “Your cardigan is hanging in the back of your closet, and it’s may I please borrow your pearls.  Yes, you may.  They’re in my jewelry box.  And, Susie?”

“Yes?”

Claire bit her lip and looked sideways at Van who set his newspaper in his lap.  She forced a smile.  “Nothing.  It’s nothing.  You look beautiful, Darling.”

“Thanks!”  Susie grinned as she hurried back upstairs.

Van shook his head.  “Claire, don’t say anything.  You’re going to ruin this dance for her.  It was just a dream.”

Claire sighed and nodded.  “Alright.  I understand.”  They both jumped when the phone rang.

“I’ll get it,” Van said as he stood.

As he walked to the kitchen, Claire nervously clutched the arms of her chair.  She struggled to hear but couldn’t make out what he said.  She held her breath as she waited for his return.

Susie ran to the bottom of the stairs just as Van came back.  She grinned, and her dress flared as she spun in a circle.  “Well, how do I look?  Mother, these pearls are simply darling!  I think a bow in my hair would look better, don’t you?”

Van sucked in his lips.  “Princess, I—”

“What is it, Daddy?”

Claire clenched her hands into fists and bit her lip.

Van nodded and hugged Susie.  “Princess, that was Donald’s mother on the phone.  He can’t take you to the dance.”

“What?  Why not?”  Tears welled in Susie’s eyes as Claire stood and approached them.

Van smoothed his daughter’s hair.  “His mom said that he—”

Susie narrowed her eyes and glared at Claire.  “This is your fault, Mother!  You scared him away with all those silly questions this afternoon!  I can’t believe you!  I’ll be the laughingstock of the whole school!”

Claire reached for her daughter’s hand, but Susie jerked away dramatically.  Claire furrowed her brow.  “Susie, I just—”

Van sighed.  “Princess, Mrs. Fredericks said that Donald is sick.  She said the doctor just left their house and said he needed to stay in bed all weekend.  She said he feels horrible about having to cancel.”

Susie’s chest heaved as she sobbed even harder.  “It doesn’t matter!  It’s the biggest dance of the year next to Homecoming and Prom, and now I don’t have a date!  I’ll be a laughingstock!”  She spun on her heel and fled upstairs.  Moments later, her bedroom door slammed.

As Van and Claire headed back to their chairs in the living room, Claire sighed.  “I just knew it would turn out this way.  I just knew he’d cancel—”

Van spun on his heel and scowled.  “What?  Hon, I didn’t want to say anything in front of Susie, but she was right.  You did cause this.”

Claire’s hand flew to her chest.  “What?  But I didn’t do anything.  I—”

“Mrs. Fredericks said that Donald’s in bed because he’s got hives.  She said he’s allergic to apples, but apparently you plied him with half a dozen pieces of your apple crumb cake today, and he was too polite to turn you down.  Darling, you really need to calm down.  Let’s just get through this evening and hope Susie gets over it quickly.”

*     *     *

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the next installment of Visionary

Let’s talk:  Have you ever had a dream that came true?  Do you believe in self-fulfilling prophecies?

Brotherly Love – Part Two

Today, we learn the fate of Major and Jett introduced to you in yesterday’s Micro-Fiction Monday.

“Brotherly Love”
Part One
By: Rachel A. Carrera

Several hours later, Dad and Jett unloaded the car.  When they finished, Dad stretched his arms over his head and smiled.  “This looks like a good spot, boys.”  He checked his watch.  “Wow, it’s nearly four o’clock.  I’d hoped we’d have been here and had camp set up by now.  I was looking forward to having fresh trout for dinner.”

Jett rolled his eyes.  “Well, we would’ve been here on time if Major Pain didn’t have to make so many bathroom stops.”  He picked up a stone and threw it at a tall pine tree behind the car, hitting the tree’s trunk.

Major frowned.  “I couldn’t help it.”  He picked up a rock and threw it toward the pine, then grimaced when it bounced off the car’s hood.

Dad swiped his hands over his face.  “Jett, that’s enough!  Look, why don’t you take your brother and show him around while I set up camp.  Be back in an hour, and we’ll go fishing.”

Jett smirked and nudged his brother.  “What Dad’s saying is that you’re a major pain in the butt, and he can set up camp faster if you’re not here.”

Dad huffed.  “Jett!”

Jett chuckled.  “Well, it’s true.  You always let me help you set up before he came along.”

Tears welled in Major’s eyes.  “I want Mommy.”

Jett rolled his eyes.  “Good grief.  You’re such a major baby.”

Dad opened the cooler and grabbed a beer.  “Jett, cool it!  If you can’t be nice to your brother, we might as well pack the car back up and go home.”

Jett huffed loudly.  “Fine.  Come on, Major Loser.”  He started jogging.

Major panted as he raced to keep up with Jett.

Jett looked over his shoulder and laughed.  “What’s the matter?  Can’t you keep up, Major Slowpoke?”

Major pushed forward and fell.  He grabbed his knee as tears welled in his eyes.  “Owwiee!  You made me fall!”

Jett rolled his eyes and helped Major to his feet.  “Get up, Major Baby.  If you couldn’t keep up, you should’ve stayed home with your mommy.”  He ran then jumped on stepping stones as he crossed a shallow branch of the creek.

Major sniffled as he followed his brother.  As they rounded a corner of the mountain, he gasped and screamed.  “Ack!  A snake!”  He jumped up and down and flailed his arms.

Jett huffed and picked up the snake behind its head.  “Shut up.  It’s just a baby corn snake.  You’re such a Major Doofus.”  He thrust the snake toward his brother.

Major jumped backward, and his chin quivered.  “Stop being mean to me, or I’m gonna tell Daddy.”

“Oh, really?  And just how do you think you’re gonna find your way back to camp, Major Tattletale?  Maybe I’ll just run ahead and leave you out here for the bears to eat.”

Tears spilled down Major’s cheeks.  “You’re a meanie!  I hate you!”

Jett chuckled and looked at his watch.  “Oh, crap.  It’s been thirty minutes.  We’d better head back to camp.”  He released the snake and wiped his hands on his pants.

“No!  I’m not going anywhere with you.”

“Major, come on.  We’re gonna be late.”

Major folded his arms and glared at his brother.

“Fine.  I’ll go without you.”  Jett started jogging toward camp.  Moments later, he looked over his shoulder as Major headed the other way.  He groaned.  “Major Butthead, camp’s this way.  …You better come on.  …I mean it!”

Major made his way under a rock overhang and grabbed a vine hanging from a dead tree on top of the rocky projection.

Jett gasped.  “Major, no!  Don’t touch that!  That tree was struck by lightning.  You might cause it to fall and start a rockslide.”

“You’re not the boss of me!”  Major stuck out his tongue as he jumped and swung on the vine.

Jett gasped and lunged for his brother.  “Major, nooooo!”

A loud crack and a sound like rolling thunder pierced the otherwise quiet air.  The large tree trunk split, and rocks, dirt, and debris fell to the ground below.

*     *     *

Dad closed the tackle box and checked his watch.  “Where are those boys?  They’re almost a half hour late.”  He picked up a fishing pole and inspected the lure, then spun around when he heard Jett’s voice.

“Dad!”  Jett was covered in dirt and had scrapes on his face.  A large tear was in the arm of his shirt, and his left elbow was bloody.  His face was ashen, and his eyes were large.  His chin quivered as he panted to catch his breath.  “Come quick!”

“Jett, your arm!”

Jett shook his head.  “No time for that.”

The hair on the back of Dad’s neck stood on end.  “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Major.  He’s hurt.  Follow me.”  Jett spun on his heel and started sprinting without waiting for a reply.

Dad threw down his fishing pole and followed Jett.  His strength ebbed, and his muscles burned as he surged past the creek.  As they got to the overhang, he gasped and clutched his chest when he saw the broken tree that had fallen on the large pile of dirt and rocks.

Jett pointed to the closest edge of the pile.  He held his side and breathlessly said, “Major’s under that rock pile… right there!”

The color drained from Dad’s face.  He fell to his knees and started digging with his hands, throwing rocks over his shoulder.  “Run back to camp.  See if you can find any other campers, and send them here to help.  See if anyone can drive down to Turtle Creek and phone for an ambulance.  Hurry!”

Jett spun on his heel and raced back toward camp.

A short time later, two men joined Dad.  One of the men plunged a shovel into the dirt and rocks.  “Your son, Jett, told us what happened.  How long’s the other boy been in here?”

Dad wiped his forehead on his sleeve and struggled to toss a large rock to his side.  “I don’t know.  Not more than an hour, I guess.”

The other man grabbed a hefty stick and positioned it under the tree trunk.  “Here, help me.  Let’s use this as leverage.  We’d better hurry.  If he’s still alive, he won’t have air for long.”

The first man thrust his shovel at Dad and helped lift the tree.  “My brother drove to Turtle Creek to use the phone.  We should have some help soon.”  The men rolled the tree to the side as Dad shoveled.

Nearly a half hour later, as a helicopter landed, Dad uncovered the long sleeve to Major’s red shark shirt.  He threw the shovel to the ground and frantically dug with his bare hands.  As he uncovered the boy’s face, his heart lurched into his stomach.  “Major!  Major, it’s Daddy!  Are you okay, son?”  He was frantic as he scooped up the boy’s limp body and clutched his son to his chest.

Moments later, Major started to cough, then he gasped and opened his eyes.   “Daddy!  You’ve got to help Jett!”

Tears mixed with dirt and sweat and streaked Dad’s face.  “Major, oh, I can’t believe you’re alive.  Don’t worry about Jett, son.  He’s back at camp.”

Major wriggled out of Dad’s arms and desperately shook his head.  “No!  You have to save him!”  He struggled to stand as he pointed at the center of the rock pile.  “He’s in there!  He pushed me out of the way so that tree wouldn’t fall on me.”

A medic ran from the helicopter and placed an oxygen mask on Major’s face as two more men brought large shovels and started digging.

Dad hugged Major as the medic assessed him.  He turned his head as he heard, “We got him.  The poor kid didn’t make it.  It looks like he died instantly.  His skull was crushed on impact.”  A man stood with Jett’s limp body in his arms.  Dad’s knees went weak, and the color drained from his face.  Jett’s black and blue plaid sleeved arm fell to the side.  There was a tear in the sleeve, and his left elbow was covered in blood.

The End

Time to chat:  Have you ever been camping?  Do you know what you’d do in case of an accident during an outdoor adventure that was miles from civilization?   Do you believe in such supernatural happenings? 

Brotherly Love – Part One

It’s time for another Micro-Fiction Monday.  Because today’s story is a little longer than normal, I’ll be dividing it in two.  You can find Part Two here tomorrow.  Now don’t be afraid…  This is only fiction…

“Brotherly Love”
Part One
By: Rachel A. Carrera

The morning sun shone brilliantly, and the azure sky was clear.  Three boys eagerly crouched around the sewage drain cover as two large, fat frogs climbed over each other.  “Come on!  Go!” the boys shouted.  “Get moving!”  When one of the frogs jumped off of the circular metal onto the road, the boys stood.

“That’s it.  Marcus’ toad won,” Clark said.

Marcus picked up his frog.  “Alriiight!  You owe me a quarter, Jett.”

Jett huffed and dug in his pocket.  He tossed a coin to Marcus and said, “Don’t worry.  I’ll get you back next week.”  He grabbed his frog and stroked its back.

The boys turned their heads when the back screen door opened and Mom yelled, “Jett, it’s time to come in.”

“I’ll be right there.”  Jett thrust his frog to Clark.  “Here.  You can keep this and race Marcus while I’m gone this weekend.”

Clark furrowed his brow.  “Where you going?”

“My dad’s taking us camping up at Cavern Falls.”

Marcus winced.  “Cavern Falls.  Man, that’s lame.”

Jett clicked his tongue.  “No, it’s not.  My dad and I have gone every year since I was six.  We do a lot of fishing, and we explore the caves.  It’s pretty fun.”

“Do you have to take Major?” Marcus asked.

Jett rolled his eyes.  “You mean Major Pain in the Butt?  Not if I have anything to say about it.”

Mom stuck her head out the door again.  “Jett, now!  And bring Major!”

“Okay.”  Jett waved at his friends as he jogged toward the swing set in his side yard.  “See ya.”  When he got to the swing, he picked up a stone and threw it, hitting the knothole in the large oak tree.  “Come on, Major Pain.  Mom says you have to come in.”

Major jumped off his swing and poked out his lower lip.  “Stop calling me that!”  He picked up a stone and threw it toward the oak, but it fell a few yards short.

Jett smirked.  “I’ll stop calling you that when you stop acting like it.”  He threw another stone, hitting the tree trunk, then raced toward the house with Major at his heels.

Mom handed Dad a bag of sandwiches and opened the lid to the cooler, then grinned like a Cheshire cat.  “So, are my three brave hunters ready to go on their Montgomery Men’s Family Outing?”

Major smiled and puffed up his chest.  “I am.  But why can’t you come, Mommy?”

Jett rolled his eyes.  “Because then it wouldn’t be a men’s outing, stupid.”

“I’m not stupid.”

Dad sighed and narrowed his eyes as he emptied a bag of ice into the cooler.  “Boys, cut it out.”

Jett pursed his lips and nudged his brother.  “Why does Major have to come this time?  He’s not old enough yet.”

Major frowned and swung at Jett.  “Yes, I am.  Dad said I could go when I turned six, and I’m six now.”

Jett smirked and held Major’s head at arm’s length.  “Yeah, and I’m twelve.  So, what?”

“Jett, cool it,” Dad said.  “Perhaps you forgot that we only started this tradition to reward you for being such a good big brother when Major was a baby.  If it weren’t for him being born, you wouldn’t even be going.  Now, boys, go use the bathroom and kiss your mom.  It’s time we hit the road.”

A few minutes later, Mom stood next to the trunk of the car and kissed Dad.  “Have fun, guys.”

Dad wiggled the cooler into place then closed the trunk.  He took his keys out of his pocket and opened the driver’s door.  “We will.  Don’t forget, I won’t have any phone reception after we pass Turtle Creek, so if you need me, you’d better call before two o’clock.”

“Okay.  Don’t worry about me.”  Mom leaned in the passenger’s window and kissed Jett’s cheek.

Jett grimaced and wiped his face.  “Come on, Mom!  I’m too old for that.”

She chuckled.  “Okay.  Well, be careful, and please be nice to your brother.  He’s been looking forward to this.”  She touched the black and blue plaid sleeve of Jett’s flannel shirt.  “Don’t you think it’s time to retire this thing already?  It’s getting too tight.”

“No way.  It’s my lucky fishing shirt.  I’m never gonna give it up.”

Major grinned.  “This is my favorite shirt, Mommy.  I like it ‘cause it’s red, and it has a shark.  I bet I’ll catch the biggest fish of anybody with this shirt.”

Mom picked up Major and hugged him tightly to her bosom.  “You’re getting to be such a big boy.  You won’t be my baby much longer.  You have fun and listen to Daddy.”

Dad started the car then tapped his watch.  “They’ll be fine.  Hon, we really need to go.”

Mom buckled Major in the back.  “Alright, guys, have a good time.  I’ll see you Sunday night.”  She stood back and waved as the car pulled out of the driveway.

*     *     *

Let’s talk:  Did you ever pick on your younger siblings when you were kids?  Did you ever make up annoying nicknames for them?  Do you have a lucky article of clothing?

Beware Your Wishes – Part Two

Today, we learn the fate of our friends introduced to you in yesterday’s Micro-Fiction Monday.

BEWARE YOUR WISHES
(Part Two)
By: Rachel A. Carrera

Two hours later, Samantha and the kids ambled through the art supply store.  Samantha pushed a cart filled with numerous boxes of clay.

As they rounded a corner, Macie stopped short and excitedly pointed at a display.  “Look, Mommy, paints!  Can we get some?”

The other two kids chimed in.  “Yeah, Mommy, please!”  The three of them began jumping up and down around the display.  Moments later, an easel came crashing down and knocked over dozens of glass baubles stacked across the aisle.  SMASH!  Bits of glass flew everywhere.

Samantha rolled her eyes and blushed.  “What did I tell you three?  Now look what you’ve done!  Is anyone hurt?”

The days when Michael was alive and they spent every waking moment together was a distant memory.  She could barely remember a time when she wasn’t both mother and father to three active children who demanded every moment of her attention.  Ever since the funeral, life became more hectic by the day, and she had less and less time to relax.  I just want seventy-two hours alone so I can sink my hands into some wet clay and forget about the world.  Just one weekend with no kids and no responsibilities.  Is that so wrong?

The kids all started crying as the store manager raced over to them.  “Is everybody okay?  I told that stock boy to stack these things better.  I’m so sorry, ma’am.”

Samantha shook her head and waved her hands.  “No, it was our fault.”  She narrowed her eyes at the children.  “Apparently my kids don’t know how to behave.  I’m sorry.”  She shook her head.  “I swear, sometimes I’d give a million dollars just to have a whole day to myself without these three underfoot.”

The manager ignored her comment and helped guide the cart around the mess.  “Well, don’t worry about this.  If you’ll head on up front, Clarisse will check you out.”

She nodded.  “Thank you.  Kids, don’t touch anything!”

After they checked out, they headed  across the parking lot to the car.  As Samantha loaded the clay into the trunk, the triplets played by the driver’s door.  Soon, they each pressed their hands on the window and their faces against the glass as they peered inside.

Samantha closed the trunk and huffed loudly.  “Aww, what are you three doing now?  I just had this car washed!  Look, you got handprints all over the glass.  Just, just… get inside.”  She took a deep breath and rubbed her temples.  After she buckled the kids in the back seat, she started driving.

Moments later, Macie grinned.  “Hey, let’s sing the Teddy Bear Song!”

Rebekah shook her head.  “No, let’s sing the Ducky Song!”

Marcus furrowed his brow.  “No, I want to sing the song about the toy soldiers!”

Samantha grimaced and attempted to put her looming migraine out of her mind.  Her knuckles turned white as she tightened her grip around the steering wheel.  I’m never going to get this sculpture finished in time if they keep going at this level.  Why can’t I just have some time to myself?

Macie clapped her hands loudly.  “I know!  Let’s sing all three songs together!”  Soon, she and her siblings started singing three different songs at the top of their voices.

The muscles in Samantha’s neck tightened as she looked in the rearview mirror.  “Would you three please be quiet!  I swear, I’m so sick of all your noise and mischief all the time!  Why can’t you just be quiet?  You’re giving me a headache!”  She momentarily squeezed her eyes closed, then CRASH!

*     *     *

Three days later, Samantha’s eyes groggily fluttered open.  The bandage wrapped around her shaved head did nothing to keep out the cold.  As she struggled to sit up, the sound of various machines, as well as the low, methodical sound of a ventilator, informed her that she was in a hospital.  She attempted to speak, but the oxygen mask on her face prevented her from making a distinguishable sound.

A flash of pink caught her eye when a tall nurse in cotton candy scrubs bent over her and gently grabbed her shoulders, holding her down in the bed.  In a cloying tone, she said, “Just calm down, ma’am.  You’re in City Hospital.  You’re going to be just fine.  You were in a car accident.”

Samantha blinked her eyes, and the nurse removed the oxygen mask.  Samantha struggled to take a deep breath, and her voice was raspy.  “What…  What happened?  My children?  Where are they?  Are they okay?”

The nurse blushed, and her face grew grim.  “Uh, I’m so sorry, ma’am.  But, uh, they didn’t make it.  All three of them died instantly on impact.”

Samantha gasped and felt herself grow faint.  The room spun as she tried to digest the surreal news.  “What?  No!  Not my babies!”  Tears welled in her eyes, and she instinctively threw off the covers to raise her hands to her mouth.  But as she did, she realized…  Bandaged stumps were where her hands once had been.

THE END

Let’s chat:  Have you ever experienced a “be careful what you wish for” moment?  If so, what happened?

Beware Your Wishes – Part One

It’s time for another Micro-Fiction Monday.  Because today’s story is a little longer than normal, I’ll be dividing it in two.  You can find Part Two here tomorrow.  Now don’t be afraid…  This is only fiction…

BEWARE YOUR WISHES
(Part One)
By: Rachel A. Carrera

Wet clay smeared on Samantha’s forehead as she wiped her face with her forearm.  She stood back and tilted her head as she examined the sculpture she was creating, then she sighed.  “Something’s just not right.  The eyes are too far apart.”  Just then, her studio door burst open, and her triplets ran in.  She spun around and gasped.

Rebekah scrunched her face.  “Mommy, tell Marcus to stop chasing us!  He’s ruining our game.”

Marcus scowled.  “I am not!  Besides, it’s a stupid game anyway!”

Macie narrowed her eyes.  “Yeah, well you’re stupid!”  She stuck out her tongue.

Marcus bowed up his chest and lunged at his sister.  “I am not!”

The girls held hands as they stood side by side.  “You are, too!”

Samantha swiped her hand over her face.  “Kids!  That’s enough!”

Marcus yanked a fistful of Macie’s hair then ran to the other side of the sculpture.  “I am not!”

The girls chased him.  “You are, too!  Marcus is stupid!  Marcus is stupid!”

Samantha felt heat rise to her face as her cheeks flushed.  “Kids, stop it!”

The triplets raced around Samantha and the sculpture two more times until Marcus bumped it.  He stopped in his tracks and jumped backward as it fell to the floor into a wet lump.  His chin quivered as he choked out an apology.  “I – I’m sorry, Mommy.”

Rebekah folded her arms and smirked.  “See.  You wouldn’t have done that if you weren’t so stupid!”

Samantha scowled and clenched her hands into fists.  “Look what you’ve done!  I want every one of you to go upstairs to your rooms and take a nap!”  She gestured to the open door.

Macie poked out her lip and pouted.  “But Marcus started it.”

Samantha knelt by the mess and clutched two handfuls of wet clay.  She tried to compose herself as she narrowed her eyes at the children.  “Yeah, well, I don’t care who started it!  I’m going to finish it!  I have a deadline in three days to have this piece done in time for the grand re-opening of the cancer center where your daddy died, and now I’m going to have to start all over again.  I don’t even have enough clay.  I’m going to clean this mess up and take a shower, and as soon as you three take a nap, we’re going to drive to the art supply store, and you will behave.  Do you understand me?”

“Yes, ma’am.”  The triplets remained somber as they headed out of the studio.

Samantha stifled the urge to sob as she began cleaning the mess.  She knew if she allowed herself to cry, she might never be able to stop.  She mumbled as she pulled the garbage can closer.  “I swear, sometimes, I wish I didn’t have kids at all.  When Michael was alive, he could keep them entertained while I worked, but it seems like every time I turn around, they’re getting into something–”

CRASH!

She cringed and looked over her shoulder.  “What happened?”

“Macie did it!”

“I didn’t mean to!  It was an accident!”

Samantha squeezed her eyes closed and took a deep breath.  “Go get in bed, all of you!  And don’t touch anything!”  She huffed and cracked her neck, then stood.  When she made her way out to the corridor, she found her favorite vase in pieces on the floor.  Her hand covered her mouth, and tears welled in her eyes.  Why can’t you kids just leave me alone?  I just want some time to myself to get things done around here.

*     *     *

Time to talk:  Can you imagine raising young triplets all by yourself?  Have you ever known triplets?  How about twins?  Have you ever sculpted anything?