“Oops” is a Bad Word – Flash Friday

This evening, I had a bit of extra time before going out to do something that makes me very nervous, and puts me in a crowd of people. Fortunately, I have been waiting for an opportunity to try a new writing prompt. Flash Friday is another slightly longer story prompt, with a very tight word limit that changes each week, all kicked off with a picture prompt. Even better, the I’ve had my eye on it for several weeks, but never a Friday with some extra time. Tonight, everything worked out just right, though.

Dust storm

Edward lived on a farm just outside of town. We call it a farm because of the wide open space and barns, even though there never has been a crop or any livestock. Most people call him “Crazy Eddie” and wonder what he does out there. His reputation for eccentricity isn’t helped by his appearance. He frequently scorches off his eyebrows or half his beard, but is always cheerful and friendly when he comes to the store. His shirts always have holes burned in them. Stains of every color in the rainbow cover his fingers and boots. I call him Uncle Eddie, though, and he’s not crazy. He’s just rich.

Uncle Eddie was an airship engineer when he was young. His crew would capture lightning higher than the rainclouds. They flew over land and sea, and no place was out of reach. Uncle Eddie stayed below, keeping the engines going. When they captured a loaded spice freighter from Siam, he never worried about money again.

He never quit tinkering with engines, though. Instead of sitting on the porch, he spends his time in the barn experimenting. One afternoon, something happens while the family was away. He runs out of the barn, shirt smoking, and bursts into the house. Before I can stand, he carries me through the front. Over his shoulder, I can see the barn’s fate.

The barn is flattened, and a green pillar of fire reaches into the sky. It seems all the wind from spring has been bottled up, and is suddenly free. It rages out, howling in joy. By the time it passes us, it has scooped up dry prairie dirt and leaves us covered with dust. When the wind reaches town, it holds so much dirt that the sun itself dims. As it sweeps through town, it knocks grown men off their feet and shatters windows.

For years, people give Uncle Eddie a disapproving eye, and we still find grit in strange places. He has a new barn, and though he’s promised to never use as much sodium again, I still keep a close watch when I visit him.

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