Writing prompts aren’t always as detailed as some writers would like. Sometimes they are simply one word. When it comes to the Flash Fiction Writing Challenge offered in Voices of the Darkly (a Facebook writing community), the challenge only includes one word.
In this case, that one word prompt was Time.
Time can take a writer anywhere (or nowhere if it’s that kind of day…), so I brainstormed a few ideas. As a result, I give you this flash fiction story that also doubles as my week 10 #52weeks52stories piece.
Remember the Tulips
“Lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Sugar B, I didn’t know you were coming today.” He smiled and patted the spot next to him on the sofa.
“Pop-Pop,” she said, thinking about what the nurse at the front desk had said on her way in, “I told you last week that I’d be back today after visiting the cemetery.” Rebecca kissed his cheek and sat down.
“Cemetery?” He shook his bald head. “Why would you visit the cemetery?” He waved away his question. “Never mind that. When are your parents coming to visit again?”
Rebecca’s heart kicked up a beat. She knew this day was coming, but she couldn’t deal with it today. “The flowers are blooming.” She smiled. “Do you remember the tulips we planted last year?”
“Tulips?” he questioned. “Where did we plant tulips?”
Tears glistened in her eyes. “At the cemetery,” she whispered. “We planted them last year after my p-”
He laughed. “Sugar B,” he said and reached for her hand, “you shouldn’t cry. I don’t need to remember sprouting new flowers with you.” He leaned back and closed his eyes. “I have plenty of other memories.”
She squeezed his frail, speckled hand. “Yeah?”
“Only one crosses my mind right now,” he said in a far-away voice as if he had drifted into the memory. “You looked beautiful standing up there in your white gown and lacy white veil.”
“That was an exhausting day.” She smiled. “Is that the only time you remember?”
He took a deep breath. “Your dad was a wicked one when he tried to turn you back down the aisle instead of giving you away.” He laughed. “You pulled him instead to make sure he gave you away, though.” He paused. “Strong-willed, your father. Too strong-willed to stick around here, so I couldn’t even watch you grow up.”
“Doesn’t even visit now.” He squeezed her hand tighter. “Your wedding was the first time I’d seen him in-” He jumped, but his eyes remained closed.
“Are you okay?”
“No!” he yelled. His free hand reached out to grab something in front of him that only he could see.
Rebecca jumped, too, releasing his hand. “What?” She looked toward the door, wondering if she should call the nurse in.
“No!” he yelled again. “Don’t take her from me, too!” His eyes cinched tighter leaking a trickle of tears.
“Pop-Pop?” She snatched the emergency remote from the end table and pressed the red button. “What’s happening?”
He reached out again and grabbed nothing. “I can almost reach you,” he called out, eyes tight. “Don’t walk away! Don’t walk down that aisle! Don’t let the darkness take you!”
The nurse rushed in as he again captured the air. “Mr. Holt,” she crooned, gently taking his hands into hers. “Move over there, please,” she whispered to Rebecca. “Mr. Holt, open your eyes please.”
His rapid breathing slowed and his eyes sprang open.
“Mr. Holt? Do you know where you are?”
He reached for her. “Joann?” He smiled. “I can always count on you when the darkness takes things from me.” He took a deep breath. “What did it take this time?”
“Pop-Pop?” Rebecca sat on the arm of the sofa and touched his shoulder. “Are you okay?”
He saw the tear streaks running from her light brown eyes. “Who are you?” he asked.
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