Spotted

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Photo Credit: James Pyle

He watched them. The boy was preoccupied. The little girl was hidden from view by the large boxes. If he were to walk up now and take her, no one would see. He’d left the engine in his pick-up running just in case he had to make a quick getaway.

Perspiration broke out on his forehead and his heart was pounding. They had promised him that he wouldn’t hurt another child—that he had responded well to the therapy but here he was watching his next victim.

He reached into his pocket for the lollipop and other goodies to lure her. Getting down on his haunches, he called out to her in a low voice. “Hey, little girl.”

She turned, smiling when she saw him. He showed her the candy and her face lit up. She moved closer.

Then he heard the siren. Too late, he thought as he was hoisted to his feet and handcuffed.

The child’s mother ran out and grabbed her. “What’s happening?” she asked the officer. “Who’s that man?”

“A sex offender, ma’am. Someone saw him hanging around, got suspicious and called us.”

“Thank God!” She hugged her daughter tightly as the squad car drove away.

200 Words

Written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Source:  Lifescience

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Horatio Clarke/Stone #writephoto

stone

Photo courtesy of Sue Vincent

Cora walked along the path, the new bonnet in her hand.  While the family was entertaining the vicar and his family, she opted to venture out here.  Her face was turned up to the sky, her flushed cheeks becoming.  She wanted to loosened her raven dark so that it tumbled down her back but that won’t do for a young lady.  Sometimes she envied her little sister, Della who could wear her thick auburn hair down.

She hitched up her skirt and ran the rest of the way, leaning against the stone when she reached the top.  What a glorious day, she thought spreading her arms wide like a bird.  Up here she felt free–free from convention.  She disliked sitting in the parlor, drinking tea and listening to boring conversations.  Most of the time, her body was there but her mind was here.

Besides, she was tired of being asked the same insidious questions.  “Are there no young men who have won your affections?” or “What about Henry Taylor?  He’s a very amiable young man with a very handsome fortune.  You wouldn’t want of anything, my Dear.”

No, none of the men in Yorkshire had so much as stirred any interest much less won her affections and as amiable as he may be, Henry Taylor didn’t tickle her fancy at all.  Why couldn’t they be satisfied that her elder sister, Edith had formed an attachment to the very handsome and very agreeable Mr. Fairfax?  It was only a matter of time before an engagement would be announced.  She liked Bernard very well.  He would be an excellent brother to her and Della.

She was so preoccupied with her thoughts that she didn’t notice him until he was almost upon her.  It was a man riding very gallantly on a beautiful white steed.  He looked stark against the animal because he was dressed completely in black.  Even his hair was black and the black cloak billowing behind him, reminded her of Count Dracula.

He dug his spurs into the horse’s sides and he came to a halt.  In one fluid and quick movement, he dismounted the animal and stood, over six feet tall, a few feet away from her.  He was very handsome.  His hair, thick and unruly, was blacker than hers.  Light brown eyes framed by enviably long dark lashes met her hazel gaze.

“Good afternoon,” he greeted her.  “I hope I’m not intruding.”

She shook her head.  “No, Sir, you’re not.”

“I like to ride up here,” he said.  “It’s very quiet and pleasant.  Do you come here often?”

“No, not often.”

“From whence did you come?”

“Fairhead’s Gate.”

“Fairhead’s Gate?” His black brows arched.  “Are you by any chance acquainted with Miss Edith Phillips?”

“She’s my older sister.”

“Then you must be Cora,” he said.  “Oh, permit me to introduce myself.  I’m Horatio Clarke.”

She stared blankly at him.  When he’d said, Horatio, she half expected him to add the name, “Hornblower.”

He looked amused.  “I see that Bernard has neglected to tell you about his roguish cousin.”

Her eyes widened.  “You’re Bernard’s cousin?” she exclaimed.  “But you look nothing like him.  He’s fair haired and ruddy and you’re–”

“Dark and rakish looking it.  I sometimes believe I have a little gypsy blood in me.”  His lips parted to reveal even white teeth.  He was quiet charming and disarming too.

Well, what ever he had pumping in his veins, he was unlike any man she had ever met.  He got her pulse racing and her heart pounding with excitement.  He was older than the men she knew too.  She guessed that he was five and thirty–fifteen years her senior.  Surely a man such as he could not still be unattached.  Whoever she was, she was very fortunate and she envied her.

She realized she was staring and she looked away, her face turning crimson.  “Perhaps, I should leave now,” she said.

“What?  You want to take leave of me so soon?” he inquired.

“It looks like it shall rain,” she said.

He gazed up at the sky.  “Yes, it does,” he agreed.  “Very well, Miss Phillips, I shall take you home.”

She looked at him in dismay.  “No, please, I don’t mind walking–”

“I insist,” he said.  “It would be rather remiss of me to let a lady get caught in the rain when I could have easily borne her to her abode.”

“Very well,” she said, realizing that it was pointless to protest any further and thought it rather kind of him to offer her a ride home.  She put on her bonnet and her heart lurched when he put his hands on her waist and hoisted her up onto the horse.  He climbed up and off they went.  This time his cloak didn’t stream behind him.  She clung to him for dear life, her eyes squeezed shut.  She had never ridden on a horse before.  It was terrifying.

She was relieved when they reached her family’s residence.  He got down and then helped her off.  Her legs felt wobbly.  He didn’t remove his hands from her waist until he was satisfied that she had regained her balance.  “Now, Miss Phillips, I shall bid you farewell but not before I ask your permission to call upon you tomorrow evening.”

It was hard to think sensibly when he was standing so close to her.  “Call upon me?” she repeated.  “But what about your young lady?”

His brows arched quizzically.  “My young lady?”

“Do you not have a young lady, Sir?”

He shook his head.  “No, Miss Phillips, I do not have a young lady.  Like you, I am unattached.”

She smiled for the first time since they met.  “Then, you may call upon me tomorrow evening, Mr. Clarke.”

He smiled and bowed.  “Tomorrow evening, then.  Good afternoon.”

She curtsied.  “Good afternoon.”

He swung up onto the horse and galloped off.

She watched him until he disappeared from view and then she walked slowly up the path to her house, just as the first drops of rain began to fall.  Oh, dear, she thought.  Mr. Clarke shall get soaked.

This is a response to the Thursday Photo Prompt – Stone at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Dinner With Miller

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She stormed out of the office and drove to her favorite spot, an abandoned field with wild flowers and a particular tree with twisted limbs that seemed to reach for the sky and the clouds like giant floating pieces of cotton wool moved ever so slightly across its expanse. Overhead, seagulls soared, their cries piercing the air. She counted them. There were four.

Removing her jacket, she spread it on the grass and sat down.  The anger was subsiding but Gillian’s words still played in her head.  “You’re kidding yourself if you think a gorgeous man like Miller would go out with you.  You’re too dark and you’re overweight.  I’m the kind of black woman most white men prefer.”

That miserable, skinny light-skinned—

Her cell rang.  It was Miller.  “Hi.”

“Hi.  We’re still on for tonight?”

“Yes.”

“Good.  See you later.”

“See you later.”

She dialed Michelle’s number.  “Rain check?”

“Sure.  Working late again?”

“Nope.  Dinner with Miller.”

“Huh? Um, have fun.”

She ended the call.  In five minutes, Gillian will learn about her date.

175 Words

This was written as part of Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. For more information visit Here.  If you would like to read other stories, visit Here.

Nisha/Wave #writephoto

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Photo courtesy of Sue Vincent

Her sister, Nisha was dead and she felt nothing.  As she stared at the sea her mind traveled back to what happened to her ten years ago.  She was 13 at the time.  She left her home with Nisha and her husband, thinking that they were going to Delhi but instead, they ended up in a remote village.  She was sold into marriage to a man old enough to be her father.

Hatred toward her sister and her brother-in-law welled inside her.  They had betrayed her.  She trusted them and they betrayed her.  They made her believe that they were going to Delhi but instead they took her to a village where strange men were coming into the room where she was kept and looking at her as if she were a piece of merchandise and offering money.  All the while Nisha stood outside, knowing what what was going to happen to her and not having a change of heart.  She kept hoping that her sister would rush in and try to stop what was happening but she didn’t.  Fortune meant more to Nisha than her sister did.

She managed to escape and was rescued by an anti-trafficking charity.  She was sent back to her parents.  She was among the lucky girls.  Many of them are lost to their families and trapped in a world of sex and domestic slavery.  Several days later, word got back to the family that police busted a human trafficking ring.  Nisha and her husband were part of the ring responsible for selling girls to men in the same village where they had taken her.

Now ten years later, she was working for the charity which rescued her.  She was determined to fight people like Nisha and her husband and all the evil forces to protect other girls from going through the horrors she did.  Nisha was dead now but there were others like her out there who preyed on young girls for profit.  She was going to fight them.  And more traffickers were going to end up in prison like her brother-in-law.  She hoped he was rotting in there.

One thing she learned from this whole experience was that the face of evil didn’t have to belong to a stranger–it could very well belong to someone very close to you.  She felt no sorrow over Nisha’s death–only peace.  It was one less evil person to fight against.

To remain silent in the face of evil is itself a form of evil – Sue Monk Kidd

Do not accept an evil you can change – E. Lockhart, We Were Liars

This was inspired by a true story of a teenager who was sold into marriage by her sister and brother-in-law.  It was written in response to the Thursday Photo Prompt – Waves at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.  For more details click here.

 

Sources:  The Guardian; Washington Post

The New Song

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PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

She saw the sheet of music with written lyrics on it.  Curious, she sat down at the keyboard and began to play.  As she began to sing, tears sprang to her eyes.  What a beautiful, heartfelt song.  The words were those of a man deeply in love.  Her own heart swelled with reciprocal love for him and when she heard his key turn in the lock, she flew into the hallway. “It’s beautiful,” she exclaimed, hugging him.

“What is?” He asked when they parted.

“The song you wrote for me.”

He sighed.  “I didn’t write it for you.”

98 words

This was written in response to the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  For more details, see Here).  To read stories of 100 words based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Shades of Love

For the first time in his life, Maxwell was in love. The problem was–his family wouldn’t approve.  Why?  The object of his affection was a very dark skinned Nigerian woman.  He was a light skinned black man with blue eyes whose parents were light skinned blacks from Barbados.  He always had a weakness for dark women although to please his parents, he dated the light skinned ones.  This woman was absolutely stunning but he knew that his family wouldn’t see past her color.  Even his friends when they saw him checking her out at the party where they met, they told him, “Man, she’s way too dark.  There are so many gorgeous black women here to choose from and you had to pick out the darkest one.”

Of course, he ignored them and walked up to her, his heart racing with nervousness and excitement.  She turned and it seemed like his heart stopped.  This close she was even more breathtaking.  Her beautiful eyes mesmerized him and her skin looked smooth and flawless.  The black cocktail dress hugged her perfect body and the strappy black sandals she wore accentuated her long and shapely legs.  She wore a jeweled choker around her slender neck.

“Maxwell,” he said, holding out his hand.

She put her hand in his.  “Adaolisa.”  They shook hands.

“That’s a pretty name.  What does it mean?”

“God’s daughter.”

“Adaolisa, you’re a very beautiful woman.”  I think you’re the most beautiful woman here.

She smiled.  “Thank you.  And you’re a very handsome man with the most amazing eyes I’ve ever seen.”

He blushed.  “Thank you.  I detect an accent.  Where are you from?”

“Nigeria. I moved from Lagos to London when I was seventeen to attend university.  I stayed with my aunt until I graduated and found a job.”

“You speak English very well.”

“Actually, English is my first language and the official language of Nigeria.”

“Have you been back since you left?”

“Yes.  I visit my family every Christmas.”

“Are you here alone?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  You came with your friends.”

So, she had noticed him long before he approached her.  That pleased him.  “Why don’t we get something to eat and then find somewhere to sit?” he suggested.

“All right.” They went over to the elaborate buffet table and helped themselves to the spread.  They went out on the terrace, found a corner where there were a couple of chairs and sat down.

“Which university did you go to?”

“Cambridge.”

“Now I wish that I went there instead of Oxford and then we would have met sooner. Why did you study at Cambridge?”

“Education.”

“How you like living in England?”

“I don’t mind it because I love my job and I have a lot of friends.  What really bothers me, though, is the prejudice that exists among blacks.  The lighter skinned women, especially, turn up their noses at me and they get upset when their men look at me.  I think too, that they don’t like me because I’m African.”

Maxwell shook his head.  “It’s a shameful thing when prejudice exists within the black community,” he said.  “Growing up in Barbados, I was exposed to bigotry.  My sister was bullied because she wasn’t dark enough and I watched light skinned children ridicule the dark skinned ones.  Many times I got into fights standing up for myself, my sister and my friends.  There was a girl who lived next door to my grandparents whom I liked and I used to hang around her.  My grandfather who was much lighter than me didn’t approve and used to say to me, ‘She’s too dark.’  He told me that all the men in our family married light skinned women so that the next generation would be lighter.  I loved my grandfather but I was ashamed of his ways.  Unfortunately, my parents are the same way.  When I was a teenager I used to date light skinned girls to please them but that changed when I went to university.”

“So, your parents wouldn’t be pleased to see you talking to me,” she commented.

“No, they wouldn’t be.  But it doesn’t matter.  I’m a grown man.  I like you Adaolisa and I want to get to know you better.”

“It’s sad to see blacks discriminate against each other.  It only polarizes the communities.”

“It does.  And it polarizes families too.  My younger brother married a German woman whom our parents welcomed with open arms and they dote on their Caucasian looking grandchildren.   My sister, however, is somewhat of a disappointment to them because she fell in love with and got engaged to Omar, a Senegalese man.  It doesn’t matter that he’s a great guy, loves her and treats her like a queen, all my parents see are his color and his nationality.”

“There are many shades of love.  Your brother chose one shade and your sister another.  All that matters is that they’re happy with their choices.”

He stared at her, admiration glinting in his eyes.  Not only was she beautiful but she was wise.  He knew he had found a treasure tonight.

They changed the topic and talked about other things until it was time to leave.  “May I give you a lift home?” he asked, hopefully.

She nodded.  “Yes, thank you.  I’ll be right back.”

After she left, he rejoined his friends.  “Where have you been, Man,” Trevor asked.

“He’s been with the Nubian,” Colin chimed in.

“So, are we still heading over to the Road House to catch the game?” Nigel asked.

“I’ll pass,” Maxwell told them.  “I’ll see you guys at the game on Friday.”

“He’s brushing us off because of black beauty.”

“Her name is Adaolisa.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I don’t like to keep a lady waiting.”  He turned and walked away, his heart and steps quickening when he saw her standing there, waiting for him.

That was two years ago and now, here they were on their way to see his parents before they went to their favorite restaurant where he was going to propose to her.  It didn’t matter to him what his parents thought.  He was madly in love with this woman and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.  She looked exquisite in the dark red dress with the spaghetti straps.  Unable to resist, he reached over and caressed her shoulder with his knuckles.  “Are you nervous?” he asked when she looked at him.

“A little,” she admitted.

“Don’t worry, I will be there.   As soon as I see that things are getting uncomfortable for you, we will leave, okay?”

“Okay.”  She seemed to relax and a slight smile tugged at her mouth.  She turned to look out of the window.

Five minutes later, they were pulling up in front of a very charming cottage nestled among climbing rose bushes.  He held her hand as they walked up the driveway.  When they were standing on the step in front of the door, he turned to her and asked, “Ready?”

She nodded.  Her grip on his hand tightened imperceptibly.

He rang the doorbell and waited.  It opened and his father stood there.  “Hello, Son,” he said, shaking Maxwell’s hand.  Then, his eyes shifted to Adaolisa.  “Good evening,” he said, extending his hand.

Adaolisa shook his hand.  “Good evening.”

“Please come in,” he said, stepping aside.  His manner toward her was polite but there was no warmth.  “Your mother is in the living-room.”

After they removed their shoes, they went to the living-room.  His mother was sitting by the fireplace.  She stood and went over to hug him.  “It’s good to see you, Maxwell,” she said.  “It has been a while.” When they drew apart, she looked at Adaolisa.  “How do you do?” she sounded a bit stiff although she shook her hand.

“I’m fine, thank you,” Adaolisa replied.  “What a lovely home you have.”

“Thank you.  Won’t you sit down?”

“Mom, we could only stay for a little while,” Maxwell told her as he sat down on the sofa next to Adaolisa.  “We’re going out for dinner.”

“Maxwell mentioned that you’re from Nigeria.”

“Yes, I’m from Lagos.”

“Do you have any family here?”

“Yes, an aunt.  The rest of my family is in Lagos.”

So, far so good, Maxwell thought, beginning to relax when his mother said abruptly, “Maxwell, may I have a word with you?  Excuse us,” she said to Adaolisa before standing up and leaving the room.

Maxwell looked at Adaolisa.  “I’ll be right back,” he promised.  He got up and left.

His mother was standing in the hallway.  “Let’s go into the kitchen,” she suggested and led the way.

When they were alone in the kitchen, she asked, “Are you serious about this girl?”

“First of all, she’s a woman not a girl and yes, I’m very serious about her.  I’m head over heels in love with her.”

“But what do you really know about her?”

“I know enough about her to want to marry her—”

His mother looked aghast.  “Marry her?”

“Yes.  I’m going to propose to her tonight over dinner.”

“But, she’s African.”

“So?”

“Why couldn’t you find yourself a nice Bajan woman or even an English woman?”

“So you object to Adaolisa because she’s African?”

“Yes and she’s too dark.”

Maxwell tried to remain calm.  “Do you have any idea how damaging it is to a child when they are treated differently because they are dark?  I knew someone at university who told me that when she was a child, the teacher gave her a black crayon instead of a brown one to color a drawing of herself.  She transferred to a different school because of the bullying but she still had to deal with verbal abuse from other black students.  How could you stand there and look down at Adaolisa because she’s not your idea of what is beautiful?  It’s not the color of her skin that makes a woman beautiful, it’s her character.  I brought her here to meet you because I hoped that once you got to know her, you would set your prejudices aside but clearly I was wrong.  I’m going to marry her regardless of what you say or think.  You’re welcome to come to the wedding if you like.  Now, it’s time for us to go.  Goodbye, Mother.”  He turned and walked away from her.

He was quiet on the ride over to the restaurant.   Then, turning to her, he said regretfully, “I’m sorry about the way things turned out.  I foolishly hoped that my parents would come around and accept you.  I know my mother is set in her ways but I thought that my father would be more forthcoming but aside from greeting you at the door, he said nothing to you all the time we were there.  And when I came into the living-room after talking to my mother, he wasn’t there.  You were sitting there all by yourself.  I was so upset that I had to get out of there”

She reached out and placed her hand on his thigh.  “Let’s not dwell on what happened.  We have the rest of the evening ahead of us.  Let’s enjoy it.”

“All right,” he said.  “Let’s enjoy the rest of our evening together.”

They ended up enjoying dinner.  The conversation flowed and there was a lot of laughter.  Just before they ordered dessert, he reached out and covered her hand, his eyes intent on her face.  Swallowing hard, he began the speech he had rehearsed over and over since the moment he knew that he was going to marry her.   “Adaolisa, words alone can’t express how I feel about you.  From the moment I first saw you, I knew that you were the one for me.  You took my heart and my breath away.  When I look at you, I see the woman I love, the woman I need and the woman I’m meant to be with.”  He reached into his breast pocket and took out a box.  Releasing her hand, he opened it and removed the ring.  It was an exquisite Rose Gold Leaf diamond engagement ring.

She stared at it in wonder and when her eyes lifted to his face, they were moist.  “It’s beautiful,” she murmured.

“It will look even more beautiful on your hand,” he replied huskily.  “Will you marry me, Adaolisa?”

She nodded.  “Yes, Maxwell.” The tears were rolling down her cheeks now as she watched him slide it onto her finger before he raised her hand to his lips and kissed it.

“I love you, Adaolisa.”

“I love you too, Maxwell.”

They raised their glasses in a toast and over dessert, they made wedding plans.  In May of the following year, they got married in an elegant but simple ceremony.  Her family was there.  His brother and his family were in attendance as well as his sister and her husband, Omar.  Noticeably absent were his parents.  Fortunately, that didn’t put a damper on the nuptials.

After a two week honeymoon in the Maldives, they moved into their new home, a half-hour drive outside of London.  Nine months later, they welcomed their first child—a girl with beautiful olive skin and her father’s eyes.  As Maxwell held her in his arms, he remarked, “She’s beautiful like her mother.”

“She’s another shade of love—our love for each other.”

 

Source:  Dazed Digital; Felix Online; Nation News; Barbados Free Press; Fluid London; University of Cambridge; Global News; Pinterest; Ben Garelick; Harper’s Bazaar

Seeking the Lost

Don’t live in a bubble, live for God by seeking the lost and pointing them to Jesus.

Image is Liz Lemon Swindle’s painting of “The Lost Sheep”

When I saw this image it just struck me that Jesus didn’t live in a bubble.  He ate with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:11).  Many of them followed Him and Jesus was called their Friend (Mark 2:15; Matthew 11:19).  Jesus explained why He spent so much time with them, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).  The lost in Jesus’ day were the tax collectors, the Samaritan woman who was married five times and living with  a man who wasn’t her husband, the woman caught in adultery.

Today, the lost could be the young woman who left the church she grew up in to experience life outside, hanging out with wrong crowd, experimenting with drugs and falling into other destruction behavior and habits until she reaches the point where she hits rock bottom.  She wants to turn her life around but doesn’t know how or thinks that it might be too late.  And Satan is there reminding her of her sins and making her believe that it’s hopeless but Jesus reaches down to where she is and draws her back to Him as seen in this beautiful picture.  He looks past the makeup, the nose ring, the scars of sin and sees a lost soul who needs His love and mercy.

The lost are those who wander away from the church, the faith like the young woman.  When she returns to the fold, is she going to be welcomed with open arms?  Will the members of the church rejoice with heaven because she who was lost is found?  Or will we be like the prodigal son’s brother who refused to be merry?

As the body of Christ, we are to reflect Him in every way.  When a lost soul returns, we ought to celebrate not condemn them for leaving the church.  Perhaps, we ought to ask ourselves why they left in the first place.

Let us come out of the bubble we are living in and go out into the world and let people know that Jesus came into the world to save them (1 Timothy 1:15).

Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ – Luke 15:6

Sources:  Seth Adam Smith; Bible Gateway; Blue Letter Bible; Seeking the Lost Hymn