Photo prompt flash fiction time! It’s an interesting picture and I tried my best. I hope you enjoy. It was a 500 year storm. But, who really can know that for sure? This place wasn’t on the map 500 years ago. The local news paper, diluted down to only two small sections, and the online version of even less worth while material, used this as click bait for views. “500 Year Storm! Tornado Hits Down Town: Mass Devastation.” No lives were lost, a few injured, many were simply bothered. The prints said over 100 injured where the online article boasted 200. Clearly annoying to say the least, 500 year, 200 injured or was it 100? Let’s just keep throwing 100’s around. Even if it’s not at all true and one could barely count to 100 people injured even including Mrs. Jasem who only needed a few stitches after picking up a broken jar of pickles that had fallen. In fact, it’s not even clear if she really had stitches. Most likely a little drop of glue was all that was required to seal a minor cut now with the state of the art, heavily endorsed Emergency Center named after a list of wealthy donors. Including the likes of, well, the acrylic nails sporting, far too much hair spray for a 70 odd year old, Mrs. Jasem. It’s also possible the tornado had anything to do with the broken jar. She probably just dropped the jar and decided to make the story more sensational. The official weather report did support a tornado touch down and this had the town going wild. It didn’t happen in the farm fields where tornadoes hit yearly. This one hit downtown and the rumors stated it trundled right on through Main Street before tucking itself back up into the clouds it had birthed from. Sirens rang through the city. Everyone hid in their basements miles away from the actual event in their suburban homes and luxury family rooms void of windows but equipped with surround sound. The winds were enough to cause damage. Facades of buildings showed the raw materials underneath. Virgin wood exposed from trees with broken branches. Banners, chalk board sidewalk signs, umbrellas from nearby pubs littered the street. The hype didn’t end when the minor repairs were made. There was a much larger problem. Welcome to the History District. The history is not what you think but exactly what the Historic Board wants you to think. Houses of mansion proportions lined cobble stone streets with balconies, street lights, a median of trees that have flowering canopies in the late spring. It’s a place of beauty and has power to transport a person to a decade when things were simpler, everyone was friendly, first name only type of people. The storm damaged the houses as storms normally do. Branches also fell here but shingles also flew in the midspring air with a few broken pieces of glass. In front of one house an oak uprooted showing the maze of tree veins coagulated with mud and nature debris. The trick is, most of these houses were not occupied by owners but renters. Many of the actual owners lived far away from the border line of the history district, in the suburbs mentioned early. The real mansions. These historic houses were geared toward bed and breakfasts or young couples with too much money and not much care for the inconvenient street parking, creaking floor boards, lack of central air, and poor insulation. And bats. There is always something about these houses and bats. When it came to the discussion of fixing the houses, there was more to discuss than hiring a contractor. “These are historic!” Mrs. Jansen stated with her chin up, eye closed, reading classes balancing precariously on a bulb ended nose. “They are not historic just because you say they are ma’am. There are still laws in place. This windows do not meet ground clearance. A child could easily fall…” Where Chief Cary’s sentence ended, his chins continued to jiggle as Mrs. Jasem interrupted, an oversized bandage on her pickle jar cut. “Oh for heaven’s…name a time where a child has fallen out of one of the windows.” Mrs. Jansen opened her eyes and raised her eyebrows, inhaling a deep breath, “We have determined, as the owners of these homes have agreed, to maintain a certain appeal to these houses for the sake of the history district. While we understand there may be some disagreements, these houses can not be modernized because this defeats the purpose. They are however, up to date, with mold control and the removal of lead paint. But, we do not agree to change the imagery of the homes.” “Bullshit.” Mr. Walzcki slams his fatty hand on the varnished wood desk. “Chairman Walzcki, please.” A mousy Miss Nesting whispers, jogging papers nervously. Mr. Walzcki wipes the sweat from his brow and grease from his nose with the back of his paper thin white button up shirt. “Those houses were build in the 1970’s. What was historic of this city was burned down in the 1880’s. From that point each one of the buildings, downtown, historic, whatever you like to sell it as, were just pieced together. Out with the old, in with the new, time and time again. At no point were those houses ever considered truly historic. You need to learn to follow the laws and fix the houses up to code. All the codes. Not the ones you and the investors you tricked, deemed historically accurate enough to follow.” “I was told being part of the history district protects us from some of these unnecessary updates. I’m not replacing twenty windows because they are an inch too low to the ground. None of this was an issue before. The only reason it is even being brought up is because someone three houses down had some roof damage. Now the entire district is under bureaucratic scrutiny?” Mr. Geoffrey throws his bony arms up and then crosses them. “Unbelievable.” “Chairman, Mr. Walzcki, please be aware of how you vote for this. There is a lot of money in the, fake, as you essentially put it, history district and if you vote the wrong way people will leave their investments. They’ll just simply walk away. Is this what you want? A derelict neighborhood only blocks away from one of your ‘upscale’ restaurants?” Mr. Walzcki glares, curly gray eyebrow hairs forming a perfect V. “Is that a threat Mrs. Jansen?” Removing her glasses she meet his eyes with equal intensity. “It’s a promise. I recommend you vote wisely.” ***** Thank you for reading and please enjoy some of these other stories.