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A Note from the Past

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

Playing in the hallway one day, your kids accidentally bump into your grandfather clock, which has been in the family for years. As it smashes into the ground, you find a note hidden inside from your great grandfather, who died two months after you were born. Strangely enough, the note is addressed to you.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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175 Responses to A Note from the Past

  1. catiequinn says:

    There it was, a note from a man I never knew, addressed to me. His name is etched in some family bible in some library in some faraway home, but it meant nothing to me… until now.
    The old clock fell to the ground, leaving a shadow on the wall where it stood for so many years. No more. Now, shattered glass framed a homeless face and wandering hands. A tiny note slipped between the pieces in the evening wind.
    “Dear Adelaide…” it promised, “I hope one day you will know me, but as the sunset dims, I fear this letter is all we will share.
    You were named for me, Edward Adelaide Thomas, and it is my hope that you carry the kindness and dignity that was shown to me by my grandfather, Lawrence Adelaide Edgar Thomas.
    There are no grandsons now to carry on our name. Your father was the last, but now I hold your tiny fingers, and I cannot join them to his tender care any more. At times you will surely feel alone, and wonder why your parents were taken from you. I will not be there to answer your questions, but I hope this letter will remind you of who you have come from, and the hope we have for your life.
    Do not fear for what has been taken from you. Do not look over your shoulder at the life enjoyed by others. That is the surest way to deny the promise of your own future. Your story is yours alone to write. No one can take that from you.
    You will be raised by your grandfather, my son. To you he will seem old, but to me he is just a boy. Together, we mourn our loss, and wonder how so tiny and precious a gift could have been left to us. You so fragile and yet so full of life – and lung!
    Adelaide, I have seen many days and many wars. I know two things to be true: life is never shorter than when it’s wasted, and you well loved by your father and mother.
    If this is all I pass on to you, I hope it is enough to sustain you through the trials you will face. Continue on, my girl. Go where we could not. You have already made us proud.
    Edward Adelaide Thomas”
    Just as it had three generations ago, the sun again set on that gentle page, blessed by a fresh sprinkling of tears.
    I called to my sons, still hiding after the destruction of the ancient clock.
    “Eddie? Tom? Where are you?”
    “Here Mom…” they crept out of their bedroom.
    “I want to show you this letter… I know you feel bad about the clock, and you do need to be more careful, but right now…” I paused, knowing my words would reveal more than expected, “Sometimes things only look broken, but they have to be, or you’d never find out what was hidden inside.”

  2. Qtaiiel says:

    The Smiths has been looking for weeks but they still could not find the perfect house. All of the houses that they have looked at so far are not the right one for them. One day while they are going to look at this house in the city they past this lovely small house. Lucky for them the house was for sale. So they decided to take a look at the small house. To their surprise the house was not small at all. From the outside it is a lovely, but small house; on the inside it has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Right away they knew this was the house for them. The Smiths moved into the house three weeks later. Everyone felt right at home, it was like they have lived there their whole life. But to Nancy Smith there were some thing about the house that she could not put her fingers around. One day when Luke and Ben were playing in the living room, suddenly Nancy heard a crash. She quickly ran to the living room and found the old grandfather clock broken. “I told you boys not to play ball in the living room,” scolded Nancy. “We’re sorry,” replied the boys. “That’s okay it was an accident, now go outside and play while I clean this up,” Nancy told the boys. While she was cleaning up the broken clock she found a pink envelope. Inside the envelope there was a letter, the letter was addressed to Nancy. She knew it could have not been addressed to her. Her family had just moved into the house three months ago. Later that night she called the previous owner whose name is Jen. “Do you know anyone close to you whose name is Nancy?” asked Nancy. “Sorry we do not know anyone with that name, I hope that help.” replied Jen. Nancy decided to put the letter away and read it later. A week has passed since Nancy had found the letter. Nancy was doing some cleaning when she came a crossed the letter. This time she decided to read the letter.
    Dear Nancy,
    I know that when you have found this letter you are old enough to know about me your great grandmother. I know that the old grandfather clock is broken, but that is not important. You do not know about me because I died two months after you were born. Now I want you to get the key that winds up the clock. Go to the bank and there will be a safe. The safe number will be your birthday 0611. I hope that the things in the safe will help you.
    Love,
    Alexandra Violet Murdock (Your great grandmother)
    The very next day Nancy went to the bank and asked for the safe with the number 0611. Inside the box she found pictures of her childhood, jewelry from her family, and ten thousand dollars. It was a lot of money. There was also a note saying that the money is for her to keep. It turned out that her great grandfather had built the house for his family, and somehow they have lost the house. The money was what her great grandmother had saved all her life. That money had helped Nancy paid off all of her bills and now they live a happy life. After she had paid off all of the bills the rest of the money went towards the Luke’s and Ben’s schooling.

  3. Directioner_482 says:

    The Note
    My kids love to play in the house, even though I tell them not to. Today, I tell them not to play in the attic. And what do they do? They go play in the attic. What made me come upstairs was the loud noise I heard from downstairs. CRASH! I ran upstairs and I could not believe it. They had broken my great grandfather’s clock! It’s been in my family for 10 years and it was working perfectly fine! My great grandfather passed 2 years ago and my great grandmother had passed it down to my grandmother, she passed it down to my mom, and my mom passed it down to me. I was really happy I got to keep his clock, since I never met him. My parents kept it a secret that I even had a great grandfather all these years. I found out when I went to the funeral. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. “What on earth are you two doing up here!? I told you to stay out of the attic!” I yelled at them. Sydney and Shelby looked at me like that was news to them when they know good and well I told them to not go in the attic. “We were just..umm…going on an adventure?” Shelby said. I could hear the lying in her voice. She knew what they had done was wrong. I swept up all the broken pieces of the clock and put them in a safe box, just to have atleast SOME memory of my great grandfather. In the pile of broken pieces was a note. I never had noticed it. The note had read the following:
    To whoever is reading this note at this very moment,
    You have an important mission. You have to go to “Krazy Burger’ to complete the mission. Once you get there, ask the person there can you go in the office behind the counter.
    -Anonymous
    I knew it was my great grandfather who left this note. ‘Krazy Burger” was his FAVORITE diner when he was alive. I went down to the diner. “Hi. Could I please go in that office. It’s VERY important.” I told the person that was sitting down at the table. The place had looked a mess! But what would you expect when the place was like 30 years old? “There’s no need for that” the man told me. “Excuse me, I don’t know WHAT you’re trying to pull here, but I have something important to do so just let me in the dang office!”. I was fed up at the time, don’t judge me. “I know why you’re here. The note sent you here.” the man said. He looked pretty old. “How do you know a note sent me here?” I asked. “Because I’m the one who left the note. I’m your great grandfather.” I couldn’t believe my ears. But how? He was dead! I guess this will remain a mystery.

  4. RizingWriter says:

    After settling the frightened children down I went to clean up the broken glass from the fallen clock. My heart skipped a few beats at the site of my ruined family heirloom. As I was sweeping up the glass I saw a dusty old envelope taped at the bottom of the old clock. I dumped the remainder of the glass into the trashcan and bent down to carefully remove the old paper..

    My Dearest Great Granddaughter Nathalie,

    The night you were born a magical thing happened in this timeless universe. You see it was 3:00 am and your mother, my beautiful granddaughter, said very calmly to your great grandmother “Maman I think the baby is ready.” We could see your little body moving against her big belly. I still smile when I recall that early morning. Your great grandmother and great Aunt Gennie went immediately into action. She had everything ready and after I helped your mother into the birthing room I she closed the door behind me. Those two women were always patient with steady love of their family. I went on out the side door to walk across the land to get your father. He was putting the finishing touches on the home he had built for you and your mother. The very home you’re sitting in right now reading this letter.

    My heart jumped into my throat! But I had to read on…

    That night was a full glorious moon. Mama Moon sat proudly against the cloudless and starless night. I looked at my wristwatch and it read three forty four am. The date was Thursday August 28, 1937 just as you were entering this universe a single bright star cascaded down and sat beside the moon. Your father looked at me with shiny eyes and a big smile and said, “She’s here. Your granddaughter has made her presence known.” That was one proud man! He loved your mother endlessly and she loved him the same. Seem to me that Mama Moon glowed brighter and your star lit up the sky. I knew then that the ancestors had sent the next family Griot and I could soon rest.

    “Me?!” I questioned the empty great hall.

    There is a key on the back of this clock my lovely granddaughter. You are to take that key and open the black storage trunk in the attic. There you will find my legacy to you. Tell our stories.

    Infinite love,
    your Great Grandfather Nathan

    My hand flew to my mouth to catch the cry pushing up my throat that was sure to frighten the children even more than they already were. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I reached over and removed the brown tape that had held the small skeleton key in place all of these years.
    I grew up hearing stories about my Great Grandpa Nathan and the night he died. I hope that whatever my great grandfather left for me will help to resolve the family mystery.

  5. Mikalibur says:

    Mine is a bit longer as this is my first attempt at creative writing.

    Letter From The Past.

    I can hear a sharp piercing whoosh over head as I peer through the window outside my summer home in the country. “Jesus Christ!” Was my response at the image of the trees bashing to and fro reminding me of an apocalyptic scene in a sci-fi movie.

    “Dad?” The crackling cry of Jason’s voice down the house’s hall. Retreating from the window, I rushed into the door way of my office that was once my childhood bedroom. I can hear the nervousness in his voice which made it perfectly clear that he too was also viewing the spectacle outside the house. “What do we do Dad?” The nervousness in his voice now transforming into complete terror.

    “Don’t Move Son.” I yelled out trying not to reveal the uncertainty in my voice. I was once a Special Forces soldier, but I’m retired now. Nothing could have prepared me for this. “Where is your sister, Ashley?” I shouted as my stern voice echoed through the hall.

    “I-I don’t know.” Jason replied. “I think She’s outside.”

    Acting almost on instinct as if I knew what he was going to say just before the words escaped his lips, I rushed down the hall, cutting into the living room. I can hear the innocent scream of little Ashley as she frantically burst through the living room door.
    “ALIENS! Daddy Aliens” her high pitched voice piercing my ear drum as I swoop her up into my arms. “Are they going to eat us Daddy?”

    We can feel the house begin to rumble as the unidentified space craft drew near. Lawn decorations began to take flight under the strong gust of wind as if they were trying to flee from the present danger. I can hear our chocolate lab’s protective bark making a futile attempt to ward off the eminent threat to our little home. The pulsing engines of the spacecraft grew louder, and the once overbearing screech of unknown mechanics turned into a low smooth growl. Too low for my ears to register yet drowned out every other sound on the frequency scale. It reminded me of my youthful days, blasting music out the back of an old volts wagon beetle I managed to save enough money for as my first car. The bass was so loud the trunk rattled off the hinges, but then again that poor car was held together by duck tape and bubblegum. “Jason, get to the basement, and take Ashley with you!” The sound of antique china crashing to the floor snapped me back into reality as I barked out the order. No one or “nothing” will be doing any crazy experiments on My Family.

    I kept a small arsenal of hunting rifles locked in the basement for when my son and I would go down to the pond separating the acres of land between mine and the neighbors to shoot their ducks, But Today is a different story. As I hear the patter of the children’s footsteps running through the hall, I thought about calling Mondo, the family dog, into the house, but he was adamant at proving himself to our uninvited guest. “Mondo, Come here Boy!” Making one effortless attempted to get the dogs attention. “Useless. That dang dog.” Hearing the scream from my little girl, quickly drawn my attention towards the hallway as I heard a loud thump and the clattering of glass and chains.

    “Daddy, Help, JASON!”

    The frantic cry of the little girl startled me as I rushed into the hallway. Jason was lying alongside a collage of broken glass and gold chains hanging from the old grandfather clock toppled over in the hallway. “Are you alright son?” I said relieved to know that his doom wasn’t because of our visitors. As I quickly hoisted him up from the rummage to make our way to the basement, I noticed a part of the clock’s frame was hollowed out and a colorful envelope with a purple ribbon filled the gap.

    “What is that?” Jason quizzically asked as he rubbed his bruised forehead. It wasn’t long before I picked up the envelope when I heard a loud yelp outside the home.

    “Mondo!” Ashley Cried

    “Get to the Basement Now!” I screamed out trying to take their focus off the faint whimpering moan of the Dog. It didn’t take much to know that the visitors have finally touched down, and with no doubt are hostile. But why us. Why now. I sprinted down the steep basement steps while trying to grasp hold of the rickety old banister barely supporting my weight as I make my way into the basement. Jason had already shut the door and locked it by the time I reached the final step. Leaning against a cob webbed infested wall while trying to calm the sudden rush of adrenalin, I scan the room looking for the case I kept the guns.

    Ashley managed to locate an emergency flash light just before the door shut us into pitch darkness. I can always count on her to think ahead even at her young age. Whether it was on instinct or her fear of the dark that charged her to pick up the flashlight, It made my search go a lot smoother. “Daddy I’m Scared.” Her shaky innocent voice whispered through the darkness.

    “I Know Honey. Daddy’s scared to.” I said, as I tried to sooth her fear through my own lack of confidence. Still holding the mysterious envelope in my hand, I grabbed the flashlight to search through the case for any possible weapon that would be efficient yet effective. Only the 12 gauge shot gun my dad gave me for my return home from my first tour in Iraq. “Guess This would do.” I thought As I handed the flashlight and envelope over to Jason so I can take the shotgun up into my hands.

    I began to load the shot gun up with the dragon’s breath rounds I was planning to test fire out in the woods later on today. Perfect timing. Dragon’s breath shotgun rounds are not very effective other than for signaling and fireworks. One good blast to the face at point blank range would definitely do some damage. at least that’s what my logic is telling me. I can hear footsteps and alien burble in the room above as I slowly slid the first round into the chamber. The strange sounds where unsettling in my stomach, as they probed through the home in a rampage to find anything of value or living. I can feel Ashley and Jason draw in close to me as their feeble bodies tremble. My heart was racing. I almost let off a premature shot when I heard Jason’s voice pierce through the darkness.

    “Dad, This envelope has your name on it. it’s from great grandpa.” Jason said as he tried to read the writing on the letter with the flashlight.

    “Grand dad?” I thought to myself, now gripping the letter in my hand to examine it. He died two months after I was born. My mother said he was a strange and mysterious man. She said he began to isolate himself and grow more and more distant once I was born. The only time he left this very basement was to reset the grandfather clock to keep it going. To think he would stash away a letter addressed to me couldn’t Just be a coincident.
    “what does it say?” Ashley asked, as I broke the seal to reveal the contents of the letter:

    “Dear Rudy,(my child hood nickname)

    If you have finally found this letter, then that means they have found you. I tried to warn your parents, but they were given over to the claims of delusion. which is understandable. I’m sorry for not being there to inform you of this coming day. I have made a deal with the collectors from another galaxy and they are coming to take you and your family away. Don’t fight them. it will only make matters worse. You will be forced to participate in an intergalactic tournament to the death. I too have fought in this tournament and won. I know you can do it son. You have to do it. The fate of the world is in your hands.
    Signed Grandpa”

    Paratus et Fidelis
    (Prepared and Loyal)”

    I can hear my daughter Scream as the door Burst open and I instantly drawn the shot gun to take the first shot. “DADDY!”

  6. Ursa2282 says:

    When you hear a crash like that and you have a Charley, you don’t think – you just move. You move as fast as you can. You hope for the best, but you brace for the worst. I rounded the door frame and the hoped-for wave of relief washed over me once again as Charley entered my line of sight. He was still standing, but Nana’s hall clock was not.

    The sigh that left me was a mix of that breath that you get to take when potential disaster takes a swing and a miss, tempered with a splash of sadness at the loss of the thing less valuable, but important, nonetheless. Now it was inventory time. Where did he bump? Was he hurt? What was broken? Was there still any danger? Having a Charley made it necessary to be a Zen master in a sea of OMG, and not always, but most of the time, I was pretty good at it.

    “So, what happened, kiddo?” My tone was even, so as not to freak either of us out. “You okay?” I asked, as I brushed his hair from his forehead with my fingers, comforting and checking for bumps or cuts. Miraculously, there was a bit of a red mark where I expected to find one, on his temple, but nothing else. He bumped the side of the clock with his forehead. He was not hurt. The clock was a mess and the glass was a hazard, but we lucked out one more time.

    “Down,” was all Charley said, but he wasn’t looking at the tangle of weights, chains, glass and pendulum next to him. He was looking at the volcanic eruption of white, yellow, black, red, blue and green Lego pieces strewn across his bedroom floor. Lego box on it’s side over here. Lid over there. The box must have fallen when he was getting them down to play with.

    “Awww, did the Legos get you, buddy?”

    “No. Scare. Sorry, Mommy.”

    “It’s okay,” I said, tone still even, still for both of us. “Let’s get you set up,” I said as I herded him into his room and swept the plastic pieces into a pile with my hands. I built a few things for him before going back into the hall to sweep up the remnants of a family memory. Charley doesn’t build, but he sure does like to take apart.

    Today, a chipped plinth plus a startled autistic 5-year-old equaled a felled old timepiece. When Charley gets startled, he bumps his head into things like doors, windows, cabinets – clocks. I was brushing glass, wood, and random clock parts into manageable piles and worrying about who my Charley would get to be when I saw the little pink envelope.

    Welcome little Sarah! Life will bring to you sunshine and rain – use them both to cultivate a most splendid life! Love, Gr. Grampa George.

    I looked in at Charley, my sunshine and sometimes, rain. “Will do!” I smiled.

  7. winonawv2 says:

    Summer was almost over but not soon enough for me. The children were getting restless and bored, even though I tried to keep them busy, after a month of their constant bickering and fighting, I was ready to send them back and have some peace and quiet. I loved them dearly but sometimes I thought of how differently my life would be without them when I hear a loud crash in the hallway. Running up the stairs, I find Mary and Oscar amid the debris of broken glass and wood and the grandfather clock that I inherited when my grandmother died a few years ago. Looking at both of them I took a deep breath and counted to ten silently my fists clenched or else I would have killed both my children.
    Their mouths hanging open they immediately started to blame each other. All I could say was
    “Get your asses downstairs, put your shoes on and go outside before I do something that I will regret! I have told you a million times not to run in the house”
    They stopped bickering and walked gingerly down the stairs and out the door. As soon as the door closed I started sobbing sitting in the hallway, I could not believe what just happened. Gathering the large pieces of the clock that has been in the family for generations I thought maybe I could glue it back together. As I picked up the box the pendulum slowly started clanging softly it was then that I saw a piece of paper hanging out of the back part of the shattered clock. I carefully opened the glassless door and removed the small envelope from its hiding place. Catching my breath I could not believe what was on the front in a handwriting that was not familiar to me Alexandra Violet Murdock, my maiden name.
    Tears running down my face, I was stunned, not certain if it was for me or was meant for my mother, they had both died a couple months after I was born in a terrible trolley accident in the city. I was raised by my grandmother; she changed my name to my mother’s namesake. I just held the envelope in my hand contemplating why he would have hidden it in the clock of all places. I was told that he was a loving and hardworking father and served in WWII my mother was their only child, why would he hide it from grandma? I gingerly opened the yellowing envelope and could not believe what I saw ten World War II War Bonds with a small note: “For a rainy day” I love you.
    Sure they were not worth much, but it was a part of my mother. Gathering all the pieces of the heirloom I was determined to find a shop that may be able to piece it back together so that I could pass it to my daughter.
    I ran outside and hugged my children close to me.

  8. ladybug1 says:

    It was loud in the house. The boys were playing football again and Rose Collins didn’t have the heart to stop them. An only child, Rose had secretly longed for a noisy household.

    Crash! Rose leapt off the couch. She wasn’t as nimble as she had been when the boys were young. A decade of trying to conceive on their own, and years of filling out paperwork with the California foster care system, had taken a toll and a little too frequently she and her husband, Tom, were mistaken for grandparents.

    When she finally reached the front hall, she saw her heirloom grandfather clock tipped sideways. The wood fractured; shards of glass scattered like ice chips on the floor.

    “Mom—” Clay started.

    “No one move,” Rose interrupted, glancing between the two to make sure they were okay. “Get the broom. We’ll clean it up.”

    Clay went to the hall closet. Andrew bent to right side up the clock. The body of the clock rattled with broken bits and glass. Returning with the broom, Clay began to sweep and then stopped. “Hey, what’s that?”

    Rose’s eyes followed his to a yellowed paper on the floor. Andrew bent to pick it up. “Mom, it’s for you,” he said.

    Rose reached to take the brittle envelope from his hand. Marked clearly on the front was her name in shaky pencil. Heat touched her throat and lungs. She went to the kitchen, still clutching the letter, and sat down at the table. She had no idea why a letter addressed to her had fallen out of a hundred year old clock. Both boys came up behind her, peering over her shoulder. Rose unfolded the letter, but it was in Italian. The only words she understood were her given name, which she hadn’t used in years, Maria Rose, and the signature at the bottom, Vincent Speranza, her late great-grandfather on her mother’s side.

    Rose decided to talk the letter over with Tom when he returned from the hardware store.

    The boys moved their football game outside. Rose had just finished rubbing some polish in a gash on the wood floor when Tom returned.

    “Oh boy, what’d they do now?” he asked.

    Rose explained the incident to Tom and showed him the letter.

    Then she asked a friend at the library to translate the letter for her using the Internet. A few days later Rose and Tom went to meet her.

    Rose’s great-grandfather had confessed that before leaving for America and falling in love with Rose’s Nona, he had fathered a child back in Italy.

    He wrote, “Maria Rose, I knew the first time I held you, those big, bright eyes, you are very brave. I have kept this secret a long time. You will find this person or her family and explain. I am not brave. I am too ashamed.”

    Tears slid down Rose’s cheeks. Tom reached for her hand and said, “Looks like our family just got a whole lot bigger.”

  9. swatchcat says:

    “God damn it! I warned you two,” Julie scolded!

    “Sorry mom,” her boys chorused.

    “Get outside! Now”! She pointed toward the door, arms out like a scarecrow.

    Julie kneeling on hands and knees swept bits of glass and splinters into the dustpan letting tears streaming down her cheeks. If her father was still alive, he would be so disappointed. The old grandfather clock had been in the family for so long and the memories she held for the old piece were priceless. She was so angry at her boys for not paying attention and now this family heirloom lay broken in the hall. She tossed the dustpan back toward the chunks of wood and sat on the floor for a good cry.

    A few minutes later as she wiped her runny nose across her sleeve she glanced toward the broken shell of the clock and noticed a piece of paper attached to the inside. The brass pendulum rested against most of it but her curiosity was strong so she knelt forward and pried the wood loose and read the paper.

    It read:
    My Dearest Julie,
    When you are old enough, I hope this clock will help you make time for the more important things in life. Family is number one so make sure you set aside a few minutes remembering your loved ones. Lovingly your Great-grandfather

    After spending a few minutes simply amazed at finding such a message tucked away from a man she never met, she finished cleaning most of the wrecked clock and went to find her boys. Playing in the backyard they paused cautiously as Julie step out to the back patio. She looked at them realizing how much they had grown.

    “Boys, come here please,” she sat patting the seats next to her. “Sit please.”

    “Mom, we’re really sorry about the clock,” said Rick.

    “Really, mom, sorry,” agreed Michael.

    “Listen boys, it’s not alright but, I shouldn’t have yelled like I did.” She brushed a little tear away. “I know I haven’t been spending a lot of time with you and I thought we could take a minute.”

    “It’s cool mom,” said Rick as Michael shook his head.

    They sat outback for a while, a mom and her teen boys, talking and reacquainting themselves for the first time in a while, giving the time.

    • Goes to show that people’s behavior can be predictable. This is why the grandfather knew what was going to happen in the oncoming generation.However, I think that the premise of the story could’ave engaged the reader more.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I agree with destiny. It doesn’t take much. A flash forward in Julie’s mind to losing a son to a perfect stranger, a woman who intervenes, walking down the aisle and becomes her son’s most important love or the reverse when a father walks his daughter down the aisle like I have with five, totally different and unique women.

  10. dcd says:

    Dear Andrew,
    If this note should find its way to you, I am sorry. Sorry for you, for your family, your wife Karen and for all that you hold dear. It means that time has been broken and this safe universe is no longer safe for you or your heirs.
    The key to your survival is the key you used to wind the clock, now that time has been broken in some way. How the clock was broken is not important. The clock becomes broken when our enemies, your family’s enemies, the enemies of time itself, discover where, and more importantly, when you are.
    How are you supposed to know this is true? Ask yourself, does any of the contents in this letter sound odd to you? I thought not.
    I don’t what happens to you or to our family or our universe. All I know is that the clock will break during your lifetime and that the key holds the answer.
    Tempus Fugit, Memento Mori ,
    Brent Carlson

    It was the third time I had read it through. He was right, the letter didn’t sound odd. It still didn’t mean I knew what to do.
    “Evan, get the clock key, please.” I yelled to my oldest son. We stored the key on top of the fridge. It was the first chore each of the children learned, how to wind the grandfather clock properly. Just as my father had taught me.
    “Dad come quick! I don’t know what I did?” Evan yelled from the kitchen.
    I ran down the hallway, careful not to slip on the scattered pieces of the broken clock. I turned the corner into the kitchen only to see another mess on the floor.
    “I don’t know what I did Dad, I picked up the key and turned to go and it fell apart in my hand.”
    On the floor the key lay in pieces. Except, it didn’t seem right – too many pieces of odd shapes and sizes.
    “Get Tanner, he is our king of puzzles.” I said urgently to Evan. Oddly I didn’t get the normal back talk I had been getting from him of late. He just ran for his brother. I started working on the pieces of the broken key. Corners first, corners first – but were there corners?
    Tanner and Evan entered the room and looked down at me.
    “Well just don’t stand there, help me, you goofs!”, I said to the boys.
    “What’s going on?” asked Evan. Tanner just started turning the pieces over in his hands, starting to lose focus as he got lost in the puzzle of the puzzle.
    I handed Evan the note and watched his face as he read it.
    “What does “Tempus Fugit Memento Mori” mean Dad?”, Evan asked.
    “It means, Time Flies, Remember Death”
    “Got it!” cried Tanner
    Tanner’s hands were a blur as he reassembled the pieces of the key into…a very odd shape. Four triangles joined underneath a shield-like symbol. It looked a lot like…
    “It looks like the Knights’ symbol at church” Evan said quizzically.
    Good thing I married a Catholic.

  11. PhantomRider says:

    I quickly became curious as to what was inside that envelope and how my grandfather knew that I would end up with that clock. He didn’t specifically will the clock to me. How could he have known that none of his children, or any of the other 12 grandchildren would want that old clock.

    Then I started remembering the simple love-hate relationship that I had with him.

    He was the man who taught me to drive that old tractor on the farm. He was the man who cried silently when we buried his lovely wife. He was the man who would call his children (and grandchildren) together for a Sunday afternoon cookout and (mostly) smile as he watched their interaction. We all knew that there was nothing that was more important to him that his family – knowing that it was the only thing of real value that he would ever have to leave behind. He was the man who didn’t miss any graduation or marriage. I loved that old man more than anyone could possibly imagine.

    But he was also a mean old man with little tolerance of any mistake – of which I made many. He lacked the ability to see validity in any view that was different than his own. He was also a highly religious man who seemed to want nothing more than to have one of his offspring become a minister – something I knew wasn’t for me. And he was always ready with harsh words and actions to let us know when we had disappointed him or God.

    Then, I opened the envelope and pulled out the sheet of paper and read…

    Bryan,

    You are the oldest son of my oldest son. With that burden came an expectation that I realize now you were never ready, willing, or able to accept. I had hoped to leave the farm to you and that you would continue the work of growing plants, livestock, and people right here where your family has been for generations. But you are definitely no farmer. You’re too soft for that kind of work.

    I was always hard on you, but I had high expectations. My expectations made me someone you probably didn’t like much. I had a lot to tell you that I didn’t know how to say. Most of all, I didn’t really know how to tell you that I love you and that I was proud of you.

    Blake

    And there it was. He finally said the one thing that I wanted to hear from him more than anything else, almost 15 years after his death. I felt the tear form in the corner of my eye as I realized that even with that letter, the love-hate relationship, and the reasons for it, were right there in front of me.

  12. soochybee says:

    Today was a particularly stressful one. I was struggling with a deadline for the paper, my husband was working late, and the kids were working my last nerve. My five year old, Aaron, was bouncing on my exercise ball, while his little sister Brenda stood next to him and whined steadily for her turn. When I could no longer bear the incessant bouncing/whining, I snapped “Ok, enough! Mommy has to work! please just go play in any other room!” Some voice in the back of my mind whispered that this was not wise, but I ignored it and turned back to the screen, rubbing my weary eyes. I gazed absentmindedly at the wallpaper on my computer. It was of my husband and I in Ireland, about a year before we’d had Aaron. Oh, how I missed those carefree days of adventure,the freedom of the open road…
    A crash interrupted my little daydream, followed by a little squeal and a small “uh oh!” Yup, should’ve listened to the voice in my head. I came into the hallway to see Brenda and Aaron standing over the pieces of the now broken grandfather clock we had hanging in our hallway. The clock that had been left for me by my grandfather. I’d never gotten to meet him, he died when I was just a baby. But somehow that clock had made me feel like I had a part of him. And now it was broken.
    “Do you know what you did?!? This was a special clock from mommy’s grandfather! and how did you even get…”
    My lecture stopped mid-sentence as I noticed an envelope wedged under a large piece of clock. I pulled it out. It was old and yellowed. And it had my name on it! I carefully slit it open and pulled out the note inside and began to read:
    “My precious Rebecca,
    No doubt you are a grown woman as you read this, with a family of your own. The day you were born, I decided to leave you everything I own. I know this will not be the last note I leave you, and so all I will say for now is that if you are anything like your mother was, this note will lead you on a long-awaited adventure. If you look at the slip of paper under this one, you will find what I have left you.”
    I pulled out the second paper curiously. Just a combination number. But then at the bottom was an address. I ran back to my computer and typed it in. The location came up. A bank in Switzerland! The number was for a security deposit box. I stared at the screen for a minute and a smile formed slowly. I had no doubt that box was only the beginning.
    “Honey?” My husband tapped me. “Are you ok? you look a little…out of it.”

    I looked at my husband and smiled again. “Better than ok. Hey, hon, how would you like to take a little trip?”

  13. whitwhatup says:

    My mood quickly shifted from furious to curious as I slowly absorbed the letter that would change my life. Darting out the back door, the twins either understood mom needed a private moment, or they disappeared before I grabbed the belt. Sitting down on a bed of shard class, I studied the faded ink letters written so precicely:
    “For Julia W. H.”

    My maiden name was Walton, and my liberal, beatnik parents had spared me a middle name b/c it took away from the simplicity of Ju. But anti-sematic jokes taunted me throughout childhood until I legally changed my name at 13. My great grandfather, Big Hank, picked it, and told me I was named after “a great female pioneer”. He died the next year, but his legend lives on. My name proves it.

    His wife had died at the young age of 22 giving birth to my grandpa, Hank Jr (otherwise known as Little Hank b/c he had miraculously survived as a 3 pound premi). Not sure why Big Hank never remarried: he came back a war hero, started working as grunt labor in the tar field of North Carolina, and emerged 10 years later (at the young age of 33) as the first millionaire of our poverty stricken state. Not to mention he was a strapping, handsome gentleman often mistaken for Cary Grant. The only 2 women he ever mentioned were:

    1.) Laura Lee, his beautiful bride
    2.) Julia, no explanation

    Shamefully, I had always believed I must named after a mysterious lover kept hidden for some unspeakable reason. A man of few words, when asked about the mysterious woman, he would only reply the same melodic way:

    Glory, glory, hallelujah!
    Glory, glory, hallelujah!
    Glory, glory, hallelujah!
    His truth is marching on.

    The same inscription was written inside the card. Nothing else, just his usual reply.

    My trip down memory lane was interrupted with a familiar whine, “when is DADDY going to be home?” I glanced up to the spitting image of the man i married 15 years ago. Brad Boynton, captain of the football team, my prom date, my first kiss….my everything. As I turned to call Brad, I froze with sudden realization that shook me to the core: Big Hank wasn’t at the wedding. He died the year before I started highschool. Before I met Brad.
    My shock was interrupted a phone call, ironically from Brad, to let me know he was on his way home. As i explained the puzzling chain of events, I concluded quite confidently my great grandfather was speaking to me from the grave, knowing eternally I would be Julia Walton Boyd.
    He chuckled and responded in his dry way, “or perhaps he was alluding to JULIA WARD HOWE, the author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” After researching his explanation, I learned (gasp!) he was RIGHT: In 1861, after a visit to my great grandfather’s Union Army camp, she wrote the poem that came to be called “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
    Long live a heroic woman that blazed the hearts of soldiers. Long live the hero in me.

    • whitwhatup says:

      Wow such an interesting point of view from
      1. Reverential grandchild , naive in believing prophecies, but allowing the Family fiction to shape her independence.

      2. An era we often forget. The late 1800s-early 1900s where Protestant and Catholoc religions were just as Throat cutting as the union-rebels Stamdoff.

  14. EloquentSteampunkMiss says:

    A loud, sharp crash brought me to the present with a jump. I set my book down hastily on the table and went inside to see what had just happened. “Kate? Michael? What are you two doing in there?” I called out, my stomach filling with dread.
    “Nothing!” they both called out in unison. I sighed softly and rubbed the back of my neck as I made my way to the hallway just outside the dining room. There was no way they had been doing “nothing”; I knew my kids too well to believe such a thing. No, when they said they were doing “nothing”, it meant they had broken something or had done something they knew they weren’t supposed to. I heard the scamper of tiny feet retreat from the hall as I approached and sure enough, there lay my grandfather clock that had been in the family for generations smashed to bits across the wood floors. I mumbled a few obscenities before calling after those two troublemakers. “Go to you rooms until Daddy comes home. I don’t want to see hide nor hair of either of you until he’s back,” I yelled, keeping my voice full of authority. I heard their doors click shut softly; they knew they were in for it when my husband returned. But, until that happened, I had to clean up this mess. I went into the kitchen to retrieve the broom and dustpan from the cleaning closet. I trudged back to the destroyed clock and bent down to sweep up bits of glass and small chunks of wood which I deposited into a little waste basket nearby. As I was clearing away the wreckage, I came across a faded envelope. It had my name scrawled on it in a hand I didn’t recognize. My curiosity peaked and I tucked it into my pocket before hastily cleaning up the rest of the clock and propping what was left of it up against the wall again.
    I went back to the kitchen and sat down at the table, tearing the letter open as I did. I strained to read the chicken scratch that was written on the paper in the envelope and managed to decipher the gist of the letter and who it was from. It was from my great grandfather and it contained a few faded pictures of my great grandmother and her children, my grandmother and her many siblings. In the letter, my great grandfather, Buford John Stewart, mentioned that I had looked quite a bit like his youngest daughter, Gertrude, who had passed away from pneumonia when she was only three months old. I was truly touched that a man who had hardly known me could think of me so fondly and want to write me a note concerning such a small thing when I had been so young. I sat at the table until my husband returned, tears in my eyes, hands clutching the letter and pictures to my breast.

    • swatchcat says:

      Touching, a nice story. Everything seems to be meshed together though. Maybe in sending it you lost your paragraph spacing and quote spacing, it came out in one big block. Would like to see more of your stuff.

  15. thomastongirl says:

    I waited about three minutes after hearing the crash. I couldn’t move. The kitchen table was covered with unpaid bills and I was juggling them to pay the most pressing of the lot. The mortgage was overdue by two months and I had a headache.

    Everything was too much. The bills, the unfairness of life, something broken in the hallway.

    Finally, I went to see what had happened. The kids had ridden their bicycles inside and had bumped into the grandfather clock. At least they were not hurt and the clock wasn’t damaged except the front glass was splintered but after examining it, I thought it could be repaired – if I could find the money. It would just have to wait.

    In the fall, an old dusty envelope had been dislodged from the face of the clock and was on the floor along with some broken glass. Strange that the envelope was addressed to me. I opened it and read:

    Dear Little Oliver,

    I don’t know when or where you will be when you find this. There are two documents in the envelope – read this one first. Before you look at the other paper, let me tell you a story.

    Many years ago when I was a young man, I was a neighbor to Dr. Robert Pemberton. He was in the process of inventing a syrup that would be used to cure indigestion and even headaches. He called this a “sweet digestive syrup” – not a very inventive name – but he said one day this syrup (with soda water added to it) would be sold in every soda fountain in America. He asked me if I wanted to be part of this new company. He was almost in the final stage of tested the formula and was desperate for more money. This was a difficult decision – I wanted to help him but a syrup to cure headaches when there were so many tonics already? Also, your great grandmother thought it was a foolish way to invest our money. That new invention that you can talk through and other people can talk back seemed a better idea. Although, honestly, I don’t see how a voice can go through a little wire. Well, in the end, I gave him a $100 gold piece. He gave me the other paper you have in your hand.

    It is all I have to give you, now. It is probably worthless but know that if it is, I leave you my love. I wish I could be here long enough to see you grow up.

    Signed,
    Clarence Oliver Hardy,
    great, grandfather

    I slowly opened the other document. It was yellowed with age but still legible. They had indeed found a name for the syrup. It was Coca-Cola. The document was a stock certificate for 5,000 shares.

  16. Amy says:

    “If you two don’t stop touching each other, you’re going to be sitting in time-out all day!” I yelled over my shoulder to the boys at the end of the hall. After their initial show of remorse from knocking over the grandfather clock in the foyer, their downcast eyes quickly lit up with mischief once again as they poked at each other from opposite sides of the hall. Their energetic pace was just too much for a single mom some days.

    “I mean it you two. Knock it off!” They finally settled down and watched as I swept the last few fragments of the relic that was the Montgomery Family Longcase Clock into the dustpan. I heaved the body of the clock back up on its stately feet and groaned. Since the boys and I moved back in with my parents last summer, a few family treasures had already been put out of commission. My mother would give the usual excuse of boys being boys and life would move on. My boys could do no wrong in their eyes. I, however, could be blamed for any number of things. Even at thirty-two, I couldn’t help but feel that I was the one being put in time-out.

    This was different, though. That clock had been part of our family longer than anyone living today and received far more attention than any Montgomery child ever did. I had no doubt my father would be thoroughly disappointed. He always said it represented everything our family stood for, whatever that meant.

    As I swung the door shut, something fell from inside the clock. I opened the door again and pulled out a note. I opened it to find my name at the top. Except nobody had called me Caroline since I was twelve and decided Cici sounded much less pompous. Whoever wrote this note didn’t know me very well.

    I skimmed the letter and words like “long-standing tradition,” “family obligation,” and “secret” leapt from the yellowed letterhead. The Montgomery family crest was at the top, with another symbol at the bottom I didn’t recognize. It was signed by my grandfather who passed away when I was just a baby and dated April 25th, 1981; the day of my birth. I reread the last few lines, trying to force the words to sink in.

    ‘Your father and mother have made it perfectly clear that they want nothing to do with the Freemasons, but I am writing this letter in the hopes that one day you will have healthy sons of your own that will uphold the Montgomery family legacy. I beseech you to consider the rich history our family has within the brotherhood and hope that you respect the weight of this decision. Your future sons could do extraordinary things as Freemasons. All you need do is inquire at the lodge.’

    Holy shit, I thought. My grandfather, and probably his grandfather before him, was a Freemason; a member of a secret society. I looked up from the letter at my two rambunctious sons down the hall, still making faces at each other in time-out. Could they one day rise to be Freemasons, themselves? The knowledge I now possessed felt dense and arduous on my shoulders.

    “Mom, can we move now?” my eldest asked.

    • Pattypans says:

      “‘Mom, can we move now?’ my eldest asked.” Ha! As if they’d been stock still all that time! Good one!

    • don potter says:

      Your boys act much like the twins in my story and the parent finds them exasperating. Our stories go in different directions from there. Imagination is a wonderful thing.

      • swatchcat says:

        Good story. You’re right, in a lot of cases, grandchildren can do no wrong. We’re all held responsible for their actions or lack of action taken. Just think, “When I was their age…” is how most conversations start.

    • smallster21 says:

      Sounds like my mom. My grandparents always treated me like an angel. It will be interesting to see what Cici finds out about her family’s background with the Freemasons.

  17. whitwhatup says:

    My mood quickly shifted from furious to curious as I slowly absorbed the letter that would change my life. Darting out the back door, the twins either understood mom needed a private moment, or they disappeared before I grabbed the belt. Sitting down on a bed of shard class, I studied the faded ink letters written so precicely:
    “For Julia W. H.”

    My maiden name was Walton, and my liberal, beatnik parents had spared me a middle name b/c it took away from the simplicity of Ju. But anti-sematic jokes taunted me throughout childhood until I legally changed my name at 13. My great grandfather, Big Hank, picked it, and told me I was named after “a great female pioneer”. He died the next year, but his legend lives on. My name proves it.

    His wife had died at the young age of 22 giving birth to my grandpa, Hank Jr (otherwise known as Little Hank b/c he had miraculously survived as a 3 pound premi). Not sure why Big Hank never remarried: he came back a war hero, started working as grunt labor in the tar field of North Carolina, and emerged 10 years later (at the young age of 33) as the first millionaire of our poverty stricken state. Not to mention he was a strapping, handsome gentleman often mistaken for Cary Grant. The only 2 women he ever mentioned were:

    1.) Laura Lee, his beautiful bride
    2.) Julia, no explanation

    Shamefully, I had always believed I must named after a mysterious lover kept hidden for some unspeakable reason. A man of few words, when asked about the mysterious woman, he would only reply the same melodic way:

    Glory, glory, hallelujah!
    Glory, glory, hallelujah!
    Glory, glory, hallelujah!
    His truth is marching on.

    The same inscription was written inside the card. Nothing else, just his usual reply.

    My trip down memory lane was interrupted with a familiar whine, “when is DADDY going to be home?” I glanced up to the spitting image of the man i married 15 years ago. Brad Boynton, captain of the football team, my prom date, my first kiss….my everything. As I turned to call Brad, I froze with sudden realization that shook me to the core: Big Hank wasn’t at the wedding. He died the year before I started highschool. Before I met Brad.
    My shock was interrupted a phone call, ironically from Brad, to let me know he was on his way home. As i explained the puzzling chain of events, I concluded quite confidently my great grandfather was speaking to me from the grave, knowing eternally I would be Julia Walton Boyd.
    He chuckled and responded in his dry way, “or perhaps he was alluding to JULIA WARD HOWE, the author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” After researching his explanation, I learned (gasp!) he was RIGHT: In 1861, after a visit to my great grandfather’s Union Army camp, she wrote the poem that came to be called “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
    Long live a heroic woman that blazed the hearts of soldiers. Long live the hero in me.

    • swatchcat says:

      The core of your story is excellent but the fact that structurally it doesn’t seem sound makes for a hard read. I was just interested enough to stumble through it to find out what you were getting at. I assume b/c = because and how does not having a middle name get anti-sematic jokes? Also, you have introduced us to the MC’s great grandfather and her grandfather(born premature) but I am confused the letter is to her, is she JU or Julia and if she is Julia/JU Walton/Boyd than how can she also be Julia Ward Howe or is the letter to this woman from his past and not the great granddaughter. Super identity crisis

  18. angelpen says:

    It was Rob’s turn to have the children for Christmas. He lay on his bed as he listened to them playing in the hallway.
    “Bobby, look out!” Jason exclaimed. The sound of glass breaking followed by a thunderous crash echoed down the hall. And then there was silence.
    “Jason, Bobby?” Rob called as he leaped out of bed. When he opened the door the soccer ball they were playing with rolled in front of him.
    The grandfather clock he inherited laid face down with shards of glass everywhere.
    Stepping over the clock, he looked into the children’s room and called for them, again no response.
    “Okay guys come out from hiding; I just want to see if you are hurt. “ Rob said as he searched the house and backyard for them. They were nowhere to be found.
    “Where are they? “ He thought as he returned to the hall.
    Rob bent down and picked the clock up. The face of the clock fell out into his hands as he lifted it.
    Inside the clock an old letter was wedged between the gears.
    “No wonder this old clock didn’t work” he thought to himself as he pulled it out.
    The letter was yellowed and the writing on it was faded. He put the clock piece down and took a closer look at the envelope in front of him, Robert A. Wilson, was all it said. “Hey that’s…..me!”
    Rob gently opened the letter and pulled out the pages within. The first page was a diagram of the clock, the second page was a letter addressed to him at his currant address. It read,
    Robert, December 25, 1982
    Here is the diagram on how to repair the clock your sons just broke. After you have repaired it set the hands to read,”Twelve twenty five”, and wound it up with the key that is in the envelope. And whatever you do, don’t answer the door!
    P.S. Jason and Bobby are fine.
    -Grandpa Wilson
    “Grandpa, he died two months after I was born! How would he know the boys? What’s going on?”
    Suddenly there was a knock at the front door.
    “What the-” Rob jumped up out of his sleep. His heart was pounding as sweat poured from his face, while he gripped the sheets on his bed.
    “It was just a dream!” he assured himself as he let go of the sheets and turned to sit on the side of the bed.
    Rob wiped the sweat off his face with his tee shirt. As he sat there he could hear the boys playing in the hallway.
    “Bobby, look out!” Jason exclaimed. The sound of glass breaking followed by a thunderous crash echoed down the hall. And then there was silence.
    “Jason, Bobby?” Rob called as he leaped out of bed. When he opened the door the soccer ball they were playing with rolled in front of him.

  19. swatchcat says:

    I have been standing in this entry starring across at the aged Hall tree for generations. I have had dogs and cats swirl around my pedestal legs as my claw feet grip the floor hoping my footing will hold. When the great earthquake shook this house to its foundation I stood strong. My wood is faded and the patina is thick. My gears are a little rusted and my chime has been quiet for decades but, I still stand watch over generations of this family. How much longer must I guard this message tucked away in my face?

    “Nana the old clock stopped ticking,” Natasha tugged on the edge her Nana’s skirt.

    “Well, I guess I’ll have to wind him up again,” she headed for her secretarial desk to fetch the keys.

    “Oh Nana, can I do it, please?” Natasha skipped and hopped down the hall following her grandmother’s every step.

    “I don’t know.” She gave an evil eye and paused dramatically. “Oh, alright, get a chair.”

    “Yippy, I’m going to do the clo-ock; I’m going to do the clo-a-a-a-a-ck!” She was so excited as she pushed the grand chair as hard as she could across the wood floor. Nana was rummaging through the draw when she heard a huge crash and Natasha scream.

    What she didn’t see was poor Natasha shoving the chair so hard that she lost her grip and the chair slide into and catch a hairline fracture in one of the pedestal legs of the old grandfather clock. She didn’t here the clock speak to the child.

    “Don’t worry child. It is alright. It was my time. I have been waiting a long time for this day to come. Thank you child. Now before your Nana comes take this letter. Here in my gears, it is for you.” Natasha, shocked but intrigued leaned forward and took the paper sticking out from the crumpled parts.

    At that moment Nana appeared, “Oh Natasha dear, are you alright?”

    “The clock gave me this.” She reached up from the floor and handed it to her Nana. The woman looked at the paper and at the child.

    “Honey, clocks do not speak. What is this?” She took it and read the words aloud.

    “My dearest Natasha, you will not know me but I know you. You are a wonderful little girl who will grow to a magnificent young woman. Take care of your Nana and do not worry about small accidents. You will go far in this world. – Great-grandpapa”

    Nana looked at the remains of the clock and at her grandchild. “This is very special child; we will keep it in my desk for you to read again later.” She hugged the child and sent for the butler to clean the mess.

    Natasha tugged at her nana’s skirt. “Yes, child?”

    “I am sorry for the clock,” the girl said.

    “It was nothing child. He did his job. It was his time.” She smiled and thoughtfully remembered her father.

  20. don potter says:

    Foul weather kept the kids and me inside the house for several days. Two feet of fresh snow made the roads impassable. My five year old twin boys were getting rambunctious. If only my wife had been able to get back before the storm hit.
    I did my best to keep the boys entertained and served up whatever junk food they wanted in an effort to keep them quiet, but nothing seemed to be working. I was angry and my actions showed it. What were they going to get into next? Suddenly I heard a crash coming from the front hallway and knew the grandfather clock was the latest victim of their roughhousing.
    Upon inspection, I declared this family heirloom a total loss. After giving them a good tongue-lashing, I sent the boys to their respective rooms to contemplate their destructive deed. The clean up was next.
    I spied something sticking out from behind the once beautiful gold face of the clock. My discovery turned out to be an envelope, now yellowy brown with age. “Donald” was scrolled across the front in a bold, but shaky, hand. Why was it addressed to me?
    Inside was a single sheet of stationery with the letters “SRJ” embossed at the top. These were the initials of my great grandfather on mom’s side who died two months after I was born. I could not wait to see what he had to say.
    “Dear One,” it began.
    “By the time you read this I will be long gone. You will have no recollection of me, except for what others may tell you.
    “I wanted to share some thoughts with you. I’m putting this envelope in the old clock, which will be yours according to the terms of my will. There’s no way of knowing when you might discover this note, but I trust the Good Lord will make sure you find it when the time is right.
    “All my life was spent pursuing wealth, and I did a pretty good job of it. My wife took care of the household and the children. I never had much time for anyone. After all, I was the breadwinner. Your mother, my granddaughter, was like a little toy doll that came to visit once and a while, but we were never close. I did not know how to show affection. Actually I was afraid of expressing myself to those I cared for, fearing they might not reciprocate.
    “Now, in my lonely years, I realize that not showing love was a selfish act. So, I wanted to say how much I love you and wish we could have spent time together. Please don’t miss the joy of telling your loved ones how much you care. And, more important, show them.
    “Love, Great Grandpa.”
    I stuffed the letter in my pocket, wiped away the tears, and ran upstairs to hug my boys.

  21. KaiserSoze says:

    Dear Mom and Dad
    I’m done… I’m not scared anymore. Nor am I hopeful. There’s no love, no humanity, no me. It’s become harder to take a stance on anything, war especially. It feels like I’ve become nothing more than fixture of some playwright’s set, forced to watch from behind as men’s lives flutter out of existence. I joined the service to grow up, to become a man like the ones I’ve seen on stage. Now I know none of those men could really capture the reality of another’s dying gaze. There’s no sadness behind his eyes, no aching desire for retribution of offenses passed. In fact he’s happy, he’s begging for the sharp clap of a pistol followed by the echoing applause as his soul’s led offstage. His body just lies there with an archaic smile plastered across his lifeless face, taunting me, knowing he’s just inspired vicious conflict within another person. It’s the same mix of naivety and cowardice that every man here is slowly losing himself to. It’s insanity jumping from one man to another, feasting on his insides until the moment it can be transmitted through utter terror to another piece of meat. Looking back on it now, I understand the brilliance of that stupid smirk. That man too lacked humanity, he’d been the host of the same battle within me now. It wasn’t until he realized his life would be ending and I realized I would be taking it, that it dawned on him. There would be no more orders, no more men bleeding in his arms, no more inner turmoil. He had mere seconds to enjoy his life and he knew it. He abused every last one. I can only imagine the power of those few seconds, how they’d revive what sense of reality I’ve lost, how easy it would be to overdose on emotion before my applause came. I envy that man.
    I love you. Goodbye.

  22. dragonchef says:

    I stared at the empty surface on my desk which until very recently was covered with papers and other home office paraphernalia. In a fit of rage I swiped an arm across the desk’s surface scattering the entire contents to the four corners of the room. All that remained was the letter that fell out of the now destroyed Grandfather clock that had been in my family for five generations, a bottle of single-malt scotch, and an untouched, half-filled glass of the bottle’s contents. My two rambunctious twins sat whimpering on the window seat with every other whimper a “Sorry Daddy!” Their cries of remorse fell to deaf ears—at least, to my deaf ears. My wife stood in the doorway with her arms crossed, a smoldering look of distaste fixed in my direction.

    “Are you just going to let them sit there and cry?” Her foot taped an abbreviated tempo as she spoke.

    I couldn’t look at her. I couldn’t look at them. All I could do is stare at the letter, aged and yellowed by time.

    Janis stormed over to the desk and snatched the letter from my view, and read it.“What is this, some kind of joke?” her ire rising to a new level.

    “Apparently not, though I wish it were.”

    The half-filled glass of scotch beckoned me.

    “What are you going to do?”

    “Sheesh, woman,” I snarled. “What can I do? It is what it is.”

    “It is what it is,” she mocked. “At least tell your children, whom you love dearly, that you’re not angry with them.”

    At that I did look at her, incredulously. “Seriously, Janis? Did you see the clock?”

    “It’s just a clock, David. They are your flesh and blood.”

    “Flesh and blood. Humph! Not that means much now.”

    Janis rolled her eyes. “Oh my God, David! Get over yourself! You have me, and you have the boys. We are your flesh and blood. Who cares who your great-grandfather was?”

    “What, don’t you mean? What he was?”

    Janis sighed heavily and opened her mouth as if to say something, but nothing came out. Instead, she bit her lip and turned to the twins. “Come on boys! Let’s go get some ice cream.”

    Their eyes lit up with excitement and I could almost see them smile at her before they turned their scared little faces toward me for approval.

    I smirked, more inwardly than at them. How could I deny them anything? I gave them the best smile I could muster, and released them to their mother’s care. “Go ahead. Enjoy. And save me some.”

    Janis tossed the letter back onto the desk—“I think you should burn it.”—and departed with the boys.

    I read the letter again, and then again, before crumpling it and the envelope it came in into an ashtray. A match to the aged paper ball later and I’d sufficiently returned the letter to history.

    I left the scotch untouched and headed for ice cream.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      You leave the reader hanging and wondering about the contents of the letter, good job there. I am tempted to suggest to you that a vague clue as to the contents of the letter, be woven into your story. Then again, let each reader decide? My thoughts are , he is an adopted child with his family history being totally erased. Kerry

  23. KaiserSoze says:

    Dear Mom and Dad
    I’m done… I’m not scared anymore. Nor am I hopeful. There’s no love, no humanity, no me. It’s become harder to take a stance on anything, war especially. It feels like I’ve become nothing more than fixture of some playwright’s set, forced to watch from behind as men’s lives flutter out of existence. I joined the service to grow up, to become a man like the ones I’ve seen on stage. Now I know none of those men could really capture the reality of another’s dying gaze. There’s no sadness behind his eyes, no aching desire for retribution of offenses passed. In fact he’s happy, he’s begging for the sharp clap of a pistol followed by the echoing applause as his souls led offstage. His body just lies there with an archaic smile plastered across his lifeless face, taunting me, knowing he’s just inspired vicious conflict within another person. It’s the same mix of naivety and cowardice that every man here is slowly losing himself to. It’s insanity jumping from one man to another, feasting on his insides until the moment it can be transmitted through utter terror to another piece of meat. Looking back on it now, I understand the brilliance of that stupid smirk. That man too lacked humanity, he’d been the host of the same battle within me now. It wasn’t until he realized his life would be ending and I realized I would be taking it, that it dawned on him. There would be no more orders, no more men bleeding in his arms, no more inner turmoil. He had mere seconds to enjoy his life and he knew it. He abused every last one. I can only imagine the power of those few seconds, how they’d revive what sense of reality I’ve lost, how easy it would be to overdose on emotion before my applause came. I envy that man.
    I love you. Goodbye.

  24. ConfoundedHound says:

    Well — here goes my very first attempt at writing publicly. The hardest thing was cutting this 900+ story down to <500… what do you think? WARNING: this is kinda dark and graphic…

    My wife and young twins are being roasted alive in a Cadillac hearse. The doors are bent and won’t open. I watch helplessly as Kyle, thrown halfway trough the windshield, stops moving. My wife Barbara is clawing at the glass cradling Brennan to her breast. Brennan is screaming — Barbara just stares at me. She sees in my face that I can’t save them. She gives me a final, mournful gaze, and then begins to smother our remaining child. I can hear her anguished cries even over the roar of the fire. I can see Brennan kicking and flailing, wild-eyed and betrayed, before I am forced back by the heat. There is an enormous explosion and…
    I’m gasping and drenched in sweat. The whiplash of bolting upright is about to give me a headache. I’m disoriented, my brain still trying to shift into consciousness, but Barbara is beside me, sitting up too — so it was just another nightmare. My dreams have gotten very troubled and dark. This was one of the worst. That explosion was so loud it woke me up. But at least… Why is Barbara sitting up too? Was there really an explosion?
    “Daddy!”
    Brennan’s plea is urgent. I turn to Barbara but she is already halfway-off the bed, reaching for her robe. I follow hurriedly into the hallway and stop short. Here are my children, Kyle lying motionless on the floor, and Brennan pinned beneath the splintered remains of the carved grandfather clock I inherited after my father’s suicide last year.
    Barbara rushes to Kyle, and I to Brennan. Face-down, the clock resembles a coffin, an observation that is not lost on me as I heave the thing off my son.
    “Kyle’s OK”, Barbara tells me.
    The clock is destroyed.
    Amongst the splintered wood and shattered glass is an envelope with my name on it.

    Inside is a diary page:

    The ticking of that ancient, macabre clock slowly pulls me into sleep each night, and is the ever-present metronome in the symphony of horrors that have become my dreams. I do not know the clock’s origin. It has been passed down the male lineage of our family for as long as anyone remembers. Once the clock has infected you, attempts to speak of it, move it, or destroy it are met with crippling headaches and injury to close family members. The clock is a curse- and once you know it, you are helpless to break it.
    I nearly killed my son today — he interrupted me pitching hay and I nearly stuck the fork in his belly for startling me. The only way to protect them is to end my life.

    I look up and see my family watching. Brennan is crying, the Kyle speaks.
    “Daddy, please don’t be angry. We were just playing! We didn’t mean to touch the clock — I promise! Please don’t be mad! Please…”
    I pull my boys into a tremendous hug, laughing and crying. I will sleep well tonight.

  25. ConfoundedHound says:

    My wife and young twins are being roasted alive in a Cadillac hearse. The doors are bent and won’t open. I watch helplessly as Kyle, thrown halfway trough the windshield, stops moving. My wife Barbara is clawing at the glass cradling Brennan to her breast. Brennan is screaming — Barbara just stares at me. She sees in my face that I can’t save them. She gives me a final, mournful gaze, and then begins to smother our remaining child. I can hear her anguished cries even over the roar of the fire. I can see Brennan kicking and flailing, wild-eyed and betrayed, before I am forced back by the heat. There is an enormous explosion and…
    I’m gasping and drenched in sweat. The whiplash of bolting upright is about to give me a headache. I’m disoriented, my brain still trying to shift into consciousness, but Barbara is beside me, sitting up too — so it was just another nightmare. My dreams have gotten very troubled and dark. This was one of the worst. That explosion was so loud it woke me up. But at least… Why is Barbara sitting up too? Was there really an explosion?
    “Daddy!”
    Brennan’s plea is urgent. I turn to Barbara but she is already halfway-off the bed, reaching for her robe. I follow hurriedly into the hallway and stop short. Here are my children, Kyle lying motionless on the floor, and Brennan pinned beneath the splintered remains of the carved grandfather clock I inherited after my father’s suicide last year.
    Barbara rushes to Kyle, and I to Brennan. Face-down, the clock resembles a coffin, an observation that is not lost on me as I heave the thing off my son.
    “Kyle’s OK”, Barbara tells me.
    The clock is destroyed.
    Amongst the splintered wood and shattered glass is an envelope with my name on it.

    Inside is a diary page:

    The ticking of that ancient, macabre clock slowly pulls me into sleep each night, and is the ever-present metronome in the symphony of horrors that have become my dreams. I do not know the clock’s origin. It has been passed down the male lineage of our family for as long as anyone remembers. Once the clock has infected you, attempts to speak of it, move it, or destroy it are met with crippling headaches and injury to close family members. The clock is a curse- and once you know it, you are helpless to break it.
    I nearly killed my son today — he interrupted me pitching hay and I nearly stuck the fork in his belly for startling me. The only way to protect them is to end my life.

    I look up and see my family watching. Brennan is crying, the Kyle speaks.
    “Daddy, please don’t be angry. We were just playing! We didn’t mean to touch the clock — I promise! Please don’t be mad! Please…”
    I pull my boys into a tremendous hug, laughing and crying. I will sleep well tonight.

  26. ConfoundedHound says:

    This is my first attempt at sharing my writing with the public. I had a hard time with the 500 word limit, the original story was close to 900 words. I tried to edit it down and keep the story intact, but I don’t have much experience with that. Also- I guess I should preface this with a warning that this is relatively dark and graphic…

    My wife and young twins are being roasted alive in a Cadillac hearse. The doors are bent and won’t open. I watch helplessly as Kyle, thrown halfway trough the windshield, stops moving. My wife Barbara is clawing at the glass cradling Brennan to her breast. Brennan is screaming — Barbara just stares at me. She sees in my face that I can’t save them. She gives me a final, mournful gaze, and then begins to smother our remaining child. I can hear her anguished cries even over the roar of the fire. I can see Brennan kicking and flailing, wild-eyed and betrayed, before I am forced back by the heat. There is an enormous explosion and…
    I’m gasping and drenched in sweat. The whiplash of bolting upright is about to give me a headache. I’m disoriented, my brain still trying to shift into consciousness, but Barbara is beside me, sitting up too — so it was just another nightmare. My dreams have gotten very troubled and dark. This was one of the worst. That explosion was so loud it woke me up. But at least… Why is Barbara sitting up too? Was there really an explosion?
    “Daddy!”
    Brennan’s plea is urgent. I turn to Barbara but she is already halfway-off the bed, reaching for her robe. I follow hurriedly into the hallway and stop short. Here are my children, Kyle lying motionless on the floor, and Brennan pinned beneath the splintered remains of the carved grandfather clock I inherited after my father’s suicide last year.
    Barbara rushes to Kyle, and I to Brennan. Face-down, the clock resembles a coffin, an observation that is not lost on me as I heave the thing off my son.
    “Kyle’s OK”, Barbara tells me.
    The clock is destroyed.
    Amongst the splintered wood and shattered glass is an envelope with my name on it.

    Inside is a diary page:

    The ticking of that ancient, macabre clock slowly pulls me into sleep each night, and is the ever-present metronome in the symphony of horrors that have become my dreams. I do not know the clock’s origin. It has been passed down the male lineage of our family for as long as anyone remembers. Once the clock has infected you, attempts to speak of it, move it, or destroy it are met with crippling headaches and injury to close family members. The clock is a curse- and once you know it, you are helpless to break it.
    I nearly killed my son today — he interrupted me pitching hay and I nearly stuck the fork in his belly for startling me. The only way to protect them is to end my life.

    I look up and see my family watching. Brennan is crying, the Kyle speaks.
    “Daddy, please don’t be angry. We were just playing! We didn’t mean to touch the clock — I promise! Please don’t be mad! Please…”
    I pull my boys into a tremendous hug, laughing and crying. I will sleep well tonight.

    • ConfoundedHound says:

      Sorry about the triple posting – I didn’t realize it would take 3 days for my story to show up. I thought I was doing something wrong and tried a couple more times. It won’t happen again. :P

  27. angelpen says:

    It was Rob’s turn to have the children for Christmas. He lay on his bed as he listened to them playing in the hallway.
    “Bobby, look out!” Jason exclaimed. The sound of glass breaking followed by a thunderous crash echoed down the hall. And then there was silence.
    “Jason, Bobby?” Rob called as he leaped out of bed. When he opened the door the soccer ball they were playing with rolled in front of him.
    The grandfather clock he inherited laid face down with shards of glass everywhere.
    Stepping over the clock, he looked into the children’s room and called for them, again no response.
    “Okay guys come out from hiding; I just want to see if you are hurt. “ Rob said as he searched the house and backyard for them. They were nowhere to be found.
    “Where are they? “ He thought as he returned to the hall.
    Rob bent down and picked the clock up. The face of the clock fell out into his hands as he lifted it.
    Inside the clock an old letter was wedged between the gears.
    “No wonder this old clock didn’t work” he thought to himself as he pulled it out.
    The letter was yellowed and the writing on it was faded. He put the clock piece down and took a closer look at the envelope in front of him, Robert A. Wilson, was all it said. “Hey that’s…..me!”
    Rob gently opened the letter and pulled out the pages within. The first page was a diagram of the clock, the second page was a letter addressed to him at his currant address. It read,
    Robert, December 25, 1982
    Here is the diagram on how to repair the clock your sons just broke. After you have repaired it set the hands to read,”Twelve twenty five”, and wound it up with the key that is in the envelope. And whatever you do, don’t answer the door!
    P.S. Jason and Bobby are fine.
    -Grandpa Wilson
    “Grandpa? he died two months after I was born! How would he know the boys? What’s going on?”
    Suddenly there was a knock at the front door.
    “What the-” Rob jumped up out of his sleep. His heart was pounding as sweat poured from his face, while he gripped the sheets on his bed.
    “It was just a dream!” he assured himself as he let go of the sheets and turned to sit on the side of the bed.
    Rob wiped the sweat off his face with his tee shirt. As he sat there he could hear the boys playing in the hallway.
    “Bobby, look out!” Jason exclaimed. The sound of glass breaking followed by a thunderous crash echoed down the hall. And then there was silence.
    “Jason, Bobby?” Rob called as he leaped out of bed. When he opened the door the soccer ball they were playing with rolled in front of him.

  28. tourmeline says:

    I unfolded the yellowed piece of paper and smoothed the creases. My eye measured the space below the crabbed and faded handwriting; just about half the sheet left. This was the third time I had done this and this time, I felt ready to reply.

    Dear Grandfather (or may I call you Dan? That’s how you’re referred to in family stories.)

    The first thing I’d like to tell you is that one of my life’s few regrets is never knowing you. You have inspired so many of my personal adventures, as both a child and an adult. To have been born in a covered wagon is unimaginable, to me, and the idea of living without electrical power or running water is what inspired me to build my home on a wooded mountainside, beyond reach of services. Of course, the modern world eventually caught up with me and my life became quite civilized.

    I wonder if you would see a comparison between how you watched a great American city change from gas-light to dc electricity to ac, and my use of a manual typewriter, in high school, progressing to electric to word processor to personal computer to the lap-top I write on today. Would you compare the development of the automobile and airplanes to moon-walks and space stations? Whatever would you think of the changes in morals? Could someone who was shipped from one coast to the other for a job that didn’t work out, and who then supported himself selling roasted potatoes from a cart, building it into a real restaurant, with nothing but hard work; could someone like that (like you) understand millions collecting welfare and unemployment?

    You heard of the San Francisco earthquake, first hand; did it tear your heart, like the tornado in Oklahoma did mine, last week ? Did the devastation of the dust bowl, in the 1930s compare to the devastation of New Orleans, just a few years ago? Telephones were still modern conveniences to you; what would you make of cell phones?

    I have so many questions, but the one that I guess is always first on the list is this: Would you like me? Would I have had your approval? Your letter is so full of love for the first baby born to our family in my generation. I can only hope you wouldn’t have been disappointed. In some ways, I think we must have been alike, because the single piece of advice you left me is one I already believe deeply, “Don’t long for the past and call it The Good Old Days. It’s never as good as you remember or imagine, and the days to come are never a bad as you anticipate. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and always do the next job that comes to hand. If you are meant to be rich, this will work for you; if you’re not meant, nothing will.”

    With love,
    Your Great Grand-daughter

    • swatchcat says:

      An interesting approach. It seems you wrote the letter in a style that shows someone writing what they are thinking, as they are thinking it. It is not a perfect letter, it is the MC thoughts gushing out sort of like a personal journal where grammar doesn’t matter. Sense the man is dead he isn’t getting this letter so it would be more of a letter to ones self. If not than this needs cleaning up, it’s good but, if not to ones self than how would a dead man get this letter?

      • Pattypans says:

        Tourmeline, I like your interesting approach. I think you did a good job of (among other things), giving the reader a lot of information without it feeling like ‘information dump’. And, no disrespect to anyone, whether poster or commenter, but I think your grammar and punctuation better than most.

    • don potter says:

      Funny how the grandfather clock brings out the nostalgia in us.

  29. dragonchef says:

    I stared at the empty surface on my desk which until very recently was covered with papers and other home office paraphernalia. In a fit of rage I swiped an arm across the desk’s surface scattering the entire contents to the four corners of the room. All that remained was the letter that fell out of the now destroyed Grandfather clock that had been in my family for five generations, a bottle of single-malt scotch, and an untouched, half-filled glass of the bottle’s contents. My two rambunctious twins sat whimpering on the window seat with every other whimper a “Sorry Daddy!” Their cries of remorse fell to deaf ears—at least, to my deaf ears. My wife stood in the doorway with her arms crossed, a smoldering look of distaste fixed in my direction
    .
    “Are you just going to let them sit there and cry?” Her foot taped an abbreviated tempo as she spoke.

    I couldn’t look at her. I couldn’t look at them. All I could do is stare at the letter, aged and yellowed by time.

    Janis stormed over to the desk and snatched the letter from my view, and read it. “What is this, some kind of joke?” her ire rising to a new level.

    “Apparently not, though I wish it were.”

    The half-filled glass of scotch beckoned me.

    “What are you going to do?”

    “Sheesh, woman,” I snarled. “What can I do? It is what it is.”

    “It is what it is,” she mocked. “At least tell your children, whom you love dearly, that you’re not angry with them.”

    At that I did look at her, incredulously.

    “Seriously, Janis? Did you see the clock?”

    “It’s just a clock, David. They are your flesh and blood.”

    “Flesh and blood. Humph! Not that means much now.”

    Janis rolled her eyes. “Oh my God, David! Get over yourself! You have me, and you have the boys. We are your flesh and blood. Who cares who your great-grandfather was?”

    What, don’t you mean? What he was?”

    Janis sighed heavily and opened her mouth as if to say something, but nothing came out. Instead, she bit her lip and turned to the twins. “Come on boys! Let’s go get some ice cream.”

    Their eyes lit up with excitement and I could almost see them smile at her before they turned their scared little faces toward me for approval.

    I smirked, more inwardly than at them. How could I deny them anything? I gave them the best smile I could muster, and released them to their mother’s care. “Go ahead. Enjoy. And save me some.”

    Janis tossed the letter back onto the desk—“I think you should burn it.”—and departed with the boys.

    I read the letter again, and then again, before crumpling it and the envelope it came in into an ashtray. A match to the aged paper ball later and I’d sufficiently returned the letter to history.

    I left the scotch untouched and headed for ice cream.

  30. dragonchef says:

    I stared at the empty surface on my desk which until very recently was covered with papers and other home office paraphernalia. In a fit of rage I swiped an arm across the desk’s surface scattering the entire contents to the four corners of the room. All that remained was the letter that fell out of the now destroyed Grandfather clock that had been in my family for five generations, a bottle of single-malt scotch, and an untouched, half-filled glass of the bottle’s contents. My two rambunctious twins sat whimpering on the window seat with every other whimper a “Sorry Daddy!” Their cries of remorse fell to deaf ears—at least, to my deaf ears. My wife stood in the doorway with her arms crossed, a smoldering look of distaste fixed in my direction.

    “Are you just going to let them sit there and cry?” Her foot taped an abbreviated tempo as she spoke.

    I couldn’t look at her. I couldn’t look at them. All I could do is stare at the letter, aged and yellowed by time.

    Janis stormed over to the desk and snatched the letter from my view, and read it. “What is this, some kind of joke?” her ire rising to a new level.

    “Apparently not, though I wish it were.”

    The half-filled glass of scotch beckoned me.

    “What are you going to do?”

    “Sheesh, woman,” I snarled. “What can I do? It is what it is.”

    “It is what it is,” she mocked. “At least tell your children, whom you love dearly, that you’re not angry with them.”

    I gave he an incredulous look. “Seriously, Janis? Did you see the clock?”

    “It’s just a clock, David. They are your flesh and blood.”

    “Flesh and blood. Humph! Not that means much now.”

    Janis rolled her eyes. “Oh my God, David! Get over yourself! You have me, and you have the boys. We are your flesh and blood. Who cares who your great-grandfather was?”

    “What, don’t you mean? What he was?”

    Janis sighed heavily and opened her mouth as if to say something, but nothing came out. Instead, she bit her lip and turned to the twins. “Come on boys! Let’s go get some ice cream.”

    Their eyes lit up with excitement and I could almost see them smile at her before they turned their scared little faces toward me for approval.

    I smirked, more inwardly than at them. How could I deny them anything? I gave them the best smile I could muster, and released them to their mother’s care. “Go ahead. Enjoy. And save me some.”

    Janis tossed the letter back onto the desk—“I think you should burn it.”—and departed with the boys.

    I read the letter again, and then again, before crumpling it and the envelope it came in into an ashtray. A match to the aged paper ball later and I’d sufficiently returned the letter to history.

    I left the scotch untouched and headed for ice cream.

  31. smallster21 says:

    KILLING THE MONSTER DOESN’T EXTINGUISH THE NIGHTMARE

    I keep my eyes shut praying I’ll see the soft blue walls of my bedroom when I open my eyes, but the raw soreness of my arm tells me it wasn’t a nightmare. The clock’s face is broken upon the ground freezing this scene for a rerun of future torment. My fingers graze a shard of glass. I latch onto it, inviting the jagged edge to invade my skin and expel the blood that holds the horrors locked within my mind.

    A trail of bloody footprints winds its way around the clock to the living room. I wander if he’s dead. If the Devil hasn’t claimed him yet, I’ll gladly slit his throat and send his soul to Hell where demons will cover his body in embers to burn off his flesh; where Hell hounds will chew off his legs and dangle his bones in front of his eyes.

    Climbing onto my hands and knees, I hear a whimper. My heart collapses. It’s Lanie. She’s scared, begging for me to stop the pain. The tears start to burn my eyes as she tries to reach me, kicking her legs back and forth like she’s in one of her puppy dreams. I wrap my arms around her head, kissing her nose, whispering it’ll be okay, mommy will take care of her.

    I grab a nearby table cloth and cover her wounds. The bastard had laughed as he held her by the throat and rammed the knife continuously into her stomach; his eyes locked on mine as I begged for her life. That’s when I had gathered all the strength my emotions would provide to launch myself at him, and we collided into the grandfather clock.

    As her life pours out into my hands, I hear a cough from the other room. He’s still alive.

    A weapon. I need a weapon. There’s glass on the floor, but the fire poker in the living room would be better. I stumble to my feet and peek around the corner where he’s slouched over the edge of the couch covered in blood.

    I tip toe across the room and pull the poker from its stand, which crashes to the floor. His head shoots up. His eyes narrow.

    He jumps up to block my attack and pulls me to the ground, where he crawls on top of me, wrapping his hands around my chin. As he yanks my head side to side, I stiffen my neck.

    “Die you fucking bitch and join your puss ass dog! Is she still alive? Maybe I’ll slowly rip her guts out as she cries for her mommy.”

    The anger energizes my limbs, and I reach up digging my fingers into his eyes. He howls, and I scream as I drive the glass shard into his neck.

    His eyes widen as he spits, “You fucking whore.”

    “Get ready. You’re about to go to Hell where you’ll be the Devil’s bitch.” I grab the poker and drive it through his stomach.

    “Ha! You think this is over,” he coughs sinking to his knees. As he condemns me with his gaze, he growls, “I’ll haunt you until you die, then drag you to Hell with me.”

    I pull the poker out and stab him several times before collapsing and crawling over to Lanie. Her body is still. The puppy I adopted after he went to prison is dead. I pull her into my arms and lean against the wall where I stay the rest of the night stroking her fur, and tracing the lines of glass and blood upon the floor.

    • smallster21 says:

      Hopefully, nobody thinks I’m disturbed. I did cry when I wrote about the puppy, but I had to show how crazy and devoid of emotion this fecker is.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Good Lord, this is intense. I cry also for your puppy as I do for for a tiny sparrow or a butterfly that floats lifelessly in the wind. I can’t recall any print I have read that describes a core of evil as well as you do. If I read your personality right, you can’t sleep in total darkness for fear the evil will surround you. I keep TV on all night on Turner Classic so I’m not disturbed in the night as if the characters could jump out of the screen and do battle for me. Why, of all people would I think of you as disturbed?

        • smallster21 says:

          Thank you. And, you are right. Right on point exactly. I can’t sleep in total darkness. I have either a light on, or Harry Potter playing on the TV. I don’t know why HP, it’s comforting I suppose. I’m impressed by your intuitiveness. Glad to know I’m not the only one who believes the TV will save me, lol :)

          • swatchcat says:

            I liked that you took a piece of the prompt an wrote something. Goes to show how you don’t have to be literal all the time. A bit gruesome though but it’s good. I don’t know why but I liked the line: ” I wander if he’s dead. If the Devil hasn’t claimed him yet, I’ll gladly slit his throat and send his soul to Hell where demons will cover his body in embers to burn off his flesh; where Hell hounds will chew off his legs and dangle his bones in front of his eyes.” If I was in this predicament I would wish the same. Good job.

          • smallster21 says:

            Thanks swatchcat :) Ya, that line was pretty intense, glad you liked it and that I was able to effectively convey the woman’s justifiable hate for this man.

    • douglangille says:

      JEEBUS this was intense. Puppy killer! Very well done.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Wow! This is so full of raw fear and fight :) Love it! Not too many writers seem to want to put in the “disturbing” details that will actually make the story. The puppy definitely shows how this man is truly evil that he would destroy something that represents the core of innocence. So, no. I don’t think anyone will think negative of you. Writers have to put themselves aside sometimes to make the story be all that it can. Great job :)

        • smallster21 says:

          Thanks calicocat88, those are very kind words and I appreciate them :) Yes, and you are absolutely correct about the puppy’s purpose. He takes pleasure in hurting the innocent and destroying the things this woman cares about.

      • smallster21 says:

        Thank you Doug. I know, I hated killing the puppy, it hurt my heart. I gave my dog extra snuggies after writing this.

    • don potter says:

      Your stuff is almost too scary for me. Almost.

  32. exiledcrusader says:

    This is my first post it ended up being just over 500 words. I hope you enjoy the story

    A loud crash awakens Joseph from his nap on the couch. Almost before fully sitting up his two children run into the room. They have with them an old yellowed envelope addressed to him. The children both began speaking at once. Joseph could make nothing of the incomprehensible babble.
    He says “Slow down tell me what happened one at a time. Lucy you first.” She starts with “I didn’t break it Steven did but I found the letter for you daddy.” What didn’t you break honey.” says Joseph. She says “Steven was being mean and pushed me it the clock.” Steven shouts “I did not she fell and I tried to catch her she was running and you said we shouldn’t run in the house.” “So you broke my great grandfather’s clock. Are the two of you alright anything hurt?” he asks.
    Lucy gives him the envelope it is has his name on it so he opens it and begins to read.
    Joseph,
    I have just held you for the first and last time in my life. You were an ordinary and wholly unremarkable child. Yet you will have or will lead an interesting life. If you are reading this than you children have just broken my clock. I am here to tell you do not try and replace it with a new one. You finding a new clock will result in the end of the world. No I am not being dramatic you told me these very words years ago. I know I said I just held you for the first and last time but I did not say that was the first time we had ever met. We have met twice before once when I was in my teens the last twenty years ago.
    The first time you arrived you were excited talking about traveling to the future and the past. I would never have believed your story if I had not heard about you from my mother. It seems that as you travel thru time you meet members of your family. My mother, her grandfather, his father, and so back for several hundred years. You told me the same thing happens in the future you met your grandchildren their children and so on.
    The next time we met you told me to write this letter. You said that everywhere you went the past and future changed. It did not seem to matter whenever you went from the past to the future the future was worse. You were insistent that you could not stop leaping through time but this letter could change everything. If you had not purchased that new clock the past and future would not have been changed. So be careful and don’t buy a new clock.
    With Love
    Your Great Grandfather Arthur L Reed
    With a shake of his head Joseph stops reading the letter. It was an interesting story he wondered who wrote it. He knew it couldn’t be real after all time travel can’t be real.
    In town Joseph saw an antique store. He thought just in case I won’t buy a new clock I think I will get another old. He finds a clock that he liked and buys it. When he gets it home the old clock looks just right. He takes out the key and winds it at that moment he disappears.

  33. Rebecca Pappas says:

    The sound of wood and metal slamming into the hardwood floor echoed through the house. Vikki jumped up from the couch and ran to the hall where her grandfather clock lay in pieces and her two sons stood frightened in the door way.

    “Mom, we didn’t mean to,” Billy said, “we’re so sorry.”

    “Mom, we’ll pay for it, I promise,” Jimmy said.

    “You’re both okay?” Vikki asked.

    “Yeah. Mom, seriously, we didn’t mean to. We were just, you know, it was an accident,” Jimmy said.

    “I’ll deal with you two later. Go to your room until I get this cleaned up.”

    Thoughts ran rapid through Vikki’s head as she swept up the glass and pieces of wood. She was relieved that no one was hurt, but angry that they were so careless that they destroyed a family heirloom. Most of all she was worried about how her mom would take the news; it had belonged to her father.

    Vikki propped up what was left of the clock. She looked at the remaining pieces of wood, glass, and clock pieces that lay littered on the floor when her eye caught a small folded up piece of paper. She picked it up, shaking off tiny glass slivers, and began to read.

    My Darling Victoria,
    As I sit and write this you are about to turn two months old. I look into your innocent eyes and I am drawn to tell you something no one else knows. I know your heart is pure and you will not judge me. Many years ago, when I was a very young man, I belonged to a gang that was part of what the papers called the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. I should have died that night. I was sent to the garage with the other men, but before we went in something about it didn’t feel right and I made an excuse to not go inside. After they went in the building I found a place to hide. A few minutes later gun shots rang out. They were all dead, shot in the back. I went into hiding after that and changed my name. I never hurt anyone, my beautiful child, but I was not innocent in wrongdoing. Everything is explained in a journal I have hidden in the bottom of the grandfather clock. I wish you well.
    I love you my sweet Victoria,
    Great-grandfather

    Vikki kicked in the bottom of the clock. Sitting in a thick layer of dust was a brown leather journal.

  34. Barouches says:

    The pain was akin to a dull blade that traced the track from her heart down through her midsection, and she laid the handwritten note on the floor. The pain throbbed and cut, throbbed and cut; and she was defenseless against it, no warning, no preparation.

    She sat cross legged on the floor surrounded by glass, and the twisted metal organs of the old clock as Jasper nonchalantly lay grooming himself among the rubble; fairly satisfied with his handiwork. She couldn’t fault him, or his other four-legged cohorts, for the wreckage scattered upon the floor; not now anyway, not after reading the final words written by her husband. She reached over and smoothed down the fur on his tabby head, and his purrs only grew louder.

    Looking back down at the floor she picked the note up again. Her husband had disappeared one weekend over a decade before while they had camped in the forest. She had frantically searched for him when he had gone missing. She had adored him, and thought their marriage had been one of those rare gems that few were fortunate enough to ever experience. Losing him had felt like the end of her own life.

    She began to reread the message that she just couldn’t wrap her mind around. Words placed in the clock all those years before; words that had been stabbed into the paper in a fit of rage, more so than written. He had lamented about being a prisoner in the marriage, and that, if he had executed his plan as he intended, she too would understand what it meant to be a prisoner. He expressed his outright hate for her, and gloated that while she was warming her heels in jail, that he’d be soaking up the sun in Baja.

    The ache amplified in her midsection as tears spilled over onto the paper. She had been suspected, and for years had to fight for her life, not only in the courtroom, but also in the eye of public perception. He hadn’t recounted in his note any public humiliation such as she had endured, especially when the large carver had been found in the garage wrapped in her clothes, soaked in her husband’s blood.

    The blood soaking her favorite clothes, and covering the knife, had been determined to come from an ‘unsurvivable’ injury. The only thing that had cast doubt upon her guilt was the copious amount of anti-coagulant found to have been in the blood. She had been so grief stricken, so confused, so broken, but acquitted.

    She got up from the floor and she made her way to her purse. She lifted her cell phone out, and ran through her contact list until she found the number she needed, and placed her call.

    “Hi Sue, this is Sarah O’Malley, how are you? Yes, fine thank you. Listen, I need to book a trip for Baja, Mexico, could you arrange that for me?”

    Two words consumed her now. ‘Double jeopardy’.

    • swatchcat says:

      Revenge is more like it. Ashley Judd did a movie called Double Jeopardy with Tommy Lee Jones. This is good but I don’t see a connection to the prompt other then an old clock is down. The letter isn’t from a great, grandfather. Possibly that was your intent but…it left me looking for a connection that wasn’t there.

      • Barouches says:

        Thank you swatchcat, I did something different this time. I allowed the story to take it’s own course, and it wasn’t until it was done that I realized how much it had strayed from the orginal concept. Thank you very much for your feedback, it is allows valued :-)

    • bgh322a says:

      Barouches, I really LOVED your story and plot. I especially appreciated your unique spin to the prompt. The fact that you deviated from the original prompt reminded me that pure art is inspired – not all the time a literal translation. It also made your story unpredictable – which peeked my interest even more. And the ending…EXCELLENT! Thank you for sharing your piece of art.

  35. mrmcneill says:

    “Jesus, John. It’s been three weeks,” I grunt into the cell phone wedged between my right shoulder and sweating cheek. “I need the images by Friday if I’m going to finish the yearbook on time.” The expected hemming and hawing on John’s end doesn’t do anything to alleviate my frustrations. It’s my second year doing this dance with him and Mr. Williams has my balls in a vice. The sooner we’re ready to sell, the sooner he can start filling out purchase orders for projectors.

    I try to turn the oven off with one fumbling, mitt-covered hand and stir the Bolognese sauce with the other. “Can you deliver by Friday?”

    “Well…th—the—the thing is—” John is interrupted by the sound of what can only be a bodyslam reverberating down the hallway walls and into the kitchen.

    “Elijah! Dalton!” I lean over the counter, doing anything I can to project a voice loud enough to get two teenagers to quit roughhousing. “Dinner’s in five, so quit dicking around!”

    I transfer back into business mode, but conveniently forgetting to lower my volume. “John: Friday?”

    A yelp squeezes out of the speaker before John begins to stutter, “I think tha—that I can do—”
    I don’t hear the rest over the cacophony of glass and wood shrapnel firing from the far end of the hall. My head jerks at the clamor, sending my phone sailing straight into the Bolognese. I stand frozen for eternity knowing only two things:
    1. That was most definitely the grandfather clock, and
    2. There is three-hundred dollars of technology floating somewhere in that sauce pan.

    Frenzied, I crank the burners off and chuck my oven mitt on the counter. I rush around the counter. The debris coats the corridor like a flood of jagged edges and brass. Above the destruction, I see two heads peeking out of Dalton’s bedroom; were it not for their trademark unkempt heads of hair, I don’t think I would have been able to tell it was the boys. Their eyes were devoid of everything except fear. Elijah’s mouth was wide open and Dalton’s quivering lip said that he was maybe thirty-seconds away from opening up the floodgates.

    “God damnit,” I grumble quietly. That thing was literally a grandfather clock; my mom gave it to Lynn and me at our wedding, and she got it from grandpa Punch. It’s all we had left of him. “Eli, call for pizza. And Dalton, get your shoes on and…”

    My voice trails off as I spot a perfect white square among the rubble: an envelope. The name Scott adorns it like a bow on a gift. But…that’s me…

    I reach down and pluck the envelope from the wreckage.

    There’s nothing more powerful than love, and there is no love without forgiveness.

    Papa

    I look up and see Dalton, still frightened, with the broom in hand. “Accidents happen,” I sigh, resting a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s clean up before mom gets home.”

  36. handyman43127 says:

    I could never understand what the fight was about? I question my motives over and over again. The prize is of great value, but what really is the prize? How can I win it?

    The long battle that raged on was over, finally, life could go on. Or so I was thinking.!

    Three year’s of battle after ten years of marriage, two boys, twins, seven years old, I assumed they could understand and accept the future and not the past. Soon the future and the past would come back to remind my children, myself and my ex-wife that all is not always what it seems…

    She got the house, the bank account, and everything we had worked for, together. My job took me far away from home, but I always remembered who was waiting for me at home, too bad she did-not!

    I fought mostly for visitation rights for my boys. Secondly I asked for the clock that my great grandfather had given to me in his will, only two months after I was born. The cost was high, both in money and emotional pain, but I finally received them both with the Judges verdict.

    The apartment was small compared to the home we had once shared, but it was the best I could do, given what I was required to pay to support my ex, my children and what’s his name.

    Dinner over, the boys hurried to explore their new bedroom, they had never had to share one in the past, I could hear them running on the second floor of the apartment, while I sat at the table looking at the mess, wondering how will I clean this up?

    A crash, the sound of glass breaking. Bells ringing and then silent. I knew what it was even before asking the boys what it was. Holding my head in my hands I only looked up when my boys came to me with an envelope they had pulled from the destruction.

    Directing them to go and play, steering them to stay away from the broken glass that lay in the hallway I opened the envelope.

    Grandson it begun.

    I knew this day would come, I knew you would be frustrated from the battle that you have been fighting, and that you would be ready to give up. This letter is left for you, to give you strength to continue on and never give up. Time continues on even though the clock is broken.

    Signed, Gran-dad.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I really like this. How did the Gran-dad know about frustrated battle the MC? Othe than that, perfect.

    • smallster21 says:

      The MC had to support “what’s his name”? His ex-wife’s boyfriend? Does that happen? I don’t know. So, the note was nice for the MC to find, encouraging words from his grandpa after the long struggle he’s been through. I’m sure you already know this, but showing more of the battle instead of exposition would strengthen the story, but I understand the world limit can be restricting there. I do like the symbolism you used with the clock, and how it broke and how it tied into the note :)

      • swatchcat says:

        I think it works all around. It leads you through the battle that gets him to this point in life. It is not the breaking of the clock that is the point it is the breaking of the man. As for the letter, makes perfect sense because those words of the letter could fit almost any hardship in life. Don’t cry over the small stuff, because it’s all small stuff. Nice job

        • handyman43127 says:

          Wow I’m impressed! you found your way into my thoughts about this prompt.I was beginning to think, almost, that I was alone in the forest looking for the tree’s. Thanks swatchcat!!!!!!!!!!

    • douglangille says:

      I liked this one. Nicely put together.

  37. JRSimmang says:

    Them goats. They got themselves into the house ‘tother day. Them was just playing around, doin’ them goat things they do, eatin, shittin, makin a gen’ral mess of things.

    We usually keeps a tight ship here. My wife an I, we got the good blessin’s of the Lord to have had a full house, and the even gooder blessin to have ‘em kids leave the nest whence they were grown. So, whence they left we had to keep the farm run ourselves. The chil’ren were good fer hoing and plowin. My eldest son, he’s the bright’un, he went off to college and got himself a good little girl. She’s precious. A daughter, if’n you reckon what I mean.

    My youngest jus’ left a few month back. It were he who always left the gate open so them goats would get free.

    I don’t blame ‘em. They smell somethin’ nice comin’ from our kitchen (my wife is the best damn cook in this here county), and they come waddlin’ in. You see, them is silent. I call them, sometimes because my wife don’t like to hear me say it, the Devil’s Whisper. I didn’t want them in the first place.

    Well, they come waddlin’ in, a dozen or so, and our kids, the twin girls, I ‘ssume they start trying to get to the top of this grandfather clock we got in the front room. That thing is broke anyway, so when it come crashing down, I weren’t too upset. I hear this scuttlin’ and shufflin’ of hooves, ’cause they been scared half to death. And I walk in there, and sure enough, a few of them is layin’ on the ground, playin’ dead.

    Well, they get out, and I’m mad at my youngest boy for leavin’ that gate open enough that they learned to do it themselves. And then I see this old piece of paper wadded up in among the rubble.

    It were wadded up somethin’ tight, like the owner had it in the palm of his hand for sometime, where it got all greasy and wet, so I was careful not to tear it when I opened it. There was my name at the top and at the bottom was the name of my great-grandpap, Elias Quimby Armstrong. He were my namesake and he died a coupla months after I were born. There were one paragraph in that note.

    “Dear Baby Elias,
    Next month will be your fortieth birthday. This note will more than likely have slipped out of the gears, if your grandfather, father, and you have keep up with the winding. You are my sole heir, because I know your father and grandfather will soon disappear. Please exploit.
    Sincerely,
    Elias Q Armstrong.”

    “Honey?” I yelled into the kitchen. “What does ‘exploit’ mean?”

  38. exiledcrusader says:

    A loud crash awakens Joseph from his nap on the couch. Almost before fully sitting up his two children run into the room. They have with them an old yellowed envelope addressed to him. The children both began speaking at once. Joseph could make nothing of the incomprehensible babble.
    He says “Slow down tell me what happened one at a time. Lucy you first.” She starts with “I didn’t break it Steven did but I found the letter for you daddy.” What didn’t you break honey.” says Joseph. She says “Steven was being mean and pushed me it the clock.” Steven shouts “I did not she fell and I tried to catch her she was running and you said we shouldn’t run in the house.” “So you broke my great grandfather’s clock. Are the two of you alright anything hurt?” he asks.
    Lucy gives him the envelope it is has his name on it so he opens it and begins to read.
    Joseph,
    I have just held you for the first and last time in my life. You were an ordinary and wholly unremarkable child. Yet you will have or will lead an interesting life. If you are reading this than you children have just broken my clock. I am here to tell you do not try and replace it with a new one. You finding a new clock will result in the end of the world. No I am not being dramatic you told me these very words years ago. I know I said I just held you for the first and last time but I did not say that was the first time we had ever met. We have met twice before once when I was in my teens the last twenty years ago.
    The first time you arrived you were excited talking about traveling to the future and the past. I would never have believed your story if I had not heard about you from my mother. It seems that as you travel thru time you meet members of your family. My mother, her grandfather, his father, and so back for several hundred years. You told me the same thing happens in the future you met your grandchildren their children and so on.
    The next time we met you told me to write this letter. You said that everywhere you went the past and future changed. It did not seem to matter whenever you went from the past to the future the future was worse. You were insistent that you could not stop leaping through time but this letter could change everything. If you had not purchased that new clock the past and future would not have been changed. So be careful and don’t buy a new clock.
    With Love
    Your Great Grandfather Arthur L Reed
    With a shake of his head Joseph stops reading the letter. It was an interesting story he wondered who wrote it. He knew it couldn’t be real after all time travel can’t be real.
    In town Joseph saw an antique store. He thought just in case I won’t buy a new clock I think I will get another old. He finds a clock that he liked and buys it. When he gets the old clock it looks just right. He takes out the key and winds it at that moment he disappears.

  39. mrmcneill says:

    “Jesus, John. It’s been three weeks,” I grunt into the cell phone wedged between my right shoulder and sweating cheek. “I need the images by Friday if I’m going to finish the yearbook on time.” The expected hemming and hawing on John’s end doesn’t do anything to alleviate my frustrations. It’s my second year doing this dance with him and Mr. Williams has my balls in a vice. The sooner we’re ready to sell, the sooner he can start filling out purchase orders for projectors.

    I try to turn the oven off with one fumbling, mitt-covered hand and stir the Bolognese sauce with the other. “Can you deliver by Friday?”

    “Well…th—the—the thing is—” John is interrupted by the sound of what can only be a bodyslam reverberating down the hallway walls and into the kitchen.

    “Elijah! Dalton!” I lean over the counter, doing anything I can to project a voice loud enough to get two teenagers to quit roughhousing. “Dinner’s in five, so quit dicking around!”

    I transfer back into business mode, but conveniently forgetting to lower my volume. “John: Friday?”

    A yelp squeezes out of the speaker before John begins to stutter, “I think tha—that I can do—”

    I don’t hear the rest over the cacophony of glass and wood shrapnel firing from the far end of the hall. My head jerks at the clamor, sending my phone sailing straight into the Bolognese. I stand frozen for eternity knowing only two things:
    1. That was most definitely the grandfather clock, and
    2. There is three-hundred dollars of technology floating somewhere in that sauce pan.

    Frenzied, I crank the burners off and chuck my oven mitt on the counter. I rush around the counter. The debris coats the corridor like a flood of jagged edges and brass. Above the destruction, I see two heads peeking out of Dalton’s bedroom; were it not for their trademark unkempt heads of hair, I don’t think I would have been able to tell it was the boys. Their eyes were devoid of everything except fear. Elijah’s mouth was wide open and Dalton’s quivering lip said that he was maybe thirty-seconds away from opening up the floodgates.

    “God damnit,” I grumble quietly. That thing was literally a grandfather clock; my mom gave it to Lynn and me at our wedding, and she got it from grandpa Punch. It’s all we had left of him. “Eli, call for pizza. And Dalton, get your shoes on and…”

    My voice trails off as I spot a perfect white square among the rubble: an envelope. The name Scott adorns it like a bow on a gift. But…that’s me…

    I reach down and pluck the envelope from the wreckage.

    There’s nothing more powerful than love, and there is no love without forgiveness.

    Papa

    I look up and see Dalton, still terrified, with the broom in hand. “Accidents happen,” I sigh, resting a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s clean up before mom gets home.”

  40. Minor says:

    “Stop running in the damn house!” I shouted in frustration as I snatched another coffee cup out of the soapy dish water and began scrubbing like I was trying to remove the design out of the ceramic. My body froze and my heart dropped to my feet as I heard something smash in the living room. I prayed it wasn’t the television.

    Seth and Cole were sitting on the sofa when I entered the room, both wide-eyed and completely motionless like statues. Just their little chests heaved as they waited for me to flip out on them. It was our routine when they broke expensive things in the house. I looked from the grandfather clock shattered, to my twin boys and that’s when the tears began falling. The stress of the day had conquered me. As I sank to the floor in defeat, the boys took the opportunity to flee the room unnoticed.

    The antique grandfather clock was more than a piece of furniture to me. It was an old family heirloom Grandmamma had given me on my wedding day. Amongst the scattered mess, I spotted a small old yellowed envelope with the name Kalisha Danes written across the front. Confused but curious that my name was written across the front of such an old looking envelope, I opened it and read:

    January 16, 1918
    To My Dearest Kalisha:

    Even though you have not yet been born, I had a vision last night of you and your two beautiful boys. I have seen disturbing things and I fear for you all. I pray my words do not fall upon deaf ears my child but your boys are inflicted with lycanthropy.

    I can prove my accusations. Both of them have the same crescent moon shaped birth mark on their right shoulder, just like your ex-husband Robert did. Its a mark specific to Robert’s bloodline . You will find a pure silver dagger inside the pendulum of the clock. Be strong for them and end this curse they do not deserve.

    Always with you,
    Great Grandpappa

    My mind was racing with what to do but after spending a few hours researching how to cure lycanthropy, there was only one option for me. Now practically an expert on werewolves, I walked slowly to the kitchen confident in my decision.

    “Cole, come here baby.” I shouted as I grabbed a knife off the counter. He ran into the room oblivious to the weapon I held. I scooped him up, covered his mouth with one hand to muffle his screaming and used the other hand to slice a small cut across his arm. Then without hesitation I sucked the salty sweet blood that swelled out of the wound into my mouth and swallowed.

    • LeaderAstray says:

      I really liked this. Started off innocently and then turned dark. At the end is my only gripe, and it’s a small one: I want to know whether she was killing her son or becoming a werewolf like him. This method is novel for werewolf stories, so it could have gone either way. Personally, I think it’s much cooler if she’s becoming a werewolf like them.

      • Minor says:

        Thanks! And yes she’s becoming a werewolf with him. Sorry I didn’t make that clearer. =(

        • swatchcat says:

          I had gone oddly a different direction of a vampire/lycan mix but I’m an Unerworld fan. It was a good story. I only had a minor question in paragraph two with possible comma placement that made me stumble for a second around, “shattered”.

          • Minor says:

            I an Underworld fan as well. Glad you liked and thanks for the feedback. Sorry I didn’t catch the comma when I proof read it.

        • LeaderAstray says:

          That’s the tough thing about the supernatural: the lore. It’s always different, and that’s fine, except you have to find a nice way to convey it without going all expositiony.

          • Minor says:

            Yes I love the 500 word limit. Its challenging but sometimes its frustrating because I do like writing about the supernatural.

  41. LeaderAstray says:

    I hate the thought o’ livin’ in a home with lots o’ old folks like me. We’re old, slow and boring. I always liked watchin’ the kids instead–they was more fun than TV. But I ain’t stupid. Now I’m just that old fart to them, and it’s time for me to go.

    At least the family is helpin’ me move. It’s not like they’re being gracious or nothin’. They just want to get rid o’ me and take my stuff and sell my house. Not that I blame ‘em. This place is near a hundred fifty years old in the middle o’ the city, and they gonna sell it.

    So I don’t mind sittin’ in my chair watchin’ em’ work for it.

    The grandkids is trying to lift the old clock. Funny stuff.

    Two grown men, thinkin’ their hot stuff, strainin’ and turnin’ red. Looks like they’re about to burst.

    “Dear god grampa–what’s this made of?”

    I chuckle and go back to my novel. I used to be able to lift shit and see without glasses. Them’s the benefits of gettin’ old–now I get to let everyone else do it.

    I watched through the corner o’ my eye as the clock tilted, tilted some more, and then kept right on goin’.

    “Shit! Shit! Shit!” they cried.

    It crashed on over with a bang and then a bunch of clicks and boings.

    “Is the floor broke?” I asked, “Cause you’ll have to fix that before closin’.”

    “Hey grampa,” they said, “you know what this is?”

    He handed me an old yellow envelope with my name written on it. Old calligraphy like when people used real pens.

    The thing nearly crumbled as I opened it. Inside was a letter. I held it up high to read.

    “February 18, 1928

    Dear Norman,

    You are my only surviving heir, and I pray this note finds you well. Having suffered the misfortune of outliving my children and grandchildren, I have bequeathed all of my earthly belongings to you. I do not know who will occupy the house until you come of age, and so I leave this here, in this behemoth of a clock, which I am sure will remain unmoved your years to come.”

    Yup, damn straight.

    “Beside this letter, you should also find two blades–a kukri and a bowie knife.”

    I turn to my grandsons. “You see two knives in that mess?”

    They look at me funny, but when I don’t smile, they start prying through the gears and springs.

    “Ha! How’d you know?”

    “Just bring ‘em here.”

    “These are historic blades which have been wielded by heroes and used to slay the most heinous evil. If you are a wise man, you will be skeptical of all things unknown to science, and so I have left you evidence. In the cellar, I have concealed a hidden room marked with the symbol of Christ. Break down the wall and discover the truth for yourself. The thing is immortal and steadfastly bound, so that you may witness the horror of the undead. I beseech you, pick up the mantle of your forefathers and use these weapons to fight the dark scourge.”

    “Hey, grampa, get a load of the signature.”

    “With All My Love and Hope, Abraham van Helsing, your great grandfather.”

    “That’s funny and kinda scary. Wanna go check it out?”

    I shook my head, no.

    “Are you sure? Don’t you wanna know what it’s all about? Sounds like he was either crazy or… there’s really something down there.”

    “Don’t bother,” I said. “I found that room when I was 15 years old, just afore World War 2. Weren’t nothin’ there ‘cept a damn vampire. And there’s lotsa better ways to kill’em than with a knife. Better to keep outta arm’s reach.”

    I walked back to my chair and my novel.

    “You want them knives? I don’t think I can carry ‘em in a nursin’ home.”

    They just looked at me like a pair o’ idiots.

    “Whatsa matter? You get a splinter? Get crackin’.”

  42. frankd1100 says:

    He knew when he heard the crash that it was the clock. He dropped the breakfast dishes in the kitchen sink and bolted for the front hallway with visions of the twins lying injured beneath the splintered grandfather clock. They were fine but the clock was in pieces, scattered from one end of the hall to the other.

    “It’s okay, boys,” he said, accepting that two fifteen year old boys roughhousing will have accidents. Todd stood to the side holding a basketball watching Michael retrieve a yellowed envelope from the pile of wreckage.

    Becky walked in, exhausted from her night shift at the hospital to find Bob amidst the rubble reading a note. Michael and Todd explained what had happened, frightened at seeing their forty-three year old father turning blue. “It’ll be okay,” she told them and sent them outside while she tried to get a handle on the situation.

    “Bob,” She said, standing beside him, her hand on his shoulder, “Thank God the boys weren’t hurt.” When he didn’t respond, she said, “All these years I thought you hated that old clock.”

    Without a word Bob handed her the faded, yellow parchment. Becky’s shoulders slumped at each word as she read the following;

    Bob,

    I placed this inside the clock a month after you were born to be found if the clock was destroyed or, you turned fifty, whichever came first. Not that the damn thing was special to me but I think people should be rewarded for taking responsibility.

    There is a second codicil in my will that applies only to you. If you’ve turned 50, a law firm will be contacting you with the particulars. If you’re younger than 50 and reading this note, it’s because the clock has been destroyed. The original reading of the will stated that, ‘John Stephens,’ (me), leaves to ‘Bob,’ (you), his grandfather clock with the proviso that ‘Bob’ keeps the clock in good working order.

    I never liked the clock, but when I turned seventeen it became my responsibility and I learned the importance of commitment as I cared for it. I hope you’ll share that trait, Bob, while you are the clock’s guardian.

    I built a sizable portfolio over the years and managed to keep it hidden from your great grandmother. Eighty percent of the profit is in offshore banks and invested conservatively to protect the principal. As I write this, the portfolio is worth about twenty-seven million dollars.

    Fifty percent of the portfolio is yours, providing you’ve honored my wishes. The other fifty percent is willed to a young woman who lives in Michigan. I met her on a business trip some years back, and despite our age difference, we have had a wonderful relationship. If the clock has not been cared for, your half will go to her as well.

    That’s it, Bob. I hope good fortune follows you as a reward for your integrity and strength of commitment.

    Yours,

    Great Grandfather John

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Absolutely the worst nightmare I ever read. Good job on that. There must be someone in the country would could duplicate the clock, otherwise Bob needs to go on suicide watch. Kerry

      Or….. Bob needs to take a quick run up to Michigan.

      • frankd1100 says:

        Ha! Funny… Thanks Kerry.

      • smallster21 says:

        Yes I was horrified too, but what a mean grandfather, lol, leaving his money to some floozy instead of his own kin, of course I don’t know anything about the family relationship. And, I was thinking the same thing as Kerry as I finished readying, they should duplicate the damn thing, how the hell are the lawyers going to know? Lol, slap the serial number from the old one onto the new one…but, then if you made it a happy ending, it would be a good story. “You can’t always get what you want…but sometimes you get what you need”…a good story :)

    • douglangille says:

      Dammit! Where’s my beatin’ stick? Boys!!

  43. JWLaviguer says:

    “Who the hell is Pappy John?” I said. “This looks like it’s addressed to me, but the date is only two months after I was born.”

    “I don’t know, honey,” my wife said. “Didn’t your mother mention someone named Pappy John once?”

    “You’re right,” I said. “And I think there’s a picture in that photo album she gave us for Christmas last year.”

    We found the photo album, and finally ran across a old photo near the back. I pulled the photo out carefully and flipped it over.

    “Pappy John and me, 1923,” I read. “Well, I know that’s my grandmother, but it doesn’t really say who this Pappy John is.”

    “Read me that letter again,” my wife said.

    “Dear Jacob. You may not find this letter for quite a long time. I’m hiding it my grandfather clock. This clock has been passed down from generation to generation, and even though it’s not valuable, it means a lot to me and a lot to everyone who has ever owned it. I just hope you run across this letter while looking through the drawers and not because it gets knocked over by your children (ha ha).”

    “Fuck me running,” I said.

    I continued reading. “The reason I’m writing this is because I’ve put something away for you. It’s in a safe deposit box at the Global National Bank on Main Street in Lankanshear. The key is in a different drawer in the grandfather clock.”

    “Did anyone find a key?” I asked.

    “Is this it, daddy?” my youngest asked.

    “Yep that’s it.”

    “Hey honey?” my wife said. “Isn’t that the bank that burned down last year?”

    “Fuck me running!”

  44. Craig says:

    I woke to the sound of giggles and wheels quickly moving over the hardwood floor of the hallway outside my bedroom. After a very pleasant night, I realize I wasn’t the one to get up with the kids this morning. I was another year older. Lying there in the serene feeling of floating before the mind fully becomes awake; a very loud crash shattered the peace and shook the walls, followed instantly by a child screaming.

    I was out the bedroom door a second later. The huge, oak, family heirloom grandfather clock was lying on the ground with both of my kids standing next to it crying.

    As my wife came running up the stairs, I scooped up both darlings. After much crying and hugging, both kids assured us they were unharmed, but scared.

    I looked in the back and saw a yellowed envelope with my name on it taped to the back panel.

    “It appears to be very old. How can it be to you?” my wife inquired.

    I opened up the letter and began to read.

    “It’s from my great grandfather, Jacob. He passed away right after I was born.” I declared.

    The letter read:

    Dear David,

    I am Jacob, your great grandfather. I am writing this to you after I met you as a babe and knowing you will somehow get this letter on your 25th birthday. It always works out that way. Your brother and sister didn’t have the amber eyes. You do. That means you are prophesized to continue the legacy. You can call it a curse if you like, but you must heed these words.

    I was made to memorize the stories my father told me from the time I was born and I did the same for your grandfather as he did for your father. The same stories you have been instructed to remember from the moment of your birth. It falls on every third generation. A child will be born with the amber eyes and must carry forth the duty bound by blood.

    The winter solstice will be here in 60 days time. There is an unmarked grave at the Griffin Creek Cemetery in the northeast corner, where nothing grows. Buried there is a horror most believe only to be myth or fantasy. At each corner of the plot is a stone marker engraved with glyphs that act as magical wards to keep the grave sealed and the creature subdued. These wards must be renewed with the incantations told to you in the stories. They must be renewed at midnight and each glyph will need to be sealed with a drop of your blood.

    If you have ever believed anything, please believe this is true. The creature knows of us, and if it awakens, it will look to purge our bloodline from existence forever and seek revenge on all humans.

    Have courage and faith.

    Love Jacob.

    I looked up at my wife horrified. This can’t be true!

    My father and grandfather were murdered shortly after my great grandfather died. What am I supposed to do now? I don’t remember any stories.

  45. randi100 says:

    I had told those kids a thousand times to stop running in the house. Now my beautiful grandfather clock was on the ground. The glass was smashed and I’m not so sure that the rest of the clock was in any great condition. I was too stunned to notice or care at this point. I was holding a letter in my hand. It was from my great grandfather Jack. It fell out of the clock when the clock hit the hardwood floor. The clock had been passed down from Jack, to my grandfather Harold, to my mom and then onto me.
    I had opened the crinkled envelope and pulled out the letter. I sat there with tears running down my face.

    Dear Sarah,
    As I write this you are sleeping next to me in your crib. You are three days old. Your mom and dad are napping too, I said I would watch over you. You are precious and beautiful, as I knew you would be. Your parents, and the whole family are overjoyed at your arrival. Your parents have wanted a baby for a long time and now you are here! They tried for years to have you but for whatever reason they just couldn’t get pregnant. Then adoption after adoption fell through, until they met Jessica. Everything then fell into place, and here you are. You are our sunshine.
    Love,
    Great Grandfather Jack

    I pulled myself up off of the floor and found my phone. I called a woman named Jackie. I thought Jackie was my mother but now I knew that wasn’t true. A woman named Jessica gave birth to me. The phone rang and rang, no answer.
    I cleaned up all of the broken glass, put the kids in the car and headed to Jackie’s house. Luckily, she only lived about 30 minutes away. Her car wasn’t in the driveway but I rang the doorbell anyway. No answer.
    I then called Marcus, my father or so I thought. His car wasn’t in the driveway either. No answer!
    “Where the hell is everyone?” I thought
    With that my phone rang, it was Jackie!
    “Hi, sweetheart.” She said
    I was in no mood for small talk. I took a deep breath and said,
    “Who the hell is Jessica and why did you never tell me that I’m adopted?”
    Silence. A long silence.
    Then Jackie spoke.
    “How did you find out?” She asked.
    “The grandfather clock smashed onto the floor and a letter fell out from Great grandfather Jack.” I replied
    Silence again . I told her to come home, that I was in her driveway and that we needed to talk.
    Ten minutes later she came home.
    We sat in her kitchen for 3 hours as she told me the story of her many miscarriages, failed IVF treatments, and failed adoptions. She told me how she met Jessica by chance through a friend. Jessica was 4 months pregnant by then, just a baby herself. The adoption went through. And that was that.
    I am thrilled with the life that Jackie and Marcus gave me, I really can’t complain. This talk with my mom gave me the courage to be truthful with my two kids. They needed to know that they were adopted too because their mom couldn’t have kids. They needed to know that Sarah used to be Steve.

  46. Kerry Charlton says:

    [This prompt is a prequel to last week's story, "The Keeper."]

    IN THE BLOOD

    “Daddy! Daddy!” Mercedes said, “Jennifer pushed me into your grandfather’s clock.”

    “Did not, did not,” Jennifer said, clinging to Denton’s leg. “It was an accident, Daddy. We’re sorry, we didn’t mean to be bad.”

    Denton gathered his young daughters in his arms and walked to the entry hall. His great grandfather’s stately clock chimed 9:15 in the morning. Glass from the ancient clock’s wood casement door, lay shattered inside the base of the clock.

    “Were either of you cut from the glass?” he asked.

    “No Daddy,” Mercedes said. “We’re really sorry.”

    “I know you are. Now go outside and play for a while, girls.”

    “You’re not mad at us Daddy?” Jennifer asked.

    “No, sweetheart.”

    At seven and three years younger then Mercedes, she spoke with a wisdom far beyond her physical age. Denton’s world encircled the three girls in his life. His wife, Juliet Mercedes Hamilton and his two daughters. Julie had watched silently from the living room, how carefully her husband nutured the two young ladies in his world.

    “Den, I’ll help clean up in here,” she said. “I’m so proud of you this morning,” she said, putting her arms around him and fondly kissing him.

    “You taste like spring honey,” Denton said.

    “I’m glad you like sweets,” she answered.

    Inside the lower pendelum case, Julie noticed a carefully placed envelope with Denton’s name inscribed on it. She had opened a small door on the back of the case, looking for slivers of glass. Denton unfolded the piece of stationary with the words, “Denton Brookside Hamilton Sr.” embossed at the top.

    “The letter’s from my great grandfather,” he said.

    “Do you remember him?” Julie asked.

    “Vaguely,” Denton said. “He was an imposing, tall man with a steady voice that mystified me.”

    “Was he mean to you?”

    “Not at all. His voice rang with such power to the ears of a six year old. When my father and grandfather were killed in the car wreck, life seemed to flow out of him. He sat in his library, day after day, gazing out the window and then he died. I had lost three generations, my father, grandfather and great grandfather in one terrifying year.”

    Julie changed the subject.

    “What does the letter say, darling?”

    It’s addressed to The Heritage Of Francis Bacon, a benevolent society in Philadelphia. His mention of me, carrying the flame from his generation to mine; it’s all so mysterious.. He wants me to join the Heritage, using this letter as an introduction.”

    “Anything else in the envelope,” Julie asked.

    “There’s a small personal note. You should read what kind of man he was.”

    Julie picked up the note. Denton noticed as always, how delicate her hands operated.

    “To Denton Brookside Hamiltin IV,

    Even at your young age, I see the magic you possess. The quiet deliberation, I never had. Life is rampent with detours, failures, success, happiness and sorrow, it’s as it should be. Remember always, I will watch over you and protect you. You can count on it.

    With much affection,

    Great grand dad.”

    “Such a marvelous letter, Den.”

    “I know and he can count on me. I’ll find the time for The Heritage.”

    • smallster21 says:

      Okay everybody’s stories involve parents who are not angry at all at their children. Am I the only one who would have been in big trouble as a kid if I broke something so expensive, lol?

      So, there is definitely more story here to be told. I find the mystery of The Heritage something you should focus on more, and I think the ending could have a bigger payoff to make it more satisfying. I’m not sure what though. Take it over the top an hint that these three deaths are not a coincidence, a curse? Something to do with the Heritage? Is that how you pay your membership fee? With your life? Anyway, I think you can up the ante with this secret club.

      I thought the dialogue flowed nicely. “Spring honey?” Lol, that was cute, very affectionate couple. My boyfriend just tells me I smell, but at least he says I smell like cookies and not something stinky.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you smallster for your thoughts. This is only a tiny part of the story. I wanted to set the affection, Den has for his family becaue it will be the centerfold of the next prequel. I’m not used to writing dark stories but my mind is taking me there. The Heritage and the Order Of The Bard have battled each other in sinister and deadly fashion for over three hundred years and it will only get worse as the prequel completes it tasks and then leap-frogs over the “Keeper” segment and struggles for a solution.

        This is the story I have been waiting for, for five years,ever since I wrote my first idiot words on paper. Wish me luck. Thanks to all of you for the inspiration.

    • douglangille says:

      This is a nice piece, Kerry. I went back to read the other part. There’s going to be quite a bit to this, isn’t there?

    • don potter says:

      As a Philadelphia native living on the West Coast, your settings remind me of home. The stories use history in a way that adds believably.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Don, nice to know someone from Philadelphia. I grew up in Upper Darby, my grandfather was William C. Ney and pastor of Temple Lutheran Church in Brookline for 38 years. Five generations of Charltons from Philadelphia.

  47. douglangille says:

    THE DOORWAY – PART 3
    ====================

    This is a continuation of a piece that started two prompts ago. The other parts are on my blog, but in soap opera fashion, this should get you up to speed.

    The story so far: James discovers a hidden doorway in his grandfather’s room to the Land of Fae where he is reunited with his estranged sister, Anna.

    “Anna.” We started walking back to what I already thought of as our quiet corner of the Greenway Glade of Fae. “What happened to Mom and Dad?”

    “It’s all my fault, Jamie. I mean, it was an accident. Maybe it was always supposed to happen this way. I don’t know. The fire. I couldn’t stop them.”

    “Let’s sit, sissy.” She was so upset she was trembling. I knew I wouldn’t get anything out of her unless she calmed herself. I couldn’t explain it, but I could sense she’d center herself quickly. There was something about this place. I could feel it ebbing in me like a drug. It softened the edges. It made me uncomfortable to fight it. As I suspected, it didn’t take long at all. The storm passed as quickly as it came.

    “Remember the old clock that was in the hallway?”

    I nodded. I was always fascinated by its exposed clockworks, but every time I touched it, it was warm, almost hot. It felt like it was alive. Both my dreams and nightmares were filled with imagery. An army of cogs, gears and springs, hell-bent on conquest. Of what, I never knew. Sometimes I was an ally. Other times, I was fleeing for my life. The dreamy fragments always dissipated upon waking like smoke in the breeze.

    Anna interrupted my reverie. “That big fight I had with Mom while you were in Afghanistan? The one where I took off? It didn’t quite happen that way. I shoved her in to the clock. It crashed to the ground. All its guts were scattered all over the floor. Mom was insanely mad. She hit me. Hard.”

    “You were only sixteen. It’s..”

    “You don’t understand, Jamie. She didn’t strike me because I broke the clock. Well, that was part of it. She was more upset because of a crystal urn. Great-Grampa Silas’ ashes were all jumbled up with clock insides and broken glass. In the midst of the mess was an old note from him. It was addressed to Mom, which was weird because she never knew him. Mom said he died in a fire shortly after she was born.”

    She noticed the confused look on my face and waved it off saying “I know. Fire features prominently in our family tree. Anyway, I saw it. It was written in some weird language, with funny looking letters. Mom suddenly wasn’t angry anymore. There we were, sitting on the floor with Mom’s grandfather-dust and broken bits of metal all around us. That’s when Mom filled me in on our Faery nature and the threat of the Hunters.”

    We were interrupted by lithe little girl who snuck up on us. “Anna? Is this him. Is he your brother?” I couldn’t help but smirk at child’s conspiratorial whisper. She looked at me with nervous uncertainty, but blushed at my smile.

    I laughed and answered her. “Hi. My name is Jamie. What is yours?”

    “Kylie, she said. “Are you here to save us?”

    I looked at my sister. Her eyes spoke volumes, saying there was far more to the story that had yet to be told. The longer I was here, immersed in this place, the more I understood by instinct. It was like remembering, but a memory of things that were impossible for me to know. Was I going to lose myself to this?

    I took the young faerie’s hand and clasped it between both of mine. “Yes, Kylie. I think I am.” Both Kylie and Anna smiled warmly at that. At that moment, I was happy.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      You’re right on course with this story, carefully written with a crisp style, never losing the reader who finds himself inside of your story as a possible participent. It’s a great story and great writing.
      Next chapter please! Kerry

    • smallster21 says:

      I concur with Kerry. Next chapter. :)

      I loved this paragraph: “Both my dreams and nightmares were filled with imagery. An army of cogs, gears and springs, hell-bent on conquest. Of what, I never knew. Sometimes I was an ally. Other times, I was fleeing for my life. The dreamy fragments always dissipated upon waking like smoke in the breeze.”…not sure what it means, but sounds very beautiful :) I’m sure it will become clearer as the story unfolds.

    • don potter says:

      You took me there, wherever there is.

  48. igonzales81 says:

    Trevor knew he couldn’t be mad at the kids: they were just being kids.

    As he turned away to get a broom, he noticed a piece of paper, sticking out of one of the splintered boards. Curious, he picked it up, to find that it was an old envelope; even more interesting, it was addressed to him, from his great-grandfather, dated two months after he was born. Trevor sighed: in all likelihood, it was yet another addendum to the will. For years most of his family had been locked in a deathgrip over the remains of the old man’s fortune—needlessly so, since most of them were quite wealthy. Trevor looked away from the letter, his gaze roving over the walls and furnishings around him. This had been all he’d gotten: a musty old house filled with antique garbage, complete with an intimidating mortgage.

    Opening the envelope, he found a short note, clearly in his great-grandfather’s hand.

    “Trevor,

    “I have left instructions with my lawyer, to ensure that you will be the only person to read this letter.

    By now you are a young man, hopefully a better man than those who came before you. Our family hides a terrible secret, one responsible for the fortune we now enjoy. But that isn’t the whole of your inheritance: I’m also leaving you a choice, one that I’ve given to both my son and my grandson, one which they’ve both rejected.

    I’ve left the house to you deliberately, because it contains everything you need in order to make things right. On the third floor, in what was my study, you will find a hidden door behind the forged Rembrandt on the west wall. Inside, you will find a staircase, leading down to a room below the basement.

    In this room, you will find a stone altar, knife, and bowl. I must warn you, when you enter the room, Something will know that you are there. Whatever it says, whatever it offers, DON’T BELIEVE IT. The promises it makes are traps that will destroy you.

    On the altar, you will find scribed the names of your forebears. It will compel you to add your name to the list. Rejects its offer, and insist that you are breaking the accord. It will not be pleased. It will threaten everything you love and care about. It will try everything to convince you. But it will be powerless, unless you give in. You must be strong, or one day your own son’s will stand in that chamber, and face the same choice.”

    Trevor stood still, weighing his options with a surprisingly clear mind. It seemed unbelievable. But there was no denying his family’s wealth, which came so easily, and turned them into such terrible people. Trevor was being given a chance to right an old mistake. And maybe get a little revenge. Whatever was down there could threaten and cajole him all it wanted. He now had everything he’d ever wanted, and nothing to lose.

  49. blanderson says:

    “August, it’s time to go now.”

    “I know.”

    She truly is lovely.

    A bag sat packed at the end of my made bed. I was proud that I was leaving the room ship shape. You could bounce quarters off those sheets and everything was in place. Order was my friend, and I felt completely comfortable in it.

    As I sat back one last time at my desk chair, I noticed the envelope—and what I assumed was a letter sealed in an envelope—peeking out between two books. Before considering the envelope, I thought of my writers’ desk. The desktop was austere with a closed laptop computer and nothing else on top, and one drawer which contained two pens, a pencil, a notebook, envelopes, stamps, and a calculator. All as it should be.

    Again, I considered the envelope. That was a long time ago. At least 60 years since the kids, in their haste, raced down the hallway and into the family room, smashing into the grandfather clock, revealing an envelope addressed to me. Admittedly, the grandfather clock was an heirloom that wasn’t particularly attractive to me. But the envelope, that was a different story. Written on the sealed envelope:

    Dearest August; Walfred

    My great grandfather Walfred had penned this address, but something told me the letter was intended to age with me before I consumed its message. I had never told her—or anyone—about envelope. Mystery and secrets in one’s life brings pleasure when ordered and responsible.

    Still, I sat, staring at the envelope. The door to my room opened slightly.

    “Dear.”

    “Yes?”

    “We really must.”

    “I know.”

    For the past several months I wondered what this day would feel like. Though I was nostalgic, I wasn’t sad. The time had come and I had no regrets. I spent several more minutes at the desk before I stood up, leaving my beloved desk chair for the final time. This was sad.

    Tottering to the door, I looked back. Order. Brilliant. Happy. As I slowly descended the stairs, there was a pall of sadness in the main floor sitting room. Many of my family were there, though my friends were mostly gone by now.

    “Rudiger, will you get the bag please?” I asked my great grandson.

    “Sure thing, Pop-pop,” and he bounded past me up the stairs.

    I was helped into the van and didn’t look back as we drove away. Always forward. I did consider the letter. I wondered what he had written and I wondered what he would do. We were in a caravan. I smiled as I thought of the procession before the funeral. Though I knew one was missing, and I felt a great sense of pride.

    After bringing my bag to the van and returning to the now empty house, Rudiger, or Digger as he preferred, removed the envelope from the breast pocket of his coat.

    Dearest Rudiger; August

    He smiled and returned the envelope to his pocket.

  50. Alexandria_J says:

    As I opened the brittle and yellowing parchment, my breath caught in anticipation of some secret and perhaps sordid love letter to a heretofore unknown namesake. I had no inkling of how the words on the weathered page would change my life forever.

    Dearest Alexandria,
    If you’re reading this note, it means events are unfolding as I feared they might, however much I hoped for your sake they would not. Before you read further, you should brace yourself for the fact that the world as you know it, your life and your experiences, the people you’ve met, and the places you’ve been are but a prologue in a complicated and infinite story…and I’m afraid the task has fallen to you to pen the next several chapters.
    To begin, and I realize this is in and of itself fantastical, please disabuse yourself of the notion that this letter was intended for anyone other than you, the Alexandria reading it at this moment on May 28, 2013. You see, in addition to the qualities you will have inherited from my beloved granddaughter, your mother, and the estimable man she chose to share her life with, you were also bequeathed with a far more, shall we say peculiar, legacy from me: an ability to manipulate time and reality and bend them to your will. In time, all puns intended, you will discover that this is only one of the many unusual talents you possess if my glimpses into your past, present, and future show the truth unaltered.
    The next uncomfortable truth you need to face is that it is no accident that you came into possession of my letter on this date, which unless I’m mistaken, and I very rarely am, will be the 30th anniversary of my passing.

    I paused as chills rippled over my skin, my mind immediately seeking to form rational explanations for the bizarre words supposedly belonging to a long-dead relative. A prank? A well-executed joke? A case of mistaken identity notwithstanding the eerie forecast and accuracy of all but the account of my supposed “peculiar legacy” which had yet to manifest itself. Thinking to catch the perpetrator of a slightly morbid hoax I read on.

    If your mind operates anything like mine, while startling, the accuracy with which the above portrays the details of your coming into contact with my letter will be insufficient to persuade you of its veracity. As such, I suggest you go to the one unimpeachable source of its truth: the clock from which you obtained my letter…dial the hour-hand backwards three times and you will know what to do next…

  51. Marco Kenen says:

    Dear Frank,

    Please don’t be angry with the kids, it wasn’t their fault. Some events in life are carved in stone. This just happened to be one of them.

    I trust all is well with you and your family? Give your wife a kiss for me and cuddle those gorgeous daughters of yours. Who knows, maybe, one day I’ll be able to meet them myself.

    Now, let’s get down to business. First of all, let me start by saying that you have every right to decline my request and just move on with your life.

    Anyway, hidden within the clock are several items that you’ll need on this little adventure. Some even in plain sight.

    Unscrew the bottom of all three weights and you’ll find all but one missing piece of an ancient treasure map. This fourth and most important piece can only be found if you have what it takes to complete the adventure you’re about to embark on.

    If it’s not already smashed to pieces then grab a hammer and do it yourself. Inside the base of the clock is a hollow space that holds several items. Unfortunately, in general their use or even names elude me. The ones I do recognise are the sextant, the weird looking item with the telescope on it, and obviously, the pistol.

    And now for the Pièce de résistance, the keys needed to open the vault door. As I told you earlier on, some items have been hidden in plain sight. In this case it’s the hands of the clock, they are the keys itself.

    Back in the day, when I was still young and full of life, we didn’t have the technology or resources needed in order to find the treasure. I hope that by the time you read this that you do…

    Best of luck,
    John

  52. livvykitty says:

    My dearest,

    • livvykitty says:

      My dearest,
      I’m sorry. This is the last thing I will ever write. From these lips will spill no more sound, nor from this breast will spill any more emotion. It has become too much of a burden. My creations terrorize me at every waking moment, their cries of agony echoing in my eroding mind. I am but a writer, but as much as I plead for them to cease, they do not. They accuse me. I have not finished their stories, they say. I have not put them at ease, they say.
      This torture is too much. Tonight, I will end it. I can hear them scream now, the wretched voices. They do not wish for the story to end. What do I care for them? They are but pawns in my games. They are but puppets in my show. They are the ones who will be the death of me.
      The noose is calling my name at this late hour, swinging slowly, promising release. Soon, I will be free. Let these spirits wither. Let their souls decay! They will feast on my mind no more! My dearest, please forgive me. This is a writer who can write no more.
      Thanks to the world! Thanks for nothing.

      My eyes widened at the words. My great grandfather, the one who weaved amazing tales and created so many worlds, went mad with what? Power? That’s absurd. An author has very little power…
      ‘They write the stories…’ A breathless whisper, most probably my own thought, floated to me. ‘They create the worlds. They are the puppeteers of characters. If an author doesn’t finish a plot…’
      If an author doesn’t finish a plot… then what?
      Alexandria pulled on my pant leg, reaching for the paper. Her bright blue eyes shone with interest, “Mum, what does it say?” I could only give a false smile and reach down, ruffling her silky curls.
      “It’s nothing, little duckling.” I said. I was lying. I somehow had the feeling that this was a lot more important than I would ever know.

      ‘We’re waiting…’

      (Sorry, it cut off for some reason originally.)

      • Pattypans says:

        Livvykitty, I think your concept is very interesting. I also like the way you begin. I think with a teeny bit of tightening up, this would be superb.

        There’s one little thing that seems contradictory to me (but that could just be because the old man is himself confused at such a moment and in such a predicament.) At one point he says the voices are but pawns in his game, and yet they have enough power to torment him to the point of his deciding to take his life. But (assuming this is not on purpose, and assuming you agree) this wouldn’t be hard to ‘fix’.

        I hope you don’t mind my bit of constructive criticism. If I didn’t think it was good and has great potential, I wouldn’t have bothered to say anything. I’d love to see what happens next…there’s great potential here to continue, in my opinion.

      • Craig says:

        Excellent story. It’s every writer’s hope to never run out of stories to tell, but every writer’s fear they won’t be able to tell them all.

  53. julianna.evans94 says:

    “Johnny! You better be careful playing near that clock! You know how important it is to our family! Same goes for you Dee.” I shook my head; my kids were never that rowdy, ever. I don’t know what has gotten into them these past couple of days because honestly, they’ve been like little nightmares ever since that clock had entered our house.
    My grandmother kept the grandfather clock safe at her house all these years until she passed away a week ago and left it to me and my family. It had been handed down to her from her father, and he received it from his father. It’s been in the family for five generations. My grandmother told me that if anything happened to the clock our ancestors would roll over in their graves with disappointment. Apparently it was the first item my great great great grandfather bought when he arrived in the United States from Ireland back in the 1890s, so it was a really big deal. I’ve always wondered how it has kept on ticking for over one hundred years.
    Suddenly I heard a loud crash come from the hallway. My heart sunk immediately as I heard both of my children gasp in horror. I ran to where they had started crying and saw the clock lying face down on the carpet, the glass from the front was lying on the floor surrounding the clock. I sighed and choked back tears. Chasing them out of the room I bent over to start cleaning up the shards of glass lying scattered over the floor when something caught the corner of my eye.
    Tucked tightly in between the woodwork of the clock was a formerly white envelope, addressed to me! I carefully opened the sealed casing of tinted yellow paper to find a handwritten letter written to me from my great grandfather. This is weird. I never even knew him; he died right after I was born. Why would he write me a letter? As I began to read the letter my mouth dropped open and my mind swirled with disbelief.
    “Dear Margaret,
    This letter will most likely be short, as I don’t know when they will come for me. All I need you to know is that I am not dead. I had to disappear, to protect my family.
    By the time you get this, I will surely be in my 80s or 90s. But there’s something I need you to understand:
    Our family is different. We are immortal. This clock is the proof. Nothing can break it, just as we cannot die.
    When you reach the age of 40 you will no longer age. You will know what to do at that time. Protect your family. They will come for you.
    I must go. They’re at my door. Stay safe.
    Your Great Grandfather,
    Homer”

    “Mommy? What’s wrong Mommy?” Little Johnny gripped my neck with his 8 year old arms, and little Dee pouted at my side. I looked my two beautiful children in the eyes as my husband walked through the door.
    “Honey, what happened?” I just looked at him; I couldn’t form words, or even thoughts.

    My mouth mirrored my family’s mouths as the clock pieced itself back together and placed itself back against the wall.

    So this is my first post ever, please give me feedback! I know it’s a little over 500 words, but it was hard to keep it under. I hope it’s alright!

    • Pattypans says:

      Julianna, congratulations on taking the leap to post for the first time! My post for this prompt is only my second; my first I posted a few days ago on a prompt that’s a few weeks old (“Inside the Old Box”), so I know how you feel.

      I think you’ve got great potential and should keep writing and keep posting. Since you mentioned you had a hard time staying under the word limit, I want to share what I learned in the only creative writing course (it was an online workshop, actually) I ever took. We had word limits for each assignment, and they started out smaller than 500 words! We all complained at first, yet I could see how very, very good they were for our development as writers. Why? Mostly because they forced us to weed out every single unnecessary word, thought, and element, leaving only the essential. The word limits forced us to think more carefully about was truly needed and what was not. Thus we began to learn to hone our judgment, to see what were the most important things to include, to try different word groupings. To prune our writing, in other words.

      Our first assignment was a description of a very limited space. I went to the place I was going to describe and took a lot of notes, most of which weren’t even complete sentences. My notes were about four or five times longer than the final description! But it was such good practice.

      Sorry this is so long! Keep on writing and posting!

    • assaultymcnulty says:

      nice story julianna, I found the letter to be very interesting and wanted more of that. The beginning is good too but I was left wanting more by the letter good job.
      So are all the other great great great grandfathers alive? Are they vampires???

      cool story

      • julianna.evans94 says:

        Thanks for the comment! Yes, all the other grandfathers are still alive, they’re just in hiding. They’re not vampires though, she would have realized that before getting the message from the clock. I’m glad you liked it!

    • assaultymcnulty says:

      sorry for some reason my comment appeared under pattypans

  54. nelleg says:

    Dear Racheal
    If you are reading this, congratulations, it means you actually got my clock like I requested instead of your bratty sister Gayle. I know it can not be easy for you with your mother and sister always looking down on you. You might wonder how I know this, but you have to keep in mind that I have spent a lot of time around them and so I realize your pain. I left you this clock as a reminder of ‘what goes around comes around’. Just keep that in mind when dealing with snooty two shoes and ms. high and mighty (I let you assign who is who- both applies as far I’m concerned). I am leaving this note because I feel the end is coming soon and I just don’t feel like myself. I hope this note finds you well and you live a long and happy life. Hopefully you know that you don’t need money to be a rich person. Also know that the beauty from a person’s heart and mind will fade any imperfections they may have on the outside and sometimes a person’s beauty on the outside will cover the imperfections they may have in their heart and mind (don’t be fooled). I have only known you for a short time but I can tell you are not like your mother or sister please stay true to yourself and don’t change because other’s feel they are better than you (THEY ARE NOT). I know you will be strong and trudge through.
    Good Luck and God Bless
    Paw Paw

    P.S. If this Gayle or The Bleach Blond Banshee reading this: the diamond tennis bracelets that I left you are fake. They are just couple of dog collars I got at the five and dime. I hope they fit you well.

    • smallster21 says:

      Okay, the P.S. is the best part of this. I don’t think there was much of a story here in this particular piece, but I think it sounds like there might something in the back story. The great-grandfather’s voice is humorous and it sounds like there are some great family conflicts you could work explore. It’d be great to incorporate this letter in with a scene showing the snooty two shoes and high and mighty sister and mother. Show them acting like bitches, maybe showing off their bracelets to your MC and then the P.S. at the end would make it that much funnier.

  55. assaultymcnulty says:

    The guilt was always there. I wanted to understand my son Michael really I did but we we’re so different. Now Kyle and I get along great we just get each other and I’ve always wanted that for Michael and I, after all he was my first born we should have a strong bond but we didn’t, well not then anyway. It was summer time and Kyle and I just got done tossing the ol’ pigskin around the back yard, when Kyle who played running back slammed into Michael as they passed each other in the dining room. The crash just sounded important and was it ever. The Grandfather clock that had been handed down from my Great Great Grandfather to the first born son in our family was lying face down and shards of glass strewn about. When we got it up a letter fell out addressed to me and my curiosity outweighed my anger.
    “Sorry Pop.” Kyle said lowering his head. Kyle nudged Michael expecting him to apologize next but Michael just scoffed. “What? You did it meat head.”
    “Alright enough.” I said as anxiously opened the mysterious letter.

    Dear Malcolm,

    By the time you read this the person known to you as your great grandfather will be gone. Nothing but pictures will remain. I’ve been visited by an angel on my deathbed and I confess I have lead a less than desirable lifestyle. I’ve hurt my family with my alcoholism and partying but I did the best that I could to provide. I was a mean drunk not mention and angry broken man. But I’ve been given a second chance to live my life right and ensure eternal life with the Lord. When you read this I hope you’ll understand that I need you to love me with all your heart. I need you to talk to me, encourage me and be a role model for me. I’ll need you understand me for who I am, not who you want me to be and lastly I’ll need you to call me Michael.”

    A cold chill raced up my spine I turned around and looked at Michael with tears in my eyes.
    “What?” he said.
    I pulled him in and embraced him tightly.
    “I love you Michael….I love you.” I said.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I’ve been wondering where you’ve been….I love this because I was a Michael child… Very good. PS. Someone once told me the name Michael means one from God. Good job assaultymcNulty.

      • assaultymcnulty says:

        Hey McKevin it’s good to be back I was editing a novel that I wrote and sending queries. Keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks for reading I’m glad you liked it. I was hoping to touch a few people with this.

        P.S. have you had any trouble posting on here?

  56. calicocat88 says:

    As usual…way too long. Had a hard time getting enough info in this one while trying to keep it to 500. Apparently it’s not 500. This is sort of a continuation of the last prompt, but not exactly. Confusing, I know.

    Emerald Shock was magnificently screwed. The strip club’s blinking neon lights cast a morbid candy-like glow over the parking lot as he stood arms crossed beside his Volkswagen Rabbit. He nodded to the letter. “Explain that,” he said. “How the hell could my grandfather have known what I was when you said that this curse wasn’t genetic?”

    Moses the Seer, as he was known back in rehab, looked up from the crumpled letter, scratching the razor stubble on his chin. “The drug wasn’t around during your great grandfather’s time,” he said. “I’m not a prophet, Shock. Ask me something worth my time.”

    “He’s telling me to leave my family or hundreds of innocent people die,” Shock raked a hand through his matted hair. “Now you tell me how else he could have known that I was a Time Chaser? I never even met the man. My own mother didn’t even know!”

    “I only know what they tell me,” Moses the Seer said. “Nothing more or less.”

    “You mean the voices in your head?” Shock said. “Yeah, I’m sure the nurses back at the hospital would love to hear that you’re still talking to your imaginary friends.”

    “Clairaudience is not imaginary,” Moses looked back down at the letter. “He called you Alexander.”

    “Alexander Krause,” Shock sighed. “He wants me to leave my current life because he thinks I can save the damn world. Look, can you tell me anything that can help me? I need to get him home.” Shock nodded behind him in the Rabbit where a little boy with curly blond hair watched over the dashboard with large, frightened eyes.

    “Do they know what you can do?” Moses asked. “I assume with all the times you’ve lapsed through time they would have noticed you were gone.”

    “I told you, it doesn’t work that way,” Shock said. “Our bodies can’t leave the present. It’s physically impossible.”

    “The mind and the body are separate,” Moses said. “But dependent on each other. Something had to have drawn your family’s attention at least a time or two.”

    “I have control when and where I go now,” Shock said. “At least more than when I was in rehab.” He shook his head. “Is this all or did I waste my time?”

    “The only explanation I can give you is that somewhere in the future you must have gone back to speak to your great grandfather and gave him these instructions to give back to you. It’s the only way he would know. Time Chasers are rare. It had to be you.”

    “Fine, get out of here then,” Shock said walking around to the driver’s side of the Rabbit. “I’ve got to at least check this place out that the future me told my grandfather I wanted myself to see,” he mentally rolled his eyes and then looked from the door to glare at Moses. “And personally I don’t feel like being watched while I’m working.”

    “You’re going to make your life a living Hell, Shock,” said Moses as he turned to walk away. “Too young and selfish to be given gifts to save the world.”

    “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Shock stared after Moses until the Seer was gone and then slumped down into the Rabbit.

    “Daddy,” Chase tugged on his father’s sweat drenched tee-shirt. “Was he bad?”
    “No, not bad,” Shock said. “Just extraordinarily demented.” He leaned over and buckled Chase in the front seat. “Now listen to me. Daddy is going to look like he’s sleeping for a few minutes, okay? Lock the doors and don’t let anyone in unless I’m awake. Close your eyes and cover your ears. And don’t make a sound. You got it?”

    “Yeah,” Chase said and did as he was told.

    Shock buckled himself in tightly, his hands lingering around the seat belt. He closed his eyes and did as the letter told him. He dug the silver locket from out his pocket that his grandfather had left in the letter and buried it in his fist. He smelled in the aged metal, the sweet scent of perfume that shouldn’t have still been there. Hesitantly, he let his tongue slide out and licked the dried blood that was crusted along the locket—

    There was a thin brush of air and then his nostrils were filled with the scent of something sickening sweet and rotten and burnt. He tore open his eyes and he was standing in the middle of what looked like a warzone. Buildings were only half standing, the tops completely sheared off looking like a massive tornado had come down and ripped through the streets. Shock thought it may have been a small country town from the layout of the remains. There were humps lying around in the streets and it didn’t take him long to realize where the smell was coming from. Completely covering the streets were bodies, men, women, and children—all contorted like they had been strangled, like someone had stuck a giant vacuum inside them and sucked them from the inside out.

    A young woman clutching her baby son lay dead on the front steps of what could have been the local ice cream parlor. Shock bent over and dry heaved until he thought his stomach would come out his nose.

    What the hell had happened here? He wiped and covered his nose with the collar of his shirt and glanced around. Everything looked old, like it was straight from the sixties.

    Of course, it was old. His grandfather had told him to go back somewhere. But to stop what? It looked like it had already happened. Did he go to the wrong place?

    He tripped over a small bundle and when he righted himself he was looking down into the glassy blue eyes of a little girl, her throat was completely sunken in as if someone had crushed her windpipe.

    Where were the bruised finger prints? There were no markings on any of the bodies. No signs of being touched.

    That was enough.

    Shock slung the necklace back into his pocket and thought of his son, his big brown eyes that were his mother’s, his gaped toothed smile—

    “Daddy,” Chase was pulling at Shock’s dreadlocks to the point of pain. “Daddy!”

    Shock fluttered his eyes. Just that quick. It was always too quick. He was back in the Rabbit, Chase looking like he wanted to cry but too proud to let himself do it.

    “It’s all right,” Shocked unbuckled, still disoriented, and leaned over and got the car keys out of the glove compartment. “Daddy’s fine, son.”

    “He came back,” Chase said and pointed to the windshield. “That man came back when you were sleeping.”

    Shocked narrowed his eyes at a piece of paper taped to the outside of the windshield. His stomach lurched as he read it: “I’ve heard from someone. Listen to your grandfather and leave your family. If you love them.—M.”

    Moses.

    “Shit,” Shock crammed the key into the ignition and fish-tailed the Rabbit out of the parking lot. He didn’t ask to be a Time Chaser and he sure as hell wasn’t going to give up his own family for a bunch of dead people. “Chase,” he said. “Do you trust me?”

    “Yeah,” he said.

    “Then you’ll forgive me for what I’m about to do.”

    Shock waited until they were driving over the bridge across the river to roll the window down. He dug the necklace out of his pocket, sticking it back into the letter before letting it fly out the window and into the raging waters of the river.

    • smallster21 says:

      I became sucked into the story and it really got going with the time jump and the creepy 60s ghost town, well, mangled bodies town. It really was a great read! But, your MC can’t simply throw the locket away and have this massive problem go away, whatever it is, so I hope you mean to continue it.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Oh, yes. Continuing Shock’s story is a must. This guy has a future ahead of him that he really isn’t going to like. Not sure if all of his “special moments” will end up here, but he isn’t going away. Glad you liked it :)

  57. Breezybealle says:

    Was it your son’s 10th birthday? Or did something else transport you to Etherion?

  58. Breezybealle says:

    “You’re never gonna catch me!” Bailey squealed as she raced out of the living room and into the long hall, her older sister, Taylor, only steps behind her.
    “Bring that back you little rodent!” Taylor fumed as she followed Bailey onto the wood floor, arms stretched in front of her in attempt to catch the thief. Her fingers had almost reached the corner of Bailey’s makeshift flying cape before the smaller one tripped over her own feet and tumbled. Taylor, unable to stop in time, echoed her sister’s movements and they both careened to a stop, sliding into the massive grandfather clock at the end of the corridor.
    My heart leapt out of my chest when I heard the deafening crash. I sped from the kitchen to where the girls were, praying to God that they were alright as I rounded the corner. All I could see was the tip of the clock pointing at me and two little pairs of legs sticking out of the gap. I froze for a millisecond, water dripping from the plastic dish gloves before fight-or-flight kicked in and I rushed over to them, lifting the heavy clock enough for them to escape from beneath. It landed all the way on the ground with a loud thud.
    Two little sets of eyes stared at me, huge and waiting for me to unleash my wrath. When all I did was swoop them both into a giant hug and start checking each body part for damage, they couldn’t believe it. Satisfied that both were perfectly okay, I took a second look at the two and sighed. “I have not been that scared in a long, long time and right now, I am so thankful that neither of you was seriously hurt,” I said, turning back toward the clock, which has been in my family as long as I can remember. “The clock, on the other hand, does not look so good.” My hands were still shaking as I looked down and realized I still hadn’t taken my gloves off. Something on the ground caught my eye as I peeled the plastic first from one hand and then the other. I bent over to pick up what looked like a piece of paper. It was folded and dusty and yellowed with time.
    “What is it, mommy?” Taylor asked. I almost jumped, having forgotten the girls were still there.
    “I don’t know, sweetpea. Let’s have a look.” I knew Brad would yell at me if I tried to stand it back up by myself, so I made my way back into the kitchen, leaving the clock in its downed position. The gloves made a smacking sound as I threw them on the counter and focused on the paper in my hand. Opened, it was the size of a half sheet, and on it was a note from my great grandfather.
    Caroline, there are two of you. Don’t believe their lies, you need to find your sister….

    • LeaderAstray says:

      This would be fine if it’s setting up a longer story, but I feel like you’re missing opportunities for set-up and foreshadowing. When the letter comes, it comes out of left field and doesn’t really relate back to anything before it. It could tie back thematically since the narrator has two children of her own (like if the sister were to help the brother, and the narrator is glad she was there to help him), or there could be hints about the lies or who “they” are. Those are the obvious questions, so maybe this is just the beginning and it all gets explained later. Just a thought.

  59. Pattypans says:

    Dear Bradley,

    I’m a wrinkled old man writing to a tiny baby. Seems kinda silly, but I’m pretty sure nobody will find this letter til you’re older. Maybe you’ll be a teenager; maybe you’ll be older and have children of your own. It doesn’t much matter who finds it or when, really. I just have a secret I have to get off my chest. But I’m telling it to you because when I held you, tiny, smooth, new little being that you were, I saw something in your eyes that drew my secret out of me. Your eyes were so pure and clean that I knew I could trust you with it. And the only way I’ll be able to spill my secret out is to pretend I’m telling it to you.

    I was born at the end of the 19th century. That’s a long time ago, Bradley, and I don’t think you need me to tell you that the world’s changed a whole lot since then. But deep down, people are pretty much the same. They want love, they fear pain, and sometimes they hate, or are tempted to.

    I hated someone when I was younger, and I never told anyone. He was a very wicked man, and he caused my family to lose their good name. A good name is worth more than gold, you know, and it’s mighty hard to recover once it’s gone, even if it was nothing but a big lie that dirtied it, which it was.

    I never hurt that man, but for years that was only because it wasn’t in my power to hurt him. When I was young and rash, I would have hurt him if I could have, and now I know how wrong it was to feel that way. It corroded my soul, Brad. And I guess the real reason I’m telling you this is that probably at some time in your life, something bad will happen to you, or to someone you love. Maybe lots of things. And I don’t want you to let those things eat away at you and tarnish your spirit. Because you have a beautiful spirit.

    I’m an old man, and nobody much listens to me. But I hope you will when you get this letter, whenever that is. And I do think it’ll be you who gets it, because I think you’re meant to get. God only knows why, and I wish I could spare you from hurt. I won’t be in this world much longer, I think; I can feel it in my bones. Maybe when I get to the next world, I’ll understand why bad things happen to good people. I don’t understand it now. But I do know that you’ll have a choice to make as to how you’ll take the bad, and I’m hoping this letter will help you not to become a bitter old man like me.

    Love,

    Your great-granddaddy

    • smallster21 says:

      I would be nice to see this letter in context, showing the effect is has on Bradley. What was Bradley doing before he found this letter? How did he feel after reading it? It’s a lovely letter representing the knowledge that older generations have to share with the younger ones. But, I’d like to see Bradley all pissed about something before he finds it. Maybe he wants to kill someone.

      • smallster21 says:

        Damnit, I didn’t reread this before posting, lol. I meant ‘It’ not ‘I’.

      • Pattypans says:

        Smallster, thank you so much for your feedback! This is only the second prompt I’ve responded to, and yours is my first feedback. I really appreciate it.

        I agree about the context (I only included a tiny bit in the letter), and I notice that most people did put their letters in context. But then I would have probably gone over the word limit and not been able to have written as much in the letter, ha! And I was the one touting the advantages of word limits…

        But what I really think happened is this: As I began to write in response to the prompt, I just really felt this old man speaking, and it sort of took on a life of its own. It would be a good exercise for me (and my writing self-discipline) to do another piece that would answer the questions you ask (and I suppose maybe it should include the hitherto omitted details from the prompt too) and still stay within the limits.

        I think I liked experimenting with a voice so unlike my own, too, and I just let him take off.

        Thanks again for your input!

  60. sgaletraylor says:

    Dear Rose:

    When you were born on my birthday, I felt an immediate connection other than just being your great-grandfather. The true sign came when they told me your name would be Rose after my mother. It was then I began this letter and the plan to leave it to you in my will. I hope the letter that is taped to the back of the faceplate will find it’s way to you.

    You see, they named you after an ancestor you know nothing about. Only known to me, to you, and to the man himself, my father was not Harold Miller of Owensboro, but he was an SS officer from Nazi Germany. He escaped Germany right before Hitler’s rise to power and managed to get here with the help of friends from the states. Posing as a carpenter, he came to Jasper, Indiana and began a business making German clocks. He hired my mother as an office worker and they eventually, they fell in love. She was catholic, and he was an atheist. Her mother refused to even meet Ivan Schmidt and my mother Rose was heart-broken. Within weeks of this event, Ivan’s business burned to the ground and he left Rose a note that he would be leaving on the train to find a new location in Indianapolis, Indiana. He invited her to join him but he understood if she could not come. My mother did not meet him at the station, knowing that she would have to leave her religion and her family behind in order to do so.

    Six months later, Rose received this clock by special delivery for an engagement present. Her engagement to my stepfather, Harold Miller was announced in the Jasper Gazette the week before the large box was delivered. Inside the clock, taped to the winding key was a small note that I enclose with this letter. I think that it gives the greatest lesson of love and sacrifice that I have ever known. I hope in your life you have learned that time is fleeting and that you have taken efforts to enjoy all that you have. My mother gave me this information, and now I pass it on to you in hopes that the story of Rose and Ivan will not be lost.

    “Although our lives are forever separated by time and place, I found a great gift in the sorrow of our parting. The gift was an everlasting love and acceptance for who I became after arriving in America. I hope as you wind this clock you will think of me with kindness as I wish you all the happiness your God can bestow on such a good and faithful woman. Until time stops us at our natural end and fate brings us together again.” IVAN

  61. JRSimmang says:

    My grandfather always told me to never have children. He was scared our children would end up complete messes. His children certainly did.
    I was raised by my grandfather. My mother was “addicted to controlled substances,” but I knew she was a sex-crazed meth-head. My father was a womanizing sports car driver with an enormous ego and severely diminished id. He didn’t stick around.
    So, I tried to follow my grandfather’s advice and aim for a life of celibacy. I joined the seminary, got a job preaching, and wound up a deacon, married, with three kids.
    I met my wife in the summer of ’03. I was one of the pastors of our church and Anna was a recent college grad who was unconvinced religion was real.
    What ensued was 188 hours of deliberation, libations, and sex. My grandfather tut-tutted, but 10 years later, he’s a proud grandpa.
    My kids, Eli, Nicole, and Claudette, are 7, 3, and 2 months respectively. We got a huge house (for a steal) out on the lake. Grandpa lives next door so we can keep an eye on him. He’s getting old, he jokes. But he is actually getting old.
    However old he gets, though, he will never be as old as the grandfather clock next to our kitchen. He claims it was made by his great-grandfather, a man he had never met, and it has been in the family ever since. I can only say for as long as we’ve had it, it has never stopped ticking.
    That is until Eli and Nicole bumped into it, driving into the horizontal and spilling the glass everywhere.
    I think the words that came out of my mouth will be repeated back to me at Saint Peter’s gates.
    “Daddy, I’m sorry,” squeaked out of Eli’s mouth. Nicole started crying.
    Well, we bonded over the next couple of hours while I, Eli, Nicole, and Anna cleaned up the mess.
    “Darling…” Anna held up a note, addressed to me. “I found this among the shards of glass.”
    “That’s an odd place to store a letter. I might have put it there when I was younger.”
    Anna gave me that ‘what are you talking about’ look followed by the ‘well, aren’t you going to open it’ look.
    I sighed and cracked the envelope. It was old, real old. The paper was brittle and the note’s creases almost tore the paper into thirds.
    “Huh, it’s a letter for me.” I scanned down to the post script: H.M. Laurie. My mother’s maiden name was Laurie.
    “Isn’t Laurie your mother’s maiden name?” Anna asked. “And wasn’t your great-grandfather’s name Hannibal?”
    She was right. I brought the letter closer to my eyes. In bold letters:
    “COLIN: YOU SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO YOUR GRANDFATHER.
    You have no idea what your blood contains. For your safety, and the safety of the world, this secret has been kept from you. Your wife, Anna, and your children, Eli, Nicole, and the new one Claudette, have found you on purpose.”
    Then, the note burst into a blinding flame, so blind that I couldn’t see for a few seconds afterward.
    “Daddy, it’s here.” Eli tugged at my pants. When I glanced down at him to ask what in the world he was talking about, his face had transformed into a black hole, sucking into it all light. Anna reached out with a hand encased in flame, Claudette a crying ember. Nicole spread ashen wings.
    It certainly was here. And I knew I had to be the one to stop it.

  62. AnandG says:

    It was Sunday afternoon and what else does a married man, with his kids do? I leaned over on the sofa and joyfully watched my son and daughter playing in the hallway.

    “Papa, would you play hide and seek with us?” Ashley asked.

    “No dear. Let me rest. You play with Jason and please do not go outdoors ok!” I said and closed my eyes for a short nap.

    Ashley and Jason while playing got accidentally bumped into the antique wall clock passed on to me by my grandfather.

    “Clang!!”, the clock dismantled.

    “Oh no!!” I sighed and collected all the parts that were scattered on the floor. I put on my spectacles and began to mount together the clock. I saw a folded paper hidden in the crevice of the wooden block of the clock. I took it out and unfolded it. Strangely, it was addressed to me by my great grandfather. He passed away when I was two months old.
    It was a very old paper. I dusted it with a brush and began to read.

    Dear Ashton,

    I am your great grandpa, Arthur. I know that you would read this letter, and I also know that you would find it very hard to believe what I am going to say but you have to believe me Ash.

    I was a wizard in my days protecting the good from the evil. There were constant battles between me and the evil wizards and I used to defeat them every time; cowards, they used to runaway for their lives from the battlefield. Well, the battlefield is not on this earth. It all happens when you sleep. You are taken to a different world called Etherion. It is where the battle between the good and the bad happens. There were 4 more wizards beside me, but all have been killed by Azgon, the powerful devilish wizard. I was left all alone. Though Azgon never confronted me, I somehow had a sensed that the race of us would end by Azgon. It is when I went to mountains and meditated a lot. I have found the prophecy. My grandson would beget a son on a blue moon day. The man born on the blue moon day would be the one that confronts Azgon, and it is you Ash, that was born on the blue moon day. Your grandpa and your dad never believed me. They used to say that I have grown lunatic as I have become senile. They never believed in wizardry and thought that I was fantasizing a lot. It’s time for me pass away my life. That is why I am writing this to you, to let you know the truth, the meaning and purpose of your life.

    Ash, it is time when you see this letter. It is prophesized that Azgon will invade when you know about him and me. I could have kept this a secret from you and prevent the invasion of Azgon, but it would not help. On the 1st blue moon day when your son turns 10, Azgon will invade Etherion. He becomes more powerful on that day and there would only be black moon after that. Earth would be destroyed. Human race would be brought to the slavery of Azgon. Believe me Ash. Act now and save human race, save your family from becoming slaves. You are wizard, always remember that. The prophecy says that there are very good chances that you would win. Go to Etherion. It’s time for you.

    Love,

    Arthur

    I was deeply disturbed by what I read. I do not know if I have to believe it or just forget it.
    It was already night and I my mind was still preoccupied with the story of great grandpa. I lied on bed and closed my eyes. I felt my body lighten, like I was in a flight that was taking off the runway. I felt like moving in a plane, swiftly, very swiftly, and then like in a rocket, very fast with lightning speed I held the bed sheets very tight with my fists. There was weightlessness. There was a very bright light, so bright that I could not open my eyes and finally my feet touched the ground. It was when, I opened my eyes, I saw that I was in Etherion.

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