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Imagine a world without art. That’s the rabbit hole writers were asked go down this week. What they surfaced with are stories ranging from the bleak to the profound.
Art is a form of communication, something shared between creator and beholder; teller and listener; student and teacher. The stories this week challenge the notion that art can be squelched. A world without art is one where humanity has been snuffed. Brave the rabbit hole as writers did and read on.
The following are based on the March 16, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) go down the rabbit hole to a place where art is not allowed.
Words by Enkin Anthem
She sang for her daughter when she didn’t want to sleep. Songs of beauty and strength and freedom, like her mother had done it and her grandmother before that.
The first time they caught her, she came back without her tongue. Now she hummed as she sat at her daughter’s bed. The words were in their heads – in hers, and in the child’s.
The second time they caught her, they cut her vocal cords. They had stolen the music, and she only drummed the rhythm on her knees.
But the words were still there. One day, her daughter would sing.
Lifeless by Ann Edall-Robson
She loved music and dabbled in the arts. Creating sketches to hang on the walls, playing the piano, singing as she went about her daily tasks. The day she didn’t come home was a day of hell for all who lived there. Silence and loneliness the engulfed the rooms, terminating the life within. Slowly the artwork faded to nothing. The piano stood lifeless. Practising lessons stopped for fear of ripping the memory open. This desolate place where once love, laughter and music roamed the rooms, now only dust and cobwebs shroud the ivory keys. Life’s art lingers no more.
Flash Fiction by Pensitivity
No colour, design, or personal expression lived here.
It was a cheerless run down place, run by run down cheerless people, who basically couldn’t give a damn provided their paycheck went in every week.
The Chairman didn’t care he had crippled the community, taking away a way of life, the soul of humanity for those who had nothing else.
No reason, no notice, no choice.
Spiralling into the pit of despair, they left in droves, to where, no-one knew.
Now, the waters lie empty, and those hardened enough remember the days when the Art of Life was staying alive.
Same Old by Michael
It was wake up, get dressed, the same day after day.
The sombre grey of the working man matched the sombre grey of the business man, the check-out girl and the garbage man.
Let’s have no discrimination they had said. Let’s create a society where we are all one and the same. It did away with worrying about what to wear as the state provided everything. All you did was send in your size and back it came at you.
It worked so well. We all felt part of something. Then the something got muddled and we wondered why.
A Noble, Necessary Occupation by Roger Shipp
The bell rang.
Each student stepped to designations.
“Begin. Page 17. Future Career Possibilities. ”
Never a “Good Morning” or a “Nice to see you.”
“All life was castrated.” Dad whispered that once… as we lay in bed awaiting the proper sleep.
At night, alone… Oh, the stories. Of giants and beanstalks. Of trolls and elves. Once Dad drew on our sheets. “Daisy,” he said.
No more. Not since little Sarah passed. That night, dad hummed. Music.
It made me cry.
“Alfred. Are you with us?”
“Yes, Sir.” I stood at my desk. Alert.
“Erasers. A noble, necessary occupation.”
Colors by Sarah Brentyn
I smear color on tiles, watching different shades swirl together under my fingertips.
“Dammit, girl!” Heels click down the hall. “Why do you insist…” The woman’s eyes are wild, searching the corridor. She kneels in her nylons and clean skirt to look at the mess. “Well,” she tilts her head, “it’s a pretty one you’ve made here. You could have been an artist.” She yanks her sleeve over her hand and wipes away the colors. “No more. You’ll get us both killed. Understand?”
I stare at the women. She is always nice to me but I will find more colors.
No Art by Norah Colvin
She’d survived! In just minutes, art class with Miss R. Without Art today, she’d be somewhere else; anywhere. Or nowhere. Breathing deeply, imagining sunshine and calm waters, as Miss R. taught, helped quell the warmth rising from her feet, threatening to explode her heart and head. Somehow she’d avoided Brucie and his bully mates, escaping their lunchtime taunts. Now Art: sanctuary. Suddenly, tears obliterated hope as she read: “No Art today. Classes cancelled.” Where was that white rabbit with a hole down which she could disappear?
Later, during class, Miss R. asked, “Has anyone seen Marnie?” Brucie just smirked.
Artists Are Golden by Geoff Le Pard
‘Mary smiled to herself. ‘Oh, a silly dream.’
Paul hugged her shoulders and peered at the brochure. ‘Away artist retreat. You exploring your creative side?’
‘Stop teasing.’ She closed it.
‘No, I’m not. It’s just, I never thought….’
Her face was unreadable. ‘When I was 15 we had to choose our O Levels. Because I was good academically I was told I couldn’t do art. Dad, too, wasn’t keen.’
‘I never knew.’
‘Yes, well it’s a silly dream.’
Paul picked it up. ‘A great man had a dream once. He was right about that too. Come on.’
The Tray by Allison Maruska
Riley sneaks down the hall—why isn’t he outside for recreation?
I hurry over to him. “What are you doing?”
He adjusts something in his shirt.
“What is that?”
He stares up at me, pleading.
“Riley.” I hold out my hand.
He removes his cardboard lunch tray, where he’s painted a rainbow.
“How did you do this?” Art is forbidden—he could be expelled.
“I used my food.” He points to the colors. “Mustard, berries, Jell-o.” His lip quivers. “Throw it away. Please, don’t report me.”
“I won’t.” I run my fingers over his masterpiece. “Can I keep it?”
Men of Action by Scarlett Sauvage
Joseph Smithson watched dragonflies skim across the lake, hovering above the water, looking for smaller insects to eat. Black fish drifted beneath the surface, avoiding his father’s fishing line.
He took out his school notebook and drew the outline of a dragonfly, sketching the intricate design of its body. He started to trace its delicate wings and felt a sharp pain across the back of his head. He turned to see his father towering over him.
“What are you, some kind of fairy?” His father bellowed.
Art was not the way of Smithson men. They were men of action.
Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning
“Jake. Let’s go.”
Jake stared at his primary clash. Blobs of blue invaded the mounds of yellow, giving birth to a swirly green orb.
Jake’s mother nodded, flushed from her race through traffic. His jacket swished in her hands. “Jake. Come on, we’re late.”
The paint was no longer magical but wet and droopy. Jake hated tee ball. His father always scolded him for sitting in the outfield. Told him to focus. He was focused. On four leaf clovers.
Jake stood, the colors now ran down the page. Mom, yellow. Dad, blue. Jake, the green smudge they’d created.
The Bad Ole Days by Martin Cororan
It was the future and everything was fine – better than fine in fact – damn near perfect. The trains ran on time, war was a memory and grass grew equally green on both sides.
The problem was one of earth-shattering boredom.
Without conflict very little was ever in flux, and without change no one ever needed to react to anything.
If only there was some nightmarish netherworld where ‘stuff’ happened and insidious foes could be resisted.
But such a place could never be. The benevolent overlords who ruled with oppressive politeness wouldn’t allow such a phenomena to flourish…
No Access by Bill Engleson
For the final time that week, Delia drove to the ridge overlooking Pipers Lagoon. In the bay below, morning sun shone on the rustic ramshackle cabins of Shack Island.
“So little time to capture this simple beauty,” she whispered as she hauled out her easel and paints. “Before we forget.”
The memo from the Department of Beach and Ocean Access had been pointed.
EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, OCEANS AND OCEAN VIEWS WILL BE OUT OF BOUNDS TO ALL BUT AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL. SMALL CRAFT AND FERRY TRAFFIC HAS BEEN SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
“What have they done to the sea?” she wondered.
Gone Art (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
Jane sits quietly in the sand, eyes toward the horizon. The trees blur into smudges as the lines of sea and sky draw her eyes. The breeze whispers to her, a voice without words.
Her fingers almost itch to feel the smoothness of the blank page beneath their tips, to hold a charcoal pencil. She has written poetry on her phone before but in these days of want, sketch pads and pencils are a luxury she cannot afford.
As if by magic, a stick is in her hand and her hand is moving, lines in the sand, then more.
An Art-like Substance by FloridaBorne
Eyes closed, she slathered her canvas with bright green.
Running through grass, following his terrored breath, she became the predator, leaping toward a man in khaki. Past the point of rational thought, he broke through a trap, the predator leaping in after him.
“This is my premiere piece,” she whispered.
“You’re jabbering again,” her husband said.
She stiffened at his touch. “I didn’t know anyone was here.”
“I’ve been trying to tell you I’m going to Africa tomorrow!”
“I know,” she sighed. “I saw your death.”
“Our marriage is as dead as your paintings.”
“Goodbye love,” she said, relieved.
The (Dis)Connect by Reena Saxena
Art is a function of the spirit, and articulation is crafting that spirit, for presentation to the world. At a more abstract level, it is called expression.
Communication is the mundane, everyday version of passing on a message. This format will survive in absence of art. Sensitivity will disappear, so will strong responses. Connectivity will replace connectedness. Relativity will be the ‘If….’ for artificial intelligence tools, to determine the ‘…… then’, for completion of a process. AI will measure both intent and impact, and close the loop, if certain parameters were fulfilled. Humanity will not be an essential factor.
Off-beat Punk and the Parapet Eclipse by Elliott Lyngreen
She was leaking them bright eyes; like the end and the shiny little dark was no longer – and the rest would be history. . . as we lost Record Rewind.
Looking up; sign glowing that seamed portion of the parapet; what could remain used and renewed again and again? She wanted to go back more than ever.
Gone forever; textured sounds slipped feint along the old way art goes.
In her usual far-off daydreams. . . . the sun angled, grazed her jawline, fractured, eclipsed, where she finally felt the tear drip.
The Art of Creation (or vice versa) by Liz Husebye Hartmann
In the beginning, there was darkness. No movement. No sound nor smell.
No Spark, the spirit that signifies the living and is dissipate with the dead.
Time stopped because there was nothing to segment, nothing to connect that which would be segmented.
And it was fucking dull.
God rolled over in the darkness, and gave a great fart. This poofed the blanket of nothingness. An irritating, organic smell scraped out and sparked an idea, lighting up the darkness with a big bang. This caused greater friction, resulting in discussion, and artistic and scientific work, which created more spark.
Double Tapped (or Redundant Triggering) by JulesPaige
It was a meat eater. There was a beauty in the raw plant that
digested living things. Some of the students just said ‘Yuck!’
Mr. Cartwright could only hope that one of them would see
beyond the science and venture to write something interesting
on Venus Flytraps. There was art in the way the plant preyed.
Jasmine had been to S.T.E.M. classes from preschool. She
enjoyed learning. Hearing jokes about how her mother had
gone to college to get her ‘MRS’ was all she needed to know –
about what she didn’t want. Jasmine was drawn in…
Art by Kerry E.B. Black
Mya blinked back tears.
Her husband Eric clenched his jaw. “I not going to pay for that.”
She held the canvas away from her chest, unwilling to look from a greater vantage. The piece came to life under her scrutiny as it was, filled with riotous joy and an appreciation for intellect and beauty. Subtle hues hid encouragement for future artists, while the highlighted portion danced with real and present victory. As her heart swelled, tears broke through her dam.
She memorized the lines and colors, but since she had no money of her own, she left the art.
The Coming Truce (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
“You think I shouldn’t be allowed art?” Danni drank the Oregon Pinot, glinting like crushed golden berries in her glass.
Michael stood in her living room, his body tense. Neither wanted to be in the other’s presence, but Ike insisted on a truce while he served in Iraq. “You have no right to Native artifacts.”
“Art, Michael, and it’s mine. Those chinks? My great Uncle Riley made those. His Nez Perce wife beaded them. The peace pipe, a gift.”
“Your art is my history, Danni. I’ll take that wine now. If it’s not toxic.
“The wine or my art?”
An Unfavourable Ancestor by Luccia Gray
‘Destroy it, Brigs,’ Rochester said, pointing to the portrait.
‘But it’s your most glorious ancestor, sir, Damer de Rochester, who died at the Battle of Marston Moor.’
Jane gazed admiringly at the portrait and the man she loved, seeing a likeness. ‘You must be very proud of such a brave ancestor.’
‘Brave but foolish, Jane. The Rochesters have been on the blacklist since the Restoration, thanks to him.’
‘It’s a grand work of art. I beg you to reconsider,’ pleaded Rochester’s administrator.
‘I want no trace of him. The new Queen mustn’t know, and I will have my knighthood.’
Holey Outlaw Canvas by Joe Owens
“What is this?” Inspector Clouseau said as he turned the piece of contraband over in his hand as he surveyed the scene of the latest Art Hater Serial Killer murder.
“Once it was called a canvas,” Yvette said. “For art.”
“Art! Art has been outlawed for a decade!”
“Legislation cannot stop passion, Inspector.”
“Perhaps not, but a slug can,” he said nodding to the lifeless form.
“So we assume AHSK found out about the victim’s art and came calling?”
“Assume nothing, dear Yvette. Check the desk calendar.”
“It just says Moriarty!”
“Holmes’ nemesis? I though he liked all art!”
Fragile Minds by Anne Goodwin
“I’m deeply disappointed.”
My second visit to her office. She was scary enough at my recruitment interview. Now I’ve been “invited” to discuss my expense claim.
“Wasn’t it addressed in your training?”
I could be done for fraud. “I’m sorry I lost the receipt. But you can check the prices at the Tate Modern café.” It wasn’t meant as therapy. An ordinary outing as friends.
“Forget the coffee. Matty returned so agitated they had to sedate her.”
Agitated? She was alive!
But there’s my CV to consider. “Another chance?”
“No more galleries, okay? Art’s too disturbing for fragile minds.”
Feedings by D. Avery
There were entertainments, of course, at the arenas. Relentlessly the Trump Youth rooted out books and paintings that still polluted many of the buildings. These fueled their great bonfires after the Feedings. Artists were kept on hand in miserable cells until a show at the arena where the large animals from the forsaken zoos would finally get to satisfy their hunger. The writers were the first to go. Not just the journalists, but all writers, even poets and songwriters.
All eyes were on the pouncing tiger. Only the poet saw the single ashy page fluttering aloft on the wind.
Escape by D. Avery
Sprawling from the impact of the tiger, the poet grasped at more loose pages from a half burned book of poetry among the bone littered ash. The tiger nudged and pawed her. The bloodthirsty spectators thundered with taunts for the poet to get up and fight. Knowing that fighting for her own life was futile, the poet would fight for theirs. Even as the half starved tiger ripped into her flesh, delighting the crowd, the poet stirred and clawed at the ashes, releasing ninety-nine ragged edged poems unto uncertain winds that carried them over the walls of the arena.
Opening by D. Avery
The artist had witnessed many fires, many Feedings. Peering through the crack between two stones, he watched the poet stride purposely to where just the night before there had been a tremendous blaze of paintings, books, and the remnants of bodies.
Then came the tiger.
He had seen many struggle desperately for their lives, but this poet was much stronger. She conjured hope to rise up from the ashes.
He would go out in a blaze too. He prepared for his exhibition. Finding a small sharp rock, he began an outline of a phoenix on his chest and torso.
Detail by D. Avery
“Did you enjoy the Feeding?”
Marlie straightened, startled. “Yessir.”
“Disappointing, the lack of fight in that cowardly poet.”
“Oh, yessir, very. Disappointing.”
“Well, Marlie, you’ve got clean up detail tonight.”
The officers weren’t supposed to call the Youth by name.
“I should patrol outside the arena as well. Wind took some litter from the stands.”
Taking the bucket and stick, Marlie methodically cleared the bleachers of dropped napkins and cups, hoping the lieutenant hadn’t noticed her anxiousness.
Out around the gate she gathered litter, working her way towards a singed piece of paper lodged against a bush.
Setting out on the Honeymoon Trail, they all had something in common — expectations. The couple who expected to be sealed for eternity to one another; the bride expecting to hear her name; the groom expecting later forgiveness. Honeymoons have been around for ages with the expectant hope of future happiness.
But honeymoons don’t just apply to marriage. It can be any period of high expectations. Writers chased after the possibilities on the trail. Some took it easy. Some did not.
The following stories are from the March 9, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a honeymoon story.
A Secret Garden by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She closes her eyes, imagining the garden in springtime.
New-sprouted shoots, sharp contrast to dew-darkened soil, velvet massage of black dirt on bare soles. Her fingers reach deep, homebase for a riot of flowers interspersed with vegetables. The scent of all these possibilities the only polish her roughened nails ever need.
Over the coming months, weeds and drought will exhaust the spring honeymoon. With luck, summer showers, or freakish hailstorm will raise sensual petrichor, reminiscent beginnings. What had wilted will rise again, firm against a thin blue sky.
She opens her eyes, strokes her husband’s hand.
He smiles, bemused.
The Honeybees Made it Happen by Mike Vore
Spring and the flowers were just beginning to bloom and the honeybees were busy pollinating, and collecting nectar. Back in the hive through the summer the nectar would ripen into honey. Then came early autumn and the beekeeper harvested some of the honey, not all. He left plenty for the hive to live through the coming winter.
Back in the barn, the beekeeper began fermenting some of the best honey, soon it would be ready to bottle as Mead and be ready to serve at his daughter’s wedding in the spring, and as a perfect gift for the honeymoon.
Shivaree by Ann Edall-Robson
Creeeek. The sound of the old double rocker made her smile. A wedding gift he’d made sixty years ago. Silly gift when there was so much else they’d needed. Their grandchildren referred to the day they married as the old days. There’d been no honeymoon, ranch chores didn’t allow time away, but neighbours and friends made sure there was a celebration. Everyone crammed into their tiny cabin. Partying until the sun came up and it was time to milk the cows. A shivaree, in all its noisy splendor. Their whole life together had been their style of honeymoon. Creeeek.
Over the Honeyed Moon by Bill Engleson
“It just ain’t the same, Jake.”
“How so, Sapling?”
“Well, before we got hitched, she was all sweet and cuddly.”
“Still cuddly. Sweet, not so much. And she’s got quite a mouth on her these days. I think the honeymoon’s over.”
“It had to end sometime. Is that so bad?”
“Jake, she’s always talking. It’s like she’s always got something on her mind.”
“Hmmm. A woman with ideas. That’s a honeymoon killer.”
“Don’t be a smartass, Jake. I like that she’s smart. It’s just…”
“Jake, I think she’s smarter than I am.”
“Women usually are, Sapling.”
The First Day by Allison Maruska
Twenty-five sets of eyes look up at me from the carpet, eager to hear the first story I’ll read to them. They sit in perfect criss-cross-applesauce formation, a leftover from their first-grade experience.
Such bright young eyes. Half an hour in, and I can tell this will be a good year.
As I crack open my worn copy of The First Day Jitters and read the opening lines aloud, a girl cries out. “Ow! Stop!”
I check her nametag. “What’s wrong, Cheyenne?”
“Bryce pulled my hair!”
The boy behind her grins mischievously.
I sigh. Is the honeymoon over already?
The Honeymoon Period by Geoff Le Pard
Rupert sipped the tea. ‘She’s a nightmare. Total dragon.’
Mary smiled; Rupert always exaggerated the downsides. ‘It’s a bit early to decide that.’
Rupert shrugged. ‘As a new boss, you’d think she’d find out what we can do first. Allow a honeymoon period for settling in.’
‘Well I hope it’s better than my honeymoon. We lost the luggage, Paul broke his toe on the first day and I got an infected mozzie bite.’
‘Not really; we got to spend a lot of time in our room.’ She winked.
‘Muuuuum that’s gross.’
Mary laughed. ‘Every cloud, you know.’
What Lies Beneath (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
“And after ninety days we offer health insurance, dental and vision, along with Aflac, HSA, and a 401(k) with 3% matching 3%.”
State-of-the-art technology, nice offices overlooking the river, attractive furniture and art on the walls. Coffee right in the building, restaurants nearby. A good, busy workload.
She’d thought she’d landed in heaven. Did it get any better?
Well, she sure couldn’t see how it could have turned out worse, Jane reflected. The job from hell.
At least ending up unemployed and homeless had helped her lose the weight she’d packed on, soothing her anxiety with lattes and muffins.
Honeymoon by D. Avery
People often remarked that Sarah and Sam made a handsome couple, both tall, both fit. Sarah would never have settled for a shorter man. At nearly six feet tall, a short man made her feel self-conscious and awkward, too tall. She and Sam looked good in public.
In private, the honeymoon was over. Sam berated her and belittled her. Eventually she became cringing and silent. He had affairs with women of all shapes and sizes. She didn’t speak out.
They were a good looking couple. They would remain married. But Sarah’s hopes had shrunk and she felt very small.
Honeymoon Dreams by Norah Colvin
Marnie sat on the bed, legs drawn up, chin pressed into her knees, hands over her ears. “Stop it! Stop it!” she screamed inside. Why was it always like this? Why couldn’t they just get over it? Or leave? She’d leave; if only she had somewhere to go. She quivered as the familiar scenario played out. Hurts and accusations unleashed: “Fault”. “Tricked”. “Honeymoon”. “Bastard”. Marnie knew: she was their bastard problem. He’d storm out. She’d sob into her wine on the couch. Quiet would reign, but briefly. Marnie knew he’d be into her later, and she? She’d do nothing.
Honeymoon by Etol Bagam
They met very young and were best friends forever.
Then each went on with their separate lives.
But all the time, they still had each other at the depths of their minds.
One day, they meet again.
They look at each other and see time flying backwards all the way to their childhood together.
“Hey, It’s been so long without seeing you”.
“Yes, I missed so much.”
They hold hands for the first time in ages, and from that time on, they never went apart again.
As if they were in a constant honeymoon.
Their time had finally come!
Honeymoon by Pensitivity
The ceremony was an extremely private and personal affair with just nine people including the bride and groom. They held their wedding ‘breakfast’ in a pub function room, complete with homemade wedding cake.
It was the Honeymoon Suite that started their marriage on a riotous note, bunk beds in an inside cabin on the overnight ferry to Holland.
They could not do anything in the nuptials line for laughing at either hitting heads, elbows or backsides, and the novelty of a flush suction loo was just too much for the bride who had never been abroad, or aboard, before.
First Night by Kerry E.B. Black
Melinda’s fingers trembled as she applied sheer lipstick and adjusted her frilly negligee. She recalled Pachelbel’s Canon, timing her heartbeats to its smooth rhythm as she had her footfalls six hours earlier. She had forgotten to lower her veil, and her father’s shocked expression when he went to raise it for her give-away kiss made her giggle. Rosemary and carnations scented the air, and almond lotion softened her skin. Removing the hairpins and brushing out the up-do took an hour.
Her groom knocked. Butterflies assailed her as she opened to him.
He said, face stony, “We made a mistake.”
Honeymoon by Robert Kirkendall
The young couple checked into the hotel and quickly dashed to their honeymoon suite. Fresh from their wedding and brimming with lust, they ripped at each other’s clothes as they commenced to make love. Their bodies entangled as they writhed around passionately on the heart shaped bed. Their hot, gyrating flesh formed into a single mass as they became connected body and soul.
“Oh, Sandy darling!” the man cried out. “You’re the best. Don’t stop! You do this so good!”
The woman abruptly stopped and looked at her husband crossly. “Dear, why are you screaming out your own name?”
Honeymoon by Hugh W. Roberts
Sylvia looked at her new husband. She was so lucky to have found him. When he had told her that he’d do anything for her, she knew he would never go back on his word.
Showing off her long legs on the night of their honeymoon, she could tell that Marty was eager to get started.
“You love my legs, don’t you?”
Marty moved closer and, with little effort, mounted her.
Three minutes later, Marty was dead and Sylvia was already working at cocooning his hairy body. Life as a female spider meant women were always the superior species.
Honeymoon by FloridaBorne
Windows etched in a cliff appeared as part of a rock formation to sailboats gliding by. Only royalty lived this close to the surface, waiting for the slow process of terraforming to eliminate Earth’s present population in another 200 years.
“Surrogate 98334,” her new husband said. “We’re allotted 2 hours in the honeymoon suite.”
“We’ll live 1000 feet underground with one child,” she sighed. “I’ll spend 200 years having babies for the rich.”
He pushed her over the table, quickly completing the consummation. Both peered out the window in awe, never to be this close to the sky again.
Honeymoon by Michael
Our honeymoon occurred when the Eagles were in full flight. We had the latest CD and played it long and hard as we drove from one honeymoon destination to another.
We liked taking it easy, that notion sat well with us. At each place we stopped we’d get settled as quickly as possible, take out a beer or two and sit out front of where we were staying and watch the world go by.
We met a lot of people, we ate a lot of food, we made love every day, it was a time for cementing our marriage.
Mooning for a View by Jules Paige
They say it is good luck for it to rain on your wedding day.
But on the day you travel for your honeymoon too? It
had started with ‘No room at the airport inn’ – to catch
a plane to just across the border (before you needed
a passport to get there) to the resort that wouldn’t run
the ski lift except on weekends, when there wasn’t snow
– so they missed that adventure.
Her grabbing the wrong groom…in the crowd when
they got separated – gave them a laugh. At least
they got to ride the ‘Maid of the Mist’.
Honeymoon at Niagara by Joe Owens
From the walkway overlooking Niagra Falls Jessie felt the awesome splendor of this gorgeous wonder. She felt like that with Sam once, but now they were married.
“Anything,” Sam said, taking her hand.
“Promise we won’t be boring.”
“Not on your life. Stories will be written about us through eternity.”
“You’re right, this place is amazing!”
Actually I got a complaint a little earlier,” Sam said.
“The star of the show,” Sam said motioning over his shoulder with his thumb at the roaring water. “You’re upstaging it.”
That drew Jessie’s beautiful smile.
Without the Wedding by Anne Goodwin
We cancelled the wedding, but I was determined to have my holiday. My bridesmaid, and my mother, tried to dissuade me – or invite them along. But what was the point of feminism if a girl couldn’t honeymoon alone?
Admittedly, I wept into my champagne on the aeroplane, but the woman on the seat beside me made me smile. Turned out she was also travelling solo, and en route to the same resort.
Back home, I moved in with her, considered marriage but her church turned us down. I’m not overly disappointed. Our honeymoon photos are sublime.
The Honeymoon by Reena Saxena
This picture from our honeymoon album is just so perfect. We kept looking dreamily at the horizon with its magnificent colors, unmindful of the hard rocks beneath. We believed that love would conquer all difficulties.
Darkness spread its tentacles into our life, soon. Jack suffered from a congenital health problem, and could not work. I had no issues about being the sole breadwinner, but he turned into a nasty and suspicious partner. The moon has its waxing and waning phases, and so does married life.
I live in anticipation of the Full Moon to shine in my life, again.
Under a Honey Moon (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills
Cobb fiddled for the Christmas festivities, his gaze lingering always on Mary. How long had it been since her husband looked at her like under a couple’s honey moon?
After the final reel, Cobb spoke to his father before joining Mary. James returned with a rocking chair and set it in front of her. Its hickory gleamed dark and gold. James was renowned for his craftsmanship.
“It’s yours,” he said.
“Oh!” Mary sunk into the smooth seat, rocking silently. She smiled up at father and son.
James clapped Cobb’s shoulder. “My son made that for you.”
“Forgive me, Mary?”
Honeymoon by Enkin Anthem
50 years. Her grandparents were married for half a fucking century, and now they spent their second honeymoon on a mediterranean cruise. The card was from Nice, oozing sunshine and happiness.
Acrid bile gathered in her throat as she took the next paper from the pile of mail.
A letter from her lawyer. No divorce in her circle had ever been peaceful, and hers wouldn’t be either.
Three years ago, she had believed – and sworn an oath – that it would be forever. But nothing was forever, not for her generation.
If Paul wanted a war, he would get a war.
Lunch by Pete Fanning
“So have you talked to Mom?”
Emma’s hair is sheared and jarring. I suppose that’s the point.
“I called, but…”
She nods. I miss her mop of curls, soft on my chin when she’d nuzzle her head on my chest. Now it’s purple.
“Look. I know it’s hard, Dad, but…Mom’s moved on.”
Those curls. That giggle. Checking the closet for Snapper Dragons. She held us together all those years.
“Anyway,” Emma’s eyes flick across the diner. No longer wide and adoring but fierce. Those of a dragon slayer. Even now she looks like Tegan.
“Why don’t you try dating?”
Honeymoon Love Letter by Luccia Gray
He refused, yet again. Why wouldn’t they leave him alone? He would never share Charlotte’s love letter.
Dearest husband, the word seems strange, yet marvellous, my husband, at last. You are dearer to me today than you have ever been, yet less than you shall be tomorrow. I shall never forget the wild nights spent in Bangor, or the gleams of sunshine which woke us every morning. I love you, Charlotte.
Arthur folded the letter he had read every day since his wife passed away, fifty years ago, and tucked it back under his shirt, close to his heart.
Slag comes out of the fire as a by-product of industrial or artistic alchemy. Iron produces a rough glassy silica and molten glass creates colorful mixtures. In this raw state it has potential. In humans, another definition implies trash as in a lewd or promiscuous woman, and carries a more destructive meaning.
No matter the interpretation or tone, writers went where the slag prompt led them. And it makes for an interesting collection, this week.
The following stories are based on the March 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include slag in a story.
Geocaching by Ann Edall-Robson
“We need to go over there!”
“Not according to the directions!”
The argument was consistent on any geocaching trips they made. This was their fourth trip to the area, an old mining town back in the day. They stood at the end of the trail overlooking mountain meadows and rocks. The GPS on their phones said they were close.
The realization they were standing on the old slag pile from the mine. Mountain grasses disguising historic remnants of the cache left behind. Mother Nature showing off what she’d accomplished over the years, reclaiming the once murky tailing pond nearby.
Slag Hill by Pensitivity
You could see it for miles, this landmark in time, rising up on the horizon as you turned the corner.
Some called it an eyesore, some saw it as a monument to times past, but passing it meant I was twenty five minutes from home, where Love, a cup of tea and a warm bed waited for me.
In my time, it was called Slag Hill, but within ten years, it became just The Hill.
It’s gone now, moved or used for heavens knows what, and the landscape is flat and featureless.
I’m glad I don’t live there anymore.
Evidence of Existence (form Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Danni knelt by the fire ring, rain dripping off her oiled hat. No campers remained, and she surmised the last ones had children with chalk. They left stones colored with pastel hearts. Layered coals hid what she sought. Digging with a stick, she unearthed a piece of glass Ike had broken when they last camped here. She couldn’t explain why she wanted the slag. She was an archeologist, proving existence of human habitation. She wanted to prove Ike had existed. G-Dog barked from the truck, bringing her attention to the dogs. Hers now.
The slag would outlast them all.
A Faultless Piece by Michael
She poured over the slag heaps looking for that piece that was the shape she required, the textures and colours needed to create the perfect article of jewellery.
Her fingers combed the debris that was left from the old iron foundry. She’d been lucky a few times in finding just what she wanted.
Many were contemptuous of her work. Said they were pretend trinkets. Gaudy, ugly fakes. She paid them no attention when they slagged her off ridiculing and jeering at her attempts to make some needed finery. One day she’d show them when she found that faultless piece.
Slag (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
Oh, thank God you found it. ” Jane’s hands shake as she fumbles with the clasp. A stroke of good luck, that she lost it at work.
“Yeah, so, ” the cleaning woman says. “It was under the sink.”
“Look.” Jane holds out the pendant, an iridescent greenish-goldish-brownish cabochon glowing as if from within. “Slag glass, it’s called. We found a bunch in a ghost town that had burned. My grandpa made jewelry out of it. He made this.”
The cleaning woman sniffs. “Doesn’t look like so much to me.”
“Yeah, you’d probably rather have diamonds, like everybody else,” Jane snaps.
Victorian King Midas by Luccia Gray
Their skeletal remains were found in the hidden attic room of their Victorian home. She was wearing glass slag amber earrings, necklace, and an evening gown with amber slag gems sewn on.
A note on the bed-side-table, held in place by a priceless Victorian amber slag glass lamp, read:
My husband fancied he was like King Midas and everything he touched turned to gold and became his property, like me. I thought his blood might be amber, but it was bright crimson.
He would have been pleased it was his favourite slag amber lamp which had cracked his skull.
My Slag is Not Your Slag by Joe Owen
Karina twisted in front of the shiny 5 x 5 sheet of slag. Allie smiled while watching from her register at the door. It’d be great to sell the sizable piece of art, but her hopes were slim.
“I need to convince my husband” she said covering her cell phone as she neared the station.
Karina felt the swell of optimism, but breathed it out just as quickly. Being in the business meant disappointment was more often your closest friend.
“If you could see my reflection you would agree. I look like I did in Aruba,” Allie said. “Buy it? Okay!”
The Heirloom by Kate Spencer
Jim wiped droplets of sweat from his forehead. He and Gladys were spending their Saturday cleaning out the attic and reminiscing over silly items they’d found in boxes.
“Looky here Jim. It’s my great-grandmother’s Diving Dolphins bowl,” said Gladys holding up a purple dish. “I remember my Granny loved it. She always had gumdrops in it.”
Jim reached for the artefact. “Wonder how much it’s worth.”
“Looks like a rare piece of slag glass to me. I’d like to keep it. I’m thinking that some ol’ things are worth keeping around.”
“Just like you, you ol’ goon.”
Flash Fiction by D. Avery
The box itself was a treasure, with its iconic graphics and rich smells, the hinged lid bestowing sanctity. Inside were her rare and special collections, including molten glass, twisted and smooth from a long ago fire; and the purple hued, cratered rocks that were surely meteorites, come to earth from the far off spaces between the stars. Later, when she was older, she would also keep a small notebook in that box, her foundry where she tried to forge something of enduring value. Later still, though she realized it was all slag, she continued to treasure these precious artifacts.
Transformation by Sarah Brentyn
I struggle to find what’s real.
I’m picking up sounds—buzzing and static. I think they’re trying to talk to me. Or maybe it’s me saying something. My words are lost in a haze of unrest.
My mind feels like melted glass, being stretched and twisted into something I don’t recognize. If someone were to put my mind on display, it would be unsightly and puzzling. I hope it doesn’t turn out that way. If the glass can be manipulated as easily as pulling taffy, I think it can be made into something beautiful and useful. Perhaps a vase.
Desire and Disappointment by Kerry E.B. Black
Henry’s head drooped until his chin rested on his chest. His scribbled calculations littered hundreds of pages and filled notebooks. He’d scoured creaking tomes thick with ancestral dust for research, divining ancient secrets for alchemical experiments. Flames flickered beneath miniature cauldrons and beakers. Metals melted into liquid luxury, but none refined as he wished. Just beyond the glow of his workspace, whispers populated the shadows. “He’s close, but he ignores the elemental marriage.” “They never realize the steps they miss in their haste.” With a wave of demonic hands, the metals produce not desired gold but slag and disappointment.
Where Nothing is Wasted, Nothing is Lost by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Pushing the goggles back on her forehead, she waved away the acrid smoke and smiled. Number nine hung from a slender wire, shards of red, yellow, and cool blue joined at their edges and reinforced in their many corners with spare strands of lead.
This was indeed her best spell, one that might save the shire from the Goblin Raiders. She hung it in the shop’s doorway, next to the other eight stained glass salmons. They rotated and collected the full moon’s light.
She brushed the slag into her hand, blowing the remnants, and a prayer, towards the fjord.
Volcanic Words by Irene Waters
Setting off at dawn Joshua and Darryl picked their way up the side of the volcano in silence.
“I’ve never met anyone with such a revolving door as Rhonda. The other night I saw Henry and Peter both visit.” Joshua broke the stillness of the morning, puffing out the words venomously as they neared the rim of the volcano.
“Why don’t you mind your own business?”
“Just think you should know you’re sweet on a woman with ….”
“Look at this slag,” Darryl interjected pointing at the scoria remaining after numerous volcanic eruptions. “look at those colours. Beautiful……. like Rhonda.”
Reunion of Innocents? by Jules Paige
Clementine anxiously waited for the 5:40 out of the city,
wondering if he would be on board…How much would
he have changed?
Takes time but the crescent moon morphs to full ~
Even the exotic afflatus jailer teasing the pasty longanimity
held captive with stew cooked with mouldy bread ~ will get
his comeuppance, Clem thought.
Thomas Glas had little light from the ledge of a barred window ~
Cringing at every noise trying to filter night from day…The slag
of his wrongly imprisoned heart may not form a diamond, but
an emerald was just as good…for her.
Arrogance by FloridaBorne
As my knuckle approached the musty old door, my outspoken personality fled into the background. No! I must get this over with!
A gruff voice said, “Enter,”
“You wanted to see me Professor?” I asked.
“You called me dense. My IQ is 170!”
“I don’t care if it’s 360,” I said. “You told a guy with Down Syndrome…”
“He is developmentally disabled.”
“I’m in your slag heap, too. Mine’s called Dyslexia, you just can’t see it.“
“He belongs in an Arc.”
“He’s making B’s!”
“Students,” he sneered, pointing toward the exit.
I opened it, allowing the university president inside.
The Good Girls by Anne Goodwin
They spat that name as she shivered down the corridors, taunts that slapped her ears. They were the good girls with glossy hair and proper parents, while she was ….
It hurt the first time. And the second and the third. But he bought her stuff she needed, and drugs that made it hurt a little less. He promised to protect her. Until he didn’t.
Next time, she’d call the shots; the good girls could call her what they liked. After all, her body was built for pleasure; it was time she took some for herself.
Slagged by Bill Engleson
Shelley has moments when the torture of her teens rises up in the wee hours.
She doesn’t scream out so much as squeal the pain.
“No, I’m not,” she sleep-says.
I stir, thinking, momentarily, that she’s awake.
But no. It is that distant time intruding.
“They made me into something I wasn’t,” she has told me repeatedly.
I remember my school days, the things I said, carelessly, cruelly, about others.
I’ve tried to tell her how small I once was, am no longer, I pray.
“Words… like rats-teeth. They never stop gnawing at my soul,” she has cried.
Slag by Reena Saxena
My sister called to say that Dad was terminally ill, and we should go see him once. Mom was happily settled with her second husband and kids, and would not bother to check on him.
Just before I left, I kissed my daughter in between her play, and invited protest. She wanted to be left alone.
“Sure, darling! But Mom and I will always be there for you.”
I could give anything to provide her the snug comfort of loving parents. I could not ever forget being referred to, by both of them, as ‘slag’, from their failed relationship.
The Artist by Norah Colvin
They, each with a single colour, used packaged accessories to form identical sets of flat, life-less shapes. He worked by hand, collecting and incorporating their slag, as he explored the properties of his clump of multi-coloured dough. They proudly displayed neat rows of unimaginative templated shapes. With humble satisfaction, he regarded his creation with its countless possibilities. Each time they started again, they repeated the same familiar fail-safe patterns. Each time he began anew, exploring, seeking, discovering the dormant, hidden potential, sculpting to allow uniqueness to shine. They remained stuck in what is. He focused on creating the future.
Migration, traveling for work or life improvement, defies borders. Migration because of war and strife, blurs borders. And the migrations of butterflies and birds, know no borders.
Human migration is big in the news with changes to travel bans and non-citizen statuses. Those seeking to live elsewhere are seeking more than a new place. What we accept as cyclical in nature, we try to curb for humans with rules and walls.
The following stories are based on the February 23, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a migration story.
Arrival by Enkin Anthem
She’s making friends. Already.
It’s been only a few weeks. So little time, so many changes. The people are strange, but at least they don’t shoot at us.
My little girl goes to school. It’s the law. And now she brought home a boy. Where she’s dark, he’s fair – blond and pale like all of them, grey eyes lowered. She pulls him inside. “This is Nils. We’ll do homework together.” He looks confused, uncomfortable.
She changes to Swedish, gestures. “My dad,” I guess she says. He bows, stretches out a hand.
“Hallå,” I say. The only word I know.
Into the Storm by Allison Maruska
I claim my place in the boarding line. Twenty hours from now, I’ll be there.
Mom tried to convince me of the inherent danger. Grandpa argued the region’s war killed my uncle. To them, I am heading into a storm.
To the people I’ll be helping, I am rebuilding after one.
The attendant scans my pass, and I head for the plane.
In a way, Mom is right. Over There is less safe than Right Here. But my heart won’t let my able hands stay.
So, as I watch the Earth shrink beneath me, I head into the storm.
Leaving for the West (from Rock Creek) by Charli
“Pa? Are you leaving us?”
Mary glared at her husband. To avoid the new administration’s secession policies, Cobb was leaving his sheriff’s post. Her family and friends no longer visited, political beliefs dividing neighbors and kin. “Answer the boy, Cobb. He’s your son. He deserves your words, not the gossip to come.”
“Monroe, anyone asks, tell them I’m seeking gold with the Georgians.”
“What about our farm, Pa?”
“Sold, son. We’ll have a new farm out west. Uncle Leroy will bring you all out once it’s settled.”
“Out west? Where they sent the Cherokee?”
“Further west, son. The frontier.”
Blood, Sweat and Tears by Neel Anil Panicker
Makhan Lal offers one last look at the arid expanse before him.
All his weary eyes can spot are acres upon acres of barren fields.
Sweat-lathered tears stream down his heavily lined visage and die slow deaths on his bare-chested, all boned torso.
This year’s been particularly harsh: no rainfall, no crop, no food, and two deaths_ his brother and his
his grandson, all of two weeks.
His weather beaten sixty-five year old self can take no longer.
The decision’s made: migration; to the city, to any place that will get his family of seven two meals a day.
Boat People by Michael
The spring rains had not arrived, the fields were barren, prospects dim. His young family faced hunger if he didn’t act.
He made a life changing decision. He packed up his family and set sail to a foreign land. They were boat people, with nothing to keep them in their homeland they sailed for the opportunity of a new life.
It took four months to cross the oceans and when they arrived it was hot and humid. His brother met them and took them home. They began a new life, in a new land. My grateful, paternal, great grandparents.
Hathersage Welcomes Basque Refugees by Anne Goodwin
Fresh air, dry stone walls and purple heather; how naive to think it would suffice. Roast lamb on Sundays on return from the Meeting House, wide-open spaces in which to play. When we tried them with our schoolboy Spanish, their faces registered not familiarity but fear.
We couldn’t distinguish the bombing’s repercussions from culture shock, grief from adolescent sulks. Saddened that our kindness couldn’t cure them, we wandered through the village to the moors. Indifferent, they followed, until their sluggish steps segued into leaps and jumps. Gambolling among the season’s new lambs, strangers no more.
Migration by Ann Edall-Robson
Their sound reverberates across the meadow. Haunting voices carried on the wind. Finally, the recognizable V comes into sight. They split. They reform.
It seems early in the fall for their trek to have begun. Makes you wonder what they know about the coming winter that we don’t.
They’ll stop where there’s open water and feed. But, for today, they are making miles while the weather’s good. The long journey taking them south to warmer climates for the winter. Where they’ll stay until the spring thaw opens the lakes and ponds and they wing their way north once again.
Vagabond Soul by Pete Fanning
Stu checked the address and stepped out of the car. He cursed Ed, his sponsor, and his conscience. They always teamed up on him.
He was far from that kid who threw that drunken punch twenty years ago. His mind, body, and soul, had migrated, were still migrating, carving wrinkles as it sojourned out of the muck of stupidity to, what was he now, anyway? Middle aged? Tormented? Humbled?
Two knocks. Duty fulfilled. But the door opened.
Reconstructive surgery on his left eye, the guy couldn’t even cry properly.
Without warning, Stu released the two words that haunted him.
Spaced Out? by Jules Paige
Is moving around most of your life migration? Especially if you
ain’t returnin’ to that place you was born. For a the most part of
livin’ front doors seemed to always be different colors with
differing keys. An’ most them keys just don’ open the attitude
of folk to welcome you with open arms.
You think you settled as you ages. Then there’s a call to clear
outta your home world and find a new hovel, in space. But you
knowed you ain’t on that list. Ain’t migrated enough education
to lift off to one of them new planets.
Ban-ter by Bill Engleson
“Their parents are dead. That surely is a factor?”
“Not to me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not unsympathetic.”
“Perhaps not. Still, they would have a better chance here, in our country.”
“And lose their identity? Their culture? Their language? We cannot be the world’s orphanage.”
“Is that what you think this is all about? Look, no matter what we do, how many we take in, it will never be enough. But to do nothing, under the pretext that they’ll come to hate us makes no sense, shows no humanity.”
“The risk is far too great. My ban stays.”
Migration to ‘TRAPPIST-1’? by Liz Husebye Hartmann
“You’re telling me there are seven new human-habitable planets, a mere 40 years away light-speed distance?” She looked at him, eyebrow raised.
“Yes! No more worries about ruining our natural resources here on Earth,” He squeezed his sweaty hands together. “We can leave today and arrive in time for retirement!”
“Once we fund and develop the advanced technology?”
“We can easily rewrite Universal Healthcare, and the tax code! It’ll be huge! What could go wrong?”
“Okay, Donnie,” she sighed, looking at the armed border patrol. She flipped open her copy of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora. “We’ll just wait here.”
Flash Fiction by Pensitivity
They come in their hundreds, if not thousands.
Families, young adults, those seeking a mate, returning to the same grounds year after year by instinct.
They travel up to 200 miles a day, with a maximum speed of 35 mph, to arrive in April / May and depart in September / October.
Not for them the comforts of planes, centrally heated homes, and an endless food supply in the freezer.
I’ll be here to photograph their presence, listen to their chatter, and marvel at their sky aerobics.
We shall also have our mops and buckets ready to wash away the swallow bird poo.
Deported by Luccia Gray
‘You’re Magwitch, the convict at the graveyard.’
‘Wrongly convicted, Pip. Compeyes was the mastermind.’
‘Miss Havisham’s groom who abandoned her at the altar?’
‘He was imprisoned and I was deported to New South Wales.’
‘You tricked me into helping you.’
‘I’ve paid you back generously.’
‘You’re my anonymous benefactor?’
‘I worked hard at the Penal Colony. My money is yours now.’
‘I don’t want your soiled money!’
‘Are you planning on giving up your fancy life and going back to being a blacksmith?’
‘You’ve ruined everything. I hate you!’
‘And yet, Pip, you have Estella to thank me for.’
On the Move by KL. Caley
The packing had begun again.
I knew what meant; new house, new town, new school.
It hadn’t been a problem when I was younger but now things weren’t as easy.
Making friends became harder and harder.
Being the new kid, the stranger in a class that had been together since primary was like being a cat in a room full of dogs.
Still, I loved my dad and this was the life he chose, the army was all he knew.
When I’m older I think I’ll do the same.
He says in the army you make friends for life.
Adventurous Plans by Norah Colvin
His bag was packed. He was ready. He stopped at the door for one last look, then stepped outside, pulling it closed behind him. At that moment, he was certain; he would never return. There was nothing for him here. Exotic places and untold adventures awaited. At the stop, he hailed a bus and climbed aboard. “Where are you off to?” asked the driver. “I’m on an adventure,” he said, tendering a fistful of plastic coins. “But only if you take me with you,” said his out-of-breath mother, smiling. “Okay,” he said. The driver winked as she climbed aboard.Adventurous plans
Migration Watch by Geoff Le Pard
‘Oh for f…’
‘I’m trying to migrate my website and it’s an utter disaster.’
Penny, his daughter, laughed. ‘First world problem dad. Be glad you have power.’
Paul growled. ‘Easy to say.’
‘We had a new kid in school today. From Darfur. His English is amazing. He said he learnt it from listening to music.’
Paul switched off his laptop. ‘You’re right. I don’t know when I’m born.’
Penny hugged him. ‘Glad you’re getting perspective.’
Mary barked as laugh. ‘All it means is he’ll get his people to fix it at work. He hasn’t migrated that far.’
Migrating by Irene Waters
“The Spaniards rejected us.”
“Bastards won’t let us put out deck chairs!”
“The Aussies want us. Only cost us ten pounds.”
They arranged migration interviews, arriving late.
“You boys better make it to the ship on time,” the embassy official warned.
Their mother’s packed clean underwear, hankies and saucepans; crying as they waved goodbye.
Within days they hated ship life as they rounded Cape Horn and faced the days at sea. Finally docking in Freemantle they hit the pub, horrified by the white walls, straw strewn floor and beer served from a hose.
“Perhaps we might need those saucepans.”
Vagabond Vampires by Scarlett Sauvage
We flew towards a better life, seeking something more than the rubble of our ruined world. Our nearest neighbours welcomed us with open arms. They’d never seen a vampire before, but they soon realised that our bad reputation was the result of wild imaginations. We worked alongside the natives to build our shared world. Then the salesman came. He told tales of wicked vampires that brought fear and terror around the world, of the horror we would one day inflict upon their children. He pitched it perfectly and sold the natives silver bullets for the price of a soul.
Thinly Veiled by FloridaBorne
“Women freed from ISIS are burning their veils,” I said, staring at the video on-screen.
“I just watched a classroom full of girls learning how to wear one,” My husband chuckled.
Aghast, I asked, “Where was this?”
“If you put oil and water in a blender, they’ll still find a way to separate once the whirring stops,” I frowned.
“What does that have to do with veils?”
“Migration! We’re the USA, not the dark-ages,” I said.
“What do veils have to do with migration?”
“Why don’t you ask Native Americans what happened when they adopted European clothing?”
Migration (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
Jane snaps the gate latch shut and unsnaps Troubles’ leash. She’s making her way toward the back door, picking her way automatically around weeds and old bricks before she notices in the dim moonlight.
The weeds and bricks aren’t there.
Her fingers are shaking as she turns on her phone’s flashlight, casting a circle of light around her while Troubles sniffs around the door.
The rhododendron trunks are cleared of blown-in trash, the old bricks and broken furniture have been cleared out. In the bright wash of phone light, the brown grass even looks raked.
Oh, God, no.
Is Guilt Not Enough by Cheryl Oreglia
I follow the same, excruciatingly predictable pattern, almost daily, traveling from home to work, to home, to mom’s, to home, like a migrating bird, I wonder when my wings will fail? Although I take the same damn roads, I remain neutral, aloof to my surroundings. Sometimes traffic forces me to stop, it’s like being stuck in an elevator, I’ll glance around just to avoid making eye contact with my fellow travelers. Today I not only notice a new homeless encampment on Southwest beside the light rail tracks, but on the same expressway, where the old White Front used to be, a new housing development is springing up. The simultaneous construction of housing for humans living worlds apart yet across the street from each other gives my heart a savage twist.
Ever had that feeling of being watched? The hair on your neck prickles, you turn around, or maybe you flee. Who, or what is watching?
This week, writers pushed into the territory of watchers, exploring who and possible motives.
The following is based on the February 16, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a watcher.
The Watcher (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
Torry aims her phone at rubbish in her newly-acquired back yard and clicks a picture. Turn slightly, aim anew, click. Turn, aim, click. These should let Juan-Jose-Jorge-whatever-his-name-is know what to haul off.
Her back to the empty house, she can feel it, a physical force between her shoulder blades.
She whirls toward the house. Upstairs, undraped windows stare like blind eyes. Lower, behind winter-bare rhododendrons tangled with weeds and trash, sun manages to glint off a dirty basement window.
When she’s done, safe in her car, her skin is still crawling. And she’s supposed to live here?
Haunted? by Jules Paige
When a person dies before their time…or at least the time is too
early, like a parent before a child reaches the age of recognition
and memory; often the child is told that their parent is angelically
watching over them.
I saw the staged play ‘Our Town’ – where the dead are boldly
told to let go of earth and what they can no longer have. Does it
help to imagine the photographic eyes of our loved ones watch
our decision making?
Perhaps I believe that only genetics are the true watchful eyes of
where I might go next…
The Watching Spirits by Ann Edall-Robson
Tall. Silent. Formidable. Welcoming only those true of heart. In search of guidance, not all who make the journey pass the test. Their search not always clear. Their direction muddied.
Yet, they come knowing they are watched over. They’re not alone. They will be given the chance, only once, to reach the desired result of the challenge. They must be focused. Ready for the trial. Ready for the blistering, mind altering vision.
It is here the young men came. Following the path to the towering rocks. To the place of the watching spirits. And so began their vision quest.
Falling Shadows (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
The Beehive was where granite met duff and towering larch. Hikers said they saw a dog like Bubbie run up the trail. She swore she saw dog-prints by the spring. Nothing. No Bubbie. Just a warm breeze through the pines.
Looking up, high on the granite mound considered sacred to the Salish, and called the Beehive for its shape, Danni could see the shadow of a dog. How did Bubbie get up there? She’d need a rope to ascend.
Her breath left her as the shadow fell. Before impact, it spread wings and an eagle flew away.
Watched by FloridaBorne
“Dingo,” his master called out, opening the gate to her country home. “Let’s walk.”
A head peeked through the dog door. “YiP-yIp-YIP!” he announced his joy.
Ears up, eyes alert, each bush an adventure, he ran toward an all-you-can-sniff world of possibilities.
Feet fluttered over a carpet of pine needles. Tail up, head outstretched, he sprang forward.
Zagging around a flora of obstacles, he jumped at the squirrel scurrying up an oak tree, missing the back legs by an inch!
“Dingo!” A scolding voice yelled. “I’m watching you!”
Tail tucked between his legs, head down, he lumbered toward home.
The Watcher by Irene Waters
He lay watching, hidden by the elderberry. Its clusters of purple fruit succulent like the woman he watched. Visualising his capture his pupils narrowed as he imagined her softness. She would not be able to escape. She would succumb to his attentions. He’d cut her if she didn’t and she’d know that he would. He’d captured her in the garden on another occasion. She didn’t sit on the love seat often, usually protecting herself with the tools she toiled and turned the earth with. But he watched. Today he’d have success. She sat. He pounced.
“Oh! Killmouski good pussy.”
The Porcelain Cat by Allison Maruska
Skylar sees it as soon as she wakes—the small figurine on her desk. She picks it up, turns it, strokes its glass ears. I wish she could see how happy her discovery makes me.
I couldn’t give it to my granddaughter before I passed, as my grandmother had done for me. The porcelain cat is old, precious. It deserves to be in kind hands.
So, I broke a silly old rule and moved it. I was careful. No one saw it floating.
And watching her now, I know I’ve done the right thing. They will protect each other.
The White Porch by Sarah Brentyn
She was about five when she stopped crying. But she still crawled into bed with me. Me. The broken one, the brave one, the older one.
My identity was older sister.
I’d been alive three years longer than she. That’s all I had to offer.
She snuggled with me, her raggedy stuffed rabbit tucked tightly to her chest.
Sometimes, on summer nights, we’d tiptoe to the porch. I’d point to the trees and tell her they were our watchers. They would protect us.
I remember those evenings the most. When the skies were beautiful watercolor paintings of our bruises.
Friends by Norah Colvin
He stood at the periphery, silently observing, calculating their disposition, weighing his chances. Were they friend or foe? Appearances could be deceiving, as could his gut reaction.
They seemed harmless enough; but his sweaty palms, throbbing temples, and churning belly turned his legs to jelly. Even breathing was a struggle.
He became aware of someone tugging his shirt. Though unsure if she was talking or mouthing, he understood, “Would you like to play?”
His head would neither nod nor shake, but she led him by the hand anyway.
“Hey, everyone! This is Amir,” she announced.
“Hi Amir!” they chorused.
Mamma’s Here, Leroy by Anne Goodwin
His mother watches. First the cap. Then the wrist and ankle straps.
He always welcomed me and my “box of tricks”. Vocabulary, comprehension, digit symbol. If there were points for effort, he’d have been off the scale.
Mamma’s here, Leroy. She knows her words can’t penetrate the glass. She’s here because she birthed him, the cord around his neck. I’m here because I couldn’t trade his failures for the court’s compassion. He’s there because he’s poor, uneducated and black.
She watches the electricity convulse her baby’s body until it breaks him. I watch his mother witness this country’s shame.
Watching the Hanging by Luccia Gray
‘We’re going to Horsemonger Lane, Boys,’ said Fagin.
Dodger pulled away. ‘Ain’t nothing there except Southwark prison.’
‘A public hanging!’ said Fagin.
When they arrived, the street was teaming with watchers, howling, screeching and yelling like animals.
Oliver gasped. The place was crawling with thieves and prostitutes fighting and shouting obscenities.
‘Might as well get some work done. Look, there’s a fancy looking toff over there,’ said Fagin, pointing to Charles Dickens.
‘Bet I can half inch his bread and honey,’ bragged Dodger.
‘Watch the hanging carefully, boys,’ warned Fagin. ‘Remember, if you get caught you’ll be brown bread.’
Watchword by Bill Engleson
I can’t take my eyes off me. When I was younger, that observation might have embarrassed me. But there is nothing to be ashamed about.
We, each of us, are unique. We live our lives creatively, every step, every thought, every breath.
I look outward, sometimes to the sea, sometimes to the sky, less than I should to her.
I always see me.
Good citizenship requires us all to have a strong and honest eye looking inward.
This is how we serve our great country.
We know when we deviate.
It is our duty to report every single deviation.
Being Watched by Pensitivity
It was a big world out there, one where they did not belong and would never begin to understand.
It was unsafe and unpredictable, a place where no-one could be trusted.
You couldn’t tell a friend from an enemy, and who would know the truth from a lie?
Here inside, no-one could harm them, they could live forever in a safe haven, everything always familiar and unchanged.
Some saw it as boring and dull. They wanted adventure, to explore the unknown.
They were tired of predictable and fed up with being watched.
Tentatively they stepped out of the television.
The Watcher by Victoria Bruce
I watch. I wait. I report. I never intervene.
Day or night, I watch.
I watched her laugh with the barisita as she picked up her coffee. I watched her walk down the sidewalk, her bright pink coat a splash of colour in the early morning grey.
I’d watched her all of her life – in silence.
I watched as the black van turned the corner. I watched as it sped up.
I said nothing. I made no sound of warning.
I watched as they collided and as her blood turned the white snow crimson.
And I wept in silence.
Being Watched by Michael
When I look down my hallway I catch a glimpse of someone standing there. It happens often enough for me to think it’s real. I am being watched, not like a guardian angel but more like by someone curious about who I am and what I’m doing.
They vanish when I glance up at them, blending into the background, the dark curtains in the back room an ideal hiding spot for them.
I wonder what they make of me, sitting here tapping away. The past trying the fathom the future?
One day they might have the courage to ask.
The Watcher by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Joseph leaned against the hardware store’s outside wall, impatiently tapping his fingers. Its surface was cool in the shade of what promised to be another scorcher. He drew on his cigarette, then used the same hand to slide his sunglasses up the bridge of his nose. His fingers trembled and the ash dropped to the dirty sidewalk.
He’d waited here every morning for the past week, sure that she would walk down this neighborhood street again. She’d shown up every couple of months, in her bright yellow dress, ever since they’d split.
He had some words for her. Finally.
Flash Fiction by Paul Chiswick
April stares at me, invitingly. What a woman: glowing olive skin, hair the colour of espresso, deep brown eyes, glossy red lips.
My eager fingers trace the pencil-thin seams from the heels of her impossibly high red stilettos, up along her shapely calves, past the contours of her perfect thighs. Her eyes never leave mine, never blink.
Oh, man, oh, man.
‘Lights out!’ The screw’s barked command echoes on the cell’s bare walls.
I kiss the tip of my finger and place it on the calendar girl’s bare rump.
‘Till tomorrow, babe.’
I smile. Close my eyes.
Who is watching who? by Geoff Le Pard
‘It’s just a painting. It can’t watch you.’ Mary smiled at her daughter’s scowl.
Penny turned away. ‘It just does, like it’s possessed or something.’
‘You watch too much TV. Well the wrong sort.’ She followed her daughter into the kitchen. Penny had picked up her father’s laptop bag. ‘What are you doing?’
Penny said nothing until the computer was on the table. ‘There’
‘What’s that?’ Mary studied the piece of tape on the edge.
‘Dad says it’s to stop anyone watching him through the internet.’
Mary picked it off. ‘You’re both as bad as each other.’
The Watcher by Kecia Sparlin
Mall shoes still did a fairly brisk business. Browsing the internet wasn’t the same, not for them, not for him. At lunch time, Marty often sat alone on a bench facing into the store.
Her skirt was slit, ankles slim, her shoes…worn and scuffed. He winced. Then she took them off. Marty clenched a fist and gnawed his knuckle. When she wiggled her toes, he swallowed his gasp.
The salesman brought a box and slipped her tired foot in a new, patent leather shoe. Candy apple red. Marty swiped sweat from above his lip. His eyes watered with love.
Third Time Lucky by Sherri Matthews
Three times around the park, that’s what she always did. He’d watched her so long that he almost regretted it was coming to an end.
He crouched down low behind the hedge, his heart racing at the thought of having her all to himself at last.
She walked by, once, twice and almost upon him, third time a charm.
And she kept walking, oblivious to the danger lurking just a heartbeat away.
‘Business owner found dead of heart attack in park’, the local news reported days later.
The body was found by a woman who walked there regularly.
Mud is murky. It’s certainly dirty. Yet sometimes it can hold surprising reflections. A mud puddle is an unlikely place for a rainbow, but it was the place to look.
This week, writers went where rainbows in puddles led them. The murky side of the rainbows holds some surprises.
The following stories are based on the February 9, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rainbow in a puddle.
Good Riddance by Diana Nagai
Kelly descended the front steps, leaving her first love in the doorway. Sliding behind the wheel, she ran her hand over the many tears in the leather seat and tugged firmly on the belt. She cranked her window down, using a pair of pliers gifted to her by her father when she left home; a man who truly adored her. Crisp air flowed over her, creating a lightness that gave her the moxie to reach out and wave goodbye.
With mirrors in place and a blinking oil light, she vanished with a smile, leaving rainbow puddles in her wake.
Jaguar Baby by Kerry E.B. Black
A dreaded rainbow glistened on the garage floor, the tell-tale oil which portends the death of a beloved machine. Chris kicked a pile of tires heaped in the corner. “Darn it. She never listens.”
Fumes from Aunt Connie’s 1968 E-type Jaguar still lingered after her hasty departure. She’d waved, ignoring Chris. “Thanks for fixing my baby!”
Water eddied through the oil slick. She judged from the size of the slick the car would make it to Aunt Connie’s destination, but coming back would not be happening. She packed oil and mounted her Vespa, rushing to rescue her impatient aunt.
Faith (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
“A rainbow in a puddle. We’ll have good luck in our search today,” Michael said.
All Danni could see was a biohazard in mud. She climbed into Michael’s truck and they left to follow leads on Bubbie, missing along the Pack River for a week.
“Did you see it?”
Michael was as bad as Ike, Danni thought. Signs, wonders, miracles. “Yes I saw the oil slick.”
“Ever the scientist. Today, have faith.”
Their first encounter with campers reminded Danni why she had none. The rednecks with AR-15s claimed they peppered a dog fitting Bubbie’s description. For fun, they said.
Fight Own Battle by Lady Lee Manila
rainbow in a puddle
we’re tiny dots of whole
everything takes its toll
testing if we’re able
gives us hope to scramble
feel of trust in our soul
silver lining or not?
up to us to decide
perhaps good if we tried
for us ourselves bethought
and let’s not be distraught
if we make it, it’s pride
we trek some dirty mud
not always smooth, the road
got to pay what we owed
if there’s luck, we’re blessed
depends if we acted
carry on as we flowed
rainbow in a puddle
tells us that we’re able
fight own battle
Rainbow in the Puddle by Reena Saxena
I loved RainBow till I studied Physics. The charm of the rainbow gradually disappeared. The arc transformed into a circle of knowledge, and lost the open element of awe. I was picking up wet laundry from the clothesline, after a shower, rather than look for the rainbow.
I am sure, RainBow was mighty disappointed, and missed my childhood. It was pretty lonely, amidst dense, gray clouds on the gray sky. There it came … down to earth with a thud, in a puddle of water. And the Sun helped the world in noticing its existence. Damn the physics lessons…
Coulored Lights by Jane Dougherty
The puddle in the path reflected like a mirror the tracery of the trees and the sky beyond. I stood on the edge captivated by the still beauty. The sun came from behind a cloud and struck the water, covering the surface with rainbow lights. Diesel, a film of leaked fuel turned the timeless pastoral scene into a surreal nightmare. I raised my head, looked beyond the clouds to the scritch-scratched vapour trails across the blue, smelled the traffic on the road ahead and felt the tree roots curling and straining to find the lifeblood of the dying earth.
Flash Fiction by Pensitivity
The two giants walked side by side, cursing Man’s folly and the weather.
‘This thunderstorm was due today.’
‘Indeed it was and the rain is badly needed.’
‘Water was their most precious resource but they believed the taps would never run dry.
Overpopulation led to reclaiming wetlands for property development.’
‘Man was stupid, filling in lakes, building on floodplains and not dredging the rivers properly’.
‘So here we are, starting again by making puddles with every step.’
‘They’ll know we’ve been here.’
‘Because we’ve left our footprints?’
‘No. Because you dropped your bow in the rain and it’s arched.’
Making a Rainbow by Luccia Gray
‘Look a puddle!’ James rushed to the playground.
‘What’s a puddle?’ asked Timmy.
‘Some water on the floor,’ replied Susan.
‘But we mustn’t spill any water,’ said Timmy. ‘Who did it?’
‘The clouds spilled the water,’ said Miss Rushbrooke.
‘Does that mean the drought’s over?’ Asked Jenny.
The teacher sighed watching the toddlers dip their fingers. They hadn’t seen rainfall in their short lives. ‘Look for a rainbow. That’ll bring us good luck.’
They shook their heads; the sky was clear blue again.
‘Don’t worry,’ said Miss Rushbrooke. ‘Bring the watercolours. We can make a rainbow in the puddle.’
The Magic Rainbow by Ann Edall-Robson
The mystical, magical colours dance through the willows and along the creek. Shades of a second rainbow reflects in the puddles. Transparent in the sun showers happening in the valley.
Race to the end of the rainbow. To the pot of gold protected by the little people. Closer and closer. Beneath the small, yellow booted feet, the puddles on the trail scatter in a spray of water and mud. Droplets of rain on rosy, apple cheeks turn to into rivulets. The hunt for the elusive rainbow and the leprechauns that play under its arch gone now for another day.
Of Puddles and Rainbows by Norah Colvin
For children of the drought who had never seen rain, the gush when the pipe from the bore burst a seam was a rare opportunity for water play and unexpected learning. While Dad and his Station Hand worked to repair the hole, the children danced in puddles under the cooling spray.
“Look at the colours,” a child exclaimed, trying to capture each one. The men paused to smile at the children’s delight, remembering their own childhood glee. Mum watched from the verandah – without their precious resource, there’d be no washing off mud or cooking the dinner that night.
Puddles by Sarah Brentyn
Tina’s legs, splattered with droplets of mud, stuck out from under her dress. A white, frilly thing her aunt insisted she wear today.
“What are you doing? Get off the ground!” Her aunt put her lips close to the girl’s ear, “People are staring!” She hissed.
“White is for weddings,” Tina traced patterns in the brown puddle by her hip. She swirled her finger in circles then squinted. “White is for clouds,” she pointed at the puddle. “Look. They bring rainbows to the mucky mud.”
Tina wiped mud on her dress. “White is not for funerals, Auntie.”
The Rainbow by Michael
Through the window I could see him standing by the puddle. He would stoop down and scoop his hand in the water, stand up and look to see if something was there.
I went out to investigate and found him still mesmerised by the puddle. He pointed and I saw in the puddle a rainbow’s reflection.
Together we stared at it. Then he bobbed down and scooped another handful.
I said, “Look at that, you’ve got it.”
He grinned at me proud of his catch.
Not wanting to drop it we stepped towards home. His mum loved his imagination.
Rainbows and Valentines by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Nora sat on a low rock, head tipped to one side. The meadow’s shallow pond flashed morning’s sun and last night’s shadows. Peter watched the breeze flip her fine blonde hair, seeming to whisper to her. He left the path to the meadow, and dropped down beside her, “Nora, what do you see?”
Since the accident, she’d become more quiet, and a little strange. His catapult had launched the rock and knocked her to the ground.
She plunged her hand in the rainbow waters and erased the vision of their future together, and smiling, met his gaze.
She Gave Me a Rainbow by Drew Sheldon
I always hated the time after a rainstorm. I was just trying to dry off in peace while the schoolkids would run around the park I called home. They’d splash in the puddles and make all the noise they couldn’t make while cooped up inside. One time a little girl couldn’t catch her friends’ attention so she turned to me. “Look!” she yelled at me, pointing at a puddle. Something in the water was making rainbow colors, something she apparently had never seen before. I couldn’t help but smile and realized I couldn’t remember the last time I had.
I Cannot Kill a Rainbow by Anne Goodwin
Even our uniforms are mud coloured, the better to blend with the terrain. Where once was meadow, now is quagmire; our every step hefts a sticky stinking shadow, as if our boots have built a platform sole. No grass, no flowers, no sun to lift the spirits; the only bright spot on the battlefield is blood. Mud paints our hearts with fear and hatred. Where massacre is our mission, colour is a crime. Thus I meet my enemy across a muddy puddle, until I recognise the badge on his lapel. I cannot kill a rainbow. I cannot murder love.
Mud Slide by Geoff Le Pard
The urge to call them back was almost overwhelming. Mary rocked Charlotte and focused on Penny, following Paul across the cliffside. He was confident, Penny less so, but determined nonetheless.
Mary shut her eyes, travelling back decades: another cliff, another daughter following her father. This daughter, her, slipping on the wet mud, falling, landing hard aware of the likely pain of the impact (there wasn’t) and her own mother’s screams. Her father, all worried face saying ‘not to fuss so.’
‘Mum, look!’ Penny and Paul stood on the top waving.
Did you ever really let go of your children?
What Comes First: The Cloud or the Silver Lining? by Geoff Le Pard
Mary focused on changing the baby while Paul pulled out the picnic. ‘You didn’t need to climb up there.’ She couldn’t look at him.
‘It was safe enough.’
‘Is ‘safe enough’ your standard? I had kittens.’
He put his arm round her waist. ‘She was terrified at the start and buzzing at the end. You know, she saw this rainbow, reflected in a puddle, when we finished. It was her pot of gold, challenging herself like that.’
Mary sighed. Was she the only one to worry the next cloud might be the one not to have a silver lining?
Seeing the Wood for the Trees by Ellen Best
Sandy, her boots splashed, hat pulled low, frowning with lips pursed, determinedly marched on. “Keep walking the same path Sand; (she heard in her head) you’ll fall down the same hole”. “Okay dad enough!” She roared wiping her face “Avoid the wood; you’ll miss the trees”. ” just leap shall”? She cried. Jumping she landed smack in the puddle, hiccoughed as tears cleaned mud from her cheeks.
Robert on seeing her, threw a leg over the stile and ran. “Don’t tell me … there was a rainbow at the bottom.” He smiled, his strong arms gathered her and Sandy saw the rainbow.
Here’s to Mud in Your Eye! by Jules Paige
Why is it that the groomsmen had (or have) such bawdy
traditions? At the bachelor party the groom had wished
he’d had mud splattered in his eyes. He’d have rather
enjoyed the toasts to his upcoming nuptials more. He
wasn’t really a drinker. And when his best friend took
him home. The bride to be, saw her intended’s green face.
She warned; Take him straight to the bathroom. But neither
Instead of a simple mess, the resulting chaos resulted in
more slung mud than necessary. Clothes and bed sheets
had to be changed… and the floor mopped.
Why Some Poets Are Falsely Viewed as Irritating Husbands on Occasion by Bill Engleson
“Before the melt, the snow pile was higher than my bearded chin.”
Shelley looks at my hyperbole and shakes her head.
“But,” I clarify, “that’s all behind us. Slush now rules the world, mudpuddles are in bloom and the sun is casting a kaleidoscopic arc of multi-colored joy into the mush of mud and snow.”
“All I said, Sweetie,” Shelley continues to show teeth-grinding patience with me, “Is that we should go for a walk. Put on our booties, go for a simple walk. A quiet walk.”
Alas, she sometimes exhibits limited tolerance for my compulsion to wax poetic.
The Murkiness of Emotion by Jeanine Lebsack
There are mud puddles all around as I step gingerly around them not wanting to get my new Ugg boots wet. The sheep lining encompasses my feet making me feel such coziness.
As I tip toe across the plethora of puddles I glance at my reflection. I look so sad as the tears start to glisten in my eyes. I think of my sweet Mama and her saying “this too shall pass remember there’s always pain, but the sun shines after the rain.” I smile as I wade through the murkiness of my emotions and see the rainbows reflection.
Celebrating Love by C. Jai Ferry
Rainbeau glanced at the chalkboard: hamburger, cheeseburger, and beer. Fish on Fridays, but today was Tuesday. Puddles was a lonely mom-and-pop bar—perfect for her first Valentine’s Day alone.
“A burger, I guess.” She smiled at the blue-coiffed septuagenarian not-so-patiently waiting for her order.
“That it?” The disgust was thick in the woman’s voice.
“And a coke?” Rainbeau added as an olive branch.
The woman shuffled away.
Rainbeau refused to let the woman’s cantankerous attitude steal her smile. She counted out the money for dinner. Tonight was the first of many celebrations. The divorce was final; she was free.
Delusional by FloridaBorne
“Rainbows!” I scoffed. “A delusion of colors.”
My son, far too smart for a 5 year old, asked, “Why?”
“My father told me there was a pot of gold at the end of one, and liked to chase them. We found a beauty at the edge of a muddy field. I jumped into a puddle up to my hips trying to find gold.”
“What did you find?”
“Bacteria,” I frowned. “ I was sick for days. It’s called dysentery.”
“Mom tells me to remember the love,” my son smiled sweetly.
“She should’ve thought of that before she divorced me.”
The rock is unexpected. But there it is, where it shouldn’t be. It’s in the way.
This week, writers considered the various ways a rock in the road could tell a story. Sometimes it was the story, and other times it was a prop to carry the story. These writers wrote right around that rock in the road.
The following are based on the February 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock in the road.
The Rocky Road by C Jai Ferry
Stella stood several feet from the courtroom entrance. You can do this. She fumbled for the small bluish-gray rock in her pocket, one side rubbed smooth by her anxiety-prone thumb. You don’t have to be afraid anymore. Her thumb moved more furiously.
“You ready?” her lawyer asked, guiding her through the double-wide doors.
“What’s with the rock? Lucky charm?”
“S-sorta,” Stella said. Dammit, focus! You can do this. “I fell on it. My first visible scar.” She pointed to her hairline.
“Doesn’t sound very lucky.”
Stella exhaled slowly. “It was the day before I filed for divorce.”
Steve Goes Underneath by Anne Goodwin
Childhood taught me home was an illusion but, twenty years on, I was living the dream. A regular job, my own house and a fabulous woman to share it with, I could’ve cruised like that for evermore. Until Liesel changes her mind about children, decides she wants a family with or without me. I can’t be a father, but I can’t let her go.
What do you do when a rock blocks the road ahead? Blast it with dynamite, scramble over it or tunnel underneath? Luckily my house has a cellar … with three strong bolts across the door.
The Rock by Michael
I couldn’t believe it but the rock suddenly sprouted rocky arms, then legs as it stood towering above us. In its hand was a giant hammer which it swung above its head. Mum was screaming, dad was screaming it was pure chaos. Then I sat up, mum was wanting to know what was wrong. A bad dream I said, sweat pouring off me. Out of the car window I saw dad negotiating his way round the fallen rock. As we passed to one side I noticed a long crack and a hand appeared. That’s when I totally freaked out.
Sticks and Stones by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Two boys huddled on the battlement wall, wind-blown and on fire with An Idea.
pony-2Between them the small catapult waited, fragrant with fresh-tanned leather straps. A pile of stones glittered, rubbed free of ocean, with chapped hands and tunics needing a wash.
No girls around to interrupt their weapons test. Ponies wandered the path to the sun-bright meadow.
Thor loaded the bucket, and with a nod, Peter released the catapult’s arm. The small stone flew and smacked a pony’s flank. It whinnied and shied.
“This time? Bigger rock!”
They didn’t notice the girls step out on the path below.
Blocked Way by Kerry E.B. Black
Insurmountable as a mountain, a boulder blocked the trail. Cindy’s mount snorted a cloud of displeasure into the winter air as Cindy considered other paths. Ice made the left impassable, and thick, snow-covered branches provided an impenetrable barrier into the woods.
She sighed into her mount’s neck. “My life.” An overbearing ex, condescending family, and unpleasable boss filled her existence with self-doubt. Only riding healed her.
She dismounted and pushed, but the stone remained. She rounded it and began breaking branches. Blood trickled from scrapes from the effort, but she forced a path, determined not to be stymied again.
Rock Diplomacy by Joe Owens
“I’m not moving it,” the Virginia highway worker said.
“Nor am I,” his Tennessee counterpart insisted.
The trouble was the large boulder had come to rest on the state line and neither man saw a majority of the rock in their jurisdiction. Had there been a noticeable portion in either the decision would be simple.
“We can split it in two, then take care of our half,” Virginia said.
“Not with my tools,” Tennessee nodded negatively.
“You’re not suggesting I use mine?”
“Well someone must,” Tennessee stated.
“Let’s call the feds. We can claim interstate commerce or something.”
Rock’s in the Road by Nona Morris
“Rock’s in the road.”
“Guess it is.”
It was hot out, the sun high. Moving the rock was hard work.
“You gotta stop this, Darlin.” he drawled at the stone. Laying his hand on it, he felt the vibration, like it was purring without sound.
He wondered if they ought to call somebody. Rocks shouldn’t purr, even silently. Rocks shouldn’t move on their own, no matter how slow.
“Alright then,” he said, putting his tired shoulder against the vibrating mass and shoving. He wished, not for the first time, it had never fallen from the sky.
First Day on the Job by Gwen Couture
The call came early in the morning. Stuart, the sheriff of highway patrol, had his feet up on his desk. Reluctantly, he picked up the phone after letting it ring 5 or 6 times.
“Sheriff, you better come down here.”
Stuart arrived to raw chaos. The 1996 Chevy Malibu was crushed beyond anything he could imagine. The Malibu must have been heading down the steep mountain road going at least 80kph. They simply couldn’t see the massive fallen boulder in time. He knew there could be no survivors.
“Well?” Stuart probed, knowing the answer.
The rookie shook his head and cried silently.
Rocks in Her Head by Norah Colvin
The newcomer was intrigued. Every morning she’d be there, filling a battered barrow with rocks from the road. You’d think that, after a day or two, she’d have removed them all. But, every morning, even earlier, a quarry truck would rumble by, spilling more.
Longer-term residents shrugged indifferently, “She’s got rocks in her head.”
When he asked her one day, she replied, “Come and see.”
He followed into her back garden, and watched. She stood at the edge of a pit and threw in the rocks. After each she listened, hopeful of a sound, of one day filling it.
That Rock That Talked by Lady Lee Manila
I had a dream, a lucid dream
Lying on a beach and I saw a big rock
A pervious rock and somehow gleamed
All of a sudden, facing me, it talked
That rock that talked, it warned me to be wary
Wary of things that might hinder my growth
That it’s not smooth sailing and could be blistery
Things might not come my way, perhaps I might loath
Lying below a cellular blanket
Never felt so cosy by the brooklet
I can tell you everything coherent
In the ancient world, life could be brilliant
Come what may, I’m ready
Rock! Checkmate! by Bill Engleson
He could feel it.
It seemed to be shuffling around in his belly, in the pit of his gut, a dark shaft of coiled intestine, wrapping around his innards like a viper, slippery-skulking, hardwired for perseverance, soft, mushy fat tissue, oozing up against it, seeking to dissolve its granite impact.
He could feel it.
He shifted his butt, seeking something approximating comfort. It wasn’t going to happen. His body had failed him, corrupted his future, made a lie of his dreams.
He could feel it.
He would forever be less than he might have been, or would ever be.
Flash Fiction by Pensitivity
He was late.
They had told him where to meet them so that they could arrive together at the surprise birthday party.
They had picked this spot with care knowing he couldn’t miss it.
If he’d arrived first, he could park up and wait for them. How difficult could it be?
They went inside for coffee.
“Look for the rock in the road,” they said.
There was nothing here dammit, except a rock in the road!
He got out and pulled out his cell.
‘Where the hell are you? he shouted.
‘In the Rocky Road cafe waiting for you!’
Timed by Reena Saxena
I have always loved your way of doing things, Tim the Timid! You placed a boulder on my path, but left ample space for me, to bypass it, and drive ahead. And I don’t hold it against you, either! Your wife does not like me, and somebody has paid you to do this.
I have become so adept at ducking bullets and manholes. Life has never been easy. Good things happened, but always at the wrong time. Just like my ill-fated rendezvous with you! You will regret this soon, Tim, the Wrongly Timed! I do not forget or forgive.
When Mae and Her Dogs Met Jasper by Jules Paige
Until she uploaded her day’s photos onto the computer,
she never noticed the shadow in each of them.
…From the dawn without telling anybody, she made green
pinecones stop heart disease ~ would grimace, moan, and
pray for homeless ex-wife’s, hawk, grizzly bears, John, Steph,
and Dakota, in the back of the truck…
Jasper had come between a rock and a very hard place –
knew Mae was special right off, the way she treated her
dogs. At dusk was she was thankful when the kind man
offered to change a flat on her truck…and the dogs even
Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Sherri Matthews
Tears streamed down Carrie’s face as she read out loud, her hands shaking:
“While we sympathize, we are unable to comment on civil matters, and therefore, we have no choice but to enforce our thirty day eviction notice and foreclosure.”
“Bastards!” yelled Tom as Carrie threw down the letter and ran to their baby, who screamed for them both from his crib.
Two months later, eating dinner at a homeless shelter, Tom took a call about some possible part-time work. He hoped the fact that his mother was Mexican born and bred wouldn’t be another rock in the road.
Cracking Rocks and Other Chores by Luccia Gray
‘You’ll get up at 5, carry hot water and light the hearths in all the bedrooms.’
‘After breakfast, you’ll empty the latrines and make the beds.’
‘Then you’ll prepare lunch and do the laundry.’
‘Such a pretty girl, but so frail.’ He smiled maliciously. ‘The master may use you for other chores.’
Let him try, I thought.
He wasn’t to know I had worked cracking rocks with a heavy hammer all day, until I splintered the forman’s skull when he put his hand down my breeches and discovered I wasn’t frail at all.
A Rock in the Road (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee
Jane trudges wearily, wondering what on earth made her think a walk was a good idea. It’s cold but she’s hot.Troubles has clearly never been leash-trained; she’s not sure who’s walking who. It’s a pretty day, but it would be just as beautiful from the backyard.
She realizes what the problem REALLY is as she comes abreast of a boulder jutting dangerously into the travel lane. She perches on it and breathes a sigh as she works her shoe off and shakes out a surprisingly tiny pebble.
“Much better,“she says.Troubles whuffs happily and pulls her onward.
Flash Flood by Ann Edall-Robson
Water gushed through the trees and across the rutted trail, to blend into the prairie grass on the other side. It wasn’t the torrent it had been in the previous days, but still it flowed with force. Stone boats, pulled by teams of horses had been moving rocks from the flooded road since before daybreak. Each time it rained, they had the same problem. Flash floods carrying rock and debris down the mountain to rest on the open space of wagon road and meadow. It was time to find a different route to move the freight from the railhead.
Rocky Road by Florida Borne
In 1989, my third Geology field trip in 3 years, our instructor took the back roads into Nevada and Utah. Instead of a rental van, we were part of an Isuzu Trooper convoy.
Dust flew from his back wheels, impeding the vision of those behind him. Stinging sand became vultures nesting in our hair. With days between shower facilities, I was happy that I’d chosen a cap and NOIR dark glasses for the trip.
On a rare paved road, hillside striations intrigued the newbie. “What kind of rock is this?”
“I don’t do 60 MPH geology,” the instructor replied.
The Rock that Changed My World
“I knew it was cheesy. But there was no other way.”
“Throwing my twelve-string in the Chevy, I was there in under ten.”
“But Daddy, it takes almost twenty minutes to get to Grandma’s.”
“Light traffic, sweetie.”
“Mommy’s window was open and the curtains were flapping out the window.”
“Jumping out of the car, I grabbed ole Betsy and I was under the window before I could change my mind.”
“But had to know she was there.”
“Daddy, what did you do?” Vanessa loved this part.
“This, sweetie.” he said, holding a small rock. “This rock changed my world.”
‘These Rocks Don’t Lose Their Shape..’ by Geoff Le Pard
‘Why are boys so stupid?’
Mary studied her daughter. ‘Stupid?’
‘Jack. I thought he was different. But all he’s interested in is Pokémon cards.’
‘Does that make him stupid?’
Penny frowned. ‘No, but… all boys do is collect stuff. They’re not interested in people.’
‘Maybe that’s generalising…’
‘But they do!’
‘So do I. Tea pots.’
‘They pretty. And useful.’
‘True. At least cards are easy to store. Not like when I first knew your dad. He collected rocks.’
‘Rocks? What for?’
‘Their colour, their rarity…’
‘Exactly. They’re never useful.’
‘Rocks or boys?’
Penny laughed. ‘Both!’
Midnight Rock (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Michael knelt at the bumper, shining his flashlight. “Hell of rock you hit, Danni.”
“It was an easy target, squatting there in the middle of the road like a legless grizzly.”
Michael shined the powerful light up the canyon wall. “Can’t see anything else unstable.”
“A rock just for me.” She slumped her head on the hood. “Ike loved this truck.”
“He still does.”
“Yeah, Ike’s in some hell-hole, pining for his truck!”
“He’s enduring because of what he has back home, Danni. You, the truck, the dogs.”
“Too bad he won’t have a home to come home to.”
A Rock in the Road by Drew Sheldon
During a stop one day, a kid asked me for my pen. It was nice, and I didn’t want to give it up. So I asked him what he had for me, knowing he’d have nothing. He ran around the corner and came back with a rock that he obviously just picked up from the road. “Magic,” he said. “Bring you luck.” You could tell that pen was like gold to him. Giving it to him brought me a rare smile during that hellish year. I lost a few bucks, but I got the better end of the deal.
Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning
I found him leaning against the rock, peaked and scared.
“You okay, Papa?”
He slapped the rock. A car-sized boulder unearthed from blasting, when they put in the new sewer line along the edge of the creek. The blasting went on for months, cracking the walls and stirring up old memories in Papa’s head.
He slouched down low, his back against the only place he could trust. I could see the house, but Papa was floating the Mekong Delta, lost but looking for the ambush. With a sigh, I crouched with Papa, hoping he’d find a way out.
Snow Day by Kate Spencer
“Some boys were out tobogganing at McDonald’s hill today,” said Jim, his mouth full of Glady’s lasagna.
“Really,” said Gladys, reaching for the garlic bread.
“Yup. It looked like Tommy dared the others into it.”
“He would. He takes after his dad. Dave was always getting into scrapes as a lad.”
“One of them broke his sled; ran it into a rock.”
“Just a bruised ego,” said Jim and wiped his mouth. “I heard we’re in for another blizzard tonight.”
“Well it may as well be snowing rocks. We ain’t goin’ anywhere.”
“No, but the boys will.”
Dancing on Rocks by Allison Maruska
“There.” I tighten the band securing my daughter’s hair. “You excited for your first day?”
“Yeah!” She hops down from the stool. “Mrs. B. said a new school means new friends.”
“Well,” I kiss her nose, “I’m happy you’re happy. Now hurry, or you’ll miss the bus.”
Smiling, she hoists on her backpack and skips out the door.
I watch her head to the corner. She’s twirling.
I laugh. I’d worried how she’d adjust to a new school after hers closed.
I’d worried needlessly. Some people let rocks in the road stop them.
My baby girl dances on hers.