Flash Fiction Friday: Ten Minutes of Hope

Alayna stepped back to admire her work.

It had taken hours to create but with the help of her mother and little brother, it was time for the big moment. Or, rather, the ten big moments. That’s all they were allowed anymore now that the government had cut the number of minutes of electricity use to just ten minutes per month.

The Revolution had begun just as any other from history. But this one quickly pulled another country into its fray, then another. What started small had turned into a world-wide threat. Her mother remembered days of heated houses, cars that ran, ample food to fill bellies and a thing called freedom.

A sigh spilled from Alayna as she imagined such a world. She couldn’t complain, though. They were one of the few families that had secured the government issued three-hundred square-foot storage units, unlike the seventy-five percent of the population forced to live on the streets.

“Ready to turn on the lights?” Alayna’s little brother asked.

She nodded. This was it. Her most favorite part of the year. The one time she could pretend that she lived in a world with abundant electricity and enough clothing for all. If she focused on the site before her she could almost ignore the gnaw in her stomach and stink that told her none of them had bathed in a week. She would sear the memory of what was about to happen in her mind to last for a full year.

“The time has come,” her mother said, as she flipped the switch on the wall.

The christmas tree lit with glorious pride and filled the room with the hope of a better world.

Alayna smiled. “Merry Christmas.”

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo by Mark Rabe on Unsplash

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ACFW New Releases–December 2017

Happy December, you guys!! I can’t believe it’s actually the last month of 2017. *blink, blink* But the good news is, these books are just in time for gift giving! *throws confetti* Check out these new releases from fellow ACFW authors–a few of these might be perfect as a stocking stuffer!

December 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary:

Rebecca’s Redemption by Lee Carver — A nurse seeking redemption for past sins joins a doctor contending against the jungle. Both healers need healing. (Contemporary, Independently Published)

Contemporary Romance:

The Christmas Baby by Lisa Carter — Mistletoe Mommy Anna Reyes is pregnant and widowed, and a Christmas homecoming isn’t so simple. Reuniting with her best friend, Ryan Savage, makes it easier—even though she knows he’ll soon be leaving their small coastal hometown. After putting his career on hold for his family’s business, Ryan’s finally ready to pursue his goals. But as he and Anna work to make the holidays special for a group of at-risk kids, Ryan wonders if he can give up one dream for another. They’re determined to make this a Christmas to remember, but can Ryan and Anna also make their holiday family last forever? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin]) Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: Wishful Thinking

James hurled the tennis ball at his bedroom wall then snatched it when it bounced back. He leaned against his bed and frowned.

Grounded again.

He didn’t see why. His mom had given him twenty bucks for the seventh grade dance. She’d never mentioned that it was “emergency only” money. The fancy fortuneteller the school had hired had given him much more than twenty dollars worth of advice.

At least it had seemed like more than twenty-dollars-worth the night before.

James glanced at the metallic statue that sat on his nightstand. His glower deepened.

All your dreams will come true, the fortuneteller had said. A single wish will change everything.

Yeah, right. James kicked a pair of dirty jeans out of his way—so that’s what that smell was—as he crossed the room and grabbed the talisman.

He clenched his teeth as he turned it over in his hand. This piece of metal had gotten him in serious trouble. And for what? Simply spending money he thought he could spend? Heat bubbled inside his chest.

His mom had always been hard on him. Work, work, work. If only he had a nice mother, like his grandma.

James gasped as an idea formed. He licked his lips and focused on the object in his hand.

Then he made a wish. A real, honest-to-God, bona fide doozy. He squinted his eyes shut and—

“I wish grandma was my mother.”

He opened his eyes and looked around his messy room.

Nothing. Not a thing changed.

His heart sank. His mom had been right, of course. She was always right.

With a groan he fell into bed and switched off his light. Being grounded was boring.

The next morning he woke to the sound of singing. Who was making that awful noise?

He stumbled down the stairs as he rubbed his eyes, fully aware that sometime in the night his mom had made good on her promise to repaint the hallway. The scent of bacon and eggs greeted him as he entered the kitchen.

Nice. Mom almost never makes breakfast.

“You’re late!” a woman-who-looked-identical-to-his-grandma-but-who-was-about-thirty-years-too-young said to him.

What?

“You’ve missed the bus! You’ll have to walk ‘cause I’m not taking you. Go get ready. And don’t forget to get your bathroom cleaned today or you’re grounded to your room for the next week. I expect better, young man!” She said all this in one single breath.

The exact amount of time it took for reality to hit James. His eyes went wide.

His wish had come true.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit Pixabay by FeeLoona

ACFW New Releases–November 2017

Hey CF friends! Looking for some new books for the long holiday weekend at the end of the month? Here are the latest releases from fellow ACFW authors! Enjoy!

November 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Rooted in Love by Valerie Comer — A divorcé with a set of rambunctious twins falls for the boys’ daycare administrator, but does he deserve another chance at love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Prescription for Romance by June Foster — Though history teacher Scott Townsend made a commitment to the Lord as a teen, he can’t relinquish his bitterness toward his younger brother after he squanders their parents’ money. When a beautiful, young pharmacist seeks affirmation in a way that challenges Scott’s values, he must uphold his Christian upbringing. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romance [Winged Publication]) Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: Out of Time

Ava ran through her front door gasping for breath. “We’ve got to leave. Now!”

“What?” Peter said, jaw wide. “Are you sure?”

“They’re coming. We don’t have much time!” Tears swam in her eyes. She jumped at a noise outside.

“Okay….” Peter glanced around.

“No!” Ava’s voice trembled. “There’s no time! They’re coming!”

Peter bit back the agony of leaving behind so many memories. “So be it. Stay close behind me.”

They fled their home just as a man and woman rounded the corner, voices raised.

The two mice ran for their lives, away from the homeowners and their nasty traps.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo by Vladimir Kramer on Unsplash

Flash Fiction: Bad Luck

“You’re late husband owes us a debt and it must be paid ‘fore you leave the country, lil’ lady,” the man says with an Irish accent. His thick mustache twitches with joy at my misfortune.

I swallow hard and blink back tears as I stare at the one-way ticket in my hand. It had taken every dime I could make to buy it. This was my chance, the only chance I’d get to start over. “But–” My chin quivers.

But nothin’. It’s the law. Your husband owes us so you gotta pay.” He takes a step closer, his large shoulders looming above my head. “Now.”

“I don’t have any money. How can I–”

He grins and shifts the toothpick around that sticks from between his teeth. “That third-class ticket you’re holding would do the trick. Always wanted to explore the world, see how much money I could make somewhere other than this dirt heap.”

My heart sinks. How long would it take for me to save up again? Where would I live until I was able to afford another ticket? “And I wouldn’t owe anymore? Ever again?”

The man laughs deep in his gut. Chills spill across my skin.

“You’re debt will be paid, lil’ lady. On my word.” He holds out a hand. “Do we have a deal?”

I duck my head and accept my fate. Never a day in my life had I ever had anything other than bad luck. Guess today was no different.

As a single tear slips down my cheek I hand over the ticket.

He squeezes it in his palm with a glimmer in his smile. “Thanks! Can’t wait to see what the Titanic will hold!” before he slinks away.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman

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Photo by Amy Reed on Unsplash

ACFW New Releases–September 2017

Hey guys! I’m back after a short hiatus in August. (Sorry, but that beach was calling my name–had to be answered!) So, did you finish your summer reading list? Well, it’s a new month and I’m excited to share some new releases with you! Check out these new titles from fellow ACFW authors. Grab a copy (or five!) and sit down with some hot chocolate to welcome the fall weather. *Sigh* Enjoy!

 

September 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Planting Hope by Brenda S. Anderson — Jess Beaumont is trying to get her separated parents together again by restoring the family cabin gardens that helped them fall in love. Luke Harrison inherited his Gran’s candy store, but would rather have a Vice President position in his family’s land development business—a sure sign of his father’s approval. To get the promotion, he must acquire the land on both sides of his store within five months, including the Beaumont cabin. As Luke gets to know Jess, he realizes buying the Beaumont cabin and land will nip their blossoming romance in the bud. Even worse, it could end her parents’ marriage. But if he doesn’t succeed, he could be trading his corner office for the candy store counter…for good. Is their romance doomed? Or could the classic combination of chocolate and flowers solve everything? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Amish Christmas Love by Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, Ruth Reid, and Beth Wiseman — Fall in love this Christmas to the gentle pace of Amish courtship. In Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman, six lonely hearts find healing in the Stoltzfus homestead basement while waiting out a Christmas Eve storm. In The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston, a group of young people and a forbidden house cat bring reminders of love and hope to a grieving widow at Christmas. In Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin, A young woman’s prayer for a Christmas proposal is delayed by the appearance of her potential groom’s first love, whom me met on his rumspringa. In Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid, an Englisch woman thinks she’s breaking into the house her aenti left to her, only to discover she’s trespassing upon an Amish widower and his young daughter, whose quiet way of life tempts her to stay. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing) Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: Awaken

“Jen!”

I gasp, eyes now open as I sit up in bed. The spot beside me is empty. Where is my husband?

Chilly air clings to my skin as I slip from beneath the covers and cross the room into the hallway. The stale scent of tacos I made the night before still lingers and my stomach winces. Why does this all feel so familiar?

The living room is vacant, although sunlight streams through the cracks of the blinds. No husband. I rub my eyes and search upstairs, then the basement. Still nothing.

“Kurt?” I call. No reply.

I try the front door. It’s locked. With a low growl I twist the locks on the door and yank again. It still doesn’t budge. I roll my eyes, triple and quadruple check to make sure the locks are off, tug on the handle. It stays cemented in place.

“It won’t open.”

I spin on my heel with a cry. Kurt stands beside me. I blink, breathe. “Where have you been?”

His expression is flat. “You can’t get out. No matter how hard you try.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“That door will never open.”

A hand squeezes around my heart and ice spills down my spine. “Kurt? What are you talking about?”

He steps forward, grabs my arms. “You can never leave, Jen. Don’t you understand?”

“Kurt–”

“Jen!”

I gasp, eyes now open as I sit up in bed. The spot beside me is empty. Where is my husband?

Chilly air clings to my skin as I slip from beneath the covers and cross the room into the hallway. The stale scent of tacos I made the night before still lingers and my stomach winces. Why does this all feel so familiar?

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit LLZ

Setting Versus Dialogue

Hey guys! I promise I’ve got that blog post summarizing the Realm Makers conference coming. I’m having a hard time dwindling down so many words to describe such a life changing event! *sigh* In the meantime, check out my latest blog post for the Almost An Author website! Are you a writer that “sees” the setting or the dialogue first? Your answer just might help you hone your craft!

Happy writing, friends!

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Photo credit Unsplash by NASA

 

Flash Fiction Friday: The Accident

Jill wiped the windshield of condensation. A chill buzzed across her skin. How could it be both cold and humid? She shook her head and squinted against the rain that pounded the windows.

Was that a form up ahead? Her car crept to a stop and a thrash of rain assaulted it, the sound of a thousand angry drums beating the roof. Yes. There was a person walking on the side of the road. A young girl, no coat, hair plastered to her head, arms wrapped around her body.

Jill unrolled the window. “Do you need a ride?” she yelled over the cacophony of nature’s music.

The girl bent to look inside, her pale eyes piercing. Her chin shook. She blinked, then gave a curt nod. Water sprayed across the dash as the girl got settled.

Jill bit her lip. “Are you all right?”

The girl shivered and gave another nod. “Thanks. Nasty storm.”

“You’re lucky I came by. I’m on my way home. This road doesn’t get much traffic, especially on a night like this.”

The girl pushed hair from her face. Jill’s stomach twisted. Why did this girl look familiar?

“Why are you out here?” Jill put the car in drive.

“I need to get home.” The girl suddenly looked alarmed. “My boyfriend—I don’t know where he is, he—”

“Wait, you’re boyfriend is missing? What happened?”

“I have no idea. We were on a date but our car hit a tree. I blacked out and when I woke, I was here.” The girl began to cry.

“Okay, just relax.” Jill kept her voice calm. “You’re probably in shock. Do you know where the car is?”

The girl shook her head. “No, I don’t. Jimmy—he could be hurt. Take me home, please!”

Jill held out a hand. “Relax. We’ll find him. First, let’s call the police.” She grabbed her cell. “Why don’t you—”

“You don’t understand. I need to get home!”

“Yes, but don’t you—”

“No.” The girl swallowed. “Take me home. My mom will know what to do.”

Jill dropped the phone in her purse. “Okay. Everything will be all right.” But her belly pulsed with panic. Something wasn’t right.

The girl pointed down streets and Jill turned. Minutes later they pulled down a familiar road.

“This is where I—” Jill said.

“There. That’s my house.” The girl’s finger shook.

Shards of ice stabbed along Jill’s spine as she pulled into the well-known driveway. “What did you say your boyfriend’s name was?” she whispered.

“Jimmy Kovane.”

Breath stalled in Jill’s lungs. That name. She knew that name.

“Thanks for the lift. I’m home now.”

“Wait, what’s your name?” Spots danced before Jill’s eyes.

“Joan Chester.”

The girl jumped out, ran toward the rancher. Jill’s vision clouded with tears, her entire body shuddered. She blinked. The girl was gone.

Jimmy Kovane and Joan Chester died in a car accident ten years ago. Jill knew this.

She knew because Joan was her sister.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman

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Photo by Michael Mroczek on Unsplash