America – A Short Story

Looking out my back door, I tried to keep my breathing steady. It had been twenty-four hours since Mamá said goodbye. She had walked me to the school door instead of just dropping me off. She had given me an extra long hug and whispered, “Hay una sorpresa para ti, in your lunchbox,” before letting me go and walking quickly down the steps so she wouldn’t be late for work.

I had entered the school and didn’t give her another thought. Until she didn’t come home for dinner. And she wasn’t in the kitchen making arroz con chorizo on Saturday morning. And now it was Saturday evening.

I walked into the living room and picked up my cell phone. I tapped the “news” icon and watched the app launch. I saw it then, a picture of the factory where she worked. Mamá was coming out of the front door, flanked by two men in dark clothing, carrying guns, and wearing bullet proof vests that had the three scariest letters in the entire English language.


Mamá was still wearing the gloves she used for cleaning, her hair was mussed, the curly tendrils like a crown of ivy on her head. The headline said, “The first day of school turned into a nightmare after record immigration raids.” I sat on the couch, my heart rate increasing.

“No te preocupes,” Mamá would say when I whispered my fears to her. “Tengo fe in this nation.”

Mamá might have faith in this country, but I no longer did.

The photo above was taken by Patrick for his Pic and a Word Challenge #216 – America. I’ve also incorporated other prompts from this last week: Go Dog Go Cafe’s Tuesday Writing Prompt to use the word “ice” and the number “twenty four”; and the Ragtag Daily prompt for Saturday – Nation (Thank you, Punam!), Thursday – Looking out my back door and Wednesday – Goodbye.

This story is based on a true story of an immigration raid in Mississippi that occurred on the first day of school in 2019 – so it isn’t really “fiction”, hence the title. The children, of the immigrants who were taken, were not picked up from school and had no way of knowing what happened to their parents. I can only imagine the terror of those children – losing a parent is a big fear for any child. This incident also reminded me of the way the Jewish people were rounded up by the Nazis. Is this what America has become?

©️ 2020 iido

Hide and Seek – A Short Story

“Come out, Zima! I’m tired of playing hide and seek!” Aviva called from her perch above the bridge. “I’ve canvassed this area at least ten times. This isn’t fun anymore.”

She smelled Zima before she saw her – burnt peppermint breath enveloping her from behind. Aviva turned around to see Zima rising from behind the rocks beneath the bridge. Zima was a terrible sight to see. The dragon was as tall as a birch tree and as wide as the oldest pine tree on the other side of forest. Her scales were white and glittery like new fallen snow at sunrise but were as hard as plates of frosted glass. Despite her rigid outer covering, Zima’s long tail was flexible, grasping objects beyond her reach if needed. What Zima was missing were her wings. Aviva hadn’t asked her about this yet but she did notice the scars on Zima’s back.

“How could you not find me? I was right here!” Zima exclaimed. She regarded Aviva with a questioning look, taking in Aviva’s shoulder length, white hair, warm brown eyes and even warmer brown skin. The young girl – or woman as she insisted with they first met – was still holding her liege’s banner while sitting on her horse, Kite.

“You’re such a good hider, Zima! You just blend in with the snow.” Aviva finally dismounted her horse and leaned the banner against the saddle, stretching her shoulders and arms.

Zima snorted, “I don’t know why you insisted on carrying that banner the entire time.”

“I have to get stronger if I’m to prove that I can carry my liege’s standard. It won’t do for me to go into battle and then drop the flag when they need it to rally the knights.”

Zima snorted again causing Aviva to cross her arms. “I know you don’t think much of Egon but he is my liege and my cousin. He swears this war is inevitable. Our time together is numbered.”

Zima’s tail wrapped around Aviva’s waist giving her a squeeze. The tip found her shoulders and started to gently tap at the sore muscles there. Aviva leaned into the soothing touch with a sigh. She wasn’t sure what would happen to Zima once Egon started the war, but they had to find a way to remove the spell that had kept their kingdom trapped under winter snow for 100 years. None of the wizards they had brought over the years in had helped. Now Egon wanted to invade the next kingdom that seemed unaffected by the curse and take over their land for his own people. Aviva didn’t like the idea – you can’t simply take something that someone else has jut because you want it or even need it – but Egon had no ear for advice other his own greed and stubbornness. She was sure the war would further decimate their kingdom and leave them worse off then before.

Shaking off Zima’s tail, Aviva declared, “Let’s make the most of the rest of this day. Hide again, Zima. I’ll not pick up the banner or get on Kite this time.”

She turned towards the nearest tree and started counting to 50 while Zima bounded happily away. Zima didn’t see the tears falling from her eyes.

For Hélène’s “What do you see?” Picture prompt.

©️ iido 2019

549.18 – A Short Story

It was a gloomy January day, at lunchtime if I recall correctly, when she first spoke to me in that cockney English I now know wasn’t her real voice.

“Alright, I’ve kept you waiting long enough. It’s been, what, months that you’ve been sitting on that ladder. Day in and day out – even when it snowed you came. I guess the least I can do is find out what you want.”

“Oh, hello. You do talk!”

“I do talk! What is this? An MnM commercial with Santa? Isn’t that why you’re here? To ask the great Krystal – with a K, mind you – a question?”

I was silent a bit as the realization sunk in.

I had first come out of curiosity – my mates at the flat had told stories of the crystal ball on the top floor of the library that was supposed to grant wishes or impart wisdom, like a genie but not in a bottle. What they didn’t mention was her luminous sheen and the gentle curve of her orb. I was mesmerized by the light that got captured in her clear core. It would bounce and twirl, then burst back out, illuminated and improved from being held within her translucent membrane. I wanted to be that light.

Instead, I played it cool. “Krystal, with a K, how are you today?”

“Oh my! A poet, I bet you didn’t know it. Now what can I do for you?”

“Nothing right now. I just wanted to hear you talk and get to know you.”

“Get to know me? Why? I’m just a ball of glass.”

“You’re the most beautiful ball of glass I’ve ever seen.”

There was silence and then the faint rustling of paper that grew louder and louder. I covered my head as it reached it’s crescendo, then a flash of blinding light.

When I finally opened my eyes and pulled my hands away from ears, Krystal was gone. I checked all around the area for shattered shards, but there were none, not even a sliver the floor. Instead, what I found was an iridescent note with the number “549.18” etched on it. It took me minute, and then I knew just where to go.

As I turned the corner of the “549-550” shelves, I noticed a silhouette at end of the row, outlined by the library window, it seemed to sparkle. As I approached, the figure turned around and said, “It took you long enough. Next time, remember, Krystal doesn’t like to wait.”

This short fiction story was written for Hélène’s “What do you see?” Writing Prompt. The picture above (courtesy of Hélène) inspired this little piece. The title references the Dewey Decimal System.

Libraries are wondrous places! Knowledge and dreams all crammed onto shelves and sheltered in its four walls. It’s organized and comfortingly quiet. I’ve always thought of libraries as safe places where you can be who you are or be someone else for a bit; where you can fall in love with someone else or even, with yourself.

©️ iido 2019