In Japan during a pandemic, rollercoaster enthusiasts are asked to refrain from expressing their thrill out loud. Instead, they must scream inside their hearts. It’s an intriguing direction for times that have already veered so far from the norm.
What stories would writers find in the silent scream locked away in a pounding heart? Plenty, it seems. Sit back, read, enjoy the ride, and hold in your screams.
The following are based on the July 16, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that expresses the phrase, “scream inside your heart.”
PART I (10-minute read)
Scream by Anita Dawes
A scream is something that starts deep inside
However, there are times when I believe
It comes from far away, another galaxy
Waiting to tear itself free
Something primal, that starts the day you are born
Other times from joy or pain
Stub your toe, see how hard it is to stop
The anger and pain from screaming its way out
Once that sound is free, it continues out
Into the universe, ripples on water
We never get to know what damage it may cause
As it travels away from us
When the pain stops, do we really care?
Storm by Ann Edall-Robson
In the distance, the storm raged. Lightning danced through cottage cheese clouds to the beat of the rolling thunder. Soon its dark blanket would be overhead. The weather didn’t make a difference when chores needed to be done. The stock was always a priority. Reaching for the barn door she saw the flash of light before hearing the sound of a sharp crack. Splintered pieces of wood sprayed across her face. Swallowing a scream, adrenalin pulsing from her chest cavity propelled her through the open door. She knew the difference between the sounds of the storm and a gunshot.
Sisters by Deborah Dansante
I listened to my sister as she called to her grandchildren who were chasing a snake with a garden hoe down by the road. After my sister made the children promise that their victim was a bull-snake, she continued with my free therapy session.
I liked watching my sister talk. The way she would tilt her head, punctuating a thought, shifting her eyes my way to see if I understood or if I agreed; to see if I had half the sense of a hoe-wielding grandchild.
I was certain my sister could not hear the scream in my heart.
Dust Daggers and Cobweb Cudgels by Kerry E.B. Black
She smiled with false calm. “Welcome.”
The couple’s pinched expressions stretched in disingenuous smiles. They searched over her shoulders for anything to weaponize – Dust daggers and cobweb cudgels their favored weapons.
She had anticipated their assaults and waged war on household debris. She deep cleaned and purged. This once, she hoped to impress her inlaws.
“Where’s our son?”
She led them outside.
Then she spotted it. One area had escaped her ministrations.
The shed, with gardening tools piled atop horticultural accoutrement.
Despite placid demeanor, her insides roiled with indignation as she led her adversarial inlaws along her garden path.
She Never Loved You by Simon Prathap D
Before you step out of her house, you looked at your lover with moist eyes and asked one last time whether is she serious about the breakup.
She nodded her head and said she needed a man that earn in millions not a jobless one.
You scream inside your heart, unable to let your feelings out, you remember those words said by your dad, you walk out of her house, wear your coolers in style, you whistled.
A Rolls Royce came, your dad beside you smiled and said told you she never Loved you. You said he was right.
Stifled Opinion by Sue spitulnik
His driver looked at him, “Sarge, can I ask a question?”
Michael was seething after leaving the meeting with the Afghan leader, but he answered, “Of course.”
“I never hear you bad-mouth that guy. All of us think he’s a maniac. How do you keep your cool?”
“First off, I’m in his country. It’s my place to show respect regardless. Second, it would be wrong to create a hell-storm when we’re here trying to obtain peace. Third, it would anger me if they talked against our leaders.”
“I admire you, boss.”
“Just so you know, I am screaming inside.”
The Red Dress by Joanne Fisher
“Isn’t this the most cutest dress ever?”
Olivia showed the limited edition red dress to her friend Kelly, who shrugged her shoulders.
“It’s okay.” Kelly replied looking over the other clothes in the store. Olivia loved this dress and was saving up. It would be hers in only a few days, the last one in stock.
The next day Kelly visited her.
“You know that dress you showed me? I decided to buy it.” Kelly took off her coat revealing the red dress Olivia had desired.
“It looks good on you.” Olivia heard herself say. Inside she was screaming.
Scream Inside Your Heart by Eliza Mimski
Allison masked her fear and insecurity by calling attention to her body in her notice-me clothes. She wore nothing but red, scarlet, crimson, cherry. The color of passion, danger, sex. Her in her low scooped necklines, her tight-fitting bodycons, her tall strappy sandals. She portrayed a sexy, confident woman while underneath her clothing she was anything but.
What she wanted was for someone to love her for herself, the shy, ordinary Allison. This didn’t seem possible, and so she put on her hot red facade. Love me, love me love me! the facade screamed loudly inside her blood-red heart.
A Tryst Transformed by Anne Goodwin
She was a screamer. A virgin on marriage, it wasn’t a problem until conjugal lockdown showed she’d won the wrong man.
Not risking Rio, July found them glamping, but canvas glamour depends on sun. Silver linings abound for the vigilant, however; hers wore an earring and a goatee beard. Rain rendered the woods unappealing, but her husband would sleep through an earthquake. So long as she screamed in her heart.
She slept. Awoke with the crows, dejected: Casanova hadn’t taken the hint. But he’d taken her handbag, phone and car keys. He’d taken her hope of a holiday romance.
Don’t Say a Word by Frank Hubeny
Jeremy stepped inside. In his ear he heard, “Stay near the door. Don’t respond to anything they say.”
“Look. That guy’s back.”
“OK, let’s finish this. You’re going to get what’s coming to you. You hear me? No one will care how loud you scream in this place.”
The five men stepped out of the safety of the shadows moving toward Jeremy. When they were visible in the middle of the room, shots shattered the windows.
Jeremy heard a gunfight outside. His earphone went silent. He wondered what happened. Was it safe to leave?
He left the room anyway.
Different Shades of Scream by Sam Kirk
Gagged and unable to scream for help, Tommy recalled the events that occurred over twenty years ago.
“Hide under the bed and be quiet,” his mother said, moments before getting hit in the head with a hammer.
All Tommy wanted to do then was to scream. But he didn’t. Her death would have been in vain, otherwise.
Today, with the help of his own fiancé, the Magic Killers finally captured Tommy. He wanted to scream his heart out not because it was breaking, like twenty years ago, but because he was so angry he could kill Becca.
Silent Screams by Reena Saxena
The sketch-book revealed a life full of woes.
There were heart-rending scenes of abuse. The victim was seen pleading for mercy, but kicked around into submission. The Smiths had been lauded for adopting a deaf-and-mute girl.
It was the suicide of the girl which threw light on bizarre happenings in the house.
Mary wondered how many times the had walked past the house, but failed to hear the screams in the heart of the unfortunate child.
Mary was the mother who had given the child for adoption, compelled by her poverty and abusive alcoholic husband.
Transmutation by JulesPaige
Marco knew what was written in the books that defined his occupation. He started out counterfeiting twenty dollar bills. As his art improved he whistled soft and low to himself. There was no need for him to scream. He’d let his forgery of Der Schrei der Natur do all the silent screaming for him.
while he napped there
in his studio; no sound
but the silent scream
protesting loudly in dreams
stop! cease! forger! you damned thief!
Waking; palpitating heart, drenched in sweat. Marco put a knife to his canvases. He had to find a better way to live.
Screaming Heart by FloridaBorne
“You killed him,” my mother-in-law said. “I told him not to eat what you cooked.”
Thankfully, my children were visiting friends while I looked out a window at the Wisconsin snow flurries. “His doctor advised him to quit smoking, warned him of diabetic retinopathy and kidney failure…”
“He’ll be buried in New York with a six foot tombstone!”
I screamed inside my heart for his loss, and now understood why he never wanted me to meet his mother. I left the kitchen table to make the arrangements my husband wanted; a simple tombstone in the cemetery he had chosen.
Uneventful Flight by D. Avery
After an uneventful flight she’d taken a cab direct to the hospital, carrying only a hastily packed shoulder bag. The nurse’s smile of compassion and encouragement was like that of the flight attendant who had misinterpreted her obvious anxiety for a fear of flying. “You’re fine,” she’d assured her, “Everything’s okay.”
Now the nurse was telling her that he was stable, that there’d be more surgeries; warned her what to expect. “You’ll do fine. He’ll recognize his mother’s voice.”
Taking a deep breath, she went in; spoke soothing words, even over the echoes of the scream inside her heart.
Theatre Kid by E.A. Colquitt
He was first in line when the box office reopened. It was a tradition he’d carried into adulthood. To begin with, he liked the front row but, once, he tried ballet and got showered in the dancers’ sweat. After that, he always sat somewhere in the middle.
Still, the atmosphere electrified him, an actor in his seat’s silent comfort. For, when the curtain went up…
…his body heaved under the weight of Eva Smith’s suffering…
…his heart screamed as Romeo (and so many others) vowed to defy the stars…
…his soul shivered with a thousand whispers of Salieri’s name…
Part II (10-minute read)
Clock’s Ticking by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Her voice went on and on, whining and cackling and blaming. Peter knew she spoke out of deep unhappiness, a defensive sense of irrelevance to the rest of the world. She deserved some compassion.
She was entitled to that.
He hoped his listening would create an opening, planting a seed of self-acceptance from which she’d learn to accept others. It’d happened before in his work as a therapist. It was his job; he was the best.
In her position of National authority, however, she continually damaged millions.
He assumed an understanding expression, gritted his teeth, avoiding checking his watch.
November 4th, 2020-Will The Delusion End? by Bill Engleson
“Can’t shake it, keep waking up…November 4th…he’s won again.”
“More like nightmaring!”
“Fine! Nightmaring! Point is, it’s all in your head.”
“HE’S in my head. All the time. Like a tumor. A BIG FAT TRUMP TUMOR.”
“Then cut him out. Exorcise him.”
“That too. Get outta the house. Go for a walk in the woods. Smell the bloody roses. Scream at the damn things.”
“Man, I’ve tried. Yet, in the woods, comfy moss beckoning, I close my eyes…suddenly every wood nymph is TRUMP.”
“Now I’ve got nightmares. Trump as a nymph!”
“Welcome to my nightmare.”
The Sets of I-Don’t-Know-How-Many Pamphlets Have Already Been Distributed by Paula Puolakka
I wish life was from a good Disney movie. Unfortunately, we human beings are unable to let go of the BS, tainting the mirrors of understanding. True warfare has nothing to do with the Pentagon. The past life experiences from WWI and the current sensations of being knee-deep stuck in mud make you wanna “scream inside your heart.” Whoever is operating this game of life could rescript something to improve things! But I’ll manage. I could have been Aurora or Robin Hood, but I’m not. I’m working for my Lord. Every time I burn incense, he feels my presence.
My Heart Screamed One Yesterday by kathy70
Hear the manager screaming before you ever get into his office, “production is way down this week” or “why is my department not showing a profit” these concerns all seem to blend and repeat.
Down the hall, my office is filled with people trying to tell me why we have taken a hard hit in the wallet and how things should improve. I want to slam my fist on the desk and scream until they hear my plan, but I can only scream in my heart. I am Black and I am a woman, the rules change for me.
The Man of My Daughter’s Dreams by Sascha Darlington
Jilly glows. When she called to say she was bringing home her dream man, I was cautiously optimistic. Now, seeing her eyes, her smile, her radiant glow, I know she has found her heart.
I’d invited a few close friends. I serve appetizers and cocktails. I’m mixing a margarita when I see him, the smarmy student who’d had the gall to tell me I “was the epitome of why some teach while others do.” My temper rises while I wonder why he’s here.
Then Jilly crosses to him, pauses her hand on his arm. I scream inside my heart.
Makeup by D. Avery
Mother is a proper lady. Me too. We always dress nice. And we never raise our voices.
Mother wears makeup and lipstick that makes her even more pretty. I’m too young for that makeup. Sometimes mother uses makeup that covers where her skin is blue and yellow. I told her once that makeup makes me angry. What he does. She said shush, never mind.
I was sad then. Shush, don’t make a scene, she said.
Today I got to use that covering makeup. I’m scared. I scream inside my heart, so quietly no one sees my heart is breaking.
Imagination vs Gravity by Jeff Gard
The swing set creaks like bed springs that time we tried to bounce to the ceiling. Its metal legs tremble with every pass.
You say, if we go faster, we can wrap around the frame. A kid did it at school last year.
But at the top of each arc, the chains slacken, my stomach and legs float for half a heartbeat. Then we are tugged down and backward past the rut our shoes created. Hours of effort. Same results.
He was heavier, you say. Let’s jump instead.
I lean forward, let go, and fly.
Struck Dumb by Jenn Linning
“You won’t feel a thing,” the surgeon assured him. “You’ll simply fall asleep and we’ll slice you open, remove the tumour, and stitch you back up. By the time you wake, the worry will be over.”
They were right: he didn’t feel a thing. But he did wake – prematurely – to sounds of clicks, cuts, clamps. A high voice asking for suction; a deep voice groaning in disappointment; a younger voice, incredulous, asking how they could have missed it.
Completely paralysed, he couldn’t cry out, couldn’t ask what they had found. But slowly, steadily, a scream grew inside his heart.
The Twinkle in Her Eyes by JulesPaige
Laurel had to scream for joy inside her heart. The waves and surrounding natural sounds would have drowned out any utterance she might have even thought to express. Due to a delay because of insurance coverage she had to wait almost a full year before final testing and get the confirmation that there was no cancer. Just the suspicion of the possibility had her on edge.
Now Laurel was at a different edge, enjoying the freedom of the feeling like the only person in the world. happy that a disease had no animation, no story; not from her life!
Rose-Colored Glasses by Y. Prior
Adjusting my seat, I dusted lint from my black dress.
The tradition of black clothes for funerals, where’d it start?
Seats fill up.
People eulogize the deceased.
Rose-colored glasses for everyone.
Praise is over the top.
Sure, the deceased had good traits
but also –
the gossip, contention, and spats she started!
Rose-colored glasses assuage the heaviness from the finality of death
but I’m not adding to the adulation!
Seated calmly, feet grounded,
hands relaxed, face soft –
I’m screaming in my heart.
Oh, the troubles she caused.
The black stains, hurts, pain.
brings a lot of gain.
Inside and Out by Geoff Le Pard
‘Can I ask you something, Logan?’
‘Would it stop you if I said no?’
‘Do you ever scream in your heart?’
‘Hmm. I mumble in my stomach a bit if I eat broccoli.’
‘I’m talking about screaming in…’
‘And when you made me do that jog, my buttocks screamed for about a week…’
‘No, listen, I’m serious…’
‘… and my uncle Barney has a heart murmur…. which I suppose might become a scream if he doesn’t stick to that raw radish diet…’
‘If I’m that passionate about something it has to come out.’
Nap Time by Charli Mills
Two nurses checked Esther’s vitals when the twitching began. Every nap, the 99-year-old woman slept fitfully in her lift-chair.
Esther leaned back, listening to the clicks before she felt her body plummeted then jerked left and then right, up again, down again, rattling over a series of swells before coming to a jolting stop.
“Esther must be having puppy dreams is all.” The other nurse nodded.
Locked inside her head and sleep, Esther screamed in her heart, a carefree teenager once again at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk in 1924. When the Big Dipper ended, she woke up and grinned.
Heartless Sons by Jessica E. Larsen
The first time the government implemented lockdown, I thought this will be over soon. But many months later we’re still stuck at home. Worse, we receive news that Reyna, the loving mother, grandma, and mother-in-law passed away in her sleep.
As we’re in another country, her other heartless sons buried her in silence. My four-year-old son looked between me and his father. He went to his father who collapsed on his knees. “Papa, what’s wrong?” he asked wrapping his arms around his father’s neck. I joined them, screaming in my heart. She doesn’t deserve to be sent away alone.
Survival by Irene Waters
I walk, away from people on the edge of the park. I need to be alone. I can’t trust myself if I have to speak to someone. The tears I keep well hidden at home are always close to the surface here, where I am by myself with only the dogs for company.
“How’s it going?”
“All good.” I will them to go. Don’t ask me more. The scream inside my heart is shifting. It wants to be let out but I repress it. Not here, not there. For now it has to remain buried. It’s time will come.
In the Time of COVID-19 by Saifun Hassam
On a warm July afternoon, yellow butterflies fluttered over the berry shrub. A songbird, olive and yellow, flew from branch to branch and out of sight.
Early dawn brought an orchestra of songbirds. I wanted to sing with joy. To make any sound would bring silence. I closed my eyes. I listened to songs in my heart.
And then of course the raucous calls of crows shattered my reveries. I could have screamed to the crows to shut up. They never paid any attention to that.
I sighed. Never mind. Content, alive and well, I screamed in my heart.
Bein’ a Pain by D, Avery
“Dang, not sure kin pull this one off.”
“What’d ya say Kid?”
“Huh? Sorry, Pal, was jist thinkin’ out loud.”
“Well fer cryin’ out loud, keep yer thoughts ta yersef.”
“Some a these prompts ain’t suited ta us. What’s a couple a ranch hands like us s’posed ta do with ‘scream in your heart’?”
“Fudge it. Try whinin’ in yer head.”
“That ain’t even close. Come on Pal, don’tcha feel my pain?”
“Yer a pain all right. Okay. They’s dif’rent kinds a screamin’, right? Like when someone’s so annoyin’ ya could jist scream?”
“I’m screamin’ in my heart.”