Friday Flash Fiction – Mr. August

The wonderful Friday Flash Fics challenge continues. Today’s characters aren’t from one of my published pieces, but instead from my Village project, a series of Novellas set in a fictional version of the Ottawa gay village where a bit of magic happens to come through. There’s no actual magic happening here, but as you can see from the picture that inspired it, there’s all kinds of magic.


Flash Friday 4

“I look ridiculous.”

Caleb lowered his camera and waited. Beside him, Jian tapped a thumb against his bottom lip, a line appearing between his eyebrows.

Uh-oh.

“You’re right,” Jian said.

That was a surprise.

Jian stepped forward and picked up the drafting pencil. “Put this in your mouth.”

The shirtless, muscular man in front of them both stared at Jian.

“Are you kidding?”

“It’ll add sizzle, Angelo.” Jian waved the pencil like a wand.

“No one does woodwork half-naked with their jeans hanging off their ass.” Angelo raised the saw in his right hand. “This isn’t even the right saw.”

“No one will be looking at your saw.”

Caleb couldn’t hold it back any more. He snorted.

Both Jian and Angelo turned to him with twin looks of annoyance.

“Sorry.” Caleb tried not to draw attention, usually. Not on purpose. Odd things tended to happen when he paid too much attention to people.

“Pencil,” Jian turned back, holding out the pencil again.

Angelo crossed his arms and raised his chin.

Enough. At this rate, they’d never get a good shot. Caleb put his camera down. “Angelo? Jian?”

Both men aimed their angry glares at him. He flinched, but he cleared his throat. He liked things better when he had his camera between him and the world. Especially when the world was made up of a shirtless hunk and an annoyed drama bear.

Caleb cleared his throat. It took him a second to find his voice. “This is for charity. This is our first shoot. There are eleven more months after this, and it would be fantastic if we could have the calendar actually ready to sell before, y’know, next January.”

Jian opened his mouth.

“Not done,” Caleb said. “Jian? We all know you know your stuff. No one sets a stage like you. We’ve seen your plays, you’ve worked magic and it totally looks like a woodshop in here. But if Angelo says it’s the wrong saw? It’s the wrong saw.”

Angelo grinned and opened his mouth.

“Still not done,” Caleb said. “Angelo, we are so, so appreciative you’re doing this. And while I get you’d like things to look professional, here’s the thing: this isn’t a woodworking manual. The VBA is counting on this calendar. You’re our August. Decks, deck-building, deck-weather. And you look…” He swallowed. “Well…trust me. Jian’s lighting, the make-up? You’re many things Angelo, but none of them are ridiculous.”

Caleb waited. Both men were staring. They looked a little shell-shocked.

“Oh,” he said. “I’m done.”

“Sorry,” Jian said, at exactly the same moment Angelo said “My bad.”

They grinned at each other.

Caleb raised his camera. “Shall we?”

Jian stepped back. But Angelo raised his hand. “Wait.”

Caleb sighed. So much for speaking up. He wasn’t sure what else he could say, but—

“Pencil,” Angelo said.

Jian handed it to him, and Angelo put it in his mouth, picked up the saw, and stood over the piece of wood.

Caleb raised the camera and started shooting.

 

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Monday Flash Fic – Glimpse

It’s possible I found another flash fiction group, Monday Flash Fics. I don’t imagine I’ll often manage both Mondays and Fridays, but the Monday pic just posted was so perfect for two of the characters in my Village novella project that I couldn’t help myself.


Monday Flash Fic

Caleb yawned. After a long day photographing animals for Furever’s rescue program, he’d finished cropping and retouching any obvious problems. The photos finished uploading to the shared folder. Justin and Mat would put them together for the new website, and then the rescue program would be ready to go.

Caleb yawned again, and eyed his bed.

How many people had he made eye contact with today? Too many. But he couldn’t stay awake forever. He brushed his teeth and stripped down to his boxers. Crawling into bed, he set his alarm and exhaled.

Just like every night, Caleb looked up at the ceiling and asked the usual.

Nothing awful, please.

Caleb closed his eyes.

*

Justin and Gabe were married. It was a gorgeous day, they looked amazing, and the light was perfect. Caleb couldn’t help it, he always thought with a photographer’s eye.

Even when the eyes he was using weren’t his.

He half-heartedly hunted for clues, but didn’t find any. Sometimes he’d glimpse a newspaper, or whoever he was checked their phone, but not right now. Someone was giving a speech—Marion, he thought, just a second before his head turned and she came into view, proving him right. The older woman looked much the same as when he’d seen her in the park that afternoon, only now she wore a gorgeous peach suit and held up a glass of champagne.

“I’m going to let you in on a secret,” Marion said, with a tiny smile. “These two? Only got together because of me.”

Whoever’s point of view it was that Caleb was enjoying stole a glance at the grooms. Justin leaned in and whispered something in Gabe’s ear, and Gabe laughed. Just for a second, Justin leaned his forehead against Gabe’s, and they both closed their eyes as Marion described how a flustered Gabe had needed a push to even introduce himself to Justin—a push she’d been happy to provide. Both men laughed.

*

The alarm woke him. Caleb stretched.

Thank you, he thought, eyeing the ceiling. As futures went, that had been a lovely one to glimpse.

He was the last one to their small office. Justin leaned over Mat’s shoulder, pointing at something on the screen.

“Good morning,” Justin said, when Caleb came in. “You were up late.”

“These are great.” Mat nodded to his computer. “Furever is going to run out of animals.”

“We can hope.” Caleb lifted a paper bag. “I stopped at Sweet Temptations.”

“I love you,” Justin said.

“Don’t let Gabe hear you say that,” Mat said.

Caleb glanced down. “How are you guys doing?”

“Great.” Justin grinned. Then it faltered. “Too great?”

“Oh my God,” Mat said. “Why can’t you enjoy a good thing?”

“It’s just…” Justin blew out a breath. “It’s new. I shouldn’t jinx it.”

Caleb smiled.

“What?” Justin said.

“Nothing. But, I think you two are good for the long run. Didn’t Marion introduce you?”

Justin blinked. “Sort of. How’d you know?”

“I heard it somewhere.”

 

Friday Flash Fiction — Morning After, After Mourning

The wonderful Elizabeth Lister‘s Friday Flash Fiction challenges continue. I missed last week, but I’m back for the third, with this lovely piece of inspiration, below. These involve characters you’ll meet in my upcoming collection of short fiction, Of Echoes Born, from Bold Strokes Books. I went a bit over word count this week, but come on. Look at that guy.


Flash Friday 3

“I have tea.” Michel held up two cups.

Clive barely moved his head, cracking a small embarrassed smile. “You’re a saint.”

Michel put one on the bedside table, turning to go.

“Wait,” Clive said.

Michel stopped.

“Thank you.”

“It’s just tea,” Michel said.

Clive shook his head. He stretched in the bed, and Michel worked hard to keep his eyes on Clive’s face. Shirtless, with the covers so low Michel was afraid to find out what else Clive shucked overnight, the bartender had an actual six-pack. The tattoo Michel had only glipsed fully revealed itself, crossing Clive’s left arm and shoulder, and some of his chest.

Michel felt tiny.

“Not for the tea.” Clive’s grin was somewhere between sleepy and amused. “For stuff I’m only vaguely remembering from last night.”

“Ah.” Michel’s face burned.

Clive shifted—eye contact, eye contact! He picked up the paper cup, taking a generous swallow.

“From NiceTeas?”

“One of Ivan’s ‘recovery’ blends.” Michel nodded.

“I’m okay,” Clive said. “No hangover.”

“That’s so unfair,” Clive said. “I had a headache like you wouldn’t believe, and I only had three drinks.”

“Did I throw my shirt at you?”

“Uh. Not… I mean, yeah, but…” The question tripped up Michel’s tongue. “Yes. It was raining after the wake…” He sipped. Maybe ‘recovery’ worked on brains.

“So you took me home to have your way with me?” With Clive’s hair tousled like that, the smile, and his beard, he was pretty much the sexiest guy ever, and…

Wait. What?

“No!” Michel said. “Of course not. You were a bit…”

“I was a lot.”

“Okay, yes. A lot drunk. My place was close. I couldn’t use my umbrella and help you walk—you’re heavy—and…”

“Breathe, Michel.”

Michel breathed. “Sorry.”

Clive looked around. “I don’t remember you joining me.”

“I slept on the couch.”

Clive’s eyebrow rose. “I fell all over you, you carried me home, I threw my clothes at you—”

“Because they were wet and I have a dryer.”

“—and you gave me your bed?”

Michel nodded.

“And now you get me tea. How’d you know I liked tea?”

“You said you only drank tea when Danya offered coffee after the wake.”

Clive lifted himself into a seated position. Muscles played along his chest and stomach. Michel stared into Clive’s eyes with nothing but prayer and willpower.

“I don’t normally get drunk.”

“You said that, too.” Michel couldn’t help but smile.

“Are you teasing? Is this you teasing?”

“Little bit.” Michel blushed. “It’s okay. You and Hans were close.”

“Like a second father. Or first, honestly, given what mine was like.” Clive took a deep breath. Michel tried not to watch what that did to his chest, and failed.

“Hans was an amazing man. If not for him, I’d never have opened the gallery.”

“Really?” Clive said. “Wait. We talked about that last night.”

Michel nodded, sipping.

“And you called me a hottie?”

Michel choked. He recovered after a moment, and put his cup down. “So, I don’t normally drink, either…”

Clive patted the empty space beside him. “C’mere. It’s Sunday; it’s raining. Relax. Drink tea. Tell me your Hans stories. And maybe a few more confessions. Sober ones.”

Michel stared for two long seconds before he stripped off his shirt, and threw it.

Clive caught it with a grin.

 

Friday Flash Fiction—Focus & Clarity

I joined a wee writing prompt group. No promises on showing up every single week, but the notion is 500 words inspired by a photo. So, here’s my first go, inspired by this lovely photo (which I tried to track down an attribution for, but no luck with reverse image searches, etc. I’ll update if I can find it).


Flash Friday

“You know how you said I should be careful with magic?”

Bailey considered counting to ten, but instead eyed Marco, who’d run into her store three minutes before closing.

“What did you do?”

“Nothing!”

Bailey raised one eyebrow.

“Nothing on purpose,” Marco said. She noticed he was wearing pajama bottoms and a t-shirt. His usual style involved bow ties and skinny jeans.

“It didn’t work right.”

Bailey flipped the sign to ‘Closed.’

“Okay,” she said. “What stone?”

Marco’s gift matched hers. Bailey inspired crystals, which affected people wearing them. She used it to grant people courage (Tiger Eye), boost confidence (Carnelian), or even to surrender to impulse (Hematite). It helped people connect.

Bluntly? Bailey meddled in love lives.

“Moonstone. For visualization.”

For years she’d only met occasional gifted people, but lately they’d started popping up in the Village. Marco—sweet, energetic, a bit puppy-like—had started humming to her like he was one of her crystals.

“And what did you visualize?”

Marco had a baby-face, but when he bit his lip he looked even younger.

“Marco?” she said.

“So… There’s this guy.”

Of course. “And?”

“I visualized sleeping with him.” His baby-face turned pink. “Romantically! Not…sex. He’s gorgeous. Perfect hair, abs, and even his chest hair? It’s…” Marco’s hands flew while he talked. “Anyway. Much visualizing.”

“So, aiming for…confidence?” Bailey said.

“I guess?”

Now she counted. “Marco. Clarity? Focus?”

“I know. Look…can you just come?”

Bailey grabbed her keys. Marco lived in one of the apartments over the Furever petshop. Bailey wasn’t sure what to expect. An unconscious man lying more-or-less on Marco’s bedroom floor wasn’t it. His head was on the bed, at least. And he did have nice abs.

The man snored quietly.

Marco nudged him with one foot.

Nothing.

“He won’t wake up,” Marco said.

She maintained composure—for three seconds—then laughed until her sides ached and she was leaning against the wall, wiping tears. Marco glared.

His beau was still fast asleep.

“This is so not funny,” Marco said.

“Well,” Bailey said, hiccoughing. “You did visualize sleeping with him.”

“I don’t even know how he got in here!”

That set her off again. She sat on his bed.

The fellow slept on.

“Bailey.”

“Okay,” Bailey said, recovering. “Moonstone, now.”

Marco pointed to his pillow. The moment it was in her palm, she felt the stone’s energy spilling out. Zero control or clarity.

Bailey calmed it down. Then, winking, she said, “You know, you need practice thinking on your feet. Clarity. Focus.”

“What?”

“You’ll come up with something.”

Marco opened his mouth, but Bailey nudged the moonstone and he yawned instead. The look of alarm on his face lasted a second before he wobbled, slid down to his knees, and toppled over onto his bedroom floor.

The two men snored in unison.

Bailey reminded the moonstone to wake them up in the morning, leaving it on Marco’s pillow.

They made a cute couple. She couldn’t wait to hear how it all played out in the morning.