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Gazing at the Navel

What is it we hope to find, gazing at the navel? Maybe we seek our own beginning or that of time. Perhaps we feel a severing of bonds to establish who we are. We can stare at our navels, self-obsessed, or dare to reveal it to others. Somewhere between holding on to our beginnings and letting go with freedom to be we find stories of the humble belly-button.

Writers were tasked with navel gazing this week and many dared to return with a story.

The following are based on the April 20, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a navel story.

***

Ghawazee by Kerry E.B. Black

Dumbeks drummed a summons, and dancers stepped from hidden corners, bells tinkling with each movement. Tentative as deer approaching a clearing, the graceful women searched for authorities who declared dancing a crime. They hopped in time, their footfalls punctuating the rhythm. The beat quickened. Their skirts and veils eddied around lithe forms. They reached heaven-ward, exposing glimpses of navels whittled with exertion. Colorful tassels bounced from tribal belts, and tinny bells added to the magic of the dance.

A whistle warns, and they scatter, but for the length of a song, they re-created their heritage and defied the regime.

###

The End by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Vast ocean pounded a heavy drumbeat, intense wind carrying bright droplets up to the woman poised on cliff’s edge. A sheer of brine slowly covered her naked form.

Her thin fingers brushed a whirl of ashy salt and skin from wasting limbs. With each sweep and release of her fingers, she became less and less, her curves releasing to the granite and scrubby wasteland that led to this spot.

“Oh Angus,” she breathed. “You were my only god!”

Weuigwefq cwnjqoie.

The tomcat bumped her chin, and lay across the keyboard. “Too much drama, Navel Gazer…feed me NOW!” he growled.

###

Science is Coming by Elliott Lyngreen

Nate’s been expecting there will be a grand movement i step aside myself. Or lose myself. Exist around, outside myself.

Instead of inside this womb prosing on about and ever contemplating.

Charges coins now to share. The game is its more instant – but is, not speaking.

There’ve always been rules.

For speaking?

“Cant stand my echoes.”

Frees sound even my exhaling bellies; executes me further en passant. . . .

Pressing into the navel of a fuzzy peach. Nate cannot eat them.

Tainted on this bird repetitively clunking its reflection; for once, i want to remove the windows.

“Check, Nate.”

###

The Need to Know (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni sat on her haunches, studying the bone fragment. The school bus had left, but this piece found by a third-grader intrigued her.

“Is that one of my ancestors?” Michael had returned with Bubbie.

“Mmm, probably not, unless your ancestors ate each other.”

Michael snorted. “You bone-diggers. Navel-gazing at everything.”

Danni stood up and stretched, surprised to hear the pain in Michael’s tone. “I’m sorry. No offense intended. It’s a deer bone, likely, but has pot-polish from being boiled. It says something about what occurred here.”

“Let the place be sacred, Danni. You don’t have to know every detail.”

###

Omphalos by FloridaBorne

“Your name means Earth’s navel?” I asked.

“Mama said Omphalos was sacred,” a 12-year-old with medium beige skin replied. “She said we came out of Earth’s navel a hundred years after mushrooms destroyed all life.”

Amused, I asked, “Were the mushrooms edible?”

“You can see the mushrooms grow when you’re in Las Vegas.”

“Thank you for your presentation,” I said. “You may be seated.”

“Miss Phillips?”

“Yes, Omphalos.”

“Did you know your people are building underground cities?”

Keeping a straight face, I replied. “No.”

“You’ll need them in 2020.”

“That’s 60 years away,” I said, chuckling at his superstition.

###

Homage by D. Avery

That immobile travel trailer under the trees is a sanctuary. It stands on columns of humble cinder blocks, the destination of a pilgrim. Inside it is luxurious. There’s an abundance of books, one comfortable bed, and small altars enshrined with shells and pebbles. Yet this trailer overlooks the actual temple.

While the red-capped stewards drum rhythms on riddled trees, juncos sanctify the space with their spring rituals, alighting on a rounded glacial erratic before continuing their northern pilgrimage.

This omphalos stone holds all the answers for the pilgrim, but there at the center, the questions have now drifted away.

###

Gazing into Her Navel by Anne Goodwin

“Where should I start?”

“Wherever you like.”

She blushes, gazes down at herself pointedly. Was it sex? (It’s always sex.)

“There’s no rush. You’ve already taken the most important step by coming here.”

She hesitates. Opens her mouth and closes it again. I’d like to make it easier for her, but she has to find her own way.

She strokes her abdomen. Pregnancy ambivalence? But she isn’t showing. Yet.

Through her thin T-shirt she dips her middle finger into her belly button. “It might sound stupid,” she says, “but I’ve felt all wrong since the day I was born.”

###

Fluff by Hugh Roberts

“Oh, my goodness, what are you doing?”

“Well, you did say you wanted me to help get the fluff out.”

“Yes, but not with a screwdriver. Is there anything else you can use?”

“No. Nothing to hand. Now, do you want me to remove the fluff from your bellybutton?”

“Yes, but I’m sure I can hear something creaking.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. Right, here we go. Ready? A slight twist and it should be out.”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I never expected that to happen. Allow me to pick up your bum and screw it back on.”

***

Moral of the story – never insert a screwdriver into your bellybutton and twist, because your bum will fall off!

###

Navel Contemplation by Norah Colvin

Billy watched Mother bathe Baby.

“What’s that?”

“The last bit of his umbilical cord. Soon it will fall off, and he’ll have a belly button, just like you.”

Billy lifted his shirt to inspect.

“What’s billy cor?”

“Umbilical cord – it’s where Baby was joined to me before he was born. Everyone has one.”

“Everyone?”

“Everyone with a mother.”

“So, Silas don’t have belly button.”

“Silas would have a belly button. Everyone has.”

“But Silas don’t have a mum.”

“Oh. But he would have had a mum. When he was born.”

“Nope. Not born. I made him up.”

###

Origin by KittyVerses

Suddenly there was brightness all around.The darkness that I was accustomed to, was gone in a matter of minutes.

A buzz of excited chatter all around, disturbing my serenity. Unknown images were excited about something but I was clueless and at a loss.

The yummy supply of food through the umbilical cord, will it cease now, I let out a cry.The images rose in unison to console and welcome me. But one touch said it all, up she lifted, holding close to her, I could feel her warmth.A gentle kiss on my forehead, I knew her, my origin, Mumma.

###

Fruitful Blessings by Lisa A. Listwa

He watched his wife dress, her navel peeking from beneath a camisole and between stretch marks as she reached above her head to fix her hair.

That small, intimate part of her reminded him how he worked to know her, to break through the rough, vibrant skin and bitter layers of pith surrounding the most delightful, refreshing burst of fruit inside.

He remembered her beautifully life-worn body when it swelled to carry and nourish the children who shouted at one another just down the hall. And he – he was lucky enough to taste of this bliss every single day.

###

Where Do They Hide the Navels by Joe Owens

Jerome never had seen belly dancers, at least not in person. When he imagined it he chose to rely on the one image burned into his mind, that of a beautiful Barbara Eden in her genie outfit. So one could imagine his excitement when he saw their would be belly dancing in this three hour dance recital.

When the music began Jerome sat up in anticipation, but ten seconds later he sank back dejected. There was no Barbara Eden to bee seen anywhere near the stage. Instead it resembled a cruel joke. There was plenty of belly on display.

###

Aloof by Reena Saxena

Apsara was totally taken by the intellect of this man, and the peace that he radiated.

Ten years later, she wondered if Vishwa had ever loved her. He was so wrapped up in himself – his books, meditation and his international talks. There was no space in his life for anyone else.

“Will you ever stop being a navel gazer, Vishwa?”

“Apsara, the navel is what connects you to your mother, your origin. Do not use that expression in a derogatory manner. One needs to decipher all mysteries of existence.”

It was not her existence that he was talking about.

###

Life Gets Complicated by Geoff Le Pard

‘Penny come here.’

Penny looked at her form teacher’s stern face, mystified at her tone.

‘Did you call Melanie a freak?’

‘I…’ Penny’s face flushed. ‘I just said her belly button was weird.’ Everyone had laughed, even Melanie. She’d showed them after all. ‘Is she upset?’

‘Melanie doesn’t know we’re talking. Someone else told me.’

Penny felt anger swell inside her chest. Sophie.

Miss Johnstone sighed. ‘She has an umbilical hernia. Just be a little careful what you say. You don’t know who might be upset.’

Penny held her gaze. ‘If Mel doesn’t care, why should anyone else?’

‘Indeed.’

###

Navel (Jane Doe Six Sentence Stories) by Deborah Lee

“Is that a bra strap? That better not be a bra strap,” Michelle says. “We don’t do the Madonna look around here.”

Jane cocks her head to her shoulder, displays the wide strap of the tank-camisole layered under her blouse. “Not a bra strap.”

“And tattoos. Caroline hates tattoos. Keep your tattoos covered.”

“For the…third?… time. I don’t even have tattoos.”

“Or piercings. She doesn’t hire people with piercings.”

Jane surreptitiously pats the soreness at her belly-button, her brand-new glittering dragonfly. Good thing she doesn’t wear Madonna crop tops. She turns back to her desk, rolling her eyes.

###

Emily’s Navel by Michael

The class had been going for some time before Dash woke up to gazing at Emily’s navel. Navel’s fascinated him and Emily had the most alluring navel he had seen.

It was an innie, outies he found somewhat gross, though he knew it was no fault of the navel owner.

But Emily was caught up in her pose, oblivious of Dash’s attention.

He wanted to reach out and stroke it with his finger, feel the soft smooth folds of skin. The instructor’s strident voice woke him to reality. He stored away the memory and took up his required pose.

###

The Cadaver’s Surprise by Allison Maruska

The cadaver rests naked on the table. Her skin is ashen, her face covered with a white towel. My mind tricks me into thinking she’s breathing.

This was someone’s mother, someone’s grandmother. Now she lies here, pre-dissected for us, the potential medical students of tomorrow.

“Know what I wondered before I studied anatomy?” the teacher asks.

We stand in respectful silence.

“I wondered what the back of a belly button looks like.” With that, she lifts the skin covering the abdomen, revealing the dark side of the navel.

I bet the dead woman never thought anyone would look there.

###

Holy Holes and Adoration of Ashes? by Jules Paige

Navels
More than
Just an orange
For energy or even
Contemplation

Once
I read
A model had
Hers surgically removed…for
Vanity?

Links
Navels from
Mother to babe
Centers of life blood
Flows

I’ve
Been to
Maui – I saw
Different kinds of hard
Lava

Pahoehoe
Is sharp
A’a is smooth
We did not see
‘Lava’

Not
All ash
Is the same…
‘Wildcat Scattering’…she did
That…

To
My father
At his request –
In the Gulf he
Went…

An
Uncle left
His body to
Science – his ashes were
Returned

(…what tradition will I follow?)

###

Save

With This Ring

With This Ring by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MillsAn array of rings are offerings from a single artist. And yet, many singles dream of one ring to bind them to another. What is it about rings that are are deep in our culture and psyche? They adorn and they tell a story.

Writers explored the stories of rings to craft this collection of flash as rich as the rings an artist displays against black velvet.

The following are based on the April 13, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a ring.

***

One Perfect Rose (After Dorothy Parker) by Luccia Gray

‘I found a perfect gift,’ he said.
He gave me a pretty card, which read,
‘This gift is almost as lovely as you.’
I still didn’t have a clue.
I wondered what he had in mind,
Although I knew my love was blind,
I was hoping for a ring at last,
My happiness, it was so vast!
I’d wear it on my finger proudly.
I extended my hand slowly,
And he showed me one perfect rose.
I sighed and looked down to my toes.
‘Don’t you like the rose?’ he asked.
‘It’s not what I had in mind,’ I barked.

###

A Bacon Bit (Sizzlin’ in the Old West) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Leadbelly sidled up to the bar, tossing a small leather bag on the counter. His boot hooked over the bar rail, spurs jangling, as he leaned toward the buxom barkeep.

“What’ll ya have?” Lula eyed the bag of gold dust.

“Whiskey, neat,” he twirled his greasy mustaches, “And you, disheveled.”

She rolled her eyes and turned her back. The piano player threw him out. Polishing a glass, she waited.

Josiah approached, sliding the fragrant waxed package across the counter. He laid a gold ring on top. His lips trembled. “Will you have me?”

“You and your bacon? Forever, Love.”

###

Heirloom by Bill Engleson

“Look at ‘em, Sybil. Sausages. Big fat sausages.”

I spread my mitts in grand emphasis.

“Yes, sweetie. You have big hands.”

“Not exactly Presidential.”

“No. But too big for your Mom’s ring. Maybe we can get it enlarged?”

“You think?”

“I don’t know. It’s pretty thin…probably hard to stretch…”

“Dad made it from an old copper cup. True story.”

“I’ve heard it often.”

“Well, it’s a good story. He was a handy guy.”

“A frugal, artistic man.”

“Depression days, eh.”

“Yes, it was. If we can’t expand it, maybe I should wear it.”

“Would you?”

“It’d be my pleasure.”

###

Not All Chicks are Created Equal by Joe Owens

The young man stood quietly, eyes glued to the arrangement of rings. All that moved was his eyes. They buzzed back and forth across the collection like a caffeine-addled bee.

“Don’t you have anything unique?” he finally asked.

“Unique? Son all of this is unique and handmade.”

“Yeah, I know, but this chick is one in a million!”

“Chick? Are you calling some lovely young woman a chick? What’s wrong with you? You need to learn some manners young man. Women are not chicks!”

Both turned when a girl in a bird suit opened the door.

###

New Ring by Diana Nagai

Conflicted, her thumb bent inward, seeking out the newly placed jewelry. She was a feminist, damn it. When looking at other women’s rings, she always saw society’s symbol of ownership, a male’s claim to his property. Yet, she wanted the ring. The band gave her a sense of calm and, admittedly, a feeling of pride.

The flashing camera brought her back to the moment. Worried that she had sold out to the very institution she ridiculed, she looked up, locking eyes with her partner. Warmth enveloped her and, in that instant, she knew what all newlyweds knew; love transcends.

###

The Ring by Pensitivity

Embedded in the root of the hydrangea bush was a ring.
The flower which flourished every year from that part of the root was bigger, brighter and more glorious than any of its counterparts.

‘It’s your grandmother’s engagement ring,’ he said with a tear in his eye.

‘She lost it years ago and although we searched, we never found it. She told me it would eventually turn up. Come to think of it, that bush never flowered so much before she died.

Her last words to me were that she’d always be with me. Bless her, she never lied.’

###

Only the Ring Remained (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Don’t you tire of sifting dirt?” Michael leaned back on the porch chair, drinking a Rocket Dog.

Danni knew Ike had stocked his workshop fridge with his Ranger buddy’s favorite beer. A token of appreciation. Or a bribe. “I thought we buried the hatchet, Michael.”

“Just curious. Seems boring.”

“It’s amazing how much evidence past garbage holds.”

“It doesn’t bother you?”

“Garbage? No. The most disturbing find was considered a site contamination.”

“Contaminated garbage?”

“It was run-off from the 1956 Grand Canyon plane crash. A wedding band among Anasazi pottery. Identified as the pilot’s whose body was never recovered.”

###

Consider the Odds by Elliott Lyngreen

This concrete pier doglegs like a long driveway into the lake.

The horizon rises behind as I fish into the calm side; the inlet back into the marina and boat launches.

This morning, he snuck away from the wife. As I tie a lead weight to my T-dropper rig he sets up his folding chair near the steel edges crashing waters whale.

But, I am too excited to ask how he managed to get away. So I offer, “more weights in my box if needed.” He responds, “nah, just going to use my wedding bands.”

Perch season begins perfectly.

###

Ring For Mother by Geoff Le Pard

Mary stared at the box, momentarily lost.

‘Mum? Can you find it?’ Penny peered over her mother’s shoulder. ‘There they are.’

Mary fished out the string. ‘Yes. Your Grandma’s pearls; she gave them to me when I was 21. I…’ She sobbed.

‘Mum? What’s wrong?’

‘Nothing.’ She looked at Penny. ‘Your grandma wanted you to have her wedding and engagement rings, after she died, only..?”

‘What happened?’

‘They disappeared. Somewhere been her collapsing and her… dying. I didn’t notice until it was too late to follow it up.’

‘Don’t worry, mum.’

If only it was that easy, Mary thought.

###

Finders Keepers by Jules Paige

I found the gold ring with a chipped amber type square
stone with four diamond-like gems, while walking the
dogs one day. The band had a kink in it. But the sun
made it sparkle in the gutter where it lay, lost or
tossed.

Now it was mine. And I wore it when ‘he’ came to visit –
‘He’ didn’t have to know that my new Beau hadn’t given
it to me. It made breaking up with ‘him’ so much easier.

I got the band fixed. Though I hardly ever wear that
ring. Now wear my white gold wedding band.

###

Eternity Ring by Anne Goodwin

I emptied the contents onto the table-top. Plastic decked like playing cards, coins rolled on their edges, a foil-wrapped migraine tablet squat among the notes. He held my fingertips so gently, I almost anticipated congratulations. “Take it off!”

I babbled about its sentimental value, worthless to him. He grabbed me roughly by the wrist. “Fucking take it off! I won’t ask again.”

I tugged at the gold band. Bonded with my body, it wouldn’t budge.

Spreading my hand across the table-top, he brought down the knife.

I stared at the stump. I’d lost my finger, but kept my promise.

###

The Rescue by Kate Spencer

The hawk screeched and dived toward its prey. Jen held her breath and screamed when one of the talons clipped the pigeon’s wing, leaving it powerless, plummeting to the ground.

She ran across the field toward the fallen dove, flailing her arms and shrieking at the hawk.

Jen kneeled down beside the motionless bird. “You’re a beauty,” she cooed and delicately slid her fingers under its shaking belly. Her beaded ring brushed against a tiny metal leg band.

In that moment, Jen felt it in her heart. This feathered friend was special. It was a survivor. So was she.

###

Child Bride by Kerry E.B. Black

It blurred in her vision, yellow gold devouring a too-thin finger. It weighted Shakti’s hand, tethered her to a place, a family, and an older man who didn’t regard her as more than property. She shook her hand, but the wedding ring clung like an infant to its mother’s breast.

Wild-eyed, she searched the room hung with wedding silks, praying for an escape that didn’t come.

Instead, her groom came to consummate the marriage. He lumbered atop her until she cried out in pain.

After, she scrubbed the sheets, marring the gold band denoting her new status as wife.

###

Junk by Allison Maruska

“Daddy!” Reese tugs at my sleeve. “Toy!” She points to the dispenser full of opaque plastic eggs.

“Honey…” I crouch. “You can’t see what’s in those. You might get junk.”

“Please?” She bats her brown eyes.

I laugh. What the hell. Standing, I dig a coin from my pocket. She snatches it.

After three cranks, an egg plops out. She pops it open, removing a plastic ring with a square rhinestone. “Like Mommy’s!”

Her words choke me. It does look like my late wife’s ring. “You’re right. It is.”

“It’s not junk.” She skips ahead.

No, it sure isn’t.

###

The Onyx Ring by Susan Zutautas

Grandma would sit and tell Molly stories about her life in the old country. Scotland sounded amazing to Molly but what she most wanted to know about was the ring grandma wore.

Well dear this ring wasn’t always a ring. Your grandpa gave me this as a necklace that I wore for years. One day I decided I wanted to make it into a ring and took it to a jeweler.

It was a black onyx stone with a diamond in the middle and Molly just loved it.

Years later when grandma passed away, Molly was given the ring.

###

A Father’s Blessing by Roger Shipp

“Pap-pa, Esmeralda. She’s the one I’ve been telling you about.”

Freddie lost his father. Lost? No… He just left.

And Freddie appeared. Assisting with weeding the mowing… shooting hoops in the driveway… caring for the Dane when I’m away.

The two are aglow.

For a bride, so many traditions. Something old… new… borrowed… blue.

Nothing for the groom. Marriage license. Money. Rehearsal dinner. More money. Honeymoon. Even more money.

If a groom has no roots of his own… it’s hard to grow.

I wonder… my fingers encircle the ring I’ve worn faithfully since Sara’s passing.

“Freddie… if you’d like it.”

###

The Wife’s Ring by Michael

It was the start of our adventure and it meant packing up house and moving to a new town.

Everything was going well. We had a place to move to, we both had jobs and our new place was way out in the bush.

It came undone when my wife lost her engagement ring. It had vanished in the clean-up. Did it go in the rubbish? Was it thrown in the incinerator?

We searched high and low, blamed each other, but it was never found. I liked that ring, it was special and unique. It would never be replaced.

###

The Ring by D.Avery

He acted like he had found gold, though it was just an old skidder wheel-rim.

“Whatever for?” she asked.

“For you”, he said. “I got you a ring.”

He set it in the clearing behind the house. He gathered wood. He brought seats.

And they along with friends and family often ended up there, speaking easily around a crackling fire, into the night, gazing into the flames in communion, staring in their own silent reveries.

In the daytime, empty and cold, it looked like what it was, an old rusty rim. But it was gold. She loved this ring.

###

Commitment by Reena Saxena

Stella looked beautiful in the red dress, as she glanced at the mirror, one last time before leaving. Her father’s eyes fell on her be-jewelled hand.

“Don’t you think you need more space, if David proposes?”

“No, Dad! These are gifted by people with different talents, and are all important to me. David needs to create a unique slot for himself, if he proposes today.”

Her father’s thoughts moved back to his deceased wife, whose ring could not be removed by the coroner. Either it was rigor mortis, or her undying love for him.

The world had clearly changed.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Maybe if she’d been wearing it things would’ve been different. But my skin was burning off my bones. I pulled for breath. Bugs skittered down my neck.

Jada wasn’t home. The ring sat there. Shining.

They gave me eight hundred bucks for it. Two days later I was broke again. Jada cried. Moved to her mother’s. I sat in a ball, for two days, shivering.

The ring sat on the shelf. Shining. My skin burned. Nausea like shame in my gut. There was nothing to sell. Just the brick in my hand.

I went to get Jada’s ring back.

###

The Solitaire by kittysverses

She looked at her solitaire ring, with amusement. She had always dreamt of it since she was a kid.

The numerous fairy tales she read affirmed the fact that her prince charming would come, galloping on a horse and gift her a solitaire.

Years later, he did come and gifted this on a trip they took together.

Today she looks at her fate in amusement, it indeed gave her a solitaire but took away her prince charming to a place from where he could never come back. And now I’m a solitaire in my own solitude, mourned she.

###

My Silver Ring by Lady Lee Manila

It was a silver ring with heart

Crafted by my own hands

One of my evening courses

Silver jewellery making

It wasn’t easy to make

I just wanted a simple ring

Something dainty for my finger

It was a silver ring with heart

I never had an engagement ring

We were still students then

I thought I’d make one myself

Crafted by my own hands

I love taking courses

Yoga, academic writing and Zumba

One of them is jewellery making

One of my evening courses

Sawing, soldering and annealing

Sanding and polishing

These things I learned

Silver jewellery making

###

Origin Stories

In the beginning, we have stories. Stories to describe who we are and where we came from. Science and mythology decode origins, but to believers it might not matter what scholars have to say. Often who we are culturally is defined by our creation mythology. The symbolism, faith and explanation reaches for a deeper truth that not even science can definitely say.

Exploring the mystery of life on the Navajo Nation, where geology defines the land and tradition its people, the Dine, writers were tasked with exploring creation myths.

The following are based on the April 6, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about a creation myth.

***

A Transfer of Power by Bill Engleson

God-Like-Critter: It’s on your head now, writer. Go for it.

Flash: ME! Why me?

GLC: Because I SEE inside that fomenting cranium of yours. You writers are constantly reinventing the world. Demented, pretentious beings the lot of you. Never satisfied with what is. Always fabricating some fanciful imagining.

Flash: I admit we are stringers of words. But we don’t want to be all-powerful. That’s your job.

GLC: Not any more. You’ve worn me down. Hell, some of you even DENY me.

Flash: Evolution does make sense, doncha think?

GLC: No comment.

Flash: I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

###

Egg-actly: The Beginning by Roger Shipp

“540 billion years ago.”

“You’re quite sure?”

“Of course I’m sure. The computers confirm it.”

“But wasn’t The Big Bang 14 billion years ago?”

“Yes! Isn’t this exciting?”

“But how are you going to explain it?”

“Scientifically, of course. Everyone knows- even in the beginning- you can’t make something out of nothing. The Law of Conservation. We just never knew what was here pre-Big Bang.”

“And now you know?”

“Indubitably. For a bang like that, there had to be a massive built-up of pressure. Probably gases. And then something causes an igniting.”

‘So you’ve found it?”

“The primordial eggshell.”

###

Ranae Immane Mittam by Jules Paige

Kaeru swam in the velvet darkness. Then she leapfrogged
across the sky. Leaving small illuminated globes to hatch.
The eggs bore different reflections, attitudes, altitudes and
aspects of their mother. Some within the various universes
became quasars. Within these systems further divisions
created some spheres that bore other living things.

Kaeru was happy. The velvet darkness brightened. Her
children became too numerous to count. Her work was
compete, now she could return to the beginning and wait.
Watch flora and fauna in vast variety.

To be worshiped was never Kaeru’s goal. Only the creation
of something from her power.

###

The Creation of Secular Music by Anne Goodwin

God could understand why Adam envied the birds. Their vantage point above the earth, the way they’d glide from tree to tree.

“It’s not that,” said Adam. “It’s how they sing your praise.”

So when God created Adam’s wife he gifted her with melody. And all was harmony until she met the Serpent. “Not all music belongs to God,” he hissed. “There are other words. Other tunes.”

Eve shrugged. “God’s music is the best.”

“You cannot know, until you’ve tried some other.”

So Eve sang of birds and bees and apple trees, and God banished her from his garden.

###

How Ellie’s Life Began by Kerry E.B. Black

Doreen’s life bled away on the gurney, seeping into sanitized linens. The doctor nestled a bundle of blankets against the cold. Doreen buried her face within, savoring the warmth, relishing the smell. Too young to die, yet passing with skill, Doreen’s tear-slicked vision blurred. Iron coated her palate, and dust clogged her throat. With trembling fingers, she peeled back a layer of blankets to reveal skin soft as a tulip. Here Doreen found immortality, here, in this tiny person whose eyes squeezed shut against the garish hospital and her mother’s death, this person whose birth brought about her death.

###

The Mandala by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Nora reached two fingers towards the mound of shaving cream on the tiny table. Sliding her fingers across and down, she palmed the foam, squishing it flat and rotating her hand slowly.

Her other hand peeked over the table’s edge and joined in. Before long, her eyes shifted dreamily to a shaft of sunlight on the opposite wall of the noisy preschool, her body rocking with her hand’s movements.

“Shall I make a print for her parents?” Her teacher detected faint, happy humming from the child, and shook her head. “Why interrupt her creative process? It’s her dream time.”

###

Where it Starts by Deborah Lee

“…bring creationism back to the school curriculum,” Jane reads. She rolls her eyes and continues scrolling through headlines, looking for something that’s a step forward instead of back.

Her mind casts back to her little girl, the one she had to leave behind. Tucking her in, sweet dream wishes. “Mommy, I wonder if I’m really real or if someone’s dreaming me.”

Conscious creation. Supreme being. Big Bang. One theory makes as much sense as another, Jane supposes.

Sometimes Jane thinks she must have dreamed her into life, that perfection. Then the nightmare took over. Where’s the myth for that?

###

Reciprocation by D. Avery

Do not forget Turtle who brought the earth up from the watery depths.

Do not forget Tree, whose roots hold and cradle the earth, whose branches hold up Sky. These ones, Turtle, Water, Tree, Sky, are sacred.

Long ago these ones spoke together, and together thought to provide and to sustain; they thought us into existence that we might use their gifts.

Be humble. Our creations are mere imitations, expressing gratitude, expressing wonder. Be mindful. Give thanks to Turtle, to Water, to Sky, to Tree. We are their thoughts that receive their gifts, and they think us most sacred.

###

Eve’s Husband by Luccia Gray

God created Adam, first,
‘Twas Eve’s fault that they were cursed.
Her search for knowledge paid the price
Of ousting them from paradise.
Adam did as he was told,
While Eve, she was very bold.
The husband obedient and good,
The wife complained as ever she could.
Man acted like a demigod,
Made in likeness to his only God.
While his wife was the family builder,
Her husband became the tribal leader,
Pillaging the earth and devastating
What God took six days in creating.
In spite of this some still believe
It’s women’s fault that man doth grieve.

###

Myth by Pensitivity

It was a myth that the grass was always greener.
She was sick of hearing it, fed up with packing up and moving every time things didn’t work out.
As far as she was concerned, grass was grass, green or dead.
Forty years they had been together, never more than two in the same place.
It was a miracle their relationship had survived.
This time though it was the last straw.
As they drove off to their next destination, she knew there would be no grass, green or otherwise.
The idiot didn’t realise they were heading for the desert.

###

Rain Ruinates, and Still Remembering by Elliott Lyngreen

Underneath the screaming sirens uselessly parting traffic; where I lost my fingernails turning your letters into a digital poem; my stomach winces.

Thoughts spiderweb the windshield and drip rose petals scattered along the dash.

Stuck: fenders, fire crashes, belts, and pulleys – through the sidewall. Bent abysmal in the worst extending.

Summer’s crawling from across black sky. Thunder holds itself upon darkness. I slump in frozen, lucid wonder, as rain spins above me.

And rolling (now dizzying) path reflects straight down the rearviewmirror as if remembering the carved or parted way rain on a dust particle started this whole infinity.

###

Pumpkin Seeds by Michael

“See that pumpkin vine down there?” my brother pointed out, “well that’s where we found you.”

In my mind, I was horrified that I had been laying there in the dirt before mum picked me up.

“Dad thought you were another Queensland Blue*. You’re lucky he didn’t slice you up and put you in the pot,” he said as nonchalant as ever.

When I asked mum, she said I was such a little one she had to hand feed me till I was big enough to go it alone.

“Pumpkin seeds,” she’d say, “giving me a wink, amazing things.”

###

Unanswered Questions by Norah Colvin

“What are you doing?”

“Pulling out weeds.”

“Why?”

“So the carrots have more room.”

“Why?”

“So they can grow big and juicy.”

“Why?”

“So they are good to eat for our dinner.”

“Why?”

“To keep us healthy?”

“I want to be healthy.”

“It’s good to be healthy.”

“I don’t want to die.”

“You won’t die. Not for a long time.”

“How do you know?”

Silence. How does anyone know?

“Silas died.”

“Who?”

“Silas.”

“Who is Silas?”

“Was. Silas was my friend.”

“I don’t remember Silas.”

“He was my imaginary friend.”

“Oh. How did he die?”

“I killed him.”

“Why?”

###

Where Fact Meets Fiction (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

With Bubbie at her side, Danni addressed the children. “The Kootenai tribe left evidence of living in this watershed for …”

Hands shot up. “What’s a watershed?” one boy asked.

“Well, that’s the area…”

“Our history is sacred.” Michael spoke from behind the children, walking up the fort path.

“It’s in the dirt, Michael.” Danni was nervous enough without Michael interfering.

“Nupika created animals and spirits. Man Spirit followed the river to be transformed.”

Danni noticed the children were more transfixed by Michael’s tale of transformation than her facts. She began to think of a way to blend them.

###

The One and Only Truth by Geoff Le Pard

‘Mum, do people really believe the Genesis story? Mrs Ryder says they’re Creationists but that’s stupid.’

‘Why?’

Penny looked surprised. ‘You’re an Atheist. You don’t believe…’

‘But that doesn’t make me right.’ Mary smiled. ‘No, I don’t believe in God and Adam and 7 days of creation. But unlike homework I can’t prove or disprove it.’

‘Homework?’

‘You can rely on there always being homework. It’s existence is never in doubt. What’s yours?’

‘Write a creation story.’

‘Ok so if it’s not Genesis, what is it?’

‘Big Bang.’

‘And what’s that?’

‘I… dunno.’

‘Exactly, love. Different folks, different strokes.’

###

In the Beginning by Jane Dougherty

Once upon a time there was nothing, and the nothing began to pulsate, and in time to the pulsating, time began to tick. In time, boredom set in and the nothingness changed rhythm and it began to swing. As it swung back and forth, sparks of interest flickered in the nothingness and they swung too. More and more sparks joined in the dance, swinging and swirling clouds and veils of coloured gas, until the ticking became a riot of noise and gaiety mounting to a monumental crescendo and BOOM, out of anarchy, settled the ordered brilliance of the universe.

###

The Conversation by Reena Saxena

“I have invented a synthetic molecule”.

“Have you replicated nature, or invented something that did not exist before?”

“I draw inspiration from existing patterns, and then, improvise on them.”

“Great! But has Nature run out of stock to cater to the needs of the planet?”

“The population has ballooned by quantum leaps. Competition between human beings, plants and animals has increased. My genius can help me in building a comfort capsule for myself.”

“Is that creativity, or an unwise survival strategy?”

“I do not really know. “

“This God fellow has never educated anyone, just created platforms to learn.”

###

Letter to the Weather Network by Kate Spencer

Dear Mr. Weatherman,

I’m writing you ‘cause I really really want spring to get here. Do you know where it is? Mommy said you might know. I’ve been waiting for it forever sooo long. I ask Mother Nature every day. I ask nicely. Do you know why she is not answering me? I want to go outside and play with Daphnie. Only I can see her. She lives in the daffodils but it’s too cold and she won’t come out. Does Mother Nature have elves like Santa? I’m trying to be extra good. Does that help?

Respectfully yours,

Tammy

###

Dwarfed by Pete Fanning

Zach stared at the sky. Mr. Meyers said they saw stars how they were not how they are. Light years. It hurt his head just thinking about it.

Next door came a big bang. The neighbors fighting again. Zach stared in awe at the clusters. The Milky Way was 100,000 light years across. To be this tiny! With such monumental problems. Could Mr. Meyers be right? That there may be more…another Earth.

There wasn’t another Nana. She didn’t tolerate such thoughts. He’d asked her about it and she’d thunked him good.

It hurt his head just thinking about it.

###

Stargazing by Enkin Anthem

She looks at the stars and wonders.

She knows they’re planets or suns or galaxies, points of radiation and light in the endlessness of the universe. Boundless, inconceivable power, and still only specks of matter in infinity.

She knows everything there is to know about electromagnetism and dark matter, about string cosmology and astroparticle physics. She also knows all the questions that aren’t answered yet, and she’s scared and excited all at once.

But somewhere out there, someone looks at the sky and see the same stars that she sees. And that’s the real miracle – something she can believe.

###

Myth by FloridaBorne

“Hey, Bill,” the burly man said, removing his minor’s hat. “Remember that story about a star falling from the sky, taking 3 men and 8 women back in time…?”

“This is a geology field trip, Joe,” the irate professor replied. “You’re here as our guide, not a mythologist.”

“Tell that to the space ship.”

“What?” Bill yelped.

“You’d know, if you’d read the ancient texts!”

Bill ran through a cave entrance, followed a faint glow, and found 9 mesmerized students staring into a cavern that hadn’t been there a year ago.

Light surrounded them, Joe gulped. “3 men…8 women…”

###

Hello, Goodbye

There seems to be a life cycle to when we say hello to when we say goodbye. Before you can bid farewell, you must greet. How much happens in between? Those were the stories writers sought this week.

From clever to poignant, life is full of hellos and goodbyes. These are such stories

The following are based on the March 30, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a hello or a goodbye.

***

Adios Mom! by Ruchira Khanna

A stretcher heads towards the door.

My eyes are on the body that lies on it.

As it passes by me, I see a familiar face and memories flash before me.

A warm lap, a protective sheath, a gentle smile, a look of disapproval when being naughty, and a whisper of my name in her most fond of voice.

Today she lay there on the stretcher with a content smile and a body that breathed for 66 years.

I gently stroke her forehead.

Adios Mom!

I shall keep you alive as I walk the path with your principles in life.

###

After by Diana Nagai

“Two tickets,” I requested, reaching for my wallet. A hand gently took my arm, I looked up into the eyes of my good friend, his face solemn. Grief slumped my shoulders as I remembered. “Sorry, one ticket.”

It had been four months since my wife passed. I found it difficult being alone. Something I had been a part of, for more than three quarters of my life, was gone. I only needed one ticket wherever I went now.

Swallowing the lump in my throat, I paid.

It seems I was constantly saying goodbye to “before” and hello to “after”.

###

Ameliorating Media by Geoff Le Pard

‘What’s up mum?’

Mary forced a smile. ‘My old school friend Jean is going abroad. I’ll miss her.’

‘You’re friends on Facebook aren’t you?’

‘Oh yes. I’m old school.’

‘Ha! So you’ll see her posts.’

‘It’s not the same.’

‘You Skype when dad’s away?’

‘It doesn’t always work so well…’

‘DM? Hangouts? Whatsapp?’

‘Are they nightclubs?’

‘Ha ha. You’re really funny today.’

Mary looked back at the email that had caused her gloom. ‘That’s me. A bundle of lols.’

Penny sat next to Mary. ‘Seriously, there are tonnes of ways to keep in touch.’

‘But do they serve coffee?’

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

The saying goes that as one door closes, another opens. In my case, it’s a single door that hits me in the butt on the way out and any alternatives of windows are shuttered.
I find ‘Goodbye’ so final, and in many cases through my life, painful. Cheerio is much more acceptable, friendly and optimistic because it suggests the possibility of meeting again.
However, sometimes Goodbye is the only word than can possibly apply for things that cannot be undone or replaced.
I wrote a post on saying goodbye early in my blogging days. I still haven’t done it.

###

Never Goodbye (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

“Impound, $45. Kenneling, $20. No license, $125. No rabies tag, $54. Vet and vaccinations, $50. License, $100 for an unaltered dog. That’s only $35 with proof of surgery,” the animal control worker adds, smiling. As if she’s doing Jane a favor.

“I got him as a stray,” Jane says.

“Then $100. Total $394.”

Jane looks back down the corridor of pens. Troubles looks back through the mesh, that tongue-lolling smile, waiting calmly. Utterly sure of her.

“That’s most of my paycheck.”

“It’s still $394.”

Thirty minutes later, she’s hugging him, face wet with tears and dog kisses. “Hello, boy.”

###

Hello, Goodbye by Scarelett Sauvage

“Hello.” The woman knelt down in front of Amelia and brushed her hand gently over the four-year-old’s long blonde hair.

Amelia looked up into the woman’s bright blue eyes and flashed her best smile. The young girl was old enough to understand that first impressions mattered in a place like this. She wasn’t the prettiest, the smartest or even the youngest child in the building, and if she wanted to find a new family, she had to catch their eye.

For one brief moment, she almost had the blue-eyed woman’s attention. Almost.

“Goodbye.” Amelia whispered to no-one but herself.

###

Round and Round by Norah Colvin

He felt tall, grown up, sitting in the saddle, holding the reins, feet in the stirrups.

Mum was watching.

“Hold tight,” she whispered. “Love you.”

He smiled. Then they were off. He turned, letting go quickly to wave one hand.

“Goodbye,” he called. His lip quivered. How soon before he’d see her again? He turned, but she’d disappeared.

Suddenly she was in front of him.

“Hello,” she called.

“Hello,” he smiled.

Again, she was gone. “Goodbye,” he heard; then “Hello again!” He giggled.

“Going around in circles,” she thought. “Life’s like a carousel. You’ve got to enjoy the ride.”

###

Half Caste by Luccia Gray

She was doing her homework.
They were playing around.
‘She’s not like us,’ they whispered.
‘She’s different,’ he complained.
‘Odd clothes, funny accent,’ she smirked.
‘Let’s say hi to the new girl.’
‘You’re not English,’ they said.
‘I was born here,’ she protested.
‘You’re only half English,’ they replied.
‘Right or left?’ she challenged.
‘You’re colouring’s wrong,’ they complained.
‘My tanned colouring’s fine,’ she replied.
‘You’re half caste,’ they said.
‘Look at me, I’m quite whole,’ she insisted.
‘You’re half caste,’ they chanted.
‘At least I’m not half stupid,’ she sighed,
Said goodbye and turned back to her books.

###

First Day at a New School by Kerry E.B. Black

When they collided, their books flew to litter the hallway. “Great!” she shouted, bending to retrieve her armful of texts.

He handed her a paper-wrapped volume, smiling shyly. “Sorry. First day rushing.”

She snatched it. “Thanks to you, I’ll be late.”

He nursed his reddening cheek as she flounced ahead. Her skirt and ponytail swayed, an admonishment of his clumsiness.

“Please don’t go into my room,” he thought. But she did, haughty attitude in a seat at the room’s front.

“Great way to start.” He indulged in a deep breath before taking his place. “Hello, class. I’m your teacher.”

###

Hello… Good-Bye by Roger Shipp

“Good morning.”

Standing at my door, I greet every one of them.

Most years, by now, they greet me back.

Not this year.

“I glad to see you today. I missed you yesterday.”

Agnes had been absent… again.

Her parents- between homes.

I wish I could do more.

Was that a small smile?

Here comes Aaron, the perpetual fist-bumper.

He always pulls his fist away before contact.

Small moments of coolness are important.

I grin… Then I step forward and bump fists before he can retreat.

He grins and sprints down the stairs.

“You cheated!” he yells in flight.

###

Hello is the Hardest Word by Joe Owens

Mitch felt his throat tighten, belly flop and the beads of sweat from on his forehead. The raven haired brown eyes beauty stepped into the coffee shop at her regular time 7:33. He knew it was a bit like a stalker to already have her coffee ready, but she always ordered the same kind.

She looked at the name on the cup and flashed the million-dollar smile.

“You are the only one to get my name right!”

“Krystyn is unusual!” he said.

“I think it is time we meet, what is your name?”

“Kevin. It is Kevin.”

“Hello Kevin!”

“Hello!”

###

Keys, by D. Avery

“Hello again.”

The artist had stopped his work when Marlie approached. He was shirtless, little droplets of blood magnifying the added details of his phoenix, the blood tipped shard of stone in his hand.

“What are you doing?”

“I think you know. What are you doing down here again?”

“The lieutenant feels the animals are too dangerous, so he let me guard the artists and writers instead.”

The artist smiled. “But we are a danger to society. Aren’t you afraid? Of me?”

“You’re to be in the arena tonight.”

“I know.”

Marlie unlocked the cell.

“Good-bye.”

“Come with me.”

###

A Midsummer’s Dear John by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Dearest Oberon,

Although I swore to renew our vows this Midsummer’s Night, I cannot in good conscience re-marry you. Your cruel joke on Nick Bottom backfired, and I’m still pissed that you snatched my changeling to make him one of your warriors.

Bottom may not be much to look upon, and burns the bulb yet dimly, but his voice is sweet and his nature pure. Amply endowed with primitive gifts, his unschooled rendering of the tragic Pyramus has captured my fairy heart. I take him as my consort, and leave you to your boy.

Thank Puck for me,
Titania

###

You Snooze…You…by Bill Engleson

The moment squeaks by me like a baby mouse skirting the baseboards.

My emotional cat is asleep on the veranda.

You, you are packed and loaded for unbearable loss.

Me. I am the loss leader.

“Bye.” I look up.

You are shaking your head just a noddle.

A nod.

A noddle. I can’t even think coherently.

I’m not saying a word.

I’m not feeling a thing.

“This is all I’m taking.”

This seems wrong.

“For now,” you add.

Dead on, I think. You were never one to pass on what was yours.

And me, I never quite measured up.

###

Mesmerizing Melody by Jules Paige

The music box sat on the shelf for years until he walked in.
The replica played Josette’s Theme. I had pretended that any man
who walked in and looked at it was a vampire. Mostly thought it was
just my imagination. That is until he walked in.

I had watched a good many of the Dark Shadow episodes growing
up. But I was really too young to understand much of what was going
on. All the hello’s and goodbyes as scenes flashed back and through
the years at Collinsport. Now this young man who looked eerily like
Jonathan Frid…

###

Telephone Call by Bill Bennett

“Hello?”

“It’s me.”

“Yeah, what do you want?”

“I want the money.”

“Tuff shit.”

“If the money isn’t in my account by the time volleyball practice is over, mom –“

“Mom what?”

“Mom gets the poison.”

“You would kill your mother over a hundred dollar purse?”

“No. It’ll only make her sick. Throw up and stuff.”

“You’re a real bitch, you know?”

“Yeah, I know, but she’ll forgive me like always, right?”

“I can’t believe the monster you’ve become.”

“Well, you raised me to be like you. Oh, and pick me up some cigs on your way home.”

“Goodbye.”

###

Farewell by Lady Lee Manila

on the horizon I see the sunset
a classic golden flame along the shore
where harmony and tranquillity rest
blinded by the beauty of the landscape
walking along with my bare feet
consoling myself for letting you go
the tumult of your name and memories
exhausting me in my mind and sleep
tired with the steady beating of my heart
what was done was done and so we accept
echoes of the past and half of my life
of broken trust and misunderstanding
of betrayal and inconsideration
with a heavy heart, farewell and goodbye
that’s all we could say

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Judith looked up at the figure in the window.

“Hello, can I help you?”

“I need Doctor Sherman.”

“He’s…sir, do you have an appointment?”

The man sighed. His dark eyes cast tired contempt. He shook his head, as though Judith were incapable of understanding. Or maybe she hadn’t heard him correctly.

“Sir. We have—”

The man touched the glass, reminding Judith that it was only a delicate partition defining their roles. “He told me Linda would be fine. He said not to worry.”

“Sir, I’m sorry. But Dr. Sherman—”

“I never even got to say goodbye.”

###

A Good “Bye” by FloridaBorne

“Never trust your Aunt June,” Mom used to say. “She took what Mother willed to me and never could say a good thing about our family.”

Shortly after my 19th birthday, I travelled through 2 states to meet my estranged aunt. She jabbered on about her son’s successful career as a fast food manager, then asked, “What do you plan to be?”

“Aunt June. Did you steal…”

“Another genius,” she scoffed, rolling her eyes.

“…with a full scholarship in physics.”

“Ph…physics?”

“Mom was correct,” I said, frowning deeply. “You’re self-righteous and not very bright.”

Some goodbyes are so satisfying.

###

Closure by Reena Saxena

I do not remember the first Hello, or if there was any excitement behind it. Nor did I say Goodbye. The wounds inflicted by you were too deep, to enable a civil conversation. I just walked away, with my head held high, not wanting any emotional outburst, to bring my hurt out in the open.

I will survive. I will succeed, and without associating with multiple-faced people like you. Yet, the lack of a closure rankles at times. Do you even realize the impact of your actions on my life? You will, when you go through a similar situation.

###

The New Era by Allison Maruska

I hold my hand up to my face, shielding it from the pelting rain. Shouts of protest meet me—I pretend not to hear them. They’ve solely had their voices heard long enough. Now, it’s my turn.

Brushing the moisture from my overcoat, I step into the building. A long table awaits me and thousands of other women who will greet the new era.

The rain’s chill reaches my bones and my hand shakes as I mark my choice. With a lump in my throat, I drop my ballot into the box.

Starting today, we will always be heard.

###

Pedalled by Michael

She had that look on her face that made you stop and think: There’s bad news coming and there’s nothing you can do about it.

And I was right.

“It’s over,” she said, “time for us to move on. It’s been fun but I don’t love you.”

“Oh,” I said somewhat flummoxed by the announcement.

“We’ve run our course, I want other things than what you offer.”

“It’s my lack of a car isn’t it. You never liked riding on the cross bar.”

“No, it’s not that. It’s just you’ve driven me to drink.”

“Pedalled.”

“What could be worse?”

###

Ike’s First Hello (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Them Wranglers, cowgirl?”

She’d been focused on brushing the next layer, irritated someone would enter her grid to comment on her jeans. Without pausing, she said, “Want a broken nose, farm boy?”

“Farm boy? I’m hurt. I’m a fisherman. Can’t you smell me?”

Danni stopped and stood in the square pit. The corners of Ike’s eyes crinkled and he stood with a fly-rod like a staff. His pants were wet like he’d been swimming with the trout. He wheeled around, bent forward and pointed to the leather brand on the butt of his jeans. “You’re right—I got Wranglers, too!”

###

Hello by Irene Waters

“Well hello.” He undressed her with his eyes so there could be no confusing the deliberate emphasis he had placed on his words.

“Hiya.” She stared back at him, her eyes wide and innocent, a friendly smile on her face. “I’m Hecate.”

“I’m Alastor. I think we’re going to get to know each other veeeery well.”

They talked, they walked. He sidled closer and groped. She twisted and escaped. He grabbed and held fast. She muttered under her breath. “Eye of newt, farewell to cads but welcome toads.”

“Well hello toad. Now, I quite like your type of slime.”

###

First Hello (from New in Town) by Susan Zutautas

“No, go right ahead, please have a seat,” Morag said as she gazed into his sea blue eyes, thinking what a gorgeous looking guy.

“Can I buy you a beer?”

“Well I was just about to leave. My cousin was supposed to meet me here but she just cancelled. So sure, thanks, I’ll stay for one more.”

“Good then, nice to meet you, my name’s Ian”, extending his hand out to her.

“I’m Morag” she nods.

“What are the odds of me meeting a Scottish lass, and such a pretty one at that … must be my lucky night.”

 ###

At the School Reunion by Anne Goodwin

We’ve tangled time by merging now with then
Our wrinkles cannot hide the girls we were
Now screened again on weathered visages
So in your face I meet my younger self
In nylon shirt, white socks and hitched up skirt
With curtained hair that veiled our flawless skin
So much we did not could not know of life
And yet we thought ourselves full formed, complete
And so it seems from infancy to death
Each decade pastes another coat on me
The school reunion peels the layers away.
Hello that girl. Goodbye that girl. Hello.

###

Signs of Life by Sherri MatthewsI always believed there was life on Mars and then I saw the mesas and the monkeys for myself. Found arrow heads and footprints too – Dinosaur prints! You know Charli Mills, that bestselling author of Rock Creek everyone’s raving about? Well, I know her! We met through blogging. Yeah, I know, it was big back then. Crazy! She lived on Mars for a while and years later, we met up and she took me there. Ahh…great times. I always knew she would make it big. In fact, she’s coming to London soon. Can’t wait to say hello again.

###

Who Gives Audience?

Gather around the desert campfire for it will be one of the last on Mars. There’s yet a few tales to tell from the sandstone region of southern Utah, but this week, we are focusing on the audience. That’s you. That’s me. That’s every person who gathers to hear the tales.

And more. Who gives audience depends upon where each writer focused this week. It’s always lively around the campfire so let’s find out.

The following are based on the March 23, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about an audience.

***

The Joy of Childhood by Norah Colvin

The cool grass teased her toes and the breeze tugged at her skirt, begging her to dance. She flung wide her arms to embrace the world as she lifted her face to the skies. They smiled approval and she began to sway. Her fingertips tingled with expectation as her gentle hum intensified, summoning the music of the spheres to play for her. And play they did. She twirled and swirled to their rhythm singing her own melody in perfect harmony. Suddenly she was done. She clapped her hands to silence the orchestra and went back to her sandpit friends.

###

Surprise Audience (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni met Peter at the archeological site when a bus pulled up.

“Guess what? We have a school field trip. I told the teachers we’d have Q & A with an archaeologist.”

“You can’t be serious,” said Danni.

“This way, I knew you’d show up. It gives us a chance to tweak your Little Ranger Program. It’s sound, but not kid friendly. Time for you to learn your audience. What age, are you thinking?”

“Is this a cruel test?”

“Kind of. How old?” Peter folded his arms, grinning at the kids.

“Can I look at their teeth?” asked Danni.

 ###

Prime Time Dad by Pete Fanning

I hated sharing my dad. But his sitcom was a smash and Dot said I was lucky. She convinced me to smile for the cameras and hold his hand in public.

The man on television smiled and laughed and offered worthy advice. The one at home was short tempered and stressed. He smelled of brandy, smoked cigars, and sometimes called me Randy—the name of his onscreen son.

Dot always rolled the television out and we’d watch the show. Then one night I started crying. Dot wiped my face and consoled me.

She said Dad was a great actor.

###

For the Watchers (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

“So, the roof will be done next Friday,” Torry confirms. She makes a note to drive by and check on Wednesday. At some point she needs to go through the inside, see what needs to be done. She’ll need a heavy cleaning crew and painters at the least. Then the fun stuff: choosing flooring, draperies, a living room suite. Patio furniture. Wet bar.

It all depends on how you carry it off. She is not in reduced circumstances; she is living in the investment house she intends to flip.

Always leave your audience thinking you meant to do that.

###

The Audience by Allison Maruska

The audience cheers from the other side of the curtain. Closing my eyes, I breathe in the moment. Months and years of hard work and sleepless nights have all led to this.

Cameron smiles. “Are you ready?”

“Absolutely.” I smooth my skirt and take his hand, and together, we take the stage.

The crowd erupts. My heart pounds upon seeing joy on so many faces.

Cameron waves and takes his place on the edge. I stay at the microphone, and after another calming breath, I utter the words I’ll say many times in the coming years.

“My fellow Americans…”

###

That Man by Anne Goodwin

Say I’m out walking the corgis, repatriating the Elgin marbles, having a sly fag out the back. I’m pinning a gong on a Muslim, completing my tax return, composing a Tweet. Say I’m out shopping for gold-plated bath taps or up in the Highlands shooting grouse. Say it in Mexican Spanish, received pronunciation or Cockney rhyming slang. Say it with a smirk or a smile, in buckles and breeches, wearing a crown or bearskin or a yellow toupee. I don’t care what you tell him, or how, but I will not grant an audience to that man.

###

Flash Fiction by Joe Owen

Brent didn’t like this moment. It took him longer to unpack his instrument than most. But he knew he had to do it with care due to his affected limbs. His mother tried more than once to explain cerebral palsy to him and why it made things so much harder for him, but all he knew was that it hurt and made his life much more cumbersome.

Brent slid his hand in the custom loop that would allow him to retain control of the bow and began to play. One by one people gathered to hear his flawless music.

###

Self Belief is a Precious Commodity by Geoff Le Pard

‘You’re really good.’

Mary couldn’t hide her shock. The woman, Sally, was the class star. She had an exceptional eye for imagery – that was what the rather fearsome Brian had said after the first day. ‘Not really. I’m at sea mostly.’

Brian joined them. ‘Stay there then. It’s great.’

Mary wished the encouragement could come with a smile.

Mary looked at her painting. To her it seemed a mess. They were just being nice.

‘Here,’ Brian called the class to Mary’s easel. ‘See how Mary’s addressed the subject.’

Mary stared forward, face burning. She wasn’t ready for an audience.

###

All the World’s a Stage? by Jules Paige

Limping she wondered if she had an audience. So many
expect everyone to be at the peak of health. They just
don’t know and should not judge about anyone except
themselves. Age that relative number that insurance surveys
like to give you when they only ask limiting questions without
room for any explanations.

Was it before, during or after the snowstorm that she pulled
a muscle. Why does it take so long to heel? Why are stairs,
Getting in and out of the car, sitting, standing or even sleeping
so difficult? Thankfully there isn’t an audience for every grimace.

###

Nickilai by Roger Shipp

It started with a suggestive “look”.

It quickly escalated into “yo’r mama’s”.

Now, here behind the textile plant, Nichilai, my best friend, was hell-bent to defend the honor of his family.

Stupidity encircled us… in all shapes, sizes, creeds, and colors.

We were the new-ones. Dad had been recently promoted … a low-level executive position. He had finagled an associate’s position for his nephew, Nichilai’s father.

Family was important.

Defending family… a duty.

More and more were gathering. Bets were being places. Taunts were being tossed. No one here actually cared about the outcome…

Just Nickilai.

And his honor.

###

Audience by D. Avery

Val and Lauren were getting coffee in the kitchen.

“Such sophomoric writing. It was painful.”

“OMG, right? Horrid, trite clichés.”

She knew they were talking about her. She knew she should not have tried this.

Red-faced, she slipped past and rejoined the rest of the group.

Noreen smiled at her. “I truly related to the girl character in your story.”

“Yes”, said Linda. “Your story is raw yet, but powerful. Do you think she will ever get rescued?”

She lifted her head. “Definitely. She might even liberate herself. She’s the type that won’t keep her light under a barrel.”

###

Softness by Sarah Brentyn

Sand shifts under our feet as we run to the sea. It sparkles in the sun.

My chest hurts when I see her smile. It’s been so long.

It’s petty of me but I’m glad I am the one who brought her here, made her happy.

“What are you thinking?” I sit in the slender beach grass.

“Softness,” she looks at the distant mountains lost in mist. “Everything is soothing. Muted and soft. Yet…they’re here.”

Shadows pass over us. Two of the winged beasts. She’s right. We are never alone—we have an audience. And they are always watching.

###

Captive Audience by Scarlett Sauvage

James scanned the crowd – his captive audience – searching for the faintest hint of compassion. He found none. They just sat there, staring at him through the glass – faces like ice carved into sombre death masks. They watched as the guard strapped him into the chair and hooked up the electricity. Some sneered, some smiled, but most just stared blankly, as if he were some other species, not made from the same type of flesh and bone as their family members. He prayed for the phone to ring – a last minute reprieve. It never came. Sometimes, justice got it wrong.

###

Left Hangings by Bill Engleson

“I’ve not seen something like this before.”

“Times have changed. You lock ‘em up…they cost you. You stretch their worthless necks…you’re done with them.”

“You make it sound so…so business like.”

“Retribution is a simple business transaction, I find. In my line of work, and it once was profitable family work, for My grandfather was the Snapper…”

“The Snapper, eh!”

“That’s what they called him. A mortician by trade but a man who appreciated a law that was absolute. His services were in high demand.”

“But public executions are a sideshow.”

“That they are, my friend. That they are.”

###

Audience by Pensitivity

They came from Japan and America, standing in a row over the bridge with their cameras at the ready.

Fascinated by the workings and complexities of controlling the water, they asked questions before snapping and zooming in to their heart’s content.

No matter ‘The Star’ of their little show was running herself ragged with paddles and gates.

At the end of the performance and ready to vacate the lock, she stood tall and asked for a round of applause for being their entertainment.

As she took a bow of thanks, she muttered to herself,

‘I should’ve passed the hat!’

###

The Paper Magicians by Gordon Le Pard

There was certainly an impressive audience for whatever was to happen. No one knew what the two men in the middle of the square were trying to do.

Some people said it was magic, certainly the way the two men were carefully tending a fire under a huge paper bag looked diabolical.

The bag was filling with smoke, and it was moving!, perhaps there was a demon in the bag.

One of the men called to the other, a rope was cut – somebody screamed and fainted as bag rose above the crowd!

The conquest of the air had begun.

In 1783 the Montgolfier brothers launched their first balloon from a square in Paris.

###

The Honcho by Reena Saxena

His plane had crashed into this desert. Habitually, he opened his mouth to swear, and condemn all, with the filthiest words. The corporate honcho was known for his foul mouth and intimidating manner. He stopped at the sight of a tribal group, moving ominously towards him. The brutes were armed with spears and knives.

The honcho was speechless for the first time. The social recluse had never interacted with anyone other than his tongue-tied team. The obliged slaves just bowed in obeisance, as he reviewed their performance and hurled insults. Overpowering this audience would need a totally different strategy.

###

Tough Audience by Michael
 
It was a tough audience. I knew they would be. Some idiot had billed me as a playwright and writer and would probably sing them a song.
 
I was terrified to say the least. My play had been a moderate success on its first outing but how would it stand up to a city audience.
 
The audience looked at me with obvious scepticism not believing an unknown could pen such a potentially successful show.
 
I told them of its origins and then I sang the signature song from the show. I knew I had a winner with the song.
###

Queen’s Final Performance by Kerry E.B. Black

They gathered for her final performance, to cheer the Queen’s last bow.
She stepped upon the stage, humbled head bowed. Her costume recalled a younger, simpler maid. No warble betrayed her presented lines. “You see before you a woman who commends herself to your mercies. I’ve made mistakes. Who among us has not?”

Their voices rolled into an oceanic wave, crushing her words beneath theirs. Her stomach lurched as she took the mark, center stage. Their faces blurred before her tearful vision.

She recalled days when they loved her. She knelt, neck outstretched, before the axe-man and met her fate.

###

Dresden by Jeanne Lombardo

When I’d finished speaking, the air in the hall felt like a single, collective breath being held. Then clapping surged, a hard rain on a tin roof.

Several fellow Germans made their way to the podium.

“Very fitting, Doctor,” one said, his voice breaking. “I’ve not thought about those days in so long.”

“Your story is my own,” said another. “No one has talked about what happened to us after the war.”

Last was the distinguished head of a large hospital. Blinking through tears, he took my hand. “Thank you,” he said. “I’m very grateful.”

My own throat closed.

###

Target Audience by Sherri Matthews

Adored by millions, rave reviews splashed across every newspaper. The audience, mesmerized by her performance fell at her slender feet, her talent a gift to the world.

She stared at the portrait commissioned by her husband almost fifty years before and sighed.

“Was that really you Grandma?”

She nodded silently as she admired her once large, firm breasts, shimmering blonde hair and flawless complexion.

Talent? It was never about the talent…

“Fancy an ice cream?” she said, smiling down at her grandson. She might not have the tits and ass anymore, but she had the only audience that mattered.

###

Without Art

Imagine a world without art. That’s the rabbit hole writers were asked go down this week. What they surfaced with are stories ranging from the bleak to the profound.

Art is a form of communication, something shared between creator and beholder; teller and listener; student and teacher. The stories this week challenge the notion that art can be squelched. A world without art is one where humanity has been snuffed. Brave the rabbit hole as writers did and read on.

The following are based on the March 16, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) go down the rabbit hole to a place where art is not allowed.

***

Words by Enkin Anthem

She sang for her daughter when she didn’t want to sleep. Songs of beauty and strength and freedom, like her mother had done it and her grandmother before that.

The first time they caught her, she came back without her tongue. Now she hummed as she sat at her daughter’s bed. The words were in their heads – in hers, and in the child’s.

The second time they caught her, they cut her vocal cords. They had stolen the music, and she only drummed the rhythm on her knees.

But the words were still there. One day, her daughter would sing.

###

Lifeless by Ann Edall-Robson

She loved music and dabbled in the arts. Creating sketches to hang on the walls, playing the piano, singing as she went about her daily tasks. The day she didn’t come home was a day of hell for all who lived there. Silence and loneliness the engulfed the rooms, terminating the life within. Slowly the artwork faded to nothing. The piano stood lifeless. Practising lessons stopped for fear of ripping the memory open. This desolate place where once love, laughter and music roamed the rooms, now only dust and cobwebs shroud the ivory keys. Life’s art lingers no more.

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

No colour, design, or personal expression lived here.
It was a cheerless run down place, run by run down cheerless people, who basically couldn’t give a damn provided their paycheck went in every week.

The Chairman didn’t care he had crippled the community, taking away a way of life, the soul of humanity for those who had nothing else.

No reason, no notice, no choice.

Spiralling into the pit of despair, they left in droves, to where, no-one knew.

Now, the waters lie empty, and those hardened enough remember the days when the Art of Life was staying alive.

###

Same Old by Michael

It was wake up, get dressed, the same day after day.

The sombre grey of the working man matched the sombre grey of the business man, the check-out girl and the garbage man.

Let’s have no discrimination they had said. Let’s create a society where we are all one and the same. It did away with worrying about what to wear as the state provided everything. All you did was send in your size and back it came at you.

It worked so well. We all felt part of something. Then the something got muddled and we wondered why.

###

A Noble, Necessary Occupation by Roger Shipp

The bell rang.

Each student stepped to designations.

“Begin. Page 17. Future Career Possibilities. ”

Never a “Good Morning” or a “Nice to see you.”

“All life was castrated.” Dad whispered that once… as we lay in bed awaiting the proper sleep.

At night, alone… Oh, the stories. Of giants and beanstalks. Of trolls and elves. Once Dad drew on our sheets. “Daisy,” he said.

No more. Not since little Sarah passed. That night, dad hummed. Music.

It made me cry.

“Alfred. Are you with us?”

“Yes, Sir.” I stood at my desk. Alert.

“Erasers. A noble, necessary occupation.”

###

Colors by Sarah Brentyn

I smear color on tiles, watching different shades swirl together under my fingertips.

“Dammit, girl!” Heels click down the hall. “Why do you insist…” The woman’s eyes are wild, searching the corridor. She kneels in her nylons and clean skirt to look at the mess. “Well,” she tilts her head, “it’s a pretty one you’ve made here. You could have been an artist.” She yanks her sleeve over her hand and wipes away the colors. “No more. You’ll get us both killed. Understand?”

I stare at the women. She is always nice to me but I will find more colors.

###

No Art by Norah Colvin

She’d survived! In just minutes, art class with Miss R. Without Art today, she’d be somewhere else; anywhere. Or nowhere. Breathing deeply, imagining sunshine and calm waters, as Miss R. taught, helped quell the warmth rising from her feet, threatening to explode her heart and head. Somehow she’d avoided Brucie and his bully mates, escaping their lunchtime taunts. Now Art: sanctuary. Suddenly, tears obliterated hope as she read: “No Art today. Classes cancelled.” Where was that white rabbit with a hole down which she could disappear?

Later, during class, Miss R. asked, “Has anyone seen Marnie?” Brucie just smirked.

###

Artists Are Golden by Geoff Le Pard

‘What’s that?’

‘Mary smiled to herself. ‘Oh, a silly dream.’

Paul hugged her shoulders and peered at the brochure. ‘Away artist retreat. You exploring your creative side?’

‘Stop teasing.’ She closed it.

‘No, I’m not. It’s just, I never thought….’

Her face was unreadable. ‘When I was 15 we had to choose our O Levels. Because I was good academically I was told I couldn’t do art. Dad, too, wasn’t keen.’

‘I never knew.’

‘Yes, well it’s a silly dream.’

Paul picked it up. ‘A great man had a dream once. He was right about that too. Come on.’

###

The Tray by Allison Maruska

Riley sneaks down the hall—why isn’t he outside for recreation?

I hurry over to him. “What are you doing?”

He adjusts something in his shirt.

“What is that?”

He stares up at me, pleading.

“Riley.” I hold out my hand.

He removes his cardboard lunch tray, where he’s painted a rainbow.

“How did you do this?” Art is forbidden—he could be expelled.

“I used my food.” He points to the colors. “Mustard, berries, Jell-o.” His lip quivers. “Throw it away. Please, don’t report me.”

“I won’t.” I run my fingers over his masterpiece. “Can I keep it?”

###

Men of Action by Scarlett Sauvage

Joseph Smithson watched dragonflies skim across the lake, hovering above the water, looking for smaller insects to eat. Black fish drifted beneath the surface, avoiding his father’s fishing line.

He took out his school notebook and drew the outline of a dragonfly, sketching the intricate design of its body. He started to trace its delicate wings and felt a sharp pain across the back of his head. He turned to see his father towering over him.

“What are you, some kind of fairy?” His father bellowed.

Art was not the way of Smithson men. They were men of action.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

“Jake. Let’s go.”

Jake stared at his primary clash. Blobs of blue invaded the mounds of yellow, giving birth to a swirly green orb.

Jake’s mother nodded, flushed from her race through traffic. His jacket swished in her hands. “Jake. Come on, we’re late.”

The paint was no longer magical but wet and droopy. Jake hated tee ball. His father always scolded him for sitting in the outfield. Told him to focus. He was focused. On four leaf clovers.

“Jake.”

Jake stood, the colors now ran down the page. Mom, yellow. Dad, blue. Jake, the green smudge they’d created.

###

The Bad Ole Days by Martin Cororan

It was the future and everything was fine – better than fine in fact – damn near perfect. The trains ran on time, war was a memory and grass grew equally green on both sides.

The problem was one of earth-shattering boredom.

Without conflict very little was ever in flux, and without change no one ever needed to react to anything.

If only there was some nightmarish netherworld where ‘stuff’ happened and insidious foes could be resisted.

But such a place could never be. The benevolent overlords who ruled with oppressive politeness wouldn’t allow such a phenomena to flourish…

###

No Access by Bill Engleson

For the final time that week, Delia drove to the ridge overlooking Pipers Lagoon. In the bay below, morning sun shone on the rustic ramshackle cabins of Shack Island.

“So little time to capture this simple beauty,” she whispered as she hauled out her easel and paints. “Before we forget.”

The memo from the Department of Beach and Ocean Access had been pointed.

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, OCEANS AND OCEAN VIEWS WILL BE OUT OF BOUNDS TO ALL BUT AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL. SMALL CRAFT AND FERRY TRAFFIC HAS BEEN SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

“What have they done to the sea?” she wondered.

###

Gone Art (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane sits quietly in the sand, eyes toward the horizon. The trees blur into smudges as the lines of sea and sky draw her eyes. The breeze whispers to her, a voice without words.

Her fingers almost itch to feel the smoothness of the blank page beneath their tips, to hold a charcoal pencil. She has written poetry on her phone before but in these days of want, sketch pads and pencils are a luxury she cannot afford.

As if by magic, a stick is in her hand and her hand is moving, lines in the sand, then more.

###

An Art-like Substance by FloridaBorne

Eyes closed, she slathered her canvas with bright green.

Running through grass, following his terrored breath, she became the predator, leaping toward a man in khaki. Past the point of rational thought, he broke through a trap, the predator leaping in after him.

“This is my premiere piece,” she whispered.

“You’re jabbering again,” her husband said.

She stiffened at his touch. “I didn’t know anyone was here.”

“I’ve been trying to tell you I’m going to Africa tomorrow!”

“I know,” she sighed. “I saw your death.”

“Our marriage is as dead as your paintings.”

“Goodbye love,” she said, relieved.

###

The (Dis)Connect by Reena Saxena

Art is a function of the spirit, and articulation is crafting that spirit, for presentation to the world. At a more abstract level, it is called expression.

Communication is the mundane, everyday version of passing on a message. This format will survive in absence of art. Sensitivity will disappear, so will strong responses. Connectivity will replace connectedness. Relativity will be the ‘If….’ for artificial intelligence tools, to determine the ‘…… then’, for completion of a process. AI will measure both intent and impact, and close the loop, if certain parameters were fulfilled. Humanity will not be an essential factor.

###

Off-beat Punk and the Parapet Eclipse by Elliott Lyngreen

She was leaking them bright eyes; like the end and the shiny little dark was no longer – and the rest would be history. . . as we lost Record Rewind.
Looking up; sign glowing that seamed portion of the parapet; what could remain used and renewed again and again? She wanted to go back more than ever.
Gone forever; textured sounds slipped feint along the old way art goes.
In her usual far-off daydreams. . . . the sun angled, grazed her jawline, fractured, eclipsed, where she finally felt the tear drip.

###

The Art of Creation (or vice versa) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

In the beginning, there was darkness. No movement. No sound nor smell.

No Spark, the spirit that signifies the living and is dissipate with the dead.

Time stopped because there was nothing to segment, nothing to connect that which would be segmented.

And it was fucking dull.

God rolled over in the darkness, and gave a great fart. This poofed the blanket of nothingness. An irritating, organic smell scraped out and sparked an idea, lighting up the darkness with a big bang. This caused greater friction, resulting in discussion, and artistic and scientific work, which created more spark.

Divine!

###

Double Tapped (or Redundant Triggering) by JulesPaige

It was a meat eater. There was a beauty in the raw plant that
digested living things. Some of the students just said ‘Yuck!’
Mr. Cartwright could only hope that one of them would see
beyond the science and venture to write something interesting
on Venus Flytraps. There was art in the way the plant preyed.

Jasmine had been to S.T.E.M. classes from preschool. She
enjoyed learning. Hearing jokes about how her mother had
gone to college to get her ‘MRS’ was all she needed to know –
about what she didn’t want. Jasmine was drawn in…

###

Art by Kerry E.B. Black

Mya blinked back tears.

Her husband Eric clenched his jaw. “I not going to pay for that.”
She held the canvas away from her chest, unwilling to look from a greater vantage. The piece came to life under her scrutiny as it was, filled with riotous joy and an appreciation for intellect and beauty. Subtle hues hid encouragement for future artists, while the highlighted portion danced with real and present victory. As her heart swelled, tears broke through her dam.

She memorized the lines and colors, but since she had no money of her own, she left the art.

###

The Coming Truce (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“You think I shouldn’t be allowed art?” Danni drank the Oregon Pinot, glinting like crushed golden berries in her glass.

Michael stood in her living room, his body tense. Neither wanted to be in the other’s presence, but Ike insisted on a truce while he served in Iraq. “You have no right to Native artifacts.”

“Art, Michael, and it’s mine. Those chinks? My great Uncle Riley made those. His Nez Perce wife beaded them. The peace pipe, a gift.”

“Your art is my history, Danni. I’ll take that wine now. If it’s not toxic.

“The wine or my art?”

###

An Unfavourable Ancestor by Luccia Gray

‘Destroy it, Brigs,’ Rochester said, pointing to the portrait.

‘But it’s your most glorious ancestor, sir, Damer de Rochester, who died at the Battle of Marston Moor.’

Jane gazed admiringly at the portrait and the man she loved, seeing a likeness. ‘You must be very proud of such a brave ancestor.’

‘Brave but foolish, Jane. The Rochesters have been on the blacklist since the Restoration, thanks to him.’

‘It’s a grand work of art. I beg you to reconsider,’ pleaded Rochester’s administrator.

‘I want no trace of him. The new Queen mustn’t know, and I will have my knighthood.’

###

Holey Outlaw Canvas by Joe Owens

“What is this?” Inspector Clouseau said as he turned the piece of contraband over in his hand as he surveyed the scene of the latest Art Hater Serial Killer murder.

“Once it was called a canvas,” Yvette said. “For art.”

“Art! Art has been outlawed for a decade!”

“Legislation cannot stop passion, Inspector.”

“Perhaps not, but a slug can,” he said nodding to the lifeless form.

“So we assume AHSK found out about the victim’s art and came calling?”

“Assume nothing, dear Yvette. Check the desk calendar.”

“It just says Moriarty!”

“Holmes’ nemesis? I though he liked all art!”

###

Fragile Minds by Anne Goodwin

“I’m deeply disappointed.”

My second visit to her office. She was scary enough at my recruitment interview. Now I’ve been “invited” to discuss my expense claim.

“Wasn’t it addressed in your training?”

I could be done for fraud. “I’m sorry I lost the receipt. But you can check the prices at the Tate Modern café.” It wasn’t meant as therapy. An ordinary outing as friends.

“Forget the coffee. Matty returned so agitated they had to sedate her.”

Agitated? She was alive!

But there’s my CV to consider. “Another chance?”

“No more galleries, okay? Art’s too disturbing for fragile minds.”

###

Feedings by D. Avery

There were entertainments, of course, at the arenas. Relentlessly the Trump Youth rooted out books and paintings that still polluted many of the buildings. These fueled their great bonfires after the Feedings. Artists were kept on hand in miserable cells until a show at the arena where the large animals from the forsaken zoos would finally get to satisfy their hunger. The writers were the first to go. Not just the journalists, but all writers, even poets and songwriters.
All eyes were on the pouncing tiger. Only the poet saw the single ashy page fluttering aloft on the wind.

###

Escape by D. Avery

Sprawling from the impact of the tiger, the poet grasped at more loose pages from a half burned book of poetry among the bone littered ash. The tiger nudged and pawed her. The bloodthirsty spectators thundered with taunts for the poet to get up and fight. Knowing that fighting for her own life was futile, the poet would fight for theirs. Even as the half starved tiger ripped into her flesh, delighting the crowd, the poet stirred and clawed at the ashes, releasing ninety-nine ragged edged poems unto uncertain winds that carried them over the walls of the arena.

###

Opening by D. Avery

The artist had witnessed many fires, many Feedings. Peering through the crack between two stones, he watched the poet stride purposely to where just the night before there had been a tremendous blaze of paintings, books, and the remnants of bodies.
Then came the tiger.

He had seen many struggle desperately for their lives, but this poet was much stronger. She conjured hope to rise up from the ashes.
He would go out in a blaze too. He prepared for his exhibition. Finding a small sharp rock, he began an outline of a phoenix on his chest and torso.

###

Detail by D. Avery

“Did you enjoy the Feeding?”

Marlie straightened, startled. “Yessir.”

“Disappointing, the lack of fight in that cowardly poet.”

“Oh, yessir, very. Disappointing.”

“Well, Marlie, you’ve got clean up detail tonight.”

The officers weren’t supposed to call the Youth by name.

“I should patrol outside the arena as well. Wind took some litter from the stands.”

“Very well.”

Taking the bucket and stick, Marlie methodically cleared the bleachers of dropped napkins and cups, hoping the lieutenant hadn’t noticed her anxiousness.

Out around the gate she gathered litter, working her way towards a singed piece of paper lodged against a bush.

###

On the Honeymoon Trail

Honeymoon Trail by Rough Writers & Friends at Carrot Ranch @Charli_MillsSetting out on the Honeymoon Trail, they all had something in common — expectations. The couple who expected to be sealed for eternity to one another; the bride expecting to hear her name; the groom expecting later forgiveness. Honeymoons have been around for ages with the expectant hope of future happiness.

But honeymoons don’t just apply to marriage. It can be any period of high expectations. Writers chased after the possibilities on the trail. Some took it easy. Some did not.

The following stories are from the March 9, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a honeymoon story.

***

A Secret Garden by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She closes her eyes, imagining the garden in springtime.

New-sprouted shoots, sharp contrast to dew-darkened soil, velvet massage of black dirt on bare soles. Her fingers reach deep, homebase for a riot of flowers interspersed with vegetables. The scent of all these possibilities the only polish her roughened nails ever need.

Over the coming months, weeds and drought will exhaust the spring honeymoon. With luck, summer showers, or freakish hailstorm will raise sensual petrichor, reminiscent beginnings. What had wilted will rise again, firm against a thin blue sky.

She opens her eyes, strokes her husband’s hand.

He smiles, bemused.

###

The Honeybees Made it Happen by Mike Vore

Spring and the flowers were just beginning to bloom and the honeybees were busy pollinating, and collecting nectar. Back in the hive through the summer the nectar would ripen into honey. Then came early autumn and the beekeeper harvested some of the honey, not all. He left plenty for the hive to live through the coming winter.

Back in the barn, the beekeeper began fermenting some of the best honey, soon it would be ready to bottle as Mead and be ready to serve at his daughter’s wedding in the spring, and as a perfect gift for the honeymoon.

###

Shivaree by Ann Edall-Robson

Creeeek. The sound of the old double rocker made her smile. A wedding gift he’d made sixty years ago. Silly gift when there was so much else they’d needed. Their grandchildren referred to the day they married as the old days. There’d been no honeymoon, ranch chores didn’t allow time away, but neighbours and friends made sure there was a celebration. Everyone crammed into their tiny cabin. Partying until the sun came up and it was time to milk the cows. A shivaree, in all its noisy splendor. Their whole life together had been their style of honeymoon. Creeeek.

###

Over the Honeyed Moon by Bill Engleson

“It just ain’t the same, Jake.”

“How so, Sapling?”

“Well, before we got hitched, she was all sweet and cuddly.”

“And now?”

“Still cuddly. Sweet, not so much. And she’s got quite a mouth on her these days. I think the honeymoon’s over.”

“It had to end sometime. Is that so bad?”

“Jake, she’s always talking. It’s like she’s always got something on her mind.”

“Hmmm. A woman with ideas. That’s a honeymoon killer.”

“Don’t be a smartass, Jake. I like that she’s smart. It’s just…”

“What?”

“Jake, I think she’s smarter than I am.”

“Women usually are, Sapling.”

###

The First Day by Allison Maruska

Twenty-five sets of eyes look up at me from the carpet, eager to hear the first story I’ll read to them. They sit in perfect criss-cross-applesauce formation, a leftover from their first-grade experience.

Such bright young eyes. Half an hour in, and I can tell this will be a good year.

As I crack open my worn copy of The First Day Jitters and read the opening lines aloud, a girl cries out. “Ow! Stop!”

I check her nametag. “What’s wrong, Cheyenne?”

“Bryce pulled my hair!”

The boy behind her grins mischievously.

I sigh. Is the honeymoon over already?

###

The Honeymoon Period by Geoff Le Pard

Rupert sipped the tea. ‘She’s a nightmare. Total dragon.’

Mary smiled; Rupert always exaggerated the downsides. ‘It’s a bit early to decide that.’

Rupert shrugged. ‘As a new boss, you’d think she’d find out what we can do first. Allow a honeymoon period for settling in.’

‘Well I hope it’s better than my honeymoon. We lost the luggage, Paul broke his toe on the first day and I got an infected mozzie bite.’

‘Sounds grim.’

‘Not really; we got to spend a lot of time in our room.’ She winked.

‘Muuuuum that’s gross.’

Mary laughed. ‘Every cloud, you know.’

###

What Lies Beneath (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

“And after ninety days we offer health insurance, dental and vision, along with Aflac, HSA, and a 401(k) with 3% matching 3%.”

State-of-the-art technology, nice offices overlooking the river, attractive furniture and art on the walls. Coffee right in the building, restaurants nearby. A good, busy workload.

She’d thought she’d landed in heaven. Did it get any better?

Well, she sure couldn’t see how it could have turned out worse, Jane reflected. The job from hell.

At least ending up unemployed and homeless had helped her lose the weight she’d packed on, soothing her anxiety with lattes and muffins.

###

Honeymoon by D. Avery

People often remarked that Sarah and Sam made a handsome couple, both tall, both fit. Sarah would never have settled for a shorter man. At nearly six feet tall, a short man made her feel self-conscious and awkward, too tall. She and Sam looked good in public.
In private, the honeymoon was over. Sam berated her and belittled her. Eventually she became cringing and silent. He had affairs with women of all shapes and sizes. She didn’t speak out.
They were a good looking couple. They would remain married. But Sarah’s hopes had shrunk and she felt very small.

###

Honeymoon Dreams by Norah Colvin

Marnie sat on the bed, legs drawn up, chin pressed into her knees, hands over her ears. “Stop it! Stop it!” she screamed inside. Why was it always like this? Why couldn’t they just get over it? Or leave? She’d leave; if only she had somewhere to go. She quivered as the familiar scenario played out. Hurts and accusations unleashed: “Fault”. “Tricked”. “Honeymoon”. “Bastard”. Marnie knew: she was their bastard problem. He’d storm out. She’d sob into her wine on the couch. Quiet would reign, but briefly. Marnie knew he’d be into her later, and she? She’d do nothing.

###

Honeymoon by Etol Bagam

They met very young and were best friends forever.
Then each went on with their separate lives.

But all the time, they still had each other at the depths of their minds.

One day, they meet again.
They look at each other and see time flying backwards all the way to their childhood together.
“Hey, It’s been so long without seeing you”.
“Yes, I missed so much.”

They hold hands for the first time in ages, and from that time on, they never went apart again.
As if they were in a constant honeymoon.
Their time had finally come!

###

Honeymoon by Pensitivity

The ceremony was an extremely private and personal affair with just nine people including the bride and groom. They held their wedding ‘breakfast’ in a pub function room, complete with homemade wedding cake.
It was the Honeymoon Suite that started their marriage on a riotous note, bunk beds in an inside cabin on the overnight ferry to Holland.
They could not do anything in the nuptials line for laughing at either hitting heads, elbows or backsides, and the novelty of a flush suction loo was just too much for the bride who had never been abroad, or aboard, before.

###

First Night by Kerry E.B. Black

Melinda’s fingers trembled as she applied sheer lipstick and adjusted her frilly negligee. She recalled Pachelbel’s Canon, timing her heartbeats to its smooth rhythm as she had her footfalls six hours earlier. She had forgotten to lower her veil, and her father’s shocked expression when he went to raise it for her give-away kiss made her giggle. Rosemary and carnations scented the air, and almond lotion softened her skin. Removing the hairpins and brushing out the up-do took an hour.

Her groom knocked. Butterflies assailed her as she opened to him.
He said, face stony, “We made a mistake.”

###

Honeymoon by Robert Kirkendall

The young couple checked into the hotel and quickly dashed to their honeymoon suite. Fresh from their wedding and brimming with lust, they ripped at each other’s clothes as they commenced to make love. Their bodies entangled as they writhed around passionately on the heart shaped bed. Their hot, gyrating flesh formed into a single mass as they became connected body and soul.

“Oh, Sandy darling!” the man cried out. “You’re the best. Don’t stop! You do this so good!”

The woman abruptly stopped and looked at her husband crossly. “Dear, why are you screaming out your own name?”

###

Honeymoon by Hugh W. Roberts

Sylvia looked at her new husband. She was so lucky to have found him. When he had told her that he’d do anything for her, she knew he would never go back on his word.

Showing off her long legs on the night of their honeymoon, she could tell that Marty was eager to get started.

“You love my legs, don’t you?”

Marty moved closer and, with little effort, mounted her.

Three minutes later, Marty was dead and Sylvia was already working at cocooning his hairy body. Life as a female spider meant women were always the superior species.

###

Honeymoon by FloridaBorne

Windows etched in a cliff appeared as part of a rock formation to sailboats gliding by. Only royalty lived this close to the surface, waiting for the slow process of terraforming to eliminate Earth’s present population in another 200 years.

“Surrogate 98334,” her new husband said. “We’re allotted 2 hours in the honeymoon suite.”

“We’ll live 1000 feet underground with one child,” she sighed. “I’ll spend 200 years having babies for the rich.”

He pushed her over the table, quickly completing the consummation. Both peered out the window in awe, never to be this close to the sky again.

###

Honeymoon by Michael

Our honeymoon occurred when the Eagles were in full flight. We had the latest CD and played it long and hard as we drove from one honeymoon destination to another.

We liked taking it easy, that notion sat well with us. At each place we stopped we’d get settled as quickly as possible, take out a beer or two and sit out front of where we were staying and watch the world go by.

We met a lot of people, we ate a lot of food, we made love every day, it was a time for cementing our marriage.

###

Mooning for a View by Jules Paige

They say it is good luck for it to rain on your wedding day.
But on the day you travel for your honeymoon too? It
had started with ‘No room at the airport inn’ – to catch
a plane to just across the border (before you needed
a passport to get there) to the resort that wouldn’t run
the ski lift except on weekends, when there wasn’t snow
– so they missed that adventure.

Her grabbing the wrong groom…in the crowd when
they got separated – gave them a laugh. At least
they got to ride the ‘Maid of the Mist’.

###

Honeymoon at Niagara by Joe Owens

From the walkway overlooking Niagra Falls Jessie felt the awesome splendor of this gorgeous wonder. She felt like that with Sam once, but now they were married.

“Promise me!”

“Anything,” Sam said, taking her hand.

“Promise we won’t be boring.”

“Never!”

“I’m serious!”

“Not on your life. Stories will be written about us through eternity.”

“You’re right, this place is amazing!”

Actually I got a complaint a little earlier,” Sam said.

“From who?”

“The star of the show,” Sam said motioning over his shoulder with his thumb at the roaring water. “You’re upstaging it.”

That drew Jessie’s beautiful smile.

###

Without the Wedding by Anne Goodwin

We cancelled the wedding, but I was determined to have my holiday. My bridesmaid, and my mother, tried to dissuade me – or invite them along. But what was the point of feminism if a girl couldn’t honeymoon alone?

Admittedly, I wept into my champagne on the aeroplane, but the woman on the seat beside me made me smile. Turned out she was also travelling solo, and en route to the same resort.

Back home, I moved in with her, considered marriage but her church turned us down. I’m not overly disappointed. Our honeymoon photos are sublime.

###

The Honeymoon by Reena Saxena

This picture from our honeymoon album is just so perfect. We kept looking dreamily at the horizon with its magnificent colors, unmindful of the hard rocks beneath. We believed that love would conquer all difficulties.

Darkness spread its tentacles into our life, soon. Jack suffered from a congenital health problem, and could not work. I had no issues about being the sole breadwinner, but he turned into a nasty and suspicious partner. The moon has its waxing and waning phases, and so does married life.

I live in anticipation of the Full Moon to shine in my life, again.

###

Under a Honey Moon (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Cobb fiddled for the Christmas festivities, his gaze lingering always on Mary. How long had it been since her husband looked at her like under a couple’s honey moon?

After the final reel, Cobb spoke to his father before joining Mary.  James returned with a rocking chair and set it in front of her. Its hickory gleamed dark and gold. James was renowned for his craftsmanship.

“It’s yours,” he said.

“Oh!” Mary sunk into the smooth seat, rocking silently. She smiled up at father and son.

James clapped Cobb’s shoulder. “My son made that for you.”

“Forgive me, Mary?”

###

Honeymoon by Enkin Anthem

50 years. Her grandparents were married for half a fucking century, and now they spent their second honeymoon on a mediterranean cruise. The card was from Nice, oozing sunshine and happiness.

Acrid bile gathered in her throat as she took the next paper from the pile of mail.

A letter from her lawyer. No divorce in her circle had ever been peaceful, and hers wouldn’t be either.

Three years ago, she had believed – and sworn an oath – that it would be forever. But nothing was forever, not for her generation.

If Paul wanted a war, he would get a war.

###

Lunch by Pete Fanning

“So have you talked to Mom?”

Emma’s hair is sheared and jarring. I suppose that’s the point.

“I called, but…”

She nods. I miss her mop of curls, soft on my chin when she’d nuzzle her head on my chest. Now it’s purple.

“Look. I know it’s hard, Dad, but…Mom’s moved on.”

Those curls. That giggle. Checking the closet for Snapper Dragons. She held us together all those years.

“Anyway,” Emma’s eyes flick across the diner. No longer wide and adoring but fierce. Those of a dragon slayer. Even now she looks like Tegan.

“Why don’t you try dating?”

###

Honeymoon Love Letter by Luccia Gray

He refused, yet again. Why wouldn’t they leave him alone? He would never share Charlotte’s love letter.

Dearest husband, the word seems strange, yet marvellous, my husband, at last. You are dearer to me today than you have ever been, yet less than you shall be tomorrow. I shall never forget the wild nights spent in Bangor, or the gleams of sunshine which woke us every morning. I love you, Charlotte.

Arthur folded the letter he had read every day since his wife passed away, fifty years ago, and tucked it back under his shirt, close to his heart.

###