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“Well, well—who do we have here?”

Millie Lane lived about three houses down in our small community and had a voice that made me cringe, like when you bite a fork or watch some guy take a baseball bat to his privates.

Millie was the last person I wanted to run into, which is precisely why I should have expected her first. Still, when her voice came floating across to me, I groaned.

“Poor Jerry, do you need some help?” she said in the sweetest tone she could manage and flashing me a smile. “You look a little tied up.”

All I wanted to do was try out my dad’s new parachute. I knew how to use it and how to pack it; I knew how to get to a high point and jump and when to deploy the parachute. It had taken half of my Saturday to get to the overlook site on Wolfrug Mountain, and another hour or so to psych myself up for the jump.

I classify that trip from the mountain to the riverbank as a spiritual experience because I spent most of it praying. First, that I wouldn’t die, and second, that my dad wouldn’t catch me. Somewhere in those moments I had a brilliant flash of madness, picturing Sharon resting a hand on my tombstone crying about how she never got the chance to kiss me, and that was the upside.

The downside was the landing. I’d never landed in anything but an open field, and never alone. I wasn’t prepared for the long line of trees along the riverbank.

The parachute snagged high on a branch, and I found myself dangling in midair, twisted just enough to be uncomfortable and unable to reach my cell phone or emergency flashers. I must have looked like a macabre marionette, something Millie no doubt found entertaining.

To her credit, she jumped into action, scrambling across the narrow bridge and looking up at me as if she were trying to solve a puzzle.

“This might hurt a little,” she said. I saw a flash as she pulled something from somewhere under her skirt. In the next second, she flung a shuriken in my direction.

“What the hell are you doing?” I yelled, and a second later I landed on the grass below. Everything hurt, and I just lay there for a minute.

“Jerry? You okay?”

“Yeah,” I said, my voice muffled by the soil and shame between my teeth. I pushed myself to a sitting position with my fists, wincing with every movement, and then looked at Millie. “What was that?”

“What was what?”

“You just threw a ninja star and cut me down from that tree.”

“Did I?”

“Uh. Yes. I saw you.”

“Well, let’s make a deal, hm? If you didn’t see me throwing anything, then I didn’t see you stuck in a tree in a stolen parachute. What do you say?”

“Okay, deal.” I smiled despite myself, and that’s the day I fell in love with a ninja.
Neighborhood Ninja
Still want to finish off the 31 flash fiction pieces I should've done in July. This would have been for Flash-Fic-Month Day 18 with the challenges:

1. Use the opening sentence of another flash.
2. Work in someone else's username.
3. Use three words from this list: flash, flasher, flashes, flashing, flashed.
4. Use three words from this list: viva, fist, fistpump, community, madness

The opening line came from this flash fic by Kathryn-Walt, and the username I used was the infinitely cool Wolfrug
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“All right, Cecil, this here’s the place. Get out that shovel I toldja to bring.”

A lot of things happen at 6 a.m. in my neighborhood: birds sing, newspapers arrive on doorsteps, several roosters start competing for morning dominance, and the Johnson’s hound dog starts howling at God-knows-what.

Digging up a neighbor’s front yard isn’t on the list of normal, even for us, so when I heard Lumpy Pete’s scratchy whiskey voice when I opened my eyes, it took a second to register.

Loretta was gone for the weekend. I knew that because everyone in this neighborhood knows everything, and leaving the confines of the town is a big deal. Plus, she’d asked me to water her gardenias and leave food out for the small army of stray cats that frequented her yard.

I guess Lumpy knew it too, because there he was, trying—and failing—to whisper his instructions. Sliding into my bathrobe and slippers, I looked out my bathroom window and saw the two of them on Loretta’s front lawn. Lumpy wore his usual WWE t-shirt and worn-out, stringy cargo shorts with pockets full of random bits and pieces no one understood, and Cecil stood beside him holding a shovel and sporting a black T-shirt with the words “AIN’T SKEERED” scrawled across the front and a pair of ripped camo pants. In the first light of dawn, they made quite a duo.

I felt my eyes roll back in my head as I sighed, and I walked out into my yard. “Lumpy, what the hell’re you doin’?”

“That’s none a yer business, Bertie, you just go on back inside.”

“Like hell I will. You plannin’ on diggin’ up her yard?”

“Pete reckons there’s a treasure in Loretta’s yard,” Cecil piped up. “He saw it on the TV, Bertie! This old lady kept her money buried in her yard right under her flamingos, and nobody has more flamingos than Loretta!”

“Shut up, Cecil!” Lumpy hissed.

I could feel the slack in my jaw as I looked first at Cecil and then at Lumpy. They were right about the flamingos, at least—I stopped offering to cut her grass when I couldn’t push the lawn mower between them anymore.

Calling Sheriff Wilson for these two idiots would be a waste of time; I just needed them to get lost.

“Lumpy,” I lowered my voice and leaned in, like I was letting him in on a secret. “Don’t you think if Loretta had treasure buried in her yard, I woulda found it already?”

“Whatcha mean, Bertie? You been diggin’ up Loretta’s yard?”

“Why do you think I did her lawn all those years, Lumpy? You think I just love cutting grass and weedin’?”

“You mean to tell me you been havin’ ulterior motives for doin’ that?”

I gave him enough of an eyebrow raise to satisfy him, and he and Cecil looked at each other dumbfounded.

“Well, Bertie, I didn’t know you had that in ya. So there’s no treasure here?”

“Nah, nothin’ there.”

“All right, well, I guess we’ll be goin’ somewhere else, then.” The defeat in his voice almost made me feel sorry for him, but I just watched them walk away and then turned back into my house.

Inside, I opened up the cabinet to get some coffee filters and ran my fingers over the pink box behind them, silently thanking Loretta for the fifty thousand tucked inside Ziploc bags I’d unearthed from her yard over the past 10 years.
Flamingo Hunting
Just want to finish out FFM, even if it's a month late. So this is Flash-Fic-Month Day 17, with the loose suggestion of "dynamic duo" and this suggestion from Twitter
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I stepped away during Flash Fiction Month because my son had to have an appendectomy.

(It was a real scare, but he's recovering beautifully!)

There are a lot of messages. o.O

I guess I have some catching up to do!
You never did care much for long-winded speeches. You said they felt heavy, like a cold downpour that leaves you sad and shivering for no good reason at all.

The man who spoke at your funeral seemed nice. Clean shaven, hair parted neatly, wearing a snazzy suit. You would’ve hated him, but this was all a show anyway. Another way your parents tried to save themselves from the disgrace of us, of what we became when they were wallowing like pigs, waist deep and covered in the filth of fantasy.

You and I understood reality, though; didn’t we? Life isn’t about grasping at the stars—it’s about surviving, and you can’t do that when there’s a chain of debt hanging around your neck, choking you like an iron noose.

How many times did you grit your teeth when your parents came home after spending thousands of dollars they didn’t have on things they didn’t need? At least as many times as we snuck into houses after dark, took their belongings, left blood in our wake when it was necessary. I grew to like the taste of blood, the smell of adrenaline-laced sweat on your skin.

How many times had it gone right? It only took one to go wrong.

Your dad tried to pet me earlier. I bit his hand. He kicked me out the door, and I’m sitting in the grass listening for your footsteps.
Partners
For Flash-Fic-Month Day 16 Challenge: non-human protagonist in a Noir-style flash fiction. Wasn't that successful, but I tried, friends. 
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Even though he was alone in his office, Travis still looked over his shoulder when the Skype noise pinged on his computer. It sounded loud to him.

He had never done anything like this before—cheating had always been something other people did. When you heard about a cheating spouse, everyone expected you to shake your head and sigh and say, “Man, that a shame, I never would’ve thought…”

Yet here he was, staying late at work, looking over his shoulder in an empty room, talking about things he hadn’t told a soul. The circumstances here are different, he consoled himself. This is a necessary evil to keep things together at home.

7:50pm | What time?
Um, around 10am, probably. | 7:52pm
7:52pm | All right, I’ll be on. You sure you’re okay with this?
Yes, I’m 100% sure. | 7:58pm

*****

Sheila finished her housework and sat down at the computer. She had enough time to look through some social media sites, check messages, and maybe play a game or two before Travis came home for lunch.

She quickly glanced through the sites, doing a double take when she got to Facebook. She had 6 messages: 4 of them were continued conversations with friends, 1 of them was a game notification she thought she had turned off, and the last one—the last one was from someone she didn’t know.

Hello there. I’m so sorry to bother you, but I was looking for someone with your name and I accidentally came across your page. I can see you’re married and you probably hear it all the time, but I just wanted to tell you that I think you’re beautiful.

Sheila felt the blush crawl into her cheeks and a smile spreading unchecked across her face. She pulled open the messenger and wrote back:
Aww, why thank you! I don’t actually hear it that often, and I appreciate it. <3

The reply was almost immediate:
What? How could anyone wake up next to you every day and not tell you that? I think someone as pretty as you should be told often so you don’t forget.

*****
Travis waited a little later to go home for lunch. Skype popped up right as he was getting up to leave.

12:20pm | You’re really REALLY sure about this?
Yes. | 12:21pm
12:21pm | Okay. Well, done and done.
Do you want to be paid? I feel like I owe you some compensation. | 12:21pm
12:22pm | Your wife is hot, dude. You don’t owe me shit.

He closed Skype feeling uncomfortable and lonely. She needs this, he told himself. I’m not enough anymore and that’s okay. He sat back in his chair pulled out his phone, and sent a text:

Honey, I’m not going to make it home for lunch today, I’m sorry. Have a good afternoon, I love you.

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ninjababy
The Internet Calls Me Amber
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
I'm a 29-year-old part-time web content writer and blogger and the mom of two awesome kids, a 9-year-old math whiz daughter and a 5-year-old silly cuddlebug son.
Interests
I stepped away during Flash Fiction Month because my son had to have an appendectomy.

(It was a real scare, but he's recovering beautifully!)

There are a lot of messages. o.O

I guess I have some catching up to do!

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:iconbloodshotink:
BloodshotInk Featured By Owner 4 days ago
:love: Thanks for watching me!
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:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
No, thank you! :heart: 
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:iconpailei:
Pailei Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much for the fave on "made of trees!" :)
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:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
My pleasure! :-D
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HugQueen Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2015   Writer
Thank you kindly for the favorite. ♥
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:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
You are quite welcome. :-)
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:iconpailei:
Pailei Featured By Owner May 19, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much for the faves on "curse the callous dawn" and "battle cry!" :)
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:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner May 20, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
You're quite welcome! :D
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EmmaSloane Featured By Owner May 18, 2015
Thank you for the favorites! :heart:
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:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner May 18, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
My pleasure! :-)
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