Flash Fiction: A Dream by Toni Shiloh

martin-luther-king-jr-2028448_640Penny stared down at her patent leather Mary Jane shoes. They were shined up bright, gleaming blacker than the pavement. Her white socks rose above her ankles. Mama had used bleach to make sure they would gleam in the sunlight. Her blue-and-white plaid dress was starched, fanning out at the knees. Even though it wasn’t Sunday, she had her best outfit on.

Mama said she had to look nice because they were going to hear Doctor King speak. She wasn’t so sure how he could be a doctor and a king. Mama had laughed when she asked her. Said his name was King and he was a doctor.

He had to be a very special doctor. Whenever he spoke, all the grownups would gather around the television afraid to miss one single word. She didn’t know anything could be better than cartoons. Her brother Johnny called her stupid and said lots of things were better than cartoons.

Mama said to pay him no mind because teenagers were odd, whatever that meant.

“Penny! Johnny! Time to leave.”

Penny took one last look at her outfit and walked out of her room. Johnny came out at the same time. He had on a tie. She giggled.

“What’s so funny?”

“You look like Daddy.”

He puffed up his chest. “That’s cuz I’m a man. You don’t no nothing.”

“Johnny, that’s no way to talk to your sister.”

Johnny frowned at Daddy’s words. I gave him a hug. Johnny called me a daddy’s girl. He always said it mean like, but I don’t know why. He was my daddy and I was a girl. Why wouldn’t I be his?

We walked down the sidewalk. Lots of people were out, all dressed up like we were. Daddy smiled at Mama happy we were all going to see Doctor King. Daddy said history was being made and one day, we’d be proud to say we heard him speak. Johnny smiled at Daddy, like he knew something I didn’t. Sometimes I wished I was older.

When we got there I was surprised to see how many people were there. I thought it would be a lot of people from out neighborhood, but it looked like the whole wide world came outside that day. We weren’t really close but Daddy said Doctor King would use a microphone.

The principal used that on assembly days. Finally, something I understood. Daddy put me on his shoulders so I could see. I stuck my tongue out at Johnny. He was too big to sit on Daddy’s shoulders and kept jumping up trying to see. He stuck his tongue out right back. I covered my mouth, trying to hide my giggle.

There was silence and then I heard him speak. I would know his voice anywhere. Like I said, the grownups were always listening to him on the television. But there was something different in his voice today. It rose up and down, kind of like the swing does when you’re high up and low down.

I leaned forward, gripping Daddy’s head. I wanted to get closer. Hear what he had to say. He was talking about freedoms. About all of us being friends. I nodded and noticed everyone else doing the same. They were probably tired of getting spit on like me. Some of those white kids sure were mean. It was the only time Johnny was nice to me and he would even defend me.

I wonder if his dream came true, would I be able to go anywhere I want. Sometimes I wished we could sit closer to the screen in the movie theater. Daddy always said we had to sit up top.

His speech seemed to last awhile, but everyone clapped and cheered when it was over. I even saw some white people there. They must be the nice ones. When we got home, Daddy and Mama couldn’t stop smiling. Everyone seemed so happy. I knew Doctor King was a special kind of doctor.

***

doctormartinlutherkingjr“Grandma, why are you crying?”

Penny looked down at her granddaughter. “Doctor King was a special man, Penelope. I got to see him when I was around your age.”

“He was a real person? Why they make him into a statue?”

Penny looked at the white marble statue of Doctor King. Faces of all ethnicities snapped photos of the monument in their nation’s capital. She looked at the granddaughter named after her. “Well, Penelope, he was a great man. Wanted all people to have the same freedoms. Get the same education regardless of their color.”

“Ohhh,” she intoned. “We have lots of kids in my class that are different colors, Grandma. Is that what you mean?”

“That’s exactly what I mean.”

She stared at the statue once more. Daddy always told her they witnessed history. Funny how clear things became once you hit a certain age. Never in a million years would she have imagined having a Black man in the White House and a statue of Doctor King in the same city. Guess some dreams come true.


toniToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of ACFW and the president of the Virginia chapter. You can find her on her website.

Memorial Day, Flash Fiction by Toni Shiloh

He stared at the flag shadowbox. Today was the day. The day his mom would take down the shadowbox and tell him of its importance. It represented freedom. Freedom from oppression. Freedom from dictatorships. Freedom to follow your heart and achieve success.

But more than that, it represented all his father had died for.

He glanced down the hall. It was still dark. His mother was probably still sleeping. Would she get upset if he woke her? Maybe he should watch more tv instead. His foot tapped impatiently. No, he would take his chances. If his mom was upset, he would just have to deal with it. He wanted to hear the stories now. Hear about how brave his dad was.

Carefully, he placed his foot on the ledge of the bottom shelf. If he was careful, he could climb on top of the bookshelf and not fall. From there, he would maintain his balance on his bare feet as he reached for the shadowbox.

After a few tense moments, the bookshelf stopped wobbling and he held the shadowbox safely in his arms. He knew he wasn’t supposed to climb the shelf, but his mother would sleep the day away if he didn’t wake her soon.

Why did girl grownups always take so long to wake up? His Grandpa Jake woke in time to see the sunrise. It was supposed to be quiet time, but he could never maintain silence very long. There was just too much to ask about.

The colors. The noises in the air. Even the smells.

He padded down the hall praying his mom wouldn’t be angry when he woke her. Her job as a nurse was a very important one. It helped put food on the table. He wasn’t sure how since she never bought food from the hospital. All he knew was she said it gave her money to buy food.

He supposed it was a good thing, but he wished he had more time to play with his mom. She was always busy. Thank goodness Gran still played with him. They lived in the old farmhouse with his Gran and Grandpa Jake. His mom said it was because his dad died.

Mom said the military had needed him. Needed him to stand century…no that wasn’t the right word. He shrugged. It didn’t matter what the grownup word was. He’d seen the pictures of his dad in uniform holding a gun with sunglasses shading his face.

He pushed against the door softly, careful not to drop the shadowbox. He stopped on his mom’s side of the bed. He wasn’t sure why she needed such a big bed. Maybe it was for when he was sick. She always left a spot for him. She’d rub his hair and back and let him watch cartoons until he was all better.

It was awful being sick, but it was nice watching cartoons. Before he could wake her up, she opened her eyes, then gasped.

“Jay Three, what are you doing awake already?”

He grinned. She said that every day when he woke her. Jay Three wasn’t his full name but a nickname. He was a third. His mom told him that mean his grandpa, his dad, and him all shared a name. So she called him Jay Three.

He held up the shadowbox.

“Oh, son, did you climb that bookshelf again?”

“Sorry, Ma. I just couldn’t wait any longer.”

She patted the bed and he dove in, hitting her legs.

“Jay Three!”

“Sorry, Ma.” He wiggled under the covers.

His ma ran her hand over the shadowbox. “You know the importance of this box, Jay Three?”

“Yes, ma’am. It means freedom.”

“It sure does, sweet boy. And why do we have one?”

“Cuz Dad died fighting for freedom.”

She ran a hand over his hair and he snuggled deeper. “That’s right. He followed in the footsteps of his dad, his grandpa. As far as the Miller men know, there’s been a Miller man every generation to fight for freedom.”

He wanted to ask her if he could fight too, but last time he asked, she cried. Cried so hard he had to get Gran. It took an awful long time for her to step, but when she did, she gave him a sad smile and the tightest hug ever. He didn’t complain because she gave tight hugs whenever she cried.

“Well your daddy enlisted in the Army to fight for freedom.”

“Where did he go again, Ma?”

“Afghanistan.”

He nodded, but he didn’t know where that was. It reminded him of a blanket but his mom said it wasn’t the same thing.

“And he fought the bad guys, right, Ma?”

“That’s right, Jay Three.”

“I wish I could have met him before he died.”

“Oh, baby, so do I. He used to tell me all the time, being a dad was the best thing ever.”

“Better than being a soldier?” He always asked just to hear the answer.

“Better than being a soldier.” She squeezed his arm. “And do you know why today’s special?”

“Yes, ma’am. Cuz we ‘member all the soldiers that died.”

“Not just soldiers, but Airmen, Seamen, and Marines.”

“But soldiers are the best, right Ma?”

“Depends on who you ask.” She laughed.

She told story after story. Then She opened the picture box. It had pictures of his mom and dad at their wedding. There were some of his dad when he was young. But the best one was when his dad kissed his mom’s big belly. His mom said they took the picture the day he left for that blanket place. It was the last time his baby ears heard his dad’s voice.

He liked to imagine he could hear his dad, but instead all he had was the shadowbox and picture box and Memorial Day. Always Memorial Day. To sit and talk about how brave his dad was. It was the best day ever as far as he was concerned.


toni

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Before pursuing her dream as a writer,
Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys.

When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, making jewelry, and spending time with
her family.

Child of the Heart — Flash Fiction by Toni Shiloh

Jennifer stared at the crib. A giraffe stood guard, leaning against the back corner of the crib. The empty crib. It had taken her three weeks to ready the room. The walls had been painted a pale yellow accented with a star wallpaper banner. It went with the sheets, pale yellow with stars all over it. The rocking chair situated in front of the window was empty. Waiting to welcome the weight of mother and child.

She shivered as doubt and worry swirled around her. Was she going crazy? Her mother and sister certainly thought so. She hadn’t planned on telling them about the nursery, but a surprise visit had let the cat out of the bag. Now they were probably at home planning an intervention for her. It wasn’t everyday an un-pregnant woman turned an empty room into a nursery.

But didn’t she hear His voice? Hadn’t He told her to ready the room? Wasn’t that the voice of God? She wiped at an errant tear. Didn’t the Word say, “My sheep hear my voice?” Maybe it was mistaken. No, of course not. Maybe she truly was crazy. Maybe the multiple miscarriages, infertility treatments, and general pokes and prodding had taken their toll. Maybe she was slipping away from reality. Her mother had cautioned her not to get her hopes up with adoption. Her sister told her to be content without children. But what did she know? She spat out kid after kid without working up a sweat.

Each and every time her sister wanted another child, she had one. It was crushing in its unfairness. But instead of letting the green-eyed monster rule her heart, she embraced the role of Yet one quiet moment with God had turned her world upside down. Had convinced her that God was about to grant her heart’s desire of motherhood. She heard His voice.

Didn’t she?

She shifted from foot to foot, trying to prevent them from going numb. What time was it? How long had she been standing there longing for a little one to settle in the ebony crib? Even the changing table seemed lonely. As if it knew it wasn’t able to perform its duties.

With a groan, she whirled away from the door. Ben would be home any moment. She couldn’t let the day pass the same as yesterday. He had been horrified to find out she had stared at the empty room all day. It was a miracle he had agreed to let her furnish it in the first place. She couldn’t let her obsession cause him to doubt her too.

At least she had started the crockpot. The aroma of cooked chicken in salsa greeted her as she entered the kitchen. Grabbing some plates, she began to prepare for dinner. Thankfully, her sister had left homemade tortillas when she came over earlier. They would be the perfect complement for the chicken. She took out sour cream, guacamole, cheese, tomatoes, and the rest of the fixings. Her mind operated on auto pilot, remembering the condiments she and Ben loved to top their chicken tortillas with.

A quick glance at the wall clock had her wondering if she had time to go back to the nursery before Ben came home. Ten minutes before he came home. She could be up and down again before he crossed the threshold. But what if she wasn’t? Pity had filled his warm brown eyes yesterday when he found her in front of the nursery. In fact, she had been startled by his presence, lost in her own thoughts. If she didn’t lose focus, five more minutes in the nursery was possible.

Bolstered by the thought, she headed back up the stairs. She paused at the threshold, wondering if she should go in. Maybe it wouldn’t look so lonely if she took up residence in the rocking chair.

No, she thought with a shake of her head. She had promised not to enter the room again until she held a little one in her arms. Until she was a mother. Standing there, she took in the extra details she had added. The star covered night light. The wipe warmer to keep little tushies warm. The star mobile hanging from the ceiling over the crib. Wouldn’t her child enjoy it? She had names ready to go. Abigail if it was a girl and Sebastian if it was a boy. It really didn’t matter if the baby was boy or girl, as long as the baby would be hers. Hers and Ben. A Jennings by love and later by court decree.

A honk of a horn startled her out of her reverie. With a quick glance at her watch, she grimaced. She’d been up there for ten minutes. Was it Ben who had honked? Hurrying down the stairs, she smoother her hands over her hair, hoping there would be no
flying strands to suggest she’d been upstairs and down in a hurry. She grabbed the doorknob and forced a grin on her face.

She’d show him she was fine. That she had done more than stare at the nursery like a woman slowly slipping from reality. With a deep breath, she opened the door…and froze.

“There’s Mommy.”

She gasped for air, stunned by the sight of Ben holding an infant wrapped in a blue blanket.

Her husband’s grin took over his face and love shined from his eyes. “Karen called me yesterday with the news. I wanted it to be a surprised.”

“He’s ours?” Her voice quivered.

“He’s ours. Mommy meet Sebastian Jennings, the child of our heart.”


toniToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Before pursuing her dream as a writer,
Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys.

When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, ​making jewelry, and spending time with
​her family.

Flash Fiction: A New Creation by Toni Shiloh

Porsha slipped on her Easter dress and grinned. The boat-neck neckline covered her front and the dress fell mid shin. She grabbed her new cross necklace and put it on. The look was classic and simple, a perfect way to showcase her new self.

She was a new creation and what better day to celebrate than Jesus’ Resurrection. With a smile, she grabbed her Bible, nestled in its quilted cover, and her clutch. Her new best friend, Candace, was going to meet her at the church where they were having a sunrise service.

She had never been to a sunrise service before and was anxious. Just last week, she had been baptized to cement her new faith. Her mind thought back to the day she met Candace.

“Hello, my name is Alicia Carter and I’m an addict. Welcome to the meeting of Group 54 Narcotics Anonymous. Today we have a visitor. Candace Simmons from one of the local churches wants to share a message with you. Please welcome her.”

They all clapped. Porsha did it out of politeness, but had no intention of listening. What did a church girl know about her problems?

“Hello, my name is Candace Simmons and I’m an addict.”

What? She sat forward. How in the world was a church girl an addict? That was an oxymoron.

“I’ve been clean for ten years.”

Porsha’s heart thudded. She hadn’t wanted to listen to her, but now the need was overwhelming. How did a religious person end up an addict? And better yet, how had she been clean for ten years? Leonard and Alicia were the only ones in their group that been clean multiple years. Everyone else was still struggling.

“I wanted to tell you how I have stayed clean for so long. It’s because of a man. His name is Jesus. I accepted Him into my life when I was ten and thought life would be perfect forever. But at eighteen, I lost both of my parents in a freak car accident. Shortly after, I started using. Nothing dulled the pain. Nothing erased the heartache. Until one day, a pastor took the time to tell me about a Man who came to save us from a life of hurt. So now, I do my part and I visit open groups and share about His saving power.”

Porsha swallowed, feeling the woman’s pain. Was it possible Jesus could save her too? She always thought only good people could be Christians. But Candace hadn’t been good when the pastor found her.

“I’ll be here until the meeting is over. I have business cards to my church and I’ll answer any questions you may have. Thank you.”

This time, the clapping was subdued, but more heartfelt. Time passed slowly. Porsha bounced her leg waiting for group to end. She needed to talk to Candace. Needed to know how bad off she was before Jesus saved her. Was it too late for her?

She could only hope not.

Finally, Alicia closed the group. She stood up and was by Candace’s side in a matter of seconds.

“Hi, I’m Candace,” she said, holding out her hand.

“Hello, I’m Porsha.” She shook Candace’s hand, suddenly overcome with nerves.

“Did you have some questions?”

Porsha stared at her, suddenly wondering if she could even ask. There was no harm in asking…right? She took the plunge. “How bad off were you when the pastor found you? When Jesus saved you?”

Candace stepped closer. “I was using meth when the pastor found me.”

Porsha blinked. Meth was bad.

“But it really doesn’t matter,” Candace continued. “The beautiful thing about Jesus is it doesn’t matter how messed up we are, or what drugs we’re using, or what mistakes we have made. He’ll take us exactly how we are and turn us into someone new.”

“How is that possible?” she breathed out. “Why would He want to save someone like “Because He loves You Porsha.”

She blinked back tears at the memory. Those words were a balm to her soul and had been the first sign of hope she had had in years. She went to Candace’s church that Sunday and had been going ever since. It had been a struggle leaving her bad habits behind, but with God’s help she continued to take one day at a time.

Taking a calming breath, she stepped out of the car. Candace told her the sunrise service would be at the lake. Thankfully, it wasn’t too cold nor too hot. The church would have lawn chairs situated in front of the lake so that they could watch the sunrise as a church family. She shivered with the excitement. It had been so long since she had been a part of something. Something big. Something better than herself. She just prayed it wouldn’t be awkward. There was bond to be someone who knew her
from her past life. Candace told her not to worry. So she didn’t. Yet the closer she neared the lake, the more her anxiety increased. Lord, please help me stay calm. Please help me remember I’m a new creation.

“Amen,” she whispered.

She turned around the corner of the church, following the signs directing her to the sunrise service. Why wasn’t anyone else there? She swallowed, repeating her prayer to God. Her hands had gone clammy, her pulse jumped erratically in her neck. She turned another corner and stopped. The place was packed and everyone was facing her.

“Welcome to the family, Porsha Johnson!”

Her mouth dropped open as the congregation greeted her. She blinked, feeling tears welling in her eyes. Candace ran forward, wrapping her up in a hug.

“I’m so glad you’re here.” Candace pulled back with a smile. “Come, meet everyone.”

She walked forward, thanking God for a new found family.


toniToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Before pursuing her dream as a writer, Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys. When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, ​making jewelry, and spending time with ​her family. You can find Toni online at: http://tonishiloh.weebly.com/

Flash Fiction: Love At His Time by Toni Shiloh

valentine-297033_1280February 14th

Cassidy Taylor hated Valentine’s Day. It was nothing more than a commercialized way for couples to flaunt their happily-ever-after status in her face. Why she agreed to go to the Church’s singles’ mixer was beyond her.

Well, she knew why. Felicity had roped her into it. After rambling incessantly about the mixer, she had agreed to be her “plus one” out of self-preservation.
She buttoned her black-and-white checkered peacoat, stepped in front of the mirror and smiled. She looked casual yet stylish. It would have to work, because she refused to change her outfit one more time.

She grabbed her purse and keys and left. She had agreed to pick up Felicity since her friend hated driving in the dark. The sweet strands of Adele greeted her ears as she backed up. “Hello” would never be considered a Valentine’s song, but it fit her mood. She had so many regrets and it was only the second month of the new year.

Her one regret: not asking the handsome guy at Starbucks out. She saw him every day on her way into work. No matter what time she arrived, he always came in right after her. She remembered the first time she saw him.

She looked up from her smartphone as a flash of movement entered her peripheral vision. The guy standing next to her looked like he had just come from a magazine shoot. His bald head shined. His goatee was perfectly groomed. His double-breasted suit screamed class.

He dipped his head when he caught her gaze. She felt her cheeks heat up. Embarrassed, she turned her gaze to her phone but couldn’t make out the words. Should she say something? Before her thought could solidify, he grabbed his coffee and left.

She sighed as she turned onto Felicity’s street. She’d seen Miles—she couldn’t help but notice his name on the cup—every day for the past month and couldn’t put two letters together to say hi. It was no wonder she was alone this holiday.
She parked at the curb and honked. Felicity came out, waving excitedly. She shook her head at her exuberant friend. She had a feeling the girl would talk all the way to church, which meant it was going to be a long night.

“Thanks for picking me up, Cass.”

“No problem.”

“I’m so excited. This is the first time our church has done this. They wanted to get everyone together, but take the pressure off of having a date. That’s why I asked you to be my plus one. Definitely takes away the pressure, don’t you think?”

Not if she didn’t know anyone else at this thing. “Sure, Felicity. What are they planning to do anyway?”

“They’re having a catered dinner, games, you know your ice breakers and what not. I don’t remember what else they said. I just thought it would be better than staying home and moping around. People like that are kind of depressing, don’t you think?”

She glanced at Felicity, her blue eyes shining with hope and sunshine. How the two of them ever became friends, she wasn’t sure. Maybe because deep down she really needed to hope instead of sitting at home, sad and alone, and Felicity helped her do that. “You’re probably right.”

Felicity picked up her conversation, happily chatting along the way. Cassidy tried to interject the appropriate amount of mmm-hmms, but she wasn’t paying attention to a thing she said.

How had she become so cynical? She used to love all holidays. But four years of not having a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day had soured her. One by one, her other friends had hooked up and then entered wedded bliss. Felicity was her last remaining single friend. Was there something wrong with her?

“Felicity?”

“Yes?”

“Do you ever think there’s something wrong with us? I mean, because we’re still single.”

“No! God just hasn’t given us our mates yet.”

She resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “Do you really believe that?”

Felicity’s baby blues widened. “Of course, I do. Why else am I still single?”

Cassidy snorted. “Maybe because you haven’t found the right guy.”

“Because, God hasn’t sent him yet,” Felicity replied in a sing-song voice. “Cass, when you decide to let God handle it, you won’t stress so much about a man. Just enjoy tonight and have fun. There’s supposed to be over a hundred of us in attendance tonight. There can’t be that many people with some horribly, fatal flaw.”

She turned into the church parking lot. “Wow, I guess you’re right.”

It was packed.

Maybe tonight wouldn’t be as bad as she thought. Too bad she hadn’t taken the chance and asked Miles to be her plus one.

Felicity jumped out of the car and she followed, albeit more slowly. They headed for the entrance, following a couple of other parking-lot stragglers.

Lord, I’m going to take Felicity’s advice. Please help me leave my bad mood at the door and just have fun. I’ll wait for You to send the right guy. Amen.

They walked in and immediately, she felt light-hearted. The church hall had been decked out in every shade of red, pink, and white. People were smiling as music played overhead. She couldn’t help but smile too.

Felicity leaned in close “See, I told you we’d have fun.”

“Thanks for the invite, Felicity.”

“Anytime.”

Someone called Felicity’s name and she turned their way to greet them. Suddenly, Cassidy felt awkward. She glanced around and saw the refreshment table. She headed there, thankful she’d soon have something in her hand to occupy her. She picked up a small container of fruit.

“How many times do I have to walk past you to make you fall for me?”

She froze. Even at church, people still had horrible pick-up lines! She turned around, ready to give the man an earful, but words failed as she stood face-to-face with Miles.

“A month’s worth apparently,” she replied cheekily.


toniToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Before pursuing her dream as a writer, Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys. When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, ​making jewelry, and spending time with ​her family. You can find Toni online at: http://tonishiloh.weebly.com/