Anyone But Me

You’ve had a rough day at work. You head home and go straight to bed, mumbling, “I wish I’d wake up tomorrow and be anyone but me,” before dozing off. When you wake up in the morning, your dream has come true, as you quickly realize that you are not you—you are someone else that you know! Excited to live the day in that person’s shoes, you set off, only to find a day in the life of that person isn’t as easy as you imagined.

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

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203 thoughts on “Anyone But Me

  1. slytherinwriter

    I can’t believe this I woke up this morning and my dream came true, I’m not me anymore. No work at the boring office I’m always stuck at, I can just explore this girls life. The tattoos were my first clue; both arms covered in elaborate sleeves, a large dragon on my back, some strange triangle on my right foot, there is more ink on this girl than there is in the dictionary. This apartment is a book lover’s dream floor to ceiling book shelves cover two walls the third wall has a large comfy couch facing the last wall which is all windows. I want to take my time exploring this new place but I feel the need to go and find out what her life is really like. I pull on a pair of dark wash skinny jeans and a Muggle Born tee-shirt with some dark green converse covered in snakes. I drush the dyed green hair into a ponytail and put on a bit of black eyeliner and I’m ready to go. I’m not quite sure where I am going but my feet move towards an unfamiliar part of town.
    I get to the single story brick building with a faded sign proclaiming “The best magic is reading”. Once I walk in the door I’m astounded to see that the amount of books at the apartment is only about five percent of the books lining these shelves and piled high on the floor in every available area. There are several comfy looking chairs in various corners one has a beautiful black cat sleeping soundly in the sun.
    “Alli!” a kind looking woman calls from behind the counter. “Alli, you look like you are seeing this place for the first time. What’s going on?”
    Oh no she must be talking to me. Do I explain this weird thing going on or do I just try to fake it. This might only be for today but what if it lasts longer than that.
    “Oh, yeah sorry. I woke up feeling a little strange it just took me a minute to remember what I was doing.” I calmly said to my coworker, hopefully she’s wearing a nametag so I won’t have to reveal my secret. Picking up the soft black cat I walk toward the woman behind the counter. The counter is covered in little knicknacks available to purchase.
    “Alli, why are you holding Salem? I thought you didn’t like cats.” The woman is giving me the strangest look and she isn’t wearing a nametag so I think I might have to ask her name.

    “It’s not that I don’t like cats, it’s that most cats seem like their up to something and Salem was just taking a nap, I thought it would be okay to give him some love.”

    “Well of course it’s okay silly. Now I need you to start putting on the new books into the system and then I want the whole fiction section all reorganized. And I need to cut back on some hours so you have to have that done by 3:45 at the latest, I know you usually work until 8 but I need you gone by 4 today.”
    I quickly drop Salem and head to where I think the back room would be, and I’m in luck. I already know how to use excel thanks to the job I hate. It doesn’t take long to put the barcodes into the system. I grab some shelving carts and move on to organizing the fiction section. It nearly the whole time to get half of the section reorganized with no breaks. Occasionally Selem comes over to curl on an empty shelf only moving when I need to put books back wherever he is.
    “Alli, it’s four I need you to clean up and clock out. I’ll see you tomorrow.” The woman behind the counter has been reading the whole time not paying any attention to me or helping me out any. As far as first days go it wasn’t that bad. This Alli deserves better. The phone in my pocket keeps buzzing.
    Alli meet me at the pub asap -Leo
    Which pub? -Alli
    Shakespeare’s Pub on 13th -Leo
    I’ll be there soon. -Alli
    On my way to the pub to meet some guy I stop at a gas station to reapply my eye liner and put on a little bit of red lipstick. I found the pub with no problem, several people wave but a cute boy with neon blue hair and similiar black skinny jeans gets up looking distressed.
    “Oh Alli thanks for coming on such short notice.” he reaches me and gives me a tight hug. “What do you want to drink?”
    “Cherry Vodka Sour if you don’t mind.” I smiled at him. He has absolutely stunning blue eyes made to look even brighter by the color of his hair. Leo walks confidently up to the bar and orders my drink. He looks so good in those skinny jeans, I never knew how attractive a man could be wearing those jeans but they look amazing on his toned frame.
    “How have you been doing Al?” he handed me my drink. His eyes look clouded with fear but he tried to cover it with a very sexy lopsided grin.
    “Actually I have had a very strange day, it’s almost like I’m not quite myself.” a small giggle escapes though I tried to suppress it. “How are you doing Leo?”
    Leo looks at me with that same distressed look he had when I first got here. There was a ball of nerves that burned in my chest this was not going to be a good answer.
    “You are a great girl, and I love you very much. But with your recent episodes and my job moving me to a management position I don’t think we should see each other anymore.” he sighed heavily. “Thats not to say we can’t get back together because it’s not like I want this to happen but you are so unstable it’s like you have a time bomb in your head and no one can defuse it but you and I don’t think you know how. I’m just trying to save some casualties.” tears were gathering in my eyes. I can’t believe I begged for a different life and I step into a beautiful girl who had her hours cut and got dumped on the same day.
    “I guess I understand. I have to go.” I threw a $10 on the table and walked out before he could stop me. At the door I glanced back, he wasn’t even looking.
    I let my feet carry me back to the apartment I woke up in this morning, all I wanted to do was sleep. Maybe I need to actually find what makes me happy and find ways to make my life better. It isn’t easy walking in a strangers shoes for a day.

  2. Arianna

    “Name?”

    “William Mead.”

    An always-grumpy Tracy handed me my paycheck and returned to her computer screen. I was glad I could wait until tomorrow morning to cash it. I was even more glad to know no more customers would be yelling at me until Monday morning. Customer service jobs suck the soul out of you like little else can. Having been through a day bad by even that standard, I was sure in no mood to make something to eat. I stopped by the Exxon station for some Hunt Brothers pizza.

    After I ate I settled into my recliner to stream a movie, and soon I was drowsy. I halfheartedly sang along with the songs. Anybody else wouldn’t have bothered, but I couldn’t keep from it in spite of being a lousy singer. After a big yawn I muttered, “I wish I’d wake up tomorrow and be anyone but me.”

    “Wake up, wake up, wake up!” Someone was shaking me violently.

    “Anna, go back to sleep,” I said on autopilot.

    “Kylie, My name isn’t Anna, and you sure as Hell aren’t Elsa. It’s after eight, so get your lazy butt moving!”

    I sat up in bed and looked around my little Arendelle room. “Okay, I’m getting up.” As I got out of bed, I thought, “Courtney is the worst big sister ever.”

    Big sister? I don’t even have a big sister, yet here is my big sister and she called me Kylie. Then I remembered the last words I heard before dozing off.

    I’m never going back. The past is in the past!

    What did I just get myself into?

  3. Anansi

    I turned the alarm clock off and lay back down for a minute or two with my eyes closed. Something felt different. I felt sort of the same, but also…not. I opened my eyes and sat up in bed quickly. I looked around my room, scanning for anything that might be different. Something was not right here, but I couldn’t put my tongue on it. My room looked the same. I got up quickly and went to my mirror. I even looked the same…so what was this strange feeling?
    I shrugged and went to my closet to pick out some clothes to get ready for the day. I checked the clock and realized it was 7:00 AM. I had to be at work in an hour. I walked out of my room, heading to the bathroom and saw my roommate at the kitchen table enjoying breakfast. “Morning” he waved cheerfully. He was eating a bowl of cereal and reading today’s newspaper. Pretty standard…so again, what was this weird feeling? “Morning” I waved back. “Got a lot of patients to see today?” he asked casually as he continued reading his newspaper. I stopped dead in my tracks.
    “…Patients?” I asked. “…Yeah, patients. Or…clients I guess? Sorry, I know you’re a psychologist, and not a psychiatrist, so I guess you have clients and not patients. You know how I am with the terminology” he shrugged nonchalantly. “Psychologist?…I work at a production company…we’re doing a shoot for a commercial today. What on earth are you talking about?”
    He looked at me, obviously very puzzled. “Uh…are you playing a weird psycho mind game with me right now?…Are you feeling okay?” It was pretty obvious that something was going on now. I forced a smile and a little chuckle. “Yeah man, you got me. I was just messing with you.” He smiled back politely and returned to reading his paper “Uh-huh” he said. I turned quickly on my heels back to my room and sat on my bed.
    I felt sick…psychologist? I looked up and scanned the room again, and noticed something. I went up to the wall where my college diploma was hanging. Where it should have said “Communications, Film and Media” it said “Psychology”. My heart dropped. That’s what that feeling was…I was in an alternate reality. I was me, but I was a different me. I hadn’t even taken a Psych class since freshman year of college…I somehow got transported to an alternate reality where I chose to keep my Psych major instead of switching.
    I was in an alternate reality, with a completely different track of events for the last 5 years, and had no way of getting back home. I let that sink in for a minute. If I’m here, then that must mean that this world’s me is in MY universe…and neither of us have any way of getting home. I can only suspect that going to bed tonight, I’d be transported back…still, one entire day in this alternate world.
    I breathed in and looked out the window feeling nervous “Well…hello world. Here I come”

  4. brianna11

    “I wish I’d wake up tomorrow and be anyone but me,” I mumbled before I fell into a deep dark sleep.
    I woke up the next morning well rested. I threw off my covers and dragged myself to the restroom to do my business. I walked up to the sink and washed my hands and teeth. I looked up in the mirror and I screamed. I looked at my reflection then down to my body. My reflection staring back at me isn’t me, it’s a celebrity that I love. I looked down at my hands and saw that they weren’t my feminine hands, but they were male.
    I’m in the body of Nathan James Sykes. I started to do my happy dance which incorporates uncoordinated dance moves. I squealed a mix of a girl and man scream. I ran my hands through his or mine hair. I’m touching his hair! Oh god, what to do? I got dressed in his clothes and went to explore the rest of his house.
    I walked down the stairs and into the kitchen where I see his publicist drinking coffee.
    “Good morning Nathan,” she said as she looked through her phone. “We have a very busy day ahead of us.”
    “Morning,” I said as I made myself some tea. “What do we have planned?”
    “Well we have to leave in ten minutes for your first interview of the day,” she said. “In total you will have 5 interviews, performance at one of them, and you have to be at the recording studio.”
    Geez this poor guy doesn’t seem to have time to rest. “Alright, let’s hit the road,” I said as I grabbed the keys to the house and locked it up behind us.
    When we arrived at the first interview there’s fans everywhere. I had to have bodyguards all along the entrance of the back. I stopped to say hi, take pictures, and sign some stuff for them.
    By the time I got in the building I had to be rushed to wardrobe, hair and make-up. I had all of these people in my personal bubble applying stuff to my hair and face. I had to sit there and not move at all.
    Then I had to rush onto the stage and make sure to answer the questions the right way. After all that I had to get rushed out again and drove to the next stop. I already did one interview and I’m exhausted.
    The day came to an end and i’m super happy to be home. I jumped into bed without changing and knocked out.

  5. natrb

    I can’t believe it.
    The main reason I decided to work at that stupid supermarket was because I thought it’d give me a shot at having a better career than the one my life was leading me to, but of course plans change. Todd won employee of the month (again) and when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse, I got “promoted” from check out to loading dock. “I hate this job,” I mumble as I unlock the door to my crummy apartment. I head straight to the bedroom. I’ve had enough of today. I slip under the covers, unfazed by the fact that I’m still wearing my dirt-covered tee shirt and khakis from work. Right before I let sleep take over I mumble under my breath “I wish I’d wake up tomorrow and be anyone but me.”

    I wake up to a loud beeping. I look at the clock and it reads 5:15. I know I set alarm for work, but never this early. “Another thing I’ll have to replace,” I say as I slide out of bed. I stop dead in my tracks. Something is wrong. My voice is extremely low for some odd reason. I shake it off, thinking that I’m just catching a small cold and that it’ll get better throughout the day. I decide to make the most of my early awakening and make breakfast. That’s when I start to realize something is totally wrong.

    First of all, I’m wearing pajamas. Not just any pajamas, but boxers and an old, white tank top.

    Second of all, I have carpet on my floor, but right now I feel cold hardwood under my feet.

    And third, my boobs are gone.

    I look around frantically trying to find my cell phone and notice the Employee of the Month award hanging on the wall. When did I win that? Todd won that yesterday.

    My heart sinks as I run to the bathroom. In the mirror I see the same old scrawny man who is always smiling a huge smile at the customer service desk, trying almost too hard to meet a customer’s outrageous request. The same man who jogs two miles in his super-short jogging shorts before heading to a seven hour shift, only to jog another mile. The same man who makes my job a living nightmare.

    Todd Daniels.

  6. Craig the Editor

    A warning to our readers: This tale contains material intended for a mature audience. Consider yourself warned. (And my apologies if you were not offended enough.)

    Hero Time

    John pulled into his parking space at the condo complex where he lived alone. The past week had been the week from Hell. It even made his time in boot camp seem like a family vacation. He was covering for two different employees. One was having hip replacement surgery and the other was getting married. For the fourth time! Plus the company was launching a new product line while at the same time going with new accounting software that no one seemed to understand. He had been working eighteen hour days for the past two weeks and he was beyond exhausted.

    He shoved his key into the lock and opened the door. The place looked like a disaster. Clothes and fast food containers were strewn around the room haphazardly. His cat, Bellows, howled impatiently to be fed. He shuffled over to the pantry where the food was stored and ripped open a package and dumped it into her bowl. On the newspaper under her dish he noticed a story about the new super hero that everyone was talking about, Captain Strongarm.

    “Okay, Bellows, eat and enjoy. I am going to be sleeping until Monday.” And like the sleep deprived zombie that he was he shuffled off to his bedroom. There he robotically disrobed and collapsed on the bed.

    Almost immediately he fell asleep and started to have the strangest dream. He felt like he was being pulled through a keyhole. Then there was nothing. Just a black empty void. Just the sound of someone saying, “Triple word score! triple word score! triple word score!”

    John awoke face down in his pillow. The cool satin sheets felt wonderful against his skin. Then an inner voice reminded him, “You don’t have satin sheets. You have cheap. low thread count cotton sheets.” He opened one eye but the room was in semi darkness so it was hard to tell where he was. Suddenly he heard a female voice.

    “Percy! Are you going to spend the whole day sleeping? I need to charge up my body before we go out.”

    ( “Who the hell is Percy? And better yet, who is this woman and what does she mean by “charge up her body.” ) John thought to himself.

    “Right, I’m getting up. I am definitely getting up.” (Not that I have any clue where I am or even who I am. This is one really strange dream.)

    The door swings open and he sees perhaps the most beautiful sight he has ever beheld. Framed in the doorway is well endowed Solar Girl. Rumor has it that she gets her super strength by absorbing the sun’s rays. Perhaps the most photographed super hero in the world and with a body that would make a Victoria Secret’s model jealous. People committed crimes simply to meet her in person. And except for a short robe and barely an excuse of a bathing suit she is naked.

    (I will kill anyone who wakes me from this dream.)

    “I was going up to the roof for some nude sunbathing. Why don’t you join me? And thanks for last night. That was amazing.” And with a deep sigh, she closed the door and headed for the roof.

    “Sure, my pleasure. I’ll join you in just a minute.” (Just as soon as I figure out what’s going on.)

    He reached over and turned on a bedside lamp. He was in a king sized bed in a large master suite. The decor was sleek and modern. Turning to his right was a large mirror over a black dresser. And in the mirror was his reflection. Except it wasn’t him. Instead of the middle aged, slightly paunchy assistant manager with thinning hair sat Captain Strongarm. Just shy of seven feet and packed with an over abundance of mucles and a thick head of hair it was rumored that he and Solar Girl had a “thing”.

    “Wow! This keeps getting better and better. Somehow I’ve switched places with Captain Strongarm and I’m doing the mattress mambo with the most beautiful woman on the planet.”

    Then a thought occured to him. Since the good Captain was well known for his near perfect body (his ears were a little small.) then it stood to reason that he would be particularly well blessed below the belt. With trembling anticipation he lifted the sheet to see what he hoped was the eighth wonder of the world.

    What he discovered wouldn’t have made the top one hundred wonders of the world. Instead of being hung like a horse. it was more like hung like a gerbil. And not a gerbil that would impress other gerbils.

    Without thinking he screamed in anguish and disappointment which brought a well oiled naked Solar Girl bursting through the door.

    “What’s wrong? Are we under attack? I think they heard you on the dark side of the moon.”

    “Nothing, nothing at all. I was just startled was all. The marble floor was unusually cold.”

    Under the sheets he could feel the little soldier fire off a round and then retreat.

    “Okay, if everything’s all right I’ll go back up to the roof.”

    “Before you go, I have a question. You said last night was amazing…how?”

    “Sure most guys would just want to have sex, but with you it’s different. I never knew how much fun playing scrabble could be. And I got a triple word score!”

  7. madeindetroit

    PAPA

    In the fading light of his dingy one-room apartment, Eddie Grabowski glared at the blank computer screen and pleaded for the words to materialize. “Dammit,” he grumbled in frustration, “I can’t even find five-hundred words for a Writer’s Digest prompt about a stupid reindeer.” He glanced at his copy of Hemmingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. He’d memorized every word in the classic and studied every sentence Hemmingway ever published. He’d even traveled to Key West and roamed the hallways and rooms in Hemmingway’s Florida home. When he stood in the doorway of Papa’s writing studio, he felt the aura of the great writer’s sprit course through his veins and fill his soul with the power of his words.

    Eddie switched off the desk lamp and crashed into bed. The twelve-hour shift he pulled at Taco Bell sapped his creativity and motivation. He smelled of guacamole and ground beef. He would write something tomorrow. Gazing up at a spider web of cracks in the mustard ceiling he closed his eyes and mumbled, “I wish I’d wake up tomorrow and be anyone but me.” He repeated the chant over and over again until light faded to black.

    When Eddie woke the next morning, his head throbbed and his eyes swam in a salty haze. His tongue had swelled to the size of a hardboiled egg and his mouth tasted of bile. He hoisted himself up, but his back lacked the strength to support his torso and crashed back on the mattress. A million pinpricks poked his feet and his left leg felt as rigid as a plank of oak. He felt as if he’d been run over by a truck. Food poisoning? A spider bite? he thought. He hoisted himself up again, this time swinging his legs off the bed. With a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, he shuffled toward the bathroom.

    As Eddie hunched over the toilet and drained his burning bladder, he glanced at his reflection in the mirror and froze. His long black hair had disappeared, his skull now shaved to stubble. Dappled gray whiskers covered his face. Blood red eyes under bushy white brows confirmed his transformation. The image of Earnest Hemmingway stared back at him from the grimy mirror. “What…what the Hell is going on?” he gasped in horror.

    Eddie staggered out of bathroom and slumped into the chair at his writing desk. As he rubbed his swollen eyes, images of thick jungles, vast oceans, and bloody battlefields flooded his senses followed by snippets of words and snatches of dialogue. He smelled salt and smoke and death. He felt agony and suffering and fury. He sat straight up in the chair. “Through some crack in the universe, I’ve become Earnest Hemmingway. I’m in his broken body,” he mumbled. Eddie grabbed a pencil and a scrap of paper and began to scrawl words across the paper. His back and legs throbbed with pain and his vision blurred but he kept writing.

    After what seemed like hours, he’d managed only a few sentences. “I can’t take this pain,” he screamed, throwing the pencil across the room. How can a man concentrate much less write in such misery?” He tried to make sense of the words but they rambled into nonsense. He crumpled up the paper and tossed the ball on floor. He pulled his laptop in front of him, opened the cover, and pressed the power button. A sharp pain pierced his temples and a flashing white light blinded him. When he woke, his vision was clear and the pain was gone.

    He was back in his own body.

    Energized and inspired, his fingers hit the keypad with a fury he’d never experienced before. In minutes, he pounded out five-hundred words and fired his work into cyberspace. Dripping with sweat, Eddie collapsed back into his chair. He could finally call himself a writer. He stared up at the cracked ceiling and smiled. He would never be a Hemmingway and now he was certain he never wanted to be.

    1. Observer Tim

      So Hemingway scared the writer into him, eh? Great idea, MadeInDetroit. That’s going to look good in his memoirs…

      This is a nice take with a laser-like focus on the implied message of the prompt. Great job! 🙂

    2. regisundertow

      Good stuff, I’m sure it gave those of us who love Hemingway a smile, and it says something about those of us who wish they were living the dream.

  8. Flynnie

    Life in a small town is no picnic. Everyone knows your business and when your business sucks, well, there’s nowhere to hide. It was no secret that things had turned sour. The company I worked for folded, leaving me with no income to support myself. The wife left at the first sign of struggle, screaming out behind her as rattled neighbors looked out windows or watched from their porches in the dim of the street lights. It didn’t help that a stifling heat wave had enveloped the southern belt of the union, the prime location that I had chosen to call home. And me, well, I had sure picked a great time to quit smoking.
    I stood there in the night, my shirt clinging to my torso, wet with sweat. It was a sticky sweat, the kind you can’t get away from even after a shower. I had followed her out, but the reality was that I didn’t have much fight left in me. Things weren’t that good even before the office closed and the pressure had increased as the bills came in. I’d pounded what little pavement there was for weeks trying to find work but times were hard all around. A few friends offered help but I couldn’t take a hand out. I didn’t want to owe anybody anything. I needed to stand on my own two feet. ‘Stupid and stubborn’ was how this last argument had started. It had ended simply with ‘stupid’, the thump of the car door slamming shut and the screeching of the tires on the pavement. I watched tiredly as the tail lights of the car, our only car, faded down the road. Her words echoed in my ears.
    ‘I can’t take it anymore,’ she had said. ‘I can’t help someone who won’t accept help’.
    I thought I had felt stranded and trapped before, now the walls were closing in.
    ‘I need a cigarette!’ I concluded.
    The claustrophobic sensation was only magnified when, as I spun to return to the home that had once meant so much, I glanced casually around the neighborhood. I wondered what it was about this community that compelled me to come here in the first place. Small, quaint houses surrounded by wood fences that once appeared so commodious and inviting now drew clustered together like sardines in a can. Beautiful, tall trees that offered shade from midday heat ominously lined the streets by night like prison walls. And now, even still, the neighbors who had so graciously welcomed the new family to town were watching me. Transformed into nosy busybodies, they were anxiously waiting to see what would happen next.
    His pot-belly hanging below his dirty t-shirt and sagging over his belt my next door neighbor leaned up against the corner wood column supporting the roof over his front porch. Over the hedges I could see the wry smile break across his fat face as he sipped from a cheap can of beer, still attached to the six pack plastic packing.
    It reverberated in my head again, ‘why did I come here?’
    ‘Dang shame to see a pretty girl like that go in such a huff, ain’t it Mike? He said almost laughing at my misfortune.
    ‘Shove off, Ralph,’ I said and slinked away in shame.
    I couldn’t understand how this had all happened so fast. What had I done to deserve this? The sweat was now starting to drip off of my forehead and I had to flick the wetness off after brushing the matted hair from my face. Ralph’s account of the obvious had only served to fan the flame. I started up the steps to the front door. My legs grew heavier with every step and it seemed as if I’d never reach the threshold.
    ‘Why is this happening to me?’ I thought.
    Opening the screen door I dragged myself across the scratched hardwood floor to the table in the dining area and pulled a chair under me to sit. Resting my head in my hands I felt the brunt of the situation come to full bear. Just out of reach a letter lay partially open on top of the pile of the days’ mail, as if it were left for me to find at that specific moment. I stretched across the table and retrieved the paper to read, hoping it might take my attention from the events of the day. As I unfolded it I found the bold letters I.R.S. emblazoned across the watermarked header of the document. A few seconds later I understood the impetus behind my wife’s’ meltdown. The crushing blow had been served. The Internal Revenue Service has determined that you improperly filed your taxes and owe $13,777 in back sums. Your bank accounts will be frozen and your assets will be called to account.
    A single light bulb burned lowly above me, the glowing filament visible through the glass seemed to flash as a response to my outburst. ‘Aaaarrrrggghhh!’ I screamed into the empty room, every muscle in my body flexing, every vein pulsing, engorged with blood and protruding through the skin. ‘This can’t possibly be right! I’m not a liar! I do not cheat!’ I rambled almost incoherently. ‘Where are those stinking cigarettes? Where?’ I yelled.
    Fumbling through my pants pockets I searched for a smoke. I got up, infused by rage at the latest twist of fate and rifled through the drawers in the kitchen looking for the relief of my close tobacco friend. I pounded my fist on the counter when I came up empty handed. ‘Think, think,’ I ruminated.
    When I couldn’t find the cigarettes I turned to the liquor cabinet and poured some good Kentucky bourbon, straight from the bottle down my now parched gullet. Two, three, four swigs and I couldn’t feel the effects. And then finally, finally after half the bottle a slight measure of peace, some rest began to fall over me. But I didn’t stop there. I took the poison to the couch in the living room. I was exhausted, spent from the drama of the fight. Not the fight with my wife, the fight of the whole of it, the fight of life. Letting go I fell into the cushions. The room began to swirl around me. I picked my head up and opened my eyes to try and get my bearings back and there, in the open on the coffee table lay a half a pack of cigarettes.
    ‘Yes!’ I thought. ‘A break comes my way.’
    Propping myself up against the arm of the sofa, I ran the length of the cigarette under my nose, savoring the aroma of calm as it escaped the bounds of the thin white wrap. I lightly pressed the ‘grit’ between my lips, brought the lighter to its tip and ignited. Breathing in I sucked the vapor of tranquility deep into the depths of my very being, looking for the release that I had come to know so well. I rested my head back against the cushions and watched as a thick plume of smoke exited my lungs and filled the air above me.
    ‘How am I going to get out of this situation? I wondered, now comfortably numb and fighting off the early signs of sleep. ‘There’s got to be a way out.’
    One more deep drag of nicotine bliss and I sent a few smoke rings off before releasing the rest of the puff billowing through my nostrils.
    ‘I just want to be someone else,’ I prayed. ‘I just want to be someone else.’ Then the battle with my eyelids ended in defeat and I drifted off, unconscious.
    I couldn’t have been out for more than a couple of minutes before the sound of sirens shocked me back to reality. A slight hue of orange-brown tinted the room. There was smoke everywhere and the heat was staggering. I could hardly see and I felt sluggish and heavy, not tired heavy but weighed down. I saw a yellow glove sweep past my face and then another holding an axe but still sweeping the air, trying to clear away the smoke. Then I realized they were my own hands. ‘Where did I get these gloves, who put these on me?’ I wondered. ‘I kept moving forward, taking small steps to be sure of my footing. I was poking the axe around to feel my way through the room, not even knowing why.
    ‘Have you got anything, Reese?’ came a shout through my head. It was so loud and crackly, like a transistor radio or something. ‘Keep looking,’ said the voice. ‘His neighbor said he saw a guy in here just a little while ago.’
    ‘Who the heck is Reese?’ I wondered. ‘And why am I hearing this?’
    ‘You copy, Reese? Came the voice again.
    I stumbled on something on the floor and blurted, ‘oh crap!’
    ‘Reese, is that you? Came the reply.
    ‘Are you talking to me?’ I asked.
    ‘Who else would I be talking to? Are you okay in there? He asked.
    ‘I guess so,’ I said shakily.
    ‘Then stop wasting time and keep looking,’ he said.
    ‘What am I looking for?’ I pondered, pressing on confused. Then it hit me, my prayer on the couch. This was it, I was someone else. A fireman, named Reese. Wow!
    ‘Reese, we don’t have much time,’ said the voice. ‘This place is going up like kindling.’
    A piece of the roof collapsed on the left of me sending a tremendous rush of heat through me and I almost collapsed. I caught my balance leaning up against the doorframe to the next room.
    ‘That’s it Reese,’ called the voice. ‘I’m pulling you out.’ If there’s anybody in there it’s too late. ‘Reese, do you hear me? You gotta get outta there!’
    ‘But I kept moving forward unyieldingly. The smoke had become so thick I couldn’t see two feet in front of me. Flames billowed into the hallway from where I had just come.
    ‘Captain, I can’t come back the way I came in,’ I said. ‘I’m gonna take one more sweep of the place and try to get out the back.’ Did those words just come out of me. What am I doing? This has got to be a dream. It can’t be real.
    ‘Reese, the situation is hopeless. There can’t possibly be someone alive in there,’ said the captain. ‘There’s nothing more that you can do. Get out of there, NOW!
    ‘No situation is hopeless, captain,’ I said. ‘There is always something that we can do!’ I replied. ‘That’s one of the reasons that I took this job.’
    ‘Reese, I can’t hear you,’ said the captain. ‘You’re breaking up. Reese, can you hear me? Reese!’
    Before I could reply the wall to my right burst into flames and the ceiling began to crumble. I was catapulted backwards and fell onto the coffee table. I went to stand up and just then the smoke cleared slightly and I looked down and saw, gulp, ME! I was passed out on the couch, covered with soot and grime and not breathing. The house began to creak and moan loudly and I knew something colossal was going to happen. I reached down for myself and said, ‘I got you buddy, you see, there’s always a way out!’ I had just placed my arms around myself when the room sort of lifted up and then smoke pulled from the center toward the walls. Then everything went black.
    I woke up in the ambulance with a bunch of lines hooked up to me and an overwhelming smell of vomit. I was coughing violently, throwing up in the oxygen mask and the paramedic had to clean it and put it back on multiple times. It was frantic and the captain of the fire department poked his head into the ambulance and asked ‘Is he alright?
    ‘We’re working on it, captain,’ they answered. ‘We’re working on it.’
    He turned to me, ‘Buddy, you are one fortunate individual. I don’t know how you got out of there. It was so bad that I couldn’t even send one of my men in to get you,’ he said. ‘The place is glowing like a volcano, the walls are crashing in and just as the whole thing implodes you come walking out the front door? I’ve never seen anything like it,’ he said shaking his head. ‘Never seen anything like it. Boy, you got a guardian angel for sure.’
    ‘Captain?’ I asked. ‘Did Reese make it out?’
    ‘Reese? Who’s Reese,’ answered the captain.
    ‘He’s the fireman who pulled me out.’
    ‘Buddy, we ain’t got no Reese in my department and I told ya, I couldn’t send anyone in that blaze. It was a death trap.’ Said the captain.
    The paramedic pushed my head back down on the gurney, ‘Hey, you gotta get some rest, man. We’ve got to get you to a hospital. This is some mess you were in here tonight.’ He said. ‘Now if we can just get out of this tangle of emergency vehicles.’
    ‘Don’t worry,’ I said. ‘There’s always a way out.’

    1. Roan

      I grabbed this line, “the fight of the whole of it, the fight of life” way before there were so many more lines that took my breath. away. I feel like I’ve watched an hour long episode from, “Beyond the Heart of Me.” Don’t know where the name came from. This was captivating and so real.

      1. Flynnie

        Roan, first off I’m honored that someone took the time to read it, humbled that you cared enough to post a reply. As far as the title? The shear honesty is I didn’t title it. I’ve never been brave enough to post before (so many talented people) and this is my first. Flynnie is my user name so I don’t know what knuckle headed thing I did to get it there? Thanks for the kind words I may never do another but this was fun to do. Yeah, no points for originality, I know. But it was imagery I was trying to focus on so I hope that was accomplished. Thanks again for looking in and for taking the time.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a very good literary-style story of hope, Flynnie. The magical/supernatural element is wonderfully understated and the message is lovely. You show lots of obvious talent, and I strongly suggest you continue posting. Excellent job!

      The thing about originality is that your take on a classic tale is every bit as valid as anyone else’s. A lot of high-quality fiction is by no means original. After all, “West Side Story” is a classic, as is “Romeo and Juliet”, and also “Pyramus and Thisbe”. They’re all the same story (my favourite is Ovid’s, but that’s just me). 😉

      One thing about literary style is it places little value on economy of words, though the greatest writers in the field practice it anyway. As an exercise, you might want to see how many words you can trim without impacting the story.

      Anyway, welcome aboard and I do hope to see more of your writing in future.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m right in there with Observer Tim, Flynnie. For a first time post, this leaves me in awe.I’m looking forward to you posting on the next prompt. This s a friendy, upbeat community to write in.

      2. Flynnie

        OT, thanks for the kind words and the direction. Verbose, eh? Well, I’m really a singer/songwriter and I don’t know anything about writing, no classes or training so I’m certainly not surprised that there are things wrong with this. I like reading, though (big Clive Cussler fan) and I’m always trying to stretch myself, art, athletics, etc. so I figured why not? Not having any formal training I have to ask the experienced (please don’t misread the tone I’m truly trying to learn here) regarding style. I thought that the wording added to the heightening level of stress. Perhaps music is a more wide open platform, more interpretive? It would be a great disappointment to think that I have to fit in a box to be successful as I simply do not have the time to invest in the education of writing other than the guiding feedback (such as yours and others who have been kind enough to comment) that I receive. I actually have a novel idea that I hope to write but clearly there is great argument here for the need of editors? Perhaps I’m more story teller than writer? Thanks so much (I mean that sincerely) for taking the time out of your life to offer words of encouragement and suggestions on my submission. From the little time that I have spent here reading and perusing around there are a few ambassadors who maintain the health of the community. It appears that you are one of those. It might seem small but it is appreciated.

        1. Flynnie

          Kerry, very cool of you to chime in with the incredible words of support. ‘Awe’? I tumbled backwards in my chair! Upbeat community to be sure! I’m sure that an aging hair metal guitar player doesn’t fit the mold but it was a great challenge for me. Something I was compelled to do. It seems that you too are one of those ambassadors. I thank you for that! If I can get Tim to help me with the economy of words thing I may take another crack at it, But sadly, as offensive as it seems to have impacted someit might just be my ‘style’. Eeeeeek!

      3. Flynnie

        OT, thanks for the kind words and the direction. Verbose, eh? Well, I’m really a singer/songwriter and I don’t know anything about writing, no classes or training so I’m certainly not surprised that there are things wrong with this. I like reading, though (big Clive Cussler fan) and I’m always trying to stretch myself, art, athletics, etc. so I figured why not? Not having any formal training I have to ask the experienced (please don’t misread the tone I’m truly trying to learn here) regarding style. I thought that the wording added to the heightening level of stress. Perhaps music is a more wide open platform, more interpretive? It would be a great disappointment to think that I have to fit in a box to be successful as I simply do not have the time to invest in the education of writing other than the guiding feedback (such as yours and others who have been kind enough to comment) that I receive. I actually have a novel idea that I hope to write but clearly there is great argument here for the need of editors? Perhaps I’m more story teller than writer? Thanks so much (I mean that sincerely) for taking the time out of your life to offer words of encouragement and suggestions on my submission. From the little time that I have spent here reading and perusing around there are a few ambassadors who maintain the health of the community. It appears that you are one of those. It might seem small but it is appreciated.

    3. Craig the Editor

      Flynnie, I really enjoyed reading this entry. I don’t know your gender, age, race, occupation, if you’re in school, prison or a retirement home, but I do know this. You are a writer. You did not click on this website by accident. You did not read the writing prompts and write this story because someone held a gun to your head. (At least I hope not.) And this may have been your first entry here, but somewhere you’ve been writing. And you’ve been doing a damn good job of it. I would really encourage you to keep writing in response to these prompts.

      1. Flynnie

        Craig, I’m not even sure how to respond. I’m flattered beyond explanation. The community here is remarkably kind and nurturing/guiding. I’m just a knuckle head with a million different hobbies and interests who wanted to try some writing. Believe it or not it took some personal coaxing to even post. I do enjoy a good read though. It’s so cool to come here and with each prompt it appears that a complete book of short stories is available! I’m so confused that someone at WD has not made the connection. There is a money stream right on their very computers that they have not tapped. There is a sellable book, every single week, of some very good stories penned by some very capable writers. Pick the best ones and throw some covers on it! A compilation of great reads. Maybe I’m a better marketing agent than writer, lol? In any case, thanks again so very, very much for the endorsement on my submission. I can’t tell you how much it meant to a tentative poster. Have a great day! – Sean

    4. regisundertow

      I was wondering when someone would write this story 🙂
      I really like your choice of words and lyricism that take the story to the next level. I’d echo the comments about editing your phrases a bit, just because it’s easier to find small faults in a piece that’s already good. Good stuff, Flynnie.

      1. Flynnie

        Right? It was waiting be written, no? Funny that you hit on the ‘lyricism’ reference. As a song writer it resonates with me. I don’t understand the economy of words thing but several of you commented on it. So, it must be a glaring issue. I was trying to ‘paint’ a picture I guess when I should’ve used vague references and let the reader do his/her own painting? Was I too redundant? Overly descriptive? I can only learn and since I’ve got no formal training I’m not at all upset by the critiques but eager to soak up the knowledge that you might offer. Thanks for taking the time. – Sean

        1. regisundertow

          I’m not a master wordsmith by any stretch of the imagination, nor do I consider myself able to give out useful advise on writing, so please take what I say with a sizable pinch of salt.

          You could cut some sentences that don’t necessarily add something to the story or significantly reduce them in length and thus help the pacing. Example, the bourbon bit; it’s already established your protagonist is trying to scratch an itch with the cigs, but having him turn the house upside down for both doesn’t work as well for me as hunting for the cigarettes does. You can still keep that part, which sets up the scene for him passing out, but instead of explicitly going over the action of drinking, you could write something like – “He stared at the half-empty bottle of bourbon sitting on the table in front of him with smoke-stung eyes and wished the alcohol in his veins would hurry up and knock him out already.” Hope this helps. -Evan

  9. QuiverPen

    I awake, a peculiar feeling of feeling top heavy making the disorientation of coming awake that much more annoying, and attempt to sit up. As I do, the covers slide down off my chest.

    Flowers? I don’t have flowery pajamas. My breath catches in my throat. I certainly don’t have breasts!

    I scramble to my feet, ignoring the disorientation and odd sense of unbalance, running to the mirror hanging on the wall. I only vaguely notice the room isn’t my own. I would NEVER have pink in my room, nor a million stuffed animals strewn about the floor like grenades…

    Wait. This room looks vaguely familiar. And reminds me of someone. I reach the mirror, horror warping the face that stares back at me. My little sister’s face.

    I scream, and my voice is high and feminine. Girly.

    No, this can’t be happening. I can’t be a girl. No, it’s a dream.

    I pinch myself, but nothing happens. No no no no no no NO NO!!!!

    There’s no place like home, I think, there’s no place like home. Still nothing happens. This isn’t what I wanted. This isn’t life. I want to be me again.

    Then I stop, and a slow little grin creeps across the face that isn’t mine. Maybe I can have a little fun with this. Maybe little goody-two-shoes will finally get what’s coming to her. The grin turns into a smile as I slowly pull off all my clothing and stride proudly into the hall. I’ll get back to my own body eventually, I’m sure. But for now, I think as my father sees me and gives out a shout, I’ll have some fun.

    1. Observer Tim

      Wickedly funny, QuiverPen, and fun at the same time. I wonder what he’s going to do when “big brother” comes to breakfast in his most brightly-coloured clothes with his makeup and hair done up to make him look like a butch drag queen… 🙂

  10. Pete

    The Rope-A-Dope

    Most of my dreams are about luggage. At O’Hare it never ends, just an endless stream of bags and suitcases, shopping bags, the occasional canoe. But today had been worse than usual, the tarmac was like lava in the afternoon sun, and I’d slogged through the 7A to 7P with only a couple vending machine cheeseburgers to hold me over.

    I got home and wondered what I was doing. It was a decent gig, but without potential. I wanted adventure. I wanted to travel. My body ached and my mind was mush. I needed to relax and there was only one way to do it. I hit the bong and exhaled, thinking how nice it would be to be someone else, maybe just for a day.

    Another hit and I flopped back on the couch. I was out in seconds.

    “…..Ali boom-bah-yay…..”

    “Okay champ, you got this…”

    I found myself staring down the barrel of the hairiest of noses. A little man with dark glasses was slathering grease on my face. He took me by my shoulders. My broad shoulders. I jerked away and stood up straight.

    “Champ?”

    “What the?”

    I stood tall and lean, freckle-less with tight, dark skin. And I was wearing….boxing trunks? My fists were taped and everyone was staring at me. Bulbs popped from the doorway, where I could hear the chanting, waves of voices rolling in with the heat.

    “Where am I?”

    “No time for jokes, Champ. Save it for the fight.”

    I held out my arms. My long, never-ending arms. Then my eyes fell to the laces climbing my boots as I stepped over to a mirror and gasped.

    “I’m the greatest?”

    They all laughed. I fell onto a bench. Someone draped a towel over my head. Then It was time, they said. Outside, the heat hit me like a fist. It had to be every bit of one hundred degrees and I could feel a thousand hot mouths breathing down on me.

    “…..Ali…boom-bah-yay….Ali….boom-bah-yay…..”

    They pushed me towards the ring. I took in the children, the elderly, and everyone in between. They all looked at me like I was a god.
    Across the ring, George Forman stood in his corner, a mound of muscle looking for a punching bag. It was terrifying. But there was something else.

    I felt like I was driving a new car. Because inside that sculpted body I was still Glenn Kowalski, from Spring Falls, Ohio, but my feet were light and quick. I shuffled around as we prepared for the bell.

    Big Boy huffed right for me, I backed into the ropes. His strength was crushing, like a Volkswagen ramming into my ribcage. I tossed out a few jabs, surprising myself with my own deft speed and incredible strength. But other than that it was strictly survival.

    The crowd was with me, rising to the occasion every time I threw out a punch. But it was all I could do to just cover and take it. He kept coming and coming…

    I’d always loved boxing, and I’d watched many of Ali’s fights on youtube. But this was a little too close to the action for my taste. I’d wrestled in high school so I kept trying to put him in the head lock.

    Between rounds I was a mess. All I could think about was how that meathead George Foreman over there would make millions selling an indoor grill? Man I was hungry.

    By a stroke of Zaire magic I survived the next few rounds, burying myself in the ropes and absorbing the punches as the lug slammed into me. I talked to him too. My mom always said that my mouth was going to get me killed one day. I don’t think she had this in mind.
    And I wasn’t going to make it too much longer. George clobbered me silly with one of those haymakers. I fell back to the ropes. The Zaire night zapped to blackness until I woke up on my couch.

    I was punch drunk and groggy. It was 10pm and the fight was on ESPN Classic. I wiped the sweat from my head and blinked just in time. There was Ali, dancing and weaving and coming to life.

    “….Ali boom-bah-aye…”

    In the eighth Ali drilled Georgie Boy with a right, then again and George collapsed like a cheap suitcase. I hopped up, my ribs throbbing as I jumped up and down. Ali had shocked the world. On television the crowd packed into the ring, smiling and dancing and cheering on the new champion. It was over. He’d done it. We’d done it.

    Just then the phone buzzed, pulling me back into the present. It was work. There was no need to come in tomorrow.

    I’d failed my drug test.

  11. Iamawriter101

    “Dead end job? Yeah, that’s me”, Derek sighed, tossing himself on the rumpled bed like another of his cast-off t-shirts. A single bulb painted the bare walls piss-yellow. He hated this windowless hole. One glance could take it all in. Days’ worth of crusted dishes, fossilized in the cracked sink. The hotplate he’d culled from a yard sale because it worked some days, though not others. A ricketty card table and one chair because, let’s face it, who could he possibly invite over? Correction, Derek thought bitterly, dead end life. He stared at the light, wishing he had turned it off, wishing he could die, yet lacking the strength to accomplish either, until a shroud of darkness envelopped his mind. “God, I wish I were anyone but me.”
    Derek awoke in a panic of blackness so absolute he couldn’t tell if his eyes were open or closed. Damn bulb burned out, he tried to reassure himself. The fear set in when he couldn’t lift his hand to his face. Couldn’t move at all. A fleeting picture of himself, pinned to this bed like a butterfly to a board, set him to screaming, though he couldn’t feel his mouth making the sounds.
    “Help me, anybody! I can’t move!”
    The Voice which whispered from the inky void, soothing and yet unspeakably cruel, nearly tore Derek’s mind from its hinges.
    “So…you are awake.”
    “Who are you? Help me! Why can’t I move?” Despite his desperate immobility, Derek seemed adrift in a vast, featureless ocean.
    “You will move, ” hissed the icy Voice, “when I move. And you will see what I see.” The Voice took on a note of sadistic glee, infused with utter contempt. “As for who I am, Derek–“, the Voice paused as if for effect, “–you know me as Andy.” A faint sliver of light pierced the blackness, and then slowly expanded, as if someone were raising the window blinds in a darkened room.
    Derek was looking into a mirror. The trouble was, the face in the mirror was not his. The reflection belonged to Andy Toussaint, his mentor at the agency. “Andy T”, the first–and only–agent to win the Life Insurance Gold Circle Award three years running. Andy?
    “Do not call me that, Derek,” spat the reflection, making no attempt to conceal his hatred. “You will address me as Andrew. Is that clear?” Andrew narrowed his eyes to slits, leaning close to the mirror. “Not Andy.”
    “Why am I…here?”, Derek said. He found it mildly disconcerting that when Andrew spoke his lips moved while, when he, Derek, spoke there was no visible movement. Except, of course, the expression of obvious disdain which Andrew’s face was currently displaying.
    “Of course my lips don’t move when YOU speak, idiot.” Andrew splashed cold water on his face, towelled it off. Derek felt the cold, and the towel’s plush softness, thickly, as though an evil dentist had novocained his entire face. And overdone it, to boot. Derek watched as Andrew pawed impatiently through the medicine cabinet. The uncanny sense of participation coupled with helpless dissociation made Derek think of a marionette with phantom limb syndrome.
    “You still haven’t figured it out?” Andrew scoffed. “You’re more stupid than all the others put together!” He stretched out his hands, and looked down at his naked body. “See this?” he barked, “this is MY body! It belongs to ME! And YOU–” Andrew stared coldly into their eyes. “Think of yourself as…my guest.” Audience. Prisoner. Victim. “For a while, at least.”
    “But how did I get–”
    “Get here?” Andrew selected a pale pastel shirt, holding it against the dusky blue Zegna suit, and then a coordinating tie. “let me guess, ” he mocked, “the last thing you remember is sitting, alone, in some dumb-fuck-dingy apartment, hating your dumb-fuck-dingy life, wishing you could be someone–ANYONE–else. Am I right?”
    Andrew stood before the full-length mirror, thrust his hands out like Moses parting the Red Sea, and in his best Jack Nicholson voice, intoned, “Well, here WE are, sweetheart!”
    “My body?” Derek was immediately uneasy, because he suspected he already knew the answer to that question. Back in that dumb-fuck-dingy room with its one piss-yellow bulb.
    “Bingo!” Andrew shouted like a game-show host. “I bet it’ll be a week before the landlady notices the stench.”
    “They’ll miss me at work.”
    “Will they, Derek?” Again, the contempt. “Will they, REALLY?”
    Both knew the answer to that question, too.
    Andrew primped in the mirror, glanced at his Breitling. Almost 6:30. He picked up the mosaic-blue briefcase to which his colleagues referred with thinly disguised awe as the “Deal-Closer”, and lay it on the counter. Andy–Andrew, wearing Zegna and carrying Lancel, was dominant, virile, indomitable. He exuded that raw confidence which many of his female clients–and not a few of his female colleagues–found virtually irresistable. Office scuttlebutt was that Andrew got far more from many of his female “cold-calls” than simply signatures on life insurance contracts. Now, by some freak of the universe, Derek would have a front-row seat for the Andrew Toussaint show.
    “Yes, Derek, we have work to do.” Andrew grinned, a black, malevolent grin. “You’re going to LOVE it!”
    He opened the briefcase, ran his fingertips over its contents as if he were caressing a lover.
    Derek failed, for a moment, to grasp what he was seeing. Instead of crisp, white documents, premium tables and portfolios, or the engraved 24 karat gold pen which every colleague imagined had signed millions of dollars of life insurance contracts, Derek saw two gleaming rows of stainless steel instruments, each nestled in sculpted foam like the finest silverware.
    Surgical instruments.
    Andrew snapped the case shut and stepped briskly to the door with a last glance at his watch.
    “Better go, don’t you think?” He patted the briefcase conspiratorially. “Time is precious in MY line of work. And I so enjoy what I do. Though,” Andrew stopped once more before the mirror, his hand on the doorknob, and gave Derek a mischievous wink, “the young lady? Not as much, hmm?” The devil laughed.
    Derek felt cold as a grave.
    “I love cold-calls, Derek. I think you’ll come to love them, too.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This is intense Iamawriter; I’m torn between whether Derek really is doing ride-alongs with the devil or whether it’s some other supernatural horror that may as well be the devil. I suppose the only real difference is whether theres’s a chance the thing can ultimately be defeated… 🙂

      There were a (very) few places where the dialogue could be tightened up. e.g. “How did I…” could be cut off and finished by Andrew’s “…Get here?” or just answered without Andrew repeating it. But that’s pretty minor compared to the overall strength of the story.

      1. Iamawriter101

        Thanks for your feedback, Tim. I appreciate it. Your words are most encouraging to a first-time poster! I agree that there are instances where the dialogue could be more terse, more pointed. Back to editing!

    2. Reaper

      Welcome to posting after seeing your comment. This is intense and scary and just wonderful. I saw the things Tim said about the dialogue and your responses. I will say beyond that there are two places I would suggest a change. You have scary down but you can let my mind go nuts and make it even more intense. Instead of saying surgical tools I would suggest sterile and gleaming steel, leave the specifics up to your reader. I would also avoid calling out the devil specifically. Hint at it because my mind going there is even worse. However, small things that are not necessary. Very well written story.

      1. Iamawriter101

        Thanks, Reaper, for your encouragement, and for your insights. If I’d put this story “in the deepfreeze” and revisited it a day later, I might have spotted those points myself! You’re absolutely right. “Let the silence do the heavy lifting”, works in writing just like in the business world.

  12. Observer Tim

    Finally the other half of my other story. Sorry it took so long, I’ve been having dangerously low blood sugars for the last few days. At least it’s over. Anyway, it’s a bit long, but please enjoy anyway.

    BEING HUMAN

    The tender of the Tomb-of-Papers is still watching me as I scan down the list of subjects on the computer screen. It has taken me some time to determine the relationship between the names on the screen and the many paper volumes here. Now I cannot find a reference to the subject I want! This is very frustrating!

    The paper-tender approaches me again; it is a young adult; its clothing conceals its somatype.

    “Can I help you find something?”

    “I want to know how to be human.”

    It sticks a fingertip in its mouth and stares at the associated knuckle through its corrective optics.

    “Do you mean something like dating?”

    “No. I mean how to be like a normal human and to not do things that cause social discord.”

    It leans over me and types something on the keyboard; a moment later several lines of book descriptions appear, all marked ‘ILL’.

    “Well, there are several available, but we’d have to get them shipped up from Coeur d’Alene, which will take a couple of days.”

    I try to resign myself to the information’s unavailability but my body has an allergic reaction. My breath comes in gulps, my nose starts running and my eyes start leaking water.

    The paper-tender senses my distress and offers me a square of thin cloth.

    “Don’t cry, dear. There may be another way for you to read them.”

    It takes me by the hand (upper left) and leads me to a small area set apart by fabric walls of about my height. There is a computer here, larger than the one in Chase’s bedroom and tethered to a power outlet.

    “Why do humans not have computers implanted in their brains?”

    It sucks its fingertip again, then answers, “We don’t know how, I think. There’s probably other reasons, but mostly we don’t know how.”

    “Oh.”

    The books have interesting titles like “The Asperkid’s Secret Book of Social Rules” and “How to Be Human.” They contain some information, but many things are lacking. I have to seek more.

    I need a vantage point, so I climb onto the top of the dividing fabrics (which are supported by a sturdy frame). They form a ready walkway, so I scamper over to where the helpful book-tender is standing with another human.

    The two humans widen their eyes to show they are listening. I crouch on top of the wall lifting my lower garment (ref:skirt) out of the way for better balance; human feet would be more useful if they could grip.

    “When is it acceptable to bite another human?”

    The book-tender tugs at my lower garment until it droops below the level of my perch. “Uh, only if you’re defending yourself. Did something happen?”

    “B-Cup Barbie insulted my form so I attacked her. Her…” I thought of the book “…friends attacked me in return. I fled and came here to learn what I had done incorrectly.”

    “Did you find it?”

    “Some, but not enough.”

    The other human reached up her hands. “Come on down, girl.” It took me by the waist and gently dislodged me. This mildly agitated the book-tender.

    “Jen, you know the rules.”

    “Rules be damned, Stacy. This kid needs a hug. Anyway, you’re here to chaperone.”

    The human then sat down and pulled me so I was sitting on its (her) legs. She wrapped one arm around me and used the other to pat my head-fur. I could hear her whispering to me like a house-mother welcoming a child back from the wilderness.

    I had the allergic reaction again. I’ve just found one good thing about being human. But I want my own body back.

    1. Observer Tim

      I just noticed it would make more sense if the allergic reaction comment in the last paragraph was the last sentence of the story. So (alternate ending):

      I’ve just found one good thing about being human. But I want my own body back.

      I had the allergic reaction again.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        No one I ever read can write like this. Do you have to tie weights to your legs when you fall asleep at night so you don’t drift off? And what planet do you visit to come up with these ideas. Maybe, I’d like to go along with you on a trip but you’d have to promise to fly low bcause I’m afraid of heights and have Vertigo.

        1. Observer Tim

          I’m right there with you on both the vertigo and acrophobia. My story-state doesn’t require flying, just taking a couple of steps off the beaten path when nobody else is looking. That comes by asking a “what if” question.

          This whole sequence began with “What if there was someplace where people evolved from hawks?” Since then the situation and the characters have told the story and I just have to write it down.

          I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate a vending machine dress into a story of some sort (Google it – it’s real!).

    2. Reaper

      You know Tim, this is brilliant and you do have a way nobody I have ever read does of capturing this stuff. Please keep it up. I had an idea for a series of books based on ideas of different evolutions but I just couldn’t keep it going. I feel like I’m learning at the feet of the master as you write this.

    3. regisundertow

      I got to say, I feel like I’m learning about writing reading this. Simply love the pacing and the economy of words -I can feel the thought process behind each choice, and it makes sense. And then of course comes the story, very much in the vein of what Asimov wanted to tell us.

  13. Hiba Gardezi

    This is short, late and not very good, but I have.No. Time.

    Before you read the story if you are Reaper or Observer Tim, then read this:I saw your comments on my story for “May showers bring a murder but I didn’t thank you and I am really,really sorry. I was about to but then then there was loadshedding and when the electricity came back, since then till now, I had either forgotten or was very busy. So I will thankyou now and hope for forgiveness. I really appreciate that you both always find the time to comment on my stories. I really have learned a lot from you both in just I think 8 months. Thanks. Also, Reaper you asked whether the switching the months was intentional. The truth is, it wasn’t. Lol, my mistake. I hope I didn’t seem like a proud old hag for not thanking.

    The minute I look down at my tiny legs I know something is wrong. am I growing backwards?
    Reverse growth spurt? Super- mega -reverse growth spurt?
    Whatever… this is. It certainly isn’t right.
    My hand shifts to my head but instead of unruly curly tufts of hair I feel….’BALD’
    ‘IM OLD! NOOOOOOOOO. IM TOO YOUNG TO BE OLD!’
    No that can’t be it …old people don’t have big fat tiny baby legs.
    ‘BABY LEGS!’
    ‘Oh no Harry, what’s wrong ?’ My mother runs in and sits next to me on her bed. I don’t remember sleeping with my parents last night.
    I wasn’t THAT upset.
    I bet 10 dollars I didn’t pee this time.
    ‘Oh Harry, you wet your diapee…’
    I owe you 10.
    ‘Look Mom, I – ‘
    She gasps, wideyed ‘Charlie!’
    My Dad rushes in.
    ‘He just talked’ she breathes.
    My Dad looks as if he has just seen an alien. He takes a sharp breath in and ‘What did he say?’
    ‘Look Mom I -’

    ‘That! ‘My mom smiles at me proudly.
    And then they are just huddled up in a corner crying and smiling at me intermittently.
    After they calm down, they take me out
    It isn’t fun.
    Last night I might’ve been longing for baby hood but not anymore. It’s too hard. People keep pulling my cheeks, I’m not allowed on any fun rides and everyone is so tall . My dad asks me to pose for a picture.
    ‘A picture?’
    ‘Yes’
    ‘But I have to tell-’
    ‘After this.’
    I sigh and pose.
    ‘Now tell me young man,’ my dad kneels next to me ‘what is it?’
    ‘I’m not me’ he raises his eyebrows’. I mean… last night I was a 27 year old business man coming home tired and wishing to wake up as someone else. Instead, I woke up as,’ I look down at myself ‘ a baby with a wet diaper’
    ‘Are you okay, Son?’
    ‘I’m telling the truth…this really isn’t me. I don’t know what happened but I wasn’t supposed to wake up as a child.’
    ‘A 27 year old business man?’
    ‘Yes’
    ‘Are you sure?’
    ‘100%’
    ‘Then go.’
    ‘What?’
    ‘I believe you, Son. Ever word you say, so if you say you are a 27 year old business man then, go. Live your life.’
    Then I did go. I ran. Only, I made up the last part. I wasn’t told to be free. I left my family. And that is how I changed my life. My past, my present, and I believe, my future.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is a riot at the beginning and slowly evolves into social comment. What I am seeing in my eyes is perhaps parents are tracking in the wrong direction with their young children. From your parent dialogue, you point out the negative reaction from his parents about the wet diaper, becoming a guilt trip. It’s not and shouldn’t be a stress highlight for children as well as parents saying,” you need to eat more, you’re too skinny or you need. to eat less, or you’ll be fat like your father.”

      When you think about it, and you run into a family of spectacular children and you tell them, “How lucky you are,” It’s an affront to them. It’s love, understanding, discipline, patience and awareness that allow your children to enter the lifestream, not self sacrifice, [I did everything for them and look how they treat me.]

    2. Observer Tim

      Never worry about not responding to my comments, Hiba. The number of things that offend me can be counted on one hand. I enjoy the thanks, mostly in the fact that they are freely given. 🙂

      Now, as to the story, even rushed you did a great job of presenting a wonderfully surreal situation. I like the MC’s confusion as he tries to figure out his status. 🙂

      The only thing that throws me a bit is the parents’ willingness to let him go wandering out into the world alone. I’d hope that they would keep an eye on him for at least a few days to ensure it isn’t temporary. That said, they willingly accept that their baby has swapped minds with their 27-year old son, so what do I know?

      1. Hiba Gardezi

        😀 That’s very kind of you. Thankyou!
        They didn’t let him go. I wrote at the end “Only, I made up the last part. I wasn’t told to be free. I left my family.”
        But yes, if you didn’t get that then this was too unbelievable. Thankyou for commenting

    3. regisundertow

      Huh…I like this. The surrealism of the situation fits the commentary nicely. Lots of meaning in very few words, like all good stories are meant to be.

    4. Reaper

      Hiba, I’m with Tim. I appreciate your return comments but they are not required. I don’t always get to them either. This is a wonderful story. It is rushed but that fits.It took me a second to accept the way the parents just accepted the level of the kids vocabulary but it flowed so nicely into everything. Surreal and wonderful and definitely at least one social comment. This was beautiful and twisted my brain.

  14. Dennis

    (Sorry, I went over this time to get the story out. Not too original but worked on writing skills. I’m hopefully back more consistently again.)

    The Grass is Never Greener

    Terence slid into bed, finishing another shitty day to what was shaping up to be another shitty week. Why couldn’t he have the same attitude about his job as his coworkers he thought? They all seemed to live better lives, seemed to enjoy their jobs. What was his problem he wondered? There was no one thing he could point to as the cause. Time just slowly wore him down. Tonight would have been no different than any other, except as he fell asleep, Terence had wished he could be one of his coworkers, even if for a day.

    A heavy nauseating feeling woke Terence up in the middle of the night and he rushed to the bathroom. He noticed he felt woozy, his balance feeling off. Almost missing the bathroom door, he flicked on the light and puked for what seemed an eternity. Getting up to rinse his mouth he almost screamed as he saw his reflection. The image in the mirror was of his boss. He looked down at his/her belly to verify that he was indeed four months pregnant. “How’d this…” Then he remembered the wish.

    Terence slipped back into bed next to his boss’s sweaty, sleeping husband and revised his wish. “I wish to be one of my male coworkers.”

    Waking up feeling refreshed, he wondered if last night had just been some bizarre dream. Looking at his surroundings, though, he knew he was not in his apartment, that his wish must have been granted. Whoever he was had way better taste and sense of décor. Walking to the bathroom he decided to see who he was. It didn’t surprise him to find out he was Fred from marketing. He always dressed well and had a smile on his face. Although he was gay, Terence didn’t see that as a problem since everyone at work liked Fred.

    Approaching Fred’s car he saw something odd on it. Someone had spray painted in big letters on the back window, “QUEER”. Terence knew there was still bigotry but Fred was such a good guy. Why would this happen to him?

    Not wanting to drive the car, he hopped on a bus for work. Being crowded he had to sit next to a big buy, who looked like he was ready for some type of construction work. The guy leaned in and spoke under his breath.

    “I don’t want any homos sitting next to me.”

    Terence was shocked. How did this guy even know? Terence stood up the rest of the way in, making sure to be as far from that guy as possible.

    Although work was fine and everyone was nice to him, he felt bummed out the rest of the day. At home he could barely eat dinner and decided to go to bed early. He had no idea what Fred went through.

    He laid in bed thinking about his wish. Chad in sales has to have a fun life. Single and good looking, what could there be to complain about? “Yeah, it would be nice to walk in his shoes.”

    Sure enough, the next morning he was in a new apartment, penthouse suite to be exact, and checking the mirror he indeed was now walking in Chad’s shoes.

    Terence couldn’t complain about the drive in to work in Chad’s Beamer. He flirted for a while with some of the various women in the office and then had a lunch date with an important client.

    He met Mrs. Ballantine at the Le Petite Bistro. Never would he have ever eaten there as Terrence. Mrs. Ballantine was an attractive older woman, probably late fifties, dressed in chic clothing.

    “Mrs. Ballantine, nice to see you again.”
    “I told you to stop it with the Mrs. Francine will do just fine.”
    “Sorry Francine.”

    The two ordered, Terence getting his favorite filet mignon. After some small talk Francine leaned in.

    “You are going to make it out to the beach house this Friday? George will be on one of his business trips.”

    Terence almost choked on his champagne. “Beach House?” But you’re a married woman.”

    “That never stopped you before. Are you alright? You don’t quite seem your usual self today.”

    If she only knew. “Yeah, I guess I’m a bit out of it today. Sorry, continue.”

    Terence listened to the weekend plan, not completely believing what he was hearing. Chad could get anyone and yet he’s having an affair with a married woman, who’s also a big client. Maybe he felt he had to. After lunch and talking business, Chad headed back to work.

    Parked in his stall, his cell went off. No caller ID but decided he should pick up.

    “Yes.”

    “Your package is ready.”

    “Package?”

    “Your blow stupid.”

    Blow, blow, oh yeah, cocaine. “Great.”

    “When can you pick it up?”

    “Uh, tomorrow 8pm?”

    “Alright, same place and bring the ten grand.” The call ended. “Great, now I have to deal with drug dealers?”

    After work Terence headed back to Chad’s penthouse. He enjoyed some fine wine and a light meal. The view was amazing. But lying in bed, Terrence realized he didn’t like Chad’s life either. It might be more exciting, but it wasn’t what he thought of as fun. He came to the conclusion his life wasn’t so bad after all and wished to just be Terrence again.

    When the morning alarm went off, Terrence looked around and saw the familiar slightly disheveled apartment room that was his and decided today was going to be an amazing day.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      You couldn’t have picked a better title, Dennis. Story line was excellent. Flow was excellent. I’ve had a line rolling around I’ve never had a chance to use. Maybe I could insert it in your story. Take your line:
      “I don’t want any homos sittng next to me,”

      Use mine, I’ve been dying to…..

      “I ain’t sitting next to no piccolo player.”

    2. Observer Tim

      Wow, I understand why you went over, Dennis. You answered the prompt twice (plus a fraction for the boss), I guess that entitles you to at least a thousand words (or one picture). A less scrupulous man would be able to make a fair bit of money in this situation… 😉

      Very nice.

    3. Reaper

      This is wonderful Dennis. The whole story sings and your wording on that last line is perfection. You go from wishing for a better life to deciding it is going to be an amazing day. So nicely done.

    4. Flynnie

      Took the challenge on three fold! I love it when people push the creative boundary set by the prompt and turn it inside out. Very cool concept and read.

  15. regisundertow

    The throbbing between his temples arrived seconds before consciousness, distorting the last fading images of his dream, turning them into angry static.
    He kept his eyes tightly closed, refusing to deal with yet another day, and buried his face deeper into the pillow.
    Even as he struggled to go back to sleep, he realized that was a lost battle.

    He slowly, deliberately sat on the edge of the bed, avoiding pressure on his arthritic knees. He groaned as his body protested from a dozen different spots. Flinching in pain, he lifted the index and middle finger of each hand to his temples and slowly massaged them. “One…two…three…four…”, he whispered to the empty room. By the time he had reached thirty and nine, he was beginning to feel the pain loosen its grip.

    The storm in his head subsiding, he exhaled in relief. Motionless, he took in the dust dancing in the morning sun rays, the lawn sprinklers singing like cicadas outside. Somewhere in the distance, his neighbours were chatting about the weather and property taxes. He kissed his fingers and touched them to the picture of a silver-haired woman on the nightstand – “‘Morning, love”.

    Morning routine – one of them orange pills for the heart. One of them chewy white ones for the blood pressure. Two of the yellow-ish diamonds for the failing liver and six of the green-and-red capsules for the beast slowly eating at the bowels. Check for blood and shit stains on the bed.

    He couldn’t recall the dream, but he could feel its bitter aftertaste. He stared at the bathroom mirror in his pyjama bottoms, half in revulsion, half in curiosity, studying every wrinkle lining his pale pokemarked face, every coarse white hair on his chin, every shrivelled mole on his chest. He felt every one of his many years on his shoulders. He traced a scar on his clavicle – a souvenir from a war fought long ago- as he fought to bring the dying images of his dream to the forefront.

    She was standing in front of the bathroom mirror in her school uniform, her eyes blinded by tears. Blood trickled from the side of her mouth and a large bruise was starting to swell her cheek. She had only wanted to catch the bus home before her parents realized she had skipped school. That had been the first mistake. The second mistake had been to defend herself when the white boys called her names. The third had been telling her parents about it. Her father had mumbled something about keeping your head down. Her mother had let her fists do the talking. “Why me?”, she cried. Why did I have to be born…this. She stared at her dark skin in the mirror and felt disgust and despair fill the world. She raised her hands in a gesture of helplessness, knocking her father’s straight razor to the floor. She eyed it for a long moment. She almost smiled as the blade touched the skin.

    He opened his diary. He flipped through the pages, barely glancing at the sketches of the black girl. He found the last page, filled with short vertical lines, and added another one.

    One of them black capsules for the recurring nightmares.

    1. Reaper

      This is a wonderful story that hit me a few different ways. The thing that amazes me most about it is you choked me up for the old man and the little girl you made me feel bad for but to that same level because the action for her were flashes not a stream. The reason that amazes me is because it does such a good job of making me feel for her but leaving her in this place where she might be real, or she might be a nightmare and I’m just stunned by that writing.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is powerful writing, Regis. You managed, through flashbacks, to capture two peoples’ lives of pain in a very small number of words. I don’t recognize your name, so welcome aboard, though it’s obvious you’ve been writing for some time… 🙂

      1. regisundertow

        Thanks for the welcome and for the kind words, Tim, I’m truly honored. I used to write a lot for myself, never had the guts for a more public forum, but here I am 🙂

        1. Observer Tim

          You’re very welcome. The initial negative responses to my writing caused me to take a 30-year break before coming out of my shell again. It’s much better now (both my writing and the times). I may offer corrections, but I’ve eaten enough discouragement in life that I refuse to serve it to anyone else. Courage up, write on. In your quiet time you’ve built up some pretty awesome skills.

      1. regisundertow

        Thank you Dennis for the comments. In my mind, the old guy is a racist as well, but didn’t have the space to explore that side of his. It’d be interesting examining the connection between the two a bit further.

    3. Flynnie

      A great read indeed! We’ll penned, some superb skills on display. I may never be a writer but as a reader I enjoyed the ride. What about the blue pill and the red pill? Am I still in the matrix?

      1. regisundertow

        Thank you Flynnie, I truly appreciate the comment. If you liked the concept, you’d love Saramago. Try giving The Double a go if you’re interested in an identity mind-fuck story.

  16. JR MacBeth

    Today, the boss dumps the biggest load of shit on me, ever. He knows I can’t do it in time, and it’s going to be my strike-three. But, fool that I am, I try. Can’t exactly go back to my old job.

    It’s 10 PM. I’m finally “home”. It doesn’t feel like home without her, but I’m exhausted. “Oh Lord, please, when I wake up tomorrow, please, I don’t want this life anymore. Please Lord…”

    ———————–

    “Sweetheart, you’ve had a bad dream! You don’t have a boss, well, unless you count me! Come here lover!”

    “Holy shit! What the…who are you?”

    “Bobby, you’re scaring me! Wake up! It’s a dream.”

    “A dream?”

    I looked at her. It wasn’t Beth. My God! It was Tiffany. My old boss’s wife? No fuckin’ way!

    “Tiffany?”

    “What?”

    “Did we…”

    “Did we what?”

    “You know?”

    “Robert, you are weirding me out! What the hell is wrong with you?”

    “Robert?”

    I stood up. Holy fucking shit! Robert DeGrassiani, my old boss, is staring back at me from the mirror?

    “Bobby! Are you OK?”

    “Jesus! Tiffany? What the fuck is going on?”

    “That’s what I want to know!”

    “Well…I don’t know! I—I think I’m losing it. Who am I? Tell me who you think I am?”

    “You are acting fucking crazy Robert! Or, are you fucking with me? Jesus! Don’t be a dick. Not today! What the hell is going on with you? Robert?”

    “What?”

    Could it really be? They say to be careful what you wish for.

    “Nothing! I’m fine. Just a dream I guess. Like…I don’t know, I felt like I was someone else for a minute.”

    “Who?”

    “Some asshole that used to work for me. He got out right before–Shit! Doesn’t matter. Crazy, right?”

    “Bat-shit crazy, but fuck, what a relief. You were scaring me.”

    “Sorry, hon. Guess it was just a dream.”

    “Hey, I don’t blame you. Today is major fucked-up. I swear I didn’t sleep. Don’t know how you did.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Come on, enough already. Let’s just get through it.”

    “Through what?”

    “Robert! Goddamn it, if you don’t pull yourself together, we’re not going to have a chance tonight. This is serious shit!”

    “What? I don’t know what’s going on. Tell me about tonight.”

    Suddenly, she went to the window. Not a stitch of clothing. What a gorgeous woman!

    “Come here Bobby, look down. Ring a bell?”

    “Uh, oh wait. That’s The Mick. What’s he doing in our driveway?”

    She lights up a Marlboro and takes a long drag.

    “We go to Papa tonight, remember? The Mick is just here to make sure we show.”

    Suddenly, the new me was remembering. The mob. Papa Mariano finding out about my private deals.

    “Tiff, my God, I’m so sorry.”

    She stands there naked, tears now running down her cheeks. I grab her tight as she starts to shake.

    “Sweetheart? Maybe this is our last day, but we do have all day. Let’s make it the best one yet.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Amazingly deep and intense, JR. That’s what I’ve come to expect from you and once again you have delivered with quality! This reads like a scene from a modern gangster movie from the Twilight Zone. Excello! 🙂

    2. Flynnie

      Superb dialog from my standpoint. I loved watching it play out, wondering where it was going to resolve. Great job. Not that my critique matters but I did enjoy this.

  17. Carlitos

    Jack felt as if he had a one ton weight on his shoulders. His feet dragged along and his eye lids were heavy with exhaustion. He entered his studio apartment, showered and changed into his pajamas. Jack made fateful wish before slipping into bed. In an undertone he wished that he wanted to wake up the next morning as another person. (Jack was bone tired physically and in his lonely, uneventful life)

    The next morning he found himself with a nude young woman next to him in bed. She awoke and held Jack in her arms. At that moment she sweetly called Jack, Pablo. The confused Jack looked at his surrounding and saw all kinds of luxuries that only the very rich could afford. Jack see that see that the beauty had circled the bed where a small piece of glass rested atop the table. She held a rolled-up bill in her fingertip, and took a with a quick sniff a white power into her nose. She had snorted blow. With a nod she told Jack to do a line. Jack never had taken any form of drug and he was naturally curios. He inhaled the cocaine; it felt brittle in his nose as if he had inhaled sand. He felt invigorated and upbeat for the first time in his dull existence.

    The the thought of the wish rushed into his brain. He had wished to awake a different man; a new man with a real life. Jack quickly entered the bathroom and looked in the mirror. The reflection was of a Hispanic man with dark hair and a thick mustache. Then Jack spoke aloud and that it was Spanish and not English that spilled out his mouth. Jack recognized the man in the mirror. It was Paulo Escabar the Colombia drug lord.

    Suddenly one of guards broke into the room and whispered in Jack’s ear that the undercover agents were on to him. The man suggested that Jack go into hiding at once! Jack had not a word to say so he followed the man’s advice and was placed in a green jeep with a handful of his armed men. They reached a nearby suburb. All the men including Jack entered an unassuming house behind the shadows of trees. They all remained in the house until things cooled down. But within an hour a group of Colombia militia stormed into the premises and a gunfight followed. The deadly gun battle ended with all of Jack’s men dead. Not knowing what to do Jack ran out the back but did not see the gun pointed at his head; his final life as Pablo Escobar was a very loud gun blast.

    Jack suddenly entered his old body, startled. He dressed and walked out the door. Jack excused that Escobar was a criminal. He simply extracted the adventure of the realized wish and made it his own. He had grasped an excitement that changed him. He was finally alive. Jack was alive!

    1. Observer Tim

      Its’ great to see how Jack was able to pull a positive vibe out of an extremely negative situation. It’s a really wonderful take, Carlitos. Don’t worry about the typos – they can be fixed if the need arises.

  18. Not-Only But-Also Riley

    Moreau and the Monsters
    Part IV

    The place we were able to find this “Patrice” monster was a bar filled with monster and human gang members alike. I sat at the counter and ordered a drink from a particularly ugly bartender who happened to be human. Georges hopped onto the stool next to mine.

    “Watchu orderin’ a drink for?” he asked, watching as the bartender threw the foaming glass toward me.

    “’Cause I wanna drink kid. It’s not often I get the chance to sit and drink, I’m gonna take it while I got it.”

    “But ain’t you supposed ta be runnin’ from the law and findin’ out who killed my momma?”

    “Shut up kid and I’ll buy you one too,” I finally bribed the kid. He sat straight in the stool and grew quiet, which I took to mean he was shutting up and awaiting a drink.

    “Give me another,” I said to the bartender who quickly turned on his heels to pour Georges’ drink. Suddenly a tall man with long, greasy black hair nearly bumped me off my stool, laughing like a lunatic. I turned around to see the man and some other humans pinning an elderly monster to the ground. The black-haired man, who’d hit my stool held a pair of pliers.

    “This old man don’t know how ta use those teeth of his so we gonna take them,” he announced to his friends holding the pliers over his head. One of the men holding the monster down, a fat man with a scratch on his cheek snorted:

    “I ain’t think he know how ta use those claws either, I think we oughtta take those to.”

    “No… please… I didn’t mean to scratch you, I’m so sorry…”

    “Shut up monster,” the man with pliers snarled as he walked toward the struggling group. More and more of the people in the bar began circling the action, no matter monster or human, all could see the excitement building as the pliers clenched one of the teeth. A whimper escaped the monsters open mouth, something that sounded like another “please”. That’s when I stood.

    “Hey. Cut it out.”

    All of the attention shifted to me. I now had something I hated to have but was great at getting: trouble. In case I was unaware of this pliers man stood and released the monsters tooth from the grasp of the pliers.

    “You lookin’ fer trouble old man?” he asked, his buddies also diverting their attention away from the monster they still had pinned to the sticky bar floor.

    “No,” I answered, “But I think it’s lookin’ for me,” and like an action hero I removed my pistol and shot the pliers man. Unlike in an action movie I hit his leg, which made him crumble to the ground rather than die instantly. He moved worm-like around on the floor, shouting into the silence of the bar. His buddies finally let the monster go, stepping back. The monster, not thanking me or anything just sprinted out of the bar. I walked over to pliers man, told him to stop screaming (it made him look weak) and pointed my gun at him again.

    “Now, I’m either gonna shoot this guy again and put him out of his misery, or he’s gonna bleed out on the floor. Where can I find Patrice?”

    The silence remained. The screaming shrunk into sobbing. Georges, rather than standing close behind me as he had through most of this, now stood back against the counter, slightly behind one bar stool.

    “I can bring ya to Patrice,” the fat man with the scratch said. Ringing suddenly filled the ears of everyone in the bar, a bell signifying the death of pliers man. Finally both screaming and sobbing ceased. I stepped over the body to follow the fat man up a flight of stairs but turned around first.

    “Come on Georges.”

    He scampered nervously behind me.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hey, Riley!

      Great continuation! I can’t wait for the next part. 🙂 Bring it on!

      My Internal Editor, being the party-crasher that he is, had one small complaint with this sentence -> “I now had something I hated to have but was great at getting: trouble.” It’s just a little awkward sounding. No offense intended. Just my fifty-five cents. 🙂

  19. Kerry Charlton

    TWO SHELLS FROM DEATH

    . In 1976, I dragged my butt though my front door after work,

    ‘I wish I could wake up tomorrow and be anybody but me’, I thought

    Being sales manager of a large record distributor, I not only reported to the owner but all three of his sons, what a crock that was. My wife greeted me with a warm smile and a long kiss, it did help to calm me down. I begged off from dinner and said hello to the kids and fell in my bed, ‘anybody’ but me,‘ I mused., as my eyes closed.

    I awoke to the sound of a cardinal’s love for his mate, my legs felt stiff and unyielding, ’Why,’ I thought, ‘I’m only twenty nine.’

    The answer came from my mirror as I brushed my teeth, an image of a 52 year old mix between Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart greeted me. ‘By God, it happened, what a joy. Bill Sullivan, the owner of our record company is me.’

    Tall, lean with a powerful face set by riveting blue eyes, reflected confidence and power as I watched myself shave. On the strange side, neither my wife or children took notice of my change, however the new 3500, dually Silverado in the driveway, caused a stir.

    “Borrowed from a friend,” I explained to Susan, “mine’s in the shop.”

    ‘The world is my oyster,’ I mused as my truck growled through the streets of Dallas to Best Record Distributing Co.’s 72,000 foot warehouse sprawled through an industrial park by the Trinity River. As I walked in the door, my employees acquiesced or nodded good morning and I ambled toward my plush office.

    My private line jingled.

    “Good morning, this is Bill.”

    “Damn it Bill, you’ve got a shit head working your phone this morning.”

    “What are you talking about Gene?”

    “Crap, the goof ball answered your phone saying, ‘This is Roy Rogers, can I help you?’”

    I grinned. “And what’d you tell him?”

    I said I was Gene Autry, cut the bullshit, get Bill on the phone.”

    “And?”

    “The idiot answered back, ‘Listen I really am Roy Rogers, who in the hell are you?’”

    “Then what happened, Gene?”

    “I slammed the phone.”

    “Gene,”

    “What?”

    “I do have a salesman named Roy Rogers.”

    “Oh shit, sorry Bill.”

    “No need, lets talk about you new album……………”

    Thirty some phone calls later, I rubbed both temples, ‘Does it ever stop ringing?’ I wondered. ‘There’s no way I could run this company, I’m drowning in here.’

    I slammed my office door, told the three worthless boys I had an appointment and headed to a bar on Industrial Blvd., called the Silver Helmet. I drank Old Crow with the truckers and retuned to my office half plowed. ‘This is supposed to be an improvement?‘ I asked myself.

    An hour later about three, my door burst open, Nancy, my secretary screamed,

    “Your truck’s being broken into in the parking lot.”

    ‘Oh God, what would Bill do?’ I reached for the double twelve gage leaning on my wall, slipped two Royal Buck shells in it and bolted outside along with half of my office staff.. ’Shit, am I crazy? I seem to be totally out of control..’

    My truck, being parked in a private spot, sat 150 feet away. Thieves had already gained entry and worked on the ignition.

    “Get out of my truck you slime heads, you’re under arrest,” I shouted.

    I leveled the ancient double barrel at the windshield. No response came, office personnel stood behind me, that is until the 5.4 hemi came to life, tires burned the asphalt and my truck sped toward me. Then they scattered like frightened quail. I didn’t yell stop, no time. At 75 feet I squeezed both triggers. Front tires exploded, the windshield crumpled like cottage cheese and what was left of the Silverado, came to a halt. Right side of the chrome grill, slid to the pavement.

    “If you’re still alive in there, get the hell out of my truck.”

    I stood alone, for most realized, the shotgun only held two shells, but I didn’t, I’d never fired one before. Doors softly opened and two thugs showed themselves.

    “Hands on the roof, spread ’em,” I shouted.

    Meanwhile someone from the office had called the police. My staff still hung behind me, feeling the thieves might be armed. My arms felt tired training the gun on them for twenty minutes until the police arrived and took they away.

    Roy Rogers walked up to me,

    “Boss, you must have stainless steel balls, holding an empty shot gun for twenty minutes.”

    I took a large gulp of air,

    ‘Lord, is this day never going to end.’

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Roan. I had a good hoot writing it. A lot of this story was taken from real life, only enhanced some. The record business was one crazy time in the sixties and early seventies, then it collasped into a heap. I bailed out of it in 1981 and walked out to change professions.

    1. Reaper

      This is beautifully written Kerry. The story is amazing and the wording and imagery are next level. As soon as I saw I awoke to the sound of a cardinal’s love for his mate you pulled me in and did not let me go until your story was done.

    2. Dennis

      Nice work, Kerry. It is amazing how many stories you gleam from your personal life. When I read about the cardinals I thought it might be a love story but you got me with a nice western shoot out, 70’s style. Fun read.

    3. Observer Tim

      Another “Twilight Zone edition” memoir from Kerry. This brings a smile to my face to read, as always. If you ever publish this you’ll be known as the 21st Century Mark Twain. Great, wonderful job! 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim, I’m on the floor with your response. No one should ever be mentoned in the same sentence as Mark Twain. That goes for Will Rogers also but thank you for the compliment.

  20. jhowe

    Jose Manuel woke to find his wish had come true. To be Jenifer Lopez for just one day had been his fondest desire for many years and now it had happened. He didn’t know if the sleeping time from last night counted towards his 24 hour transformation agreement or not so he would waste no more time contemplating.

    He quickly stripped out of his boxers and t-shirt and examined himself in the mirror. Whoa mamma. He turned and looked at the back side. Double whoa mamma. He tested his voice, “me me me me meeee.” Yep, sounded just like her.

    Now to get out there and have some fun, he thought. His long brown hair was a mess. He tried to comb it but it was too tangled so he watered it down in the shower and decided on the wet look. Oh no, he had no makeup to put on. He stared at his reflection. Not bad but the wow factor was missing. Jose needed a makeup artist and he needed one now.

    The urge to pee hit him suddenly. What to do. He sat and was unsatisfied with the sensation. Then another urge hit him. Surely Jennifer Lopez didn’t do that? But alas, she did it and it was not pleasant. Into the shower again. A girl can’t be too fresh down there.

    What to wear, what to wear. He tried on jeans but they wouldn’t fit over his hips. Jose tried to fashion a dress from a bed sheet. No toga parties please. He should have thought this out more carefully. He opted for gym shorts and a flannel shirt.

    Outside, he walked down the sidewalk, really shaking his stuff. He drew some looks but it wasn’t what he had expected. A large black man came up to him and whispered some ideas he had for creating a little magic. Jose thought about this and could not see himself enjoying what the man had in mind. There were definitely some flaws in this operation.

    He walked a little further and another man ran up to him and snapped his picture. “I can see the headlines now,” the man said. “J-Lo….Slumming in Seattle.”

    “Wait,” Jose said. “You’re making a mistake.” But the man was getting into a car and he drove off. Soon more paparazzi showed up and Jose ran to escape them but they followed.

    “What’s with the scuzzy look Jennifer?”

    “Did Richard Simmons do your hair?”

    “What are you doing in Seattle Jennifer?”

    “Is this some kind of anti-makeup movement?”

    Jose finally lost them and doubled back to his apartment where he barricaded himself inside. He sat on his bed to wait for the 24 hour transformation agreement to run out. He waited restlessly but occasionally admired himself in the mirror. At 8:00 he turned on American Idol. Jennifer Lopez was mysteriously missing from the show and sitings of her in Seattle were going viral on social media. Yep, he should have planned this out more carefully.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is so priceless jhowe,the MC’s inner thoughts and actions flashed through me as I read it. I especially liked the sidewalk episode. ‘Outside, he walked down the sidewalk, really shaking his stuff,’ is classic jhowe

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hey, jhowe!

      Just so you know, this part cracked me up:

      “What’s with the scuzzy look Jennifer?”
      “Did Richard Simmons do your hair?”
      “What are you doing in Seattle Jennifer?”
      “Is this some kind of anti-makeup movement”

      😀

    3. Dennis

      Great stuff. I like the whole premise of, I should have thought this out better. And the idea that Jennifer shouldn’t have to poop and pee like the rest of us commoners. Hilarious.

    4. Observer Tim

      This is pure gold from end to end, jhowe. I love the way you took the prompt and turned it to comedy. Personally I would have taken longer to get away from the mirror. And I have two sisters I could call who (after much laughter at my expense) would eventually give me helpful advice… 😉

  21. Observer Tim

    MY LIFE… NOT!

    I fling myself face down on my bed wearing only my underpants. Worst. Day. Ever. B-cup Barbie bugging me about no breasts, Mr. Thomas riding me about my book report and Mom chewing me out for swatting Martin even though he started it: finally, I had to wash and dry the dishes myself and got sent up to bed without dessert. Life sucks.

    Shaggs comes in and sniffs my back, then sniffs at my armpit. I roll over and give him a good scruffle while he licks my face. Good old Shaggs; he flumps down across my chest and goes to sleep.

    Mom leans in the door. “Chase, put your pyjamas on right now. You’re flashing the whole neighbourhood.”

    Yeah, right. The whole neighborhood is in my bedroom. I’m not that naked. And a two-hundred pound Saint Bernard is laying on me, so I’m staying laid on. At least Mom closes the door. I wish I was someone else. Anyone else! Shaggs’s slow breathing lulls me to sleep.
    .

    I wake up in a state of panic. Everything looks wrong and smells wrong and there’s a hairy beast lying next to me. This isn’t a proper nest and my arm aches and everything smells funny.

    I take a deep breath, and then another, then push myself up. The creature next to me is a human. Wait a second! Why am I saying that as if I’m…

    My hand is white like a porcelain doll. And it’s got two big fingers and a thumb. The other one looks the same. And the other four. O.M.G. I’m an alien. In fact, I’m the alien that found Shaggs last weekend.

    I try to speak but out comes a hawk squawk. I grab my beak. Beak? I scuttle to the bathroom and look in the mirror. A white hairless (featherless?) owl-like face stares back at me.

    I freak totally and scamper out through the cabin window. It’s really easy to move around like this; I can go very fast and make almost no noise.

    I perch in a tree and look around. The morning sounds of the forest are comforting. I can hear little things scampering through the brush; the only predators are a smelly cat and a little red dog. There are no feral children at all, which is a shame because a forest like this should be swarming with them. It reminds me how truly unlike home this world is.

    I’m hungry. My body tenses and my senses of sight and hearing get more acute. I creep slowly along the branch and study the forest floor.

    Something small scurries across my field of view. In a flash I’m on it, scooping it up in my beak and downing it live in one gulp. It wriggles on the way down, which is both disturbing and pleasant at the same time.

    By standing perfectly still I can hear another one. It comes into view and goes down my gullet just as quickly. O.M.G.; I’m hunting mice! I could throw up if they didn’t taste so good.

    The smell of bacon draws me back to the cabin after only a couple more mice. I love bacon, but to the alien body it’s more like a drug. This body craves bacon; it would kill for bacon.

    This body would kill for a lot of things. It’s carnivorous, and all the things that look delicious indicate that. Even Karen looks like she’d make a nice meal.

    Ew! I’m not a cannibal! I don’t want to eat humans! I don’t want to eat mice! I’m stuck on this alien planet with so many other creatures and no proper people! I want to go home! I screech out my loneliness to the world. If I had tear ducts I’d cry. No matter how bad my life is, this is worse.

    I wish Shaggs were here; he’d know what to do. If I didn’t try to eat him.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I am fascinated by your story, errie, funny and way over the top. Reminds me of a twilight zone when what the viewer thought were humans fighting aliens, it showed to be aliens fighting humans three inches tall compared to the aliens. Very visual writing here.

    1. Roan

      Yay … she lives! I liked the nostalgic feeling I got when I read about the absence of children in the forest. It made want to visit the planet from which she came. Loved it.

    2. Dennis

      Amazing you found another way to bring the alien back. Quite comical with the alien body and teen girl voice. Look forward to reading what the alien mind thinks.

  22. pauli101

    “I wish I’d wake up tomorrow and be anyone but me,” I mumbled before passing out on my bed.

    I had this amazing dream. Veils drifting sideways in the breeze as I advanced forward into the darkness. It wasn’t a scary obscurity, but peaceful. I slept calmly. Waking up to a beautiful bright sunny day.

    Advancing to the mirror to see my stubby face. Walking, yawning, feeling, and now staring with opened mouth and wide eyed. The person in the mirror looking back at me was “Clair Bartley”.

    Stumbling backward into the shower and closing the curtain. “Ah! I’m still dreaming. After my shower, I’ll feel better.” I mumbled.

    I lathered up my washcloth and started washing my arms, shoulders, and then my chest.
    My chest felt different, so, I looked. “Oh! My! God! I have breast!”

    I was afraid to feel what was missing between my legs. I rinsed off. Wrapped a towel around my body without looking from fear.

    Walking slowly to the mirror. Whipping off the steam. Looking. And sure enough, I was “Clair Bartley”.

    Wow! Clair Bartley. Gorgeous, intelligent woman. She had it all. Clair’s job. She know her stuff and she made it look easy. She had real passion and it showed. She always smiling.

    I was in dreamland just thinking about her, until I woke up to realty.

    “What am I going to do? Is she me, today? Do I go to work? I have no women’s cloths,” screaming aloud to my empty apartment as I raced to the closet like a madman! Woman! I’m confused!

    Ripping the doors open. Searching for cloths that would work. I found blue jeans, a shirt, oops no bra, and my work boots. “Why don’t,” I though after all we are working at a construction site.

    At the site, Clair, or me, or I don’t know wasn’t in sight. I was relieved. Until from behind I felt a slap on my butt. I turned, it was the foreman George. “Oh! Hi George. Do you greet the men with a slap on the behind?” I inquired.
    “No! Just you sweetie.” George laughed. “Let’s go to the trailer we have a teleconference with the manager.”

    At the trail, four other men and Clair. No me! Yeah! Me! I’m Clair. We were at the table listening the teleconferencing box with the manager squawking his replied about the subcontractor’s scheduler. “How hard could it be? Clair can do it!” Everyone just looked at each other knowing how wrong the manager was on many levels.

    The rest of the day was no better for Clair, me. I had men screaming in my face, throwing bolts at me, calling me names that I couldn’t repeat. I was mortified. I felt for Clair.

    The phone rang, Clair’s phone. I answered it. Bob was calling her. “Hi Honey! Bring home milk, bread, and rice.” I just listened and hang up. “Clair’s married? How am I going to pull this off?”

    I got to Clair’s house with the grocery list of items, laid them on the kitchen table; and walked inside the adjoining room when I saw Bob.

    Wow! Bob! Tears came to my eyes. Realize Clair didn’t have a charmed life as I thought. Bob, her husband, was a paraplegic in a wheelchair.

    1. Reaper

      Very interesting pauli and a true exploration of where we find suffering as after the entire day it is the husband’s condition that make your MC see that Clair’s life isn’t as charmed as they thought.

    2. Observer Tim

      Beautiful one, Pauli. I found myself feeling for Clair and knowing something else was coming. Great job. 🙂

      My red pencil noticed that several times you used the word “cloths” when you should have used “clothes”.

  23. Reaper

    Part Five. Sorry I didn’t get to the other continuation Kerry. I will try to get to that soon.

    In the Beginning – The First Sign

    Nobody told Chester that collecting the girls for the “prophecy” would be so hard. They all came willingly but each had to look like a kidnapping, making it that much harder. Chester was tired of religious nuts and following orders. Still, every time he almost walked away he thought about Nicole’s ass. He was pretty sure there was something about a kid in the lunatic ravings of her father.

    He thought about that now, getting her pregnant. With the last girl settled in he stumbled upstairs. As he fell through time and space he had the old wish, the one from his fast food slinging days, that he would wake up as anyone but him. He hit REM before the mattress.

    When Chester’s body woke the inhabitant found himself under Nicole’s careful scrutiny.

    “I felt something, is it finally happening?” She worried her lower lip.

    “It is only the first of the seven signs.” The interloper responded in almost Chester’s voice.

    ——————————————————————-

    Chester woke in a bed far too large, between sheets far too luxurious. He was not the sharpest tack in the box, but Chester’s mama didn’t raise no idiots. He was someone else. How was he going to tap Nicole now?

    Chester screamed when he peered into Templeton’s face in the mirror. Nicole had some daddy issues but this was surely a deal breaker. So great was Chester’s horror that it took him a good five minutes to realize, he might be able to throw a monkey wrench in this whole prophecy thing.

    Chester quickly discovered that walking a day in another man’s wingtips was not worth it. Templeton was old as time, so breakfast was grapefruit and bran. Chester thought he might sneak something with flavor but the battleaxe of a maid kept close watch.

    The rest of the day was too busy for Chester’s liking. Most of it he spent helping people pray or listening to their problems. Man, these people wouldn’t shut up about their sins. Their faith took the joy out of everything Chester loved. Praying was worse, Templeton had arthritis in his knees. Then there was choir practice, three dozen tone-deaf kids later and Chester was looking for a bell tower.

    When he finally had a moment with another prophecy nutjob Chester got to ask some questions. Why did disliking the answers surprise him?

    “Why do we need to separate the men and women?”

    “Purity, father.” Jojo the zealot answered as if being quized.

    “Like… how the Aryans wanted purity?”

    “No! Of course not. Purity of the soul by removing temptation of the flesh.”

    “How will we reproduce then?”

    “You know that, father.”

    “Okay, but can’t we do Christworld without the celibacy camps?”

    “Do I need to report this doubt and possible blasphemy to the others?”

    That took some getting out of. It involved a council and some hellfire preaching and threatening like Chester knew Templeton to deliver. When he finally fell exhausted into another man’s bed he had a simple thought. I will play my part if I can just stop being anyone else.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      An excellent continuation, Reaper. Hellfire preaching and threatening reminds of leaving the Lutheran services and becomng Baptist. We felt like running for cover. Separating men and women at religious weekend retreats was a dismal failure, even in the 50’s. Same for dancin’.

    2. Dennis

      I like all of these additions to the plot. It has gone from mysterious to dark. I’m still eagerly waiting for more info about the two chosen ones.

    3. Observer Tim

      Very nice continuation, Reaper. This story continues to get better as it goes along. 🙂

      As an aside, hellfire preaching kept me out of church for over 30 years. It wasn’t the fear of it, but the hypocracy both of the preachers and of those following them. I never really understood why they stayed.

  24. Roan

    Tired, pissed and fed up, I rolled over in bed and stared at the ceiling. Red flashed through the open window from the strip joint across the street, much like the aurora borealis. It was my place of employment.

    Crap, I’ve had it. I wish I would wake up tomorrow and be anyone but me.”

    I wrestled in my sleep. Fragments of my childhood shadowed me, hanging out with the guys, working on cars.

    One summer when I was 16, I snuck out 18 consecutive nights. When midnight struck, I would tiptoe down the stairs into the kitchen, past the stair case which led to the maid’s wing, and out the side door to the car waiting for me under the hundred year old Chestnut tree.

    Before getting in, I would glance up at Mr. Dyke’s bedroom window. Seeing his silhouette gave me comfort. He was 90, and had trouble sleeping. He was my guardian because he never told anyone.

    In the car, we would take off and meet up with the guys.

    They were crazy. Sometimes in excess of 100 miles per hour, they would chase each other. Why they included me, a girl, I’m not sure, except they wouldn’t listen to their girlfriends, but they would listen to me. When things got really out of hand I would suggest stuff like, “Hey enough, let’s go for a swim.”

    We’d park on the perimeter of the school swimming pool and climb the 18 foot fence. The guys would strip down, and me to my underwear. It didn’t really matter they weren’t interested in me, I was one of them.

    Then there was the time the cops showed up, luckily on the other side of the property.

    We scrambled up the fence on the opposite side, where we had parked. I struggled to the top. The cops were gaining ground on us.

    Geoff yelled. “Jump, I’ll catch you.”

    I did. He didn’t.

    Splat!

    He scraped me up off the side walk and carried me to the car. And off we went.

    When dawn lifted her skirt, I arrived home and blew a kiss to Mr. Dyke before entering the side pathway leading to the kitchen door.

    When I woke up in my walk up, I was sweating. It was raining, and the slate grey light permeated the room. I rolled over and something hard shifted between my legs. I gingerly lifted the covers and to my astonishment I had a penis

    I always said I wanted to be one of the guys, but this went way farther than I ever expected.

    I dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, no bra, didn’t need one, apparently having lost my boobs over night.

    OK, what now?

    I headed across the street, entered Gypsies’ Dancers, sat down at the bar. There isn’t much difference between a spectator and a titillator.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Great story Roan. Imagination in spades. Two sentences stand out. ‘When dawn lifted her skirt…’ and ‘There isn’t much difference between a spectaor and a titillator.’

      1. Roan

        Like your story, this was true to life. Well the sneaking out part and hanging out with the guys. It wasn’t that I wanted to be a guy, At age 16 I found them to be more truthful than the girls I knew. With the guys what you saw was what you got. Plus I had adventure written in my soul.

    2. Observer Tim

      Very nicely done, Roan. The subtle signals are there that it’s a slice of your life, though nothing I can really pin a finger on. A great view into the world of teenaged rebellion. 🙂

      P.S. Do you really work in a club, or is that a tease to make everything on the site with a Y chromosome want to meet you? 😉

          1. Roan

            OKay, okay … I tried to address this in my response to Kerry when I responded, “Like your story, this was true to life. Well the sneaking out part and hanging out with the guys. “Yes, I’ve walked on the wild side, but always the observer (sound familiar) and without judgement. I’ve seen a lot and heard a lot and shown up. The line from my last story, about Lacey and Eve, where Eve says to the guy,who gave her a ride. “Yah, don’t get any ideas. Believe me. You don’t want to mess with me.” Were spoken from all 100 lbs. of me, when I thumbed a ride and found myself in a compromising situation. He backed down. Thank you Tim for calling me on the carpet.

  25. lionetravail

    “Turnabout”

    Could today have sucked any more? I thought.

    I stretched my spine, then tilted my head from side to side to get the kinks out of my neck as well. It had been a long day, starting when I woke with the thunder. Then, out into the cold rain for the start of another gruelling day, running errands- out in said chilly precipitation, of course, oh yay. At least I got to spend part of the day with my best bud.

    It almost makes up for having to spend the night with my roommate.

    Simply put, he’s awful. He’s prissy, self-absorbed, and jeez, sometimes he just won’t shut up. If I like something, he turns his nose up at it, and if I find something annoying he’s all over it like it’s the best thing in the world. How we ended up together is a very long story.

    You see, I’ve always secretly wished I could be him. I’m big and on the clumsy side; he never puts a foot wrong. When I eat, it’s like a hurricane hit; he could stick his face in a bowl of yoghurt and come out cleaner than when he went in. It’s just not fair.

    “Hey dude,” he says in his usual laconic way.

    “Hey yourself.” I sound grouchy, and even I resent my own tone.

    “How’d your day go?”

    “Usual. You?”

    “Awesome! Nothing demanding- even got in a glorious power nap.”

    Bastard , I thought. “Uh huh. Well, don’t I wish I could be you for a day.”

    He had the effrontery to laugh. “I’m sure, right? But dude, uh, for the record? No. Freaking. Way.”

    I went to bed. If only we could swap , I thought, even as he chuckled his way into easy, unconcerned sleep. Eventually, I slept, too.

    **************************

    Sunlight behind my closed lids woke me. So much better than thunder, the sunlight was warm, and…
    Waitaminute. My bed is nowhere near the window.

    I opened my eyes. Holy. Freaking. Cow. It happened- it actually happened.

    “Woo hoo!” I yelled, and felt the difference in the kinesthesia between who I’d been and who I was now.

    “Dude, what…? Wait, what?” My roommate, of course.

    “I’m you. You’re me. Get used to it.”

    “No. No! It can’t be! How?”

    “No idea, but it’s perfect.”

    “Perfect? You’re absolutely psychotic! I don’t have the first idea of what to do as you, and you can’t have the
    first idea of what to do as me.”

    “Oh, I totally do: late breakfast, stay home and nap in the sun…”

    “And you get to use your tongue as toilet paper.”

    “… And… Wait. What? What was that?”

    “It’s like I always said: you are the stupidest dog ever, Fido.”

    “Shut up, Fluffy. How come I never knew about the tongue thing with you cats?”

    “Because you’re an idiot.”

    “Well. This sucks.”

    “No kidding, you moron.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This was a blast, David. I’m rolling along reading your story, totally clueless for most of it, until I realized who they were. Went back and read it a second time, you dropped clues everywhere and I just plodded along, brainless. “And you get to use your tongue as toilet paper”……. this was a great line.

  26. Not-Only But-Also Riley

    Moreau and the Monsters
    Part III

    I let my hand hold up my head as it became heavy with thought. I knew my office wasn’t really a hiding place, but it was home to me, it was the definition of safety.

    “Monsieur?”

    “Call me Moreau, Georges. What?”

    “Now that you’re, uh… wanted… you still gonna find out who killed my momma?”

    This took little thought.

    “Yes Georges. You still have that picture.”

    “About the picture, Monsieur…”

    “Moreau.”

    “Uh, yeah, Moreau. About the picture what happened? Why don’t you like monsters no more?”

    The kid had managed to catch me off guard with this one. It had been not too long ago that I had been seeing Laure, that that picture had to have been taken.

    “I never liked monsters.”

    The office filled with silence, Georges and I staring at each other, pale gray dust particles sailing the air and making Georges appear grainy, like out of a poorly filmed movie.

    “Did your mom have any enemies?” I asked him, blowing dust from my own face.

    “Not any that I knew of. She, uh, didn’t like tha big monsters. And she was open ‘bout it.”

    “What‘d you mean?”

    “She actively rebelled against them, she ‘ated them that much.”

    I thought. Why hadn’t this kid told me this in the first place? It was just as I’d thought from the start, the big monsters had done it, end of discussion. They always did it. They were, after all, the monsters.

    “But why would a big monster leave you alive?” I thought aloud to the kid. He didn’t answer, instead nodded his head, showing that he’d already thought of this.

    “Thas why I don’t think it was none big monster. They woulda been louder too, I didn’t hear nothin’ that night.”

    “Anything else about your mom I oughta know?”

    “She was mysterious. She’d go out at night, she’d disappear when it got dark and wouldn’t come back ‘til morning. Then she’d sleep all day. I thought maybe she was just, y’ know, meetin’ friends or whatever. Now though…”

    “Now you’re not so sure,” I finished for him tapping my fingers onto my desk. I looked out the small window at the top of the wall. It was dark.

    “What’d you say we try and go find out what she was really doing, eh?”

    Smells of dirty animals and forgotten people grew stronger on the cold night streets. We walked carefully, knowing that the big monsters came out at night, knowing that they’d be patrolling the streets.

    “Any idea where we should start?” I asked Georges, who was hopping along beside me.

    “Uuh… maybe we could try my neighbor, momma always would visit her during night sometimes. I could hear her stop there.”

    “Okay, we’ll check your neighbor’s house.”

    The neighbor was a small, hunched over monster with huge claws and huge yellow teeth. She was blind, with a huge nose that Georges informed let her “smell her way around”. I realized the less time I spent talking with the creature the happier I’d be so I immediately asked her about Georges’ mom.

    “Her?” she croaked as a cloud of fog came pouring from her mouth. The fog clouded around my feet and made it so I could only see Georges head. “She wasn’t nothin’ special, watchu wanna talk about her fer?”

    “I wanna know what she did at night,” I grunted at the thing. I didn’t have time for this, I just wanted to move along and finish this case.

    “You know, I tell you what she did at night, she got in fights an’ such, that’s my guess. Probably picked one with the wrong monsta, got herself killed, thas what I bet,” the fog spun around my feet. I closed the door and she barely moved back in time.

    “You think that’s true Georges?”

    “Could be, Moreau, I think we oghta try everything,” Georges answered, walking away from the house. “Only person I could think my momma’d get in a fight wif that’d kill ‘er is Patrice.”

    “Patrice?”

    1. Not-Only But-Also Riley

      Sorry, a little bit got cut off:

      “A big monster gang leader. Momma owed him money.”

      I let this sigh out rather than holding it. Why had this kid saved all of this information for now?

      “Where can we find this Patrice?”

      Also, this has nothing to do with this prompt, but is a continuation of something I started last week.

      1. Roan

        I really appreciate your style of writing. It makes me slow down my reading, to linger for a moment, wanting to fully experience the stimulation of my senses.

    2. Reaper

      This is still gorgeous. You have one paragraph where there are way too many hads so if you changed it to more active past tense it would flow better but that is the only spot that caught me. I love this, Smells of dirty animals and forgotten people grew stronger on the cold night streets. Pure, powerful poetry and had I not been in love with this story already that line would have won me over.

  27. efrazier

    “You have got to be kidding me?!” Shanika ripped the disconnect notice from her apartment door. She was so mad her hands trembled and she knew she had to get inside before her sweet soul of a next neighbor, Miss Aida, poked head out to greet her. Shanika barged through the door and headed straight for the kitchen garbage can to turn the notice into confetti. On top of the craziness she’d already experienced that day at work she now had to be reminded that there would be no microwave dinner tonight. For that matter no electricity for anything! Kicking off her shoes, she started clearing out the refrigerator. No sense waiting for the stuff to go bad she reasoned. The lights would be off until the next paycheck which was 10 long days away.
    As Shanika wearily prepared for bed later that evening, her next door neighbor Miss Aida came to her mind. It wasn’t like her not to peek her head out and say hello. She made a mental note to check on her tomorrow. Shanika slid beneath the sheets and reached to snap the lamp off before remembering there was no light to turn off! Rolling over she considered what it must be like to have no issues, no worries and no job to have go to. “Yeah, Miss Aida.” Shanika mumbled, “You probably living the life of Riley over there.” She mused over that thought for a few moments. “Yep!” Shanika concluded before dozing off, “If I could trade a day with Miss Aida, it would be like going on vacation!”
    Shanika awakened with a start. Squinting her eyes opened she sat up and blinked. Why was everything so blurry? With a grunt she pushed the covers back and swung her legs from under the covers. Why did her legs feel so heavy? Glancing down, she nearly let loose her very full bladder. Instead of the smooth and athletically toned skin of her thighs, she was staring at pale, pudgy looking legs with swollen ankles! Suppressing a scream, Shanika eyed the white cotton get up she was wearing. It looked like something her grandma would wear. Rising from the bed, Shanika managed to shuffle to the bathroom. Each step a major but painful accomplishment. When she finally reached the sink she grabbed the edge and peered into the mirror. Staring back at her was the face of her neighbor, Miss Aida! At least it looked like Miss Aida. Everything was still blurry. Wait a minute. She hurried back to the bedside table. They had to be somewhere… Bingo! Shanika grabbed the wire-rimmed spectacles Miss Aida always wore low on the bridge of her nose and plopped them on her face. The room came into focus along with a multitude of pill bottles lined up on the night stand beside a glass holding a set of dentures. Lowering herself to the bed only one thought came to mind, “I want my body and I want it now!”

    1. lionetravail

      Nicely done! It’s a good story and begs for more to bring it to a conclusion, in my opinion. Think about adding to it to bring it to an ending you want, to give us a sense of closure in poor Shanika’s dilemma. Is just getting her body back all she wants? Does she learn anything from her window into Miss Aida’s reality? Is it just a bit of trouble, or is this a superpower she can go on to train herself in and become a superhero or villain and use it to rip off unsightly older women?

      Come on, efrazier, don’t leave me hanging here! 🙂

  28. lyngralee

    “Oh, no.” I stare at my reflection in the mirror, wrap my brain around what I’m looking at, and what’s looking back at me.

    I say aloud, in a voice not quite my own, “I’m Batman.”

    I burst out laughing because this is, well, crazy. I vaguely remember wishing to be anyone but myself, but, seriously? What to do? Go on with my day? Hell yeah, I’m Batman!

    I exit my house with a flourish, assuming to find the batmobile, or at least that motorcycle-thingy. Sadly, there is my ancient lime green Toyota Corolla, right where I left it last night. When I was not freaking Batman.

    So, do I try to find some criminal activity, or do I just go to my office? It seems even Batman needs a little motivation, so I head to Wawa for some delicious vanilla latte. Enroute, I am quite flattered by all the shouts and waves from the children heading to school. Because I’m Batman.

    At the counter, I feel self-conscious as grown women swoon in my presence. I order a double espresso, no cream, no sugar. Why? You know.

    I choke down a few sips of bitterness, before giving a nod to the ladyfolk, and hightail it to my vehicle. I decide I need to ditch the car. I’m singing, “I’m too sexy for my car,” before I even find a parking spot downtown. As I step onto the sidewalk, I realize my cape is snagged. I struggle a moment, and free myself in time to see two young guys snickering.

    “What?”

    “Hey, nothing man, we cool.”

    I yelled over my shoulder, as they scurried away, “Respect the cape!”

    There was surprisingly little crime happening, so I helped a few old ladies cross the street, assisted a kid who couldn’t unlock his bike, and posed for a crapload of pictures. A slumper by nature, I forced myself to stand tall, despite my disappointment. Shouldn’t there be more to being a superhero than a cool costume and being ridiculously good looking?

    Sad and crimeless, I decided I might as well go to work.

    “Batman! Batman! Batman!” I was greeted by the denizens of every cubicle I passed. I got a standing ovation that even included all the men, even my boss.

    “Listen everyone, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should tell you, it’s me, Kurt. So, I guess I’m not really Batman.”

    “You are to us, buddy. We just lost the Marvel account, and you’re the best part of our day! (Kurt! Kurt! Kurt!) Thanks for being you and so, well, super.”

    I held up my spiky, gloved hands in thanks. “Hey, I’m no superman.” And I spun around twice, for maximum cape showmanship. “I’m Batman.”

    1. cosi van tutte

      “I held up my spiky, gloved hands in thanks. “Hey, I’m no superman.” And I spun around twice, for maximum cape showmanship. “I’m Batman.” <- Best ending paragraph ever. Just so you know. 😀

    2. Reaper

      I really like this. The overall story is good and what really got me was the hero inside of everyone you don’t have to fight crime to make a difference ending. Very nicely and subtly done.

    3. lionetravail

      What an absolutely fun, fun, fun story! And ‘i’m too sexy for my car’…. heh, it felt like your impish nature asserted itself here and you decided to ride it all the way, Lyngralee. Awesome 🙂

  29. Kinterralynn

    Be Careful What Ask For

    There she was. She looked amazing in the pink floral print sundress, her long dark hair plaited neatly down her back, the sun casting a nice warm glow on smoothly tanned skin. I knew when I bought the dress it would look great on me. But that wasn’t me, not any more. I looked across the room and saw the other girl. She was at least fifty pounds overweight, dressed in a over-sized t-shirt and a pair of worn jeans. Her dirty blonde hair was pulled back into a messy pony tail and she was frowning causing deep furrows across her brow. It was a girl I had looked at with disgust fairly often over the past few years, I even made a point of pointing out her every flaw to those who would listen and laugh about it with me. I absolutely detested that woman with every fiber in my being and now I was trapped in her body.
    I’ve been this way for two weeks now. After a harrowing day at work I had gone to bed saying “I wish I’d wake up and be anyone but me.” When I woke the next morning, I was no longer Brittany, the Administrative Assistant to the President of the company; instead, I was Rachel, the fat girl who worked in the tech department and smelled like peanut-butter fudge and cigarettes. I should have been more specific with my wish.
    Rachel lived in an apartment building that was constructed in the 1960’s, her furniture was all things you would find in garage sales, just like her very unfashionable wardrobe. Every night since the swap, I get a call from a very drunk man named “Paul”, professing his love for me and apologizing profusely for running around on me. In the mornings, a very sober Paul calls to tell me to quit calling him. I eventually put the pieces together and figured out that Paul is the handsome Loan Officer I’ve often heard in the office bragging about the women he has slept with. Paul is a piece of trash. Rachel could do so much better, she’s actually quite pretty under all those extra pounds and lack of self-esteem. I have decided to help her, but I keep craving sugar and fast food no matter how hard I try to stick to a diet of salads and low-calorie foods. I continue the weird craving for cigarettes even though I have tossed out all the ashtrays and cleaned the dingy apartment from top to bottom. I try to go walking in the evenings, but this body tires easily and it’s harder to move it like I did with my old body. Yesterday a car of young teens drove by and shouted out fat jokes as I made my way down the block. I admit I cried when I heard it, I’ve never had anyone do that to me before.
    I don’t know how long this is going to go on. I miss Brittany. I don’t like the way people look at me with judging eyes, they don’t know me! I hate the way I’m out of breath from climbing a set of stairs, I hate the way my hair always looks a mess, and I really despise the fact that I really want Rachel to like me.

    1. Observer Tim

      Very nice step onto the other side of the pavement, Kinterralynn. I love the way the MC holds on to at least part of the judgemental part of her personality even as she decides to help Rachel. It’s a fascinating nuance. 🙂

      1. Kinterralynn

        Thank you so much! This is the first time posting, although I’ve stalked the site for years.

        I actually hated that I had to stick to a 500 word limit, I can see this going so much deeper with a little time and effort. This is one I’ll put to “Inspiration Basket” and perhaps develop it a bit further.

    2. Reaper

      Welcome to posting Kinterralynn. This is wonderful and I think expanding it is a great idea. The voice was very nice and Tim mentioned the judgment, which I adored in this. Mostly because as your MC became this other person she was changing what she judged to be wrong even though it was hard and she was dealing with addictions that were not her fault in the truest sense. We never change anything about ourselves unless it is something we judge in ourselves and most often in other people. That judgment may come from real concerns but it is still there. You illustrated that very nicely.

    3. lionetravail

      “i should have been more specific with my wish.”—- comic brilliance right there 🙂

      I agree with the others, the message here is worthwhile and the story could easily be expanded. A couple of thoughts: you have many instances where you repeat the same word, which you could easily catch with edits to smooth away.

      Examples: “I decided to help her but I keep craving… I continue the weird craving…”
      …and now I was trapped in her body. I’ve been this way for two weeks now…”

      Not really problematic, but something you might want to look over as you keep writing. Hope that helps, and well done story!

  30. DMelde

    Santa rolled over in bed and farted, filling the room with the scent of freshly baked cookies and delicious hot chocolate. There was, as the saying goes, magic in the air. He reached his hand over to his personal supply of cookies sitting on his antique nightstand, but his nightstand wasn’t there. An old wooden crate was in its place. He felt his clothes. Instead of his red silk pajamas he was wearing worn cotton pajamas. Also gone was his sleigh bed. He was lying on a cheap mattress instead. He stood up and went over to a mirror hanging low on the wall and he looked at himself. He knew the face that looked back at him, but it wasn’t his face with the jolly red cheeks and white beard. It was the face of little Johnny, and he was on the naughty list.

    “Well, I never expected to be on my own list!” Santa said to himself. His voice sounded like little Johnny’s.

    Santa considered the night before. He had wished to be somebody else because of a long week filled with meetings. (The reindeers were demanding non-human personhood and a Writ of Habeas Corpus.) He should have known that his magic would grant all of his wishes. Even so, he was a little proud of himself. He puffed his chest out a little. Damn! He was the man! Who else could pull off a full body switch! He thought he might like being little Johnny for a while since he always had to be good; he had a reputation you know. He thought it might be fun to be naughty for a change. He promised himself that he wouldn’t use magic for the entire day. He got dressed, and with a spring in his step, he left the bedroom.

    His mother, or rather, little Johnny’s mom, was lying on the living room couch snoring loudly. She reeked of booze. Santa thought it best if he didn’t wake her, so he tiptoed quietly by, and he went into the kitchen, but there was nothing to eat and the kitchen was a mess. He hoped the school might have a warm breakfast because he was growing hungry.
    Throughout the day Santa found out that little Johnny really didn’t have a very good life. He couldn’t afford to eat all day. He found out that Johnny stole money from his mom (it put him on the naughty list) to pay the bullies so he wouldn’t get beat up every day (Santa learned that the hard way). Santa also learned that Johnny used humor as a coping mechanism against a system that seemed rigged against him, and that his humor got him labeled as a troublemaker (and again, on the naughty list). Santa decided he had been wrong all along about Johnny.

    At the end of the school day Santa decided to set things right. He was Santa again, and little Johnny was Johnny, and Johnny remembered nothing that had happened. When Johnny got home he received a wonderful surprise. His mother had cleaned the house and a hot dinner waited for him. He slept very well that night under a brand new blanket.

    In the morning there was a knock on the door. A social worker was there to talk to his mom, and Johnny was excused from school for the entire day. The scents of cinnamon and peppermint hung in the air and it felt just like Christmas.

    Santa, at home at the North Pole once again with a plate of cookies beside him, added a new name to his list of good boys.

    1. lionetravail

      What a delightful story, Dmelde- I think smell a children’s book sprouting, replete with moral lessons about not judging people without walking a mile in their Dock Martins.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I found this very entertaining with a load of social comment entwined in your story. In today’s world, it would work as a children’s book. I always like happy endings…. good old Santa.

  31. cosi van tutte

    Sorry! This is another long one:

    Mama said that there’d be days like this.

    I woke up late for work. I ran my nylons and couldn’t find my high heels. The milk in the fridge was old and clumpy. I burned my toast. I couldn’t find my keys. My car had two flat tires and I had only one spare. My boss was in a mean, spiteful mood and she fired me for no good reason.

    I came home and flopped into my waterbed. Only to find out that it had sprung a leak. My pillows were sogged and my blanket was drenched. I didn’t feel like dealing with any of it. So, I grabbed a flat sheet from the linen closet and went to sleep on my couch.

    “Today has been the worst day of my life.” I yawned. “I wish…”

    Gold and silver sparks played on the floor lamp’s shade.

    It’s probably my eyesight going bad. I thought. That would be my luck. “I wish that I were anywhere but here.” I closed my eyes. “I wish just for once that I’d wake up and be anyone but me.” It was an odd wish, but I meant it more than I’d meant anything in my life.

    I fell asleep and I dreamed.

    I dreamed that those gold and silver sparks had multiplied until they filled the room. Some of them coalesced into a human shape. It looked down at me with gold and silver eyes and spoke in a shimmering, androgynous voice. “I will grant your wish.” It smiled, revealing a mouth of sharp gold teeth.

    I woke up next to my boss’ husband. He opened his eyes and smiled. “Good morning, beautiful.”

    What the heck? When did this happen? And how? And…And…What the heck?

    He kissed me, which made me blush, and rolled out of bed. He was saying a bunch of stuff as he got dressed, but I couldn’t pay attention. I was too confused. Why was I in bed with my boss’ husband?

    Bed? Wait. I’m not in my waterbed, am I? No, I can’t be. It’s too dry.

    “I’ll see you downstairs.” He left the room.

    I sat up and glanced around. “This is not my room.” I clapped my hands over my mouth. Or not my mouth. Not my voice. I look down at my body. Ack! Not my body!

    I scrambled out of bed and looked at myself in the mirror. Not myself. My boss. I gaped. I am my boss. “How did this happen? Is this a dream? Yeah. It must be a dream. I don’t know why I’d dream about…” My thoughts drifted back to her husband and smiled. Which made me feel like a horrible person. Still. He was very good looking.

    “Well. No sense in trying to puzzle it out. I’m a-goin’ to work.”

    It took me forever to get over the whole creep factor of going through my boss’ closet and trying on her clothes. But, eventually, I managed to get dressed in a suitable outfit. But a new question emerged: What do I do about all of her hair? I kept my hair short. So, it’s always a no fuss brush, brush, done affair. But she had so much hair.

    I tried to bundle it up into a ponytail. But my boss’ head looked all wrong with a perky ponytail. I tried to braid it.

    Let’s just say it was not a successful braid and leave it at that.

    I finally twirled it up into a respectable bun. It held together for five minutes. Then the ends popped out in all directions and it lost all respectability.

    I pulled it out and scowled at the mirror. “How does she deal with this mess every day?” I put it all into a relaxed ponytail, which was only marginally better than the perky version.

    I spritzed myself with her SpringSummerWind cologne and marched out the door.

    to be continued…

      1. cosi van tutte

        And here is the continuation/conclusion:

        I went downstairs to the kitchen.

        Husband was already in there. He looked up from his cream of wheat and smiled. “So, it’s going to be one of those days?”

        “Huh? I mean, what?”

        “You’re wearing a ponytail and no makeup. You only do that when you’re going to fire someone.”

        Ahh, he was so observant. I wanted to marry him for real. “No. I just didn’t feel like fussing today.” I walked over to the pantry and opened the door. Gluten-free pasta. Gluten-free rice. Gluten-free soup. Where was the cereal? Gluten-free cream of wheat. I wanted a bowl of cereal.

        Husband cleared his throat. “Aren’t you going to check your blood sugar?”

        I put the cream of gluten-free wheat back on the shelf. “My what?”

        “Your blood sugar.”

        “Uhhh…” Wait. Checking blood sugar…That involved poking my finger with a needle. I didn’t like needles. “Uhh, I have a feeling that it’s normal today. So, I’ll just let it slide.” I stared at the pantry in the vain hope that a box of cereal would just magically appear.

        “If you’re looking for your culinary biscuits, they’re up on the counter.”

        Culinary biscuits? HUH? I walked over to the counter and found a brown paper bag with the words Culinary Biscuits scrawled across it in some sort of fancy circus font. A happy lady hugged her pug on the front of the bag.

        I opened the bag and pulled out one biscuit.

        It was shaped like a bone.

        WHAT THE HECK? My boss eats dog treats?

        “Are you all right?”

        “I’m uhhh…” I dropped the biscuit into the bag. “I’m not hungry. I’ll eat later.”

        “In that case, don’t forget to take your insulin shot with you.”

        “My…” My voice failed me. Shot? Like with a needle?

        “It wouldn’t be good if you passed out at work again.”

        “Oh.” She does that? “Yeah. Umm, I think I will put a little bit of makeup on after all.” And, because I am a horrible person, I walked over to him and kissed him. “I’ll be back.”

        I returned to her room and closed the door. Gluten-free food. Insulin shots. Culinary biscuits. Blood sugar tests. Do I even want to know what else? No. As much as I liked her husband, I did not want to be her a minute longer. “I just want to be me again.” I looked around the room for any gold and silver sparks. “Hey! If you’re here, listen to this: I just want to be me. I want to be in my own home, in my own life, in my own body. I mean it. I swear I do.”

        The air in front of me shimmered with gold and silver. “If that is what you want, you must say the magic word.” It was the same voice I had heard in my dream.

        “Magic word. Magic word. Uhhh, please?”

        “That is a magic word, but there is one that holds more power.”

        I thought about it. “I wish…”

        The gold and silver multiplied like in my dream.

        “I wish that I was just me again. I wish I were home. I wish I had my job again.” The third one was cheating, but I figured why not.

        The gold and silver sparks coalesced into a human figure. It smiled its golden smile. “I will grant your wishes.”

        ***

        I woke up alone on my couch, snuggled under my flat sheet. Was all that just a dream? Of course, it was. Granting wishes and swapping bodies. I smiled. None of that was real.

        My stomach growled with hunger, which made me think happy thoughts about cereal.

        I uncovered myself and immediately questioned reality. My body was dressed in my boss’ business suit. Which begged the question: How would I ever return it to her?

    1. Observer Tim

      Very very clever, Cosi, as usual. I love your grasp of the surreality of the situation and the modern fairy tale aspect of it. That’s the problem with just “stepping into” somebody else’s life – you don’t have the backstory. Great job! 🙂

  32. Pete

    The pills arrived not a minute too soon. The day had been rough, even for me. It started during lunch. I was sitting by myself because Sid was at study hall and all of her pretty little friends glared at me in disgust when she wasn’t around.

    Sidney is my best friend by the way. I call her Sid. We’ve been stuck together since T-ball, when she was a scrawny buck-teethed rascal and I was the big homerun hitter everyone cheered on. Those were great times, at least for me. Then one summer it was like our bodies shot off in opposite directions, hers correcting itself, filling out in the right places and mine just, well, expanding.

    So yeah, Sid’s really pretty. She’s not too tall and not too short and has this natural tan and curly brown hair and well, you get it, all the guys drool over her.

    And guys are constantly coming to me like little puppies to ask her if she likes them. It happens like once a day, maybe more, and it’s kind of annoying, but when you’re the chunky funny one it just kind of comes with the territory.

    Oh, but lunch. Yeah so I was trying to finish up and then go out and walk the track when someone started the Jules the Mules chant. Usually I laughed it off but when Erick Peterson joined in I had to just get up and leave. Sid had said how she thought Erick might ask me to the dance on Friday because we were always joking around together in the parking lot. I guess the joke was on me.

    So the day the pills arrived I was up in my room ignoring Sid’s calls. It wasn’t her fault, I knew that, but I was angry with her just for being so freaking perfect. Then I thought, what if I could be Sidney for a day? To be gorgeous and slim and have the guys look at me like they do at her? I took a diet pill and that was that.

    The next morning something was different. Way different. I hopped up and glanced at the mirror and found my best friend’s delicate face buried under an additional 100lbs.

    I swallowed hard. I was Sid. Was Sid me? I hoped not for her sake. And I feel terrible admitting this, but part of me enjoyed looking in the mirror and seeing her this way.

    Usually Sidney and I always walked to school together, and my house was farther down so I sat on the stoop and waited for me—or Jules—or a three headed monster for all I could guess while still trying to make sense of what was going on.
    Then I saw me.

    Okay, not to brag, but I was hot. Super hot. I was all legs and my blonde hair caught the morning sun like church windows at Easter service. And I had that pretty girl hip-swing thing down pat.
    “Hey Sid, you okay?”

    I looked into my green eyes. I always knew I had a pretty face, but now I was like, Seventeen Magazine pretty. I managed a nod. And I think Sid, er, me, I mean hot Jules, noticed that I was checking her\my\our body pretty good. But I couldn’t help it, yeeoww look at my ass!

    “You’re acting strange.”

    How could I not? I spent most of the day watching my life from afar. All the guys had their tongues out and were drooling over me. Staring and ogling and blushing whenever I smiled. Well, not me, I was called Four-Kidney-Sidney, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. Besides, I was too mesmerized by myself.

    After school I was waiting for Jules/Sid out to the parking lot when Erick Robinson called me over. I felt my heart racing because well, the dance was only three days away.

    “Hey Sid, I was wondering if you could do me a favor?”

    “Sure, what’s up?” I said, sounding way too desperate.

    “I uh, I was wondering if you could ask Jules about me? You know, see if maybe she wanted to go to the dance?”

    “Oh, yeah, well, I’ll put your name down for the drawing.”

    His laugh was like harp strums to my ears. “Okay, thanks, Sid.”

    “Okay, bye.”

    I walked off, my grin pressing into my cheeks. I knew it. He wanted to go to the dance. Now I’d have to find the perfect dress!

    1. Reaper

      This has an interestingly surreal quality to it. I’m honestly not sure if it is a story of learning to love yourself, or people’s ability to be whatever they want, or a morality lesson on how we take our baggage with us. I’m sure it is one of those and maybe all three.

      1. Pete

        Yeah pretty much, I was trying to show how caught up Jules was in seeing herself skinny, even though it was no longer her. i could have done a lot of things differently, but for me part of the fun with these things is just seeing what comes out!

  33. Pete

    The pills arrived not a minute too soon. The day had been rough, even for me. It started during lunch. I was sitting by myself because Sid was at study hall and all of her pretty little friends glared at me in disgust when she wasn’t around.

    Sidney is my best friend by the way. I call her Sid. We’ve been stuck together since T-ball, when she was a scrawny buck-teethed rascal and I was the big homerun hitter everyone cheered on. Those were great times, at least for me. Then one summer it was like our bodies shot off in opposite directions, hers correcting itself, filling out in the right places and mine just, well, expanding.

    So yeah, Sid’s really pretty. She’s not too tall and not too short and has this natural tan and curly brown hair and well, you get it. All the guys drool over her.
    And guys are constantly coming to me like little puppies to ask her if she likes them. It happens like once a day, maybe more, and it’s kind of annoying, but when you’re the chunky funny one it just kind of comes with the territory.

    Oh, but lunch. Yeah so I was trying to finish up and then go out and walk the track when someone started the Jules-the-Mules chant. Usually I laughed it off but when Erick Peterson joined in I had to just get up and get out of there. Sid had been saying how she thought Erick might ask me to the dance on Friday because we were always joking around together in the parking lot. I guess the joke was on me.

    So the day the pills arrived and I was up in my room ignoring Sid’s calls. It wasn’t her fault, I knew that, but I was angry with her…for being so freaking perfect. Then I thought, what if I could be Sidney for a day? To be gorgeous and slim and have the guys look at me like they do at her? I took a shiny yellow diet pill and that was that.

    The next morning something was different. Way different. My legs were smooth and perfect and shaved. I never shaved because, well, why bother? I looked at the mirror and found my best friend’s delicate face buried under an additional 100lbs.

    I swallowed hard. I was Sid. Was Sid me? For her own sake I hoped not. And I felt terrible admitting it, but part of me enjoyed looking in the mirror and seeing her that way.

    Usually Sidney and I always walked to school together, and my house (her house now if you’re following) was farther down. I sat on the stoop and waited for me—or Jules—or a three headed monster for all I could guess, just trying to make sense of what was going on.

    Then I saw her.

    I saw me.

    Okay, not to brag, but I was hot. Super hot. I was all legs and my blonde hair caught the morning sun like church windows at Easter service. And I had that pretty girl hip-swing thing down pat. Jules looked up and saw me there and I must have looked pretty shocked.

    “Hey Sid, you okay?”

    I looked into my green eyes. I always knew I had a pretty face, but now I was like, Seventeen Magazine pretty. I managed a nod. And I think Sid, er, me, I mean hot Jules, noticed that I was checking her\my\our body pretty good. But I couldn’t help it, yeeoww look at my ass!

    “You’re acting strange.”

    How could I not? I spent most of the day watching my life from afar. All the guys had their tongues out and were drooling over me. Staring and ogling and blushing whenever I smiled. Well, not me, I was called Four-Kidney-Sidney, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. Besides, I was too mesmerized by myself.
    After school I was waiting for Jules/Sid out to the parking lot when Erick Robinson called me over. I felt my heart racing because well, the dance was only three days away.

    “Hey Sid, I was wondering if you could do me a favor?”

    “Sure, what’s up?” I said, sounding way too desperate.

    “I uh, I was wondering if you could ask Jules about me? You know, see if maybe she wanted to go to the dance?”

    “Oh, yeah, well, I’ll put your name down for the drawing.”

    His laugh was like harp strums to my ears. “Okay, thanks, Sid.”

    “Okay, bye.”

    I walked off, my grin pressing into my cheeks. Sweet yellow pills! I knew it. He wanted to go to the dance. All that was left was to find the perfect dress!

  34. Trevor

    Word Count: 817

    The Perfect Life

    As soon as I open my eyes, I knew that something was different. The walls were a pale shade of white instead of a dark blue. The blanket wrapped around me was silky, unlike my thick heavy quilt. The desk at the end of the bed was tidy and organized, a complete contrast to the mountain of books and papers that was my desk. I jumped out of bed and ran to the dresser mirror. My fear suddenly subsided when I saw the face looking back at me.

    I was Derick Sutton.

    The day before had been another in a long line of crappy days. I overslept again, failed another trigonometry exam, and spilled paint all over my best sweater in art class. As I laid down that night, staring out the window at the starry sky, I closed my eyes and muttered under my breath, “I wish I could wake up and be anyone but me.” Now, I realized my wish had come true.

    Derick Sutton was a fellow senior at Clayton County High School and the definition of perfection. He was handsome, confident, athletic, and the object of every girl’s affection. He was everything I wanted to be, and I had wished many times that I could have his life. Now, I had that chance.

    “Derick, get the hell up!” A loud voice shouts from downstairs, interrupting my thoughts. Hurriedly, I got dressed and went downstairs into the kitchen. Seated at the table, drinking a glass of Budweiser, was a rough-looking man with a thick beard. He sneered at me as I walked to the fridge to get breakfast.

    “THAT’S what you’re gonna wear to school?” The man shouted, obviously having had a little too much to drink. I could smell the stench of booze on him.

    “What’s wrong with this?” I was wearing a light blue sweater, tight blue jeans, and white sneakers. Derick had worn these on Monday, and they made him look like a Calvin Klein model.

    “Nothing, if you wanna look like a fag.” With that, the drunken man took one last sip of beer, belched loudly, and stumbled out of the kitchen. I quickly got some yogurt from the fridge and hurried to catch the bus.

    School was just as great as I thought it would be. Girls flirted with me left and right and I had lunch with the guys from the basketball team. It was everything I had dreamed it would be. But throughout the day, the thought of Derick’s drunken father kept rearing its’ ugly head. I had a bad feeling I hadn’t seen the worst yet.

    When I got home, I came into the living room and found him passed out on the couch, beer cans scattered around him. The entire room reeked of alcohol. I went upstairs, hoping I could go the rest of the day without seeing that man.

    But later that night, as I was listening to Derick’s iPod, marveling at our similar taste in music, when I heard him shouting for Derick. “Get your ass down here and make me some dinner!” His voice was angry and booming, startling me. I ran downstairs and hurried to the kitchen. I searched the entire kitchen, but all I found for dinner were TV dinners. I heated on up and gave it to the man, who was watching an action movie on TV. I handed him the tray, praying that it was what he wanted. He smirked as he yanked the tray from me.

    “For once, you got it right.” Then, the man started to scarf down his dinner, not even noticing as I left the room. When I got to Derick’s room, I sat on the bed and stared blankly at the wall. Derick’s life was nothing like I thought it would be. Sure, he was popular at school and had a lot of friends, but what did that matter when he had to come home to this? A drunk father who doesn’t give a crap about him? My parents are by no means perfect, but at least I know they love me. Suddenly, I felt selfish and ungrateful for wanting to wish away my life so easily. I glanced out the window and saw a single star up in the sky.

    “Please….please…..I want my life back.” I begged of the solitary star. I lay down on the bed and stared at the shiny star. Slowly, I began to drift off into darkness….

    When I heard my alarm clock go off, my eyes immediately flew open. The continuous beeping sound that was once the bane of my existence now sounded like Heaven to my ears. I looked around and grinned when I saw my familiar bedroom. I never felt so happy to be alive. The life I once considered miserable was the greatest life there was.

    Never again will I take it for granted.

    1. lionetravail

      Nicely written, and a good ‘be careful what you wish for’ story. You continue to become better and better at storytelling. My only constructive comment is that I think you could work on ‘writing tight’- trying to cut down on your word counts and being more concise. If you start making that conscious effort, I think you’ll find even more improvement as you go.

      Nice job with this 🙂

    2. Reaper

      I agree that working on tighter writing would be a good goal. You have these huge ideas with a lot of power. Sometimes extra words are necessary for that, but sometimes you’ll find if you cut out words you have so much more power to what is left. This is a wonderful story with some things left unspoken and some really raw emotion as well.

    3. Observer Tim

      Very well done “be careful what you wish for” story, Trevor. I especially liked the way you drew the contrast between Derick’s home life and school life. 🙂

      I agree with Lione and Reaper that the writing could be tightened. That would leave room for a few words of explanation as to why seeing somebody else’s face in the mirror (at the beginning) was such a comfort…

  35. Dana Cariola

    The air in the room smelled different, Ellen thought as slowly began to wake. The usual scent of a neglected litter box normally permeated the air, mixed in with the smell of eggs and bacon, leaking through the floor boards from the apartment, just beneath of her. She rolled over to catch a glimpse of the time, from the digital clock next to her single bed. It wasn’t there. In fact, everything was gone. Everything that she’d owned. Ellen sprang up from her supine position, and leaned over to pull the chain on her second-hand lamp. Her hand waved around in the dark, trying to locate the silver pull cord. Nothing! “Tell me that someone robbed me, while I was asleep in my bed!” she thought to herself. “No Way! How could they?….the door knob was electrified by the battery charge? she began to wonder if the intruder might still be in the apartment. She reached under her mattress to get the tazar gun. That wasn’t there, either. She scanned the room, once and then once more, before leaping out of bed and charging towards the bathroom. Once inside, Ellen locked the door behind her. She moved her hand , along the wall, to find the light switch, and turned it on. The exhaust fan switched on instead. “Oh, Come on!…What is this?….That landlord installed an exhaust fan without asking me if I needed one?” she grumbled. “He let himself into my apartment!…He’s not supposed to do that!” she wondered why he would do that at all. He was a bit of a creep, but a pervert, too!
    She finally located the switched and flipped it on. Ellen screamed at the sight of her. “What is this?…What is this?…she frantically paced back and forth on the tile flooring. “My face?….My hair?….I’m…” she hesitated, “I’m gorgeous!” she announced, boastfully. “But, How?…When?…” she searched for an explanation and began playing out the events from the night before.

    “I left work at 6:00 p.m., went to the parking garage to get my car…found a dent in it” she grumbled, “Went to Starbucks…then, went straight home. And, that’s it.” she recalled looking over at a customer, who was seated in the coffee shop reading a magazine. The model on the front page caught her eye. She was striking! And, then it came to her. “Oh my God!…I’m her!…But, how?” she panicked, then looked into the mirror again. “Wow!….All righty then…What’s her name?” And, before she could wrap her mind around this, a man’s voice rang out, as he entered the apartment. Ellen stumbled back, and fell into the tub pulling the shower curtain down with her.
    “Babe? You alright in there? Let me in so I can help you?” the voice rang out. Ellen didn’t have a boyfriend. But, this model did. A very good – looking one too! The man forced the door open with his shoulder and quickly stepped inside, as he rushed to help her out of the tub.

    “Ahh, Babe. Are you injured?….Here….Take my hand!” he said, reaching down into the tub to help the poor girl up.
    Ellen looked back at the man, unable to speak. He carefully placed her arm around his shoulders, then carried her to the king-sized mattress. Ellen scanned the room with her eyes, only to find that was not in her studio apartment. In fact, this place wasn’t even an apartment complex. It was a house. A beach house. The room was surrounded by tall glass windows, that revealed a panoramic view of the ocean. The deep blue skyline met the horizon, of the ocean, in a union of complete bliss.

    The man carefully placed her onto the rose -colored comforter, placing his strong hand behind her head, as he let her head fall onto the soft pillow. “What happened to you in there?….Did you get one of those dizzy spells again?” he questioned her. “When’s the last time you ate something?….I thought you were going to keep your promise to me.” he continued. “I told you that if started taking those pills again. I’m out!” he warned. Now, completely at a lose, Ellen struggled to say something to him. “Pills?….No, No!….I lost my footing. That’s all!” she explained, but he wasn’t convinced by her words. “Your lying to me!…I can always tell when your lying to me!” he barked back at her. And, without warning; he pulled his arm back and swung it at her face. The sharp blow to her face caused her ears to ring and the side of her face, where she’d been struck, began to swell.

    “Now, Look at what you made me do!…I warned you not to lie to me!…Didn’t I!” he shouted back to her. Suddenly, Ellen realized that he was becoming more aggressive towards her, and feared for her safety. Ellen pulled her legs up towards her chest and tucked them in with her arms around them. “Go and clean yourself up!” he yelled, and pointed towards the bathroom. “You have a photo shoot in 1 hour. Cover that welt up with make-up! he demanded.
    Ellen slowly unraveled herself, and fled into the bathroom, closing the door behind her. “Oh, my God!…Is this your life?…Is this what you go through because your beautiful?” Ellen no longer wished she was this woman. She was a prisoner to this man, and a slave to the industry of modeling. All she could think about was how easy her own life had been. She wasn’t a beauty, but the produce clerk sure thought she was. And, as much as she disliked his constant reminders of it. He would have never laid a hand on her. Not like this animal, in the next room. Ellen looked around for a way out of this mess. She spotted a blow dryer, then plugged it in. She pulled the stopper on the drain, turned on the dryer and placed her hands and arms into it. Pulling the cord over with her teeth, she let the dryer fall into the water. A white light flashed in front of her, as she began rushing towards it. A steady hum filled her ears as she was propelled into this vortex. And, in a flash she was back in her single bed. The alarm went off, right on cue.

    1. turtles88

      Woah, Dana. This was extremely good. Maybe if the words were a bit spaced out it would be easier to read, but besides that, this was so good I was wondering how or what your MC would do to get out of that situation. The ending was a shock 😉 Nice job!

    2. lionetravail

      Hey Dana! Intense story, nice job. Some comments:

      Generally, standard practice is to have different speakers in their own paragraphs- when they’re both in the same one, it’s harder to follow the conversation.

      The action/drama in the model’s life happens really fast and intensely, and I’m not sure that there’s enough setup for things to degenerate as fast as they did from “Oh, babe, you okay?” to “You’re lying to me!” relationship abuse to suicide. It’s a question of extent, I guess- sure, it could happen, but it’s a bit of a stretch without at least a set up that things are dangerous and problematic, at least for me.

      Really interesting story however.

      1. Dana Cariola

        It’s called Bi-Polar Disorder. And, although I never mentioned that awful condition here, it is implied. Just because this individual resides in a beach house and has a bank account ranging in the millions, Does that make them stable, mentally? From Hollywood to a harem, some of the world’s most powerful men have lost their shirts and sanity over a beautiful woman. And, when they find themselves eating from their hands, they react in ways, that can be sadistic and self-serving.

        As far as the dialogue I agree. Thanks

    3. Reaper

      Other than some wording and format clean up there is very little to say except this is good and intense. I’m partially with lionetravail on the pace of the action here. I liked how quickly it went from are you okay to stop lying to me. That fit. Though the jump to what seemed to be suicide was pretty rapid. Why wouldn’t this woman from the outside call the cops? I understand abuse victims do not but they have been indoctrinated into it where your MC hadn’t. I think I need just a little reasoning to make sense of that leap because the phone seems a logical step and I am left wondering, when the MC returned home did this poor model die?

      1. Dana Cariola

        Fellas, it was just a dream. Brian outlined the scenario, it was up to us to fill-in the rest, however we deemed fit. So, our model lives on!

    4. Observer Tim

      Very intense story, Dana. You did a great job making paradise fall apart quickly. 🙂

      Like Reaper, I was a bit taken aback by the suicide thing, especially since the disconnect of being in another person’s body gives it more of a feel of murder.

      Also, since you described the aggression immediately before, you could safely lose Ellen’s observation that he was becoming more aggressive.

      Regardless of the little issues, stil a great story.

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