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February 8: Flash Fiction Challenge

Like a blank page, the white goes on and on.

I’m rugged up and running errands with the Hub. For today’s entertainment, we sit in the parking lot at the drug store and watch two snowboarders bounce on a precipice formed on the ridge of the hill across from our front row parking lot seats. He keeps the car running for our comfort and we watch as the two figures climb back to the top of the ridge. Evidently, the precipice passed the stress test.

The Hub fusses with his camera and gives me a dissertation on how the lens focuses. We no longer have real conversations. I’m with him, but I’m lonely. His abstract thinking is all that remains. That and the pestering need for attention that makes him seem frozen in the terrible twos. His sense of humor was always a high point in our relationship and I never expected it would one day be the most annoying thing about him.

But it also remains the most recognizable aspect too, so I grit my teeth and bear it.

In a flash, the first snowboarder leaps from the ridge, hits the precipice and soars momentarily airborne like someone with Olympic dreams. I think this time of year as the nations gather for the Winter Olympics we all feel the excitement of such dreams.

He nails the landing and the second snowboarder launches, hits the precipe and wipes out. So it goes with chasing the tail of dreams. Some days we catch a glorious moment and other days we get a mouthful of cold snow. Both snowboarders begin the long hike back up and we head to the store.

Our hike continues and where it will end we don’t know — curable? incurable? — more tests and scans and evaluations will tell. For now, everyone is puzzled by the Hub’s behavior I’ve been red-flagging to deaf ears for nearly five years now. Something is definitely wrong to the point that he doesn’t even know himself anymore.

But I know who I am. I’m fireweed, the purple and pink flower that grows like a tall spear in a tribe of flower warriors. After a forest fire, mining reclamation, road grading or any kind of soil disturbance, fireweed grows back first from seeds born of despair. It’s a phoenix flower, a soil nourisher, a defier of the odds when life is bleakest.

Fireweed and her toddler enter the store.

I have ibuprofen and office supplies to pick up — a few folders to hold the contents of developing plans and workshops. I shop to ease my back pain and keep hope alive. I also browse, drawn to colorful Valentine’s Day merchandise. I attempt to ignore the chocolate.

The Hub plays peek-a-boo with me from the opposite end of the aisle. I hear employees asking him if he needs help and he says he’s just waiting. I feel that’s apt. His life is waiting. He waits for me to get up, to go to bed to notice him. I feel like a cad, ignoring him, but it’s so hard for me to engage with his skewed thinking. He tells me I look nice in the shirt he bought me because he thought it was colorful and he likes colors I don’t and don’t you remember that time…

The moment he dips to the past I stop listening. It takes energy to not argue. He didn’t buy me this shirt. I do like colors. And no, I can’t listen to another story from the past. He lives in the past and I don’t know what to do in the present. Finally, others are seeing the cracks only they’ve become chasms. And he knows it but doesn’t know how to get across.

Yesterday in frustration at his constant pestering (because he was bored), I snapped at him to let me work. He silently left and sat alone on the couch. I heard him tell the dog, “She told me to shut the eff up. Yep. Just shut the eff up.” I wanted to bawl, to go to him and say I don’t want to shut you up, but I’m scared and I’m focusing on jumping off my own precipices and I don’t know how to help you. I can’t have him hindering me. My work is all we have.

I am the fireweed and I brave the inclement weather with one purpose — grow, grow, grow.

At the register, the Hub is making jokes and a woman with sleek gray hair and a classy red and black wool coats finds him outrageous. With an audience, he continues to ham it up. He tells her I’m his support — like a bro bra. I want to cringe, but she laughs. The woman says he’s fun. The Hub elbows me and says he’s fun. I roll my eyes as I concentrate on my transaction.

Then he tells her, “She misses the old me.”

This is the second time in two months he’s said this. One day when we were driving across the bridge he said, “I miss how we used to be.” I do, too. His therapist says not to give up hope, but we don’t yet know what we are dealing with. What I thought was a blight of combat PTSD is now a terrifying dementia-like “something-we-don’t-know.”

The woman asks how long we’ve been together. 30 years, he says and looks at me, grinning. I nod and smile. “Yes, 30 years.” She tells me I look beautiful in my coat. It takes me by surprise. Beauty is not a strength. And I had been admiring her classiness. Perhaps she can see I am the fireweed.

February 8, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes fireweed. You can use it as the plant, a flower, a metaphor or as the name of someone or something. Go where the prompt leads. Burn bright when you write.

Respond by February 13 , 2018, to be included in the compilation (published February 14). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

Life Comes Back (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Spears of purple lined the narrow two-track. Tall dead trees stood like charred sentinels, remaining witnesses to the last forest fire.

“Life comes back,” Danni spoke to no one in particular. Her only companions were three dogs on leash, each tugging a different direction.

At the site of the dig from two years ago, Danni hiked the ridge to her former perch. Any moment she expected Ike to rumble up the road in his truck. Yet there she was with his dogs. She opened the can and spread the ashes, hoping fireweed would find its way into her heart.

###

All Things Black and White

Nuns drive dressed in black and white. Soccer balls, chocolate fondant, police cars and even ways of thinking and relating can be polar opposites on the color spectrum.

This week, writers turned to colorful ideas to express stories of black and white. As you’ve come to expect, you will be surprised by how many Crayons are in the black and white box of this collection.

The following are based on February 1, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features something black and white.

***

Fondue for Alexis by Kerry E.B. Black

They craft it with care, a perfect balance of dark and white chocolate fondue formed into a yin yang. Black swirls into white in an eternal dance, captivating as the changing seasons or the passage from night to day. She dips fruit, disrupting the balance with impunity. For this the chocolatier created it, a pot of melted goodness for the birthday girl. But I am not ready. I fumble with my camera and miss the photo, didn’t capture the precarious moment when she dangled between youth and adulthood. She chomps her chocolate-coated berry, and the fleeting moment is gone.

###

Mission by Denise Aileen DeVries

At age ten, Myra Jean had puzzled her family by saying she wanted to be a nun. “There are no Baptist nuns,” her father said. In other words, the matter was closed. To him, everything was black and white, fact or fiction. Teaching had been her compromise. Retired at 65, she could no longer become a missionary to China like Henrietta Hall Shuck. Today, she would begin proofreading at the local newspaper, dressed in her former teaching uniform, a dark skirt and white blouse. Correcting spelling and grammar was a minor but worthy mission, and it suited her talents.

###

Black and White by pranabaxom

There once was a movie named
The Manchurian Candidate
Why Manchurian
I scratch my head
Little up north
The cold frigid waste
Siberia
The Siberian Candidate
That would have been
More realistic
Wouldn’t it
Oh my my
What did I do
Realistic
May be a reality TV show
But not real life
Siberian Candidate
Everything in life can’t be
Black and white
Must use our imagination
Little shades of gray
Not just left and right
Not conservative and liberals
A little compromise
Maybe thinking about
Siberian cold
I am mixing my
Black and white
My imaginations
Taking a flight

###

Test Pattern by Bill Engleson

On this bright morning, impaired by a knee that obstinately refuses to function with ease, I succumb, momentarily to the angst of the vast American divide.

Its pettiness, as expected, depresses me, almost bores me, and I change channels.

There, the small child, three, face blackened by the ravages of frostbite, a journey of death in the mountains, a loss of two generations of her loved ones, all in the search for a freedom I have always been swaddled in, recovers from surgery.

And what do I do with this, with this contrast?

Not much.

Change the channel again?

###

Bad Signs by Paula Moyer

When Jean was little, she always felt safe. After watching a Western TV show, she came to her mother in the kitchen and said, “Aren’t you glad there aren’t bad guys anymore?”

“Oh.” Mother stopped and pushed her glasses up her nose. “There are still bad guys.”

Hairs on Jean’s back stood up. Mother kept the bad guys out.

One day they were at the train station, picking Daddy up. Signs above drinking fountains gave rules: “Whites only” and “Colored.”

“Why two fountains?”

“It’s the law.” A pause. “It’s wrong.”

“Are the people that made the law bad guys?”

###

Black and White

“Rise in adulthood aggression and medieval pre-twenty-third century Earthen ideals.”

“Thought we coded them out?”

My research partner and I watched the latest group of toddlers through the window.

A parent entered, giving their child a new battalion spacecraft toy in place of its baby doll.

“You’ll be stronger than the last,” the parent said, leaving the room, “I’ll make sure your toys won’t hold you back.”

I looked at my research partner.

“It’s not really that black and white, is it?”

“We’re innately drawn to gentle things, until-”

Parent and child passed us in the hall.

Black and White by Rebecca Glaessner

“Rise in adulthood aggression and medieval pre-twenty-third century Earthen ideals.”

“Thought we coded them out?”

My research partner and I watched the latest group of toddlers through the window.

A parent entered, giving their child a new battalion spacecraft toy in place of its baby doll.

“You’ll be stronger than the last,” the parent said, leaving the room, “I’ll make sure your toys won’t hold you back.”

I looked at my research partner.

“It’s not really that black and white, is it?”

“We’re innately drawn to gentle things, until-”

Parent and child passed us in the hall.

###

The Nun’s Prayer by Norah Colvin

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

I have no need for counting sheep,

I count the girls that I made weep.

 

Lord, I ask Thee, help me please

To do my job with greater ease–

Bless them even when they sneeze,

And keep their skirts below their knees.

 

I know the task should be not hard

And I should never drop my guard

But if they’re ever marred or scarred,

It puts a mark upon my card.

 

And while she dreamed her cunning schemes,

Her girls were strangling silent screams.

###

Sparkly Pink by Juliet Nubel

What did they care about colour? All they wanted to do was play.

Diamond sat behind Emma, pulling a long-toothed sparkly comb through her golden curls. She had never touched hair this silky and soft.

Then it was Emma’s turn to undo, one at a time, her friend’s tightly pleated braids.

She stuck out her tongue as she concentrated on putting them back together again, with a tiny pink bead on the end of each one. She loved the noise they made when Diamond shook her head.

Black and white meant nothing to them. Their friendship was sparkly pink.

###

Jeweled by Chelsea Owens

Jewel often asked what her name meant; why Mother also carried it.

“You’ll see,” Mother demurred.

Their crumbling dictionary said Jewel was a stone that refracted light into color; but what was refracted? What was color?

Other things, odd things -things Jewel couldn’t quite define- also set them apart.

“Cheer up; tomorrow’s another day,” Mother reassured a stranger, in passing. How did she know he was sad? Jewel wondered, looking back at the black and white face.

One day, at school, Jewel finally knew. Amidst the monochrome playchildren; her friend, Tom, smiled.

In that glittering instant, he glowed yellow.

###

Black and White by Jack Schuyler

Sleek bodies, small splashes, in and out, in and out. When she finally pulled away from the glass, a tiny print of Ruth’s nose was left behind.

“Come on honey, let’s go.”

A large hand took hers.

“Don’t you want to see the lions?”

But Ruth poked at the smudged glass in front of her, gazing through with big eyes. On the other side, a black and white form slid from the water and peer curiously at her finger. It shook its wet feathers and tapped the glass with a stubby beak. For a second, they were almost touching.

###

Most Holy Experience by Annette Rochelle Aben

They floated, like ghosts, through the hallways of St. Benedict, school. Feet never made a sound. I’d never seen a nun before and over the next two years, I became fascinated with them.

Faces squeezing through their wimples of white, and covered head to toe in black, to a third grader, they looked like penguins. And when they were upset with you, magically, a wooden ruler shot out from under their sleeves. Ouch!

Years later, as I prepared to play the role of Sr. Hubert in Nunsense, I said a grateful prayer for carefully studying the habits of nuns.

###

The Penguins by Brutus Richmond

Rowing away from the island he looked back and saw the disorganised black and white line marching towards the water’s edge. As the penguins plunged into the icy waters and suddenly achieved grace he was reminded of nuns and, in particular, the confused old women of his youth who, he imagined, may have achieved a surprising grace as they stepped from life and into the abyss.

And he wondered too, if they might be waiting there to judge him.

But the penguins and his memories were out of sight as he eased his wife’s body silently over the side.

###

Black and White by Old Jules

“You were speeding. It’s here in black and white.” He waved his
radar gun. Beads of sweat around the bulged veins across his
crimson forehead. His sour breath overwhelmed the exhaust street odor.

“You’ve got it wrong officer.” Soft, reasonable. Respectful. “I saw your
black and white. I was behind a car just like this one.” I nodded at the
radar gadget. “It was him you clocked.”

“That’s a black lie. You were in front. A white guy. Car behind had a black driver.”

“But I’m black, officer. I just didn’t want to get shot.” Pulling off my mask.

###

Black & White by D. Avery

He was a good bicyclist, skillful and considerate, always riding to the right of the white line. He used lights and wore a white helmet, making himself visible to drivers. They say he was a good man, teaching children to ride, fixing their bikes.

His road bike was the green of a sent text message. The truck was black, they think. They found his bike tangled on the yellow line. His white helmet had somehow come off, somehow whole and spinning, spinning, on the silent black tar of the highway. They marked the spot with a white ghost bike.

###

Black and White by Eric Pone

“Eowyn, I have good news and bad news,” Sue said with a smile. “Bad only the bad.” He replied. “Ducky went missing this morning.” Eowyn rolled over and looked at her. “I know where he went and it’s ok. He needs Jennifer.” As Eowyn thumbed his phone the message from Ducky stumped even him.”I found her bro. I’m in Brazil and we’re in trouble. Come quick!” Eowyn looked at Sue and replied. “Cancel my plans. The Good news Sue?” “Your mothers pregnant.” She replied “Oh joy.” Eowyn replied two biracial royals would be hard to explain to the press.

###

Black and White by FloridaBorne

“Is this black or is this white?” The lawyer asked, holding up a green scarf.

“Is this a joke? That particular scarf is lime.” ” I looked up at a judge as puzzled as I.

“Is this the scarf you killed your husband with?”

“No.  Someone stabbed him.  What kind of lawyer are you?”

“One with achromatopsia,” He replied.

“Is that a kind of seizure?” I asked.

“No,” He chuckled.  “It’s total color blindness.”

“What does that have to do with my husband’s death?”

“Nothing.  Do you think my wife would like this scarf?”

“Only if you want to die.”

###

Cat Calls by Liz Huseby Hartmann

Black.
Black.
Black.

Thick, dark, heaviness. There’s some comfort in that. My body aches, too weak to move. Why would I want to? I’ll just lie here, in this fever hollow. I roll my head to one side. A channel opens and a whisper of cool air flows.

Liquid pools in the hollow of my neck, then spills. I sleep.

Black.
White.

Must be daylight. I cough and groan. My chest bubbles and aches.

Light.
Then dark, punctured by two glowing green eyes. A nip on the chin.
The Dread Mistress must be fed.

Shoulda got the flu shot.

###

Chaos in Black & White by Sarah Brebtyn

We talk, words spinning around each other like flurries caught in a gust of wind.

Eventually, our thoughts drift down and settle on the ground in a blanket of confusion.

With an incredible vocal range, we sing a song of misunderstanding. High notes, encapsulated in love, float through the air. Low notes, heavy with meaning, cling to our faces and hair. They are a jumble of uncertainty.

His world, in black and white, frustrates me.

My world, in greens, yellows, and blues, frustrates him.

We never tried to understand.

Now we do.

Only to discover we are mutually colorblind.

###

Black & White by Ritu Bhathal

I just had to ask. It was eating me up inside. The lies… the excuses…

“I saw you. With her.”

“Who? Janine? My father’s carer? And?”

“You weren’t at work the other day. Yet you told me you would be late back.”

“So? I had an appointment with Dad’s doctor. I went in late. Had to make up time.”

“Your eyes have been constantly on your phone recently.”

“I’m answering messages. From the carer. Dad’s going downhill…”

“Oh…”

“Yeah… Oh… What did you think? I’d been cheating?”

Pete rolled his eyes.

“Life’s not always black and white, you know.”

###

In Black and White by Michael Fishman

I’m apprehensive. Eyes down, I massage the oak table with my thumb, just like I . . .

Stop it.

The door opens, I look up. A man in a grey pinstripe suit enters and sits to my left. I look down again.

“Everyone ready?” he says.

No! There’s another way, I want to scream. But I know there’s nothing left to say.

I look up and meet Sue’s eyes as the lawyer slides copies of the Judgment for Marriage Dissolution toward us both.

Finally real, seeing it in black and white.

No tears, dammit, not until I’m alone.

###

Tripped Up? by JulesPaige

Bert, the father of two daughters was working three jobs
to support them. Working full-time for the Township gave
the gregarious man a small advantage as he was able to
meet other officials and police officers. He was able to
acquire one of those get out of jail free cards from one
of his Detective buddies. Judiciously Bert passed onto
his eldest.

Bert knew his daughter had used his gift as soon as the
black and white parked in front of his house. Jody was
being guided out of the backseat. At least the lights and
sirens were off.

###

Black and White by Robbie Cheadle

Sarah was completely enchanted by the altar boys. They wore long white smocks and helped Father O’Malley to light the candles. They all sat together at the front of the Church on the black steps. She could see them clandestinely whispering together. It looked like such fun. The next week when her Aunt took her to Church she insisted on being dressed up as an altar boy. Her Aunt fashioned a long, loose outfit for her out of a white sheet. Sarah was happy. Now she could be an altar boy too. No-one mentioned that she was a girl.

###

Black and White by Susan Sleggs

“I failed an honesty test.”

“You? How?”

“The questions were grey and they wanted black and white answers.”

“Explain.”

“One was; have you ever taken anything home from work?”

“And you said yes.”

“I have, baking pans from the pastry kitchen.”

“But you had permission to borrow them. You didn’t steal them.”

“But I took them home.”

“They were asking if you stole things.”

“I know that, but that’s not how the question was worded.”

“You should have told them what they wanted to hear and not told the truth.”

“Then it shouldn’t have been called an honesty test.”

###

Stargazing by Kay Kingsley

The black blanket of night hung above them, diamonds blinking over head long after sunset, her pale white skin illuminated in their glow.

Stargazing in the desert was the perfect way for them to enjoy one another, their last summer together before their own universes forever expanded.

A mattress of blankets, tailgate down, holding hands, watching heavens show.

Soon the world would slowly uncouple them, drawing them away from the magic of the truck but tonight the universe was theirs, stitched into the fabric of time, only the stars to witness their magic, jealous as they watched from above.

###

Eternal Love by Anurag Bakhshi

I looked at my wife lovingly and said, “You look as radiant in that white nightgown as you did on the night we first met. As soon as I saw you, I knew we were meant to be together…forever.”

She smiled shyly and replied, “And that black suit still makes you appear as regal and handsome as you did on that magical moonlit night when I invited you in.”

“Good night my love,” I whispered softly.

“Good night my Count,” I heard her say as we both shut the lids of our coffins and called it a day.

###

The Score by Sascha Darlington

Until I was eighteen, I was Dad’s favorite. By focusing on my music, becoming the best mandolinist in the three states, I pursued Dad’s ambition, which had been squelched by pragmatic parents.

Music poured through my veins, so it was natural I discover John, the most talented guitarist in three states, who had music pouring through his veins. His fingers caressed strings with innate acuity. His long fingers on long strings stoked desire.

Young, passion and music devoured, guiding us through the moment.

Dad’s world stormed black. His anger smoked white. “Dead to me,” he said, discarding us all.

###

Black and White Choice? by Anne Goodwin

My father’s gaze swept the ranks of spines. “You’ll have to give these up when you marry.”

I searched his face for signs of jocularity. Finding none, sweat gathered in my palms. “I cannot live without my books.”

“I’ve done you a disservice, daughter. Men don’t want an educated wife.”

“Then I shall not marry.”

“If only that were possible. But, when I die, you’ll lose both my protection and my wealth. You have no choice.”

I plucked a book from the shelf. Hildegard von Bingen’s Physica. “There’s another option.”

“Caged in a convent?”

“Where female minds run free.”

###

The Order by Matt Wall of Telling Stories Together

In the sacred grove, the nuns of the Order of Pure Reason gathered around the basket, set on a tree stump.

“It is decided,” said the Archmatron. “We will take the infant to the monastery, there to be raised by the Brotherhood of Iron. Who will go?”

Sister Constance raised her quivering hand.

“If the boy cannot stay here,” she said, “I will take him.”

“You know as well as I do,” said the Archmatron, “the Codex is clear on this point.”

“Yes,” agreed Constance, picking up the basket that held her infant son, “the Codex is clear, Archmatron.”

###

Black and White by Kim Blades

Sadie had made her mind up. Finally. Today was the day.
She could not stand her life the way it was anymore. It had no colour, not even black and white.
There was only a debilitating, miserable, empty greyness.
So she deliberately stepped onto the very edge of the cliff.
Immediately loose stones and sand began to crumble away. Sadie began to slide down with the rubble.
Suddenly a white hot fear of death that she had thought was her only salvation, suffused her mind and body. She grabbed wildly for something that would stop her falling into blackness

###

No Winners by Kay Kingsley

Trying to explain to her that addiction and depression were not a choice, it wasn’t black or white the way her painfully constructed world was, fell on deaf ears.

Her argument… “Choose to be happy, choose to not drink. You’re in control. By continuing to use, to be depressed, means you don’t want to change.”

For years, we dug further into our stances, further away from each other.

The rift fractured our family, a cracked foundation no “I’m sorry” could fix .

Our fight was to the death although it wouldn’t be ours, it was hers.

War has no winner.

###

Population Control by Heather Gonzalez

I knew the time had come when I began to see the black crows landing in the snow outside of my house. No one knows how they know but they always do. Death was coming for one of us.

People turn on each other and the mystery of who will die is solved very quickly. Then the body would be wrapped in a white cloth while the rest of the family adorns the traditional black garb.

I decided to close the curtains before anyone else saw crows, letting what was inevitable happen naturally. But death never came for us.

###

Let it Fade Away by Reena Saxena

“Watch the scene that troubles you on that television set, beyond the glass screen in that long corridor. The image is shrinking, the colors are fading to black, white, grey and sepia, lashing raindrops through the window destroy the TV, it is covered with muck ….. it is disappearing, it is gone ……”

The therapist’s voice boomed in my subconscious mind.

“I feel so much better now,” I mumbled incoherently while taking a deep breath.

“The incident is in the deep, dark past which is dead and gone. It is only the colors of your imagination that trouble you.”

###

Winter Fatigue by Molly Stevens

Beverly pulled open the curtain, peering at a dismal winter day.

Why can’t there be color? I need to see something besides black, white and gray, she thought.

She smiled in spite of her foul mood when she realized she couldn’t look away.

Like a car wreck.

She spied something red in a tree branch. Abandoning her coffee, she donned her heavy, wool coat, and lumbered out to investigate. Her mind churned with possibilities.

Was it a cardinal? Or a wayward, satin ribbon?

The sale flyer mocked her as she stared at an advertisement for a red snow blower.

###

Die Hard by Sherri Matthews

Bill checked the time. Almost midnight. He took another beer from the fridge.

‘That’s when I heard it,’ he later told the cops. ‘My wife was still out when I heard the scream from next door.’

The cops left and Bill cracked open another beer. His wife, dead. Should have known it was that asshole neighbour, luring her in with his black and white movie collection.

‘Why do’ya watch that mindless shit?’ she had screeched at him when he put on Die Hard.

Well screw them both. Black or white down the line baby. It’s Die Hard or nothin’.

###

Black and White by Robert Kirkendall

“Trust me, son, you’ll like this film,” father said as he inserted the DVD. “It’s a classic!”

“Oh no, not another black and white movie.”

“Still a quality film.”

“But old movies are so dated,” the son insisted. “And they talk so fast you can’t understand them.”

“That’s because they were all high on Benzedrine, but you’ll like this one,” father assured. “A timeless story.” He pressed play on the remote, the movie started, and they watched the opening scene.

“So if this is a black and white movie,” the son wondered, “how come it only has white actors?”

###

Black and White by Hugh Roberts

“Well, we’ll never see the blood properly if the movie is in black and white. It’ll be like watching Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ with all that chocolate sauce used in the shower scene,” nagged Margaret.

Not only did Colin, her husband, wish he’d never downloaded the movie illegally, but he wished his wife would just stop nagging him all the bloody time.

Twenty minutes later, as the figure with the knife jumped back into their television set, Margaret’s last sight was that of the real colour of blood from the stab wound to her stomach.

“You wanted colour?” smirked Colin.

###

 

The Onyx Stone by Wallie the Imp & Friend

The pendant reflected her face like the smooth surface of a midnight lake. She placed it in the snow, at the center of the forest clearing.

“You found it.”

She raised her eyes to see the man watching her. His appearance was mist-like, vaporous.

“Yes,” she said. “Here. It’s yours.”

He pressed the pendant to his lips. His eyes, as black as the ornament stone, shone with a wild and breathtaking emotion. That look burned in the woman’s mind long after he vanished. It was all the thanks she needed.

She left, her footprints gentle in the fallen snow.

###

Chickadee Song by Ann Edall-Robson

Chick-a-dee-dee-dee. The unmistakable song of the small bird in the black and white habit speaks its piece nearby. Following the sound until the eyes focus on its safe perch within the shrubs, under the feeder. Flitting from branch to branch, pecking at tasty morsels as it goes. Feeding on bits of this and that left behind on the limbs. Always watching through the bare, leafless bush and then it’s gone. Darting across open ground to safe refuge in the trees nearby. Once again its identifying sound announces it has landed. Chick-a-dee-dee-dee.

###

Mother Church by D. Avery

Outside the Ryman, hoping for coffee, I watch an agitated couple; seeing me, they hand me a ticket, say ‘enjoy the tour’, disappear up the street.

I’m happy to go inside, warm, with clean bathrooms. Not how I dreamed it, but I’m going to the Mother Church.

For hours I sit in the pews, awestruck. Memories and magic spirit the altar of the Grand Ole Opry stage. Tourists come and go but I remain, unmoving. I am moved. I am restored.

I leave, hopeful again. Looking up I see, high above this haunted town, a bald eagle, searching, soaring.

###

Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief, Nun? by rugby843

Why nuns wear black and white? Maybe it’s the notion most of us have about nuns, no middle ground–everything is white or black, good or bad, even white or black hats? I’m just speculating, for I’ve only known one nun in my life.

I met Carol as a lawyer when needing advice with paperwork after my husband died. She also tutored my grandchildren in math, sewing, quilting and knitting.

When we met, an instant friendship blossomed with whirlwinds of conversation where I learned she was kind, intelligent, funny, generous, and been a nun! Then we moved. I miss her.

###

Soccer with a Stranger by Lisa Luciano

My son arrived home last September– a brief visit from the Air Force.
Franco is a fan of the newly birthed Minnesota United soccer team – the Loons.
He brought home a fan scarf for me to wear in Section F, seat 18.

I didn’t know he had season tickets.

I stared at him sideways while he cheered for his favorite footballers.
When did he become a stranger?

We ate smuggled snacks and snapped selfies. I swung my scarf around at the proper moments.
In two days, he was gone– leaving us empty, but transformed as Minnesota United soccer fans.

###

Black and White By Raymond Roy

Tun Tavern 1775

Espirit de Corps they call it , a willingness to die. Not a jury’s verdict, but boot camp on P.I.

Devil dogs before them, earned title that they seek,

Transformation from fatherless, phony tough, crazy and meek.

Stand on yellow footprints , wee hours of the morn, step between polished doors through which an oath is sworn.

Recruits white, black, brown,many color of a hand,

Dreads, bushy and straight hair, on barbers floor will land.

Drill instructors don’t discriminate, by race, color or creed, all are equally worthless until becoming the Marine Corps breed.

###

The Arrest by Colleen Chesebro

I stared at the pea-green walls of the interrogation room feeling the pinch of the handcuffs behind my back. The door opened, and a tall man wearing an ill-fitting suit strode toward me. He threw a bunch of black and white photos on the metal table.

I peered at the images noticing the age of the photos. My countenance had been captured at different points in history, yet I still looked the same today.

“How can you be in each of these photos? Who are you?”

I crossed my legs and licked my lips. “I’m your great-great-grandmother.”

###

Black and White by Deb Wittam

Forgive me Father for I have sinned

I thought I was so clever with my petty deceit, that I was so adept at identifying black, white and all the shades of grey that they would never suspect.  I was correct, no one ever realized.

When I took the job I didn’t tell them, for it all seemed so simple – in an emergency press the green button, not the red button.  I didn’t ask which button was green.

He looked into the priest’s eyes – his confession was pointless.  Apologizing for being colour blind would change nothing.

They were still dead.

###

New in Angels Camp by Charli Mills

Sister Maria D’Abreau soaked the hide, tamping it down with a wooden pole. Her black dress felt softer than her habit packed away.

Henry watched, leaning against the corral. “You got laundry skills, I’ll say that much.”

Maria kept silent. What Mother Superior failed to teach her, living rough in mining camps had. She wouldn’t provoke a prickly miner down on his gold dust.

She stopped to test the hide, smiling when the hair slicked beneath her fingers. It would make the chore easier.

Father Kincaid approached. “The lass knows rawhide as well as mules.”

Henry spat. “We’ll see.”

###

Black and White by Pete Fanning

I’m at the piano when the door swings open. Sheriff Bailey enters, clicking across the black and white tiles to the table where the game stops mid-deal.

Bailey’s rasp fills the room. Pit stains and glistening, he’s the wettest dry county sheriff I ever saw. Sure enough, he finds the bottle of Jake Leg, admires it.

“Drinking AND Gambling. Very nice, boys.”

A chair falls. And Earnest, full of giggle juice, staggers. “No boys in here, Sheriff.”

Moans all around. We’re going to jail.

The Sheriff only smiles, then knocks back a hefty swig.

“That’s good. Deal me in.”

###

A Couple of Jokers by Geoff Le Pard

‘An old joke, Logan. What’s black and white and red all over?’

‘No idea, Morgan.’

‘Go on, try.’

‘A liquidized nun.’

‘Geez, you’re one sick numpty. Come on.’

‘A Native American zebra.’

‘You can’t say that.’

‘A First People American Zebra.’

‘You’re not trying.’

‘Unlike you who’s very trying. I’m trying… to read the paper.’

‘Exactly. What’s black and white and red all over?’

‘There are days when I wonder if you are completely evolved. This gag passed me by.’

‘A newspaper.’

‘That’s it? Since when is a newspaper red… oh, geez. Red as in Read. Ha bloody ha!’

###

The Tao of -Tivity by Dan C. Julian

I’m considering objectivity and subjectivity.

Here is my basic understanding of these terms: ‘objectivity’ refers to the impartial, the neutral, unbiased point of view; ‘subjectivity’ is essentially the opposite – the egocentric, biased point of view.

Consider the moon there. No, don’t look at my finger! Look at that at which my finger is pointing: the moon. Ha.

So, an objective point of view might be that the moon is a chunk of rock orbiting the Earth.

A more subjective point of view… the moon is a light to help me see at night.

I see the tai-chi symbol.

###

Magpie by Sarah Whiley

The warbling started outside my window.

I pulled the pillow over my head, but the musical gargle intensified until I roused. Bleary eyed, I poured the seed, taking the tray outside.

The black and white bird was clever; already waiting for me. I stepped back as he gobbled the offering. His beak ‘click clicking’, eyeing me all the while. I thought, “Magpies really get a bad rap. They’re not so bad.”

As I stepped out the door, I heard a whooshing sound as snapping mandibles narrowly missed my ears.

I guess it wasn’t so black and white after all…

###

Perspective by Calm Kate

Nothing is ever totally black or white, most things are on a sliding scale of grey. Every situation or idea has complications so we need to maintain a neutral or more objective stance

Fundamentalists tend to be black and white and this rigidity is where they lose the essence of their arguments … and our attention!

Personally I cannot wait for the day that our perception stretches into full technie colour. Meaning that we ditch those bland colours and just see the sheer joy, the playfulness and curiosity of every little thing. That’s a much healthier perspective to embrace!

###

Bene Fiction by D. Avery

“Hey Pal, what’s black and white and read all over?”
“Jeez… what, Kid?”
“Flash fiction by the ranch hands!”
“Har, har Kid, but I don’t think all this flashin’ is so funny. It’s gittin’ outta hand. D’ya see what they’re about this week? It ain’t right.”
“Pal, what kinda humor does an ornery ole ranch hand have?”
“Kid….”
“Nun! Black and white, yer favorite colors, Pal.”
“Kid, I’m serious, they shouldn’t be puttin’ nuns in monster trucks.”
“It was un-convent-tional, Pal, but good fun.”
“It’s outta hand.”
Why’re ya worried?”
“Because flash fiction is habit forming.”
“Oh brother.”
“Sister.”

###

Dividends by D. Avery

“What’re you doin’?”
“Gonna check the books, make sure the ranch’s in the black.”
“Y’ain’t qualified nor authorized, Pal!”
“It’s gotta take some green ta maintain all these green pastures, Kid. I worry.”
“Reckon Shorty figgers it’ll kinda pay for itself.”
“Been all aroun’ this ranch an’ I ain’t seen a money tree yet Kid.”
“There’s a bookstore. An’ Amazon sales. Jeez, Pal.”
“Yeah, yer right. An’ let’s tell folks about the “slot machine” up in the left hand corner, gives great returns on investments.”
“Don’t lie, or you’ll pay, Pal.”
“White lie, Kid. It does give great returns.”

Raw Literature: A Writer’s Journey

By Rachel Hanson

I’ve had the pleasure of writing a few 99-word flash-fiction pieces for The Ranch over the last year or so and I was SO FLIPPIN’ EXCITED when Charli asked if I would consider writing something just a little longer about my journey to start a page on Patreon.

Those of us who are creators know that writing something amazing that is helpful, moving, and engaging takes a lot of time and energy. Even something that we might finish in a few minutes (lookin’ at you, 99-word flash-fiction) can take a pretty big emotional toll. In the years I’ve been writing I’ve had the opportunity to come to this realization on my own. As a teenager writing on Open Diary, engaging on MySpace, starting a WordPress blog, writing and publishing a short story, being called a monster on Facebook, and sharing my words in far reaches of the internet I’ve learned the importance of self-care. Giving myself distance, actively not engaging because I can’t take the toll, things we all do to ultimately be the best creators we can be.

After years of baring my soul and working to minimize the consequences, I decided to start writing on SteemIt. SteemIt rewards quality content creation and community building through cryptocurrency (Steem Dollars, similar to Bitcoin). I thought this could be a way to recognize that there is an economic benefit to creating quality content and helping to create a more compassionate world. Although I am still on SteemIt, I continue to run into the problem of engaging. I am delighted to do it, but with limited time it can be a legitimate struggle. I don’t do as well as I would like.

Shortly after joining SteemIt and writing there, I had the opportunity to attend a BossedUp Bootcamp (BUBC), where one of the seminars was about negotiating your salary. The incomparable Kathlyn Hart talked about how scary it can be to negotiate your salary but that women, who are socialized to not be too pushy, actually end up missing out on over 1 million dollars throughout their life. Not asking for what we deserve is really hurting us! I came back from BUBC with a renewed desire to negotiate for myself, not just money but also for more control over my time.  I knew I could do it. What’s more, I knew I had to do it. For myself, for my daughters, and for my husband.

I have to admit that at first all my firepower was geared toward my 9-5 day job as a higher education professional. I have the experience and was confident I could land a better paying job. After a few didn’t pan out (although one is about to pan out – visit me at rachelahanson.blog for details soon!) I realized that other people make real money writing. I love to write, I love connecting on the page, and I was already busting my butt to create amazing content. After a lot of thought, talking to friends who use Patreon (Justin Grays was a big influencer) and doing a super-scientific Twitter poll that seven people participated in I decided that Patreon was the way to go. I’ve only been at it for a few weeks (a natural born marketer, I am not) but I’ve found the experience to be truly delightful and it gives me hope that as my message grows, so will my patrons.

*Full disclosure: Charli is one of my patrons, as are my parents, and my best friend Cheyenne.

Rachel Hanson’s work has appeared on LevoOpen Thought Vortex, and The Relationship Blogger where she talks about the challenges of being a working professional and a parent, family traditions, and developing a strong marriage when through the very real struggle of having young children. You can also learn more about Rachel’s professional experience by visiting her LinkedIn profile.

<<♦>>

Raw Literature posts as an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99-word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.

Rough Writer Tour Around The World: Geoff Le Pard

RW Tour Around the World(1)

Geoff Le Pard writes like a Time Lord — he speeds across the horizons of creativity, returning week after week with short-stories of humor, humanity and memoir. The author of multiple novels, he’s also a contributor to Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1. He takes us to the UK to reflect upon flash fiction and horizons. Join us each Monday as a different Rough Writer takes us around the world.

via The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 or Flash Fiction: My (Small) Part In Its The Journey. #Carrotranch #congressofroughwriters #anthology

February 2018: #TwitterFlash

By C. Jai Ferry

I’ve spent the last week studying copywriting to create advertisements. To say that my eyes are glazed and my brain is mush is an understatement, but one of the big takeaways for me has been congruence.

When a social media follower (who is hopefully also a reader) sees one of our blog headlines or titles that intrigues them, they will click to read more. If the information at the other end of the link meets (or exceeds) their expectations, the information is congruent with the “teaser” in your headline or title.

But if the link leads to information that is unexpected, the congruency fails and the trust is broken between the reader and the writer. For example, if our fearless leader published a blog post entitled “Unicorns are real and I have proof!” but then the entire post talks about walking along northern beaches and never once mentions unicorns, the reader will feel confused or even let down. If this happens too often, the reader will stop reading the writer’s works.

Congruency between titles and articles (or blurbs and novels) is vital for building a relationship with our readers. It’s also critical for maintaining our lines of communication via social networks. If a reader wants to share content from your website on social media using the sharing buttons on your website, they expect the message produced by those buttons to include your Twitter handle (or other social media connection). Not seeing that information can create incongruence. If you are not taking the time to ensure that your sharing buttons are set up correctly, then they might question whether they should be sharing the information for you.

Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Include all your public social media accounts on your website/blog. Make the information readily apparent. If a reader has to search for ways to connect with you, you may be losing an important opportunity to ensure the creation of a lifelong supporter. Most website-building programs include simple ways to include social media buttons, and most visitors to your site will be comfortable using these.
  2. Ensure that all sharing buttons for website content are linked to your social media accounts. If someone wants to share one of your blog posts with their friends (i.e., if someone wants to promote your work for free!), you should make sure that the simple sharing buttons on your website include your account information so that the next reader can easily connect to your website and read the content firsthand. This also tags you on your own social media so you know when your content is being shared. When a visitor uses these sharing buttons, they end up retweeting a link to your content followed by “via @[your Twitter handle].” If you do not connect your social media to these sharing buttons, you instead see, for example, “via @wordpress.” For WordPress users, Carrot Ranch-hand Norah Colvin provides a clear overview of how to ensure that your sharing buttons are connected. (Please note that if you use Jetpack, you might need to access the Jetpack settings from your dashboard and then go to the sharing menu to follow the same steps as what Norah outlines.)
  3. If you would like to go one step further, you can embed your Twitter feed into your website so visitors can see what kinds of tweets you are sharing. This can be a powerful way to create new connections. To learn more, read this overview of embedding Twitter on your website.

February Challenge

As we discussed in January, content rules on Twitter, but interactions are important too. Therefore, this month we will once again create meaningful content, but we will also interact with others. So here is your mission (if you choose to accept it):

  • Make sure your website sharing buttons are connected to your Twitter account (as outlined in #1 and #2 above).
  • Write a 200-word story (give or take on the words) incorporating the theme of congruency. Post it on your website/blog.
  • Click on your sharing buttons to verify that you see “via @[your Twitter handle]” at the end of the pre-populated message to be tweeted.
  • Go to Twitter. Tweet a “teaser” line from your story and include a link back to your website/blog. Include the hashtag #Twitterflash.
  • Search for #Twitterflash on Twitter to see what teasers others are sharing.
    • When you find a teaser that entices you to read more, comment on the tweet. Your comment can be a word or two to show your curiosity or even an emoji. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.
    • Visit a few #Twitterflash participants’ websites/blogs and, when you read a story you think your Twitter followers might like, click the sharing button to tweet about it. (Not all websites include sharing buttons. If you like a story without sharing buttons, compose your own tweet and tag the writer in your tweet. For example: “I can’t believe that word wrangler @Charli_Mills claims that unicorns exist, but she convinced me!”)
    • Bonus points: If you see teasers that you think your Twitter followers might enjoy, use Twitter’s retweet function. You can add your own comment to your retweet if you want or simply retweet it.
  • On February 23, come back to the Carrot Ranch and share your teaser plus your favorite tweet comment (made on yours or one you see on someone else’s tweet).

Ready? Set… GO!

C. Jai Ferry is a flash fiction freak, human trafficking warrior, and Master Ninja at novellaninjas.com, an online space promoting published short stories and novellas to readers. Her titles include Unraveled, a collection of microfiction and flash fiction stories, and “Skeleton Dance,” 2014 winner of the Vermillion Literary Project Short Story Contest, which was turned into a film and included in the 2016 Nebraska Noir collection. She tweets from @CJaiFerry

Carrot Ranch’s Twitterflash 2018 is a monthly challenge focused on expanding writers’ use of Twitter as a tool for writing. Throughout the year, writers will experiment with storytelling via tweets using the following areas of focus (in no particular order):

  • Content
  • Hashtags
  • Engagement
  • Retweets
  • Visual Aids
  • Polls
  • Multiple tweets

Have an area you’d like included in this year’s Twitterflash project? Drop me a line.

February 1: Flash Fiction Challenge

My winter habit is not flattering. The drab-green wool coat is oversized to fit layers of bulky clothes over a bulky body. Dry air makes static of my hair which I braid and stuff into a fur-lined mad-bomber found at the thrift store. My face beams pale as a winter full moon. Dressed against Lady Lake’s constant onslaught, I feel captive to my winter clothes.

I’m going to a dance class once a week and I disrobe before entering — unwrap the scarf, unbutton the coat, kick off each boot and pull my thick socks back up. Next, I remove the hat and my hair has enough electricity to form a halo I haven’t earned yet.

Every fiber cries out to flee but my body disobeys instinct and lumbers into the room with the black floor. My daughter teaches here. She’s spent a year coping with deep injuries and adjusting to an autoimmune disorder. And yet still she dances. The class she has convinced me to try is Feldenkrais. I know it has helped her through her injuries and pain, but I’m no dancer.

In fact, I tend to be a walking head. Body awareness is something I gave up incrementally as pain drove me from the body into the greater and less painful expanse of the mind. I used to ride horses, leaping over irrigation ditches and riding the heights of the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ve skied Black Diamond trails in the Tahoe Basin; I’ve rodeoed and ranched; hauled hay and worked road construction. I didn’t dance but my body was strong.

Now I write strong. I live in my head and ride the currents of Lake Superior and race my characters over trails on horses from the Pony Express. I era-hop and gender-morph. There’s nothing I can’t write and I choose the stories I want to bring to light. I’m in control.

Of my legs, I’m not in control. There I was lying reluctantly on the floor scuffed by jazz shoes. Yes, yes, I was supposed to be on the provided yoga mat but I couldn’t even control that matter. During the last class I agonized over the tight band of rocks that had solidified my hips, and yet by the end of class, I felt soft, shaky and strangely not pained. This class I’m crushing my rib cage, flopping like a trout when the command was “gently flex your ankle…back…and…forth.”

When we switched to the right leg after a series of neck contortions and a “rest” on our backs as my left leg twitched, I prepared for more flopping. But my left side obeyed. I could connect to the movement. Okay, I thought, I’ll use my imagination and pretend to do it on my right because that’s what the instructor had advised us. Everyone else was using their bodies and while we worked both legs, I flopped and seized and pretended like nobody’s business.

After surviving dance class — and mind you, I will insist it’s a dance class. The dancers all think it’s a rest for their bodies, although my daughter has attributed much of her healing to Feldenkrais and is close to achieving her goal of dancing ballet again. My goal is to survive class, pretend my way through it and get to a point where I don’t look like the dying trout on the floor.

After class, I remain shy and don’t speak up about my experience. But I tell my daughter. The instructor politely turns her head to hear and I realize she needs the feedback. So I explain how my leg muscles on one side refused to obey. The first day of physical therapy after a back surgery went wrong, I was dismayed to learn my muscles were not “firing.” They still were not firing seven years later.

However, I could feel it so strongly on my right side that I pretend I felt it on my left. I acknowledged that I didn’t look like I was doing it but in my mind, I was a dancer working her legs. I felt foolish. To my surprise, the instructor smiled and said, “You have good Feldenkrais instinct; that’s exactly what you are to do.” Feldenkrais uses the mind to heal the neuropathy in the body.

Walking up the hill to Milly’s to write while my daughter subs for a jazz class, I feel as if someone just told me I can ride a horse again.

Do nuns feel this way?

Maybe that’s an odd thought but I’ve had nuns on the mind since they came up with a story that Norah Colvin wrote for wet ink. She expressed a story familiar to those with a Catholic education during an era when even public schools used corporal punishment. Her story sparked a discussion about nuns, and I’ve had them on my mind ever since.

The first nun I can recall has no name. It was kindergarten and my mother dropped me off at a baby-sitter’s house before school. She had a town job off the family ranch. I walked five blocks to Sacred Heart Parish School. My family was Catholic; I was not. That’s what happens when teenagers procreate. To say I was an outsider despite my plaid skirt and red sweater was an understatement. Yet, I recall no cruelty from nuns; only family members.

My teacher was not the knuckle-wrapper my father told me he had in school. Instead, she was concerned. I think they were all concerned — unbaptized, rebellious and imaginative. My mind got me busted at age 5. The pet frog was the first to go. My grandfather took care of that one, sharing the imagined moment, asking to hold my frog which I gave him. He then threw it on the ground, squashed it with the heel of his cowboy boot and declared that pet gone.

I tried to explain that the girl I drew on the tree branch was not another imaginary friend, but it caused an emergency parent-teacher conference. I still recall the nun explaining the lesson to my parents — I was to circle the greater amount of birds either below or above the tree branch. Duh. I knew it was the flock of birds above. That’s why I drew the girl flying with them. She wasn’t imaginary. She was me. And I flew with the greater birds.

If my early experiences with nuns disappointed my imagination, my later experiences fed it. After a wonderful, restorative and mind-opening experience at a liberal arts Catholic college in Montana where I learned of the contributions of nuns and anchoresses throughout history (Hildegarde of Bingham, Heloise, Julian of Norwich) I met two former nuns in Minneapolis. That’s where I learned an intriguing concept — nuns who drive.

My friends openly spoke of their convent days and why they joined and why they left. One had been the only nun in her convent with the ability to drive. It was not often a skill a nun needed. She spoke philosophically about nuns who drive in that they are often the ones more apt to try new skills or ideas. They often led. And they often left. Nuns who drive drove away.

I’ve thought of this throughout my creative writing and even wrote a short story about a nun from the 1850s who knew how to drive a wagon. She flees a convent in Hawaii and becomes a mule-skinner in the California gold fields. Her imagined story intrigues me and maybe one day. I’ll rework it and dig deeper into that tale. I’m also inspired by this nun who drives:

After my walk up the snowy streets of Hancock, I wondered if nuns also lived on the Keweenaw. Turns out a parish only 17 miles away in Lake Linden had a large Canadian-French population, cutting timbers for the copper mines. Nuns from Quebec were dispatched to teach parish school in 1886 and continued until the school closed in 1971.

With the tunic-lifting winds and biting snow, I wondered what nuns wore beneath. According to anecdotes and an interesting book about what nuns wear, they would have worn pantaloons or even long-underwear. And thick socks.

I also questioned whether or not nuns would be an appropriate prompt.

My hesitation is that nuns are people, too. I know what it is to be pointed out as “other” and that’s not my intent. On the first day of Black History Month in the US, I think we all need to be mindful of how history has developed in this country. The blunt way to say it is that America was founded on the backs of slaves and indentured female servants, taking lands from indigenous tribes. It’s a history of dehumanization that will nip at our heels until we find a way to reconcile our shared humanity.

And a part of that harsh history is the religious persecution of “other” faiths. Catholics were often despised and persecuted in American history. My ancestors were Catholic Scots deposed from their homeland in the mid-1700s because of their faith. They relocated to the colonies, fought in the Revolutionary War, settled in Missouri and pushed a herd of cattle to California during the gold rush. They built the parish church where I was born and kept their faith throughout all those generations.

I have no nuns — that I know of — in my family, but I do have a priest for a great-great-grandfather. Nothing in life is simple, but our stories are rich, complex and varied. I’m going to expand the prompt to include anything that is black and white from a nun’s habit to a B-stripe juggling ball and chickadee to rigid black and white thinking. To get you creatively motivated, here’s a wonderful video from the KC Bonkers tribe in Hancock. And yes — for those of you with astute eyes who know about my wandering days, that’s my RV stored at the Bonkers family homestead.

I believe art (and the imagination to expres it) is similar to Feldenkrais. We might feel a bit like a flopping trout trying to create it, but if we keep pretending we will build a bridge from what we imagine to the page we write upon.

February 1, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features something black and white. It could be a nun in a zebra monster truck, a rigid way of thinking, a bird in a tuxedo — be imaginative and go where the prompt leads.

Respond by February 6 , 2018, to be included in the compilation (published February 7). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

New in Angels Camp by Charli Mills

Sister Maria D’Abreau soaked the hide, tamping it down with a wooden pole. Her black dress felt softer than her habit packed away.

Henry watched, leaning against the corral. “You got laundry skills, I’ll say that much.”

Maria kept silent. What Mother Superior failed to teach her, living rough in mining camps had. She wouldn’t provoke a prickly miner down on his gold dust.

She stopped to test the hide, smiling when the hair slicked beneath her fingers. It would make the chore easier.

Father Kincaid approached. “The lass knows rawhide as well as mules.”

Henry spat. “We’ll see.”

###

On the Edge

On the Edge by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MillsStand on the edge and the view splits. One way is sanity, the other madness. Or perhaps it’s less severe — one side represents the known, and the other the unknown. What kinds of edges are there and what does it split?

Writers explored edges from razors to cliffs. They found humor, wisdom, and thrilling stories. They found small stories with deep meanings. Once you go to the edge, you’ll not see the same way again.

The following are based on the January 25, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge.

***

At the Edge by Irene Waters

The volcanolgists, wearing kevlar heat protective suits, abseiled into the crater, nearer the vents than any who’d gone before. Many locals gathered at the edge, some watching, some controlling the lines that would return the men to the crater’s rim.

Word was sent  “Okay. We’re ready. Pull us up.”

Word was sent down “You haven’t paid us enough. We want another ten thousand dollars. Then we’ll pull you up. “

The volcano rumbled its anger as those inside its fiery walls rumbled theirs. “They’ve got us. We have to pay. Say okay. Once we’re over the edge, that’s another story.”

###

The Edge by Robert Kirkendall

Terry looked over the screenplay he was cowriting and hoped that the alteration he made would be acceptable.  He went to the director.

“There’s something about the script I think should change,” Terry said.

“Which part?”

“The title.”

“The title?  What’s wrong with Edge of Doom?”

“Well, it’s a bit clichéd.”

“But it matches the theme perfectly!” the director asserted.

“True, but I was thinking of something a little more imaginative.”  Terry handed over the rewritten script.

The director looked at the title page.  “Seriously?” he laughed.  “Who’s going to want to watch a movie called Dr. Strangelove“?

###

The Windy Edge by AJ Prince

Gooseflesh prickles her skin, but she ignores the sensation, not daring to let her grip go. The wind whips sand across her face as she stares straight ahead, blinking away the sand particles scratching and blurring her vision. The rock wall cut in to her skin as she presses her back into its sharp ridges.

The time was coming, familiar screeching echoed around her until it felt like it was beating against her skull.

She was the last one. No one was left. She could not wait anymore. She jumps from the edge, wings spread far, catching the breeze.

###

Empty Nest by Juliet Nubel

I always knew she would finally push him out.

She was getting fed up with him, he had grown too much, was taking up too much space.

She had provided for his every need. At his beck and call, day and night.

But he was almost an adult now. It was time.

As I watched from across the street, I saw her push him.

He screamed at her in anger.

But she was determined.

He was standing right on the edge when she gently nudged him with her yellow beak.

He didn’t know he could fly. But she did.

###

The Edge by Michael

It will come as no surprise to know I sent my mother to the edge on more than one occasion. I was the second of three boys, each perfect in our unique ways.

But I know we drove mum mad.

She’d tell us one thing and we’d do the opposite.

She’d get all upset and we’d say sorry and promise the world.

She’d say, “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone, then we’ll see how much your smart arse attitudes help you.”

We never took her seriously; she was mum and always there.

Then one day she hit the edge.

###

The Owner’s Edge by Joe Owens

Waycroft held his smile, waiting for Melissa’s frown to fade. but fade it did not.

“You’re serious!” he said with laughter thick in his reply.

“Deadly!” Melissa said through clenched teeth.

“Do you know who I am?”

“I know what you are! But I am not alone. There is so many who will stand with me. This has to end!”

“Melissa,” Waycroft said, smoothly transitioning into the tone that usually allowed him to do what he pleased. “I’m sure we can take care of this.”

“Keep your seat. I have had your hands on me quite enough.”

“You’ll lose.”

###

Canyon of Real by Paula Moyer

Send or don’t send?

Jean stared at the email. Addressee: Title IX coordinator of her alma mater.

Jean never made a secret of it: the stares, the propositions, the butt swats. They were her introduction to graduate school. For over 40 years she had regaled friends with her war stories.

Then an actress spoke up about the exact same thing and a whole movement started.

Statute of limitations be damned. Jean’s “war stories” happened. Someone should know.

Jean now drove her history up to a different edge, the canyon of real. One click would make it real.

Send?

Click.

(This BOTS flash fiction is an extension of the essay, Me, Too: Sexual Harassment Before It Had a Name, by the author.)

###

The Edge (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane is halfway across the bridge when the panic hits. Suddenly she is gasping, hot, her hands clammy and her mouth dry.  She barely catches herself from bolting backward, right into rush-hour traffic. She clutches at the fencing with one sweaty hand, her eyes drawn over the edge.

Why not? How long can she keep trying, keep losing? The open air calls beyond the chain-link mesh, beckoning to the water far below. It would be hard, and it would be cold, and then it wouldn’t. And for a few seconds, she would be flying.

Would it be so bad?

###

Edge by Rugby843

I read your words

I fell in love

I heard your voice

I fell deeper

I felt your touch

I fell harder

I couldn’t help myself

I went to the edge

I let myself go

I fell freely

I fell without thought

I fell with conviction

I fell without constraints

You said you’d be waiting

You said dare to fly

You said I’d be safe

You said go to the edge

You said you’d catch me

We made promises

We trusted our feelings

We loved without boundaries

We went to the edge

We fulfilled our dream

We are one.

###

 I Think We’re Alone Now by Michael Fishman

In retrospect Johnny realized that sliding a 45 into Millie Redner’s locker was dumb. The record, a Tommy James single, was fine, but not including a note: dumb. Johnny told himself that anyone thinking about running and tumbling with Millie would have likely made the same mistake.

So here he is, three weeks later. A Thursday night; Bewitched’s theme playing from the TV in the den, Lisa’s number on a slip of paper on the kitchen counter. Johnny squeezes the telephone receiver in his left hand and watches his right hand shake as reaches up to make the call.

###

The Edge by Susan Budig

Sören drew the edge of the envelope along his lips, contemplating whether to seal it or rip it to shreds. If mailed, he’d have to act immediately. Was he ready? He slid the letter out, “Dear Tessa, if you’re reading this, you’ll know I’ve decided to accept the scholarship and leave for Baltimore. But know this, too: I love you and I’m coming back once I’ve graduated university. If you aren’t here, I’ll understand. Who would wait with only hope to hold her hand for years?” He stopped reading and decisively set course for the rest of his life.

###

Overcast by Abby Rowe

Do you remember that night we walked the length of the Embankment?
Umbrella coupled; tight. All around, soft rain moistened the pavements, the lamplight, the very air.
With you and I cocooned.
Dry.

Enveloped in our shelter, we talked of ties that no longer bind.
I stared ahead. You cried.

Over the Thames, the sky cleared, vast and open, and revealed the waning moon,
outlined in its entirety; shadowed yin edging into dying yang.

‘The rain has stopped,’ I said.
Unlinking arms, you folded the umbrella.

We both knew I was wrong. The sole remaining cloud was over us.

###

The Unkindest Cut by Sue Vincent

“Do it. Now…”

Implacable.

Cold sweat beads on his forehead. Her eyes are keen as anguish, sharp as the steel against his throat. How had he not realised? How had it come to this? He had tried everything. He had even begged. The thought made him squirm, but he no longer cared. He had nothing left.

The bright edge of the razor would strike.

No way to escape.

His hands shake. He must. He cannot. Bile rises as he closes his eyes… all he can see is blood and ruin.

“Now, Dave … Either the beard goes, or I do…”

###

Foul Fringes by JulesPaige

Where’s the edge of emotion?
How far will you push?
Will I be able to pull out
Of the depths you’ve
Tossed me into?

I must take the edge of arguments
I have heard you yell at each other
Into wee morning hours
The threats and tears
Intruding into my dreams

I cannot know your pain –
You will not accept mine.
Thinking I am not capable –
That I am underdeveloped
Because of my shyness

You are the parents I have,
I was not given a choice
Your maturity seems lacking
As you trip over poured words
That seem meaningless…

###

Edge by Kay Kingsley

When do you admit that it’s past the point of repair? Past the point of putting the other person first? Past the point of dropping hints or simply flat-out asking why he doesn’t bother with things like flowers anymore? But it’s not only flowers, and she knows it, admitting this, coming to the realization that she is losing him, or has lost him, just seems so surreal. Silently living in a fractured marriage, at the edge of all she has ever known. Ahead lies darkness, fear and the certainty of the freedom she fears most and desperately desires, simultaneously.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

I read the note until I knew each fold and every stain. I studied the slant of her letters, thought I saw a slight hesitation parked at the edge of the E in LOVED.

She loveD me.

And a million tiny regrets hitched that D to the E. Knocked a majestic word off balance. It’s why a piece of paper felt so heavy in my hands.

The note glowed Hemingway beige in the sunlight, yet appeared modernly cold in the glow of a device. It could turn romantically silver beneath a full moon, but was always blurry at Goodbye.

###

Edge by Pensitivity

There was no point in living. No-one cared and she was convinced she wouldn’t be missed.

She knew this road well, having travelled it practically every day for 4 years.

Each bend was a friend, beckoning her onward.

A mile ahead, a sharp left saved you from careering over the edge into the valley below.

Like her life, it was the edge of sanity or oblivion.

So easy to keep the wheel steady and straight.

She pondered. Is this all she was worth?

And that one word made her turn and follow the road.

He was not worth her life.

###

Flash Fiction by Old Jules

He stretched his big toe as far forward as he could without stumbling, feeling for the oblivion he knew waited in the darkness. Nothing. He strained his mind listening to the tip of that toe. And felt only the soft movement of what? What is that?

Behind him the shopping cart with all his belongings rattled. “Hurry!” Her
voice trembled.

Suddenly the toe touched something and screamed at him. “Back! Back!” He launched himself backward against the shopping cart and the weight of her. He heard her fall and tried to grip the cart.

“What happened?”

“The edge.”

“No!”

###

The Edge of the Mind by Geoff Le Pard

Morgan threw down his cup. ‘Effing Nora, Logan.’

Logan’s eyebrows snapped up. ‘What?’

Morgan didn’t know where to start. How could he? Why would he?

It was like someone – something – had taken him over. He looked at his hand, knuckles draining, fingers curling. He saw a future: arm pulled back, surprise followed by fear then anger, a punch, a crunch, blood, noise, mayhem. He felt the impact, the way his hand was absorbed before the jolt of bone. Pain, different types of pain. Like an inevitable train wreck.

‘Sorry.’

The edge of his rage disappeared and he sat. ‘Man.’

###

Gotcha! by Anurag Bakhshi

I saw her fall, almost in slow motion. I looked around, but everyone stood frozen. And in that moment, I realized that it was all up to me now.

Driven by sheer instinct, I dove towards her… and caught her inches from the ground. Overcome with emotions, I held her tight, as if I would never let her go. And then, with my eyes full of tears, I kissed her passionately.

She would always remain a very special ball to me, for catching her off that faint edge had pulled our cricket team back from the edge of defeat.

###

The Edge by Jack Schuyler

“I don’t know about this.” The fall looked a lot farther from up here, the dizzying drop looming and spinning as I peered over the edge.

“Come on Trevor, you can make that jump easy. You’ve done it a hundred times on the ground.” Dawson was right, but while his words of encouragement were filled with confidence, I couldn’t help but wonder why I was the one with my toes dangling over the gutter.

I looked to the far rooftop. This was a bad idea, but I couldn’t back down now. I bent my knees and flexed my legs.

###

The Edge by Kim Blades

She scrabbled to grip the edge of the steep cliff. Pebbles and stones, loosened by her shoe-clad feet; skittered rapidly down the steep, rocky slope. She didn’t look down the hundred foot drop. If she did, pure vertigo would cause her to let go. As it was, only her bloodied fingers curled tightly around gnarled roots that jutted out of the cliff face; were stopping her from falling to certain death.

There was no one around to help her.
Would her own upper body strength and the tough roots be enough to pull her back up over the edge?

###

If Only by Susan Sleggs

Her father worked evenings. That was good. She rarely had to be alone with him.

Getting off the school bus she checked the drive. He was home. Damn!

He would expect her to walk around naked so he could ogle and touch her.

Her mother was buried, no longer a wedge of protection. No siblings.

She stood there, on the edge; go in or not.

She backed away, fishing for her cell phone. She touched the only safe number.

“Dad’s home, therefore drunk. Can you come get me?”

Waiting, she decided to stick with the lie, he gets mean.

###

The Outside Limit by Shari Marshall

Often I can feel it poised at the tip of my toes, that deep dark abyss. Never a fissure that those around me can see until I plunge over the side in a free fall of my own, balance lost as I grapple in a violent confrontation with unseen demons. The twist and twine of their tendrils strive to engulf me like hungry algae desperate to claim the swimmer. It is in this place farthest away from the centre of myself, lost in the darkness by the edge that the ghosts become more then mysterious silhouettes or murky shadows…

###

The Abyss by Sarah

I stood on the precipice and looked into the abyss below. My knees quivered and my stomach flipped, as my body struggled to anchor itself to the sanctuary of land. I forced myself to confront the yawning darkness and felt the fear take hold.

One move, I thought, and that would be it. Gone.

I didn’t know what terrified me more – the thought of staying? Keeping myself on solid ground and dealing with the crap that lay ahead. Or how tempted I was to just let go? Let myself fall off again.

I sighed, and put the bottle down.

###

Edge by Ritu Bhathal

“It feels like I’m standing on a knife edge, and I don’t know which way to fall…” Lucy carried on.

“On one side there is familiarity, there are constraints, there’s suspicion, there is the happiness of being part of ‘us’.

On the other, a different way of living, emptiness, the possibility of freedom, not being judged, there’s just me.”

Dr Jones looked at his patient, surprised by the depth of her words. As her therapist, it was his job to listen, and guide her… but did he want to be the one to push her one way or another?

###

Unconditional by Reena Saxeena

Entering college was such a liberating moment. His childhood had not been smooth. His father was an army officer, known for his love of discipline. It reflected in the manner he treated his children. They were spanked for the slightest breach of discipline. Their mother watched them with helpless sympathy.

Then, dawned the day, that would change his life forever. He stood in the hospital lobby, with his newborn son in his arms, tears streaming down his cheeks. How quaint was this emotion of unconditional love! It was all- encompassing. He silently vowed to be an exemplary father.

###

The Fall by Neel Anil Panicker

The climb up the steps, all fourteen floors of it, was a drain.

After a while, his lungs still gasping for breath, his head a wobbly ball, he opened his eyes and gazed down.

There is a certain serenity in heights, he concurred.

The city lights were a distant blur that skirted in and out of byzantine thoroughfares.

The flotsam and getsam of life.

He had had enough of it.

It was time to bid adieu.

The phone rang. He knew who it was. The thought broke his reverie.

Also brought him back from the edge.

Tomorrow’s another day.

###

Who Are We by FloridaBorne

We tear apart the strands of a thousand lives, gleaning insight from friends, family and strangers.

Merging faces, personalities, experiences, we re-imagine their stories.

We sit on the precipice between space and time, living the movies called “our dreams,” stories refusing to sleep.

Awakening at all hours, we become slaves to our compulsion as our fingers dance out a tale our minds cannot stop spinning.

Exhausted, we touch the edge of insanity’s hypnotic flame, teasing fate.

We live in multiple worlds, brought back to this one through senses and necessity. Some survive the transition, others cannot.

We are writers.

###

Beyond the Fringe by Ann Edall-Robson

The edge. I dare not go over, for I might fall. Would it be so bad? Perhaps not. The currents lifting me higher, the dips, the dives, floating through and beyond. Solitude capturing moments. Beliefs shattered, staggering. The turn of events snagged in a millisecond to save the experience. Climbing, ever climbing, again. The journey continues until the edge appears, foreboding, challenging, gut-wrenching stamina to the end. Exhaustion. Numb mind thoughts settle passively taking steps to the fringe. Outside the comfort, hold on to your being. Unravel the dream, past the stars and beyond. Publish the damn book!

###

The Edge by Norah Colvin

She stood at the edge of the abyss and wondered what would happen should she jump – would she fly, or would she plummet to the bottom and rest, fractured and alone, forgotten and abandoned, with all the others who dared to try but failed. It was fear that held her back, chained her to the ledge. But there was nowhere else to go. She’d tried all other paths. This was all that remained. Could she stay there forever? Would there be a point? What if she fell? But what if she flew? She inhaled, closed her eyes, and jumped…

###

The Real Illusion by Chelsea Owens

Her nightdress billows in moving mists of rainbows; toes curl precariously over cloudforms.

She cannot see, so closes her eyes.

And now, appears the wooden bridge. It skips across to the sandy seashore
-the shore outside a castle’s wall
-whereat lies a fearsome dragon, curling smoky out-breaths in the sun.

A shining knight advances, drawing schlinking steel to fight the fiery, glinting, scalesome beast.

“Oh, dear,” cries Princess, from above. Her swooping scarf-hat trails the crumbling window ledge.

The nightdressed girl smiles, treading where adults fear. She perches, perfectly happy, at the cliffside edge of fantasy.

And jumps.

###

Contemplating Edges by D. Avery

Seeking Earth’s edges, pressing on, thrusting ahead, seeking new frontiers, always further on.

Heroic?

Westward expansion told as a flexible line; looping progression across the map page, across the ages, across the ever-changing landscape. Edges reached, breached and surpassed. Shoreline, rivers, mountain ranges, seas of grass, mountain ranges, deserts, rivers, shoreline; compressed, flattened, documented.

Whose country tis of thee?

Edges of encounter; that line of expansion entangling, ensnaring, diminishing, destroying; slicing the multifaceted beauty of each encountered edge, razing cultures, razing ecosystems.
If only edges were navigated as holy spaces of contemplation, opportunities for true expansion, precipitant of Potential.

###

Beyond the Edge of the World by Anne Goodwin

We patrolled the Edge, scanning for intruders scrambling up the scarp. In summer sun, our boots scraped the surface of our path to sand; in winter rain it turned to mud. We built our homes from gritstone boulders; we chiselled millstones from our native rocks. When heather bloomed, we’d feast on bilberries; we’d spot the wild mountain hare when snow began to melt. Our land provided all we needed, and yet …

“What’s down there, Grandpa? Is there life below the Edge?”

“Don’t go mixing with them Limestone people. They’s not like us.”

###

To the Edge by Rebecca Glaessner

“Due end of week,” she said.

I accepted the file transfer.

“Anything else?”

“Check in on the dome too, yeah?”

“Or we’ll all die?”

“Cold,” she said, her aug profile smirking.

“Mars is colder.”

“Answers for everything.”

“This trip wouldn’t work without me,” I said.

“Don’t be so sure.”

We ended comms.

I stared at my screen.

With a flick, I opened an isolated program and equipped a headset.

“Activate,” I said.

My private quarters morphed into the landscape of a digital alien world. Starships, exotic forests, grand ocean cities.

Reality wouldn’t send me over the edge just yet.

###

The Lesson by Anthony Amore

My grandfather’s basement smells of clean, damp concrete despite it being poured in 1963. Fishing through some containers on the neatly organized upper shelves of his workbench, he pulls a leather pouch out of a Hills Brothers coffee can. I sit on a metal stool’s edge beneath a shimmering fluorescent shop light.

He holds the knife to the light, examining. It gleams. “Keep it safe, clean and sharp,” he instructs, pressing the fat of this thumb directly against the blade. “Only a dull blade will ever cut you.” He winks, “Don’t tell your father.”

###

The Edge by Ben (aka Pipe Tobacco)

He was sitting on the edge of the hospital bed, holding the hand of the old man.

“If you allow them to give you the antibiotic, you might get well.”

Tears brimmed in his eyes, and an errant one overflowed and quietly rolled down his cheek into his beard.  The old man was in the midst of his fourth battle with sepsis in as many months.

“No, no more.” said the old man in a barely audible voice.

He turned his face away from the old man so he would not see additional tears flow.

The end is here.

###

Tip of the Tongue… A Different Edge by JulesPaige

Cora had been on the edge of a deep restorative sleep –
then dreamed of betrayal. Was she really feeling sorry for
herself? Was she insecure or suspicious of something or
someone?

Perhaps learning to say no to things that no longer interested
her had some drawbacks. Less of a public face for others to
say insincerely when meeting; “How are you?” Because you
really didn’t want to answer them or even ask them the same
question.

Cora had met Mrs. X at the grocers, yesterday. Fifteen years
was a long time to remember the name of a distant acquaintance.

###

Night Visions by Bill Engleson

One

In the middle of the night, the thought swirls to the surface of his awareness.
Eyelids crack open.
Sleep fails.
Fear, like a large dark suffocating stain, crushes in.
Sharp stilettos of pain sting his chest.
He rolls over, slips close to the edge of the bed.
A pillow bolts, disappears in space.
His head dangles over.
Blood rushes to his eyes;
A true guillotine moment…

Two

Watchful eyes, piercing, bright, gawk up at him.
“Could be the cat,” he considers.
Hopes.
Two sets of eyes gape up.
“Could be I’m seeing double,” he considers.
“Could just be.”

###

Edge by Floating Gold

Jack got out of the car and ran full speed ahead, until he reached the edge of a cliff. The ocean’s stormy waters continuously slammed against the rocks below him. The frantic wind whistled in the distance before enveloping him in a cocoon of autumn leaves. He looked at the sky and saw the fast approaching rain clouds. A single tear rolled down his cheek before the sky opened up. Jack fell to his knees and buried his face in his hands. What was he going to do next? Even God was angry with him now.

Thunder.

Lightning struck.

###

Barely Hanging On by Heather Gonzalez

Jeff was slowly getting used to spending his Saturday mornings driving to his soon to be ex-wife’s house to pick up their kids. The drive was just enough time to build up the courage to smile when he got there.

The thoughts of all that he had lost due to being selfish consumed him as he drove. He had driven this route many times but somehow forgot how sharp that last curve was. It all happened so fast. His car was hanging on the edge. Before it fell, he sent one single text to his wife, “I am sorry.”

###

Grounding (From Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Too late for planting tomatoes, Danni seeded more radishes. Ike complained they bit back, but if he left for Iraq what did it matter? She’d eat spicy radishes alone.

She kneeled along the row, tamping each seed. The earth felt solid beneath her hands. With no more seeds to cover, Danni dug into the ground that remained unplanted. Sifting loamy earth through her fingers she found a marble. She rolled the green glass in her palm.

If it was Ike’s decision and she was to stay home, why did she feel pitched over the edge into an unknown future?

###

The Edge by Eric Pone

“Oh Jesussssss ahhhhh!!”Mary seethed through her lips as Ginger removed two of rounds lodge firmly in her liver.

“Hold still dear…OK Ono I am suturing.” pronounced their medic.

“I’m gonna pass out now.” And with that Maryann passed out.

Ginger grabbed her load out kit pissed, “I really liked this place.”

“We’ll find you a new place Ginger.” Ono reassured her opening the back door.

“We’ll need a plane.” Ginger quipped

“We’ll get a really nice plane.” Ono replied half smiling meaning trouble ahead.

Ono observed the clock. Where were Ducky and Eowyn? Time was of the essence.

###

The Edge by Kerry E.B. Black

Julia’s life balanced on a silvery precipice, its sharp cleavage pressed to her throat. Its wielder clasped a bruising hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming. As the blade cut into delicate skin, Julia pushed into the knifeman’s chest to escape its bite.
His voice rumbled, an avalanche of fear in tenor. “Stay back.”
Julia’s husband, palms outstretched in supplication, stopping inching toward them. “Alright, but let her go.”
A tiny blood rivulet escaped its confines and tickled to her collarbone. Julia held her breath, lest movement might cause a deeper cut.
“Can’t. She’s coming with me.”

###

Edge by Dan C Julian

Remy’s eyes swam slightly as he cast a long look down at the several tall cylindrical stacks of ‘nickel’ chips situated between the highball glass in his right hand and the ashtray over which his left hovered with a lit menthol. At five dollars per chip, he had to be sitting on almost five hundred dollars. He’d started with one-fifty. A few hours of conservative play had gotten him to this moment, the kind of roulette moment Remy lived for. The last six numbers had been odd reds. The next spin was bound to be even, black, or both…

###

Edge by Deb Whittam

Annoyed he rubbed his head endeavouring to clear the clouds which fogged his concentration. He had come here to escape the pressure but in the solitude it seemed intensified. Picking up the documents, he tried to be rational, emotionally distant – but this wasn’t the reality.

Stay or go – there was no easy choice.

Frustrated he delved into his pocket, smiling as he drew the coin. Let fate decide. He tossed it aloft with a triumphant shout, watching mesmerized as it spun and then as it landed he let out a sob.

It sat perfectly balanced on its edge.

###

Breaking Point by Jordan Corely

“I need more time,” I shrieked at the machine.

Three more minutes.

“Noo, no, no.” I laced my fingers behind my head and began pacing around the room.

“Think Lacey, think.” I started bouncing on my toes.

“Alright, just breathe, you can do this.”

Two more minutes.

“Okay, it can’t be that hard, right? Calm down. Focus”

One more minute.

“This must be it. There can’t be any other answer.”

Thirty seconds.

“Right? This is it?”

Twenty seconds.

“Please, just tell me if I’m right!”

Ten seconds.

“Shit.”

Times up.

###

Endless Edge by Elliott Lyngreen

I just awoke from another one of those dreams. One of those seamless to an infinite edge. Never separating. An endless edge.

Happens every time. Sometimes in a car. We go around the rocky bend. The vehicle turns, slides off the mountain side. (Someone is with me? Not always.) We are still turning off the edge.

Sometimes it is a staircase. From the top I can see the bottom. So, I jump. Challenging me, the leap clears the steps only in thoughts. They always increase. The length down, to the bottom, expands. We are still soaring towards the below.

###

Edge by Robbie Cheadle

The gentle slope at the top of the cliff suddenly plunged down to the sea below. White tipped waves boiled over the rocks that poked up like blunt knives.

The small girl spotted a bright blue flower halfway down the slope. She was carefully climbing down towards the flower, holding on to an overhanging vine, when its root gave way. She felt herself rolling towards the edge of the drop and grabbed out at a small plant growing nearby. It held. She carefully climbed up the slope using plants and embedded rocks as foot and hand holds.

###

Numb and Humbled by JulesPaige

Maui has a multitude of atmospheres. The edges are not
clearly defined. Waterfalls create their own edges from
some of the coldest water. I may have dipped in Alelele Falls.
The smooth black rocks on the bottom of the little pool were
hard knots on my bare feet. I was bound and determined to
submerge into this mostly calm scene. There were a few
others drawn to the majesty of the eighty foot drop, only a ten
minute walk from an almost hidden entry point.

I got in up to my neck. I felt freezer burned, a different
edge…

###

Horizon by Denise Aileen DeVries

One sunny day, Myra Jean walked the mile and half to the boat basin at the edge of town, just for a glimpse of the Bay. It was a pleasant walk, and it gave her time to think. On the brink of old age, she still had years to fill, with no way back to Baltimore or her youth. Skirting the noisy activity on the dock, she stepped over discarded shells to the reach the place where water lapped the marsh grass. Finally, she could see the horizon, that misty meeting of water and sky, inscrutable as her future.

###

The Edge by Pheobe Greathouse

She drifts in the watery blue looking down at the ocean floor. Below is a swaying forest of seagrasses. The shallow water is warm from the sun, too warm to be inviting. She seeks a refreshing swim, a cold plunge into deep dark water.

Years before a channel was cut from the coral floor to allow large ships to navigate the treacherous shallows surrounding the island. Thirty feet deep, she floats over the descending wall of the edge. There is a sensation of falling over a cliff into blackness. Too cold, too deep, today she stays in the boat.

###

Dimensional Kid by D. Avery

“Ain’t seen ya lately, Kid.”

“Couldn’t find my dang boots last week.”

“Yer still edgy over it?”

“Don’t push me, Pal, I’m right close to the edge.”

“I’m sure somethin’ll surface this week.”

“Jest it, I’m confused. A certain someone says an edge is a line segment where two surfaces meet.”

“That sounds sharp, Kid. That straight talk?”

“I dunno, you do the math. See, I been ponderin’ on edges bein’ places, gotten to in round about ways; times or spaces of transition, betwixt and between. Whatdaya think?”

“Ta me it’s neither here nor there.”

“Exactly! A becoming place.”

###

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