All the Feels

This writing prompt originally appeared in Writer’s Digest magazine. Subscribe to discover exercises and prompts in the back of each issue.


It’s typical in stories and manuscripts to use variations on the verb “to feel” to express emotion: He felt mad. I feel scared. While these practical expressions of feelings are not necessarily bad, you can invite your readers more deeply into the experiences of your characters by demonstrating those feelings.

Try it with one of these “feeling” prompts. Write a scene based on one of the phrases, allowing the character to express the emotion without using the word feel or felt. Or if you’d like, comb through one of your own pieces looking for the words feel or felt and expand on that feeling with more depth. (Hint: Avoid thoughts; stick to action, dialogue and images.)

  • He felt sad to hear the news.
  • She felt angry when he yelled at her.
  • I had never felt so embarrassed before.
  • His expression made her feel afraid.
  • Her words inspired a feeling of dread.
  • I’d never feel joy again.
  • You always feel sick.
  • We never felt loved.

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

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126 thoughts on “All the Feels

  1. KioneLorraine

    Based on the phrase: “We never felt loved.”
    ———————————–

    For the hundredth time, Lori flipped through the pages of the photo album, the faces of her mother and father beaming up at her– on their wedding day, in front of a limo before their second honeymoon, on top of the Eiffel Tower, her mother dripping wet and grinning with a snorkel mask hanging around her neck.
    “How old were we when that was taken,” Mark asked, pointing to a cliche picture of their mother trying to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
    “I was 10, I guess. You would have been around 5.”
    “I guess I would have been too young to appreciate it.”
    “That excuse only holds up for so long, though,” Lori replied with more than a little bitterness in her voice. She turned over a dozen pages in the album until she found a picture of their parents standing in front of a pyramid in Egypt. “Remember this?” she demanded of him, jabbing her finger at the picture so hard that the plastic cover crinkled upwards.
    Hesitating, biting his lip, Mark gave a single imperceptible nod.
    “You were a freshman in high school at that point. I was in college,” Lori continued, almost as if she was unaware of Mark’s discomfort. “We weren’t too young then.”
    “Well, we had classes–”
    “They couldn’t go in the summer?”
    “The flights were cheaper during the winter.”
    “You sound just like them. Making any excuse they could find to leave us out.”
    “Lor, they spent so much time and money raising us, why can’t you just accept that they wanted some time to themselves?”
    “Because they never included us.” She flipped through a few more pages to a picture of where they were standing in front of a giant stained glass window in a chapel. “They booked a private tour– which is almost impossible to do– and went by themselves while I was lining up for graduation and you were finding seats. They couldn’t wait to do it in the afternoon so we could all go. And do you know what’s missing from this page?” She slapped a hand over the page obscuring most of the images. “Me in my robes with my diploma.” She turned another page. “What’s missing here?” Another page. “And here?” Another page. “What about here?”
    Exasperated, Mark rolled his eyes. “What’s missing?” he asked without really trying.
    “Us!” Lori slammed the album closed. The words Family Album, stenciled in with gold leaf, gleamed up at her. “Some family. You wouldn’t even know they had kids looking through this. We were always incidental.”
    “Lori, please. That’s not fair.” Mark pulled the album gently out of her hands and hugged it to his chest. He wanted to tell her it was just this album, that the other albums would tell a different story, but he knew they didn’t. He wished it was true as much as Lori did, but he could never bring himself to speak as poorly of them as she did, especially not now.

      1. SonicCal2

        It’s my first time too. Don’t worry. Also your story is really good. Like, really really good. I love the grief between these two, with Lori being the truth bomber and Mark the optimistic thinker of the past. He doesn’t want to let go, but Lori does. It’s conflicting. Even through your story is short, I love it anyway. Good job!

  2. SonicCal2

    Prompt: We never felt loved.

    He always left us out in the back. He never managed to say hello or goodbye to us, not even glancing up at us, never noticing our figures at all. And we were his twins, his son and daughter, his Lord’s pride and joy. If he preached so much, why then for his children he didn’t care?

    Things wouldn’t have gotten so bad if Charlotte hadn’t left him.

    She was the love of his life. His reason to keep on living, breathing, thinking. She was the best for him. The perfect match made in Heaven. Nothing could turn out more amazing than that. They came up with the greatest adventures together. To walk in all the jungles of the world, to visit every single one of the Great Sights of the Earth, to eat the most delicious food and the most refreshing drinks, to live their lives to the very fullest, even if Death came earlier than expected.

    But then Charlotte stopped talking. Stopped dreaming. Stopped thinking. He asked her what the problem was. She wouldn’t respond, not even with a moment. She soon could not speak. She lost the ability to move, her energy depleted and her heart depressed. Turns out she was very sick with a disease we cannot even say the name of, for we are too young to understand. She soon lost control of her mind, and succumbed to a death with an even worser name: suicide.

    He fell sick. He lost his motivation to do every one of the goals she tried to set out to do. He dropped to the lowest of the low, and then alcohol was his newest friend. The more drinks he chugged, the angrier he got when not consuming his deadly elixir. Many people tried to reason with him, but nothing sufficed. Many people tried to get him help, but he refused it. Every, single, time.

    Then he tried to do things for the better. He went to church and prayed at the Masses every Sunday. He asked for God’s assistance, advice to change his life around. But God didn’t answer. He kept praying. But nothing seemed to work. It seemed the entire world was against him.

    We remember the first time when we were adopted. The man was in a drunken frenzy when he stepped into the orphanage. He was bawling his eyes out and said swears more dirty than the soil used to bury Charlotte’s coffin. He asked for the two of us and threw the caretaker a good 500. He pulled us out, put us in the car, drove us home, made us wait in his backyard, and fed us canned food like dogs. He made us sleep in his shed, no bed to warm our hearts. It was terrible. But at least it was something.

    As for him now? Still a drunken ass and a preacher at best. Life could be better, but who knows how Fate will treat us. Are we victims of a terrible cycle of events doomed to repeat until he finally learns to care? Or will some big change come our way without us even noticing at all? For now, we’ll probably never know. And we’ll probably never care. We will never love like anyone else does.

    Because he never taught us love, showed us love. Because he never loved us.

  3. Jennifer Park

    39. The Battle

    [Follows “38. The Odyssey”, under “Spoken Stories”. I’m going with “Her words inspired a feeling of dread.”]

    Being stationed in Tstrini had entirely failed to meet Barbara’s expectations. The thing about unruly borderlands, she had discovered, was that, despite the cavalcade of skirmishes and planet-destroying warfare among the subjects, nothing remarkable really happened, if one stopped to think about it.

    Take the battle cruiser, for instance, that Barbara was observing from within an impenetrable battle shield. It had been dispatched by Kshtet, a planet long-steeped in mystery, folklore, and wonder, the only planet in the known universe to have been unified by a pacifist religious sect. Here they were, proof positive that a planet does not have to be mired in eternal blood-lust to be able to develop and dispatch horrific weaponry. It was going to be a very one-sided event, hard to even call it a battle, to pacify–as in make peaceful–a piracy nest on a planet several inhabited systems away.

    They were keeping each other in check, in other words.

    On further reflection, Barbara realized that space travel itself had grossly failed to meet Earthlings’ expectations. The universe, their near-instantaneous space travel capacity revealed, was nothing but mundanity. There were no aliens with immense intellect or metaphysical powers. There were no shape-shifters or consciousness-hijacking parasites, other than a few symbiotic species who had no interest in infesting species other than their preferred hosts. No gods, no demons, no spirits. No reanimation of the dead. No magic whatsoever. Sure, there were intelligent insects, mollusks, slime molds, birds, blah, blah, blah, but they were all, with very few, rare exceptions, mundane variations on mundane species that could be found on Earth.

    And, it turned out that, really, no one had come to visit Earth because they simply were incapable of doing so.

    One blast, and the pirate base was gouged out. They had been warned by the pacifists, so casualty would be minimal, but their operative capacity and immense wealth were no more.

    Barbara sighed. Highly unentertaining. Her underlings had already drafted a statement. In the light of the magma eruption that would nicely round out the deed of the Kshtetian _deus ex machina_, she did find a typo that she did not bother correcting.

    All she had to do was speak, and the unruly masses would issue some defiant statements that thinly obscured their complete lack of control over their own destiny.

    Barbara, literally, yawned as the pilot paged her. “Shall we return, Ambassador?”

    Barbara pitied the pilot’s complete lack of control over his own destiny. “I believe I was promised a good lay first.”

    “Yes, Ambassador,” he said in a voice that made it completely unclear whether Barbara was engaging in abuse of power.

    Much like the behavior of the Kshtetians. Did those pacifists enjoy their status as an unwitting proxy, doing the bidding of the empire, but thinking that it is an exercise of free will?

    Meh.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I think.this would make one heck of a movie. It makes you wonder what would rattle Barbara’s cage. If I were a little younger, I might volunteer. Who am I kidding? I’M afraid of heights.

      Enjoyed this immemsely.

    2. Beebles

      Thank you Northamptonshire County Council’s glitchy archives website for allowing me the time to stop by and read this. Thoroughly enjoyable from the first yawn to the last. Oh well, gotta go, looks like it’s loaded after all.

  4. JRSimmang

    *Dedicated to a hero lost today.

    Life in the kitchen is, at best, a ship without a sail in a storm. At worst, it was that same ship on the bottom of the ocean, and right then I felt like I was drowning. There were only three seats left in the Korean restaurant, and I should have left them alone.

    “So, there aren’t a whole lot of places here to eat, but this is one of my favorite.” Randy Kissinger was my companion for this trip, and while he was an expert in Korean culture, his food knowledge was still lurking in the hallways of his fraternity house.

    “What is that coming out of the kitchen?” I wondered out loud. “I’ve smelled some raw, powerful stuff before, Randy, but that’s making my eyes water.”

    “Well, ha ha, it’s Korean food.” He dragged his sleeve across his forehead. “Chilies and spice, ya’ know?”

    “Oh, I know,” I sighed. I looked over to the table next to ours, and I couldn’t recognize what I saw. “Well, what the hell. Let’s do this.” I motioned to the waiter.

    “What are you going to get?” Randy asked as the waiter trudged over, shoulders slumped, no evidence of a smile. Must be a family business.

    “I’m going to have whatever those unlucky souls seem to be eating at that table.”

    “Ha, ha.” Randy chortled. “Great.”

    I let him order for us because I don’t even know where to begin with the language. I hear something that sounds like ‘claptrap’ and I can only assume he’s talking about me, and I feel my face flush red for an instant. It’s either I don’t like what he said, or the heatwave from the chilies the table over had finally hit me.

    “Okay,” he says finally. “Looks like you’re in for a treat.”

    “Oh yeah?”

    “Yeah. I told the server that you’re a world-renowned chef, and they’re going to prepare their top dishes. How’s that for influence?” He sat back in his chair and crossed his arms. I couldn’t describe his smile if I tried. Suffice to say he wore it awkwardly.

    We shot the breeze for what felt like hours. Sweat was pouring down my face, and the only relief I could find was in the glass of whatever cold alcohol they kept pouring in our glasses. Several times I felt as though I’d fall out of my chair.

    “And then, the airline stewardess fell into my lap. Was there turbulence? Nope. None at all. Little lady wanted to cop a feel, I think.”

    I was suddenly aware that Randy had been talking; the lady at the table next to ours peered up and grimaced, the man shook his head. I was staring off into the distance at an angry looking rain cloud. “Randy, I’m not sure what other people have said about me, but I don’t need to hear every one of your salacious stories. Where’s the g-d food?”

    “Oh, the airline story is nothing compared to the one I have about a little house just down the street. Let’s call that one ‘The Man Whose Pants-‘”

    “There’s our waiter.” I furiously waved him over. “Look, I know you probably don’t speak a whole lot of English, but we’ve been here for what feels like forever and I would like to know when we can expect our food.”

    Randy started interpreting halfway through my inquiry, and the waiter rolled his eyes. “Your order is next,” he said… in English.

    “Oh, look at that. He speaks the language!” Randy announced, setting my teeth on edge. “None too soon, too. I’m famished.”

    I glanced over to the couple next to me. They apparently ‘spoke the language’ too. I mimed “Sorry” and they half-smiled acceptance. Between the heat and Randy’s constant droning, I couldn’t get back to my hotel room fast enough.

    There was a quick scuffle, then the waiter arrived with the food, most of which was unrecognizable to my novice eyes. The steam carried with it the tint of flame, the hue of pepper, the sound of chilies. Reds, oranges, yellows. All of it was crashing on to my face. This was a wave I wanted to be submerged under. I heard nothing but the sound of sizzle.

    I devoured everything. And, for the time, I was the only one at the table. Randy was millions of miles away, talking to himself. Perhaps it was self-preservation. I didn’t want to be disturbed from the delight in front of me.

    I sipped the stock. I savored the spice. I nommed the noodles.

    And, I didn’t even notice when Randy was escorted from the premises for knocking over a table on his way to the restroom.

    It was in that moment I decided that sometimes food is best enjoyed alone. Though, I didn’t turn down the invitation from the couple sitting next to me to join them for another round.

    RIP Anthony Bourdain

    -JR Simmang

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Great scene. Unsmiling waiter/family business assumption is something I’ll remember. I’m very sad at this latest news. How much is hidden behind seeming success.

  5. Kerry Charlton

    GEORGE EDWARD JONES
    A TRIBUTE

    Late in the winter of 1943, George Edward Jones of the Eighth Air Force in England , taxied his B 24 Liberator bomber toward the runway. Dawn was still under the horizon as the four engines warmed for take off. His thoughts wandered to the meeting the previous night with his flight commander. His chest tightened at the though of the colonels words.

    “George I know how you stand. You’ve completed thirty two mission over Germany without much fighter support. You were supposed to fly twenty, changed to twenty five and then to thirty. When you asked how many more and I told you ‘Keep flying George’ I can imagine your anger, disgust with war.”

    He knew how his crew thought as his bomber lifted into the sky. There were twelve other bombers with him as they headed for Germany. Fighter support flew with them but since their mission was Berlin, the fighters left before the bomb run to avoid running out of fuel back to England.

    He asked the same question over and over, ‘When are the P51 fighters coming? For God sake, my luck won’t last forever.’ He hated the war, with it turning him into a mass murderer.. Sure they were Germans working in the factories but they had to. His attention was drawn back to business as it saw what he referred to as ‘the carpet of death.

    The flack over Germany was so thick, he wondered if he could walk on it. As the bombardier set his instruments for their target, he held his course steady and let the plane respond to the instruments of death and destruction. Meanwhile the gunners were busy with the Messerschmitts attaching the bomber. He could hear the shells ripping through the fuselage. He knew his plane was receiving far more damage than usual but held it steady until bombs were released.

    He placed the plane in a wide circle in order not to distress it further but the German fighters kept up the pursuit and then suddenly vanished. A feeling of dread iced into his mind as he passed the word to bail out. He felt the bomber would fail in less than a minute. He counted as they jumped and when he reached eight, he called out to his navigator,

    “Come on Bob, we’ll go together.”

    “I can’t George , I just can’t. Jump now or you’re lost”

    “Grab on to my arm Bob, for God sake.

    “No, damn it, leave me alone”

    The place was less than a thousand feet as George dove through the door and as he floated down, he watched his bomber hit the ground and explode. George turned his attention to his crew whom had already landed on a fresh plowed field. ‘ As he followed them, he tumbled as he hit ground.He released himself and as he was the only officer armed, he withdrew his service 45 and dropped it gently on the ground as his crew was encircled by a dozen farmers with pitch forks bristling in the late sun..

    “Don’t move a muscle,” George said.and then thinking to himself,

    ‘And I can’t say I blame them, I hate war’.

    ,

  6. jwismann

    Sean held his head low. “What happened?” he asked as he was told the news.
    “We’re not sure, but we have a team looking into it,” said the man in the long coat with the even longer gaze.
    The man stared intensely at Sean who was wearing a shirt that mad his head look like a piece of beef sticking out of a taco. Sean loved tacos. The man noticed that the enormous man’s eyes had reddened. Sean looked up with a snivel that he quickly turned into a cough and wiped his left eye with a sleeve. “I thought they would have prepared for something like this. It could have…hell, it should have happened any number of times,” as Sean spoke, his voice got softer and began cracking. “I tried to tell them.”
    “You know,” said the man with the long coat, his longer gaze now fixed on the food truck next to them, “it’s kind of hard to take advice from a walking taco.”
    “Well, I guess if they would have listened they wouldn’t have ran out of tomatoes and everything would be okay.”
    “Sean, how about you come with me and we’ll get some rest,” the man in the long coat said.
    “I told them to order more tomatoes,” Sean looked back again with water-filled eyes longing to be listened to. The man in the long coat walked Sean to the rear of a van and strapped him in. Nearby a taco truck lay on its side leaving two dead men covered in every ingredient needed to make a good taco, except tomatoes.

  7. Jeanie Y.

    Time has passed by quietly these last few years. The big life events – marriage, children, widowing – faded to memory. Oh, Daniel, remember the lake party where we first kissed; Sylvie, don’t touch the hot stove! It happened, yes, it happened. Why does my stomach continue to growl?

    The children visit rarely, going on along their path as they must. “Loneliness is no one’s fault, it just is. You either move along or you don’t.” I can still recall papa’s practical words all those years ago after my Daniel passed. Did I move along well?

    It’s noon? But the sun just came up.

    So, now that papa is gone, I have to put his pass date in the family tree. I can’t leave it blank but I can’t seem to fill it in. It’s so final. Who will write in my name?

    Tomorrow, maybe.

    Yes, tomorrow.

  8. ReathaThomasOakley

    (Based on a way too true story)

    I should have stopped when I heard everybody laughing, but I couldn’t, I knew what I was supposed to do. If I had stopped I might have remembered that afternoon, in our kitchen, Daddy busy at the table.

    “I’m just sayin’ I don’t hold with smokin’,” Mama’d said as she put Brother in his highchair because Daddy had the scissors out.

    “And I’m just sayin’ I don’t neither, but he’s a new hire I don’t know nothin’ about, ‘cept he loves his Lucky Strikes, got ‘em in his rations in Italy.” Daddy looked around the table. “Hey, Sister, you seen the Scotch Tape?”

    “Yes, sir, it’s right there, under that cut up bag.” Daddy always asked me things like that, ‘cause I always knew where stuff was.

    “I just wish you’d used the Christmas paper ‘stead of a grocery sack.” Sometimes Mama just kept on fussing.

    “Looked too childish for a man to man present.” Daddy taped up the edges. “Now, Sister, how’s this look? Pretty good, huh?”

    “Yes, Daddy.”

    “You remember what you’re gonna do tonight?”

    “Yes, sir. After Santa gives all the children treats, he’s gonna call out names for grown up gifts and when I hear your name, I’m gonna go up and get your present, and you don’t even know ‘til then who it’s from. Yes, sir, I remember.”

    But, because I was in a hurry, like always, I didn’t remember everything and now folks were laughing and my head was getting hot, like it was burning up, and the rest of me was getting cold, like I just got out of the tub and went running to the living room and we had company and I didn’t have any clothes on and folks were laughing because Santa was holding a long, brown paper wrapped package, the size and shape of a carton of Lucky Strikes.

    I didn’t exactly run back to Daddy, just walked kind of fast. When Santa said his name again I sat real still and Mama told Brother to go get it, and he did, and he can’t hardly even walk all by himself yet.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Sometimes as children we make mistakes because.we don’t quite understand exactly what our job is. You pointed that out and because you remember a scene so vivid, it put a heck of an impression on you. Adults brush off these mistaker but chilfren

    2. JosephFazzone

      I love the perspective. I’m right there with you flushing with embarrassment and immediately relating to those most humiliating moments that make us who we are. Crazy story! I think these moments are what make it easier to help relate to others when the same type of situation occurs. I remember when I figured out about Santa. I felt happy and sad at the same time. Boo! I’m right, uh there’s no big fella out there in the world whose sole position in life is to bring to gifts to us children…hooray.

  9. Jeanie Y.

    Time has passed by quietly these last few years. The big life events – marriage, children, widowing – faded to memory. Oh, Daniel, remember the lake party where we first kissed; Sylvie, don’t touch the hot stove! It happened, yes, it happened. Why does my stomach continue to growl?

    The children visit rarely, going on along their path as they must. “Loneliness is no one’s fault, it just is. You either move along or you don’t.” I can still recall papa’s practical words all those years ago after my Daniel passed. Did I move along well?

    It’s noon? But the sun just came up.

    So now papa is gone and I have to put his pass date in the family tree. I can’t leave it blank but I can’t seem to fill it in. It’s so final.

    Tomorrow, maybe.

    Yes, tomorrow.

  10. Witt.Stanton

    Madame Joyce le Fleur was a woman of impeccable taste: She associated herself with the right people, she attended the right events, she always presented herself with the utmost care. Despite her inexplicable penchant for gossip and her indulgence in the occasional spirit, the Madame was spotless. At least, until I met her.

    I remember mornings with her the most vividly. The white, billowing curtains would let in the sunlight and let it dance across our bare skin. Interlaced fingers. Her hair draping across shoulders when she leaned over to kiss me. She always pinned her hair up during the day. I fell in love with the Madame the way you fall in love with a flower: tragically, for it was my fascination killed her.

    My fingers would trace her delicate wrists, holding her hands between mine as if they were the most delicate petals. Her shoulders, rigidly held in perfect posture during the day, wilted against my chest as I held her between my arms during the night. And so I unwound her, strand by strand. In my arms her petals fell off one by one. My love was killing her.

    The Madame’s husband lived an austere life dripping with upper-class snottiness. He blessedly died with the assistance of his astigmatism and the leaden hooves of a English Thoroughbred. Suffice to say that I am sure the Madame treated his passing as a host might treat an house guest who has overstayed his welcome. I was at her side the entire time, guiding her through the maze of mourners turned suiters until night came and she was again mine.

    Every flower man picks dies a slow death. A vase of water, sunlight, replanting, additional nutrients, nothing will restore the flower to the life it once contained. The moment my fascination latched onto her — the moment I bent down to sniff her fragrance, touch her petals — her fate was sealed. I should never have let my eyes wander. I will never feel Joy again.

    1. snuzcook

      You evoked for me a very Louis 14th French romance, complete with delicious decadence and hedonism, along side the tragic hubris of forbidden love. I picture The Madame going into a pale consumptive swoon (sans cough) from which she never awakes. C’est merveilleux, Witt.

  11. snuzcook

    ***Incantation***

    With the sound of the door slamming behind me, the color went out of the room. Was it a cloud crossing the sun, a transient phenomenon of the light that would end in a moment? At the window, I raised my eyes but saw only rank upon rank of gray billows stretching to the horizon, swarming over the blue that had defined my world a moment before, and erasing any hope of reprieve.

    She had the power of life and death over me, as truly as if there were bars on the windows and I was shackled to the floor. And I, like a songbird trapped in a house, could only flutter against the window and see my freedom but never touch it.

    A songbird. My throat strangled itself as scalding tears spilled down my cheeks. Her binding incantation echoed from the corners of the room, and fell like ashes upon the party dress—my colorful plumage—that lay now useless on the bed. “You can’t go…..go…..go…..go. Because I said so….so….so….so.”

    Rain appeared in tentative streaks on the glass. The world outside had transmuted to mirror me. I knew that my life from this moment would ever be so.

    1. smwrites

      I read this several times because you used such powerful, vivid imagery. This is a beautiful piece that carries the expression of pain across so clearly!

    2. JosephFazzone

      Love the imagery, and the way you phrased. “color went out of the room”, “bar on the window and I was shackled to the floor” ,and “tentative streaks on the glass”. I really dug the way these all sounded. Amazing!

  12. JosephFazzone

    The scab had been ripped off minutes ago, but the memory haunted her still. The news delivered clumsily, and hours too late. Abel was anything but.

    He currently sat on the gnarled wobbly legged stool that for the life of her, remained in the house, it bordered on becoming an heirloom. Abel looked pitiful as always.

    Rage seethed through her, the very moment Abel’s voice rose. How dare they take her for granite when she was a precious stone.

    “I fear, my information has not pleased you,” Abel asked with an attempted clandestine smile.

    “Given how useless it is at this hour, I’m more surprised that you think it would be,” she snarled, her cheeks reddening. She saw the smile. An alarm rang inside of her giving her a pause.

    The pause gave him pause. “Jadowyn?”

    Quick to wit she became silk on marble. The paths, the choices fell into place as her mind danced through each scenario. Calculations were made, risks, rewards, and consequences. The course of action decided, she played her part. “I trust you had no hand in this decision?”

    Abel played to quickly towards the defensive. A move that caused her lips to twitch upwards. “Surely, is it always the messenger who suffers the wrath? Shall I never see the sun, shall my heart grow cold,” his sobs, though wracking and wrenching, sang a bit too practiced. With one more heaving groan he cried out, “Will there never be a summer’s day?”

    Her stomach trembled, the bitterness raged against her palate, greasy and tasting of ash. Her finger went delicately to her lips as she politely hiccupped. “Darkness has become your companion,” Jade answered calmly. “She is your mistress now!”

    Abel’s eyes misted over. “Tis the path of thief, the betrayer to walk in the night, but do you know why?”

    “Everyone knows why,” she screamed. “Cowards hiding from the truth!”

    He roared as he pulled out a concealed dagger. “The world we live in can never be embraced by a mother’s congeniality, we live beyond the nurturing hand. We have been reared by the calloused hand scratching, beating, breaking…”

    She shook her head sadly. “Is that wine your serving with those baleful intentions of yours? You are bankrupting the value of your menace.”

    He snarled and charged.

    Utilizing her mastery, and his momentum, she danced ever so slightly to her left, twisted, and bumped Abel stumbled past her, as she swung her leg around, and kicked him square in the back. The momentum, with the force of her kick caused him to fly across the room and crashed into a wall. He slumped down, groaning.

    Kamen and Galea charged into the room, quickly noted the situation, and looked questioningly at Jadowyn.

    “Now about that darkness’” Jadowyn began.

    Before he could open his mouth to speak, she kicked him square in the temple, knocking him out cold.

    She looked at Kamen and Galea. “Take this man to Geryon. Tell him more are turning. We are starting to lose ground.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Okay, this act two in a longer play; I can see and feel the emotions here, but the speaking style is so odd that it makes me want to know the rest of the story. For that matter, the underlying story is also fascinating. I get the sense of two world-weary people playing out the last moments of the affair. You’ve got me hooked, Joe. Great job! 🙂

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Unless I’ve forgotten or missed a few weeks, this is a new style for you. Is this part of a longer work? Several of your descriptions, the taste of bitterness and his practiced sobs, were perfect. Good job.

      1. JosephFazzone

        Hi Reatha! I keep trying to write, but I just can’t squeeze enough time! I like trying different angles. I literally tried to write a story based off each one of those sentences listed in the prompt, and try and make it come out in the scene. It was fun!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Are you sure you’re Joseph? This is fascinating, raw writing. I wish you would do an add on. It is okay to do it on an ending prompt. Just notify the others to return here

  13. smwrites

    This is above the 500 word count, but unfortunately this is a non-fiction piece. I’m hoping it will be healing to write it out and post it.

    BRUISED.

    Bright white lights shone down on the hard black floor of the stage. It was the day of Stephanie’s wedding and the ceremony was moved indoors. I stood alongside the other bridesmaids, shifting to alleviate my aching feet. Sweat dripped under my dress as I tried to pay attention to the minster as he talked about love in a “new world of technology”.

    Instead, I found my gaze sweeping off to look at the crowd below us.

    Did he come?

    I hadn’t heard from my date since the day before. An ominous sense of dread filled me as I looked out and didn’t see him in his seat.

    He ditched me. He’s not going to show.

    As the ceremony wrapped up and the night continued, it became apparent I was right. Ryan was no where to be found. He hadn’t even contacted me to let me know. Hurt welled up inside me like a bruise on my heart, and I thought it was the worst pain he could inflict on me.

    I was wrong.

    It wasn’t until a few days later that my phone lit up with a text from him.

    I’m so sorry Sarah. My mother died Saturday morning. I’m sorry I let you down. I’m not going to talk to you anymore.

    I read and re-read his words. His mother? My own mother died two years ago, so losing a parent is a grief I understood well. But not going to talk to me? Shouldn’t that be my choice? The bruise on my heart seemed to grow.

    As the days passed, I tried to deal with the grief of losing him. It was a sadness I carried on my own, not wanting to hear what my friends would say about it. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I finally told them what happened.

    “So what happened with Ryan at the wedding?” Candice asked from across the table. We were out celebrating my birthday at a popular Mexican restaurant downtown.

    “Um, his mom died. It’s fine,” I said, staring down at the metal table. “I don’t really want to talk about it though.”

    “And he couldn’t even let you know? He’s lying, Sarah,” Candice said.

    “Let’s look! I bet you he is,” Stephanie chimed in. She pulled out her phone and started scrolling through Facebook.

    “I don’t want to know.”

    My voice was soft, the hurt penetrating every word. Over the noise of the restaurant, they didn’t hear me.

    “It’s not working,” Stephanie said, pushing her phone away defeated. “But I agree. I really think he’s lying.”

    “Let me see. I’m good at this stuff,” Candice said.

    My legs swung wildly in my chair, anxiety filling me. I wished my friends would let it go.

    “There! Look, his mom apparently posted on Facebook today. From the dead,” Candice said triumphantly holding up her phone for me to inspect.

    My legs stopped swinging, the weight them of dragging me down towards the floor. I didn’t want to know! Nausea bubbled inside me. He lied? Even knowing I lost my own mother?

    “And look! Here’s another post! I told you he was lying!” Candice said. She paused when she saw my face. “Oh Sarah, you’re better off without him. I just wanted you to know. The truth will set you free.”

    But it didn’t. My breath caught in my chest and my body was trembled. I had talked with Ryan for months. We’d talked about marriage and children. I loved him. And he lied in the worst way possible.

    “I need to get some air,” I said finally, pulling myself down from my chair and rushing outside.

    Hastily I lit a cigarette and stared at my phone. I could confront him. Tell him I knew the truth. I typed out text after text, then deleted it. For all my love of writing, my words failed me.

    “I’m sorry, Sarah,” Stephanie said, coming to stand beside me. “I know you liked him.”

    “Yeah, we’re sorry. I didn’t mean to push the issue,” Candice said, joining us outside.

    “It’s fine. Let’s just go.”

    As I followed them along the crowded city sidewalk, the bruise on my heart spread along my arms and my body. I physically ached at the pain of the news. I wanted to wrap my arms around my chest and cry. Instead, I followed them, one foot after another.

    1. Observer Tim

      I hope this was a cathartic to write, because the pain in the story is carried so intensely. The story itself is simple and beautiful (inasmuch as pain can have beauty), and definitely calls up strong sympathy for the protagonist (i.e. you).

      That said, I hope you have moved on, or are in the process of doing so. I’m no stranger to heartache, and I can sympathize.

      1. smwrites

        Thank you! It was cathartic to write. I’m still processing some feelings now, but writing it out did help. I guess it’s all part of the process of dealing with these things. Thanks for reading and your kind words!

    2. snuzcook

      I am very sorry for your experience, SM. That said, you have shared it with us masterfully. You told the story with an economy of words that kept a good pace while drawing the reader right into the narrator’s world and experience.

  14. cosi van tutte

    “What is wrong with you? Huh? Why can’t you do even one thing right? Would it crack the foundations of the earth if you didn’t do one thing stupid and wrong every day?”

    Lisa turned her back to him and continued loading the dishwasher.

    “Hey! Hey! I’m talking to you!”

    He grabbed her arm and forced her to turn around. “You think I wanna yell at your back? Huh? You gonna ignore me?”

    She looked at him. Her expression was cold. “Don’t. Grab. My. Arm.”

    “Or what? What’ll you do? Huh? You’re stupid. That’s why you do everything wrong. I don’t even know why we’re still together. I could do so much better than stupid, ugly you.”

    “Oh, shut up. Just shut up! You think you’re all righteous and perfect? Well, here’s something you can stick into your Big Surprise Department – You aren’t perfect. You’re filthy and lacking in every possible virtue and good grace. You should be grateful that I’m still with a skunk cabbage dweller like you. Because I know I can do so much better than you. You should kneel at my feet and—”

    “Pah! I’d rather eat spoiled meat.”

    “I can arrange that.”

    “Great! You do that. I’ll eat it all!”

    “Good! I hope you get sick and choke on your own vomit.”

    He turned away from her and headed towards the kitchen doorway. He stopped. “Do you really mean that?”

    “As much as you mean all of the junk you threw at me.”

    His shoulders slumped. “Why are we like this?”

    “You tell me. You started this whole argument.”

    “Can we end it?”

    She froze. “End it? End what?”

    He shrugged.

    Her mind spun.

    Her eyesight blurred.

    “Are you…Are you saying…Jeb? You…End it. End. What? Jeb, tell me. End what?”

    “Our marriage. Our whole relationship. Us. Just us. We both know we could do better. We’d be happier.” He didn’t turn around. “You’d be happier. I know. I know my faults. I know.” He paused. “I know I don’t make you happy anymore.”

    She glanced around the kitchen.

    Her kitchen.

    Their kitchen.

    Their home.

    Their memories.

    Their shared life.

    She looked at him.

    The man she fell in love with.

    The man she married.

    The man she cooked and cleaned for.

    The man she argued with and loved.

    The man she still loved despite it all.

    She walked up to him. “Jeb.”

    He turned around with tears running down his face.

    She hugged him. “Can’t we just…”

    “Lisa, can we…”

    “…start all over?”

    He hugged her and whispered, “Yes.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Yikes! This story touches strongly on my romantic bone. You did a really great job of creating the emotions behind the dialogue by word choice. I wish (for the sake of a couple of people I know in similar situations) that this was a more likely scenario. 🙂

  15. ShamelessHack

    “Feel it.”
    “I can feel it?”
    “Sure go ahead. Feel it. Feel it as much as you like, Handsome.”
    “I don’t know if I should feel it. I heard that I shouldn’t until…”
    “How old are you?”
    “Fifteen.”
    “I see. Well it’s quite alright, lover boy. You can feel one, but I’d rather you felt them both.”
    “I feel like I’m somehow taking advantage of you. Of your good nature.”
    “Don’t fret about my nature. I’m a lot older than you, and I’m telling you that you can.”
    “You’re sure?”
    “Uh huh. Feel this one first.”
    “Oh, God, that feels so good.”
    “Would you like to feel the other one?”
    “You really don’t mind?”
    “Why don’t you feel them both at the same time, Sweetie.”
    “Oh. Oh, wow! Am I doing this right?”
    “Uh huh. Caress them as long as you like. And it’s better if you use your thumbs.”
    “You are so, so kind. Really.”
    “Well, what do you think?”
    “They both feel so good. So, so…organic.”
    “You could say that again!”
    “Thank you for letting me feel them both.”
    “Do you fancy one over the other?”
    “Hmm. This one is a teeny bit harder.”
    “Well, then the other one is the one you want. It’s all yours.”
    “I’ve learned so much from you.”
    “The pleasure was mine. And I’m sorry we only had these two cantaloupes left in the produce department to choose from.”
    “From now on I’ll use my thumbs.”
    “I’m glad you got the riper one, Handsome. And thank you for shopping at Whole Foods.”

    1. Observer Tim

      As soon as you started I knew something was coming, Hack, and you did not disappoint! I also loved the way you cruelly overused the meaning of felt that doesn’t involve emotions… Brilliant as usual.

      At least he wasn’t buying felt… 🙂

  16. Madhuri Karra

    ‘Are you telling me that I have to waste my holiday just because you got that damn conference to go to?’ Henry asked, throwing her a dirty look that sent shivers down Sarah’s spine. She tried to reason, though she knew how it would end. Him – at the bar. She – in the hospital.

    ‘Henry, you know how long I have waited to go to this conference. All the prominent directors will be there’ Sarah said, kneeling in front of him and putting her hands on his knees while he sat on the couch smoking.

    ‘Oh yes’, Henry said, pushing away her hands and smiling till his lips could stretch no more. ‘You want to go to an important thing? And you want me to miss my hard-earned holiday? Is that what you want, Sarah? That you enjoy and I just walk behind you like a puppy?’ He got up so sharply that Sarah stumbled and fell backward. She winced but kept the pain to herself. Rubbing her bottom, she got up and tried one last time.

    ‘It will be fun, Henry. It is just for four hours and we can go around LA after that’, Sarah said, hoping that would convince him. Henry stopped in his tracks and for one moment Sarah thought it had worked. She was still halfway thinking when she heard a whooshing sound before his cigar pipe hit her on her temple, almost cracking it under the impact. Blinding pain shot through her head and she slapped her hands over her spot where the pipe hit her. She wanted to yell but she knew it would only infuriate him more. He said he hated weak women. Searching blindly for the couch, she managed to reach it and dropped into it. Her head was exploding – like someone was clutching all the nerves and pulling them back together.

    ‘Sarah!’ she heard his voice. He sounded frantic and scared. She heard fast footsteps move closer towards her. A second later the couch sank as he sat next to her. Sarah knew he would wrap his hands around her even before he did it. It was their routine. He would feel guilty and drink himself into oblivion. And she would somehow find enough strength to drag herself to the hospital.

    ‘I am sorry, Sarah. Please, forgive me’, she heard him say. Two drops of tears fell on her skin just above her knee. But something inside her snapped.

    People usually think there is nothing worse than pain. But that day Sarah figured there is. Anger. Hatred. And disgust.

    ‘I forgive you, Henry. Yes, I do’, she said, looking up. ‘It’s myself that I don’t forgive.’

    ‘What do you mean?’ Henry asked, snapping his head up so fast Sarah was sure he would end up with a sprained nerve.

    ‘I am done, Henry. I am done sacrificing things because of you’, Sarah said, pushing herself to her feet and walking towards the door.

    ‘Where are you going?’ she heard Henry ask her, his voice a little higher than usual.

    ‘To the conference’, Sarah replied, as she pocketed her wallet and keys.

    ‘What about me?’ Henry asked, sounding like a strained tape recorder.

    ‘You can go to hell.’

    And she slammed the door behind her.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is incredibly intense. Henry likes strong women? Well, he just helped make one. The scary thing is that, in a “real life” version of this, she will probably come back to him. Regardless, it’s a well-told tale.

      One picky style thing: at the end of the first paragraph, it should probably be either He/She or Him/Her for the options. It makes the juxtaposition clearer when the pronouns match.

    2. Bushkill

      I love her last line. Way to go bringing it home and making him see the big picture. Tied to the end of a string is no way for any person to live. Good for her! If he ever gets over his case of head-up-butt disease maybe they have a future.

      probably not.

    3. jhowe

      Very tumultuous with a satisfying ending. You kept the tension ramped up, and one way or another, we knew something would come to a head. Nicely done.

  17. Observer Tim

    “The heck, Jerry?”

    The look in his eyes caused a lead weight to settle into my stomach. It was part hope, part excitement, and part schoolboy satisfaction at solving a problem using an imaginative twist. I kept a tight grip on the handhold behind me and wished there was something to hand I could use as a weapon.

    “I told you, Susan, Marjorie won’t be bothering us. She’s outside.”

    I tried not to imagine what that meant. Especially since Marjorie’s space suit was still in its cradle and the nearest land was 230 miles straight down.

    “So you think you can just go ahead and do this now?”

    “No, I think we can go ahead and do this.”

    “I said no, Jerry. I do not want to do this.”

    “You said it was because Marjorie might see us. Now she won’t.”

    I regretted using that stupid excuse now; Jerry had one thing on his mind, and it wasn’t putting Supply Payload Number Three into its parking orbit. He was thinking of a totally different payload, plus a membership in the two-hundred mile high club. I shuddered at the thought.

    “No means NO, Jerry. Don’t you get it? I don’t want you: not now, not ever.”

    “And yet here you are in that flimsy jumpsuit, waving your curves in my face all day, your painted red lips crying for attention. Don’t play temptress and then pull back, Susan.”

    I wanted to tell him he was imagining things, but that’s not how you deal with a crazy person. How could he possibly have gotten past the psych testing? There was no way this nutjob should ever have been let into space, let alone on a small shuttle with a crew of two women. Now here he is brandishing a large spanner, having killed one of his crewmates and wanting to get frisky with the other. Nobody covered this in flight school. For that matter, a course in weightless fighting would have helped too.

    “Jerry, don’t do this!”

    He started to lunge. My stomach tilted worse than the first time in the Vomit Comet. He’d just started to swing when my feet connected with his solar plexus. His attempt to dodge had just set him spinning, so he slammed headfirst into the far wall: right into the toilet unit.

    In less than a second I was on his stunned body and binding his hands with a zip-tie. Then it was time for rope. By the time I was done I had an international orange mummy screaming obscenities at me.
    Next was the gruesome task of retrieving Marjorie’s corpse, if possible, and then getting the frack back to Earth. Screw the mission, they don’t pay me enough for this.

    1. jhowe

      Well, OT, it’s good to see you back. It was great that Susan prevented the unwanted payload intrusion. This seemed so realistic and smooth. Good writing, as usual.

    2. snuzcook

      Welcome Back, O.Tim! Thoroughly enjoyed this piece. It occurs to me that anyone so self-absorbed as to ‘lunge’ toward an unwilling target in zero grav is destined to end up with his head in the toilet.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I evho JHowe
        Where you been buddy
        You didn’t,t hurt yourself any, judging from your story. Collecting tesponses seems to be the your game. Go OT!

  18. Bushkill

    Round 1
    (my second take on the prompt. I done read it all the way through this time)

    She entered the office, eyes pinning me to my chair. I recalled a childhood scene of a rat caught in a trap. “I know where you been, mister. I’m gonna’ have words with your boss.”

    I hadn’t been anywhere that I could recall but an empty bottle of scotch in my desk’s middle drawer told me there was more to this story. I stalled, “Sorry, doll, I don’t know what you mean.”
    Her shoe caught me on the side of the head, the strap’s metal clasp whipping into my neck. It hurt and the blood pooling on my collar didn’t help.

    Of course, it could have been sweat. I get dames like this all the time. Think they got some measure of me because I’ve caught them snuggling with a man different from the one they exchanged “I do’s” with. Isn’t my problem.

    Usually.

    “I ain’t your doll, puddin’, and you need to remember it.” She squared her shoulders and marched toward me.

    I experienced unease. “Cool your jets, lady.” I needed to stall her. The hackles on my neck stood at attention and it never boded well when hackles rose. Leastways, that’s what all the dime store novels said.

    I was about to pick up her shoe and offer it back when she cold-cocked me with her purse. The purse exploded as the chain snapped (yup, chain … tough chick) sending lipstick and makeup all over the room. My jaw gave every indication I’d gone a round too many with Bruno, the bouncer at my favorite watering hole. She musta’ had a brick in the bottom of that purse.

    “I ain’t in no mood for grief from a two-bit detective. Give me the pictures or my boyfriend will come ask. I am way nicer than him.”

    I now bled from two places on my head and this creature claimed herself a kind and gentle soul. I couldn’t fathom how we ended up like this, me bleeding, and her holding a broken purse, items scattered, and a wild look in her eye, but it was true.

    “Can I try again? I …”

    She cut me off, slamming the broken chain of her purse on my desk, obliterating the empty rocks glass. I wouldn’t miss the glass, it’s cousins huddled around a decanter on a shelf across the room.

    The flying particles of particulate, however, schemed to scythe through a layer of clothing and skin on their way to wherever.

    I had a nagging certainty I would be stepping on them for a while or encountering them at inopportune times.

    I’d had enough and jumped to my feet pointing. I swiped my arm across the desk to clear it, indeed encountering several of those pesky slivers of glass in the process, and leaned heavily forward.

    I didn’t get to say anything. She stepped back in alarm and shouted. “HE AIN’T BUDGIN’, BABE.”

    A sound like an avalanche starting to crash came from the hall and then Bruno walked in.

      1. Bushkill

        Thanks, OT. I tried a lighter touch and it kinda goes with the theme running above it about guys having a rough encounter with a determined woman.

        1. Bushkill

          I think I missed a comma or two in my piece. It all works out. Thanks for the comment and I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, Bruno kind of pulls everything together. His day just went from kettle to fire.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        God help us. Why are we worried about a f###### comma with a great Mickey story as good as this. You forgot to add
        .., ” her natural charms pushed her silk blouse past the danger area of cleveage “

  19. rlk67

    I couldn’t move.

    I tried not to cry. I should get a medal.

    My daughter, at her first piano recital, and this would be her memory.

    The teacher was trying not to cringe.

    She practiced, she really did. If they only knew how much. Why don’t they know?

    Eighty people, pushing their eyes away from me, some succeeding.

    She must have been playing for hours now. Nope, just ten minutes.

    Agony…how much longer?

    Oh, that the floor would open, or a chandelier drop.

    Oh, would the fire alarm go off.

    But it sounds like it has. No, just my daughter’s etude. The fire alarm etude.

    Oh, no. Was I giggling?

    Will the fire department come?

    Good heavens…was I laughing?

    All eyes on me now.

    I didn’t care.

    I jumped up, hysterical.

    “The Fire Alarm Etude”, performed perfectly by my daughter!” No way, did I just say that?

    She stopped and stared at me. Her mommy has lost it. Will they call Human Services?

    I grabbed her, and led her out.

    We were both laughing.

    We’ll try again another day.

    1. Bushkill

      This brought back memories and they don’t feel too good.

      I was the one on the stage. I was the one who’s Etude sounded funny. Certainly, to me it did. And that was close to 40 years ago. The feeling is sharp.

      those crazy memories. Thanks for sharing and prying loose some dust in my own head.

    2. JosephFazzone

      Hilarious! I’m in line for these memories as my son just started taking drum lessons. It helps that I’m a drummer, and I’m patient with the learning process. It’s amazing watching the learning process, and how they grow. This is what came into my mind as I read this. Funny, and whimsical. I loved this piece!

  20. Bushkill

    To Feel or Not to Feel
    (in truth, this didn’t come out as clear as I had intended. and it jumps around. I will spend more time with it to clean it up and tie it together. oh, and it ends preachily. )

    To feel, or not to feel, remains the question.
    Where lies the merit of mental anguish
    The feeling of loss, in absence, worshipped?
    It will not change the past. To feel—to lose
    So deep a friendship. And by lose we mean
    Cast off. What words were said what actions made
    To warrant such calamitous choice? To feel
    Again the warmth of a smile, bright eyes
    Dancing. Aye, there’s the rub. For smiling
    Begets forgiveness and in forgiveness
    We overcome the shame our deed, our words,
    Have caused. And yet, our mortal skin cannot
    Begin to learn the right of things. Words, thoughts
    Deeds—we feel the draw, the lure, the pull of
    Chastised Adam’s sin and race toward our
    Corrupted approach at love, at friendship.
    And what feelings, they, when Self replaces
    Others? Would we worship as did Narcisse?
    Would we feel emancipated? Would we
    Feel empowered? Should we not place others
    Before ourselves? What puzzles the mind and
    Challenges our souls to feel is not the
    Love of self but Self’s true love of mankind.
    Bask not in feelings of self-loathing or
    Self-righteousness, but bathe in the aura
    Of self-respect. Feel free to offer kindness
    In word and deed and dismiss the gloom of
    Other men’s minds.

    1. Bushkill

      So I read a few of the other pieces and realized my piece wildly missed the mark. I seem to have misread the instructions entirely. Blushing shame, that’s what it is.

    2. snuzcook

      I thoroughly enjoyed this homage, Bushkill. As far as being on target–I’m normally somewhat oblique of assignment line, but that’s the fun of our many different creative voices!

      1. Bushkill

        I beg to differ with your self-assessment. No chance that’s true, Hack. Your writing is awesome, your word choice delicate and well considered.

        I do appreciate your kind words for my first go on this prompt, too.

    3. Observer Tim

      You may not have hit the prompt, but I’m still happy to have read it. This is a lovely and thoughtful take, and you did a fairly good job channeling the Bard. Could you rewrite it with out the word “feel”? If you can, you’re a better poet than I… 🙂

  21. RafTriesToWrite

    I woke up feeling a little bit serene than I usually am in the morning. Maybe it’s because of Peter spooning me or maybe it’s his morning wood being gently pressed against my thighs. I couldn’t tell which, but I smiled at the thought of both happening at the same time.

    This is a first.

    I could stay in bed like this all day, him wrapped around me as I stare at the trees outside his bedroom windows; it was bluer out there. Perhaps the bluest as I’ve ever seen it. I want the world to melt into stone and just stop everything. I want this moment to never end.

    I closed my eyes as I held his arm that’s gently placed on my chest and just stayed there, unmoving. Trying to absorb his warmth.

    This must be what love feels like.

    The warm and fuzzy feeling in my stomach agrees with me.

    I hear Peter inhaling heavily, he must be awake. I turn myself to face him, but his eyes were still closed. There’s something about waking up and seeing the love of your life just lying there on the bed, beside you, sleeping. So defenseless, so vulnerable, so inevitably yours. All of it. Yours.

    Mine. I thought. All mine.

    Another first.

    He tightened his hold on me and pulled me closer to him. I’ve never slept with another person before. But I’d want this to happen again. This is so much better than sleeping alone, definitely.

    I see him smile.

    “G’morning” he spoke with his groggy, deep, morning voice. I forgot how much of a turn on it was for me every time he speaks in that voice.

    I let out a light chuckle as he slowly opened his eyes. “Morning sleepy head” I said in almost a whisper. Who cares about morning breath anyway?

    “Did I oversleep?” He asks, rubbing his eyes.

    I looked down to his chest, his nicely chiseled hairless chest. How can it be that hairless and smooth? I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

    “No. I don’t mind sleeping in as well.” I gave him a shy look, as if I’m asking permission to do so.

    “Yeah? That was the best sleep I’ve had ever since I can remember” He couldn’t believe it. Neither did I. It was in fact the best sleep I’ve ever had as well. I wish it were like this every morning.

    “So… Are we-“ I wanted to ask if we can sleep in but he didn’t let me finish.

    “We can. But mom’s probably made breakfast already, so.” His smile was gentler now, not forced either. He was suggesting breakfast, while I’m suggesting sleeping in. I guess he wins this round. I can’t refuse Mrs. Price’s cooking, now can I?

    He sneaks in a quick peck on my lips before he jumps out of bed, nothing but boxers on. I was stupefied, he caught me off guard, now I lay on his bed, double thinking if I should follow him with only boxers covering some of my skin or wear more clothing to seem more ‘presentable’ to say the least.

    “Come on” He stood by the opened door, the smell of bacon, eggs and pancakes immediately greeted me. He held out his hand, inviting me to join him.

    “Let me put some clothes on first” I said as I started to get out of bed, but he walked towards me and pulled my hand towards the door.

    “You don’t need to. Let’s go”

    “But-”

    “It’s fine.” He kept reassuring me, but I felt uncomfortable. I just met Mrs. Price last night, now I’m meeting her again with only boxers to my name.

    When we were eating, she didn’t seem to mind at all. She asked if we had a good sleep, we replied with a very enthusiastic “yes”, and spent the rest of the day at Peter’s house.

    1. Observer Tim

      Very nice, wonderfully sentimental piece, Raf! I still think you should drop that “tries” from your user name. I love the gentle and effortless reveal in the last few paragraphs, and the deep emotion described (mostly) without the offending word.

      I do have to chide you on a bit of tense sliding and one “feeling”, but that’s nothing that couldn’t be easily fixed if we were allowed to edit stuff after posting. 🙂

    2. Bushkill

      Lovely. I do fret over the return of my own kids from college to summer with us that I will no longer be sliding half dressed anywhere in my own house.

      *Sigh*

  22. snuzcook

    **Careful What You Wish For**

    “Mr. Nelson. Hey, Mr. Nelson!”

    Young Howie What’s-his-name hollered at me from the sidewalk. Apparently his job as a newspaper pitcher inclined him to carry on all human contact from throwing distance. I was tempted to ignore him as if his words had not hit home, just as my Wednesday Ballard Bugle usually missed my porch.

    But seeing as I had the afore-mentioned local paper in my hands and open to the police beat, I presumed he was unlikely to get the subtle point.

    “Come on in the gate, Howie. Close it behind you so Old Lady Simpson’s dog doesn’t sneak in. He has an irresistible attraction to the zoo-doo out back.” I shook my fist toward the cottage next door.

    “That’s what I wanted to tell you, Mr. Nelson…”

    “You don’t have to tell me about that d*mned dog. I never knew such a bad-tempered, ill-mannered, incontinent boil on the b*tt of humanity. And that’s the Old Lady! Do you know what that hairy, vermin-riddled mistake of nature she calls a dog did? Just this morning he snuck in when I went out to the mailbox, and I found him standing on my breakfast table, one zoo-doo encrusted paw in my waffles, and home-made blueberry compote dripping from his hairy muzzle.“

    Howie winced.

    “And then Amanda Simpson hears me yelling and comes marching up on my porch to demand that I return her precious pooch. I should’ve called animal control right then and there. There are laws to protect private citizens from nuisance animals. AND their owners. That old biddy has had it in for me ever since she moved in.” I was on a roll. “She should do us all a favor and drop dead, her and her little dog, too.” I yelled at the cottage. “You hear that Amanda!”

    “You haven’t heard,” Howie interrupted.

    “Heard what?”

    “They took Mrs. Simpson away this morning. I guess her old dog was nearly deaf, and she accidentally backed over him with her car. The shock of it was too much for her, and she had a stroke or something. The paramedics came, and an ambulance and they took her away.”

    “That’s terrible.” I folded my paper and laid it down, but it was as if I was watching myself in slow motion. I shifted my gaze from the uncomfortable kid sitting in the porch chair to the mute cottage on the other side of the hedge, the car parked askew on the cracked asphalt driveway. “Did she…”

    “Did she die? No, Mom says she’s in intensive care, but she’s conscious.”

    “Poor woman. Poor dog. That’s a rough way to go.”

    “Uh, Mr. Nelson, that’s the thing. I guess the dog survived. He’s at the vet overnight but he’ll be coming home tomorrow. Old Lady…I mean Mrs. Simpson wants you to take care of him. She was very specific. It has to be you. She said Buddy has a real thing for you and he wouldn’t be happy anywhere else.” [500]

  23. jhowe

    Brandon and Scott Brown sat on the window ledge in front of the theater. People from the second show filed out, laughing and talking wildly. Scott looked at his brother and pulled his phone from a pocket. He cringed when the call went to voicemail.

    “Hi, Dad. It’s me. We’re waiting. Come pick us up.”

    “We probably don’t want him driving us anyway,” Brandon said. He mimicked tipping a bottle and made a goofy face.

    “Maybe we should call Grandma,” Scott said.

    “No way. My jaw still aches from the last time I second guessed him.”

    “He felt terrible after that,” Scott said.

    “And the time before that; and the time before that…”

    “Why doesn’t Mom do something?”

    “Yeah, right,” Brandon said. He mimicked hitting on a joint.

    “They love their partying more than they love us.”

    “Duh, you think?”

    Car tires screeched and a dirty Ford Escape pulled up to the curb. The boys stared ahead as the passenger window rolled down.

    “I’m so sorry, guys,” their mother said. She laughed when her husband told them to get their asses in the car.

    “It’s ok, dad,” Brandon said. “Grandma’s on her way.”

    “Bull crap,” their mother said. “We just talked to her at Denny’s.”

    “Are you lying to me, boy?” their father said.

    Brandon turned and walked away. Scott stayed put, his knees weak. Their father got out of the car and gave chase. He took a few wobbly steps and stumbled head first into the theater window. Miraculously, it didn’t break. Their mother got out and knelt by her husband.

    “They didn’t mean it, Jim.” He rose to his knees, blood trickling down his forehead. He swatted her hand away and glared at Scott who climbed in the back seat and bucked his seat belt. Their father started the car and surged onto the street. He flipped his middle finger out the window when a car horn sounded.

    “What about Brandon?” their mother said.

    “He’s fifteen freaking years old.” The man wiped blood from his eye. “He knows where we live.”

    “It’s getting dark, Jim.”

    Jim slammed on the breaks and unclipped his wife’s seatbelt.

    “Get the hell out.”

    She sat, tears dropping from her eyes. Jim threw open his door and jumped out of the car into the path of a UPS truck. His scream ended with the impact.

    Brandon watched as they loaded his father into an ambulance. Their mother cried in the back of a police cruiser. For the first time in his life, the boy prayed.

    Scott moved next to Brandon. They stood together, kicking at the pavement. “Do you think he’ll live?”

    “We’ll have to wait and see if God has any sense at all.”

    1. Observer Tim

      You managed to cram a lot of power into this without even mentioning any actual emotions. But you didn’t need to. Very nice one, John!

      (btw, I’m back after almost 2 years in creative hell)

    2. A. J. Kidding

      The whole thing made me choke up. Remarkable, powerful work. It makes me feel that there is genuine experience behind some of the written lines…

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