Between the big moments in life, there are interludes. Like the sweet piece during an orchestra’s intermission or the pause between acts in a play, these interludes set a different pace. Perhaps the temporal episodes add up to characterize more than a transition. They can even become more important than the significant markers of life.
What will writers make of interludes? You can count on variety and enlightening ideas.
The following are based on the September 19, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an interlude.
PART I (10-minute read)
Sweet Interlude by Ritu Bhathal
Sophia leaned against the headboard, taking a drag of her cigarette.
She smiled at her reflection in the mirror; hair messed up, lipstick a mere stain left on her lips.
She watched him pull his pants back on.
Marco slipped his shirt on, still buttoning as he left.
Voices. Her supervisor was coming.
She flushed the cigarette down the toilet, changed, and flung the door open.
“Oh Sir, these guests, too much! Smoking in here. Smell it!”
She bustled out, to the next room waiting to be cleaned, wondering when her next interlude with Marco would be…
A Woman Scorned by TN Kerr
It was early morning when Enrique crept home. Treading softly and turning his key slow; he eased the door inward. He started when a heavy glass ashtray bounced off the wall and shattered. Mesmerized, he watched as pieces of glass scampered across the dark blue tile floor. It brought to mind ‘la galassia via lattea’ it was beautiful. So was the dark-haired fury who came in quick and attacked.
“Ma il mio amore, eravamo in pausa.” Enrique shouted as he tried in vain to dodge her blows.
Marida continued to pummel him. Her fierce countenance set and forbidding.
Replay by Nobbinmaug
In the two hours since she stormed out, I’ve done nothing. I’ve hardly moved as the fight replayed in my mind.
Was she wrong?
Was she right?
Was I right?
Was I wrong?
Were we both wrong?
Were we both right?
I looked at every angle. I examined every word.
I watched the tears stream down her face. I rewound them and watched them fall again. I watched her leave, slamming doors, and wiping her eyes.
I sat as the garage door slowly crawled along its track.
The garage door groans again.
Have we cooled or will we reignite?
A Brief Encounter by Susan Zutautas
The sun was shining and there was a soft breeze coming off the lake. I’d laid the blanket down on a grassy knoll. Thinking, tis perfect for a picnic.
When Pat arrived, I had everything set up from the wine, pate, cheese, and crackers to a few slices of pecan pie.
I suppose I should feel guilty, meeting a married man and all but hell it was just a little lunchtime picnic that turned into three hours.
We talked, we laughed, we flirted and then Pat told me he was leaving his wife.
Not the encounter I was expecting.
To Be Left Behind (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Iraq was Ike’s interlude. He said it was what he needed to do between jobs, something temporary, a way to make money until they got better situated. Danni sensed it was greater than a diversion. Iraq threatened her marriage. It was the husband-stealer, a merciless sexpot siren with a hunger for middle-aged soldiers, Dolly Parton’s Jolene. “I cannot compete with you, Jolene,” the words sang without mercy in Danni’s mind, clenching her chest. Interludes end and the main event picks up again. Ike would come home. But Danni could not get over his leaving. What if Iraq kept him?
A Space In The Sun by Sherri Matthews
The light of day in a sunshine blaze flooded my room. Sun. Now. Get up. I shuffled outside, flopped on the grass and closed my eyes to the sound of summer bee buzz. No sirens, no sprinklers, no screen doors slamming. Strident and angry, left back in LA. In a single sigh I caught the scent of lavender and thyme. The smell of home. Not pot, weed, whatever, choking my lungs. That smell. All the time. Not anger – rage.
Why, I pleaded? But he kept me sweet with his smile and his kiss. For now though, I’ll stay here.
Going Out by Joanne Fisher
It had been a while since Tiffany had last dated someone. Her last relationship had ended so badly she felt she needed a long interlude so she could lick her wounds. Not that she minded being on her own. She was rather proud of the fact that she could quite happily survive by herself. It just that sometimes she missed the affection. She loved cuddling and being kissed.
Tonight she had her first date in a long time. She was nervous as hell, but also knew that if it didn’t work out this time, she could always try again.
Interlude by Pete Fanning
Ricky had never felt so alive. The passionate, lunchtime romps. The no-strings-attached goodbyes. She smelled exotic, like fruit. Julie always smelled like a hospital.
He told himself many things. He was a man. He had needs. He would stop once the baby was born. It was—what did she call it?—a romantic interlude. Sounded better than cheating.
But when the baby came, she wouldn’t let it go. She called him at home, when Julia was trying to nurse the baby. When his in-laws were sitting in the kitchen. When the baby started crying.
It wasn’t so romantic then.
Ainsworth’s Strange Situation by Anne Goodwin
The playroom’s made of cuddles and bright shiny colours. Choo-choo trains and farm animals and smiling dolls. Mummy’s teddy kicks a ball to me. When my teddy goes to kick it back, she’s gone.
The playroom’s made of sharp hurty edges and darkness. Witches and goblins and things that make me jump when they go bang. Why did Mummy leave me? What did I do wrong?
The door opens, bringing Mummy’s smell, her flowery dress, her outstretched arms. Is it the Good Mummy who shoos away the monsters? Or is it the Bad Mummy who’s one of them herself?
The Movie by Ruchira Khanna
“Mom, I need to go to the bathroom,” whispered six-year-old Nate into his Mom’s ears with a sense of urgency.
“Shhh!” she said with twisted brows as she continued to glare at the screen with an intense look while shoving popcorn in her mouth and chewing nervously.
“Mom!” he said again, and this time in a loud decibel.
The folks sitting around also Shhhhed him
“This is a very intense scene. Control your pee! I’ll take you when there is an intermission,”
Poor Nate sat there with crossed legs and hands-on his crotch while the Mom enjoyed the movie.
Interlude by clfalcone*
‘Intermission – break,’ he thought. ‘Resin up those bows.’ He didn’t hear them approach, the Beethoven article was so well written.
“There!” She pointed, scowling. “That dirty bum there – he’s disrupting eveyone, waving arms, his reading light… we can’t enjoy the show!” She sniffed scornfully.
“Excuse me, sir…” implored the usher.
He turned, big blue eyes flashing through matted, unruly red hair.
“Maestro!” Exclaimed the usher. “Why are you way up here?” Shocked, thrilled.
“The only seats left.”
“Come up front… there’s an extra seat,” helping to gather scores, instruments, clothing, thus leaving behind a befuddled, miffed patron.
Inner Demons by Sai Muthukumar
Broken, left for dead. On the river Styx, ferryman waits. A shattered soul dances with the devil, as the Tchaikovsky plays. Wings detached, lay separated in the darkness. Hollow heart, weightless, left in the corpse. Demons toil, fuel the torment, words echo in the cave. A figure stands at the gate, greetings unnecessary. The quiet goes uninterrupted. Been here before, it’s different now. On his own, in the darkness, a boy turns his back on the gatekeeper. The figures stand divided. The wings eclipse the black. The fallen angel shall rise once more. The flames don’t accept the undefeated.
The Origins of Princess Ota by Goldie
“This is boring” – Ota announced, letting out an audible yawn.
Frank and Veronica looked at the girl, their eyes filled with sympathy.
”Around the world in 80 days” is a classic. Sit still” – said Frank, placing his hand on Ota’s shoulder.
“Shhhh” – came from all around.
“An interlude!” – exclaimed Victoria.
Before she could say anything else, Ota ran out.
They saw the girl trip and pull down the curtain to steady herself.
“We gave you our daughter to show her how it is to be average. Not to teach her how to be simple” – the queen said with disgust.
Interlude by Faith A. Colburn
My grandparents met in an interlude, peacetime between our nation’s many wars. Yet, turbulence attended their meeting.
My grandfather arrived from Ohio with Uncle Johnny Bivens, my grandmother’s grandmother’s brother. The men spent a night in the Douglas Nebraska, train depot, held by the first horizontal snow Grandpa George had ever seen—a plains blizzard.
Later, the town cop, drawn by light in the station, came to make sure the escaped murders from the state penitentiary hadn’t holed up there.
Once the excitement ended, though, Hazel and George had two peaceful years to assemble a grubstake and get acquainted.
Choosing to Decide by Jo Hawk
Annora teetered, swaying back and forth, she walked a thin line. She heeded the lessons, listened to the morality tales, and promised to be a good girl. Yet, she questioned their version of the golden rule.
What once was black or white, now wore shades of gray that obscured tender truths and polished vicious lies. Distorted glass magnified the glaring light, while trapped in shadows, Annora couldn’t tell if she was the spider or the fly.
Praise or disdain, honored or disgraced, right from wrong, good versus bad, her fate lay in her choice. Annora let her heart decide.
St. Nicholas by tracey
I studied my son and wondered if he still believed in Santa. He was almost twelve now. I had the story ready. How Saint Nicholas was a real person who did good works and when he died people wanted to continue his kind deeds. How everyone gets a chance to be Santa for others.
Was my son ready to be Santa? Was I ready? Maybe this was an interlude where he didn’t quite believe but had a year to grow into the idea of Saint Nicholas. Or maybe this interlude was for me to adjust to him growing up.
Key Change by Miriam Hurdle
“Choir, that’s beautiful. All the parts blend well. We’ll add something to our rehearsal.”
“What? I just got all the lyrics memorized.”
“Wonderful, Liz, you can look at me rather than the music score.”
“What else do we have to learn?”
“We change key for the last stanza. The lyrics are the same. Chris composed the interlude. Now listen once.”
“It sounds heavenly, but I can’t catch the note for the key change.”
“There are sixteen bars. Listen to the last bar. Hum the last note that takes you to the first note of the next stanza.”
Just a Moment by Bill Engleson
I saw the sea; the sea I saw.
And on the sea, sea sophistry.
Was it a dream, the dream I saw,
Or simply sea, sea mystery?
I saw my love, my love I saw
Upon the sea, my sea-tossed love,
Was it my love whom I did see,
and did she wave, her hand, her glove?
I caught a glimpse, a glimpse I caught,
Then she was gone, gone from my sight,
Into the mist, a new life sought,
A sky of red, a red winged night.
I dream of you,
And you of me
under the sea.
PART II (10-minute read)
Interlude by Donna Armistead
In the cool quiet of midmorning, one forgets it was nearly ninety degrees yesterday. A blue jay’s raucous cry, the tinhorn call of a nuthatch at the feeder, pierce the equinoctial stillness.
Summer fled, leaving only vague regret and mosquito bites. Seasonal residents decamp dragging boats, cargo trailers and other detritus of modern life. Waves of flickers rise from the road shoulder, gathering to migrate above them.
And now, the waiting. The low-lying fog blanketing the neighbors’ field soon gives way to a blanket of snow, crisscrossed by deer, offering gemlike the rare gift of a lone wolf track.
The Interlude by Norah Colvin
It was intended as an interlude filling the gap between childhood and marriage. Hired as governess to a grazier friend of a friend, they relished the possibility she’d meet a wealthy future-husband—plenty of single men in the bush— while she made herself useful. But life doesn’t always comply with one’s plans, especially for another. The grazier’s children were eager students and she taught them well. Soon others came to learn from her tuition. They built a small schoolhouse which filled with willing minds. While suitors were a-plenty, none captured her love for teaching which became her main event.
Interlude by Robbie Cheadle
During the brief interlude between their visit to the burned-out farm and re-joining their commando, Pieter’s hair and beard became streaked with grey and new lines creased his skin burned brown by the sun. A shadow of desolation filmed his once bright eyes and his mouth curved down at the sides. They speculated that their families had been taken to the Mafeking concentration camp, but they could not be sure. They did not even know if they were still alive. Terrible stories about the poor conditions at the camps circulated among the various commandoes as they traversed the countryside.
Interlude by Jack Keaton
Ethan was walking to the office and was listening to a podcast: “Global Meltdown.” He loved his new noise-cancelling headphones. They made everything around him seem insignificant. The world is coming to an end! That Swedish girl is right, and no one is listening to her, except Ethan, Ethan was all ears. Behind him, a driver was unloading Red Bull from a truck when he fell off the ramp, spilling cases of the drink all over the street. Ethan didn’t hear the crash nor the sound of the exploding cans as the carbon dioxide gas released into the atmosphere.
Interludes by Reena Saxena
Don’t you remember me?
I’ve been on a break.
So what? I hope there is no break in memory.
There is a break in connectivity, relevance and the lessons I learnt. The major lesson is about trust.
There are no second chances for people who betrayed me once. Interludes give an opportunity to look back and learn, but it does not help unless one can link it to the future. If you do not find connectors, abandon the past and move ahead.
Who betrayed you?
Is it enough to say you are a part of my abandoned past?
The Sweetest Interlude by Chelsea Owens
She felt him: fluttering rolls across her belly, monitor heartbeats strong and loud. What will you be like? she wondered, pausing life to grow another.
She chased him: rolling, crawling, walking, running; breaking, laughing, climbing high. When will you slow down? she wondered, curtailing career to care for child.
She watched him: growing taller, speaking deeper; leaving parents for teenage crowds. When will you grow up? she wondered, forgoing sleep for curfew calls.
She hugged him: leaving nest to start his own; walking tall beside his wife. When will you come back? she wondered, looking round at what remained.
The Moment Between Night and Day by Sascha Darlington
All the angry words thrust like rockets into the atmosphere, irretrievable, hovering in the oxygen-drought of space.
Intolerable from my parents, I won’t tolerate it from us.
You take my hand; I want to snatch it back. You kiss my knuckles.
“We were in Manteo listening to that woman perform ‘Night and Day.’ When she sang: ‘we’re both so different,’ she was singing about us.”
I remember. So many years ago, a favorite moment, sepia afternoon, music, walking, loving. Still I feel the breeze cross the Sound, our hands entwined.
“There’s no going back.”
“No, we move forward. Together.”
Terrible Interlude by Chris Hewitt
She’d had enough. For an age she’d stood at the precipice, staring down at the mob below. They’d tried to talk her down, she couldn’t hear them over her beating heart. Deep down, she knew they were there just to see her fall. Hateful people. How had it come to this?
The ground rushed to embrace her. Arms flailing, stomach knotted, time slowed. Her life flashed before her, she had regrets, many, in that terrible interlude. She could see their jeering faces now, bastards, so this was how it would end. She closed her eyes.
The bungee cord stretched.
Interlude by FloridaBorne
“Thank you, Ron, for a place to stay until I can afford my own,” Jean said.
“Never thought Dan would leave you for someone his daughters age.”
“Not the first time he’s cheated on me. We had five kids, he was a good provider, and I looked the other way.”
“He waited until they all graduated from college to ask for a divorce. You won’t get much in a no-fault state.”
“The house is in both our names, so I’ll get half.”
Ron hoped she’d fall in love with him and this might be more than a simple interlude.
Between Acts by JulesPaige
Claire gave what she thought were clear instructions about getting a second opinion. Let the consult Doc find someone who will consider what we want. But her hubby had his own ideas. While he did get the process started he chose for himself, someone out of town. The consult Doc was surprised that his man, that he had recommended wasn’t part of the fifty percent that did the minimal procedure. The consult Doc had heard of the ‘New Man’ and was happy to forward the needed information.
life in the pause lane;
we wait with our positive
Last Requests by Annette Rochelle Aben
She wouldn’t leave the hospital alive. Acceptance lead to a coma. Any time now. Any time now. Family was called, many came to visit.
Suddenly, she sat up, and asked for ice cream. Nurses leaped over each other to make that happen. They rubbed a bit on her parched lips and she licked them while closing her eyes in pleasure. Then, she looked at her daughter and smiled. Her last words were.
“Can I go home now?”
With tears of joy and sorrow in her eyes and a lump in her throat, her daughter gave her permission to die.
Passages (from “Seasquall”) by Saifun Hassam
Today, yesterday, even the months before, were an interlude, a passage in time and space so different from the past. Last year her husband of forty years had passed away.
A pot of coffee at hand, she sits on the back patio of their home. In the gentle breeze, tall pine and white birch trees sway, then, a pause, an interlude of stillness.
Her home, their home would have new owners next month. She would live for a while in a nearby apartment, with shaded walkways and birdbaths. Then it would be time to join her sister in Seasquall.
A Musical Interlude by Sally Cronin
The loss was unbearable. They had been together for forty years after bumping into each other on the dance floor of the youth club. He was gangly and thin as a rake, and she still chubby with puppy fat. They danced all evening and had done so every night since. Her daughter took her hand as the music she had selected began to play. Family and friends around her smiled as the song reminded them of the wonderful love they had witnessed. For just a few more minutes, they were together, dancing, as they would be again one day.
The Chiseled Dash by Donna Matthews
You know those black and white images with a single item of color. Maybe it’s the eyes, a book, or the outfit. Muted everything to shades of gray so you can focus on the point. Much like these flowers against your new gray headstone. The dates chiseled in the stone stare back at me. How did I get here? No, not the car but here, in widowhood? Your life compressed to a tiny chiseled dash and untwined from mine? Did I know? Our last cup of coffee? Your safe embrace? That belly laugh last week? Ugh, I miss you.
Interlude by Anita Dawes
Time between sleep when dreaming
A spyglass into another life
On waking, may not belong to you
An uninvited interlude
With pictures, sound and music
A hidden message maybe
Inviting you to explore a mystery
You may have forgotten
The short film that meant more to you
Than the main attraction
That had you thinking, talking about
Reminding you of those in-between moments
When walking on a beach
Your bare feet kissed by the sea
That quiet moment when out walking
When the wind drops
The silence becomes the in between
You hear the echo of your own footsteps.
An’ a One, An’ a Two…by D. Avery
“Where ya goin’ Kid?”
“It’s intermission. Goin’ ta the outhouse.”
“Intermission? No, the prompt is interlude.”
“What’s the difference?”
“Well, if’n were talkin’ ‘bout a break in the show, interlude implies more of a performance, music mebbe.”
“Oh. Yep, I kin do that.”
“Well hurry up Kid, we got things ta do.”
“Carrot Ranch’s hostin’ its third Rodeo, comin’ soon. October. Gonna be busy aroun’ here. We have ta make sure they’s plenty a hay fer the hosses an’ carrots fer the contestants. Shorty cain’t do it all.”
“Ha! If anyone can it’d be Shorty.”
Lead Out by D. Avery
“Shorty, when ranch hands go where the prompt leads, does that mean they’s trackin’ it down nose ta trail?”
“Sometimes, Kid. Some sniff out their story like a hound-dog. Some bird-dog the tall grass ta flush their story. Some ranch hands see thet prompt, jist throw their lasso, git dragged along till they kin wrangle their story and git it tied down.”
“It kin be a wild ride, Kid, but no one gits hurt at Carrot Ranch. Wranglin’ words is a entertainin’ way ta build writin’ muscle.
Next month folks’ll flex that muscle at the rodeo.”
These entries were so good – I now leave with fun little images from the pieces here – I see a cigarette butt flushing down the toilet – I see dancing – I see new homeowners – and that final taste of ice cream (to then maybe have feasts in heaven) – and feel all uplifted with “determined gusto”
– and sorry I did not get to join in this week – I will be joining the Ranch team again soon – or as D. Avery put it – I will be
“Wranglin’ words” “ta build writin’ muscle” with you all again real soon
A new 99-word flash form — summary of the collection! Yes, I enjoy all the weaving imagery and this week has some sharp ones. Flex that writing muscle any time!
Thanks Charli! And wishing you a wonderful weekend
Wonderful writing pieces!
You’re so welcome, Charli!
Another splendid collection. I love that I get to read a lot of new stories I hadn’t seen before. The ones with no links.
Thanks everyone. You’ve made today great too!
Perfect bites to read in my work interlude 🥰
Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
Charli Mills who challenges us each week with the Flash Fiction prompt, shares the responses to ‘Interlude’ A wonderful and entertaining collection of short stories and they make you realise how many brief interludes we have had in our lives and how much they mean to us. #recommended
Another wonderful collection. Charli, I love the way you have collated the stories to have those with similar themes together. It’s interesting to see the similarities in the ways some think, and the differences in others. There are never two the same. A prompt with freedom opens up to many possibilities but also corrals the thinking to make the writing more meaningful.
This was a tough prompt, I think.
Interlude by Pete Fanning was a great take. Not such a romantic “Romantic interlude”.
Naturally, I visited some and left comments. Good stuff.
And I cannot wait for this year’s Rodeo!
Great stories, Charli…what better interlude than flash fiction? 🙂 <3
a wonderful set of posts!
[…] Head over and read the other submissions: https://carrotranch.com/2019/09/25/interludes/ […]