Flash Fiction For Miranda Kate's 87th Weekly Challenge


 I'll enter it here (it's also on my blog) so folks who look here first for my work won't have to click on a link to take them somewhere else. 

You can find her story here (and also the challenge prompt for this week):  https://purplequeennl.blogspot.com/2018/12/mid-week-flash-challenge-week-87.html  Note: The picture above is mine, just because Patreon sticks my picture up on the screen if it doesn't find one on the post. The ocean scene is much more attractive, I promise. See Miranda's post for the actual prompt image.


 I've done a romantic drama this time. Exactly 750 words. I like to live on the edge...


Expatriate

   by K. R. Smith


The cool morning air off the water blew down Fred's collar. He zipped his jacket higher and continued to walk along the shore.

This was supposed to be a vacation. Spending time together ended up being anything but relaxing. It was bad enough that his in-laws were living with them. With his own kids beginning to exert their influence on events, it was like dealing with two sets of quarreling children. Even here he couldn't escape. There was always another job, another decision made beyond his control, another day of pandering to everyone else's needs and desires. This was supposed to be a time to unwind, to regenerate while listening to the splash of gentle waves and haunting call of seabirds.

The morning had not been peaceful. He'd slammed the door when he left, telling them all to figure it out on their own. The beach, only a short walk from the rental, was good a place as any to go. The sunrise was beautiful, though his eyes only looked down. In his mind, an endless loop of the morning's events replayed.

He walked until he came across an old chair left on the beach. It was probably not worth saving and thoughtlessly left behind. He gave it a shake. It seemed sturdy enough to support his weight. He sat and stared out over the water, occasionally kicking one of the stones near his feet. He contemplated them for a moment, then stood up. He chose a few of the larger ones and placed them in an arc in front of the chair. Feeling oddly satisfied, he continued until there was a small area encircled by rocks. Once complete, he stepped inside the circle and placed his hands on his hips.

"I name this land Fredonia. I am its sole occupant and ruler. I declare my independence from all other lands, governments, people, authorities, foreign obligations, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera."

He flopped back into the chair.

The sun peeked through the clouds near the horizon. He could feel its warmth on his legs. The rhythm of the small waves calmed him, his mind slowly drifting from the chaos of the morning.

"Fred?"

It took a moment for the voice to register in his mind. It was Cathy, his wife. He turned and looked, but didn't respond.

"Are you still angry?"

Fred took a breath and rubbed his hand over his jaw. "I don't know. Maybe." He looked back over the ocean. "I'm just so frustrated with the world, my life, with everything and everybody."

"Even with me?"

Fred turned towards Cathy. She was standing back away from where he sat. Was she afraid to come closer, afraid of him? The magnitude of her words, her distance, tore at him. How could he be mad at her? She had it no better.

"What can I do, Fred? Tell me and I'll try."

He stood and shoved his hands into his pockets. "I don't know, Cathy. What can anyone do? It's just the way things are. I don't know what to do myself."

"Would you hold me?"

The idea that Cathy would ever wonder if that was acceptable, as if needing permission to be held, was more than he could stand. He held out his arm invitingly. When just a few feet away, however, Fred raised his hand and said, "Stop."

Cathy's eyes opened wide. She brought her hands up to her face, unsure what to do or say.

"I have declared this good place to be Fredonia," Fred said loudly while waving his hands over the stone ring. "It is a land unto itself, free of all worldly obligations. None may enter without the permission of the, uh, king? Yes, king would be appropriate. Which is I. Or me, I think." He looked at Cathy. "Do you have business with the king?"

Cathy stared at Fred, then repeated her request. "I would like a hug?" She waited for a reply, but none came. "Your majesty?" she added.

"I see." Fred nodded. "You may enter."

They held each other for a long while. He kissed her. She turned within his arms so the two of them could look out over the water.

"This is all I really want, Cathy. Just some time for myself, for us."

She nestled against him. "Can we stay here forever?"

Fred sighed. "Well, at least until breakfast need to be made—or high tide—whichever comes first."

She held his arms tightly against her. "That would be perfect."


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