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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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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?

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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?

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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!”

🥕🥕🥕

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*.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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…

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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?’

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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?

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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.’

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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…

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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!”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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…

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.’

🥕🥕🥕

Sky to Fly by Reena Saxena

“Don’t look for me, because you won’t find me.”

Dylan almost wanted to put the letter down, and call the police, but then, he stopped to read on.

“Thanks for all the support! You are the colonnade that enveloped my existence, helped me stay afloat, but also separated me from the skies I dream of reaching someday. I’d like to carve my own life.”

Years later, the father and son stand facing each other.

“So, did you find your sky?”

“Yes, and I converted it into solid ground for my son. He’ll need it till he learns to fly.”

🥕🥕🥕

Temple Builders by D. Avery

He found them outside, each with shovels, each pink cheeked, strands of black hair stuck to damp foreheads. “What are you two up to?”

“Come see what Mommy and me made Daddy!”

Hope led him around the mound of plowed snow where the bank dropped away. Once he’d crawled through the entrance tunnel he could almost stand up.

“Is that a skylight?”

“No Daddy, just a vent. Mommy’s gonna build a fire and we’ll cook dinner.”

While his wife and child continued carving out their snug snow house he stacked snowballs and shaped two elegant colonnades at the entryway.

🥕🥕🥕

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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Enrichment

Does enrichment speak to our dissatisfaction? Do we need to add to our food, our wealth and our lives because we want more? Perhaps, instead, we appreciate what enriching life has to offer — nutritious food for children, opportunities for world growth, and sunsets to make us pause and feel the beauty.

No matter where the idea of enriching took our writers, they returned with a wealth of stories.

The following are based on the January 10, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the idea of enrichment.

Part I (10-minute read)

A Positive Outlook by Susan Sleggs

“Grandma, when I bring in each box it sounds like you are saying ‘mint.’ Do you need a throat lozenge?”

“No. I’m saying enrichment over and over to convince myself this move is a good thing.”

“Mom said it was your idea to give up your house. I don’t understand.”

“I have found an unexpected enrichment whenever I have done something new. I know some pleasure or fulfillment will come from living here, but right now the newness is frightening so I am repeating a positive mantra. It keeps me looking ahead.”

“Sounds like it would help me too.”

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The Recipe Box by Teresa Grabs

Lacy ran her fingers over the small, well-worn wooden box with a hand-carved rooster on it and sighed. Finally owning it was a bittersweet moment. She opened the box and wiped a tear from her eye as her Grandmother’s handwriting greeted her. Apple pie and peach cobbler, pot roast and her famous Thanksgiving turkey; generations of living, learning, experimenting, and sharing filled the small box. Now she understood why her grandmother said that lives could be enriched through food. Memories of one passed to another; the past and the future captured on a single notecard filled in with love.

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Snack O’ a Sunday by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Basics first:
Butter, on countertop, softened with time
Sugar, stored frozen ‘gainst careless craving
Egg twins, room temperature, golden eyes wide
Dash of vanilla, razor-sharp sweet

Whip to shiny, slick peaks.
Mash bananas, fold, spatula stiff.
Elastic Spirit prepared.

Add the Dry:
Flour, slows to human time
Baking soda/powder rises, joins
Sweet body back to Spirit.

Pans glisten like hungry mouths,
Ready to receive the blessing.
Oven clicks, glowing red, sings scent of recipes past.

Further enrichment, Chef’s Choice:
Walnuts
Pecans
Cranberries
Pinch of cayenne
Cinnamon shake

All you desire, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes,
Give ‘r take.

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Fortified Cocoa by Kerry E.B. Black

Fragrant steam wafted from the pottery mugs Oma filled. “Have a seat, little dear. Help yourself to a biscuit in that tin.” Mugs made little thumps on the knotty-wooden table while Oma hefted herself into a groaning seat beside Melanie. “Now, what inspired you to shovel my walkway?”

In the cloud of cream within the hot cocoa, Melanie saw her mother’s smiling face.

“Ah,” said Oma, “you’re Heather’s child. Give your momma my best.”

Oma poured a bit of something pungent into her own cocoa.

“What’s that, Oma?”

“A bit of something to help old Oma through the night.”

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Surprise by Allison Maruska

The boy sits in a tight ball in the produce section. Arms clutch his folded legs and his eyes press into his knees. His back shakes with his breath.

Cautiously, I crouch and touch his shoulder. “Sweetie? Are you lost?”

His head snaps up, his brown, tear-soaked eyes fixating on me. “Necesito a mi mamá.” His eyes return to his knees.

“Cuál es tu nombre?”

His head snaps up again, perhaps in surprise that I speak Spanish. “Gabriel.”

“Yo soy Brianna. Vamos a buscar a tu madre.” Smiling, I reach out.

He wipes his eyes and takes my hand.

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Wonder Bread by Faith A. Colburn

Hastings once had a Wonder Bread bakery. Grade school kids got to tour the plant every spring. We saw huge stainless steel vats of ingredients, sacks and sacks of flour, ingredients in boxes and barrels. We watched steel paddles rolling and kneading monstrous balls of yeasty dough. We smelled fresh-baked bread.

We learned that Wonder enriched its bread with vitamins and minerals to help us grow into healthy adults. We didn’t learn until years later that they supplemented the bread because they used white flour, milled in a process that removed bran and germ—the grain’s vitamins, minerals, fiber.

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What Kind of Enrichment? by Norah Colvin

The meeting dragged. After analysing data, discussing duty rosters and responsibilities, lockdown and evacuation procedures, enthusiasm flagged. Jocelyn itched. Last on the agenda; her topic was enrichment.

As she took the floor, groans and tapping pencils defied her resolve. A phone ban meant some eyes were on her, at least. Her suggestions of enrichment were met with derision.

“They don’t learn what we teach ‘em. ‘ow are we gonna’ enrich ‘em?’ Everyone laughed.

Jocelyn’s mouth opened to respond but gaped as Taya burst in bearing an enormous cake with candles ablaze.

“Now that’s my kind of enrichment.” Everyone cheered.

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Enrichment by Floridaborne

Confined to her room. Again.

Her father believed it a fitting punishment. She looked out at a bright blue sky framing the foothills and stopped to appreciate a view that city folk paid dearly to see a few months each year.

People read books, abandoned them, and a growing collection filled the space under her bed.

“Your betrothed is here,” her father said.

“I’d rather stay in my room for a lifetime than be squeezed into a corset and forced into a marriage!”

“You will clean rooms until you listen to reason!”

Books enriched her life. Nothing else mattered.

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Over the Years by Ruchira Khanna

“Always look into ways to enrich your life.” used to be the mantra of the moral science teachers of my school.

Initial years I would carry a frown and a confused look, but as the years added on; I realized the true meaning!

Studying in a convent school had its perks since being of service came upon early, along with the environment of my home which was very nourishing as my parents not only took care of my natural nutrition but also fed my soul the right ingredients to carry forth the idea of living my purpose in gratitude.

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Learning by Tracey Robinson

For the first week she typed away at her novel while walking on the treadmill. And then she got stuck. She knew more needed to happen. Her characters were flat and lacked interaction with each other. All those mystery books she had read over the years and she had no idea how to pull together a murder mystery? How did Agatha Christie do it? She Googled away but none of the articles helped. She sighed as she turned to the community college website and found an on-line writing class. At her advanced age she was going back to school.

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Oak Ridge Girls by Nancy Brady

Newspaper advertisements across the country said that a new firm was looking for young women to work in a factory in Tennessee. The job description was vague, but housing was supplied.

Girls from the Midwest flocked to apply. Many high school graduates were hired for this job. It was good money for the times.

These women went into the job blind, not knowing what to expect. They were trained to keep the dial steady between two points, and they did. Only later did they find out their contribution to the war effort: enriching uranium for the first atomic bomb.

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Into Focus by Kay Kingsley

He felt she was a disappointment and didn’t mind reminding her daily. Life with her husband was underwhelming at best but she settled thinking he would have been her only suitor. Now trapped and miserable, they lived together alone, her self esteem non-existent.

Daydreaming from the counter she hears, “Vanilla latte for Kiley” and spun around bumping into the most beautiful man she had ever seen. Apologizing, he offered to buy her a new drink. “Wait, I remember you.” he said. “We went to high school together”. He smiled, she smiled and her once invisible life came into focus.

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Enriching by Linda Ward

His only ambition in life was to be rich. Money, Money, Money became his soul purpose and reason for living. The obsession was unbearable. He built his bank account from the money from the oil wells. Searching, drilling, pumping oil was his life. The world needed his oil.

She loved him for his ambition. He loved her for her loving him. His whole  life was money and the oil. So she put on a mask (as usual) and robbed his bank account. His empire was gone. The heart attack was massive.

She left for Bermuda and Jimmy Buffet’s condo.

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My Treasure by The Dark Netizen

This is mine, all mine.

The gold coins, glowing stones, studded goblets, and all the priceless paraphernalia, every bit of it is mine. They dazzle gloriously all around me. The bits and bones lying among my treasures bother me. They diminish the glory of my place. However, it was required.
Those puny intruders: The bold humans, the headstrong dwarfs and vile goblins, do not deserve to gaze upon my treasures, let alone touch them. Yet, they had the audacity to try and steal them. They were punished.

Not fit for a dragon’s meal, but my treasure satiates my hunger…

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Enrich That Rush by kate @ aroused

Financial hardship started this journey of acquiring others identities. Since James passed we no long need the funds but with nothing to lose we enrich ourselves by indulging the adrenaline rush.

There is no sick child to rush home for … and although we haven’t verbalised it we simply don’t have the courage to try for another child. The sickness and then the loss rocked our core.

Try telling that to the courts or law enforcement people! Without the fear we have become most adept at what we’re doing. Numbing our social conscience is essential to our core business.

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Found by Anita Dawes

My life became a whole lot better
When my father found me sleeping
In the street, after mum died
Now I sleep in a warm bed
Eat my food from a plate
Coffee served in a china mug
My father explained why
I had been left with mum
This was news to me
My father explained his part in this
He fell in love with someone else
His football partner, a childhood
Love they had to hide
Until my tenth birthday
When mum caught them together
This was when she ran, taking me with her
Now I am found…

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Enrichment by Robbie Cheadle

The nightmare recurred every night. My son was dying. Suffocating due to his inability to draw enough oxygen into his lungs.

Jerking awake, sweating and anxious, I believed I’d forgotten to give him lifesaving medication. The need to check on him was overwhelming. Looking at his sweet face lying on the pillow I knew I could not sleep again without him close to me. I collected him in my arms and staggered back to my own bed, tucking him in beside me.

The pain has been immeasurable but my dear one has enriched my life, bringing me immeasurable joy.

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Life Experience (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Sitting with Ramona, Danni sniffled. The older woman said, “We all look to enrich our lives, Dear. You might say each experience is like putting dimes in a slot machine. We hope one gives us the jackpot, but before you know it, we’re out of dimes.”

“That’s not hopeful,” Danni said, wiping her nose with a paper towel. She hated crying. Saline didn’t solve anything.

Ramona continued to smile. “Enjoy the gamble, Danni! In the end, we all lose our dimes. You’ll be disappointed if you wait for one jackpot experience and miss the fun in all the others.”

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Part II (10-minute read)

Enrichment (Part I) by D. Avery

Lowering her book, Ilene answered Ernest. “You just might like some of these stories.

But here, try this one first.”

Ernest took the anthology that Ilene handed him. “Congress of Rough Writers? Is it a western?”

“No, it’s not a western. It gives background on flash fiction with excellent examples.

These books are for my literary arts course at the community college.”

Ilene and Ernest were still reading when Marge and Lloyd returned from the garage, the poker game over. “If you’re wondering, bookworms, we both won, but didn’t get rich.”

“No? We both got enriched.”

Lloyd beamed. “Epic.”

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Enrichment (Part I) by D. Avery

“How’re your classes going, Ilene?”

“Good. I’m getting myself ready for an office job. It’s all about the spreadsheet.”

“So why a literary arts course? What’s this flash fiction stuff got to do with anything?”
Lloyd spoke from his perch at the counter. “Ernest, literary art is cultural literacy. It’s…”

“Epic?”

“Epically enriching.”

“Lloyd’s right. Honestly, the secretarial skills courses would be such a bore without the Literary Arts class. And it’s going to help me get the job I want, help me to sell myself.”

“Ha! I thought you were giving that up.”

“Marge, don’t be a Nard.”

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Hobson’s Choice by Anne Goodwin

He could try kittens chasing coloured ribbons, but they’d have to buy a litter tray, and the baby was allergic to cats. He could film the baby learning to feed herself, chocolate sauce smeared across her cheeks, but, oh, the mess.

Or he could go the other way, pandering to prejudice, make himself the mouthpiece of those who feared foreigners and benefit scroungers had brought country to its knees.
His blog was at a crossroads, he had to feed his family. He tossed a coin: heads for vitriol, tails for cosy comfort. Did it matter if neither was him?

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Alternate Prediction by Frank Hubeny

Three crows landed near Pablo. Two of them pretended to peck around for treasure while the leader laid into Pablo with an obnoxious, “Caw! Caw! Caw!. Fortunately, Pablo was fluent in this particular dialect of crow. Crows don’t stop by without a message they feel they must deliver:

“You will experience enrichment beyond your puny imagination. All those plans you’ve been making will fail. They are nothing compared to the reality that awaits you. Any questions?”

Pablo and this crow had previous encounters. “Do I have a choice?”

“Unfortunately, all you can do is mess things up a bit.”

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Eating Healthy by Joanne Fisher

Victoria was a vampire who was rather fussy about who she drank blood from. She preferred to target people who did plenty of exercise and ate the right foods. According to her their blood tasted better and was enriched from all the vitamins and minerals they consumed.

She began doing this after an incident when she was needing to quickly feed from someone. She grabbed the first person she found and instantly regretted it. She could taste the fat in their blood from all the cheeseburgers they ate.

That was the last time she would go for fast food.

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An Active Man by Bill Engleson

For several weeks, he was sitting all day.

And half the night.

Dormant.

Bereft of energy.

“You’ve gotta get moving,” she said more than once. “If you don’t, you’ll calcify.”

She was right.

Occasionally he put some effort into moving.

He didn’t have a dog, so he made one up.

Happy.

And took Happy for a walk.

That didn’t last long.

Happy, the imaginary dog, hit the road.

He’d forgotten to imagine a leash.

He came home.

“You weren’t gone long,” she observed.

“I got bored,” he answered.

“You should get a dog, darling.”

“Maybe I will,” he said.

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Centering by Sascha Darlington

Sara thought she was good.

She gave to charity, volunteered at soup kitchens, and walked dogs at the shelter. She belonged to a group who sang at hospices and nursing homes.

But two weeks with her prospective brother-in-law taught her maybe she wasn’t that good. After hearing his opinions on gays, tattoos, Asians, she thought she might throttle him until he begged for mercy.

Rather than attending the brewery event with her fiancé, she went to the vets. There she whispered endearments to the dogs and cats in the ICU. She welcomed kisses and purrs. The world spun right.

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Blind Faith by Di @ pensitivity101

It was hard to believe it was a year ago that she came into his life.

He remembered how he’d been preparing and looking forward to that day.

It was the first time for both of them, had been a long time coming, but the rewards were endless. She had opened up a whole new world.

Practice made perfect as they took their time to get to know each other.

It didn’t take long to bond, to anticipate each other’s needs and moods.

Now they were inseparable.

He reached for her harness and she was at his side immediately.

🥕🥕🥕

What Will Go With Me? by Reena Saxena

I see my father-in-law, aged 90, act in a childlike manner, and hear the reactions,
“He has lost it totally.”

He has to be reminded of his wife’s first death anniversary, and he quietens down for some time. There is no calendar memory.

Suddenly, he grabs an envelope on the table which is somebody’s medical report, reads and gives the perfect prescription for the condition. The medical intelligence of a doctor who was once hailed as a genius, is intact.

I know what will enrich, and go with me till the end. My core competence needs to be nourished.

🥕🥕🥕

Janice by Saifun Hassam

Janice passed away the morning after her brain tumor surgery. Tom and Janice knew the risks. The tumor was growing into the cortex. Numb with shock and grief, Tom remembered her last words. “I love you. And thank you, Tom.”

They had plans for their own financial services agency. Having children. Traveling. She was courageous, determined, doing whatever was possible. She worked until headaches made online work unbearable. She continued to tutor the children at the library. Weekends were with Tom’s parents; Janice’s parents drove down from Seasquall.

Each day became a precious gift. “Janice, my love, thank you.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Farmer’s Wife by H.R.R. Gorman

Della’s nails always had earth under them.  Despite the bonnets and sleeves she wore, her skin would never be as milky-white as fashions required, as the folks in town would desire.

She surveyed the plains, ready for tilling and fertilizer.  Her horses swished their tails, her husband stood behind the plow.  In one hand she held the reins to another horse that pulled a wagon laden with manure, and with the other she held a pitchfork ready to toss the fertilizer onto the ground.

This smelly job would enrich the earth and keep the farm running, her family fed.

🥕🥕🥕

Amelioration for All by JulesPaige

in spring you can smell
the natural enrichment
of the local farms
*
mixed with petrichor
there is no denying the
return of spring in your face

until then though; smoke
rising from the chimney stacks
in attempts to ward off chills
*
animal compost happens
so stalls get cleaned daily
farmer’s own gold
*
enriching the corn
or other
crops packaged for sale
*
salvaged biosolids
are used
somewhere, everywhere, here and there
*
ancient kings used the
very same method for their
own private gardens

insecure to dine from the
public crops; were they enriched?

🥕🥕🥕

Bio-Enrichment by Chelsea Owens

“Whatcha got in your lunch, Bi890?”

“Nothin.’”

“C’mon. got plain ol’ Wondermeat again. You can’t have anything worse than that.”

…*Sigh*

“Hey, humanoids! What’s for lunch?!”

Greets, Bi880. I’ve got Wondermeat again.”

“Too mortal, Bi896! My parental unit sent me One Smart Cookie!”

No way!

“So future!”

know. Pretty spaced, yeah? …So, whatch you got, 890?”

“He won’t say.”

“Why not?”

“I just don’ wanna.”

“We won’ tell.”

“Sures. C’mon, ‘noid.”

*Sigh* “Homemade chicken noodle soup again.”

“What?! No way!”

“What is that stuff?”

*Sigh*

“It’s okay, 890.”

“Yeah, ‘noid. -not all parental units know what’s good for ya.”

🥕🥕🥕

Solitude by Joanne Fisher

Gertrude turned up the stereo while listening to Symphony No.2 by Sibelius. It was her most loved piece of music. She looked through the window and gazed down at the world below. The tower block she lived in was built by the Kren after they invaded the Earth and now she was so far up she could barely see the surface. It made her imagine she was down below wearing her favourite dress and among all the other people attending a concert in the new town hall.

The music enriched her drab life and enabled her to carry on.

🥕🥕🥕

Enriching by Pete Fanning

Occasionally while sitting down to dinner or passing through the kitchen, I’ll catch a glimpse of a family photo on the shelf. An adoring son in my lap, an arm around my wife. Happiness abounds.

Most of the time that’s it. Other times, however…

—TONIGHT, ON DATELINE. A BELOVED HUSBAND, FATHER…

Perhaps this blip in sanity is a chance to cherish my good fortune or to count my blessings. A chance to better myself.

—MYSTERIOUSLY VANISHED!!!

…be thankful for what I have.

—THOUGHT TO BE A VICTIM OF A BRUTAL…

Or maybe I just need to write it down.

🥕🥕🥕

Time to Kill by Neel Anil Panicker

It was his road map. Without it he was lost; like a duck out of water.
With one by his side, he felt like a king, almost empowered.

Books served as his enrichment; his intellectual succor that is.

A life without books he coudn’t fathom.

For this very reason he was chided too, even shouted at___by all, especially those who he knew, and that were quite a small number.

One was Ashni; his girlfriend, the girl he’d been living with for the past year.

Also, the one he’d decided to kill.

Sarthak felt no remorse when he thought about this.

🥕🥕🥕

There’s Enrichment And There’s The Other Thing by Geoff Le Pard

‘You ever wonder what dog food tastes like, Logan?’

‘Is this going somewhere?’

‘I saw an old advert, where some dog folder was enriched with marrowbone jelly…’

‘Oh yeah. PAL.’

‘Okay, mate?’

‘Mate?’

‘If you can call me ‘pal’ then I…’

‘The dog food. It was called PAL. Prolongs active life.’

‘You’re seriously dull. Anyhoo, dog food. Must be good if it’s enriched.’

‘Doesn’t follow.’

‘If you enrich something it’s an improvement.’

‘What about enriched uranium?’

‘Anybody tries anything fancy with my anium, they’ll wish they stayed in school.’

‘Morgan, you’re a complete wassock.’

‘True, but anyway dog food?’

🥕🥕🥕

Enrichment, in No Particular Order by TNKerr

art and artists
knowledge and teachers
buildings, builders and architects
children and discovery
dogs and cats
food, farmers, ranchers
coffee and mornings
freedom and soldiers

big skies in Montana

friends and family
oceans and boats
giving without taking
help and contributors
confabs and conversationalists
ideas and thinkers
jobs and colleagues
mountains and fresh air
music and players
amor y novias

New Mexico and wide open spaces

poetry and poets
sculptures and sculptors
seabirds and majesty
shipmates and brothers
when a plan works
stories and storytellers
wives and daughters, or husbands and sons
books and authors
cake and ice cream

🥕🥕🥕

Mucking Rich by D. Avery

“Ya know, Kid, Shorty never did strike me as no blogger; this here’s a actual place, virtual or not.”

“Yep. An’ they’s real folks at the ranch.”

“Kid, you writin’ agin?”

“Kinda like the prompt. Got some strong ideas ‘bout enrichment.”

“They’s a strong smell of it it off ya. Don’t think Shorty’s meanin’ manure though Kid.”

“It’s a Ranch, Pal. An’ who else’s gonna muck the stalls?”

*They once was a Kid with good luck, it
Helped that the Kid’uz happy to muck shit
Every week got a prompt
All a Kid could want
Gathered elixir in buckets*

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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…

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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!

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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…

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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?

🥕🥕🥕

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

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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!”

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Dishing Up Pasta

It’s a mac-and-cheese kind of read — comfort food for the literary soul. From beyond the myths of Marco Polo, pasta has traveled the globe in many forms from different cultures. Which came first, the Chinese noodle or the Italian spaghetti? Who knows for certain, but we do know that Thomas Jefferson introduced the colonies to macaroni and cheese, solidifying a future for America’s top pasta.

Writers took to pasta like worker bees, buzzing around the idea of how to dish it up in a story. Like fine dining or a casual dish to pass, these stories will leave you wanting seconds.

The following is based on the September 13, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes pasta.

PART I (10-minute read)

Tradition by Reena Saxena

We love Grandma, and yet are never on the same page where food is concerned. She cannot appreciate the subtle flavors in a pasta or pizza, or the convenience of having carbs, proteins and fats all in a single meal. She is so stuck up in her concept of a traditional Indian thali meal. Who has the time for that kind of luxury eating?

Yet, today, as I celebrate a festival away from home, I miss the unique, delicate flavors of different dishes. I try to put a meal together. I am more Indian at heart than I realized.

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Pasta Bee by Floridaborne

She waited for her word, looking down from the stage of her elementary school auditorium.   She’d loved sitting at the kitchen table learning to spell while pasta cooked and tomato sauce simmered on her mother’s stove.  She didn’t like standing under lights, stared at by 200 people.

“Antonia Giordano, spell…”

Starched ruffles itched at her neck, compliments of the dress her mother sewed from remnants for this occasion.  But that didn’t stop her from spelling out a word she’d known since the age of two.

“S-p-a-g-h-e-t-t-i,” she replied.

Maybe next year they’d give her a harder word; like Vermicelli.

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Too Bad It’s True by Susan Sleggs

Dear Diary, They say pasta is a comfort food. I’m choosing to believe that and plan to make a serving every Saturday from here to forever because it seems I end up at one hospital or another on Sunday. A few months ago I sat with my sister while she and her husband decided whether kidney dialysis was worth the extra time on earth for him. Two weeks ago it was my daughter fighting sepsis (she won) and this Sunday it was my son with a smashed shoulder. The wine is gone tonight, the yummy red sauce pasta awaits.

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Remember that Old Elvis Song, In the Ghetti? by Bill Engleson

“So many noodles in the world. Whatdaya think…? You gotta choose, eh!”

Right, buddy. It’s been a long day, All I want is a quiet bus ride home. But that ain’t happening, is it?

There I am, going all silently rhetorical on the fellow sitting next to me. And all he wants to do is chit-chat about pasta.

I try and remember what Emily Post had to say about Public Transportation Etiquette.

Nothing immediately jumps out.

So, I say, noncommittally, “Noodles?”

“Yeah man,” he says, “My mom’s Mac and Cheese. It was the best.”

Yeah, I think…mine was too.

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Spaghetti alla Carbonara by Bladud Fleas

The rule for pasta requires the water to be as salty as the Mediterranean. Paolo gives thanks it’s not Jordan and the Dead Sea. Nonna scrutinises him as he puts the chopped guanciale in the pan, heating slowly, extracting its flavoursome fat.
She’s a fine mentor; he’s a teaser.

He gets the cream jug from the fridge; she cries out, “ai-ai-ai!” and tries to snatch it but he keeps it out of reach. He laughs then, returns the jug and chooses an egg for beating. She pinches his cheek, within reach. So he knows Carbonara; she’s taught him well.

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Pasta – Preschool Style by Ritu Bhathal

“Okay, today we are making Mother’s Day gifts for your mummies, grandmas, or aunties.

What I want you to do is take the string in one hand, and pick up a piece of pasta.
Remember, the other day, we painted it?

It’s like a tube, and you can thread the string through it, and make a lovely necklace.

No, David, you can’t eat it.

Penny! Stop strangling Julia with the string!

Peter! Don’t tip the tray upside d-…

Don’t worry Mary, we can pick it all up, stop crying, please…”

The life of a pre-school teacher.

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Elbow Macaroni by TN Kerr

Margarite grinned wildly, stepped off the bus and hurried toward me.

When she got close she dropped her backpack and leapt into my arms.

“Holy smokes, Kiddo,” I pushed her hair back and kissed her, “what are you so excited about today.”

“Art class, Daddy. I made a picture of you.”

“With paints?”

“No.”

“With crayons?”

“No, Daddy. Mixed media,”

“Mixed media? What’s that?”

I put her down. She pulled a paper plate from her backpack and showed me.

Macaroni was glued to the plate. There were pencil lines and hints of orange marker. It looked just like me.

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Pasta Pray Tells: What Are We Eating, Exactly? by Peregrine Arc

The little girl grimaced in her seat, staring at her plate of pasta. The garlic bread basket sat in the middle of table, steamy and pleasant. Her parents urged her to try her meal.

The little girl sighed resignedly and tried to eat. The fork and spoon soon fell to her plate with a clatter.

“I can’t do it!” she exclaimed. “Please, don’t make me.”

“Why not, dear?”

“It’s angel’s hair!” the little girl sobbed. “Give it back to them, please!”

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Traditions by Heather Gonzalez

Angela stood on her tiptoes to be able to see over the counter top. Her nonna was mixing the pasta dough with her hands, and she was finally tall enough to watch. Each movement seemed like nonna had choreographed an intricate dance. Fingers and dough intertwining to create the magic of pasta.

After each piece of pasta was perfectly shaped, nonna motioned for Angela to come closer. This was it. She was finally getting a chance to be apart of the magic. Gently she lowered the perfectly crafted dough into the water with pride.

“Al dente. Perfecto.” Nonna smiled.

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A Fish Tale from Lake Country by Liz Husebye Hartmann

It couldn’t be un-seen. It was right there in front of me: the giant spaghetti bowl, the splash of Tante Lianna’s special sauce, meatballs rolling off the table and onto the floor, parmesan spread all over the dining room table, like sleet in a Minnesota mid-June storm.

And the noodles! Seemingly caught in mid-flight from the bowl, they lay heavy as nightcrawlers escaping a flooded sidewalk, the aftermath of the aforementioned storm, turned to punishing rain.

And Uncle Wilford, face down in the middle of it all.

He should have heeded the warning twinge in Tante Lianna’s trick knee.

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Love’s Give and Take by Sascha Darlington

“Pasta Puttanesca? Do I have to perform an intervention?”

“I’m at a crossroads.”

“Something you’re not telling me?”

“It’s not about you. It’s Chloe and that jerk.”

“AKA her husband?”

“He got fired. Wants to be a stay-at-home dad. Do consulting work.”

“Don’t see the problem.”

“You wouldn’t. You’re nothing like him. He’s perpetually lazy, doesn’t know how to use a vacuum or a dustpan. Stove’s foreign as well.

“Why’s this your problem?”

“I promised Mom I’d look after Chloe. I’ve failed.”

“He’s failing. Your pasta smells good.”

“Have some.”

“You didn’t use anchovies?”

“Not when you hate them.”

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Peter the Pasta Maker by Michael Grogan

Peter, the Pasta Maker, was a jolly chap.

Peter had a crush on the Lady Macaroni who would swan in each day and buy his freshest pasta. She never passed the time of day with him, she was focused on her pasta.

Always five hundred grams of spaghetti, she could never be tempted by a fettuccine or a Peter’s famous spiral.

One day she surprised him by asking he would cook for her, a pasta party with Peter the Pasta Maker would go well she thought.

Peter was flattered and prepared to make Lady Macaroni his best ever pasta.

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Flash Fiction by The Dark Netizen

“Is the order for table number ten ready?”

I turned the blaze of the cooking flame down and grasped the pan in my left hand. With my right hand, I expertly arranged the lines of spaghetti on the plate. Reuben walked up to me and winked.

“You know, she’s looking quite fine in her black dress today.”

I peeked outside through the kitchen door window. There she was again, sitting in perfect poise, making my heart beat harder. Reuben whispered.

“Tell her, man!”

I put the final touch on the dish with the red sauce.

“A red heart, sweet!”

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A Visit To The ER by Patrick O’Connor

“Pasta! I want pasta!”

“It must be penne pasta, with meatballs, and marinara.”

The doctor stared at me with a quizzical look.

My wife shook her head and said “That sounds about right. He loves his pasta.”

After the x-rays, CT Scan, and EKG, they worked on getting the blood pressure back up.

“I’m sure your wife will take you to get some pasta once you are released.”

“I’ll make sure of it Doctor.”

Seemed like forever before we got out of the ER.

Got to the restaurant and ordered penne pasta with meatballs and marinara.

“I’m not hungry.”

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Flash Fiction by Robbie Cheadle

“Would you like some spaghetti bolognaise, Nan?”

“Absolutely not. I don’t eat that foreign food. Nasty, gloopy stuff. You can’t even pick it up on your spoon properly; it slithers right off.”

“Why don’t you just give it a try, Nan? It really is very tasty with David’s sauce.”

“No, thank you. I would rather eat English mashed potatoes. Such a versatile food. Did I ever tell you how we used it to make pastry during the war when we couldn’t get flour?”

“Yes, Nan,” said Julie with a sigh. “You have told me about potato pastry many times.”

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Lunch by oneletterup

“I think I know who she is.”
“What should we do?”

They whisper, but she hears.
Crouching in the hall shadows. Hidden.
Disappearing. Like before.

“Lunch time!” the nice man calls.
The little girl and little boy are at school.
She perches on the edge of her chair.
Her very own place at their table.

“Honey…” the nice lady begins.
“We’re so sorry…”
Looking down.
“You can’t stay here anymore.”

The girl freezes. Stares. Forkful of spaghetti suspended.
Fingers clench into a fist snapping the fork upright.
Steaming tomato sauce spatters.
Drips down her hand.
Red spreading. Staining.
Everywhere.

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Pasta for Breakfast by Norah Colvin

Papa Bear pushed back his chair. “Not this muck again.”

Mama Bear stopped mid-ladle. “It’s Baby Bear’s favourite. I— I thought it was yours too.”

Baby Bear’s lip quivered.

“Pfft! Sometimes a bear needs real food.” He grabbed his hat. “I’m going for a walk.”

“Papa!” Baby Bear went after him.

Mama Bear dumped the porridge, pot and all, into the bin, grabbed her hat and followed.

“Where are we going?” asked Baby Bear.

“Somewhere nice for breakfast. It is spring after all.”

Papa Bear paused outside BreakFasta Pasta, then went in.

Mama Bear smiled; pasta was her favourite.

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The Legendary Feud by Anurag Bakhshi

The boy’s great-great-great-grandfather was apparently the one to blame

For he called the pasta sauce of the girl’s great-great-great-Nonna tagliatelle, listless and tame

The echo of that insult had now been felt by these two star-crossed lovers

Who, let’s admit it, were just looking for some good old action between the covers

Their dead bodies were a testament to the folly of pride

A lesson that a family pasta recipe is not something to mock or deride

As the Bard put it so succinctly- For never was a story of more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo

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No Pasta Was Harmed in Making This Story by Anne Goodwin

She snipped off the seal and upended the pack. Closed her eyes as fusilli clattered into the bowl. Paused, shook her head, reached for the rigatoni bag.

An hour later, there was barely room for his coffee cup among the bowls of dried pasta on the kitchen worktop. “Tell me, you’re cooking dinner at six in the morning or you’ve invited a kindergarten class for hands-on play?”

“Isn’t it obvious? I’m researching sound effects for my radio drama next month.”

“You’ve set it in a restaurant? In Italy?”

“A shack in Madagascar. I’m recreating rain on a corrugated-iron roof.”

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My London Marathon by Kelvin M. Knight

I squinted through the rain. The other competitors looked comically savage – the way their dyed hair dripped down their faces. Nonetheless, these fun runners were out my league. Hugging my bin liner coat, I felt under dressed. I felt under trained. I should have done more. These words were my epitaph.

Still, I eat more than anyone else at the pasta party yesterday evening, so the complex carbohydrates would be on my side, along with this pantomime horse, this huge banana, and this Herculean woman with a refrigerator chained to her back.

Groaning, I waved at the BBC cameraman.

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World’s Worst Poem, Plated by Chelsea Owens

Perdonnez, signora, will you taste my
veritable vermicelli which lost a

Tagliatelle or gnocchi -or was
it tortellini or gemelli?- that cost a

Few dozzina homemade noodles: measured,
mixed, rolled, chopped, shaped, and boiled -hasta

Domani, questa mattina -when nappy
And wriggly rigatoni-head rastas

Dangle candid cannelloni for
colazione (o pranzo o cena o altro) sauced, a

Banchetto of bavett, bucatini,
bigoli, e barbina; which fosta

Amore, our home country joy; precious
mem’ries of mamma o zia o ci, who bossed a

Flourishing, famishing family,
practically-plated with a plethora of pasta.

If that doesn’t bake your noodle, you’ve lost-a.

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Pasta by Anita Dawes

What is it good for, not eating.
Throw it at the wall, see if it sticks.
Leave it until it falls off, give it to the kids to play with.
Oh, wait a minute they have already done that.
My granddaughters have used it for school projects
Picture frames you cannot dust…
The Italians love to tell us it has to be Al dente, the bite.
The thought of eating pasta makes me want to run for the hills…
And I know it’s well-loved across the globe
But seriously, why was it ever invented?
Does it grow on trees?

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PART II (5-minute read)

Mangia, Sii Benedetto e Mangia! by JulesPaige

Mama thought a good way to teach us to listen was to keep our mouths full. Mama would serve us bountiful plates of Orecchiette. Sometimes the way Nonna Bella would make It, or she used recipes from Nonna Julia. Northern and Southern Italians cooked a bit differently. But there was always too much food!

Nonna Bella made rich red tangy sauces. While Nonna Julia employed creamy cheeses to dress her pasta.

Today you can get Gluten free pasta. Though Doc’s say a serving is one cup cooked of any shape you choose. And that Isn’t nearly enough, is it?

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Boon or Bane? by Deepa

I was drenched in sweat that soaked the back of my clothes like a scattered map. My fitness tracker blinked up a new record today. It was the best result accomplished for my running record.

Well, don’t I deserve a small treat?

I swiped the pasta mania app in my mobile and selected the double cheese creamy chicken pasta, porcini mushroom, and an orange drink to balance my cheesy treat.

From a fitness tracker to palatable feelings, everything in a swipe at your door service.

Mobile apps, is it a boon or a bane?

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So What’s for Dinner? by Di @ pensitivity101

Tomatoes red,
Tomatoes green,
Hundred of marbles
On vines to be seen.
Pasta is long,
Pasta is thick,
Cheesy or savoury,
It’s simple and quick.
Put them together
A meal in a flash,
Wholesome and nourishing,
Even better than mash.
Add meat and an onion
For spaghetti bolognese,
Or kidney beans and chilli
On somewhat colder days.
Pasta is versatile,
Be it boiled or baked,
One thing I’ve not tried yet
Is a pasta filled cake.
Macaroni is pasta,
Add sugar and UHT
To make a sweet pudding
As afters for tea.
Pasta’s a staple,
For Hubby and me.

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Chester, the Reluctant Dinner Guest by Molly Stevens

“Myra invited us over for pasta tonight,” Ruth said.

“Pasta?” said Chester. “Don’t she mean spaghetti?”

“No, she was clear about it. She said pasta.”

“Well, la-de-da! That’s what she calls it, does she? Was there another fancy name stuck to her highfalutin pasta, like ‘prime-a-veers?’”

“She didn’t say. It’ll be a surprise.”

Harrumph. “I better grab a six-pack of Papst Blue Ribbon. I know she’ll be pourin’ some cheek wine, like chardonnee that will give me heartburn.

“You can always stay at home if you’d like.”

“Nah, I’ll go with along you. Besides, I’m clean out of SpaghettiOs”

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Mother’s Italian Cooking by AbijitRay

“I am going out, shall be back by evening.”

“I am making a new dish Shailaja, don’t go before you try.”

“Mother has become adventurous;” wondered Shailaja, “she is experimenting with non Indian recipes!”

“What’s cooking mother? Am I your only guinea pig?”

“Today I am making Italian noodles.”

“Italian noodles, mother! Its called vermicelli; noodle is Chinese. Spoken in public, this may result in a diplomatic incidence!”

“Stop lecturing, try this out. This is vermicelli cooked Indian way.”

Shailaja found her mother in kitchen juggling a cook book in Hindi along with a host of vegetables and spices.

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Remembering Terra by Saifun Hassam

Down at the SeaQuail Market, by the old Fishermen’s wharf, we feasted on a picnic lunch under blue summer skies.

Jumbo pasta shells overflowing with sautéed shrimp, sun-drenched tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, red and green bell peppers, olives, garlic and onions marinated in olive oil and just that delicate touch of rosemary, fennel and basil.

A generous sprinkling of shredded mozzarella, Gorgonzola and Parmesan cheese.

Espresso coffee and cinnamon ginger fudge.

In a week, Adriana, an astronaut and biochemist, would report for training for her first assignment to Mars. She was my sister. Would we ever see each other again?

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Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

David shut the door, shaking his head. Heather smirked. “Who was that?”

“The Pastafarians,” he said with a flourish.

“Welcome to Austin, right?”

“You’d think they’d respect dinner time.”

“What did he say, about the Flying Spaghetti Monster?”

They watched the disciples slink down the driveway, the tallest holding a book with a noodle dangling from the binding. “Do you think they’re serious?”

David shrugged, halfway holding a smile. “No. Yeah. I mean, I think that’s the point. We take this stuff too seriously.”

“Careful. You could get struck down talking like that.”

“Wouldn’t that just prove their point?”

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Fettuccini Afraid-O by Susan Shuman

“This menu is amazing…” Shelley feigned enthusiasm.

“Get whatever you want,” Eddie shrugged. “Looks like you could use a good meal.”

“Oh, I can’t decide…”

Eddie wished she’d leave her hair alone. It looked like she was trying to strangle her fingertips with it. “Why are you doing that?”

“Huh?” Shelley let go of her hair. “Oh, bad habit.” Her throat tightened.

The waitress brought a steaming loaf of bread to their table and began rattling off the pasta specials.

That’s what did it.

Shelley stifled a scream and scrambled for the door—

Phagophobia: a legacy from her mother.

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Pasta by Deborah Lee

Jane ambles through the grocery store, pushing a cart and luxuriating in the experience of grocery shopping. Like people who have a food budget, cupboards to store recipe ingredients, a kitchen for melding them into a home-cooked meal, refrigerator for leftovers.

She hesitates in the pasta aisle, torn between the thought of a steak or her mother’s standby, macaroni with tomatoes and cheese melted through. She used to think of pasta as poor-people food – before she became a poor-people. But it will always be comfort food, Jane thinks, tossing three times as much as she needs into her basket.

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Bottlenecks

Whether you are slammed in a bottleneck of traffic or sitting on the front porch slamming back bottlenecks of beer, the time such moments lend a person is pause to contemplate. Bottlenecks might slow down processes or create unexpected releases.

Stories about bottlenecks vary in design as much as glasswork. You might feel the urge to wedge a lime into a bottleneck of your own as you read.

The following are based on the August 30, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a bottleneck.

Part I (10-minute read)

Commuting by kate @ aroused

My senses were being assaulted by the cacophony of others preferred listening choices. Our windows were wound down to catch any air. Driving home during peak hour was a drag, concentrating on traffic after intense work.

The main thought that was getting me through was of the sushi I’d picked up and the promise of a long hot shower. Then curling under my sheet with a good book … the kind you held and turned the pages. Electronic reading was not for me.

My wandering mind is brought back with a jolt as the traffic bottlenecked around an accident.

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Bottleneck by FloridaBorne

We waited behind a semi, unable to see what blocked the road ahead. I sneezed at the diesel exhaust and asked my wife, “Found anything yet?”

The truck moved forward a few feet, and then stopped again, cars merged from the left lane as my wife stared at her tablet. “We’ll be out of this bottleneck in another 50 feet.”

“Was there an accident?”

“No,” she sighed. Traffic moved past an area where the left lane was devoid of anything but a lone boot.

That’s all it takes to stop traffic in LA — a shoe in the road.

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Acrostic Bottleneck by TN Kerr

B eneath the dormant wheels
O f this sharp, sleek, motionless luxury automobile
T he motorway lies still, inert and unmoving despite my serious objections. Roll up the windows then,
T he heat is relentless and the malodourous exhaust fumes of a thousand cars
L ingers and mingles languidly with the
E ther that surrounds us.
N eedless to say, we should take the next available
E xit, we should find a relaxing spot to picnic; or a back road we might use as an alternative – a means to
C ircumnavigate this bottleneck, else we won’t be home before
K wanzaa, and it’s not yet Guy Fawkes Night.

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Idiots on the Road (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Ike passed cars like a Hollywood speed-chase. Danni put her hand on his knee, “Slow down.”

“These idiots on the road are going to cause an accident.”

Danni kept her opinion that Ike was the one driving like an idiot. You’d think he was chasing down Al Qaeda in a Humvee the way he swerved around slower vehicles.

Stands of pines zipped past until traffic ahead came to a bottleneck at Culvers Point. Ike swore smooth as opera. Tourists stopped in the road to snap pictures of a mama moose. Danni reminded Ike, “Remember, we’re in Idaho, not Iraq.”

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Lemons, Limes and Other Mysteries by Norah Colvin

She hit the brakes and thumped the steering wheel.

“Mummy swore.”

“Didn’t.”

“I heard.”

“Why we stopped, Mummy?”

“There’s a traffic jam.”

“Jam? I love stawbrey jam sammich.”

“Not that jam — must be a bottleneck up ahead.” Please be a merge, not an accident.

“We learned ‘bout bottlenecks today.”

“What?”

“Live in the ocean. Maminals, like us. Where’s bottleneck, Mummy?”

“Not bottleneck, Jamie, bottlenose.”

“You said bottleneck.”

“I meant — aargh!”

Finally, they were home.

“You look frazzled, hon.”

She rolled her eyes and took the beer.

“Why lemon is in your bottle neck?” asked Jamie.

“Because it’s not lime.”

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A Lesson in Trust by Susan Sleggs

My grandson’s dentist appointment was after school which meant dealing with rush-hour traffic. While sitting on the overpass waiting for the light so I could turn onto the expressway ramp, I could look down to gauge the usual traffic bottleneck. Bad news. Traffic was completely stopped. I said, “We’re going for a little ride to avoid the expressway.”

“Ok.”

I wound my way around side streets going north and west.

I heard from the backseat, “I have no idea where we are!”

After two more turns he saw familiar buildings. “You weren’t lost after all Grandma? I was worried.”

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Word Jam by Ritu Bhathal

Words.
Snippets.
Stories.
Poems.
Novels.

The ideas were just pouring out of my mind, my heart, my soul, and I didn’t know where to start.

No, that’s not right.

I knew where to start, I just couldn’t work out where to stop, how to organise the thoughts rushing through me.

My fingers danced across the keyboard, letters appearing, filling pages and pages.

Faster and faster they came, until-

They stopped.

I knew there was more to come out, but it was as if the impatience of my ideas had caused a bottleneck in my brain.

Time for the muse…

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Backcountry Bottleneck by Ann Edall-Robson

A body and soul drive along gravel roads riddled with potholes is nothing short of bliss. The gray matter lodged between the ears has no expectations other than to watch for what Mother Nature has to offer. There is no rush in this journey. It is a plethora of whoa, stop, back up moments soaking in the sights on a trek to an unknown destination. Traffic lights do not exist, and the only bottleneck to endure may be a herd of cattle coming at you on the road. There is nothing like the backcountry to rejuvenate the writing mind.

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Empty Bottles All in A Row by Billy Ray Chitwood

Those empty bottles tell a pitiful story of my life, Buckaroos!

Those empty bottles once carried many of those once-held dreams I carried around in my head, all rather noble and fitting for human consumption – for anyone willing to listen to my maudlin cries for do-overs written out on barroom napkins and motel room stationery.

Those empty bottles lit me up like a neon billboard, allowing me to show off my amazing way with the women and with words.

One thing wrong with that pitiful story…

It left me a ‘wimp of a man’!

So, the tombstone says!

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A Grain Of Sand by Patrick O’Connor

A single grain of sand at a time.

One by one, they slip through the bottleneck of the hourglass.

Our lives, measured in time is representative of those grains of sand.

One day at a time, our lives slip through our fingers.

Are we striving to leave a legacy or simply living for the moment?

Meanwhile, another life gasps as the last grain of sand drops.

A sad day for some; a joy for others.

How will people remember us; or will they remember us at all.

Only time will tell – one single grain of sand at a time.

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The Slide by oneletterup

She sees it. Poking out from under the sofa. She reaches down, closing her hand around the smooth green glass.

Just like Gramma’s! When she played the big guitar. Special for her.

“Honey, this is a bottleneck slide. It goes on my finger. Look!”

Then Gramma would smile, wink and whisper…

“This song is just for you.”

Pressing on the strings, she’d slide the glass. And sing. And fill them both up…

”If not for you…I’d be sad and blue if not for you…”

 

The little girl finds her there.

Holding the green slide. Tight.

“You found it!”

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Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams by JulesPaige

Tammy wondered if it was always this hard to buy your first home. You had to prove you were, have been and would be employed – able to make mortgage payments.

What started out as a simple bottleneck situation turned into a log jam. The red tape became like a thick hungry boa constrictor wanting to squeeze the very life from her with having to fill out form after form after form.

There would be a celebration eventually. Hopefully soon. One where she’d invite her best friends to uncork a bottle of champagne. When she finally held her home’s key.

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The Bottle Opener by Robert Kirkendall

A party goer grabbed a longneck bottle of ale from an ice chest and searched around. “Anyone know where the bottle opener is?”

“I got this,” another party goer said as he picked up another beer bottle. “Now give me yours.”

The first party goer handed him his bottle, then the second party goer held his bottle upside down and placed the edge of its bottlecap against the other bottlecap. “A little trick I learned in college, using one bottle to open another.”

A cap popped off and beer spilled all over his pants.

“Ooops, wrong cap came off.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bottleneck Life by Kayuk

“Ready for the big job interview this afternoon?”

I grin across the table at Sally, “You bet!  I’ve been preparing for weeks.”

“Well, you certainly look stunning. The old ivory of the suit sets the perfect tone.”

“Thanks”, I say, draping a napkin across my lap and picking up the fork.

Startled by a crash and yell behind me, I leap from my chair and turn in time to see the waiter’s foot descend on a plastic catsup bottle sliding across the floor. Pressurized contents spew from the bottleneck splashing the front of my perfect suit with garish red.

🥕🥕🥕

Trust Deficit by Abhijit Ray

“Bottleneck is always at the top,” thundered CEO in the townhall meeting, on productivity, he convened for his employees, after attending a conference.

“Tell me is what problems you face? Is it resource allocation, time management or decision making?” senior managers shifted uncomfortably in their seats, as chief goaded his employees for a response.

There was pin drop silence, till an eager beaver junior shuffled in his seat. “Idiot! Not yet confirmed, you are a sitting duck,” whispered his friend, “this is all sham. CEO knows very well, where the bottleneck is. He is trying to identify trouble makers.”

🥕🥕🥕

Quality Control by Liz Huseby Hartmann

“There’s your bottleneck,” Justin nodded at the bleach-blonde woman at the end of the production line. A stack of TMPuregold Widgets sat to her left. Picking one, she held it up, squinting along its length, and nodded.

“Lorna’s a bottleneck?” His uncle chewed the end of his mustache.

“She’s slow.”

Lorna picked up another widget, ran her hand across its end, and crooked her finger at a young brunette. They bent their heads together. The younger brought the piece back to her station, smiling.

“I have lots of streamlining ideas, Uncle.”

“Tell your mother we’re not hiring just now.”

🥕🥕🥕

You Made Your Bed by Sascha Darlington

First a bottleneck on the road and now a bottleneck at the charity event. I see who is causing it and suddenly wish I had a bottleneck in my hand, preferably high-proof.

I try to avoid her, but she’s holding court, her brittle laughter wince-worthy. When her eyes focus on me, her lips tighten.

“Surprised you came.”

I sigh. “I’m chair.”

She waggles her diamond before darting to my ex-. Robert glances up. Do I see regret? Perhaps the younger, improved model wasn’t as good as the original.

Jake squeezes my hand. “You look beautiful tonight.”

Mine is though.

🥕🥕🥕

Lil’ Ugly by D. Avery

When he drew a bull called Lil’ Ugly the other cowboys laughed.

Bow legged and barrel-chested with a bottle neck and a jug head, he endured a great deal of ribbing. He disappointed his tormentors by walking away. They could tell they angered him but could never get him to throw a punch. In addition to picking on his looks they questioned his manhood.

As he approached the chute the others joked, wondered who was going to be on top.

They didn’t wonder any longer than eight seconds.

They knew now what he did with his bottled up rage.

🥕🥕🥕

Saddleback Sanctuary (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam

Where the valley narrowed, the flagstone path disappeared under boulders and jagged rocks. Landslide from early spring. Diamante surveyed the bottleneck. He weaved carefully around the larger rocks, clambering up and down smaller ones. He paused to rest. A lark flew up into the warm sunny skies. A lizard slithered across the boulder, briefly eyed Diamante, and disappeared. No bottlenecks for lizard or lark.

Another half mile and he was on the flagstone trail again. The ancient abandoned monastery came into view. Near an open broken gate, a giant tortoise slept, its neck well hidden within its saddleback shell.

🥕🥕🥕

Part II (10-minute read)

Bottleneck by Anita Dawes

Something we experience when pushing our way into a new life. A tight space, hard to get out of.

Days when the tension holds on to the back of my neck like giant metal claws.

Other times I feel as if I have been snapped back in time, trapped inside the Trojan horse with a bunch of sweaty human beings, waiting to do battle.

The sun will come back and you can move on with your life. The way ahead is clear, or am I trapped inside someone else’s mind?

Is this the bottleneck that will finally break me?

🥕🥕🥕

Bottleneck by katimac

They say humans of many forms lived a long time ago. Then a natural disaster struck which wiped out nearly all of them. It was most likely the progenitor of the Great Flood stories found in nearly every culture. Geologists can point to physical signs of it all at about the same time, nearly seventy thousand years ago. Anthropologists can point to one at the same time, about seventy thousand years ago, when mankind was reduced to a small bottleneck group on the western coast of Africa. We ain’t none of us lily-white if we go back far enough.

🥕🥕🥕

This Time, This Place by Kelvin M. Knight

Standing in his pulpit, he regarded one bottleneck after another: his overworked PCC; the cavalier making of tea during the service; the choir grumbling behind him; the organ whimpering far far away.

He prayed silently, swiftly. Upon opening his eyes, he spied a congregation transformed. Now they all looked resplendent in starched white collars, whereas he was a shadow, bloated and distorted, and pinched in so many places: from his wallet to his timesharing; from his patience to his love.

Realising he was more guilty than them, he pondered the complexities of daring to share this truth with them.

🥕🥕🥕

Not Exactly an Hour-glass Figure by Di @ pensitivity101

‘You need to go on a diet.’

‘Don’t you start! How can I help it if there’s so much to choose from, I want to try it all?’

‘Somehow seeing you stuck like that is doing you no favours as regards your street cred.’

‘I’ll have you know this colour is very fetching! Brings out the natural blue of my eyes.’

‘At the moment they look a bit bloodshot. You’ve probably cut off your circulation, you’ve gotten so fat.’

‘No need to be nasty. I’ll just make a wish!’

‘But that’s cheating!’

‘Ha! I’m a Genie darling! I’m allowed!’

🥕🥕🥕

Bored Panda by Deepa

Honey, does this look good?

I nod quickly thinking my way to escape.

Is this one better? She asked me.

If I nod again, I fear she’ll say, ‘so what is wrong with the first one?’

Which one do you prefer? This was she again.

Oh, darling! You look equally amazing in both.

Oh, honey! Do you mean to say can I have both?

It is a terror for spouses when it comes to shopping.

A pleasure for sales guys and a reason for more congestion in the roads and malls.
Buy 1, get one free!

🥕🥕🥕

Jessie by Kay Kingsley

It had been 3 weeks and 4 days since Mike and Jessie had broken up and each second that passed was agony for him.

He sat in his usual chair at the bar hoping to be as invisible as he felt, a chameleon basked in neon.

The bar was a loud distraction as he mindlessly stroked the bottle neck, lost in the memory of her smile and the smell of her perfume. Full of regret, his heart ached.

When she touched his shoulder from behind, he looked up and thought it was a dream. They smiled at each other.

🥕🥕🥕

Bottleneck by Frank Hubeny

Some say your real brains are in your gut. Bill knew his wasn’t in his brain. Sharon doubted he had any in his gut either.

That’s when she got pregnant and started worrying.

That’s when they had to move to a smaller apartment.

That’s when it looked like he would lose his job.

That’s also when he didn’t lose his job, but got an indirect promotion.

That’s also when they realized they loved that new apartment.

That’s when he held her and told her he was glad she was pregnant.

That’s when she changed her mind about his brains.

🥕🥕🥕

One Night, Both Ends of Life by Paula Moyer

One Night, Both Ends of Life

6:30: the call. Finally, that night.

“Today’s the day.” Her nephew Max, about his father, Jean’s brother.

“Did he die?”

“Yes.” The wait/weight – done. Alcoholic organ failure – complete.

7:30 p.m.: the text. “My water broke.” A very pregnant woman’s message to Jean, her doula. “But nothing’s happening.” Jean gassed up anyway.

9:30: the call. The husband. “It’s time.”

Jean battled State Fair traffic, road work, bridge closures.

10:10: Raced into the birth center. “Waaa!” On the floor: Chux pads, blood everywhere. On the bed: parents and one angry baby.

11:30: the drive home, joy and grief wedged in together.

🥕🥕🥕

Hillsborough, April 1989 by Anne Goodwin

The match was a sell-out, but progress through the turnstiles deathly slow. To ease the tension outside, they opened the gates and funnelled the supporters directly into the already swollen stand. As the game kicked off, no-one heard the protests of those at the front, the screams forced from crushed lungs. While grown men cried for their mams, kids hadn’t the air to whimper. The first to scale the fence were met with truncheons. Belatedly, the ambulances pulled onto the pitch.

No goals were scored that day. But records were broken in the numbers killed at a sporting event.

🥕🥕🥕

The Happiest Traffic Jam on Earth by Chelsea Owens

“When will we get dere?”

Sigh.

“It’s …uh, your turn to answer him, Dear.”

“Whe-e-e-e-en will we get de-e-e-e-ere?”

“I told you, Honey. We’ll be there soon.”

“Yeah. ‘Soon.’”

“You said that a long time ago!”

“Alvy. Honey-”

“I wish you wouldn’t call him-”

“No! You said we go in duh car!”

“Yes, Sweetheart. Vroom! Vroom! Remember?”

“Not vrooming…”

“You said LITTLE ride in duh car!”

“Well, I meant-”

“You did tell him just a little ride-“

WAAAAAAAAAH!

“Dear, please. That’s not helping to side with him…”

“Are we picking sides?”

“WHEN WILL WE GET DERE?!”

“Your turn.”

Sigh.

🥕🥕🥕

It’s a Boy! by Sarah Whiley

I twisted.

I urged.

Yet still, the cap wouldn’t budge.

I felt so frustrated. This liquid was yearning for release for human consumption and to be enjoyed.

It was a perfect summer’s day for a beer.

Not ready to concede defeat, I kept on trying.

The effort began to hurt my hands.

Damn this thing, I thought.

Then suddenly, I felt it.

A helpful force; working with me from the other side.

Oh joy of joys, the cap began to move!

Finally it was released, and cool liquid amber gushed through the bottle neck.

“It’s a boy!” I smiled.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Music pulsed, matching the thump of my heart in my ears as I leaned in and gave the wine bottle a carefully planned spin. Breath held. The circle tightened. Julie Jennings’ knee touched against mine, the bottleneck now a whir of fate.

Thump. Warmth hit my cheeks as the wand settled on Julia. A nervous laugh. What now? But with a giggle Julie nudged it two more places—miles it seemed!—to the metallic smile of Christina Cash. A small terror in my chest. A gust of strawberries. Julia shrugged, winked, then shoved me off towards her best friend.

🥕🥕🥕

Chester Makes Amends by Molly Stevens

Chester knew he had to dig himself out of a crater after he gave the wrong impression to his wife, Ruth.

He settled on his strategy and said, “I remember the exact moment I knew you was the one. And though it was magic, my decision to ask for your hand in marriage had nothin’ to do with a silly eight ball.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. I chose you in the fifth grade.”

“Really?”

“Remember the party at Rosie house? We gathered in a circle, and I spun first. When the bottleneck pointed in your direction, I knew you’d be mine.”

🥕🥕🥕

Bottlenecking by Bill Engleson

I peer into the darkness.

Stella’s driving.

The fog’s thicker than shower steam.

“There’s the turnoff,” I point, bumping my digit against the windshield.

“I see it,” she snaps. “I’m not blind.”

“Sorry…” I apologize, shaking my bent finger.

“Did you hurt your pinkie?” she asks.

“No. Just nerves.”

The offramp quickly turns into a one-lane cow path.

“I can barely see,” she offers.

“It’s a good thing you’re driving,” I confess. “I can’t see squat.”

Suddenly, a tiny wooden bridge appears.

“THAT,” she says, “looks flimsy. I’m turning back.”

“Can’t. Bosses party.”

“And we’re…?”

“Yup. The only guests.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Real Winner by Anurag Bakhshi

I looked down at the battlefield, and my heart filled with pride.

My fellow countryman Leonidas and his small band of 300 Spartans had been pitted against more than a million of the invading army of Xerxes.

But the wily Leonidas had taken a stand at a bottleneck in the pass at Thermopylae, and stopped the Persians dead in their tracks for three days.

And the mighty Persian Army would still be fighting a futile battle if I, Ephialtes, hadn’t told them about the hidden path that would allow them to flank Leonidas and his men, and slaughter them.

🥕🥕🥕

Bottleneck by Reena Saxena

“I will not give my land. The price you offer is not enough to sustain me, and I don’t have any other means to earn a livelihood.”

“Do you understand that this is for a mega-project, which will change the face of the countryside. History will not forgive you for being a bottleneck in progress.”

“History might forgive and glorify you, but goodness will not.” He signed the sale deed.

Three years later, the land purchased by the parliamentarian’s brother was sold at thirty times the price he bought it for. It helps to know about future developmental plans.

🥕🥕🥕

Slow and Steady Kid by D. Avery

“Hey, Pal. Have a beer with me. Ever wonder why bottles is shaped the way they are, with the long neck?”

“Mebbe it’s so it’s easier ta pour. But we got no glass nor class, drinkin’ right outta the bottle.”

“If ya hang onta the bottle neck yer beer doesn’t git all warm.”

“Jist drink it down fast. Gimme anuther Kid.”

“I like coozies, ‘specially handy with so many switchin’ ta cans.”

“Don’t need a coozie, jist drink ‘em right down. ‘Nuther, Kid.”

“You prefer bottles, or cans, Pal? Pal?”

“Uh…”

“That was fast. Pal’s downed from downin’ beer.”

🥕🥕🥕

Magic

What we call magic can be inexplicable — the fantastic, supernatural, universality of experiences beyond the realm of the five senses. Magic can be dark or ethereal. It can be a moment, or, as Elizabeth Gilbert explains, Big Magic is the courage to hunt for the creative life.

Enchanted, or not, writers set out to story-craft tales of magic this week. Like a rabbit pulled from a hat, you’ll be surprised at what emerged.

The following is based on the August 23, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes magic.

PART I (10-minute read)

On the Occasion of the Poet’s Being Challenged (or TGIF) by JulesPaige

Magic for me, starts at dusk
after the sun has retired.
One must wait an entire cycle
for the moonflower to bloom.
Defenceless against the weather,
the desire to grow at night
in shadow is strong.

I find a quality in dusk turning to night
that makes it seem as if the silver river
flows slower over the stones.

The heat of a summer day
makes me tired.
I discover strength in darkness.
Uncover the burdens of night dreaming
and cover myself in moon glow.

Repeat over and over a mantra of freedom.
“It is Friday, it is Friday!”

🥕🥕🥕

Magic Exists by Pamela

Magic exists
In the space between the words
In the ideas left unthought
And in the needs now left unspoken

Magic exists
In the dreams as yet undreamt
In the strangers still unmet
And in the future paths untrod

Magic exists
In your mind and in your soul
And in your heart so cautiously
It exists in you

Look for the magic
Be open to its charms
Bask in the wonders
Of the magic that exists

Look for the magic
Before it is gone
I cannot imagine a world so bereft
That magic was not a part
Of me

🥕🥕🥕

Magic by The Dark Netizen

The old man observed the couple in his crystal ball.

They were standing at the sea face, hand in hand, looking at the setting red orb in the sky.

“You know baby, when we are together, it feels magical.”

She looked into his eyes and smiled in agreement.

The old wizard however had a grim face. He spotted two shadows approaching the oblivious couple. There was no way they could sense the darkness approaching. The old man turned to his assistant.

“Merlyn, we need to move fast. We cannot lose our source of magic. We must protect true love…”

🥕🥕🥕

Adamant Acceptance by JulesPaige

Young Kendra willed magic. Ever since the first time death visited her family. Maybe Azrael possessed some healing powers? The girl wanted to communicate with those who had crossed over. Since the ones who were still
around didn’t really communicate very well.

Didn’t the adults read any of the books that contained rituals for magic? If they had maybe they wouldn’t shout so much or rub salt in old wounds. How could they live with themselves?

Kendra would read all the books, even if they
believed she could not read. She would whisper,
repeat and most of all believe.

🥕🥕🥕

Janice by Saifun Hassam

With eyes closed, Janice traced the delicate raised patterns on her favorite porcelain vase. Dogwood flowers, swallows, leaves on curving branches. The subtle magic of that touch flowed into her mind.

Her left eye was still blind. Her right eye filled with vision, tears. Fear and hope. The tumor had crushed the left optic nerve, destroyed the pituitary gland and sent tendrils into the gray matter.

She savored the taste of cherry chocolate cake Tom had prepared for her. She breathed in the aroma of the coffee. He had gone to work, but he had left her with magic.

🥕🥕🥕

Magic Moment by Sherri Matthews

‘Happy Birthday, hope you like it!’

Colin tore off the wrapping paper revealing a child’s magic set to roars of laughter from his friends.

‘Thanks guys…nice one…you bastards.’

Colin laughed along, but the memory of his family’s teasing when he had put on his first magic show as a kid still stung. Not that his friends knew. It didn’t matter. They only knew that Colin was a media sensation after his win on Britain’s Got Talent.

‘Drinks on me.’

Everybody turned as Simon Cowell arrived holding a magnum of champagne.

Nothing beat the magic of that night for Colin.

🥕🥕🥕

Footloose by D. Avery

Ilene Higginbottom pulled a folding chair from the bed of the El Camino and joined Marge and Ernest where they sat in their camp chairs outside the shop.

“That’s a pretty fancy camp chair, Ilene, dual cup-holders, and look at you, it reclines too!”

“Yeah, I like to put my foot up. This’s the last thing I bought with my ex-boyfriend’s money before letting him go; only thing about him appealed to me was his magic mailbox.”

Ernest squeezed Marge’s hand before going for more beer, told her he’d start dinner.

“Marge,” said Ilene, “What you’ve got is real magic.”

🥕🥕🥕

Reckoning by Kerry E.B. Black

“Where is your wife, Ward?” The magistrate’s robes flapped like a gaping hole.

“She took our son to visit her family.” Thank God she fled.

But what of Nina? Legs twisted like gnarled, unsupportive vines. Defenseless. Her only crime saving his infant’s life.

The magistrate rested a heavy hand upon Ward’s shoulder. It pressed like a stone. “Your wife will be tried. She consorted with a witch to save your son.”

Fire erupted within Ward, but he struggled to keep calm. “She didn’t. I fetched the woman who nursed our son. My wife had nothing to do with it.”

🥕🥕🥕

Magic by Frank Hubeny

On a blue planet people believed in nothing that they couldn’t see. No ghosts. No gods. No angels.

There were natural laws. That magic was powerful. The more it worked, the more they believed. Those who doubted were educated until they believed or in extreme cases there were prisons. In really extreme cases there were nuclear options.

The people on the blue planet made a lot of money except for those who didn’t and so everyone who counted was happy.

Things went very well until the “fay-rees”, as they became known after The Event, had their fill of it.

🥕🥕🥕

Flash Fiction by Geoff Le Pard

‘Do you believe in magic, Logan?’

‘In what context?’

‘What’s wrong with a yes or no?’

‘If you mean prestidigitation…’

‘Huh?’

‘Slight of hand, deceit, then that’s not magic. If you mean the magic of nature or of birth or first love…’

‘You soppy romantic…’

‘… then yes. There are some things that are truly magical, truly miraculous. They constantly amaze me.’

‘Like my wit and brilliance?’

‘Like the fact that despite you driving me nuts, talking rot, playing the fool, we are still friends.’

‘And my wit and brilliance?’

‘That too.’

‘Give me a hug.’

‘Don’t push it…’

🥕🥕🥕

The Magic of Decision-making by Molly Stevens

Ruth was on a mission to purge. She examined a round, black object she retrieved from the bottom of the trunk.

“Chester, this yours?”

“Yup.”

“Why have you held onto it?

“It means a lot to me. It helped me make some major decisions through the years.”

“Like what?”

“Remember when I was thinkin’ about quittin’ school? Magic eight ball said, ‘My reply is no.’”

What else?”

Chester remained silent.

“Magic eight ball, did Chester consult with you before he proposed to me?

“‘Signs point to yes.”

Chester snatched the prophetic orb and pitched it into the dumpster.

“Traitor!”

🥕🥕🥕

Sleight Fright by Ritu Bhathal

“Think of a name.”

Deanna held her chosen name tightly in her mind and nodded.

“Think of an object related to that name.”

She self-consciously touched her wrist, where her watch was.

Except it wasn’t there.

Where was it? It was the only thing she had left of him.

“I believe you were thinking of Peter, and his black diver’s watch, am I right?”

The magician held out a watch.

Slight of hand or magic, she didn’t know, but Deanna didn’t wait to find out. She rushed to the front, snatched the watch and rushed out of the building.

🥕🥕🥕

The Feather by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

I finished my gardening chores and wrapped the hose into a coil. There on the ground was a tiny grey feather. I picked it up and placed it under my gloves on the table for safe keeping.

I walked toward the front garden where my daylilies drooped. I held the spray over the plants, and there on the ground was another gray feather!

I hurried to retrieve the first feather, but it was gone. It was then, the magic of the moment struck me. Without a doubt, this feather had wanted me to find it. What could it mean?

🥕🥕🥕

The Return Home by Jan Malique

Soft, soft are their feet upon the forest floor
Hear their whispers lift on perfumed breeze
The Crystal Sentinels wait
Offer messages only once
Offer wisdom never seen
Hark, the Fey do come

The Light of Ever Becoming approaches
Issues through sky and earth
Infuses Crystal Sentinels
Weaves magic most powerful
Weaves magic neither light nor dark
Hark, the do Fey come

See the Faerie Queen step forth
Peer at human worlds
Command Otherworld gates be open
See her warriors step forth
Speak words of release
The Crystal Sentinels rise
Step through gates of welcome
Step through worlds incandescent

🥕🥕🥕

A Warning and a Plea by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Lucy’s footsteps echoed pale blue, up and over the far reaches of Karlssen’s Glacier.

She took her time, minding her breath; these tower steps had been built by others taller than her six foot frame. Per her nature, she’d planned for extra effort to reach the peak.

The half-troll girl was on her way. Magnhildr would need another Season to convince her fellows to foster yet another non-jotun, even Sylvi’s child.

She wrapped the message-crow in her hands, whispering a plea, “The child is no longer safe.”

The bird erupted into the northern sky, its cry splitting the night.

🥕🥕🥕

Protected by abhijit ray

“This is magestic,” Sam looked admiringly at the luminous diamond sitting at the feet of deity in dilapidated temple.

“I want it Sid,” said Sam greedily, “it will fetch a fortune.”

“Don’t invite god’s wrath Sam. This stone is under protection of reigning deity of this fort.”

“I don’t believe in power of magic. I did not walk all the way to just have a peek. What good is it here anyway? At least, we shall have good time.”

The leopard was following them for some distance now. As Sam bent down to unseat the stone, the predator pounced.

🥕🥕🥕

Acronym by FloridaBorne

“Dr. Michael Arden?” The young woman with a recorder asked, “Why did you become a scientist?”

Should I remind the world? Why not? “You do realize this is a funeral and we’re standing in front of my mother’s casket?”

“You’re a hard man to corner for an interview.”

“My mother believed in magic, used a cauldron and thought she could talk to fairies.”

Wide eyed, she gasped, “Your mother was a witch?”

“If you could read, you would know why,” I scoffed at her. “Mother was schizophrenic! MAGIC is nothing but an acronym for mentally addled gullible insecure citizen.”

🥕🥕🥕

Shakespeare’s Cheat Sheet by Katimac

Shakespeare scribbled halfway down the page and froze. It was the same rubbish he had written an hour earlier, reworded. He cursed and crumpled the page, tossing it across the room to add to the growing stack of crumpled pages in the corner of the room. He threw himself back in his chair and thought furiously. After a moment, he called for the maid.

“What’s her name again?”

The maid glanced around nervously. “Are you certain, sir?”

Shakespeare swore again. “What was her name, the magic hag?”

The maid whispered the name in fear.

“Bring her here. It’s time.”

🥕🥕🥕

PART II (10-minute read)

First Morning in the New Place by Anne Goodwin

Despite her diligence in tidying away her thoughts on retiring to bed, Matty awakes to a muddle. It is as if a kitten has whiskered its way into a sewing box and woven a cat’s cradle with the thread.

Opening her eyes, it is obvious something larger than a baby cat has caused the chaos. Has a magic carpet whooshed her to China? Or, like Alice, she’s fallen down a rabbit hole to a world where walls move and rooms shrink?

A maid beams at her from the bedpost. “Welcome to Tuke House, Matty! Are you ready for breakfast?”

🥕🥕🥕

The Source of Magic by Anurag Bakhshi

Sue woke up to see Charli staring unblinkingly at a tall tree near their campsite.

“Look at that light emanating from that tree, it’s magical,” Charli said softly.

Sue looked towards the tree, and said dismissively, “It’s just sunlight reflected from a mirror on the tree. You really shouldn’t have had those magic mushrooms last night.”

Charli shrugged her head and looked again. Her friend was right, it was nothing at all.

As Charli left to wash her face to clear her head, Sue looked towards the tree angrily. That magic tree had got to control its yawns better.

🥕🥕🥕

Magic by Kay Kingsley

I don’t believe in magic tricks but I love being sucked into them. The slight of hand, the show, the impossible result… it’s mesmerizing and entertaining and I have zero desire for someone to explain it to me. What fun is that? I want to be entertained and tricked into awe.

And although I don’t believe in magic tricks I do believe in magic. The magic of timing, of bonding, the pure magic of love. Magic felt, magic seen, magic experienced.

The only magician I ever knew was time and the only magic he ever showed me was life.

🥕🥕🥕

Transformed by Reena Saxena

“I have stopped writing,” he appears cold and distant in the darkness.

“Really? Will you survive without it?”

“I spent a lifetime, staining white pages and interlocking fingers with keyboards. It was heaven, it was hell, and I knew of nothing else”, he rambles on, unaware of my presence in the room.

“What do you plan to do now?” I am genuinely concerned about his mental health.

“Whatever I am ordained to do….. I experienced magic today. I saw my thoughts in a physical form.”

I walk out with heavy footsteps, knowing that he does not need me anymore.

🥕🥕🥕

The Magic Pill by Ruchira Khanna

“Dr. Ali, I come to you with hope since I’ve heard that you have cured, many!” Sheela said in an earnest tone as she held her rumbling stomach.

“Yes! I treat all,” he said with confidence as he handed her a box of pills with a blank label.

“Fill out your symptoms!”

She followed his instructions with a puzzled look.

“Take 1 pill twice a day. Visit me after a month.”

A month later, ” I am cured!” she shouted with glee, “You have magic pills.”

“Nah! it’s just the placebo effect, and I’m not even a medical doctor.”

🥕🥕🥕

A 1966 Really Groovy Incident by Bill Engleson

I wasn’t supposed to be home the day that Alan dropped by with Lita and Louise, two Oregonian hitchhikers.

“Picked them up on the freeway,” he said. “They need a place to crash and I…” and he explained…two rooms, one wife and a huge red setter with bladder problems.

“I can see it’d be awkward,” I commiserated, adding, “In any case, we’re a commune. We can always make extra beds magically appear.”

The Oregonians were exceptionally close.

Still, Lita and I quickly found…mutual ground.

Only Louise needed her own bed.

Everyone was good with that.

🥕🥕🥕

Magic Mushrooms by Robbie Cheadle

What happened to her?” Rose asked, horrified at the red spots and broken capillaries that covered her pretty daughter’s face.

“We had to rush her to the hospital and have her stomach pumped,” said her sister.

“She was playing with Sean in the garden and they found a patch of toadstools hidden in the corner under a bush. Sean said she ate one. She wanted to grow big like Alice. She thought they were magic mushrooms.”

“Oh, my goodness, I thought I was doing a good thing when I read Alice in Wonderland to her. More context next time.”

🥕🥕🥕

Childhood – A Magical Time by Susan Sleggs

Now that I’m an old lady I can say my favorite sound is a symphony of night time bug noises. I remember the music lulling me to sleep when I was a little girl and I kept the window by my bed wide open. During the day we built forts in the woods, raided the garden for snacks, and enjoyed getting dirty and tired. I didn’t know enough to worry about being hungry, having money problems, alcoholism, or cancer. Today the bug music takes me back to that magical time so I can clear my mind to fall asleep.

🥕🥕🥕

Seeing Is Believing by D. Avery

“Pal, watcha doin’ way out here all by yersef?”

“Felt like bein’ alone, Kid.”

“The ranch hands is all busy corrallin’ stories ’bout magic Pal.”

“Jist wanted ta git away, lay out here unner the stars. ’Sides, I don’t believe in magic. Since yer here, set still, listen ta the popple leaves whisperin’.”

“The Ranch is out west Pal, call ’em Aspen or cottonwoods.”

“They whisper the same songs, Kid. Now look’t that big orange moon through the silhouetted treetops. Eh? Look ‘t that star strewn night sky. I tell ya Kid, it’s… it’s…”

“Magic?”

“I believe it is.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Magic Sound by Susan Sleggs

“Child, open the window by my bed.”

“Nurse told me not to. Too humid tonight.”

“Don’t have nothin’ to do with hot or cold; has to do with bugs.”

“How’s that?”

“If you open that window like I asked, I can hear them bugs singin’. That sound is magic.”

“Why’s that?”

“Cause that’s the first sound I remember. Lulled me to sleep before I knowed what meanness, goin’ without, prejudice, and drinkin’ was. Can still do the same if I can just hear that singin’.”

“Can I leave if I open the window so’s I don’t get blamed?”

“Course.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Sprinkle of This and a Pinch of That by Norah Colvin

“Whatcha doin?”

“Makin’ a spell.”

“What sorta spell?”

“A magic spell.”

“Can I help?”

“Sure.”

“Whadda I do?”

“Put stuff in the pot.”

“What sorta stuff?”

“Gotta read the recipe.”

“What’s it say?”

“Ya gotta read it.”

“I can’t.”

“Oh. Okay. I’ll help. Look, it says …”

Mum stopped at the door to the kitchen. “Wha— What are you doing?”

“Nothin’,” mumbled the older.

“Makin’ magic spells,” grinned the younger, covered in flour from head to toe.

“What sort of magic spell?” asked Mum, wishing for her own magic spell.

“Take us to outa space.”

“Can I come too?”

🥕🥕🥕

The Magic of Imagination by TNKerr

Waves of assassins, ninjas, and marauders had already been turned away by the intrepid Timmy McNab. Dead and wounded were piled, like cordwood, against the back fence while weapons of all types lay scattered throughout the garden. When the whistle sounded, our hero held up one finger stopping an attacking pirate who waited; cutlass in his left hand, dagger in the right, pistol tucked into the black sash around his waist.

“Sorry, Cap’n,” That’s Mom. I gotta go, dinner time.”

“No fair, Timmy it’s my turn.” The pirate groused.

“We’ll play again tomorrow, after breakfast. You can go first.”

🥕🥕🥕

Do You Believe in Magic? by Chelsea Owens

Here, he sits. The screen reflects his fat fingers, his glasses, his balding head.
Between lines of numbered reports, his memory sees small hands, perfect sight, full hair. Laughter.

There, she rests. Against the mopped floor rest her orthopedic shoes, her sore cankles, her ample midsection.
Mundane mind-wanderings recall barefoot summers, skinny legs, an inverted belly button. Happiness.

Where, do we stand? Honest bathroom mirrors capture our eye lines, our neck bulges, our long wrinkly faces.
Fleeting cognizance remembers smooth skin, thin necks, unblemished features. Smiles.

Fairy dust? Hardly. Evaporating imagination pulls us ever farther from Never-Neverland.

🥕🥕🥕

Magician by Miriam Hurdle

“Danny, you’re my helper. Get me a chopstick and a cloth napkin.”
Uncle Pat shaped his left hand like a funnel, pushed the center of the napkin into it with the four corners flapping like petals. He poked the thin end of the chopstick into the napkin fiercely to the bottom, then pulled it through and shook the napkin in the air.

“Uncle, you didn’t poke a hole!”

“It’s magic.”

“Do it again.”

“Next time.”

Three days later.

“Hello, sis, how are you doing?”

“Danny poked a hole through three cloth napkins.”

“He’ll be a great magician one day.”

🥕🥕🥕

Up to His Tricks (from Rock Creek) by Charli MIlls

“Wanna see a magic trick?” Hickok splayed a deck of cards to Monroe.

“Pa doesn’t like hands playing cards.” The boy glanced at the barn door expecting Cobb to materialize.

“We’re not gaming. Just magic. Pick a card, any—”

“Monroe, your Ma is asking for you. Said to bring her the hen eggs.” Sarah stood in the door, arms crossed.

Monroe shuffled and then ran out the door. Sarah had to address the new hand before he got on Cobb’s wrong side.

Ready for her scolding, Hickok winked and smiled a boyish grin. “Wanna see a magic trick?”

🥕🥕🥕

Breakfast by oneletterup

Nobody even mentions the comet.
But she saw it! Last night. Out the window.
Would they even believe her?
Nobody believes her. Ever.

The little boy squints at her over his oatmeal.
“Come on…what’s your name?”

She shakes her head. Chews.
The little girl smiles at her.

If only she could stay here forever.
She wishes hard for a magic wand.
Poof! She would belong in this blue house with the swings.
This nice man. This nice lady. This little girl and little boy. And her. Safe.

She would stop remembering.
And she’d never have to go back.

🥕🥕🥕

Crystal Clear by Di @ pensitivity101

The ranks were gathered, thousands staring at the wondrous sight.

Whispers of ‘where did it come from’ and ‘what was it’ filtered through the regimental columns, no-one making any effort to climb the mossy mound to investigate.

Their Leader came to the front and once he had their full attention, announced that it was indeed magic, a Gift from the Gods.

Their prayers had been answered and their diligence rewarded.

This crystal globe contained a never ending source of the water they so badly needed.
He thus called upon his ant armies to carry it and its precious cargo.

🥕🥕🥕

Falling by Patrick O’Connor

There was only one explanation for what happened to me.

No one would have survived such a thing.

I was hanging over the edge of a cliff, clinging to a branch.

My strength gave out and I started falling.

Falling to the rocks below.

Just as I reached the rocks, everything went black.

I awoke on a beach, witnessing a beautiful sunrise.

The only explanation – magic.

I was in the same clothes.

I had all my memories.

But there was something even more extraordinary.

There were two moons in the sky instead of one.

I awoke in the hospital.

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Pal Pays PayPal by D. Avery

“Hey, Kid.”

“What’s up, Pal?”

“I been thinkin’ on all thet Shorty’s doin’; second anthology, the rodeo…”

“Yep. Shore is a worker. Gives so much a hersef ta the Ranch.”

“Well, Kid, I found a magic button thet’ll hep us give ta the Ranch too.”

“Thought ya didn’t believe in magic.”

“Well, I’m beginnin’ ta. Ya jist go up ta the upper left hand corner an’ push some buttons and Kazam! Magically the Ranch is gifted.”

“You ain’t so gifted though. It ain’t magic; ya gotta pay, Pal.”

“So? I’m happy ta pay fer some Ranch magic. It’s priceless.”

🥕🥕🥕