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Fireweed

Known throughout the northern hemisphere as Chamerion angustifolium and Epilobium angustifolium, fireweed gets its common name from the plant’s ability to take over blackened earth after a forest fire. Fireweed is also the common name for other plants found in Australia, Mexico and Hawaii.

With a name like fireweed, writers had lots of wiggle-room to play with the ideas it brought to stories. It’s tenacity to overcome hardship lends it a strong plant or name to use in imagery. Writers even found unexpected uses for fireweed to carry a tale.

The following are based on the February 8, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes fireweed.

***

One Spring Morning by Michael Fishman

“It’s a beautiful day,” he said to her. “Yesterday I . . .”

At 98-years-old, Arthur’s memory was iffy. Recent memories flickered on and off like an old neon, but he was blessed with a gift of nonchalance, and when yesterday’s memory flickered off, he remembered the long ago past instead.

“Do you remember our wedding? 1937. We were so young. Eighteen. Midst of the depression and we didn’t have a penny. Remember the bouquet of flowers I gave you for our first anniversary?”

He smiled as he laid a sprig of fireweed on the headstone.

“Happy anniversary, Sarah.”

###

Lady Fireweed by Kerry E. B. Black

My SpukWu’say cast herself like the seed of the willow herb on an Alaskan breeze, blowing where fate might have her alight. I don’t think she cared if she ever landed. She wanted to experience freedom and, since she’d been nurtured and knew her worth, she felt no fear. She drifted until she found a prairie and a community she admired. There she set down roots. She stretched her abilities like tender greens, practiced healing and aided all. When at last she bloomed, her talents lit her world like translucent fairy dances until all tried to imitate Lady Fireweed.

###

Fireweed by Kay Kingsley

The corners of myself amass cobwebs in spaces I no longer occupy, my younger self gone, consumed by webs of growing doubt and fatigue.

Perhaps letting these corners go I let my self go, cherry-picking parts of me to display while obscuring my true self that once existed.
At ground zero, my fallout has erased me. My shelter and cobwebs exposed and incinerated in the following fire.

The rain has stopped and crouching in the smoldering field of black, I lower my face towards the puddle beside me, exhausted. Imagine my surprise, I died and returned as a Fireweed.

###

Fireweed by FloridaBorne

“Dr. Bernard Fireweed?”  I asked, a bit put-off by a door too many greasy hands had touched.

A man with scruffy white hair replied an amused, “Yes.”

“You’re late!”

“As my mother, Rosebay, used to say I live on Indian time.”

He took out a large key, unlocking a door leading to an empty room. Aghast, I asked, “This is a psychiatrist’s office?”

“I’m a hypnotherapist.  Your mind creates what surrounds you.”

A small corner desk held a nameplate, “Bern Fireweed.” Two chairs faced each other.

“When do we start?”

“The moment I opened the door to your imagination.”

###

Not A Bad Deal by Neel Anil Panicker

By the time Chacko realized it was too late. Esther had taken over his life — lock, stock and barrel.

First, it began with a harmless, “Uncle, it’s just for two months. I need it for my exams. Your place is nearest to my college.”

He did mind the intrusion but eventually gave in. No harm getting some extra income, he surmised.

Before long, she was cooking him his favourite Goan chicken curry, reading him the morning newspapers, even running sundry errands for him.

Over time, she became his fireweed.

When he died a year later, the bungalow was hers.

###

Fireweed by Ritu Bhathal

“It’s hard to believe the carnage that happened here a short while ago.” Olivia looked around at the bombsite where once her home had stood.

Across the whole area, pretty purple flowers grew, giving the destroyed street a hazy filter.

“That rosebay willowherb has just taken over. It’ll take an age to clear it up too, before we can even think of rebuilding…” Janet sighed.

“Fireweed… that’s what they call that, across the Atlantic, where I’m from.” Chuck, the GI who had befriended them at the dance the night previously, said. “It sure loves a bit of burned ground!”

###

From Fire to Fireweed by Susan Sleggs

No fire had ever come close to our valley before. We could see the leaping yellow and red flames over the crest of the hill. We tied wet cloths over our faces to hand out water to firefighters in the dense smoke.

They said we were safe. We weren’t, but we had lots of warning compared to others and left with full cars.

Months later we returned with a builder who agreed to work around the original stone fireplace. Vibrant purple fireweed greeted us. The irony of the plants name made us laugh aloud. There had been enough tears.

###

Foraged from Ashes by Kate Spencer

“Here’s something. Remember the big wildfire that was in the news last year?” asked Jim rustling his newspaper.

“Yup,” said Gladys rolling the pastry dough.

“Well apparently this young couple spent their winter months felling and milling lifeless tree trunks from their barren woodlot.”

“What for? That charred looking grove will be filled with beautiful pink fireweed this summer.” Gladys placed the dough over the pie plate.

“They’re using all that lumber to make keepsakes and furniture for their friends and neighbours who lost more than they did.”

“My they got gumption. I like that!”

“I knew you would.”

###

Burning Love by Raymond Roy

The Blackfoot enemy took from me

My soulmate warrior

I am a Cree.

As a young Cree maiden

I fear no man

Blackfoot, Sioux or Shoshoni clan.

With cougar stealth I drew near

Within enemy earshot

No time for fear.

Through elk skin teepee catching wind of

Agonizing torture

Of my hearts own true love.

Setting forest aflame

The cowards fled

And there he was

Left for dead.

Lifting him up

With my strong Cree back

Weighted footprints

Soil burnt black.

Today the creator

Rewards my deed

For in my footsteps grows sacred fireweed.

###

Cora’s Fireweed by Liz Husebye Hartmann

September’s last rays paled as velvet breezes whispered of long nights to come. Cora nestled deeper into a warm hollow at cliff’s edge, ignoring the salt sway of the fjord below. Gripping her tail between front claws, she nibbled at fiery dreams.

Smallest in the clutch, she’d not found the final element to ensure her next passage. Jonah’d found lavender, Pete pine, and Minna bright marigold. Soon they, with their mother would migrate to the Northland to winter.

But what was her element?

Night sighed a hot pink scent.

Corazon’s triangular head lifted. Bugling once, her wings opened, joyful.

###

Fireweed by Ann Edall-Robson

For miles in every direction, there is nothing but death. Tall sentinels become charred, decrepit reminders of the devastation. Piles of ebony shin tangle across the expanse of bleak nothingness. The seasons change. Slight bits of green push through the blackened earth. Long wispy leaves on fibrous stocks. Tight pink buds open with a flourish. A brilliant contrast to the carnage, life after death. And when it is their turn to become the colours of their end, the Fireweed fluffs up against the odds. Sending offspring in search of a new home to brighten the landscape after a wildfire.

###

Ground Cover by D. Avery

Though she didn’t know him, she climbed the granite boulder underneath the craggy maple and sat with him looking over the hayfield.

A beautiful quilt he said, the red and orange paintbrush, the blue chicory. She loved how he spoke, but bluntly informed him those were weeds that covered poor soil. Then she blushed; the weeds exposed her family’s poverty, her father’s laziness and ineptitude. This field should be green, not the color of scars and bruises.

She noted his backpack and tightly rolled sleeping bag. “Don’t go yet”, she instructed him. “I need to get a few things.”

###

Peripheral by Abby Rowe

The lawn party is in full swing. From the margins, I watch the beautiful people, mingling perfumes, coloured frocks, laughter. I’m bored yet intrigued. Idly wondering if they were born belonging.

Over on the other side a woman meets my eye. Spiky-haired and trousered, nothing flows about her. She grins, wryly.

Beyond the hedge are rippling fields of wheat, prolific and homogenous. But skirting the borders, distinct and wild, rosebay willowherb stands noble in the breeze. Why is the truly lovely called a weed?

I smile back and raise my glass. Start to wend my way around the edge.

###

Counterfeit Coffee by Denise Aileen DeVries

Myra Jean examined the cup placed before her on the slightly chipped saucer. It was the boardinghouse best, Confederate-era china, hand-painted with blossoms resembling fireweed. “I’ve saved this chicory from my last visit home,” Lucinda Ryan explained. As Myra Jean stirred in honey and milk, always plentiful here, the color changed to a murky gray. The first sip was better than expected, especially compared to the usual Postum and acorn concoctions. “My folks always drank this, even before the Great War.” The two women cradled their cups in both hands, warming their fingers.
“I remember coffee,” Myra Jean said.

###

Follow the Fireweed by Pete Fanning

I have dreams about stabbing my personal trainer in the back. Yep, it’s true, just plunging a knife right between one of her many thick, grooved back muscles.

I also have dreams about Twinkies. Pie. Chocolate donuts with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles. But mostly I dream about stabbing my trainer in the back.

A fireweed. That’s what they called her when I signed up. And it should have been enough to make me turn and haul my jiggly self out the door. But for years I’ve wanted this—dreamed about it.

So I run. I follow the fireweed.

###

It’s All There, On A Plate by Geoff Le Pard

‘Hey Morgan, what you got?’

‘Caterpillar.’

‘Geez, that’s huge. Hey, it’s got a trunk.’

‘Yeah, it’s an elephant hawk moth.’

‘Must be really rare.’

‘Yeah, but you know it lives on a really common plant.’

‘Yeah?’

‘Fire weed.’

‘Funny. The Queen likes cornflakes.’

‘Is that so, Logan?’

‘And Jeremy Corbyn’s into quinoa.’

‘You just can’t tell from what they eat.’

‘We’re all the same under the skin.’

‘Troo dat.’

‘They say Trump only eats Mac burgers and fries.’

‘There has to be the exception that proves the rule.’

‘Never did understand that expression.’

‘Any more than I understand Trump.’

###

New Boy by Anne Goodwin

After lunch, I followed the other kids to the wasteground behind the … parking lot (not car park). I could still taste the new words I’d learnt at the table – eggplant; zucchini; rutabaga – as I loaded my arms with logs. My classmates smirked as they glanced my way, but I imagined Mum (Mom) reminding me I wouldn’t be new for ever.

“So what’s this?” said Miss Mills.

“Firewood. Like you asked for.”

She smiled as she stuck a bunch of rosebay willow herb in a jar.

“I asked for fireweed. But don’t worry, you’ll learn English soon.”

###

Australian Fireweed by Michael

It’s everywhere round here, it grows prolifically in the back paddock though at present it’s very dry and the plants and pastures are struggling.

In good times it grows in fields of yellow but it’s a nuisance as the cattle bypass it. The Pastures Protection Board consider it a pest.

Sometimes the farmer comes by, hoe in hand and chips them out. He’ll nod to me across the fence make derogatory remarks about spending his time chipping when there is so much more to do.

But next year the fireweed will reappear, and we’ll nod to each other again.

###

Dot by Bill Engleson

“Dot, you have your assignment.”

“Louis, I know she’s your favourite but, really, she’s not listening.”

“I know, Freddy. But I like to think my tone of love, of respect, somehow has an impact…”

“Sure. You’re one sensitive zoologist. A credit to scientists everywhere. But it’s not Dot’s assignment, it’s ours.”

“Lighten up. You’re not the one eating this stuff.”

“Stuff? Fireweed is not stuff! Its chamerion augustifolium, as you well know.”

“Holy herbivore, Freddy. We’re in the field with two hundred sheep chowing down on acres of vegetation. Research, yes, but tedious.”

“Fine, but please stop cuddling her.”

###

Fireweed by Pensitivity

Mum loved flowers and I’d gather daisies, buttercups and snowdrops from hedgerows and fields for her when I saw them.

She would gush about the banks of roadside daffodils on our outings, though we never stopped to pick them as there were notices up that they were to be enjoyed, not taken.

One particular day I came across a mass of long stemmed flowers. I had no idea what they were but thought Mum would like them, so carefully pulled a couple up by the roots and took them home. They spread like wildfire and took over the garden!

###

Angusto Animi by JulesPaige

They were the new colonists. Escaping from overcrowding,
indecisive politics, and diminished resources. They were
branded the Fireweeds. On a set course to wake into a
distant future, to hopefully send back anything that might
help.

One thing good about the mind is that most thoughts were
unreadable. The crew of the Fireweed had been selected
partly on their ability to communicate through telepathy.

This crew however was smarter than the average bear –
they also knew how to protect their thoughts from
unwanted probing. Which was for the mutinous crew a
good thing. Since they were only for themselves.

###

Fireweed by Jeremy Zagarella

Some boys love girls and others love money, but John loved one pure thing – fire.

At six years old he stole a match from the kitchen drawer and lit it in the backyard.
Matches lead to lighters, and, as a 19-year-old American Indian boy, he had set dozens of wildfires without being detected.

After it started, the fire crews would show up. The news media, smoke, purging – it all gave him such a thrill. It needed a fresh start.

Months after all the commotion, he would return to the site to see his favorite part – fireweed popping like candy.

###

In the Wake of Fire by D. Avery

I’ll never forget seeing acres and acres of burned forest. Some charred trunks still standing, silent memorials amidst a resounding choir of color, the purples and reds of riotous fireweed echoing brightly. The tree trunks intoned their past trauma as the fireweed sang the refrain of resilience. It was beautiful and it was ugly. It was awesome and it was eerie. It was quiet and loud. Back in the truck I stared out the window at this powerfully incongruous scene for miles. Later the memory would appear unbidden, and whisper reminders of the immeasurable capacities of the human spirit.

###

The Fireweed Fairies by Juliet Nubel

It took almost a year for the fireweed to cover the large circle of blackened grass.

On the first of May, for over thirty years, they had lit the huge pile of sticks, watching the flames lick the sky as their guests cheered in time to the blaring music.

But this year there would be no fire, no music, no feasting friends.

This year the fireweed fairies could continue their march.

They could stray outside the circle, across the field, down to the cemetery.

And there they could dance forever more on the gravel path leading to her grave.

###

Sanctuary by Sue Vincent

The glade is smaller than she remembers. Screened from view by the gnarled oak and a bank of fireweed, it had been her sanctuary, a place to which she could run and hide. A place to dream of a future she herself could shape.

A child ‘should be seen but not heard’… but now she is a woman.

The roots of the oak have grown around the marker stone. The manicured nails tear as she digs. It is still here, where she had left it all those years ago… waiting for this day. She will be silent no longer…

###

Castles and Carpeting by Wallie & Friend

The castle was different. The hanging weapons were taken from the walls and replaced with classical paintings. The dungeon was carpeted and clean. But ghosts are like fireweed, and I could see them in the eyes of my companion.

“Let’s go,” I said.

“No—wait.”

He stopped me. He looked into the prison cell, cheerless even in 100 watt lighting, his hand resting on the grate. I wondered what he was remembering but was afraid to ask, to test him. His hand quivered on the iron bars.

“They don’t know,” he said. “They don’t know what it was like.”

###

The Midnight Raid by Anurag Bakhshi

The midnight raid had been swift and brutal, totally catching us unawares. They had sucked us out of our secret hiding places using weapons we had never encountered before.

I watched helplessly as they captured my friends, my family, while I hid and waited for my turn.

I knew that I would not be able to hold out for too long, but I also knew that at least some of us would survive. We were not that easy to keep down, we were like fireweed, we would grow again, stronger than ever before, and then….the Ghostbusters would pay.

###

Fireweed by Rebecca Glaessner

My private aug showed ages beside every face in the room, but maintained each digitally overlaid, customisable appearance.

“Miss-“ the one hundred and forty-three earth-year old who didn’t look a day over twenty.

“Doctor,” I corrected.

Doubt flashed across all faces.

“Project Fireweed will be swift and precise,” I announced to the group, “replacing current programming with our new system. Individuals deserve privacy once more.”

Everyone sat up in outrage.

“A complete overhaul is insane-”

“Do you even know if it’ll work-”

I raised a hand for silence.

“Can anyone see my age?” I asked.

None could.

###

A New Identity by Molly Stevens

He can’t explain why his mother chose his name. She said it was because he had a tuft of blond hair on the top of his head when he was born – like a dandelion. Was she suffering from postpartum depression when she inked the name, ‘Weed’ on his birth certificate?

He didn’t realize his name was odd until he ventured beyond Mother’s apron strings. That’s when the teasing began and taunting became a daily torture.

One day he looked in the mirror, tamed his blond plumage, and said, “You’re fired, Weed.” And he changed his name to Dan.

###

Plantae uel Animalia by Chelsea Ownes

If you were to assign a flower to my childhood personality, you might search among the less-desirable weeds. I wouldn’t have minded; I’d have stuck my prickly, unwanted self even further into your business.

My grandmother, however, was a soft-spoken, kind-thinking sort. I never heard her raise her voice nor speak insult. She was more like the gently-swaying field flowers of springtime, shyly smiling to a beckoning sun.

While people greeted my coming akin to a dandelion outbreak, we all recall my grandmother’s mischievous blue eyes with forget-me-nots.

At least dandelions are my son’s favorite.

###

Fireweed by Pete Fanning

Miles blamed his friends. What on Earth did they have in common? It was chilly outside, and he was sitting on the hood of a Toyota, watching a girl with dreadlocks roll a joint.

“This is good shit,” Ava said with a lick and a flourish. “It’s called fireweed.”

Miles coughed. He got very high. He went on about a Neil deGrass Tyson book.

Ava yawned. She lay back against the windshield, pointed to Jupiter, some five-hundred million miles above their heads. Miles sat next to her, found Mars. Ava giggled.

“See, the sky is better than the book.”

###

Fireweed (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

“Well, at least you got out of it. You corrected your mistake.”

“That marriage wasn’t a mistake,” Jane says.

The counselor raises her eyebrows.” Oppression, abuse…how was it not a mistake to marry a man like that? Not that I’m blaming you. You couldn’t have known.”

“Our daughter,” Jane says. “Only he and I together could have made that wonderful human being. Without him, I wouldn’t have her. She’s the fireweed that redeems it all.”

“Your daughter? Didn’t know you had a daughter. Where is she?”

Jane looks at the floor, silent. That’s a volcano all its own.

###

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

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

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

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

###

Regeneration by Paula Moyer

For two years after Charley left her, Jean’s heart couldn’t grow fireweed. Even when she tried to love – nothing. Only ruined pulp remained.

Then she moved to Minnesota, started graduate school. And met Michael. She loved all of him – East Coast, Italian-American, laughed at her jokes, her Southern accent.

“We’re the only early risers!” he greeted Jean one morning in the dorm’s cafeteria.

Not the best choice. He was gay. Couldn’t even admit it – the seventies.

At first, Jean didn’t need to be loved back. To know love could sprout, flourish, from her burnt, scarred core – was enough.

###

Greener Pastures by Sarah Whiley

She was my fireweed*. Able to grow in any soil, in all aspects. Persistent if not controlled, and rapidly taking over neglected pastures. She competed strongly with those around her, and was extremely toxic.

I could feel her tendrils taking hold. Coiling themselves around my brain; trying to find an ‘in’ to feed her tap root. But I was not the only one and it was time for us to take control.

It turns out a dense cover can help reduce fireweed. So we took a stand together, covering the bare, exposed patches of ourselves, to become greener pastures.

*(Author’s Note: The fireweed I have used for the purpose of this challenge is the Australian variety. It is highly invasive and toxic as outlined here.)

###

Fireweed by Robbie Cheadle

The girl slumped on the floor outside the grocery store. Busy shoppers rushed in and out, barely affording her so much as a sideways glance. She was quite beautiful despite her unkempt hair which was wild and matted. Her eyes rolled wildly in her head showing their whites, like a horse before it bolts.

Her hands shook violently as she reached out to take the coffee and cake I held out to her. The coffee slopped over the sides of the cup as the aftermath of last nights fireweed manifested in her body as it tore her mind apart.

###

Fireweed by Old Jules

“Lord, just let me get through this. I’ll never do that crap again.” I changed positions and savored the hand of my only source of comfort. Suzanne, my patient, devoted wife.

“What was it? What went wrong?” She was a tower of strength. She’d had an enduringly bad trip the only time she smoked jade.

“Fireweed, babe.” I tried to imagine my head chained to the floor. “Paraquat. They sprayed it on the crop in Mexico.”

Forever came and went but she stayed. “Are you coming down at all yet?” Her tension spoke through her fingers over my forehead.

###

Fireweed By ngrant41

Fireweed prefers disturbed ground
after fire and fury tear through the land
scorching the earth’s tired soil on the banks
of polluted waters where roses and willows
have failed to thrive in the chaos where trees
turned to ash blow away in the violent winds
of unsolicited change the heat and dry hunger
starving every life form the only color willing
to risk a comeback the pink and lavender
resistance pushing roots into rubble insistent
that life and beauty will persist creating
the next blooming revolution along the road into
the rose garden and all around the white house.

###

Fireweed by Reena Saxena

The patriarch of the family suffered from Alzheimer’s, and his wife had just passed away. He overheard that certain valuables were missing, when her cupboard was opened, and it generated wild guesses and allegations of robbery.

“Why do you think should they get all the benefits? They have grabbed enough in the mother’s lifetime.”

“I did not think about it so far. But why should I not benefit? We are all entitled to an equal share in the assets.”

Greed was spreading like a fireweed. In his fading memory, they were not the children he had known all along.

###

Euphoric Wish? by JulesPaige

Was it Wabi Sabi, that ancient process of birth and renewal in
the guise of twisting fireweed, to take over the valley? Norma,
just a visitor, stood transfixed. Urged by some profane tug this
spring Wednesday – to see what the updraft of fire had
left. The professional naturalist, did a quick assessment.

The news headlines had shown two boys who had come from
the local school that, was octagonally shaped. They skipped
out of their lunch, smirking with the joy of freedom, that fall
afternoon. Yet their black and white faces showed compunction
for the destruction they had caused.

###

Burning with Hope by Norah Colvin

Miss R. avoided the staffroom’s negativity, popping in, like today, only if necessary. When she glanced over instinctively on hearing her name, regret flooded immediately.

“Annette, we were just talking about you and that weed–from that noxious family–you know, Marnie-“

She bristled, failing to withhold the words that exploded, singeing all with their ferocity.

“Just look at yourselves. If Marnie’s a weed, she’s fireweed. Better than you will ever be. She’ll beat her odds and succeed, despite your belittling words and unhelpful opinions.”

She left the silenced room, believing in her heart that her words were true.

###

Land Reclaimed! By Ruchira Khanna

“Hurry!!” hollered Mother Earth to Wind

The Wind huffed and puffed, and silenced the fire.

Mother Earth rolled her eyes,”I wish mankind could get a little responsible since this is their only home!”

It left a sooty smell, and the soil was charred. The air was grim that even she had to gasp for air.

“It’s ruined!” he said in a dejected tone.

“Not when I am around!” Mother Earth winked, and she was quick to wave a hand over it. Vibrant colored fireweed started colonizing the disturbed site with the hope that it will reestablish vegetation.

###

Sea of Purple by Heather Gonzalez

As a child, I used to lie amongst the fireweeds and stare up at the sky. I would float away in the sea of purple, pretending to be just another flower petal in the wind. Even though time may have changed many things, the fireweeds still remained.

As an adult, I built my home amongst the purple waves. Generations came after me. When I was gone, my children made sure that I had one last ride on the sea of purple as they spread my ashes in the wind outside of my home. I floated away with the breeze.

###

Fireweed by jackschuyler

By midday, we had reached the burnt patch. The earth was soft, and fireweed had already sprung up around charred stumps. I kicked a clump and it dislodged from the loose soil, sending grey eddies spiraling into the air. I stopped.

“What is it, chief?”

Dark clouds spilled over the mountain, crawling down the pass like black salamanders.

I lifted an arm to the ominous skies, “That rainstorm’ll push this ash right off the mountain side. Our wagons won’t make the climb.”

“Should I tell the train to unpack, chief?”

I nodded, “We’ll have to camp here and wait.”

###

The Fireweed by Lisa Listwa

Burned trees and scorched earth tell the story of what happened here.

I can barely recall details of people, names, and places once so intimately familiar, nor the life that was, for a time, lush and green as the woods. A flash – a single moment – and everything changed. This once-thriving forest is now unrecognizable.

Fire consumes all.

I can see smoke rise from the embers of the life I once lived.

And where there is smoke, there will be fireweed thriving in places touched by flame.

I used to be someone else. Now I am the fireweed.

###

Any Other Name by D. Avery

“How long you been here on the ranch Pal?”
“My whole life.”
“Ever leave?”
“Well,
*I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain*.”
“That was kinda weird Pal, and stealing song lyrics too.”
“Yep, but that’s where I went, Kid. It was a lonesome place an’ I was all alone an’ never felt lonely.”
“Gotta point, Pal?”
“Not sure, Kid. ‘Cept ta say there’s flowers in the desert.”

###

On the Edge

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

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

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

***

At the Edge by Irene Waters

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

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

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

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

###

The Edge by Robert Kirkendall

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

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

“Which part?”

“The title.”

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

“Well, it’s a bit clichéd.”

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

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

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

###

The Windy Edge by AJ Prince

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

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

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

###

Empty Nest by Juliet Nubel

I always knew she would finally push him out.

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

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

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

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

He screamed at her in anger.

But she was determined.

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

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

###

The Edge by Michael

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

But I know we drove mum mad.

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

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

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

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

Then one day she hit the edge.

###

The Owner’s Edge by Joe Owens

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

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

“Deadly!” Melissa said through clenched teeth.

“Do you know who I am?”

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

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

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

“You’ll lose.”

###

Canyon of Real by Paula Moyer

Send or don’t send?

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

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

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

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

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

Send?

Click.

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

###

The Edge (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

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

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

Would it be so bad?

###

Edge by Rugby843

I read your words

I fell in love

I heard your voice

I fell deeper

I felt your touch

I fell harder

I couldn’t help myself

I went to the edge

I let myself go

I fell freely

I fell without thought

I fell with conviction

I fell without constraints

You said you’d be waiting

You said dare to fly

You said I’d be safe

You said go to the edge

You said you’d catch me

We made promises

We trusted our feelings

We loved without boundaries

We went to the edge

We fulfilled our dream

We are one.

###

 I Think We’re Alone Now by Michael Fishman

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

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

###

The Edge by Susan Budig

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

###

Overcast by Abby Rowe

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

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

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

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

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

###

The Unkindest Cut by Sue Vincent

“Do it. Now…”

Implacable.

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

The bright edge of the razor would strike.

No way to escape.

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

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

###

Foul Fringes by JulesPaige

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

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

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

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

###

Edge by Kay Kingsley

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

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

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

She loveD me.

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

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

###

Edge by Pensitivity

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

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

Each bend was a friend, beckoning her onward.

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

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

So easy to keep the wheel steady and straight.

She pondered. Is this all she was worth?

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

He was not worth her life.

###

Flash Fiction by Old Jules

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

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

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

“What happened?”

“The edge.”

“No!”

###

The Edge of the Mind by Geoff Le Pard

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

Logan’s eyebrows snapped up. ‘What?’

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

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

‘Sorry.’

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

###

Gotcha! by Anurag Bakhshi

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

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

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

###

The Edge by Jack Schuyler

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

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

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

###

The Edge by Kim Blades

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

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

###

If Only by Susan Sleggs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

The Outside Limit by Shari Marshall

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

###

The Abyss by Sarah

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

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

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

I sighed, and put the bottle down.

###

Edge by Ritu Bhathal

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

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

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

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

###

Unconditional by Reena Saxeena

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

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

###

The Fall by Neel Anil Panicker

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

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

There is a certain serenity in heights, he concurred.

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

The flotsam and getsam of life.

He had had enough of it.

It was time to bid adieu.

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

Also brought him back from the edge.

Tomorrow’s another day.

###

Who Are We by FloridaBorne

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are writers.

###

Beyond the Fringe by Ann Edall-Robson

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

###

The Edge by Norah Colvin

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

###

The Real Illusion by Chelsea Owens

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

She cannot see, so closes her eyes.

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

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

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

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

And jumps.

###

Contemplating Edges by D. Avery

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

Heroic?

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

Whose country tis of thee?

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

###

Beyond the Edge of the World by Anne Goodwin

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

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

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

###

To the Edge by Rebecca Glaessner

“Due end of week,” she said.

I accepted the file transfer.

“Anything else?”

“Check in on the dome too, yeah?”

“Or we’ll all die?”

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

“Mars is colder.”

“Answers for everything.”

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

“Don’t be so sure.”

We ended comms.

I stared at my screen.

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

“Activate,” I said.

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

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

###

The Lesson by Anthony Amore

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

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

###

The Edge by Ben (aka Pipe Tobacco)

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

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

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

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

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

The end is here.

###

Tip of the Tongue… A Different Edge by JulesPaige

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

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

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

###

Night Visions by Bill Engleson

One

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

Two

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

###

Edge by Floating Gold

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

Thunder.

Lightning struck.

###

Barely Hanging On by Heather Gonzalez

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

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

###

Grounding (From Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

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

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

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

###

The Edge by Eric Pone

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

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

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

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

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

“We’ll need a plane.” Ginger quipped

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

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

###

The Edge by Kerry E.B. Black

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

###

Edge by Dan C Julian

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

###

Edge by Deb Whittam

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

Stay or go – there was no easy choice.

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

It sat perfectly balanced on its edge.

###

Breaking Point by Jordan Corely

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

Three more minutes.

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

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

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

Two more minutes.

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

One more minute.

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

Thirty seconds.

“Right? This is it?”

Twenty seconds.

“Please, just tell me if I’m right!”

Ten seconds.

“Shit.”

Times up.

###

Endless Edge by Elliott Lyngreen

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

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

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

###

Edge by Robbie Cheadle

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

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

###

Numb and Humbled by JulesPaige

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

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

###

Horizon by Denise Aileen DeVries

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

###

The Edge by Pheobe Greathouse

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

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

###

Dimensional Kid by D. Avery

“Ain’t seen ya lately, Kid.”

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

“Yer still edgy over it?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Ta me it’s neither here nor there.”

“Exactly! A becoming place.”

###

Walking Boots

Walking Boots by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_Mills“These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do…” croons Nancy Sinatra. She’s right. Boots are made for walking, but also for much more.

Writers followed the trail boots left for them this week and uncovered different stories beyond walking distance. Boots led many directions.

The following are based on the January 18, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes boots.

***

Give Me Dignity by Ann Edall-Robson

I am told they are supposed to be intelligent beings. They like to think they are the dominating species. Little do they know I chose them. That’s what I do. Wait for the unsuspecting to falter just a little before I go in for the so-called kill. Filling them with self-confidence and silly antics until I have them where I want them. They become mine, my people. Now if I could just work my magic a bit more to coerce them into giving me a name with more dignity and class and not so common as Boots!

###

A Boy and His Dog by Susan Sleggs

“Didn’t I tell you to keep that dog out of the creek?”

“I did Mama.”

“Then why are you both soaked?”

“Well, he rolled in the mud.”

“And?”

“I knew you would get mad, so I washed him and he shook all over me. It kinda felt good.”

“Wash him how?”

“I scooped water from the horse trough with my boots.”

“And where are they?”

“I put ’em upside down on the fence posts to dry.”
She stifled a smile. “Do you think that’s the way boots should be treated?”

“No ma’am, but they’s only rubber, not real ones.”

###

Boots by Robbie Cheadle

The tiny little girl felt lost and alone. Her mother was not there, and she had been sent to stay with her Granny who she barely knew. Her sisters were with her, but they went to school all day and she was left alone with Granny. Granny was very kind to her, but it was hard to fill the ache of abandonment in her heart. One memorable day Granny came home with boots for her. They were lovely and soft, her very first pair of “big girl” shoes. She was delighted and “Boot’s” was the first word she uttered.

###

Grandma’s Boots by Norah Colvin

Jess peered out, waiting, hoping, to glimpse Grandma arrive. Rainbow stars exploded outside her window just as the doorbell chimed–missed it again. Disappointment faded as she flung herself into Grandma’s enveloping arms. Grandma’s soft kisses promised secrets through scents of far-off places and unfamiliar things. Grandma’s boots sparkled, announcing story time. Jess and Grandma snuggled into their special chair. Clasping hands, they whispered their story-time chant. The chair shuddered and lifted off the floor. The roof opened and, quick as a wink, Jess and Grandma were whooshing across the sky to somewhere, “Once upon a time and faraway…”

###

Equality by Colleen Chesebro

The sound was faint, but it was definitely there. The rhythmic stomp of combat boots echoed in my memory transporting me back to basic training in July of 1976. I had wanted to prove that I could do anything that a man could. I achieved it, but things still didn’t change for women.

Forty-two years later, our hats are pink, and our boots come in many colors, but our dreams remain the same. Today, the sound of many boots marching gives me hope. We need equal pay for equal work and no sexual discrimination. Some dreams just never die.

###

Daddy’s Boots by Oneta Hayes

Whatever happened to daddy’s boots?

Flannel shirts and Levis, or Western suits.

Justin boots and Stetson hats were the apparel

of my family roots.

 

They were given to my mom

From the hospital that long night.

Love and memories were like a balm

As she tenderly put them out of sight.

 

They were passed along to me,

I had two sons, could one be –

The one who carried his legacy?

 

The legacy came from Granddad Jim

He said for us to look past him.

And know our worth only comes from God.

Look up to Him because people are flawed

###

A good Investment by Ruchira Khanna

“Splash!”

“Toby quit splashing into the puddles” Mom urged as she walked with his tiny hand enclosed in her big palm on a rainy day while holding an umbrella with the other side that covered mostly her toddler inspite of him wearing a rain jacket.

Toby paused for a bit then looked up at her and after a mischievous wink continued to spatter water until they reached their car.

The mom was quick to put her son in his car seat. She removed his boots to check his socks.

“Dry socks!” she sighed in relief then muttered, “Good investment!”

###

Boots by Chelsea Owens

They were nearly there, near the sunlight-glinted theatre doors. An overhead clock pointed to ten-past starting.

She looked back, down the warm-yellow sidewalk. Slowly but always steadily, he came with his slanted plodding. He’d never had an impeding injury; she teased that he walked in unknown imitation of his own, flat-flooted father.

Sinking sunset rays flared an occasional reflection from his eyeglasses as he turned to look behind: at their parked car across the street, to either side: interesting geological landscape, and forward (finally): to his waiting wife.

She held out a hand; smiling, loving. “Let’s go, Boots.”

###

Free Spirit by Jan Malique

My life is a loved, well-thumbed book. Holding colourful chapters containing conversations overheard on busy trains, and eyes met in passing. Stranger, what more can I reveal of my adventures? My bittersweet memories yearn to tell you more.

What does it mean to be a free spirit when the wild places are muted but yearning to be heard? I put on my boots, and command “go forth”. What sights we’ve seen, how we’ve howled at the moon, listened in silence to ancient songs carried by the wind. My bittersweet memories say “hear me”, yearn to tell you more Stranger.

###

Boots by Rebecca Glaessner

I searched his spaceship quarters for his favourite brown pair amongst the futuristic interior.

But I wasn’t supposed to be here, authorities had my signal logged.

My team gained access to locked drawers via external game code changes.

Highly illegal.

I sped up my search.

Proximity alarms sounded as I found the pair beneath some spacesuit underclothes. I scanned their size, colour, scuff marks, everything, and uploaded the data.

“Now,” I said, via comms.

My external team deactivated the program, waking me before authorities gained a visual.

His real world funeral was perfect, replica in-game boots and all.

###

Platforms by Ritu Bhathal

Never criticise a neighbour before walking a mile in his moccasins.

That’s what the proverb said.

Looking at the height of the heels on my neighbour’s boots, and the shiny patent leather, stretching all the way up to mid-thigh, I thought I’d rather not walk a metre, let along a mile.

Who am I to judge, anyway?

If Peter wants to spend his days being an accountant, trussed up in a suit and tie, and the evenings dressed up as Petra the pole-dancing drag queen, that’s his (or should it be her?) choice!
I’ll just stick to my trainers…

###

Pink Suede Boots by Juliet Nubel

Mum’s tanned legs look fabulous in these pink suede boots.

Mine look like tree trunks. Pale, hairy tree trunks.

I wonder where she keeps her stinky hair-remover cream. I’ll need it if I ever want to wear these out.

She’ll never let me anyway. And she’ll never allow me near this silky purple dress, the one that sends shivers straight down to my toes when I touch it.

Oh God, I can hear her calling for me.

Dammit, the zip’s stuck on a hair.

“What the hell are you doing up there? Rugby practise starts in five minutes, Jimmy!”

###

What I Shoulda Said by FloridaBorne

“You look like you’re going out riding,” A woman in church wear with short grey hair chuckled.

“I’ve been on a horse 6 times in my life,” I replied.

“Then why are you wearing that?” she smirked

“It’s 50 degrees in Florida. I’m cold. When you’re cold, you wear boots. If I walked down the street wearing a bustle and long dress, I’d deserve to be laughed at. But if a woman wore that on that same street 120 years ago,” I said, pointing at her dress, “She’d be hauled off to the nearest institution for the feeble minded.”

###

These Boots Are Made For… (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane shrinks back into her corner, trying for invisibility. Office birthdays. She hates them.

She hides behind her slice of cake, eying the other women, each one wearing fashion boots with the onset of autumn. Ankle-high, calf-high, thigh-high, like who thinks those are appropriate unless your job title is Dominatrix? Black, brown, trimmed with fur, leopard pattern, silver work, buckles. All sleek, all stylish. All expensive.

She shoves her own feet back under her chair, hoping no one has noticed the clunky black Wellies she was fortunate enough to find at the thrift store.

Her luxury is dry feet.

###

Wet Boots in Winter by Bill Engleson

“So, you’ve had some experience sorting logs.”

”Yeah, last summer. Before the big forest strike. Up Teakerne Arm way.”

“Summer, eh! Pretty warm water thereabouts?”

“Yeah, good swimming, for sure. Kinda lonely, though.”

“Fall in much on the job?”

“Often enough. But I got better. Not great, but better.”

“And the water was always warm. This job, we’re sorting on the lake. Ice cold. You got cork boots?”

“Yup.”

“Cheap ones?”

“Most I could afford.”

“Look, I need someone for a few days. But you fall in, won’t be a summer dip.”

“I’m game.”

“You start in the morning.”

###

Land Lubber by D. Avery

Benny was getting the hang of it, wasn’t born to the water but that farm boy sure could work. He generally picked up on things quick, paid attention, because a lot can go wrong with ropes and gear and rough water. Didn’t argue much, except over rubber boots, insisted his old barn boots were fine for fishing. Didn’t get the importance of a fishing boot’s loose fitting uppers that made them easy to be kicked off, give a fighting chance to swim.

Everyone else had come in. Identifying the body was a formality; Benny, still wearing his damn boots.

###

Big Boots by Denise Aileen DeVries

Occasionally, Mattie Brown’s father allowed her to go out on the fishing boat with him. Today, she got up when she smelled coffee, dressed quickly in the dark, then went to the mud room and put on her brother’s boots. Now that he was an actor in the Floating Theater, he wouldn’t need them. Mattie clomped into the kitchen. Big Pete was just putting on his hat when he saw her. “Get yourself something to eat,” he said, “and bring it down to the boat.” As he headed out the door, he chuckled. “Some mighty big boots to fill…”

###

Footsteps by Wendy Anne Darling

Here comes Mum in her latest pair of high heels. How I miss the cadence of her steps!

Boxes lay strewn on the floor all around me; sexy boots standing in an ordered row of ‘most desired’ to ‘not on your life.’ On my feet, soft, TARDIS blue leather with a row of sweet, golden buttons and a heel that makes me look 5’7”, instead of my normal 5’3”.

In the mirror, I see, not my own face, but hers, and, remembering the clicking of my mother’s heels, I realize, with sadness, that I must be a grownup now.

###

With It by Sherri Matthews

The last train whistled and I waited. I knew Dad needed Dutch Courage even before I knew what it meant.

At last, there he was, striding towards me waving furiously, his face lit up like a Christmas tree.

“Hello darling,” he called and by the time I fell into the warm creak of his leather jacket and breathed in his spicy after shave, I didn’t care how late he was.

I glanced at his young girlfriend standing nearby, all blonde and eyelashes and knee-high, shiny white boots.

Not sure about her, but I wanted those boots more than anything.

###

Made for Walking by Annette Rochelle Aben

Every year, her father and brother ventured up north to scout for the best spot for deer hunting season. This year, she was going along.

Of course, this would include tramping through possibly muddy areas in the cold Upper Peninsula but that just meant having proper gear. BOOTS! The very word, made her shiver with delight as she owned at least 30 pair. But her mud wallowing boots needed to be replaced.

This was a double dream come true for she’d get to buy new boots and the first place she’d wear them was Escanaba! What a lucky gal.

###

TUFF Love by D. Avery

Besides his boots, what drew Marge to this man were his hands, large even on his large frame; she felt dainty just imagining being held by them.

“Excuse me boys, I spy a man.” Ignoring their raised eyebrows, Marge went straight to the man whose heavy leather work boots were just like hers. When Marge sat down at his table, Earnest Biggs bumbled awkwardly to his feet then mumbled an introduction then sat back down then stood and stumbled as Marge led him by the hand to the dance floor. The guys, watching, had no doubt who would lead.

(For a complete review of D.’s TUFF process from which this story is part of be sure to visit her website.)

###

Trailing by D. Avery

The trail started with boots, the boots preceding pants, and sharp eyes might notice that the smaller pair of work pants on the floor had been mended; those same eyes will follow the trail to its conclusion, a bed somewhat stressed by the additional weight it carried into the morning. This morning Earnest Biggs did not wake up alone, which caused him some anxiety.

Shyly, cautiously, he rolled over towards his bedmate, ripping a fart as he did so. He reddened, but her laughter and admirable retort put him at ease.

“I always return fire”, she said.

“Morning, Marge.”

###

A Terrible Liar by Jack Schuyler

“Whose boots are these?” Mom walked into the kitchen with a puzzled look on her face and two muddy Romeos dangling from one hand. At first, I must have looked as confused as she did, but when I solved the mystery, a knot of dread slipped into my stomach. I swallowed a half chewed mouthful of cheerios.

“They’re mine.” I said, “I use them for gardening.” I’m such a terrible liar.

Tom must have forgotten them in his hurry to sneak out my bedroom window last night.

Mom raised her eyebrows. “And who does this leather jacket belong to?”

###

Boots by Paula Moyer

Frances’s husband Clarence had one pair of boots. Beautiful. Well-worn. They had a story.

She wanted a special gift for their first Christmas. Her quest took her to a Western store on the north side.

“May I help you, ma’am?” the polite, skinny young man guided her to men’s boots. The pair of cordovans whispered. She bought them, tucked them into the trunk. Kept them hidden till Christmas Eve.

Clarence slid them on like gloves. “How did you get the size just right? I usually have to try on several.”

“My secret is simple: we wear the same size.”

###

Boots by Old Jules

It took that Juarez bar about five minutes to clean us out. Minus twenty in my shoe. Sixteen year olds, Lonnie and I had sneaked off for our first booze, grown women and a pair of boots.

So slinking back toward the border crossing I stopped and eyed the prettiest pair of boots I ever saw. Turquoise tops with snakes and eagles stitched, calf high. I loved those boots.

“What size?”

“Nine.”

“Try this on!” He handed me a boot. Fit great. “Forty dollars.”

I got them for fifteen.

But when I got home they were two different sizes.

###

Nancy Said It Best by Rugby843

“These boots were made for walkin’” she sang as she left their home. She loved all types of boots but today donned her thigh high black leather ones. They were perfect for taking care of business, and people tended to get out of her way when they saw her coming.

Her reputation for getting what she wanted when she wanted it was well known. She ignored the whispers on the street as she passed. Determination in her walk to the local bar, she hummed the tune loud enough for bystanders to hear.

“Guess Joe’s in trouble again” they whispered.

###

Easing Frustrations (From Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Between public affairs and citizen scientists on her archeology dig, Danni wasn’t surprised to see Ike show up with his dogs.

Now she had someone familiar to lash out at. She stomped her boots down the gravelly trail toward Ike and the pointers at his side. Danni trudged past the silent volunteers. She marched right up to Ike and he swung her up into his arms, planting a lingering kiss on her angry lips.

Danni sagged against him. He growled in her ear, “I missed you, Babe.”

“Damn it, Ike. I missed you, too.” She refrained from kicking him.

###

Trailing by D. Avery

The trail started with boots, the boots preceding pants; sharp eyes might notice that the smaller pair of work pants on the floor had been mended. Those same eyes will follow the trail to its conclusion, a bed somewhat stressed by the additional weight it carried into the morning, the morning Earnest Biggs did not wake up alone, which brought him some happy anxiousness.

Shyly, cautiously, he rolled over towards his bedmate, ripping a fart as he did so. He reddened, but her laughter and admirable retort put him at ease.

“I always return fire”, she said.

“Mornin’, Marge.”

###

Boots by Pensitivity

These boots are made for walkin’, that’s how the old Nancy Sinatra song goes.

Well Nance me old fruit, these ain’t! They bloody well hurt.

Two hundred and fifty quid for Top of the Range Hikers down the drain. They need to change the logo to ‘Toes of the Painful Blisters’.

Gonna stick to trainers for twenty, when I can walk miles a-plenty, haha.

Either that or take the bus.

‘Hey! Simon! You comin?’

‘Yeah, sure. Just tying me laces.’

My feet were killing me, but it would never do to complain, especially as this was our first date.

###

A Cautionary Tale About Plantar Fasciitis by Anne Goodwin

Bliss: after ten hours, to loosen my laces, peel off my socks, expose my feet to the air. The gravel’s sharp, so I slip on flip-flops and pit-pat to the driver’s door. Ouch! Pain shoots across the sole whenever I flex my foot. Afterwards, a tingling that never disappears. Will I have to cancel my long-distance walk?

Plantar fasciitis, says the physio. Prescribes ice, massage, gel insoles: I’m happy again. But three days in, my heels are throbbing. Blisters, moi? With the insoles my broken-in boots don’t fit like Cinderella’s glass slipper anymore. Shucks, only 160 miles to go!

###

Boots by Pheobe Greathouse

She stands poised like a queen outside the airport arrival doors, long black hair whipped up by a passing bus. The tightly fitted sweater and pants reveal a child-sized body with large high breasts and slim hips. The Chanel bag is clutched tightly like a trophy.

An older nondescript man, thinning hair and slight potbelly, slips up next to her and puts a possessive arm around her waist. She turns, smiles, and glides into the waiting limo. The last vision of her is the gold spiked heel of her black suede boot slipping into the darkness of her future.

###

Burgundy Suede Knee-High Boots by Urszula Humienik

All I have of my parents is a pair of my mother’s burgundy suede knee-high boots.

My aunt told me my mother had worn them on the few dates she’d had with my father, which means she wore them the night I was conceived. I like to imagine it was a romantic date with a fancy dinner with candles and everything, but my aunt thinks they went bowling and then did it in the back of her old Chevy.

She never saw my father again after that.

My aunt doesn’t even know his name.

I call him Daniel Boots.

###

History from Her Story by JulesPaige

Nancy Sinatra sang of boots. They were made for walkin,’
walking away from a man who was perhaps not being as
faithful as one would like. That was the year “The pop world
accelerated and broke through the sound barrier in 1966.”
I was still in single digit years back then.

I may have been influenced by that song and how easy it
might be to just walk away from bad situations. I wonder
if all run-a-ways think if just leaving could solve all problems.
There are many choices in life. A good pair of boots is just
one.

###

Boots by Ben (aka Pipe Tobacco)

The harsh wind rattled windows of the room, as he slowly worked his aching fingers into unlacing his snow-encrusted boots.

“There was a helluva lot of snow to shovel,” he remarked to his wife, “…damn near seven inches fell in the last couple hours.”

He slowly carried his boots to the hearth of the fireplace. She could see and feel his utter exhaustion. Snow still clung to his beard and mustache.

Walking slowly to the cabinet, he poured himself four fingers of whiskey. Taking a deep swallow, he grimaced as he waited for the liquor’s magic to warm him.

###

Boots by Robert Kirkendall

Cpl. Wildey led his squad through a clearing and into a wooded thicket toward enemy lines on a reconnaissance mission to ascertain troop locations. The trail they were on approached an enemy headquarters in the distance. Cpl. Wildey thought he saw movement ahead, so he ordered his troops to sneak up by crawling through a high grass area. He carefully maneuvered them without notice when he suddenly came face to face with a pair of the enemy’s boots standing squarely and menacingly. Fear shot through him, until he looked up and saw that no one was wearing the boots.

###

It Hurts…by Reena Saxena

The young soldier’s wife broke down on seeing her husband with an amputated leg. He had suffered frostbite while serving in the Siachen Glacier at temperatures well below zero. Touching metal with bare hands could cause bites. Six of them would share a tiny igloo made of fiber at night, to keep themselves warm.

Her husband was nominated for a bravery award. He had shot down two terrorists, despite his frozen foot. It hurt to know that the terrorists were dressed in four-layered jackets and Swiss mountaineering boots. The army could not provide its soldiers attire of matching quality.

###

With Heavy Tread by Abby Rowe

You never forget the reek of whale oil and mouldering, sodden socks. Every now and then, during one of those unsettling silences, the Officers would get us seated, all in a line.
‘Boots off, men. Foot inspection.’

Getting them off could take a while, bloated extremities battling shrunken leather. You’d think, among the muck and men and rats, a nose might become inured to such relentless assault. Not a chance; there is no stink to match it.

In all these years since, I never smelt its like again. Neither did many of my comrades, but that’s a sadder tale.

###

The Boots Make Him a Man by Heather Gonzales

In the blink of an eye, he was gone. One second he was taking a breath and the next everyone realized it had been his last one. Watching him deteriorate was hard for everyone, but it was especially hard on Johnny.

At the age of 10, Johnny felt he was now considered the man of the house. He instinctively began to act older as if more weight was on his shoulders. When no one was looking he would put on his father’s old pair of work boots and for a moment he was the man he was pretending to be.

###

The Journey Back by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Peter pulled boots over calves lengthened and strengthened by his transition from boy to youth, and seasoned by grief over his sister’s death. Four years ago she’d been found in the depths of the Dark Wood, her cat pressed against her cold belly, hissing at all who approached.

Except him.

His curled-toe boots were light enough to prevent sinking into deep snow, the grain of the reindeer fur designed to prevent slipping backward on hills. Snapping the hood of his anorak over his head, Peter stepped into the gloomy morning.

The cat trotted ahead, back to the Dark Wood.

###

Big Boots by Ritu Bhathal

I watched him in awe, as he tossed the dough from side to side, stretching it expertly, before allowing it to come to rest on the large wooden spatula.

A thin layer of tomato sauce, Mama’s special recipe, and a sprinkling of mozzarella, before a sprig of basil was added, then off it went to bake.

And he was leaving.

Mama was devastated.

Antonio was off to travel the world, leaving the family pizzeria in my hands, and I’d never been anywhere near as good as him at making pizza.

He was leaving big boots for me to fill.

###

Through the Dreamers We Hear the Hum by Mardra Sikora

Come on, let’s go…”

Boots once muddied from play now covered in sand. Nights full of treacherous poison and days under the beating sun. The child sleeps without rest, walks along, follows. She yearns for the bed behind them. It was shared, but home. The promise ahead is…cold.

She trudges in boots broken through to her tiny calloused feet and hides as a car passes. “Through the dreamers we hear the hum,” plays from the radio, the air-conditioner blares, to the next gas stop or rest stop.

Not for her though, the dreamer, with nowhere to rest, to stop.

###

Magic Boots by Shari Marshall

The brown leather looked soft beneath the fine powdery coating of dust. Knotted loose laces allowed the tongue to hang limp, a reminder of how she wore them. I pictured her lean calf muscle leading out from the high top. It was hard to image that she would go anywhere and leave these behind, but it had been months with no word from her. Craving the sound of her revealing the power of these boots I slide my feet in. I realized that my body was slowly turning to mist and I could hear her voice calling for help…

###

Walking Away by Sarah Whiley

Staring into the distance, I’m in disbelief at what has happened. How can someone you have known and trusted for so long, betray you? Turn out to be a stranger? These thoughts haunt me, and I shake my head, literally trying to rid myself from their grasp.

I consider the vast territory in front of me. It’s unknown. I have never ventured this far, nor pushed these boundaries. I lean down, tie my boots, and feeling steadfast on my feet once more, I know my course of action.

Sometimes, you just have to cut your losses and walk away.

###

Fuzzy Socks by Jordan Corley

I looked down at the battered black boots I had shoved my feet into this gloomy morning. The only pair of shoes that would fit over my fuzzy socks. Today the frills of blue stripes poked out over the top. I thought of how Mal would’ve tackled me before letting me outside with my socks showing. Are you trying to look stupid, she would’ve asked with a smile. It’s a fashion statement, I would’ve responded. I contemplated going to change, but I decided that would’ve angered her more.

“One last fashion statement”, I whispered, “just for you Mal.”

###

Opposites Attract by Michael Fishman

She wasn’t particularly beautiful. I’d call her average and a writer might describe her as “nondescript” or “everyday”. She didn’t understand my sense of humor, never read, had little interest in the world around her and smiles were rare. I’m not sure I ever totally understood her, but she had a Canadian accent and I loved hearing her say the word “aboot“.

I’m not sure what I saw in her but that’s water under the bridge. One morning when I was out running errands, she left. And took my Grateful Dead bootleg tapes with her.

Apparently opposites don’t attract.

###

Boots by Carol Keefer

Everything was wet even his gun. Mitch sat on the ground drying his boots in the sunlight no matter that this winter sun was weak. He had spread his anorak over some nearby rocks. He was hoping more that the breeze would dry the coat rather than the sunshine.

That grizzly had ran him right off a precipice into the lake below. He hadn’t been planning a swim. He wanted to increase his mileage away from where he left her remains in that shallow grave under some brush. He’d been walking for days in case someone might pursue him.

###

The Killers by Anurag Bakhshi

“This is the third time that the killer has struck on this beach in as many weeks,” remarked Inspector Lestrade.

“Killers,” replied Sherlock Holmes in his usual dead-pan style, “There are prints of four different pairs of boots coming out of the water, and then going back. Finding a boat that was out last night with four people should not be too difficult even for you.”

Taking off his boots in the small cove near them, the octopus listened to this conversation and smiled grimly, as he plotted the death of the next hunter involved in his son’s murder.

###

Booted Out by Irene Waters

Kenny’s wife kicked him out. “She’s mentally ill,” he said. He stayed with friends. After too many repetitious stories whilst invading her personal space, the friend’s wife ousted him. “Poor Digby,” he said. Next, some acquaintances without wives. They evicted him when he gambled his cash and stopped paying his way, . “Ungrateful,” he said. “Better by meself. I’ve got me boat, car and clothes. That’s all I need.” He ate, drank and showered at the golf club then wobbled the short distance to bed.

Rudely awoken, Kenny heard, “Get your boat outta the carpark. We’re giving you the boot.”

###

Uncle Des. by Michael

Uncles Des threw his old boots down his back yard. Over the years there were a great number of boots scattered about.

He said his life savings were inside one of them and with the randomness of his boots lying about and his money hungry relos sniffing about looking for his savings he kept an eye on his yard, as did his faithful hound Savage.

You couldn’t get into the yard unless you found a way past the dog.

Des laughed at the methods used by his kin, but Des knew where his loot was and they never would.

###

Boots (from Wolves at Bay) by Kerry E. B. Black

Ward slipped off his boots easily as a seal slipping into water. Mud from his trek clung to the soles, a reminder he’d not truly escaped the situation. Its insidious hold waited. With an old rag, he wiped the boot bottoms, but no matter how many swipes, streaks remained like broken shards from a mirror to his past. He’d have no choice but confront the truth.

“They’ll come for her, and if she’s not here, they’ll take us. You. They’ll put us on trial in her place, and still, they’ll catch her. She can’t run, and neither can we.”

###

Boots by Cheryl Oreglia

Flying through the back door at the ranch, I’m stopped dead in my tracks, alarmed by the blood on the worn boots jamming the screen. They were tossed aside as if the person was in a hurry and suddenly I am not.

I stare at the blood pooling beside the muddy heel. My mind racing to identify any scenario that would warrant the thick red puddle. None surfaces.

I enter the house slowly, the silence is so loud it rings in my ears, I feel the counter make contact with my head as I hit the floor. Total blackness…

(For the full multi-authored story go to CR Collaboration.)

###

Boots by Eric Pone

Eowyn ran his fingers over the boots. They were black, beaten and well worn, simple. He ran his hand over the toe box and remembered the foot that used to wear it. Before the war that foot was cracked and dry from many many hills humped and many packs worn. As he turned and looked at the body before him he couldn’t help but question his decision. This person had shot at him over thirty times. Yes this body meant to kill him as dead as he had accomplished. But this was his father and his death deserved reflection.

###

Boots by Shane Kroetsch

“Get the gun outta my face!”

“I said gimme your boots man…”

His hair was soaked with sweat. One eye was almost swollen shut. The cuffs of his jeans were damp. There was a ragged hole at his thigh with a ring of crimson soaking into the material and trailing down his leg. His feet were scratched and raw at the soles. The pinky toe on his left foot was missing the nail.

“Listen, I don’t want any trouble.”

The man steadied the revolver and pulled the hammer back, “Take ‘em off and walk away, won’t be no trouble.”

###

A Strange Pair by Drake Scott

The Nikes, the Sorels, even the Berkenstocks were hanging on every word of the Brown Florsheims’ story. Exhilarated, having just returned from a night of dancing, he was trying to recount the events of the night without tripping over his own tongue, but he couldn’t spill his soul fast enough. The door opened for a second time.

The most graceful, foreign, elegant curves of pink Lulus sauntered in. “Hey fellas.” She said. “Your laces are hanging out.”

Only the Work Boots were old enough to remember the last time a pair of High Heels had been in the house.

###

Copper Country

Copper Country by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MIllsWelcome to the Keweenaw, the original Copper Country in upper Michigan where miners from around the globe migrated to work for over 150 years. The University founded by the mining industry remains a world-renowned technical and engineering school. And copper nuggets can still be found on the shore of Lake Superior.

But this is not the only Copper Country or its only interpretation. Writers from around the globe have gathered like miners to delve this prompt for nuggets of stories told in flash fiction.

The following is based on January 4, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Copper Country.

***

Francis Stacker Dutton: Copper Country by Irene Waters

Funny how things turn out. Here I am. An Englishman born in Germany ending up in South Australia. Sheep was my game. Fine merino. I had an eye; could pick fine fleece from inferior. My sheep went missing. Looking for them changed my direction. Found copper and started a mine. Needed miners so I went to England to find ’em in Cornwall. Sold my mine shares instead and wrote a book about South Australian mines. Made a fortune. Didn’t have to work but ended up South Australia’s Premier. Seat of Light. Ironic. Can’t have light without copper. Copper country.

###

Copper Country by Abby Rowe

Before the mine closed, Poldice was copper country. When I was nought but a cheel, I’d see the men trudging down the village, gads in hand. No help found from boss or owner, but, if you kept the Knockers sweet with crusts, our Dad would say, they’d rap and tap to guide you to the lode.

Young Jory Pascoe was not so wise. They say he ate each morsel to himself, so the Knockers hammered and bashed the faults ’til the roof caved.

Mrs Pascoe’s famed pasties, so fine you couldn’t refuse them, were the death of her son.

###

Pass the Pasties by Annette Rochelle Aben

Mom always made us pasties. We grew up eating the pocket meals filled with beef, potatoes, rutabagas and onions. Her father’s people were from Cornwall, England and that is what they ate.

Years later, I married a man whose grandmother was from Cornwall, England. He and his family ate pasties too.

One year, he took me on vacation to Copper Harbor, Michigan. Beautiful country. We saw black bears on Brockway Mountain. Enjoyed a Woody Herman concert in the haunted, Calumet theatre and we ate pasties. Because that’s what the “Cousin Jacks” and “Cousin Jennies” would eat in Copper Country.

###

Up Harbor by D. Avery

The Strawberry Moon, low on the horizon, trailed a coppery sheen. A chain of beads glimmered with each paddle stroke, their dripping the only sound as she sliced along the shimmering path of moonlight across the harbor. Playfully she pursued the moon, mirrored in the water, always just out of reach. Finally she stopped paddling, just sat, rocking gently, cloaked in the soft fleece of moonlight. The moon had risen higher, a shiny penny in the sky, and she smiled to herself, feeling truly lucky. “But, time to return. Goodnight, Moon”, she said aloud. “Shit, where’d my paddle go?”

###

Fuzzy Thinking-From the Writers Perspective by Bill Engleson

We needed a place where we could…you know…just be, just serve and project. Whatever you think of us, we all started out with the best of intentions. Sure, some of us proved to be bad pennies. They weren’t worth a plug nickel to begin with.

We all start out shiny and bright, but the sparkle quickly tarnishes.

So, when that actor, Joe Penny…played Office Phil Buchwald in S.O.B., suggested we buy our own country, well, no lead balloon there. ‘Course, you can’t buy much country these days, but we acquired land in Northern BC, called it Copper Country, eh…

###

Grandpa Amlodd’s Dragon by Roger Shipp

“He’s not supposed to be green, Jess.”

The six-year-olds gazed high atop the old stone barn. Bedtime stories of Merlin… Arthur… and dragons… filled their heads.

“Grandpa Amlodd smithied the copper dragon to protect our farms. Now look at him.”

“The copper dragon has to be freed.”

Racing to the farmhouse, the boys quickly did what they did at school. They googled.

“Ketchup!” They explained at the same time.

Armed with two ketchup bottles in one hand and the extension ladder from the gardening shed penned under their opposing pits, the boys set off the release Grandpa Amlodd’s dragon.

###

Mixing Metal by Juliet Nubel

She had always known why their village was nicknamed “Copper Country”. You just had to look around.

Everywhere the same metallic orange tint to the hair, the same green rain-washed patina in the eyes. Even their skin bore the same burnish of the sun.

But not James. He was just a little brighter, shinier, his green eyes with a hint of the ocean in their depths.

Nine months after they wed, their little princess arrived. She wore pale cream skin, azure eyes and finely spun blond curls.

Who would have thought that copper mixed with copper could make gold?

###

Prospecting by Jules Page

Jade was looking for ideas. So she had gone on a road
trip. Patina was a different shade of green. And that was
all she was finding in this abandoned town. Copper roofs,
shutters, statues. It must have been a thriving community,
once. Now it resembled a ghost town.

The old man at the rustic general store had said there was
still buried treasure in Tawnytown about twenty miles north.
He hadn’t exactly said what element was.

As a jewelry artist, Jade began snapping photos. Jade
thought that working in copper with jade might give her a
new angle.

###

An Alternative Discovery by Charli Mills

Christopher Columbus informed the Queen. “Your Majesty, a great procession sails from where the earth ends.”

“Is it possible?” she asked Ferdinand. They gathered, soldiers honing flint-knapped spears, the royals at a safe distance, all praying to God.

Invaders clad in red metal came in the name of Gitchigumee. Flint spears shattered, no match for glimmering red weapons.

Many who survived that day in 1492 succumbed to foreign germs. North America wiped out most of Spain, enslaving her children to dig in the New Copper Country.

If only Christopher’s Queen had known to make weapons of the native metal.

###

Coppers Bring Copper to Utopia by Anne Goodwin

The visitors try to impress us, as usual. We stifle our yawns. They tell us they’re coppers, but we can police ourselves. He empties his pockets of a handful of coins and a card. “Electronic money. No need for coppers.” We hate to disappoint him, but we’ve no need for money at all. “Look how it turns from orange to green as it loses its shine!” But we’re not impressed by decoration. “Don’t touch it! It’s dirty.” The coppers disagree. “Copper kills bacteria and viruses.” Really? We took a sack and in exchange for a lorry load of gold.

###

Low-balled by Kerry E.B. Black

Jenkins wiped grime along his plumber’s bottom.

The homeowner, a single mother of two, wrung her hands like an old-time heroine. “What’s the damage?”

He cleared his throat. “How long were you away, Ms. Rowen?”

“A week. Make-a-Wish gave my littlest a trip.” She hugged the kids. “It was the kindest experience we’ve ever had, right boys? Then we got home, and the basement’s flooded.” A nervous giggle escaped.

Jenkins considered the pipeworks, yards of stolen copper mined from the vacationers’ house. He estimated the cost. A minimum of $5,000. More than she had, he suspected.

So he low-balled.

###

Copper Country Destiny by Ann Edall-Robson

Her destiny had changed forever on that fateful night, or had it? The lightening laced sky had been accentuated with the screaming, crying, flashing lights and tangled metal. Her potential as a great athlete who had lived for each practice, for each competition ended there and then. The accident had taken its toll on her young, exuberant lifestyle. It was her great personality that kept her from being shunned or worse. Her gentle eyes that spoke volumes, captured hearts. The Copper Country lineage prominent throughout her bloodlines would now be passed onto every foal born to the Palomino broodmare.

###

Copper Country by Pensitivity

It had started as a joke, then a recognised charity event, this Mile of Pennies.

Then it became a significant tradition when visiting the county to place a penny next to the last one and cement it in place.
The mile stretched to two, then three, then fifty, a single line of coppers, leading from the centre of town to somewhere not yet determined.

Only pennies were allowed, nothing of any higher value, they came in all currencies from all countries.
It became known as Copper County, even though the pennies had long since been covered by the Highway.

###

Logan and Morgan are Go by Geoff Le Pard

‘What made you scared as a kid, Logan?’

‘Lots of stuff, Morgan. Dad’s nose hair. The vacuum cleaner hose…’

‘No, like when were you most frightened?’

‘When my poo turned blue. I was five. Thought I’d die.’

‘How come? You eat copper sulphate? That turned my hands blue.’

‘I liked Thunderbirds.’

‘Is this going somewhere, cos I think I’m on a different bus to you.’

‘Thunderbird two is green, right?’

‘I’m waiting, Morgan.’

‘I ate the icing, turned my poo blue.’

‘I didn’t know they made icing out of copper sulphate.’

‘Lots you don’t know Logan.’

‘Troo dat, Morgan.’

###

Nearly Pictureless Frame by Daniel C Julian

At the bending end of a gravel road along a forested ridge far and away from the nearest town, down a half-mile of rough path over hill and through dale, on some flats beside a gushing little creek, there stood a tiny shack. One whole wall of the shack was a bay window looking out on nothing but trees, and before this window was a writing desk upon which sat an old manual typewriter. Clickety-clack, DING, brrack and clickety clack some more, the machine made its music as the writer wrote. It was the tale of the Copper King…

###

Copper Country by Pete Fanning

We worked fast. Kendall handed off the pipes and I ran them to the truck.

“Easy with the noise.”

I nodded. With arms overhead, his pits were sour and his sweat reeked of Schlitz. He looked to me through a haze of smoke, his Marlboro drooping with his smile. “Few hundred bucks running under these floors.”

A teaching moment. Mom’s boyfriend couldn’t always tell you the day, but knew to the cent the market on metals. Kendell could strip a house clean in a few hours before getting off to the scrap yard—Copper Country, as he called it.

###

Fields of Copper by Heather Gonzalez

In the early morning, when my family is sleeping, that is when I watch the sun rise over dancing wheat and I hold my breath to listen for music. Leaving the urban jungle for the countryside was the best thing I could have ever done.

I once spent my nights disassembling copper pipes for profit, now I spend my mornings gazing upon the fields of copper. I know that one day the truth will catch up with me because no one can stay in hiding forever. But until then, I will watch as the sun rises over Copper Country.

###

The Last Bastion by Anurag Bakhshi

The town looked dead, as everyone had gathered in the castle to celebrate our victory.

The war between zombies and humans had been going on for decades. The entire planet was under the rule of zombies, except Copper Country, which kept resisting with unprecedented bravery.

And then, just in the nick of time, we discovered that copper could ‘kill’ zombies.

Rejuvenated, we gathered all the copper in the kingdom in one place…

…and destroyed it.

The castle had not taken too long to fall once it ran out of copper.

We zombies now had complete control over the world.

###

Copper Country by Eric Pone

Hunter woke up from the copter crash tasting blood in his mouth and dizziness reminiscent of a hard nights drinking. Copper country can be a relentless place but as he fumbled with the belts he felt confident that he could evade the ops teams looking for him. “Great….well this experimental went down lovely.” He mumbled as he extracted himself to snow HK10 at the ready. Footsteps in distance met by a Pop pop then nothing. He knew his dad was leading the search. He also knew that he would make it really hard on them to find him.

###

Copper Country by Michael

There was great excitement as the date for the Annual Lenten Ball to be held in the White Rose Ballroom of the Copper Country School of Arts.

Everyone dressed up, there was much polishing of boots, ironing and starching of shirts and collars, hairdressing appointments and new dresses ordered and adjusted.

Copper Country and its tiny hall was all that was left of a once bustling town at one time boasting six pubs.

All that remained now of those days was the hall and us, the locals from all around, dressing up and having a night of homemade fun.

###

Copper Country by Robbie Cheadle

“Complete darkness always woke her. With the crime problem escalating in her city, she felt very vulnerable and slept with the bathroom light on. The light had gone off and who knew why. She slipped out of bed and peeped out of the window at the neighboring house. That house was also in darkness. Somewhat mollified, she went back to bed and eventually fell asleep. The following morning, she discovered that the copper power cables had been stolen during the night causing the power outage. It seemed that her suburb was the new copper country.”

###

Parenting by Kerry E.B. Black

Heather combed through the older woman’s thick hair, separating it into sections using plastic clips. Layers of steel and silver gave way to a small cove of copper. She ran a finger along the silky strands, recalled brushing and braiding when her mother’s head boasted autumn, not winter, a child mothering.
She blinked back tears. “You were an awful mother.”
Her mother shrugged, unconcerned. “Orphans don’t know how to parent.”
Heather’s scissors snipped, creating the requested fashion.
Heather’s children dominated her every thought, their needs always first; not at all how her mother raised her. “Yet somehow I learned.”

###

A New Puppy by Susan Sleggs

“Is it time for a new dog?”

“No! Maybe. Sandy was such a good girl how can I replace her so soon?”

“Because a pet is a companion. Maybe a different color or breed.”

“Has to be a cocker spaniel, but another color is intriguing.”

I went to meet a litter that was almost ready at the breeders.

“The mom’s name is Fancy. She’s from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.”

“Looks like she got dyed in the copper mines there.”

“Yes. We named her daughter, Miss Revere, like the pans.”

“I could call her Revi; sounds more doggish. Consider her sold.”

###

The Coppersmith by D. Avery

Patriot and artisan, Paul Revere made a variety of contributions to the American War of Independence. The pen was a strategic weapon, and Revere, using copper plates, made political cartoons and illustrations, including his famous and inflammatory engraving of the Boston Massacre. Brawnier contributions had to do with munitions and weaponry. Yet many associate Revere the coppersmith with the making of alloy bells and with pots and pans. Let’s. Let’s melt down brass cartridges and copper bullets and make a pot to cook shared meals and bells to ring in peace. Surely we have the resources to do that.

###

Looking For Change by Michael Fishman

I was shocked when Kristy Benson, a year older – a senior no less – said yes.

To me! You believe it?

If I had the words I’d tell you how beautiful Kristy is, but my vocabulary, it’s, you know, just so-so, so you can use your imagination.

Problem was coming up with money. I got some extra hours at the theater when Deliverance opened last weekend – Burt can bring them in – but I needed more so I took my brother’s penny collection and sold it down at “Copper Country” for $17.00. He’s 19 and he’ll understand; he’s been in love.

###

Copper Country (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

“And it took me forever to clean the damn kitchen! If that man would learn I’d prefer a reservation to his cooking, I’d be so happy…” Michelle’s voice trails off as her office door snicks shut.

Jane pauses her filing, transported back in time to her mother’s kitchen, her child self scrubbing those hated copper-bottomed pans with steel wool until they gleamed. What she wouldn’t give for a meal home-cooked just for her! For her own kitchen to clean!

Her mother’s kitchen, closed to her since their estrangement. It seems a lifetime ago now, in a country now foreign.

###

Earworm by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“I swear, if you sing that one more time, I’ll push you out the hatch myself.”

“Aw lighten up, Schmitty,” Dirk laughed at his co-pilot. “I just can’t wait to get home!”

“You and me both,” the co-pilot muttered.

The swept low over the canyon, lining up for their annual supply drop to the Earth outpost. Next stop: Moon Base Nine, Home Sweet Home.

“This is the song that never ends
Yes, it goes on and on my friend…”

“That’s it, Dirk. Here’s your parachute…”

“Too late!” He dropped the payload and flew up and away from Copper Country.

###

Secrets by FloridaBorne

“Another basement, Dr. Williams?”

Dust flew around my hand on the oak railing.

“Your paper about copper mines in Michigan, and worldwide trade over 10,000 years ago, turned heads.”

At basement bottom, a coffin-shaped box was being carried out the door.

“What is this place?”

“The world can’t know humans vacillated between space and stone-age for over 1,000,000 years. You’re caretaker of this secret.”

I was in awe of a radio built 950,000 years ago when the door slammed.

I heard it lock.

Behind the door was a message: “You will not leave this place until you die.”

###

The Land of Bobbies! by Ritu Bhathal

Wherever you turned, they were there.

If you popped out for a bite to eat, guaranteed there would be at least four you would see in the establishment.

On your way to work, you were sure to be flanked by a couple.

Putting your rubbish out on collection day, there would be eyes on you.

Even in your home, you couldn’t escape. At least one family member was going to be one.

Still, at least you felt safe, if a little intimidated, by their presence.

That’s what you got for moving to Copper Country – The police were just everywhere!

###

Copper Country by Drake Scott

“Now listen to me Judith, you need to understand the situation here. It won’t be much longer until they’ll be able to pull one proton from a zinc atom and whamo! turn it into copper. The tech is there and its getting pushed through regulations as we speak.”

Judith’s heart sank as she thought about what that would mean for her family who’d owned the copper mine for the last two Earth centuries.

“But its not too late. Sell the mine before the market crashes and you can walk away a winner. The offer is good until Tuesday…Earth time.”

###

Ray, Arizona by Mr Macrum

Atop Teapot Mesa, a Great Spirit cast sad eyes over the mile deep mine below. He had witnessed mountains grow tall and rivers gouge deep. He had never seen creatures as destructive as these puny humans busy carving out the base of his home. Did they not understand they were only hastening their own destruction?

Great Spirit shrugged. He was but a witness tasked with remembering all that he saw and reporting back to Her. He was her eyes. It would be up to Her how to handle these ingrates and the overwhelming insults they heap onto her back.

###

Elemental Problem by D. Avery

“Hey Kid.”“Hey Pal. Got a copper?”

“Ya mean sheriff?”

“No, copper.”

“Ya mean like a penny?”

“No, ah, heck Pal, I may have ta cop out on this round-up. I don’t know nuthin’ about copper or copper country.”

“Gonna cop a plea of ignorance, Kid?”

“Yep. Anyway, the hosses’ve left some gems for me ta shovel. They’s all shut up in the barn what with all the snow.”

“That’ll test yer mettle.”

“Yeah, I’ve shoveled so much shit I should git a medal.”

“So whyn’t ya try shoveling some regarding the shiny orange metal?”

“We’ll see.”

“Cu later.”

###

A Wishing Star

A Wishing Star by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_Mills

No matter where we are in the world, we can look up at our night sky and wish upon a star. A wish might require action to come true, but without the wishing process, we might not know what action to take.

This week, writers turned to wishes, crafting stories destined for the stars.

The following is based on the December 28, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a wishing star.

“Star light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.”

***

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

The meteor shower hit the East coast just before midnight.
Many witnessed thousands of ‘shooting stars’, and as such thousands of wishes were made.
The nursery rhyme is based on the first star seen, shooting or not.
Against the darkest velvet of night, a child’s wish reaches out to the stars.
By the time it reached its destination, it was no more than a whisper, but it was heard.
The following night, the star shone more brightly than ever, a sign that the wish would be granted.
But as with all wishes, if you tell, they won’t come true.

###

Wishing, Wondering and Wandering: Morgan and Logan Debate the Imponderables by Geoff Le Pard

‘What you looking at, Morgan?’

‘The stars, Logan.’

‘Wishing stars?’

‘Nah. More wondering.’

‘Wandering?’

‘That too, but mostly wondering.’

‘What about?’

‘The human condition. My feet. Scallops.’

‘All together or separate?’

‘See, the human condition is a mystery, right? I know a lot about it and lots I don’t know. While I know all there is to know about my feet, unlike the scallops who’re unlikely to know my feet at all.’

‘True. And the stars made you think this?’

‘Not really, they just popped into my head.’

‘I’ve made a wish, Morgan.?’

‘Yes?’

‘I wish you’d talk sense.’

###

My Wishing Star by Kerry E.B. Black

Storms crowd the night sky, eager to take in the splendor of my wishing star. I imagine them with outstretched Sirius arms clutching pens and pads to collect her autograph, and she’d smile a cool and radiant dismissal. She has work this evening, as always. No time to cavort. She shines in the work, glorious minion of the heavens. She waves them away to peek upon her awaiting penitents. I stand among them, whispering my wishes as fervently as prayers. She collects them in shimmers and sigh and keeps them with ancestral wisdom until they are every one fulfilled.

###

Ephemeral by Jan Malique

She looked at the shooting star speed across the Milky Way. What a pretty, pretty thing! Clad in shimmering star-dust, with limbs of opalescent light and eyes of velvet darkness, a beauty fit to wear the crown. Ah, what ambition nestled within her proud starry heart.

Time to fall my pretty, pretty thing. The Faerie Queen decreed and the starry assembly obeyed. She fell burning from the heavens, bringing hope to many. The Earth waited for this gift, a wish made manifest. How dark the journey looked for this starry exile. Pretty, pretty thing! Hush, dry your tears.

###

When You Wish by Michael Fishman

“Whoa! You see that?”

“I did!”

Evan and Carol were laying side by side on the blanket. The dark sky above them flickered with lambent stars.

“Did you make a wish?” Evan asked.

“I did.”

“What was it?”

Carol huffed, “I’m not gonna tell you.”

“You don’t believe that, do you?”

“I believe it as much as I believe making wishes in the first place”

“Wanna know my wish?”

“You wanna risk it not coming true?”

Holding Carol’s hand, Evan rolled onto his side, leaned over and kissed her.

“That was my wish.”

She kissed him back.

“Mine, too.”

###

Wishing for Warmth by Heather Gonzolas

The fire had begun to die. The young newlyweds had not expected to be trapped. With no signal or electricity, that fire was the only thing keeping them alive. They had wished to be alone on their honeymoon, but they should have been careful what they wished for.

He went in search of wood as the snow began to fall again. When there was no wood to be found, he looked to the sky and could make out a single star. Like a child, he made a wish for warmth. That is when he saw the pile of wood.

###

Wishing Star by Michael

The old couple sat at their back fence looking out over the farm watching the last of the year’s sunset. It was a typical muggy New Year’s Eve, and they wanted to see in the new year watching the fireworks from across the town in the distance. Just then a star shot across the heavens.

“Gosh,” they gasped.

“Make a wish,” said the woman staring up at the stars.

“You think all this will last,” asked the man wistfully.

“No, but we have now, and that’s what I live for.”

“Good thinking,” he replied as their hands gripped tightly.

###

Shoveling Midnight Snow (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Wolves padded across the snowy field, mere shadows dappled by moonlight. Danni gripped the shovel and paused. As loudly as her own boots crunched the tight snow, the wolves passed in silence. Had she not turned to shovel the path to the barn she would have missed the pack. Before the last one merged with the cover of night, he stopped and cocked his head. A shooting star rolled across the sky like a snowball down a hill. Before Danni could make a wish both star and wolf vanished. Would her wish still count? Come home to me, Ike.

###

Wishing Star by Pete Fanning

Jimmy sat in his usual seat, working the trivia machine, trying to wrap his bourbon-soaked mind around the lifespans of supergiant stars–how they took a billion years to see.

Shooting stars. Dead beauty.

Between drinks, Jimmy felt a fleeting ache under his shirt pocket. A clink of ice in his glass, the stutter of his daughter’s giggle. The splash of Beam, quick blast of Ginger Ale. He wished again to see his wife’s sleepy eyes shining as she nursed the baby. A billion years ago…

The new drink arrived. The ache had passed.

Jimmy worked the trivia machine.

###

The Haunting by Colleen Chesebro

Althea had made a noble sacrifice, and now, as a ghost, she resented her decision. That night when she wished upon a star, she took her own life to save their business. Mike had inherited her retirement account and had paid off all their debts. There was money left over; now he had taken a lover.

Althea gazed at the writhing forms on what had once been her bed. Mike always did enjoy a bit of fun. What the heck? Althea slid her cold, lifeless hands over their naked bodies as she crawled between them. The haunting had begun!

###

Bringing Mum Home by Lisa Rey

Every night Susan would look up at a star in the sky, wish upon it that her mother would return from the dead. Her father had told her she was gone away forever. Susan heard a kid at school say her mother was gone away ‘forever’ meaning dead.

Her father Mark sat in the kitchen not known his nine-year-old daughter’s pain. One day, he’d have to tell her how her mother walked out of their home to go far away because she was in love with his best friend Mike. Now, he thought she was too young to know.

###

Innocence of Youth by Susan Sleggs

“Mama, I’ve been reading some of your flash fiction. Why are they all such downers?”

“Well, flash fiction by definition is a short story and it requires an arc with a problem and a resolution; something with an adrenalin rush to keep the reader’s interest.”

“But I want to read short happy stories; maybe about puppies. I’m going to wish for that on the next falling star I see.”

“That would be an admirable wish honey.” I turned away from my ten year old with tears forming, wishing she could stay that innocent for the rest of her life.

###

The Wish by Denise Aileen DeVries

When Mattie Brown’s mother said “if wishes were horses…,” Mattie started wishing on more than stars. Today she was in a field of dandelions when Jeb’s voice startled her. “Whatcha’ wishin’ for?”

“A dime to see Shirley Temple,” she mumbled. She hoped nobody would notice her in conversation with “one of those Thompsons.”

“I’ll have more than a dime after I sell these at the steamboat dock,” he said, indicating a burlap bag with his walnut-stained fingers. “I can give you one.”

Mattie jumped up, scattering dandelions. “I can earn it! I’ll help you sell them. Let’s go!”

###

Winter Realities by JulesPaige

Gina was small then, holding some grownups hand while
they stopped briefly to talk. Maybe they all had been saying
good-bye after some holiday visit. It was cold. While no one
else was looking – there it was – a flying wishing star. Later
Gina found out it was a meteor. And wishing on it hadn’t
really changed anything, at least not then.

Present time, years end; A clear night – a huge halo around
an almost full winter moon. Who could tell what the first
wishing star had been? It really didn’t matter – wishes only
come true if ‘you’ follow through.

###

Conversation on the Midnight Ferry-August 1965 by Bill Engleson

“It’s a wonder, eh!”

“What is?”

“Looking up to a glittering sky, a clear night, that one cloud there…see?”
“I do…”

“And how it’s shading the moon, and that star…do you know your stars?”

“Once…a few years back, I knew them pretty well. Our Cubmaster…drilled them into us.”

“You were lucky.”

“I suppose. He was a cookie salesman too…stars and cookies. Great times.”

“Now that’s real luck. Look, there it is again…a shooting star…is that what they call it?”

“Yeah…a beauty, that’s for sure…I wish…”

“What for?”

“Ah, man, I’ll be livin’ in the city. University. No stars, probably.”

###

Wishing Star by PipeTobacco

I am sitting outside in the backyard, smoking my pipe when I look into the night sky and see a “falling star.”

“A wishing star.” I mutter to myself quietly.

I take the pipe out of my mouth, and with my palm of my other hand, I rub across my face and smooth out the edges of my beard and mustache. A tear forms and brims out of my eye.

“Life did not used to be so complex.” I think to myself. “How have things gotten so stressful and anxiety filled?”

I knock out the ashes and go inside.

###

The Wish by Norah Colvin

The words replayed continuously as he sat on the step searching the sky for a wishing star: “When you wish upon a star …”

Inside, the adults’ voices grew louder and harsher. He covered his ears and sang through his tears.

A crash followed a thump, then all went quiet. He held his breath.

He crept to the door and peeked in. Mum, slumped on the floor, cradled Dad’s head in her lap. Blood was everywhere.

“Call triple zero.”

Huddled together they watched paramedics try to revive him.

“I didn’t mean …” each whispered to themselves, but weren’t convinced.

###

A Lonely Wish by Amber Prince

The darkness suffocated me; even the moon had abandoned me tonight. My eyes never adjusting, my nerves never settling, but I continued on. There was nothing to turn back to, but if I was to be honest, there was nothing to go forward to either. My body begged for rest, but I was afraid to listen. Stopping wasn’t an option, quitting meant giving up, giving up meant…

I watched the black sky, hoping for a sign, but not a single star granted me its presence tonight. It was as if they had all died as well. I wished anyway.

###

Wishes by Ritu Bhathal

We’ve all got our jobs, our charges to look out for.
I have 403 at the moment.
And for the most part, they aren’t really that demanding.
Wishing to win the lottery, to get that fast car, or a new house.
Wishes that are empty really. No one expects them to come true.
But those wishes, heartfelt pleas, they are the ones I know I have to get right.
The wishes that Daddy comes home for Christmas.
That Granny will pull through tonight, at least.
That the bully won’t get her today.
Being a Wishing Star is not easy…

###

Heavens Above by Juliet Nubel

“Let them stay healthy, happy and safe.”

She repeats this twice more then starts reciting the list of names.

It used to be a short list – ‘Mummy, Daddy and my sister.’

With the years it has stretched, gathering in a fiancé turned spouse, then children, then their children and their loves.

Her hands are clasped tightly as she looks at the lone star.

If you saw her you might think she were praying. But her god has no name, no face, no man-made place of worship.

She is speaking to the sky, her blue-edged blanket of the universe.

###

Hunters and Other Heroes by Alexander De

I don’t remember much of it, only
the nurse, he was a god with great big arms,
when they sucked the middle from my bones he
told me stories about Orion’s charms

saved gobs of my hair for my mom to keep
said I would grow up to be strong like him
left presents for me while I was asleep
sang funny songs when my heart beat grew dim

gave me a star for my fourth Christmas tree
did not know how much wishing there’d be
‘til it got broke when I turned twenty-three

still tryin’
to reach Orion

###

Nashville Dreams by D. Avery

People come here to where the stars burned bright.

Stirring embers of memories, sifting through the ash
They’re looking for Patsy, looking for Johnny Cash

Tourists ignore my singing, walk by my coin sprinkled case, go inside where it’s warm, go inside for ten-dollar drinks, where they’ll tip the band for playing lousy covers, tell them they sound real deal. Like they’d know.

They walk by they look right through me,
unseen space between the stars
Just another street bum, all I have is my guitar

Cold. It’ll be another sleepless night of shivering, of wishing underneath the stars.

###

It’s Too Fekkin’ Cold! by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The granite was rough and hot under her bare feet. She squatted by the tidal pool, peering at the life teeming beneath her.

Kelp crowded in the center, tiny multicolored crabs parting its fronds with their dominant claw, blowing bubbles in irritation at being observed. Near the edge, barnacles glinted under the same sun that sizzled her shoulders and tightened her skin.

Soon they’d board the plane, back to Winter-socked home.

There! Behind that collection of miniature mussels! She gently grabbed a perfect star, stood and flipped him seawards, an exchange—a wish.

She smiled, knowing she’d be back.

###

Limits by MRMacum

“Wish I were, Wish I might……… Ah, screw it. This doesn’t work anymore.”

Crestfallen, Jesus stood on the Mount and stared up at the night sky. Moments passed as he wallowed in self pity. Off to his left, a brighter star than the rest seemed to come closer.

“Boy, I told you there were limits. “

“But Dad, how can I turn this planet around if you won’t cooperate?”

“Well son, I’ll tell ya. No water walking, leper healing parlor trick is going to upstage that damn Free Will clause I enacted ………… Time to pull the plug.”

###

Sequestered by FloridaBorne

“We have a proverb,” The farmer said. “A child looks to the starry skies and sees hope…”

“Whatever does that mean?” A man in strange green uniform asked.

“Allow me to finish,” The farmer scoffed. “…but the wise woman sees drought.”

“Where are your men?”

“We have one per 100 women, and those are sequestered away,” she said. “When men rule, destruction reigns.”

He spoke into a box on his shoulder and said. “Kill them all!”

“We don’t wish upon stars, we develop our minds” she chuckled. A starship and their crew turned to dust. “Prepare to be sequestered.”

###

Star-fall by Chelsea Owens

Someday, soonday my detachment from familiarity will send me soaring, burning, melting
Painting lightscape brushstrokes on empty air-void blackness:
A fantastic farewell sky-faint; a final, fiery death-stunt
For unknown, sight-blessed audience.

Up, from sparkling sprinkle-glittered hills,
Glowing backlit forms will gasp in distant, wondered silence –
My dying skydance, reflecting glints of living fellows;
Laughing, pointing limbs following my curtain-call bow.

Frosted pine-pinnacles will point, in vain,
Where once I sat, aglow, forever and a million years
Before the laughing, lasting exhalations mouth their frozen, “Wow;”
Their million dream-thoughts floating sky-high, tailing me forever.

###

Falling Up by D. Avery

Outside the window snow fell, snow flew, snow blew in all directions, silently, and it felt like in this room they were figures in a snow-globe. Her bedroom now her hospice room, the ventilator pulsed time towards the inevitable yet still uncertain end; none of them had been here before.

Finally the snow stopped, the clear and cold night sky sparkling, so many stars that to stare up at them was like being in a snow-globe, mesmerizing and oddly comforting. Through a lens of tears one figure thought she saw a falling star, falling up, so bright, so distant.

###

Flash Fiction by Rugby843

She gazed at the star every night, wishing, but this evening was different. She was desperate, all pleas for help were exhausted, this being her last hope.

Mary’s mother was dying. Mary had prayed but it seemed whatever she did would not help her mother.

The doctor visited every day, but there was no cure to save her. This night Mary was on her knees by the window, praying to the star. Suddenly it started sparkling much brighter than before. Mary rushed to her mother, finding she passed away a moment before.

Now “Mary’s mother’s star” never stops glowing.

###

Wishing Star by Irene Waters

Crushing, celebrating crowds filled the foreshore. Multicoloured glo-sticks made it seem as though finally, I’d found the end of the rainbow. I was sitting in it. Laughter rang out amidst the hum of chatter. It was awhile before countdown to New Year would begin and the fireworks would explode in the night sky.

“What’s up with you Gemma?”

“Nothing. Why?”

“You’re the only glum face here that’s why.” Peter stared at me but I turned my eyes heavenward searching the storm clouds that obliterated the stars.

“I want to make a New Years wish but my star isn’t there.”

###

Be Careful What You Wish For by Anurag Bakhshi

For 30 years, Donald prayed day and night, standing on one leg, not eating or drinking anything.

God finally relented and appeared in front of him. “What do you want?” HE asked Donald. “I want my very own wishing star,” Donald replied, dreaming of the thousands of wishes that the star would help fulfill.

“As you wish,” said God.

The next morning, Donald got up excitedly, and told the star, “Take me to Paris for breakfast.”

The star replied, “Wish you a very good morning Sir. Wish you a Merry Christmas. Wish you a very Happy New Year! Wish you…”

###

The Meteor Shower by Urszula Humienik

“Let’s go outside, I heard there’s supposed to be a meteor shower tonight. We can make some wishes.”

“Isn’t it wishing on falling stars?”

“Oh I don’t know. Meteor shower, falling stars, it’s all the same to me.”

“Look at that moon! Isn’t it huge?”

“I didn’t realize it was a full moon tonight. It’s beautiful.”

“Have you ever howled at the moon?”

“No. You?”

“No.”

“I dare you.”

“Me? Here? Now?”

“Yes.”

Anne faced the silver sphere hanging low over the property and let out a deep belly howl.

Something howled back.

The girls broke out in laughter.

###

Borrowed Light by Reena Saxena

George quit a high-paying sales job to become a writer. His friends and family were perplexed.

“What made you do that?”

“It is easy to set writing goals for the year. Vision boards are complex when achievement of goals is subject to the ecosystem ….”

“Everything depends on the ecosystem.”

“Sure, but markets are uncertain and sales targets infinitely complex.”

“What triggered that move?”

“I felt like a wishing star living on borrowed light, and dispensing it to fulfill others’ wishes. What if the source dries off? I will cease being a star.”

“What if your books don’t sell?”

###

Wishing Star by Charley

Two hours down Bonita Klondyke Road in Arizona summer heat, sun cooking through the ragtop of his classic Chrysler. Air conditioning long dead. The sign read, “Wishing Star Saloon, turn right.” He cranked the wheel. It was right there in sight.

* * *

“Dang!” said the woman behind the bar, “Windows down in this heat?”

“AC’s broke. Heinie.”

“Tuff.” She slid the bottle over.

“‘Wishing Star?’”

She motioned with her head. “Every wish granted.”

“Right.”

She shrugged.

He stepped over to the painting. “Wish I was someplace cooler.”

* * *

Colder than hell, snow blowing. Teeth chattering. A sign. “Klondyke River, Yukon Territory.”

###

A Wishing Star by Bobby Fairfield

She stepped out of the long white limousine onto the spotless red carpet. wearing her famous smile but little else she elegantly turned and striking a pose, first to the left and then to the right allowing her long elegant legs to peep out from the thigh-slit silk dress. Flashbulbs popped as they clamoured to take her photo, to be the first to get a risque shot of a slight wardrobe malfunction. Taking the arm of her tuxedo-clad companion the young star of many films entered the hall wishing for the ultimate accolade. To be given her first Oscar.

###

Broken Dreams by D. Avery

“Kid! Found ya. Ya weren’t in the bunkhouse.”

“Cain’tcha see I’m lyin’ out here in my sleepin’ bag enjoyin’ the stars? Jeez, Pal.”

“Really?”

“Really. An’ mebbe I’m even wishin’ on a star.”

“Kid, ya cain’t jest be wishin’ an’ dreamin’. Ya gotta git up an’do! I swear ya ain’t never gonna amount ta nuthin’, jest layin’ aroun’ wishin’ at stars. Git up Kid. Make yer dream happen!”

“I had done achieved it, Pal, till jest now.”

“What?”

“Yep. I had wished ta lay out here enjoyin’ the stars in peace an’ quiet. Now I’m wishin’ ya’d go away.”

###

Only in…

Only in by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MillsOnly in artists do you find a calling that requires both the isolation of artistic expression and its communication. When writing from those moments of isolation, it can be like walking on Walden Pond, a place where Thoreau was often alone but not lonely.

Artists went to this place then gathered back to the campfire to share the stories found “Only in…”

The following are based on the December 14, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “only in…”

***

Ninety-nine by Kerry E.B. Black

She commands I capture a story using ninety-nine words, but I have lifetime to present. I chafe at the confines, yet by honing the message and pruning the words, I achieve brevity. Brevity is beautiful, right? I strive for beauty. I face doubts and strike blows at fear. A story has an arc, and mine begins with an idea. I face adversity in a stifling word count, fail, edit, and at last reach my goal. In only ninety-nine words, I present a baseline, a struggle, a resolution. It may need flesh, but it is there, only in ninety-nine words.

###

Only in Real Winter Dreams by Liz Husebye Hartman

Spoon coffee grounds into the BPA-free filter, the scent a bright hit in the ice-crystal kitchen. Cat slurps his morning meal, shoulders hunched protectively over his bowl.

I am so not going to fight him for a bite.

Down the obligatory 8 oz of skim to wash down the multi vitamin and D3 tabs. Cereal clatters into a Pyrex bowl, then softened by another deep splash of skim. My jaws work the goodness from five different healthy grains.

Grabbing the golden caffeine elixir, I pad off to transcribe my dreams.

Only when the sun rises before I have to.

###

The Genie Wormhole by Frank Hubeny

Even Robert Roqetscienski was surprised when the wormhole appeared. “It worked?”

From the smoky mist he heard, “Your wish is my command, Master.”

“What? Are you some kind of genie?”

“Well, yes. What were you expecting?”

“My time machine was generating a wormhole from dark matter singularities.”

“Sorry. I did bump a wormhole on my way here. Maybe I could still grant you a wish?”

“What I want is a wormhole.”

“If I did that, you would not be able to reproduce the results in your journal article.”

“In what universe does stuff like this happen?”

“Only in fantasyland.”

###

Drama!!!!! by Ritu Bhathal

A knock at the door.

The man looks at his wife, who looks to her mother, who turns to her husband, who looks at his grandchild, who turns back to his father.

The doorbell sounds.

The boy looks at his mother who looks to her father, who looks at his son in law, who turns to his mother in law.

Pounding now.

Repeated looks.

Five minutes later the door is finally opened by the household servant.

A courier stands there with a letter.

Only in an Indian soap opera, does it take a whole episode to answer the door!

###

Only in Show Biz by Jack Shuyler

“She what?”

“Locked herself in the closet.”

I put the phone down and wipe my brow with a damp handkerchief. Now why would a lead actress do something like that? When I put the phone back to my ear, Terri is asking if I’m still there.

“Yeah Terri, I’m here. Look, can’t you get someone to crowbar the door open?”

“The door is custom made, Steve. We don’t have the budget to go around crowbarring expensive set pieces.”

I sigh.

“your gonna have to try reasoning with her then.”

Terri sighs.

Only in Hollywood. I think. Only in Show-biz.’

###

The McWedding Day by Juliet Nubel

“Gorgeous fabric.”

Mrs McGregor slid along the polished pew to get a better view down the aisle to the front of the church.

“You’re absolutely right, Jean. But it’s a wee bit short, don’t you think?”

“No, but maybe too tight on the hips. Makes it rather lumpy over the bum.”

The organist struck up the first chords and every head turned towards the beaming bride, entering on her father’s arm.

An old Irish cousin, one row back, whispered into her neighbour’s ear – “Only in Scotland could you comment on the groom’s kilt as much as the bride’s gown!”

###

Logic by Reena Saxena

A session on Memory Training is on.

What is your date of birth?

22nd January, 1987.

You were born on a Thursday.

The hall reverberates with applause. Later in the hotel room, I ask my fellow trainer,

“Why do you need to pull ribbons out of a hat? We are training the students to improve memory with scientific methods.”

“The students know everything about reason and logic.”

“Then why is the drama needed?”

“They need the placebo of something larger than reason, to make them believe that the normal works.”

Only in the land of miracles can logic prevail…

###

Flash Fiction by Michael

Well only in Australia can you have Christmas on a stinking hot day. I’ve been told it’s because we are upside down and back to front and there is an element of truth in that.

But on days of extreme heat, I have to deal with blogs where snow flakes cascade endlessly and even though there is a psychologically cooling effect on me I shake off the snow drifts on my psyche and realise that outside I could fry eggs on the footpath.

I plan to have a cold meal Christmas Day, baking is a fool’s game down here.

###

Based by D. Avery

I wish I could write a story, maybe funny, but charming too, about the place I am from, where rugged people work and play surrounded by beauty.

I wish, for your sake, that it’s only in this place that people’s homes get burned over drug deal disputes; only in this place do innocent people get killed on the interstate by zombies speeding north with powder and pills to sell; only in this place are parents losing children, are children losing parents, are people blind to the beauty that surrounds them.

But it’s everywhere.

I wish this were a story.

###

Only In by Chelsea Owens

I want to leave, permanently.

When reality has nothing beyond piles of housework and fighting children, their susceptible health worsened by the toxic attitude you seep with-

When a positive attitude is a mask, crafted by sugared substance and numbed emotions-

When the events you look forward to must, inevitably, include your offspring or some expensive caregiver-

When your soulmate shutters his heart against the pain of association, and says you are only darkness-

Only in the Mind of Depression is it logical to stand at the top-post railing of Life and contemplate the sweet possibility of permanently leaving.

###

Lila by Lisa Listwa

“You never loved me?” It was more realization than question.

“You’re nothin’,” Lila spat through her cigarette smoke. “Like your father,” she muttered and took another drag, her too-red lipstick leaving its stain on the butt.

He hated her. Hated her cheap clothes and frowsy hair, her bra straps sticking out of blouses forever unbuttoned and sliding off her shoulders. Mothers should be different than this, he knew.

“Nobody’s ever gonna love you that way, Sugar.” The mocking term of endearment stung. “That trash happens only in stories.”

But that doesn’t mean I can’t write my own, Jack thought.

###

Creatures of the Dark by Anurag Bakhshi

They saw her walking down the dark street- beautiful, lissome, pale, long-haired….alone.

They looked towards each other with glee, and started following her. Sensing their presence, she immediately quickened her pace….but so did they.

She started running….they followed suit, till finally, she found herself at a cul-de-sac.

“We’re seven, and there’s no one around,” said their leader.

She looked around, and seeing no one….took a superhuman jump towards the first dwarf….and as she buried her fangs into his neck, Snow White said, “And that is why we vampires venture out only in the dark!”

###

Only in Florida by FloridaBorne

“Only in Florida,” the man with a thick Boston accent scowled.

I continued to admire a well-decorated coconut palm while chuckling at the yellow hibiscus design on his red shirt and khaki shorts.

“What’s your problem?” he demanded.

I pulled up the collar on my white, winter coat and said, “Tourists.”

BOOM

followed by the crinkle of glass shattering. A frantic car alarm swallowed up the sounds of Carols coming from speakers adhered to a light post. I turned toward a very expensive sports car and laughed.

“What’s so funny!” he yelled out.

“People who park under coconut trees.”

###

Only in Our Dreams by Bill Engleson

The moon tonight is a giant illuminated pumpkin glowing ginger in the sky, hung on the horizon above us, orange and glistening, glorious and great.

Bundled, braving the dark, the winter chill, we huddle by the burn pile, flames crackling, singeing the air, grey embers sweeping skyward, caught on wayward breezes, some, flitting down the slope of the hill seaward, others disappearing into the woods.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says.

“It will always be exactly like this,” I answer.

“But must it be only in our dreams?” she asks.

“Yes, love,” I confirm. “Only there.”

###

Adventures Right Here by Chelsea Owens

Quick! Open the door to hide from siblings’ seeking. You’ll need a fur coat -there, at your elbow.

Now; watch a filthy-fingered store owner glare at young boys, as she discovers a well-placed rat retribution.

Laugh the painful glee of snappy satire; chortle in appreciation of the cynic.

Sing along to “Come, Thou Font,” or “Camptown Races.”

Hold your breath for 20,000 leagues. You’ll need a harpoon; no, don’t ask why.

¿Que pasa, amigo? ¿Te gustaría aprender español?

Come, my fellow bibliophile, to the library. Only here may you travel so broadly, and taste-test such varied fare.

###

Only In Ireland by Lisa Rey

She picked up the football and began to practice kicking it over the bar. Smiled as she remembered Gaelic football practice earlier with her friends and team. They would happily while away the hours in good spirits. But afterwards Jenny would come down here and practice herself making sure she was well prepared for the upcoming Junior football final next week. She was determined not to let her friends down on such a big day for the town and the community. Just eight years old she was filled with a love of Gaelic football continuing a long Irish tradition.

###

Welcome Aboard by Neel Anil Panicker

Choc-o-block’s the word as two, three, four, six, even quite a few eight wheelers straddle the roads in an ant-like procession.

Men and machine jostle, joust and just about do everything possible to move half an excruciating inch. The air reverberates with the cacophony of a million voices and noises as non-stop honking, whistling, shouting, screaming and abusing takes over.

Monday morning murderous mayhem unfolds on the streets as a gun pops out of a Mercedes window and its owner sprays bullets into the sky. Only in Delhi do otherwise perfectly normal drivers lose it.

###

Only in My House by Irene Waters

The kid had killed her two boyfriends. “Please record it. I’ve gott’a go.”

“No. Just hurry.” So I hurried. My trousers were down as I reached the toilet. Darkness shrouded the room. The torch should’ve activated. He’d taken it upstairs. I twisted to turn on the light but stopped myself. Electricity charges are expensive. Instead, I felt for the toilet seat’s position only to be tripped by my pants. I fell hard; one arm landing in the toilet, the other on the floor.

Only in my house could this happen. “Now look what you’ve done. You’ve broken my hand.”

###

Only in Steve’s Cellar by Anne Goodwin

The year she stayed at home alone, the neighbours summoned her to their table and made her wear a silly hat. She thought she’d try down under next, but they did it barbecued on the beach. One year, in Dubai, she watched a reindeer succumb to heat exhaustion amid the artificial snow. She donned a hijab for a three-day trip to a tiny village in rural Pakistan, only to find the kids singing “Jingle Bells” outside the mosque. No wonder she fell for Steve. Only in the cellar love nest could she escape Christmas altogether.

###

It is 8:30 by Mr MacRum

The man cracked opened his eyes to same bleak existence he had suffered for as long as he could remember. For some moments he stared at the ceiling, his red eyes not focusing on anything in particular. He struggled to bring his mind into focus for what he faced this day so much like every other day he had ever faced. He rubbed his eyes with his knuckles and considered that only in his dreams did he seem to have any control.

“Sir? It is 8:30. Madam would like to know if you will be joining her for breakfast.”

###

Only in the UK by Pensitivity

It was supposed to be an Easter Bonnet Parade.
As in the Astaire/Garland movie, she had expected to Walk Down the Avenue with a handsome man on her arm under brilliant sunshine. She’d even borrowed a dog for the occasion, dressing it up with a crimson bow.
Unfortunately she slipped and fell flat on her face in the snow when it went charging off after a cat (not in the script), her dislodged hat rolling away to prop itself up against the fence.
Only in the UK could the weather be so unpredictable as to have snow in April.

###

Snow Eater by Ann Edall-Robson

This morning it’s -40 and three hours of chores don’t give a rats’ ass about the weather. There’s talk of it warming up, but it’s December so I don’t hold my breath on that account, just yet. The thermometer hasn’t seen the top side of zero for a few weeks now. Two hours into chores, the wind starts to blow. There’s the telltale blue arch visible in the western sky. The snow eater is coming. By mid-afternoon, the water’s running in the barnyard. It’s not a myth. It happens from time to time, but only in Chinook country.

###

Only in a Snowstorm (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Rain splattered wet pavement when Danni walked to the truck. She paused, looking back at the airport doors. On impulse, her legs twitched, urging her to run after Ike, catch him at security and… And what? Demand he stays? Beg? Instead, Danni left and drove toward the snowline where misting Spokane rain gave way to North Idaho snow. She gripped the steering wheel and drove slow on the slick corners where snow accumulated. Only in a snowstorm would Danni drive without giving in to her churning emotions. If it weren’t for the conditions, she’d be risking a speeding ticket.

###

Only in the Philipines by Lady Lee Manilla

Only in the Philippines you can ride
Jeepneys that could fit lots of people in
So full you could also ride atop the jeepney

Only in the Philippines you can eat
Balut which is a hard boiled duck egg
With developing embryo still inside

Only in the Philippines you can climb
El Nido’s giant limestone up to its summit
Not an easy feat but it’s all worth it

Only in the Philippines you can dine
By the beach, in high buildings or by waterfalls
Have picnic by the park and even throw plates later

Weird experience in the Philippines!

###

Tower by Matt Wall

The Baron, in his wisdom and generosity, had given us leave to go anywhere on the island. We could go into town if we liked, and hear the sailors with their news of the mainland. Only in the castle’s western tower were we forbidden.

We were hostages, my brothers, sisters, and me, though we lived like lords. And though my siblings swore they slept soundly, I saw the dark circles under their eyes in the morning. Like me, they heard the screams from the tower in the middle of the night, only they were wise enough to say nothing.

###

Only in the Shadows by FloatingGold

Betty looked in the mirror one last time after washing her hands and before exiting the washroom. As she stepped outside, she reminded herself to adjust her smile, because her life was perfect, after all. Off to hair and makeup she goes. It’s another busy day on set, so she changes her clothes while she walks, absentmindedly almost tripping over her own feet. It looks like they are shooting an ad for lipstick. In the modeling world no one knows about her horrible car accident in which her face got badly burned. Only in the shadows does she cry.

###

Only in Australia by Norah Colvin

The carollers woke her Christmas morning. After the preparation whirlwind, she’d collapsed into bed, only to continuously toss and turn, re-making each list and checking it twice. She groaned – please, just a few minutes more. The carollers insisted. She tumbled out of bed and stumbled to the door. They eagerly accepted her gifts. Breathing in the day’s freshness, she had to decide – bed? Nah – the pool! As each stroke soothed and each lap refreshed, she welcomed the day’s events. When a cockatoo’s shriek punctuated the chorus, the kookaburras laughed. “Only in Australia,” she thought. “It’s good to be home.”

###

All Wrapped Up by JulesPaige

The innocence of the youth…only in a home with children
can one appreciate the sheer joy of opening gifts – and it
doesn’t matter what holiday, birthday or celebration. They
wiggle as they wait knowing that some traditions have to be
dealt with first. Like all the adults oohing and ahhing and
catching up since last they met (some six months ago,
others just last week). Eating and more schmoozing…
then finally the one of the four (the eldest) who has reached
the age of reason… reasons… seeking Grama and asks;
“Is it time yet to open the presents?”

###

Only in My Dreams by Colleen Chesebro

The meadow fairy hovered above me. Her wings, transparent, barely discernable in the evening light beat the air in a slow rhythm. Her body was long and lean, like the tall grasses she hid in. Her blue eyes captured my attention. In an instant, I knew she was a Meliae fairy nymph because each of the seven nymph clans was represented by a color of the rainbow which manifested in the pigmentation of their eyes. I found myself transfixed and the glamours held me spellbound.

Whispers of my fate –
only in my wildest dreams,
how will I proceed?

###

Only in America (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

“I’m here for my foreign language credit,” Rico says when it’s his turn.

“Rico,” another student says. “Isn’t your name Latino?”

“We came here when I was a baby. I ignored my parents’ Spanish so I could fit in. Americans speak English.”

“Does the backlash against DACA affect you?” the teacher asks.

Rico spreads his arms: ta-daaah. “Only wetback you know who doesn’t speak Spanish. Paperwork and fees always on time. No arrests. Support myself, no Medicaid, no welfare, no student aid. Pay taxes, health insurance, college tuition. They still want to deport me.” Arms drop. “Only in America.”

###

Only in My Family by Jordan Corely

He sat at the edge of our kitchen table, knees bouncing up and down. I listened to the tap of his fingers across the keyboard, a rhythmic tune to an otherwise unpleasant situation. I could see perspiration beginning to form on his brow– what would his sister say this time? I stood opposite him, silently pretending to read a book and simultaneously distract myself from the discomfort my dad was exuding. When did talking to family become this difficult? When they stopped listening. I had answered my question already. Only in my family were emails required to effectively communicate.

###

Directions by Pete Fanning

“Excuse me, we’re looking for the memorial.”

“Nice car. You from Virginia?”

“Yes. Fairfax.”

“Right.”

“Sooo, the memorial?”

“Go down Jefferson Davis Highway, take a right at MLK Boulevard. You’ll pass Nat Turner Park…”

“Are you being serious? I can’t tell if you’re being serious.”

“…there’s a marker for Stonewall Jackson’s arm’s grave.”

“A um, a grave for his arm?”

“That’s what I said.”

“…”

“Anyways, at the courthouse—it’s closed on account of it being Lee-Jackson-King day—you’ll see it. You can’t miss General Lee. If you look close you can see the tears—hey, where you going?”

###

America by Rugby843

Is it

“only in”

America

Where you can see all of nature’s beauty

Dry grassy plains

High snow covered mountains

Low green valleys

Ice blue clear lakes

Long red muddy rivers

Tall large redwood trees

Forests of green firs

Tangled highway crossovers

Hard packed dirt roads

Tropical forests

White sand deserts

Domesticated animals

Wild buffalo, antelope and deer

Birds of every size and color

People from every land

Rich mansions

Poverty slums

Cities and farmed fields

Light green spring buds

Hot summer sunset nights

Autumn maple splendor

Ski slopes deep with winter snow?

Here we are privileged to live.

###

Learning Respect for the Flag by Susan Sleggs

“I’m not coming home for a dumb parade to see Dad in a musty old uniform and carrying a flag that means nothing. I’m riding to D.C. for Memorial Day.”

“He fought for that flag.”

Weeks later. “I went to Bike Week in Lake George, NY, after I went to Rolling Thunder. I saw lots of bikes, boobs, and drunks. Not a good scene. On the other hand, only in D.C can 400,000 roaring bikes, lots of flags and tons of veterans be a reverent sight. I now understand Dad’s loyalty to the flag. I’ll be home next year.”

###

Only At Carrot Ranch by D. Avery

“What’s up Kid? Looks like yer all tied up.”

“Jist shush, an’ hep me get untangled.”

“What’re you doin’?”

“Tryin’ out some fancy knots.”

“Not so fancy. Not even knots, Kid. Why are ya tryin’ out these buckaroo skills?”

“Shorty said-“

“Did ya follow the thread of Shorty’s prompt, Kid? Pick up yer own lines ta braid yer own story. Shorty’ll git ‘em all wove together after.”

“Go where the prompt leads?”

“Yep, but let it lead ya ta a familiar place Kid, a place ya know. Hey, where ya headed?”

“Cook house, gonna git ta know some bacon.”

###

A Time to Perform

A Time to Perform by the Rough Writers & Friends @Charli_MillsStep on up to the stage, you won’t believe the show we have gathered for you this week! Performances from all quarters to shock and delight your senses!

Writers took their performances to the page to give imaginative response to the different kinds of spectacles and every day acts that can drive a story.

The following are based on the December 7, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write that features a performance. You can interpret what is a performance any way the prompt leads you.

***

Change the World by Reena Saxena

“Change the world”, she said.

He did not have the heart to confess that he was an ordinary mortal. He conjured pink smoke and gave her a different lens to see the world. She believed every vision that he generated for her.

There had been many who were teaching her to survive – the killer disease and life thereafter. She had eagerly awaited the arrival of a healer and transformation agent, till he arrived.

It was the performance of a lifetime for the young medical intern appointed in the cancer ward of the hospital. He had seen her medical reports.

###

Holiday Storytelling by Frank Hubeny

Each year Peter told the grandkids how he killed the monster. They believed him, but children grow up.

Sylvie was nearly grown-up. She quietly went to Grandma Alice to get the truth, “Did Grandpa really kill a monster?”

Alice told her, “Your Grandpa’s getting old. He wants you to be happy and so he tells stories. He’s feeling better now but he has protected me from his nightmares for many years. I only know this. What he fought was not exactly what I would call a ‘monster’.”

“I didn’t think so.”

“It was the meanest dragon that ever lived.”

###

Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

Everyone had had so much fun, and it was nice for the family to be together.

After her guests had left, she put the borrowed tea things to one side, they would be collected later.

The leftovers could be put in the fridge, even though she’d turn it off along with everything else. They’d see her over a few days as would the edible family contributions to the table.

Her bedroom would stay warm the longest. It was where she spent most of her time anyway huddled in a blanket. Damn government cutbacks.

She hoped her performance was convincing.

###

Command Performance (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane wipes her palms down her jeans, picks up the blue marker. Since when do grownups have to do class exercises on the board? The professor smiles encouragingly but she can feel all the eyes boring into her back, her sentences wandering uphill and downhill while every nuance of Spanish sentence structure goes out of her head. What is the word for “T-shirt?” She settles for “blouse.”

Back in her seat, her hands are still shaking as the man next to her…Rico?…leans in. “Grand performance. I’ve been noticing you. May I buy you a coffee after class?”

###

Take Five by Pete Fanning

Jan set the cake on the table. She lit candles, grabbed her phone, and pressed record.

“Happy Birthday, to Logan…Happy birthday, to Lo—”

Jan popped up. “Tyler, why aren’t you singing?”

Tyler rolled his eyes. Logan leaned forward, ready for cake, but Jan held out a hand. “No sweetie, not yet. Hang on. Tyler, sing. Avery, smile. Okay, ready? Smile!”

She pressed record. “Happy Birthday, to you…Happy—”

Jan cocked her head. “Tyler, try to look happy, so I can post this.”

“Mom.”

“Shh. Okay, let’s try again. Smile. Baby, not yet. Okay, ready?” She pressed record.

“Haaappy….”

###

Performance by FloridaBorne

“Mom,” Noelle said, her voice lilting. “He looks just like Joel!”

Ralphina scampered over to her 13 year old twins.

Try not to scream … breathe, she repeated inside a mind that wanted to run from the handsome face staring back at her with Joel’s green eyes, remembering snippets: Backstage. Drugged. Hand over her mouth. Searing pain. So much blood. LifeFlight.

“He served 13 years for raping a minor,” Ralphina said. “She almost died from it!”

“He’s a big Rock Star!” Joel said. “Is that our father?”

“No,” Ralphina replied, relieved she’d not listed the bastard on their birth certificates.

###

Escape Artist by Chris Mills

My husband insists on a dress rehearsal of his escape routine. He was a failure as an illusionist, so he’ll try Houdini’s gig.

I snap the padlocks. Believe me, it’s an honor. He sinks onto his back in the coffin. As his assistant, I kneel and kiss him, passing a key into his mouth from mine. I lower the lid.

From the coat closet, I retrieve a suitcase and pause at the front door. The real key lies on the locked lid. I hate to miss the performance, but it will be a long scene before the curtain drops.

###

Drama Performance by Michael

My senior drama students faced a final performance exam presided over by visiting examiners.

Scott and I rehearsed for months, refining his character and his performance. He worried over every detail, and there was nothing we hadn’t rehearsed.

Exam day arrived, and the performances were under the control of the examiners, I could only sit and watch.

A nervous Scott went into his performance. Half way through he forgot his lines. The look on his face was devastating. He looked at me, but I was powerless to help him. He stumbled defeated to the end and left in tears.

###

A Five Star Performance by Joe Owens

When you are so well known you cannot go anywhere without turning heads it can sometimes be a drag. So Erwin chose to sneak into the Belikin Community Theater in disguise so he could be in the Christmas play he loved as a youth. Only his dear childhood friend Elyse, the director had any idea a Hollywood star graced the stage.

“Well?” she asked after the play was finished.

“I miss this,” Erwin said.

“We could make it a regular thing. I am happy to have you.”

“If my agent finds out she will go berserk!”

“So, don’t tell.”

###

First Performance by Bill Engleson

“NO! I WON’T! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.”

I still see him, still hear his awful silence. Eyes darting. Like the condemned. Tears desert-dry. The pain is too much for waterworks.

Nine he was that Christmas. He shot up by thirteen but that year when he was nine, he was a waterless shoot.

Arrested.

Pale, as if exposure to the sun would shrivel him.

He had two lines. “He is a beautiful baby.” And “The donkey is sad.”

The moment overcame him. He scampered off the stage into his mother’s arms.

The play, as plays do, went on without him.

###

Nativity by Ritu Bhathal

“Come on children, nice and loud now! Please no shouting – it’s singing we want to hear.”

Mrs Keeble started the intro on the school piano, and nodded to the class in front of her.

As usual, there were the performers: the children who thought they were born for the stage. There were the skulkers: the ones who stood at the back, heads down, hoping no one would notice them. And then there were the stunned: the ones who stood there, gawping, no sound leaving their mouths, eyes scanning the audience for family.

Wonderful!

Welcome to another infant Christmas performance!

###

Nativity Play by Kerry E.B. Black

In the church nativity play, Matthew portrayed Shepherd Two, though preferred staying close to his best friend, Buddy, who was cast as Joseph.

The boys fidgeted.

Matthew chewed his headrail. “Who’s Baby Jesus?” Their Sunday School teacher remained sketchy on casting details.

Buddy shrugged. He stepped into the lead of the procession with the girl cast as Mary.

Matthew took his position behind shepherd one and three sheep. As the choir sung, curiosity overtook him, and he ignored the stage blocking. He edged closer to Buddy. “Who’s Jesus?”

They leaned over the manger and giggled. “Jesus is a doll?”

###

The Stage by Allison Maruska

I take my seat in the front row. As Corina’s biggest fan, I wouldn’t miss this concert for anything.

Bouncing my leg, I wait for her to appear. She’s late. Is something wrong? There – she’s just offstage. Her deep breath lifts the long beads she wears.

Finally, she takes the stage, and I cheer as she poses. The music starts, and Corina performs a song I’ve heard a thousand times. When it ends, I offer a well-deserved standing ovation.

Corina smiles and twists, biting her nail. Then, still in her place on our coffee-table stage, my little girl bows.

###

Ol’ Red Eyes by Juliet Nubel

‘Your daughter danced beautifully.’ The other mum stared at my red-rimmed eyes but didn’t mention them.

‘Yours too’, I lied.

I hadn’t noticed her daughter or any of the other girls. I never do. They are all just a blur of pale legs and lacquered hair, moving around the edges of my own beautiful child.

The tears spring forth whenever she flies onstage. I smile from the heart, but my eyes weep freely from a well, deep within my soul.

Where that well originates will be a lifelong mystery. Her beauty, her grace?

Or just pure, undiluted, crystal-clear pride?

###

The After Party by Geoff Le Pard

As the lights went up, Mary gathered her things. A woman she didn’t know stopped by her seat.

‘Are you Penny’s Mum? She was excellent.’

‘Thanks. Sorry, have…?’

‘Millie’s Mum. Amelia. We lose identity with kids don’t we?’

Mary smiled at this nervy woman. ‘Mary. Penny mentioned a sleepover?’

‘Oh she did? Thank heavens. I wondered. You have an airbed?’

‘Of course. How many…?’

‘Thirteen. Gray thinks me mad.’

Me too, thought Mary.

‘It’s our first since we moved here. I want it to go well.’

‘Being a parent is just another performance, isn’t it? Only without a script.’

###

Performance by Rugby843

“Which one should I wear”, holding the multicolored bow tie in one hand and the shimmering blue in the other. Joe was getting dressed for the Christmas concert and wearing the proper tuxedo coat and pants, but couldn’t make up his mind about the tie.

Usually not nervous about the orchestra’s performance–he always practiced well; tonight was a bit different. His new girlfriend would be in the front row observing him.

Joe fumbled with the bow tie and glanced in the mirror, luckily no zits this night. Rushing out, he forgot to change from his sneakers to dress shoes.

###

Christmas Lights by Norah Colvin

A two-day city visit is never enough, but they were determined – trekking the city, visiting in-store Santas, viewing Christmas-dressed windows, watching street performers, even attending a pantomime, with just a brief playground stop for lunch. The light show was the day’s finale. The tired parents and niggly children collapsed onto the lawn in anticipation. Suddenly the littlest began to perform – crying, screaming, stamping, flailing. Nothing would soothe. The eldest observed, zombie-like. Soon the light-show distracted, occasionally interrupting the performance. Only when the fireworks began, drowning out his cries, did he give in to sleep, sprawled indecorously on the grass.

###

Performance Anxiety (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Standing in the darkened wings, Danni stretched her hips. She arched her back, clasping her hands overhead. On the stage, Evelyn prepped the audience.

This was her moment. She couldn’t see faces, just the heavy beam of overhead stage lights. Her professor taught her tricks to overcome performance anxiety when she realized that as an archeologist she’d occasionally have to give public presentations.

The Sandpoint Theater was packed, and Evelyn was already giving introductions. “Without further ado, Dr. Danni Gordon…”

Walking out into the lights, Danni conjured the friendliest face, as if she were performing just for him – Ike.

###

The Red Devil by Robbie Cheadle

The red devil danced with abandon, and the little girl watched, her attention riveted on the stage. The dancer wore red tights and a red leotard. She had a pointed tail and horns on her head. She even had red ballet shoes. The little girl stood there in her own costume; she was dressed up as a ladybird; and dreamed of being a red devil. She dreamed of dancing like that, all alone on the stage, a wild and uninhibited dance. This memory remained with her as she traveled her chosen path. She never got her own devil outfit.

###

The Audition by Anurag Bakhshi

Helen went on to the stage, bowed towards the judges, and started dancing.

She danced as if no one was watching.

She danced as if her feet were on fire.

She danced as she’d never danced before.

She danced as if she would never dance again.

She kept dancing till her feet bled, and she collapsed on the stage.

Getting up, she bowed towards the judges again, and said, “I wish you’d agreed to give me a chance.”

And then, with a withering look at the corpses of the judges on their seats, Helen left.

Her performance was over.

###

Curtain Call by Lisa Listwa

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Visualize. See yourself in front of the room, comfortable, confident, smiling as you go through the motions…

“Rubbish,” she muttered.

It never works. You can’t deliver a convincing portrayal when your heart isn’t in it. Not really. The words you say are just a script to fool the world into thinking that you actually want to be here.

It’s time for a curtain call and an exit, stage left. But first…one last show.

The first period bell rang and the hallway filled with students heading to classrooms.

This would be the performance of a lifetime.

###

Oh What a Night When She Performed by Lady Lee Manilla

Oh what a night when she performed
Standing room only
From a place that’s always so warm
Crossing the seven seas
Proud of herself, she cried in joy
From the Philippines she’s the envoy
Proud of herself
Proud of herself
As “Miss Saigon” we all enjoyed
Oh what a night when she performed
She was only sixteen
Theatre was full and people swarmed
Marvellous in her scene
Through her journey we felt her pain
Celebrated with her with champagne
Through her journey
And through her journey
We don’t mind watching her again
Oh what a night when she performed

###

The Gales of November (a haibun) by Colleen Chesebro

I watched from my perch upon the beach as the November gales arrived early this year. North winds filled with an anxious rage howled across Lake Superior. Frothy white-capped waves erupted in a crescendo of deafening sounds, pounding for attention against the agate strewn sands. The spray splashed against my face like tears falling in a sorrowful refrain. Amidst the roiling of the storm, a quiet and gentle acceptance surfaced within me. I acknowledged my loneliness knowing that this too shall change. The show must go on.

Primeval gems–
Storm born, birthed on barren shores,
Remind me of home.

###

LIGHT; messaging (reverse haibun + two words) by JulesPaige

the cursor blinking
waits to advance – the curse,
blessing; advances –

As the cusser and controller of the keys, the writer walks
that odd line through. I stand watching the squirrels out the
window like acrobats unafraid of tree limb heights. Spying
on the line up of birds taking turns at the feeder. Woodpeckers,
Junko, Mourning dove, mockingbird… pecker, junk, mourning,
mocking… is there a secret message from nature? That present
darkness, swooning like a lost love. As dawn breaks and the
sky turns a faint blue, who else is looking for the light of the
bright sun to shine?

###

The Show Goes On by D. Avery

A long running show, somewhat predictable, though performed live; it could go off script, could still surprise the players as well as the audience, something she used to enjoy.

She was well respected for her roles, yet, despite her experience, her pre-show jitters were getting worse instead of better. Onstage, if the tempo slowed at all, she was aware of a persistent anxiety, always ready to prompt her from behind the curtain, whispering to her of her inadequacies.

“Good morning, how are you?”

She smiled. “Fine.”

8:01 A.M.

She had gotten through her first act, had given a convincing performance.

###

The Performance by Irene Waters

Fatigued, Jessica lent on the counter yet still she smiled as though they were the centre of her world. She had the same conversations with different people all day, every day; their families, their hopes and dreams, the weather. The weather loomed large but it was so boring. Everything was boring. They didn’t suspect. They talked at her, thinking she cared. Her genuine, eye crinkling smiles made them think they’d made her day.

She’d had an authentic smile this morning when she overheard, “When we drop into the shop it brightens Jessica up.” Yes her performance was very good.

###

Training, It’s Draining by Neel Anil Panicker

Two days, seven hours, thirty-one minutes and still counting. There’s no signs of the torture ever coming to an end. From his secluded perch in the far right hand corner, I watch with eyes as dead as of a dodo’s at the ‘actors’ and their ‘performances’.

The powers that be had even thought out a name for this form of extreme sadism, grandly christening it as ‘ANNUAL SKILL UPLIFTMENT SESSION’.

My foot! The only skill upliftment was that the hapless trainees had by now learnt how to fall into deep slumber with their eyes split wide open.

###

Sideshow by TellingStoriesTogether

“Observe,” said the showman, pointing with his cane. “This bizarre creature is so fragile, even the slightest variance of temperature causes it distress.”

He turned the valve with one of his myriad tentacles, and the glass tank lit up red. The creature within balled up its pathetic appendages and howled in anguish.

“Hear how it passes air over flaps of flesh within its throat to make sound?” said the showman. “A primitive, but effective form of communication.”

He bowed and doffed the top hat from atop one of his several eye stalks. “Ladies, gentlemen, larvae… I give you, man!”

###

Yoko’s Performance Deconstructs the Male Gaze by Anne Goodwin

Come, you know you want to! Haven’t you done this a thousand times in your mind? Forget it’s me up here, under the lights, with the power of my reputation. My name. Imagine a moonless night, a drunken stagger in a too-short skirt; she can’t remember where she left her friends, her bank card, her phone. She’s asking for it, can’t you see? As I am, now. Look how easy I’ve made it for you with the scissors. No need for savage clawing with your hands. I won’t struggle. I won’t protest. Won’t speak. Come, cut away my clothes!

###

My Mouth-Watering Performance by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“All I remember,” I pause, heaving a shuddering sigh, “Was walking into the downstairs parlor. It was dark, but I smelled swampland. I stepped in a patch of something wet and my feet flew out from under me.

“And then I came to and saw your dear face hovering above me,” I grasp his brawny bicep, offering up a shaky smile. “But your fiancée, Melanie, has been…eviscerated.”

“Murdered by the Swamp Thing!” Lawrence clenches his fists. “I swear I won’t rest until it’s destroyed!”

“Of course, Dear,” I murmur, picking a strand of swamp grass from my teeth.

###

Performance by Lisa Rey

Shane was at the murder scene. A young man lay there dead. Twenty at most. He surveyed the scene with emotionless eyes and gathered the details from witnesses, fellow officers and the forensic team. He was known in this macho world as a guy who got the job done. No sentimentality.

But when he got home, he wheeled himself into his flat. He sat down with his husband Alan and admitted he was rattled by today’s events. He secretly couldn’t get used to the destruction people caused. But acting unsentimental was the way he felt got results. And justice.

###

Viva la Diva by D. Avery

“Told ya Pal.”

“Told me what?”

“All the world’s a stage.”

“Yep, s’pose so. Hey, do you dance, Kid?”

“Jist the can’t-can’t. Why? Hope Shorty’s ain’t plannin’ some sorta ballet here at Carrot Ranch.”

“Naw, her dancin’ lessons are of the 99 word variety.”

“Gotta tell ya, Shorty’s a tough act ta follow. Such strong performances every week.”

“Yep, Shorty’s writin’s a gift.”

“Pal, ta say that diminishes the fact that Shorty’s sharpened her skills an’ honed her craft through perseverance an’ hard work.”

“Kid, I meant Shorty’s writin’s a gift ta all us.”

“Oh. Now I’m readin’ ya.”

###