Jacquelyn Frost is a writer and creative who collects hobbies like some people collect stamps. In the pursuit of the next shiny thing, she invariably blunders, laughs, then writes about it. She is an active member of To Live & Write … Wherever You Are and regular contributor to The Flash Lit Collective. She shares her adventures in crafts and textiles on her blog, That Creative Place. In her spare time, between raising small children and chickens, teaching chicken husbandry classes, and writing her first novel, Jacquelyn can be found blissfully riding one of her friend’s horses in the Oakland hills and Santa Cruz mountains.
June 2021 | Flash Lit Collective | Prompt #1:
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Whomever decides that spending Christmas on a 10-day cruise with one’s family is a good idea is either a masochist or insane. In this case, I’m pretty sure the culprit is my mom. She presents as an amiable, non-masochistic sane person, but I guess you never really know.
Anyway, journal-mine, we are here, along with a thousand strangers, give or take a hundred. And it’s. been. a. DRAG. I mean, we are vacationing on a floating version of a retirement home. I’m sure I’ll like it when I’m 92 or whatever, but bingo and buffets aren’t really doing it for this 19 year old. We are coming into our first port tomorrow, which will be a great change of scenery from blue ocean and socks with sandals for three days.
OH! I need to tell you, I met another real, live person under the age of 50! I could have sworn I was the only “young person” on the boat, but apparently I was mistaken. She’s a girl (duh, thanks brain) and her name is Moon. There are enough “the 1960s were my hey-day” former hippies here, so no surprise there. She didn’t tell me her age or really talk a whole lot — she seemed a bit awkward and shy. Oh man, I hope I didn’t freak her out. I know I can be a bit “overmuch” as my grandma puts it (although I always Grandda’s version better: “that kid could talk the tar off t’road.” Pretty sure he didn’t mean it as a compliment, but I always saw it as some kind of superpower).
ANYWAY, Moon! She had these really cool fake eyelashes that were feathers plus a bunch more on her shirt (feathers, not eyelashes, don’t be gross). I didn’t say anything about it really though, because even though I’m chatty I’m no dummy; shy folks do NOT like a big deal made about their appearance. Ask me how I know. Well, you are a journal and can’t actually ask me, but whatever. Moon and I chatted about stuff: how we liked the trip so far (snooooore), our families (I had my entire extended family with me, but then felt bad because apparently her dad or someone like that died a while back. Something about a wolf? I didn’t pry, I’m not an ass), and our favorite foods (well, really MY favorite food because the only good thing on this tugboat is the ice cream. OMG SO GOOD.)
What’s interesting is that sometimes I’d catch her staring at me, eyes unblinking, and then close those long feathery lashes for slightly too long, like she was imprinting the image in her head. It was WEIRD. Maybe she has a photographic memory? I just hope I find her again tomorrow, but she said something about Thursdays not being kind to her. I don’t know what that was about, but even if she avoids me the rest of the trip, I certainly won’t forget meeting her.
June 2021 | Flash Lit Collective | Prompt #2:
Swap meets. Flea markets. Garage sales. The occasional antique fair, if Hélène felt up to go through the bother of navigating crowds of yups and antique hawks. All places with people in the process of divesting themselves of items that no longer fit, that were no longer needed; objects too old to be useful but not old enough to be chic.
To her fellow patrons, Hélène’s efforts appeared to be more or less window-shopping. As a general rule, she did not purchase items from the assorted tableaus of sun-bleached plastic and old shoes. She was not in need of any new old things. Hélène came for the memories.
It was an odd piece: a white ceramic bust with the top of the head missing, and cheery red dahlias planted within. Hélène had seen similar planters before – that wasn’t what caught her attention. It was the eyes. Yellow irises with slitted pupils set amid blue sclerae. The only other color on the entire piece besides those eyes was a faint blue indentation on the forehead in the shape of spiral, like a third eye on a Buddha statue. Hélène was sure the story behind those unusual eyes would be a satisfying one; she was getting rather tired of thin and bland memories that were less satiating than diluted soup.
Upon closer inspection the bust was not ceramic but white marble, and the eyes weren’t painted on as Hélène assumed – instead, they were gemstones set into the marble itself. She hesitated; such craftsmanship was highly unusual for some suburban rummage sale. Could it be a trap? Her lips pressed together in alarm despite strict self-discipline to prevent such outward signs of emotion. Unlikely, she told herself, she was careful and had been able to evade him for years. Shaking her head slightly and smiling to chase away the paranoia, Hélène casually stroked the bust’s cheek.
Millenia of practice meant Hélène kept the mortals surrounding her ignorant of the surge of power infusing her with strength and vitality, and truly fantastical visions she was privy to each time she consumed an object’s memory. The bust did not disappoint; the dahlias grew to monumental size and were joined by lilies and roses in profusion. From the abundance of flowers came vibrant yellow butterflies with double helices of DNA for tails. Blue flames flashed and licked at the base of the marble bust, now partially submerged in a sea of crystal and glass.
Distracted by tasting rainbows and listening to the music of the spheres, Hélène became abruptly aware of a growing stench: malice. The marble face’s spiral mark had changed from pale blue to a vivid red, matching the now-enormous dahlias. The amber eyes slid over their lapis field until the narrow pupils found her face, and with marble lips still, the bust addressed her in a voice dripping with bitterness, “Hélène, it has been too long. Do you not recognize me, my beloved?”
June 2021 | Flash Lit Collective | Prompt #4
Photographer: Shannon Marsden. Like her work? Let her know: Venmo @Shannon-Marsden-1
Nesting in the Night
Night Heron woke in his nest just as the brightest stars began to push through the night sky. His mate should be returning any moment – Night Heron was hungry, but leaving the eggs to the cool, damp marsh air was not an option. She-Heron would be here soon enough, and he settled in to wait.
His nest of twigs, sticks, and feathers was tucked into a leeward space inside an old fishing boat. The vessel had not been occupied by humans in some time and their scent had long since dissipated. As a result, the old girl made for a rather prime spot for a nest. If birds could smirk, Night Heron would be grinning like a goon for the choice to begin his nesting efforts in such an advantageous location. She-Heron had been most pleased, and even though the rest of the colony was close by, he was the first to decide the creaking craft was worth building a nest on.
Ruffling his crest in satisfaction, Night Heron peered into the starry sky for the dark form of his mate. Clouds scooted across the night sky, stars blinking in and out of sight between them. One star in particular caught his attention: while most stars flashed like fish in the water, this one was steady and had a long tail behind it, like a wake of a coot. He was spellbound; this star was so different from the rest, he found it captivating.
In his focused attention on the tailed star, he did not hear his mate; her cries went unnoticed. When Night Heron finally broke his concentration, She-Heron’s frantic screeches of warning hit him hard, “They are on the boat! They are coming for the nest!”
Raccoons, Night Heron glowered, his red eyes flashing. He hopped up to the square metal opening to their nest and came face to face with a she-raccoon twice his size. She swiped at him, but he evaded her claws; he flapped wings in her face and bit at the exposed skin of her nose and eyes. Under the night sky, they dueled.
She was relentless, and Night Heron was tiring. The she-raccoon dashed to his right, almost pushing through to the blue eggs within, and Night Heron was not sure could keep her at bay much longer. At that moment, he heard the most spectacular sound: She-Heron, screaming her fury as she dove at the raccoon with the full might of her wrath. She hit the interloper in the side, hard. The raccoon yelped her surprise and then abruptly lost her grip on the metal facing of the window, slipping over the side of the boat. The wet ker-splash and the following scrambling, slapping sounds in the water were a satisfying end to the skirmish.
Night Heron bowed to his mate, and then departed to find his breakfast. She-Heron settled herself on the nest as she watched him fly low over the water. A good nest, she thought, and a good mate.