The prompt for this week’s flash fiction was a little different. Instead of a phrase we had to incorporate three words into our story. The words are: playground, pier and diamond. I had fun with this challenge. Hope you enjoy it.
Austin closed the front door behind him. He stood on the porch and took a couple of deep breaths to inflate his lungs, then stretched his quads and hamstrings.
Beyond the porch the rain came down in sheets of silver. Austin could barely see the house or trees across the street. He stepped off the porch and headed downhill, soaked before he’d taken more than few steps.
Austin didn’t like the rain and he didn’t like running. When he had to leave his bed to run on a rainy Saturday at the butt crack of dawn, he hated both.
He sucked it up and kept going. At times like this he thought of his dad. He’d had his first heart attack at the age of forty-six — only ten years older than Austin was now. He’d had a His dad had a second heart attack at fifty and the third and final attack at fifty-seven.
Austin thought of his mom and how devastated she’d been when his dad died. If his dad had taken better care of himself she wouldn’t have been left alone in her early fifties. It was selfish to ignore health issues and leave someone behind. He ran faster.
He probably didn’t have to worry. His dad’s health problems had been due to his lifestyle — he smoked heavily, drank every day and lived on fried foods — but Austin wasn’t taking any chances. He had a lot to live for.
At the bottom of the hill the tree-lined street opened up and the ocean stretched away on his right. The tide was out and the smell of brine was strong.
Austin slowed as he neared the coffee shop. The windows were steamed over but he knew that inside was warmth and good, strong coffee. He kept going.
He ran past the playground with its deserted swings and abandoned merry-go-round, past another local in a yellow rain slicker, out walking his dog. Along the main street, past the ice cream and souvenir shops and the seafood restaurants — all closed at this time of year.
There was nothing gloomier than a seaside town on a rainy morning in off-season, but Austin was happy. Had never been happier than these last three years.
Almost half way through his run now if he didn’t turn off here to take the shorter route home. Austin pushed on and ran past the pub — one of the few businesses that survived year-round.
Cold, dirty rainwater splashed his calves. He could feel the grit sticking to his skin, getting into his socks.
He turned right and headed out onto the pier, the hollow thud, thud, thud of his steps keeping time with his heartbeat as he ran.
Out towards the end of the pier and a seagull sitting on the railing. As he reached the railing the seagull flew off, shrieking at him.
Austin took a minute to catch his breath and stretch his burning leg muscles before he turned and headed home. He stared out towards the horizon, as the rain dimpled the water. Heavy rain clouds blended seamlessly with the gray ocean. He couldn’t tell where the sky ended and the ocean began.
Austin turned and ran back along the pier. His steps were lighter now. He was heading home.
Back past the empty playground and the coffee shop. No desire to stop in for a coffee now. He set a grueling pace up the hill, an impatient flick of his head sending fat water drops flying off the ends of his hair.
This was always the worst part. Why the hell had he decided to live halfway up a hill? No matter which way he ran he always had to run uphill — either at the beginning or the end of his daily run. He pressed on, pushing himself, thinking of home.
On the porch he took off his soaking wet running shoes and socks and quietly entered the house.
Upstairs he hesitated, glancing fondly in the direction of the bed before he padded into the bathroom and peeled off his sodden shorts and t-shirt. The hot shower washed away the grime and sweat and warmed his chilled legs.
Austin shaved in the shower. He toweled off and pulled on a clean pair of boxers then sat on the bed to pull on his jeans.
Behind him the bedclothes rustled and strong arms wrapped around him. “Did you go running? It’s pouring out.”
“Yeah.” Austin leaned back into his lover’s embrace.
Ryan pressed sleep-warmed skin against his back. “You’re so dedicated. It’s one of the things I admire about you.”
Austin looked up and met his lover’s eyes in the mirror hanging above the dresser. Ryan was stunning with his black hair, flashing black eyes, and bronzed skin, though he wasn’t just beautiful. He was sweet and generous and the best thing that had ever happened to Austin.
He was committed to Ryan, to being with Ryan. He wanted to be with him forever. He didn’t want to leave his lover alone at an early age. It was why he ran every day, even in the winter, even in the rain. He ran for Ryan.
He watched in the mirror as Ryan trailed kisses across his shoulder and nuzzled the sensitive spot behind his ear.
Austin smiled. “One of the things? Is there more?”
Austin sucked in a breath as Ryan drew his earlobe into his mouth. His tongue played with the tiny diamond stud in the lobe of Austin’s ear.
Ryan raised his head and grinned.
“Come back to bed and I’ll show you.”
Julie Hayes (M/M)
Diane Adams (M/M)
Lindsay Klug (M/F)
RJ Scott (M/M)
Lily Sawyer (M/M)
Sui Lynn (M/M)
Victoria Blisse (M/F)Heather Lin (M/F)