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On Fire

Burning bright, fire gives us power — to create, to destroy. Flames follow us through time and life, giving us memories of camping trips and ancient moments witnessed by the moon. We dance to fire and we let it burn within us from our sickbed.

Writers wrote flames that readers will seek like moths. Stories that will linger.

The following are based on the April 4, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fire.

PART I (10-minute read)

Condemned by H.R.R. Gorman

I feel like a traitor.

There had been a military tribunal, and the officer acting as judge declared guilty. Death by firing squad.

I take a deep breath while the soldiers line up. What a way to die. Every soldier was given a gun with a bullet, some blank while others are deadly. But someone has the gun which will kill.

“Aim!” an officer shouts.

I struggle to keep my eyes open.

“Fire!”

I pull my trigger, and the man drops.

Was it my gun that held the bullet that killed him?

Did the judge know he’d condemned me?

🥕🥕🥕

Flame by Anita Dawes

Prometheus stole fire to give to mankind.
For this the great Titan was punished by Zeus
tied to a rock so an eagle would eat his liver
which would heal overnight
to be eaten again the next day.
Until a hero comes. Hercules to the rescue.
I have thought of Prometheus as my hero
his punishment did not fit the crime.
Now he is mostly forgotten,
we sit on the beach, toast our marshmallows
the fire taken for granted.
Fire can take a forest, leaving burnt ash
yet it will grow again like Prometheus liver,
magic in the flame…

🥕🥕🥕

The Haunted Seas by Saifun Hassam

Tormented turbulent seas flung “Aurora” onto the promontory’s rocky shores. Lightning split the skies like a needle-thin tree with myriad fine and delicate branches. The clouds shifted into terrifying monstrous shapes as they raced across the sky driven by gale force winds.

At dawn the sky and seas were gray, and fog shrouded the shores. Beacons of fire were lit along the promontory where the lighthouse had sunk into an underground cave. A deep sense of loss and mourning filled the hearts of the seafaring community. The “Aurora” was listing over the rocks. There seemed to be no survivors.

🥕🥕🥕

Testimony and Sacrifice by Liz Husebye Hartmann

A moment, all I remember:

Her face, cupped by the flickering glow of a night fire shared against a greater darkness.

Her hands, rolling thin-shaved bark around crumbles of tobacco, mushroom, moss, bone-white shards… something I couldn’t identify, even as she tossed it into the edge of the roiling embers.

Her voice, raised only slightly “And thus we vanquish you, Darkness” as she stepped, barefoot, into the circle of stones.

An exploding funk of flesh and forest as I’m thrown back, onto the ground.

Moon’s cold eye staring down on me.

She is gone, but the darkness? Defeated.

You’re finished.

🥕🥕🥕

Prodigy by Sherri Matthews

What kind of Firestarter? A crazy, twisted one, that’s right. Hair horns and piercings mother would not approve – get them and you’re out, got it? My house, my rules. Yeah…one day… YouTube takes me down that tunnel night after night. Never too loud, thank God for earphones. Mother’s not here but the nurses are, so I crank up the music and it blasts my eardrums and I wonder what it was like to be a teenager in the 90’s. My generation now, sick but I’ll mend. Keith Flint’s gone but his flame still burns, that brilliant unleashed Firestarter.

🥕🥕🥕

Soul Dance by Di @ pensitivity101

She watched the flames dance within the stone circle.
Sparkles shot skywards, like prayers to the gods in times past.
She closed her eyes, and let the memories wash over her.
Hugging herself, she thought of another night like this.
Here, dreams were realised, emotions explored, passions spent.
Innocence surrendered, lives changed forever and a new life begun.
She wouldn’t change any of it. She called for him.
Footsteps approached, a hand reached down to caress her neck.
Eager lips nuzzled and nibbled.
They were young, together again, as one.
The fire died, leaving just embers of a memory.

🥕🥕🥕

Internal Inferno? by JulesPaige

When playing with matches one can get burnt or burn things to powder ash.
Sometimes a child is lucky, they only burn down a kitchen curtain.
What though would make a child want to get attention by flamboyant flame?

Is it a crime to want to be in the limelight, to have some, any attention?
Elder sibling gathering no dust; displays intelligent conversation.
Baby in nappies still, needs and wants blend; screams at fevered pitches

a burning desire
pulses in a shadowed soul
can laughter be found?

phoenix can rise up from flame
but they must be consumed first

🥕🥕🥕

As the Flames Fling High by Papershots

In the smoky gray courtyard, the firing squad is lined up, awaiting those to be shot. The former smoke while the latter lit candles in the night on their windowsills. But a section of the confiscated buildings is on fire and firefighters are trying to tame the ever-spreading flames – those who live in the area are out firing questions at officers ill-equipped at this fired-up injustice. The morning sun rises firing the tops of burned-out trees. “Fire! Fire!” a second of hesitation too many, “Fire, fire!” And all, at present, is gone up in tiny little bits of smoke.

🥕🥕🥕

Fire Mage by The Dark Netizen

We were never promised a glorious battle nor death worthy of remembrance.

All we understood was that if we did not fight our hardest, the dark king would slay our loved ones, and ravage our lands.

The Dark King’s minions were summoned from the blackest depths of earth, where no men wander.

Vicious and vile to the core, their only weakness was the blaze of holy fire.

As a senior mage of our kingdom, the responsibility of supporting our troops had been shifted to my shoulders.

I wasn’t the type to shun responsibility, besides I loved playing with fire…

🥕🥕🥕

Attack! by Joanne Fisher

The sentries were taken out silently. Aalen and Ashalla moved quickly into the camp. In the center was a fire-pit still burning. While Ashalla took care of the drunken stragglers Aalen spied the largest tent and silently went inside.

She roused their leader awake. He look confused.

“I thought we had killed you all.” he said.

“Why destroy my village?”

“I was only acting under orders. We wanted your forest for timber but we knew your people wouldn’t like that. So we decided to get rid of you. The Baron sent us.”

Aalen stuck her knife in his throat.

🥕🥕🥕

Blazing Pen by Reena Saxena

He has experienced gut-wrenching hunger in his early years.

Later, he found that fighting hunger is easier than fighting evil which suppresses independent thought.

He is a writer who dares to present things in a different manner, and superimposes his vision on existing or non-existent objects. The vision may contradict known logic.

The fire in his belly refuses to die, as does his metaphoric pen blitzing across a literary canvas. The hunger for his share of the pie continues to drive him. He changes the code of subservient minds. He unleashes control of a different kind – hypnotism with words.

🥕🥕🥕

Fire on the Moorland, Fire in the Writer’s Head by Anne Goodwin

Beneath the surface calm, she smoulders. Quiet now, change is on its way. The fuel’s deep, it only takes a spark to ignite it and, when it does, it sets her whole world alight.

There, a glowing flicker! There, another, crackling the bracken. The fire jumps from one hummock to the next. Connect, connect to horseshoe around her. Should she stay inside the circle or race to safety through the gap?

Peat burns and engulfs the moor, like ideas in a writer’s head. Should we douse the flames to save the landscape, or fan them into a new story?

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Sally Cronin

The firelight flickered across the walls of the cave and the healer stared into the flames.

Fire was a precious gift that had been passed down by their ancestors, but for some it brought a great burden. Those with healing skills saw visions within the heart of the burning mass.

It would not happen in her lifetime, but as the healer sat transfixed by the prophetic images, tears rolled down her wrinkled face. Her time was nearly over, but she hoped, that in the future, one of her descendants would be strong enough to put out the coming conflagration.

🥕🥕🥕

Olympic Achievement by Chelsea Owens

Panting, moving; legs dance; running? Slow he moves, yet forward goes.

Yelling, waving; crowds smile; cheering! Quick their hands and banners flow.

Road goes under, step by stepping; even’ning sunshine asphalt raised.

Signs flash by, their message flapping; glinting sun and wind-blown praise.

Turn now, hero, enter warmly; enter ‘neath the crowds and flares.

Swift and surely, climb the mountain; climb your metal, switchback stairs.

Raise your head now, torch-lit runner

Lift your eyes from up and under

Hear now, see now raised-face crowd sight

Bring your arm: the dimmer torch light–

To zenith goal; now, flame -IGNITE!

🥕🥕🥕

The Torch Relay by Miriam Hurdle

“Did you see the torch?”

“The flashlight?”

“No, the torch carried by the runner yesterday.”

“The tick with fire burning at the end?”

“Yes, the runners were on their way to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.”

“There’re 337 competitors from my country Britain.”

“Yes, 522 from the United States. The Torch Relay began in New York City and ended in Los Angeles, traversing 33 states. There were 3,636 runners passing on, carried the torch on foot for over 9,320 miles. Los Angeles will host the Summer Olympics for the third time in 2028, 44 years from now.”

“I’ll be here.”

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Geoff Le Pard

‘Why the long face, Morgan?’

‘It’s Mum.’

‘Really? Is she ill?’

‘She’s planning her funeral.’

‘Some people do. Was she miserable?’

‘Not at all. Quite energised.’

‘That’s good.’

‘Is it?’

‘What did she say?’

‘She wants to choose her music. Three songs. Two were easy, cabaret stuff, but the third caused the difficulty.’

‘How?’

‘She couldn’t decide if she wanted to be cremated or buried. If cremated she wanted Arthur Brown’s Fire…’

‘And buried?’

‘Going Underground by the Jam.’

‘What’s bad about that?’

‘I can’t have a mother who’s a punk fan. That’s just wrong on so many levels.’

🥕🥕🥕

Sebastian’s Bird by Nancy Brady

Sebastian didn’t know where it came from, nor where it disappeared to every so often, but he loved that bird. It appeared most often when he was upset, angry, or needed help, or at least, that was the way it seemed. That is, until his bird became lethargic and his red-gold feathers began to droop. He fed his bird a special diet to bring him back to health, but nothing he did for his bird seemed to work. In fact, the bird burst into flames, and died. From the ashes of the fire, the phoenix arose to new life.

🥕🥕🥕

The Bonfire – Haiku-Style Poem by Susan Zutautas

Firewood is gathered

Firepit is made, wood is placed

Kindling set throughout

A match is stricken

Holding the flame to the twigs

Smoldering begins

Seconds pass quickly

Twigs caught, setting wood a fire

Bonfire has begun

Aroma intense

Flickering flames hypnotize

Heat is powerful

People gather round

Rubbing their hands together

Over the fire’s glow

Someone starts a song

Everyone joins in singing

Party has started

Guitars are brought out

Strumming and picking is heard

Hands clap out a beat

Cheerful happiness

Cold lagers are abundant

People having fun

The moon is shining

Fire is blazing overhead

Submersing begins

🥕🥕🥕

Autumn Camping Joys by tracey

Crisp air
Achingly blue skies
Trees full of red and yellow leaves
Crunching leaves underfoot
Legs pleasantly aching after a long hike
Sizzling hot dogs over the fire
Laughter as yet another marshmallow bursts into flame
Smoke scented air drifting up
Hands stretched toward the warmth
Darkness falling
Stars emerging
Ghosts stories making you glance over your shoulder
Crackling logs
Steaming mugs of tea and cocoa
Sparks snapping
That drying leaves smell
Bursts of flames from pinecones
Snuggles under a fleece throw
The hooting of an owl
Moonlight shadows
Feeling the joy of togetherness under a vast sky
Contentment

🥕🥕🥕

Hard to Take a Break (from Miracle  of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Fire spun a halo in the night sky. Danni’s stomach churned. Nothing more she could do tonight. She leaned against her Forest Service truck, away from the camp chatter. Some recruits buzzed from the adrenaline, fighting wildland fires for the first time. Nearby, the Canadian Bombardier pilot regaled his earlier flight to the crew of Australians newly arrived. Danni scanned the distant flames, feeling impatient. In 1910 they didn’t luxuriate in rest and strategy in shifts. Is this what Ike felt before he left –restless while others fought a war he had to watch burn from the sidelines?

🥕🥕🥕

Making Notification by Susan Sleggs

The Army officer stopped the fleet car in front of the brick house at 217 Maple Avenue. As they looked at the house, he said to the Chaplain sitting with him, “I hate doing these notifications. All the family has to do is see us walking up the sidewalk and they know what they’re going to hear.”

“True, but these days they can hold on to the fact their child volunteered and had wanted to serve their country.”

“Doesn’t make losing one any easier, especially when I have to admit friendly fire was the cause. And they always ask.”

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Nope! by Nobbinmaug

I thought she was cute the first time I saw her.

Nope!

That smile.

Nope.

The more I talked to her, the more I thought about her.

Nope?

The more I saw her, the more she smiled at me, the more I realized she wasn’t just cute, she was beautiful.

Maybe?

The more I got to know her, the more I saw how sweet and kind she was.

Maybe.

It wasn’t until it was too late that I realized, she lit a fire in my soul. The likes of which I’ve never known. It might just burn me alive.

🥕🥕🥕

Love Spell by Kelley Farrell

“Dear Ana,
My love for you burns brighter than a thousand suns. I would walk through fire for you. You would never wonder where my heart lies. Please Ana, be mine.
Yours eternal,
Marco”

Ana rolled her eyes. This was the third one this week.

All she wanted was a trip to the mall. Her ever pious mother refused and took her to antiques roadshow instead. She bought her an old rusty teapot.

It was better than expected, but when she told the genie she wanted love spell to wear she meant the perfume.

“Marco,
No.
Don’t write again.”

🥕🥕🥕

Streetlights in Winter By Erica Schaef

There was something I wanted. The glow of home, or the bittersweet ache of fulfillment. Something not tangible.
Looking at street lights in winter gave me a sort of peace. Here you belong, they said. Here, you may rest. I sipped my coffee, having long since abandoned my attempt to join in the conversation at the table. The restaurant was crowded, too loud, too bright. I sat by the window, watching flurries dance around white glowing orbs outside.

A man appeared under one, lit a cigarette. Its flame intrigued me, illuminating broad shoulders and full lips. I wanted him.

🥕🥕🥕

Machine Man by calmkate

machines were his passion, they really lit his fire

collected one of each kind, had a burning desire

had the skills to maintain them all

loved the variety, it was his call

but they don’t come cheap

long hard work just to keep

yet his infatuation ran deep

they haunted his dream sleep

when using any he would visibly ignite

his eyes lit up, the flame burnt bright

his well trained wife accepted his flame

she enjoyed his childlike delight as it came

his kind heart helped those he met

if using a machine it was a sure bet!

🥕🥕🥕

The Heart of a Teacher by Norah Colvin

“It’s storytime, children.”
They gathered at her feet, bright-eyed, transfixed.
Jane read, instructed and encouraged. They never tired.
Later, all snuggled up in bed, Mum asked, “What will you be when you grow up?”
“A teacher.”

“Storytime, children.”
They gathered at her feet, bright-eyed, hearts open, minds buzzing.
Miss Jane read. They hung on every word, contemplating obstacles and possible resolutions, following the heroes’ journey into the cave and out.

“Ple-ease!”
“No time for stories. It’s test time.”
They slumped at desks, eyes glazed, minds dulled, hearts heavy.
The cave was cold and dark. Were they ever coming out?

🥕🥕🥕

Friendship by Joanne Fisher

“Who’s there?” The Anointed One called out frightened. She had woken to see a shadow in the doorway. She was barely twenty summers old but had been chosen to be the Keeper of the Sacred Flame and brought to this temple against her will then burnt by the Fire.

“It’s me Kali!” A familiar voice replied. It was her best friend Ananya.

“How did you get here?” Kali asked.

“I followed the soldiers and priestesses after they took you. Then I sneaked in.” Ananya replied jumping onto her bed. They hugged. “I’m going to get you out of here.”

🥕🥕🥕

Where There’s Smoke… by John Rieber

The restaurant was packed as usual. The busboy was frantic, maneuvering through the crowd with a large round platter on his shoulder, filled to the brim with half-full water glasses, dirty dishes, old napkins and candles. His head was turned so he hadn’t noticed that one of the napkins had caught on fire. If he saw flames, that platter was going airborne – what a disaster! Just then, a Waiter sauntered up and said: “hey man, you know you’re on fire?” He reached up, grabbed a water glass and put him out. The Busboy’s eyes widened. Dinner service was underway.

🥕🥕🥕

Scared as Hell by Susan Zutautas

Sitting by the pool I looked up to see smoke coming out from our apartment window.

Panic-struck, I yelled, “Oh my God”, I’d left candles burning in my bedroom unintentionally.

Panic turned to terror then into shock thinking my step-mother would kill me for setting fire to our home.

A neighbour saw how stressed I was, grabbed me and took me into her apartment where she made me get into a cold shower and drink a straight shot of whiskey hoping that this would calm me down.

Everything turned out okay. My step-mother was happy that I was alright.

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Roberta Eaton

Jack woke up, coughing. Thick, choking smoke filled his room. Within moments he realised the house was on fire. Pulling his blanket over his head, he slipped out of his bedroom door and up the stairs.

“Fire! Wake up!” Turning back, Jack could see tongues of flame licking at the first wooden step. Tendrils of bright fire ran up along the banister.

Mr Farriner appeared with his daughter and the maid. “There’s no way down. We’ll have to climb out of the window and crawl along the guttering. We can climb in the window of the house next door.”

🥕🥕🥕

Tyranny Tango by Macy Brown

My eyes shot open.

What was it that had awoken me?

Then I heard it again… that ear shattering scream. I jumped out of bed and raced out into the hallway, but as soon as I opened my bedroom door my heart dropped. Bright orange and yellow flames danced in front of my face, engulfing the west side of my apartment.

I got down on the ground and crawled on my belly under the flames to my front door.
How could this happen to me? I asked myself. This was the kind of thing that only happened in movies.

🥕🥕🥕

Campfire by Kerry E.B. Black

While the other Girl Scouts gathered close to the campfire to sing traditional songs and roast marshmallows for s’mores, Lottie kept to the shadows. She studied the ground and regretted the trip.

Her friends regarded the fire as an exotic beauty shooting fairy sparks to dance with the starry sky, but Lottie could only recall its destructive power. Fire consumed without mercy, devoured with no discrimination.

She shrunk from its warmth. She hated the smoky stench. When the wood popped like gunshots, she squeezed her eyes tight. Flames flickered like an antique film, replaying her family house consumed.

🥕🥕🥕

Smouldering Fire by Ann Edall-Robson

After a month of loading hay bales and mucking out stalls, Hanna had become one of the depended upon employees at the ranch. She didn’t flaunt her ability to work shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the crew, and she volunteered when opportunity arose. She ignored the grumbling remarks when she was singled out to show a newcomer around. So when the request came to help Mrs. Johnson in the cookhouse, she automatically stepped forward.

“Not you, Hanna. Tal can go.”

The smouldering look of disgust directed towards Hanna could have started a fire anywhere Tal’s gaze lingered.

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Deborah Lee

Again. AGAIN. She can’t do anything right. It’s the 50-50-90 rule: If she has a 50-50 chance of choosing the right thing, there’s a 90% chance she’ll choose wrong.

Anxiety rushes through her veins, ice water for blood. She sidles up to Greg’s desk, opens her mouth, knowing she’s hanging her desperation out for all to see.

On second thought, the whole floor heard the shouting anyway.

Fight or flight.

Barely keeping her voice steady, she asks, “Does Lesley ever fire anyone?”

Greg’s glance is sympathetic. “Sometimes,” he says. “But usually they get fed up and walk out first.”

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Floridaborne

“Go away,” June said, slamming down the receiver. “Men!”

Her Persian cat, Fifi, purred at June, nuzzling against her leg.

She found men at an on-line dating service, and then used the “cat test.” They’d meet at a park, and if Fifi hissed at him, there were no second chances!

At 35, and still single, she wanted a child. Though she wasn’t showing yet, her last paramour had served his purpose.

“Men want to burn with desire instead of giving comfort and understanding.”

Fifi sniffed June’s stomach and hissed.

“Thanks, Fifi. Looks like I’ll be aborting this one, too.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Threat in His Eyes by M J Mallon

The fire raged, and a ring of flames circled the card, avoiding it as if it contained the deadly plague. The sand timer ran out. The fire burnt down leaving its mark on the card with black singed edges.

I felt a chill creep up my spine. When I searched Dad’s face for some clue to his strange behaviour, I reeled back, struck by the sight of a dull emptiness in his eyes. I couldn’t tear my gaze away from his face. I thought I spotted a weird reflection in his eyes, maybe a bug…

🥕🥕🥕

You’re Fired by Bill Engleson

I wake up in the middle of the night and hear the Donald.

He has a discordant voice, scratchy, like a nicked LP, a voice muffled from reason, as if someone, perhaps his late father, is still holding his head in a bulky, slightly used prophylactic.

Young Donald, six-year-old Donnie, is frightened, terrorized, but I get confused. I see the squeaking child that he was, that he is, for I also see the Presidential poser, invested in his hollow trajectory.

His belly is not on fire.

Rather, it smoulders away, a residue of burnt bunkum it’s final, futile fuel.

🥕🥕🥕

Fired! by Anurag Bakhshi

Clyde had come to the city all fired-up, but the harsh reality of life had set fire to his dreams, till they had all burnt down to a cinder.

But now, the time had finally come for him to take-off.

Clyde straightened up as he heard footsteps approaching. He could not afford to get fired.

Breathless with anticipation, he willed all the noise from outside to disappear.

As the countdown clock in his head said ONE, Clyde shut his eyes…..and the last word that he heard before he went flying through the roof of the circus was- FIRE!

🥕🥕🥕

Out Of The Frying Pan, Into The Fire by Ritu Bhathal

I sat at the bar, nursing my whiskey. Needed to be sensible. I couldn’t afford to be reckless with my drink again.
I hadn’t meant to leave the barbeque unattended, but after a few drinks with my guests, I forgot it, and turned to see the flames licking the sky.

Gina wasn’t planning on letting me back in the house. I had to keep my cool, give her a few hours, then I’d go back, and she’d forgive me.

But would she?

I threw the fiery liquid down my throat in a single gulp.

“Bartender, another one please.”

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Pete Fanning

Mrs. Cobb screamed for us to get away from the fire. A ball of wrinkles and gums, she charged after us with a cane, demanding we stay out of her yard. Tab grabbed my wrist, gripping me with terror, her fascinated smirk leaking a squeal as we raced down to Grandma’s room.

Mom snapped her fingers harshly, pointed to a chair. “Hush.”

We hushed, trying not to giggle, keeping watch on the door as the nurses sped past. Mom tended to the lump in the bed. We swung our legs, still flushed, waiting for Mrs. Cobb and her fire.

🥕🥕🥕

Fire by Frank Hubeny

Despair defeats hope with fire.

Pete wondered what that was supposed to mean while reading the fortune to his wife. He felt enough despair for it to feel like the fires of hell.

“What does yours say?”

“It’s blank.”

“Remember when I got ‘A fool at forty is a fool indeed’?”

She remembered, but her blank fortune worried her.

“Maybe I should ask for another one?”

“Let’s switch.”

“Does that count?”

They switched. She read these words, “The fire of hope defeats despair”, and gave it back.

“This one belongs to you.”

She asked for a new fortune cookie.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fire by D. Avery

“Shorty! Quick!”

“Whoa Kid. Where’s the fire?”

“All across the Ranch, Shorty! We better put ‘em out!”

“No, Kid, don’t. They’s flash fires. All the hands’ve been sparked ta write an’ now the Ranch is ablaze with inspired imagination. Jist enjoy all the warmth an’ light, Kid.”

“You started all this, didn’t ya, Shorty? What are ya, an arsonist?”

“Don’t you be an arse, Kid. D’ya think these fires should be contained? Lights kept under a barrel?”

“Shorty, this cain’t be safe, havin’ all these ranch hands playin’ with fire.”

“Yep, writin’s risky. But we’re safe at the Ranch.”

***

Net more information about Ranch safety at https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/2019/04/05/how-dya-do-buckaroo/

🥕🥕🥕

 

Eminence

From high above, a distinct vantage point is set. A view from an eminence of land, a hillock, the hump of an anthill, a sand dune. People can also place themselves above others and claim a position of eminence. Those who bow and scrape, acknowledge, “Your Eminence.” And some confuse the word for a white rapper.

Playful or serious, writers set out for the hills to wrangle stories from eminent advantages. A few even found spiders and webs along the trail.

The following is based on the March 26, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses the word eminence.

PART I (10-minute read)

Eminence by Michael Groban

His Eminence the Good and Virtuous Cardinal read the morning paper and cringed as he read of another abuse claim.

He felt a twinge of guilt as he read the charges against one of his priests. It wouldn’t be long before they’d come knocking on his door. But he was a cardinal, and they’d believe his story over any kid who claimed he knew or did anything.

He’d taken years to reach this pinnacle within the Church. Hiding and denying, who’d a thought he be so good at it. He took up his pen and started on the crossword.

🥕🥕🥕

What You Don’t Talk About Doesn’t Exist by Papershots

He took a milk carton from a kitchen cabinet, then put it back there even though it was now open – it should have gone into the refrigerator. He took a sip of water. The smell of oranges about to go bad wafted from the fruit bowl on the table (made of wood ever so slightly darker than that of the fruit bowl.) The party at His Eminence swirled in his hangover – its theme: “What You Don’t Talk About Doesn’t Exist” – they called him His Eminence after his ascetic countenance by day, and his “torrent of bizarre gaieties” by night.

🥕🥕🥕

Mongolian Pie by H.R.R. Gorman

The jester bowed before the king and queen. His coat, a tattered, borrowed thing, seemed unfit in the presence of royalty’s eminence. “I will sing you a traditional overtone song of my people.”

The jester pulled the bow across his khuuchir, and the two-stringed instrument wailed. The voices of the people came from his throat, some deep and worrisome while others were clear, melodic.

After the song finished, the king stood from his seat and clapped. “Excellent show!” He bent to look down on the jester.

The jester reached up and snatched the king’s gloried crown, then dashed away.

🥕🥕🥕

Oh to Be in England on Non-Brexit Day! by Anne Goodwin

We voted to abolish experts. Let the people have their say! Don’t bore us with details, wave your magic wand and make it happen. Would a surgeon go through such a back-and-forth to amputate a limb?

Yes, the Leave campaign deceived us. Yes, the rich will win whichever way we go. We’ll wave our flags as pigs fly in eminence above us. We’ll plug our ears when boffins threaten to explain.

We are the mother of parliaments. We are the brave who take back control. We are the laughing stock of Europe. We are the fools of the world.

🥕🥕🥕

Long Live The King by Nobbinmaug

His rise to eminence was halted by my hand. He wasn’t hard to find. Everybody in town knew where he hung out.

I pulled out the gun I took from dad’s nightstand and pointed it at him.

“Whoa! What are gonna do with that, little man?”

“I’m gonna be 10 next month.”

“All right, big man. Put it down before you hurt somebody.”

He reached for it, and I pulled the trigger. The kick knocked me down. The bullet knocked him down.

He was the only person I ever killed. My sister was the last his drugs would kill.

🥕🥕🥕

Portrait of Marion Gray by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Marion stared at herself, staring at herself, daring the other to step over the line.

“What d’you want me to do about it?”

“Can’t you absorb one more?”

“I’ve run out of room to absorb your blemishes.”

“Just one more. I’ll never ask again…Promise!”

“You said that last time.”

She stared at herself, daring herself to step over that line.

“Fine, but come closer. Touch your nose to the glass.”

A moment’s touch, the eminence was grabbed, pulled in.

Marion stepped free, no longer the face in the mirror.

She waved farewell and turned the mirror to the wall.

🥕🥕🥕

Your Eminence by Sally Cronin

As I pass him on my way to the village, I remember to say ‘Good morning your eminence’. To ignore him is to invite untold misfortune. Wise ones tell of signs of impending death if he is seen close to your window. And should that be open to the spring air, thefts of gold and silver. I laugh at the warnings, for I am young and carefree, but ancient beliefs stir in my blood, for lone magpies bring sorrow. So I pay him respect, wishing him a mate for life, to bring joy to those who see them together.

🥕🥕🥕

Prelude by Joanne Fisher

Aalen and Ashalla were hiding on an eminence looking down on the soldiers in the distance. Aalen’s wolf Vilja lay between them.

“Last year there was a drought and game was scarce. These soldiers came to our village demanding food. When we refused because we needed our food stocks for the winter they began killing all the hunters until we acquiesced. I came back to find my brothers had been killed. I painted my arrows black and started hunting them down.” Ashalla said.

Aalen looked down at the army. Once they set up camp, that’s when they would attack.

🥕🥕🥕

My Scar by The Dark Netizen

It is rightly said that behind every scar there is a story of survival.

My story took place many years ago, during the invasion of the dark king.

Led by our Prince, we were fighting for our survival in a battle that defined ages.

Our Prince’s eminence in warfare was unquestionable on the battlefield, as he skewered numerous dark minions in front of my eyes.

In the heat of battle I saw one minion slip behind the Prince, ready to end his life, when I jumped in between.

My sacrifice won my kingdom’s freedom and won me this scar…

🥕🥕🥕

Shattering Illusions by Jo Hawk

Jules was his father’s second son. He was deemed the spare heir to the kingdom. Always second best, he fought to win favor, to stand free from his brother’s shadow. Each passing year, the competition between them grew.

Their rivalry forced his vision higher, to the eminence of Mont Aiguille. He imagined looking down onto his brother’s domain. Determined, he focused on his goal, fought through doubts and fear until his kingdom became a reality.

He grew stronger than the mountain, hardening his heart he stood alone, freed from the shadows, he realized there had been nothing to prove.

🥕🥕🥕

Cross Roads (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam

Near the ancient cypress and olive trees, silky spider’s webs interlaced thorny yellow thistle. Early morning dew drops on the silvery threads glittered like tiny jewels. Fleeting and fragile, the jewels would disappear into the warming air.

From an eminence of boulders on the cliff, Diamante gazed out at the seashore. He would miss the coastal villagers deeply. He was a village teacher and became a temple guardian after Father Martinez died a year ago. The Abbott was sending another priest and he had plans for Diamante to enter the Dove’s Ministry, to become a scholar. And a priest.

🥕🥕🥕

Glad Tidings of Nymble by Chelsea Owens

Nymble didn’t stand so much as gently flit above the waving grass, the first of the season’s signs of change. Leaning back as much as her grass and sunlight mote companions; she drank the deep, fresh air.

“Spring,” she whispered. She breathed.

A smile tickled her dimples. It pushed at her mouth-corners. As she looked out and over the gathered folk and fae, the smile spread to every feature of her pointed face. She grinned and opened her arms to hold the warm sun from toe to wing tip.

Atop the eminent rise, she addressed the expectant crowd. “SPRING!”

🥕🥕🥕

Owls and Auks by TN Kerr

He chose to stand atop a grand eminence, banked by steep outcroppings; a sentry, ever vigilant who watches over the Pacific. He has stood this post for more than fifteen hundred years. He is a giant towering over 300 feet high. He is massive, with a base of more than 30 feet in diameter. A Giant Coastal Redwood, a landmark with owls and auks living amongst his branches.

I come here to admire him from time to time. I always come alone. I am humbled.

Majestuoso y eminente, por derecho propio, es bien conocido a lo largo de esta costa.

🥕🥕🥕

The Judge by Roberta Eaton

The judge sat on a chair high raised high above the platform to ensure the accused understood his eminence. My son was forced to tip his head back at an unnatural angle to meet the judge’s eyes while stating his case. The comments made by the defendant were meaningless. Any defaulters who ended up on trial in the arena knew they were guilty in the eyes of the law. The punishment for wasting limited water resources was a swift death. The bodies of the guilty were buried in the surrounding forest to fertilise the trees that provided vital oxygen.

🥕🥕🥕

Eminence by Tracey

I dragged myself into the kitchen and apathetically checked the fridge. Spouse and small child would be home soon and looking for dinner. That was part of my “job”, cooking, meal planning, grocery shopping. I could feel the surge of pre-menopause hormones coloring my brain. I wasn’t even hungry, why should I cook dinner? I checked the freezer. The emergency frozen pizza had already been eaten this week. I started to cry and told myself, “enough”. The eminences would have to fend for themselves this once. I retreated to the couch and a movie. “Double Indemnity” suited me perfectly.

🥕🥕🥕

Age of Imminence by D. Avery

“What? Her Eminence drinking alone? Where’s Ernest?”

“Can’t I be somewhere where Ernest isn’t, Nard? Like you should talk. Where’s Kris?

“Visiting his mother. I just couldn’t.

“Yeah.”

“Hey, Lloyd tells me Ernest gave you a ring.”

“Yeah.”

“Thought you gals were supposed to be all giddy at a time like this.”

“Ernest’s giddy enough for the both of us. Driving me nuts.”

“Am I a peckerhead for being glad Kris is gone for a couple days?”

“Not if you’re looking forward to him coming back.”

“I am.”

“We’ll have to get used to being happy, huh, Nard?”

“Yep.”

🥕🥕🥕

Two Meanings by Susan Sleggs

“Look at all those eminences in the back yard.”

“What are you talking about? Speak English.”

“If you did crossword puzzles like I do, you would know I was referring to all the little mounds of dirt.”

“Oh, yes. We have a mole problem.”

“And if your furry, four legged friend lounging in the sun over there knew she was a cat instead acting like a feline eminence, she might go outside and kill the moles.”

“She’s an indoor cat and I don’t think it’s funny that you used the same word with its opposite meaning.”

“Glad you noticed.”

🥕🥕🥕

Lost In Translation by Geoff Le Pard

‘You look smart, Morgan. In court?’

‘Ha. I’m meeting a rather special person. Very influential. I hope he can help me.’

‘How?’

‘He understands how the system works, you know, all those back passages.’

‘Corridors of power?’

‘Exactly.’

‘A sort of eminence grise.’

‘You what? Immense Grease? That sounds like what you get before an outbreak of spots.’

‘Eminence Grise. Someone who works in the shadows.’

‘He had the lights on when I saw him.’

‘It’s just a figure of speech.’

‘Like Imminent Cheese?’

‘Eminence Grise.’

‘Is it French?’

‘Yes.’

‘Thought so. They’re greasy and like cheese.’

‘God, Morgan…’

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Your Eminence by Norah Colvin

She glided in, regal robes flowing, loyal subjects lining the path.

“Your eminence,” they bowed as she passed.

She occasionally extended her gloved hand to receive their kisses of adoration or stopped to bestow a gift of royal chatter.

Though her crown and responsibilities weighed heavily, she held her head high as she proceeded towards the throne.

Decorum dictated every move. She dared not breathe out of sync. Her subjects depended upon her.

When seated, she motioned for all to sit. They obeyed, listening respectfully.

“I decree– “

“Lunch is served, Your Majesty.”

“Aw, Mu-um!”

🥕🥕🥕

Blessing by Anita Dawes

My school was buzzing today, the nuns were all running around like deranged penguins. We were to receive a special throat blessing from the Bishop and were to address him as Your Eminence if spoken to.

The blessing involved two large candles joined in the shape of a V.
Sister Margaret held my hair away from the flame as the candles were placed around my throat and I have never suffered from a sore throat since.
Not bad going for 72 years.

I have wondered whether it was the blessing or just good luck
It still puzzles me today…

🥕🥕🥕

A Special Guest by calmkate

“It’s highly eminent that His Eminence will join us for tea in the forecourt this morning. So please ensure that our sandwiches have more than an eminence of cucumber!”

“But in high society the bread and filling must be thin to tempt. A sliver to tease”

“Please indulge my preference for something a bit more substantial”

“Will His Eminence be requiring a particular blend of tea or the usual earl grey?”

“I would prefer that you serve a selection of three or four for this highly honoured guest.”

“Your every wish is my command sir!”

“Thanks so much Jeeves”

🥕🥕🥕

Eminence by Deborah Lee

The house is a lovely lakeside pile on a low eminence above its neighbors, cocooned among trees. Jane lugs her few belongings up the slope easily, eagerly. Hangs her few clothes, arranges her few toiletries.

Hers, hers, for six whole weeks, in exchange for being present and tending to the animals while Audrey is in Europe.

The kitchen gleams, the den lulls, the shady deck beckons. But, she decides, luxuriating, paradise is a bathtub. And it hits her, making her sit up so abruptly she sloshes wine and bubbles. Is housesitting something she could do as an actual career?

🥕🥕🥕

Celebrity Chef by Macy Brown

As I locked my office door and headed down the stairs to leave the building I heard all kinds of commotion coming from outside. What could be going on?! I thought to myself. When I stepped outside I saw a crowd of people surrounding a town car that was parked in front of the building next door. A thin blonde in a perfectly pressed skirt stepped out of the car and the crowd went wild. I did not know who she was, but based on the people around her, her eminence was clear. Maybe she was a celebrity chef?

🥕🥕🥕

The Leader of The Pack by Susan Zutautas

From the day we brought Bruce home Maggie let him know that she was the leader of the pack.

It was sad to see how she showed her eminence over him. Bruce was such a laid-back kind of guy that we were never sure if this bothered him.

I’m sure they had this telepathic thing going on between them. Bruce would go to eat his food and Maggie would look over at him as if to say, “Leave it”. He’d not eat until she had left the room or until she started eating.

I suppose dogs have pecking orders.

🥕🥕🥕

Power by Janice Golay

“So I hear you are your husband’s eminence grise. “

“His imminent grease?”

“No, my dear. His gray eminence. The power behind the throne. That shadowy figure, peering from behind a velvet curtain, who holds and wields the real power.

“Well, we don’t have any velvet curtains in our house, just over-laundered hangings from Bed, Bath and whatever.”

But if you really wanted some velvet curtains in your house, they would appear. Right? You could manage that, couldn’t you?

Of course! But if I had the power and wished for velvet curtains, I tell you they wouldn’t be GRAY!

🥕🥕🥕

On the Couch by Michael B. Fishman

“Did you see ‘his eminence’ on the news today telling us how good everything is?” she said.

“You’ve got M&Ms?”

“No, ‘eminence’.”

“I don’t watch the news anymore. You really got candy?”

“I’ve got M&M’s.”

“It’s all a front, you know.”

“What is?”

“Politics.”

“Let’s both have some candy.”

“The M&M’s?”

“Plain or peanut, I’ve got both.”

“Then let’s have both!”

She went to the kitchen and returned with two bags. “Guess what?”

“What?”

“Dead Reckoning is on.”

“Ooh, Lizbeth Scott.”

“You like her.”

“Not as much as I like you.”

“You’re sweet.”

“Not as sweet as those M&M’s.”

🥕🥕🥕

Feeling Like A Fraud by Ritu Bhathal

“Jill, could you just glance over this, please?”

Nancy thrust a piece of paper in Jill’s hand.

“I’d really appreciate your opinion. Would you mind?”

“Sure, why not.”

Jill smiled and turned around, surreptitiously rolling her eyes.

Ever since her book had been released and had shot to the top ten in the charts, she’d been inundated with ‘friends’ who wanted her advice on their writing. It’s like her eminence in word craft meant she was now a fully-fledged expert.

But that was furthest from the truth.

All she’d done was write from the heart.

And readers had appreciated.

🥕🥕🥕

Teaching by Reena Saxena

“It took twenty-eight long years of struggle to reach eminence.”

My father’s story was interrupted,

“Granpa, are you Eminem?”

“No, darling, the word is eminence. It means reaching a certain height where you tower over others – metaphorically.”

“Two difficult words – what is metaphorically?”

“Like, you are the magic which transformed my life, when I was about to give up. You are not magic, but I describe you as such.”

“Me? Okay, show me which Eminem…”

“I received the Best Writer’s Prize for 2018,” he pointed towards the trophy.

“Can this Eminem sing and rap?”

Teaching is a tough job.

🥕🥕🥕

Eminence  by Floridaborne

Their Jaguar stopped, rolling down the tinted windows to sneer at me.  I knew the look, people of eminence…northerners!

He frowned at my ramshackle house and asked, “Is this Azalea Avenue?”

“Yep,” I replied, stroking my beard.  “Why?”

“We might buy the property across from you.”

“It’s full of rattlers. “

“Rattlers?” A teenager with a Gucci bag asked.

“If you don’t kill the 8 inch daddy long legs, they eat 3 inch roaches like this one,” I said, pulling one out of my pocket.

And another irritant flees the trees, never to know my doctorate is in entomology.

🥕🥕🥕

Eminent Domain (Or, Why I’m Moving Out Of My House) by John Rieber

I was just stepping on the front porch when Jill screamed: “SPIDER!”

The Tarantula was a BIG one. I instinctively jumped backwards as it raised itself up on eight powerful legs and announced its eminence. Jill raced to the back of the house and grabbed a bottle of bleach. I poured it on our guest. It got angrier.

In a panic I called Animal Control. “We have a Tarantula on our porch!”

“No you don’t”, the voice calmly replied.

“Yes, we have one!”

“No,” they said again, “you have many. They never travel alone.”

I still miss that house.

🥕🥕🥕

Queen Wolfric Returns by Joanne Fisher

Her Royal Eminence Queen Wolfric III returned to her Court in the cellar after inspecting her Royal Domain. She addressed her assembled subjects:

“It’s great to be back. While it is true I got caught Upstairs, one of the giant denizens that live there managed to free me, but not before another one of them performed a rather energetic dance before me in my honour. I was most impressed.

All this said I think it should a while before I tour those regions again. Those giant denizens seem friendly, but if the truth be told, they really terrify me.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Weight of Time by JulesPaige

From the edge of the field, five deer emerged from the wood line, a brief view.
The car on this long highway emerges from fits and starts of traffic.
Heading south from seven hours north I see emerging signs of late spring.

While away yellow daffodils emerged in the side and front gardens.
A soft smile emerges from my lips, the front of my home looks happy.
On the road home an emerging issue from a distance; Hubby’s work

his eminence to
solve issues drains our time
rising ground slip slides

Heavy sighs emerge, shoulders sag… as day ends

🥕🥕🥕

Eminence by Frank Hubeny

After moving to the beach town whose eminence attracted him he no longer got up early to join the seagulls as the sun rose above the ocean. He no longer paid attention to the tiny lizards running on the sidewalks. He stopped celebrating the tropical climate and started complaining about the heat.

It shocked him to realize that he no longer wanted to go to the Cuban-run bakery for a cortadito. He made his own coffee.

His relatives from northern lands were still awed by palm trees and lizards, but by moving to paradise he had become a local.

🥕🥕🥕

Find What Glints  (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Eminence of sand rolled across flats, forming dunes. Danni recalled following an old pioneer trail across the Forty Mile Desert of Nevada in her dad’s Jeep, top down, spring sun beating warmly. What was that he said? Turn around and look for the glints among the dunes. Every time he pulled over, Danni scrambled among the hollows of sand, sun to her back. She trotted toward the glints – a purple glass nob from a dresser, a marble, an obsidian arrowhead. Even today, trained as an archeologist, she heard her dad’s voice coaxing her to find the discards of history.

🥕🥕🥕

A Legendary Demise by Anurag Bakhshi

The old man rasped sharply,”How many times did they shoot me?”

The younger man asked tentatively, “Twice?”

The old man immediately corrected him authoritatively, “Make that three times…and… just add that I was poisoned too.”

The younger man nodded, and had just shut his notebook when the old man said, “And just for kicks, also say that I almost managed to claw out of my grave in the frozen river.”

As his PR Head left, Rasputin smiled in contentment.

Nothing went further in helping one attain a position of eminence in history, than a death that was legendary.

🥕🥕🥕

Typo by Sarah Whiley

The neon glow enveloped the city built by and for corporations.

It was late and Sandra was alone in the cavernous office. Pounding the keyboard furiously she tried to finish the never-ending paperwork her boss delighted in giving her.

Bastard, she thought. He actually enjoyed the power, dictating when she could leave and knowing it was her weekend with her daughter.

Her email pinged.

She despaired as she saw yet another assignment.

Gazing out at the city lights, Sandra contemplated her reply. His eminence wouldn’t like it, but life was too short.

Smiling, she typed two words.

“I quit”.

🥕🥕🥕

His Eminence by Ann Edall-Robson

On Hanna’s first day of the job she figured she would meet a few people, be shown some of the ropes, and get her bearings.

There was no surprise when the foreman drove in the direction of the outbuildings.

Along the way, he showed her where she would stow her gear, pointing to the living quarters and the cookhouse. Both, he explained vehemently, were Mrs. Johnson’s domains.

The barnyard came into view, and so did a large grey cat wandering out to meet them.

“That,” muttered the foreman, “is His Eminence. He thinks he runs the show around here.”

🥕🥕🥕

Crowned Eminence by D. Avery

“Kid, yer emanating fear.”

“I ain’t afeared a nuthin’.”

“Ever one’s afeared a somethin’ Kid. It’s okay ta admit it. Then ya kin face yer fears. So jist admit what yer afeared of.”

“Well, what are you afraid of, Pal?”

“Me? I ain’t afeared a nuthin’.”

“Huh. Was afraid you’d say that. But you gotta admit yer fears Pal. You said.”

“Well. I don’t like spiders Kid. Jist don’t.”

“Right? All scrunchy and hairy and sudden moves. But do ya fear ‘em, Pal?”

“Mebbe… Why ya pushin’ this Kid?”

“I’m afraid one’s bein’ an eminence on yer hat, Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Bucket of Water

A familiar item found around the world and throughout time– a bucket of water. And just as common — a Harry Belefonte song, Hole in the Bucket.

No matter how familiar, creative writers can shape the ordinary into remarkable stories.

The following are based on the March 21, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a bucket of water.

PART I (10-minute read)

Note to the Netherworld by Violet Lentz

When I abandoned all aspects of self, and melted into you, I thought, how can I lose you, if there is no distinction between where you end, and I begin?

So when I lost you, still impervious to the fact that I was ever a whole person without you, I built a life on the foundation of your loss.

Recently I remembered, I once had a bucket list all my own. I checked off Aurora Borealis in February, and I am prepared to check off the second entry next month.

No, I haven’t forgotten you- I just remembered me.

🥕🥕🥕

Sunrise Brings Hope by Ruchira

“Wake up!” mom nudged her hard enough to make her sit upon her bed.

After a big yawn, and a stretch Prema walked with empty buckets in her hand towards a destination where the water truck would station.

While she waited in a queue for the truck to arrive, ‘Despite no water in our pipes, Life is beautiful.’ she muttered as she saw how the sun broke the spell of darkness with one drop of shine at a time.

She brought the two buckets of water to her cottage with the intention that the water crisis will end soon.

🥕🥕🥕

Water Wastage by The Dark Netizen

I was shocked at the spectacle I was watching.

People were running around on the street, in a dust-storm of colours, flinging water at each other. They were tossing water from their houses, many storeys high, at the chaotic crowd below. The people were throwing water balloons and using guns to squirt streams of water all around. Nobody seemed to care about the water that they were wasting. If only they knew what us village folk have to bear. I was almost in tears, but I held them back.

I knew the cost of a single bucket of water…

🥕🥕🥕

More Precious than Gold by Norah Colvin

The children observed the bucket.

Teacher explained, “Let’s find out about what’s in the bucket. Ask only ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. Do not say what you think it is.”

“Is it wet?” “Yes.”

“Is it a liquid?” “Yes.”

“Is it heavy?” “Try.” “Yes.”

“Do we drink it?” “Does it come from clouds?” “Does it make puddles?”

“Yes. Yes. Yes.”

“Is it more precious than gold?”

“Don’t be stupid,” spluttered Andy. “It’s water!”

Teacher glared. Andy’s smirk dissolved.

Ahmed looked squarely at Andy. “In my country… “

Teacher closed the book. Ahmed’s lesson was more effective than any she’d prepare.

🥕🥕🥕

The Penrose Conundrum by Geoff Le Pard

‘My bloody mother.’

‘What’s she done now?’

‘She asked me to take her car for a service…’

‘…Okay…’

‘…so I was in a rush to get to the Post Office to pick up her letter, which had her new credit card in it and she had to sign for it…’

‘…which meant you needed the car to take her…’

‘…who’s telling this…?’

‘…but you couldn’t get it without her paying by her new card…’

‘…has she been talking to you?’

‘Only you…’

‘It’s my dear Liza moment…’

‘…I was thinking Catch 22…’

‘… and there lies the difference between us…’

Author’s Note: dear liza moment: see Harry Belafonte’s song there’s a hole in my bucket
Penrose conundrum: a reference to the Penrose steps drawn by MC Escher

🥕🥕🥕

At the Well by Leara Nicole Morris-Clark

I opened my eyes to blinding sun. I pulled the rope, hoping to finish before anyone noticed.

I was startled by a man leaning against the well. Had he been there?

“Let me.” He took my burden before I could respond. He poured the bucket into my pot. The water flowed until it was full.

“How did you…it takes three times for that container.”

I stared at refreshing water inside the vessel. “Have faith. You’ll do great things.”

I looked up. He was gone.

Somehow, I now held the bucket. I opened my eyes. Morning rays infiltrated my room.

🥕🥕🥕

Letting by D. Avery

Robert trotted right past his little brother without seeing him. Before Thomas could follow, his father called for him.

“Yes, Pa?”

“Thomas, I need an extra pair of hands. Bring those buckets there and come around the back of the barn.”

“Yes Pa. Pa? I thought you didn’t want me helpin’ with that chore yet.”

“Looks like I need you now. You know it’s got to be done, right Thomas?”

“ I know. Them pigs was always meant to feed us.”

“That’s right Thomas. And Thomas? I don’t want you pesterin’ Robert no more for stories about the war.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bucket of Water by Macy Brown

Sweat drenched Elsie’s shirt as she lugged the overflowing bucket of water up the steep hill that her cottage sat upon. She was annoyed she had to do this two days in a row since Sasha decided to disappear into town when it was her turn to collect water from the river to take care of their sick father.

“Here Papa, drink up.” she said to him as she walked into their living room where he laid on his make shift bed in front of the fire.

If only they could afford a warmer house, maybe he’d get better.

🥕🥕🥕

Water is Life by SusanSleggs

Ezra sat waiting for his wife to come home from the field hospital. He had fed their children bacon, biscuits slathered with butter and wild berry jam, and fresh cow’s milk for supper. The garden wasn’t yet producing vegetables, but it would in a few weeks. Keeping it weed free was something he could manage even with his wounds. When Louise finally arrived on horseback, he offered her dinner.

“No,” she said. “Just water. Cold, fresh and clear water.”

Their eldest ran to fetch a bucket of water from the stream, careful not to muddy it while doing so.

🥕🥕🥕

Wet Monday by Goldie

In silence. Side by side. Grandma knitting and grandpa reading the paper.

“Papa, how did you meet Nana?”

He turned towards her, but she didn’t even flinch.

He folded the paper in half three times and said:
“If you think your grandmother is beautiful today, imagine her when she was twenty” – he said and looked at her again.

Blush crept onto her cheeks, but she remained unperturbed.

“Monday after Easter, I dumped a bucket of ice-cold water on her while she was still in bed.”

“Stupid old traditions” – she said with a smile and went right back to knitting.

🥕🥕🥕

The Banty and the Bucket by Faith A. Colburn

I was headed to the chicken house with a bucket of water when the banty rooster attacked my bare legs. It wasn’t the first time. I grabbed and caught him. We looked each other in the eye. I ducked his head in the water. We had another staring contest. He didn’t look remorseful. I ducked him again. He still didn’t blink. After the third waterboarding, he fluffed up his feathers and strutted off. I can’t say he stopped spurring—my son his shirt pulled up, changing a tire, my daughter any time she left the house. He avoided me.

🥕🥕🥕

When It Felt Full (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Unable to stop smiling, Danni bought a galvanized steel water bucket. After twelve years of studying, summer digs, teaching undergrads, and crediting her work to advisors, Danni had completed her Ph.D. She promptly married Ike and bought a horse.

“I was thinking we might need a house,” Ike said, staring up at the stars above their sleeping bags.

“We can find a barn by winter.”

“Mrs. Gordon, we need more than a barn.”

Ike’s uncle sold them his small spread when he moved to town. Danni’s bucket of water felt full for ten years. Until Iraq poked a hole.

🥕🥕🥕

Centered by D. Avery

I am the Moon that orbits the Earth
I am the Earth; I am her Oceans that gather Moon’s beams

I am the woman who gathers water
I am the woman whose water breaks

I am the woman who carries water
Who nourishes, who cleanses, who sustains the child

I am the child who swings the bucket in play
Denying gravity with centripetal force

I am the child who gathers gifts from oceans
Who collects moonbeams in the bucket

I am the Child become the Woman who gathers water
Becomes the Oceans becomes the Moon becomes a centered force.

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Tumbling Tale by Kerry E.B. Black

The condensation trickled down the side of the bucket mimicked sweat slicking the sibling’s reddened faces.

The eldest swiped her forehead. “Carry that, J.J.”

He whined, “No way, Jilly-bean! You’re stronger.”

“How do you think I got strong? Chores.”

He pouted.

She shrugged. “You know, Dad’s the kingdom’s giant killer. He doesn’t want a scrawny namesake.”

“Fine.” He groaned and hefted. After a few steps, his feet entangled, and he tumbled down the hill.

She darted to help, slipped on the spilled water, and rolled after.

At the bottom, she consoled, “You know, this’ll make an interesting tale.”

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Bucket of Water by Robbie Cheadle

The four boys emerged from the sandpit looking like sand monsters. Sand matted their fair hair and stuck like a second, gritty skin to their bodies and swimming costumes.

Earlier, the three bigger boys had dragged the hosepipe over to the giant sandpit and run water into holes dug into the sand. They burrowed into the resultant mud like baby hippos.

Mom laughed when she saw them. “It’s time to clean up.”

She reappeared with a bucket filled with soapy water. “Get in, Michael, and rinse that sand off. I’ll squirt the rest of you down with the hosepipe.”

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Three Plastic Buckets by Papershots

They must both work downtown, but downtown is big. So the suburban rail carries them both in, briefcases and all. They must see a bit of the country in between the dark tunnels, which is “quite something” now that the sun rises early. Once off the train at the Northern Junction they go their separate ways. A have-a-good-day kiss never seemed so week-daily real amidst the morning rush, dusty litter swirling in the breeze and the three (red, blue and green) plastic buckets where the dripping water off the humid station walls sets a rhythm nobody pays attention to.

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Waterfall by Sarah Whiley

The staccato rhythm on the roof became a dull roar.

It was really coming down and the children’s focus had wandered from their work to the window.

“It’s just a little rain, we’ve all seen it before,” I redirected, whilst simultaneously reaching for the bucket for the roof’s long-standing leak.

“Honestly”, I thought, “how hard was it for the school to fix this issue?”

I watched with horror and awe, as it soon overflowed and the roof began to bow.

With a crash, the roof caved in and I witnessed my first ever indoor waterfall… right in my classroom!

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A Basket of Water by Sarah Unsicker

At the shallow river, she hoists the worn basket of water onto her head. The basket her mother mended this morning. The basket carries the weight of her worry. The child walking by her feet, his stomach protruding with malnourishment, trembles with exhaustion. Stone soup will not carry him another day.

She stumbles over a tree root. Catches herself and the water that splashes. The child laughs weakly – music she has not heard in days. The splashes reveal an egg, precious protein for the soup. With some leaves and roots, there will be dinner tonight. Tomorrow is another day.

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Lizard Lake (from “Crater Lakes”) by Saifun Hassam

By late spring, the well near Lizard Lake was stone dry. Jagged cracks ran along the edges of the drying muddy lake. Lizards basked on the pebbly shores. The drying marsh was rich in grubs, larvae and buzzing insects, attracting blue jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees.

Jeff watched the changing scene from the old log house on the lower ridge. Marta Jensen and her family once lived here. An underground spring still fed a backyard well. In her journals, Marta wrote of the dry seasons when a bucket of water from the wells was a gift to be treasured.

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My Bucket by Anita Dawes

Sacred water, the giver of life
we do everything with it
bathe, clean windows, wash cars
Leave a bowl out for the birds
Christen our new borns
As children, we splash in it
laughing and screaming getting soaking wet
We go boating on a summer afternoon
hand held over the side
Gentle water slipping through our fingers
Hidden trails of water beneath our feet
The Hindu God of Oceans, Varuna
Salty water, secret life below
Water is calm and violent
we cannot do without it
It sustains all life, take time
to bless the magic that falls on us…

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PART II (10-minute read)

Trip to the Well by H.R.R. Gorman

Sally lugged the bucket of water up from the well.  Her hands stung from the day of labor, but the taskmaster wouldn’t ease up.  She picked up the pail and carried it while the foreman fiddled with his whip.

Struggling to remain standing, Sally tripped and spilled half the water in the bucket.  She chanced a look at the foreman, hoping emptily that the foreman hadn’t noticed.

Scared of the whip, she dumped the bucket and ran towards the foreman.  She placed the empty bucket over his head, punched him in the gut, and took off for the Railroad.

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Ambrosia by Sascha Darlington

Despite Ranger nipping my heels, I followed the butterfly until it fluttered onto something putrid and not for the first time marveled how a beautiful creature feeds upon death.

The net result of my ill-advised venture was that I was lost.

The breeze kicked wood smoke toward me, so I followed a deer trail toward the smoke and an old piecemeal cabin.

A twangy voice asked, “You lost?”

I nodded.

“Road’s that way.”

“Do you have water?”

The gnarled woman pointed toward a well.

I raised the bucket. Nothing I imagined could prepare me for the cold sweet ambrosia.

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Water Rationing by Miriam Hurdle

“This is the third year we suffer from the drought.” The Hubby said.

“The temperature was above 100o Fahrenheit for six weeks, too hot.” The Wife sighed.

“The city announced water rationing, limits watering the lawn to twice a week, no hosing the driveway.”

“How do we wash our cars?”

“Use buckets of water.”

“How do you wash the top of your SUV? The city doesn’t know if you use the water hose.”

“There must be a way of monitoring.”

“Well, I know. You can still use the water hose, just put a bucket of water by the car.”

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Surprise! by Joanne Fisher

“Do you really think a bucket of water is going to harm me?” the vampire asked as they approached me smirking and sizing me up as their next meal.

I smiled and casually emptied the bucket of water all over them. As they slowly began to burn I watched the look of surprise on their face as they realised they had made a major mistake.

“A bucket of water? No. A bucket of holy water on the other hand? Yes!” I replied as they quickly ran away leaving a trail of smoke and ash. They wouldn’t trouble me again.

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Transformation by Coleen Chesebro

I stared into the bucket of water expecting to see my own image stare back at me. Instead, the image of a Rusalka water nymph wavered within the watery depths. Her eyes glinted with green fire and her golden hair drifted around her shoulders.

She slipped from the water and stood before me clothed only in the gray mists that circled the banks of the river.

“Come, friend. I’ll show you the way.”

“The way?”

“You died before your time, and now you’ve transformed into a Rusalka water nymph.”

“I’m dead?”

“Of course. You belong to the river now.”

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Bull’s Eye by Abhijit

“if you want Draupadi’s hand in marriage,” Arjuna was told, “ hit the fish eye, on the other side of circling wheel, all by looking at its reflection in water.”

“do you see wheel, and eye of the fish, mighty Arjuna?”

“Yes master, I do,”

“Pierce the eye, now!”

Of all assembled royalties from all over Aryabarta, Arjuna alone managed the feat and won Draupadi’s hands in marriage.

Another, equally capable man, suta putra Karna, was not allowed to compete for not being born in a royal family.

Who did Draupadi want? Karna or Arjuna? We may never know!

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Speaking To Me by John Rieber

“The Anishinaabekwe agree that Nibi speaks. But they want us to understand that we must first speak to her.”

I had never heard this before. A name for water: “Nibi”. So how do you speak to it? Staring at the ocean, I sensed its power and peacefulness in equal measure. I grabbed a bucket, ran to the edge and filled it full of briny, icy cold water. I dipped my fingers in it, I waited for a sign, but everything was quiet, still. I was disappointed for a moment, then thought that perhaps that was the point after all.

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Following Elephants by Sally Cronin

The young boy raised the heavy tin bucket full of dusty liquid onto the rolled up shirt on his head. Both hands steadied the precious cargo as he watched the herd of elephants moving slowly off into the sunset. He had followed them all day from his village across the parched earth, knowing they were creatures capable of finding the most hidden of watering holes. They had led them to this ancient secret spring; a life-giving find for his village. He turned and retraced his steps homeward, cloaked in the dangerous predator filled dusk. Today his family would drink.

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Buckets by FloridaBorne

His beard reached to his chest, touching a faded flannel shirt. I held tight to my backpack, thankful the truck with my furniture had waited out the hurricane in another state.

“Where ya from, girl,” he asked, rowing along a suburban street.

“Originally, I lived in Arizona. I just returned from two years with the Peace Corps in Mali, where I lived in a hut. The place was so dry I walked three miles each day for a bucket of water. I swore I’d never live in a desert again.”

“Better watch out what you wish for,” he chuckled.

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That Winter by Joanne Fisher

There had been a snow warning so I stocked up on milk and bread. By the time I got home thick clumps of snowflakes were falling. I turned on the heater, made dinner and settled in for a cosy night in my warm living room, but it was not to be. There was a phone call saying the workshop had sprung leaks in the roof and so within a short time I was back at work emptying endless buckets of icy water in an unheated workspace all night. The rest of that winter I was sick with the flu.

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Fetching Water by Michael B. Fishman

At the top of the hill Jack watched Jill bending over to fill the bucket with water. His eyes roamed over the seams of her denim cut-offs. His mind roamed the ample flesh hiding beneath.

Jill straightened. “What’re you looking at?”

“N…nothing.”

“Nothing is right,” she said as she poured the water over Jack’s head. “Now you fill it.”

A dripping Jack filled the bucket, turned, lost his balance and started rolling down the hill.

“Help me!”

Jill, reaching to help, stumbled, lost her own balance and tumbled after Jack. And the rest, my friend, is nursery rhyme history.

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Farmer Henry by Chelsea Owens

Liza’s dad waited ‘nside the barn; toe tappin’, scowl deepenin’. Where was that girl? He’d sent ‘er ten minutes ago ‘n hadn’t seen hide nor hair since.

“Uhmmmooobreuhhh,” lowed Maybelle.

He patted the cow. “I know, girl. I know.”

Right as ‘e settled on fetchin’ ‘is daughter, a glimpse a somethin’ yeller showed in the winder. Shore ‘nough, ’twas Liza. She weren’t movin’ fast, which perplexed the farmer.

“Liza!” he holler’d. “Whatcha dallyin’ fer?”

Sniffin’ and silent, she showed ‘im what she’d bin sent after.

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Ashes of the Truth by TN Kerr

Kenny hitched his trousers up and plopped on the front porch couch. A cloud of red dust rose up; some settled back on his Momma’s old Chesterfield, while the rest got picked up by the breeze and carried away.

He sat for a while watching the clouds roll in. When he was sure it was gonna rain he went and fetched the old galvanized bucket with the broken bail from beneath the sink. He sat the bucket in the bedroom directly below the ceiling stain.

Tonight he would say his prayers and ask for cash to fix the roof.

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Surfs Up by calmkate

Dad was ever the larrikin, always up for a practical joke and his favourite involved a bucket of fresh seawater. After his early morning dip he’d return to camp with his bucket full then select his targets.

My cousins were all older teens and early twenties trying to sleep off their late night capers … no idea what as I was too young.

Then he would whip their bedclothes back and douse them in water calling out “surfs up!” This gave the others a slim warning that he was on his rounds. He had zero tolerance for ‘lazy bones’.

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Yuck by Annette Rochelle Aben

She always hated camping. The bugs, sleeping on the ground and the weird outhouse bathrooms. Yuck! Here at her grandfather’s place just outside of Bouche, Quebec, Canada, they may have been in a cabin, but it was still like camping. Hauling water in a bucket from the lake to wash dishes, to cook with and with wash your hands before meals. Yuck!
And there was that hateful outhouse! Only during the day, of course. At night, there were buckets in each of the two bedrooms. Buckets that had to be washed out the next day before hauling the water.

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Well I Never! by Di @ pensitivity101

We are more into barrels than buckets these days, but before hosepipes and rain catchers, the bucket was a familiar and important part of our camping gear.

We had two, one black and one orange. It was important to remember which colour was for what, and as far as I can remember nobody got it wrong.

It was my job to collect the water in the orange bucket for washing and drinking.

I filled it to the brim and carried it back to the tent, not understanding why it wasn’t very heavy.

I will never live down the song.

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Chester Has a Little Problem by Molly Stevens

“Why is there a bucket of water in the bathroom?” said Ruth.

“There’s a little problem with flushing the toilet,” said Chester.

“Fiddling with the handle is a ‘little’ problem. Not being able to flush without a bucket is a big problem!”

“Relax. I’m plannin’ to fix it as soon as March Madness is over.”

Ruth walked over to the television and unplugged the cable box.

“Woman! What are you doin’? LSU and Maryland are tied, and there’s only two seconds left to play!”

“I believe your ticket to The Big Dance is waiting for you at Home Depot.”

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The Big Leak by Ritu Bhatha;

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Colin lay on the bed, trying his hardest to sleep but the incessant dripping noise was keeping him from his beauty sleep.

He’s already emptied the bucket, just before going to bed, though it sounded like it would be full of more rainwater before long, and he’d have to dispose of it again.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

It was typical that a leak had to spring now, during the rainiest of seasons, with a hurricane brewing, when no roofer was willing to risk his life to patch up a few shingles on his roof.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

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It’s Nippy in the Florist’s by Anne Goodwin

After an hour, I texted Mum: Can you bring my padded coat?

The fat suit? she texted back. The one you vowed you’d never wear?

She brought it. By lunchtime, I was snug. Loving my Saturday job, even though Marge wouldn’t let me touch the flowers. Except to bung them in buckets of water.

Then Romeo walked in. No time to shed that coat. So what? He wouldn’t notice me in a bikini.

“For your girlfriend?” Marge made him blush as she added a bow to the bouquet.

He paid, turned, passed me the flowers. What? “Happy Valentine’s, Juliet!”

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Panic by Susan Zutautas

Quick, quick, I yelled.

Where’s the bucket? Asked my son

It’s down in the basement by the washing machine.

Please just hurry up!

A candle that I’d left unattended for a few minutes had tipped over on the nightstand in my bedroom and had started a fire while landing on a book. All I could think was I could easily put it out before it spread.

Damn, I should have run and got the bucket of water myself.

Here, mom, I’ll toss the water on the fire for you.

Thank God it worked, just leaving an awful smoky smell.

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PART III (5-minute read)

Bucket Lost by Ann  Edall-Robson

The roar of the spring runoff over still frozen layers of ice was deafening—making the bridge the only safe place to access the water. Tossing the bucket into the creek with a rope tied to its handle was the easy part. Within seconds of resting the filled vessel on a piece of ice before pulling it up, there came a thunderous crack. The bridge shuddered. The taut rope went limp leaving the frayed remnants swinging in an outstretched hand. The bucket? It sloshed its way downstream on the rural iceberg before being tossed unceremoniously into the swirling water.

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Legend Keeper by Jo Hawk

No one remembered the well digging ceremony, the water pump’s installation, or the water bucket’s significance. During the troubles, it was the only county pump to provide clear, pure water.

This was my family’s land. My land and my responsibility. The caretakers ensured we wasted not a drop of precious life-giving fluid. The task grew more difficult with each passing year. Many had forsaken the old ways, and the relic’s existence faded, erased from common memory.

As the keeper, I held the stories, legends, and rituals. With the full moon, the remaining guardians gathered and spoke with the sprites.

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Water Daze by Bill Engleson

I first saw Sharallee in the brilliance of my youth.

I lived in the far valley.

She was of the mountain people.

We were strangers to each other.

Then, one day, our stars aligned.

I was seeking a change.

She was a restless and thirsty beauty.

The Sweetflower River cascaded down from her hills to ensure that our fertile farm land would produce all the food a people could desire.

Me with my bucket of dreams, she with her grandmother’s locket, some said we were ill-prepared for the adventure.

These many years later, I cannot but disagree with them.

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Bucket of Water  by Frank Hubney

Grace fills a small bucket of water from her sink for four plants on her balcony overlooking the bay overlooking her former life far away. She hopes the plants thrive. They may not like it here and they have no way to escape.

With the water delivered she looks down on the tiny neighbors walking the street all accustomed to being here, mentally preoccupied. They look happy, but who knows? Happiness is not what it’s all about. It’s all about – what?

She figures those tiny plants have to trust her, but sometimes water comes from the sky as well.

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The Wait of Water (American Sentence haiku; tanka haibun) by JulesPaige

A human fish; swimming before being bipedal, so I was told.
I am one with natural liquid, especially salted oceans.
Now that I have a home by a creek; all future homes will have flow too.

If I were to have a bucket list in retirement; home on the beach.
I’d be able to take said bucket and fill it to my heart’s content.
To explore everyday all the gifts therein; brought to me by the sea.

born out of water
Into a sign of flowing
to write on beach sands

am I asking for too much
simple serendipity

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When The Well Runs Dry by Nobbinmaug

They sprinted to the well. Liza frantically pulled up the bucket.

“Test it!” Mike just looked down and shook his head. “Damn it!”

Liza vented her frustration on the bucket.

The same scene played out countless times.

Their pouches ran dry before Mike sighed and smiled.

“Finally!”

They greedily drank from the well before filling their pouches and bucket.

“We have to get home and hope we haven’t lost anyone else.”

Two days later, Mike and Liza stumbled into the village.

“We found water.” Liza held up the empty bucket. “What?”

“There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza.”

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The Follies of Youth by Anurag Bakhshi

“Where’re you off to?” I called out to him.

He pointed towards the empty bucket in his hand.

“I’ll come along too,” I said.

As we silently trudged up towards the well, I recalled the times when the hills used to echo with our carefree laughter.

But now…

I quietly wiped off a tear.

If only I hadn’t seen him kissing Mary that day.

If only I hadn’t pushed him in anger.

Jack wouldn’t have fallen down and broken his crown, and I wouldn’t have had to go tumbling after him to prove that it was just an accident.

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Watering Whole by D. Avery

“Well, Kid, water ya waitin fer? The prompt has arrived, it’s time ta saddle up. Oh, let me guess, yer gonna turn water inta whine, gonna whine about the prompt. Again.”

“Well…”

“That’s a deep subject, Kid, an’ Shorty’s done subjected us ta deep thinkin’. Thinkin’ that musta been quite a time, bein’ amongst those water walkin’ women. Sounds right powerful.”

“Reckon it was, Pal. Ain’t nuthin’ more powerful ‘an a group a women ‘an water. Makes me smile ta think a Shorty at a tribal gatherin’.”

“Kid, Shorty’s at a tribal gatherin’ ever week. She leads Buckaroo Nation!”

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To Chisel

What does it mean to chisel? To begin with something raw and peel back layers until a shape emerges. What does it take for a sculptor to chisel marble, a woodworker to cave wood, a conman to chisel money from someone unsuspecting? So many questions for writers to explore with the unusual prompt.

Many felt stumped. Chisel? Others jumped in with characters who possessed chiseled cheeks and rippling bodies. All pushed through and came up with a fascinating look at humanity. Put a tool in an artist’s hands, and you’ll be surprised by the results.

The following is based on the March 14, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a chisel.

PART I (10-minute read)

Red Carpet by The Dark Netizen

He put on his best smile, and began walking down the red carpet, flashing his perfect set of teeth to the cameras.

The paparazzi had all gathered to one side of the carpet.

He was unperturbed even when he knew the press wanted a piece of him.

He had been nominated for best actor this year, as he showed flashes of sheer acting brilliance, in addition to his chiseled features.

Dressed in his well fitting tuxedo, he posed for the flashing cameras.

The fitting had turned out quite tight, and as he turned, he ended up flashing the cameras…

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Deception by Ann Edall-Robson

His chiseled features had softened with the years. Still handsome, with a rakish look, and eyes that flashed like lightning bolts when his thoughts turned to what his son had done so many years ago.

He stood with his hip leaning against the workbench, looking out the window of his saddle making shop. The cloudy expression changed when he spotted his grandson working with a young colt in the corral across the way.

Watching the young man, he could see himself at that age. The family traits, and looks had definitely not missed a generation, but would the deception.

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Chisel by Robbie Cheadle

Dan slammed his toolbox down on the table. “My new paint scrapper is missing. I haven’t even used it yet.”

“Are you sure it’s gone?”

“Yes,” he opened the box. “See, it’s gone. You haven’t seen it anywhere, have you?”

“No,” said Julie, thinking of the little fondant man who was reposing on the paint scrapper in her art cupboard. It was a great tool for moving her artworks with and she planned to keep it.

She smiled at him. “Why don’t you leave your toolbox in the kitchen until you find it?” His chisel had caught her eye.

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Princess and Pauper by Abhijit Ray

Princess Pihu had five maids taking care of her every needs. Laborer Ramu had to take care of needs of his family. Pihu had never done any work, Ramu had not done anything but work.

Watching Ramu’s sweat soaked body, chiselled by hard labor would evoke unexplored feelings in Pihu.

Land lord’s daughter has fallen for the daily wager’s son was the story in the grapevine. Jealous coworkers, raised the matter with Pihu’s father.

Pihu saw Ramu being beaten up tied to a pole. Neither Pihu nor Ramu uttered a single word. Pihu was mute and Ramu was deaf.

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The Assault by Anurag Bakhshi

I woke up to see someone leaning over me, as if he had just kissed me, and was about to do so again.

The man had blue eyes, a chiseled jawline, an equine nose, and that blind confidence that only comes from lifelong entitlement.

“You creep,” I screamed, as I pushed at him, hard. His face registered shock as he went flying back.

I jumped up, and landed next to his supine figure. The last words I heard before I choked the life out of him were, “I’m Prince Charming, Sleeping Beauty….”

I wonder why he called me that…

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An Interlude by Joanne Fisher

Aalen had made camp for the night. Not feeling like sleeping she had found a piece of wood and used a sharp stone for a chisel. She began chiseling it into shape, though she had no idea what she was making. She heard movement in the bushes near her and then there was a loud panting by her ear.

“I wondered when you were going to show up.” Aalen said as she looked at Vilja. “They’re all dead Vilja. Killed in cold blood. We need to make things right.” She hugged her wolf and wept. Vilja licked her face.

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Those Beaks Are Made for Eating by Susan Sleggs

Outside my window suet feeders for woodpeckers hang on the crabapple tree. They are chained because climbing critters like to steel them. The little Downy Woodpecker feeds with the tiniest beak, the size of a push pin, but it’s the fiercest of the bunch. The Hairy is next in size and its beak resembles a small nail. The Red-bellied sports a picture hanging nail and the Flicker’s beak is long and sleek, like a sharp needle. The extra large Pileated Woodpecker has a huge beak in comparison. It looks like two chisels on a hinge. He takes big bites.

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Carve the Cake by H.R.R. Gorman

The cake melted like butter beneath his carving knife. He chiseled through the icing and fondant, into the raspberry jam and vanilla center.

“What did you wish for, Pop-pop?”

Pop-pop gave the granddaughter a toothless smile. Though his eyes were clouded from cataracts and his body now feeble, he put the knife to the table smoothly and handed his “little pet” a slice of cake. “If I tell you, will you promise to make it come true?”

“Yes.”

“I wished to share another cake with you next year, sweetie.” He pinched her cheeks and cut another slice of cake.

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The Hospital Closure Is Announced by Anne Goodwin

Excitement flutters inside her like the start of a baby. Could it happen, or is it a fairy tale? Amy Johnson flying so high she could chisel a chunk of cheese from the moon.

“Who decided the hospital had to close?” A woman jabs a gnarled finger at the Belgian. “Was it you?”

Rather than solving a mystery, the detective has created one. But, Mrs Christie having summoned him for a reason, Matty wracks her brain for a solution that would appease her guests. “Buck up! We must all forgo some comforts in wartime. Even our dear King George.”

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Scraped by Tanushka Dangayach

I found myself Lying on the ground. Silver and metallic, scraping the ground. I glance around the area. Shoes lay about on the ochre ground. Kids loitered in the parking lot. Lying there, I looked up at the sky. The sun shined in my eyes, bright and brilliant. Shoes thudded on the pavement. Dropping down on the ground, a person bent down grasping my handle tight. “Aah! Look what I found!” said the raspy voice. Picking me up, he pushed my head against the ground.

I walked up to Larry. There he sat with a chisel in his hand.

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Learning Curve by D. Avery

“What did you say Marlie?”

“Basswood. Google said it was a good carving wood, and then I learned we had it in our front yard, except we’d been calling it Linden, and I cut a piece of it to carve. Daddy taught me how to carve, Mommy! Mommy! You’re not even looking at my carving.”

She wasn’t, either; she was looking quizzically from Marlie’s bandaged hand to Marlie’s quiet father.

“Daddy taught me how to be real careful with the knife and chisel, but that was after I’d used the limbing saw. That’s when Daddy taught me about first-aid!”

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TImeouts by Ruchira Khanna

“I don’t want to go to school tomorrow!” Nate announced loud and clear when he entered his home and sat down with a sulk.

“What happened, honey?” Mom was quick to take the eight-year-old in her lap.

The Mom continued to tickle and caress.

After a couple of minutes, he blurted, “My teacher gives me a lot of timeouts!”

There was silence.

“I’m sure you cannot identify what is right and what is wrong,” said Mom as she gently stroked his arm, “These timeouts are like a chisel. They will help you recognize and analyze your behavior, going forward.”

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Perspective by Norah Colvin

The monumental task cast a shadow deep and long, miniaturising the toolkit at his feet.

He shook his head, muttering complaints and impossibilities.

The supervisor appeared. “Better get started. No time to waste.”

He rummaged through the toolkit, lifting, inspecting and replacing each implement in turn.

“What’s the holdup?” bellowed the supervisor.

He grabbed the mallet and whacked the stone. “Take that!” Chunks smashed around him. He wiped his brow and whacked again.

“Great. You’ve started at last,” encouraged the supervisor.

Later, as the light turned, the shadow faded and diminished. He lifted his chisel and refined his work.

🥕🥕🥕

Perfection by Reena Saxena

“Don’t be afraid of gathering enemies! It shows that you have chiselled your life to perfection.”

“How can enemies make a life perfect?” She was still reeling under the impact of a breakup, and the threats she received after that.

“Chiselling involves making a choice – you keep what you like, need or want and delete the rest. You revise your opinion on seeing the final outcome, and then, refine it a little more…”

I’m happy to see the glow in her eyes. Happiness shows in the pink flush of renewal on her cheeks.

“Welcome and embrace the New You!”

🥕🥕🥕

Chiseled Cheekbones by Susan Zutautas

You’re so bubbly, Sarah? Her mother said. What’s up?

It was going to be a surprise but I’m going to get my cheeks done.

Oh, for heaven’s sake don’t tell me you’re serious!

Sarah’s father was in the other room and heard the conversation. He went out to his workshop to grab a tool thinking he might be able to change his daughter’s mind.

See this Sarah, showing her a chisel. This is a tool they use to chisel your cheekbones.

Oh, Dad, you’re so silly, the one they use is much smaller and besides I won’t be awake.

🥕🥕🥕

A Muse by Goldie

His black,
luscious hair
was styled to perfection.
A stray lock,
gently hanging off the side
of his forehead added
to his “good bad boy” attitude.
The piercing blue eyes
beckoned to me,
causing me to almost get lost in the moment.
The face chiseled.
Slim,
with pronounced cheekbones
and dimples.
I kept analyzing him further.
Broad shoulders.
Sculpted arms.
Visible pecks.
An impeccable six-pack.
An ideal specimen.
Could be Praxiteles’ muse.
“There’s pressure on men, too…
You know?
Not only women need to look a certain way.” –
I thought with contempt,
As I put the glossy magazine away.

🥕🥕🥕

Even if Flawed by Kerry E.B. Black

Michaelangelo saw the angel in marble and carved until he set it free. The world admires him. For hundreds of years, people have clamored for a mere glimpse of his work.

I’ve studied, learned every technique.

My teachers whisper appreciation of my creations, yet I’m poised with a chisel, too pertrified to begin. I touch smooth, unblemished stone so flawless it glows.

Yet I imagine my inadequacies disrupting its natural perfection.

The master’s words return then, and an angel’s wings pound beneath the placid surface.

Art must be freed, and even if flawed.

I place the chisel and swing.

🥕🥕🥕

The Fisherman by TN Kerr

My father was an artist; a sculptor, usually working in clay or stone. One day he, and six of his drinking buddies, brought a large stone and sat it in the centre of his studio.

“What are you going to make from that, Papa?” I asked.

“I won’t make anything from it,” he said, “I think I can find something.”

He told me that he believed a fisherman was hiding in the stone. That he would find the fisherman by knocking off small bits and pieces. He promised he’d take care not to cut the fisherman with his chisel.

🥕🥕🥕

Laurie’s Nature Journals by Saifun Hassam

Laurie often visited Mira and Jade at the Farmers Four Market. Their intricate designs in jewelry of metal and precious stones fascinated her. How had Jade captured bluebirds and wispy clouds in that silver filigree pendant?

She remembered her grandfather. With his keen eyes, a deft hand and a fine blade chisel, his oak and butternut wood carvings captured rich details of woodland deer, fox, owls and eagles. His chisel weaved along the grain of fallen logs, vividly portraying backyard visitors: sparrows, woodpeckers, hawks, mice and squirrels.

That had sparked Laurie’s own passion as a nature observer and writer.

🥕🥕🥕

Rain Pending by calmkate

An eerie stillness pervades

following some super hot days

a clear warning to one and all

that calm before a big storm

as I reel off some mantras [sacred sounds]

awareness arises fully aroused

heavy clouds drift swiftly over

as swallows dart and glide

eagerly catching erratic currents

to glide and play up high

as more dense clouds

skid across the sky

the birds call out warnings

each species on high alert

to the pending deluge

do they tuck each other in

sounds and visions gently collide

emotions deeply chiselled inside

all creatures weather together

whatever nature does provide

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

The Master’s Hands by Jo Hawk

Turner’s left hand skimmed the tools on the workbench, each tool in its assigned space. To his right, the lathe hummed, a familiar cadence to the master’s tune. His ear told him his piece was unbalanced. Spinning at twelve hundred RPM, the music didn’t sing.

He found the required chisel and returned to his work. Touching his chisel to the spinning form, the tool bounced, and the wood chirped. Firm against the guide, severed wood spiraled in curls, deflected by his visor, the continuous curls covered his hands. He worked meticulously, immersed in the rhythm of his spinning reality.

🥕🥕🥕

The Attic by Anita Dawes

Clearing out the attic
I found Grandads chisels
carefully wrapped in cloth.
He is no longer with us
But I remember him telling me
Always look after your tools.
He was the same with all his tools
Paintbrushes must be thoroughly cleaned.
Unwrapping the cloth, five chisels
as good as the day he bought them
Rosewood handles, each blade sharp
as the last time he held them.
I could feel him beside me
nudging me to find the wooden train set
he made for my twelfth birthday.
I found so much more, I rediscovered
My grandfather, his lost wisdom…

🥕🥕🥕

Seeing by Nascent Ederren

It is that secret joy, which none may ever notice, those things stolen in a moment yet still left behind.

It is not loneliness which drives the urge to see. But a pause, a thought, a reason to remember why the silence is so blessed.

To come and go unnoticed, to spend time with and without. To stare at all around, and chisel into memory, the thoughts and faces all left behind.

It is time to retreat again and listen to the silence. Where words echo so loudly though spoken long ago, and flame alone will light the world.

🥕🥕🥕

My Grandfather’s Chisel by K. J. Watson

I never met my paternal grandfather. I have two mementos of his life, though: a photograph of him in his silversmith’s workshop, circa 1947, and a chisel with a split handle. In the photograph, my grandfather leans over a clamped silver dish, a chisel in his hands. The chisel is possibly the one I now possess. Family lore says that the V&A Museum in London has a silver cup with a design my grandfather conceived and engraved. I did go to the museum, but I could not find the cup. No matter. I have the photograph. And the chisel.

🥕🥕🥕

A Light in Dark Places (A true story from the Curious Archaeologist) by Gordon Le Pard

He struck the chisel with the wooden mallet, carefully. There was hardly any light as there was firedamp in the mine. Any flame or spark and the explosion would be devastating.

Then he saw it – a flame. It was approaching, he had nowhere to run, he shouted.

“Stop! there’s firedamp, stop!”

The flame approached, he continued to scream, the man was trying to shout something but the miner didn’t hear, as he fainted in terror.

He came too to see his vicar looking down, by the light of an impossible flame burning in – the world’s first safety lamp.

🥕🥕🥕

Dumbfounded Duplication by Papershots

“It’s in that drawer.” He marched to it confidently. “Found it?” He opened the drawer but found various types of tools, of which, let’s see… pliers, a kind of screwdriver… this looks like a hammer with a double blade at one end, it has to have a name, and, hold on, two more. So one is a chisel, the other is not. They do look similar, though. Small chisel and big chisel? “I didn’t know which size you preferred.” She grabbed the small one. “You do know that’s not really a chisel?” “You mean the big one?” “Yes.” “Yes.”

🥕🥕🥕

Technology: Chisel by Frank Hubeny

Brad knew he didn’t have the proper tools to do the job right, but he rarely did. The door and opener cost under $50. He’d reuse the old hinges.

He did have to buy a chisel. They told him he couldn’t return it when he was done. He could live with that.

After sort of measuring everything, he realized it wasn’t as easy as he thought to carve out where the hinges should go.

Eventually in spite of everything he hung the door.

Happy wife happy life: she was happy. For the most part the new door even closed.

🥕🥕🥕

Businessmen by Macy Brown

My stomach did back flips in my body as I mentally prepared myself for what was about to happen. My whole life, everything that I built, was on the line here. One wrong move and it could all be over; all of my hard work and late nights all for nothing. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. I force my feet to move into the room as I repeat the same words to myself over and over again, “I will not let them take control over my company. I will not let them chisel into my hard earned profits.”

🥕🥕🥕

Repeat Offenders? (subtitle: For those ‘Groupies’ who need to get a different grip!) by JulesPaige

I want to chisel off the barnacles.
Those leeches, those hanger on’ers
That have no connection to my creativity.

I’ve just got a simple sailboat
I do not run with the ‘big dogs’
Yachts, cruise ships; not for me

I’ll get my news from where I choose
Not from another’s opinionated feed.
I don’t do greed…

I have chiseled out my own niche
Letting the wind blow through my hair
I set my own course, by my own rules

I use my eyes to see, ears to listen
If you’ve been asked to leave;
Then please, just go away…

🥕🥕🥕

Charli the Chiseler by CG Brik

Charlie wandered the streets of Dublin chiseling everything he could.

Bread from the baker, pills from the apothecary, meat from the butcher, shoes from the cobbler, kisses from women, dosh from men.

Sauntering and swaggering, smiling to all who passed by, fingers too quick to catch, hands seemingly perpetually in pockets.

One day a bobby had enough, knocked him upside the skull with a billy club.

Charlie had no business being in prison, but he never stopped chiseling.

Cutlery from the kitchen, brushes from the bathroom, and he’d bring his booty to his secret corner, every day, always chiseling.

🥕🥕🥕

The Dancer by Sally Cronin

His chiseled good looks and toned body set the dance floor alight as he twirled one girl after another around to the music. But he was performing for one particular beauty, sat in a booth with her friends in the corner. Finally, having discarded his latest partner to return desolate to her table alone, he sauntered over to his quarry.

‘Wanna dance babe?’

Without replying, the stunning blonde stood and brushed passed him. She gathered all the girls he had danced with before, and led them onto the floor, where they boogied for the rest of the night together.

🥕🥕🥕

Drop Dead Gorgeous by Ritu Bhathal

All the ladies stopped what they were doing and stared.

Zeus sighed. He was used to it.

No matter where he went, the first sight of his chiselled features always rendered the opposite sex speechless.

His mates would often comment jealously about his ability to have any woman he wanted, falling at his feet.

But it’s not all it’s made out to be, being drop dead gorgeous.

A mute partner, who is always staring at him gormlessly, falling at the sight of him, or even dropping dead on occasion…

Not quite the kind of relationship he was looking for.

🥕🥕🥕

Chinese Whispers by Geoff Le Pard

‘What’s made you look so smug?’

‘Nothing.’

‘Sure. I know you, Morgan. Spill.’

‘That woman over there? The one with the purple hair…’

‘A fine arbiter of good taste…’

‘She told her friend I look chiselled.’

‘You?’

‘Is that so strange?’

‘Oh come on. Your Mum might call your features angular but even Lego people have more curves.’

‘You’re jealous.’

‘Sure. Have I chiselled you out of a compliment? I’ll check. Miss…’

‘You don’t… Bum.’

‘They said you look frazzled, not chiselled.’

‘That comes from knowing you.’

‘I love you, Morgan, just the way you are.’

‘Bog off, Logan.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Corrosion of The Heart by Bill Engleson

I see them there, burning the proverbial midnight oil, hunched over their devices, adding wealth where it likely isn’t needed, chiseling away at social programs.

Out in the hinterland, their minions, the simmering feudalists of hate, wind up their scabrous hearts, seek out their weaponry, plot heinous acts, all in the name of their purity, their virtue.

They meld, these separate trajectories, the political, the wastrel, the fanatic, the idol.

They meld.

They serve each others darkest desires.

And where am I in this collision of hateful terrorist evil?

What part do I play?

Am I simply a shaving?

🥕🥕🥕

A Classic Swindle by John Rieber

“He chiseled me out of my savings!” Perhaps I shouted louder than I needed to, but he was walking away.

“Come back!” No one was really paying attention. Perhaps this scene was normal to them, but if they had been cheated the way I had, they’d be screaming too.

As I turned to leave the “Chiseler” returned.

“Mr. Turner,” he said quietly, “we warned you about volatile investments.” He leaned in closely. “But I do have a tip for you…”

He winked at me and I reached for my wallet – we both knew it was time for a comeback.

🥕🥕🥕

Sunday Morning by Michael B. Fishman

“Hey,” she says. “Trick or cheat.”

“What?”

“Trick or cheat.”

“You mean ‘trick or treat’?”

“No, trick or cheat.”

“I don’t get it.”

“The crossword puzzle, doofus.”

“How many letters?”

“Six.”

“CHISEL.”

“You sure?”

“Sure I’m sure. Don’t you trust me?”

“When I’m using a pen I don’t even trust Will Shortz. Wait… Fits, OK, I trust you.”

“As you should.”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“What’d you say?”

“Nothing.”

She gives me a sidelong glance. “You said something.”

“Your ears OK? I said I love you.”

She leaned over, kissed the top of my head. “That’s what I thought you said.”

🥕🥕🥕

Necessity by D. Avery

“Jeez, Marge, you’re turning the trailer upside down these days.”

“It’s needing a good spring cleaning, Ernest.”

“Now with a hammer and chisel?”

“Ending the ice age in your freezer.”

“That’s a brilliant solution, Marge.”

With a sculptor’s eye Marge placed the chisel and hammered out great chunks of hoary frozen food while Ernest looked on.

“We should name our kid Invention. Get it?”

Marge told Ilene about it on their walk.

“Ha! Good one. You, the mother of Invention.”

“Ilene! I don’t want to be a mother! Damn it. Things were so good.”

“Go talk with Ernest, Marge.”

🥕🥕🥕

First Day Volunteers (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“I found something, Dr. Gordon.” Danni followed the volunteer who grinned.

She noted the group was digging near the mystery foundation. She expected these greenhorn volunteers to soon lose interest. Ruby City held no treasure. Danni confirmed the woman had found the edge of a tool. She instructed the group to continue peeling back layers centimeters at a time.

To her surprise, they did. At the end of the day, the volunteers left what looked like a chisel in situ. Two days later they cheered its liberation. Danni realized her first day fear of volunteers was unfounded. She grinned.

🥕🥕🥕

Tea with Mr Windsor by Anne Goodwin

A street so grand the houses had names chiselled on the gateposts. Like gravestones. As at the cemetery, trees lined our route, pushing through the pavement at intervals, as if Briarwood was so healthy, vegetation reigned over stone.

I did not slurp from the saucer or forget to extend my pinkie on raising my cup. I did not drop jam on the Chesterfield or gobble up the dainty sandwiches in one bite. But I thanked the lady who offered me the plate as our host’s wife. How could I know she was the daily woman if she wasn’t introduced?

🥕🥕🥕

Like Michelangelo by Kelley Farrell

Why couldn’t my parents be dream crushers? My proclamation of wanting to become a marble sculptor should have scared them.

Perhaps the pieces which are grand are worth it but starving artist isn’t just an expression, and who buys marble sculpture anymore?

Men who spend on everything and still afford sculptures of themselves. Naked.

“Make sure it’s a testament to my … manhood. Like Michelangelo.” The man, overweight and sweating, purs.

“Michelangelo was the …” Not worth it. “If you insist on staying you’ll have to be quiet. I’d hate for my chisel to slip and … reduce your manhood in anyway.”

🥕🥕🥕

Haibun: My Son is a Woodworker by Cie

My son is a woodworker. He does chip carving.

The tools he uses for this type of woodworking are a knife and a gouge rather than a chisel. However, one day he would like to try different types of woodworking, some of which involve the use a chisel.

People worry about him working with sharp tools. They say that he should beware when working with gouges and knives. It is true that he must be prudent when using imprudent (or perhaps impudent) tools. However:

The cuts that hurt worst
Come not from the sharpest knife
But from jagged edge

🥕🥕🥕

No Means No by Annette Rochelle Aben

She hated their Michigan Basement; cement brick walls and a dirt floor. If not for the washing machine being down there, she had no reason to be down there. She started her laundry and turned to run back upstairs, when the sight of her father’s work bench caught her eye.

Hammers, hand saws, baby food jars of nails, all lined up neat and tidy. She noticed, but wondered why he didn’t, that something was missing. A shudder ran through her body to think what would happen if he found that she stashed his chisel under her mattress and why.

🥕🥕🥕

PART III (5-minute read)

Some Things Are Not Chiseled in Stone by Sascha Darlington

Conversations weren’t easy with Dad after Mom left. What he said, went. Case closed.

The case for my art didn’t close, not for me. I spent hours at Megan’s in her father’s workshop chiseling aspen, Foo Fighters pounding through my head. When I qualified for the art competition, I lied to Dad about where I’d be and forged his name on the permission slip.

At the show, Dad stood by my carving of our dog, Dali. My stomach dropped.

“I’m not a monster,” he said. “You lied.”

“I’m sorry.”

His finger drifted across the first-place ribbon. “We should talk.”

🥕🥕🥕

Chisel by Eluminora

Her mouth is the last thing to chisel into existence. He does not know why he left it until the end, when all the rest of her is already finished. Perhaps she does not need a mouth. The smooth plain where it should be intrigues him. But she is his companion, the fulfillment of a promise to himself: he will no longer be alone. Damp with effort, he lowers his chisel yet again until its tip barely touches the stone. Sweat beads on his temple as he strikes the first mark. Then his hand slips and gashes her cheek.

🥕🥕🥕

Poured Out by Alexander De (Zander)

“Chisel me this, Batman!” she said, laughing.

“Riddle,” I corrected her. “It’s riddle me this.”

She silently shuffled the salt and pepper shakers. I drank my coffee; stared out the window. Cars passed.
She always says the wrong thing, like she doesn’t quite get the punchline and I feel this stupid need to correct her. Me, and everyone else.

“I don’t really fit in the world,” Her sadness slipped into a smile.

I smiled back, took her hand. Held it, as it turned out, for the last time over pancakes.
She poured out the entire syrup jug, slowly, deliberately.

🥕🥕🥕

Ruth Signs Up for a Woodworking Class by Molly Stevens

“What in blazes are you gonna do with a chisel?” asked Chester.

“It’s for my woodworking class. I signed up for a two-day session in Rockport,” said Ruth.

“Dadblast it, woman! I suppose you think because you’re goin’ outta town, you’ll learn more. That class is likely run by some hippie who moved here from California who doesn’t know his dovetail from his biscuit joint. And I bet he learned it all by watchin’ YouTube. You’re wastin’ money! Why didn’t you ask me to teach you?”

“Because for all your experience, there’s something you don’t have.”

“What’s that?”

“Tolerance.”

🥕🥕🥕

She Knew Him So Well by Di @ pensitivity101

The smile brought out the dimples in his cheeks, creating a path to the laughter lines around the eyes perfected to capture their charm, sparkle and warmth.

His chin showed strength of character. She had even managed to reproduce the scar he got from horse riding as a child.

It was her best work, but there was something not quite right.

She studied the photograph again, tracing the lines on the image and comparing them to her art.

Taking her narrowest chisel, she gently scooped away the blemish.

Not on her beloved’s face, but a blot on the photograph.

🥕🥕🥕

Chiseled Beauty by Nancy Brady

Julie and her friends had gone to the art gallery. She saw him first across a crowded room. He was tall, lean, and his face was chiseled, the penultimate male. He was the man she had seen in her dreams so many times even though he was turned away from her. She would have recognized him anywhere, but he was surrounded by many admirers.

She just had to get closer and hope that a few of those hangers-on would have left. She would be patient. She slowly made her way towards him, waiting to see Michelangelo’s David up close.

🥕🥕🥕

Three Spirits by Sarah Whiley

The djembe is West Africa’s best known instrument. This goblet-shaped drum is traditionally carved from a single piece of African hardwood and topped with animal skin. Its name is derived from “Dje” (gather) and “be” (everyone).

It is said, each drum contains three spirits – that of the tree, the animal whose skin is played, and the carver who chiseled and shaped the wood.

The djembe is a vessel for these spirits to come through. The sound is past, present and future; that which is not in us until it comes into consciousness through our hands and into the world.

🥕🥕🥕

Wood Be Artist by D. Avery

“What’re ya doin’ Pal?”

“I’m a’hewin’.”

“Bless you. Looks like yer carvin’. When’d ya learn ta carve?”

“I’m a learnin’ jist now as I’m a doin’, Kid. Try it.”

“Oh, I cain’t carve, Pal, not even a whittle bit.”

“You could if you’d wood, and a knife. Jist try.”

“I don’t know how. It won’t turn out.”

“Won’t if ya don’t start ever. Here. Cedar wood.”

“Yeah, I see da wood Pal. An’ cain’tcha see I cain’t carve?”

“Jist shush. I’ll teach ya.”

“There a charge?”

“Yeah, sure Kid, pay me in bacon.”

“You chiselin’ me?”

“Maybe a whittle.”

🥕🥕🥕

Backups

Situations and technology call for us to back up. We have backup plans and protocols to save our data. We back up promises or back up and flee the nearest exit. Language provides much play with this phrase or compound word.

Writers backed up their work and took to a strange road that followed the backups of life.

The following are based on the February 28, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the term backup.

PART I (10-minute read)

Go Ahead, Back Up by Molly Stevens

Ruth dreaded asking Chester for help, but she was stuck in a snow bank and didn’t want to be late for her hair appointment. Spinning her wheels would only make things worse.

Chester trudged outside and surveyed the situation. “Go ahead, back up,” he said.

“Which one do you want me to do, go ahead or back up?”

“I said go ahead, back up!”

Ruth sputtered and gunned the engine, rear tires shooting a spectacular plume of snow behind her.

Chester stood motionless, encased in snow.

As she drove off, she yelled, “Thanks! That was definitely the right call.”

🥕🥕🥕

Backup by Janice Golay

The exercise/dance class at our public library enticed the heck out of me. Sign up! We started with the merengue, a Latin-beat dance created to rouse your wiggles. Our leader spread us out on the dance floor like a disorderly chessboard. As beginners and maybe prone to tumble, we each had a “spotter” or “catcher” — a backup in case we teetered between one beat and the next. My backup was tall and dark. Tall and dark. Forward: two, three, four. Back: two, three, four. Oops, I backed up into the tall and dark spotter. Bingo!

Accident or design?

🥕🥕🥕

When a Planter Isn’t a Planter by Geoff Le Pard

‘Can you see where that planter is?’

‘What planter?’

‘I don’t want to reverse into it when I back up.’

‘There’s no planter there.’

‘There is.’

‘No, there…’

‘Go and check and you’ll realise how blind and stubborn you are.’

‘Now, back up a moment. What’s stubbornness got to do with the supposed existence of a planter?’

‘You’re the most stubborn man I know.’

‘I’m not. I’ve also got better eyesight. Just reverse and you’ll see.’

‘Ok, I will. I… Hear that crunch? A planter.’

‘It’s not. It’s a flowerpot. Totally different.’

‘Morgan, you really get my back up.’

🥕🥕🥕

Wily Larceny by Kate Spencer

“Members of the Jury,” Harper said, walking across the courtroom toward the witness stand. “The question before you is not to determine if any trout went missing from Mr. Parker’s fish market on three separate occasions. The real question is: will the prosecutors’ evidence back up their assertion that it was my client George Prowler, a quiet homeless man who perpetrated the robberies.”

Harper turned and faced the courtroom. “The defense intends to prove otherwise. We will show that the real thief was Mr. Parker’s own large wily cat, Whiskers,” she said pointing her finger directly at the plaintiff.

🥕🥕🥕

On the Road to Recovery? by Anne Goodwin

A virus meant missing the concert; but, never mind, there was another in three weeks’ time. I’d be fighting fit by then: hitting the top notes and tramping the moors, albeit not at the same time. Four weeks of fatigue and bouts of coughing headed for five and I remained a recluse, sleeping sitting up.

Steroids: well I never! A single dose and I’m breathing right. But have I the strength to walk to today’s appointment? It takes half an hour if I march at my usual pace. But there’s backup: my husband’s ‘taxi’ only a phone call away.

🥕🥕🥕

Posture Support by Norah Colvin

One birthday, thoughtful Hub gifted me a wearable device for supporting my posture during long hours at my desk. Sadly, it was complicated, and he was the only one to don it, semi-successfully. Those of us less brave to even attempt were in stitches as he manoeuvred himself into it. Having failed to convince me or anyone else to try, it has been relegated to the back of an (unknown) cupboard ever since. Mere mention of the BackUp causes fits of laughter and it remained #1 inappropriate gift for many years – until he presented man perfume on another birthday.

🥕🥕🥕

The Wrong Path by Tracey

She could not believe she was watching yet another lame Christmas movie about time travel. Just once she wished the woman would choose the glamorous life she gave up for marriage and kids. No one in their right mind picked a lazy husband and bratty children over a successful career and spotless apartment.

If she could back up her life she knew the exact time she would return to. Where she had made that first critical mistake that led down the wrong path to her current life.

She looked out the immaculate window of her high-rise condo and sighed.

🥕🥕🥕

All the Time by Sascha Darlington

Every step forward is two steps back: Back up! Back up! Back up!

Celia thought the worst thing would have been running the red light. “Eric, stop!”

The worst thing was backing up, the Mercedes crunching their Toyota pickup, the airbags bursting, screams, shatters, blackness, waking alone. All those taut lips, pitying eyes. “She lost her husband and her baby.” Husband and baby lost. The repetition a desolate refrain.

Her sister drags her, sometimes forcibly, to grief counseling where they say, “Time,” or that’s the perceived message.

She remembers Eric’s hand on her belly. “We got all the time.”

🥕🥕🥕

Chapter One by Ann Edall-Robson

“Whoa, backup, stop!”

How many times had those words interrupted conversations while travelling down the road?

He smiled to himself, wondering what it was this time his wife had seen that brought her camera to her eye. An animal? A bit of scenery? A glint of light off the dew sitting on a leaf, caught sparkling when the sun lifted its head over the trees.

A surprise to both of them, sometimes, when they saw the result on a bigger screen. He never tired of her enthusiasm, the sparkle in her eye, that smile, when she said, “Got it.”

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Chapter 2 by Ann Edall-Robson

Her voice was now only a memory. Echoing in his mind while he drove to their favourite places. How had he missed the signs she was not well? She never gave an inkling all was not right in her world.

Pulling over, he nosed the rig off the shoulder into the ditch. Had he seen something worthy of her eye? Smiling, he remembered how she would explain to him what it was she had seen, before clambering out of the truck to wander. Moving in tiny steps until she caught sight of what had prompted the “whoa, backup, stop.”

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Chapter 3 by Ann Edall-Robson

He sat staring out the window, watching, waiting, but for what? Should he backup, or like her, get out and wander? His heart swelled with the pain of his loss. The meadow that had made him stop blurred from his eyes overflowing with jewels of love.

Wiping away the tears, he opened the door, picking up her camera from its place on the passenger’s seat.

“I’ll just have a look around.” He whispered into the quiet emptiness.

He grinned. Click, click, click. The sound of the shutter shattered the silence.

“I got it, hon” he whispered, “I got it.”

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Restoration of a Normal Life? by JulesPaige

Who knew a train could restore one’s faith? There I was waiting. Not knowing what to expect. I had ordered a bride through the mail. This was my back up plan. The eligible women were scarce round these parts. Most men had brought their own. I had… but after the first three births, the fourth took both my child and my wife.

I needed a kind heart to look after my children, maybe even me, after we got ourselves acquainted. No matter what the promise or the paper said I’d be sleeping in the barn until she wanted me.

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Immobile by H. R. R. Gorman

The messenger hopped into the trench just after a shell hit. He face chittered, ghostly pale after the brush with death.

“How long until we get backup?” a grizzled twenty-one year old asked.

“It’s not coming,” the fresh young messenger said. “The shelling’s too hard. No one’s moving from the redoubts.”

The professional soldier rubbed his aching feet. “I’m not sure we can hold them off this time. We don’t have enough men in this line.” Upon seeing the fear on the messenger’s face, he comforted. “Don’t worry, mate. I suppose they feed their prisoners!”

The young man gulped.

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Decay by Allison Maruska

Rotting wood bends beneath each step. Our porch is almost how I remember–elegant, though neglect has eaten away its soul.

Easing the door open, I back up a step as echoes wash over me.

Hurry, Marie. Leave everything.

With glass crunching under my shoes, I pass our furniture’s remains, heading to the office. I open the desk drawer, feeling inside for the silver pendant but finding only grit.

The empty drawer confirms what I’d known in my heart. The soldiers had left nothing of value behind.

Leaving the drawer open, I depart, knowing this time will be my last.

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Fire in the Hole by D. Avery

Dusted by the unremitting snowflakes, the explorers carefully made their way across the glacier.

“They say each snowflake is unique. No two alike.”

“Are they still saying that? That makes this landscape even more diabolical, a conspiracy of snowflakes of astronomical proportions.”

They stopped to take a GPS reading. “Here we are. Standing over downtown. Welcome to Houghton, Michigan.”

“Back up! A crevice.”

They took another reading by the crevasse and checked their notes.

“Down in there, that’s where the CFC used to be. Is.”

“Listen! Hear that?”

“Yes. This means…”

“The Continental Firehouse Company is open! Let’s go!”

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Human Mind by Reena Saxena

Amnesia is not a dreaded word. It has not been one for decades. One can find life again and reconnect.

Somehow, this episode is different. I find myself in a world without Facebook and Instagram. There is no digital backup of life, and no tattoos on my body. The fire has damaged more than my skin.

Is it apocalypse? Yes, I remember this word. So, all is not lost. There is a life beyond, and I can still reconnect – with something more advanced than digital. I will live to invent that.

Hell hath no fire – like the human mind.

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Backup Work (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Mars sparkled overhead. Could Ike see their favorite constellations from his post in Iraq? Danni lit a lantern at the kitchen table. With the power out from the wind storm, she couldn’t access her computer files. Good thing her work included books and items found in the dirt. She poked at the latest sorting of glass globs. A fire, which locals claimed was the burning of the Rose Bud Inn during Prohibition. If so, Danni might have found its location. Tonight, she couldn’t back up her reports, but she could sift the remains of another era. Stories always surface.

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Pierre by Saifun Hassam

Standing on the boulder strewn seashore, Pierre gazed up thoughtfully at the caves in the limestone cliffs he had just come down from. Then he trekked back up the muddy goat trail to the jumble of rocks. Kathryn was right: A cairn of some sort, the runes on the rocks and those on the ancient temples in the area strikingly similar.

He went back over his knowledge of the archaeology of the coastal villages. Had seafarers and fishermen lived there once? Perhaps they had come from distant western lands, although there was no evidence to back up those ideas.

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In the Library by Sue Maddeaux

Ssshhh! This is a library!

Reverence demanded I curl up on the long window seat. Enjoying the late afternoon sun teach the dust mites to dance, I opened the newly chosen book.

Prologue: Our heroine lives in a sleepy town on the edge of Lake Erie. She shares the house with a middle aged man, who smokes a pipe and offers a quiet comfort when most needed. Otherwise he fades into the silent walls aware of her requirement for order and serenity.

Chapter 0ne: My story…..

Library silence does not disturb my reading. Memories threaten but are sternly hushed.

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Right Quite Quite Not Something’s by Chelsea Owens

.guru techno a

,you find ,else Or

.computer laptop your upon

files data your save to look Please

.intruders face to look please

;that only than more far Recall

.tears and scolds my recall

,door your at beckon strangers and

,clear is road the whene’er

:well me hear please ,child lovely My

.enlarge view your help to

show and guide and aid to seek I

;charge listen’ing my ,you to

knell warning a cry to seek I

,so And .pounce to ready

-lurks failure a where or when

know never may you ,For

;one dearest my life your backup

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PART II (10-minute read)

Back Up by Pete Fanning

“Okay, Ed. Hit the gas, then rock it back.”

Edna slung the Bonneville into Drive, mashed the gas, then slammed it into Reverse. The car revved and rocked, tires zinging in the mud.

“Whoa, whoa!”

Enda’s husband wedged another board in the hole. “Okay, try it now.”

Edna shot her husband a look that could dirty dishwater. She’d told him not to take River Road. But no one had asked Edna.

Her husband studied the tire, walking behind the car. “Okay back up.”

Edna gunned it, spraying her husband with mud.

She’d told him not to take River Road.

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Coastal Cruising by calmkate

Driving along the winding coast
prefer to go where I enjoy most
this tiny café for morning toast
another for the most charming host

linger for lunch over a fresh pot roast
baked spuds well deserving a boast
plenty of coffee to ensure I’m dosed
meandering around every outpost

yet if my car should break down
back up is in the very next town
the mechanic there a bit of a clown
flaunts about in his sequenced gown

causes many an onlooker to frown
so he gesticulates a rather rude noun
life is meant to be colourful never brown

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The Fairy With the Broken Wing by JulesPaige

Riding Hawk was supposed to be easy.
Quinn had not always been clumsy,
growth spurts had made everything challenging.

Quinn was distracted, and fell.
You’d think that a fairy with wings
could easily recover just by flying.

Hawk realizing his passenger had fallen,
turned sharply to see the plummeting fairy
whose wings were not cooperating, dove and
grasped Quinn’s right wing in his strong beak.

There were no backup wings for fairies.
The break would be fixed, healed. Quinn would
fly when the cartilage had securely knitted.
And a slight scar would have
to compensated for when in flight.

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Momentary Nudists by Kerry E.B. Black

Momma’s eyes darted between her mud-covered children. “Don’t you come in this house. Go around the side and hose off.”

The oldest ran a hand through hair stiffened with drying dirt. “Here’s the thing. I don’t think we should do that.”

“Yeah, we used mud to cover ourselves when the fairies stole our clothes.”

Momma’s eyes grew wide with alarm as she scrutinized her young. Sure enough, no swimsuits. “Back up. Where are your clothes?”

“Told you, fairies.”

They nodded at one another.

Momma squeezed her eyes shut and pointed to the hose. “Guess you’ll be momentary nudists. Hurry!”

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Traditional Does Not Equate With Destiny by D. Avery

“Honey! I could use some backup.”

Marlie’s dad came in from his office. “Yes?”

“Our first grader has figured out that she no longer needs to attend school.”

“I can read and my teacher says if you can read you can learn anything. But we don’t have time at school.”

“What about math?”

“We keep doing the same things over and over. I’ll do math here by baking and using Dad’s tools to fix things.”

“Some backup. You did tell her that was real math.”

“So let her try it. I work from home, she can work from home.”

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Waiting by Sarah Unsicker

The plane lingers on the runway as I continue to contemplate the wisdom of my trip. My coat on my lap, the suitcase above my head, I have everything I need for the week. My glance at the weather in Boston told me it would be cold, but manageable. This should be a good trip, a much-needed work vacation. But still, I am uneasy about going. Would they manage without me?

As the plane backs from the tarmac, I jump up, unable to still my thumping heart, to catch my breath. “Back up!” I yell. “I can’t do this.”

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Backup by The Dark Netizen

I need you on lookout.

Keep me posted about the patrols. If any of the soldiers are about to enter the barracks, you give me an alert. Don’t worry. I can handle all the sleeping soldiers on my own. After all, I am one of the top operatives. Check your walkie. Okay, good. I’m ready to go in.

Wait. Three squads of soldiers are entering the barracks. This was not in the intel. What do you mean so what? I am good, but I can’t take on hundred soldiers alone.

Change in plan. Come with me. Your’re my backup…

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Rolling the Calendar by Jo Hawk

“I think we made it,” I said, but I spoke too soon.

Ahead, cop cars blocked our way. I slammed the breaks and as we skidded to a stop, I slammed her into reverse. Tires squawking and smoking, I punched the gas and my Dodge Charger lurched.

“Backup, backup, backup,” Harold screamed.

“No, shit Sherlock.”

Picking up speed, I jumped on the breaks, threw her into neutral and cranked the wheel. My baby spun. I shifted into second, then third.

“Hang on,” I yelled, “If the DeLorean can do it, we can.”

A poof of smoke, and we disappeared.

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Back Up Required by Ritu Bhathal

“Back up! I request you all to back up. You are blocking the exit.”

Pete tried in vain to clear a path through the door.

It was always the same when these guys visited.

He needed to get the band to their car, but it was proving to be impossible.

Just as he thought he’d made some headway, a huge scream erupted, and the crowd of teeny boppers surged forward, knocking him to the ground.

Typical. The boys had turned up at the entrance, with their dazzling smiles, unaware that their security was buried, and requiring back up himself.

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Backup Plan by Miriam Hurdle

“The storm will hit Maui tomorrow, honey.”

“We’re flying back to Los Angeles tomorrow and pick up our niece from LAX in the evening.”

“We need a backup plan. Call a friend to pick her up?”

“Who? LAX is a mess.”

“Can she take a taxi?”

“She has no key to our house.”

“Can she reschedule her visit?”

“She’s going to a wedding in San Diego on Saturday. We’re taking her.”

“Oh, boy.”

“She got tomorrow off from work… Check the weather report…”

“Phew! The storm died down before hitting Honolulu.”

“Oh, mine. The Almighty has a backup plan.”

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Take Responsibility! by di @ pensitivity101

I am responsible! I am caring and never shirk in my duty.

It goes with the territory and privilege of ownership.

People may laugh at my stuffed pockets, but I am always prepared.

You can buy one or even two hundred for a pound! Some are scented and come in pretty colours or with cute little cartoons on them.

I will even offer one if you are without, but don’t expect me to do your dirty work.

If there is one thing that never fails to put my back up, it’s dog owners not clearing up after their pets.

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Vanishing Floppies by Anita Dawes

Life has a way of twisting around
like a stick of barley sugar
The cosmos handed me one that day
a while ago Jaye decided
to retrieve our floppies with a reader
She saved four out of twelve of my books
We took the remaining ones to our local shop
The boys there are brilliant, they saved five now
All on new shiny discs
So I only lost three of my books
Even so, I was devastated
They’re gone forever, to some floppy heaven
Thank God, Jaye now uses USB’s
and backs everything up
Technology, what can you say?

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Flash Fiction by FloridaBorne

Cheap polyester shift from the dollar store…blazer, circa 2005…shoes from an on-line store. Who cut her hair, my ex-husband?

“You qualify for $100 food assistance,” my social worker said. “What are your assets?”

“The rich bastard controlled our finances, left me for a 20-something and filed for divorce after the last child left home. He had good lawyers.”

“You can’t have more than $1000 in savings.”

“I sold my car to buy an aluminum tent.”

Public assistance was a back-up plan; I’d taken $150,000 from the bastard’s safe. I’ll live well while I find a rich 60-something to marry.

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Minuscule by Paige Leppanen

The computer is dead, and the backup USB is gone.

I’ve torn my desk apart and searched in the most implausible places: the bathroom, the refrigerator, even the garage. I had a suspicion but didn’t want it to be true. Still, I couldn’t deny it any longer. I invited my sister over and casually asked her if she had seen the minuscule blue thumb drive.

She sipped her iced tea and looked at me, not straight in the eyes, but close. “No, sorry. I haven’t.”

It was that moment that I knew I could never trust my sister again.

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Breaking Point by Joanne Fisher

“Just back up! Just back the fuck up!” screamed Penny as Angela approached her for a hug. Angela stopped in her tracks looking hurt. “Don’t fucking hug me. Not after what you’ve done!”

“I’m sorry.”

“And that makes everything fine does it?” Penny shot back.

“No, of course it doesn’t, but we’ve got to get past this.” Penny just shook her head and turned away.

“If you’re going to sleep with someone else, we don’t have a future together anymore.” Penny walked out of the room leaving her alone.

Angela collapsed onto the floor knowing she had lost everything.

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Backup by Nobbinmaug

It was her smile that caught my eye. She started the conversation, which is great for a shy guy. She grabbed my phone out of my hand and typed in her number. I fell fast and hard.

The texts stopped abruptly. I tried a few more times, but she didn’t respond.

I ran into her friend a little later. She told me she’d been seeing someone.

It turns out, she never really wanted me. All along, it was him she wanted. I was just a backup.

She broke my heart and knocked me down, but I’m getting back up.

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The Backup Plan by Susan Zutautas

About to get married in a few weeks. Had everything planned, and in place.

It wasn’t going to be a big wedding just family and close friends.

My maid of honor was a little pregnant, (Okay a lot pregnant) with a chance of giving birth before our wedding day.

During the wedding rehearsal, I thought she looked a little piqued and asked if she was going to be okay. “No worries.”

Thank goodness I had a backup maid of honor, my sister in law Jackie as Shelley gave birth to a baby boy on the eve of our wedding.

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Back Up Front by Bill Engleson

Back up front;
Rear guard house;
House home in;
Out side entry;

Exit strategy chaos;
Calm storm weather;
Climate change coins;
Coppers police baton;

Rouge lipstick Hemingway;
Writer reader library;
Information highway patrol;
Car bicycle lane;

Rocky smooth dude;
Ranch dressing naked;
Lunch free expensive;
Posh tacky ticky;

Houses hillside strangler;
Boston Bruins Bears;
Arms legs diamond;
Blood guts glory;

Modesty Blaise blaze;
Starr Ken aware;
Blank sheet wind;
Pass fail safe;

Vault leap year;
New old me;
Lai lie down;
Up periscope sub;

Sandwich grilled fried;
Egg face music;
Festival joy sorrow;
Pity party favours;

Bribes corruption backup.

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Best Laid Plans by D. Avery

“Mom, Dad. Sit down, I have something to tell you.”
They sat, exchanging wry smiles. They weren’t naïve.

“I have struggled with this but really have no choice.” Their child fell silent, swallowed nervously. They held hands under the table. “You need to know that I am…”

“You can tell us, Dear. It’ll be okay.”

“I- I’m a writer.”
Now it was they that blew out their breath. This they hadn’t expected. Perhaps they were naïve.

“But what about money?”

“I’ll write a book.”

Damn. A partner might have meant income, security.

“Tell us you have a backup plan.”

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There’s An Easy Button by D. Avery

“All right, Pal. I’m up. Whut’s goin’ on?”

“Shorty’s cut off.”

“At the pass?”

“The peninsula. Not only is Ranch HQ gittin’ buried in snow, Shorty’s had ta bury her computer- it up an’ died.”

“That’s dire.”

“Yep. So how kin we back her up?”

“Reckon all the buckaroos have her back. They’ve hung in, kep’ right on writin’.”

“Yep. I tell ya, Kid, when Shorty gits knocked down she sure gets write back up. I’m thinkin’ mebbe backup means payin’ it forward.”

“How da ya mean ‘pay’, Pal?”

“Really? Yer pushin’ my buttons, Kid.”

“Oh! PayPal. That’s easy.”

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Signs

Signs are all around us. They guide our roads, mark our territories, and give us direction. Some signs are as blunt as a red octagon declaring stop, and others urge us forward as signs we interpret.

Without a map, writers followed where the signs led them. Signs — and stories about them — are as diverse as the paths to get there. Where? Well, read on and find out.

The following are based on the February 7, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a sign.

PART I (10-minute read)

Mourning by Sascha Darlington

So much pain.

I became mean, tired, despondent. I pushed. I shoved. Told everyone to leave.

They did.

Through day and night, I existed, feet scuffling as I sleepwalked through life, uncomprehending light or dark or winter or spring until I blinked awake, teary, pillow sodden, a scratching on the back-door reverberating through the house.

I willed the sound away. I had power: I willed people away. I could will this away. Yet, it continued.

Opening the door, I saw your brown eyes gazing from a dog’s face, a dog with your joie de vivre, who invited himself in.

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Part I: For Sale (True Love) by Tracey

‘For Sale’. The sign had been in front of the colonial with the lovely porch for months. This cold February morning there was a second sign: ‘Open House’.

She walked slowly through the entire house: gleaming woodwork, an eat-in kitchen with a bay window looking over the backyard, a claw foot tub. It was too perfect. Her heart shouted she was home.

She felt herself start to tremble as she took the flyer from the real estate agent and glanced at the price. “I’ll take it” she heard herself say as her head chimed in to match her heart.

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Part II: Stop Sign (Also True Love) by Tracey

One balmy evening I sat on my front porch watching the fireflies appear in the gloaming. A woman ran the stop sign at the corner and hit another car. A low impact crash: crumpled metal and shattered plastic bits but no one hurt.

She must have lived nearby, her husband arrived quickly. The first thing he did was ask if she was hurt. She started to cry and said, “I am so stupid.” Her husband replied, “I know you are but I need to know you are okay first.” I laughed softly in the growing darkness. Well, wouldn’t you?

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Ominous Signs by Norah Colvin

Every day, the farmers scanned the skies for a sign, any sign, that a reprieve from the relentless drought was on its way. The dusty red soil yielded not a single blade of feed for the suffering stock. Bales of hay, donated by city folk, helped but soon it too would be gone. When the rains finally came, the farmers rejoiced. For four days it rained; beautiful, drenching, life-giving rains, soaked up by the thirsty soil. But it wouldn’t stop. It transformed their world into an enormous, red, muddy sea. Hopes drowned alongside precious stock leaving heartbreak and devastation.

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Paper Boats in the Monsoon by Trailblazer

A delayed child, who never spoke, giggles to herself.
Everyone except me thinks she is defective. None in that big, rich family cared.
Somehow she knew I appreciated her. She hugs my gifts and giggles.

I visited her last monsoon. She was playing with paper boats in puddles of water. She appeared angelic.

A fallen coconut, her port. Boats named in an unknown script. Suddenly she spoke a peculiar language fluently.
The signs were good enough, she was an angel.
She hugged the pink sweater gift and giggled.

A month later saw her lifeless body wearing that pink sweater.

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The Universe Isn’t Interested by Anne Goodwin

A white P against a blue background: Janice was almost level with the sign when she swung the wheel and shunted into the layby. A horn blared as a truck sped past.

Silencing the engine, she clambered out onto the verge. Shaking both fists, she dropped her jaw and screamed.

Traffic roared by, indifferent. The slate fellside frowned as it had done for millennia. A small copper danced from daisy to dandelion, oblivious.

Her throat remained raw from their argument. Was love as ephemeral as that butterfly or would theirs emerge resplendent from this ice age, like the land?

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Sign in the Wilderness by Deborah Lee

“What’s wrong?” Henry asks.

Jane feels herself, ridiculously, wobbling a bit, and forces equilibrium back. “Nothing, really, just about the strongest déjà vu I’ve ever had.”

“I read somewhere,” Henry says comfortably, “some guru somebody, that déjà vu is a spiritual sign that you’re doing everything you’re supposed to, right where you’re supposed to be.”

“So, me being unable to find a job or have a roof over my head is a milestone? If the powers that be are going to send a big ‘YOU ARE HERE’ sign, it’d be nice if they’d also tell me where HERE is!”

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The Dream by Colleen M. Chesebro

It began with a dream so real that I woke up on the hard floor beside my bed. My first thought was that the ancestors were trying to tell me something. They often spoke with signs, like the day I found a feather on the ground where no birds tarried or how the wind caressed my face a certain way.

Sometimes, they spoke by invoking a change in the weather, such as when the clouds blocked out the sun leaving a coldness behind. Then, the ancestors spoke to me through the shadows. And, when the ancestors spoke, I listened.

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The Unreasonable Age of Reasoning by JulesPaige

The young man was an excellent manipulator. He wanted to do things his way, when he wanted to. Normal inquisitiveness was rewarded. He liked that. When he had to do things he didn’t want to, there was trouble. The Elementary School inadvertently gave him a sign that allowed him to get the upper hand. The ‘sign’ he was labeled with was ‘anger management issues’. And he was going to use it to get his way, when ever he could.

There were some adults who still possessed common sense. And he would have to learn to behave when around them.

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The Recycling Centre by Sally Cronin

Having followed the signs to the centre, she stood in line. It was almost time to relinquish the baggage she dragged behind her. It contained items representing her life, the good, bad and ugly. Admittedly there had been much love and laughter mixed with the heartache. However, the invitation to recycle unwanted items offered a new start.

Holding out the suitcase to the man she hesitated. ‘Can I remove some things?’

‘Sorry ’, he smiled kindly. ‘It’s all or nothing.’

Loading the bag into the car, it seemed lighter than when she arrived, despite choosing to keep it all.

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Signs, A Dyslexic’s Guide by Geoff Le Pard

‘It must be a sign, Logan.’

‘It’s a cloud, Morgan.’

‘No, but it’s like an Arrow and that means love, so she…’

‘Love?’

‘Love’s Winged Arrow. Eros.’

‘More like a straw and you’re clutching it.’

‘Ha bloody ha. My mum saw a cloud like a face once and next day she found she was pregnant.’

‘She had to be pregnant already.’

‘True. And she said it looked like a frog.’

‘Are all your family into signs?’

‘Gran’s not. She thought she was going to a book singing. Very disappointed when she just got a scrawl and Cliff Richard’s autobiography.’

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Sign by Chesea Owens

A simple man, though good and kind
Went walking down the sidewalk line
And saw a simple womankind.
He thought, She looks, to me, quite fine.
Meanwhilst, she glanced in mirrored shrine;
Of café window, ‘neath a sign
And told herself she was quite pline;
Till, seeing, side and just behind
Our simple man, in quite the bind.
Then, from his cellphone, played a chime:
‘Twas evening of Day Valentine.
She smiled, asked, “You have the time?”
He smiled, too; said, “Not yet nine.
Would you,” he paused, “Want to be mine
For supper, now it’s time to dine?”

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Sign in a Dream by Susan Zutautas

Valentine’s Day was almost here. Meg was excited as Ian was planning a romantic dinner for two at his place. She loved a man that would cook for her.

The night before the big day Meg had a dream of her mother playing a church organ. When she awoke, she thought it was strange. Seldom did she dream of her. Meg put it out of her mind.

When she got to Ian’s he asked her to sit while he played the piano. The song he played and sang was Marry Me. Meg cried, “Yes, yes, of course, I will!”

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Final Answer by Jo Hawk

It’s the question I’ve been asking since we met. I can’t tell if you care or if you tease. With you the day is light or else it’s black. Your words can bring me to my knees. Give me a sign to let me know.

My friends say I should live my life, stop this endless strife, and find myself another wife. I want a single word from you, the reason to endure to the end of time. Please give me a sign and let me know.

Tonight, I found you gone, and at last, I read your sign.

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Ocean City by Kay Kingsley

Her life was boring and she knew it. Several times she tried engaging but felt it was like trying to merge onto a freeway from a stopped position so she eventually gave up and gave in. This would be her life.

That was until she noticed the interstate sign that read, “Ocean City, MD 3,073 miles”.

Passing it on her daily commute, she looked forward to it, had to see it. It called to her.

So with her suitcase in tow, she called in sick, driving east towards the rising sun in Ocean City where her destiny awaited her.

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Not a Brag – A Reality by Susan Sleggs

On the Riverside Hotel lobby wall there was a big, bold sign; Our bartender Carlton is the best in the US. We took our luggage to the room, freshened up and went to the lounge; curious. With our first order Carlton asked our names and hometown and didn’t forget. He asked other guests the same then introduced everyone to everyone else. We had a fun evening with what felt like old friends. We left an exorbitant tip, sad we couldn’t stay another night. We still talk about Carlton, wonder how much money he makes, and if he’s still there.

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Chester Needs a Woman to Tell Him Where to Go by Molly Stevens

“You want me to help navigate? I’ve got google maps open on my phone,” said Ruth.

“Nope. I’ve driven to Worcester so many times, I know how to get there better than one of them apps,” said Chester.

“But it’s been a long time since you’ve driven this route.”

“Don’t worry. I can get us there without a woman tellin’ me where to go.”

“Suit yourself,” said Ruth. “I guess I’ll take a nap.”

“Woman, how’d you let me miss the exit sign for Worcester!”

Startled awake, Ruth sputtered, “I’d be happy to tell you where to go now.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Sign by Allison Maruska

I dash up the street, my young son’s hand in mine. We weave through the crowd, bumping into a lumbering old man and a child picking something sticky off the pavement.

“Mommy! Slow down!”

I don’t. I know what slowing down means, even if my boy of three doesn’t.

There’s an open store on the corner. A tourist shop selling postcards, plastic jewelry, and native blankets from Mexico. As I yank on the handle, I see the depressing sign: Restroom is for customers only.

“Mommy, I gotta go!”

Guess I’ll be adding a pack of gum to my supply.

🥕🥕🥕

Have a Great Fall by D. Avery

“Mom, I’m going to Tommy’s.”

“Destiny looks uncomfortable driving that Tonka bulldozer. And what’s that sign she’s holding? What are you two up to now?”

“We’re gonna protest. Tommy and his GI Joe built a humpty-trumpty wall out of snow.”

“Marlie, I’m sure GI Joe is just following Executive orders.”

“That’s what Tommy said. But I don’t like walls like that.”

“It’s cold out. Wear this hat.”

“Tommy’s dad does not like this hat. At all.”

“I know. Here. I made a little one just like it for Destiny. And here’s one for GI Joe too.”

“Awesome! Thanks mom!”

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Sign by Ann Edall-Robson

I need to keep moving. Safety is somewhere on the other side of the creek. The sound of running water tells me the ice is failing in the spring-like weather.

Animal sign is everywhere along the creek bank. Elk, wolf, deer, bear, and coyote, their calling cards at my feet. Tracks disappear like ghosts into the willows. A constant reminder I am not alone here. I must be vigilant of my surroundings and the sounds unfitted by the wind.

I hear them. Their voices put me on full alert. Will the ice hold? I have to chance it.

🥕🥕🥕

The Archeri by The Dark Netizen

The two boys stared wide eyed at the holstered silver gun.

It was huge. Even though they had no experience with guns other than video games, this weapon looked like no ordinary person could wield it. Not that Perseus looked like an ordinary person, either. Gary turned towards Billy.

“What is an Acheri?”

“Well, its a monster that preys on those who show fear. That’s why it tries to strike terror into its victims’ hearts, before attacking and capturing them.”

Perseus suddenly got up.

“The fog is thickening. A sure sign that the Acheri is there. Time to hunt.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Black Arrow by Joanne Fisher

Aalen found herself in a thicket. Coming into a clearing she found two dead bodies before her. Both human soldiers dressed in similar garb to the ones she killed on the borders of her land. Probably scouts of some kind. One had an arrow through his throat, while the other had one through the right eye. Pinpoint accuracy. Both arrows were painted black. She was unaware of anyone who did this. The fact that someone else was also hunting the soldiers Aalen took as a sign she was doing the right thing. Somewhere out there she had an ally.

🥕🥕🥕

Signs by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

They had missed the signs completely. By the time the cause of Aron’s increasingly hyperactive, excitable and erratic behaviour had become clear, it was too late to save him.

Mary berated herself. She had been so foolish. When the squirrel bit Aron, he had come straight to her for help. His eyes were shiny with panic as his numerous fears for his health overwhelmed him. His hysterical ravings had irritated her so much that she had not considered the possibility of rabies.  Now he was dead and he had taken some of their friends with him to the grave.

🥕🥕🥕

A Sincere Sign by calmkate

I saw a sign that said it all

my heart and soul it did call

a reasonable warning far and wide

to meet our needs and not imbibe

in every desire as it arises

accumulation compromises

turning life into real fear

as others try to draw near

seeking a share of perceived wealth

it haunts endangering our health

much easier to live within our means

brings content, avoids unholy scenes

greed breeds envy and that eats away

as on our sanity and calm it will play

for restful sleep and peace of mind

be wary greed and envy blind!

🥕🥕🥕

Megan by Nobbinmaug

Megan lost interest in the things she used to love. Simple pleasures eluded her. She started sleeping more and found she couldn’t concentrate. She avoided her reflection. She became more reserved and withdrawn.

She asked for help in subtle ways. She made multiple attempts to talk to friends, but nobody understood. They thought she was being dramatic. Friends started avoiding her. So, she buried her feelings deep down inside and tried to play it off like everything was fine.

One day, her sister found Megan in a bathtub full of blood. Nobody took the time to read the signs.

🥕🥕🥕

Seized by Kerry E.B. Black

The sisters joined hands and confronted a red word on bone-white metal. Seized.

Freya trembled. Although she didn’t understand the word, she dreaded. “What’s it mean, Miriam?”

Miriam peered around the police tape. Inside the simple building, officers snapped photos, placed belongings into boxes, and recorded the contents on paper taped to the outside.

Like ants, officers conveyed family art into the back of trucks. Books crackled from a side yard bonfire.

Tears slid beneath Miriam’s glasses. “It means we’ve lost everything.”

Freya pulled Miriam into the shadows. “No, not everything.” She squeezed Miriam’s hand. “We have each other.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Sign by Michele Jones

Again. Another beating, more destruction. Allie dropped to the corner and covered her face with her arms. “Please don’t hit me. I’ll do better. I promise.”

“You better have this place clean before I get back.” He left, slamming the door behind him sign falling to the floor. Worst sign ever.

Tears flowed down her cheeks. It was time. Allie ran out with only what she could shove in her backpack, and her cell. She couldn’t risk getting caught by him. The rain pelted her face as she ran through the streets, but she was free. Away from him.

🥕🥕🥕

Actions Speak Louder Than Words (A Sign) by Andes Cruz

When he stopped replying to my messages… it was a sign. When he left without a trace, it was a sign. When he didn’t skulk back and wish me a happy Holiday, new years, or birthday – it was a sign. When he didn’t get upset I ignored his birthday, also a sign. And when he didn’t show up to our long ago planned Valentines Day private party for one, it was a sign.

I refused to listen, I willed it not to be true.
But it was.
He was gone.
And there was nothing I could do about it.

🥕🥕🥕

Quite the Sign by Teresa Grabs

They say hindsight is twenty-twenty, but Jasmine never bought into that. Linda continued blabbering about her latest opportunity. She sipped her coffee and nodded at the right times but wasn’t listening at all.

“Lin, you know I love ya, but it’s a scam. I hope you didn’t pay anything.”

Linda was taken aback. “If you were a real friend.”

Jasmine sighed as Linda stormed out of the shop.

Moments later, Linda returned silently to the table. She handed Jasmine her buy-in check. “If that wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what is.”

“What?”

“The police just arrested the owner.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sign by Pete Fanning

The biggest news in Maycomb that summer was the giant STORE CLOSING banner out front at Sweeney’s. Mom nearly cried. She and Dad had gone to high school with the butcher and two of the cashiers. Dad shrugged it off, WalMart was cheaper anyhow.

I didn’t get why Mom was so worked up. It was just a tiny grocery store. A few years back, the first S had gone out in the SWEENEY’S sign out front and I’d thought it was the funniest thing ever. It had been fixed, but the S still shined brighter than the other letters.

🥕🥕🥕

A Sign: Off the Times by Bill Engleson

“Did you hear that?” she asked.

“What?”

“What he just said?”

“Who?”

“Trump. In that news clip from the Prayer breakfast.”

“Seriously? No. I’ve stopped listening to him. I told you before, I’ve reached my gibberish quotient.”

“This was new. Like it was there…flitting about in his brain…and then, whoosh, it came out. Like a popped pimple. Like it’s a sign of what’s coming.

“Okay. I’ll bite. What was it?”

“He said ‘one of our greatest strides…the abolition of civil rights.’”

“Nah! Even he…”

“Even he…what?”

“Wouldn’t…”

“It’s Trump, remember.”

“Well, when you put it that way. Holy moly!”

🥕🥕🥕

Sign by Floridaborne

Let’s play a game.

Assign each letter a number from 1 to 9.

My name is Joelle LeGendre.

My #’s are   165335 35755495

I’ll make up what this means

1  lucky in love

2  total failure

3  your artistic work will be a success

4  keep your family together

5  Change jobs

6  Take the plunge

7  You need a vacation

8  Future entrepreneur

9  Pursue the 3rd goal on your list

Added together, my single digit total is 3.

Yay!  My book is going to be a success!

Um…which one?  I asked for a sign, not a puzzle!

🥕🥕🥕

Boundary by Abhijit Ray

Like every weekend, Radhika and Yatin were out with their cycling club members this saturday. That is when they noticed the board “Private Property, Keep Out.”

“What are they are hiding?” asked Yatin, “why they want everyone out?”

“They are protecting their personal space,” said Radhika, “what’s your problem?”

“Problem is homophobia; obviously, they can’t keep out air, light, birds and animals,” retorted Yatin, “they are against humans.”

“Now you are being facetious!”

“Sure, you would know,” said Yatin sarcastically,” you own one such board!”

“What do you mean?”

“How many men you dated, since your last break up?”

🥕🥕🥕

Sign, Sign Everywhere a Sign by Nancy Brady

Julie was frequently seen walking around town, which was one perk to living where she did. It could be hazardous because drivers didn’t pay much attention to pedestrians despite the recently changed street layout.

Suddenly, there were three red octagonal markers where there had been none, demanding each car to stop before proceeding. Most drivers, however, just slid around the corner unless there was another car at the three-sided intersection.

Julie experienced many close calls in that crosswalk as cars zipped by. Fed up, she made and put up three strategically placed signs: “IT’S NOT A SUGGESTION: STOP AHEAD.”

🥕🥕🥕

Is This Clear Enough for You? by Di @ pensitivity101

All that was left were his boots and a bloodied foot.

His family were up in arms and blamed the owner for their kin’s demise.

‘There are signs!’ he shouted. ‘They’re not there for show. They’re warnings. It’s not my fault if you lot don’t take any notice!’

‘They don’t explain the dangers when perhaps they should.’

‘You’re trespassing! I don’t have to give you the willy nilly and whys and wherefores why you’ve got to keep out!’

‘They’re inadequate!’

He sighed.

‘OK. I’ll change them.’

The following day, newly erected signs read

“Warning: Bears. Trespassers will be eaten.”

🥕🥕🥕

Why Did I Get Up by Ritu Bhathal

Nina dragged herself to sitting position. Why did the alarm have to go off?

She swung her feet out of bed and one landed on a squidgy mess.

Great.

The cat had been eating silly things, and deposited his sick at her bedside.

The shower was no better. Her flatmate had used up all the hot water.

Even her morning coffee was blighted with the fact there was no milk left.

After three hours of sitting on a bus, trying to reach her workplace, Nina gave up.

All signs that she should just have stayed in bed this morning.

🥕🥕🥕

Cure for Cabin Fever by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Crystal bottles stood before her, hip shot in relaxed groups. Scented soldiers, they had no expectation they’d be called to order; Treena preferred sweatpants to skinny jeans, books to bodies grinding on a dance floor.

She glanced out at last night’s blizzard draped like predatory animals on nude tree branches, the streets below slick and frozen. Lifting bottles to the setting sun, Treena discarded each in a straight line until a sea-green bottle caught the light.

She sniffed. “That’s it!”

Spritzing the air, she stepped into the fragrant mist, “Enough cabin fever.”

Treena headed out into her personal Spring.

🥕🥕🥕

Sightseeing – Kyoto, Japan by Miriam Hurdle

“We arrived at Mount Arashiyama. Let’s get off the bus here.”

“Where do we go, Carl?”

“Follow the sign to the Iwatayama Monkey Park.”

“The sign points to the top of the mountain.”

“We’re at the right place, Gail.”

“Oh, the climb is steep, I’m out of breath.”

“There must be a reason to have so many benches on the way.”

“I can see the monkeys and many Park keepers now.”

“The view of Kyoto is spectacular from here.”

“What are the monkeys doing? Do they have lice?”

“No, they’re grooming each other as part of the social interaction.”

🥕🥕🥕

Reflected Glory by Anurag Bakhshi

“Do you see this certificate?” I asked.

“Of course,” pat came the reply, “I can see everything.”

I was positively gloating as I posed my follow-up question, “Can you read the sign at the end?”

There was just a hint of trepidation, and hesitation, in the response, “Yes, but…”

“You can’t get away with your ifs and buts this time, my dear,” I exclaimed, going in for the kill, “This certificate by the Guinness Book of World Records clearly states that I am the fairest of them all. They should know better than a stupid old mirror, shouldn’t they?”

🥕🥕🥕

PART III (5-minute read)

Squanto by D. Avery

Massasoit keeps me close; he does not trust me who has been carried back and forth by the giant birds, which have been preying along the coast.

I learned the words of the English in their country. The giant birds are ships. After five springs I followed the sun back to my country in ships, finally returning to Pawtuxet where chill winds rattled through empty fields littered with the untended bones of my people.

Another ship has come. English families are building in Pawtuxet. Massasoit gathered the shamans in the swamp, looking for a sign.

These are uncertain times.

🥕🥕🥕

Alabama Highway by H.R.R. Gorman

Trees, killed and cut, lined both sides of the road. The road, as far as Stomping Beaver knew, hadn’t been there a week ago. The white army might as well have posted a sign mentioning their intent.

“They move fast.” His teenage son tossed a few twigs.

“Faster now they’ve built this road.” Stomping Beaver removed his shoulder bag and tucked it beneath one of the felled logs. “Stay here. Have my food – this bag will only slow me down.”

He’d be too late. The road was several days old, and the fort was only two days march away.

🥕🥕🥕

A Drive Back in Time (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Ramona looked for the sign, the one that read Elmira. Snow pelted her windshield with a mesmerizing kaleidoscope that Vic called whiteout fever. She ignored it the way her husband said to, and instead followed the tracks in the snow. Ramona startled when her headlights caught the township sign. Why were the mill lights out? So dark! She slowed and pulled into her driveway where someone was plowing the easement. Vic, her husband. The power must be out. She waved and blew him a kiss. Silly man. What was he up to, calling a young thing like her, “Grandma”?

🥕🥕🥕

Country Music by TN Kerr

The sign on the door read, “The Unwritten Halibut”. She stood just inside waiting for her eyes to adjust to the gloom. This was her kind of place. It was a drinker’s bar. Dark paneling lined the walls; a couple of neon beer signs glowed in the back. A ghost of smoke held up the ceiling in defiance of a local ban. Rainbow colored bottles sat on glass shelves and four or five patrons rested at the bar; staring into their drinks, not talking. The volume was low as Hank Williams sang a hard luck song on the box.

🥕🥕🥕

The Thing by John Rieber

He noticed the sign for the first time just a few miles from “The Thing.” The billboard was gaudy; it showed a diminutive character with a large top hat and a shocked expression and asked “can you handle the shocking surprise of “The Thing?” He was hooked. When he saw the roadside attraction, he pulled over and fished in his pocket for the $1 entrance fee. As he entered the musty building, his final destination was the last thing on his mind. Perhaps the money would be there, perhaps not. It was only $1-million, so it almost didn’t matter.

🥕🥕🥕

Signs – A Remarkable Conversation by Gordon Le Pard

He knew how it would be, it wasn’t that people were unkind but for someone profoundly deaf there was little he could enjoy in a party like this.

The guests were introduced, he smiled, was about to sit down and read, when the last woman smiled back and flicked her fingers.

“Good afternoon?” She signed, “what is the book?”

For the first time in years he sat and enjoyed a conversation. She certainly knew her books, and suggested many things he could read. As she rose to leave he asked.

“Have you ever written anything?”

“Perhaps.” Signed Jane Austen

Author’s Note: This tale is absolutely true, the meeting took place in Southampton on December 27th 1808.

🥕🥕🥕

The Forest by Saifun Hassam

For the umpteenth time, Carmen questioned her wisdom in exploring the ancient Petrified Forest. Its fallen trees were part of a living forest some 200 million years ago. The sediments also contained fossils of ferns and ginkgo, reptiles and dinosaurs.

As a botanist, Carmen was curious about the origins and evolution of all plant life. Still, this forest unnerved her with its eroded cliffs and vast sandy tracts. What signs of past geologic and climactic changes lay hidden deep beneath the colorful sediments? To learn any of that would require the utmost care: the forest was unique, beyond replacement.

🥕🥕🥕

California Stop by TedBook

“Ethel!”, screams Cheryl.

“What?”

“You didn’t stop!”

“Didn’t stop?”

“At the corner, no stop.”

“Yes I did, I always stop at stop signs.”

“No, you were rolling, that doesn’t count as a stop. And the sign says stop.”

“Oh for God’s sake, Cheryl, don’t be so picky. That was enough of a stop. You never yell at Betty when she drives.”

“That’s because Betty always stops at signs. You made a California stop.”

“What are you talking about, we’re in Chicago?”

“That’s what they call a rolling stop. You rolled.”

Ethel sighs as she rolls thru the next stop.

🥕🥕🥕

Beware! by Anita Dawes

Yesterday I visited our Farmer’s Market

where I noticed an old man wearing a sign

Beware! God is around every corner!

So from now on, I am going to walk a straight line

I have no wish to bump into God.

I’m sure he’s looking for me.

Probably has a tin full of sins with my name on.

The worst one I can think of is using His name in vain

“Oh God.” comes out of my mouth at least a dozen times a day.

I’m not saying it’s easy to keep on a straight path.

Corners are everywhere…

🥕🥕🥕

Signed On by D. Avery

“Ow! Look where yer goin’.”

“Sorry Pal.”

“Kid, this prompt is perfect fer you.”

“Thinkin’ more fer Aussie. A cautionary tale about playin’ with matches.”

“Whut?”

“Better singed than burnt.”

“Kid, the word is sign, not singe, which is why it’s a good one fer you. Yer always misreadin’ an’ misspeakin’.”

“I ain’t got no trouble readin’ signs, Pal. Shift, look where I ended up! Right where I’m meant ta be, here with ya’ll at this here Ranch.”

“Hmmmph.”

“Fact, I’m a sinecurist!”

“I git the little or no work part, but financial benefit?”

“Yep. The Ranch enriches me.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist

George C. Bailey Photography 2019

When a polar vortex slips its arctic boundaries and spreads across Lake Superior, two snowmakers clash. Keweenaw photographer, George C. Bailey, captures the lake in her many moods. While the vortex hovered, Superior’s waves pounded ice heaves on shore, illuminating sea mist and water the color of icebergs.

Writers followed sea mist into the photo. Journeys, emotions, and wisdom of the land emerged in the stories this week.

The following are based on the January 31, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sea mist.

PART I (10-minute read)

He Never Left Us (BOTS) by Susan Sleggs

We called the seaside motel to book a room.
They said we’re closed for a private function.
Yes, we said, the funeral of the owner.
You know that? You may have a free room.
In a local diner dressed in our best we were asked,
Are you here for Dick’s funeral?
Our friend was very well liked.
His companies employed half the town.
A church so full, people stood.
Back at the motel well after dark.
The sea mist rose.
The fog horn sounded.
We knew Dick was still with us.
The horn will always be his loving voice.

🥕🥕🥕

Sunset By the Bay by Nobbinmaug

The sea mist dances through the sun’s waning glow. Each droplet catches the light creating a rainbow shower. The distant clouds take on a hue of orange, pink, and a faint purple, as the fading disc melts into the horizon. Somehow, the roar of the waves and their crash on the rocks only adds to the tranquility.

The breeze catches the ocean, and it sprays my face. Though salt is all I taste, it’s refreshing on this summer evening.

There’s only one thing keeping this from being a perfect evening.

I reach for your hand, but you’re not there.

🥕🥕🥕

The Sea Wept by Di @ pensitivity101

Icebound, blocked, cracking,
This world is a mass of layers.
From the deepest depths
A blending hue
Of black and green
To four shades of blue,
Rolling crests,
Frothy curls of white
Crumble in the weak sun,
Rushing to meet the shore,
But falling short,
Layers forming, meeting
Joining, becoming one,
Blinding, restricting,
For many it amounts to
Uncertainty and fear.
Scrolls and wisps
Carried skyward,
The sea mist gathers,
Not to hide or cover
More to caress and blanket,
Holding the surface together,
Who is to say it is trying
To shield us from
Witnessing the sea crying.

🥕🥕🥕

Canned Sea Mist by Norah Colvin

No more than a hint of sea spray and she was flown back on wings of joy to carefree childhood days frolicking in the shallows, basking on golden sands, fossicking for hints of life in rockpools and amassing precious collections of shells and other treasures arranged for her pleasure by the tide. Lulled by a gentle breeze and waves whispering a heart’s rhythm, she dosed, uninterrupted by seagulls squawking, murmured conversations, hushed laughter, or the shuffle of approaching and receding footsteps. As the sun glowed bright above, she sighed her last, now and forever one with the sea’s mist.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by tracey robinson

Everyday for fifty-two years she went for a morning walk. No matter the season or the weather. Three miles. First alone, then with her partner, now alone again.

She loved all the weather she encountered, it made her feel alive. This morning a soft gray sea mist spilled over onto the beach, curling her white hair.

She tried not to play favorites, enjoying what each day gave her but secretly she liked the fog the best. Maybe because it was the rarest. Maybe because it softened the day. Or maybe because it obscured the fact that she was alone.

🥕🥕🥕

Have You Seen the Mist by S. Zutautas

Alluring softness
Brings romantic illusions
Letting mind wander

Relaxed in a jacuzzi
Sipping a fine chardonnay
After a long day

As the warm wind blows
Across the lakes hardened ice
One can see, sea mist

Appearing as clouds
Close onto ground, thick moisture
Billows blocking sight

Lighthouses warn boaters
Vision obscured volatile
Mist has unfolded

Shining brightly the
Mist from the sea causes fog
Thickly stands resting

Invitingly mist
Will mesmerize you into
A fascination

Over lakes and seas
Dawn or night you may see
The mist of the sea

Mistakenly some
Sailors have ignored warnings
Crashing into rocks

🥕🥕🥕

Erie Kai by Nancy Brady

From the Canadian side comes the wind. The sustained wind buffets the Ohio shore of Lake Erie, and we can hear the roar of the waves from a block away. The longer the wind blows, the louder the “Wildcat’s” roar. The lake is aptly named for the native American word for wildcat.

This winter the snow came as well as the northern wind, blowing wave after wave of water over the quarried slate blocks, which protect the beach. With dropping temperatures, the water begins to freeze, though, coating the blocks, forming a lacy, layered ice sculpture of sea mist.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Sally Cronin

After tea and some shared biscuits, the little dog’s mistress sent him down to the quayside to wait for the return of his master. This late January day had been overcast and strangely still, with sea mist rolling in during the late afternoon. The boats were overdue, and wives anxiously peered out of their windows towards the shrouded harbour. The terrier’s ears pricked at a slight sound, nose lifting into the damp air. Whimpering he shot to his feet with quivering tail and one front paw lifted. A voice echoed in the fog “It’s okay Patch boy, I’m home”.

🥕🥕🥕

Landlocked Mist by Ann Edall-Robson

It settles again over the rocks, across the land. The morning mist portrays an eerie light to all who wake early to see the beginning of another day. Wandering along the craggy outcrops on the mudded gravel path, the damp penetrates to the bone. Hair and mittens become saturated from the fine spray slapping against faces, shrouding all signs of life with a wet, misty blanket. Landlocked, the mist will only go when the sun burns through and the temperature warms. It is a sign of real moisture to come in ninety days hence. So the old timers say.

🥕🥕🥕

Foretold by Reena Saxena

“Have you ever seen lightning strike water, and electrocute life beneath?”

“Not yet.”

The fortune-teller spoke with a furrowed brow,

“I foresee a clash of strong, opposing forces happening in your life, in the near future.”

I recall the legal notice sent by the brother I trusted most in life, over an inheritance issue. It can leave me with scarce resources in my sunset years. It caused ripples in the calm, placid waters of my life, but this guy is warning me of a storm.

The sea mist is clearing off, as I see people for what they are.

🥕🥕🥕

Master of the Sea by H.R.R. Gorman

A slender hand helped him spew water from his lungs. “It is good you lived, but I’m afraid your countrymen died.” Her queenly presence was clothed in radiant stones from the ocean, her hair glistened with sea mist.

She had a fin in place of legs and loose webs between long fingers.

“She was a good ship… and my friends were good sailors.” The man shook as tears welled in his eyes.

“Before the storm, you said you were masters of the sea?”

“Why not? His Majesty’s navy is the world’s finest.”

She flicked her tail and swam away.

🥕🥕🥕

Thar Blows retold by D. Avery

The giant Maushop shared whales and fish with the people. Only Maushop could stop the monstrous bird that ate children. The people showed thanks with gifts of tobacco. With ashes from his pipe Maushop made a second, faraway island. The fog from his pipe shielded for a while but was not enough.

Then the people took the others’ god. The others said he was the devil; Maushop obliged. He turned his children to fishes and his wife to a stone before taking to farther seas. They’d see him again, misty smoke now urgent spout of a great white whale.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Floridaborne

“Once, this entire area was under water,” my geology instructor said.

I looked at the sun bleached sands and asked, “How did a place this dry end up underwater?”

“Eighty million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, this was swampland.”

“My mental movie of dinosaurs frolicking in sea mist is ruined,” I sighed. “Why did the climate change?”

“Humans will never do as much damage to the Earth as the volcanic eruptions and asteroid impact that killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.”

He laughed at my reply, “And I thought the Pacific garbage patch was bad!”

🥕🥕🥕

Behemoth? by JulesPaige

I just wanted to hurl at humanity and strike them all dead. My breastbone was fraught with fantods. I really wished the newsfeed would downgrade the Occam’s Razors they were slinging and really glance into my eyes. Perhaps if I just concentrated I could crash the video feed or even the whole system. And then in the darkness of everything absorb all the passivity of those who wished me no harm so I could extend my wings and fly away, into the sea mist.

I really wasn’t a monster. “They” only portrayed me that way… Mommy still loves me.

🥕🥕🥕

The Legendary Sea Mist Bite by Marjorie Mallon

Misha pushed her glasses up on her nose and wiped them with a tissue but it made no difference. Sea mist doesn’t wait. Sea mist consumes everything.

She didn’t know whether to move ahead or to turn back. A chill crept through her.

She felt something near her. She imagined jaws, and sharp teeth.

‘Look where you’re going, you idiot!’ said a crab, grabbing her ankle.

‘Something threatened to bite me!’

‘No, the mist did. Aren’t you wearing your mist specs?’

‘What are they?

‘They’re magical spectacles to protect you from the mist.

‘I don’t need protecting, I’m dead.’

🥕🥕🥕

Another Way by Jo Hawk

I’ve seen them walk into the sea. You know the ones, plagued by constant misery. Their eyes cast down, always looking at the ground. The sea mists rise, reaching for cloudy skies. All around, the grey days bring despair, and in the mist, I could surely drown.

I want something else as I stand here with the sand between my toes, struggling to survive. I’m amazed I’m still alive. But I won’t say goodbye.

They say there is another way. So even on the cloudy day, even in the misty grey, I keep my eyes looking for the sun.

🥕🥕🥕

A Turn of Event by Ruchira Khanna

“I hate my life!” Jaya kept growling with anger teary-eyed as she walked with stern steps towards a mid-sized wall that faced the ocean.

She climbed the wall and eyed her home with a sulk; then looked towards the ocean.

“I do not belong here!” she closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath to take the plunge.

Just then her face got wet by the sea mist. That made her freeze on her drastic step.

She was in tears.

Again!

This time for good since memories of Love, Care, Play and Laughter with family changed her mind.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Kay Kingsley

I thought he was joking when he asked me to join him at the beach for a swim. “It’s minus degrees… in January!” He looked at me with a mischievous smile. His charm. Sigh. “Alright.”

We arrived at the beach to see the ocean violent and churning. It looked like it was at war with itself. We approached the shore as I shivered, chilled to the bone. Mark had already stripped down and was smiling ear to ear. “Three words… Polar. Bear. Club.” Yelling, “YeeHaw!” he ran into the surf as I watched the sea mist swallow him whole.

🥕🥕🥕

Mountain Passage (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

At the top of the pass, Ike pulled over. Danni radioed the lead forester to verify any logging trucks. The Forest Service road tapered to one-way traffic. For the next five miles, loggers used the narrow switchbacks to haul loads from an active site. If they met a truck on the grade, there would be no way to pass. Danni surveyed the steep ravine, waiting for a reply. Morning fog obscured the forest and hid the road. Before an affirmative crackled over the radio, Danni heard grinding gears in the distance like a rumble of surf beneath sea mist.

🥕🥕🥕

Dry Breeze by The Dark Netizen

The dry breeze stings my face.

This sand, this air, are slowly choking the life out of me. I want to get back to my old life. I had power, I had purpose, but most importantly, I had freedom. Here, I feel trapped. My injuries did not kill me, merely forced me to retire. However, I wish I had died before I retired. I wish I was buried at the sea, like a true captain.

I long for the darkness to find me, as much as I long for the sea mist to caress my face, one last time…

🥕🥕🥕

Unclear Clearwater, FL (Late December 2018) by JulesPaige

This isn’t normal.
Windswept, double bent,
facing the wind head on.

Feeling like a cartoon character
being pelted by every single
grain of sand from the beach.

But we get there to what was
the beach a few days ago anyway.

The rain may have stopped
but the misty hurricane air
sucks at closed shop door,
where we finally have chosen
to take some relief.

The door rattles and is threatened
to be removed from its hinges.

We’re at least a block from the shore line,
where the tourist pier, for safety was shut down.
At least we’re together.

🥕🥕🥕

Better Be Worth It by Teresa Grabs

The frigid sea mist stung as it slapped his face. At midnight, under normal circumstances, he would be in bed watching the late-night movie. Today had been anything but normal. He would not be standing by the lake in sub-zero temperatures had it not been for Meredith. She was the most beautiful woman who ever paid a moment’s attention to him. He just couldn’t say no. “No one can ever know,” she said, handing him the bag. He hoped getting hypothermia and frostbite was worth it. Seemed like a lot of effort just for disposal duty of teenage diary.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by quiall

Angelina and Edward walked hand in hand down the beach. Their feet gently sinking into the still damp sand as a soft mist enveloped them. They could hear a pod of whales singing just off shore. The day was still young, the sun had yet to burn off the swirling miasma of water laced air.

“Is it true? Have the scientists proven it beyond any doubt?”

“Yes, my love they have.”

“Edward, how can we tell people the truth? They will avoid the beach, our economy will collapse!”

“It’s the mist Angelina, they need to know: It’s whale farts!”

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Mist Agin by D. Avery

“Ah, Jeez, Kid, you writin’ agin?”

“Why not? I’m likin’ this prompt. Jist cain’t decide on my topic. Might write about the mornin’ mist in the river valley. Or the clouds that don’t clear the mountaintop an’ leave it sparklin’ with frost. Mebbe the steam waftin’ off the water trough or even the warm breath of the cattle like fog in the crisp air as they chew their hay.”

“Kid, you cain’t write about none a thet.”

“Why not? Jist goin’ where the prompt leads.”

“The prompt specifically said sea mist.”

“Yeah? Ever’ where I look I see mist.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Shoreline by Joanne Fisher

Aalen’s path took her northwards. As she went further the forest became more sparse until she came to the shoreline of a wide sea. She had never seen the ocean before and although her sight was partially obscured by the sea-mist hanging around the shore it looked as though it went on forever. She began to realise the world was far larger than she had ever dreamed. Where there other distant shores? Her heart yearned for revenge, but also to explore this world she barely knew. She watched the tumultuous waves and then turned away following the tracks eastward.

🥕🥕🥕

Not Here But There by Carol J Forrester

It reminded her of home. The sea mist rolling in onto the shingles.

Of course, it wasn’t quite the same.

Peat mist rises different. The earth sort of oozes tendrils that simmer and thicken on the low lands. Stretches of green that look beautiful and safe but turn to bog at the first hint of rain.

It’s similar enough though. When the mist rolls in and she’s standing inside it, condensation on her cheeks, damp in her hair… she can pretend it’s England. Pretend she’s inland, back where she belongs.
It never takes long for someone to wake her.

🥕🥕🥕

Avalon by Anita Dawes

Two weeks holidaying on top of the cliffs,
overlooking the sea and ragged rocks of Cornwall.

Sea mist rolling in, invisible hands unfurling a white carpet across the bay
between the cliffs either side. Nature’s magic moment.

This morning, the mist cleared quickly, there between the sky and the edge of the sea sat an island that didn’t belong there.

How can the mist have carried an island into view like something from Gulliver’s Travels.

No, wait. I believe I am looking at Avalon, the island where Arthur was carried
by the blind ferryman to heal, while Merlin watched.

🥕🥕🥕

Scylla and Charybdis by Violet Lentz

we remain rootedly positioned
between scylla and charybdis*
the chasm that separates us
mythically disproportionate
to your truth, or mine.
clash- two worlds colliding
yours a rock and mine a hard face
your forlorn forced inflections
emanating from the belly of your god.
my belligerent brawling outbursts
clutching tight the hand-
of absolution sure demise.
just once, can’t we beg off?
let hoar fog obscure our fracas
cleanse us both in salt sea brine
cast off weighted chain and anchor
just once, let dead dogs lie??
foundation built of rock, on hard place
just this once- oh mother mine?

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist Dreams by Colleen M. Chesebro

I walk along the sandy path strewn with starfish and seashells which seems to beckon me toward the sea. Pearls and aquamarine crystals dot the trail. The salt water scent of the sea mist wafts over me as the sound of stormy waves crashing against stony cliffs draws me closer to my goal.

I imagine the mer-people, undines, water nymphs, and sirens who assist with the flow of life, balancing emotions with healing, cleansing, love, and beauty. I can’t help but wonder how I got here.

Childish dreams bring hope—
as past and present conspire
to present new paths.

🥕🥕🥕

Lookout by TN Kerr

Roger stood in the bow and watched the fog roll in. He hunched in his Pea Jacket to stave off the weather. His hands were in his pockets where he clutched a silver flask of brown whisky.

He felt it before he saw it. He watched it emerge from the haar that obscured visibility to the north. It was an old Soviet boat, running on the surface, twin screws churning the water.

Roger reached for the handset of the sound powered phone, “Bridge – Bow. Surface contact bearing tree fife zero, fife hundred yards, moving left to right slowly.”

🥕🥕🥕

Misty Majesty by calmkate

The roar of MiG jets draws our attention to the ocean out front. A majestic aircraft carrier peers through the mist billowing smoke appears ominous. But it’s a decoy as various aircraft chase one another with destroyers joining in from below. The earth vibrates as a few more bombs explode.

If all goes as planned nobody will die as four nations rehearse war games in our front yard. A regular feature for locals who grew up supplying refreshments to the chopper pilots training for Vietnam, their rotor blades had nominal clearance they had to master. Peace lovers abhor war!

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Faith A. Colburn

The waves looked soft as he peered through tropical rain. The island was only a ragged outline. Crawling down the rope netting into a landing craft, he watched it grow closer, more distinct. It would be his first combat. Would he stand up to it? Was he brave as he thought—hoped? Somehow he knew he would survive, but what about the others? Weeks earlier, in the middle of the ocean, he’d looked through a light mist silvered by soft by moonlight and realized survival wasn’t enough. Seeing the guy next to him fall—that’s what made him sick.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Margaret G. Hanna

She stood on the pier, head cocked. Sea mist enclosed her in a shroud of impenetrable greyness, hiding the bay. Only sound existed. Unseen waves crashed against an unseen rocky headland. Unseen leaves rustled. Overheard, unseen gulls mewled. The sound she longed for – unheard.

Mist moistened her face, disguised the tears. Tears she had shed these past three days. Three days without sleep, three days of waiting, worrying, hoping. Three days with no news.

Behind her, in the house, a phone rang. A muffled conversation seeped through the mist. The screen door squealed open.

“Martha, they’ve found the boat.”

🥕🥕🥕

Out of the Mist – A Tale of Humanity in War by Gordon Le Pard

The privateer came out of the mist, the sailors had no chance, their ship was moored by the waveswept rock where the engineers were working.

The French captain laughed at their ridiculous tale, no one could build a lighthouse on a rock in the middle of sea, it must be a trick of the damnable English.

King Louis heard the tale, but he believed it, they could do such a wonderful thing. He released and rewarded the men saying;

“I am at war with the English, not humanity”

A year later the light shone from the Eddystone rock.

🥕🥕🥕

Figurehead by D. Avery

With Destiny tied to the bowsprit branch, Marlie took command of her tree fort. She steered the pitching ship into the roiling sea of fog-drenched backyard, the surf of snow rising underneath the plunging bow. Over the howling wind she barked orders at her frightened crew.

“Should they really be out there in this weather?”

“They’re dressed for it and they’re under cover in the tree fort. Tommy will let her know when he’s had enough.”

“Maybe. Oh, here he is now. Tommy. Are you okay?”

“I had to walk the plank.”

“There’s hot chocolate in the galley, Mate.”

🥕🥕🥕

Mist Opportunities by Bill Engleson

It rose out of the sea like a smack in the face.

“I can’t see the trail anymore,” I bellowed.

“Some leader!” came from behind.

“Oh, yeah. I suppose you can do better?”

I wasn’t in the mood to take guff, even if I couldn’t tell who my detractor was.

“I didn’t say that,” the voice said.

“I don’t know. Sounds mutinous to me.”

“What’s mootinus? You calling me a cow?”

“Hold your horses,” I said, complicating the emerging animal theme, “Mu…Tin…Knee.”

“Whatever! Hey guys, Old Tin Knee is lost.”

Street kids, I thought. You have gotta love ‘em.

🥕🥕🥕

Insult to Injury by Anurag Bakhshi

I could sense its presence much before it came into view, and the shiver that ran through my body had nothing to do with the ice-cold seawater. I knew the monster was coming for me.

I saw it now, piercing through the sea mist and looming ominously over me like a kraken. Very soon, it would attempt to hunt me down, and finally, vengeance would be mine.

I could forgive him the leathery taste of that rotten leg, but Captain Ahab deserved the tortures of the nine circles of hell for naming a majestic whale like me, Moby Dick!

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Joanne Fisher

Whenever the sea-mist came in the villagers knew to go inside their homes, lock their doors and ignore all sounds.

One afternoon Lilith had been away picking apples from the nearby orchard. When she returned she saw the sea-mist rolling in. In a panic she dropped the apples and ran to her house. She got to her door but couldn’t find her keys. Tendrils of mist were already snaking around her and she felt the chill. She started to frantically knock on the door when she suddenly felt the chill go through her. The other villagers heard her screams.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

“Come on,” Colin called, moving purposefully into the thick, swirling mist.

Mary hung back. There was something about this mist that disturbed her. She could hear strange and distant noises like an animal feeding. The smacking and slurping sounds upset her.

“Come on,” came his voice again, already sounding some distance away.

Mary took a deep breath and plunged into the whiteness which immediately swallowed her.

“I’m coming,” she yelled loudly. “Wait for me.”

Her ears suddenly filled with terrible screams, followed by a loud crunch. A fine spray of blood splattered across her face and dress.

🥕🥕🥕

Help by Kerry E.B. Black

Mist floated above the water, ghostly aspirations undulating as the river swelled and dipped like lovers’ sighs. Transient by nature, it fettered fine tendrils around Erin’s poetic heart.

She plopped to the moist ground and beckoned the cloud. Perhaps within its obscuring she could find clarity.

Waves lapped the shore with the steadiness of a heartbeat. Erin’s own inner workings joined the pace as though engaging a dance. Delicate as dew, fog surrounded her until all she could see was the problem at hand.

Thoughts thick with worry, she stared into a luminous blank and surrendered.

“I need help.”

🥕🥕🥕

It’s All in the Packaging by Deborah Lee

Jane hesitates at the entrance to the marina, fighting impostor syndrome. But the Lake Union Dreamboats antique yacht show is free and open to anyone, and it’s something to do.

Sleek vessels line the piers, shining even under cloud cover, and her breath catches as she steps aboard the Sea Mist and takes in the tiny space. Efficiency kitchen only big enough for one, built-in bed and furniture, handmade throws, gleaming teak, fresh flowers. Do people really keep flowers in vases with water at sea?

It’s not much bigger than her own tent, but what a difference accoutrements make.

🥕🥕🥕

Yandeau Harbor by Saifun Hassam

The evening sea mist threaded its way into Yandeau Harbor. Sailboats and yachts rode gently at anchor. The day’s work was done along Fisherman’s Way.

Mist drifted past Trevor Pierre Yandeau. He was a biologist, and had been an ardent fisherman all his life. Fishing was part of The Yandeaus’ lives from the days in Marseilles, and still influenced their lives in the New World.

Trevor grew up exploring and fishing along numerous bays and coves of the Pacific. He loved to return to Yandeau Harbor: it had sparked a lifelong commitment to protecting and understanding vital natural habitats.

🥕🥕🥕

The Eyemouth Disaster by Lance Greenfield

Despite the warnings, despite the storm, they rolled out to sea from Eyemouth on that fateful day of October 1881.

For weeks, they had been unable to sail because of prevailing weather.

They were not greedy. It was their livelihood. They just wanted to earn enough to feed their families. 45 boats left harbour; only 26 returned. 189 men perished. 93 women were widowed. 267 children lost their fathers.

Two days later, out of the sea mist, Ariel Gazelle returned with all her crew. Out of the darkness of tragedy, shone a shaft of light and life.

🥕🥕🥕

Depressurized by Jody Kish

It comes like the mist, creeping its way to the depths of my soul.

Rapid breathing.

Fast heart.

The anguish bears down, consuming every fiber of who I am.

And just when I’m overwrought; I see a beacon of light in the distance.

Calmness.

The sun blinks through the heavy fog. It transforms the grey and dreary to a Monet painting of purples, pinks, and orange that dance together in a harmonious symphony.

Until the next storm comes like a percussion of drums.

But for now, the haze lifts.

Like a defeated monster it dissipates.

I’m content once more.

🥕🥕🥕

Deep Waters Run Still (Part I)  by D. Avery

“Hhhrrryyy, Pel.”

“Cat gotcher tongue Kid?”

“Ack. I’m a pony.”

“A pony?”

“Yeah, a little hoarse. I ain’t spoke fer ages.”

“Bet thet bothered you.”

“Dang right it did. Jist ‘cause D. Avery wants ta turn tail and hunker down, why do I have ta? What d’ya s’pose she was up to anyway?

“Ain’t my business. But mebbe she was hopin’ ta quiet you down.”

“Hee hee. It didn’t work. I got bored an’ wriggled all aroun’ her head with nowhere ta go. You sure musta missed me, huh, Pal?”

“Sure, Kid. Like a headache when it stops hurtin’.”

Deep Waters Run Still (Part II)  by D. Avery

“Ya know, Kid, it ain’t about you.”

“I know Pal. I jist love it here is all. Where were you all this time Pal?”

“Was visitin’ ol’ Ornery.”

“Ta have some a his whiskey.”

“Mebbe. But he’d busted up his still. An’ all his Mason jars— shards. I found him sittin’ an’ listenin’ ta the waterfall freeze, a whispery tinklin’ sound. An’ if ya listen up close ta the ice ya kin hear water inside, gigglin’ about spring a’comin’. Here, Kid, it’s a Mason jar Ornery glued back together outta 99 shards.”

“It says Moans.”

“It’ll hold water, Kid.”

🥕🥕🥕

Shards

Can something broken ever be whole again? Life can be full of shattering moments. Broken relationships, broken possessions, broken dreams. Yet shards are not the end. Sometimes, it’s the beginning of a different appreciation.

Writers explored the possibilities of shards, this week. They explored the human condition revealed by the prompt, sharing different perspectives on who or what was broken.

The following are from the January 24, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about shards.

PART I (10-minute read)

Mommy by D. Avery

I am a ghost drifting formless
undead, unliving, in between
strung out at the margins.
You haunt me with your memories.
Leave me be.

Rattling chains of your broken dreams
piecing together shards
hopes cracked and scarred like my junkie arms.
My babies, chanting shamans
mediums; you’d have them draw me to the side of the living.
It’s so hard. I don’t come over.

My body is crumbling dust
my heart empty shortsighted eyes
searching for one thing only.
The next fix
might be the one
the last one
an exorcism.

Will you dare dream again, for my children?

🥕🥕🥕

Picture Perfect by Janice Morris

The cardboard frame has yellowed and the picture of the young girl has faded but not her sweet innocence.

She looks wistfully out at the world. There is no bitterness in her warm gentle smile.

More and more I find myself wanting to linger in her youthful dreams, shards from the past, knowing they will soon end and she will be bound to walk in the weighty footprints that life has fashioned.

If I am to have solace, I think I shall find it in this child for she is brimming with hope and hope is what I seek.

🥕🥕🥕

Shards by Anita Dawes

The small church stands alone on the hill.
Beautiful stained glass windows,
sun streaming broken colours of ancient light
illuminating the walls, the floors, the pews.
People’s faces, colour changing
From red to blue, green and yellow
Those broken shards of light
every bit as beautiful as any pottery
found in any old Egyptian bazar.
A jewel made by man, lit by nature’s light.
How long will it last?
Will the light last forever?
Will the broken shards of light
keep shining through the woods
for my grandchildren, great grandchildren?
Will ancient shards of pottery still hold man’s interest?

🥕🥕🥕

Melancholy by Susan Zutautas

Remembering back sitting in a dark dingy room, my mind constantly thinking that all I wanted was to feel normal. No desire to eat or get out of bed but most of all I just wanted to be alone.

At times I would think so rigorously, try so hard to make sense of it all, yet concentration was impossible to come by and all I would do was escape into sleep. Darkness was my only friend and I welcomed it.

People would walk around me as if they were stepping around shards of glass.

When would this all end?

🥕🥕🥕

Shard by Robbie Cheadle

Her son’s death shattered her life like a stone hitting a mirror. The shards pierced her heart and soul making it impossible for her to experience love or joy in any way.

She stood with her sister’s baby in her arms. Little Monica looked up at her with large, trusting eyes. She walked around the room singing softly to the tiny girl just as she had sung to her own boy more than twelve years ago.

A burst of love surged through her, vapourizing the shards. Acceptance of the past brought her acceptance and a welcome sense of peace.

🥕🥕🥕

Shards from the Past Cut Sharper Than Glass by Anne Goodwin

When Matty awakes, she is hugging that dratted photograph. Brushing her hand across her torso, the glass splinters on the floor tiles, jingling like xylophone keys. The maid will sweep up the shards.

Of greater concern is Matty’s doppelgänger, now free to make mischief with no protective pane. Everybody knows Matilda told such dreadful lies, it made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes. But a dissembler gets her comeuppance eventually, and rightly so.

Matty must distance herself from Matilda, however, lest she be punished for her crimes. Otherwise, when Matilda shouts Fire! Matty would be mocked by Little liar!

🥕🥕🥕

Closing the Circle of Life by H.R.R. Gorman

I cup my mother’s hand and hold it tight. She stares at me with unknowing eyes, scared, reluctant or too weak to squeeze the hand in return. “Ma?” she asks.

I rub the wasting arm, glad that even a shard of a memory is poking through. It’s been a while since she’s asked for anyone. “I’m your daughter,” I answered. “Do you need something, Mama?”

The words come slowly to her. “Just sleepy.”

I smile, hand her a baby-doll, and tuck her in with a kiss on the forehead. “Then rest, Mama. I’ll be here when you wake up.”

🥕🥕🥕

Darn Memories by Ruchira Khanna

“Thank heavens it broke!” Jules said with relief as she raised her hands in jubilation.

She was quick to call for help to clean up the mess.

As the helper was collecting the pieces that got scattered around the room; Jules watched with a keen eye.

Her fragile grey neurons of 80 years old were quick to make synapses as that cup’s history took her to her home surrounded with laughter, and then to an old age home all alone.

Memories were threatening to overwhelm her, but she would be seen fighting them with an expletive now and then.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken by Sally Cronin

She swept up the broken glass, briefly regretting throwing the vase across the room. It had missed its target, thankfully, since going to prison for murder was not the best start to a new life of freedom. It had been a wedding gift from her dead mother-in-law, who had never thought her good enough for her precious son. Sunlight streaming into the room was captured by a large shard that sparkled with brilliance, as if celebrating its release from the confines of the vessel. She laughed; perhaps the old girl was sending her approval from above at long last.

🥕🥕🥕

The Mirror Cracked by Di @ pensitivity101

The bathroom mirror was still cracked after all this time, a reminder of tempers lost and love destroyed.
Now suddenly the pieces broke free of the frame, crashing and smashing into the sink below. Was it an Omen?

Splinters, slithers and shards glistened up at him, each representing a part of what was.
The whole had been beautiful, reflective, serene. Now all that was left was an empty canvas having ejected the shattered remains.

It was a solid base upon which to build.

Taking the smallest piece, he put it in place.

Always best to start with the heart.

🥕🥕🥕

She’s Made Whole Again by Miriam Hurdle

“Greetings!”

“Oh! It’s strange. I heard my sons, daughters-in-law, brothers, sisters and niece.”

“Yes, they came to see you.”

“My sisters and niece from the US?”

“Yes.”

“They said they loved me, Jesus loved me, and God loved me.”

“They still do.”

“There was an avalanche inside me. My sister called the nurse, said I was bleeding.”

“Your organs collapsed. The blood gushed out of your nose.”

“But… I look fine. I feel like dancing as I did for the Championship on November 4, 2018.”

“You’re made whole again. Come with me to enter the gate of eternal wholeness.”

🥕🥕🥕

Repurposed by Kay Kingsley

The voice on the phone stopped time in an instant and all she knew, everything she’d ever felt, exploded and as her world broke apart she lay in pieces on the floor and wept from a place so deep that she never knew it existed.

In time, she was able to locate most parts of herself, gathering them up with mixed emotions. She was happy to have found them again but the picture of herself that they made was one she needed time to adjust to.

Reborn, rearranged, repurposed, renewed, she now has more parts of herself to give.

🥕🥕🥕

Jeff (Crater Lakes) by Saifun Hassam

Millennia ago, Green Crater Lake was formed from a volcanic eruption. In this very unique environment, another crater lake formed some hundred miles away: Lizard Crater Lake, when a meteorite crashed into the lush green valley.

Lizard Lake’s shores were strewn with shards of obsidian meteorite rock, mixed with shards from Earth’s crust. Rain and snow melt drained away through cracks in the lake bed.

In the summer, the dry lake was home to lizards and rattlesnakes. Green Lake’s waters and marshes attracted songbirds, deer, and fox.

Jeff, a ranger for Special Ecological Habitats, loved to explore both craters.

🥕🥕🥕

Fooled Once by Ann Edall-Robson

The creek had become a fast-moving lake. Crossing the muddy water was for those who were stupid. Today, he would be one of the stupid ones. He had to check the cattle, regardless of Mother Nature.

His eyes were drawn to the West, and he smirked. The thunder was like a drum roll followed by the ebony clouds opening to brilliant shards of light streaming through. Was it another one of Mother Nature’s false hope sign that a break in the weather was on its way? He’d seen the sky like that before. Fooled once, but never again.

🥕🥕🥕

His Dream Graveyard by calmkate @ aroused

An unkempt blue tractor blocked our entry. We just managed to slide in the gateway when the majestic race horses nudged us demanding their feed.

I caste my gaze around and realise its full of shards of this man’s dreams. Specialised tractors left to rust. Large frames leaned against the corral … they only cost a hundred but the horses shelter was never built. The ice cream cart was rotting, tyres and rusted bits lay about.

It felt voyeuristic to wander through the graveyard of this man’s dreams. 73.8 acres paid for … could the bank reclaim that 0.2?

🥕🥕🥕

Shards by Faith A. Colburn

Entering the abandoned house, we tiptoed on shards of glass. The windows must have shattered long ago; the oak floors were badly warped. We smelled damp wood, wet wallpaper paste, molding plaster. This house once sheltered a family—our great grandparents and their ten children.

We couldn’t see shards of the lives lived there, the storms that destroyed a year’s income, the recession that nearly ruined the family, the trauma that resulted in hitting and punching.

Yet out of the love that survived in the house came this clan of descendants—the doctor, the lawyer, the merchant, the chief.

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Shards by Floridaborne

An “A” student, high school cheerleader, her only worry what she’d wear to the prom, sat at the intake desk at a home for unwed mothers two states away from her parents wondering why, in 1960, no one cared that her drunken father …

“Every counselor here understands,” her mentor said. “It’s not your fault.”

“My mother said once the baby’s given up for adoption, you’ll help me find a job in another city.”

“With your grades, we’ll help you find a scholarship.”

“Someday I’ll be the counselor offering a shard of hope.”

Her mentor smiled. “I’ve no doubt.”

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Vase by Nobbinmaug

The crash echoed throughout the house.

Sam and Pete stared motionlessly and silently at the shards of the former vase strewn across the floor. It was their mom’s favorite. It was her mother’s.

They both considered running, but where? It wasn’t a big apartment. The only way out was through the front door. That meant getting past dad. It was afternoon, so he had been drinking for hours already. He wouldn’t even drink his morning coffee without whiskey.

Before either could move, dad stomped down the hall with fists flying.

Sam broke the cycle.

Pete broke his daughter’s arm.

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Having Faith, One Root Vegetable at a Time by Geoff Le Pard

‘Wassup? You look like someone’s shrink-wrapped your brain.’

‘It’s this prompt; I’ve to write about a shard.’

‘I hate that word.’

‘Shard? Why?’

‘Reminds me when I broke Grandpa’s urn. Mum went bonkers.’

‘How’d you…?’

“Used it as a wicket…’

‘Morgan, you didn’t?’

‘Yeah. It shattered. Mum goes mental, Dad tries to rescue me. Told me to collect the shards to stick it back together.’

‘What happened?’

‘Mum said I’d about as much chance of remaking the urn as I had of remaking a potato from a bag of crisps.’

‘She a one, your mum.’

‘Tell me about it.’

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A Partial Conversation Overheard in the Centurion Lounge During A Flight Delay at LaGuardia by Bill Engleson

“Two glasses of white wine, please.”

“Any preference?”

“Whatever you have will be fine. Sauvignon Blanc, maybe…unless you have Chardonnay?”

“I do. Coming right up…”

“How long’s it been, Jeannie? Two…three years?”

“The conference in Chicago. October 2016.”

“Right. Not that long.”

“In years, maybe. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime. You know…”

“Right! The clown in the White House. What a disaster. It’s like he’s grabbed everything we understood about the world and smashed it on the floor. The proverbial bully in a china shop.”

“Let’s not talk about him. It’s great to see you.”

“You too.”

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Polar Vortex and Privilege by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Hunkered down in double socks,
Layers of wool and moisture-wicking long johns.
It’s a quick hike to the kitchen for more
Coffee hot soup the sweet pungency
Of Sumo oranges in a hand-turned bowl.

I could go out. I could stay in.
My choice.
Do I trust the slippery overpasses for a writing class in a historic cottage supporting local art?

Grateful for my privilege, but feeling detached.
Still.
Worried for those living rough
On our Twin Cities streets,
And rural roads.

Predicted windschill 60 below: Our people may literally freeze to death,
Shatter into shards of never were.

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PART II (10-minute read)

Shards of a Life by Tracey Robinson

The line of soldiers walked slowly, cautiously, testing each step. The IED detonated anyway, shattering the Sergeant’s leg and leaving him mercifully unconscious.

Thousands of miles away a phone rang. The love of his life found her heart shattered by words as easily as his leg by explosives.

Months passed. Months filled with hospitals and surgeries. A leg put together with pins and rods. A person put back together with therapy and exercise. A heart held together with patience and hope. A couple linked together by the past.

Their bodies may have been shattered but their love remained whole.

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Chester Helps Ruth with the Crossword Puzzle by Molly Stevens

Chester flopped into his recliner, cracked open a beer, and turned on the football game. Ruth poured over the weekend crossword puzzle.

“What’s a five-letter word for fragment?” Ruth said.

“Chip away at ‘em with short passes!”

“I said five letters. Chip only has four.”

“One piece at a time.”

“Starts with ‘s.’ Piece doesn’t fit.”

“There’s the scrap you needed for another set of downs!”

“No, it’s not ‘scrap.’ The word ends in a ‘d.’

“Smash the defense!”

‘Smash doesn’t end with ‘d’.”

“Shard, the word is shard, woman.”

“I love it when we do the crossword together.”

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Fractal Features by Kerry E.B. Black

After their argument, she retreated into the museum until she no longer heard the derisive laughter and tinkling of toasted congratulatory conversation.

Cold air buffeted from a neglected hallway. The percussion of her footfalls punctuated until the crescendo burst her dammed emotions. A torrent smeared makeup while suppression unknotted.

She beheld glass fingered with frost. Backlit, it reflected her amplified imperfection. Within the fractal features resounded his criticism.

Instead of accepting the carnival-mirror version of herself, she punched the unfair portrayal. The window shattered into a crystalline spider web. Pain shot through her wrist and left shards for remembrance.

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Intermission by Pete Fanning

I was alone, near the stairs, clutching popcorn and beer when the lights dimmed, summoning me to seat 112 in Row EEE.

Dan stood at the entrance to the balcony, eyes panning the lobby. When he saw me he grimaced, motioned for me to hurry. I tossed the popcorn into the trash, corn and kernels falling like shards into the bag. I tried not to think about how I my appearance inspired such small misery—a small explosion in my chest. I washed it down with beer and walked towards my husband.

He turned and we entered the darkness.

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Lead Came by Nancy Brady

It was Valentine’s Day, and Julie was working. She received a bouquet of flowers from her husband. Her customers would remark, “He really loves you” or some other platitude. It certainly felt like a platitude because she recently discovered that he had an affair with a mutual friend. One he denied up until now.

With two young children, what was she to do? His betrayal had cut her to the quick, and she felt she couldn’t go on. Her heart had been ripped to pieces. Would she ever feel whole again?

yellow roses…
shards of
the stained glass heart

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Broken by Susan Sleggs

The vinyl discs were from his high school and college days. When he left her for another woman she smashed them against the edge of their marble counter. Shards flew. She eyed the mess with a childish glee, feeling she had destroyed something of him as he had destroyed their life together. She slept well that night. The next day she purchased a shiny new bucket and filled it with every shard she could locate then left it by the turntable with a note; “Here is your record collection, in the condition you have left my heart and life.”

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Shards by The Dark Netizen

I lay broken among shards of glass, broken like the window I had just fallen through.

It was a four floor fall. My consciousness was fading, just like my life had been for many years. The shards piercing my skin hurt so mucu lesser than the words that had pierced my heart minutes ago. The words I read on the note had struck me hard. It was a suicide note, signed by me. However, I had never written one. I realised only after I was shoved hard through the window.

The last thing I saw was my wife’s face…

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Lovesick Mess by Belle Gram

“There are rose petals on the floor of our apartment.”

“Yes.”

“There is a giant heart posted to the wall as well.”

“Yes.”

“And you’re a little more flushed than usual.”

“I am quite aware of the obvious situation before me, including the complexion of my skin.”

“Is this one of your experiments?”

“Of course not. This pink mess is an abomination of nature.”

“It is a bit odd. Though the handwriting of their confession is curvier than yours. Not mentioning the decorative hearts and exclamation points.”

“You have no idea how odd it is about to get.”

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Analyse the Detail by Norah Colvin

The artisan turned each piece to the light, this way and that, fitting and refitting, arranging and rearranging. Finally, it was done. Each piece necessary and perfectly positioned creating the whole— exquisite, harmonious, illuminating—not one greater nor outshining any other. It filled each open heart with hopes of dreams fulfilled.

Another sought to analyse its beauty, the power of its message to explore. He picked out all the pieces one by one and examined each in every detail. Too late he saw that, shattered and alone, not one shard revealed a secret. Only united did their meaning shine.

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Porcelain Shards by TNKerr

The last of the dessert set goes into the furnace
Final firing for
cups, saucers, plates and bowls.
There’s a coffee pot and warmer,
a creamer, sugar bowl, and cake plate.
All done in a stylized violet motif
A signature design favoured by my father.

This time there is trouble in the kiln
Most likely the sugar bowl blew
I’ll never know for sure though. I lost that sugar bowl,
and it’s lid,
two cups that had been positioned close by.
Fine porcelain reduced to shards.
Doesn’t happen often, but its part of the game.
Move on, make more.

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Intruder Alert by Anurag Bakhshi

Inspector Sparrow stared intensely at the silver-haired man in front of him.

The man started off, “The intruder was a tall man, inspector, well-built, and extremely handsome. In the dark, I saw him standing in that window, and froze. He moved left, I followed. I moved right, he followed. Finally, I jumped at him, and that is how the glass window broke,” he finished, pointing towards the shards on the floor.

The inspector carefully inspected the shards, and got up.” I’ll take your leave now,” he said,” but please feel free to have this broken mirror replaced, Mr. Magoo.”

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What One Lady Gave Me by JulesPaige

The of Lady Lake Michigan gave me shards. I was visiting in Wisconsin In August of 2017
I traversed the length of the north and south beaches.

One little triangle white with blue hand painted lines like decorations; I’ve identified that coming from a piece of a Leeds Blue Feather plate.

The Lady also offered up something green on both sides; which I was told came from the 1856 Toledo shipwreck.

entrusted to me;
bit pieces of history
gifted by a lake

These pieces are a part of my Lake Michigan treasures. Bits of memories that make me whole.

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Stories in the Shards (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni sifted dirt from Ramona’s garden through the screen and shards of glass emerged. She had built the box to hang on a tripod to accommodate her shorter height. Thick brown crockery and glass from household items emerged. Danni would take this year’s haul to her barn, scrub pieces clean, arrange by type, and document. Every fall, when Ike’s grandmother tilled up her tomatoes and zucchini, Danni sifted for treasure. Most people scoffed at broken glass, but to an archeologist, each piece told a valuable story. One day she’d figure out why the crockery and mason jars were there.

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Shards to Read by Nancy Brady

A favorite author of mine, Jennifer Estep writes fantasy fiction for teens and adults. I actually stumbled upon her writing when I won a copy of her YA novel, Dark Frost from her Mythos Academy series.

Once I devoured that whole series, I branched into her other series like the Black Blade trilogy, the Bigtime series, the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series, and the spinoff series, Mythos Academy: Colorado, which begins with Spartan Heart.

Her humorous, lighthearted style makes for fun reading.

My current read is Kill the Queen, the first in her newest series, A Crown of Shards.

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Burying The Dead by Joanne Fisher

Aalen cut down all the bodies from the trees in the village. She spent the day burying her kin in the village outskirts. Every time saying a prayer to the Goddess while wiping away tears. She removed the sacred crystal shards from around the neck of the village Elder and buried her last. She cupped the largest one in her hands praying for a way to find the killers of her people. The shard glowing brilliantly in her hands showed the way. A rage filled her heart. She grabbed all her weapons and followed the path she had seen.

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The Unexpected by Joanne Fisher

The vampire advanced towards her. Rebecca was backed into a wall. The vampire smirked. It had her now. Rebecca grabbed one of the pottery shards from a shelf beside her and just as the vampire grabbed her, Rebecca drove the shard into the vampire’s heart. The vampire looked surprised and turned into a cloud of dust. Rebecca sighed and walked to the door.

“Stupid vampire.” She said.

“Stupid human!” Said a voice behind her.

Rebecca turned to see the vampire she had killed with a dark smile on it’s face, just as she felt it’s icy hands on her.

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Life’s Puzzle by Teresa Grabs

Ruth was obsessed with puzzles; the more pieces, the better. There wasn’t a puzzle she could complete in record time – except one. Her painful secret and desire remained locked away from her in a tidy corner of the attic. As with any puzzle, she began with the frame. Over the years, she managed to find the right combination for several clusters, but the whole puzzle eluded her. Every night she sat on the attic floor and stared at her reflection in the puzzle shards. A million hers – her true self – screaming forever, imprisoned in the shards of her reflection.

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Magic Happens When by Reena Saxena

This is a magical shard, I’m told, and I believe it when it speaks,

“I need to join my counterparts again to be truly effective. The energy will flow only after we connect, and create a channel for the supernatural. Without it, I’m just a piece of glass.”

So, I set around looking for the remaining pieces. Some are retrieved from the bin, yet many others have left no trace. Suddenly, I note the color of the shard changing.

“What does that mean, my friend?”

“Your energy is now beginning to resonate with mine.” Magic was indeed happening.

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Grandma’s Tears by Chelsea Owens

The sun-warmed beach felt wet and warm
To tiny feet through after-storm;
A woven bowl within her hands,
A flutt’ring hope within the sands.
Searching, searching patiently;
Seeking out a memory.
A glint! A glare! She shouted, skipped!
She danced in young explorer bliss.
For, bit by shining bit, she found
Crystal shards strewn over ground.
And, ducking leaping dancing low
They came to fill her basket-bowl.
Look, Gram, she told the sunshaft sky;
Laughing, she lofted basket high,
I fin’lly found your present, here;
I fin’lly found your star-shed tears.
Clouding sunset smiles played:
Snug’ling, warming, happy rays.

 

Colonnades

Colonnades of white lend a regal elegance to a building or porch. Until you realize what happens in the shadows and that not all institutions uplift humanity. Thus begins the stroll through colonnades of many different origins.

Writers used the architecture as a literary device — to support ideas. Take a stroll through stories on an unexpected journey.

The following are based on the January 17, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes colonnades.

Part I (10-minute read)

Never Give Up by Norah Colvin

The solid grey wall stretched without end, both left and right —impenetrable, no way around, no way through. Perhaps a way over? Even from that distance, it appeared unscaleable.

He removed his backpack and rested his head upon it as he lay, gazing upward. He sighed heavily. He’d trekked so far believing this was the way. How could he have been so wrong?

He closed his eyes and drifted into a deep sleep. Refreshed, upon awakening, he decided to continue rather than retreat.

As he drew closer, the wall separated into columns spaced perfectly to allow an easy passage.

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Pillars by The Dark Netizen

The colonnades have stood for ages.

Tall, sturdy, and white, they stood strong in all weathers. They sheltered my grandfather when he watched the black slaves toil in our fields. It sheltered my father when he freed the slaves and paid them honest wages to work the farms. And now, the great pillars shelter me as I fight alongside my friends of colour against the invaders. We will stand together, to make sure that the pillars stand for our sons. The pillars will shelter my son as he watches a free, united nation take birth.

The pillars won’t fall…

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In the Orchard by Anne Goodwin

In the orchard, I kissed him. Between the colonnades of conference, comice and Cox’s Orange Pippin, tasted nectar on his tongue. Amid the scent of ripened fruit, I smelled the sweat of weeks on the run. We made a bed of fallen leaves, the drone of drunken wasps mingled with our moans.

I knew I had no future with a freedom fighter. Right then, I didn’t care. But when the soldiers stood in line and raised their rifles, the shot sent swallows screaming from their roosts. They left me his bloodied body, and his child blossoming in my womb.

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Supports by D. Avery

“It’s an epic occasion,” Lloyd announced as Ernest and Marge wedged themselves into the booth. “Gotta send Ilene off with a hearty breakfast.”

The diner that was in the same half dead shopping plaza as the community school served breakfast 24/7, perfect for commemorating Ilene’s first day of evening classes.
They walked her from the diner to the lackluster painted over storefront that veiled the higher learning within.

“Ok. Thanks. See you around campus.”

“Wait Ilene.” Ernest posed the others then had Ilene take a picture of them standing in front of the community school.

“We’re your colonnades.”

“Epic!”

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The Epitaph of the Reverse Snob by Sascha Darlington

We were supposed to be impressed with his primping, his crisply ironed clothes which all bore logos, his affectation for mentioning who he was wearing if a logo wasn’t in evidence.

Rachel, of course, pitied him. “He’s insecure.”

“He talks all the time. About himself.”

“Exactly.”

I thought he was like the columns on the front of McMansions, all façade. Even in retrospect, I wouldn’t have changed my mind. Rachel’s wealthy now, wearing her own logos and baulked, momentarily, when he wanted columns on the front of their new home.

Me, I’m writing layered material, barely making ends meet.

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Front Porch Sittin’ by H.R.R. Gorman

Master’s shaded
By colonnades.
I pour sweet tea
And lemonade.

But just last night
My mama crept
From field slave house
To where I slept.

“Take this,” she said,
Offering a bag.
Inside was a hex
Cast on heart of stag.

“Hush honeychild,”
My mother cried.
“Crush this heart and
Your daddy’ll die.”

I pour the tea
In nice tall glass.
I think about
What mama asked.

Master sits in
Colonnade’s shade
Beckons me stay
For ‘work’ unpaid.

I squeeze the heart.
From shady spot
My master drops
To Hell so hot.

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Maybe It Won’t Be So Bad by TNKerr

Dario was a cad, a reprobate. He knew when he died because the pain disappeared.

Dead Dario rose, brushed imaginary dust from his shoulders, and looked ahead; there was no behind.

He was on a covered walkway surrounding a garth filled with souls of the suffering damned. Tapered stone columns stood like sentries between him and the wretches. Each column, labelled with a lie, that he recognized as one of his own:

Promises he’d never intended to keep, yet made to women he’d wanted.

Yarns spun to investors whose monies he stole.

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It’s All in the Cards by Colleen M. Chesebro

Tara laid the faery tarot cards carefully on the table. From between the colonnades of the Major and Minor Arcana, the universe cradled her in a divine hug. From the Major Arcana she drew the six – The Lovers, the five – Unity, and from the Minor Arcana, the Six of Summer.

Past, present, and future. Her past spoke of true love, while the present, reminded her to remain true to her principles. Yet, the future hinted at her becoming fast friends.

The cards spoke the truth. What did she have to lose? She tore up the divorce papers and smiled.

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Folded by weejars

It’d been a long day. Kihei, Maui had deceptively more on offer than I’d thought.

I sat my weary self down, noting the lazy colonnades made by benches and umbrellas. Even they had had it – pulled in and folded down for the evening.

I sat swirling my cocktail, hoping it would ease my aching muscles. The sun dipped below the tree line, drawing long shadows on the ground and I’m almost tempted to ask a passing cyclist if I can hitch a ride. The thought of walking up the hill, is overwhelming.

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Bus Stop by Anita Dawes

Outside my living room window stands a bus stop
One afternoon, I counted fourteen people waiting
Watched as a colonnade of human souls were
Swallowed by a red giant
The two o clock journey had begun
Where are they going?
Will their day be a good one?
This I will never know
I will not see their journey back
The return bus stop is further down
The road where I cannot see
I make up my own stories
About the faces standing waiting
The old lady with her green scarf
She is off to see her grandson…

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Colonnades by Gordon Le Pard

It was strange.

He was watching the traffic passing on the bridge, as a cart moving behind the colonnade the spokes of the carts wheel seemed to bend. When a faster carriage followed it, the spokes seemed to bend even more.

The scientific magazine he edited was short of copy that month, he needed a few hundred words, remembering the odd effect of the wheel behind the colonnade he wrote, An Account of an Optical Deception.

A week later Michael Faraday read the article, he was fascinated and began to experiment.

The first steps on the road to Hollywood

***

Author’s Note: In 1821 John Murray made the observation that led to the discovery of Persistence of Vision, the reason that films work.

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Semi-Colonnaddled-Donnie’s Secret Diary by Bill Engleson

Alone at Christmas this year.

I’d never been so alone in my life before.

How sad is that.

The fake newsy floozies expected a pity twitty…er…tweet.

Maybe I mentioned it in passing.

Melania did a bang-up job of decorating the East Wing this year.

Redder than in a Vlad wet dream.

I wonder what he did for Christmas.

I should give him a call.

Was he alone as I was?

Last year, the East Wing was a beaut.

Talk about a White Christmas.

Bing-a-da-boom…

I hate being alone.

Pelosi’s Shutdown has made Washington a morgue.

I think it’s personal.

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A Word From Our Sponsor by Nancy Brady

As a pharmacist, I dealt with all sorts of people with digestive issues. Through the years I counseled people on various problems like indigestion, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, and other maladies of the gastrointestinal tract. Depending on the problem, remedies were suggested.

Products like Tums and Prilosec for heartburn; products like Ex-Lax and Miralax for constipation, and products like Imodium for diarrhea, Emetrol for nausea and vomiting, and the ubiquitous Pepto-Bismol used for everything.

The newest category is probiotics, which helps restore good bacteria to the gut, specifically the large intestine or colon. Thus, probiotics could be classified as
colon-aids.

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The Problem with Dreaming by Geoff Le Pard

‘What’s that, Logan?’

‘Nothing. You know…’

‘Not unless you tell me.’

‘Someone at work had this thing about designing their dream home and, well, I thought it might be neat…’

‘What’s that?’

‘I thought a sheltered walkway leading to double height doors…’

‘This folly’s in England, right? Bit optimistic, worrying about sunstroke. And you’ll get a rupture opening those. These? They look like columns.’

‘I always fancied having a collonade.’

‘Is it worth that? I’m all for ambition but getting a hernia and buggering up your colon’s a pretty high price to pay for a fancy country pad.’

‘Cretin.’

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Sky to Fly by Reena Saxena

“Don’t look for me, because you won’t find me.”

Dylan almost wanted to put the letter down, and call the police, but then, he stopped to read on.

“Thanks for all the support! You are the colonnade that enveloped my existence, helped me stay afloat, but also separated me from the skies I dream of reaching someday. I’d like to carve my own life.”

Years later, the father and son stand facing each other.

“So, did you find your sky?”

“Yes, and I converted it into solid ground for my son. He’ll need it till he learns to fly.”

🥕🥕🥕

Temple Builders by D. Avery

He found them outside, each with shovels, each pink cheeked, strands of black hair stuck to damp foreheads. “What are you two up to?”

“Come see what Mommy and me made Daddy!”

Hope led him around the mound of plowed snow where the bank dropped away. Once he’d crawled through the entrance tunnel he could almost stand up.

“Is that a skylight?”

“No Daddy, just a vent. Mommy’s gonna build a fire and we’ll cook dinner.”

While his wife and child continued carving out their snug snow house he stacked snowballs and shaped two elegant colonnades at the entryway.

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Demolition Man by Anurag Bakhshi

I looked at my creation again. It was stunning, a virtual masterpiece, as Bird Baths go.

It was a steep downgrade, of course, from the columns of colonnades in my last masterpiece, but…

The owner of the villa inspected the Bird Bath closely now, and said in a mocking tone, “Are you sure this won’t fall down as soon as a bird sits on it?”

I raged silently, but held my tongue. There was little I could say after that crazy monster Hercules had destroyed the pillars of my magnificent, indestructible mansion, along with my reputation as an architect.

🥕🥕🥕

Colonnades by Pete Fanning

Molly and I walk in to the kitchen, where her little sister is drawing at the table. “Hey giant,” she says. “Look at this one.”

I take in the carnage. “Um, wow, this is very…realistic.”

She beams. “Do you notice the legs dangling out of the serpent’s mouth?”

Molly sighs. “Ava, I thought we were going to draw mountains. Beaches. Sunshine. Rainbows.” She tosses a hand. “Something besides death and dismemberment.”

“Look under the collapsed colonnade, you can even see the—”

“Ava.”

I mouth “colonnade” to Molly, who puffs out her cheeks. “Fine, put it on the fridge.”

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Foreseeable Destiny by D. Avery

In the vaulted space beyond the grand colonnades the prophetess grew impatient with the plebeians. How dare they entreat her to wash her hands!

“And where’s your Destiny Doll? Don’t leave Granma’s gift outside.”

The voice of the prophetess rumbled from the temple as if from a deep cave. “Destiny has been swallowed whole by an earthquake. Only a great prophetess can save her.”

“Marlie! Now!”

The prophetess foresaw trouble. The colonnades were reduced to table legs as she scrambled out of the desecrated temple.

Even with her great powers it was ill advised to clash with the Titans.

🥕🥕🥕

The Family Pillar by Teresa Grabs

Davey leaned on the car door and sighed as he looked at the old house. It’s colonnades looked out of place today – still dirty from last week’s storm.

“Never would’ve been like that,” he muttered as he walked up to the porch.

They seemed to groan and weep under his touch as if they knew too. Nothing about this visit was normal. Nothing was the same as last time. The house – the family – was broken. Nana Grace had been the pillar of the family. Now she was gone; the house empty. He hoped the others would filter in soon.

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Standing in Respect by Susan Sleggs

The funeral home parking lot was full of cars which hid the numerous motorcycles stashed in the back corner, but their large American flags flapping in the wind gave them away. I had to go look; The Patriot Guard was in presence. To enter the building I had to pass between the colonnade of men, standing at attention, on duty protecting a fellow veteran, a fellow biker and a friend. The haunted looks in their eyes wasn’t for the current grief, it was from a long ago senseless war. I know, they were my friends too. Damn Viet Nam.

🥕🥕🥕

Waiting by Nobbinmaug

Martha sits on the porch in her rocking chair, looking longingly past the colonnades. She rocks slowly as her fingers do their dance. Her knitting needles swiftly swirl around each other with a faint “swoosh” as they briefly connect. She occasionally glances at her growing creation.

Inside, Tom and Alex peek through the blinds.

“I’m worried about Mom.”

“She’ll be fine. Mom’s strong.”

“It’s been months. She just sits out there every day. Winter’s coming.”

“She’ll stay in when it gets cold.”

“We should call a shrink.”

“She’s mourning. Everybody mourns differently.”

“She’s waiting. She thinks he’s coming home.”

🥕🥕🥕

Colonnade of Condos by Frank Hubeny

Fernando and Pedro walked the boardwalk with a colonnade of condos on their left and the ocean on their right. They stopped at a mural. The artist painted a somber woman with an orange and gold halo walking past an archway.

Fernando remarked, “There comes a time in one’s life when one reaches the age of reason. One only wants the best. And then one wants to give it all away.”

Pedro asked, “And what if we never reach that age?”

In the warm winter winds they admired the mural of that woman.

“Ah! But what if we do?”

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

Colonnades by FloridaBorne

Desert-beige legs like colonnades framed a thirsty expanse, providing support for a woman torn. As I wandered through life, searching for purpose in 1987, I dreamt of being a geologist, loved learning about rock strata and mining the fossils littering a hillside.

They’d lived in oceans for over 270 million years, far longer than human will litter the Earth, trilobites finding their end inside a mass die-off.

They were swept away together…each death a personal ordeal.

As I loosened one from a stone coffin, I wondered if the creatures replacing us will stop to ask, “Did it feel pain?”

🥕🥕🥕

Journey’s End by D. Avery

Do you see those three balsam fir trees, those green colonnades holding up the sky, making a temple of the earth they stand on?

Do you wonder how they got there?

You might remember three sisters that took from an abandoned suitcase hope and their best dream to sustain them on their journey.

As the three sisters let go of fear and worry and idle wishing they grew strong, resilient, and wise.

You don’t have to believe they became trees. They’ll still hold up the sky, rejoicing as you walk the earth your own way, dreaming your own dream.

🥕🥕🥕

Chester is Not Impressed by Molly Stevens

Chester stomped inside, removed his mittens, and blew on his hands. He barked, “Woman, get me a set of hand warmers!”

Ruth emerged from the kitchen and said, “You look like the abominable snowman!”

“It’s brutal out there, and I’ve still got two hours of shoveling left.”

“Just look at the tunnel of snow from here to the road. Isn’t it grand?”

Chester scowled. “I’m not impressed. Feels like Mother Nature took a two foot dump on me.”

“But don’t you think the snow banks look like colonnades?”

“Only you can take snowmageddon and make colonnades out of it.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Monument to Love by kate @ aroused

As we meandered under the arches, leafy green and cool.
This wondrous oasis near the harbour was a find not many knew

While contentedly wandering with my true love the idea came
I could build a colonnade just like these gracious trunks

A monument to true love, a place for quiet reflection
Such a radical new design came instantly to my mind

Tall grand beauty holding a huge ornate dome roof
A special place for worship for the community to gather

Tile then decorate with large brass hanging lanterns
An outstanding majestic temple for rituals to celebrate our lives!

🥕🥕🥕

Giant Redwoods by Tracey

She put the lawn chair all the way back and stared straight up. It felt scary, a thrill in the pit of her stomach. The trees towered so far above her, swaying at the top with the clouds holding on to keep them from veering too far. She looked at the thick trunks of the redwoods, sure the movement at the top would topple them. How did the trunks stay so straight? She wondered what would happen if a branch came crashing down. Would she be able to move away, or watch mesmerized as the clouds let it go?

🥕🥕🥕

Seeking a Moment of Silence (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni nudged Blackjacked and entered the long colonnade of aspen trees. The elk path cut straight through the grove as if it were an engineered road. White bark gleamed like a classical structure. Danni mused that her archeology career never ventured overseas. There was too much history in the West for her to explore. Overhead the leaves fluttered on long stems but held a reverent silence. What could be better than a ride to clear her mind? A sanctuary of nature to ease her anxiety over Ike’s choice to leave. Only here could she ride her horse into church.

🥕🥕🥕

A Colonnade of Aspen Trees by Liz Husebye Hartmann

They must pass through the colonnade of aspen trees as sunrise cuts through at the height of a small Greek woman.

She was that woman, barefoot, in a thin silk shift, a blue bowl of fresh oranges from Thessaloniki in her hands.

So the prophecy said.

She shook her head. Why not a packet of Twinkies in a paper bag, gripped in the paws of a tall man?

“I didn’t write the prophecy, Susan,” Gordon apologized. “That’s just what The Sages told me to do.”

“They told you to record and post this online, right?” she snarled, “Buncha Pervs!”

🥕🥕🥕

The Village Story Teller (Diamante) by Saifun Hassam

From the seashore, flagstones led to the ancient temple. Once, colonnades of colossal sandstone pillars had supported the roof, one colonnade facing the sunrise, the other sunset. The temple was now open to the skies, the pillars wind eroded, but still rising impressively from giant pedestals.

Diamante had taken to sketching the temple and its ever changing patterns of shadows. In the evening, when he lighted the temple fire he sketched the wildly dancing shadows. As evening deepened, owls hooted, children gathered around Diamante, awed and excited, as he wove tales of vast petrified forests and giant flying ships.

🥕🥕🥕

“Asylum of the Obscure” in four parts by JulesPaige

Part 1
The colonnades were not like those built to honor the ancient Greek Gods. I couldn’t tell if they were older or younger. They just were. Rising out of fissure at the end of the long tunnel I was spelunking. Had the others gotten so far ahead that I lost sight of where they were. And I turned off all alone lost in thought to make a discovery that I might not be able to share. While I was prepared for the coolness of the caves, definitely I was not accustomed to breaking out in a cold sweat of worry.

🥕🥕🥕

Part 2
I was alone in an uncharted cavern. The odd colonnades were illuminated by a calming radiance from the center of stone circle. I briefly paused to check my compass and to discover that both it as well as all the other electronics I carried had ceased to function.

Time stood still. Literally, or at least my watch had stopped. There was an odd beauty, a hum of business that I couldn’t quite get a handle on. Like bees always just outside the periphery of my vision. Once I thought that, the faint aroma of sweet honey reached my nose.

🥕🥕🥕

Part 3
Although there were several paths, up and down, I was drawn to one colonnade. I wanted to touch what appeared to be some kind of script. I felt rather like a jackass, having gotten separated from the group. And yet how could I retrace my steps without finding out more?

Forward motion was all I could think about. I placed my hand on an interesting stone and another portal opened into a fantastical garden. Some of the trees tried to lean away from me. One with odd purple fruit seemed to be making me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

🥕🥕🥕

Part 4
I looked back to the colonnade where I had entered. The portal that had opened, was no longer there. The branch containing the purple fruit seemed closer, within easy reach. I was overcome with a strange hunger. If this was going to be my last meal, I might as well enjoy it.

With that first bite, my hunger was sated. While I closed my eyes my mind opened. I was reading, seeing the birth of universes, civilizations and I was given the opportunity to travel beyond the limits of my body. While not pressured, how could I possibly refuse?

🥕🥕🥕

Returning by Joanne Fisher

Something seemed strange when Aalen returned to her village in the heart of the forest. She had been on the borders of their land helping repel an attack from the humans. It was too quiet and Aalen couldn’t see any sentries hiding up in the trees with her sharp eyes. Then Aalen cried out dropping to her knees in despair.

In the centre of the village where there was a natural colonnade formed by a double row of trees were all the villagers hanging from them. All of them dead.

The attack on the borders had been a diversion.

🥕🥕🥕

Colonnades by Trailblazer

Reflecting on memories during the late thirties is like taking a walk through long colonnades. She has felt it a hundred times.

The ranked memories, each alcove created for each event from the childhood, adolescence and the glorious youthful days.
Some nights, when we are all alone, we see a full moon shining through the colonnades; whose solemn look befits all the sweet evocations.
On radiant days, shadowy but warm colonnades remind of the unspoken apprehensions, and agonies we once survived.

Just as the colonnades are magnificent, so are our memori es.
Still, somewhere exist fallen colonnades, the vexed memories.

🥕🥕🥕

Re: Treat by D. Avery

“Here ya are Pal!”

“Shush, Kid, I’m seekin’ a moment a silence.”

“Oh. Like Danni.”

“Yep. Think we’s the same denomination.”

“Yeah, it’s a poplar one.”

“Yer a pain in the aspen Kid.”

“Punny, Pal. Uh, Pal?”

“Yeah Kid?”

“Pal, what’re we s’posed ta do when Shorty’s off east cookin’ bacon at D. Avery’s fire?”

“Same as always Kid.”

“Don’t know why we cain’t go too.”

“Shorty needs us ta look after the stock.”

“The stock on this Ranch kin virtually take care a itself.”

“Yer jist worried about yer pie hole ain’tcha Kid?”

“Shorty’s cookin’ sure’s a treat.”

🥕🥕🥕

Enrichment

Does enrichment speak to our dissatisfaction? Do we need to add to our food, our wealth and our lives because we want more? Perhaps, instead, we appreciate what enriching life has to offer — nutritious food for children, opportunities for world growth, and sunsets to make us pause and feel the beauty.

No matter where the idea of enriching took our writers, they returned with a wealth of stories.

The following are based on the January 10, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the idea of enrichment.

Part I (10-minute read)

A Positive Outlook by Susan Sleggs

“Grandma, when I bring in each box it sounds like you are saying ‘mint.’ Do you need a throat lozenge?”

“No. I’m saying enrichment over and over to convince myself this move is a good thing.”

“Mom said it was your idea to give up your house. I don’t understand.”

“I have found an unexpected enrichment whenever I have done something new. I know some pleasure or fulfillment will come from living here, but right now the newness is frightening so I am repeating a positive mantra. It keeps me looking ahead.”

“Sounds like it would help me too.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Recipe Box by Teresa Grabs

Lacy ran her fingers over the small, well-worn wooden box with a hand-carved rooster on it and sighed. Finally owning it was a bittersweet moment. She opened the box and wiped a tear from her eye as her Grandmother’s handwriting greeted her. Apple pie and peach cobbler, pot roast and her famous Thanksgiving turkey; generations of living, learning, experimenting, and sharing filled the small box. Now she understood why her grandmother said that lives could be enriched through food. Memories of one passed to another; the past and the future captured on a single notecard filled in with love.

🥕🥕🥕

Snack O’ a Sunday by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Basics first:
Butter, on countertop, softened with time
Sugar, stored frozen ‘gainst careless craving
Egg twins, room temperature, golden eyes wide
Dash of vanilla, razor-sharp sweet

Whip to shiny, slick peaks.
Mash bananas, fold, spatula stiff.
Elastic Spirit prepared.

Add the Dry:
Flour, slows to human time
Baking soda/powder rises, joins
Sweet body back to Spirit.

Pans glisten like hungry mouths,
Ready to receive the blessing.
Oven clicks, glowing red, sings scent of recipes past.

Further enrichment, Chef’s Choice:
Walnuts
Pecans
Cranberries
Pinch of cayenne
Cinnamon shake

All you desire, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes,
Give ‘r take.

🥕🥕🥕

Fortified Cocoa by Kerry E.B. Black

Fragrant steam wafted from the pottery mugs Oma filled. “Have a seat, little dear. Help yourself to a biscuit in that tin.” Mugs made little thumps on the knotty-wooden table while Oma hefted herself into a groaning seat beside Melanie. “Now, what inspired you to shovel my walkway?”

In the cloud of cream within the hot cocoa, Melanie saw her mother’s smiling face.

“Ah,” said Oma, “you’re Heather’s child. Give your momma my best.”

Oma poured a bit of something pungent into her own cocoa.

“What’s that, Oma?”

“A bit of something to help old Oma through the night.”

🥕🥕🥕

Surprise by Allison Maruska

The boy sits in a tight ball in the produce section. Arms clutch his folded legs and his eyes press into his knees. His back shakes with his breath.

Cautiously, I crouch and touch his shoulder. “Sweetie? Are you lost?”

His head snaps up, his brown, tear-soaked eyes fixating on me. “Necesito a mi mamá.” His eyes return to his knees.

“Cuál es tu nombre?”

His head snaps up again, perhaps in surprise that I speak Spanish. “Gabriel.”

“Yo soy Brianna. Vamos a buscar a tu madre.” Smiling, I reach out.

He wipes his eyes and takes my hand.

🥕🥕🥕

Wonder Bread by Faith A. Colburn

Hastings once had a Wonder Bread bakery. Grade school kids got to tour the plant every spring. We saw huge stainless steel vats of ingredients, sacks and sacks of flour, ingredients in boxes and barrels. We watched steel paddles rolling and kneading monstrous balls of yeasty dough. We smelled fresh-baked bread.

We learned that Wonder enriched its bread with vitamins and minerals to help us grow into healthy adults. We didn’t learn until years later that they supplemented the bread because they used white flour, milled in a process that removed bran and germ—the grain’s vitamins, minerals, fiber.

🥕🥕🥕

What Kind of Enrichment? by Norah Colvin

The meeting dragged. After analysing data, discussing duty rosters and responsibilities, lockdown and evacuation procedures, enthusiasm flagged. Jocelyn itched. Last on the agenda; her topic was enrichment.

As she took the floor, groans and tapping pencils defied her resolve. A phone ban meant some eyes were on her, at least. Her suggestions of enrichment were met with derision.

“They don’t learn what we teach ‘em. ‘ow are we gonna’ enrich ‘em?’ Everyone laughed.

Jocelyn’s mouth opened to respond but gaped as Taya burst in bearing an enormous cake with candles ablaze.

“Now that’s my kind of enrichment.” Everyone cheered.

🥕🥕🥕

Enrichment by Floridaborne

Confined to her room. Again.

Her father believed it a fitting punishment. She looked out at a bright blue sky framing the foothills and stopped to appreciate a view that city folk paid dearly to see a few months each year.

People read books, abandoned them, and a growing collection filled the space under her bed.

“Your betrothed is here,” her father said.

“I’d rather stay in my room for a lifetime than be squeezed into a corset and forced into a marriage!”

“You will clean rooms until you listen to reason!”

Books enriched her life. Nothing else mattered.

🥕🥕🥕

Over the Years by Ruchira Khanna

“Always look into ways to enrich your life.” used to be the mantra of the moral science teachers of my school.

Initial years I would carry a frown and a confused look, but as the years added on; I realized the true meaning!

Studying in a convent school had its perks since being of service came upon early, along with the environment of my home which was very nourishing as my parents not only took care of my natural nutrition but also fed my soul the right ingredients to carry forth the idea of living my purpose in gratitude.

🥕🥕🥕

Learning by Tracey Robinson

For the first week she typed away at her novel while walking on the treadmill. And then she got stuck. She knew more needed to happen. Her characters were flat and lacked interaction with each other. All those mystery books she had read over the years and she had no idea how to pull together a murder mystery? How did Agatha Christie do it? She Googled away but none of the articles helped. She sighed as she turned to the community college website and found an on-line writing class. At her advanced age she was going back to school.

🥕🥕🥕

Oak Ridge Girls by Nancy Brady

Newspaper advertisements across the country said that a new firm was looking for young women to work in a factory in Tennessee. The job description was vague, but housing was supplied.

Girls from the Midwest flocked to apply. Many high school graduates were hired for this job. It was good money for the times.

These women went into the job blind, not knowing what to expect. They were trained to keep the dial steady between two points, and they did. Only later did they find out their contribution to the war effort: enriching uranium for the first atomic bomb.

🥕🥕🥕

Into Focus by Kay Kingsley

He felt she was a disappointment and didn’t mind reminding her daily. Life with her husband was underwhelming at best but she settled thinking he would have been her only suitor. Now trapped and miserable, they lived together alone, her self esteem non-existent.

Daydreaming from the counter she hears, “Vanilla latte for Kiley” and spun around bumping into the most beautiful man she had ever seen. Apologizing, he offered to buy her a new drink. “Wait, I remember you.” he said. “We went to high school together”. He smiled, she smiled and her once invisible life came into focus.

🥕🥕🥕

Enriching by Linda Ward

His only ambition in life was to be rich. Money, Money, Money became his soul purpose and reason for living. The obsession was unbearable. He built his bank account from the money from the oil wells. Searching, drilling, pumping oil was his life. The world needed his oil.

She loved him for his ambition. He loved her for her loving him. His whole  life was money and the oil. So she put on a mask (as usual) and robbed his bank account. His empire was gone. The heart attack was massive.

She left for Bermuda and Jimmy Buffet’s condo.

🥕🥕🥕

My Treasure by The Dark Netizen

This is mine, all mine.

The gold coins, glowing stones, studded goblets, and all the priceless paraphernalia, every bit of it is mine. They dazzle gloriously all around me. The bits and bones lying among my treasures bother me. They diminish the glory of my place. However, it was required.
Those puny intruders: The bold humans, the headstrong dwarfs and vile goblins, do not deserve to gaze upon my treasures, let alone touch them. Yet, they had the audacity to try and steal them. They were punished.

Not fit for a dragon’s meal, but my treasure satiates my hunger…

🥕🥕🥕

Enrich That Rush by kate @ aroused

Financial hardship started this journey of acquiring others identities. Since James passed we no long need the funds but with nothing to lose we enrich ourselves by indulging the adrenaline rush.

There is no sick child to rush home for … and although we haven’t verbalised it we simply don’t have the courage to try for another child. The sickness and then the loss rocked our core.

Try telling that to the courts or law enforcement people! Without the fear we have become most adept at what we’re doing. Numbing our social conscience is essential to our core business.

🥕🥕🥕

Found by Anita Dawes

My life became a whole lot better
When my father found me sleeping
In the street, after mum died
Now I sleep in a warm bed
Eat my food from a plate
Coffee served in a china mug
My father explained why
I had been left with mum
This was news to me
My father explained his part in this
He fell in love with someone else
His football partner, a childhood
Love they had to hide
Until my tenth birthday
When mum caught them together
This was when she ran, taking me with her
Now I am found…

🥕🥕🥕

Enrichment by Robbie Cheadle

The nightmare recurred every night. My son was dying. Suffocating due to his inability to draw enough oxygen into his lungs.

Jerking awake, sweating and anxious, I believed I’d forgotten to give him lifesaving medication. The need to check on him was overwhelming. Looking at his sweet face lying on the pillow I knew I could not sleep again without him close to me. I collected him in my arms and staggered back to my own bed, tucking him in beside me.

The pain has been immeasurable but my dear one has enriched my life, bringing me immeasurable joy.

🥕🥕🥕

Life Experience (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Sitting with Ramona, Danni sniffled. The older woman said, “We all look to enrich our lives, Dear. You might say each experience is like putting dimes in a slot machine. We hope one gives us the jackpot, but before you know it, we’re out of dimes.”

“That’s not hopeful,” Danni said, wiping her nose with a paper towel. She hated crying. Saline didn’t solve anything.

Ramona continued to smile. “Enjoy the gamble, Danni! In the end, we all lose our dimes. You’ll be disappointed if you wait for one jackpot experience and miss the fun in all the others.”

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

Enrichment (Part I) by D. Avery

Lowering her book, Ilene answered Ernest. “You just might like some of these stories.

But here, try this one first.”

Ernest took the anthology that Ilene handed him. “Congress of Rough Writers? Is it a western?”

“No, it’s not a western. It gives background on flash fiction with excellent examples.

These books are for my literary arts course at the community college.”

Ilene and Ernest were still reading when Marge and Lloyd returned from the garage, the poker game over. “If you’re wondering, bookworms, we both won, but didn’t get rich.”

“No? We both got enriched.”

Lloyd beamed. “Epic.”

🥕🥕🥕

Enrichment (Part I) by D. Avery

“How’re your classes going, Ilene?”

“Good. I’m getting myself ready for an office job. It’s all about the spreadsheet.”

“So why a literary arts course? What’s this flash fiction stuff got to do with anything?”
Lloyd spoke from his perch at the counter. “Ernest, literary art is cultural literacy. It’s…”

“Epic?”

“Epically enriching.”

“Lloyd’s right. Honestly, the secretarial skills courses would be such a bore without the Literary Arts class. And it’s going to help me get the job I want, help me to sell myself.”

“Ha! I thought you were giving that up.”

“Marge, don’t be a Nard.”

🥕🥕🥕

Hobson’s Choice by Anne Goodwin

He could try kittens chasing coloured ribbons, but they’d have to buy a litter tray, and the baby was allergic to cats. He could film the baby learning to feed herself, chocolate sauce smeared across her cheeks, but, oh, the mess.

Or he could go the other way, pandering to prejudice, make himself the mouthpiece of those who feared foreigners and benefit scroungers had brought country to its knees.
His blog was at a crossroads, he had to feed his family. He tossed a coin: heads for vitriol, tails for cosy comfort. Did it matter if neither was him?

🥕🥕🥕

Alternate Prediction by Frank Hubeny

Three crows landed near Pablo. Two of them pretended to peck around for treasure while the leader laid into Pablo with an obnoxious, “Caw! Caw! Caw!. Fortunately, Pablo was fluent in this particular dialect of crow. Crows don’t stop by without a message they feel they must deliver:

“You will experience enrichment beyond your puny imagination. All those plans you’ve been making will fail. They are nothing compared to the reality that awaits you. Any questions?”

Pablo and this crow had previous encounters. “Do I have a choice?”

“Unfortunately, all you can do is mess things up a bit.”

🥕🥕🥕

Eating Healthy by Joanne Fisher

Victoria was a vampire who was rather fussy about who she drank blood from. She preferred to target people who did plenty of exercise and ate the right foods. According to her their blood tasted better and was enriched from all the vitamins and minerals they consumed.

She began doing this after an incident when she was needing to quickly feed from someone. She grabbed the first person she found and instantly regretted it. She could taste the fat in their blood from all the cheeseburgers they ate.

That was the last time she would go for fast food.

🥕🥕🥕

An Active Man by Bill Engleson

For several weeks, he was sitting all day.

And half the night.

Dormant.

Bereft of energy.

“You’ve gotta get moving,” she said more than once. “If you don’t, you’ll calcify.”

She was right.

Occasionally he put some effort into moving.

He didn’t have a dog, so he made one up.

Happy.

And took Happy for a walk.

That didn’t last long.

Happy, the imaginary dog, hit the road.

He’d forgotten to imagine a leash.

He came home.

“You weren’t gone long,” she observed.

“I got bored,” he answered.

“You should get a dog, darling.”

“Maybe I will,” he said.

🥕🥕🥕

Centering by Sascha Darlington

Sara thought she was good.

She gave to charity, volunteered at soup kitchens, and walked dogs at the shelter. She belonged to a group who sang at hospices and nursing homes.

But two weeks with her prospective brother-in-law taught her maybe she wasn’t that good. After hearing his opinions on gays, tattoos, Asians, she thought she might throttle him until he begged for mercy.

Rather than attending the brewery event with her fiancé, she went to the vets. There she whispered endearments to the dogs and cats in the ICU. She welcomed kisses and purrs. The world spun right.

🥕🥕🥕

Blind Faith by Di @ pensitivity101

It was hard to believe it was a year ago that she came into his life.

He remembered how he’d been preparing and looking forward to that day.

It was the first time for both of them, had been a long time coming, but the rewards were endless. She had opened up a whole new world.

Practice made perfect as they took their time to get to know each other.

It didn’t take long to bond, to anticipate each other’s needs and moods.

Now they were inseparable.

He reached for her harness and she was at his side immediately.

🥕🥕🥕

What Will Go With Me? by Reena Saxena

I see my father-in-law, aged 90, act in a childlike manner, and hear the reactions,
“He has lost it totally.”

He has to be reminded of his wife’s first death anniversary, and he quietens down for some time. There is no calendar memory.

Suddenly, he grabs an envelope on the table which is somebody’s medical report, reads and gives the perfect prescription for the condition. The medical intelligence of a doctor who was once hailed as a genius, is intact.

I know what will enrich, and go with me till the end. My core competence needs to be nourished.

🥕🥕🥕

Janice by Saifun Hassam

Janice passed away the morning after her brain tumor surgery. Tom and Janice knew the risks. The tumor was growing into the cortex. Numb with shock and grief, Tom remembered her last words. “I love you. And thank you, Tom.”

They had plans for their own financial services agency. Having children. Traveling. She was courageous, determined, doing whatever was possible. She worked until headaches made online work unbearable. She continued to tutor the children at the library. Weekends were with Tom’s parents; Janice’s parents drove down from Seasquall.

Each day became a precious gift. “Janice, my love, thank you.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Farmer’s Wife by H.R.R. Gorman

Della’s nails always had earth under them.  Despite the bonnets and sleeves she wore, her skin would never be as milky-white as fashions required, as the folks in town would desire.

She surveyed the plains, ready for tilling and fertilizer.  Her horses swished their tails, her husband stood behind the plow.  In one hand she held the reins to another horse that pulled a wagon laden with manure, and with the other she held a pitchfork ready to toss the fertilizer onto the ground.

This smelly job would enrich the earth and keep the farm running, her family fed.

🥕🥕🥕

Amelioration for All by JulesPaige

in spring you can smell
the natural enrichment
of the local farms
*
mixed with petrichor
there is no denying the
return of spring in your face

until then though; smoke
rising from the chimney stacks
in attempts to ward off chills
*
animal compost happens
so stalls get cleaned daily
farmer’s own gold
*
enriching the corn
or other
crops packaged for sale
*
salvaged biosolids
are used
somewhere, everywhere, here and there
*
ancient kings used the
very same method for their
own private gardens

insecure to dine from the
public crops; were they enriched?

🥕🥕🥕

Bio-Enrichment by Chelsea Owens

“Whatcha got in your lunch, Bi890?”

“Nothin.’”

“C’mon. got plain ol’ Wondermeat again. You can’t have anything worse than that.”

…*Sigh*

“Hey, humanoids! What’s for lunch?!”

Greets, Bi880. I’ve got Wondermeat again.”

“Too mortal, Bi896! My parental unit sent me One Smart Cookie!”

No way!

“So future!”

know. Pretty spaced, yeah? …So, whatch you got, 890?”

“He won’t say.”

“Why not?”

“I just don’ wanna.”

“We won’ tell.”

“Sures. C’mon, ‘noid.”

*Sigh* “Homemade chicken noodle soup again.”

“What?! No way!”

“What is that stuff?”

*Sigh*

“It’s okay, 890.”

“Yeah, ‘noid. -not all parental units know what’s good for ya.”

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Solitude by Joanne Fisher

Gertrude turned up the stereo while listening to Symphony No.2 by Sibelius. It was her most loved piece of music. She looked through the window and gazed down at the world below. The tower block she lived in was built by the Kren after they invaded the Earth and now she was so far up she could barely see the surface. It made her imagine she was down below wearing her favourite dress and among all the other people attending a concert in the new town hall.

The music enriched her drab life and enabled her to carry on.

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Enriching by Pete Fanning

Occasionally while sitting down to dinner or passing through the kitchen, I’ll catch a glimpse of a family photo on the shelf. An adoring son in my lap, an arm around my wife. Happiness abounds.

Most of the time that’s it. Other times, however…

—TONIGHT, ON DATELINE. A BELOVED HUSBAND, FATHER…

Perhaps this blip in sanity is a chance to cherish my good fortune or to count my blessings. A chance to better myself.

—MYSTERIOUSLY VANISHED!!!

…be thankful for what I have.

—THOUGHT TO BE A VICTIM OF A BRUTAL…

Or maybe I just need to write it down.

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Time to Kill by Neel Anil Panicker

It was his road map. Without it he was lost; like a duck out of water.
With one by his side, he felt like a king, almost empowered.

Books served as his enrichment; his intellectual succor that is.

A life without books he coudn’t fathom.

For this very reason he was chided too, even shouted at___by all, especially those who he knew, and that were quite a small number.

One was Ashni; his girlfriend, the girl he’d been living with for the past year.

Also, the one he’d decided to kill.

Sarthak felt no remorse when he thought about this.

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There’s Enrichment And There’s The Other Thing by Geoff Le Pard

‘You ever wonder what dog food tastes like, Logan?’

‘Is this going somewhere?’

‘I saw an old advert, where some dog folder was enriched with marrowbone jelly…’

‘Oh yeah. PAL.’

‘Okay, mate?’

‘Mate?’

‘If you can call me ‘pal’ then I…’

‘The dog food. It was called PAL. Prolongs active life.’

‘You’re seriously dull. Anyhoo, dog food. Must be good if it’s enriched.’

‘Doesn’t follow.’

‘If you enrich something it’s an improvement.’

‘What about enriched uranium?’

‘Anybody tries anything fancy with my anium, they’ll wish they stayed in school.’

‘Morgan, you’re a complete wassock.’

‘True, but anyway dog food?’

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Enrichment, in No Particular Order by TNKerr

art and artists
knowledge and teachers
buildings, builders and architects
children and discovery
dogs and cats
food, farmers, ranchers
coffee and mornings
freedom and soldiers

big skies in Montana

friends and family
oceans and boats
giving without taking
help and contributors
confabs and conversationalists
ideas and thinkers
jobs and colleagues
mountains and fresh air
music and players
amor y novias

New Mexico and wide open spaces

poetry and poets
sculptures and sculptors
seabirds and majesty
shipmates and brothers
when a plan works
stories and storytellers
wives and daughters, or husbands and sons
books and authors
cake and ice cream

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Mucking Rich by D. Avery

“Ya know, Kid, Shorty never did strike me as no blogger; this here’s a actual place, virtual or not.”

“Yep. An’ they’s real folks at the ranch.”

“Kid, you writin’ agin?”

“Kinda like the prompt. Got some strong ideas ‘bout enrichment.”

“They’s a strong smell of it it off ya. Don’t think Shorty’s meanin’ manure though Kid.”

“It’s a Ranch, Pal. An’ who else’s gonna muck the stalls?”

*They once was a Kid with good luck, it
Helped that the Kid’uz happy to muck shit
Every week got a prompt
All a Kid could want
Gathered elixir in buckets*

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