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To Chisel

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

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

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

PART I (10-minute read)

Red Carpet by The Dark Netizen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Deception by Ann Edall-Robson

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

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

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

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Chisel by Robbie Cheadle

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

“Are you sure it’s gone?”

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

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

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

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Princess and Pauper by Abhijit Ray

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

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

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

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

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The Assault by Anurag Bakhshi

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

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

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

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

I wonder why he called me that…

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An Interlude by Joanne Fisher

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

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

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Those Beaks Are Made for Eating by Susan Sleggs

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

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Carve the Cake by H.R.R. Gorman

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

“What did you wish for, Pop-pop?”

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

“Yes.”

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

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The Hospital Closure Is Announced by Anne Goodwin

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

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

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

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Scraped by Tanushka Dangayach

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

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

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Learning Curve by D. Avery

“What did you say Marlie?”

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

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

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

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TImeouts by Ruchira Khanna

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

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

The Mom continued to tickle and caress.

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

There was silence.

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

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Perspective by Norah Colvin

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

He shook his head, muttering complaints and impossibilities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Perfection by Reena Saxena

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

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

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

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

“Welcome and embrace the New You!”

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Chiseled Cheekbones by Susan Zutautas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Muse by Goldie

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

🥕🥕🥕

Even if Flawed by Kerry E.B. Black

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

I’ve studied, learned every technique.

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

Yet I imagine my inadequacies disrupting its natural perfection.

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

Art must be freed, and even if flawed.

I place the chisel and swing.

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The Fisherman by TN Kerr

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

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

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

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

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Laurie’s Nature Journals by Saifun Hassam

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

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

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

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Rain Pending by calmkate

An eerie stillness pervades

following some super hot days

a clear warning to one and all

that calm before a big storm

as I reel off some mantras [sacred sounds]

awareness arises fully aroused

heavy clouds drift swiftly over

as swallows dart and glide

eagerly catching erratic currents

to glide and play up high

as more dense clouds

skid across the sky

the birds call out warnings

each species on high alert

to the pending deluge

do they tuck each other in

sounds and visions gently collide

emotions deeply chiselled inside

all creatures weather together

whatever nature does provide

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PART II (10-minute read)

The Master’s Hands by Jo Hawk

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

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

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The Attic by Anita Dawes

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

🥕🥕🥕

Seeing by Nascent Ederren

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

My Grandfather’s Chisel by K. J. Watson

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

🥕🥕🥕

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

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

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

“Stop! there’s firedamp, stop!”

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Dumbfounded Duplication by Papershots

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

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Technology: Chisel by Frank Hubeny

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

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

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

Eventually in spite of everything he hung the door.

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

🥕🥕🥕

Businessmen by Macy Brown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Charli the Chiseler by CG Brik

Charlie wandered the streets of Dublin chiseling everything he could.

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

The Dancer by Sally Cronin

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

‘Wanna dance babe?’

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

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Drop Dead Gorgeous by Ritu Bhathal

All the ladies stopped what they were doing and stared.

Zeus sighed. He was used to it.

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

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

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

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

Not quite the kind of relationship he was looking for.

🥕🥕🥕

Chinese Whispers by Geoff Le Pard

‘What’s made you look so smug?’

‘Nothing.’

‘Sure. I know you, Morgan. Spill.’

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

‘A fine arbiter of good taste…’

‘She told her friend I look chiselled.’

‘You?’

‘Is that so strange?’

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

‘You’re jealous.’

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

‘You don’t… Bum.’

‘They said you look frazzled, not chiselled.’

‘That comes from knowing you.’

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

‘Bog off, Logan.”

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A Corrosion of The Heart by Bill Engleson

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

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

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

They meld.

They serve each others darkest desires.

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

What part do I play?

Am I simply a shaving?

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A Classic Swindle by John Rieber

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

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

As I turned to leave the “Chiseler” returned.

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

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

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Sunday Morning by Michael B. Fishman

“Hey,” she says. “Trick or cheat.”

“What?”

“Trick or cheat.”

“You mean ‘trick or treat’?”

“No, trick or cheat.”

“I don’t get it.”

“The crossword puzzle, doofus.”

“How many letters?”

“Six.”

“CHISEL.”

“You sure?”

“Sure I’m sure. Don’t you trust me?”

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

“As you should.”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“What’d you say?”

“Nothing.”

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

“Your ears OK? I said I love you.”

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

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Necessity by D. Avery

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

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

“Now with a hammer and chisel?”

“Ending the ice age in your freezer.”

“That’s a brilliant solution, Marge.”

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

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

Marge told Ilene about it on their walk.

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

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

“Go talk with Ernest, Marge.”

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

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

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

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

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Tea with Mr Windsor by Anne Goodwin

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

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

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Like Michelangelo by Kelley Farrell

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

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

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

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

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

🥕🥕🥕

Haibun: My Son is a Woodworker by Cie

My son is a woodworker. He does chip carving.

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

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

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

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No Means No by Annette Rochelle Aben

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

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

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PART III (5-minute read)

Some Things Are Not Chiseled in Stone by Sascha Darlington

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

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

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

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

“I’m sorry.”

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

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Chisel by Eluminora

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

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Poured Out by Alexander De (Zander)

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

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

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

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

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

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Ruth Signs Up for a Woodworking Class by Molly Stevens

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

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

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

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

“What’s that?”

“Tolerance.”

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She Knew Him So Well by Di @ pensitivity101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Three Spirits by Sarah Whiley

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

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

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

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Wood Be Artist by D. Avery

“What’re ya doin’ Pal?”

“I’m a’hewin’.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Jist shush. I’ll teach ya.”

“There a charge?”

“Yeah, sure Kid, pay me in bacon.”

“You chiselin’ me?”

“Maybe a whittle.”

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Mouse Tales

A mouse in a house, a wardrobe, a Victor trap, rescued and orbited to outer space. Mice are everywhere, including our technology. Somehow the vehicle that takes us into the depths of the world wide web got dubbed a humble mouse.

This week, writers chased the tails of mice to produce mouse tales. They will take readers on a merry chase of imagination, tenderness and hard lines. Use your mouse to navigate through a collection arranged into 10-minute nibbles.

The following are based on the March 7, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a mouse.

PART I (10-minute read)

Meanings Change by Susan Sleggs

“My mouse isn’t here,” my son lamented

“He better not be running loose.”

“I’m talking about my computer mouse, not Whiskers.”

“That’s a relief. Where could it be?”

“Probably at school. I used my laptop to work on an assignment about archaic words. I had a lot of windows open looking for examples.”

“Windows used to let air in, not information. Come to think of it, RAM, byte, virus, web, boot, spam, and cookies have all taken on new meanings in this techie age.”

“You’re a genius. I’ll write my report on those words and easily get an A.”

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My Mouse by Sally Cronin

I am extremely attached to my mouse, small and demanding at times, but I need a muse that is easy to maintain, and doesn’t demand three walks a day and half my dinner. It sits quietly by my side, observing my every move, and eager to be handled at every opportunity. I have owned several mice in my lifetime, but this one has a special place in my heart, as it has supported me thorough my latest book and editing process. But it is showing signs of burn out. Perhaps it will perk up if I change its battery.

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Other Worldly by Frank Hubeny

I move my black mouse and click. I know I should be doing other things.

“Like what?” That silent voice inside me asks.

Well, like watching this orange sunset or bothering that white bird sitting for no good reason on the railing or contemplating the other worldly mysteries of this grand universe.

Knowing I have no clue, I hear. “Really, like what?”

So I let my inner squeaky wheel, my imaginary “friend”, guide me downward into the depths of another suspicious, weedy, mosquito-loving rabbit hole I have no business exploring. But what else, really, do I have to do?

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Due Credit by Reena Saxena

You won’t be able to use all those fancy products, if they are not tested on me. I put my life and limb to out to help you. I’m an extension of your hand, when you navigate that space you can’t live without. I think you call it the internet. I don’t find it very useful though….

You give me food and sometimes – space to live, but I don’t think the equation is balanced.

You need to do a lot more to give me my due credit. Killer cats and dogs have been honoured for too long now.

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Chaircat Mao and Cheeser the Mouse by H.R.R. Gorman

“Chaircat Mao,” asked Cheeser the mouse, “Why don’t you ever chase me?”

Chaircat Mao rolled his rotund body over and readjusted his luxurious gray coat. “Well, have you ever chased me?”

“No, Chaircat Mao! That would be silly!”

Chaircat Mao closed his eyes as if the question were answered.

Distraught, Cheeser scurried onto Mao’s flesh. Without response, she balanced down to his nose and pulled on his whiskers. “It’s not right, Chaircat Mao! God made cats to chase mice!”

“Don’t be silly. God made cats to be worshipped. Now stop disturbing my nap.” So, at last, Chaircat Mao slept.

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Wrong Mouse by Anita Dawes

Our cat Merlin loves to bring us gifts
I wish he would leave the mice outside
I told him the other day, it was the wrong kind
Jaye needs a new mouse for the computer
Of course, he didn’t take any notice of me
He loves to catch butterflies in his mouth
He lets them go unharmed
Maybe he likes the flavour of them
I have no clue, as I don’t speak cat too well.
After buying a new mouse, Merlin stopped
bringing his gifts for a while
was he trying to tell Jaye that
her mouse needed replacing?

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The Mouse That Came in from the Cold by Di @ pensitivity101

I heard scratching and told partner we had a mouse in the bedroom.

He flicked on the light, looked around, then switched it off.

The scratching resumed. Another nudge, he got up to look.

‘Nothing!’

I saw a shadow and turning on the light saw a little mouse disappear behind the wardrobe.

Partner threw himself out of bed and whacked everything in close proximity.

With the bedding wrapped around me, I was in hysterics.

Not that I was afraid, but the ridiculousness of the situation as he’d been charging round the bedroom stark naked, in all his dangly glory.

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A Mouse Backfires by Norah Colvin

“Eek!“ shrieked Granny, toppling back on the chair, arms and legs flailing.

“Thwunk!” Her head struck the wall, silencing the children’s sniggers.

Granny slumped motionless, eyes closed, tongue lolling from her slack jaw.

Barney gaped. “D’ya, d’ya think she’s dead?”

“Don’t be silly,” admonished Eliza, older and wiser. “She couldn’t be. Could she?”

The children tiptoed closer.

“What if she wakes up?”

“What if she doesn’t?”

“I’ll check her pulse,” mouthed Eliza.

Suddenly, Granny jolted upright, eyes staring blankly.

The children gasped.

“Gotcha!” laughed Granny. “But that is a clever mouse.”

“How did you —?”

Granny winked. “Granny knows.”

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What Happened to the Mouse? by Miriam Hurdle

“What is that box?”

“That’s my infrared camera.”

“What’s that for?”

“Did you see the oranges fell from the tree? Something ate up the cores. I wanted to see what happened.”

“What did the camera catch?”

“Look for yourself.”

“OMG! A mouse! I thought all the mice were dead.”

“I guess not. This one escaped.”

“Did the camera take the pictures last night?”

“No, these were taken two nights ago.”

“Was the camera on last night?”

“It was.”

“Did the mouse come back?”

“No, something else did?

“What?”

“Look again.”

“Oh no, I know what happened to the mouse.”

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My Life As a Mouse by Macy Brown

Quickly I scurry across the dilapidated, plywood floor, covered in dust, careful not to step on the wooden contraptions my brothers and sisters have succumbed to. Last week dad went in search of food, but he did not return. Now it’s up to me to find food to keep the last of my siblings alive. I come around the corner of an old, water damaged box, and that is when I smell it – salty peanut butter; but before I have time to react I hear that ear shattering CLAP as a metal hinge comes crashing down upon me.

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That’s Mice — A Conversation for Musicologists by Bill Engleson

“Ah, Mick, do you ever ask yourself where we belong in the grand scheme?”

“Gee, Squeak. Not a lot. Why?”

“Well, I was thinking. Take music. Sometimes we just pop up in a song…its neat.”

“What songs?”

“Glad you asked. I’m thinking of that great Johnny Cash ditty, I Still Mice Someone. Sure brings a tear to my eye.”

“I do like Johnny Cash…but…”

“Or, Little Richard’s, Good Golly Mice Molly. That sure shakes the floorboards.”

“Squeak, don’t take this the wrong way but I think you oughta get your hearing checked.”

“I hear ya, Mick. I hear ya.”

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Little Miss Mouse by Susan Zutautas

She was a tiny little woman with whiskery gray hair. At times she’d be talking to you and her little pink nose would rapidly twitch. Much like that of a rodent smelling something good to eat. Speaking of eating, sunflower seeds were always nearby but never an empty shell to be seen. Listening to her talk was quite annoying with her squeaky pitchy little voice. There were some days you would feel a swish of wind go briskly past you, only to find out it was Little Mouse. Yes, that’s what we had nicknamed her. It characterized her perfectly.

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Mousetrap by Ritu Bhathal

The pain.

It sears through my body.

I know no one will find me.

They were all much more sensible, listening to Mummy. I had to be the one who had to go and look.

Curiosity killed the cat. That’s the saying. Not the mouse, the cat.

But it was just so tempting.

I could smell it.

That whiff of cheesiness.

I knew it was out there somewhere.

And I found it too.

Sat there, right in front of me, was a huge chunk of the best cheddar.

How was I to know it was on a state-of-the-art mousetrap?

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The Night of Forgotten Chores (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Snow crunched beneath Ike’s boots. Danni hastily stepped into them with her slippers, throwing a jacket over flannel pajamas. She grimaced against the blast of cold air. How did she forget her chores? The animals relied on her, especially when the weather turned. She pushed open the barn door, flicking on lights. Three mournful dogs glanced up from the cocoon of their cedar houses. Blackjack nickered his discontent, and the chukar fluttered in their cage. Sluggish with guilt Danni slid her hand into the grain bag to find the scoop. She yelped when instead she grabbed a live mouse.

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The Little Ones by Ann Edall-Robson

The tiny flecks of dust shimmered like specks of gold in the early morning sunlight streaming through the six-pane window. The building was old, but it was obvious someone was keeping it weatherproof, save for the tiny knothole in the corner, near the back door garden entrance.

The wooden bung had shrunk over time, slipping to one side, going unnoticed in the overgrown flower beds, and allowing those who knew of its whereabouts to come and go as they pleased through its odd shape.

Thanks to the friendly garden mouse, the Little Ones now had a new home.

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Laurie’s Journal by Saifun Hassam

On a sunny cold February morning, Laurie walked gingerly over the snow and ice-covered grass and stone steps, to the rose and blackberry bushes, pine and oak trees. Fallen branches, twigs, pine needles and acorns poked through the snow.

In a tiny space among the maze of roots, some snow had melted. A bright-eyed mouse sat quietly on a root. Laurie sat quietly on the old scarred log. Last autumn, she had found tiny tunnels running along the blackberry bushes. In her mind’s nature journal, she was already drawing and making observations of these tiny settlers in the garden.

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Mouse in House by Ruchira Khanna

“Oh God! We have a mouse in the house!” I shrieked as I announced to my family. My son sitting on the couch was quick to pull his legs and cross them over. “Where! Where!” he inquired in an equally high-pitched scream.

“It’s in the bedroom!”

I was now waiting restlessly for my husband to take some action. Instead, he continued to work on his laptop unperturbed of what I just announced!

I repeated it this time in a higher decibel.

He looked up with a sense of calm, “Relax! It’s the door. It needs oiling at the hinges!”

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Peace Offering by D. Avery

It had to be done. *I won’t have them on my countertops.*

In the hardware section she reached for the wooden Victors. *Can’t improve on those.* Very effective, though she didn’t like setting them, flinched if they snapped, worried about her fingers. *At least it’s just my fingers*.

She moved on to the toy section. *There, little doll dishes, perfect.* She took her purchase home to do what had to be done.

She cleaned her counters. The doll dishes, filled with tasty morsels, she set on the floor. *We can share the food. But please stay off the counters*.

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Mouse by Janice Golay

I am a mouse. I say this without pride or apology. It’s just “I am.” Perhaps in a previous life I was someone or something else, someone bigger, stronger, who could roar or soar. But here I am with this life, making the best of what I am. For example, this morning I checked my winter stash of corn, seeds and old apples. Looks OK. It’s sunny today, so I poked my head out of the barn, saw a flying creature’s slow shadow — wide wingspan — soaring, searching…..for me! Pulled my head back in fast. Next life, please.

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PART II (10-minute read)

Minnie and Me by Goldie

There it was again – an unexplained pit in her stomach. As if someone was watching her.

Following her.

There was no one in sight, but she couldn’t shake off the uneasiness.

She tried to run, but tripped and fell to her knees.

A tall shadow appeared in the puddle in front of her.

She raised her head hesitantly to assess the situation.

“There you are, sweetheart” – he said, and extended his hand, but Emma remained on the ground.

“I said I would take care of you. I’d never let you fall” – he said, pulling her up by the hair.

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Visitor by Abhijit Ray

Six months before, one night I woke up from my intermittent sleep. Something ran over my body. There he was eating my leftover meal. We have gotten used to each other.

He stares at me curiously. Sitting on his hind quarter he wipes his face and his moustache. I think he prepares himself for the dinner.

I wait for his arrival. He visits me everyday without fail. He does not need any permission or any pass. He is the only friend I have, as I count my days in death row for murdering my business partner and my wife.

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Cosmopolitan Collapse by JulesPaige

The Fashionista thought she’d replace her dogs toy.
The only place she could find Mookies favorite
mouse squeaky toy was through the internet.

The Fashionista attempted to order the toy herself.
But there was a Troll waiting to capture
and sell her personal information.

The Fashionista used insecure protocols
allowing the nasty Troll to unleash a virus
that crashed and burned The Fashionista’s
personal site, the Pet Place and
several major operating systems.

The Troll thought it was hilarious
that his virus was called the Black Plague.
All because The Fashionista wanted
a squeaky rodent toy for her dog.

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My Life As A Mouse by Joanne Fisher

Ever since a company began briefly downloading consciousness’s into other species the holiday industry has been transformed. Last year I spent two weeks swimming around the Pacific Ocean as a fish. When I returned to my usual body it felt strange for a while to have arms and legs again. This year I decided to be a mouse. I got some strange looks, but they’re quite cute. Though I did spend most of my time trying to find food. One time I saw some peanuts on the floor, as I scurried to them I didn’t even see the cat…

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Experiments by The Dark Netizen

Mark my words, this novel research is going to put us right into all the books out there: journals, encyclopaedias, history books; maybe even novels and comics.

We are going to become celebrities not only in the science community, but even in the outside world.

Now, we only need to hope that this experiment works during the trials.

The serum should have the same effect as it had on mice.

If it gives the mice intelligence in comparison to humans, imagine what it would do for human subjects.

Aren’t you in agreement about starting human trials early, Dr. Mouse?

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I’d Like to Mouse Wheel a Motion by Chelsea Owens

“Now, now, Mrs. Snigglewhiff; that’s hardly mouseylike. Would you please consider using the shavings over-

“MISTER Cheesebiter, if you wouldn’t mind-

“I say; what are you doing at that drink station? Refreshments are for after our-

“What is it, now, Whiskershins? …The Society for Capybara Welfare wishes to be heard? They’ll just have to submit their request in shavings like the rest of us!-

“My word! Will the ringtailed children kindly refrain from using the wheel till after our meeting has adjourned?-”

*SQUEAKHEM*

“I now call to order The Semi-Regular Meeting of Tame Rodentia. First item of business: queuing.”

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Mouse by Robbie Cheadle

Yesterday morning I saw a mouse dash across the kitchen floor and slip under the dishwasher. We live near a bird sanctuary so we do get the odd furry visitor. My husband catches mice using a method involving rat glue smeared on a piece of cardboard. I hate it but we cannot have mice taking up permanent residence in our home.

The gluey cardboard worked and this morning I found the mouse stuck to the cardboard. It was still alive and had to be drowned in water. That is the down side of rat glue – it doesn’t kill quickly.

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I Hate Those Meeces to Peeces by Geoff Le Pard

‘Why the long face, Morgan?’

‘Aunt Annette is coming.’

‘Is she a tyrant?’

‘No. We have mice; she hates mice. She’ll flip if I say or if she sees one.’

‘Get a trap.’

‘Can’t. She’ll see it and know.’

‘You’re screwed then.’

‘Could she stay with you? She’s as quiet as a mouse.’

‘What if I’m phobic, too?’

‘Of mice?’

‘I’m not murophobic…’

‘… get you with the long words…’

‘… but I am syngenesophobic.’

‘Fear of aunts?’

‘Yep.’

‘Great, I’ll bring her round then.’

‘But I just said I’m sygenes…’

‘Sure, but she’s not your aunt, is she?’

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Friends by Kay Kingsley

“Charles, help!” A shrill voice shouted from the living room.

Fearing the worst, he dropped the plate he was washing in the sink and came running. “What is it Ida?!” he said, panicked.

Standing on a chair Ida swore it was the biggest mouse she had ever seen. HUGE. GIGANTIC even.

“Sweetie. Come down off the chair. It’s not that big.” he chuckled.

“What? You knew it was in the house and didn’t get rid of it?!”

What he hadn’t told her yet was that since the accident, the mouse was the only friend he had to talk to.

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Silent as a Mouse by Kerry E.B. Black

Make-a-Wish interviewed my daughter, Bear, and she wanted to be a princess. Her consultant clapped. “No better place to be a princess than WDW!”

However, costumed characters terrified Bear. I read the promotional materials and discovered what I hoped would calm her. “They don’t talk.”

Consoled, she reluctantly approached her favorite cartoon, Minnie Mouse.

Minnie moved.

Bear screamed.

We turned to leave when the dear costumed actress forgot her training and reassured, “It’s okay, honey!” She covered her perpetually smiling mouth with white-mittens, but the damage was done.

I wondered if little Bear would ever trust me again.

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Little One by Sarah Whiley

The shadow of the moon danced on the lake. A light breeze whispered gently through the tress and the air was filled with a symphony of insects, clamoring to be heard.

Lucy trod carefully in the filtered light, glancing behind her guiltily. Her mum and dad would be furious but since the trap hadn’t killed it, Lucy figured it was a sign.

Kneeling at the fence line of their property, she reached into her pocket and tenderly scooped out the mouse.

With a grateful “chit” of thanks, it promptly ran into the darkness.

“Take care little one,” she whispered.

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Of Mice and Girls by Nancy Brady

Mighty Mouse was Julie’s favorite cartoon; she sat enthralled on the living room floor every Saturday morning. When the mice got into trouble, he would fly to their rescue, saving them from the mean old cat. She thought him handsome in his tights and cape as he sang, “Here I come to save the day, Mighty Mouse is on the way!”

He was Julie’s hero, and she had a crush on him.

Julie had a little doll with a brown ponytail, just like her. When Julie played with her doll, she pretended she was Mighty Mouse’s girlfriend, his love.

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Tasha’s Gift by Nobbinmaug

“Aaaahaaha! A mouse!”

“You’re such a woman.”

“Sexist.”

“Women can’t be sexist.”

“I think that’s also sexist.”

“Men don’t get to decide what’s sexist.”

“That is definitely sexist.”

“Will you just get the mouse, please?”

“Why? Because I’m the man?”

“Because your cat brought it in, and it’s your apartment.”

“You wanna move in?”

“Hell no! You have mice.”

“Tasha and her gifts. They’re usually dead.”

“Gross.”

“Yeah, it’s gross, but they’re easier to catch when they’re dead.”

“I am not staying here tonight if that mouse is here.”

“I’ll get it. I’ll get it. I will find it.”

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Bed Fellows by Annette Aben

A little girl needed a room of her own, especially when her siblings closest in age, were all boys. She was given the space off the bathroom. A space normally used for storage. Besides, she could lock the door. She could find privacy there.
She didn’t mind sleeping on an old mattress, covered in quilts. There was a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling, so she could read. She gladly traded the feel of the mice that ran across her legs at night over her father’s demands. She chose sleeping in mouse turds rather than her own blood.

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Lionhearted by Nan MykelI

I smell a cat in the house. That means my time on earth is limited.Hmmn. What can I contribute to the world during my shortened lifespan? I know! The stepfather who sneaks into his stepson’s room at night silently, on tiptoes to molest him!There he is, stealthily approaching the sleeping boy. Now on his knees, pulling back the covers. Strike now! Nails extended, I rush up his feet, up his legs and high on his head. I dive triumphantly onto the boy, whose screams are echoed by the perpetrator. Lights throughout the house. Goodbye mouselife, hello glory.

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Mighty Mouse by Jo Hawk

I stumble to my desk. The coffee sloshing in my cup slips over the edge trickles down the side and drips onto my freshly printed manuscript.

I blot the drop, but the damage is done. Adding insult to injury I mark the draft with a giant coffee ring. I have no fear. Mighty Mouse will save the day. The laptop purrs, Mighty Mouse chases clicks across the laptop’s screen while I sip my coffee.

The printer springs to life, spitting out pages as the Mouse commands.

The pristine draft restored, it awaits the torture session of the red pen.

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Moondarby the Mouse and the Mischievous Macaroni Penguin by K. J. Watson

My pet mouse, Ellroy, is by my keyboard, twitching his nose at the computer screen.

“You dislike the title of my latest children’s story, don’t you?” I ask him.

He twitches more vigorously.

“Is it the alliteration? Or the name of the mouse? Or is it the macaroni penguin?”

In response, Ellroy darts across the keyboard: ]’pl[;ijokyguhrdtfwaesq.

“I assume that means you’re averse to it all?”

Ellroy stares at me.

“Okay. How about ‘Ellroy the Magnificent and the Naughty Cat’?”

Ellroy curls up on my notebook.

I begin typing and wonder: Who else has a mouse as a muse?

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Focus by Tracey

“Guys listen up. This is the pre-mission briefing for flight 7044.”

She went quickly but thoroughly over the slides. Tanker crews liked fast and funny. No jokes today though, this was a new mission and she needed to keep their focus.

To the great surprise of the pilots she suddenly stopped in mid-sentence and jumped onto a chair. The entire room silently watched a mouse scamper across the floor and under the canvas wall.

The Lieutenant climbed down and resumed briefing the astonished pilots, picking right back up in the middle of her sentence. She had their full attention.

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Mus Musings by D. Avery

“Rats, this is a tough prompt Pal.”

“You also complained when Shorty said cats. No pleasin’ some folk.”

“Jist sayin’, Pal. Ya know, Pal, there’s all kinds a mice.”

“So? The Ranch is a diverse place.”

“Reckon Aussie’ll write ‘bout kangaroo mice.”

“Sure, an’ D. Avery’ll write about deer mice.”

“Moose mus?”

“Punny, Kid. *Mus musculus* is the house mouse. Deer mice and kangaroo mice are actually a different family. But yer not outta order, rodent’cha know.”

“Now who’s punny? Pal, how come it’s mice and not mouses?”

“Jist is thet way.”

“Hmmph.”

“Mebbe all your grouses are grice.”

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Signs

Signs are all around us. They guide our roads, mark our territories, and give us direction. Some signs are as blunt as a red octagon declaring stop, and others urge us forward as signs we interpret.

Without a map, writers followed where the signs led them. Signs — and stories about them — are as diverse as the paths to get there. Where? Well, read on and find out.

The following are based on the February 7, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a sign.

PART I (10-minute read)

Mourning by Sascha Darlington

So much pain.

I became mean, tired, despondent. I pushed. I shoved. Told everyone to leave.

They did.

Through day and night, I existed, feet scuffling as I sleepwalked through life, uncomprehending light or dark or winter or spring until I blinked awake, teary, pillow sodden, a scratching on the back-door reverberating through the house.

I willed the sound away. I had power: I willed people away. I could will this away. Yet, it continued.

Opening the door, I saw your brown eyes gazing from a dog’s face, a dog with your joie de vivre, who invited himself in.

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Part I: For Sale (True Love) by Tracey

‘For Sale’. The sign had been in front of the colonial with the lovely porch for months. This cold February morning there was a second sign: ‘Open House’.

She walked slowly through the entire house: gleaming woodwork, an eat-in kitchen with a bay window looking over the backyard, a claw foot tub. It was too perfect. Her heart shouted she was home.

She felt herself start to tremble as she took the flyer from the real estate agent and glanced at the price. “I’ll take it” she heard herself say as her head chimed in to match her heart.

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Part II: Stop Sign (Also True Love) by Tracey

One balmy evening I sat on my front porch watching the fireflies appear in the gloaming. A woman ran the stop sign at the corner and hit another car. A low impact crash: crumpled metal and shattered plastic bits but no one hurt.

She must have lived nearby, her husband arrived quickly. The first thing he did was ask if she was hurt. She started to cry and said, “I am so stupid.” Her husband replied, “I know you are but I need to know you are okay first.” I laughed softly in the growing darkness. Well, wouldn’t you?

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Ominous Signs by Norah Colvin

Every day, the farmers scanned the skies for a sign, any sign, that a reprieve from the relentless drought was on its way. The dusty red soil yielded not a single blade of feed for the suffering stock. Bales of hay, donated by city folk, helped but soon it too would be gone. When the rains finally came, the farmers rejoiced. For four days it rained; beautiful, drenching, life-giving rains, soaked up by the thirsty soil. But it wouldn’t stop. It transformed their world into an enormous, red, muddy sea. Hopes drowned alongside precious stock leaving heartbreak and devastation.

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Paper Boats in the Monsoon by Trailblazer

A delayed child, who never spoke, giggles to herself.
Everyone except me thinks she is defective. None in that big, rich family cared.
Somehow she knew I appreciated her. She hugs my gifts and giggles.

I visited her last monsoon. She was playing with paper boats in puddles of water. She appeared angelic.

A fallen coconut, her port. Boats named in an unknown script. Suddenly she spoke a peculiar language fluently.
The signs were good enough, she was an angel.
She hugged the pink sweater gift and giggled.

A month later saw her lifeless body wearing that pink sweater.

🥕🥕🥕

The Universe Isn’t Interested by Anne Goodwin

A white P against a blue background: Janice was almost level with the sign when she swung the wheel and shunted into the layby. A horn blared as a truck sped past.

Silencing the engine, she clambered out onto the verge. Shaking both fists, she dropped her jaw and screamed.

Traffic roared by, indifferent. The slate fellside frowned as it had done for millennia. A small copper danced from daisy to dandelion, oblivious.

Her throat remained raw from their argument. Was love as ephemeral as that butterfly or would theirs emerge resplendent from this ice age, like the land?

🥕🥕🥕

Sign in the Wilderness by Deborah Lee

“What’s wrong?” Henry asks.

Jane feels herself, ridiculously, wobbling a bit, and forces equilibrium back. “Nothing, really, just about the strongest déjà vu I’ve ever had.”

“I read somewhere,” Henry says comfortably, “some guru somebody, that déjà vu is a spiritual sign that you’re doing everything you’re supposed to, right where you’re supposed to be.”

“So, me being unable to find a job or have a roof over my head is a milestone? If the powers that be are going to send a big ‘YOU ARE HERE’ sign, it’d be nice if they’d also tell me where HERE is!”

🥕🥕🥕

The Dream by Colleen M. Chesebro

It began with a dream so real that I woke up on the hard floor beside my bed. My first thought was that the ancestors were trying to tell me something. They often spoke with signs, like the day I found a feather on the ground where no birds tarried or how the wind caressed my face a certain way.

Sometimes, they spoke by invoking a change in the weather, such as when the clouds blocked out the sun leaving a coldness behind. Then, the ancestors spoke to me through the shadows. And, when the ancestors spoke, I listened.

🥕🥕🥕

The Unreasonable Age of Reasoning by JulesPaige

The young man was an excellent manipulator. He wanted to do things his way, when he wanted to. Normal inquisitiveness was rewarded. He liked that. When he had to do things he didn’t want to, there was trouble. The Elementary School inadvertently gave him a sign that allowed him to get the upper hand. The ‘sign’ he was labeled with was ‘anger management issues’. And he was going to use it to get his way, when ever he could.

There were some adults who still possessed common sense. And he would have to learn to behave when around them.

🥕🥕🥕

The Recycling Centre by Sally Cronin

Having followed the signs to the centre, she stood in line. It was almost time to relinquish the baggage she dragged behind her. It contained items representing her life, the good, bad and ugly. Admittedly there had been much love and laughter mixed with the heartache. However, the invitation to recycle unwanted items offered a new start.

Holding out the suitcase to the man she hesitated. ‘Can I remove some things?’

‘Sorry ’, he smiled kindly. ‘It’s all or nothing.’

Loading the bag into the car, it seemed lighter than when she arrived, despite choosing to keep it all.

🥕🥕🥕

Signs, A Dyslexic’s Guide by Geoff Le Pard

‘It must be a sign, Logan.’

‘It’s a cloud, Morgan.’

‘No, but it’s like an Arrow and that means love, so she…’

‘Love?’

‘Love’s Winged Arrow. Eros.’

‘More like a straw and you’re clutching it.’

‘Ha bloody ha. My mum saw a cloud like a face once and next day she found she was pregnant.’

‘She had to be pregnant already.’

‘True. And she said it looked like a frog.’

‘Are all your family into signs?’

‘Gran’s not. She thought she was going to a book singing. Very disappointed when she just got a scrawl and Cliff Richard’s autobiography.’

🥕🥕🥕

Sign by Chesea Owens

A simple man, though good and kind
Went walking down the sidewalk line
And saw a simple womankind.
He thought, She looks, to me, quite fine.
Meanwhilst, she glanced in mirrored shrine;
Of café window, ‘neath a sign
And told herself she was quite pline;
Till, seeing, side and just behind
Our simple man, in quite the bind.
Then, from his cellphone, played a chime:
‘Twas evening of Day Valentine.
She smiled, asked, “You have the time?”
He smiled, too; said, “Not yet nine.
Would you,” he paused, “Want to be mine
For supper, now it’s time to dine?”

🥕🥕🥕

Sign in a Dream by Susan Zutautas

Valentine’s Day was almost here. Meg was excited as Ian was planning a romantic dinner for two at his place. She loved a man that would cook for her.

The night before the big day Meg had a dream of her mother playing a church organ. When she awoke, she thought it was strange. Seldom did she dream of her. Meg put it out of her mind.

When she got to Ian’s he asked her to sit while he played the piano. The song he played and sang was Marry Me. Meg cried, “Yes, yes, of course, I will!”

🥕🥕🥕

Final Answer by Jo Hawk

It’s the question I’ve been asking since we met. I can’t tell if you care or if you tease. With you the day is light or else it’s black. Your words can bring me to my knees. Give me a sign to let me know.

My friends say I should live my life, stop this endless strife, and find myself another wife. I want a single word from you, the reason to endure to the end of time. Please give me a sign and let me know.

Tonight, I found you gone, and at last, I read your sign.

🥕🥕🥕

Ocean City by Kay Kingsley

Her life was boring and she knew it. Several times she tried engaging but felt it was like trying to merge onto a freeway from a stopped position so she eventually gave up and gave in. This would be her life.

That was until she noticed the interstate sign that read, “Ocean City, MD 3,073 miles”.

Passing it on her daily commute, she looked forward to it, had to see it. It called to her.

So with her suitcase in tow, she called in sick, driving east towards the rising sun in Ocean City where her destiny awaited her.

🥕🥕🥕

Not a Brag – A Reality by Susan Sleggs

On the Riverside Hotel lobby wall there was a big, bold sign; Our bartender Carlton is the best in the US. We took our luggage to the room, freshened up and went to the lounge; curious. With our first order Carlton asked our names and hometown and didn’t forget. He asked other guests the same then introduced everyone to everyone else. We had a fun evening with what felt like old friends. We left an exorbitant tip, sad we couldn’t stay another night. We still talk about Carlton, wonder how much money he makes, and if he’s still there.

🥕🥕🥕

Chester Needs a Woman to Tell Him Where to Go by Molly Stevens

“You want me to help navigate? I’ve got google maps open on my phone,” said Ruth.

“Nope. I’ve driven to Worcester so many times, I know how to get there better than one of them apps,” said Chester.

“But it’s been a long time since you’ve driven this route.”

“Don’t worry. I can get us there without a woman tellin’ me where to go.”

“Suit yourself,” said Ruth. “I guess I’ll take a nap.”

“Woman, how’d you let me miss the exit sign for Worcester!”

Startled awake, Ruth sputtered, “I’d be happy to tell you where to go now.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Sign by Allison Maruska

I dash up the street, my young son’s hand in mine. We weave through the crowd, bumping into a lumbering old man and a child picking something sticky off the pavement.

“Mommy! Slow down!”

I don’t. I know what slowing down means, even if my boy of three doesn’t.

There’s an open store on the corner. A tourist shop selling postcards, plastic jewelry, and native blankets from Mexico. As I yank on the handle, I see the depressing sign: Restroom is for customers only.

“Mommy, I gotta go!”

Guess I’ll be adding a pack of gum to my supply.

🥕🥕🥕

Have a Great Fall by D. Avery

“Mom, I’m going to Tommy’s.”

“Destiny looks uncomfortable driving that Tonka bulldozer. And what’s that sign she’s holding? What are you two up to now?”

“We’re gonna protest. Tommy and his GI Joe built a humpty-trumpty wall out of snow.”

“Marlie, I’m sure GI Joe is just following Executive orders.”

“That’s what Tommy said. But I don’t like walls like that.”

“It’s cold out. Wear this hat.”

“Tommy’s dad does not like this hat. At all.”

“I know. Here. I made a little one just like it for Destiny. And here’s one for GI Joe too.”

“Awesome! Thanks mom!”

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Sign by Ann Edall-Robson

I need to keep moving. Safety is somewhere on the other side of the creek. The sound of running water tells me the ice is failing in the spring-like weather.

Animal sign is everywhere along the creek bank. Elk, wolf, deer, bear, and coyote, their calling cards at my feet. Tracks disappear like ghosts into the willows. A constant reminder I am not alone here. I must be vigilant of my surroundings and the sounds unfitted by the wind.

I hear them. Their voices put me on full alert. Will the ice hold? I have to chance it.

🥕🥕🥕

The Archeri by The Dark Netizen

The two boys stared wide eyed at the holstered silver gun.

It was huge. Even though they had no experience with guns other than video games, this weapon looked like no ordinary person could wield it. Not that Perseus looked like an ordinary person, either. Gary turned towards Billy.

“What is an Acheri?”

“Well, its a monster that preys on those who show fear. That’s why it tries to strike terror into its victims’ hearts, before attacking and capturing them.”

Perseus suddenly got up.

“The fog is thickening. A sure sign that the Acheri is there. Time to hunt.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Black Arrow by Joanne Fisher

Aalen found herself in a thicket. Coming into a clearing she found two dead bodies before her. Both human soldiers dressed in similar garb to the ones she killed on the borders of her land. Probably scouts of some kind. One had an arrow through his throat, while the other had one through the right eye. Pinpoint accuracy. Both arrows were painted black. She was unaware of anyone who did this. The fact that someone else was also hunting the soldiers Aalen took as a sign she was doing the right thing. Somewhere out there she had an ally.

🥕🥕🥕

Signs by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

They had missed the signs completely. By the time the cause of Aron’s increasingly hyperactive, excitable and erratic behaviour had become clear, it was too late to save him.

Mary berated herself. She had been so foolish. When the squirrel bit Aron, he had come straight to her for help. His eyes were shiny with panic as his numerous fears for his health overwhelmed him. His hysterical ravings had irritated her so much that she had not considered the possibility of rabies.  Now he was dead and he had taken some of their friends with him to the grave.

🥕🥕🥕

A Sincere Sign by calmkate

I saw a sign that said it all

my heart and soul it did call

a reasonable warning far and wide

to meet our needs and not imbibe

in every desire as it arises

accumulation compromises

turning life into real fear

as others try to draw near

seeking a share of perceived wealth

it haunts endangering our health

much easier to live within our means

brings content, avoids unholy scenes

greed breeds envy and that eats away

as on our sanity and calm it will play

for restful sleep and peace of mind

be wary greed and envy blind!

🥕🥕🥕

Megan by Nobbinmaug

Megan lost interest in the things she used to love. Simple pleasures eluded her. She started sleeping more and found she couldn’t concentrate. She avoided her reflection. She became more reserved and withdrawn.

She asked for help in subtle ways. She made multiple attempts to talk to friends, but nobody understood. They thought she was being dramatic. Friends started avoiding her. So, she buried her feelings deep down inside and tried to play it off like everything was fine.

One day, her sister found Megan in a bathtub full of blood. Nobody took the time to read the signs.

🥕🥕🥕

Seized by Kerry E.B. Black

The sisters joined hands and confronted a red word on bone-white metal. Seized.

Freya trembled. Although she didn’t understand the word, she dreaded. “What’s it mean, Miriam?”

Miriam peered around the police tape. Inside the simple building, officers snapped photos, placed belongings into boxes, and recorded the contents on paper taped to the outside.

Like ants, officers conveyed family art into the back of trucks. Books crackled from a side yard bonfire.

Tears slid beneath Miriam’s glasses. “It means we’ve lost everything.”

Freya pulled Miriam into the shadows. “No, not everything.” She squeezed Miriam’s hand. “We have each other.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Sign by Michele Jones

Again. Another beating, more destruction. Allie dropped to the corner and covered her face with her arms. “Please don’t hit me. I’ll do better. I promise.”

“You better have this place clean before I get back.” He left, slamming the door behind him sign falling to the floor. Worst sign ever.

Tears flowed down her cheeks. It was time. Allie ran out with only what she could shove in her backpack, and her cell. She couldn’t risk getting caught by him. The rain pelted her face as she ran through the streets, but she was free. Away from him.

🥕🥕🥕

Actions Speak Louder Than Words (A Sign) by Andes Cruz

When he stopped replying to my messages… it was a sign. When he left without a trace, it was a sign. When he didn’t skulk back and wish me a happy Holiday, new years, or birthday – it was a sign. When he didn’t get upset I ignored his birthday, also a sign. And when he didn’t show up to our long ago planned Valentines Day private party for one, it was a sign.

I refused to listen, I willed it not to be true.
But it was.
He was gone.
And there was nothing I could do about it.

🥕🥕🥕

Quite the Sign by Teresa Grabs

They say hindsight is twenty-twenty, but Jasmine never bought into that. Linda continued blabbering about her latest opportunity. She sipped her coffee and nodded at the right times but wasn’t listening at all.

“Lin, you know I love ya, but it’s a scam. I hope you didn’t pay anything.”

Linda was taken aback. “If you were a real friend.”

Jasmine sighed as Linda stormed out of the shop.

Moments later, Linda returned silently to the table. She handed Jasmine her buy-in check. “If that wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what is.”

“What?”

“The police just arrested the owner.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sign by Pete Fanning

The biggest news in Maycomb that summer was the giant STORE CLOSING banner out front at Sweeney’s. Mom nearly cried. She and Dad had gone to high school with the butcher and two of the cashiers. Dad shrugged it off, WalMart was cheaper anyhow.

I didn’t get why Mom was so worked up. It was just a tiny grocery store. A few years back, the first S had gone out in the SWEENEY’S sign out front and I’d thought it was the funniest thing ever. It had been fixed, but the S still shined brighter than the other letters.

🥕🥕🥕

A Sign: Off the Times by Bill Engleson

“Did you hear that?” she asked.

“What?”

“What he just said?”

“Who?”

“Trump. In that news clip from the Prayer breakfast.”

“Seriously? No. I’ve stopped listening to him. I told you before, I’ve reached my gibberish quotient.”

“This was new. Like it was there…flitting about in his brain…and then, whoosh, it came out. Like a popped pimple. Like it’s a sign of what’s coming.

“Okay. I’ll bite. What was it?”

“He said ‘one of our greatest strides…the abolition of civil rights.’”

“Nah! Even he…”

“Even he…what?”

“Wouldn’t…”

“It’s Trump, remember.”

“Well, when you put it that way. Holy moly!”

🥕🥕🥕

Sign by Floridaborne

Let’s play a game.

Assign each letter a number from 1 to 9.

My name is Joelle LeGendre.

My #’s are   165335 35755495

I’ll make up what this means

1  lucky in love

2  total failure

3  your artistic work will be a success

4  keep your family together

5  Change jobs

6  Take the plunge

7  You need a vacation

8  Future entrepreneur

9  Pursue the 3rd goal on your list

Added together, my single digit total is 3.

Yay!  My book is going to be a success!

Um…which one?  I asked for a sign, not a puzzle!

🥕🥕🥕

Boundary by Abhijit Ray

Like every weekend, Radhika and Yatin were out with their cycling club members this saturday. That is when they noticed the board “Private Property, Keep Out.”

“What are they are hiding?” asked Yatin, “why they want everyone out?”

“They are protecting their personal space,” said Radhika, “what’s your problem?”

“Problem is homophobia; obviously, they can’t keep out air, light, birds and animals,” retorted Yatin, “they are against humans.”

“Now you are being facetious!”

“Sure, you would know,” said Yatin sarcastically,” you own one such board!”

“What do you mean?”

“How many men you dated, since your last break up?”

🥕🥕🥕

Sign, Sign Everywhere a Sign by Nancy Brady

Julie was frequently seen walking around town, which was one perk to living where she did. It could be hazardous because drivers didn’t pay much attention to pedestrians despite the recently changed street layout.

Suddenly, there were three red octagonal markers where there had been none, demanding each car to stop before proceeding. Most drivers, however, just slid around the corner unless there was another car at the three-sided intersection.

Julie experienced many close calls in that crosswalk as cars zipped by. Fed up, she made and put up three strategically placed signs: “IT’S NOT A SUGGESTION: STOP AHEAD.”

🥕🥕🥕

Is This Clear Enough for You? by Di @ pensitivity101

All that was left were his boots and a bloodied foot.

His family were up in arms and blamed the owner for their kin’s demise.

‘There are signs!’ he shouted. ‘They’re not there for show. They’re warnings. It’s not my fault if you lot don’t take any notice!’

‘They don’t explain the dangers when perhaps they should.’

‘You’re trespassing! I don’t have to give you the willy nilly and whys and wherefores why you’ve got to keep out!’

‘They’re inadequate!’

He sighed.

‘OK. I’ll change them.’

The following day, newly erected signs read

“Warning: Bears. Trespassers will be eaten.”

🥕🥕🥕

Why Did I Get Up by Ritu Bhathal

Nina dragged herself to sitting position. Why did the alarm have to go off?

She swung her feet out of bed and one landed on a squidgy mess.

Great.

The cat had been eating silly things, and deposited his sick at her bedside.

The shower was no better. Her flatmate had used up all the hot water.

Even her morning coffee was blighted with the fact there was no milk left.

After three hours of sitting on a bus, trying to reach her workplace, Nina gave up.

All signs that she should just have stayed in bed this morning.

🥕🥕🥕

Cure for Cabin Fever by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Crystal bottles stood before her, hip shot in relaxed groups. Scented soldiers, they had no expectation they’d be called to order; Treena preferred sweatpants to skinny jeans, books to bodies grinding on a dance floor.

She glanced out at last night’s blizzard draped like predatory animals on nude tree branches, the streets below slick and frozen. Lifting bottles to the setting sun, Treena discarded each in a straight line until a sea-green bottle caught the light.

She sniffed. “That’s it!”

Spritzing the air, she stepped into the fragrant mist, “Enough cabin fever.”

Treena headed out into her personal Spring.

🥕🥕🥕

Sightseeing – Kyoto, Japan by Miriam Hurdle

“We arrived at Mount Arashiyama. Let’s get off the bus here.”

“Where do we go, Carl?”

“Follow the sign to the Iwatayama Monkey Park.”

“The sign points to the top of the mountain.”

“We’re at the right place, Gail.”

“Oh, the climb is steep, I’m out of breath.”

“There must be a reason to have so many benches on the way.”

“I can see the monkeys and many Park keepers now.”

“The view of Kyoto is spectacular from here.”

“What are the monkeys doing? Do they have lice?”

“No, they’re grooming each other as part of the social interaction.”

🥕🥕🥕

Reflected Glory by Anurag Bakhshi

“Do you see this certificate?” I asked.

“Of course,” pat came the reply, “I can see everything.”

I was positively gloating as I posed my follow-up question, “Can you read the sign at the end?”

There was just a hint of trepidation, and hesitation, in the response, “Yes, but…”

“You can’t get away with your ifs and buts this time, my dear,” I exclaimed, going in for the kill, “This certificate by the Guinness Book of World Records clearly states that I am the fairest of them all. They should know better than a stupid old mirror, shouldn’t they?”

🥕🥕🥕

PART III (5-minute read)

Squanto by D. Avery

Massasoit keeps me close; he does not trust me who has been carried back and forth by the giant birds, which have been preying along the coast.

I learned the words of the English in their country. The giant birds are ships. After five springs I followed the sun back to my country in ships, finally returning to Pawtuxet where chill winds rattled through empty fields littered with the untended bones of my people.

Another ship has come. English families are building in Pawtuxet. Massasoit gathered the shamans in the swamp, looking for a sign.

These are uncertain times.

🥕🥕🥕

Alabama Highway by H.R.R. Gorman

Trees, killed and cut, lined both sides of the road. The road, as far as Stomping Beaver knew, hadn’t been there a week ago. The white army might as well have posted a sign mentioning their intent.

“They move fast.” His teenage son tossed a few twigs.

“Faster now they’ve built this road.” Stomping Beaver removed his shoulder bag and tucked it beneath one of the felled logs. “Stay here. Have my food – this bag will only slow me down.”

He’d be too late. The road was several days old, and the fort was only two days march away.

🥕🥕🥕

A Drive Back in Time (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Ramona looked for the sign, the one that read Elmira. Snow pelted her windshield with a mesmerizing kaleidoscope that Vic called whiteout fever. She ignored it the way her husband said to, and instead followed the tracks in the snow. Ramona startled when her headlights caught the township sign. Why were the mill lights out? So dark! She slowed and pulled into her driveway where someone was plowing the easement. Vic, her husband. The power must be out. She waved and blew him a kiss. Silly man. What was he up to, calling a young thing like her, “Grandma”?

🥕🥕🥕

Country Music by TN Kerr

The sign on the door read, “The Unwritten Halibut”. She stood just inside waiting for her eyes to adjust to the gloom. This was her kind of place. It was a drinker’s bar. Dark paneling lined the walls; a couple of neon beer signs glowed in the back. A ghost of smoke held up the ceiling in defiance of a local ban. Rainbow colored bottles sat on glass shelves and four or five patrons rested at the bar; staring into their drinks, not talking. The volume was low as Hank Williams sang a hard luck song on the box.

🥕🥕🥕

The Thing by John Rieber

He noticed the sign for the first time just a few miles from “The Thing.” The billboard was gaudy; it showed a diminutive character with a large top hat and a shocked expression and asked “can you handle the shocking surprise of “The Thing?” He was hooked. When he saw the roadside attraction, he pulled over and fished in his pocket for the $1 entrance fee. As he entered the musty building, his final destination was the last thing on his mind. Perhaps the money would be there, perhaps not. It was only $1-million, so it almost didn’t matter.

🥕🥕🥕

Signs – A Remarkable Conversation by Gordon Le Pard

He knew how it would be, it wasn’t that people were unkind but for someone profoundly deaf there was little he could enjoy in a party like this.

The guests were introduced, he smiled, was about to sit down and read, when the last woman smiled back and flicked her fingers.

“Good afternoon?” She signed, “what is the book?”

For the first time in years he sat and enjoyed a conversation. She certainly knew her books, and suggested many things he could read. As she rose to leave he asked.

“Have you ever written anything?”

“Perhaps.” Signed Jane Austen

Author’s Note: This tale is absolutely true, the meeting took place in Southampton on December 27th 1808.

🥕🥕🥕

The Forest by Saifun Hassam

For the umpteenth time, Carmen questioned her wisdom in exploring the ancient Petrified Forest. Its fallen trees were part of a living forest some 200 million years ago. The sediments also contained fossils of ferns and ginkgo, reptiles and dinosaurs.

As a botanist, Carmen was curious about the origins and evolution of all plant life. Still, this forest unnerved her with its eroded cliffs and vast sandy tracts. What signs of past geologic and climactic changes lay hidden deep beneath the colorful sediments? To learn any of that would require the utmost care: the forest was unique, beyond replacement.

🥕🥕🥕

California Stop by TedBook

“Ethel!”, screams Cheryl.

“What?”

“You didn’t stop!”

“Didn’t stop?”

“At the corner, no stop.”

“Yes I did, I always stop at stop signs.”

“No, you were rolling, that doesn’t count as a stop. And the sign says stop.”

“Oh for God’s sake, Cheryl, don’t be so picky. That was enough of a stop. You never yell at Betty when she drives.”

“That’s because Betty always stops at signs. You made a California stop.”

“What are you talking about, we’re in Chicago?”

“That’s what they call a rolling stop. You rolled.”

Ethel sighs as she rolls thru the next stop.

🥕🥕🥕

Beware! by Anita Dawes

Yesterday I visited our Farmer’s Market

where I noticed an old man wearing a sign

Beware! God is around every corner!

So from now on, I am going to walk a straight line

I have no wish to bump into God.

I’m sure he’s looking for me.

Probably has a tin full of sins with my name on.

The worst one I can think of is using His name in vain

“Oh God.” comes out of my mouth at least a dozen times a day.

I’m not saying it’s easy to keep on a straight path.

Corners are everywhere…

🥕🥕🥕

Signed On by D. Avery

“Ow! Look where yer goin’.”

“Sorry Pal.”

“Kid, this prompt is perfect fer you.”

“Thinkin’ more fer Aussie. A cautionary tale about playin’ with matches.”

“Whut?”

“Better singed than burnt.”

“Kid, the word is sign, not singe, which is why it’s a good one fer you. Yer always misreadin’ an’ misspeakin’.”

“I ain’t got no trouble readin’ signs, Pal. Shift, look where I ended up! Right where I’m meant ta be, here with ya’ll at this here Ranch.”

“Hmmmph.”

“Fact, I’m a sinecurist!”

“I git the little or no work part, but financial benefit?”

“Yep. The Ranch enriches me.”

🥕🥕🥕

February 7: Flash Fiction Challenge

My front window buzzes with thousands of white bees dropping from the heavy skies in search of clover in the grass. Except, there is no grass. There’s no clover. And the swarm outside is yet another snow storm. All signs point to winter in the Northern Hemisphere even if we did celebrate Imbolc last week, noting that the days are getting longer.

The Hub just popped in to grab his workout shoes. His red and black checkered flannel jacket is dusted white. He’s off to the local Crossfit Gym where he works out with one of his counselors and another veteran. It’s a pilot program to see if the Crossfit program can adapt to veterans with disabilities. The idea is to get these former soldiers to reconnect to their warrior mentality in healthy ways.

So far, all signs indicate Crossfit is working. It’s part of the bigger plan to integrate the Hub’s care so that every day he has something that helps with pain management (chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy), cognitive strategies (CBT, speech therapy, group), and health (medical care, fitness, and nutrition). Basically, with the guidance of our Vet Center therapist, we’ve built our own Poly Trauma program that addresses the Hub’s needs holistically.

Personally, I’ve been looking for signs, too. Not necessarily the tealeaf reading kind, but some sort of sign from the universe as to which direction to take. What next? I knew I had come to a fork in the road. At times like this, I thank my North Star for its guiding light. I know where I want to go, but the path has led to unfamiliar terrain, and I have choices.

Some decisions I’ve made and stand solid — I landed in the Keweenaw, and I intend to stay in the Keweenaw. Here, I have my Warrior Sisters, the Hub’s home-spun Poly Trauma program, a beautiful and remote outdoor setting, and proximity to two of my three children. Runner and his lovely bride-to-be, Runner2 live near Madison, five hours away. We live with Radio Geek and her Solar Man, and if our world-traveler, Climber and her Chef visit the States (they live on Svalbard in Norway), they’ll come here.

Place is settled.

Last June, I decided to end my 16 years of writing for Valley Natural Foods. I penned my final member profiles. After I left as marketing communications manager in 2012,  I stayed on as managing editor and writer for two of their key publications. Before I left Idaho in 2016, I decided to wind down all my freelancing. Last year I decided to pursue the workshops and retreats I wanted to do. My first one got canceled because the Father’s Day flood wiped out the retreat center and turned my new community upside down.

In July, Finlandia University hired me as an adjunct instructor to teach a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Marketing course. I read it as the strongest sign to let go all my freelancing and business consulting. I knew it would be tight between July and September, but I had a couple of local gigs. Then my class got canceled the first week of school and caught me off guard. I was gutted. It was at the same time that we were still trying to get help for the Hub and understand what he was facing.

Timing-wise, you can see that all this upheaval aligned with the Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. I can’t say enough good about Norah Colvin, Irene Waters, D. Avery, Sherri Matthews, Geoff Le Pard, and all our judges who led superbly. We carried on and had a good run and a few recording hiccups when I had to go to Minneapolis to accompany the Hubb into the VA Poly Trauma program. It was terrifying for me. I grieved for the husband I no longer had.

But as you know, through my writing and sharing, I pulled through that dark place and came to an understanding — I still have my husband. My family recommitted ourselves to loving-kindness, no matter what the future was going to bring. We have now. We have him. When I saw Welby Altidor, he connected the pursuit of creativity to caring, and to carving out safe space to take risks. Carrot Ranch always has been “safe space” for literary artists to explore their craft, stories, and characters. I just needed to adapt that model to my life and how to live with a veteran who has an altered brain.

Are any of you familiar with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way? It’s because of her that I identify as a literary “artist.” Her book influenced me during my 20s when I dreamed of being a writer and wrote in lined journals. She dared me to be bold, to go to college at age 27 when I had three young children. I got my undergrad degree in creative writing. I wanted my MFA but chose to follow the Hub to the Midwest where I built a freelancing and marketing communications career. Julia Cameron (through her book) helped me when I dreamed up Carrot Ranch.

If you are familiar with The Artist’s Way, then you know she advises daily morning pages and weekly artist dates. The idea to write 99 words a week was a reduction of the morning pages. If we write every day, I figured we needed to share something of our writing, too. Alone, we are writers. Together, we experience the dynamic that is literary art — writing meant to be read. Collectively, writers and readers give meaning to literary art. When I arrange the writings of participants into a collection, well, that’s my weekly artist’s date.

So, no matter what I decided to do next, I knew that Carrot Ranch, with its torch to keep literary art alive and available, would be a part. An important part.

Finlandia University has employed me to develop the CTE course and help recruit for next fall. They intend for me to be the instructor. But next fall is a lot of meals away. I’m not paid to be an instructor-in-waiting. Back in October, when my world was all about flash fiction Rodeos and stressing over a husband in the hospital, a once-in-a-great-while kind of job came up at Michigan Technological University. It was a public relations position, responsible for curating and distilling the stories of the research university as it prepares to lead the world into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

I was intrigued. I took the bait. I applied.

No job can ever replace my North Star with its glowing dreams to encourage world-wide literary art, publish historical novels, and build community. I had to think long and hard how a fulltime job would fit into my plans. What excited me beyond the work, was the opportunity to invest in Carrot Ranch monetarily. Oh, the thought of buying those turquoise cowgirl boots and a new wardrobe to replace the one I left behind in Idaho.

After I sprained my ankle, I sat on the couch and came up with a plan. I was at a crossroads and would have important decisions to make. One path was MTU, the second was FU; the third was to revitalize my freelancing, workshops, and retreat; and the fourth was if the world imploded, I’d leave and go find an MFA program to start anew. In January, I went on retreat to polish my vision and plan the first three paths. The fourth was like a Hail Mary football pass.

The reason I’m telling you all this now is to process and understand which path the Universe finally set a go-sign to. MTU selected one other candidate and me to go through final interviews (mind you, this was a three-month process, including writing assignments). After an all-day interview on campus, I felt proud I made it that far. I also felt awed and scared that my world was once again about to change drastically. The result? MTU rescinded the job. It no longer exists. There is no public relations position.

If that wasn’t one helluva sign…

Disappointed, I wasted no time in setting up a freelancing platform and will wait and see what happens with recruitment after the CTE open house last week. I also realized I felt hugely relieved. My writing time is sacred and I almost gave to an organization in exchange for shiny new clothes.

Then my world shifted yet again when a letter arrived yesterday from the VA. For once, a good shift. And the sign that appeared blew me away. The Hub’s benefits finally, finally, finally came through. Blessedly he can stop pulling his own teeth with pliers and get dental care. He will get his knee replaced. We can even get into a place of our own. But the unexpected — my name in the official document with the words, “education benefit.”

I still feel all atwitter. My stomach is still somersaulting. Education benefits. For me! Suddenly, the fourth path isn’t far-fetched. I can get my MFA! You betcha, I wasted no time in contacting an advisor, finding out what the benefit was and when I could use it and — it’s no longer 1998. Ha! It’s no longer 1998. There is an INTERNET. And I looked up online MFAs and found one! I applied, yes, I already applied. There’s more to the application (writing). Get this — my master’s thesis could be Miracle of Ducks. AND, I can earn an additional teaching certificate.

Do I need an MFA? No, I don’t. I still believe that writers live in a time of incredible publishing opportunity. But the question that I answered immediately before my brain could ask it was do I want an MFA. And yes, I still do.

Sometimes, we have to wait for our Sign to come in. I’ve waited 20 years for that one!

My daughter took me out last night. We both cried and laughed. She remembers me giving up my chance to get an MFA. She remembers me writing away to programs at different points in my life. She knew I never gave up the ghost of that dream. And it fits Carrot Ranch like a custom glove! I’ll get to learn how to teach craft, not just encouragement and marketing. I’ll also get to use Carrot Ranch as my platform for coursework.

For now, I’ll continue the application process, open up some freelancing gigs, and plan to start coursework August 12. I’m setting up some local workshops, and of course, we have the first Carrot Ranch Nature Retreat this July. I’ll continue working on MOD, and I’ll set a deadline to finish Vol. 2 before school starts. At last, a path.

And, be sure to check back on Monday because I finally met with the folks at The Continental to close out our Bonus Rodeo contest. We have three winners to announce (and pay). The radio spot won’t be developed until later. Some issues came up but had nothing to do with us or the contest. Thank you all for your patience, especially those who entered.

Thank you, also, for being my weekly artist’s date! Your writing of 99-word stories inspires the blazes within my writer’s soul. Must be a sign.

February 7, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a sign. It can be a posted sign, a universal sign, a wonder. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by February 12, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

A Drive Back in Time (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Ramona looked for the sign, the one that read Elmira. Snow pelted her windshield with a mesmerizing kaleidoscope that Vic called whiteout fever. She ignored it the way her husband said to, and instead followed the tracks in the snow. Ramona startled when her headlights caught the township sign. Why were the mill lights out? So dark! She slowed and pulled into her driveway where someone was plowing the easement. Vic, her husband. The power must be out. She waved and blew him a kiss. Silly man. What was he up to, calling a young thing like her, “Grandma”?

Sea Mist

George C. Bailey Photography 2019

When a polar vortex slips its arctic boundaries and spreads across Lake Superior, two snowmakers clash. Keweenaw photographer, George C. Bailey, captures the lake in her many moods. While the vortex hovered, Superior’s waves pounded ice heaves on shore, illuminating sea mist and water the color of icebergs.

Writers followed sea mist into the photo. Journeys, emotions, and wisdom of the land emerged in the stories this week.

The following are based on the January 31, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sea mist.

PART I (10-minute read)

He Never Left Us (BOTS) by Susan Sleggs

We called the seaside motel to book a room.
They said we’re closed for a private function.
Yes, we said, the funeral of the owner.
You know that? You may have a free room.
In a local diner dressed in our best we were asked,
Are you here for Dick’s funeral?
Our friend was very well liked.
His companies employed half the town.
A church so full, people stood.
Back at the motel well after dark.
The sea mist rose.
The fog horn sounded.
We knew Dick was still with us.
The horn will always be his loving voice.

🥕🥕🥕

Sunset By the Bay by Nobbinmaug

The sea mist dances through the sun’s waning glow. Each droplet catches the light creating a rainbow shower. The distant clouds take on a hue of orange, pink, and a faint purple, as the fading disc melts into the horizon. Somehow, the roar of the waves and their crash on the rocks only adds to the tranquility.

The breeze catches the ocean, and it sprays my face. Though salt is all I taste, it’s refreshing on this summer evening.

There’s only one thing keeping this from being a perfect evening.

I reach for your hand, but you’re not there.

🥕🥕🥕

The Sea Wept by Di @ pensitivity101

Icebound, blocked, cracking,
This world is a mass of layers.
From the deepest depths
A blending hue
Of black and green
To four shades of blue,
Rolling crests,
Frothy curls of white
Crumble in the weak sun,
Rushing to meet the shore,
But falling short,
Layers forming, meeting
Joining, becoming one,
Blinding, restricting,
For many it amounts to
Uncertainty and fear.
Scrolls and wisps
Carried skyward,
The sea mist gathers,
Not to hide or cover
More to caress and blanket,
Holding the surface together,
Who is to say it is trying
To shield us from
Witnessing the sea crying.

🥕🥕🥕

Canned Sea Mist by Norah Colvin

No more than a hint of sea spray and she was flown back on wings of joy to carefree childhood days frolicking in the shallows, basking on golden sands, fossicking for hints of life in rockpools and amassing precious collections of shells and other treasures arranged for her pleasure by the tide. Lulled by a gentle breeze and waves whispering a heart’s rhythm, she dosed, uninterrupted by seagulls squawking, murmured conversations, hushed laughter, or the shuffle of approaching and receding footsteps. As the sun glowed bright above, she sighed her last, now and forever one with the sea’s mist.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by tracey robinson

Everyday for fifty-two years she went for a morning walk. No matter the season or the weather. Three miles. First alone, then with her partner, now alone again.

She loved all the weather she encountered, it made her feel alive. This morning a soft gray sea mist spilled over onto the beach, curling her white hair.

She tried not to play favorites, enjoying what each day gave her but secretly she liked the fog the best. Maybe because it was the rarest. Maybe because it softened the day. Or maybe because it obscured the fact that she was alone.

🥕🥕🥕

Have You Seen the Mist by S. Zutautas

Alluring softness
Brings romantic illusions
Letting mind wander

Relaxed in a jacuzzi
Sipping a fine chardonnay
After a long day

As the warm wind blows
Across the lakes hardened ice
One can see, sea mist

Appearing as clouds
Close onto ground, thick moisture
Billows blocking sight

Lighthouses warn boaters
Vision obscured volatile
Mist has unfolded

Shining brightly the
Mist from the sea causes fog
Thickly stands resting

Invitingly mist
Will mesmerize you into
A fascination

Over lakes and seas
Dawn or night you may see
The mist of the sea

Mistakenly some
Sailors have ignored warnings
Crashing into rocks

🥕🥕🥕

Erie Kai by Nancy Brady

From the Canadian side comes the wind. The sustained wind buffets the Ohio shore of Lake Erie, and we can hear the roar of the waves from a block away. The longer the wind blows, the louder the “Wildcat’s” roar. The lake is aptly named for the native American word for wildcat.

This winter the snow came as well as the northern wind, blowing wave after wave of water over the quarried slate blocks, which protect the beach. With dropping temperatures, the water begins to freeze, though, coating the blocks, forming a lacy, layered ice sculpture of sea mist.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Sally Cronin

After tea and some shared biscuits, the little dog’s mistress sent him down to the quayside to wait for the return of his master. This late January day had been overcast and strangely still, with sea mist rolling in during the late afternoon. The boats were overdue, and wives anxiously peered out of their windows towards the shrouded harbour. The terrier’s ears pricked at a slight sound, nose lifting into the damp air. Whimpering he shot to his feet with quivering tail and one front paw lifted. A voice echoed in the fog “It’s okay Patch boy, I’m home”.

🥕🥕🥕

Landlocked Mist by Ann Edall-Robson

It settles again over the rocks, across the land. The morning mist portrays an eerie light to all who wake early to see the beginning of another day. Wandering along the craggy outcrops on the mudded gravel path, the damp penetrates to the bone. Hair and mittens become saturated from the fine spray slapping against faces, shrouding all signs of life with a wet, misty blanket. Landlocked, the mist will only go when the sun burns through and the temperature warms. It is a sign of real moisture to come in ninety days hence. So the old timers say.

🥕🥕🥕

Foretold by Reena Saxena

“Have you ever seen lightning strike water, and electrocute life beneath?”

“Not yet.”

The fortune-teller spoke with a furrowed brow,

“I foresee a clash of strong, opposing forces happening in your life, in the near future.”

I recall the legal notice sent by the brother I trusted most in life, over an inheritance issue. It can leave me with scarce resources in my sunset years. It caused ripples in the calm, placid waters of my life, but this guy is warning me of a storm.

The sea mist is clearing off, as I see people for what they are.

🥕🥕🥕

Master of the Sea by H.R.R. Gorman

A slender hand helped him spew water from his lungs. “It is good you lived, but I’m afraid your countrymen died.” Her queenly presence was clothed in radiant stones from the ocean, her hair glistened with sea mist.

She had a fin in place of legs and loose webs between long fingers.

“She was a good ship… and my friends were good sailors.” The man shook as tears welled in his eyes.

“Before the storm, you said you were masters of the sea?”

“Why not? His Majesty’s navy is the world’s finest.”

She flicked her tail and swam away.

🥕🥕🥕

Thar Blows retold by D. Avery

The giant Maushop shared whales and fish with the people. Only Maushop could stop the monstrous bird that ate children. The people showed thanks with gifts of tobacco. With ashes from his pipe Maushop made a second, faraway island. The fog from his pipe shielded for a while but was not enough.

Then the people took the others’ god. The others said he was the devil; Maushop obliged. He turned his children to fishes and his wife to a stone before taking to farther seas. They’d see him again, misty smoke now urgent spout of a great white whale.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Floridaborne

“Once, this entire area was under water,” my geology instructor said.

I looked at the sun bleached sands and asked, “How did a place this dry end up underwater?”

“Eighty million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, this was swampland.”

“My mental movie of dinosaurs frolicking in sea mist is ruined,” I sighed. “Why did the climate change?”

“Humans will never do as much damage to the Earth as the volcanic eruptions and asteroid impact that killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.”

He laughed at my reply, “And I thought the Pacific garbage patch was bad!”

🥕🥕🥕

Behemoth? by JulesPaige

I just wanted to hurl at humanity and strike them all dead. My breastbone was fraught with fantods. I really wished the newsfeed would downgrade the Occam’s Razors they were slinging and really glance into my eyes. Perhaps if I just concentrated I could crash the video feed or even the whole system. And then in the darkness of everything absorb all the passivity of those who wished me no harm so I could extend my wings and fly away, into the sea mist.

I really wasn’t a monster. “They” only portrayed me that way… Mommy still loves me.

🥕🥕🥕

The Legendary Sea Mist Bite by Marjorie Mallon

Misha pushed her glasses up on her nose and wiped them with a tissue but it made no difference. Sea mist doesn’t wait. Sea mist consumes everything.

She didn’t know whether to move ahead or to turn back. A chill crept through her.

She felt something near her. She imagined jaws, and sharp teeth.

‘Look where you’re going, you idiot!’ said a crab, grabbing her ankle.

‘Something threatened to bite me!’

‘No, the mist did. Aren’t you wearing your mist specs?’

‘What are they?

‘They’re magical spectacles to protect you from the mist.

‘I don’t need protecting, I’m dead.’

🥕🥕🥕

Another Way by Jo Hawk

I’ve seen them walk into the sea. You know the ones, plagued by constant misery. Their eyes cast down, always looking at the ground. The sea mists rise, reaching for cloudy skies. All around, the grey days bring despair, and in the mist, I could surely drown.

I want something else as I stand here with the sand between my toes, struggling to survive. I’m amazed I’m still alive. But I won’t say goodbye.

They say there is another way. So even on the cloudy day, even in the misty grey, I keep my eyes looking for the sun.

🥕🥕🥕

A Turn of Event by Ruchira Khanna

“I hate my life!” Jaya kept growling with anger teary-eyed as she walked with stern steps towards a mid-sized wall that faced the ocean.

She climbed the wall and eyed her home with a sulk; then looked towards the ocean.

“I do not belong here!” she closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath to take the plunge.

Just then her face got wet by the sea mist. That made her freeze on her drastic step.

She was in tears.

Again!

This time for good since memories of Love, Care, Play and Laughter with family changed her mind.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Kay Kingsley

I thought he was joking when he asked me to join him at the beach for a swim. “It’s minus degrees… in January!” He looked at me with a mischievous smile. His charm. Sigh. “Alright.”

We arrived at the beach to see the ocean violent and churning. It looked like it was at war with itself. We approached the shore as I shivered, chilled to the bone. Mark had already stripped down and was smiling ear to ear. “Three words… Polar. Bear. Club.” Yelling, “YeeHaw!” he ran into the surf as I watched the sea mist swallow him whole.

🥕🥕🥕

Mountain Passage (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

At the top of the pass, Ike pulled over. Danni radioed the lead forester to verify any logging trucks. The Forest Service road tapered to one-way traffic. For the next five miles, loggers used the narrow switchbacks to haul loads from an active site. If they met a truck on the grade, there would be no way to pass. Danni surveyed the steep ravine, waiting for a reply. Morning fog obscured the forest and hid the road. Before an affirmative crackled over the radio, Danni heard grinding gears in the distance like a rumble of surf beneath sea mist.

🥕🥕🥕

Dry Breeze by The Dark Netizen

The dry breeze stings my face.

This sand, this air, are slowly choking the life out of me. I want to get back to my old life. I had power, I had purpose, but most importantly, I had freedom. Here, I feel trapped. My injuries did not kill me, merely forced me to retire. However, I wish I had died before I retired. I wish I was buried at the sea, like a true captain.

I long for the darkness to find me, as much as I long for the sea mist to caress my face, one last time…

🥕🥕🥕

Unclear Clearwater, FL (Late December 2018) by JulesPaige

This isn’t normal.
Windswept, double bent,
facing the wind head on.

Feeling like a cartoon character
being pelted by every single
grain of sand from the beach.

But we get there to what was
the beach a few days ago anyway.

The rain may have stopped
but the misty hurricane air
sucks at closed shop door,
where we finally have chosen
to take some relief.

The door rattles and is threatened
to be removed from its hinges.

We’re at least a block from the shore line,
where the tourist pier, for safety was shut down.
At least we’re together.

🥕🥕🥕

Better Be Worth It by Teresa Grabs

The frigid sea mist stung as it slapped his face. At midnight, under normal circumstances, he would be in bed watching the late-night movie. Today had been anything but normal. He would not be standing by the lake in sub-zero temperatures had it not been for Meredith. She was the most beautiful woman who ever paid a moment’s attention to him. He just couldn’t say no. “No one can ever know,” she said, handing him the bag. He hoped getting hypothermia and frostbite was worth it. Seemed like a lot of effort just for disposal duty of teenage diary.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by quiall

Angelina and Edward walked hand in hand down the beach. Their feet gently sinking into the still damp sand as a soft mist enveloped them. They could hear a pod of whales singing just off shore. The day was still young, the sun had yet to burn off the swirling miasma of water laced air.

“Is it true? Have the scientists proven it beyond any doubt?”

“Yes, my love they have.”

“Edward, how can we tell people the truth? They will avoid the beach, our economy will collapse!”

“It’s the mist Angelina, they need to know: It’s whale farts!”

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Mist Agin by D. Avery

“Ah, Jeez, Kid, you writin’ agin?”

“Why not? I’m likin’ this prompt. Jist cain’t decide on my topic. Might write about the mornin’ mist in the river valley. Or the clouds that don’t clear the mountaintop an’ leave it sparklin’ with frost. Mebbe the steam waftin’ off the water trough or even the warm breath of the cattle like fog in the crisp air as they chew their hay.”

“Kid, you cain’t write about none a thet.”

“Why not? Jist goin’ where the prompt leads.”

“The prompt specifically said sea mist.”

“Yeah? Ever’ where I look I see mist.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Shoreline by Joanne Fisher

Aalen’s path took her northwards. As she went further the forest became more sparse until she came to the shoreline of a wide sea. She had never seen the ocean before and although her sight was partially obscured by the sea-mist hanging around the shore it looked as though it went on forever. She began to realise the world was far larger than she had ever dreamed. Where there other distant shores? Her heart yearned for revenge, but also to explore this world she barely knew. She watched the tumultuous waves and then turned away following the tracks eastward.

🥕🥕🥕

Not Here But There by Carol J Forrester

It reminded her of home. The sea mist rolling in onto the shingles.

Of course, it wasn’t quite the same.

Peat mist rises different. The earth sort of oozes tendrils that simmer and thicken on the low lands. Stretches of green that look beautiful and safe but turn to bog at the first hint of rain.

It’s similar enough though. When the mist rolls in and she’s standing inside it, condensation on her cheeks, damp in her hair… she can pretend it’s England. Pretend she’s inland, back where she belongs.
It never takes long for someone to wake her.

🥕🥕🥕

Avalon by Anita Dawes

Two weeks holidaying on top of the cliffs,
overlooking the sea and ragged rocks of Cornwall.

Sea mist rolling in, invisible hands unfurling a white carpet across the bay
between the cliffs either side. Nature’s magic moment.

This morning, the mist cleared quickly, there between the sky and the edge of the sea sat an island that didn’t belong there.

How can the mist have carried an island into view like something from Gulliver’s Travels.

No, wait. I believe I am looking at Avalon, the island where Arthur was carried
by the blind ferryman to heal, while Merlin watched.

🥕🥕🥕

Scylla and Charybdis by Violet Lentz

we remain rootedly positioned
between scylla and charybdis*
the chasm that separates us
mythically disproportionate
to your truth, or mine.
clash- two worlds colliding
yours a rock and mine a hard face
your forlorn forced inflections
emanating from the belly of your god.
my belligerent brawling outbursts
clutching tight the hand-
of absolution sure demise.
just once, can’t we beg off?
let hoar fog obscure our fracas
cleanse us both in salt sea brine
cast off weighted chain and anchor
just once, let dead dogs lie??
foundation built of rock, on hard place
just this once- oh mother mine?

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist Dreams by Colleen M. Chesebro

I walk along the sandy path strewn with starfish and seashells which seems to beckon me toward the sea. Pearls and aquamarine crystals dot the trail. The salt water scent of the sea mist wafts over me as the sound of stormy waves crashing against stony cliffs draws me closer to my goal.

I imagine the mer-people, undines, water nymphs, and sirens who assist with the flow of life, balancing emotions with healing, cleansing, love, and beauty. I can’t help but wonder how I got here.

Childish dreams bring hope—
as past and present conspire
to present new paths.

🥕🥕🥕

Lookout by TN Kerr

Roger stood in the bow and watched the fog roll in. He hunched in his Pea Jacket to stave off the weather. His hands were in his pockets where he clutched a silver flask of brown whisky.

He felt it before he saw it. He watched it emerge from the haar that obscured visibility to the north. It was an old Soviet boat, running on the surface, twin screws churning the water.

Roger reached for the handset of the sound powered phone, “Bridge – Bow. Surface contact bearing tree fife zero, fife hundred yards, moving left to right slowly.”

🥕🥕🥕

Misty Majesty by calmkate

The roar of MiG jets draws our attention to the ocean out front. A majestic aircraft carrier peers through the mist billowing smoke appears ominous. But it’s a decoy as various aircraft chase one another with destroyers joining in from below. The earth vibrates as a few more bombs explode.

If all goes as planned nobody will die as four nations rehearse war games in our front yard. A regular feature for locals who grew up supplying refreshments to the chopper pilots training for Vietnam, their rotor blades had nominal clearance they had to master. Peace lovers abhor war!

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Faith A. Colburn

The waves looked soft as he peered through tropical rain. The island was only a ragged outline. Crawling down the rope netting into a landing craft, he watched it grow closer, more distinct. It would be his first combat. Would he stand up to it? Was he brave as he thought—hoped? Somehow he knew he would survive, but what about the others? Weeks earlier, in the middle of the ocean, he’d looked through a light mist silvered by soft by moonlight and realized survival wasn’t enough. Seeing the guy next to him fall—that’s what made him sick.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Margaret G. Hanna

She stood on the pier, head cocked. Sea mist enclosed her in a shroud of impenetrable greyness, hiding the bay. Only sound existed. Unseen waves crashed against an unseen rocky headland. Unseen leaves rustled. Overheard, unseen gulls mewled. The sound she longed for – unheard.

Mist moistened her face, disguised the tears. Tears she had shed these past three days. Three days without sleep, three days of waiting, worrying, hoping. Three days with no news.

Behind her, in the house, a phone rang. A muffled conversation seeped through the mist. The screen door squealed open.

“Martha, they’ve found the boat.”

🥕🥕🥕

Out of the Mist – A Tale of Humanity in War by Gordon Le Pard

The privateer came out of the mist, the sailors had no chance, their ship was moored by the waveswept rock where the engineers were working.

The French captain laughed at their ridiculous tale, no one could build a lighthouse on a rock in the middle of sea, it must be a trick of the damnable English.

King Louis heard the tale, but he believed it, they could do such a wonderful thing. He released and rewarded the men saying;

“I am at war with the English, not humanity”

A year later the light shone from the Eddystone rock.

🥕🥕🥕

Figurehead by D. Avery

With Destiny tied to the bowsprit branch, Marlie took command of her tree fort. She steered the pitching ship into the roiling sea of fog-drenched backyard, the surf of snow rising underneath the plunging bow. Over the howling wind she barked orders at her frightened crew.

“Should they really be out there in this weather?”

“They’re dressed for it and they’re under cover in the tree fort. Tommy will let her know when he’s had enough.”

“Maybe. Oh, here he is now. Tommy. Are you okay?”

“I had to walk the plank.”

“There’s hot chocolate in the galley, Mate.”

🥕🥕🥕

Mist Opportunities by Bill Engleson

It rose out of the sea like a smack in the face.

“I can’t see the trail anymore,” I bellowed.

“Some leader!” came from behind.

“Oh, yeah. I suppose you can do better?”

I wasn’t in the mood to take guff, even if I couldn’t tell who my detractor was.

“I didn’t say that,” the voice said.

“I don’t know. Sounds mutinous to me.”

“What’s mootinus? You calling me a cow?”

“Hold your horses,” I said, complicating the emerging animal theme, “Mu…Tin…Knee.”

“Whatever! Hey guys, Old Tin Knee is lost.”

Street kids, I thought. You have gotta love ‘em.

🥕🥕🥕

Insult to Injury by Anurag Bakhshi

I could sense its presence much before it came into view, and the shiver that ran through my body had nothing to do with the ice-cold seawater. I knew the monster was coming for me.

I saw it now, piercing through the sea mist and looming ominously over me like a kraken. Very soon, it would attempt to hunt me down, and finally, vengeance would be mine.

I could forgive him the leathery taste of that rotten leg, but Captain Ahab deserved the tortures of the nine circles of hell for naming a majestic whale like me, Moby Dick!

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Joanne Fisher

Whenever the sea-mist came in the villagers knew to go inside their homes, lock their doors and ignore all sounds.

One afternoon Lilith had been away picking apples from the nearby orchard. When she returned she saw the sea-mist rolling in. In a panic she dropped the apples and ran to her house. She got to her door but couldn’t find her keys. Tendrils of mist were already snaking around her and she felt the chill. She started to frantically knock on the door when she suddenly felt the chill go through her. The other villagers heard her screams.

🥕🥕🥕

Sea Mist by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

“Come on,” Colin called, moving purposefully into the thick, swirling mist.

Mary hung back. There was something about this mist that disturbed her. She could hear strange and distant noises like an animal feeding. The smacking and slurping sounds upset her.

“Come on,” came his voice again, already sounding some distance away.

Mary took a deep breath and plunged into the whiteness which immediately swallowed her.

“I’m coming,” she yelled loudly. “Wait for me.”

Her ears suddenly filled with terrible screams, followed by a loud crunch. A fine spray of blood splattered across her face and dress.

🥕🥕🥕

Help by Kerry E.B. Black

Mist floated above the water, ghostly aspirations undulating as the river swelled and dipped like lovers’ sighs. Transient by nature, it fettered fine tendrils around Erin’s poetic heart.

She plopped to the moist ground and beckoned the cloud. Perhaps within its obscuring she could find clarity.

Waves lapped the shore with the steadiness of a heartbeat. Erin’s own inner workings joined the pace as though engaging a dance. Delicate as dew, fog surrounded her until all she could see was the problem at hand.

Thoughts thick with worry, she stared into a luminous blank and surrendered.

“I need help.”

🥕🥕🥕

It’s All in the Packaging by Deborah Lee

Jane hesitates at the entrance to the marina, fighting impostor syndrome. But the Lake Union Dreamboats antique yacht show is free and open to anyone, and it’s something to do.

Sleek vessels line the piers, shining even under cloud cover, and her breath catches as she steps aboard the Sea Mist and takes in the tiny space. Efficiency kitchen only big enough for one, built-in bed and furniture, handmade throws, gleaming teak, fresh flowers. Do people really keep flowers in vases with water at sea?

It’s not much bigger than her own tent, but what a difference accoutrements make.

🥕🥕🥕

Yandeau Harbor by Saifun Hassam

The evening sea mist threaded its way into Yandeau Harbor. Sailboats and yachts rode gently at anchor. The day’s work was done along Fisherman’s Way.

Mist drifted past Trevor Pierre Yandeau. He was a biologist, and had been an ardent fisherman all his life. Fishing was part of The Yandeaus’ lives from the days in Marseilles, and still influenced their lives in the New World.

Trevor grew up exploring and fishing along numerous bays and coves of the Pacific. He loved to return to Yandeau Harbor: it had sparked a lifelong commitment to protecting and understanding vital natural habitats.

🥕🥕🥕

The Eyemouth Disaster by Lance Greenfield

Despite the warnings, despite the storm, they rolled out to sea from Eyemouth on that fateful day of October 1881.

For weeks, they had been unable to sail because of prevailing weather.

They were not greedy. It was their livelihood. They just wanted to earn enough to feed their families. 45 boats left harbour; only 26 returned. 189 men perished. 93 women were widowed. 267 children lost their fathers.

Two days later, out of the sea mist, Ariel Gazelle returned with all her crew. Out of the darkness of tragedy, shone a shaft of light and life.

🥕🥕🥕

Depressurized by Jody Kish

It comes like the mist, creeping its way to the depths of my soul.

Rapid breathing.

Fast heart.

The anguish bears down, consuming every fiber of who I am.

And just when I’m overwrought; I see a beacon of light in the distance.

Calmness.

The sun blinks through the heavy fog. It transforms the grey and dreary to a Monet painting of purples, pinks, and orange that dance together in a harmonious symphony.

Until the next storm comes like a percussion of drums.

But for now, the haze lifts.

Like a defeated monster it dissipates.

I’m content once more.

🥕🥕🥕

Deep Waters Run Still (Part I)  by D. Avery

“Hhhrrryyy, Pel.”

“Cat gotcher tongue Kid?”

“Ack. I’m a pony.”

“A pony?”

“Yeah, a little hoarse. I ain’t spoke fer ages.”

“Bet thet bothered you.”

“Dang right it did. Jist ‘cause D. Avery wants ta turn tail and hunker down, why do I have ta? What d’ya s’pose she was up to anyway?

“Ain’t my business. But mebbe she was hopin’ ta quiet you down.”

“Hee hee. It didn’t work. I got bored an’ wriggled all aroun’ her head with nowhere ta go. You sure musta missed me, huh, Pal?”

“Sure, Kid. Like a headache when it stops hurtin’.”

Deep Waters Run Still (Part II)  by D. Avery

“Ya know, Kid, it ain’t about you.”

“I know Pal. I jist love it here is all. Where were you all this time Pal?”

“Was visitin’ ol’ Ornery.”

“Ta have some a his whiskey.”

“Mebbe. But he’d busted up his still. An’ all his Mason jars— shards. I found him sittin’ an’ listenin’ ta the waterfall freeze, a whispery tinklin’ sound. An’ if ya listen up close ta the ice ya kin hear water inside, gigglin’ about spring a’comin’. Here, Kid, it’s a Mason jar Ornery glued back together outta 99 shards.”

“It says Moans.”

“It’ll hold water, Kid.”

🥕🥕🥕

Shards

Can something broken ever be whole again? Life can be full of shattering moments. Broken relationships, broken possessions, broken dreams. Yet shards are not the end. Sometimes, it’s the beginning of a different appreciation.

Writers explored the possibilities of shards, this week. They explored the human condition revealed by the prompt, sharing different perspectives on who or what was broken.

The following are from the January 24, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about shards.

PART I (10-minute read)

Mommy by D. Avery

I am a ghost drifting formless
undead, unliving, in between
strung out at the margins.
You haunt me with your memories.
Leave me be.

Rattling chains of your broken dreams
piecing together shards
hopes cracked and scarred like my junkie arms.
My babies, chanting shamans
mediums; you’d have them draw me to the side of the living.
It’s so hard. I don’t come over.

My body is crumbling dust
my heart empty shortsighted eyes
searching for one thing only.
The next fix
might be the one
the last one
an exorcism.

Will you dare dream again, for my children?

🥕🥕🥕

Picture Perfect by Janice Morris

The cardboard frame has yellowed and the picture of the young girl has faded but not her sweet innocence.

She looks wistfully out at the world. There is no bitterness in her warm gentle smile.

More and more I find myself wanting to linger in her youthful dreams, shards from the past, knowing they will soon end and she will be bound to walk in the weighty footprints that life has fashioned.

If I am to have solace, I think I shall find it in this child for she is brimming with hope and hope is what I seek.

🥕🥕🥕

Shards by Anita Dawes

The small church stands alone on the hill.
Beautiful stained glass windows,
sun streaming broken colours of ancient light
illuminating the walls, the floors, the pews.
People’s faces, colour changing
From red to blue, green and yellow
Those broken shards of light
every bit as beautiful as any pottery
found in any old Egyptian bazar.
A jewel made by man, lit by nature’s light.
How long will it last?
Will the light last forever?
Will the broken shards of light
keep shining through the woods
for my grandchildren, great grandchildren?
Will ancient shards of pottery still hold man’s interest?

🥕🥕🥕

Melancholy by Susan Zutautas

Remembering back sitting in a dark dingy room, my mind constantly thinking that all I wanted was to feel normal. No desire to eat or get out of bed but most of all I just wanted to be alone.

At times I would think so rigorously, try so hard to make sense of it all, yet concentration was impossible to come by and all I would do was escape into sleep. Darkness was my only friend and I welcomed it.

People would walk around me as if they were stepping around shards of glass.

When would this all end?

🥕🥕🥕

Shard by Robbie Cheadle

Her son’s death shattered her life like a stone hitting a mirror. The shards pierced her heart and soul making it impossible for her to experience love or joy in any way.

She stood with her sister’s baby in her arms. Little Monica looked up at her with large, trusting eyes. She walked around the room singing softly to the tiny girl just as she had sung to her own boy more than twelve years ago.

A burst of love surged through her, vapourizing the shards. Acceptance of the past brought her acceptance and a welcome sense of peace.

🥕🥕🥕

Shards from the Past Cut Sharper Than Glass by Anne Goodwin

When Matty awakes, she is hugging that dratted photograph. Brushing her hand across her torso, the glass splinters on the floor tiles, jingling like xylophone keys. The maid will sweep up the shards.

Of greater concern is Matty’s doppelgänger, now free to make mischief with no protective pane. Everybody knows Matilda told such dreadful lies, it made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes. But a dissembler gets her comeuppance eventually, and rightly so.

Matty must distance herself from Matilda, however, lest she be punished for her crimes. Otherwise, when Matilda shouts Fire! Matty would be mocked by Little liar!

🥕🥕🥕

Closing the Circle of Life by H.R.R. Gorman

I cup my mother’s hand and hold it tight. She stares at me with unknowing eyes, scared, reluctant or too weak to squeeze the hand in return. “Ma?” she asks.

I rub the wasting arm, glad that even a shard of a memory is poking through. It’s been a while since she’s asked for anyone. “I’m your daughter,” I answered. “Do you need something, Mama?”

The words come slowly to her. “Just sleepy.”

I smile, hand her a baby-doll, and tuck her in with a kiss on the forehead. “Then rest, Mama. I’ll be here when you wake up.”

🥕🥕🥕

Darn Memories by Ruchira Khanna

“Thank heavens it broke!” Jules said with relief as she raised her hands in jubilation.

She was quick to call for help to clean up the mess.

As the helper was collecting the pieces that got scattered around the room; Jules watched with a keen eye.

Her fragile grey neurons of 80 years old were quick to make synapses as that cup’s history took her to her home surrounded with laughter, and then to an old age home all alone.

Memories were threatening to overwhelm her, but she would be seen fighting them with an expletive now and then.

🥕🥕🥕

Broken by Sally Cronin

She swept up the broken glass, briefly regretting throwing the vase across the room. It had missed its target, thankfully, since going to prison for murder was not the best start to a new life of freedom. It had been a wedding gift from her dead mother-in-law, who had never thought her good enough for her precious son. Sunlight streaming into the room was captured by a large shard that sparkled with brilliance, as if celebrating its release from the confines of the vessel. She laughed; perhaps the old girl was sending her approval from above at long last.

🥕🥕🥕

The Mirror Cracked by Di @ pensitivity101

The bathroom mirror was still cracked after all this time, a reminder of tempers lost and love destroyed.
Now suddenly the pieces broke free of the frame, crashing and smashing into the sink below. Was it an Omen?

Splinters, slithers and shards glistened up at him, each representing a part of what was.
The whole had been beautiful, reflective, serene. Now all that was left was an empty canvas having ejected the shattered remains.

It was a solid base upon which to build.

Taking the smallest piece, he put it in place.

Always best to start with the heart.

🥕🥕🥕

She’s Made Whole Again by Miriam Hurdle

“Greetings!”

“Oh! It’s strange. I heard my sons, daughters-in-law, brothers, sisters and niece.”

“Yes, they came to see you.”

“My sisters and niece from the US?”

“Yes.”

“They said they loved me, Jesus loved me, and God loved me.”

“They still do.”

“There was an avalanche inside me. My sister called the nurse, said I was bleeding.”

“Your organs collapsed. The blood gushed out of your nose.”

“But… I look fine. I feel like dancing as I did for the Championship on November 4, 2018.”

“You’re made whole again. Come with me to enter the gate of eternal wholeness.”

🥕🥕🥕

Repurposed by Kay Kingsley

The voice on the phone stopped time in an instant and all she knew, everything she’d ever felt, exploded and as her world broke apart she lay in pieces on the floor and wept from a place so deep that she never knew it existed.

In time, she was able to locate most parts of herself, gathering them up with mixed emotions. She was happy to have found them again but the picture of herself that they made was one she needed time to adjust to.

Reborn, rearranged, repurposed, renewed, she now has more parts of herself to give.

🥕🥕🥕

Jeff (Crater Lakes) by Saifun Hassam

Millennia ago, Green Crater Lake was formed from a volcanic eruption. In this very unique environment, another crater lake formed some hundred miles away: Lizard Crater Lake, when a meteorite crashed into the lush green valley.

Lizard Lake’s shores were strewn with shards of obsidian meteorite rock, mixed with shards from Earth’s crust. Rain and snow melt drained away through cracks in the lake bed.

In the summer, the dry lake was home to lizards and rattlesnakes. Green Lake’s waters and marshes attracted songbirds, deer, and fox.

Jeff, a ranger for Special Ecological Habitats, loved to explore both craters.

🥕🥕🥕

Fooled Once by Ann Edall-Robson

The creek had become a fast-moving lake. Crossing the muddy water was for those who were stupid. Today, he would be one of the stupid ones. He had to check the cattle, regardless of Mother Nature.

His eyes were drawn to the West, and he smirked. The thunder was like a drum roll followed by the ebony clouds opening to brilliant shards of light streaming through. Was it another one of Mother Nature’s false hope sign that a break in the weather was on its way? He’d seen the sky like that before. Fooled once, but never again.

🥕🥕🥕

His Dream Graveyard by calmkate @ aroused

An unkempt blue tractor blocked our entry. We just managed to slide in the gateway when the majestic race horses nudged us demanding their feed.

I caste my gaze around and realise its full of shards of this man’s dreams. Specialised tractors left to rust. Large frames leaned against the corral … they only cost a hundred but the horses shelter was never built. The ice cream cart was rotting, tyres and rusted bits lay about.

It felt voyeuristic to wander through the graveyard of this man’s dreams. 73.8 acres paid for … could the bank reclaim that 0.2?

🥕🥕🥕

Shards by Faith A. Colburn

Entering the abandoned house, we tiptoed on shards of glass. The windows must have shattered long ago; the oak floors were badly warped. We smelled damp wood, wet wallpaper paste, molding plaster. This house once sheltered a family—our great grandparents and their ten children.

We couldn’t see shards of the lives lived there, the storms that destroyed a year’s income, the recession that nearly ruined the family, the trauma that resulted in hitting and punching.

Yet out of the love that survived in the house came this clan of descendants—the doctor, the lawyer, the merchant, the chief.

🥕🥕🥕

Shards by Floridaborne

An “A” student, high school cheerleader, her only worry what she’d wear to the prom, sat at the intake desk at a home for unwed mothers two states away from her parents wondering why, in 1960, no one cared that her drunken father …

“Every counselor here understands,” her mentor said. “It’s not your fault.”

“My mother said once the baby’s given up for adoption, you’ll help me find a job in another city.”

“With your grades, we’ll help you find a scholarship.”

“Someday I’ll be the counselor offering a shard of hope.”

Her mentor smiled. “I’ve no doubt.”

🥕🥕🥕

Vase by Nobbinmaug

The crash echoed throughout the house.

Sam and Pete stared motionlessly and silently at the shards of the former vase strewn across the floor. It was their mom’s favorite. It was her mother’s.

They both considered running, but where? It wasn’t a big apartment. The only way out was through the front door. That meant getting past dad. It was afternoon, so he had been drinking for hours already. He wouldn’t even drink his morning coffee without whiskey.

Before either could move, dad stomped down the hall with fists flying.

Sam broke the cycle.

Pete broke his daughter’s arm.

🥕🥕🥕

Having Faith, One Root Vegetable at a Time by Geoff Le Pard

‘Wassup? You look like someone’s shrink-wrapped your brain.’

‘It’s this prompt; I’ve to write about a shard.’

‘I hate that word.’

‘Shard? Why?’

‘Reminds me when I broke Grandpa’s urn. Mum went bonkers.’

‘How’d you…?’

“Used it as a wicket…’

‘Morgan, you didn’t?’

‘Yeah. It shattered. Mum goes mental, Dad tries to rescue me. Told me to collect the shards to stick it back together.’

‘What happened?’

‘Mum said I’d about as much chance of remaking the urn as I had of remaking a potato from a bag of crisps.’

‘She a one, your mum.’

‘Tell me about it.’

🥕🥕🥕

A Partial Conversation Overheard in the Centurion Lounge During A Flight Delay at LaGuardia by Bill Engleson

“Two glasses of white wine, please.”

“Any preference?”

“Whatever you have will be fine. Sauvignon Blanc, maybe…unless you have Chardonnay?”

“I do. Coming right up…”

“How long’s it been, Jeannie? Two…three years?”

“The conference in Chicago. October 2016.”

“Right. Not that long.”

“In years, maybe. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime. You know…”

“Right! The clown in the White House. What a disaster. It’s like he’s grabbed everything we understood about the world and smashed it on the floor. The proverbial bully in a china shop.”

“Let’s not talk about him. It’s great to see you.”

“You too.”

🥕🥕🥕

Polar Vortex and Privilege by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Hunkered down in double socks,
Layers of wool and moisture-wicking long johns.
It’s a quick hike to the kitchen for more
Coffee hot soup the sweet pungency
Of Sumo oranges in a hand-turned bowl.

I could go out. I could stay in.
My choice.
Do I trust the slippery overpasses for a writing class in a historic cottage supporting local art?

Grateful for my privilege, but feeling detached.
Still.
Worried for those living rough
On our Twin Cities streets,
And rural roads.

Predicted windschill 60 below: Our people may literally freeze to death,
Shatter into shards of never were.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Shards of a Life by Tracey Robinson

The line of soldiers walked slowly, cautiously, testing each step. The IED detonated anyway, shattering the Sergeant’s leg and leaving him mercifully unconscious.

Thousands of miles away a phone rang. The love of his life found her heart shattered by words as easily as his leg by explosives.

Months passed. Months filled with hospitals and surgeries. A leg put together with pins and rods. A person put back together with therapy and exercise. A heart held together with patience and hope. A couple linked together by the past.

Their bodies may have been shattered but their love remained whole.

🥕🥕🥕

Chester Helps Ruth with the Crossword Puzzle by Molly Stevens

Chester flopped into his recliner, cracked open a beer, and turned on the football game. Ruth poured over the weekend crossword puzzle.

“What’s a five-letter word for fragment?” Ruth said.

“Chip away at ‘em with short passes!”

“I said five letters. Chip only has four.”

“One piece at a time.”

“Starts with ‘s.’ Piece doesn’t fit.”

“There’s the scrap you needed for another set of downs!”

“No, it’s not ‘scrap.’ The word ends in a ‘d.’

“Smash the defense!”

‘Smash doesn’t end with ‘d’.”

“Shard, the word is shard, woman.”

“I love it when we do the crossword together.”

🥕🥕🥕

Fractal Features by Kerry E.B. Black

After their argument, she retreated into the museum until she no longer heard the derisive laughter and tinkling of toasted congratulatory conversation.

Cold air buffeted from a neglected hallway. The percussion of her footfalls punctuated until the crescendo burst her dammed emotions. A torrent smeared makeup while suppression unknotted.

She beheld glass fingered with frost. Backlit, it reflected her amplified imperfection. Within the fractal features resounded his criticism.

Instead of accepting the carnival-mirror version of herself, she punched the unfair portrayal. The window shattered into a crystalline spider web. Pain shot through her wrist and left shards for remembrance.

🥕🥕🥕

Intermission by Pete Fanning

I was alone, near the stairs, clutching popcorn and beer when the lights dimmed, summoning me to seat 112 in Row EEE.

Dan stood at the entrance to the balcony, eyes panning the lobby. When he saw me he grimaced, motioned for me to hurry. I tossed the popcorn into the trash, corn and kernels falling like shards into the bag. I tried not to think about how I my appearance inspired such small misery—a small explosion in my chest. I washed it down with beer and walked towards my husband.

He turned and we entered the darkness.

🥕🥕🥕

Lead Came by Nancy Brady

It was Valentine’s Day, and Julie was working. She received a bouquet of flowers from her husband. Her customers would remark, “He really loves you” or some other platitude. It certainly felt like a platitude because she recently discovered that he had an affair with a mutual friend. One he denied up until now.

With two young children, what was she to do? His betrayal had cut her to the quick, and she felt she couldn’t go on. Her heart had been ripped to pieces. Would she ever feel whole again?

yellow roses…
shards of
the stained glass heart

🥕🥕🥕

Broken by Susan Sleggs

The vinyl discs were from his high school and college days. When he left her for another woman she smashed them against the edge of their marble counter. Shards flew. She eyed the mess with a childish glee, feeling she had destroyed something of him as he had destroyed their life together. She slept well that night. The next day she purchased a shiny new bucket and filled it with every shard she could locate then left it by the turntable with a note; “Here is your record collection, in the condition you have left my heart and life.”

🥕🥕🥕

Shards by The Dark Netizen

I lay broken among shards of glass, broken like the window I had just fallen through.

It was a four floor fall. My consciousness was fading, just like my life had been for many years. The shards piercing my skin hurt so mucu lesser than the words that had pierced my heart minutes ago. The words I read on the note had struck me hard. It was a suicide note, signed by me. However, I had never written one. I realised only after I was shoved hard through the window.

The last thing I saw was my wife’s face…

🥕🥕🥕

Lovesick Mess by Belle Gram

“There are rose petals on the floor of our apartment.”

“Yes.”

“There is a giant heart posted to the wall as well.”

“Yes.”

“And you’re a little more flushed than usual.”

“I am quite aware of the obvious situation before me, including the complexion of my skin.”

“Is this one of your experiments?”

“Of course not. This pink mess is an abomination of nature.”

“It is a bit odd. Though the handwriting of their confession is curvier than yours. Not mentioning the decorative hearts and exclamation points.”

“You have no idea how odd it is about to get.”

🥕🥕🥕

Analyse the Detail by Norah Colvin

The artisan turned each piece to the light, this way and that, fitting and refitting, arranging and rearranging. Finally, it was done. Each piece necessary and perfectly positioned creating the whole— exquisite, harmonious, illuminating—not one greater nor outshining any other. It filled each open heart with hopes of dreams fulfilled.

Another sought to analyse its beauty, the power of its message to explore. He picked out all the pieces one by one and examined each in every detail. Too late he saw that, shattered and alone, not one shard revealed a secret. Only united did their meaning shine.

🥕🥕🥕

Porcelain Shards by TNKerr

The last of the dessert set goes into the furnace
Final firing for
cups, saucers, plates and bowls.
There’s a coffee pot and warmer,
a creamer, sugar bowl, and cake plate.
All done in a stylized violet motif
A signature design favoured by my father.

This time there is trouble in the kiln
Most likely the sugar bowl blew
I’ll never know for sure though. I lost that sugar bowl,
and it’s lid,
two cups that had been positioned close by.
Fine porcelain reduced to shards.
Doesn’t happen often, but its part of the game.
Move on, make more.

🥕🥕🥕

Intruder Alert by Anurag Bakhshi

Inspector Sparrow stared intensely at the silver-haired man in front of him.

The man started off, “The intruder was a tall man, inspector, well-built, and extremely handsome. In the dark, I saw him standing in that window, and froze. He moved left, I followed. I moved right, he followed. Finally, I jumped at him, and that is how the glass window broke,” he finished, pointing towards the shards on the floor.

The inspector carefully inspected the shards, and got up.” I’ll take your leave now,” he said,” but please feel free to have this broken mirror replaced, Mr. Magoo.”

🥕🥕🥕

What One Lady Gave Me by JulesPaige

The of Lady Lake Michigan gave me shards. I was visiting in Wisconsin In August of 2017
I traversed the length of the north and south beaches.

One little triangle white with blue hand painted lines like decorations; I’ve identified that coming from a piece of a Leeds Blue Feather plate.

The Lady also offered up something green on both sides; which I was told came from the 1856 Toledo shipwreck.

entrusted to me;
bit pieces of history
gifted by a lake

These pieces are a part of my Lake Michigan treasures. Bits of memories that make me whole.

🥕🥕🥕

Stories in the Shards (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni sifted dirt from Ramona’s garden through the screen and shards of glass emerged. She had built the box to hang on a tripod to accommodate her shorter height. Thick brown crockery and glass from household items emerged. Danni would take this year’s haul to her barn, scrub pieces clean, arrange by type, and document. Every fall, when Ike’s grandmother tilled up her tomatoes and zucchini, Danni sifted for treasure. Most people scoffed at broken glass, but to an archeologist, each piece told a valuable story. One day she’d figure out why the crockery and mason jars were there.

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Shards to Read by Nancy Brady

A favorite author of mine, Jennifer Estep writes fantasy fiction for teens and adults. I actually stumbled upon her writing when I won a copy of her YA novel, Dark Frost from her Mythos Academy series.

Once I devoured that whole series, I branched into her other series like the Black Blade trilogy, the Bigtime series, the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series, and the spinoff series, Mythos Academy: Colorado, which begins with Spartan Heart.

Her humorous, lighthearted style makes for fun reading.

My current read is Kill the Queen, the first in her newest series, A Crown of Shards.

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Burying The Dead by Joanne Fisher

Aalen cut down all the bodies from the trees in the village. She spent the day burying her kin in the village outskirts. Every time saying a prayer to the Goddess while wiping away tears. She removed the sacred crystal shards from around the neck of the village Elder and buried her last. She cupped the largest one in her hands praying for a way to find the killers of her people. The shard glowing brilliantly in her hands showed the way. A rage filled her heart. She grabbed all her weapons and followed the path she had seen.

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The Unexpected by Joanne Fisher

The vampire advanced towards her. Rebecca was backed into a wall. The vampire smirked. It had her now. Rebecca grabbed one of the pottery shards from a shelf beside her and just as the vampire grabbed her, Rebecca drove the shard into the vampire’s heart. The vampire looked surprised and turned into a cloud of dust. Rebecca sighed and walked to the door.

“Stupid vampire.” She said.

“Stupid human!” Said a voice behind her.

Rebecca turned to see the vampire she had killed with a dark smile on it’s face, just as she felt it’s icy hands on her.

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Life’s Puzzle by Teresa Grabs

Ruth was obsessed with puzzles; the more pieces, the better. There wasn’t a puzzle she could complete in record time – except one. Her painful secret and desire remained locked away from her in a tidy corner of the attic. As with any puzzle, she began with the frame. Over the years, she managed to find the right combination for several clusters, but the whole puzzle eluded her. Every night she sat on the attic floor and stared at her reflection in the puzzle shards. A million hers – her true self – screaming forever, imprisoned in the shards of her reflection.

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Magic Happens When by Reena Saxena

This is a magical shard, I’m told, and I believe it when it speaks,

“I need to join my counterparts again to be truly effective. The energy will flow only after we connect, and create a channel for the supernatural. Without it, I’m just a piece of glass.”

So, I set around looking for the remaining pieces. Some are retrieved from the bin, yet many others have left no trace. Suddenly, I note the color of the shard changing.

“What does that mean, my friend?”

“Your energy is now beginning to resonate with mine.” Magic was indeed happening.

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Grandma’s Tears by Chelsea Owens

The sun-warmed beach felt wet and warm
To tiny feet through after-storm;
A woven bowl within her hands,
A flutt’ring hope within the sands.
Searching, searching patiently;
Seeking out a memory.
A glint! A glare! She shouted, skipped!
She danced in young explorer bliss.
For, bit by shining bit, she found
Crystal shards strewn over ground.
And, ducking leaping dancing low
They came to fill her basket-bowl.
Look, Gram, she told the sunshaft sky;
Laughing, she lofted basket high,
I fin’lly found your present, here;
I fin’lly found your star-shed tears.
Clouding sunset smiles played:
Snug’ling, warming, happy rays.

 

Colonnades

Colonnades of white lend a regal elegance to a building or porch. Until you realize what happens in the shadows and that not all institutions uplift humanity. Thus begins the stroll through colonnades of many different origins.

Writers used the architecture as a literary device — to support ideas. Take a stroll through stories on an unexpected journey.

The following are based on the January 17, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes colonnades.

Part I (10-minute read)

Never Give Up by Norah Colvin

The solid grey wall stretched without end, both left and right —impenetrable, no way around, no way through. Perhaps a way over? Even from that distance, it appeared unscaleable.

He removed his backpack and rested his head upon it as he lay, gazing upward. He sighed heavily. He’d trekked so far believing this was the way. How could he have been so wrong?

He closed his eyes and drifted into a deep sleep. Refreshed, upon awakening, he decided to continue rather than retreat.

As he drew closer, the wall separated into columns spaced perfectly to allow an easy passage.

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Pillars by The Dark Netizen

The colonnades have stood for ages.

Tall, sturdy, and white, they stood strong in all weathers. They sheltered my grandfather when he watched the black slaves toil in our fields. It sheltered my father when he freed the slaves and paid them honest wages to work the farms. And now, the great pillars shelter me as I fight alongside my friends of colour against the invaders. We will stand together, to make sure that the pillars stand for our sons. The pillars will shelter my son as he watches a free, united nation take birth.

The pillars won’t fall…

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In the Orchard by Anne Goodwin

In the orchard, I kissed him. Between the colonnades of conference, comice and Cox’s Orange Pippin, tasted nectar on his tongue. Amid the scent of ripened fruit, I smelled the sweat of weeks on the run. We made a bed of fallen leaves, the drone of drunken wasps mingled with our moans.

I knew I had no future with a freedom fighter. Right then, I didn’t care. But when the soldiers stood in line and raised their rifles, the shot sent swallows screaming from their roosts. They left me his bloodied body, and his child blossoming in my womb.

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Supports by D. Avery

“It’s an epic occasion,” Lloyd announced as Ernest and Marge wedged themselves into the booth. “Gotta send Ilene off with a hearty breakfast.”

The diner that was in the same half dead shopping plaza as the community school served breakfast 24/7, perfect for commemorating Ilene’s first day of evening classes.
They walked her from the diner to the lackluster painted over storefront that veiled the higher learning within.

“Ok. Thanks. See you around campus.”

“Wait Ilene.” Ernest posed the others then had Ilene take a picture of them standing in front of the community school.

“We’re your colonnades.”

“Epic!”

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The Epitaph of the Reverse Snob by Sascha Darlington

We were supposed to be impressed with his primping, his crisply ironed clothes which all bore logos, his affectation for mentioning who he was wearing if a logo wasn’t in evidence.

Rachel, of course, pitied him. “He’s insecure.”

“He talks all the time. About himself.”

“Exactly.”

I thought he was like the columns on the front of McMansions, all façade. Even in retrospect, I wouldn’t have changed my mind. Rachel’s wealthy now, wearing her own logos and baulked, momentarily, when he wanted columns on the front of their new home.

Me, I’m writing layered material, barely making ends meet.

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Front Porch Sittin’ by H.R.R. Gorman

Master’s shaded
By colonnades.
I pour sweet tea
And lemonade.

But just last night
My mama crept
From field slave house
To where I slept.

“Take this,” she said,
Offering a bag.
Inside was a hex
Cast on heart of stag.

“Hush honeychild,”
My mother cried.
“Crush this heart and
Your daddy’ll die.”

I pour the tea
In nice tall glass.
I think about
What mama asked.

Master sits in
Colonnade’s shade
Beckons me stay
For ‘work’ unpaid.

I squeeze the heart.
From shady spot
My master drops
To Hell so hot.

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Maybe It Won’t Be So Bad by TNKerr

Dario was a cad, a reprobate. He knew when he died because the pain disappeared.

Dead Dario rose, brushed imaginary dust from his shoulders, and looked ahead; there was no behind.

He was on a covered walkway surrounding a garth filled with souls of the suffering damned. Tapered stone columns stood like sentries between him and the wretches. Each column, labelled with a lie, that he recognized as one of his own:

Promises he’d never intended to keep, yet made to women he’d wanted.

Yarns spun to investors whose monies he stole.

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It’s All in the Cards by Colleen M. Chesebro

Tara laid the faery tarot cards carefully on the table. From between the colonnades of the Major and Minor Arcana, the universe cradled her in a divine hug. From the Major Arcana she drew the six – The Lovers, the five – Unity, and from the Minor Arcana, the Six of Summer.

Past, present, and future. Her past spoke of true love, while the present, reminded her to remain true to her principles. Yet, the future hinted at her becoming fast friends.

The cards spoke the truth. What did she have to lose? She tore up the divorce papers and smiled.

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Folded by weejars

It’d been a long day. Kihei, Maui had deceptively more on offer than I’d thought.

I sat my weary self down, noting the lazy colonnades made by benches and umbrellas. Even they had had it – pulled in and folded down for the evening.

I sat swirling my cocktail, hoping it would ease my aching muscles. The sun dipped below the tree line, drawing long shadows on the ground and I’m almost tempted to ask a passing cyclist if I can hitch a ride. The thought of walking up the hill, is overwhelming.

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Bus Stop by Anita Dawes

Outside my living room window stands a bus stop
One afternoon, I counted fourteen people waiting
Watched as a colonnade of human souls were
Swallowed by a red giant
The two o clock journey had begun
Where are they going?
Will their day be a good one?
This I will never know
I will not see their journey back
The return bus stop is further down
The road where I cannot see
I make up my own stories
About the faces standing waiting
The old lady with her green scarf
She is off to see her grandson…

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Colonnades by Gordon Le Pard

It was strange.

He was watching the traffic passing on the bridge, as a cart moving behind the colonnade the spokes of the carts wheel seemed to bend. When a faster carriage followed it, the spokes seemed to bend even more.

The scientific magazine he edited was short of copy that month, he needed a few hundred words, remembering the odd effect of the wheel behind the colonnade he wrote, An Account of an Optical Deception.

A week later Michael Faraday read the article, he was fascinated and began to experiment.

The first steps on the road to Hollywood

***

Author’s Note: In 1821 John Murray made the observation that led to the discovery of Persistence of Vision, the reason that films work.

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Semi-Colonnaddled-Donnie’s Secret Diary by Bill Engleson

Alone at Christmas this year.

I’d never been so alone in my life before.

How sad is that.

The fake newsy floozies expected a pity twitty…er…tweet.

Maybe I mentioned it in passing.

Melania did a bang-up job of decorating the East Wing this year.

Redder than in a Vlad wet dream.

I wonder what he did for Christmas.

I should give him a call.

Was he alone as I was?

Last year, the East Wing was a beaut.

Talk about a White Christmas.

Bing-a-da-boom…

I hate being alone.

Pelosi’s Shutdown has made Washington a morgue.

I think it’s personal.

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A Word From Our Sponsor by Nancy Brady

As a pharmacist, I dealt with all sorts of people with digestive issues. Through the years I counseled people on various problems like indigestion, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, and other maladies of the gastrointestinal tract. Depending on the problem, remedies were suggested.

Products like Tums and Prilosec for heartburn; products like Ex-Lax and Miralax for constipation, and products like Imodium for diarrhea, Emetrol for nausea and vomiting, and the ubiquitous Pepto-Bismol used for everything.

The newest category is probiotics, which helps restore good bacteria to the gut, specifically the large intestine or colon. Thus, probiotics could be classified as
colon-aids.

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The Problem with Dreaming by Geoff Le Pard

‘What’s that, Logan?’

‘Nothing. You know…’

‘Not unless you tell me.’

‘Someone at work had this thing about designing their dream home and, well, I thought it might be neat…’

‘What’s that?’

‘I thought a sheltered walkway leading to double height doors…’

‘This folly’s in England, right? Bit optimistic, worrying about sunstroke. And you’ll get a rupture opening those. These? They look like columns.’

‘I always fancied having a collonade.’

‘Is it worth that? I’m all for ambition but getting a hernia and buggering up your colon’s a pretty high price to pay for a fancy country pad.’

‘Cretin.’

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Sky to Fly by Reena Saxena

“Don’t look for me, because you won’t find me.”

Dylan almost wanted to put the letter down, and call the police, but then, he stopped to read on.

“Thanks for all the support! You are the colonnade that enveloped my existence, helped me stay afloat, but also separated me from the skies I dream of reaching someday. I’d like to carve my own life.”

Years later, the father and son stand facing each other.

“So, did you find your sky?”

“Yes, and I converted it into solid ground for my son. He’ll need it till he learns to fly.”

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Temple Builders by D. Avery

He found them outside, each with shovels, each pink cheeked, strands of black hair stuck to damp foreheads. “What are you two up to?”

“Come see what Mommy and me made Daddy!”

Hope led him around the mound of plowed snow where the bank dropped away. Once he’d crawled through the entrance tunnel he could almost stand up.

“Is that a skylight?”

“No Daddy, just a vent. Mommy’s gonna build a fire and we’ll cook dinner.”

While his wife and child continued carving out their snug snow house he stacked snowballs and shaped two elegant colonnades at the entryway.

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Demolition Man by Anurag Bakhshi

I looked at my creation again. It was stunning, a virtual masterpiece, as Bird Baths go.

It was a steep downgrade, of course, from the columns of colonnades in my last masterpiece, but…

The owner of the villa inspected the Bird Bath closely now, and said in a mocking tone, “Are you sure this won’t fall down as soon as a bird sits on it?”

I raged silently, but held my tongue. There was little I could say after that crazy monster Hercules had destroyed the pillars of my magnificent, indestructible mansion, along with my reputation as an architect.

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Colonnades by Pete Fanning

Molly and I walk in to the kitchen, where her little sister is drawing at the table. “Hey giant,” she says. “Look at this one.”

I take in the carnage. “Um, wow, this is very…realistic.”

She beams. “Do you notice the legs dangling out of the serpent’s mouth?”

Molly sighs. “Ava, I thought we were going to draw mountains. Beaches. Sunshine. Rainbows.” She tosses a hand. “Something besides death and dismemberment.”

“Look under the collapsed colonnade, you can even see the—”

“Ava.”

I mouth “colonnade” to Molly, who puffs out her cheeks. “Fine, put it on the fridge.”

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Foreseeable Destiny by D. Avery

In the vaulted space beyond the grand colonnades the prophetess grew impatient with the plebeians. How dare they entreat her to wash her hands!

“And where’s your Destiny Doll? Don’t leave Granma’s gift outside.”

The voice of the prophetess rumbled from the temple as if from a deep cave. “Destiny has been swallowed whole by an earthquake. Only a great prophetess can save her.”

“Marlie! Now!”

The prophetess foresaw trouble. The colonnades were reduced to table legs as she scrambled out of the desecrated temple.

Even with her great powers it was ill advised to clash with the Titans.

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The Family Pillar by Teresa Grabs

Davey leaned on the car door and sighed as he looked at the old house. It’s colonnades looked out of place today – still dirty from last week’s storm.

“Never would’ve been like that,” he muttered as he walked up to the porch.

They seemed to groan and weep under his touch as if they knew too. Nothing about this visit was normal. Nothing was the same as last time. The house – the family – was broken. Nana Grace had been the pillar of the family. Now she was gone; the house empty. He hoped the others would filter in soon.

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Standing in Respect by Susan Sleggs

The funeral home parking lot was full of cars which hid the numerous motorcycles stashed in the back corner, but their large American flags flapping in the wind gave them away. I had to go look; The Patriot Guard was in presence. To enter the building I had to pass between the colonnade of men, standing at attention, on duty protecting a fellow veteran, a fellow biker and a friend. The haunted looks in their eyes wasn’t for the current grief, it was from a long ago senseless war. I know, they were my friends too. Damn Viet Nam.

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Waiting by Nobbinmaug

Martha sits on the porch in her rocking chair, looking longingly past the colonnades. She rocks slowly as her fingers do their dance. Her knitting needles swiftly swirl around each other with a faint “swoosh” as they briefly connect. She occasionally glances at her growing creation.

Inside, Tom and Alex peek through the blinds.

“I’m worried about Mom.”

“She’ll be fine. Mom’s strong.”

“It’s been months. She just sits out there every day. Winter’s coming.”

“She’ll stay in when it gets cold.”

“We should call a shrink.”

“She’s mourning. Everybody mourns differently.”

“She’s waiting. She thinks he’s coming home.”

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Colonnade of Condos by Frank Hubeny

Fernando and Pedro walked the boardwalk with a colonnade of condos on their left and the ocean on their right. They stopped at a mural. The artist painted a somber woman with an orange and gold halo walking past an archway.

Fernando remarked, “There comes a time in one’s life when one reaches the age of reason. One only wants the best. And then one wants to give it all away.”

Pedro asked, “And what if we never reach that age?”

In the warm winter winds they admired the mural of that woman.

“Ah! But what if we do?”

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Part II (10-minute read)

Colonnades by FloridaBorne

Desert-beige legs like colonnades framed a thirsty expanse, providing support for a woman torn. As I wandered through life, searching for purpose in 1987, I dreamt of being a geologist, loved learning about rock strata and mining the fossils littering a hillside.

They’d lived in oceans for over 270 million years, far longer than human will litter the Earth, trilobites finding their end inside a mass die-off.

They were swept away together…each death a personal ordeal.

As I loosened one from a stone coffin, I wondered if the creatures replacing us will stop to ask, “Did it feel pain?”

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Journey’s End by D. Avery

Do you see those three balsam fir trees, those green colonnades holding up the sky, making a temple of the earth they stand on?

Do you wonder how they got there?

You might remember three sisters that took from an abandoned suitcase hope and their best dream to sustain them on their journey.

As the three sisters let go of fear and worry and idle wishing they grew strong, resilient, and wise.

You don’t have to believe they became trees. They’ll still hold up the sky, rejoicing as you walk the earth your own way, dreaming your own dream.

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Chester is Not Impressed by Molly Stevens

Chester stomped inside, removed his mittens, and blew on his hands. He barked, “Woman, get me a set of hand warmers!”

Ruth emerged from the kitchen and said, “You look like the abominable snowman!”

“It’s brutal out there, and I’ve still got two hours of shoveling left.”

“Just look at the tunnel of snow from here to the road. Isn’t it grand?”

Chester scowled. “I’m not impressed. Feels like Mother Nature took a two foot dump on me.”

“But don’t you think the snow banks look like colonnades?”

“Only you can take snowmageddon and make colonnades out of it.”

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A Monument to Love by kate @ aroused

As we meandered under the arches, leafy green and cool.
This wondrous oasis near the harbour was a find not many knew

While contentedly wandering with my true love the idea came
I could build a colonnade just like these gracious trunks

A monument to true love, a place for quiet reflection
Such a radical new design came instantly to my mind

Tall grand beauty holding a huge ornate dome roof
A special place for worship for the community to gather

Tile then decorate with large brass hanging lanterns
An outstanding majestic temple for rituals to celebrate our lives!

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Giant Redwoods by Tracey

She put the lawn chair all the way back and stared straight up. It felt scary, a thrill in the pit of her stomach. The trees towered so far above her, swaying at the top with the clouds holding on to keep them from veering too far. She looked at the thick trunks of the redwoods, sure the movement at the top would topple them. How did the trunks stay so straight? She wondered what would happen if a branch came crashing down. Would she be able to move away, or watch mesmerized as the clouds let it go?

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Seeking a Moment of Silence (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni nudged Blackjacked and entered the long colonnade of aspen trees. The elk path cut straight through the grove as if it were an engineered road. White bark gleamed like a classical structure. Danni mused that her archeology career never ventured overseas. There was too much history in the West for her to explore. Overhead the leaves fluttered on long stems but held a reverent silence. What could be better than a ride to clear her mind? A sanctuary of nature to ease her anxiety over Ike’s choice to leave. Only here could she ride her horse into church.

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A Colonnade of Aspen Trees by Liz Husebye Hartmann

They must pass through the colonnade of aspen trees as sunrise cuts through at the height of a small Greek woman.

She was that woman, barefoot, in a thin silk shift, a blue bowl of fresh oranges from Thessaloniki in her hands.

So the prophecy said.

She shook her head. Why not a packet of Twinkies in a paper bag, gripped in the paws of a tall man?

“I didn’t write the prophecy, Susan,” Gordon apologized. “That’s just what The Sages told me to do.”

“They told you to record and post this online, right?” she snarled, “Buncha Pervs!”

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The Village Story Teller (Diamante) by Saifun Hassam

From the seashore, flagstones led to the ancient temple. Once, colonnades of colossal sandstone pillars had supported the roof, one colonnade facing the sunrise, the other sunset. The temple was now open to the skies, the pillars wind eroded, but still rising impressively from giant pedestals.

Diamante had taken to sketching the temple and its ever changing patterns of shadows. In the evening, when he lighted the temple fire he sketched the wildly dancing shadows. As evening deepened, owls hooted, children gathered around Diamante, awed and excited, as he wove tales of vast petrified forests and giant flying ships.

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“Asylum of the Obscure” in four parts by JulesPaige

Part 1
The colonnades were not like those built to honor the ancient Greek Gods. I couldn’t tell if they were older or younger. They just were. Rising out of fissure at the end of the long tunnel I was spelunking. Had the others gotten so far ahead that I lost sight of where they were. And I turned off all alone lost in thought to make a discovery that I might not be able to share. While I was prepared for the coolness of the caves, definitely I was not accustomed to breaking out in a cold sweat of worry.

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Part 2
I was alone in an uncharted cavern. The odd colonnades were illuminated by a calming radiance from the center of stone circle. I briefly paused to check my compass and to discover that both it as well as all the other electronics I carried had ceased to function.

Time stood still. Literally, or at least my watch had stopped. There was an odd beauty, a hum of business that I couldn’t quite get a handle on. Like bees always just outside the periphery of my vision. Once I thought that, the faint aroma of sweet honey reached my nose.

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Part 3
Although there were several paths, up and down, I was drawn to one colonnade. I wanted to touch what appeared to be some kind of script. I felt rather like a jackass, having gotten separated from the group. And yet how could I retrace my steps without finding out more?

Forward motion was all I could think about. I placed my hand on an interesting stone and another portal opened into a fantastical garden. Some of the trees tried to lean away from me. One with odd purple fruit seemed to be making me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

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Part 4
I looked back to the colonnade where I had entered. The portal that had opened, was no longer there. The branch containing the purple fruit seemed closer, within easy reach. I was overcome with a strange hunger. If this was going to be my last meal, I might as well enjoy it.

With that first bite, my hunger was sated. While I closed my eyes my mind opened. I was reading, seeing the birth of universes, civilizations and I was given the opportunity to travel beyond the limits of my body. While not pressured, how could I possibly refuse?

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Returning by Joanne Fisher

Something seemed strange when Aalen returned to her village in the heart of the forest. She had been on the borders of their land helping repel an attack from the humans. It was too quiet and Aalen couldn’t see any sentries hiding up in the trees with her sharp eyes. Then Aalen cried out dropping to her knees in despair.

In the centre of the village where there was a natural colonnade formed by a double row of trees were all the villagers hanging from them. All of them dead.

The attack on the borders had been a diversion.

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Colonnades by Trailblazer

Reflecting on memories during the late thirties is like taking a walk through long colonnades. She has felt it a hundred times.

The ranked memories, each alcove created for each event from the childhood, adolescence and the glorious youthful days.
Some nights, when we are all alone, we see a full moon shining through the colonnades; whose solemn look befits all the sweet evocations.
On radiant days, shadowy but warm colonnades remind of the unspoken apprehensions, and agonies we once survived.

Just as the colonnades are magnificent, so are our memori es.
Still, somewhere exist fallen colonnades, the vexed memories.

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Re: Treat by D. Avery

“Here ya are Pal!”

“Shush, Kid, I’m seekin’ a moment a silence.”

“Oh. Like Danni.”

“Yep. Think we’s the same denomination.”

“Yeah, it’s a poplar one.”

“Yer a pain in the aspen Kid.”

“Punny, Pal. Uh, Pal?”

“Yeah Kid?”

“Pal, what’re we s’posed ta do when Shorty’s off east cookin’ bacon at D. Avery’s fire?”

“Same as always Kid.”

“Don’t know why we cain’t go too.”

“Shorty needs us ta look after the stock.”

“The stock on this Ranch kin virtually take care a itself.”

“Yer jist worried about yer pie hole ain’tcha Kid?”

“Shorty’s cookin’ sure’s a treat.”

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Looking Back

We look back to reflect, to see where we came from, to see what lingers in the shadows. Glancing over our shoulders or peering in the wing mirrors of cars, we try to better understand where we are going. And why.

Writers jumped into 2019 with both feet. Looking back produced a strong round of stories to start the forward momentum of a new year.

The following is based on the January 3, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a character who looks back.

Part 1 (10-minute read)

Hobos by Faith A. Colburn

“I thought I’d have a family.” He moved to the other side of the fire. “My mom and pop. They were so . . .” He poked at the fire, adding fuel.

“So . . . what?”

“I don’t know. Agreeable. They never fought or exchanged a cross word. They were just so good together.”

“Lovey dovey?”

“Not at all like that. Sometimes there’d be just a touch or they’d exchange a glance and it was so full of . . .”

“What?”

“I don’t know. Tenderness? Gives me the shivers.” He stared into the flames. “I want that.”

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Looking Back by D. Avery

“I have to settle gran-mere’s estate. Such as it is.”

He watched her zip her duffle bag. She was a light packer. And an impulsive traveler.

“Can’t you handle this over the phone, or email?”

“I’d rather do it in person. It’s not that far. I shouldn’t be gone long.”

He and Hope stood on the porch in silence, watching her go.

She glanced in the rearview, then stopped. She backed up, turned the truck off.

“I bet Luciene would be willing to care for the animals. If you and Hope wanna go with me?”

Hope’s smile said yes.

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Away by Mary Beene

Ellen should never have turned her head. Facing forward hid the single tear that stole down her mother’s cheek. Her skin turned to ice. This was not a happy visit to her uncle’s home where she would spend her time skipping on the lawn with her many cousins. She was never coming back to the tiny house in the city. All her mother’s cheer struck her now for the falsity that it was. The woman had finally accepted the truth; there was no way to feed them both. Ellen would now earn her suppers serving in the big house.

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Looking Back by Deborah Lee

“Only whores pierce their ears and gad themselves up like that,” Daddy had said. Daddy had said lots of things and done worse, which had a bit to do with her running off at sixteen.

And which had a lot to do with why almost the first thing she’d done, alone and free, was pierce her ears.

And which had everything to do with why the first earrings she’d bought were the biggest, brassiest, whoriest pair of hoops she could find.

She feels eyes boring into back, but when she looks behind her in the mirror, she’s alone. Smiling.

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Looking Back by Floridaborne

“You dare ask why?” I chuckled, my voice calm… eyes narrowed.

My friends stormed inside to help me finish off a man who thought nothing of using young girls as commodities.

For my 18th birthday, these same friends had pooled their money for a night of pleasure in the big city. One of the whores standing on a corner was my sister, who’d disappeared the year before!

Rehab couldn’t save the shell that remained. I dedicated my life to ridding the world of pimps, and other parasitic vermin.

“She was only 12!” I said, beating his face to pulp.

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Autumn by Tracey Robinson

Kelsey turned her face to the sun. The warmth felt good in the crisp autumn air, the sun so different from a year ago in the desert heat. She could still taste the sand and hear the distant mortar explosions. She shuddered as she thought of the MRE she would have had for lunch. Her mind drifted to John but she would not go there.

Autumn is what she dreamt of twelve long months ago: life back in a four seasons world. Her heart beat with joy as she hurried to the diner and a tuna melt with fries.

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Reminiscences by Trailblazer

Being the healthiest, she often prepared the inmates their favorite meal.
The way some recalled their life reduced her to tear s, but nothing from her own made her so.

Neither that she had to give up her st udies for the family’s sake nor that she got repeatedly cheated by the sole man of her life, leaving her and the kids destitute.
Barely the times she forgave him only to repeat the cycle and the numerous times her kids failed her, and finally abandoned her.

She had allowed what came in, let what left her and seen what remained.

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The Summer of My Life by Stevie Turner

I’m sure it rained in the East End of London in the 1960s when I was a child, but my memories are of sunshine. The heat would shimmer above the roof of our car, as I roller skated in the road with friends or sat on our front doorstep with a pile of comics and a bag of chocolate buttons. Mum would be in the kitchen doing whatever she did, and Dad would be out in the garden dead-heading roses or cutting the grass with one of those old-fashioned mowers.

Life was good back when it was always summer.

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Solace of the Land by Ann Edall-Robson

It calls her name. It always has. The quiet, the solitude, but most of all, the connection to her heart. The echo of the wolves penetrating the valley walls. The lazy hawk floating high overhead in the early morning light. The rustle of the leaves dancing to a summer breeze and the mournful wail of the north wind pushing snow through naked branches. Tiny dots of green and colour carpeting the meadow floor in spring. Where is this place where people are none? Where gravel roads turn into deer trails. It is the one place her soul finds solace.

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Looking Back by Pete Fanning

Up until this summer, my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t make the baseball team. After all that time practicing, playing catch in the front yard. Dad with his glove, trying not to roll his eyes whenever I missed a grounder—which was whenever he threw a grounder.

“It’ll come,” he said.

It never came. But as team manager I got a jersey, team picture, even a shiny trophy. All without striking out and causing us to lose.

Then, about a month ago, I said forget it. What’s the point? That was also around the time I met Lia.

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Decision Reimaged by Nancy Brady

Annie looked back on some decisions all the time, but only one continued to haunt her. In retrospect, she wished she had taken a chance; to be someone other than what she was: an insecure, flat-chested, glasses-wearing brace face freshman.

Annie remembers the autumn day in study hall when Dave, a junior, asked her to homecoming. She wanted to go, but worried this was a joke, she turned him down. If only she could have set her fears aside, acted confident, and laughed it off as a joke if otherwise, then she would have a night to remember, always.

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A Different Point of View by Nancy Brady

Annie still shows up in his dreams.

Looking back to his junior year, Dave remembered he wanted to take Annie to homecoming. He’d gotten to know her during the previous summer.

His plan to ask Annie improved once he talked the teacher into assigning them to the same table.

Asking any girl out was always fraught with anxiety and vulnerability, but one sunny autumn day, he asked her. He was hurt when she said “No, my parents won’t let me.”

Dave ended up taking another, but had Annie agreed, it might have been a night to remember, always.

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Safety in Snailmail by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She swore, smacking her forehead with her fist, once, twice, a third time. This couldn’t happen, not when perfect delivery was so critical.

She hung her head and shook out her shoulders. She was a planner, not a pantser–not free and spontaneous. She opened her mouth, hoping the words would tumble out, all passionate sincerity.

“I’m sorry I…” She drew a blank, and looked back at her notes on the table of her solitary apartment. The words were right there, but her memory was shit.

“It’s no use,” she sighed. “Delivery will have to be by US Mail.”

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Something Sensational to Read in the Train by Anne Goodwin

She mentioned a diary; looked pleased when I invited her to bring it in. A slim substitute for a confidante, but somewhere for her feelings at least.

“January – twenty bananas and sixty slices of toast.”

Strange: the referral didn’t mention eating distress.

“February – fifty robins and three jays.”

A metaphor for escape?

“March – seventy sudokus and fourteen crosswords.”

Life was a puzzle? I shifted in my seat.

“April – eighteen library books.”

I couldn’t stay silent. “Did anything else happen that year?”

She closed the book, her face too. I cursed my impatience. Counting saved her. I should respect that.

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Chester Drops His Guard by Molly Stevens

Chester emerged from the bedroom and was surprised to see Ruth sitting on the couch surrounded by photo albums.

“What are you doing up so early?” he said.

“I couldn’t sleep. Guess the end of the year made me sentimental. Look at this wedding picture of us.”

Chester peered at the photo over her shoulder.

“Yup, that’s us. Young and hopeful.”

“We aren’t young any more, but we still have hope!”

Chester looked away, but not before Ruth saw the mist in his eyes.

“Awww, there’s the softie I married.”

“Harrumph. Where’s my coffee?”

Ruth smiled. “Coming right up.”

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The End of One Year Just Might Be My Last by Bill Engleson

Some New Years, I think I’m sinking into a bog, a squalid sinkhole of quicksand.

There I am, what’s left of me, being sucked down into the slurp of time.

Those last few days of whatever year is fizzling out, I always want time to stop, to halt the wear and tear on my future.

Every New Year shortens my possibilities.

So, I mention this to my buddies.

They say, “get a life.”

I say, “I have one. I’d like to keep it.”

Then I go off into a corner, look out a window, knock back some brandy, whimper.

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He Waited by Teresa Grabs

Erik rested on the hard, wooden bench and waited. The sun warmed his weathered face. Buttered popcorn, cotton candy, and the unmistakable aroma of fried batter swirled on the breeze. Children’s laughter made him chuckle. With his eyes closed, he watched as Alan and Harvey rode the ferris wheel while Mary called, “look at me daddy” from the pony ride. His hand remembered holding Sarah’s as they walked in the glow of the midway. Slow, deep breathing brought the memories closer. It was a warm summer afternoon.

“Join me on the ferris wheel?”

“I’ve waited for you.” Erik smiled.

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Old Thoughts by Anita Dawes

The road behind me looks thin, worn out
Too many people have trod this thin strip of memory
Wet tarmac shines back. Old thoughts lay forgotten
Old memories drop like winter leaves
Old friends come to mind
Too many lost to time
The road that lives behind me
Where memories linger, waiting to be revisited
There are many passages in my past
That are worth revisiting
Others I should leave in the dark
Looking back, digging over old ground
Isn’t the best use of your time
If you look back far enough
You’ll meet yourself coming around the bend…

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Part 2 (10-minute read)

Treasure by D. Avery

They traveled at night, leaving the uncertainty and danger of the distillation camps behind. They walked, Ahden’s stories a mantra; stories of green, stories of trees that once cooled and soothed the land. Ahden’s most fantastic stories concerned the forked stick he claimed would point to water lying like buried treasure underground. He said he’d find water or die trying.

The three of them sipped carefully from their flask of water. This girl had joined them and hadn’t looked back. Ahden and Leena would tell her what they remembered, teach her all they knew. They lived for her now.

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The Right Bank byTN Kerr

The night was wet.

Not with raindrops, but a heavy mist hanging in the air without ever seeming to fall on the pavement.

Luc moved up the Rue des Barres, away from the river as gargoyles from Église Saint-Gervais watched from above.

Glancing over his shoulder he caught a shimmer illuminated in the single streetlight below.

Only a flickering, as though the lamplight were refilling a space hastily vacated by whatever he had not seen.

There could be no doubt. They were on to him again.

He quickened his pace and remembered Aubree; her dark hair, and her laughter.

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Don’t Look Back by Norah Colvin

Don’t look back. Don’t look back.

She pulled her coat tight, pressed her bag into her side and leaned into the wind, quickening her pace.

The footsteps pounded behind her, closing in. She knew, even over the wind’s roar, they were coming for her. She breathed in shallow quick gasps.

Don’t look back. Don’t look back. If she couldn’t see them, perhaps they didn’t exist?
Her eyes stung. The wind stole her breath. Her side split.

Lights ahead. Please. Please … almost.

A hand on her shoulder. A deep gravelly unintelligible voice. She twisted. “Noooo!”

“Miss, you forgot your umbrella.”

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Ancient Truths by Colleen M. Chesebro

Staring into the river, Dennitsa felt the ancient memories drag her back into the past. As if she had lived long ago, the hazy recollections played out in her mind.

The truth stared her in the face. The Slavic witches were descended from the flying dragons who were the spirits of the fallen angels. They had tumbled out of the skies at the beginning of time. Those spirits copulated with human women, creating offspring who were known as the Vedma. The Vedma became the female witches, and the Leshovik became the dragon men.

Dennitsa had been born a witch!

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When the Stakes Are High by Chelsea Owens

It wasn’t till the hungry flames were nearly at her hem that Briar’s thoughts turned to self-reflection. Before that point she was, quite naturally, declaring innocence whilst returning insults.

Her efforts were of no use. The fire rose higher, the smoke stung her lungs and eyes, the cackling jeers grew louder than the crackling logs. She could see her angry accusers through the wafting smoke lines.

“Witch! Witch! Witch!” they chanted.

These simple townsfolk had no brains. If she were a witch, wouldn’t she be gone? She sighed; coughed. She never should have left her staff under the bed.

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True Love’s Kiss by Anurag Bakhshi

The memory of last night’s kiss, and what happened after, still lingered in the air. Post our 5th glass of wine, one thing had led to another, and…

What a ravishing beauty! Who would have thought that she would go in for an ugly mug like mine. I still couldn’t believe my luck.
Looking back, it had turned out to be a good, no great year. She had been disappointed, of course, when I hadn’t immediately transformed into a handsome prince afterwards, but she would have to learn to live with it, just like the 27 beauties before her.

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Remember Lot’s Wife by H.R.R. Gorman

“Remember Lot’s wife?” Lance asked. He rolled the wire cord out, taking careful steps as he laid it on the ground. “God turned her to salt for lookin’ back.”

“That was Sodom and Gomorra, though, not the bowlin’ alley. You suppose God’d saltify us if we just take a last couple throws?” Despite his reluctance, Drew placed the charge mechanism on the ground and fed in Lance’s wire.

Lance sat down behind the blast shield. “Dunno ’bout that. Place coulda been full of sin.”

Drew nodded. “Boss’ll be mad even if God isn’t. Help me run the final checks.”

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Buried Treasure by Jo Hawk The Writer

Cal dropped to his knees and gently lifted the book from the debris. Somehow it survived. If he wasn’t cradling in his hands feeling its weight, the caress of its leather cover, he would not have believed it possible.

Clutching the book to his chest, the memories coursed through him. Professor Dugan stood before him, telling Cal the odds were stacked against him ever succeeding. Cal felt defiance surge through him once again. They could laugh and sneer, but they were wrong. Sitting in the rubble Cal felt his destiny waiting.

He would show them how wrong they were.

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Earthrise by Saifun Hassam

Julian was dying on the Moon. Somehow, something went wrong as his space shuttle entered the suborbital space of the Moon. The damaged space shuttle turned cartwheels before landing on the Luna Space Station. The medics had rushed to his rescue. He was barely alive.

Julian was a space-farer. An astronaut, geologist and geographer. It seemed eons since he had left Earth, for the Outer planets, and their satellite moons.

He drifted in and out of consciousness. His last thoughts were of flying in a reconnaissance orbiter, high over the Moon’s Compton Crater, and watching the blue Earth rise.

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The Rush by kate @ aroused

I just hope he keeps following me. He’ll never suspect that Rick took the other car.

On reflection I wonder that we didn’t start this earlier but we were too busy conforming to societal standards. It all started when we couldn’t afford the best treatment for little James.

Is he still following me, better slow down a bit?

Now it’s the excitement as the adrenaline rush has really kicked in. We could retire comfortably but what for. Rick and I love these mind games then the chase.

Shame James isn’t here to share the fun of ‘acquiring’ their identities.

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Flash Fiction: Wing Mirror by The Dark Netizen

There it is, that blasted black Bentley.

I can see it clearly in my wing mirror. My instincts are telling me to get as far away from it as I can. It’s a wonder that my sedan has been able to keep ahead for so long. In fact, I believe that the Bentley’s driver is toying with me. The black car is close now. I can see the driver’s face. Is that a fucking skull? Wait, where did he go?
Ohhh Lord! He’s in my rear seat!! Carrying a bloody SCYTHE!!

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear…

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Looking Back by Frank Hubeney

Dean and Martha sat at the outdoor table after ordering coffee and croissants. They didn’t say anything to each other but started reading messages and typing into their phones. After the waiter delivered the order and left, Dean picked up a croissant from the plate. So did Martha. Then he turned in his chair and looked back.

That was the signal.

By some assessments the winners are those who are still able to walk away after the bullets fly. Other think it is not so simple. Blood creates a blur not only in space but across memories and lifetimes.

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Now She Could Move On by Susan Sleggs

Dr. Stephanie Davidson, still limping slightly, came out of the courthouse feeling free and relaxed. Her happiness radiated onto the people she passed. Her divorce from the man that had hired a killer to make her disappear was finalized and both men were serving long jail terms. Thankfully there were no news cameras or questions as a divorce hearing was nothing compared to the attempted murder trials the year before. The police officer that had saved her life when the attempt had been made waited for her. He gazed at her with adoration and said, “No looking back sweetheart.”

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Father Time Is Undefeated by @DaveMMAdden

He never should have been there in the first place. Everyone knew it—except him!

“I’m gonna train harder than ever. You’ll see!”

His team, family and coaches alike, bought, though weren’t entirely sold on, the idea of returning to the cage.

The adrenaline, the crowd’s deafening screams, his name printed in bold across the marquee: he needed this fix like a junkie’s blood itches for their drug of choice!

Through a ringing in his ears, he could hear what happened on the forlorn faces surrounding him.

Maybe this time he will hang the gloves up for good? Maybe.

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Death Does Not Come by Robbie Cheadle

When I look back over my life, I note that I am lacking in one experience. Death. This greatest leveler of them all has always passed me by unscathed.

I heard it, like a rabid dog, whining relentlessly outside my door during a home invasion, when the car was hi-jacked and while I was perched precariously on the edge of a cliff as a child.

It barked madly for attention during my children’s lives when one stopped breathing, another had croup and throughout the twenty-eight anaesthetics and operations they collectively undertook.

It always slunk away, tail between its legs.

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Part 3 (10-minute read)

Nothing Stays Perfect Forever (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Looking back, Danni understood that she gained more than Ike in a marriage. She said yes to the man she fell in love with and the ranch-home he offered with garden, barn, history, and horses. She said yes to his family, getting the grandmother she always longed to have. She said yes to North Idaho, a balm to a harsh childhood. She said yes to finally concluding her studies and working her hard-earned degrees. Looking back, Danni saw all she stood to lose. Would she have said yes that spring day had she known Ike would leave for Iraq?

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Salto Quantico by JulesPaige

In retrospect Marietta had a breakthrough year. Though it took up way too much energy,
that long standing grudge that the sisters held for so many silent years. They finally were talking again. Though there were limits that had been set in cement. The two were not friends in their youth and most likely would not be best pals. But at least they were talking, and even laughing.

To be a peacekeeper of the hearth, that too was work. Etta hoped a slight name change helped.

shifting sands cannot
stand still while powerful sea
rearranges all

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Looking Back by Kay Kingsley

And with that, I turned and walked away, heart pounding, I exhaled total relief. We were over and a 1,000 pounds of weight lifted off my shoulders. This was the right thing to do… wasn’t it? It only took me 10 seconds to second guess myself for the 100th time and my pace slowed. Don’t look back! But he would be sobbing, crushed by my announcement and only I could console him. I stopped and turned around ready to play the game again and to my utter surprise, he was gone and I was the one left looking back.

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Looking Back by tearsofbloodinmyheart

“Stacy don’t do it…..” Carls voice trails off into oblivion as I put my foot on the first step.

“I’m telling you Stace…” By now his voice is fading. I’m on the fourth step of many, I wasn’t listening when Mr Bright and Sunny was running through his speil.

Carl is becoming smaller, although if I’m truthful I’m not looking down. By the time I’m at the top, on the small shaky platform, Carl is just a dot.

Ms Happy tightens the harness. I look back just before I step off the edge and smile. It’s time to go Carl.

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Remembrance by Joanne Fisher

Jenny accidentally knocked the cup off the bench. She helplessly watched as it fell in slow-motion to the floor and broke into two pieces. She picked up the fragments crying. This had been the cup that Kirsten always used.

Jenny remembered the day Kirsten broke up with her and moved out, leaving the cup behind as a painful reminder. She never thought she would get over this loss or be able to love anyone ever again, but now looking back some months later she realised she had already come a long way. She would survive this and love again.

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Then and Now by Di @ pensitivity101

I am not who I was,
Nor would I want to be
That empty crushed shell,
Used, misused,
Verbally abused.
I am not where I used to be,
Nor would I want to go back,
I have found my way,
Am loved, truly blessed,
My life is refreshed.
I know not where I’m going,
But I am not alone,
I have found my soul mate,
My saviour, my guide,
Always at my side.
It doesn’t matter what we were,
Together we simply Are,
Two drifting halves, forever joined,
Not perfect, but meant to be,
Us, exactly what you see.

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Blackened Mirror by Reena Saxena

A penny drops. But he does not bend to pick it up. He moves ahead to grab the gold watch on the mantelpiece.

“He controls time now. He can choose to focus on certain parts, not necessarily in sequential order. Doctors call it selective amnesia or partial memory loss.”

The seer’s words are ignored as the family focuses on medical treatment.

Five years later, he is featured on a magazine cover, as the Most Successful Businessman of the Year. The world hears his bytes.

“I suffer from a handicap. I cannot look back, so I don’t remember any failure.”

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Departing Alice by Susi J. Smith

Alice sat on the bench, staring at the rows of unlit buses. Wind rattled the glass panes. She pulled the tattered blanket around her shoulders and lay back, watching the blue and red sign flicker. Tomorrow. She’d leave tomorrow.

Jovial laughter woke her. Light peeked in through the dirty windows.

“Morning Alice.” Ted handed her a steaming coffee. She cupped it, breathing in the aroma.

Coffee downed, Alice crept towards the bus. She placed one foot on the metal step and stopped. “Not today. Tomorrow, I’ll leave tomorrow.” Head bowed, she hurried back to the comfort of her bench.

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Happy New Year by Ruchira Khanna

As I ring in the New Year lots of memories flood before me: the good, the bad, the ugly while ‘am so involved with that flashback that ‘am unaware of the various expressions on my face.

When reminded ‘am filled with apprehension yet gratitude to be able to enjoy the coming year of whatever it may bring, as I continue to leave my carbon imprint.

I may be an ordinary person, but my consciousness allows me to breathe with appreciation as I ponder back and realize that I have been able to touch atleast a handful of souls each year.

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Back Up by D. Avery

“Look where yer goin’, Kid!”

“I’m enterin’ the new year reflectin’ on where I been. Like Janus.”

“Yer an anus all right, walkin’ bass ackwards like thet. Turn aroun’ an’ look forward, Kid.”

“Looks good, Pal, lookin’ back. They’s a long trail a yarns, fer sure.”

“Yer gonna git tangled in thet yarn an’ trip.”

“Dang, I sure shoveled a lotta shit last year. Shorty even give me a badge. Ow! I’ve hit a wall.”

“Carrot Ranch don’t do walls. Jist backed inta the broad side a the barn with yer behind. Git up, look ta the trail ahead.”

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Best Face Forward by D. Avery

“Hey Kid. See yer walkin’ facin’ the right way now. Have a seat.”

“Uh, no thanks, Pal… still hurtin’. Darn barn.”

“Ya looks as if yer hurtin’.”

“This’s ma thinkin’ face.”

“Uh-oh.”

“Thinkin’ back ta when I tried ma hand at writin’.”

“Yeah?”

“Thinkin’ ta do more a it. Send D. Avery packin’. Do ma own writin’.”

“Kid, it don’t work thet way. Asides, it’s a heckuva lot easier bein’ written than doin’ the writin’. An’ what if ya git D. Avery’s voice in yer head, huh?”

“She does claim we write ourselves…”

“Let’s keep our present arrangemint, Kid.”

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Buckaroo’s Journey by A. Kidd

“Been writin’, Kid?”

“Yep. Easy-peasy.”

“Gotta 99 word flash then?”

“Better! Jist started writin’, next thing I know, they’s hunnerds an’ hunnerds a words.”

“Yer a known shoveler. Which 99 ya gonna present? “

“Jist 99?”

“No more, no less.”

“Huh. Gotta cut to the chase then.”

“To the quick.”

“Down ta the bone. What’s it about?”

“A buckaroo who looks back.”

“Where’s the plot, the conflict?”

“Looks back while descending.”

“Descending inta a cave? An abyss?”

“Nope, jist cellar stairs.”

“What’s the lesson?”

“Look where yer goin’.”

“Where was she goin’?”

“Think they was some elixir down there.”

🥕🥕🥕

Cora Kingston

Cora Kingston left behind an enigmatic memorial in a miner’s graveyard along the coast of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Carved in marble, the stone proclaims: “Erected by Cora Kingston In Loving remembrance of her dearest friend John Yendow Born May 31, 1867, Died October 5, 1892.”

Writers from around the globe wrote stories about Cora, John and the mystery of this marker. Filled with tragedy, humor and unexpected parallels to other places, history inspires fiction.

The following is based on the December 13, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Cora Kingston.

PART I (10-minute read)

Sandcastle Souls by Bill Engleson

Every day, Cara Kingston walked down from her cabin, passed mine, waved if I was in view, which was often that first year.

I was still struggling with heartbreak back then.

She’d walk out on the tiny peninsula that slunk into the Salish Sea, stand on its slippery shore, and wait for her lover, Walter.

“It’s so sad,” my neighbour Molly had intoned when first I moved to Sandcastle Point. “They’d been together such a short time when he was lost.”

“Lost?”

“A storm surfaced. Another lost fisher.”

“When?” I asked.

“Oh! Eons!”

“Eons?”

“Yes. The pain never leaves.”

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Cora’s Scrapbook (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni stood up, stretching stiff muscles after hours of sitting on the hardwood floor of Ramona’s bedroom. It was one thing to scour historical records for work, another to snoop through a box stashed under her husband’s grandmother’s bed. But Danni couldn’t pull herself away from the scrapbooks she found. One belonged to Ramona, another to Ramona’s mother, and a third to Cora Kinston Holman. Each documented events, recipes, photos and newspaper clippings. Was Cora Ramona’s maternal grandmother? The name was unfamiliar to Danni. Yet Cora’s scrapbook brimmed with poetry and sketches similar to Ramona’s stories and fairy drawings.

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Memory in the Backyard by Trailblazer

Eighteen-year-old Andrew was familiar with the upright stone concealed in their bushy backyard, which read “Erected by Cora Kingston in memory of John Yendow.“

Everyone in the family was apathetic to his questions on Cora and John.

After many interrogations with the elderly people of the family and the locality, Andrew understood John was one of his forefathers, a spice merchant.

Traces of yellowish parchments in the underground garage, during his thirteen-day investigation, presented Andrew insights.

His forefather was a spy in disguise, who fell in love with a fellow spy Cora, a poetess for the public.

🥕🥕🥕

Core Values Part 1 by JulesPaige

Cora Holman King was named for her great grandmother. Entering into the King family which was splendid in its richness of history sometimes made young Cora pine for more knowledge of her Kingston relatives.

There was a story that in the a cemetery near Eagle River her great grandmother had erected a grave marker for a friend named John Yendow. There was no one to ask the how or why this was done.

In an old jewelry chest that belonged to the elder Cora, the great granddaughter found a false bottom with a letter. Maybe that held a clue?

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Core Values Part 2 by JulesPaige

Yellow and brittle with a fine slant of fading India ink script, Cora Kingston was writing to John Yendow. It was not a love letter.

Dearest John,

Your family was so kind to help ours when illness struck. We who had been neighbors and had survived so many cold winters. Without your families aide that bitter winter when my whole household was laid with high fevers, you and yours came morning, noon and night to check upon us.

I have set aside private funds of my own earnings. I hope to use it someday to remember you.

Love, Cora

🥕🥕🥕

Core Values Part 3 by JulesPaige

Cora King wasn’t really any closer to finding answers as to how Cora Kingston knew of John Yendow’s death and how much was spent on the marker that was erected in his memory. What had her great grandmother done to earn that money. Why was the memorial just dedicated to John?

One could only guess that perhaps as children during that feverish winter, they had made promises that time wouldn’t let them keep. What Cora King could do was visit the white stone monument. Take its photograph and make sure it was kept clean. What more could she do?

🥕🥕🥕

Forbidden by Kate Spencer

Cora grabbed the net, hoisted her skirt hem and stepped into the rushing waters of Jacob’s Creek.

“I got it,” she said, securing the floundering trout John was reeling in. “This will fry up nicely.”

“It sure will.”

Like nesting turtle doves, they fussed over their meal and then sat on some rocks to talk about life before cleaning up their mess.

“Wanna see some mayflowers?” asked John after hiding the dishes in their usual spot.

“Show me!” laughed Cora grabbing John’s hand.

The underbrush crackled. Startled, Cora turned. Pointed at them was the barrel of her father’s rifle.

🥕🥕🥕

Out to Dry (Cora) by Papershots

Warm and cold weather she recognized by the time it took her laundry to dry, although she could never tell exactly when each item of clothing was dry; it had been pointed out to her that something can be humid but not necessarily wet – (“Never trust linen!”) – so she needed another hand to check what her touch told her, which was the light-hearted excuse for the forthcoming marriage, which is how neighbors and passers-by found out her friend had passed, clothes out in the wind for days on end, at the stretch of new balances, just to be sure.

🥕🥕🥕

Until Death by Jo Hawk The Writer

Cora read Papa’s letter again, hoping the words would change, knowing they would not. Her beloved John had succumbed. Typhoid. She pressed the letter to her heart and closed her eyes, remembering the last time they had been together, the day they said goodbye.

She was excited. Papa arranged for her to accompany cousin Olivia on her Grand Tour.

They would be gone a year and when she returned, she and John would marry.

The thought grabbed her heart, squeezing, constricting, making her wish for death.
She sat, immobile, cold, her life disintegrating. Papa’s letter fluttered to the floor.

🥕🥕🥕

Dearest John by Tina Stewart Brakebill

May 30, 1893

Dearest John.

It finally arrived. I was scared that it wouldn’t get here in time for your birthday but it came on the train yesterday. Daddy will be angry but there’s nothing he can do about it now. When I saw our names together I fell to my knees. I love you so much. We talked so much about leaving this place. Being together. Going someplace where daddy couldn’t stop us. Then you left me. Alone. But daddy can’t stop us now. In death, we can be connected forever.

Till tomorrow my love.

Always Your Cora

🥕🥕🥕

The Family Secret by Susan Sleggs

From the time Cora Kingston attended the one room school house she had eyes for no other than John Yendow, a boy four years older. At home Cora’s mother would rail the girl that he was unacceptable. As Cora grew older her mother tried to pair her with unknowns from out of town but Cora refused. After typhoid took both her mother and John, Cora finally accepted another and moved far away. Years later she returned to erect a tombstone for her true love. If only he had been Jewish like her mother. The best kept secret in town.

🥕🥕🥕

Best Friends by Nancy Brady

Suddenly, Cora Kingston moved away. Brokenhearted, she married the first man she met. The truth was that she would always love John, her best friend.

They became fast friends from the time they met. John and Cora played together from building tree forts to playing checkers to talking.

During their teens they were encouraged to go to school dances with other students. Despite this, they remained best friends, pledging their love to each other.

When John asked for Cora’s hand in marriage, her father said, “No. It was a secret I hoped never to reveal, but you’re my son.

🥕🥕🥕

Forever Yours by Kay Kingsley

A folded note at the base of the headstone read, “My dearest John, I’ve wept for you more tears than water in the ocean or sand in the desert or stars in the sky. Cat Harbor is no longer our safe harbor so I must keep going like we promised we would if something bad should happen. This headstone marks your time here and as long as people can read our names together, we’ve carved our place in history for as long as it stands. Until fate joins us, I’ll be seeing you in my dreams. Forever Yours, Cora”

🥕🥕🥕

The Offering by Ethan Edmunds

She was supposed to meet him on the wandering rocks that night. Of the innumerable promises she’d made to John that summer, it was the only one she ever broke.

Cora knew he’d kept their secret, because in all the years since he’d disappeared, no one had ever come asking after him.

She knelt down as far as her hobbled knees would allow and placed the small bundle in the grass, trying desperately not to think about what was inside. Cora rested her weathered hand on the stone, closed her eyes, and waited patiently for the vibration to start.

🥕🥕🥕

Sacrifice by Joanne Fisher

Cora Kingston and John Yendow were demon hunters, though they hid this from everybody else. For a time they managed to keep Keweenaw Peninsula free of them.

One time they visited Cat Harbor and found a portal. They began a ritual to close it. Once it began to close some tentacles shot out. Something was trying to come through. Without thinking John ran straight into the portal. The last thing Cora saw was John being wrapped in tentacles. Then he was gone.

Cora had a marker made for John. It was the least she could do considering his sacrifice.

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Boy’s Club by Goldie

When I was a kid, whenever I would stay with him over the summer, grandpa used to take me out for breakfast Saturday morning. While grandma and my sister – Nicole stayed at home and tended to the house chores, we would go out to have “manly” talks. No girls were allowed. The truth was we would drive to Kingston to eat what grandpa normally wasn’t allowed, like crepes loaded with fruits, whipped cream and creamy chocolate hazelnut filling, and drizzled with honey-butter. Cora’s Breakfast & Lunch was our little secret.

🥕🥕🥕

Cora Kingston, Artist, and Author by Saifun Hassam

The Yeandeau Lighthouse was on a rocky promontory, west of the rugged cliffs overlooking Yeandeau Harbor. The deep indigo and turquoise Pacific Ocean waters morphed into the blue summer skies.

Cora Timmons was a journalist, and loved to sail along these Pacific waters. The Lighthouse, originally built in the 19th century, was named after Jack Yeandeau, an avid naturalist and explorer of the bays and inlets. Her great-great-aunt, Cora Kingston was grief stricken when Jack disappeared in a ferocious sea squall. She was a talented artist, and later published Jack’s notes, journals, and sketches, including her own seashore paintings.

🥕🥕🥕

Cora Kingston by Robbie Cheadle

Cora Kingston stood on the wooden deck of the ship gazing in wonder at the white sand and scrubby greenery of Algoa Bay.

The knowledge that the terrible four-month long journey by sea was nearly over filled her with relief.

The strong sun shone down on her as she cuddled her three-week-old infant in her arms. She was thankful that the government’s promise of a warm climate was true. Hopefully, the promise of 100 acres of land would also materialise. She offered a silent prayer of thanks that this baby would have a better opportunity in this new land.

🥕🥕🥕

True Love by H.R.R. Gorman

He was a friend of mine. I bought his headstone and put him in the earth.

His parents were poor, but I was sure he wouldn’t have had even a wooden marker tied with twine.

He’d been kind to me at the stamp mill, seen me as an equal, a confidant. We were to be married, a convenience to him and freedom to me, if God hadn’t chosen to take him home. His parents were ever grateful that I was willing to hide their ‘mistake.’

But how could John’s life be a mistake when I loved him so deeply?

🥕🥕🥕

Cora Kingston by Irene Waters

Cora looked into his eyes. Her belly warmed and tingled, her heart felt full while her head was clear. She floated on a cloud of love as soft as marshmallow but strong as steel.

“There is nothing left. I’m out!” John was adamant.

The base of her skull contracted, her jaw tightened, Nausea replaced the warmth. She followed him when he left. He was always in her sights. A phone call , a knock on his new door when he had a guest. A shotgun when it looked serious. Her name on his grave.  He’d never be rid of her.

🥕🥕🥕

Name Recognition: You Just Need The Correct Association by Geoff Le Pard

‘Cora Kingston? Who’s she?’

‘Taught us English and Ethics.’

‘Ethics? I didn’t do Ethics.’

‘Why doesn’t that surprise me. Boring Cora. You must remember.’

‘A clue?’

‘Had a voice like dead gerbil.’

‘Nope. Distinguishing features?’

‘She liked tweed skirts.’

‘Geez, Logan that’s narrowed it down to about fifty. Anyway does it matter?’

‘I saw her in town. She wanted to be remembered to you.’

‘Me? Why?’

‘Ha! You sound terrified.’

‘Any teacher who remembers me worries me. My profile was so low it was concave.’

‘She said she borrowed a tenner from you…’

‘HER? Where did you see her?’

🥕🥕🥕

The Wedding That Never Was by TNKerr

Seems that Cora was laid to rest that day at Mountain View Cemetery next to her husband, John Blackwell Holman.

She was buried with a photograph and a tattered wedding invitation. The photo showed a smiling young miner. Penned on the back of the photo in a woman’s hand the name John Y and a date – September 1892. The invitation was hand printed:

Cora Kingston
and
John Yendow

REQUEST THE HONOR OF YOUR PRESENCE
AT THEIR MARRIAGE

ON SATURDAY, 9TH OF JUNE, 1892
AT 2 O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON

OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE CONSUMPTION CHURCH
CAT HARBOR, MICHIGAN

🥕🥕🥕

Taboo by Di @ pensitivity101

The marker miraculously appeared overnight on the unmarked grave of a poor man.
No-one in the family, now or then, knew who Cora Kingston was, or what her relationship was with John Yendow, a man with many friends, but no money.
He had made his way through life working the land as and where he could.
The Kingston Farm was one of the most profitable in the country, but there was no mention of a Cora. Unless it was a subterfuge to hide a relationship between races, beliefs and religion which would have resulted in death for both parties.

🥕🥕🥕

Safe Harbor by D. Avery

A shooting star streaked across the night sky. Tears welled as Cora thought of John.

At his death she heard the sympathetic whispering. “Now they’ll never marry.”

Before his death they whispered, “When will they marry?” Maybe John was waiting until he had more to offer; maybe Cora’s parents were against the union. There was much speculation. But John and Cora clearly enjoyed each other’s company. The whispers sometimes became unkind.

Cora and John had loved one another. Now she alone knew why they would never have married.

“Rest in peace, dearest friend,” Cora whispered to the starlit night.

🥕🥕🥕

Cora’s Love by Ritu Bhathal

Cora wept as she carefully reread the card in one of her hands.
Tears blurred her vision but the words were etched on her eyeballs.
“You are cordially invited to the union John Yendow and Cora Kingston…”
The proofs of their wedding invitations had arrived earlier that week,
but so caught up was she in her grief, she hadn’t looked at the mail.
Instead of stepping into the church as a blushing bride-to-be,
she had entered it to bid farewell to her one true love.
In the other had she held today’s order of service.
“In loving memory of…”

🥕🥕🥕

Identity Found by Ann Edall-Robson

She loathed the old law obliterating a woman’s maiden name when she married. Erasing her true identity, leaving only her first name intact, sometimes. She had been searching for years to fill in the blanks of where she was from, who she was from. The obituary took up half the column. An invitation to a family reunion/memorial, and in the middle of the list was her full name, her town. Someone else had been searching too and found her, and her kin. They were all descendants of Cora Kingston. A perfect stranger had unlocked her life’s history pages.

🥕🥕🥕

Jane Eyre meets Cora Kingston by Anne Goodwin

After fleeing Thornfield with only the shabby apparel I arrived in, the coachman set me down at a crossroads in a north-midland shire, dusk with moorland. Skirts snagged by the heather, I sought a place to rest my bones.

By God’s grace, I encountered another lonely female, whose kindness in sharing her meagre repast of bread and cheese brought forth my sorry story.

“Why, pray, did you not go with him?”

“He was married to another – although he came to regret it.”

“Perhaps you did not love him enough.” Cora took my hand. “Have you ever kissed a girl?”

🥕🥕🥕

A Century Later by Reena Saxena

It was a painful moment of my life to erect this memorial. I lost the person who mattered most to me. The loneliness in the island often makes me think how John would have taken it, if I had died earlier…

A century later, I laugh amidst the waves crashing against the shore. John is immortalized, only because of what I did. The curiosity of researchers is about my story.

I wish they would go around a little more, and find the other tombstones I built – in memory of my dearest victims. They made me happy in their lifetime.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction: Apology by the Dark Netizen

Cora slumped in the chair, her face buried in her palms.

John’s body lay at her feet, his lifeless eyes looking at her. A stream of tears began running down Cora’s face. John did not deserve to die as he did. He was a good man. No, he was the best man and an even better friend. She had taken advantage of him.

She should never have let her hunger get the better of her. If only she had controlled a bit more, John would still have had his soul inside him.

The tombstone would remain as her apology…

🥕🥕🥕

Cora Beliefs by D. Avery

“Hey, Pal, what d’ya say?”

“‘Bout what, Kid? Cain’t waste words ‘roun here.”

“‘Bout Cora Kingston then. Know anything on that matter?”

“Yep.”

“Well?”

“They say she’s from up north, Eagle River way. Cat Harbor.”

“That I know.”

“Say she went west with a near John, but not her dear John.”

“‘S’what I heard.”

“Thing is, Cora weren’t her real name; it was assumed.”

“I never assumed that.”

“No, Kid, she assumed it.

“Who?”

“Hooe.”

“Who?! Hooe?”

“Yep. Fannie Hooe come back incognito, claimin’ ta be Cora Kingston.”

“In neat clogs? Oh. Keens?”

“True story, Kid. Plausibly.”

“Hoo-wee Pal.”

🥕🥕🥕

Into the Dark

We find the dark unsettling because it’s unknown. We don’t like to be “kept in the dark;” we want to know. We want to see where are, where we are going. Darnkess snuffs the light and we quiver, afraid. And yet we face the darkness and the unexpected.

That’s where writers took their stories this week, into the dark. Like a ship coursing across the Great Lakes in the black of night, writers plowed onward.

The following are based on the November 29, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “into the dark.”

PART I (10-minute read)

Into the Dark by Michael

The old man struggled with every breath. In the past week the darkness he sensed was coming closer. He’d been a man in charge of his destiny throughout his life and now he was approaching what for him was uncertainty.

He realised he was no longer in control, “I don’t think I can get out of this,” he told his son as he gripped his hand tighter. Dependence was foreign to them both, but together they resolved to be together until the end.

Eventually, the old man’s breathing slowed and the son gave his father up to the dark.

🥕🥕🥕

His Final Descent by Anne Goodwin

When wood meets soil, only Barry’s left holding the rope. Even the undertaker scowls, throws him that look reserved for outsiders and lily-livered pansies with clean hands.
As a boy, Barry feared the cage that delivered working men into the dark. When they arose, skin stained with sweat and coal dust, it seemed a temporary reprieve.
Of course he’s glad his mother pushed him away, to a safer job on the surface of things. But it severed the tie to his dad, to the community that raised him. Now, his father crated forever in his coffin, it’s too late.

🥕🥕🥕

Darkest Destiny by Di @ pensitivity101

I cannot go into the dark alone,
Hold my hand, make me strong,
Help me face this cruel Unknown,
Stay with me, prove me wrong.
Emerge with me on the other side,
From darkness into the light,
Tell me that I haven’t died,
That everything will be alright.
You are the one that I embrace,
My rock, the one that I adore,
My heart and mind memorize your face,
Lead me through this unfamiliar door.
Into the dark, I am not afraid,
Knowing you are there beside me,
Senses enhance whilst others fade,
With you, I face my destiny.

🥕🥕🥕

Itinerary by Bill Engleson

Even my best-case scenario involved no light.
Oh, you bet your booties I gave it a lot of thought. Research, Man, that’s the ticket. Every trip I ever took, I planned to the minute, down to the second.

I wasn’t one of those guys, you’ve seen them, they can’t even plan far enough ahead to tie their shoelaces.

That was never me.

I hate surprises.

The not knowing.

Gives me the willies.

But this little adventure.

It had me going.

I started a blog.

Into the Dark.

I’ll pay well, I said.

Tell me, I begged.

What’s death like?

🥕🥕🥕

The Christmas Tree by Hugh W. Roberts

“Are you sure this is what you want to see?” sobbed Moriah.

Her daughter nodded her head.

‘It’s beautiful, isn’t it? You know how much I love Christmas,” Mummy.

Choked, Moriah could not answer her young daughter’s question. The tears in her eyes made the lights on the Christmas tree blur into each other.

As they stood together, holding hands, Moriah made a Christmas wish. A wish that would prove the doctor’s predicament of her daughter’s upcoming journey into the dark, because of blindness, untrue.

High up, in the skies above Trafalgar Square, a shooting star ferried the wish.

🥕🥕🥕

How Do You Choose to Look at It? by Reena Saxena

“There is an incredibly beautiful universe out there – the kind you have only dreamt about. And it will be yours soon enough …..”

“How much do we have to pay?” yelled an enthusiastic young lad from the back rows.

“It is free.”

“Then there is a catch somewhere. What is the hidden cost?” said another over-cautious person.

“Is it a game to be played?” a techie looked up from his device for a moment.

“It depends how you choose to look at it. One has to get into the dark tunnel first, to come out at the other end.”

🥕🥕🥕

Darkness Enfolds by kate @ aroused

The headaches are oppressive,

medication only dulls the pain.

Kids due home from school soon

and I haven’t moved from my room

Eight long years with this tumour

laser treatment stopped it growing

My wish to embrace death

gets stronger by the day

oh for relief from this constant pain

feels like my life is down the drain

The boys have their father

Mitch couldn’t cope

Government says I’m not disabled

I’m so tempted to give up hope

Have no training to get a job

car has died, I can’t cope!

Please give me strength to find the light

🥕🥕🥕

The Crate by H.R.R. Gorman

The smoke makes it difficult to breathe. Where is my human? Why is she screaming outside instead of helping me?

Blaring noises and blinking lights scare me. I crawl away into the dark, to my crate, to safety. I curl up on my pillow and whimper as the smoke in the air thickens.

A monster bursts through the door. I bite at its thick hide, but it doesn’t care – it just grabs me and drags me outside where I see her.

“Human!” I bark. “Human!”

I break free of the monster’s grasp and leap into my human’s protective arms.

🥕🥕🥕

Darkness Comes by Roberta Eaton

She gazed into the dark depths of the water.

Why had he done it?

Christmas could be a time of great loneliness for people living alone. The good cheer and smiles of families around them resulting in deep despair.

She had received a call from a friend informing her of the death the previous evening. The body had been in the water for a few days making identification difficult.

Water was destructive.

She signed, recalling the message she had received from him a short while before.
Was it a cry for help? Maybe, but it was too late now.

🥕🥕🥕

The Black Hole Beyond by Chelsea Owens

Ethereal stardust touched her; tickling, licking, tempting her forward. A thousand thousand glittering steps pulsed the way.

She stepped. And stepped.

One hesitant footfall at a time led her past an eternal tunnel of cosmic shimmering, but also to the edge of inevitable, gaping nothing. Here, there was no stardust, no glitter, no shimmer. Not even a chill, poetic wind whipped against her hesitant spirit, paused on the edge of infinity.

With no eyes to close, no throat to swallow, no resolve to strengthen; she stepped over the edge…

Looking back only once, at the discarded Earth-body far behind.

🥕🥕🥕

At This Hour of Eve by Papershots

The world doesn’t have time for this street dancer, his white undershirt and black pants, his slowed-down watery Black Swan, his crystal ball rolling over arms, shoulders, hands, fingers – it never falls! There’s so much else, after all. Like people who turn into fashionable streets or buildings as if they lived there, striving to give that casual impression to those looking. And there are many. Being surprised, deceived possibly, but always to be kept in the dark about the person they glimpsed at rushing by being or not somebody important. Or, some day, a star. Étoiles, they call them.

🥕🥕🥕

Another One Through Ellis Island by JulesPaige

Into that dark of Adam’s ale, to hold onto
The waxed brass ships rail, and just look.
T’was a gentle rain that night when
She’d gone above, to walk the deck.
Feel the ocean rocking, breath clean air.

Into that dark of transformation
From old to brand new.
Every fiber of her being was
Excited to see and explore those
Gold paved streets.

Into that dark of all unknown things
To be enlightened, to see Lady Liberty.
The story was told that she had won
A writing contest… her trip to freedom?
No one could confirm her Grandmother’s story.

🥕🥕🥕

One Good Turn by D. Avery

He leaned on the doorjamb looking in on his sleeping daughter. His wife slipped under his arm. “She is so beautiful,” she whispered.

“She’s my light.” They walked back to the living room.

“You’re nervous as a cat tonight. What’s wrong? You’ve missed those awful ‘meetings’ before.” She twisted her blonde bangs, showing her own anxiety. “I wish you never went. No job is worth it.”

“I took Angela and that girl Celia to the vet’s. Celia’s cat got hit… Her parents met us there. Buzz saw us.”

Pulling the curtain aside again, he peered into the dark night.

🥕🥕🥕

Dark and Light, Black and White by Geoff Le Pard

‘Amanda’s a dark one.’

‘As in?’

‘Sorry?’

‘Do you mean she’s mysterious, or you’re being politically incorrect about her racial characteristics or she’s the primordial, sapient, cosmic force of evil.’

‘Probably, though the last one’s a stretch; it’s more she can be a bit of a pain if I forget she likes her coffee black.’

‘Or dark?’

‘You wouldn’t say that.’

‘Why not? If you want a room dark you get blackout curtains.’

‘Are thin curtains whiteout then?’

‘No, that’s a bad snow-storm.’

‘I’m lost.’

‘That’s because going inside your head is always like going into the dark, Morgan.’

🥕🥕🥕

Darkness by Pete Fanning

I sleep with fear and cuddle with failure. My restless bed-mates jostle me awake, thrashing in the dark—in my head—as I pore over my words. Oh the mistakes, the holes, the terrible grammar. My own personal monsters in the closet.

My bed is where doubt and desire dual. Ten paces into the dark. My quickening heartbeats produce sweat on my brow, dread in my chest, an avalanche of worry.

Why bother?

But morning arrives, and the sunlight finds my window, squeezing through the sliver of curtains. New words are knocking around.

And so I must meet them.

🥕🥕🥕

Into the Dark by @DaveMMAdden

Coach’s voice, as if falling into the dark, could still be heard, yet he was nowhere in sight.

“For all the practices coach berated me for being a little late, where was he for the biggest fight of my life?” The thought illuminated the hopeful champion’s mind, de the intersection where hopes and dreams are put on hold.

“Travis.”

Coach’s voice was crystal clear now, but Travis couldn’t understand why he wasn’t coaching?

At that moment, Travis’ eyes popped open. There was coach kneeling next to him, haloed by the lights above.

“What happened?”

“Ya got caught, champ.”

🥕🥕🥕

Lights by Anita Dawes

I watched as my soul sailed into the dark,
the thinking animated part of me disappearing.
A black cloud held me in a bubble,
my mind washed clean, my muse shut out.
There was no way for me to know
how long the darkness would last.
Would my muse be able to find her way back to me?
Would I pick a pen, touch my keyboard;
find those words to place inside a new cover?
It wasn’t too long before the scales dropped from my mind,
soon I could see beautiful lights
sailing across the blue black dark horizon…

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

Voyage by The Dark Netizen

Into the darkness, I lead my ship.

It seemed like the best idea before it became reality: Escape the mundanities of  regular life, and set sail on a voyage to explore the world. I wanted to experience the various adventures this world had to offer. A bunch of young ones who were influenced by my words, joined me on my escape from reality. This scares me now. What if I made a mistake? Will these young ones suffer because of me?

Not on my watch…

The darkness does not look so bad, with the moon and stars guiding me…

🥕🥕🥕

Trust by Jo Hawk The Writer

“Are you sure?” Lenore asked leaning over Artel’s shoulder to peer at the map.

“Damn it. Don’t you believe me?” Artel said shoving the map at her before stepping away.

“Of course, I do. But I didn’t expect this.” Lenore waved her hand indicating the opening in front of them. She wrinkled her nose at the dank smell.

“He said ‘expect the unexpected’. So, I guess the real question is…” Artel paused and looked hard at Lenore, “do you trust the oracle?”

Lenore glanced at the map, then nodded.

Together they lit their torches and stepped into the dark.

🥕🥕🥕

Stepping into the Unfamiliar by Norah Colvin

The car lights dimmed as she reached the door – timed perfectly. But, when the porch light didn’t activate, immersing her in total darkness, she cursed the storm. As she pushed the door of the still unfamiliar house, she rummaged for her phone. Dang! No charge. She inched along the wall, fingers seeking the corner and toes the step she knew was close. Stepping down, she dumped her bag and tossed her saturated scarf. She edged towards the sideboard and a battery-powered candelabra. As she fumbled for the switch, the room was flooded with light and cheers of ‘Happy housewarming!’

🥕🥕🥕

Snowy Vacation by Nancy Brady

On that first weekend in December, our family decided to spend a few days at our mountain cabin. We were excited to spend a last weekend away before winter.

Flakes fell, becoming a blizzard, and we were plunged into the dark, the power knocked out. Our old oil lamp became our only light, but we made the best of it.

The following morning, with impassible roads, we hunkered down, knowing we weren’t going anywhere soon. Still, we had plenty of food, but not much lamp oil. One night followed another, but our lamp continued to shine, lasting eight days.

🥕🥕🥕

Further Into The Dark by Kay Kingsley

We walked arms lengths apart scanning the forest floor, our heads sweeping back and forth methodically, praying to recognize anything out of place other than ourselves. It was getting cold as the night crept up behind us. Our hearts were racing as sticks and branches snapped below our feet from our weight. Flashlights turned on, we were nowhere near stopping. She’d already been missing for three days and was out here, somewhere. There was still a chance. The tension was broken as I yelled, “Cara, can you hear me?” Only silence responded as we walked further into the dark.

🥕🥕🥕

Gordian Knot by Kerry E.B. Black

Bonnie squeezed Michelle’s hand and begged, “Don’t go. It’s scary.”

Michelle’s eyes glistened with unshed tears, but whether formed of fear, sadness, or excitement, Bonnie couldn’t tell. She tugged on her sister’s arm. “Michelle, please. Don’t leave. Who’ll take care of me?”

Without a sideways look, Michelle tousled Bonnie’s curls. “You don’t need me,”
She pointed with her chin into the unknown, “but I need this.”

Bonnie clung to her sister, but Michelle loosened her fingers with ease, as though the Gordian Knot of reliance bore no challenge. She ignored Bonnie’s cries and stepped away and into the dark.

🥕🥕🥕

Into The Dark by Ritu Bhathal

Swaying slightly, she stumbled out into the dark.
It took Penny a few moments for her eyes to adjust to the dim light.
The door had slammed shut behind her.
Why had she decided to have that last drink?
She knew alcohol and her didn’t mix, yet all it took was the encouragement of a few mates, and she was knocking them back.
And with each drink, came confidence.
She danced, and smiled, and flirted.
But he took it too far.
The pushing to the toilets.
The clawing hands.
She shoved him and ran, fleeing via the fire exit.

🥕🥕🥕

The First Night by Juliet Nubel

The key turned stickily in the lock. She would get the knack of it soon, the twist and pull necessary to open the flimsy front door.

Reaching for the light switch she heard nothing. Silence was a bad sign. Where was the damn mains box to shed electricity on her new abode?

Her phone was so old that its unhelpful face was a small grey square and the one number she would have called in the past had been erased forever.

She stumbled blindly into the lumpy sofa and sat there, letting her tears fall quickly into the dark.

🥕🥕🥕

Into the Closet by Regina Davis-Sowers (The Humble Word Nerd)

Today, a new horror entered her life. Johnny Campbell had spitefully called her “Little Monster,” and the other kids had shouted the name at her in all of her classes. Caroline nearly tripped and fell as she raced for home, needing more than ever the solitude found only in the closet. It had been her refuge from her mother’s verbal abuse. Being in the closet was like moving in the dark of night, safely hidden from the light where people can see you to hurt you. She hated to return to school tomorrow, but the closet always awaited her.

🥕🥕🥕

Lost Compass by Sascha Darlington

The rainy days are the easiest. I turn over, pretend the sun hasn’t risen, the day hasn’t begun, except for the hum of traffic, mocking in its ocean-like rhythm.

At work, I cajole, pretend. At home, I sink, obsess over regrets that lure me into the dark, driving me to ask how did I get here?

When I was little, my granny would open a can of tuna. I’d eat the flakes from the can while she mentored. “You can be and do anything you want.”

Molten desire. Wrong road. Answered naïve prayer.

Gran, I let us both down.

🥕🥕🥕

Darkness by Frank Hubeny

We knew but didn’t know. Walking into the dark without a good flashlight on this road from our cabin wasn’t the smartest thing we did. Street lights at home were everywhere, but there were no lights here and then there were stars, bright and unbelievably everywhere, but not bright enough.

Our phones helped give some light and our feet felt for the edge of the road. We rushed back. We hoped it wasn’t too far. The Moon would rise soon. We saw it through the trees on the horizon. Would it help us see?

And then there it was.

🥕🥕🥕

Darkness by Floridaborne

“You can’t keep writing and rewriting,” my husband says. “You’re not learning anything and getting nowhere.”

“I’m searching in the darkness with my characters,” I explain. “As they learn, I learn.”

He continues to admonish me. “When you give an explanation, you must be concise!”

“What do you want me to explain?” I ask.

“Whether it’s right or wrong, you must present it well!”

“I know that during the holidays it’s best to steer clear of you,” I sigh. “Learn to take your own advice.”

He grunts and says, “Then you’ve learned nothing,” as he heads toward the door.

🥕🥕🥕

The Meaning of Life by TNKerr

Abelard Stiles turns his profile and strong jawline to the audience as he clasps both hands of Marissa Herring, his costar, playing Angelique. He looks longingly into her cerulean eyes, pellucid as gems of northwestern azure.

“Angelique, my love, I must go. I leave you now for the glory of Canada. My comrades await. ” He drops her hands and pivots melodramatically, walking out of the spotlight, into the dark at the back of the set.

Marissa pushes her hair back, clasps her breast, and collapses like a husk to the stage. “Oh, Neville; don’t go, come back, please.”

🥕🥕🥕

Upon reading Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Saifun Hassam

Camilla sat on an oaken bench in the twilight of a fall evening. An owl hooted as the evening sky deepened into night. She rose quietly, drawn irresistibly into the dark of a crumbling arbor among whispering willow trees.

Once the mysterious and beautiful Esmeralda lived in a cottage there, among gardens of fragrant flowers. Exotic and poisonous flowers from her father’s botanical gardens. Esmeralda breathed in the wondrous and magical scents, and was drawn into the darkness and mysteries of the Dream.

The cottage was no longer there, the gardens had vanished. And yet a haunting fragrance lingered.

🥕🥕🥕

Into the Darkness by Irene Waters

“It’s good to have you here.” Her mother nodded agreement, squeezing Rebekkah’s arm.

“See you in the restaurant sixish for breakfast love.” The elderly couple turned and walked away, heading to the burré they had been allocated in their daughter’s hotel. The dim lights from the house disappeared plunging them into the dark.

“I didn’t know blackness like this existed.”

“No stars. No moon. No electricity.”

“Wish Beccy’d given us a torch.” They stumbled into trees, down ditches unable to find their way.

“We know the light always comes. Let’s just sit and wait. We’ll sing.”

“What?”

“Two blind mice.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Night Before by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“What have you got there?”

“Special order for Daniel, in Minnesota!”

“Minnesota is too general, see? The original says Minnetrista.”

“Where?”

“Check the database. Where’s your tablet, Kringle?”

“Dammit, I’m a driver and a toymaker, Rudolph, not a techie,” He pulled his beard, frustrated.

Apologetic, Rudolph bumped his belly with an antler. “You’re also an innovator, Santa…the guy who saw promise in a young buck’s red nose.”

“I’m good with elves, but those consultants in the brown uniforms creep me out.”

“You’re fine. Just do your Ho-ho-ho routine, and go bravely into the dark.”

“Still guiding my sleigh, Rudolph…Thanks!”

🥕🥕🥕

Sunrise is Expected by Ann Edall-Robson

Sunrise is expected
Over the ridge
Of towering pines
Shades of melon and lemon
Touch blackened sky
Clear blue whiteness
Scattered by the wind
Lofty darkened clouds
Destined to where
Colour turns to flattened gray
Scurrying with speed
Driven by turbine winds
Time evolves in minutes
Welcoming day colours gone
Pushed from sight by gusts
Distant thunder rumbles
Mountain peaks push
Up into the dark
The subtle warning spoke
Of what is yet to come
Relentless prairie winds howl
On into the stormy night
Until their quiet song settles
The towering pines
On the ridge
Where sunrise is expected

🥕🥕🥕

Light in the Lode by D. Avery

“Is Shorty a spelunker, Pal?”

“More like a miner. Why?”

“Jist wunderin’. She’s often talkin’ ‘bout caves an’ dark places. What’s she do, dig in the ground, mine fer copper?”

“Nah, but she does gather rocks, right in the light a day at the shore.”

“Shorty selects stones in the sunshine by Superior’s shore?”

“Sure as shift, Kid.”

“Then what’s she a miner of, Pal?”

“Yer thicker an’ a Superior snow squall, Kid. Shorty works words. She mines stories. Heard she hit a mother lode that starts right here at the ranch an’ reaches all ‘roun the world.”

“Priceless!”

🥕🥕🥕

All Write in the End by D.Avery

“We’re here.”

“Course we’re ‘here’, Pal, we’re always where we’re at. Uh, where we at?”

“That spot I was tellin’ ya ‘bout.”

“This’s more ’n a spot. This’s a big ol’ hole in the hill.”

“Yep.”

“Mineshaft?”

“Dunno.”

“Cave?”

“Dunno.”

“Gateway ta Hell?”

“Go.”

“Why? It’s darker ‘n dark’s night.”

“Shorty says, that’s why. Anyway, what’s the worst thing could be in there?”

“Bats, bears, spiders, snakes, catamounts. Mebbe a pack a writers, think nuthin’ ‘bout killin’ off characters.”

“I’m thinkin’ on it. Let’s go. We’ll catch a story.”

“Ta bring back ta the campfire?”

“Yep. Write light.”

“Elixir!”

🥕🥕🥕