A Ride in the Hot Air Balloon, Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021, week 41

ride in a hot air balloon flash fiction

Following the story-line of Ferris Wheel and Two of a Kind read A Ride in the Hot Air Balloon, my contribution to fiction in a flash challenge week 41 based on the image prompt provided by Author Suzanne Burke.
Enjoy! I had so much fun writing it 🙂

A Ride in the Hot Air Balloon, Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021, week 41

A Ride in the Hot Air Balloon

The ballroom was a giant aviary. People’s actions, she found, mimicked those of birds. Courtship, chatter, hunt, all here. Except that birds, birds didn’t belong in a cage.

She spotted the gold-trimmed black mask the instant she crossed the doorway. Nothing ever escaped her eagle-like eyesight. Yet she pretended not to, allowing him the illusion of initiating the hunt. Men fell for that. So she stood atop the stairs, in her black and caviar-beige Channel evening gown, the perfect shade of beige. She stood, tensed, the center of his attention; him, the man with the mask matching hers. She stood; unable to enjoy what was finally coming. Feeling none of the happiness she thought she will.

Why they call it sweet revenge? She tasted bile.

 It had been stipulated in the contract. Both parties involved will be issued matching masks. Both parties will be aware that arriving at the masked-ball involved and was conditioned by, establishing contact with their prescribed partner.

He’d come. He was watching her, facing her, as she closed the distance. One step at a time, oblivious to music, and the agitation surrounding them. Aware of her dry mouth, her increased pulse, and the reason she’d done it all. To right a wrong.

For the first time since she dressed she was thankful for the mask, covering her flushed cheeks. Her lips, frozen in a sneer she hoped mimicked a smile. The pain she had harbored forever, she allowed it to escape as she took step after step. There was so much hatred that letting some steam escape, by staring at him, didn’t matter anymore.

By the time she had descended, he had closed the distance extending his hand to aid her take that final step. Her arm stiff, to mask tremor, she reached for his.

Their touch felt electrifying, and he smiled the moment he saw the specks of aged whiskey in her treacle eyes.

‘I am sorry I wasn’t there, at the foot of the Ferris Wheel’, he said, so she recognized him. Really saw him. Past the black mask trimmed with gold, past her veils of hatred. It was him, as the contract stipulated it will be, the man she wanted for her revenge, yet he was also himself, the man she had met in the park.

‘The bird-watcher!’

He smiled.

Too late. His had touched her gloved one, the double glove soaked in poison. Soon, his somatic muscles will paralyze. Her plan would have reached its climax.

~

He came through with a strange feeling, that his feet were not touching ground. And he was cold, chilled to the bone.

He was dangling.

Was he dead? His eyes were open, he thought. All he saw was blackness.

Black is the impression of lack of color, his mind offered.

He heard nothing either, only the blood rushing through his ears. He would have touched his eyelids but his arms were secured against his body, tied like a cocoon. He could wiggle his fingers though, frozen stiff.

His mouth shot open. A yell came out.

No echo. His voice just left his body – and was gone. And his body was dangling in space.

At least he wasn’t buried.

Purgatory?

He looked around again. Above, as below, he discerned specks of light. Of all sizes. Then a river of them as if someone had spilled, in the dead of night, milk across the floor.

The Milky Way!

More crumbs ablaze caught his eye in the celestial horizon. A handful of fairy lights. A city!

And his body, dangling between them.

From what?

Ignoring his stiff neck he forced it backward and stared, forcing sight. A silk glove tied around his neck brushed his cheek like a slap. After the ozone-rich air an explosion of freesia invaded his senses. It matured, denoting elegance and grace

Stop it, you old goat.

And another note, above the spring-like ones: shimmering hints of honey.

The dawn, lifting the horizon, removed the amnesia cloak too. He remembered the masked woman descending the stairs, their bird-watching, and she, his project for the night. The disbelief that slashed his heart, and the electric shock when their hands touched. Losing consciousness…

‘Why?!’ he howled at the moon.

From the height of the hot air balloon gondola the woman in the black and caviar-beige Chanel gown retrieved a picture, kissed it, and let it slide along the cord to the man dangling below.

‘That’s why,’ she raged, her scathing tone like knives. ‘Remember her?’

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Hello everyone and welcome to the “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week Author Suzanne Burke will feature an image and invites everyone to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words. Suzanne runs a great blog as well as authoring many exciting books. WECOME TO THE WORLD OF SUZANNE BURKE

What do you think of the story thus far, in its three installments? I’d love to read your impressions in comments below.

Two of a Kind, Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021, week 40

flash fiction two of a kind

So many of you enjoyed the Ferris Wheel story that this week I wrote a follow-up in Two of Kind inspired by the image prompt provided by Author Suzanne Burke for Fiction in a Flash Challenge 2021, week 40.

Two of a Kind

He was never late. Always minutes early, time used to accustom himself with his surroundings, or people watching.

Today, as he lunged in a winged-back chair covered in leather softer than anything nature intended, waiting at The Gentlemen’s Club – a place so private that even its members were on a secret list – he admired the colors in his whiskey glass. Amber, most said, clueless to the fact that whiskey owed its shades to the charred white oak barrels. To him the shade was auburn, with hints of burned amber, he thought glancing through the glass. Like eyes he’d seen once, as dark as treacle and just as deep, yet hiding specks of burned amber… His pupils dilated remembering how he nearly got himself burned. That’s how he chose to remember.

He turned in the chair as one would and exposed the glass to the light slipping between velvety curtains.

Behind the swirling fire from his glass and heart, he observed – effortlessly, through a life-long exercise – the two gentlemen engaged in an animated conversation that the tabloids would have loved to expose together… The zoo of politicians daily at each other’s throats, now enjoying cigars by the fireplace… The man wearing a suit in the wrong shade for such an establishment, now relocating photographs in his briefcase while the gentleman seated across just ordered his 3rd double.

Always useful to arrive early.

He donned his glass and allowed the vanilla and grassy notes to resonate in his nasal passages. For a brief moment, he was in the park, it was early spring and the scent of fresh-cut grass floated like a spell. Across from his bench sat the woman whose eyes held specks the colour of aged whiskey. And just as many promises.

Enough.

Today he’d come here to close a business deal. Time for him to stand and meet his patron, the man who paid handsomely in exchange for his services. He always stood to meet his business partners. Common courtesy, although today’s partner could become tomorrow’s adversary. Some would say enemy, but he always strove towards turning his enemies into business partners. There was always something he could trade. People always had needs and wants. Especially wants. And he could always obtain whatever it was that they wanted when he gave his word. For his word was his bond.

Whenever he looked back on that fatal day he remembers the glass of brown whiskey, not amber, thirty years old – the mark of power – that arrived at the same time with the manila envelope… Although the glass had touched the table first. He still heard the sound of thick crystal against the mahogany, like the deep clunk of an empty gun.

‘From him, Sir,’ the waiter had said and they both knew: from the client he’d been expecting, whose problem he was about to take on. But who hadn’t thought fit to meet him and close the deal in person.

Only that his hand had touched the glass with the brown whiskey, the 30-year-old whiskey, first, thus sealing the deal before the manila envelope had landed on the table. And his word was his bond.

The picture inside the folder surprised him. It was not that of a person. He always insisted on a recent close-up, a time and a location, never questioning his patron’s reasons.

The picture showed two masquerade masks, white and black satin trimmed with honeyed cord. Day and night, female and male, good and evil… symphony and chaos, his mind offered as the white mask held intricate, hand-painted musical notes. And a pearl set in the middle from which feathers in shades of amber protruded. Like the whiskey…

‘She’ll wear the white one,’ was scrawled on the back and an address he recognized. The World Health Organization, WHO, held their charity ball there tonight.

He picked up his felt-hat and left.

True to his habit he arrived early, in a black mask identical to the one in the picture. But tonight he will curse his habit. The instant he saw the woman wearing the white silk mask, his partner for the night -and project – standing atop the stairs looking across without looking down on anyone, holding her clutch as if it was a drawing book, her right fingers poised as if they held a pencil, that instant, he knew it was her.

The woman from the park. The problem he had to solve.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Two of a Kind fiction flash with masks

What happened next? Find out in A Ride in the Hot Air Balloon.

Hello everyone and welcome to the “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week Author Suzanne Burke will feature an image and invites everyone to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words. Suzanne runs a great blog as well as authoring many exciting books. WECOME TO THE WORLD OF SUZANNE BURKE

Enjoy short fiction? Have a look at my 100 words story, Short Stories or my Humorous stories 🙂

What do you think, should I go on with this story?? 🙂

Subscribe to my e-Newsletter for fun and informative content on dogs, books, history, folklore and a castle or two:

The Ferris Wheel, Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021, week 39

ferris wheel flash fiction

Welcome to Ferris Wheel, my week’s response to the image prompt of Fiction in a Flash Challenge 2021, week 39, as initiated by Author Suzanne Burke.

The Ferris Wheel

The man with the felt hat liked the park because its tangled alleys – bordered by old trees that saw as many sunsets as he did – made him feel like a ship wandering the seven seas. He would come here whenever he caught an opportunity, sometimes as often as every second month – he was an optimist – for the man with the felt hat had a job, a job he once enjoyed, like a fisherman reeling in the big catch of the day. Now he was more like a fish in a net… so to say. To keep up with the nautical theme, he smiled.

But not today. Today he was a ship choosing its course across seas he knew too well. A ship with a set compass.

Left at the newsstand, then the first alley left again stood the tree where he’d last seen the Bishop. Ah, to spot its red head profiled against the crisp winter sky again!

She’d draw him in his nest, the woman who sometimes sat on the bench across from his. She’d been lucky to spot him in his nest long enough to sketch him. Quite the artist she was. A natural talent. A natural beauty too, her alabaster profile against the clear blue sky. If he’ll only see it again.

‘He’s got himself a pair, you know,’ she spoke as he walked past her bench.

‘The Bishop?’ he asked like it was the most natural thing in the world for two strangers to engage in conversation about a bird.

She nodded, forcing him to turn his head back from the bare tree and to bend to see her drawing. She turned the sketch pad to show him what she’d been working on.

‘You’ve been away for a while,’ the woman smiled. ‘It was a treat to watch them meet. But I drew them for you, so you won’t miss it.’

‘I do wonder how they see us,’ and he accentuated they with a tip of his head towards the tree. His hand flew up as if he was measuring the height of the arbor. ‘From the height of their branch,’ and his head stood upturned for a moment, smiling at the sun, and at the peaceful life of the little birds.

That’s when his phone rang, like a cloud chilling one to the bone in a flash, in the heat of the day.

She smiled and returned to her drawing, allowing him his privacy.

‘Work,’ he sighed upon his return.

‘And you have to go,’ she said and she tilted her head the way she used to whenever the Bishop would fly away for the day – and she knew the bird-watching was over… ‘Again,’ the slant of her head had added, like a whisper, and he’d heard it.

Was he right in assuming? Should he? At his age? Should he be a  Bishop?

‘I wonder,’ he started then stopped as if a blast of wind had frozen the words on his lips.

‘Yes?’ and her eyebrows arched the way they did whenever the Bishop was in sight.

‘The Ferris wheel,’ he waved towards the far end of the park. Last carriage goes up at 17:45. Would you do me the honour and join me? We’d get a Bishop’s glimpse over the world.’

He couldn’t tell her how he knew the schedule. He couldn’t tell her it was his job to know everything, any trivial piece of information, and use it to his advantage.

She smiled but didn’t ask how he knew such details. She smiled brighter than he’d ever seen her smile for the Bishop, and she tilted her head.

Had she agreed?

‘I’ll wait for you at the leg of the Ferris wheel. With two tickets,’ and he lifted his felt hat in salute.

He didn’t count on the crowds, on the rowdy group of teenagers celebrating a birthday. For the first time, he didn’t count on being swept by the crowd inside an open carriage. He was at the top of the wheel before he knew it. The ground squeezed below, too far for him to see clearly with his reading glasses.

Was she there? That speck on the ground, was it she? He boxed the air to reveal his watch. 17:49 and darkness all around.

The lights of the Ferris wheel mocked him, as did the glow of the city.

He was but a fish trapped in a net, a fish who dreamed to be a Bishop for a night.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

I wrote the follow-up: Two of a Kind. 🙂

Hello everyone and welcome to the “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week Author Suzanne Burke will feature an image and invites everyone to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words. Suzanne runs a great blog as well as authoring many exciting books. WECOME TO THE WORLD OF SUZANNE BURKE

Enjoy short fiction? Have a look at my 100 words story, Short Stories or my Humorous stories 🙂

Subscribe to my e-Newsletter for fun and informative content on dogs, books, history, folklore and a castle or two: