The River’s Crusade

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Carnassial claws plunder the rushing water
The mighty river quivers, reluctant to release its treasure
Roars as the fowl bandit rips riches from its depths
Waves slap the feathered beast with intense fury
Fresh tears fall, overflowing its swollen banks
Defeated, the river ceases its coursing

Creative Bloomings Prompt #143: Personification

The Evangelist

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Written for Flashy Fiction: Write a story using specific facts.

Amid the singing voices rising above the lights and the smoke, the Reverend could still hear her screams; he reveled in the memory. Just a week ago, this place was a ghost town; the kind of place where dirt, once inhaled, took up residence. A memo from an old acquaintance led his congregate here. His friend was right. It was perfect.

Once word spread of his coming, people traveled from every nook and cranny of the county and beyond. With them, they brought the last of their savings, valuables, and even treasured family heirlooms as offerings. They were ripe for the picking. Poor, hopeless, and isolated, he could prey on their fears, tap into their desperation. They wanted something to believe in; some sign that there was more to this life, and the one after.

Well, he knew something about life—and death. He was a true follower. His believers understood the sacrifices he made. Last night offered a rare opportunity. God had given him certain gifts; charisma, charm, and good-looks in abundance. He did not waste these. He saw her sacrifice as a gift. Once he realized that she was not enlightened, he had no other choice. When she finally gave in to the pain, her screams were his salvation. He felt her life-force join his. Now they would be connected forever; a bond stronger than any human could create. Certain sacrifices were necessary for him to continue his work.

On the other side of the curtain, their voices lifted; chanted his name. They already loved him. His chest swelled with pride. As he stepped onstage, he raised his hands above his head, and shouted, “Hallejulah, He has risen!”

Found Poem “in Our Dreams We Read

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Click link to purchase book and support Literacy councils in Alabama and Birmingham.

A found poem from prologue of “In Our Dreams We Read” by Bruce K. Berger

Illiteracy smacked me

Sent me sprawling

Reading was never optional

My mother was a schoolteacher

My father devoured newspapers

–And western novels

I gathered for nightly bedtime stories

Trekked each week to the library

Stories fed my imagination

Fueled my dreams

 

Literacy isn’t a gift given to all

Bob couldn’t read

What don’t you understand?

“The whole damn thing, he said.”

“I can only read in my dreams.”

 

Illiteracy isn’t sexy

It doesn’t wear suggestive clothing

Sometimes they pretend

They are proud

So they just keep on keeping on

It is not an unsolvable problem

People who can read

Help others to read

Why finer thing can someone do

Than influence the life of another?

The Visit

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Written for Flashy Fiction Friday on Creative Bloomings
As Kate raised her hand to knock on the door, it flew open, and narrowed green eyes greeted her.
“Oh, Skip,” she gasped, “hi”. Skip was her friend Aimee’s husband, though they were currently separated. From the look on Skip’s face, they were no closer to fixing their relationship status. She was sorry they couldn’t seem to work it out. Skip was a good father and provider. He’d never willingly leave his family; that she knew for sure.

“Sorry, Kate, I’ll see you around.” Skip pushed on past her, barely looking her in the eye.

Kate, watched him walk to his car, and called out to Aimee. They were going to dinner, then a concert in the city. Aimee came out, eyes puffy, but otherwise looking ready to hit the town.

“Ready,” she declared, and let out a deep breath. “Did you see Skip?”

“Not really,” she hedged. “He was leaving in a hurry. You OK?”

“I will be once we get out of this house.”

The smile she plastered on her face let Kate know that there would be no more discussion of Skip tonight. Kate didn’t push the issue; didn’t feel she had the right to. Tonight was all about fun, fun, fun.

The next day was Saturday, and Kate awoke to a pounding in her head. Soon she realized, the pounding was actually someone knocking on the door. Thinking the intruder would go away, she fell back onto her pillow, but there it was again, that insistent banging. Kate finally opened the door, glaring at the bright sun that greeted her. An attractive woman, grey hair worn long, stuck out her hand to shake Kate’s. Taking in Kate’s appearance, she apologized.

“Sorry to bother you on a weekend, but my name is Karla. I’m with Alliance Life Insurance. You recently added a policy. I’m here to verify some information and get some signatures.”

Kate briefly shook her hand. “Yes, of course, I signed some paperwork at the office. Please, come in.” Kate stepped back and let the agent enter. “Please excuse me one minute, I’ll get dressed.”

When Kate returned the woman was gazing at pictures on the mantle.

“She’s a pretty girl. She has the most beautiful eyes; such a rare color.”

“Thanks. That’s my daughter Allie.”

Eager to get on with the paperwork and change the subject, Kate asked if she could get her anything.

“A cup of tea would be nice.”

“Sure thing. Why don’t we complete the paperwork at the table?”

Kate popped a pod into the coffee maker, then organized sugar, honey, and cream on a tray. Once Karla fixed her tea to her liking, they got down to business.

The woman took some forms from her briefcase. “The processor noted some incomplete information. If you wouldn’t mind filling this out, and confirming the changes with your signature, I’ll be on my way.”

When Kate saw the questions, her hand froze on the page. In the space where name of father should be, it was blank. She glanced at Karla.

“I don’t see the problem. I intentionally left the name of the father blank. Is that not allowed?”

Karla looked at her intently, a question in her eyes, but then she said, “No, not a problem. You see the boxes below? If you don’t know who the father is, then check the box that states, unknown, see?”
Kate did see. “I’m so sorry you had to come all this way. It was a stupid mistake.”

Karla leaned over and took Kate’s hand. “We all make mistakes,” she said. “If we’re honest, and do our best to correct the path our mistakes put us on, the universe will forgive.”

Kate shivered, and then laughed at herself for allowing superstitious feelings. “I meant forgetting to check the box was a mistake, not that…oh, never mind.” Kate signed and handed the paperwork back to Karla.

“Was that all?”

“Yes, that’s all. I just wanted to right a wrong. It will be a relief to you to know you’ve provided for your daughter. One must be prepared. Anyway, our office will process the paperwork. The policy will come to you shortly.”

Karla packed her briefcase quickly, and made her way to the door. Before she left, she gave Kate the briefest of smiles. The look she gave Kate was almost sorrowful.

“Thanks for tea, and I wish you all that you deserve.”

With that statement, Karla left. Kate scoffed and watched the woman walk off. That was a bit strange. Kate stood for a moment mulling over her bizarre encounter with the woman. Feeling a chill, she closed the door.

On Monday, Kate hurried into the office, nearly late after grabbing a card for her boss at the supermarket. She walked into Aimee’s office, but she wasn’t there yet. Penning a quick note, she left it on her desk. Then, before she forgot, she sent an email out to the entire staff—minus her boss—and got to work. Right before lunch, her boss called her in.

Mary was tough. Always in the office early, and the last to leave, she expected the same dedication from all of her employees. Not having a husband or children, she could afford the luxury. Needless to say, she wasn’t the most beloved of bosses, but Kate could admire her work ethic.

Mary closed the door, and asked Kate to sit down. Looking grave she asked Kate, “What is the meaning of this?” She slammed a petition down that Kate had never seen.

“I honestly don’t know. I’ve never seen that before.”

“Well, that’s interesting because a source told me it came from you. Do you have a problem with me you’d like to address?”

Kate stuttered, “No, I don’t have a problem. I don’t know where that petition came from, but I didn’t send anything around asking to have you removed from your position. I don’t know who did this, but it wasn’t me.”

Mary picked up the phone from her desk, dialed, and said told the person on the line to come to her office immediately. Kate was shocked to see Aimee walk through the door. Aimee nervously glanced her way, and sat in the chair next to her.

“Aimee,” her boss quizzed. “Is this the petition that you were asked to sign and then send around the office?”

Aimee shook her head, looked at Kate, and added, “It was sitting on my desk with a post-it in your handwriting asking me to sign and pass it on. I’m sorry, Kate, but I can’t risk losing my job right now. I had to bring it in.”

Kate sat dumbfounded. “I didn’t leave that petition, Aimee.”

Her boss dismissed Aimee, and she rushed out of the office.

“Is this your handwriting?” her boss asked, referring to the post-it. Then, she showed her the first signature on the petition. “And is this not the same signature?”

“Yes, it looks like it but….”

“Then there’s nothing to discuss. We have this post it, your signature on the petition, and an email asking everyone to sign. I don’t need any more proof. Pack your desk, I want you gone.”

Kate couldn’t believe it. Nothing like this had ever happened to her. Did Aimee know? That was the only explanation, but why now, after all this time?

When she returned to her desk, the card she had gotten congratulating her boss for her recent promotion was on her desk. Kate opened the card to see a note addressed to her. It read:

Did Karma come; sing its siren song?
It’s truth she seeks; if truth she finds
Redemption will be paid.
If not, Justice will find its way.
All that is given, can be taken.

No signature. Kate’s hand trembled. The strange visit, the questions about Allie’s father, and now losing her job, couldn’t all be a coincidence. A thought struck her, and she grabbed her keys, praying it was only her imagination getting away from her. As she fought to keep the car on the road, her last thought was of seeing her daughter, hoping she would get another chance to look into her brilliant, green eyes.