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Back in Time

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

You wake up one morning to find that you are your three year old self, with your parents again, with all of the memories and experiences of your current life. Write this scene and express the emotion and frustration your character undergoes as you internally try to sort this out.

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

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834 Responses to Back in Time

  1. Caspian6757 says:

    I slid out of bed and headed to the door while pulling a wet diaper out from between my small butt cheeks. I paused, rolled my eyes, then turned around and headed for the clean diapers. Tearing off the soaked one and shoving it in the bin, I pulled on a fresh one and grabbed my blanket and headed back to the door. Now, the next challenge was reaching the blasted door knob! The teddy bear stool in the corner served a nice purpose. The hall was creepier than I remembered but perhaps that was the child in me, or rather the child I was and not the adult that felt the fear. I, the adult part of me, knew there was nothing really out there. Determined, I headed towards the kitchen in darkness. It took a few tries but the fridge door gave under my will of domination. Grinning with all of four tiny teeth I rummaged for something good. “Cookies! Oh cookies how I’ve missed you!” Old age hasn’t been kind but by god I’m loving this! My grubby little hands reached and made contact just in time for someone to flip on the light. I turned and screamed, startled to see my mother, tired, and a bit bemused at my guilty posture. Blanket gripped for life in one hand and package of cookies in the other. “Now, now, I don’t think so buddy. Let’s get you back to bed little mister.” For a moment I understood the rational point of view here, but then the crinkle of the cookie package made me loose it! Wailing like the child I currently was, the cookies were taken away and my mother put me back in my bed, this time with the bars up on the side. Exhausted from my irrational fit I grabbed my blanket and stuck my thumb in my mouth. “Tomorrow for sure, I’ll get you tomorrow you crafty cookie and your little crumbs too!”

  2. SMOKE
    ======

    Peter wanted a smoke. It wasn’t so much a physical need as an emotional imperative. After all, he was three years old. Fucking gypsies.

    He woke up staring at that God damned solar-system mobile again. That thing scared the shit out of him for years last time around. Mom never figured out that he’d broken it on purpose. She never noticed such things, too busy scratching tickets with a dirty penny to notice. Even now, as Pete stood in his playpen, he saw the ashen heater of her cigarette arc into the ashtray as she furiously rubbed away the silvery coating of wasted money. Man, that smoke looked good.

    “Mom,” said Peter. Nothing. “Mom!” Still nothing. “Yo, Mattie,” he bellowed, as best as a toddler could bellow. Fucking gypsies.

    His mother looked up. “What, Petey. What do you want now?”

    “Don’t call me that. I always fucking hated being called ‘Petey’.”

    “Sorry, Peter. I jus-”

    “Pete. I go by Pete.”

    “Okay, Pete. What can mommy do for you?” She readily accepted that her little boy’s body now housed a thirty year-old version. It never crossed her booze-addled brain as to where three-year-old Petey went. Mattie Johns simply rolled with it. Government Mothers Allowance didn’t care. So what if this brat could hold his liquor better than her! If only this Pete wasn’t so damned needy. She forced a saccharin smile.

    Pete wasn’t buying what she was selling. “Gimme a drag will ya? I’m croaking here.”

    “Just one puff. I don’t want you coughing again.” She leaned over and passed him the butt.

    “Whatever. Thanks.” Pete took a long pull and tapped the ash into an upended Megablock. He passed it back.

    “Bastard! You finished it. And stop staring at my tits. Creeping me out.”

    Pete shrugged. “When’s your next customer?”

    “Ten minutes and he’ll be here.”

    “You’ll leave his pants out here this time, right?”

    “Yes, Petey, I mean, Pete.”

    “More than ten minutes?”

    “Jesus, this is Gordon. You got five… tops.”

    “Him again? He’s as horny as he is dumb, ain’t he?”

    Mattie smiled, not wide enough to expose the gap, but still managed to show some motherly affection. There was a knock at the door.

    “Shit, he’s early,” she said. “Ready?”

    “As always, Mom.”

    Mattie bent down and kissed her son on the forehead, much to Pete’s delight. Standing, she pushed up her breasts and smoothed her t-shirt. “Showtime, bud.”

    “Hey,” Pete said.

    “What now?”

    “One word: Tictacs.”

    She gave him the finger and grabbed the case off the table, shaking one out as she headed to the door.

  3. bg83mn says:

    “Honey, do you hear that? Hun? John!”
    “What? I’m sleeping.”
    “The phone, your phone was ringing.”
    “So what? It’s the middle of the night. If it’s important they will call back.”
    “They did dear, many times.”
    Just then the cell phone on the dresser lit up the ceiling and a ringtone echoed off the wall, in recognition to the statement just made.

    John lifted the restricting covers off himself and went to see what the panic was regarding. “It’s two o’clock in the morning for damn sake.” John sleepily pressed the buttons on the phone. “It’s Carla, Mitch’s wife.” he curiously stated. “five missed calls? No message.” John pressed the return call button and awaited through the single half ring.
    “Hello? John?”
    “what is it Carla? What’s Wrong?”
    “John? He’s dead. Mitch is dead… He left us. That son of a bitch. He finally left us.”
    “What? He… How? He’s young. We’re only 35?”
    John took in all the information that was given and hung up the phone. “Mitch. He’s dead. I grew up with him. e was healthier than me. Died of a heart attack. My best friend. He’ll my only friend. I’m going to go have a smoke.”
    John’s wife watched him leave the room and worried in silence.
    John went downstairs to the enclosed front porch. He sat on his recliner, lit a cigarette and held his head in his hands, weeping over his loss. After his tears were exhausted he laid back on the recliner and lit another cigarette. John’s eyes grew heavy with sleep. He abruptly opened them soon after they shut. He noticed he was in a bed again, ‘not my bed, what is this?’ John felt himself saying “Mom? Dad?” he thought for a moment, ‘why did I say that. Dad’s been dead for years. What’s going on? Where am I?’

    John climbed from bed and ran downstairs ‘This is my old house. I haven’t seen this since I was a kid.’
    “Johnny boy come get breakfast. Oh, there you are come and eat.” John looked at his mother in stunned silence unable to understand. But he fond himself eating a moment later, without so much as a question.

    John’s mother brought him to daycare for the first time that morning. John was hesitant to be left with strangers and wasn’t sure how to communicate his situation with anyone. He was trapped inside himself. A much younger version apparently, but still himself. John cried and watched his mother leave. Long after she was no longer in sights John felt someone tap his shoulder. John turned about and fond another boy of similar age and stature holding his hand out waiting to be shook. John fond his courtesies and shook the boys hand, “My name is Mitch” he said. And John looked back in amazement, “I’m Johnny”, he stated. ‘I never knew how I met you’ he fond his emotions all a jumbled. ‘I’ve always known you. We were inseparable. My friend. Nah, my Brother.’

  4. Red mage says:

    One of the more prominent lies of adulthood is that your childhood was so much better than whatever happened past puberty. You figure, you’ve been a productive member of society, you know true misery. That reality, however, pales in comparison to the sheer annoyance at my current situation. I don’t care whether this is a dream, a bizarre acid trip or some divine prank. All I know is that I have regressed in height and that there are a bunch of stuffed lion, tigers, and bears staring at me with large soulless eyes from various corners of the room.

    My eyes darted to a large clock with a smiley face on the wall.

    7:14 AM? I haven’t woken up this early without an alarm since…well forever.

    Alert and wide awake, I climbed out bed—much closer to the floor than I’m used to—and head to the ajar door, the hallway light peeking through the crack to banish any monsters from my closet. Of course, I realize now that it was mostly for my mother’s benefit, so that she could hear any possible mischief I was planning.

    My old house looks different from my current perspective. Everything’s taller; even the ceiling looks like it’s too high. I made my way passed my mother’s room and went downstairs. If time travel has indeed occurred, science fiction has taught me it’s best to avoid confrontation as long as possible. I know about Facebook; I could do some serious damage here. Feeling hungry, I went to the kitchen and encountered my first problem.

    No chair is going to help me reach those Cheerios.

    Okay, how about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

    Luckily, the jelly jar is on the bottom shelf on the refrigerator door. I took the jar out and twisted.

    It didn’t even budge. It also didn’t help that I could not even maintain a proper grip because my hand was too small for the lid. That’s no good.

    Fruit? I have no fingernails to peel an orange properly. Apples it is.

    Hunger problem solved, at least for the moment, I stood in the middle of the living room at a loss.

    What did I do for fun when I was three?

    My mom would have a fit if I went outside without her and playing with dolls just doesn’t do it for me anymore.

    Good ol’ television and the days before parental controls.

    Of course, the networks I watch when I’m older are still showing paid programming and infomercials at this hour because real adults want to sleep in on a Saturday morning. That’s okay though. I do remember how much I enjoyed Saturday morning cartoons. I immediately turned to my old favorite channels.

    The nostalgia wore off quickly.

    There is no internet, my current books barely surpass the five second rule, I cannot feed myself, I have no freedom, height discrimination is suddenly a real thing (again) and even TV has failed me.

    Childhood is overrated.

  5. Cceynowa says:

    <>

    I think I peed myself. How could this happen? I am a 26 year old woman for crying out loud! And where is my husband? This isn’t our room. My feet are pinned to the bed. What the fuck?

    I sit up, taking stock of my surroundings, and find myself face to face with Flicka resting on my feet. I start to scream. Flicka has been dead for over 10 years. She died when I was twelve. We buried her in the backyard.

    I hear running feet. My mom appears at my side, her dyed red hair styled by sleep. I have only seen pictures of her red hair phase. What. The. Fuck.

    Flicka begins to growl.

    “Mom. Oh my God, mom,” I say. My voice is too high, and I have a slight lisp. Realization hits me. I’m a child, a toddler. My boobs are gone and my hands are fat. My legs are short and bowed. I’m sitting in a rapidly cooling puddle of pee.

    “It’s okay baby, accidents happen,” my mother sooths. “Flicka, get out. Out.” Mom shuts the door behind the still growling Flicka and heads to the dresser for, I assume, fresh clothes.

    “Mom, listen. This isn’t right. I’m not three.”

    She looks confused and bemused. “Oh, and how old are you, my big girl?”

    “Cut the shit, Patty. I’m a married woman. We had a bad falling out when I married Bryan. Just ‘cause I’m back in time doesn’t mean I forgot the woman you truly are.”

    She looks dumbfounded, but, in true mom fashion, quickly recovers by focusing on the wrong issue. “Young lady! How dare you.”

    After she spanks me, rather harder than I remembered her ever doing so before, I am left to sit in the dark, in my own pee, and ponder my future.

    Best I can figure, I’m approximately three years old. No clue why I’m back to being three, but I’m not going to marry that loser Bryan again.

  6. fushigisuppi says:

    I wake up, my head stinging painfully. The overwhelming hunger I feel overpowers every sense of pain I should be feeling right now though. How do I get out of this small fragile body? I know I look so pale right now. Please, anyone, anybody, give me something to fill my tummy. I extend one of my hands. I see it trembling with dirt and wounds I’m too numb to feel. I try to look so pitiful – a look I’ve mastered long ago. No one notices.

    I try to move. I can’t. I’ve gotten used to just sit here; my back leaning against the wall. It’s the dirtiest place a kid like me shouldn’t loiter. That’s the problem. I don’t just loiter here, I live here. A street so narrow but seems so big. A street so big nobody hears my stomach growling. Nobody sees my dehydrated lips so dry. I drink my own saliva.

    I don’t know how I managed to wake up. I remember I was staring at some distant future where I’m living a luxurious life. A 30-year old version of me with life so different from this. A life so convenient I don’t know how to live. A life free from dirt and hunger and sorrow. I smile wryly. I want to go back there. I know how. I’ll sleep now and please don’t wake me up. I would want to not wake up.

  7. vaderize03 says:

    I just joined, and this my first post. Not sure if it fits, but I wanted to give it a shot.

    * * *

    I looked down at the foot of the bed, and there it was. My lungs froze, and my heart began to race like a rabid jackhammer. It hovered in plain sight, a shiny red cylinder topped with a glowing red ball, mocking me.
    The Contonaton.
    How I knew its name, I did not know, but the sight of it filled me with unspeakable fear. I sat very still, staring at my nemesis, and waited for its next move. I wanted to cry out, but was afraid to break the spell. What are you? I thought as the sweat began to flow. Where do you come from?
    Silence. If it could read my thoughts, it would not give an answer.
    Inch-by-inch, I began to move. First my hips, then my legs. I never took my eyes off of it as I slid to the floor and straightened up. My knees clicked, but the monster didn’t move. One foot at a time, I backed towards the door. It was eyeless, yet I felt its stern gaze. Please G-d, I prayed as I groped for the handle, don’t let me die. Not like this.
    My fingers closed on the cold metal. I paused, unsure of what to do. Fast or slow? I thought. Stealth or surprise? As I pondered the question, it began to move, slowly at first, then faster and faster. Its glow increased, and the room turned redder than a fiery island sunset. Without warning, it came to a halt, then suddenly released two high-pitched shrieks. My nerve snapped, and with a whistling scream, I bolted down the hall to the safety of my parents.
    The room was dark, but my eyes were keen. I saw her first, curled in sleep’s blissful embrace, and scurried over.
    “Mommy,” I whispered. “I saw a shadow.”
    A shift and a groan, then a blossom of light. Grumbling under his breath, my father reached for a book and started to read. After donning her glasses, mom pulled back the covers and tucked me in. A hug and a kiss, then the four words that made everything okay: “It was only a dream.”

    • Critique says:

      I liked this vaderize03. A dream from a child’s perspective with some of the adult thinking thrown in. There’s nothing quite as comforting as a Mother’s snuggles and reassuring words.
      May I offer a tiny suggestion? Space out your writing so it doesn’t look solid – like one paragraph – it’s makes it much easier to read :)
      I hope to read more of your prompts!

      • vaderize03 says:

        Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it!

        Quick question: I had it separated into much more readable segments when I copy/pasted it from Pages, but when it uploaded, it reformatted into what got posted.

        Do you know if there’s any way to prevent that?

        Thanks! (and looking forward to posting more!)

  8. lynnshoemate says:

    “No mama, please stop! I’m sorry!” 

    Who said that? It didn’t sound like me. It sounded like a child. But there’s no one else here. I feel the blows, so maybe it was me. Is that my mother standing over me, hitting me? I’m cowering in my bed. I’m wet. The bed’s wet. And this woman is raging mad about it.  

    Am I dreaming? It feels real. Then somehow I know. I’m three. She’s my twenty three year old mother. I’m not dreaming. But how did this happen? How did we get back here? 

    A voice speaks to my heart and tells me He did this. 

    “I had to bring you back here to experience this again. As an adult. When you were three you had to bury this or it would have destroyed you. But it stayed with you, in your soul. A festering wound that needs to be healed. It will still be painful but you’re safe now. Safe from her. Safe to feel – not the physical pain of the abuse, but the emotional pain of a mother’s rejection – and not be destroyed by it. You have many wounds that need to be healed. We’ll have to come back to heal each one. I’ll be with you and you’ll survive this even though it may not feel like it at times. You cannot be healthy and whole until we work on healing your wounds. They won’t heal on their own.”

    He was right. It’s extremely painful when I go back and visit the abuse and rejection I received from my mother. Yet, I know it’s necessary. I denied and repressed until I was forty nine years old. Then God said, “No more. It’s time to remember so you will never forget how it really was.” 

    Sometimes I think the feeling and grieving are going to knock me down so hard I’ll never get up again. But it hasn’t yet. God always picks me up and assures me this will not last forever. So I keep going back. And I feel the healing and the freedom it’s giving me. 

    • Critique says:

      Lynnshoemate this is a well written very dark tale of abuse – from a Mother – the one who should be your protector and nurturer. It felt real to me. I’m glad the MC is experiencing healing from the past.

      • lynnshoemate says:

        Thank you Critique. I know it’s dark and most people don’t want to hear/read/know about this. But this was my life as a child. And writing about it brings healing and helps others. I appreciate your comment.

        • Critique says:

          Thanks for sharing so personally lynnshoemate. When I read your prompt I thought perhaps it was close to home for you. You did a super job portraying the situation and kudos to you for sharing your experience (not an easy thing to do) to help someone else :)

  9. Shell says:

    Regression
    By Shell Ochsner

    Where am I?

    I don’t understand.

    Is this a dream?

    Why is that woman singing my name?

    “Meeeeeshell my Bell, wake up punkin.”

    “Mom?” The sound of my childlike voice startled me to the point of tears.

    In a futile attempt to assess the situation, I start inventories. I’m wearing a Wonder Woman nightgown, laying in a very uncomfortable spring bed in a bedroom that I barely remember.

    Panic stricken I try to find a rational explanation of why I’ve suddenly woken up as my three-year old self. “I shouldn’t be here.”

    Misunderstanding my predicament, mother comes to me for comfort. “Did you have a bad dream sweetie? Shhh, now don’t cry. Momma’s got you.”

    This can’t be happening. I’m a forty-year old woman with my own children. I have a career, husband, and a house. I have a life! If this is a dream, why aren’t I waking up? Reality usually presses on when the fantasy’s revealed.

    It’s useless to struggle against her grasp as she strokes my forehead while gently rocking. Dazed and confused I submit to her nurturing. “Would you like some breakfast sweetie?”

    The mere mention of the word sends my toddler senses into a frenzy worthy of a shark attack. My stomach noisily growls and I wince at my vulnerability. “Yes please. I would like to eat now.”

    With a big kiss on my forehead, she goes towards the kitchen to prepare my meal once again singing my name, “Meeeeshell, my bell.”

    I revel in the moment as I lay here listening to my beautiful mother singing to me. I forgot about how pleasant she was before her drug use. My young body responds with tingling happy feelings that make me want to run up to her and jump in her arms. But my adult brain keeps me still, stymied as I’m hypnotised by her loveliness.

    After breakfast, I give in to the temptation to explore. It’s strange to walk around a house when your barely three-and-a-half feet tall. My hands are so small, it’s with great difficulty to hold on to anything.

    Astoundment strikes as I approach our rocking chair. “That chair’s so big!”

    At one fell swoop, I’m soaring through the air then we crash-land in the chair. Both of us broke out into uncontrollable giggles as she hugged me tight.

    How could I not remember this about her? Tears streak my guilt-ridden cheeks as she tightened her arms around me once more.

    “Awe honey, don’t be upset. This is just my way of telling you how much I truly love you. And I’m sorry for all you endured. I wanted you to know that it wasn’t always bad. I love you and I’m proud of the beautiful woman you are today. ”

    The look on my face must have said it all.

    “Yes my sweet. This is where I will spend eternity. This is my heaven.”

    I let her hold me until sleep took me back where I belong. “Goodbye mom.”

  10. Juliakinter says:

    “Christmas Fire”
    My eyes flutter open and after a few minutes of adjusting to the sun light peeping in through the curtains, I sit up. The pink walls are the first to catch my eye, then the dolls and purple rug. My hands rub hard against my eyes, I often dreamt to when I was a child but never this vividly. I look to my bed side table to my hello kitty alarm clock. As it strikes 6 am the meows go off, one after the other until I reach my hand out, feeling the smooth, silver snooze button for a minute, then I press it. I pull my tiny hands back and look them all around ‘could this be happening? No, of course not!’ I think to myself. I stand up, feeling the carpet run through my small toes, I look up and down; I’m wearing a soft, pink night gown with horses and hearts on it. ‘Ok, maybe this is happening.’ I think as I explore more around my room.
    “Connie, why aren’t you up, Its Christmas!?” mom says as she opens my door.
    “Mom, I’m not me” I cry
    “Oh, honey, did you have a nightmare?” She says, bending over to get to my eyes level, her brown hair hanging down. “But you had Mr. Bear to protect you! Now come down stairs! Santa’s been good to you this year!”
    “No mom, I’m not me!” I cry as she picks me up and carries me down the steps. When we get to the bottom, the whole house is full of crayon drawings of Christmas trees on construction paper and multi-colored lights.
    A smell of warm, fresh pancakes fills my nose, a smell I hadn’t smelt in forever. I run into the kitchen to find my father flipping pancakes, I run over to him and hug him so hard he falls back on the hot gas stove and the fire leaps to his shirt. I stand back watching as the fire engulfs the room.
    “Get out, Connie!” My mother yells and I run out the back door, my mother stay in to try and find daddy but comes out a few minutes later, alone. Tears and ash cover her face and body, as she runs to me and hugs me tight and sobs into my shoulder. Suddenly I realize why my mother never told me how my father died.

  11. Sabrinaannbell says:

    My eyes flick open in panic, noting that the room is basked in a light glow of orange, the sun must be trying to peak in behind the curtain. I wonder what time it is. Passed 6:30, but how far passed; I do not know. My heart has started back up once again, allowing me to take in a breath, one I had not realized I was holding. Falling, that’s what woke me; I have had the falling dream, once again. There is a throbbing in my head, the hammer pounding down as I try to recall the events of last night. I remember Dylan, lots of shots, and praying profusely to the porcelain gods’, but after that my mind is blank. Did I make it home last night? Is this my bed? I roll over feeling the presence of another human being beside me.

    Mom? Her eyes snap open. She regards me warmly, with a smile, bringing the corners of her mouth almost level with her nose, revealing the perfect white rows of pearl like teeth. She looks different, younger.

    “Hi, sweetie.” Sweetie? She hasn’t called me sweetie since I was ten. What’s she been smoking?

    “Let’s see if you made it through the night without wetting the bed.” She wonders aloud, propping herself up onto her elbows, and eventually into a kneeling position over me. Gee, mom, I might have been drunk last night but I’ve never managed to piss myself.

    “Hey! Put me down.” I wail, in a high-pitched screeching sound. Was that my voice? Hands tucked under my armpits, holding me a foot away from her, my mother has paused mid swing as soon as the first words rushed out of my mouth. We both stare at each other. My mother’s face a mask of worry, revealing the shocked look that must be plastered on mine.

    I look down at my dangling legs in the air. My legs! Where are my legs? I’m frantic, my fat stubby arms, trying desperately to reach them, while I kick both feet furiously back and forth. Failing miserably, not even able to reach over my mother’s arms blocking the way. The dawning realization that I am three years old, hits me blindsided like a Tonka truck tossed into a toy filled sandbox. I go limp in my mother’s arms as everything around me goes black.

    • Sabrinaannbell says:

      Okay, I just wanted to say sorry for my eye sore of a short story on here a couple of extra times. I know that duplicity can sometimes take away from the content intended to come across, people find it annoying, but on a positive note at least you can see my editing process. :) If you do plan on reading one of them, I recommend this one. It’s my final edit.
      Thanks
      Sabrina

  12. Sabrinaannbell says:

    My eyes flick open in panic, noting that the room is basked in a light glow of orange, the sun must be trying to peak in behind the curtain. I wonder what time it is. Passed 6:30, but how far passed; I do not know. My heart has started back up once again, allowing me to take in a breath, one I had not realized I was holding. Falling, that’s what woke me; I have had the falling dream, once again. There is a throbbing in my head, the hammer pounding down as I try to recall the events of last night. I remember Dylan, lots of shots, and praying profusely to the porcelain gods’, but after that my mind is blank. Did I make it home? Is this my bed? I roll over feeling the presence of another human being lying beside me.
    Mom?

    Her eyes snap open. She regards me warmly, with a smile, bringing the corners of her mouth almost level with her nose, revealing the perfect white rows of pearl like teeth. She looks different, younger.

    “Hi sweetie.” Sweetie? She hasn’t called me sweetie since I was ten. What’s she been smoking? “Let’s see if you made it through the night without wetting the bed.” She wonders aloud, propping herself up onto her elbows, and eventually into a kneeling position over me. Gee, mom, I might have been drunk last night but I’ve never managed to piss myself.

    “Hey, put me down.” I wail, in a high-pitched screeching sound. Was that my voice? Hands tucked under my armpits, holding me a foot away from her, my mother has paused in mid swing as soon as the first words rushed out of my mouth. We are both staring at each other. My mother’s face a mask of worry, revealing the shocked look that must be plastered on mine.

    I look down at my dangling legs in the air. My legs. Where are my legs? I’m frantic, my fat stubby arms, trying desperately to reach them, while I kick both feet furiously back and forth. Failing miserably, not even able to reach over my mother’s arms blocking the way. The dawning realization that I am three, hits me blindsided like a Tonka truck tossed into a toy-filled sandbox. I go limp in my mother’s arms, as everything around me turns black.

  13. DMelde says:

    Peter felt death rise up to greet him as he fell inside of his dream.

    “If you hit bottom when you fall in a dream then you die.” his mother had warned.

    Peter struggled to wake up before he “hit bottom”. Every night he had the same dream. Every time he struggled to wake up. After two weeks, Peter decided- Enough! And the very next time he fell in his dream he didn’t struggle to wake up. He fell and fell for a very long time. Then he hit bottom, but he didn’t die. Peter learned that mother was wrong. He also learned that day that he was a very, very good dreamer.

    Peter went on to learn how to control every aspect of his dreams. He even learned how to die in them. But over time, dreaming lost its excitement, and in a few years Peter grew bored, so he decided to try something new. He decided to transition from being fully awake to being in a dream, without falling asleep first.

    He practiced transitioning to the dream world. Every time he felt sleep approach Peter would gently pull his mind back, until after years of effort, he was able to hover between the two worlds of waking and dreaming. It felt like he was crossing a room, entering through the front door of being awake, and exiting through the back door of dreamland. Then a curious thing happened.

    While walking one day between awake and dreamland, Peter glanced towards his left where he saw a third door in the room. He reached out to it but he felt a push, and Peter fell into sleep. He tried many times but every time he tried crossing the room he was pushed until he fell into sleep. Peter learned how to gain control over the pushing. When he was finally able to cross the room he felt like he was crossing against fast moving water where the slightest misstep could send him falling again. Finally he crossed safely and he reached out, and he touched the third door.

    The door was icy cold and Peter felt the cold deep within himself. With a turn of the handle he opened the door. There was nothing there. Beyond the door space did not exist. Peter didn’t feel the familiar push from inside the room; rather, he was pulled through the door and into time.

    “Time is peculiar.” Peter thought. “We drift through it much like a boat drifts downstream. But this pulling through time feels like being turned inside out.” And, after a while, Peter fell asleep.

    He awoke to the smell of freshly washed sheets. He was wearing his power ranger pajamas and he was three years old again. Peter was in awe. He had been given a gift. He walked downstairs to the kitchen where he gave his mother a surprise hug. He beamed a smile up at her and she smiled down at him, as only a mother can.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      I loved this story DMelde. What an interesting concept, training the mind to leave body and plummet back into time. And then to know when to stop. Your story line expresses this in such a rational manner, the reader believes it and becomes a part of the story. It was really an exciting voyage. You’ve done a great job on this one.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Interesting metastory, DMelde. It provides a thought-provoking explanation of how Peter worked his way up to the prompt. I’m curious about whether he can go back to any age he wants in his dreams, or just that three-year-old age of innocence.

      • DMelde says:

        As in all things, Peter would learn how to control the pull of time. He was, after all, the boy who never grew up. Such is the stuff of legends. Thank you for your thoughts.

  14. Sabrinaannbell says:

    How come I don’t see my story in the comments?

    • When you’re new to posting to the site, your posts go into a folder and need to be approved before they get posted–and I’m the one that has to approve them to confirm the posts aren’t spam (we get a TON of spam). Once I approve the first couple, you won’t have problems anymore and the posts will show up automatically and immediately. Often, if the first posts by a new user are on Friday afternoon or over the weekend or on a day I’m not in the office, I won’t be able to go through the folder until I return.

      Anyway, you are now approved and can post away! Welcome to the Writer’s Digest community.
      Brian
      Online Editor

      • Sabrinaannbell says:

        Oh, my bad. Sorry I posted 20 million times, then. Makes sense. I thought maybe that was the case but then someones else’s appeared and mine still wasn’t there, so I thought it just wasn’t working. Thanks and sorry.

        • Sabrinaannbell says:

          There isn’t by chance a way to delete the seven extra copies of this story on here that I was stubbornly trying to make post themselves by magic, then?

  15. Sabrinaannbell says:

    My eyes flick open in panic, noting that the room is basked in a light glow of orange, the sun must be trying to peak in behind the curtain. I wonder what time it is. Passed 6:30, but how far passed; I do not know. My heart has started back up once again, allowing me take in a breath, one I had not realized I was holding. Falling, that’s what woke me; I have had the falling dream, once again. There is a throbbing in my head, the hammer pounding down as I try to recall the events of last night. I remember Dylan, lots of shots, and praying profusely to the porcelain gods’, but after that my mind is blank. Did I make it home? Is this my bed? I roll over feeling the presence of another human lying beside me.
    Mom?
    Her eyes snap open. She regards me warmly, with a smile, bringing the corners of her mouth almost level with her nose, revealing the perfect white rows of pearl like teeth. She looks different, younger.
    “Hi sweetie.” Sweetie? She hasn’t called me sweetie since I was ten. What’s she been smoking?
    “Let’s see if you made it through the night without wetting the bed?” She questions, propping herself up onto her elbows, and eventually into a kneeling position over me. Gee, mom, I might have been drunk last night but I’ve never managed to piss myself.
    “Hey, put me down.” I wail, in a high-pitched screeching sound. Was that my voice? Hands tucked under my armpits, holding me a foot away from her, my mother has paused in mid swing as soon as the first words rushed out of my mouth. We are both staring at each other. My mother’s face a mask of worry, revealing the shocked look that must be plastered on mine.
    I look down at my dangling legs in the air. My legs. Where are my legs? I panic, my fat stubby arms, trying desperately to reach them, while I kick both feet furiously back and forth. Failing miserably, not even able to reach over my mother’s arms blocking the way. The dawning realization that I am three, hits me blindsided like a Tonka truck tossed into the sandbox. I go limp in my mother’s arms, as everything around me turns black.

  16. Sabrinaannbell says:

    My eyes flick open in panic, noting that the room is basked in a light glow of orange, the sun must be trying to peak in behind the curtain. I wonder what time it is. Passed 6:30, but how far passed; I do not know. My heart has started back up once again, allowing me take in a breath, one I had not realized I was holding. Falling, that’s what woke me; I have had the falling dream, once again. There is a throbbing in my head, the hammer pounding down as I try to recall the events of last night. I remember Dylan, lots of shots, and praying profusely to the porcelain gods’, but after that my mind is blank. Did I make it home? Is this my bed? I roll over feeling the presence of another human lying beside me.
    Mom?
    Her eyes snap open. She regards me warmly, with a smile, bringing the corners of her mouth almost level with her nose, revealing the perfect white rows of pearl like teeth. She looks different, younger.
    “Hi sweetie.” Sweetie? She hasn’t called me sweetie since I was ten. What’s she been smoking?
    “Let’s see if you made it through the night without wetting the bed?” She questions, propping herself up onto her elbows, and eventually into a kneeling position over me. Gee, mom, I might have been drunk last night but I’ve never managed to piss myself.
    “Hey, put me down.” I wail, in a high-pitched screeching sound. Was that my voice? Hands tucked under my armpits, holding me a foot away from her, my mother has paused in mid swing as soon as the first words rushed out of my mouth. We are both staring at each other. My mother’s face a mask of worry, revealing the shocked look that must be plastered on mine.
    I look down at my dangling legs in the air. My legs. Where are my legs? I panic, my fat stubby arms, trying desperately to reach them, while I kick both feet furiously back and forth. Failing miserably, not even able to reach over my mother’s arms blocking the way. The dawning realization that Iam three, hits me blindsided like a Tonka truck tossed into the sandbox. I go limp in my mother’s arms, as everything around me turns black.

  17. FamousAuthor says:

    My face was smashed against my pillow when I woke up.

    Ashamed of myself for drenching my pillow with grotesque slobber, and realizing how embarrassing it would be for my husband to see what I’d done, I quickly lifted my head and turned towards him. Not only was there no husband, but there was no other side to the bed.

    I was about to lie back down, surrendering to the dream I must be having, but then I felt something stuck to my face.

    No wait – impressed into my cheek, and it hurt!

    “Wha da heck? Owweee!”

    Lifting it away, I looked carefully at it. A pacifier. It really was. I’d seen them stuck to my children’s faces on many occasions, but never to my own. I threw it onto the floor and began to get out of bed. When I swung my legs over the side, I felt completely off balance. It was like my legs were barely there at all. I put my head down to look for my legs and my heavy head threw me completely off of the bed.

    Against my will, I cried so loudly that I felt quite immature.

    “Mommeeee!”

    Why can’t I control myself?

    I was even more shocked when my mother – the same one who had died twelve years before – came running into the room. My mind told me I was going crazy, but my body stood and ran toward her.
    “What’s wrong sweetie?” were her gentle words.

    “I fawed off da bed”, I clumsily said, continuing to cry.

    My giant, once-dead mother bent over to pick me up. She kissed my forehead and said, “Well, that wasn’t a good way to wake up on your third birthday.”

    I stopped crying.

    My head didn’t hurt the same way it had only moments before, but my mind hurt worse than ever. It was too much to process. In actuality I was a forty-four year old woman with three grown children and a husband – somewhere. I knew that. But at this moment, I was three years old with child-like impulses, and it was my birthday.

    I contentedly rode on Mom’s hip for a while. I knew it couldn’t last – after all, I had an appointment with my agent at 9:00 a.m.(to go over the details of the six-figure book deal I had in front of me).

    Mom walked me to the kitchen and set me down in a wooden high chair. When she pushed the tray in, I felt it squish me (feeling similar to the bra I dreaded putting on every day). I watched my mother put her apron around her thin waist and listened to her sing “The long and winding road …”.

    “Good morning Stevie!” I heard her say.

    I turned to see the older brother I’d forgotten I had, and there was a ball flying at my head.
    __________

    “Honey. . . wake up. You have an appointment with your agent this morning.”
    I opened my eyes-and missed my mom.

  18. JMac64 says:

    Circa 1967. It is bedtime.
    My older brother, who is 10-years-old, and the 8-year-old twins, girl & boy, had been compliant and gone quietly to bed.

    However, as fidgety, 3-year-olds, it is tough trying to collectively go to sleep. Although we are identical female triplets, dressed in identical pajamas and looking alike, this does not equate to “acting alike.”

    Mama & Daddy make separate trips by the bedroom door to tell us to be quiet. But NO…my identical triplet sisters insist on giggling and talking. We are going to get in big trouble. My parents, especially Mama, are not ones to repeat requests over and over.

    “Will ya’ll be quiet!” I tried to warn my sisters. They both ignore me, while we lay in our full-size bed. It is like watching two holograms of myself. One talking her head off, while the other is laughing. All of this happening in real-time. On and on, they continue. Mom has given warning #2 – she never goes past #3…ever.

    Finally…she calmly enters the dark room with a fly swatter! Since she does not know who the guilty party is, she just starts spanking legs. We are crying out, trying to avoid the inevitable punishment. Ouch! I managed to avoid the majority of the swats, but unfortunately caught a few. “Now go to sleep like I said!” she proclaims as she exits the dark room. Daddy peeks in, looking sad. Although he is tough and firm, he is a “softie” when it comes to discipline.

    We are whining…our feelings hurt more than the swats. Guess what? In a few moments, you hear nothing but ZZZZZZZZZZZs :).

    • JMac64 says:

      This is my first time posting…so constructive feedback is humbly appreciated.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a charming story of a family that nowadays would be called big. It’s an entertaining slice of life piece, and a light and friendly read. I giggled when I pictured the fly swatter.

      You’ve definitely got the storytelling side of things down solid, but my red pencil noted two points of style (i.e. they’re not errors, they just look a little unpolished).

      First, you could easily lose some of the commas. For example, the second paragraph could begin: “However, as fidgety three-year-olds, it is tough…” Also the comma after “triplets” in the same paragraph isn’t really necessary and breaks the flow a bit.

      Second, small numbers (up to about twelve or so) should generally be written out unless you’re using them in a calculation. They jar the reader into “math mode”, even if only for a second.

  19. Xevirus says:

    Quick and dirty:

    Fits and giggles. There was no other way to describe the behavior of Clementine, newly three and recently given to swearing like a sailor on shore leave. Lauren could not understand what had come over the girl, or how, and once the incredible swelling of pride at this sudden transformation had deflated just enough to see how problematic her daughter’s genius was going to be, just how much work would be required to care for someone so precise and demanding in how to be handled, yet so incapable of handling herself (or unwilling, Lauren secretly considered. She’s got to know how; you don’t just get to be that smart and not know how to do basic things, do you?), Lauren began to wonder whether she might rather just have the old Clementine back.
    Jealous friends reminded her just how fortunate she was to have a daughter who, in a matter of three weeks, seemed about ready to test in to high school, but those friends didn’t have to actually wake up in the middle of the night to see the dwarfish figure of their daughters clad only in moonlight, squatting at the foot of their beds, waiting for them to wake so that they could give minutes-long screeds about what’s going to be different this time, and spiels about investing in cump yooters or star track phones or apples (?). They don’t have to deal with the constant barrage of reporters flying in from around the nation and the globe, each more eager than the next to assault the wunderkind, and the parents who birthed her, with questions about their home life – hoping for secrets, or what sounded like secrets, for replicating or predicting Clementine’s brilliance – or asking what’s her opinion on the Watergate scandal. Lauren knew in her heart that any three year-old with an opinion on political happenings was, in some way, an unhealthy three year-old, but Clementine had an opinion: “Those pig fuckers.”
    True, it was a blessing, too. Daniel had been fired from the plant, and with prospects not looking great, he had taken to “looking for work” into the evening, which he didn’t know she knew meant drinking at O’Hearlihy’s with Spencer and Frank and Jan, the good-looking one. After a time, he began bringing his job searches home, and while Lauren, always one to hope for the best with the tightest lips possible prayed nightly that God would give her man the strength to be a man, Clementine crawled onto the sofa, up onto her father’s chest and, as he smiled at how much she loved him, she slapped the beer until it fell from his hand, then she slapped his face before he could speak, and, pointing her stubby finger directly into his nose, she told him: “No father of mine is going to waste his, my mother’s and my next twenty years sinking deeper into a glass bottle while the world leaves us behind. Its not happening this time. Okay, pig fucker?”

    • switchgoose says:

      HA! I’ve read this three times already, and still, that last line packs a punch. It takes some guts to have a three year old character use the words “pig fucker.” That is so great! I also liked some of the little touches you included, such as ‘Jan, the good-looking one.’ The reader is able to infer so much from those few words. Lovely story!

    • Observer Tim says:

      It’s interesting to see things from the other side of the three-year-old. There very likely would be a media circus, at least for a while. Then other, darker types of attention…

      Hopefully Clementine will manage to grow up in the years to come as well. She’s carrying a lot of anger.

    • margi33 says:

      Ha! This was great… a different twist for sure. Some nice visuals and descriptions too. Easy to read and enjoy.

  20. jmcody says:

    Just want to point out that this appears to have been the most popular prompt ever. What a gold mine childhood is for writers.

  21. sealskin says:

    When I woke up I felt terrible, slightly feverish, weak. I had gotten sick during the night. At least it wasn’t yet another relapse of bronchitis. I opened my eyes. I didn’t recognize these surroundings. There were wooden slats on the sides of the bed. I looked down at my body and shrieked – or something similar to it. I saw what remained of me – a torso, a stump, both of my legs were gone from the hips down. Sweat began to pop out on my face (which strangely also itched mightily), I felt a wave of nausea washed over me as I tried to remember, to grasp, how in God’s name this had happened. Suddenly a massive black woman strode into the room, easily over seven feet tall. She had kind eyes. She strode over to the bed and picked me up, bouncing me gently in her arms. I could now see that I did have legs, though very tiny ones.
    “Yo mama gone to Ladies’ Circle meetin’, so I’m takin’ care of you dis mornin’. Why you scream like that? Somethin’ scare you? Yo fever gone down some I think. You feel like eatin’ anything? Maybe try some cream of wheat?”
    The voice. The face. The scent. These things, plus the bed and its wooden slats, plus the slant of morning light through the oddly familiar curtains, plus distant forgotten aromas from the kitchen, came rushing into my waking consciousness. With a sudden flash of horror and elation I understood. I was three years old!
    What. The. Hell??? Last night I had been on Facebook until I got sleepy and crashed. I had decided to stay indoors for a while hoping that the critically high pollen count in which I had spent hours this weekend wouldn’t precipitate another bronchial spasm and put me in bed for a week. Evidently it did not. I kept reading posts from my group “You may be from… if you remember…” and seemed to remember some dream scenarios related to my adolescence and childhood. Whether it was part pollen, part Prednisone, part steroid nasal spray or – maybe that Grofian regression breathwork I did twenty years ago finally kicked in, but I had been hurtled 59 years back in time to age three.
    I played disinterestedly at the cream of wheat given me by Sally (that was her name). I knew I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t refrain from scratching the maddening eruptions of chicken pox (which is what I had) on my arms and shoulders and face.
    “Don’t go scratchin’ them chicken pops! Spread all over yo body!”
    I looked out the screen door. My god, the kitchen door! I felt a stab of nostalgia – an odd sensation for something in the present time yet one of my earliest memories. The April morning air stirred through the screen. The whiff of Gardenia. The narrow alley of grass between our house and the next. The little stoop leading to their side door and another jolt of memory: “Amy!”
    Amy, little red-haired Amy, with the dimply smile. She was my next door neighbor, and my first girlfriend. The first girl, indeed, that I ever loved. Yes, I remembered this day. Amy would be coming out of the side door within minutes, I reckoned. Well, this time would be different. I knew something of the ways of love now. This would be my strategy…

    • Observer Tim says:

      You build a fascinating juxtaposition of old and new here, sealskin, from the personal circumstances of “the present” to the social ones of “the past”.

      The last two sentences kind of creeped me out – just how is he going to approach Amy? Hopefully like a three year old, not a sixty-two year old.

      • sealskin says:

        Thank you for the comment. “Back in time” has always been fascinating for me.
        Re: last two sentences. If there were a Chapter 2, I bet you’d read it just to find out, yes?

  22. jimmieg says:

    The Middle Aged Bed Wetter

    In his dream he was hot tubing with Carol from accounting, the water wrapped around them both like frothy, warm blankets. Suddenly the water ran cold and itchy like icy wool. Scott woke to the realization he had just pissed himself. With the exception of a few legendary nights in undergrad, Scott hadn’t pissed himself since he was a kid.

    Scott had regressed in a great many ways since finding his wife in bed with his business partner. Scott was lamenting the ruin of his lesbian fantasies when he noticed he was wearing spiderman pajamas.

    What the…what did I do last night? Why do my legs look so short?

    A wave of disorientation came over him as he stood from the bed.

    Is this my…why am I…parents…why is my dresser so big?

    Scott’s breath rattled in his throat, wet and heavy. His old NFL bedding was bright and new. A Pre-reboot Battlestar Galactica Viper Launch Station, complete with choking hazard, launch-able Viper. Scott’s eyes tickled with the expectation of what be buried under a pillow on his bed.

    His hand lifted one of several pillows and his heart exploded nostalgia, and sci-fi exuberance, and kind of “I wish I hadn’t dismissed the possibility of a God, because this is some time-shifting craziness” type of fear.

    There it was. The newest, most awesome toy any three year old boy could own in 1974. J.I. Joe with Kung Fu Grip.

    He grabbed the toy. Real or not he wanted to play with the action figure again. There was one last test to confirm he had gone bat shit crazy.

    The walk to the bathroom was a long ten steps. The wooden step stool was at the base of the sink just as like when he was a kid. The Mexican tile he thought outdated and garish seemed fresh and daring.

    Scott slowly opened his eyes and was met by a young boy he knew only from pictures. He spit expletives at the mirror but it was no use. All he could see was 1974. He had broken his mind somehow.

    His mother barged in suddenly. None to pleased at the language she heard he three year old son using.

    She was magnificent. Vibrant, young, beautiful, and alive. She wouldn’t die for seven more years.

    Scott didn’t know what would happen if he screwed with the her timeline. Would he blow up the world if he stopped his mom from getting in the car on April 12, 1981? He sure as shit was going to find out.

    The smiled he wore stole away all her anger and she gave him a big hug. It was the happiest moment the three year old had felt in forty-three years.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This story is a pleasant reminder of childhood memories, jimmieg. Given the state of his life beforehand, I can see why Scott is happily letting the past take over. I hope he stays there long enough to save his mother’s life.

      I especially loved the last sentence. It sums everything up so succinctly.

      • Observer Tim says:

        I don’t understand why, but after reading this I had to hit YouTube and listen to “Old Emotions” by Spoons.

        And it comes back again…

        • jimmieg says:

          Thank you for your comments Tim. I don’t know the song, but I’m about to look it up.

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            I don’t know the song either, jimmieg, but I know good writing when I read it. It’s kind of mystical, Scott wanting to stay around for seven years to save his mother’s life. Interesting thought, is it possible to change events that have already happened? A mystery question since H.G. Wells book, ‘The Time Machine. We will know someday.

  23. benedictdanny02 says:

    That sweet fragrance of coffee that my mother used to make every morning, that softness of the bed that never ceases to pull me back to sleep, that yawning moment and stretching my legs to shake of my laziness, that special excitement to see my crush in the neighboring department, that mature trimmed beard of mine that I used to rub with my hand every day, except that it felt unusually trimmed today.

    With eyes half open and the ceiling blurred I try to pull myself up, but to some reason that it was more difficult today than any others. With the same blurry eyes I turn towards my left to see my cupboards, table, chair and even my pillows, all unusally bigger like I was sleeping at a giant version of my room, while hearing my mother shouting my name and coming towards my room.

    “How many times should I tell you to get up early and pack yourself upto university; won’t you ever ever listen to my words” said mom while walking and there I hear the door clicking opened by my mom.

    She smiled and slowly peeped into my room, I replied back to her with a smile. She was similing and smiling and smiling more today. It was as if her face alone was paused while watching a movie and the rest of her body slowly moved towards me with the same unchanging expression as when she peeped to look at me.

    As she came near, I felt as if she was becoming a giant herself. Maybe I thought it could be some crazy dream. Maybe because I was discussing about giants to my girlfriend yesterday that I am getting these kind of crazy dreams.

    And then I heard the scream “Daaaavid!! Daaaviiid!!…. Daaaviiiid!” shouting for my father who came running towards my room and I try to jerk myself of the bed but it is like I am crippled.

    Both of them were staring at me with mixed emotions keeping on changing for every five seconds and then looking at each other startled for the next five as though I am some weird alien.

    And then spoke my father after several minutes of silence “I told you that Bastard is having an affair with some college girl and he has pushed his burden into our heads now”.

    Now my mom spoke “Please don’t keep on shouting at your son, after all he has trusted our grandchild in our hands, legitimate or illegitimate he is going to be in our care from now on. Please focus on finding him first. By that time let me take this cute little monkey to a bath first, he is already wet near the pants and the only thing I didn’t like about our son was wrapping this fellow into his shirt”.

    Thousand thoughts stroked me at that same moment when my mom finished her sentence, unable to accept that I have changed into a child form. The depressing part was I had a special date today with my girl after college and was all excited to lose my virginity today.


  24. benedictdanny02 says:

    That sweet fragrance of coffee that my mother used to make every morning, that softness of the bed that never ceases to pull me back to sleep, that yawning moment and stretching my legs to shake of my laziness, that special excitement to see my crush in the neighboring department, that mature trimmed beard of mine that I used to rub with my hand every day, except that it felt unusually trimmed today.

    With eyes half open and the ceiling blurred I try to pull myself up, but to some reason that it was more difficult today than any others. With the same blurry eyes I turn towards my left to see my cupboards, table, chair and even my pillows, all unusally bigger like I was sleeping at a giant version of my room, while hearing my mother shouting my name and coming towards my room.

    “How many times should I tell you to get up early and pack yourself upto university; won’t you ever ever listen to my words” said mom while walking and there I hear the door clicking opened by my mom.

    She smiled and slowly peeped into my room, I replied back to her with a smile. She was similing and smiling and smiling more today. It was as if her face alone was paused while watching a movie and the rest of her body slowly moved towards me with the same unchanging expression as when she peeped to look at me.

    As she came near, I felt as if she was becoming a giant herself. Maybe I thought it could be some crazy dream. Maybe because I was discussing about giants to my girlfriend yesterday that I am getting these kind of crazy dreams.

    And then I heard the scream “Daaaavid!! Daaaviiid!!…. Daaaviiiid!” shouting for my father who came running towards my room and I try to jerk myself of the bed but it is like I am crippled.

    Both of them were staring at me with mixed emotions keeping on changing for every five seconds and then looking at each other startled for the next five as though I am some weird alien.

    And then spoke my father after several minutes of silence “I told you that Rascal is having an affair with some college girl and he has pushed his burden into our heads now”.

    Now my mom spoke “Please don’t keep on shouting at your son, after all he has trusted our grandchild in our hands, legitimate or illegitimate he is going to be in our care from now on. Please focus on finding him first. By that time let me take this cute little monkey to a bath first, he is already wet near the pants and the only thing I didn’t like about our son was wrapping this fellow into his shirt”.

    Thousand thoughts stroked me at that same moment when my mom finished her sentence, unable to accept that I have changed into a child form. The depressing part was I had a special date today with my girl after college and was all excited to lose my virginity today.

  25. switchgoose says:

    We hung the owl box when you were three. The tree we chose to hang it in stood about a hundred feet from the family room window. Daddy said that would be good for owl watching. Later that night when you and your sister still believed an owl would come to the box and were checking it every ten minutes or so, she said that it had been there for 100 years and it was very, very old. You asked her what was very old. “The tree, silly,” she said bumping you playfully with her hip. “If Daddy cut it down, we would be able to count the circles inside to know how old it really is. Maybe it’s more than a hundred. Maybe it’s two hundred!”

    You recall that conversation as you look at yourself in the bathroom mirror. As you attempt to conceal another sleepless night, you realize: circles don’t tell shit about age. Circles tell pain. Pain that goes around and around like that amusement park ride that spins so fast that it doesn’t even matter if the floor drops out from under you because you’re stuck to the wall. You can’t move. You haven’t been able to move for thirteen years. Now you realize you have run out of concealer and you have to be at school in 15 minutes. You leave with one eye unmasked, unprotected. It is just enough of a breach for the hand of time to reach through and swing you back to your third year of life.

    You understand you are not really three again. You vaguely wonder if you slipped into some other dimension, one that includes time travel and rabbit holes. You don’t much care; those aren’t the answers you’re here for. Six months have gone by since the owl box was hung. Like an unfulfilled promise, it hangs in the air crooked and empty. Your sister has all but forgotten it, but you occasionally still check it. You are only three, but you have a patience about you that is grounded in hope.

    This time when you’re three and you see your father crying at his desk or in the kitchen when he believes he is alone, you don’t get scared and run to your room. This time you go to him and crawl into his lap. You ask him what’s wrong. You put your head on his chest and your arms around his neck. You feel his stubbly beard poke through your hair as he rests his chin on your head. His soft lips, the ones he would very soon wrap around the barrel of a gun, kiss your forehead. You wait for him to answer.

    Thirteen years later, you are still waiting. Waiting for the owl, and for something to fill the empty space. You have a patience about you. You are beginning to understand: it’s this patience that keeps you moving.

    • RuthieShev says:

      I don’t know how to respond to this one except God Bless any family that goes through that. I think maybe your writing fills the empty space and hopefully will help in the healing process. I could feel the pain although thankfullyI have never been through an experience like that.

    • jmcody says:

      I keep looking for the new prompt and thinking this one is over, but I’m so glad I stopped to read this one. In so few words you conveyed something profound about pain and loss, hope and perseverance, and the ongoing tension between them. I loved the metaphor of waiting for the owls, and the likening of the rings around the trees to the rings around your MC’s eyes was poetic. Although tragic, this was hope-filled and wonderfully written, and gets a great big satisfied sigh from me.

    • margi33 says:

      I liked this. The second person pov was effective and I enjoyed the sort of rambling style of the narrator. As jmcody said, the tree ring analogy was a great touch… Lots of deep thoughts contained in there as well.

    • Reaper says:

      Echoing what everyone has said. The correlations were perfect. The second person and present tense added something to this story that they often take away from others. I felt like I was reading a half written suicide note until I got to the end and felt hope. Your flow is amazing, slow and surreal and your words are beautiful. So many lines in here are amazing. Other than the last line which was perfect I think this is my favorite, Like an unfulfilled promise, it hangs in the air crooked and empty. Pure poetry.

      • switchgoose says:

        Reaper, thanks so much for your response. Your comment about flow was helpful- it’s something I will continue to think about and pursue in future writings. Same thing for point of view. Thanks again!

    • Observer Tim says:

      What a depressing story! Saying “I like it” is not quite the right response: it’s well-crafted and really makes me feel the pain the narrator is writing about. It is a very entertaining read. Thanks for the journey.

      • switchgoose says:

        Observer Tim, it is a depressing story, isn’t it? I wrote it late and went to bed afterwards feeling a little down myself. Maybe it was less about feeling down and more about feeling unsure. Suicide remains a “taboo” topic to many, and I wasn’t sure how it would be received. Thanks for checking it out.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I have to jump in on this. Your writing, so strong and powerful, led me where I didn’t want to go. Once there, I dissolved into the screen and found myself in the middle, trying to figure what I could do to help. Nothing I thought, I’ll just share the pain.

  26. freshwriting says:

    Shit, it’s Monday. Ugh. Well, prolonging the morning struggle is just going to prolong the day. Might as well get up.

    I finally sat up and stretched my arms to the ceiling, eyes still closed. I folded one arm behind my neck, and pulled at it with my other. My skin felt soft, must be the new body wash I got. I threw off the blanket and opened my eyes. I blinked away the sand and goop keeping my eyes shut. I felt like a mummy raised from the dead. And all I wanted was to lie back down.

    I plopped back into my pillow. Baby steps.
    I rolled onto my stomach and heard a rustle from my sheets.
    What is that crinkling noise? Did I forget to put away the evidence of my potato chip binge last night?
    I blindly felt through the blankets and heard the sound again. I sat up, determined to find out what it was. Every time I shifted I could hear it.
    Was I sitting on the bag of chips? What is going on here? I ran my hand under my bottom to check.

    Wait a minute…what is that?
    My hand passed something warm sagging off my ass. Gross. Did I get my period or something? Did I shit myself?

    I gasped and got up. I was standing now, on top of my bed, fully alert. I looked out across a striped room. This was not okay. I am a twenty-five-year-old spinster and if I just began the habit of messing myself in my sleep, I will never be married by the time I turn 30.

    What the…

    I stumbled back, hit something hard.
    Whoa, it’s like I haven’t used my feet for the past 20 years.
    I turned around to face my antagonist, the rungs of a …crib?

    I started to panic, running around across my miniature sheets, screaming and kicking at the bars that contained me. I looked down at my toes, and found they were much closer than expected, less than two feet away.

    Did I shrink? What is going on?!
    Soon, this gigantic person came rushing into the room, talking to a dog or baby or something:
    “Shh. Sh. Sh. Don’t worry baby, momma’s here.”
    Oh god. She’s talking to ME!
    A pair of hands came at me and soon enough I was scooped up, and smashed against a young woman’s bosom. I sniffled, then sobered up. Wait. I was balling my eyes out. When did I get this sensitive? Jeez.

    I sniffed again, picking up a familiar scent.
    What Is that?
    I leaned my head against this giant woman’s’ shoulder and sniffed again.
    White Diamonds.
    I pulled back from this large lady and peered into her face.

    “Ma?”
    “Yes baby, mama is here. Sh-Sh-Shhh.”
    I shushed her back, and wriggled viciously in her arms. She seemed surprised, put me down to observe her rebellious child. I walked towards my pink dresser and jumped up towards the mirror. Not even close. My mother seemed to understand, and picked me up again, hesitantly. She placed my feet on the top of the dresser, and held tightly onto my waist, so that I was peering into the mirror.

    A freaking baby stared back at me.

    I must still be sleeping.
    Haha, good one, Subconscious, you almost got me this time…

  27. nwdahl says:

    Just the other day my father was recounting a time when I was still an only child and unrestricted in my play. He reminded me of when I took a plastic toy bat and hit him in the place you should never hit men. While telling the story to me over the phone, my father sounded far away. He was back in what I imagine to be a crappy apartment above a small liquor store. It was almost funny how my father was talking to me that day. He told the story as if I was right there with him, as though I had the same vivid memory hidden away in some undisturbed place. I of course, have no memory of my life from when I was three. No solid memory at least, nothing I can trace back to reality. Maybe there are traces of memories woven into my subconscious. Maybe the feeling of déjà vu can be attributed to a memory buried so deep in your psyche, from so long ago, that it can’t fight its way to the surface. All it can do is scream from below layers of other memories, “I remember this place, don’t you?”
    I guess the point I’m trying to get across is, no one knows what it feels like to be three years old. The way we interpret the world and process things at that age would be so foreign to us now. I’m making this point simply to help you understand why, when I woke up in my three year old body, I had no idea where the hell I was.
    Upon waking, I immediately realized that something was different about my body. I looked down at the new version of myself the same way that Gregor Samsa must have seen his body transformed into that of a giant insect. These hands were not my own, these feet were not my own, and although my new skin was soft and somewhat luxurious, it had no place encapsulating my insides. I was a women transformed into something even more disturbing than a giant cockroach. I was a three year old child and I was powerless.
    Frantic would be a good word to describe my reaction to my recent reverse metamorphosis. I went from butterfly back to caterpillar, and all the life experiences in between stood before me like the trail back up a mountain I had just peaked. I took in several deep breaths while I pondered my terrible predicament. My eyes surveyed my surroundings for the first time. I was in a tiny room and there were toys strewn across the floor in what can only be described as the calculated randomness of child’s play. Amongst the toys I spotted an object that caused me a horrific feeling of déjà vu. In the corner of the room, leaning against the wall, there was a red plastic bat.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Kafka? People are pulling out all the stops this week. The MC’s self-analysis is intriguing. Great scene, nwdahl.

      This sort of intenses introspection would work much better in a longer story. As it is you really only got to the beginning. Also, please put an extra blank line between paragraphs so older guys like me don’t get confused.

  28. PeterW says:

    The only way to describe how Gary felt was emotional and frustrated. He had gone to sleep (alone) in his Brooklyn apartment at 3a quite drunk in 2014 and had woken up in 1984 as his three-year-old self in Camden, New Jersey. He was strapped in a high chair in his parent’s house and his parents were chatting stock commodities vs mutual funds over sunny-sides, drippy; toast, Texan and burned; and grapefruit juice, cheek-clenching sour. Gary gave a massive burp, which tasted like the red wine and scotch he had consumed with cosmopolitan artist friends last night, but it also tasted like oatmeal and mished-up peaches. Gary’s mother’s turned, cheeks a-shimmer, “That was awful.”

    “Boy is just hearty,” said Gary’s father, “now like I was saying about mutual funds. They are risky. They are monopolized by corporate idiots. Let’s give our savings to this Johnson. He seems like a real man. I trust him completely.”

    “I don’t know. It’s a lot. Holy-cow, were you drinking last night, honey?”

    “Yes, but that’s not important,” said Gary’s father.

    Fuck, thought Gary, no wonder we were so poor. Fuck, he also thought, I am so hung-over. He reached for the grapefruit juice, but his arm was too short of reach it. It didn’t make it past the high-chair’s try. My god, they have me trapped in here, thought Gary, realizing his little body was restrained by straps. My god, there is food all over my face and hands and clothes. My god, there is pee in my diaper. He wanted to yell, “Mom, don’t let Dad invest your saving. Dad, why didn’t you teach me how to me a man?” But most importantly, “Let me out of this chair.” However three-year-old Gary didn’t have that kind of vocabulary, so it came out as, “NOOO.”

    “I think Gary agrees with me,” said Gary’s mother.

    “Does he now?” said Gary’s father and he waved his gigantic fingers directly in front of Gary’s face. Then he took a piece of toast and said, “open wide; plane incoming.”

    Thirty-three year old Gary squirmed and yelled, but three-year old Gary kicked his little legs and giggled and let Daddy smashed the piece of toast in his mouth. Old Gary spit out the piece of toast and managed a somewhat coherent, “No stock! No stock! No stock!”

    Both parents looked quizzical. Gary’s mother whispered, “I think he is a bit slow.”

    “Course he is,” said Gary father, “perfectly good toast. Should I make him eat it off the floor?”

    “No, for Heaven-sakes, he already eats enough things that have been on the floor.”

    Gary squealed, “Nooooo.”

    His parents looked at him, amused, a bit concerned. Gary’s slowness would be confirmed many a time. Especially, at age 14, when he wanted to be a writer. His father coming home from a hard day’s work at the car company had incinerated all of Gary’s comic books. “I will not have you spending my hard-earned money on this trash,” his father had said.

    But this time around, in 1994, at age 44, in a 14 year-olds body Gary managed to hide his comic books. But at from ages 3 to 7/ 33 to 37 he didn’t prevent his parents from in investing all their money with Johnson and losing it all on Black Monday in 87. Despite his 30 extra years of experience Gary was still a loser in high-school, still never got to make-out with Cheryl, his cute neighbor, still just barely make it into Rutgers, and still failed to be at his life-long dream of being a writer. But this time around he didn’t work as grave-digger and bartender in Brooklyn, he worked as a mortician and bartender in Manhattan. This time he skipped his father’s funereal. This time he forgave his mother for failing him. And at the age of 33/ 63 sat at a dumpy bar with his cosmopolitan artist friends (different ones) and didn’t get drunk off of wine and scotch. No, Gary was too old for hang-overs. Gary had finally learned.

    Instead of 3a, Gary went to bed alone at 1am. He woke up and his body had aged his rightful age. Fuck, thought Gary, looking at his sagging nips and feeling his spine arch and his feet creak, this is really not ok with me. It really frustrating and emotional… emotional…

    • PeterW says:

      oops typos….

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Peter W, I rode all the way through your story, chuckling my fool head off. The humor is so dry, it reminds me of British comedy. The crowning jewel, “But this time around he didn’t work as a grave digger and bartender in Brooklyn, he worked as a mortician and bartender in Manhattan.” Priceless.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is great, PeterW. It manages to put a long and imaginative piece into a compact package. It’s especially interesting to see the wider perspective in the last three paragraphs.

      I’m still not keen on the profanity, but that’s my hang-up not yours.

  29. benedictdanny02 says:

    That sweet fragrance of coffee that my mother used to make every morning, that softness of the bed that never ceases to pull me back to sleep, that yawning moment and stretching my legs to shake of my laziness, that special excitement to see my crush in the neighboring department, that mature trimmed beard of mine that I used to rub with my hand every day, except that it felt unusually trimmed today.

    With eyes half open and the ceiling blurred I try to pull myself up, but to some reason that it was more difficult today than any others. With the same blurry eyes I turn towards my left to see my cupboards, table, chair and even my pillows, all unusally bigger like I was sleeping at a giant version of my room, while hearing my mother shouting my name and coming towards my room.

    “How many times should I tell you to get up early and pack yourself upto university; won’t you ever ever listen to my words” said mom while walking and there I hear the door clicking opened by my mom.

    She smiled and slowly peeped into my room, I replied back to her with a smile. She was similing and smiling and smiling more today. It was as if her face alone was paused while watching a movie and the rest of her body slowly moved towards me with the same unchanging expression as when she peeped to look at me.

    As she came near, I felt as if she was becoming a giant herself. Maybe I thought it could be some crazy dream. Maybe because I was discussing about giants to my girlfriend yesterday that I am getting these kind of crazy dreams.

    And then I heard the scream “Daaaavid!! Daaaviiid!!…. Daaaviiiid!” shouting for my father who came running towards my room and I try to jerk myself of the bed but it is like I am crippled.

    Both of them were staring at me with mixed emotions keeping on changing for every five seconds and then looking at each other startled for the next five as though I am some weird alien.

    And then spoke my father after several minutes of silence “I told you that Bastard is having an affair with some college girl and he has pushed his burden into our heads now”.

    Now my mom spoke “Please don’t keep on shouting at your son, after all he has trusted our grandchild in our hands, legitimate or illegitimate he is going to be in our care from now on. Please focus on finding him first. By that time let me take this cute little monkey to a bath first, he is already wet near the pants and the only thing I didn’t like about our son was wraping this fellow into his shirt”.

    Thousand thoughts striked me at that same moment when my mom finished her sentence, unable to accept that I have changed into a child form. The depressing part was I had a special date today with my girl after college and was all excited to lose my virginity today.

  30. benedictdanny02 says:

    That sweet fragrance of coffee that my mother used to make every morning, that softness of the bed that never ceases to pull me back to sleep, that yawning moment and stretching my legs to shake of my laziness, that special excitement to see my crush in the neighboring department, that mature trimmed beard of mine that I used to rub with my hand every day, except that it felt unusually trimmed today.
    With eyes half open and the ceiling blurred I try to pull myself up, but to some reason that it was more difficult today than any others. With the same blurry eyes I turn towards my left to see my cupboards, table, chair and even my pillows, all unusally bigger like I was sleeping at a giant version of my room, while hearing my mother shouting my name and coming towards my room.
    “How many times should I tell you to get up early and pack yourself upto university; won’t you ever ever listen to my words” said mom while walking and there I hear the door clicking opened by my mom.
    She smiled and slowly peeped into my room, I replied back to her with a smile. She was similing and smiling and smiling more today. It was as if her face alone was paused while watching a movie and the rest of her body slowly moved towards me with the same unchanging expression as when she peeped to look at me.
    As she came near, I felt as if she was becoming a giant herself. Maybe I thought it could be some crazy dream. Maybe because I was discussing about giants to my girlfriend yesterday that I am getting these kind of crazy dreams.
    And then I heard the scream “Daaaavid!! Daaaviiid!!…. Daaaviiiid!” shouting for my father who came running towards my room and I try to jerk myself of the bed but it is like I am crippled.
    Both of them were staring at me with mixed emotions keeping on changing for every five seconds and then looking at each other startled for the next five as though I am some weird alien.
    And then spoke my father after several minutes of silence “I told you that Bastard is having an affair with some college girl and he has pushed his burden into our heads now”.
    Now my mom spoke “Please don’t keep on shouting at your son, after all he has trusted our grandchild in our hands, legitimate or illegitimate he is going to be in our care from now on. Please focus on finding him first. By that time let me take this cute little monkey to a bath first, he is already wet near the pants and the only thing I didn’t like about our son was wrapping this fellow into his shirt”.
    Thousand thoughts stroked me at that same moment when my mom finished her sentence, unable to accept that I have changed into a child form. The most depressing part of it was I had a special date today with my girl in the evening and was all excited to lose my virginity today.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Like father, like son. Maybe this reminder of his own genesis will make him think about the consequences. Probably not, but life goes on. Great story, benedictdanny.

      From the red pencil, many of the phrasings here hint that either your English skills are under development or it’s not your first language. That will take time to happen either way. Also, please put an extra blank line between paragraphs; it makes the text easier to read.

  31. Batmanshero says:

    Uggggg why do you guys always have to treat me like a child? asked sara
    What has gotten into you lately? Asked sara’s mom.
    You keep treating me like i’m 3 years old”
    “You are 3 years old”
    “well what if i don’t want to be 3 years old?” Asked sara
    “I don’t know maybe you should find you some friends that are your age, and go play with them. Said mom
    “ But no one wants to play with me. They said that I’m ugly.Cried sara
    “Well do you believe them?”
    “ yes they haven’t lied to me before so why would they lie to me now?” Asked Sara

    • RuthieShev says:

      This was short but said a lot in those few words. Haven’t we all felt ugly at times? Haven’t we all believed a friend over our Mother? And certainly haven’t we all wlanted to be a different age than we were? I think we can all relate to this story.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Short, sweet, and to the point Batmanshero. You managed to cram a lot into a tiny word count.

  32. CaniahT says:

    It was Sunday morning, my birthday, but I felt very different inside and out. I felt smaller. I looked around I seen that my bed looked shorter than it use to, even my body. Where am I? What happened? I scanned my room seeing unicorns and rainbow wallpaper, the way my room used to be when I was little. All of sudden I felt something warm and wet. Turns out I had a pull up on, was I getting potty trained all over again?

    “Mommy?” I cried. I even sound different, younger. I started hearing footsteps as I looked at my mirror. I shrunk! My eyes were so big I didn’t know how to react.

    “Oh look who’s up, happy birthday sweetie.” My mom talked to me as if I was a little girl. I’m 17. What’s going on? I tried talking but my words slurred, I was so freaked out, I didn’t know what to do.

    As my mom got me dressed for my “party”, all that went through my head was what happened. I remember is I was talking to my best friend, Annie, and we were planning my 17th birthday party for today, which turns out to be my 3rd birthday party all over again.

    It was already 1:00 p.m. and people started arriving. A lot of their faces looked familiar, turns out they were a lot of kids from my class, my real class, the senior class of 2014. I seen Annie walk in with her mom and we both spotted each other with excitement. Finally someone I can talk to that understands me. I tried talking to her but she was so confused she started playing with the other kids. I continued feeling alone, no one understands me.

    At 2:30 the party was over. I was still in shock from everything. I didn’t know what to do because my mind started changing in a lot of ways. I started to forget how to eat, instead of using forks or a spoon for my cake, I used my hands I even had trouble with going to the bathroom and I think I tinkled on myself a little bit while rushing to the bathroom.

    The next morning, Monday was the first day of preschool. I felt like things got a lot worse but somehow I still remember I’m not 3. Surprisingly I started getting excited after my teacher greeted me at the door. She gave me crayons and a book full of blanks pages.

    “Here so you can be creative on her own.” She smiled. Me being 3 I forgot what that word meant, so I just smiled. Maybe this could work after all. I liked being 17 but I love being 3 in preschool again.

  33. pinkbamboo says:

    here I am with this week’s prompt. Trying another direction here. Cheers!

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

    Calendar states 1990. Why am I back in 1990? I grabbed my head but instead of my long brown hair, I pulled out a clip on ribbon. What is going on? I have to get to work but my body … oh no, why do I have short limbs? I steadied myself with both hands, stood up and walked towards the mirror. This is me .. like in the photos that I saw when I was … me. Now I’m 3 again? How did this happened? Am I dreaming or have I gone crazy? I was just in my queen size bed a minute ago and I just blinked.

    I started crying but instead of quiet sobs, my cries came out loud and piercing. A woman came in to pick me up and I looked at her. Mother. She looked thinner and much younger. She carried me out of the room and down the stairs as my eyes darted around. This is crazy. This is the same house I grew up in and nothing much has changed. Except me. I’m not 3. I’m a grown up woman trapped in my own 3 years old body. Help!!

    Father was busy writing in the corner and mother put me down in the middle of the hall where my toys were. Oh hello clown in the box. Back then I was not afraid of clown .. yet. My teddy, my cooking set and my dolls. Can’t believe back then, these were things that amused me and occupied my day. Mother was keeping an eye on me while she was ironing.

    “Mi ..I big girl” I stood up. What? Why are my words turning out gibberish?

    Mother smiled “Yes, you are. Sit down and play”

    Suddenly the door opened and I turned to see an older man walked in. He mumbled a word to father and turned towards me. My heart nearly stopped. Grandpa! I walked towards him with extended arms to touch him and he picked me up with a laugh.

    I stared at him with amazement. Grandpa passed away when I was 8 and back then I didn’t quite understand what happened. I remembered my parents rushing back and forth the hospital and then one day he was laying inside this wooden box. The grandfather who once doted on me was gone and I felt there was a hole in my life for a while.

    “Oh, why are you staring at me like that? It’s me grandpa” he chuckled.

    I knew it was you. I started tearing up and my lips started quivering. Grandpa looked startled.

    “What’s wrong, girl?” he bounced me in his arm for a bit.

    “Maybe she’s hungry. Let’s get your milk” mother came and tried to remove me from his arms.

    I screamed and gripped on to his collar. Both of them were shocked but mother removed her arms so that I can stay in his. She handed me the bottle but I pushed it away.

    “She’s a little fussy today, isn’t she?” grandpa put me down on the floor with my toys.

    He poured tea for me with my tiny teapot set and pretend to slurp it with a long ‘mmm’. I just stared at him. The grandpa that I loved and missed so much sitting in front of me, well and alive. Grandpa poured me a cup too and brought it to my lips as he uttered a long ‘mmm’ on my behalf. I laughed with childlike innocence at his amused expression.

    He’s going to pass on in 5 years time and only I know it. I stood up and walked towards him and sat on his lap, wanting to be close as possible with him.

    “Love” I jabbed his shoulder but he misheard me.

    “No, you wear your glove here” he held both of my hands in his and started clapping together with me.

    “Gran.. papa” I smiled as he arranged my tea cups in front of me according to color.

    “Good girl. One day you’re going to grow up to become a doctor cause you’re just the smartest girl I’ve ever seen”

    No, I didn’t become a doctor. I shook my head in response and he laughed. I wanted to tell him so many things. My first day in high school, my graduation, my first kiss, my first love, how he broke my heart, my first job interview and how bitchy my landlord was. I wanted to tell him about my dogs that I adopted and the colors I chose for my apartment. There’s so many things to share

    “No? You don’t want to be a doctor?” grandpa shook his head too, mimicking me.

    I picked up my crayon and tried my best to write as poorly as I could. I think he would get a fright if I can write perfectly like an adult. I wrote an “I” then a nugget shaped heart and a “U”. Grandpa clapped his hand proudly and picked the paper as he smiled at me.

    Suddenly mother came over and picked me up from behind.

    “Come on, I think you didn’t get enough rest. She was tossing and turning around earlier” she mentioned to grandpa.

    I screamed, cried and kicked to protest being dragged away from him. My grandfather.

    “Oh, then she should get her nap” he agreed with mother as I shook my head.

    As mother carried me up the stairs, I shrieked .. “no no no .. gran .. papa … gran..papa! I want! I wanttttt!! ” and reached my arms out towards him while he stood by the stairs repeating “good girl go for nap nap” as he tried to console me.

    It broke my 3 years old heart for I knew that was the last time I truly saw my grandfather alive.

    • Reaper says:

      I was wondering where you were this week. Then on a terrible day for me you return like a ray of sunshine to make me cry.

      This is beautiful. There are some tense shifts, and in your first couple of paragraphs the wording seemed off in a couple of places. However, in this story that worked well for you because it seemed intentional and drew me into the confused mind of your character. The frustration of this, that longing for things forgotten. You have a way with love stories and that turned towards family hit me deeper than just about anything else. Maybe it’s just that I miss my own grandfather, and my great grandfather who I could see in your description. Your power to pluck those heartstrings was perfect.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This story had me in tears, pinkbamboo. It’s a perfect example of “poignant.

  34. margi33 says:

    Better late than never…

    _________________________________________________________________________________________

    The mountains sat softly against the sky as dusk told shadows to lay their last mark upon the ground. The few shoots of green grass that pricked up from the barren, tan brush told me spring was here.

    “Timbo,” my mother spoke softly. “Time to gather into the tent now. The light will be leaving us soon.” I soaked her voice in like dry dirt drinks a sudden rain. It had been thirty years since her soothing hush had graced my ears.

    “Yes, mama,” I heard myself say. I didn’t mind being back under her direction, much like I didn’t mind the musty smell of animal hide and close bodies. This was home.

    I had no idea why I had re-entered my three-year-old body, but the Gods were strange at times. Perhaps they were giving me a second chance to save my family. Though my tiny body wasn’t much longer than a log on the fire, maybe this time I could make a difference.

    I toddled into the tent with a smile set on my face. Coziness struck me like a drum as contented faces tickled my sight, and the smell of salty broth tempted my nose. Pride and sadness made the tears trickle from my eyes. I brushed them away and nestled into my bed of fur, enveloped in warmth.

    My innate sense told me that this would be the fateful night. The night that the man slew my father, ravished my mother’s body and pierced her beauty through with a spear. The night the ground turned crimson with baby Kety’s blood as she was ripped from my mother’s breast. The night my family’s souls fleeted, and I ran, alone, into the wilderness only to be taken in by strangers just before death.

    Determined to change fate, I peeked into the darkening shadows of the tent, trying to locate weapons and conjure scenarios. Nearest to me was a hatchet and nothing else; it would have to do.

    Hushed voices whispered happily as I pretended sleep. Deep into the dark the night passed and all fell quiet, until I heard the beat of hooves, muffled at first and then incessant, like a death march. Huffs of voices traveled to my tiny ears, and I scooted silently into position. I could see my father’s dark form moving as well.

    The door flapped, and the leather was ripped aside. Eyes stared into the tent, their whites set off by the black paint surrounding their edges. Red lines on the face bespoke death – this time it would be his.

    Despite a strong fight, my father was chopped down first, his trunk falling like a tree. Then the man set upon my mother. I sneaked around him as he was ripping at her clothes and swung with all my might at his neck. Though my hatchet only traveled three inches, luck allowed it to nick a major artery. Blood gushed like a black river.

    My mother’s arms swung out and hugged me to her breast, with baby Kety beside. Her touch warmed me like a ray of sun in winter. I had saved us.

    Safety was a fleeting thought though. Multiple heads jutted through our tent flap, angrier than the first. I stood and swung my weapon, slicing ankles and toes until I was plucked from the tent by my ear and slung into the cold, night air.

    And again, I ran. Failure followed me through the night like a determined shadow and cloaked me in loneliness. Failure would be mine for eternity.

    • snuzcook says:

      Excellent, margi33!
      Your story presents a full, descriptive story with a plausible reason for MC to be reliving of an horrific event. Very compelling and engaging. Your choice of descriptions were beautifully consistent with the context and premise of the story.

    • seliz says:

      I really enjoyed your descriptions. They were unique, but understandable. I felt bad for the MC, but it made me think that maybe certain events can’t be changed.

    • lionetravail says:

      Very nicely done!

    • jmcody says:

      Wow, Margi, this was really good. You created a whole world that was believable and palpable, and ultimately tragic, as a three year old is forced to relive horrifying events and his own sense of failure and futility. You have a powerful imagination.

    • Marc Ellis says:

      What a terribly sad, wonderful story. It seems like fate and the ability, or lack thereof, to change one’s destiny has been a common theme with this week’s prompt. You story pulled me in, and I felt the MC’s sadness and sense of failure.

    • jhowe says:

      I liked this a lot. Your voice perfectly illustrated the time period and was very exciting. Hopefully Timbo will not feel the failure for etternity as he tried with all his might.

    • margi33 says:

      Thanks everyone for reading my post & for the positive comments. I would have written about my own childhood, except I have a terrible long term memory, so couldn’t remember much. It was almost easier to transport to a different place & time :).

      And sometimes I do think that fate is just that – fate. Perhaps we couldn’t change our path even if we were able to go back. Who knows though? That’s the fun part about pondering the unknowns.

    • Reaper says:

      Stunning writing. While I agree with the comments about fate and not being able to change it and the sadness that is not what struck me most powerfully. The two things that your MC seems left with, though probably unknown until later, are what struck me.

      One, his mother is proud of him and nothing can ever take that away. Unlike last time he knows that she knew he did everything he could and more than could be expected a three year old even in the world you have described.

      Two, he has learned a lesson that most of us only come to much later in life. That sometimes it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, sometimes it only matters that you fight.

      • margi33 says:

        Very good points Reaper. I agree completely. You seem to always be able to delve further into people’s writing then they can even figure for themselves. I like your introspection :)

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is an excellent story, margi33. I wonder how long it will take the MC to realize that the point wasn’t for him to save his family but to come to grips with their tragic end and the fact that he couldn’t do anything about it. That’s a hard lesson to learn.

    • Critique says:

      Your descriptive use of words and writing style painted powerful images for me. A great story.

  35. Scott says:

    I woke up under a pink polka-dot blanket with the smell of cooking eggs distantly noticeable. This was, most certainly, not the room of a twenty-one-year-old man. I wracked my brain, wondering how I got here. Yesterday was Wednesday. I had marching band in the morning and screenwriting and nursing classes in the afternoon. Then I had a late shift at the fire house, and then I went to bed. I hadn’t had a sip of liquor since Saturday.
    Did something happen at work? I could’ve sworn I finished my shift and went home, but what if something happened? This couldn’t be Carrie – my partner’s – room. The bed was too small, the room too girly.
    “Sarah!” a familiar voice called, startling me out of my thoughts. I bolted upright, and it was then that I noticed that the outline of my legs under the blanket was small. I held up my hands and stared at them, a vague sense of panicked familiarity coming over me. I glanced around the room at a dizzying pace. Pink and purple paper butterflies graced white walls. My sheets were of a flower print, and the pillows matched the blanket. The bed was tiny, hardly bigger than a crib. And the white dresser was littered with toys and books and unused diapers.
    “Sarah!” the voice cried again, and I whimpered quietly. This was Sarah’s room, my room, when I was still Sarah. I kicked the blanket away and stared down at myself. A cutesy floral nightgown fit loosely around me.
    I was Sarah, once more. Sarah, who I hadn’t been since I was thirteen years old and sad and scared and uncertain. What happened to twenty-one-year-old, witty, well-liked Scott? Scott, who was a few months away from completing his paramedic exam and had a year and a half until he was a registered nurse. Scott, who had been such since January of the year he turned fourteen.
    I shimmied out of bed and threw the door to my room open. I peered into the hallway. The bathroom was just a few steps away, my parents’ room a little further, and my future sibling’s at the end of the hall. I tiptoed into the bathroom and hoisted myself onto the sink, peering at myself in the mirror. Gray-green eyes the color of dull seafoam stared back at me behind a cloak of fine, light-brown hair that fell messily to my chin. I was a cute child, archetypally innocent. I frowned at myself. The little girl in the mirror was Sarah, not me. I hopped down from the sink and shuffled downstairs where my mother greeted me cheerfully.
    I cared little about the fact that I was three, judging by the nursery that patiently awaited its occupant and my mother’s round stomach. I was Sarah again; I was a girl again. Perhaps it was a dream, I assured myself. Or maybe I had too much to drink. Or I could be too stressed. (I should really lighten my workload.)
    “Good morning, Sarah,” my mother cooed, cupping her palm around my young chin. I missed this; lazy mornings spent devouring scrambled eggs and turkey bacon. I did not, however, miss Sarah. I’m Scott, not Sarah.
    At least I can tell them a lot sooner this time around.

    • snuzcook says:

      A provocative — no, brilliant — premise, for this prompt, Scott; and well written. The last line was great.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is thought-provoking, Scott. It’s a well-written piece from an oft-neglected point of view. A lot can happen in the course of a life and to have it undone can be a tragedy.

      One quibble: my friend who went through the ‘TG experience’ had to go through years of therapy and medication before the operation (and after). Maybe that part is omitted because the format is too short.

  36. bellefleur says:

    The first ray of light from the morning horizon shoots laser like through the tiny space where the bottom of the blind doesn’t quite reach the window sill.

    I’m up! Pushing back the covers, I’m wondering why my suddenly tiny legs don’t hit the floor immediately. Everything in this room seems strangely familiar. Plastic milk crates serving as shelves for stuffed animals and toys line the wall on my left with my mother’s childhood vanity sits between the windows on the opposite wall.

    This is my dusty old memory of my little girl’s room at the first residence I can remember, but why aren’t things dusty? Why the comforting smell of ‘80s laundry detergent? Also, this is the most alert at 6:08 a.m. I can remember being as an adult!

    Swinging my little legs onto the bed, I fall back on the pillow and close my eyes. Surely, I’ll wake up in a minute and be back in London with my own toddler secure in the bedroom next to me. Fun, vivid trip back in time, though. … … … Nope. Nope. No…

    I’m still here, still small and still awake. What were those stories my mom used to tell me from this time? Oh yeah, I wasn’t allowed to go into my parents room before 7:00 a.m., so I would yell from here asking if it was time yet. Maybe that’s a way to test the waters and see how complete this experience will be. “Mom-mee!!! Can I get up yet?!!”

    At first there’s no response. Then, soft padded footsteps precede the creaky opening of the bedroom door. My mother sticks her head in and says, “Ok, we’re up now. Let’s go downstairs and get some breakfast.”

    I’m frozen in disbelief. What is this crazy Groundhog Day experience and when is Bill Murray coming to relieve me?! However, breakfast does sound good, and so do some mommy cuddles. In fact, I’d really love me some mommy cuddles. So, I pop out of bed and careen downstairs to hug her leg in the kitchen while she makes me some scrambled eggs with cheese. If this is an accurate reflection of the past, my 6-month-old brother will be awake any minute, so I better make the most of it.

    “Mommy, will you pick me up and sit with me on the couch? Will you read me a story?”

    “Sure, sweetie. Let’s eat your eggs first, and then we can do that. I love you, Carrie.”

    “I love you, too, Mommy.”

    I’m not sure what’s brought me here, but knowing that the future can be rough and tumble, this innocent, loving time of life is a welcome respite. If it lasts, I’m even looking forward to helping out more with my baby brother a little later. Maybe I’ll spare my mom the “He likes cheese!!” incident.

    • snuzcook says:

      Cute and funny, bellefleur. I can only imagine how funn the ‘cheese’ incident must have been!

    • Observer Tim says:

      It’s a clever tale, bellefleur. I can see going through the day over and over as a three-year old would get extremely frustrating.

      But my inner skeptic asks, if Carrie has been through this so many times, why is she so disoriented when it happens again? Just sayin…

  37. snuzcook says:

    A CURTAIN STIRRED (529 wds)

    On tiny, bare feet I follow the aroma of bacon and cinnamon to the warm heart of the house. I am drawn there, where I know with the certainty of a three-year-old that my mother will be magically chasing away the shadows of the night and weaving the day into order with a hot stove and soapy water.

    Standing in the doorway of the kitchen, I see a young version of my mother bending to pull a pan of muffins from the oven, her single thick braid of raven hair swinging across her shoulder. She sets the muffins to cool, then turns to the skillet of bacon on the stove, spearing the done pieces and laying them on a folded paper towel.

    I cannot help but marvel at how gracefully she moves, each motion with purpose and anointed with a aura of joyfulness. She is not just my mother, but The Mother, the iconic personification of mothers at the center of their families, stirring up the embers that sustain the home, protecting from the darkness.

    I am aware of her in these terms, but I am also in this moment her small child. I do now know how I can see her now through a lens of years and mature experience, and at the same moment through the eyes of my own distant toddlerhood. Some breath of time has wafted aside a curtain and I have stepped through into my own past, her past.

    I clamber up into the high wooden chair that sits at the right hand of her place at the table.

    “Good morning, my Little Squirrel,” she kisses the top of my head, then lays out plates for my brothers across the table from me. I can hear my brothers overhead as they hurry to dress. Soon I know they will come pelting down the stairs like a rock slide, anxious to get to the table on time.

    As she turns away I see fresh red and purple welts on her neck running down under her collar. I peek toward the dark place at the end of the table, the dark brooding place where the dark brooding man will soon appear to preside over the meal. I listen for his heavy steps and I touch the place under my pajamas where the shape of his fingers remains in fading greens and yellows.

    The place at his the end of the table is empty. Puzzled, I see his tall dark chair is pulled aside to a place near the back door where my mother’s floor mop and bucket, smelling of disinfectant, stand waiting to be put away.

    Before I can form a three-year-old’s question, the phone rings. A cloud shadow of fear crosses the sunshine of my mother’s face for just an instant.

    “Good morning, Sheriff. No, he hasn’t been home all night. I don’t know. Yes, he was drinking. Well, you know how he is. His truck? Where? All right, Sheriff, I’ll be here.”

    She hangs up the phone, and picks up something from the counter. It is a set of keys, my father’s keys.

    A breath of air stirs a curtain somewhere, and I shiver.

    • RuthieShev says:

      Very well done. I could feel the tension all the way here. Good job.

    • The first sentence just hooked me, especially since I love bacon. I’ve seen the Norman Rockwell, idyllic pictures and stuff and you ran with it at first until racking up the tension near the end to a place I really didn’t expect. Great job, Snuzcook.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks for your comments, Bilbo!
        I have been gone all week, and when I finally got to responding to this prompt, I guess I had a dark streak that needed to come out.

        If you (or any other responders) are willing to give some specific feedback:

        Some of my personal observations are that the pacing of this story was a bit off due to the descriptive phrases, and that the shift to the ‘dark side’ was perhaps a bit abrupt.
        Wondering also how much the circular references to Mother making light out of darkness/cleaning (as a foreshadowing and justification for the ‘brooding man’ being missing and mother having his keys) and the curtain reference were effective as elements to keep the story a cohesive whole.

        • I’m hardly qualified to really give good, specific feedback, but I’ll try here. First off, the change from idyllic to dark was a little abrupt, perhaps. The only way I can think this would be remedied is maybe by including a small foreshadowing of uncertainty before (P1 and 4 seem like good spots). It really seems fine to me, but maybe it’ll help. Secondly, the two parts about the curtains, and including the title, I felt really tied the story together. Don’t worry about that at all.

          Also, I really liked the part about how the kids would come down like a rock slide. Besides all that, awesome job.

          • snuzcook says:

            Thanks for the extra response, Bilbo! It confirms for me that the foreshadowing in P1 was too subtle, and reassures me of the parts that did work just fine.

        • lionetravail says:

          I think it’s very good, Snuzcook. It does leave a lot to the imagination- for example, I’m not sure if there was foul play afoot, but it seem possible… and if there is, why is the MC seeing it this time? Did it happen last time when she lived through it? I’m a little confused, though I think I sowed more confusion with my take on this prompt :)

          Given the 500 word limit, I think the pacing was pretty solid.

          If there was only one thing to add,I’d like to know if what the MC was witnessing now was something she’d not noticed when she’d lived through it, or if this was a totally new round on the ‘wheel’ she was living through. (If it was something she didn’t see before with an actual 3 year old’s perception, maybe she’s under deep regression hypnosis as an adult?) There’s so many ways you could take this- as an exercise, I think you hit the mark, but you have so much potential to make this into something superb if you take the time to flesh it out.

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            I’m hopping in with lionel. I think your flow was fine and as soon as I read the description, “as she turns away, I see freshn red and purple welts on her neck, and following,”and I touch the place under my pajamas….’ , I know the story, I don ‘t need more clues. She caught him abusing his own daughter, walted for sleep and killed the SOB, although the struggle produced the welts.

            I also agree, expand this story, maybe 2000 words or what ever you need. It is important.

          • snuzcook says:

            Thank you for your detailed response, Lionetravail!

            I often find that I have left a lot to the reader’s interpretation, which sometimes works really well, because the reader comes up with a more brilliant story than I had in mind ;0); other times the story is just vague.

            Here, we learn that in the midst of a warm, idyllic home is a dark shadow. The dark brooding man is physically abusive–hand print bruises on the little girl, fresh welts on the mother’s neck, a bullying presence at the table. The mother exists to provide a safe, nurturing home for her family. The bad man hurt her child(ren), the bad man attacked her. The bad man is now gone and all trace of him and his demise has been mopped up with disinfectant. His truck has been found abandoned somewhere with no trace of him. The only hint is the child’s recollection about the keys, the one piece of evidence that her mother made the darkness go away by direct action. Something the child saw but perhaps did not realize at the time.

            Why does the MC relive this moment? My intent is that it is part of her coming to grips with the truth of her mother–as we all must do at some point. For instance, it was an epiphany to discover that my gentle, soft-spoken and very proper grandmother appeared to take real pleasure in snipping or salting the slugs in her garden. When I got over the shock of the image of her malicious cackle over their mangled bodies, it helped me understand her as a three-dimensional human being rather than a sainted icon.

    • margi33 says:

      I thought it was an interesting and good read because of the excellent descriptions. I did have to read it more than once at the end to make sure I got what had happened, but I am a little slow sometimes ;). Overall, very enjoyable and I thought the pacing was fine given the word constrictions.

    • seliz says:

      I loved where you went with this prompt. The small details the MC notices this time around that hints about what happened to their father were perfect. It was comforting with the description of The Mother, but then creepy as well.

    • jmcody says:

      Hi Snuzcook. I thought the pacing was fine. I understood the story just as you described it in your comments, although I did have to read it twice to make sure. The disinfectant and the keys confirmed the meaning for me. The only part that I am not entirely sold on is when the narrator is talking about his (her?) mother as being the iconic mother. I think you could have conveyed this without stating it so overtly. It struck me as spoon-feeding the reader a bit more than was necessary. I did love the language you used though, about the stirring of the embers and protecting the home from darkness. I would keep that but weave it into the MCs remembrance instead of into his conscious awareness, if that makes sense. I am only giving these suggestions because you asked. Overall it was excellent, and I appreciated the subtlety with which you painted this dark portrait.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, JM. You put your finger right on the place where it jumped out of line–some alter ego of the author slipped under the fence and made a soapbox statement. And it would be so easy to say it without the pedantic language. Good catch!

    • Reaper says:

      snuzcook, for me I’m going to say… don’t. change. anything. With two exceptions I will get to in a moment. I have read the other comments and while I can see the value in them I believe the pacing is perfect. The soapbox comment could be spoon feeding but what it said to me was that this was not new. Left to our own devices we might assume that this was the mother’s way of feeling guilty over the father, making up for it, or as a way of ushering in a better era. With that one comment we know that, no, this is just how mother always made the house and nothing has changed. As for the pacing I liked the abrupt change because it spoke of the father. He is not in the story but that switch is like a sudden stormcloud out of nowhere which is how I imagine the father entering the room.

      I actually had a thought in my mind that transitioned with this story. It went like this. Rockwell painting fading to the Screamer and evolving to a Warhol. The fact that my mind works in words and not images means you did an amazing job of walking me through this to get my mind there. Oh, and your opening line was perfection and there were nice echoes of it both dark and light later on in your other descriptions.

      The two things that jarred me. I can hear my brothers overheard, I would suggest removing the overheard or rework the beginning to eliminate hear because I was deep in the trance of this story and this pulled me out of it for a second. The second is a typo only. In P4 you have I do now know when I believe you meant not. That’s it. I’m still trying to catch my breath.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks so much, Reaper!
        It’s funny, each time I read the story, I change how I feel about it.
        I really appreciate your perspective! I think you grok it.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This reads like the beginning of a story from Alfred Hitchcock Presents. You crafted the tale through subtle clues seen in the eyes and mind of a small child.

      Excellent job, Snuzcook.

  38. RuthieShev says:

    As usual even at three years old, I am the first one up. I look around and my three sisters are still asleep. Later on there would be six of us girls sleeping together in the two double beds pushed together in the back bedroom but two of my sisters aren’t born yet. Back then I thought my brother, who was the oldest and only boy, was so lucky to have his own bedroom even though it was very small. Later on I grew to love the closeness my sisters and I had and still have today even though I am getting close to sixty-seven years old.
    Jumping out of bed, I run to the bathroom first which was a little closet type room in our bedroom. Everyone had to come in our bedroom to use the toilet because we only had one in the house which would eventually be home to nine people. Often you would see someone sitting on our beds squirming with anxiety waiting for the bathroom to come free. At least we had an indoor plumbing as several of our neighbors still used an outhouse.
    Afterwards, I hurry to the dresser and pick up my favorite doll. I would let her sleep with me but my sister would not accept my dirty, dingy doll in our bed. Yes, she was dirty, her hair was ratty and even her dress had been mended several times. I know she had a different home before me even though I don’t know exactly who she came from. Santa had given me SusyQ for Christmas and it didn’t matter at to me one bit that she was old and had seen better days. I loved her as much as anyone could love a brand new fancy doll from the 5 and 10 cent store. I sat back down on the bed and begin talking to SusyQ when one of my sisters complained “Don’t you ever stop talking, Ruthie? Go back to sleep!” After that I whispered to my dolly until my momma and daddy got up to get us breakfast.
    Following Momma around, I tried to help her get breakfast on the table. While pouring milk in the glasses I spilled some on the table and Momma just smiled as she wiped up after me. “You are always such a good helper, Ruthie”, she said with conviction. I talked Momma’s ear off the whole time as we got breakfast ready but she didn’t mind. She actually told me that if I wrote as much as I talked, one day I could be a famous writer. I won a state writing contest once in high school by just putting my words into essay form. Yes, I was a talker then and am still a talker but now I try to write down all my words and hope my mother was right and one day I will be a famous writer.

    • snuzcook says:

      This was a lovely, nostalgic glimpse into your narrator’s (your?) experiences, RuthieShev. It felt very authentic and full of details that are both sweet and revealing. Thanks for sharing this story.

      • RuthieShev says:

        Thank you. It is actually what my life was like as a little girl, many, many years ago. I was blessed to be raised in a “Walton” typed framily. I was describing my bedroom (and bathroom) when I wrote this and almost all our Christmas gifts were makeovers. I remember repainting and making new clothes for our old Barbie Dolls for our younger sisters for Christmas. It was a special time in my life.

    • Critique says:

      Reading this felt like a peek into someone’s memoirs. I liked the feeling that came through of growing up in a loving family. I hope I get to read more of your writings Ruthie Shev :)

      • RuthieShev says:

        Thank you very much. We were a very poor family in the Pennsylvania hills and sometimes we just had syrup bread to eat but in our family of nine you always knew the love was there. Although I sometimes wished to be weathier and have material things like a others I knew, I learned that the love was the most important thing our parents gave us.

    • Reaper says:

      This is lovely and I want to see more of your writing. Knowing what it is like to be a talker I am always happy to see another literary writer. That love shown for the doll spoke volumes and your mother was or is a wonderful woman. It is hard to find that kind of encouragement for the writer’s passion in wealthy families. In ones where there is less artistic leanings are often considered frivolous and wasteful. So it is funny that those families actually seem more supportive, or maybe it’s just that there are more of them, or more that produce artists so you hear it more often. Your family sounds amazing.

      • RuthieShev says:

        Thank you very much. My mother was a wonderful woman and died at 92 years old a few years ago and I still miss her very much. You could be right Reaper and maybe it is because there are more of us that we are supportive. I think the fact that we didn’t have a lot of materialistic goods in our life that we turned to each other for support. My husband and I have been married almost 48 years, had 7 children of our own, and now have 16 grandchildren (plus one more in August) and 2 great grandchildren (plus one more in November). We have been blessed in more ways than money can ever buy, although sometimes I think it would be nice to have a little more money :).

    • jmcody says:

      In an age when kids feel deprived if they can’t upgrade from iPhone 4 to 5, a memoir like yours is very timely and relevant. Your story is like an instruction manual for those who have been forced to reevaluate their priorities over these past several years of economic downturn. You have a valuable story to tell and I hope you will write down more of it for your family and for others. You are already a writer. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This reads very much like a look back into the childhood of someone growing up in a large and poor family. Now that I’ve read the comments, I can understand why. It’s a beautiful glimpse into your personal backstory.

      For the sake of clarity, please put an extra blank line between paragraphs; it makes the story easier on my plastic eyes.

      • RuthieShev says:

        Thank you for the comments and the advice. I appreciate your help. I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to title these prompts or just start in the prompt but I read a few and noticed they didn’t have titles so I left that part blank.

  39. Reaper says:

    I’ve never posted two in one week before. This one was floating around in my head before the other and as I was trying to catch up on the stories it decided it had to be told. A bit over word count and in the spirit if not the letter of the prompt. I hope I can be forgiven for both. I did cut it down as much as I could.

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

    Eben Echt

    Like that moment in the movies where the main character wakes up gasping for breath. Everyone thinks they understand but only those with sleep apnea or who have almost drowned do. That’s how I wake up.

    My throat is raw, my nose clogged with the dueling scents of lemon and pine.

    I know I am approaching middle age but the memories between the room I wake in and then are indistinct. I have lived that life in a dark cave. Surround by dream things that flit away when glimpsed.

    I want my mama. –I need to have a conversation with the mother.-

    I’m suddenly in the hall. I see her, call out to her, “-Beep… beep…-” Love fills me as her eyes move past me, pretending not to see. It’s the peekaboo game! A big boy version she always plays with me when I am sick or sad, which is most of the time.

    Three year old legs are not meant for running but when she steps into the kitchen I give chase. One step, two. I’m in the kitchen like I teleported the rest.

    She looks through me. Ice water slides over my soul. She looks so old, she must be fretting. That’s how she looks when I’m really sick. This isn’t the game. She’s giving me the silent treatment. I must have done something bad. That makes me mad. I stamp my bare foot and spew forth words in a voice filled with squeaky thunder!

    “Don’t be mad mama! I’m a good boy! Anger’s –survival is not realistically viable.-“

    Our house is creaky and old. My pint sized fury rattles the dishes. Mama looks surprised. Tears spring onto her cheeks as her mouth opens in an O. When words finally come they are in a whisper.

    “Spencer, you can’t be here.”

    Now I’m crying too. Doesn’t she love me anymore? I know I’m trouble, it’s not my fault I’m always sick. I intend to wail for forgiveness.

    “I –always kept her secret.-“

    The spicy tang of Old Spice mingles with the other scents in my nose. My dada is behind me. I ache for him to lift me up, to hold me. To ruffle my hair and tell me, everything’s okay champ. But his touch would shatter me. I’m –too fragile to be transferred.- When he speaks it is in a voice as old as mama looks.

    “Susan, do I need to get your sister here to look after you?”

    Mama stares at me. She falls to her knees, rivers running through the deep valleys on her cheeks. I want to run to her. I need to wrap my chubby arms around her waist and tell her she’ll get through this, that we can face anything together; like she always does for me. I can’t, I hate her! But I’m a good boy.

    “I… I’m sorry, Spencer.” She is choking on the words. “We had to remove the breathing tube. You were in a coma for thirty-nine years! I’m sorry baby. Forgive your mama. It’s my fault, I let them do it!”

    Dada is saying something, trying to console her but his voice is tired. He just lost his son again too. Why can’t he grieve? I don’t hear the words. My world shrinks to just me and mama. I am going to forgive her; going to return all her favors. I’ll tell her that!

    “-I suspect there is more for the mother to feel guilty about.-“

    Why do I keep saying these things? My world narrows more. Mama sobs out something. It must be bad. The floor shakes as dada falls to his knees. My tiny eardrums quake with his bellows of rage and denial.

    Now I want to comfort him too. Instead I stare at the cupboard where mama keeps lemon scented Pinesol.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      I feel as I’ve been on a trip into the horror of a life so shattered and yet still yearning for love. This may be the most powerful prose I have ever read, there is so much emotion in the words. The descriptive passages from the eyes of a too undrstanding child, are the most gut-wreching thing I have ever set my eyes upon.

      Where is the possibility of hope? There is none. Where does the blame lie? It lies everywhere. What about redemption? It doesn’t exist. What about God? He’s not there either. What about spirit? Aha, it does still exist. The human spirit of survival is always there. It is a built in reserve and is it possible to get through this? It definitely is and that is the beauty of your story. The human spirit will prevail, regardless.

      What a breath taking trip, Reaper.

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you Kerry. I’m glad the emotion came through because I felt it when I was thinking of the story but the when I was done writing it felt like it fell flat compared to what I wanted to express. I think I learned more about my story from reading your comments than I did from writing it. You have an amazing way of doing that for me.

    • snuzcook says:

      A very moving story, Reaper! The ache for connection, the confusion about time, and the child’s logic in the inexperienced mind of a middle aged person who has no time left to sort things out.
      The insertions of comments by outside observers/medical professionals really punctuate the story well, moving it forward while at the same time building the sense of disorientation.

    • margi33 says:

      I like this Reaper. The chopped phrases fit the urgency of the child’s desperation well. It is almost a stream of consciousness style mixed with a story. A cool and engrossing read.

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you. I was going for a dream quality but didn’t want complete stream of consciousness. Trying to cut down to the word count helped with the chopped phrasing.

    • seliz says:

      Wow, this had me hooked. The emotions of the MC and the descriptions were perfect. After the reveal, I found myself going up to re-read the first line again and it was eerie and fitting. Nicely done.

    • jmcody says:

      I cannot fathom how you do this — you weave the threads of your story together so tightly and so intricately, and with such stunning results. You are both a master craftsman and a true artist. This was haunting and devastating. Now please tell me if I am understanding correctly that the mother caused this with the PineSol?

      • Reaper says:

        I’m blushing over here. Thank you jmcody. You are understanding that absolutely correctly. The idea was the mother suffering? from munchausen by proxy syndrome. Her child ending up in a coma for decades and only allowing the life support to be removed when enough time had passed that her guilt had faded and the sympathy and attention for her child in a coma wasn’t cutting it anymore but a funeral would do. One thing I did cut was the father listening to his I’m depressed song when the ghost woke up. I figured his reaction at the end was enough to indicate that he didn’t know what his wife had done.

    • agnesjack says:

      I have enough trouble posting one story, so I am in awe of those who post two. This is a gorgeous story, Reaper. So original. I could go on and on, but I really should attend to other things, so I will just say that this line: “I have lived that life in a dark cave. Surround[ed] by dream things that flit away when glimpsed,” grabbed me particularly. Amazing.

      • Reaper says:

        Thanks agnesjack! I normally only post one but I am slacking on the other writing and editing the last couple of weeks and this one just happened to me. Thank you for telling me that, because I rewrote that line a few times to get it to where it was. I’m proud that it grabbed you. I am also thankful for the correction as I missed that in my editing and have corrected it in the saved copy.

    • RuthieShev says:

      I actually felt tears of sadness well up in my eyes for the people in this writing. I was so moved, I must have read it 3 times to get the full affect of it. I am not any sort of critic but this is something that moved me very much and that is what writing is all about.

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you RuthieShev. I have done my job for the day when I can touch someone like that. Your comments tell me that the emotion and the depth were what I was aiming for. Your statement about being a critic made me think of a quote, which when I was trying to find the source seems mostly unknown and to have many versions. I will go with the one attributed to Orson Welles. “I don’t know anything about art, but I know what I like.” Not exactly right because you do know about art, but those that say they are not critics are the best kind. Other writers who have strong feelings about what writing is about make the best critics to me, because you are telling me what you think from the same side of your brain that I wrote it from. You are feeling it not analyzing. Both have their place but I love seeing what my peers think and take the feedback very seriously.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This one caught me off guard, Reaper, even though I knew there would be some kind of twist when I saw your handle. It’s a touching story, which only serves to enhance the horror of it.

  40. moscoboy says:

    Time Runt

    It was six in the morning and my evil brother Harry kicked me in the butt and yelled, “Mom, Freddie wet the bed again.”

    “Hey, what are you doing in my bed?”

    “You bed wetter, we sleep in the same bed until dad saves enough money to get us that bunk bed he saw at Goodwill. Go get mom to clean you butt.”

    I walked to my parent’s room and opened the door as my wet underwear slapped against my cold butt. I hadn’t wet the bed in sixty years. Why was I brought back to this point in my life?

    “Ma, I wet the bed.”

    “I told you not to drink that Kool-Aid, didn’t I?”

    “I don’t belong here mom?”

    “Not that again Freddie. You have to quit living in your fantasyland. Go change your underwear and I’ll sprinkle some baby powder on your side of the bed and you can cover it up with a towel and go back to sleep.”

    The evil one left at seven a.m. and walked to school. We lived in a small town and school buses were used to pick up farm kids. City kids had to ride or walk to school.

    I shifted my butt from the wet side of the bed to the warm middle of the mattress and wondered if Harry knew he would die of TB, would he make the effort to go to school.

    “Breakfast Freddie.”

    I put on my short pants and shirt and sat at the dining table. Fried eggs, bacon and toast with extra butter and a glass of milk. “Mom, this is bad for me.”

    “Yes I know, you tell me that every time, but you eat it anyway.”

    “I know,” I recited mom’s message, “because the little kids in Africa don’t have nothing to eat, and they never will.”

    “No more of your nonsense. Take your toy soldiers and walk to Maw-Maw’s house. I’ll pick you up after I get off work.”

    “Maw-Maw smells.”

    “It’s that kerosene stove she uses. Be a good boy and don’t bother Maw-Maw when she naps.”

    “I’m going to fight in Vee Naam mom.”

    “No Freddie, it was VE day and VJ day not vee naam.”

    “You’ll be proud of me mom. I’m going to fly an airplane and drop bombs and ‘pow’ kill all the enemy.”

    “Be sure and leave some for tomorrow.”

    I walked two blocks down from our frame home to Maw-Maw’s shotgun shack house. I yelled, “Maw-Maw, are you alive?”

    “Freddie I smelled you coming a block away,” said Maw-Maw. “Did you wet your bed again?”

    “It was an accident.”

    “Accident yourself into the tub and take a quick bath and I’ll fix you a bologna sandwich and you can tell Maw-Maw all about the future. People think I’m crazy when I talk about whiz-bang ovens and Dick Tracy phones. Am I crazy Freddie?”

    “No, it’s me, I’m stuck in the wrong time zone and I can’t find my way home.”

    • seliz says:

      If I were the MC, I don’t know if I would want to find my way home. With his brother dying and going off to war, it seems like the MC had a tough life. I liked how no one took him seriously, except for his Maw-Maw.

    • jmcody says:

      Same story but a completely different slice of life that was engagingly portrayed. The childish dialogue played well with the grown up internal monologue, and you have just enough of the right kinds of details to make it sing. Nice job!

    • Observer Tim says:

      This reads kind of like an episode of the Twilight Zone or Night Gallery that they could never have managed to record back then. I can almost feel the camera pulling back at the end and Rod Serling starting his closing narration.

      Well done, moscoboy.

  41. Iffi says:

    There are very rare days in Mumbai when the climate is such that it helps you to sleep soundly with comforting temperature and less mosquitoes around your face, making annoying noise trying to find the perfect spot to lay their teethes on. I was happy that such things around me have changed just in a couple of hours and till then, I was merely switching sides.

    Wait a minute, wasn’t I sleeping in one of the finest five star hotels in Barcelona? How can there be mosquitoes in this room for which they charge so much? Am I dreaming?

    And suddenly there was an array of loud noise of falling vessels as if they were falling right from that seventh sky. I got up at once and turned my face around to find the place from where the sound came. I was horrified to see myself in body of three year old, as I never thought or wished for it, though my skin was cherubically soft and my legs were cutely little.

    I saw a man, wearing white old dirty pajama with bare chest, unkempt hair and ungroomed beard, pulling a woman with brute force against the wall. Her head hit the wall and a part of her forehead turned black and blue. I was not able to recognize their faces as they were standing with their back facing towards me.

    “Bitch! Give me money or else I will kill you” threatened man.

    I was still not able to figure where I was and thought maybe its booze, which I had while partying when Barcelona won 1-0, playing on my mind. I simply gazed, with my chins up, around trying to find out more about the place and these people. The walls and ceiling were having cracks and appeared as the skin of an old woman having wrinkles all around. However, few amongst them were filled up with cement as though the people living there cared for it once.

    As I gazed more, my heartbeats increased exponentially as it related me to my old house where I grew up and whose hazy images are still there in my mind. As my eyes were running across the room collecting more and more proofs and looking for one to make me believe that it’s not the place where I grew up, the woman turned around making it possible for me to see her face from the side. My heart stopped, as the woman was the one whom I have loved the most, my mother, but it was the first time when I didn’t have the usual smile on my face which used to be there, out of happiness which her face filled my heart with.

    “Sister Fucker! Will you spend this too at chowk, gambling and drinking?” asked my mother denying money to the guy who appeared to be my father.

    My heartbeat started again with my face down in sadness thinking, am I going to relive those days again? My face went grimmer as I was now able to understand all words and the context of their violent discussion too. I thought it was better then, as at least I didn’t understand them and can imagine it as some game which they play, but now it wasn’t. I broke down into tears and started my waa waa giving my mother an opportunity to slip out of the situation.

  42. LiveOakLea says:

    There are times in Life when strange things happen, bizarre things, fifth dimension things, time warp things … and then you wake up. It’s been my experience that most people can relate when you tell them you sprouted wings and flew over a poppy field to spank a Wizard, if it’s a dream. Chances are good if you shared your most outrageous dreams, others would nod with total understanding, without dismay, and say they had a dream like that, except it was with their deceased grandpa. Our human minds can take us on extraordinary trips, when we’re asleep.

    What happens though when your world has, like an outlandish dream, lost the laws and constraints of time and space, abandoning you to situations un-refrained by the dictates of here and now, then and there, awash on the shore of absurdity, spinning on a plane outside the realm of plausibility? How do you handle the impossible, when it’s suddenly unavoidably real?

    I’ve lived almost 59 years, but I don’t think I’ve ever devoted more than a fleeting moment pondering that question. Never had much of a cause to consider how I would handle any episode more challenging to my routine than the night I thought I heard a freight train headed for my prize winning rosebush, only to find that it was the next door neighbor ramming her husband’s girlfriend’s BMW down the street, tires facing upwards and clawing at the sky, over the South Street Bridge, through the guard rail and tumbling unceremoniously into the cold Forge River.

    Neither my rosebush nor the girlfriend was harmed, but perhaps you can imagine the first instant my naive eardrums were assaulted by the vicious, grinding roar. The uncomprehending, cringing fear.

    That’s the feeling I woke up to this morning, and I’ve been held captive in its clutches since then.

    It’s not the people around me who scare me … in fact they are my dear parents. It’s not my surroundings … I’m in a home whose worn floors, scarred doors and marred wallpaper are like a second skin to me. But this scene around me disappeared from the world over a half century ago, including the child’s body I now inhabit.

    Gone are the flabby skin, the age spots, the hip replacement. My arms are chubby, my legs are stubby, my diaper is full.

    This can’t be happening. But it is.

    I’m plopped into my highchair, the metal one with the slightly rusted tray, its seat upholstered with the most carefree rabbits in the world. I shouldn’t be sitting here. I try to find the words to explain this absurd situation to my mom, who is surprisingly patient in her efforts to zoom the spoon of oatmeal into my mouth. I choke, cough, spit, spout and pound my fists against the tray. This isn’t right. I shouldn’t be here! But I don’t know how to say those words.

    All I can scream is, “No! No! Noooooo!!!”

    • TiaKuwai says:

      Loved this line, “My arms are chubby, my legs are stubby, my diaper is full.” Hope my baby dosent think like this being a baby!
      I felt the initial description was a bit long, otherwise the emotions captured well.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I enjoyed this spot of reflection; given that it’s not unusual for me to self-examine, it seems somehow fitting. It’s interesting to see the new situation used as a mirror for the old.

  43. swatchcat says:

    I have another but this first. I just kept thinking, what if?

    “What, do you take me for a fool?”

    “No Noah but now that you have seen what is to come, do you think it can be different?”

    “I will be but a child Lord. What can I do? It will fall on deaf ears as it did before. Most merciful father, do not plague me with this task again.”

    “Just think Noah, if you fail, we will send Moses next.”

    But why oh Lord, you know your people are week. The pain and suffering. I can’t bear the sadness and hate. It is too much.

    “I will give you the strength you need to endure. Remember my covenant. Believe, have faith and follow me and I will protect you. I will show you mercy.”

    “Why God must we endure this test again,” asked Noah desperately.

    “I do not want to destroy the world by flame. Help me to find a way. I want to change my mind but I will not if the people do not change their ways.

    “Noah, my friend,” said his wise Moses, “fear not, you have five hundred years to convince the people to change their evil ways. With the wisdom of knowing, you have the advantage.

    Father Lemech and mother Betenos lived in a tent and lived in the wilderness. Noah laid sleeping in a cradle made of stray and sheep’s wool. Under the sun of the earth and God the Father they lay as Noah watched his parents and wondered how he would spread the word of God to save a number of people so large from hopeless chaos. He was only one man among countless fools who had lost their way.

    He watched as his mother rose to prepare for the day. He could feel through the opening of the tent the heat of the drought seep in. Noah sat up and rubbed his eyes. Just then his mother, Betenos, came in and fed him some food. Noah drank some goat’s milk and went to play in the corner. Before he left, his mother grabbed him and looked in his eyes. “Noah my love, you have such wise eyes for a boy. You will be brave and strong. May God have mercy on you and give you strength.” His heart was heavy.

    • swatchcat says:

      Shit! “Weak” not “Week” and

      But why oh Lord, you know your people are week. The pain and suffering. I can’t bear the sadness and hate. It is too much.—-This should have quotation marks around it.

      Could you imagine any legendary person having to go back and do it again?

      • swatchcat says:

        Frick!

        said his wise Moses –said Moses

        • swatchcat says:

          Tired writer syndrome….

          lived in a tent in the wilderness
          straw not stray

          There I think I got it all

          • Critique says:

            Your comments made me laugh… been there – done that. Here, once posted it’s beyond our reach.
            This was an interesting take on the life of Noah the child. Have you seen the film Noah starring Russell Crowe. Interesting as well.

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          This is an incredible supposition, swatchcat. God choosing the only man possible to relive the nightmare task, the Lord placed on his shoulders, so many thousands of years ago.

          Anyone would resist this plea. Bill Cosby said it best.
          “You’ve got to be kidding!”

    • Marc Ellis says:

      This was an interesting take on the prompt and a unique perspective in general. One can only speculate how significant historical figures would act if they knew what their futures entailed and the likely outcomes of their actions. If they could change things, would they? Could they? Could they do the same great thing again if asked or required? Could they expect similar results? This would be a test of the truly great, true destiny, versus the any-given-Sunday scenario.

    • jmcody says:

      This was thought provoking. I don’t think even us lesser mortals could have handled it if we knew at three the biggest challenges life was preparing to throw at us. But that is the definition of faith — forging on without knowing or needing to know, content that the answers will be made available when they are most needed. This was sort of a harrowing thing to think about. Well imagined and well executed.

      • swatchcat says:

        Thank you for your comments I appreciate them. I was going to do a more creative nonfiction approach using my own bits of background but as I thought about it, this came to mind. Like I said, what other characters whether non-fiction or fiction if given this chance or made to go back…what would happen? Hitler, Stalin, Marilyn, or Wendy & Dorothy; what if.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Clever take on the story, Swatch. Noah was over 600 years when the ark thing hit – could you imagine going through all that again?

  44. TiaKuwai says:

    The horrors of the night were playing all over again. Whimpering, I snuggle up to the cozy embrace, wait, who would embrace me like this? I open my eyes just a tad, I see her and quickly shut my eyes tighter. How could this be? I was terrorized, I was relieved.
    I open my eyes again and try to get up. She held me firmly against her body and was cooing my favorite lullaby.
    I look at her closely in the dim lights, she looked younger and beautiful. I tried to get up again and felt arrested by her arms. “Go back to sleep my baby, it was just a bad dream. Momma is here, you are safe. Relax”, she said and continued singing and walking across the room.
    I couldn’t understand what was happening. How could she cradle me at this age? How could she be there in the first place?
    Suddenly I see a reflection of us in the mirror, good Lord! How did I reduce in size? I must be around three and she was younger.
    This definitely was a dream, I thought, and tried to wake up. Her arms still restricted my movements.
    I closed my eyes and tried to string the events of the day. I had visited her in the evening, I was drunk and I was angry. The heated conversation over the property made me angrier. I had flung a porcelain vase at her to stop her. And it had. She was dead.
    I must have fallen asleep holding her and crying and praying for her to wake up. Maybe my prayer is answered and I get this chance to correct my actions. I was little relaxed after clearing my thoughts, relief was stronger than terror.
    If this is a dream I don’t want to wake up anymore, I hope this is real. I close my eyes firmly and hold on to her tightly.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is very touching, TaiKuwai. I’m sure we all have things we wish we could go back and redo, and that one sounds like a doozy.

      One idiom thing: the sentence “I must be around three and she was younger.” implies that the mother is younger than three, which I doubt was your intention. The last bit should be replaced with “… she was a young woman.” or some such.

  45. WHISPERS OF HOME

    Underneath the distant, craggy peaks, even below the foggy foothills in front of them, lies a small, sparse land only punctuated by rows of weathered poplars. A lone farmhouse and a red peaked-roof barn stand in its midst, the wailing wind rotating the creaking weathervane. The front screen bangs shut, and a lean man in overalls leads his young grandson out to learn the ways of the farm.

    “Pa-Pa, are we going to feed the chickens, and ducks, and cows?” I tag along behind him, the large pail bouncing up and down from my belt.

    “Of course, Billy,” he replied, hobbling along the gravel path. “The sky is light and clear, and it’s a beautiful day. I can hear them calling for food from here.”

    Something seems a little off, and I feel like I’ve been through this before. Abruptly, I recall the funeral and my future wife’s face, and the world spins out of focus for a second, but we arrive at the chicken pen and he turns to me.

    “Do you want to feed them?” he asks with a mischievous bounce to his blue eyes. I nod, and thrust my little arm through the fence.

    “Just be careful they don’t take your fingers off.”

    I nearly pull back but regain my confidence. One of the chickens struts triumphantly over and pecks gingerly at the feed. I let out a small squeal.

    “That tickles!” I place the extra grain back in the pail, but Grandpa doesn’t reply. I peer over to see him lying down next to the fence, his arms flailing.

    “George, get your gas mask on! George, don’t die on me! Please, George!” he cries out hoarsely.

    With alarm, I realize he’s having one of his attacks. I remember them often, mostly when I was supposed to be asleep, and when we drove past the shooting range. Grandma doesn’t ask him about anything, but whenever she used to talk to my mom she would mention the Somme and his old friends, always in hushed tones and holding coffee cups.

    “Grandpa, Grandpa, stop it!” I lean over and shake his legs. After a few more seconds, he rolls back over, his overalls stained with mud. He stares at me for a long time, and then tears start cascading down his cheeks.

    “What’s wrong, Grandpa?” What I don’t tell him is that I know exactly what is happening, and his old battle medals will haunt me for years.

    He rubs his sleeve across his face and hauls himself up, flashing an eye to the windows.

    “Nothing, lad. Let’s get back to the farmhouse. We’re done for the day.”

    I follow him, stepping into his oversized boot prints. He’ll never know what happens later, having died days after I turned fourteen. He won’t get to see our farm prosper, my marriage, great-grandchildren, the years rolling by. But that doesn’t matter to me. He still speaks to me within those faded red ribbons and snow-covered mountaintops. Whispers of home lift my wings and send me soaring as I place a lone pail on his headstone.

    (I’m a little late to the party with this second one, but here goes anyhow. GH)

    • margi33 says:

      I liked it… well done Bilbo Baggins. The beginning paragraph did a nice job of setting the reader into the scene and then it was easy to follow from there – nice descriptions and good emotion. And fresh after reading some of the same sounding stories.

      Better late than never… I have nothing this week – it’s just been beyond crazy.

    • Critique says:

      I liked your descriptions: of the farm, the loving relationship between Grandpa and Billy. He lost his Grandpa but he still has cherished memories that live on.

    • jmcody says:

      The mingling of a quiet farm life with the horrors of war was striking, as was the mingling of past, present and future. As always, you had some excellent sensory details — the creak of the weathervane, the bang of the screen door, Grandpa covered in mud. The pail on the tombstone was a poignant touch. Well done!

    • Observer Tim says:

      Nice description of an old man suffering battle fatigue (now called PTSD) from the trenches. I’m left curious about whose funeral he’s attending when this happens.

    • DMelde says:

      Nicely done. It left me feeling wistful and melancholy.

  46. john godfrey says:

    BABY TALKS

    Warmth.

    Darkness.

    No sense of urgency.

    Time has slowed.

    Suddenly, intrusion.

    Spindly claws grab for me.

    I scream.

    The claws reach further.

    They grab me.

    I am taken into another world.

    Bright lights.

    Beeping.

    I wail for comfort.

    Find none.

    “It’s a girl.”
    ***
    The monster grabs me under my arms.

    Force me to stand.

    I wobble, cry for her to stop.

    She keeps going.

    We repeat.

    Flung into air.

    Straddled under arms.

    Wail.

    Wobble.

    Fall.

    Finally, I stand.

    “Stu, come quick! Emily’s walking!”
    ***
    I feel my mouth.

    Tongue.

    Across mouth.

    Tiny things in my mouth.

    White.

    Square.

    I chew.

    “Look’s like Daddy’s little girl got her first tooth!”
    ***
    Something.

    Tickling my throat.

    I know what to say.

    Do not know how.

    Then, I speak.

    “Ma-ma.”
    ***
    I am three.

    I speak, I walk, I chew.

    But no more.

    The beam shines on me.

    I raise into the sky.

    The vortex swallows me.

    I look.

    Bright lights, strange whispers.

    Little men, green.

    Large eyes, black.

    I was abducted ten years ago.

    I was forty.

    They wanted to know.

    Humans.

    I become another test.

    Others stare.

    Other experiments.

    The animal-men.

    The living head.

    Some have worse fate.

    I live now as baby.

    Forever.

    They do tests on me.

    I do nothing to stop.

    How can I?

    They zap me again.

    The beam wipes my memory.

    My existence.

    It begins again.
    ***
    Warmth.

    Darkness.

    No sense of urgency.

    Time has slowed.

    Suddenly, intrusion.

  47. yaxomoxay says:

    This prompt brought the innermost part of our souls out. I have to say that I enjoyed each story. I had the privilege to be part of this unique degustation of what being a writer means. More than that, this week we had the opportunity to grasp a piece of humanity’s universal puzzle.

    • Dennis says:

      I was having the same thoughts. Something deeper happened this week with the subject of the prompt. I think that is the great thing with writing, tapping into our souls and sharing with others. Thank you everyone for sharing.

    • jmcody says:

      Degustation — what a perfect word for what happens here on this forum. You who call yourself ESL are now teaching me things about my native language! I agree that people dug very deep this week, and I feel like some of us got to know each other a little better. What an inspiring group of writers we have here!

      • rle says:

        Wow! I’ve been having a lot of the very same thoughts myself. It just goes to show that even though we may all be from different parts of the world and have different beliefs and values, we all share one common bond. We all have a love of this crazy craft that we partake in here. To be able to do these prompts somewhat successfully, I feel that we sometimes have to expose parts of ourselves that we’re uncomfortable with. Although this is fiction, I find myself often drawing on real life experiences to make it all work. After all, like they say, sometimes truth is better than fiction.

        Although, I don’t comment as often as I feel I should, I want you all to know that I read each and every post, each and every week and feel as though I am in the company of the most elite group of writers this planet has to offer.

        I agree, that this week something different happened. A lot of these stories went in generally the same direction and I think that says something about each and every one of us and it’s not all about the writing. I think the bigger point here is how this speaks of us as human beings. This week gave me a much clearer picture of where I want to go as a writer. It gave me a renewed hope, and with hope we hold all of the cards.

        Thank you all.

    • Degustation- further proof that you can learn something every day. I have to say, this week really brought out the heart of my writing too. Childhood always seems a tender spot for some reason, perhaps because of its innocence and how it molds us. Once again, it is a pleasure to be writing these responses in the ranks of some of the undiscovered talents of this nation. Cheers, all.

    • yaxomoxay says:

      sorry. This is a [I] test for italics [/i] and [b] bold [/b]

  48. Licius Cashmere says:

    It was a fine day I woke up getting ready for a big game next week. I’m playing hockey against the Lancers High School Team. I went to the bathroom too do my morning routine. When I tried to look into the mirror I couldn’t. I was too short too get up. Suddenly I see myself in a hallway mirror, and I see my room.
    I freaked out, I didn’t know what was happening. When I went down too the kitchen, my Parents didn’t react differently. Like they knew I was three years old. So I asked my mom.

    “Mom why am three years old”, asked Jimmy
    “Well darling, its because you’re not four yet”, said Carol
    “What, What does that mean?”, asked jimmy

    I was confused, I started to think that I went to the past. That somehow I went from being a teenager too being a potty training!, bottle sucking kid. It was all messed up, I couldn’t tell anyone because my english wasnt that well understood. I was about to cry, but no one will think i’m a wimp because i’m three.

    I then wondered if anyone else changed. Or if it was just me? So my mom took me too where she worked, fortunately it was my school. She was a counselor, which was not fun for me. When she put me in her desk, Benny came in. He was the most meanest kid in school. I guess you could call him a bully. My mom asked him what was wrong.

    “What’s wrong benny?”, said Carol
    “I wet my pants again?”, said Benny
    “Don’t worry benny it happens to everyone, some day you will just pass it” said carole

    I started laughing, but what i didn’t know was that he bullies kids because he wants other kids too feel embarrassed like him. I suddenly felt bad for benny, and I swore to myself that I will help him, and maybe become his friend. you know if he don’t throw me into the trash first.

    My mom was done with her job, and it was a difficult job. I mean, I could never listen, and help kids as well as my mom does. It made me appreciate her a lot more. I went to her and gave her a big hug , but it wasn’t that big because I as three at that time.

    When I woke up the next morning, I realize that everything that I saw was a dream. It was a dream that made me realize what my family do for me. So I hopped out of bed, and I went down stairs, and gave my mom and dad the biggest hug. This time I could actually Hug them. Not just their legs. I felt bad for what i’ve done to them, so I made them breakfast, and I walked into school with my mom. Also started to talk too Benny. I think He liked it, having someone to talk too.

    • swatchcat says:

      That was a nice take on the prompt. It’s interesting that your MC got to return to the present with a lesson to learn and new appreciations. You had some problems with capitalizations inconsistently placed and you seemed confused about the usage of “to” or “too” but that will come with time. Nicely done.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a good tale of someone learning a lesson by finding himself in someone else’s shoes (well, technically in his own baby shoes). I like the happy ending and the moral; those are normally left to the reader to work out these days.

      The grammar is overall a bit awkward; this could benefit by your reading it out loud as a form of editing.

  49. CrAzy 8thz says:

    awhhh as I wake up from my morning nap, something about me felt different. I got up out of the bed but this time fell off. I was still sleepy but everything around me was bigger. I was wonder to myself why is everything is so much bigger around me. “Mom Mom” , i called but nobody answered. In the middle of the floor i just laid there dozing off right back to sleep.”Randy” my mom yelled ,i jumped up from up off of the floor.” What are you doing on the floor,” she said. “I don’t know “, i said as my mom cover her mouth as if she was shocked. “ Ben, “Ben come here, he just said his first few words,” mother screamed to get my father’s attention. “ Ben, he just said his first words and it was i don’t know! Oh my gosh get the camera.” My dad Ben ran downstairs to the basement and got the camera and came back. “ Why is you all is freaking out for, this ain’t new.”

    • swatchcat says:

      Okay, so I will have to keep myself in check here. This has the potential for a good start for this prompt. Nice rough draft? I’m thinking you texted this along with all the glitches the auto-check couldn’t catch. If you get a note tablet app. you can write your ideas so later when home you can send it to your computer to enhance then submit. Just an idea.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I have to agree with Swatch here (I seem to do that a lot, I hope it’s a good thing). This is the seed of a very interesting story, and I would love to see it expanded on. Separating paragraphs would be exceptionally handy.

  50. gamefreak17 says:

    I woke up in my Winnie the Pooh Bear bed confused. This place looked familiar to me.I just couldn’t tell where I was at the sametime. I got off the bed and I see my Toy Story collection on the shelf. From Woody the sheriff to the little toy soldiers. The shelf was like a skyscraper to me. Once I looked around the room I begin to remember that this is the house back in Chicago. I feel something very uncomfortable in my pants. I put my hand in and find out that I’m wearing a diaper. Not just a regular diaper but a full diaper.

    “Mommy!” I yelled.
    “What’s wrong?” She came in panicking.

    After she said that, I pointed straight at my butt. You’re not gonna want to know what happen after that so I won’t say anything about it. She then takes me down stairs to eat breakfast. She puts a plate in front of me with a fork. I grab the fork and i try to get a piece of food off the plate but it kept falling off. I started to get angry so I put the fork down and started grabbing it with my chubby little fingers.

    “Don’t use your hands, use the fork.” My mom said.

    I looked at her for a while then went back to grabbing the food with my fingers.She got off her seat then towards my seat and right away I knew I was in for it. So I grabbed my fork and tried eating with it. Trying so hard to pick up lead up to me not being hungry anymore. So I moved the plate aside and went off my.

    If you’re not going to eat that then I don’t want to see you in the kitchen later on and of course I didnt listen. My dad who was watching t.v got up,went in the kitchen and ate a cookie.

    “Can I have one?” I asked.
    “No.” My dad replied.
    “ Can I have one pwuese?” I asked for the last time.
    “No because you didn’t finish your food and if I give you one then mom will yell at both of us.”

    I remember where they tried hiding the the cookies the only problem was I was too short. I brought a chair up to the counter and climbed on top of it. Once I was on the counter, I open one of the shelfs. I see the cookies. and right away I get excited. I reached for the cookies trying not to make any sound. I take one cookie from the bag, and as I’m putting the cookies back, my mom comes in and sees me with a cookie in the hand and on the counter at the same time. I was never able to eat a cookie unless I finished all my food with a fork.

  51. Queen.Bum says:

    What am I doing here, this all looks so familiar… What is going on? As I wake up, I see my older sister next to me as if we were smaller again.
    “Go back to bed Crystal. It is too early.” Rebecca said.
    “But, I have to go to work.” I replied.
    As she sits up, she looks all confused about what I am talking about.
    “Work? What are you talking about, you are only three years old.”
    Three? What is she talking about, I’m 20. As I lay back down all confused, I don’t even remember when I went to bed.
    “Wake up, it’s time for you to go to daycare.” Rebecca said.
    As I started to get up, I notice my parents are not there.
    “Where is mom and dad?” I asked.
    “They are at work remember.” Rebecca replied.
    As I start to get flashbacks about how my life was when I was this age. I did not like this age at all. My parents were never there for me. Crystal thought to herself. As she got up to start getting ready for daycare, she notices that Rebecca, her sister had made her breakfast.
    “Is this mine?” I asked.
    “Yes, I always make it for you, it’s your favorite.” She replied.
    I haven’t seen my parents in a long time, I wonder if they even remember me.
    “When do I get to see mom and dad?” I asked
    “Soon…” She said not so much with confidence. “Do you want me to braid your hair?”
    “Yes please.”
    As she starts braiding my hair, I think of all the times my parents were there for me. Who went to my birthday party, they didn’t just my sister. Were they there for christmas? No, it was just my sister and I. When will I see them again, I don’t even remember how they look.
    “Ok, all done. Ready to leave?”
    “Yes.”
    As we were leaving the house all of this seemed like as if we did this every single day. As if it was a routine. Parents not there, just me and my sister. What do my parents do for their job that they are never here with me. Do they even care about me anymore?
    “Ok, we’re here. See you after. I love you Crystal.”
    “Ok, I love you too.”
    As Crystal saw her sister Rebecca walking out the door, she couldn’t help but think, will she ever come back for me, or leave me just like my parents did.

    • swatchcat says:

      Kind of sad but good in that way because you were able to get feelings from me as I read it. To emanate feeling makes for a good writer. I sort of felt like you switched from first person perspective to third and back again, it was a little confusing. Still I liked the story and the subject matter is very relatable.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a touching story of “too-busy” parents and their effect on a very young child. It was enjoyable and thought-provoking.

      The story could, however, use an extra pass or two to catch a number of minor grammar and structure errors.

  52. Ken Doe says:

    So, maybe I did wet the bed and the big deal is? That was the thought I had but for some reason unbenounced to me all I’m able to say is

    “Sorwy Mommy.”, I know pathetic right. Let me fill you in on what happened. Three days ago I awoke in my bed. Not my girlfriends bed because before the “incident” I was living with her. But I awoke in my bed. The bed, that was in my room, in my house, on the east side of Grand Rapids in 1991! Most shocking to me, I woke up to find I’m a damn 3 year old, weird right? I was twenty-five when I went to sleep and when I woke I was laying in a puddle of my own urine. So that was kinda annoying to say the least, but the worst part of all I can’t seem to communicate with anyone. Almost everything I say seems to be running through some predetermined filter. I can never get my point across. It all comes across adolescence gibberish.

    So for the last few days I’ve been contemplating how, or why this happened. I have yet to come up with a “how”, but I have figured out a why. This is punishment, no doubt about it, but what spark my curiosity was, was it a punishment for me or for her? The “her” I’m referring to is my pitiful representation of a mother I was raised by. She messed me up bad. The beatings, the abandonments, the lack of responsibility were tactics she used to grow me up. What her lessons in cruelty and selfishness taught me was to always be optimistic. When the lights went out because she didn’t pay the bills, because she was too busy partying. I was grateful at least I finally had the chance to use the candles I bought her for her birthday. That she never lit. When I got smacked on the left side of my face, I was glad the bruising wasn’t on my good side. So when I go transformed back to my 3 year old self I was upset at first. My exact thoughts were,

    ” Wow, I have to go through all this again,”, but just as quickly as I saw the glass half empty it became half full. Then I had another thought,

    “Wow, I have to go through all this again… And this time I can pay her back for the hell crap I’ve been through!” Or will go through. Still not sure how this back in time thing goes. But all I know for sure is that I got a second chance.

    So just like any other who received a second chance at life. I took full advantage of my opportunity. I peed the bed the first night (On accident), the second night (On purpose), and today (Just because I like to do everything in 3’s). That pretty much sums up my rebirth up until this point.

    “ Why you keep doing this?! Oh, you’re gonna pay you brat!” , Mom screams. And so it begins.

    • swatchcat says:

      So if your MC OCD pee’d in the bed 3x, does the mom beat him 3x? I like this because I got the feel of the resentment toward the mother and the beating but why necessarily would he go for the same life style as before? Unless what you know doesn’t make any difference. Good one.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I would have to say that the parenting definitely contributed to the MC’s being one messed-up adult. He’s happy, but where’s the compassion (probably drowned in years of pain). This is a nicely crafted tale.

      From the red pencil, it should probably be “unbeknown” not “unbenounced”, and “adolescent” not “adolescence” gibberish.

      • Ken Doe says:

        Thanks for the comment I didn’t even see those mistakes. Yeah, I was really trying to make my MC really messed-up. I wanted to do more, but you know, only 500 words. But yeah thanks again for the criticism.

  53. DrewOrange says:

    I awaken with a bright light jabbing at my eyes. I slowly awaken and try to look around with slightly blurry vision. I look down at feet and notice they are relatively close to my face. I can actually reach my toes now, I thought to myself. Finally finishing my stretching, I hop out of bed. Strange but getting up out of bed, and on to the floor I notice my bed is taller than me. Even stranger than that, the bed I was sleeping in.. Wasn’t mine. I slipped up onto my tippy toe and notice black moving up and down; there was someone else in the bed with me. I didn’t know what to do.

    I didn’t know who this was next to me. I tried speaking, but my mind was going faster than my mouth and the words that were coming out of my mouth. Every time I tried speaking my tongue would get stuck. The bed was too tall for me to get back into. And the door was shut. The door knob was the same as the bed. Tall and out of my league to reach. I looked over on the other side of the bed where the other person was. I walked over there maybe I could see their face and understand why I was with them.

    After sometime of finally walking and making my way over to the other side of the bed. I pull the covers off the stranger lying next to me. Wow. The person lying to me was my mom. Only she was younger.. Thirteen years younger. It was all making sense now. Why I couldn’t reach anything, why I have a smaller body and why I can’t say anything. As soon as I figured everything out, I had a set of eyes staring right at me.

    “Aw, you’re up already sweetie.”

    “Yes,” I slurred nodding my head.

    My mom sat up and picked me and covered my face with kisses. With her holding me and giving me kisses, made me think. As I got older she slowly started pulling away, and started acting more distance. But I really didn’t understand but why? Why did I have to go back to. Maybe this is my chance to start over from here, getting a new start from here.

    “You ready to eat-eat?” My mother asked me.

    I shook my head.

    “You have to eat something.”

    I looked down. I was still trying to figure it out. She picked me up and carried me downstairs and headed into the kitchen. She sat me up of the counter in view of the stove. I miss this I thought to myself. I really don’t remember much of it, but little things like this mean a lot. Sitting here watching my mom, loving and happy with me. Now that I get to rekindle and have this moment with her, they will be better here on out with a new start.

    “I love you.” My mom said smiling.
    I felt my eyes start to water.

    “I love you too, mommy.”

    • swatchcat says:

      This is sweet. You really send an understanding of the smallness your MC realizes. There are some flow issues throughout whether it’s a missing word or the placement of punctuation that makes it read differently than you may have intended. It makes for an occasional stumble requiring going back over a few sentences to get a smoother read. Good job though.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is an interesting story. I like the way the MC only figures out what is going on slowly, and finally makes the decision to accept what he’s got.

      I agree with Swatch that this story could use another once-over with the red pencil to clean up little issues of style and grammar.

  54. Lilly Wheatfield says:

    Stars. The first thing I see is stars; those thick, light green tinted stars. I haven’t seen those in years, there’s no way they would be on my ceiling. I blink a few times, maybe my brains not totally awake yet. Nope, they’re still there. Where am I? I sit up and look at my surroundings.

    “Oh bloody hell!” I say, but it’s not my voice. The voice that comes out is small, weak, and childish. I look down at myself and scream. I’m small! I jump out of bed and run over to the flowered full length mirror. Oh, hell! What I see in the mirror is no longer the tall, beautiful twenty eight year old. What I see is a small, cute three year old. I scream again out of frustration and anger. I’m a successful twenty eight year old, and I’m supposed to get married tomorrow. I don’t have time to be stuck here as some scrawny little toddler.

    “Sweetie! What’s wrong?”

    “What the hell?” I say, as I look up at my young mother.

    “What did you just say young lady?” I stare at her in amazement. I haven’t seen my mother in years. She died when I was fourteen. Maybe that’s why I’m here, maybe that’s why I’m like this; to stop my mom from dying. My stomach sinks, because I remember that there was no saving my mother. She had died of pancreatic cancer. My eyes well up with tears, and I wail. I can’t deal with this; I’m a twenty eight year old, stuck in a three year old body, i’m talking to my dead mother, I’m getting married tomorrow, and I don’t know how to get the hell back! I wail and scream at the top of my lungs.

    “Oh sweetie, it’s okay. You’re all right. Everything is fine.” My mother coos, trying to comfort me. I bury my face in the crook of my mother’s neck. It feels good to have her hold me again.

    “What’s wrong?” I look up to see my father. He looks young, healthy, and most of all happy. I haven’t seen him happy in years. Not since mom died. He slipped into depression, and drowned his sorrows out with alcohol. Maybe that’s why I’m here; to be with my happy family again. To remember what a mother’s love felt like, to remember what happiness looks like. I hug my mother tightly, I never want to let her go again.

    “I missed you mommy.” I whisper.

    • swatchcat says:

      Very good. The frustration is definitely there and purely felt. Your MC’s situation is very sad but it’s feels good to have that extra moment with a loved one. Maybe if she realized a possible connection with the pending wedding mentioned, it could make even more sense. The flow was good and commentary was somewhat smooth. There is a rogue capitalization issue with the letter “I” in “I’m” but it’s cool.

  55. Jeannie Rosemont says:

    I wake up in my room. Sun rays beaming in, tiny particles floating above my face in the light. I stretch, but can’t feel my feet barely hanging off the edge of the bed. I look down, and notice my legs have shrunk drastically. I look at my hands. Chubby and small. I feel my face. Soft, round, short hair.

    “Mom!” I call out.

    I hear footsteps looming by my room.

    “Mom!” I repeat. My door squeaks open and it looks as if my mother aged backwards 13 years.

    “What’s the matter, babe?” She says leaning over me. Her smell consumes me and I smile.

    “You called me Mom. Are you a big girl now?”

    I stared at her, and put the two together. I am stuck in the body of my younger self. But, how? Just yesterday I was cleaning my room, about to paint it again, talking to my boyfriend. Jack! Is he a little kid again too? I look over at my nightstand to see if my phone was there. I saw nothing but a lamp, sippy cup, and a book I assume my mother read to me.

    “Are you feeling okay?” She asks, doing the thing she always does; feels my head for a fever. I nod, as I’m aware that I am not verbally specialized yet. I want to tell her everything I know about the future. Her future, mine, my fathers. Oh, my father. Where is he?

    “Hey mom, I’m going to go hang out with Mac.” My older brother’s head pops in my door.
    “Okay, have fun and be careful!” She calls to him as he runs down the stairs and heads out the door. She lifts me up out of the bed and I wrap my tiny arms around her and lay my head on her shoulder. I’ve wanted to feel this feeling again since I can remember not feeling it. To be little again, without a care, hanging out with my mother.

    She makes me breakfast and we go outside and play. Nothing about her in the future changes. Other than the fact that my dad leaves us, but it’s okay. She finds love again. Looking at her now, and thinking about the version of her I saw yesterday, I realise how much she’s grown. Or, will grow. I start to cry, and she thinks I hit my head. I shake my head, and gain control of myself. She chases me around the yard, and I fall down a lot. My chubby little legs aren’t very strong yet. Every time I fall down, she’s right there to pick me back up.

    We go back inside and have lunch, then she puts me down for a nap.

    “Get some sleep, honey.” She says kissing my forehead. She tucks me in, and leaves the room. I drift off to sleep, thankful I got to have this opportunity one more time, and I’m left wondering if I’ll wake up again and still be small.

  56. Sarah Pancakes says:

    I was suddenly woken by what felt like a pair of lips on my forehead. What is happen last night? Ahh my head! I opened my eyes and was blinded by the light from my window. I put my hands over my eyes, but something didn’t feel right, why do my hands feel like small?

    “Good morning handsome!” I heard my mom say in a cheery tone.

    “Mom?” I managed to mutter out in my confusion. I felt her pick me up, whoa mom when did you get this strong? You shouldn’t be lifting 27-year-old man. That’s what I wanted to say, but what was actually said was, “eh!” It wasn’t until my eyes came to focus that I noticed something different, my mother was taller/younger than the last time I saw her, but that wasn’t the biggest problem, as I started to wake up more I also noticed I wasn’t in my apartment. I was in my childhood home.
    “Mom!?” I looked up at her What’s going on right now? I am freaking out!” I yelled out.

    I walked around into the long hallway and immediately tripped, struggling to get up I did a quick body scan. I had stubby little legs that didn’t move as fast as I wanted them to, my body was short and chubby, and my hands were tiny and had little sausage fingers. I was in the body of my 4-year-old self. I shrieked like a four year old, immediately mom came to my rescue like she always would during my childhood.

    “Aww did mama’s baby fall down?” she said in her puppy voice.

    “Mom, seriously what’s happening, I just woke up and I’m like this an-“

    “Do you want mama to cut you up a banana?” She interrupted as she started walking to our kitchen.

    “What? A banan-I AM TELLING YOU IM FREAKED OUT!!!” It was like she didn’t even hear what I was saying. Before I knew it I was trapped in my old, uncomfortable booster seat with a built in “safety” bar attached to it.

    “Making baby’s nomy food, to go in hid tum, making baby’s nomy food, so he will say yum.” She began to sing, oh god no, not the nomy song!

    “Im just gunna stop you there mother, now I know you like having a baby and all but we have to go to a doctor, a scientist, hell even a psychic for all I care but I wanna know why I’m- Ohhhhhhhh SHINNY!!!” My thought was lost after she put the food in from of me with the silver wear. I stared at it forever, like it put me in a trance. Suddenly without even thinking, I pushed the banana off the table on to the floor, “Uh oh.” I said real loud, yea I never grew out of that. I was expecting to get yelled at, my mom hates messes. But nothing, she just laughed cause that’s what little boys do. I…could get used to this.

    • swatchcat says:

      Okay, like, I’m not sure about this. The story itself can be funny a bit but, I have some questions. What mom speaks to a 4 year old like speaking to a 6 month old just learning how to eat. As a mother, I feel there are some inconsistencies for your story that may need some research in order to pull of for accuracy sake (which does count to readers). If it seems unrealistic for the direction of the story, people may not want to read it. Within your first 2 sentences, the flow came into question due to what seemed like a missing word or something, that is another thing that turns off readers. The core of the story is good, stick with that.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Either Mom is in dire need of psychiatric help, or this is the MC dreaming back about what he thought being a small child was like. I’m more in favour of the latter because the story has that kind of disjointed surreal quality one expects in dreams. I quite liked it.

      From the red pen, keep an eye on the verb tenses (“what happened”, not “what is happen”) and spelling (“SHINY”, not “SHINNY”). Getting details like this right will make your work even more enjoyable.

  57. The Kcirps says:

    “Timmy time for you to get up” Mother shouts

    I drag myself out of bed know that in the hours to come my professor expects me to have my paper on natural disasters, but I have not started the paper I will most likely start and finish if on the bus ride there. I me its not a big deal, but right now I don’t feel like getting up because I would love to sleep some more and I think I will. Before I get my chance to stay in my nice warm bed my mother comes into my bedroom to Say “Sweetie it is time for you to get ready for school.” Okay I tell myself but, that is just strange my mother calling me sweetie she has not called me that in many years I believe the last time was when I ran away from home and went smoking with the kids down 18th street she was so mad at me when I did that and things in the house were never the same I tried to fix my wrong doing, but i guess I felt a crimson stain on my mothers heart. Who cares though she is my mother she needs to love me no matter what I do.

    “Timmy dear come on, you need to get ready or you will be late” Mother said again

    I roll off my bed and hit the ground so hard. I really thought that the drop was not that far from the bed to the ground. As I manage to get up I look at my room. What the hell everything is childlike as I see all of my old toys that we got rid of years ago. My mother walks in and come to light me up “I heard a loud noise is everything okay” Mother asked. I try to speak, but no words came out of my month and she hugged and told me that everything was going to be okay. I know this to be a lie I am and kid I am a little 3 year old I don’t want to be little again my parents were a pain to grow up with. With your yelling and shouting and screaming all was unhappy not until my first year of college did things get better and I have to relive this shit. I think not I rather kill myself then go through this hellish pain for a second time.

    Then the hell began to start as my father walk in the room as well to yell at my mother and tell her how worthless she is for not having the coffee ready by the time that he came down the stairs. Then he called her a whore hit her and then walked out of the room to go to work. “Okay” she said “Timmy lets get you ready for school.”

    • swatchcat says:

      Stream of consciousness writing has it’s potential. The feelings came across well and the depth of the problem for the MC is quickly gotten to. It is horrible to think that one has a second chance but has not the means to make it possible or desire to see if it can be done differently.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I’m not sure about being the namesake of the star of this piece, but I knew it was coming. At least I didn’t fall down a well.

      This was a well-written stream of consciousness story, Kcirps, though unlike most I believe even that should have a bit more editing. There were a few awkward bits of missing punctuation (e.g. I think not; I’d rather kill myself …”), but they don’t really mar the story. I speak that you might get even better.

  58. cindu says:

    I can’t be back here- what possibly could be the purpose of it? In my mind I insist it is a dream and not a real good one at that-but as a child I know the routine. I help myself out of the crib and keep it quiet-is it early or late? I hear murmuring voices downstairs. A sort of loudness that goes silent quickly.

    I suddenly remember I have a younger brother somewhere in the house; he would be just about one, but I don’t know where he is. Unsure of the situation as always, I know enough to keep it down-lay low; attention in this place is rarely a good thing. Why is this happening and why is there a part of me that doesn’t think this is absurd but necessary? I feel a bit of a panic in me not knowing for sure if it is night or day- if it is night, bad things could happen.

    I hear muddled voices again- I think that’s what they are- and my stomach starts to hurt. I shouldn’t go down there as I know it may not be a good thing for anyone, but it almost sounds like laughter- that is something I really do not remember, but I don’t remember so much. There is this pulling in me that a child finds hard to dismiss, the curiosity of what’s being missed, and then there is the wisdom of an adult who learned young from such inquisitiveness and knows better.

    I don’t deserve this-should not be back here having to relive any of it. The anger and uncertainty of it all makes me cry and wonder what it is I did wrong again. And then I remind myself, I may not remember a lot from then…now, but I am not to blame for their actions. I tell myself everything will be ok, not to be scared-I sit in the corner tucked away between my toy box and the corner of the wall and peak out of the window in hopes to see the sun soon.

    There it is again, and this time the overwhelming nosiness takes over and lifts me to my little feet and I am headed to the hallway. The sound a bit louder now could be laughter. I start down the stairs; slowly keeping a look out one wrung at a time and realize suddenly it is pleading and anger I hear. I tell myself, go back! But the part of me that does not remember longs to- needs to see what has caused years of underlying fear and anxiety.

    I sneak to the edge of the living room wall- I hear it all plainly now, and as I peek around the corner I see it again. Strangely a sense of relief and terror wash over me at the same time and I run swiftly and as quiet as walking on air back to my room. I get back in my crib- and think to myself, it’s ok if it is not almost morning now- because tonight I will sleep safely.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I am curious about what in this situation could reassure the child. Unless he/she has a bodyguard.

      Either that or the domestic violence became so normal that its absence is unnerving.

      This is well written, cindu, and thought-provoking.

  59. Gurney Halleck says:

    As a child, the concept of a do over holds great promise. You get to correct your mistakes. You get to change your decisions. You get to second guess the house rules. But over time, that idea gets old and becomes frustrating. What should you do? What should you change? What aren’t you seeing that needs to change? Such is my life.

    Without even opening my eyes, I knew where I would be. My father’s alarm, tuned to “The New 95 FM. ” would soon have Michaels in the Morning discussing sniglets and the latest on the debacle that was the Lions. I’d heard it all before.

    I open my eyes and sure enough, there is my childhood room. Quilted comforter from my Grandmother with the orange surged edge, lumpy where the cotton had gotten moved around. The walls are covered with colorful clowns, and while I’m sure my parents had good intentions, they scare the hell out of me at night.

    I sit up, look around, and slump back in bed. The water running in the bathroom tells me that it is 7:15. After years in the army, my father has become accustomed to having a schedule. Downstairs my mother will be making soft boiled eggs on toast. Because it is Thursday.

    This was the eighteenth Thursday I had experienced. A version of Groundhog Day starring me rather than Bill Murray. It had seemed cool at first, but unlike Bill, being trapped in a three year old’s body didn’t have the same appeal as repeating a day as an adult.

    I thought it might be a punishment. But it was a good day. I hung out at home, watched some Sesame Street, had chicken noodle soup and a tuna fish sandwich. I played some more and went for a walk in the snow when my dad came home from work. Then dinner, playing with my parents, a night time story, prayers and bed.

    I found that I could make changes in the day’s events. After a few tries at Friday, I pretended to be sick. Lots of things changed, but it was still Thursday when I woke up. I tried varying the changes, trying to see if I needed to do something or not do something specific. I wanted to talk to others about it, but I had a hard time communicating. I had a new appreciation for what Steven Hawking must go through every day.

    My father walks by in his underwear on his way to get dressed and I start to cry. I can’t do anything. I have no control over anything. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. My sobs bring my father to the room and he calls down to my mother. He’s fun, strong, a rock, but he doesn’t know what to do with tears.

    “What’s wrong,” my mother asks.

    “Don’t like today,” I reply.

    “Don’t worry Tiger,” my dad says, “It’ll be over before you know it and tomorrow’s a new day.”

  60. rapidbutterly says:

    Even with all of the lights off I know where I am, the house gives off a vibe, I’ve never felt it anywhere else. That feeling of comfort, of safety, that feeling of “I’m home”. I hop out of bed, make my way through the small railroad apartment, one dark room to the next.

    After all the years away I can still find my way around the obstacle course of clutter in the dark. I make my way past the bookcases that line the small narrow hallway, the bins of toys that stick out from underneath the beds and the boxes of old VHS cassettes that lay randomly around the rooms before I see it.

    A faint light creeps out around the edges of her door. It’s the only thing that stands out in the dark, my beacon. I head straight for the door. A normal person would hesitate, wonder if they should open the door, fear what lay on the other side, not the monster under your bed kind of fear but the what if fear, like what if this is all a dream that’s bound to end or goes wrong the second I open the door but I don’t hesitate. I’m not capable of that kind of fear yet, I’m too young, too simple to really understand that kind of fear.

    The street lamp outside the bedroom window lights the room giving everything a pale yellow look. She‘s laying to one side of the bed, never the middle. She knew one of us would find our way to her bed in the middle of the night. There was always room for me.

    I crawl under the blankets and into her arms, the whole time wondering how long it would last. What do I do when she wakes up, what do I say to make sure she stays with me this time? At 3 I don’t think I own the vocabulary to tell her that she’s sick, she just doesn’t know it yet and when she dies, the world is going to fall apart without her. Even with the right words she probably wouldn’t believe me, she’d just shrug it off, like I had a bad dream, nothing more.

    I try to hold back tears, cuddle up closer to her, tangle my fingers in her curls and stare at her trying to memorize every detail. Up until now I couldn’t remember what she looked like before she got sick, when I thought of her she was more of an emotion then a face. I don’t want to forget what she looks like this time.

    There’s a small part of me that wants this to be a dream. What’s the point of coming back if I can’t change anything? I don’t want to relive any of this. She fought to get better for so many years, it was slow and painful, and all because of me, because she didn’t want to leave me. I need to fix it. She’s awake now, laying there with her eyes closed. “What happened baby?”

    Her voice is so soft, so gentle, it could chase away any bad dream. The tears start to flow, there too much to hold back. I want to tell her everything, change what’s going to happen. I want to keep her with me as long as I can but I can’t, all I can manage to say is ”You died mommy, you died and left me all alone.”

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Oh, this is powerful, knocking me off my shelf at work this morning. Taking a descriptive walk to the mother’s bedroom is like being there.The amount of emotion this story generates, overwhelms me. There are many good stories that take a similiar frame work, but the power you’ve written this with, will remain with me far after this prompt dissolves into the next one and on past that.

      Thank you for a wonerful read this morning.

    • lionetravail says:

      I agree with Kerry- you nicely sidestep the “why” and “how” of being back, and concentrate on the emotion instead. Compelling.

    • jmcody says:

      This one hit me hard, and I can tell that it’s very personal for you too. My heart is actually pounding as I am writing this. [Oversharing Alert:] I got really sick once and it was thought I might die, and my biggest fear was that my son, who was a newborn at the time, would be motherless and that he would not remember me. My story ended well — I lived and the baby is about to turn fourteen. I am sorry if this really happened to you. And if not, dang you did an incredible job of portraying some very real and painful emotions. Still shaking.

      • rapidbutterly says:

        Thank you for the comments. I could think of no one else but my mom when I read the prompt, it helped to put it all on paper. Jmcody I’m happy your story ended well more people need good endings.

    • Reaper says:

      This is just heart wrenching. Having read the comments I can understand why. One thing I see that makes this unique is how you focused on the emotions, not that you did but the way you did. While many of these are packed with that emotional turmoil of an adult going back yours stays simple. Instead you express the simple, pure, overwhelming emotions of a child. The emotions that live inside of us into adulthood around our strongest memories. They stay raw and natural because while we grow up the memories don’t. The way you expressed that is just brilliant. This had to be hard to write, so thank you. Kerry’s comments about this staying around are true here as well.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is intense. I can really feel the MC’s introspection and pain.

    • agnesjack says:

      The simple and pure emotion of this is what makes it such a powerful story. The last line is devastating because of its unreserved honesty. Having lost my mom to heart disease when I was fourteen, I can imagine how cathartic this must have been for you to write, if it is, indeed, based on reality. Very brave story.

  61. Marc Ellis says:

    Three years ago the emperor was murdered. The Touraine, the priests of the empire, sent a decree throughout the land that all boys born on the day of the emperor’s death were to be presented at the temple. Hundreds of families arrived in the temple city, each hoping their son might successfully prove himself worthy.

    Kumon and his parents arrived in the city two days earlier and were lodging in a small inn near the city gate. Several families were staying there, each with hopeful anticipation. While many parents were relentlessly trying to teach their young boys histories of the empire, major battles, and conquests of the emperor, Kumon played games with his older sister and listened to his mother’s fairytales.

    That afternoon, the boys were brought to the temple. An imperial soldier, Gounfas, was recording the boys’ names and presenting them to the Touraine. For several hours, Gounfas led boys into the temple with each of them leaving in tears and falling into the arms of their disappointed parents.

    It was early evening when the time came for Kumon’s testing. Gounfas took him by the hand and led him into the temple court. At the end of the long room was the entire assembly of the Touraine. Each priest was dressed in purple ceremonial robes except one–Singbach. He wore the white robe and royal blue turban of the chief priest. As Kumon approached, Singbach rose and gestured to a large crimson cushion on the floor. Kumon greeted the priest with a bow and took a seat on the cushion.

    Two of the priests placed an intricately carved ivory table in front of Kumon. Singbach raised his hand to Gounfas who laid a tattered scroll on the table.

    “Let the test begin,” said Singbach.

    Kumon looked at the scroll, careful not to touch it. I don’t remember leaving this. Could this be it? Then he remembered. Kumon rose to his feet and approach the priests. He said, “Honorable and wise Singbach, please call for my sword.”

    Singbach raised a finger to one of the priests who exited of the room. Kumon could see fear beading on the face of Gounfas. The priest returned to the temple court with a spectacular sabre. Kumon examined the polished blade and jeweled hilt and slowly raised it over his head in a salute to the priests. Though it felt awkward in his tiny hands, he welcomed his faithful companion of centuries. He turned to Gounfas and said, “Noble and valiant Gounfas…kneel before your emperor.”

    Gounfas looked toward the priests with a confused look but bowed a knee when Singbach nodded in approval. Kumon approached Gounfas and said, “Today I honor your faithful service to the empire.” In one quick motion, Kumon slit Gounfas’ throat and pushed him to the floor. Kumon looked down at his victim and said, “This is my gift for sending your emperor to death and rebirth…only your death is eternal.”

    Kumon placed the blade in the hands of the priest who had presented it to him and turned to face the rest of the Touraine. He said, “Good and faithful Singbach, your emperor has returned.”

    Singbach rose to his feet and said, “Strength and might to all the land in your power. Long live the Emperor!”

    • Hmm…Interesting take on the prompt. Not really going back in time, but then again wouldn’t going back in time be considered a “rebirth” of sorts? A minor technicality…back in time…forward in time…rebirth…yada yada yada

      Great story with colorful details. I was hooked from the start. Still, I’m curious as to what was in the scroll that prompted his memory.

      • Marc Ellis says:

        Thanks for the note Tanya. I was already a touch over 500 words, but I thought about explaining that the scroll was just a false test and that only Kumon and Singbach would know the real signal of the returning emperor. I guess I thought my take on the time issue fit with the variety of other responses. In my case, I had a personality that fit centuries of memories and multiple lifetimes into a new three-year-old body. Time is an illusion…a relative expression of decay, growth, and change at best. Not a self-existing truth.

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          Marc, you grabbed me at the first sentence and I had to slip on my magic flying slippers to travel to your story . I felt as a twelve year old with a magic book I was reading. in the library in Philadelphia..I grew up on magic stories and adventures and this is as good as it gets. I want more!

          Your reply toTanya, “Time is an illusion…a relative expression of decay, growth and change at best. Not a self-existing truth,” reads like it’s been translated from an ancient, Greek scholor. How old is your spirit?

          • Marc Ellis says:

            Thanks Kerry for your comments. Sometimes I feel older than I am–especially compared to my peers. I guess it’s all “relative”–right? I appreciate your notes.

    • lionetravail says:

      This story, too, really begs to be expanded beyond the prompt world limit. It’s intriguing in a lot of ways, and very much so in the backstory of the MC, definitely in the way of subtly telegraphing Gounfas as the baddie, and even the thoughts/memories which the MC has when he thinks: “Then I remembered.”

      Nicely done, the kind of story that is both somewhat exotic and makes you want more :)

    • jmcody says:

      This was well thought out, intricately crafted and thoroughly engrossing. Excellent work!

    • Critique says:

      I was hooked from the first sentence as well Marc. I was a somewhat confused by Kumon’s statement following the execution of Gounfas – death and rebirth of the emperor. But I liked the story :)

      • Marc Ellis says:

        Thanks for the comment Critique. I debated if I should explicitly illustrate that Gounfas had murdered Kumon in his previous life sending him back through the reincarnation process. Had I told the rest of the story, I would have shown that right before Kumon died, in some way he communicated to Singbach that the sign of his return would be to request his sabre and slay his murderer. I hoped this came through in the end, but if you found it confusing, others probably did as well.

        Maybe I could tell the rest of the story in a flashback in a later chapter?

        Thanks again.

    • agnesjack says:

      Wow, Marc. I liked where you took this prompt this week. A place and time that could be very ancient or very futuristic. Very unique and very well done.

      • Marc Ellis says:

        Thanks agnesjack. I hadn’t thought of the possibility of two perspectives (ancient or futuristic). I had more of an ancient picture in my head when I wrote it, but I can see how a futuristic perspective also fits.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I really enjoyed this Marc. It gave me a Robert E. Howard flashback.

  62. Critique says:

    I stretched like a kitten, eyes tightly closed, relishing the coziness of my bed. A rooster crowed. Delicious coffee smells wafted in the air and the Everly Brothers were crooning “All I Have To Do Is Dream”.

    An unease registered in my brain. Roosters? I didn’t remember setting the coffee pot to kick in this morning. I don’t have a radio.

    A baby wailed.

    My eyes popped open to sunlight filtering through – pink curtains. What?

    I sat up. Pink walls. Pink duvet. Pink sheets. Pink everything.

    The crying intensified. It sounded like my baby brother – Sammy – who is a successful attorney in Raleigh.

    An unpleasant prickling sensation encircled my skull.

    “What’s the matter sweetie?” I heard my Mother’s soothing voice. “Oh baby you are too warm.”

    I urgently needed to pee and I watched chubby fingers – my fingers – fling back the sheets.

    Desperate to wake from the nightmare I pinched my leg. Hard.

    “Ow.” I yelped in a little girl voice.

    Untangling my legs from the flannel I raced for the door and reached up to turn the knob.

    Mother stood in the hallway jiggling a snot-nosed red-cheeked Sammy on her hip.

    She looked at me with tired eyes. “You’re up early.”

    I stared up bewildered. “Mom? What’s going on?”

    “Sammy’s cutting teeth and he’s got a fever.”

    “Mom?” She walked away and I raised my voice. “MOM! Am I dreaming?’”

    “Keep your voice down Miranda.” My panic grew. “I’ll dish you up some porridge.”

    I hadn’t touched the stuff since High School.

    Nature demanded and I ran to the bathroom.

    “This is just a dream. Wake up Miranda.” I viewed my feet dangling from the commode with increasing horror.

    In the kitchen I asked. “Mom, do you know where my iPad is?”

    “Your I what? Miranda stop talking gibberish. Eat your breakfast.”

    I’d had enough.

    “Mom.” I threw myself on the linoleum floor in a full blown tantrum. “Stop it. Stop the dream. Mom!” I screamed.

    In a swirling haze I saw Mother lay Sammy on the floor and rush over to me.

    The last thing I remember was cold water pouring over my head.

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

    “Andy, wake up darling.” My eyes opened to the concerned face of my tanned husband leaning over the deck chair holding out a dripping pina colada. The icy droplets made me gasp. “I brought you something cool. You’re looking pretty red.”

    Disoriented I sat up and looked at the manicure on the tips of my fingers, the poolside crowded with sunbathers, and the sailboats gracing the horizon.

    It all came back in a rush. The food poisoning on the first day of our vacation and the past few days resting and regaining my strength.

    “Oh Ted.” Overcome with relief, I accepted the drink. “I had the worst nightmare ever.”

  63. agnesjack says:

    To all my wonderful weekly prompt compadres, this is a quick one because I have a few projects that I need to attend to this month. (This forum can be rather addictive. ;-) ) –Nancy
    ___________

    Penny woke up under her pink blanket in her pink bedroom with the shaggy pink rugs on the floor. She got out of bed in her pink pajamas and looked in the mirror above her pink dresser. Her pudgy, three-year-old face stared back at her.

    “What the…?” she said in a helium voice that startled her.

    This has to be a dream, she thought and decided to have some fun.

    She walked into her parent’s bedroom, turned on the light and went over to the bed. She could barely see over the edge.

    “There’s something I need to tell you,” she said, then added with a stamp of her bunny-clad foot, “It’s important!”

    Her mom opened her eyes and sat up, then touched her dad on the shoulder to rouse him. Penny couldn’t believe how young they looked.

    “O.K., honey,” her mother said. “Climb on up and tell us what is so very important.”

    Penny climbed onto the bed and settled in between them.

    “Daddy?”

    “Yes, sweetie,” he said as he tried to blink the slumber out of his eyes.

    “You should hide your coin collection better, ’cause when Barbara and I find Mommy’s hiding place for the Christmas presents, we’ll find your coins, too, and we’ll think they were left by pirates and spend all those buffalo-head nickels, Liberty dimes and old silver dollars on fireballs, candy cigarettes and wax bottles.”

    Her dad stopped blinking and glanced at her mom.

    “O.K.,” he said, for lack of a something better.

    “Also, when I go to the senior prom with Jimmy Fitzgerald, please don’t take him aside and say, ‘Son, if you touch her, you’re dead,’ because he won’t know you’re kidding and I won’t know you said that until I run into Jimmy at our twentieth reunion. We’ll laugh about it at our wedding, but if you don’t scare Jimmy away in High School, I won’t waste a lot of years with a bunch of losers.”

    “Yes, dear. Don’t do that,” her mom said to her dad, trying not to laugh.

    “And Mommy,” Penny continued, “Big sister Barbara is very talented and smart and will be a big success in business some day, but I will be a success too, even though it won’t happen until I’m middle-aged. So, try not to tell me in my twenties and thirties that there is no future in playwriting, because you’ll be wrong.”

    “All right, honey. I’ll try to remember that,” her mother said as her broad smile was interrupted by a yawn.

    “Oh, and one more thing,” Penny said as she slid off the bed. “When old Aunt Shelley moves in after Uncle Georgie dies, keep an eye on your wallet. She’s got sticky fingers.”

    Then Penny left her stunned parents, went back to her room and snuggled into the old familiar bed with Fluffy the stuffed dog and Juju the stuffed cat.

    That was fun, she thought. If this dream lasts until tomorrow I’ll have to make a list.

    • agnesjack says:

      Lost the italics in the last line. It should be:

      That was fun, she thought. If this dream lasts until tomorrow I’ll have to make a list.

    • jhowe says:

      Pretty clever there Nancy. Nice job with the dialog and keeping the story flowing in that “ok sweetie” attitude. I enjoyed it a lot.

    • Marc Ellis says:

      Very clever and very funny. I smiled and laughed all the way through.

    • Critique says:

      A delightful story well told agnesjack. Hopefully Penny’s parents are alert enough during this early morning encounter to remember what she told them ;)

    • *On twentieth comment of day* “What do you mean, this forum’s addicting?”

      Anyways, great job. This left me with a whimsical feeling at the end. I could only imagine what the parents were thinking throughout all this. Now, how do I get this darn smile off of me?

    • Dennis says:

      A very fun read and glad you were able to post something amidst your busy schedule.

    • Xevirus says:

      A character who knows what they want. Is there uncertainty? Sure (see the last sentence), but she is confident and willing to deal with whatever consequences her decisions entail (I assume). She is admirable. And having the numismatist name or nickname his daughter “Penny” was a nice touch.

    • Great character. I can imagine how funny it must sound to hear a 3-year-old describe her aunt with “Sticky Fingers.”

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Nancy, this is precious. I haven’t had such a good laugh as this morning in a long, long time. “That was fun, she thought, if this dream lasts until tomorrow, I’ll have to make a list,” [As perfect a last line as my old eyes have ever read. ] Bravo!

    • lionetravail says:

      Awesome, and fun- forget angst and mechanics, the “That was fun” line at the end is applicable to the feeling of the whole story :)

    • don potter says:

      A most enjoyable story. Loved the last line.

    • jmcody says:

      Wow, Agnesjack. What a perfectly self assured and fun little package your Penny is. I’m not sure why but the name suits her perfectly and I enjoyed all the alliteration and pinkness in the first paragraph. This was great fun and so clever!

    • agnesjack says:

      Thanks everyone. I had fun writing this one, so I’m glad you had fun reading it.

      I perused some of the stories and am very much looking forward to getting through them today, because there seems to be some very profound and poignant entries this week. Quite a talented group we have here.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Once again, other readers scooped my thunder in trying to come up with appropriate praise. This is a fantastic story, Nancy. I hope she does get to go back an do it again…

  64. Erynn says:

    I woke up crying from a bad dream, and reached over to feel my husbands warmth, but he wasn’t there.

    Instead, I felt wooden slats, an odd feeling considering we slept with a solid headboard and nothing on the sides. I slowly opened my eyes, taking in the small room in which I slept. I was looking out through more wooden slats, and as I reached out to touch them, my hand came into view.

    Was it really my hand? It looked so small, so perfect. The nails were neatly trimmed, not chewed off or picked at, as was their normal state. They were soft and clear, lacking the many burn scars I acquired when I cooked. I held it to my face and was scrutinizing every detail, when I heard a soft squeak. The door to my room opened, and my mother came in! At least, I think it was my mother. She had the same hazel eyes, but they was so much younger than I remembered. Her smile was full of joy, a smile I had not seen in many years. “Are you awake, sweetie?” she asks as she picks me up.

    Suddenly I realize

    I’m not 25 any more

    I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and there was my proof. I was three again, living in a small apartment in Texas with my parents. So many emotions came running at me then, crashing over me in a wave of confusion. Here was my chance to re-live my life! But what would happen to the things I loved? What would happen to my husband? Would we find each-other again, or would he love someone else? All of our memories together no longer exist! And what about my brother, who hadn’t been born yet? Would I be a better sister to him now that I understand him better? Would I be able to save my parents marriage? So many thoughts run through my head, so many worries, but they will all have to wait.

    Because now it’s breakfast time, and my mother makes the best pancakes in the world!

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a very nice stream of consciousness tale, Erynn. The MC’s mercurial thoughts are about perfect for a twenty-five year old (as much as I can remember), including the hopes for the future which is actually her past.

    • lionetravail says:

      Mmm, pancakes. Another fine story where the MC is only briefly thrown by the non sequitur of the new experience, and then dives right into the uniqueness and fun of the experience. Is the last thought of the MC a 25 year old’s, or a 3 year old’s, and where does that thought take the story? Fun!

  65. lionetravail says:

    “There Are More Things In Heaven And Earth, Horatio”

    I opened my eyes as I gasped in air, trying not to drown. The memory of a dream of drowning in a quiet place receded as I realized that there was, indeed, air to breathe. It was then that the room registered.

    It was huge, and I felt high off the ground, much more so than usual. It was extremely quiet, too.

    Other things began to intrude on my consciousness. I had no pain in my right shoulder or in my left knee- things which had been constants for years. I’d had to keep them hidden from superiors, on medical exams, and from my colleagues, but they were just gone now.

    As I lifted up my arm to test the shoulder joint, I saw how small my hand looked. I had a sudden disjointed moment, and things fell suddenly into place.

    I was me!

    Well, duh, but I meant ‘me’ as I was when I was small, maybe three or so. I remembered the color of this room for certain, and the sense of peering out from on high… and yes, I was in a crib! Astounding!

    I reached up to run a diminutive hand through the thick brush of hair I remembered at that age, and found it. A sharp memory of being older, with a buzz cut and how that felt, left a wondering feeling of synesthesia in my fingertips.

    I looked around, to see the window on the wall to my left letting in sunlight through a white birch tree with the rich red leaves of autumn, just as I always remembered it.

    The door to the room opened silently, pulling my attention that way to the shadowed hall beyond. Soundlessly, two figures came into the room. As they emerged into the autumn sun, I recognized them as my parents, only not as they had been before their passing four years ago, before my mission had even begun. Rather, robust with youth, faces unlined, and hair without any grey, they came to stand before me.

    I stood up, holding on to the side rails to steady myself. I wanted to say something, to speak, but found I couldn’t break the silence which blanketed the room.

    My father smiled gently at me, holding out his two hands towards me in a strange position. His hands formed gentle arcs, middle fingers and thumbs extended out at the tips, and rotated about one hundred eighty degrees from each other so his right thumb met left middle fingertip, and vice versa.

    I moved to meet his eyes, and he nodded, directing me back to his hands. He began to rotate them, slowly, and I could see the slanted, spiral structure they were mimicking.

    My mind flashed immediately to a memory of a blackboard, in some biology class back in grad school days, and I thought: “Double helix!”

    And then, memory came back in a rush: a view of stars, a violent shudder of the ship, and the scream of air escaping into vacuum, the pressure to breathe, the dwindling of consciousness…

    I looked at my mother, and she was smiling at me also now, nodding. She turned to look at my father, who held up one finger in my direction. “One,” I thought, almost automatically. They looked at each other, smiling and nodding to each other. Though the room remained silent, I heard, in my mind, a hesitant voice say: “One.”

    I felt my eyes widen in wonder, and was ready when my father held up a second finger. “Two,” I thought, a sense of excitement and joy growing in me…

    (Sorry to be off the boards for most of the month, and for going over a bit on word count everyone! Had international travel for work, holidays, and the Poem A Day challenge combining to make April a month of limited fiction writing. Hopefully back now to share and read and enjoy!)

    • Observer Tim says:

      I didn’t notice your absense so much because I was away too, but you’ve come back strong. I’m not quite sure whether the MC is an astronaut in a whole mess of trouble or a soldier preparing for a high-altitude (or night) jump. Either way the connection is painted subtly and artistically. It’s an enjoyable read.

      • lionetravail says:

        Thank you so much for reading, and for the kind thoughts Tim! After doing the prompts for a while, and working on my next novel (I’m unpublished as of yet, but in query/review process for my first, and have 2 ideas I’m developing), it feels great to get back to fiction.

        I do think, on reflection, that a month of intensely writing poetry has had a positive effect on my prose, at least through use of imagery and language choice- I invite anyone who’s experienced the same to comment or disagree.

    • jmcody says:

      This made me think of the scenes in Gravity where Sandra. Bullock is hallucinating from oxygen deprivation. If I am interpreting this correctly, he is dying and his parents are waiting for him. I’m not sure about the meaning of the double helix though. Was it coming undone or coming together? Maybe it was the symbol of his connection with his parents? I enjoyed both the story and the challenge, although I’m not sure if I am rising to it enough!

      • lionetravail says:

        You’re both close enough to my intent to help me realize I may have left things too subtle! But it was all so clear in my head!!

        Not to be mean, but I’d like to leave another day for any readers and comments before I spill what I’d hoped to convey with the story :)

    • Marc Ellis says:

      Nice story lionetravail. I was wondering if the MC was some sort of futuristic soldier (explaining his injuries and need to hide them from superiors) and was involved in an Avatar-like mission or experiment. Instead of being placed into an alien body, he was sent back in time in his own life and body. Then I read jmcody’s response, and that opened my mind to a significant number of other possibilities I hadn’t even considered. Either way, it’s a good start for a longer story. It makes readers curious.

      • lionetravail says:

        Okay. I was aiming for a subtle back-story of an astronaut on a deep space mission, disaster hitting the ship, and expecting death, only to come awake into a bizarre experience in which his experience is taken out of memory, and with “people” working to establish non-threatening communication with him.

        The hand gesture was just one which seemed iconic to me, and which was used to establish a first connection, mind to mind. Then numbers, and the excitement of the astronaut at what appeared a benign first contact situation when he’d thought he was going to die.

        Kinda a hybrid scene of David Bowman from the end of 2001 Space Odyssey and Jodie Foster’s character from Contact, was what I had in mind, but I left it vague so people could reach their own conclusions. I think I tried to do too much with the short format for this.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was a beautifully intriguing piece, lionetravail, because it was subtle and mysterious. My take is an astronaut who dies in a mishap in space, or, perhaps he doesn’t die, but almost does. In death, or in his hallucinations before being brought from the brink of death, he sees his parents either in the afterlife or in a delusional dream. Actually, what I’d like to think is he has reconnected with his deceased parents in the cosmic place of the afterlife, or heaven, whichever one prefers. The counting up of the “one” and “two” made me think that “three” would be the “away we go” moment of becoming part of all, everything, existence. Your quote from Hamlet in the title seemed to touch on the idea that we comprehend so little of life and the powers beyond. That may be a crazy and completely wrong interpretation, but that’s what I got from it. Lovely.

  66. seliz says:

    The first thing I noticed was how well I slept.

    I felt rested.

    I felt energized!

    I felt a wetness in my bed?

    I gaped in horror at the growing puddle on my sheets.

    My pink princess sheets?

    “Honey!”

    I yelled for my husband, but it came out as a shrill wail. I covered my mouth in shock, tiny fingers that didn’t belong to me clutching tight.

    The door flew open to a frazzled looking woman. Her face was flushed in anger, her eyes narrowed.

    “Oh, wake me, will you?”

    I blinked.

    I had never seen the woman before. She reeked of alcohol. Her eyes were glazed over and red rimmed.

    “What did you do?”

    Strong fingers gripped my head, pinching and pulling it towards the urine stained mattress.

    “Bad,” she shrieked. “You’re a bad girl!”

    I struggled against her, my arms flailing wildly, a scream torn from my lips.

    My fighting only angered her more. She lifted me over her head; the ground seeming miles away. And for an instant, I was falling.

    I thudded against a hard chest, my toddler body pressed firmly into the arms of a man I didn’t remember. He was handsome and smelled of leather. A smell I had always loved. But his face was contorted with such anger and sadness, a whimper was torn from my lips.

    “Shh, it’s okay Amelia. I have you,” he whispered.

    Amelia?

    As in the Amelia I always named my dolls? My imaginary friends?

    “You can’t keep doing this! You’re going to kill her,” he shouted, as he hurried out the door. I peeked over his shoulder and saw she was closing in on him, swinging something at her side.

    A bat.

    I tried to warn him.

    “Daddy, bad,” I shrieked, the word bat not coming out.

    The sound of the bat striking him seemed to reverberate through me. For a long moment, I thought he was dead. But his chest heaved slowly, though his eyes remained shut.

    Without a word, the woman hurried me to the car. I pleaded for her to stop—to help Daddy—but she ignored me. Parking in front of a stone church, she yanked me out of the car. It was the same church that haunted my dreams.

    “You stay here,” she ordered. “You hear me? Stay!”

    Tears blurred my eyes as I remembered what happened to my parents so many years ago. The blackness lifting from the memories.

    “Sharon? You can open your eyes now.”

    I was safely on my doctor’s couch. My husband sat next to me, concern gripping his face.

    “I remember now.”

    “You did well, but there’s one more thing. One of your biological parents has requested to meet you.”

    Terror flooded me as images of my mother came back.

    The doctor leaned forward and patted my hand.

    “Your father, Sharon. Your father missed you very much and would like to meet you.”

    Tears flooded my eyes as I looked at my husband, who nodded.

    “Yes, I’m ready to meet him.”

  67. What the hell? Why am I wearing a diaper? I’m in some sort of over-sized crib. Something stinks in here. This has to be some sort of nightmare.

    “Thara!” I shout. “Thara! Thomethingth wrong! Come quick!”

    My mother appears. She’s huge! I stare up at her, wide-eyed and mouth agape, as she approaches in her white bathrobe.

    “There, there, Jack. Having a nightmare, are we? Don’t worry. Mama’s going to sing you to sleep now.”

    “But…no…wait…thomethingth wrong. Where’th thara?”

    “Who’s Sara?” my mother asks as she picks me up and lays me down on my back.

    “Thara’s my wiff.”

    “I’m sure she is.” She clears her throat as she tucks my comforter into my sides like a burrito.

    She begins singing. “Twinkle, twinkle little star,”

    I had forgotten how beautiful and potent my mother’s voice was. She used to sing to me and my brothers until we were teenagers. No one had a voice like hers. No matter. I am determined to find out what’s going on and why I suddenly feel like a toddler again. “Mama,” I say.

    Her voice hums across the crib. “How I wonder what you are.”

    I yawn a big sleepy-kid yawn. “I’m forty theven. Thara’s my wiffffff,” My eyelids become heavy. I yawn again.

    “Up above the world so high”

    “Mama,” I mumble before one last yawn. “I’m not a baby,”

    My mother giggles. “Like a diamond in the sky. Twinkle, twinkle little star, Oh how I wonder what you are.”

    I hear a kiss. I feel her two fingers press against my forehead and my eyes close completely.

    “Goodnight Jack.”

    • Silver Sister says:

      How many three-year-olds have stubbornly declared, “I’m not a baby”? This time it’s true, but that just made me smile.

      • Amy says:

        I really enjoyed the main character’s remembrances of his mother and her singing. The fact that he wasn’t more panic-stricken, more argumentative, took me outside the story…I didn’t feel as connected. I think a little more conflict might do the trick here, instead of the character being so passive. Unless Mother wove a spell with her beautiful singing, like the pied piper and his flute…

      • Thanks Silver Sister. That dialog piece, “I’m not a baby!” instantly popped into my head when I first read the prompt.

    • seliz says:

      This was too funny. The confusion of the character, but then the toddler part of him drifting asleep. Nicely done.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a great story; you had me giggling. But then mothers have the ability to put all confusion away, don’t they?

      And you’re right; the rewritten version on your blog came out even better.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        This is so sweet and funny and realistic at the same time like wrapped up in a living burrito. The funniest part, when Jack keeps saying, “Thara’s my wifffff!. Your story ifs filled with descriptive imagination. A fun piece for early on a Friday morning.

      • Thanks Observer Tim! I was thinking about what would happen that instant. You’re a baby, you cry, and mom comes to make it all better.

    • jmcody says:

      I read both versions, and both worked for me. I think the point was made that the mother’s singing could soothe away his conflict and confusion. This one spoke to me because both my kids always wanted me to sing to them at night, and I hope they remember it this way! One of them still does, but the other (surly teenager) just wants me to knock it off already. ;). Sweet story.

      • Unfortunately, I never sang to my kids. I have a kind of low voice for a woman, and it just never sounded right to me. Not sure if I robbed them of something, but I definitely do pretend play with them. My tween still pretends I’m an alien monster attacking their bed-slash-spaceship. I hope they remember when they’re older.

    • Marc Ellis says:

      Humorous and entertaining. I can relate to your genuine interaction between the mother and toddler. I have very young children, and I felt your story was truthful and realistic.

  68. Observer Tim says:

    It’s 4:00 am and I’m sitting in bed. Lucas is snoring like a pig and Emily is curled up sucking her thumb. I’m back in Mrs. Landry’s group home where I grew up. At this age I called her Momma. I’m three years old.
    Well, my body is three years old. I was told the time thingy would send me back a couple of hours, not thirty years! I have a Ph.D., dammit! I have a wife, though at this point she hasn’t even been born yet, and a one-year old son of my own.

    The house groans and I pull a blanket over my head. That groan terrified me until I was seven and stopped believing in monsters under the bed. This time around it stops now. I push the covers away and climb down to the floor.

    I try to walk over to Lucas; I manage an advanced toddle. In about six months he’s going to grow bigger than me, and then he’ll be an obnoxious bully until he runs away at fifteen. I resist the urge to punch him in the stomach and turn instead to Emily.

    Even at this age Emily is pretty; there’s no signs of the girl cooties that scared me away. I remember our first real kiss, eight years from now, and watching her turn from kid to girl to woman. I vow to be nicer to her, though I know I won’t. Well, maybe a little.

    I lightly stroke her brown curls and she stirs. Green eyes flick open and stare into mine.

    “Go to your own bed, Dennis. I’m asleep.”

    “You’re pretty, Emily.”

    Her eyes widen. “Really?” She leans toward me, puckering.

    My every urge said let her kiss me: every urge the ones controlling my body. I jumped back and started toddling as fast as I could. She chased after me shouting “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” Pretty soon I was half-screaming, half-laughing as we ran up and down the hall playing tag.

    Emily had me cornered against the child gate at the top of the stairs when Momma’s door opened and a monster stood there. She had a green housecoat that matched the gooey paste covering her face. She looked up and down the hall and spotted us. We stared in mute horror.

    “What has got into you two this morning?” It was Momma’s voice. Rational thinking took over and I remembered facial creams and other strange beauty secrets. She approached and knelt down. “It’s too early to be running around like that. Back to bed for the two of you.” The finger pointing at our doorway silenced any argument.

    We got in our beds and she tucked us both in, then gave us each a kiss on the forehead.

    “Now if you’re nice and quiet, we can watch the Challenger launch on TV later this morning. There’s going to be a teacher with them!”

    As she pulled the door shut I reflected on how much life was ahead, for good and ill.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I’m catching up. I posted three today.

      The computer one is here.

      And I wrote last week’s as a prequel.

    • jhowe says:

      Good to see you back O.T. Nice and crisp writing; very enjoyable. I’m glad you kept Emily and Dennis from kissing; that would have been a little creepy. Nice job.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Looks like your back and in fighting form. This was a good one! :)

    • seliz says:

      I enjoyed how the character knew what was going on and able to reflect on the sitution. The moments when the toddler part of him took over and then the rationalization of the adult part of him were twisted nicely together.

    • Foxwriter says:

      What I really love about this story is the MC’s ability to transition from adult rational thought to the carefree thoughts of a child. There are many times I would love to escape into my carefree childhood.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        A real trip you’ve taken us on. Your voice with the MC is cozy and funny at the same time. A fun, easy on the eyes and mind story. I especially liked the descriptive verse on “Momma.”

        You set the time well with the mention of the Challenger flight. If you don’t stay here and write every week, the forum’s going to capture you.

        • Observer Tim says:

          High praise indeed, Kerry. My intention is keep writing to the prompts up to the third one after I die. I understand after that your eyes dry out so I’ll have to get one of the other corpses to read to me. :)

    • Critique says:

      I enjoyed this Observer Tim and thought you captured childish play perfectly. The Momma in the story sounds like a gem :)
      I remember the Challenger :(

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks, Critique. The phrase “a major malfunction” still brings me back to that day the way “an aircraft has struck the World Trade Centre”, or “the President has been shot” does for others. That day and its aftermath took away my sense of innocence and wonder about the space program.

        I meant Momma as a tribute to the people who sacrifice their lives and time to the goal of raising “other people’s kids”. The good ones vastly outnumber the bad ones.

    • Dennis says:

      I very much enjoyed this (and not because I starred in it). The things I think about giong back to change are how I treated certain people or could I have reacted differently with that girl. You captured the innocence well and set up for a sad momemt wihen that innocence ends watching a tragedy on tv.

    • jmcody says:

      This was lively and funny as usual, but also charming and poignant. Yet another interesting “sister” figure from you. You deftly wove together threads of past and present, and the foreshadowing of the Challenger disaster was a fitting finish. When Emily was trying to kiss Dennis I was picturing Alfalfa and Darla — it had that kind of innocent nostalgia to it.

      • Amy says:

        Tim…I really enjoyed your story. The interaction between the mc and Emily was poignant. You illustrated very well the mc’s frustration in the beginning and his thoughtful acceptance of both good and bad to come at the end. I loved the innocent game of tag and how he was able to momentarily forget his adult urges. The use of Momma’s face mask as monstrous was priceless.

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks, jmcody.

        I honestly hadn’t noticed about the sister thing – I grew up with three older sisters, two of whom were alpha-types, so I didn’t really encounter any non-strong females until I left home.

        You caught me – Darla was where I cribbed the image from.

    • don potter says:

      The button about the Challenger launch set up the last line. “I reflected on how much life was ahead, for good and ill” was the perfect close.

    • agnesjack says:

      Nice to see you back, Tim. Once again you have taken a prompt and made it your own with wit and imagination. Good job.

    • Marc Ellis says:

      I liked this story. You have me wondering about Emily. Is she a future girlfriend? A curiosity born from living in the same orphanage? The future wife? Ending with the Challenger story was a nice way to close letting the reader understand the MC has both the good and the bad to relive/anticipate. However, one wonders how much is determined by fate and destined to be relived, and how much might change with even a modicum of variance from the previous life.

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks, Marc. Emily is “the girl he knew as a kid”, who will always hold a special place in his heart. Too close to be a lover, too distant to be a sister.

        The mechanism of time travel I used (hinted at in last week’s story) means that little changes are going to accumulate. The butterfly effect in spades. Someday I may write about Dennis’s reaction when he learns that even if he does re-marry his wife, their original baby is flat-out-gone: he has effectively killed her with one rash action.

    • DMelde says:

      Great story. I felt good after reading this. Thanks for the uptick to my mood.

  69. Kerry Charlton says:

    CLOUD CASTLES

    A spring morning in Philadelphia broke sunny and clear. I opened my eyes and realized what I had wished for the last twenty five years or so, had come true. My black lamb, Mother had given me when I fell out of bed, I held in my small hand. I was that child I remembered so vividly, a pudgy three year old.

    Brother Bill was asleep as I bounced from my bed, put on my terry cloth robe and ran down the stairs to the kitchen. But I wasn’t prepared for the sight I saw. Mother was thirty six, so beautiful my eyes welled.

    “Good morning, Kerry. Have something in your eye?”

    “No Mommy.”

    And then I remembered the clouds,

    “Clouds, Mommy?”

    “After your brother and sister leave for school and Daddy goes to work, we’ll watch the clouds.”

    Joy came in the kitchen a clone of Mother’s beauty. My second mother at thirteen. I ran over and put my arms around as high as I could reach.

    “Why don’t you go to bed when I baby sit?” she asked.

    And then I remembered my conversation with Joy, my eighty seven year sister. We laughed about it, her dragging me by my feet to bed.

    My Father and Bill sat at the table with us. Bill as a gangly seven year old who looked like Uncle Earl. Dad wore a suit and tie and when he would leave, he stopped at the roses lining the front walk, snipped an opening bud and placed it in his lapel.

    “Where going Daddy?” ‘As if I didn’t know,’ I thought.

    “I’m working for President Roosevelt, Kerry.”

    It would be many years before I understood my Father. Not until I looked and acted like him. Then I knew all I needed to know. It filled my heart to see him so full of life in 1939. The rose was typical of my Father.

    Joy and Bill walked to school together in Upper Darby, Joy in the ninth grade, skipped a year or two because of brilliance and Bill in the second grade. Then the house turned quiet as Mother led me up the stairs to her bedroom window.

    She reached for me as I climbed in her lap. An April sky boasted of robin egg blue with fluffy clouds drifting by.

    “See that pink cloud,” Mother said as she pointed. “What do you think it looks like?” As a three yesr old, I never guessed right.

    “I don’t know, what is it?”

    “See that shape that looks like a horn coming out of a horse’s head? It’s a unicorn.”

    “I see it now. What’s that one way over there?” I pointed.

    “I see a big castle with knights of old. Do you see?”

    “I think so, I guess.”

    I sat there not understanding as a child and then I remembered the last time we were together. Joy stood by her bed,

    “Open your eyes, Mother. Kerry’s here to see you.”

    Those beautiful blue eyes, dimmed with age, took one last look. Too weak to talk, a smile crossed her face. Tears came to me then as they did today, sitting in her lap watching clouds. Thank you for the imagination Mother.

    • This is sweepingly beautiful, Kerry. I got a real feel for the entire cast. As soon as I read the part when the MC asks about the clouds, I knew my heart was going to break a little bit before the end. It’s little memories like that that make a lifetime so well worth it.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you, BB. I have so many memories going back to an early age, I’ve written at least sixty into my autobiography so far and I could write a hundred more, if I’m granted the time to do so. Thanks for your wonderful commemts.

    • jhowe says:

      Bilbo said it well about the beauty of this story. I liked how you didn’t mention how Kerry returned to his childhood. It’s hard to make it believable so let us speculate if we want to. In my case, there’s no need to speculate; I was just enjoying the story. I suspect the cast members may be familiar to you, or maybe you used your considerable talent to make it appear so.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        The cast is quite familiar, jhowe. In fact I’ll send it to Joy and see what she thinks of it. The scene at my Mother’s bedside is exactly as the story is. The year was 1989. and Mother had lived through her primary care doctor and most of his son’s life. She asked him at 87, “What should I do to take care of myself?” “Don’t do anything, ” he said.

    • Silver Sister says:

      I pride myself on not being a silly girl who cries at the drop of the hat, but you broke me, Kerry. This is achingly beautiful. It makes me miss my own mother (she’s still alive, thank God, I’m just far from home) so much it’s hard to breathe for a moment. .

      You know, I think parents make the mistake of thinking it’s the big things that kids remember – the trips to Disney, the elaborate birthday parties etc. Really it’s the ‘small’ things that leave the strongest, sweetest memories. When I was a child, I suffered horrific earaches. Just the memory of them makes me wince. My mother would sit up with me into the wee hours with her palm pressed against the my ear. The warmth from her hand seeped into the piercing pain and offered relief.

      I can also speak of walnut picking and Chinese checkers with an uncommon affection. Your story makes me think of all these things this morning. Which is a very good thing, indeed.

      • Amy says:

        Kerry…it’s refreshing to see a caring family with members who show respect for one another. The hints of Joy’s and the narrator’s current age and their continuing relationship were perfect. I could visualize the whole story unfolding. I especially like the cloud watching and the narrator’s relationship with his mother. As he recalls the end of her life, I was moved to tears. Beautiful.

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          Thank you Amy. It’s a true scene at my Mother’s bedside. I had flown in from Dallas to see her after being there two weeks previous. She fought the good fight but I had to go back to Dallas. Two weeks later she passed. She had a wonderful lady looking after her and Mother passed away with her nurse cradling her, singing spirituals.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you, Silver Sister. Your ear aches may dim in memory but not the touch of your mother’s hand on your face. And that’s one of the beautys of life. We tend to remember the very small things that happen to us as choildrens.

        My Father capturing my brother and I for eight mile walks along the New Jersey coast from Avalon to Stone Harbor and then back.WWII raged and U Boats sank ships along the east coast. Many times, wreckage floated ashore and always the tar from the fuel of the maritime vessels sunk.

    • seliz says:

      This is such a sweet story. I loved that there wasn’t any fear for the MC, either because it was what he had wished for, or because it had been such a happy time in the MC’s life. Then the end was so touching and sad. You really played on all emotions this week.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        The emotions are there all right because I haven’t let go yet and it’s been twenty five years. Thank you for the wonderful comments. I’m quite a fan of your writings. .

        • seliz says:

          I’m a fan of your writing as well! The thing I really enjoy about this site is all the different writing styles that come from the same prompt. I really believe that my writing has improved simply by reading all the different writing styles and responses put here.

    • jmcody says:

      This was just too lovely to glom my inadequate words onto, so I am just going to say that somewhere in the clouds your mother is smiling Kerry, because that’s where her heaven is.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you jm for the sweet message. I turned into a mush-pot this week but I’ll make up for it on chapter three of the Copper Scroll. Thank you for reading.

    • Marc Ellis says:

      Touching and beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    • Critique says:

      This was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes Kerry. What a sweet memory to cherish about.

    • Dennis says:

      Very moving and well written. Nice idea to go back to relive a beautiful moment in one’s life.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you, Dennis. There aren’t many days, busy or not, that my mind doesn’t travel home as I grew up. My Father was always the huff and puff, desginated leader of the pack, but Mother went about it in a quiet non-asuming manner and those who knew her, family or not, never forgot her. And I’m at the head of the list.

    • Observer Tim says:

      My oldest memory is from when I was three or so, standing on the front lawn with my father. The sunset on the high misty clouds made the sky a brassy colour I only see rarely, and it was followed by a rumbling summer thunderstorm. Normally it only comes to mind when the thunder rolls, but your story brought it back.

      Thanks.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Tim. I’m happy you relived this beautiful day in your childhood. The perfect thing about such a memory is, you can enjoy the majestic sight over and over, thus it never dies from your thoughts.

    • don potter says:

      Defining cloud formations was always fun. You made it a spiritual experience.

      • swatchcat says:

        Shit, shit, shit! You did it. I actually cried. Thank you for sharing yet another wonderful story. I love my mother and will miss her terribly when she passes but, I will always remember certain things that are just for us. No typo could get in the way of this great story. I love the line – “She reached for me as I climbed in her lap. An April sky boasted of robin egg blue with fluffy clouds drifting by.”
        I can’t even begin to compare.

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          Thank you swatchcat. Isn’t a wonderful thought, we never lose our loved ones, for they live in our memories. This experience I related, I’m sure with time, has taken a golden hue in my mind. And thank you for your thoughts on “She reached for me….” I rewrote that sentence at least three times, changing a word or two because I myself, loved it.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Don, this is a marvelous compliment. As the years roll off my shoulders, there is my own feeling of wonderment. I was blessed with a Mother that makes it appear so.

    • Reaper says:

      Kerry, because this is true I’m going to keep this brief so as not to pollute a beautiful memory and tribute. You are a master, and if you are nowhere near your mother’s talent she was Shakespearean. I have seen you mention your mother before, but rarely your father, the way you described the rose made me feel like I know him. Last, and most importantly I saw the comments about tears and vowed I wasn’t going to cry. Then I read the last paragraph and I’m not too proud to say you touched me to my soul and I broke that promise.

    • agnesjack says:

      Oh Kerry, I am so glad you posted this, because you had mentioned this story about your mom and the clouds once. It is lovely and sweet and has a sense of acceptance about life that is sometimes hard to come by. I also remember you mentioning once that your father could be difficult, so I loved seeing him portrayed as a man who could appreciate a fresh flower in the lapel. No doubt he appreciated the flower that was your mother.

      This is a lovely tribute, not only to your mother, but your whole family.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Nancy. It is such a nice thing for you to tell me. I guess in my previous commemts, I was rather harsh in describing my Father. His father passed away when he was six and Dad was raised by a stern, no nonsense mother, [my grandmother.]

        She could scare the devil out of me, especially when she made me memorise the 23rd psalm on a Sunday afternoon. I won’t go into details, but it was the worst fire and brimstone threat I ever heard.

    • DMelde says:

      Very sweet story. I liked this one a lot.

  70. don potter says:

    It is morning. The birds are chirping, and the light of a new day fills the room. I stretch and let out a wake up yawn. When my hands touch my body, I know something is different. I sit up and notice I am wearing blue sleepers, the kind with the feet and a zipper that runs all the way up the front. I am tiny, no more than three years old, and held prisoner in a crib.

    The only course of action is to cry out and see what happens. A couple of good blast of the pipes do not produce a response. So I start jumping up and down and continue to shout in a whinny voice. Still nothing.

    I flop down and pound my fists on the mattress, sobbing the entire time. All I get from this is a snotty nose and a low-grade headache. Got to do something else.

    After rolling over I decide to sit in the corner of my crib and figure out a strategy for getting out of this predicament as well as understand what has happened to me.

    I do not have a pencil and paper to write down my thoughts. In fact, I am not sure I can write. After all, I have a three year old body. But I still have the mind of a thirty-three year old attorney. How could that be?

    Let me see what I know. This must be my house, because I recognize this room. It is the one I remember as a kid and grew up using until heading off for college. After that it became a guest room.

    There appears to be no one in the house. Otherwise, someone would have answered my cries. Could it be they left me alone? My parents would not do that.

    Then why is the house empty? Maybe this is a figment of my imagination. Or a dream. If so it is unlike any other I ever had in my entire life — not that of a three year old the thirty-three year old one.

    Maybe I should throw one of these toys at the door. I pick up a toy motorcycle; but my coordination fits my age, and it falls harmlessly to the floor.

    My best bet is to climb over the side of the crib and make my escape. Got to be careful. Look how poorly I threw the toy. But if I am not willing to give it a shot, I might be here for a long, long time.

    Next thing I know, I am perilously straddling the side of the crib. It is now or never. So I let go and hit the floor with a thud. My head is spinning. I hear a woman’s voice.

    “You are going to be fine, Mr. Clark. The doctor sewed you up like new, and you’re in recovery. But it will be some time before you’ll be able to get back on a motorcycle. You men and your toys.”

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      That was a clever story Don. You nailed the thought process of an adult mind, trapped in a three year old body. I found it quite amusing for a 33 year old attorney analyzing his body and coordination like it might be on trial and he was interviewing it so see if it worked. A fun story to wake up to this morning. You are so consistant in the quality of your writing. That shows enormous skill on your part.

    • jhowe says:

      The king of dialog turns his talents to writing very entertaining internal dialog. Clever story Don.

    • Silver Sister says:

      This response was a delightful surprise. I smiled all the way through it.

    • seliz says:

      This was great. You did a good job building the tension at where his parents where, giving the sense that something was wrong. Then the last line was absolutely perfect.

    • jmcody says:

      I did not see that coming, and it was the perfect ending. Very clever!

    • Critique says:

      I wondered where this was heading Don. A three year old still in a crib? Stranger things have happened though and it fit with where the story was going. The ending was perfect :)

    • Dennis says:

      Boys and their toys. Do we ever learn? I can remember doing some pretty stupid things. Nice writing and I didn’t see the ending coming.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Great story, Don. You presented the growing surreality of the dream nicely. I can’t think of anything to add that isn’t there already, so I’ll just say that every bit of praise is earned.

      From the red pen, it should be ‘whiny’ voice.

    • Reaper says:

      This was good. Creative take, and a funny surprise ending as said by others. From the fact that your MC was an attorney I can only assume his motorcycle was a factory fresh, 2014 Harley.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was great, don. The thought processes of the three/thirty-three year old was perfect and the ending a very neat surprise. I laughed at the last line.

    • DMelde says:

      Great story.

  71. rle says:

    I awoke with a start. I was cold. As the gray lght of dawn began to swallow up the coal blackness of night, I reached down and pulled another cover up over me. The back of my head fell onto my pillow and my eyes focused on the ceiling. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized I wasn’t in the cozy bedroom of my cozy townhouse. In fact, I wasn’t in my cozy life at all, I was back in my childhood home.

    I sat up straight and tossed the covers to the foot of the bed, revealing the bony pale figure that had been me forty years earlier. I rubbed my eyes hard, this had to be a dream, but when I allowed my lids to open and my eyes to re-focus, I was still sitting there as fraile as a newborn kitten in the dingey, cold, little bedroom I’d once called mine. It was 1974.

    I leaped to the floor and approached the window where I peered out into the barnyard. The drab November morning now yeilded enough light that I could make out the figure of my father tending to the livestock. The three year old me wondered why he always had to work so hard. The forty-three year old me knew it was because it was taking all he could muster to keep our little family supported.

    I wandered to the register in the corner and stood over it. Daddy always stoked the wood stove before he went out to do his chores. The warm air slowly crept up my nightgown, first warming my skinny thighs and buttocks, then eventually wrapping my whole body in a cloak of warmth.

    My mother slept quietly in her and daddy’s bedroom one floor directly below me. She slept a lot these days. Daddy said it was because she was really tired and three year old me found that to be as plausable an explaination as any. Forty-three year old me knew the truth. Mommy was dying and she would never live long enough to see my fourth birthday. The elder me wanted to be angry with my father for not being honest, but I couldn’t. I knew he was just trying to protect me the best way he knew how.

    Three year old me wanted so desperately to creep down the creaky old wooden staircase and sneak into her room and curl up beside her and breathe her in. Daddy always said I had her eyes and I wanted to see them one more time, just for myself. The older me stood rock still and let the warm wood heat continue to envelop my body and mind.

    * * *

    I awoke with a start. I was warm. I threw the covers to the foot of the bed and stood up and took in my surroundings. I was in my warm cozy bedroom in my warm cozy townhouse. I stumbled to the bathroom and flipped on the light. I looked into the mirror and met the gaze of a thin, fraile three year old. I smiled. I did have my mother’s eyes.

    • jmcody says:

      Your description of waking up and not knowing exactly where you are is spot on. I still wake up sometimes and think I’m in my childhood room for a brief moment, and you captured that disorienting feeling perfectly. You also perfectly evoked the long-ago things that never leave us, the things that we carry with us forever just behind our eyelids. This was touching and sad, and full of the kinds of details you always do so well. Nice, rle.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        This is a beautiful story you weave, not only full of intimate details of your early life but the heart break of realizing the condition of your mother and the struggle within your 33 year old mind, how to handle it. This situation is so real, it washed your sadness across my mind.

        It is a hauntingly wonderful response from you.

    • Silver Sister says:

      This last line is a strong one. It brings things full circle. Through the passing down of our traits and characteristics, we’re never fully gone. The mercy she shows her father in knowing he did the best he knew how to do humanizes your MC and drew me closer to her.

    • seliz says:

      What a beautifully written piece. The descriptions were great. I could almost feel the warmth of the vent. Despite knowing about the upcoming death of his mother, this didn’t feel like a sad story. The last line just seemed to emphasis that that MC is at peace with everything.

    • Critique says:

      Wonderful descriptions rle. This was a poignant difficult story but ended on a sweet note. I enjoyed it.

    • Dennis says:

      Nice story. It gave me the feeling that sometimes it is worth reliving some of those painful memories.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Lovely story, rle. I think we all look back on the people we love and the things we lost from time to time, which is why the tail resonates so strongly at an emotional level.

      It’s a good thing I read Artemis’s comment first, or I would have been totally confused by the parallel. You must have an interesting household with two writers under the same roof.

    • don potter says:

      With time we learn to appreciate things we disliked or took for granted. You did a wonderful job of taking us back in time.

    • Reaper says:

      You can’t go home again. That is what this says to me, in an uplifting way. The contrast between child and adult minds is what really drew me into this. The child wanting one last moment with mother, but the adult refusing to go. That could be fear, and it could be denial, but that isn’t how it reads to me. Your MC seems to have a strong understanding that doing so would be a cheat. To go there in a dream would be to live in the past, to deny what has come after. It would weaken and hurt the real life. So instead they awake to reality, live in the now, and look into mother’s eyes the only way they can, remembering her in a way that honors the pain and what really happened. Between that and not holding it against the father this is not only uplifting but a story of courage.

  72. jmcody says:

    THE OTHER CHILD

    I’m sorry, Tommy. I had twenty years and I failed you. I squeeze my eyelids shut as the darkness of memory overtakes me and then I am falling, falling backward through all that has come before and will never be again.

    I land on something soft and warm. A gold shag carpet. A tinny-sounding pocket radio plays “Age of Aquarius.”

    And you are there.

    We are playing Candy Land. I’ve already gotten the Gumdrop Mountain and the Lollipop Forest. You never liked games very much because of all the sitting still and following rules. But this day is special because you are my big brother and we are playing on the floor together and laughing, and the Fifth Dimension is singing “Let the Sun Shine” and Mommy is smiling.

    I land on Queen Frostine, the ice cream fairy, but even as I clap my hands with glee I see the dark storm clouds gathering in your face. Suddenly there are cards and plastic pieces flying past my head, but your aim with the Candy Land board is much more accurate. The sharp corner bounces off my forehead, just above my right eye. I let out a wail and Mommy scoops me up.

    “What on earth is the matter with you!” she shouts. Your face looks perplexed, as if you are wondering the same thing.

    You’re not even six years old.

    Today they have acronyms to describe what might be wrong with you– ADHD, ODD, ASD, BPD –endless combinations of the twenty six letters of the alphabet that might help to explain your suffering. And they have medications – legal ones that will only dull your brilliance, not take you away from us piece by piece. I want to grasp Mommy by the shoulders and tell her this. My brother needs help, I scream in my head. But all I can manage is:

    “Tommy doesn’t know how to play right, Mommy.”

    Daddy’s on his feet in an instant, his hand going reflexively to his belt buckle.

    “This has got to stop,” he bellows at my mother. “The outbursts, the calls from the school… You’ve spoiled him rotten.” Spittle flies from his lips as Mommy cowers and clasps me to her. But I am not the one who needs protecting.

    “I don’t know what to do…” she says quietly. “He just needs…”

    “I’ll tell you what he needs. My belt on his ass is what he needs.”

    Their expressions are familiar, but now I see something different: Fear and helplessness there beneath the anger. This is not the way it’s supposed to be and we are failing. All three of us are failing Tommy.

    I silently will Mom to do something, to stand up, for God’s sake and put a stop to this. The belt comes off in one smooth, practiced motion.

    “Daddy, no!” I shriek. Tommy makes a run for it but I know he won’t get away this time. I retreat to safety of the downstairs bathroom where I will lock the door and wait out the rest of my childhood. Eventually I will have the forethought to stash books and toys in there. I will be the good one, the quiet one. I will stay out of the way and out of trouble because I don’t think Mommy or Daddy or Tommy can take even one more thing. I curl up on the bathmat. My thumb finds my mouth and I close my eyes.

    When I open my eyes, I am lying on my back on the floor of the funeral home. A crowd of concerned faces stares down at me.

    And you are there.

    “It was so sudden,” people like to say. But it wasn’t sudden at all. You left us a little at a time, Tommy, and I was powerless to stop you. We all were.

    I’m sorry.

    • rle says:

      JMC, Another fine example of what I’ve come to expect from you. This left me in tears. I am particularly drawn to writing stories that bring out these kind of emotions myself. I aspire to reach to the depth that you did here. Bravo!!!
      BTW- is it just me or is it a little strange that in the last week or two, you and I have posted at nearly the same time?

      • jmcody says:

        Not at all. You post right after the little ones go to bed, right? Me too. :)

        Thank you for the encouraging words.

        • rle says:

          Guess it isn’t strange after all!!!

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            It’s pretty hard for someone my age who has fought the good fight for so many years to find the tears after so many years. You brought me back in time sixty some years ago, watching my Father take the belt to my older brother, time and tme again, because he didn’t know what petil mal was. None of us did. The first doctors that treated my brother at the age of fourteen, suggested slicing some of his brain to help.

            God forbid, I thought, even though I was only ten. Epilepsy in the late forties wasn’t understood by the general public and with a brother who had as many as six seizures a day, it was horrible to watch.

            When we were both older and I was with him, I would hold onto him when he had an attack and glare at anyone who looked at my brother as they would at a leper.

        • jmcody says:

          Actually, same day and time is weird now that I think of it. Hmmm, wonder what will happen next week…

          • jmcody says:

            Huh, Kerry, here’s a pretty weird coincidence: My neighbor with the groovy house and the gold shag carpet that I mentioned in my reply to Dennis was my BFF when I was a little girl, and she had Petit Mal seizures too. But by then it was much more of a known and accepted thing, and we just took it in stride. She would just kind of zone out once in a while, and we knew to make sure she wasn’t going to fall off of anything or get hit by a car — not nearly the ordeal you and your brother went through. I am sorry to hear what you went through. I guess you really understand this story.

    • Xevirus says:

      It seems this is not so much a literal return to being three as lucid recollection wherein the character’s thoughts conform to the present, but the actions are tied to what already happened; close? Regardless, I like the way in which it inspires the question of whether change would actually be possible, given that knowledge without context can be as impotent as no knowledge at all (what would knowing what modern doctors call the condition do, how likely would one be able to get a drug unless it had been readily available then and under the same name, and without knowing the appropriate dosage, even if that was desired, etc.). The focus on the powerlessness (also in some others’ entries) is powerful in the way that the present and the past are here merged rather than treated as separate.

      • jmcody says:

        Wow, where did you come from Xevirus??? I don’t think I conceived it in quite those terms, but you’re absolutely right. The way I saw it was that she passed out from grief at the funeral and her mind took her back to a seminal moment when it first dawned on her how doomed they all were — at age three. We all have those very early memories that stay with us of those moments when we first understood something, or knew it in our bones, something that would play out for the rest of our lives. Or, at least, I do. :) Now I have to get down the page and read your story!

    • Dennis says:

      Another great story. The emotion really drove it, especially the feeliing of helplessness. I also liked the use of 2nd person, narrating to Tommy.So now I know we are close in age because I so remember playing while listening to the 5th Dimension. I can still see the album cover. And of course we always had games and I remember playing Candy Land.

      • Dennis says:

        Also I relate to the knowing now what they didn’t know then. My older sister was eventually diagnosed bipolar when she was an adult,but they didn’t really know what that was when she was young and for awhile thought it might be schizophrenia.

        • jmcody says:

          So you are an “other child.” People don’t realize the suffering that the brother or sister of the kid with problems goes through. I have a nephew with autism, and my heart aches for his older brother, who has really been through so much.

          Maybe that’s why you’re a writer though.

      • jmcody says:

        Candy Land is still around, and I played it with my kids when they were younger. The Age of Aquarius came to me because of the rare, sunshiney moment that they were having until all hell broke loose. It started with the image of the gold shag carpet, which just kind of came to me. I think it was my neighbor’s carpet I was seeing. Her house was always very groovy. :)

    • Amyithist says:

      Oh my gosh. This is so sad and haunting. It makes me feel so sorry for Tommy and the little brother so helpless to stop the horrible things from happening. I grew up in an abusive home and even though I may have gotten my own beatings, I could not stand hearing my brother or sister being hit. It was worst to me. I hated it. I would cry so hard and tell my mom not to hit them. Of course, that meant I’d get hit instead, but I was okay with that. You captured that helplessness that I myself felt as a child. Very well done. :)

      • jmcody says:

        Well, as I said to Dennis, maybe that’s why you are such a brilliant writer today. These trials and traumas sometimes come with hidden gifts, although that’s a helluva way to come by your talent. I’ve said this to you before — I admire your strength and resilience.

    • This was an epic kind of tragedy to me. I was really drawn into the tense you chose and how the sense of hopelessness drew a picture. There is something really sobering about a child’s innocence being torn apart in instances like this one.

      • jmcody says:

        Thanks Bilbo. Yeah, I found this one a little hard to write. Tough to think about things like this. But then its tough to think about people getting rounded up and shot on their back lawn too. Why do we do this again???

        • To answer your question, I believe William Faulkner said it best:

          “I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which has been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.”

          • Amy says:

            This was a haunting story, jmcody. While I felt like you were observing your 3 year old self, rather than becoming him (or her), the memories and regret were very real and evocative. I could hear the music, and picture the entire scene, which is all too familiar to too many. I really liked the line “I retreat to the safety of the downstairs bathroom where I will lock the door and wait out the rest of my childhood.” It brought the emotion of the whole piece together for me. Heart wrenching story, and well written.

          • jmcody says:

            Amy — Yes, that line of summed it up for me too, Glad you got that.

    • Silver Sister says:

      You deftly bring a hard subject into the light. We think of how awful it is to know something isn’t quite right with a loved one but have no idea what or how to help. It must also be its own kind of hell to be the person on the other side – to want desperately to be ‘good’, only to find the task physically impossible. You convey that beautifully by saying Tommy left a little at a time. This is a haunting piece ( I mean that in a good way). Brilliant job!

    • seliz says:

      This was such a powerfully, beautifully written piece. You captured so much of the fear that a child feels when someone (even if it’s not them) is about to get in trouble. The spittle flying out of the father’s mouth and then the MC rocking in fear brought such powerful images of fear from a child’s eyes. Then the wisdom of the older part of the MC in understanding that his father was just afraid and that his brother just needed help. This was really well done.

    • rainiemills says:

      I have tears pouring down my face right now! The pain and anguish the MCs whole family felt and the inability to effectively deal with it pulled me in so many different directions. From a parent perspective, a sibling perspective, and from a human being perspective, this story tore at my heart strings.

    • Marc Ellis says:

      Nicely done. You brought me into the remorse and regret of the MC. A truly artistic piece.

    • Eclipcia says:

      You know jmcody, this was a remarkable piece if work with every word meaning something. I find myself without words to express how well you captured the emotions. The tense in which it was written made everything happen in slow motion where I had the opportunity to mull over everything happening at that time. I wanted to hug Tommy and be there for him. I wanted to scream at the dad, “What is wrong with you? Can’t you see something is wrong with him? He needs your protection not your displeasure!”
      All I can say is… if a story can make me feel such strong emotion, enough to make an impact. then it is no doubt an excellent piece of writing. Your story was well received.

    • Critique says:

      This was very well written. A thought provoking and gripping story jmcody. Your last paragraph was powerful.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a very touching piece, jmcody. It boils a whole (too-short) lifetime into a small package. In me it brought back some things that have been buried for a long time, and some things that are going on right now in my extended family.

      Thank God we have learned so much in the last half century about the ‘minor’ mental conditions, as if anything like that could ever exist.

    • don potter says:

      No matter how hard one tries, there is no way to change the past. The best we can do is learn from it. Some will forever be scarred by it. Others will accept it. One thing is certain, it will always be there.

    • Reaper says:

      Fair warning, this may turn into a patented “Reaper Philosophical Dissertation”. I have nothing but good things to say about this story. Most of them have been said so I am going to try and focus on things that have not been mentioned, or that I see in a slightly different way. Beyond the beautiful wording and powerful story of powerlessness there are a few things I think deserve special recognition here.

      This is amazingly polished. You are also pushing your boundaries and evolving as a writer. The use of second person is difficult and often it detracts from the story. Here you use it flawlessly to the exact effect you were aiming for. It draws us in and makes us feel the plight of both the MC and Tommy. While the focus is on her emotions you beautifully show us that children often see things that adults miss, because children know they don’t know everything and are always looking to learn. Demonstrated excellently by this line – Your face looks perplexed, as if you are wondering the same thing.

      Then there is the other way you stepped out of your comfort zone. The abusive father is not new for you, but the image of this one is. You showed us a man who did not mean to be cruel, but he was ignorant and didn’t know a better way. A man trapped in a hell of his own making and dragging his entire family in with him, but you wrote him in a way that made him sympathetic. Now, was he still a villain? Hell yes. Should we still hate him? Maybe, but I think dislike because hate eats a part of your soul and men like this do not deserve a piece of your soul. But, should we pity him? The way you wrote him yes, and that is worse that hate. You wrote three very deep characters in so few words.

      This has been somewhat touched on but I notice there is a lot of mention of the themes of family, connection, and not recognizing the problems a child has. Those are all very, very valid. What stood out to me as a powerful message was the one that was subtle and terrifying. The effects that abuse has on “the good one”. Being an oldest, and sometimes distant, sibling I can tell you I still look at any time my siblings are in pain and wonder where I failed them, where I am still failing them. I know for a fact that any time they see me in pain they want to help and wonder why they can’t, or why I won’t let them. They also tell me they cherish the times they see me, because they want me to be proud of them. Some of their fondest memories of childhood are those times that “But this day is special because you are my big brother and we are playing on the floor together and laughing,” even though to me while those times were precious they were part of my duty. That bond is deep, those questions are pervasive even in most ideal family. The harder the upbringing the deeper they often get, if they are not shattered by the situation. If the bonds exist and you add abuse and/or drug addiction into the picture it only strengthens both the love and the feeling of failure. You painted us a woman that is blaming herself, saying she failed her brother when in truth she didn’t. Her parents failed them both, but now she is forever stuck with the idea that her brother’s death is her fault. That is real to her and no one can every take it away. The thing that has me almost crying here is that last poison gift from her father, that abuse and neglect have more victims than just the child that receives the belt. You gave that to me because your story drew me in and made everyone real. And in less words than I have used to explain it. You already know you are amazing, but I say it again because I am still reeling from the raw, tangible power of this story.

      Honestly? With the reaction from this group of writers what it is, and the strong lessons it has to teach I think you need to query magazines that focus on social or children’s issues with this story if there are any that take fiction. Because this needs to be read.

    • agnesjack says:

      jm, I am without words. This is an amazing story and beautifully presented. So sad and so full of truth and tragedy.

    • margi33 says:

      Ditto to everyone’s comments. I think they covered it — great piece of writing.

    • jmcody says:

      Thank you everyone for these wonderful, thoughtful comments, and for some very high praise!

      I just realized that I slipped out of the second tense in a few spots! Where’s the edit button?

    • RuthieShev says:

      This was very potent. It was beautiful the way you weaved the story. I know parents who have similar children as your brother and even in today’s world with all the help they get, they still an be frustrated. You were a child yourself so you must realize you couldn’t help him. Thanks for sharing this with us. It was very moving.

    • DMelde says:

      Good story. I felt the helplessness that the family was going through. Nicely done.

  73. TheAwkwardLlama says:

    Had a little trouble with this one, and couldn’t get it under the word count :(

    I open my eyes, fluttering them against the dark that hangs all around me like thick curtains. I begin to gasp, and the gasps become sobs, noisier and noisier.
    Something strong and firm surrounds my body. It is my mother’s arm. I am safe.
    Now at age 23, I have nothing to stop my tears, nothing to stop the ground from shaking beneath my feet, but my own inner strength, which I inherited from her. It is not the same. Was she ever scared?
    At three, however, I did not think of her fear, but only that she took mine away. I slip back often into this, this memory of mine of the last time I ever felt safe.
    “Shhh, my Marie, my baby,” my mother whispered.
    Many days before this night, more days than my young mind knew how to count, my mother had packed a suitcase and dressed me in travelling clothes. Then she received a phone call from my uncle. She began to shout and cry. That night our neighbor, Mme. Antoine, came to our door. I did not know she was Hutu, I only knew that she watched me on Friday nights sometimes and let me eat cookies. She looked angry tonight, and she spoke to my mother in a low hushed voice. Finally my mother helped me to get dressed. “We’re staying with Mme. Antoine tonight, Marie!” she said.
    When I stayed the night at Mme. Antoine’s before, she let me sleep in the guest bedroom. This time, she led my mother and I to her basement. She opened a closet in the darkness, and pointed inside.
    The darkness never lifts, and the silence rings in my ears. I have learned to stop screaming when the door suddenly opens and Mme. Antoine brings us food or takes the bucket away. As I begin to fall asleep she opens the door. She is shouting, not handing us food in grim silence.
    “They said your name on the radio! They’re coming! They come to get all the people whose names they announce!”
    “That’s why we came here!” my mother says. “Don’t send us back now, they know where we live!”
    Mme. Antoine gets closer to my mother. “They’re going to come here, Jeanne. They know we were friends!”
    “‘Were’?” my mother retorts.
    Mme. Antoine is silent. “They haven’t been giving a lot of those boys a choice. They tell them to kill the cockroaches or be killed. They are brutal. Even to other Hutus. If they come here, Jeanne-”
    “Then I will go home,” says my mother. “But you will keep my daughter here. You will protect her, and when they come for me I will tell them that I sent her away to my sister before everything started. If they come here you will tell them the same.”
    “Jeanne, no, no, I didn’t mean that,” Mme. Antoine protests. But in her eyes is relief.
    My mother takes me in her arms and tells me to be good. I did not know what happened to her for many years. My uncle came for me when it was all over, and he took me with his family to the United States.
    Twenty years have passed, but some part of me will always be three years old, in the closet in my neighbor’s basement, in my mother’s arms.

    • jmcody says:

      This was more devastating than any sci fi or horror story that I could imagine because it is reality. You really impressed upon me the horror that some people go through in this world. I could imagine being both the little girl in that dark closet, not knowing what would happen or when she would ever see her mother again, and the mother who had to walk away and leave her child to an uncertain and threatening future without her. When Mme. Antoine said “were” a shiver of dread went through me. This was incredible.

    • Silver Sister says:

      The ‘were’ sunk my heart as well. This is a powerful piece of writing. In human, nature I think strength and cowardice, good and bad are wound together like a braid. You did a beautiful job of conveying this.

      • Amy says:

        This story was a grim reminder of the evil in this world, and how it affects everyone, even tiny children. I cannot imagine the heartbreak of this mother and her neighbor as they fought for survival. Well told.

    • Dennis says:

      I echo what the others have said. Great writing with such a heavy topic.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a very moving story, doubly so because of its reality. It reads like a teaser for a memoir.

      One request: for the sake of my plastic eyes, please put an extra line break between paragraphs. The added whitespace makes it much easier to read.

    • Critique says:

      This was a powerful well written story in so few words. “Were” is a pivotal word in the story that strikes terror for what will now likely happen to Jeanne.

  74. Eclipcia says:

    The first thing I heard when I came to was the quick, cadence of footsteps slapping on pavement in their rush. It was pitch black and the occasional hue from the street lamps awarded glimpses of light now and then; not enough to be of great consequence. Droplets of rain drizzled and on occasion made way against my face. I sunk lower in my uncomfortable cushioning, trying to avoid most of it.

    I turned around trying to acquire some means of knowledge as to my current predicament. I noticed a straw doll to my right and lifted it up against the ill afforded light for my scrutiny. It felt familiar but I couldn’t be sure with my scattered mind. However, I caught sight of my tiny hands. In a panic, I quickly perused my body with my hands, my small legs, tiny stomach, and smaller features. I patted my hair which seemed to be about my neck; not the usual waist length as was my wont and froze-

    Was… I … a toddler?

    I creased my brows in confusion and turned in vain to get out, but to no avail. I tried to lean forward to gauge a little bit more on my surroundings only to be wrenched back to my formal position. Frustrated, I bit my lip and closed my eyes for a sec.

    Where was I? Think, Laurette, think!

    The rhythmic swoosh of my confinement swayed precariously as my carrier skipped a step. Whoever it was must be in a hurry, I noticed. What pressing matter needed the careless manhandling of a toddler?

    There was something inconspicuous and secretive in their haste; the way they paused at every alley and the brisk turns as if they were looking left and right.

    In the far corner of my mind, I knew I was being carried by a woman. Not sure how I knew for certain-aside from the soft padding of her shoes that was ultimately swallowed by the constant pitter patter of the rain as she negotiated a right turn-but I knew.

    I tried to recall my last memory. I had walked into a strange two story establishment recommended by a friend. They’ve had enough of my drunk stupor, mood swings, and depression, the cutting, the bad taste in men- enough. Located in the outskirts of nowhere, LeRenaissance, was said to remove painful memories. I was skeptical at first, but gave in when the memories prove too painful to bear. Upon enter, I was brought into a strange room that housed a single chair. I was strapped in with a metallic device strapped unto my head and was ordered to relax. “To remove a memory one must relive it,” he had said before lost consciousness.

    Did the machine teleport me back in time?

    The woman stopped in front of a wooden door. A tiny fluorescent light illuminated from the lamp by the wooden door which lighted the slender, well manicured hands holding the handle of what appeared to be some sort of wicker basket. I could hear her sporadic breathing as she stood there.

    A strange feeling settled in the crux of my throat and I whispered softly against the still night.

    “Mamá?” My voice must have startled her. She dropped the basket and the piece of towel that was thrown halfway for cover, shied away completely and laid in puddle on the wet concrete. Fortunately, I wasn’t hurt save for a slight bump to my head.

    I was finally permitted the view of some parts of her face as it was modestly covered by a woolen scarf. Only her eyes were left naked, and they appeared scared when they landed on mine. With a shake of her head, she climbed up the steps and gave three sharp knocks before turning away.

    Emboldened, I yell louder, “Mamà! P-weese!…”

    She slowly backed away, unshed tears glimmered in her eyes, shaking her head.

    My short legs awkwardly stepped down from my previous lodgings and I fell a step scraping my palms. I looked up only to see her running. Her figure only a shadow now.

    My shrill scream pierced the night. “Mamà! No, stay!” I flung the hay doll that was still clutched in my chunky hands on the floor, the rain beating at it cruelly. Letting the pavement feel my wrath in my despair.

    I heard hasty footsteps from behind and the resounding lock being turned. But I remained sat on my bum, salty tears on my cheeks mixing with the outpouring of the rain, hair matted to my scalp as I cried for her.

    “Mamà-!” I yelled.

    I faintly heard voices as the door was swung open and the warmth of a blanket covering me. But I remained staring in the distance where the darkness had swallowed her.

    Please don’t leave me, I thought forlornly, if only you’d see how broken I’d become. A sob escaped me.

    “What say you, child?” A matronly voice asked. I refused to speak a word.

    “Micah, bring her inside.” A little boy of thirteen scooped me up from under my arms and unto his measly chest and I tucked my face in his neck. As I was brought inside, the matron was muttering nonsensical things but my eyes were glued beyond, casting a final wistful glance out before the door was locked shut; forever destroying any previous link I had to her.

    • jmcody says:

      This was sumptuous in its sensory appeal: the cadence of footsteps on pavement, the ill afforded light, the rhythmic swoosh of Laurette’s confinement, unshed tears glimmering in her mother’s eyes. I was mesmerized. The idea that “To remove a memory one must relive it” is a captivating premise for a story. The whole thing gave me a spooky, New Orleans voodoo kind of vibe. I loved it.

    • Silver Sister says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with jmcody! This story has a distinctive style that I really enjoyed.

    • Dennis says:

      This read like prose with all the beautiful language and descrption. NIce premise of removing those haunting memories. I wonder how that would leave us?

      • Eclipcia says:

        Thank you, Dennis! Indeed, I find myself often wondering the same thing as to what would happen to us without our memories. And it is still a mystery to me as well.
        Again, thanks for reading.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This was a great story, and more than a little heart-wrenching. To me it had more of an old Quebec City feel to it, but that’s part of the charm.

      There were a couple of verb conjugation things (e.g. ‘Upon enter’) and word duplication (e.g. ‘strapped’ twice in one sentence), but otherwise a very solid story.

      • Eclipcia says:

        Thank you, Observer Tim, for your kind words. I’m glad you easily picked up the setting I created. Also, I agree with you in regards to the word ‘strapped’ being used twice in a sentence. Didn’t notice until I’ve reread it.

        That aside, the words, ‘upon enter’ was intentionally done. My writing is greatly influenced by authors who have given leave of traditional writing and creating rules of their own; one of such being George RR Martin and Markus Suzak. Like them, I love toying with word tenses and rearranging words as it suits me and my purpose. I find when I do that, it gives the story a more archaic feel, per the story genre.
        Nevertheless, Thank you for noticing :)

  75. Artemis4421 says:

    [It appears that I am over word limit, and also that I didn't quite follow the prompt...oops. But I would like to give user rle a bit of credit for this, because I read his before I was able to do mine. He is worried that you will all think he has copied since I was able to post mine first. Haha, anyways, here it is...]

    I look at the picture one more time before lying back down onto my pillow, which is slightly damp against my cheek. As I close my eyes, memories start rushing in. I try to push against the tide, but it’s no use. So I let the memories wash over me, knowing the exhaustion will soon overtake the terrors of my racing mind, and I’ll fall asleep.

    ***

    Before I know it, I’m awake again, so I must have been right about falling asleep quickly, seems how I have no recollection of the torturous memories that last night was bound to bring. I can see the sunlight from behind my eyelids, turning the backs of them a light shade of orange that I can see through my closed eyes- as strange as the concept is.

    The sun means I’ve overslept. I guess it doesn’t matter much; no one would have made me get up today if I hadn’t wanted to. It’s a day of mourning for me, and so I wouldn’t have been expected to show up at school earlier this morning anyways.

    I sigh, moving to pull my sheets up over my face at the same time that I hear a familiar voice that chills my spine. I notice that, on top of the voice, my sheets don’t feel right. The texture is a bit rougher and I seem to be almost swimming in them.

    “Lana!” the voice calls, pounding up the stairs. My eyes snap open painfully as a sense of déjà vu washes over me. I look up to see a familiar blue ceiling and a young face suddenly pops into my view as well. Round cheeks, brown eyes a shade lighter than his wavy brown hair made him easy to identify. It is (or should I say was) my brother Shane…nine years ago.

    I’m frozen in place, but when he blinks, the spell is broken. “Lana, come on, it’s Christmas!” He exclaims cheerfully. I close my eyes, trying to gather myself. This can’t be real.

    “No, don’t go back to sleep silly! Get up, get up, get up! It’s time to open presents!”

    Another wave of déjà vu hits me, along with a few other things. Sadness, nostalgia and despair causes a tear to threaten to dislodge itself from my eye and go trailing down my cheek. But at the same time, I can’t help the excitement that grips hold of me. It’s Christmas and I’m just an excited little girl!

    Shane’s face wavers momentarily when I open my eyes, but I brush it off. “Okay, lets go,” I reply, hearing my small voice. Shane grins as I hop of out bed-not used to the long drop to the floor- and quickly follow him down the stairs, my nose only coming to his mid-back.

    When we round the corner and come to the large, beautiful Christmas tree, I squeal with delight. Overwhelmed, I reach out to envelop Shane in my embrace, aching to tell him how much he means to me already, in my young life. I step forward, arms open, and just like that, he’s gone.

    My heart practically stops. I blink hard, but when I open my eyes, I feel myself lying in bed, covered in a cold sweat, my heart racing inside my fourteen year old body. There’s dim moonlight shining in the window, and the first thing my eyes fall on is a picture taken nine years ago. I’m sitting by my big brother Shane, and we’re in front of the Christmas tree, its lights almost as bright as the expressions on both our faces.

    A sudden sob racks my body, leaving me just as suddenly as he had. In my mind, I smell rain and hear the high pitched squeal of car tires. I burrow my face into my pillow just as a sound halfway between a whimper and a scream leaves my mouth, thankfully muffled by the pillow. My face scrunches up and my whole body aches like never before. I know with a sudden certainty that I won’t be getting any sleep tonight, and probably not for a long time after.

    • jmcody says:

      Oh, that awful moment when you think of someone, and of the things you want to tell them next time you see them, and then remember that they have died. We have all experienced this kind of time warp, and you have depicted it very well here. So sad, especially for a 14 year old.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Powerful story, Artemis. You brought out the grief and loss clearly. It reminds me (in tone not detail) of what I wrote the night after my father died.

      Now I have to go check rle’s.

    • Dennis says:

      Well written. A good capture of what grief is about and the process we have to go through.

    • Reaper says:

      Okay, this is a round about way to explain my response to your story, but it is the best one I have.

      My grandfather died a couple years back. They had a theme for his funeral, which I thought was stupid. The them was we don’t miss the lifetime we miss the moments for a lifetime. Which I thought was catchy but ridiculous.

      Your story finally made me get it. Thank you.

    • Reaper says:

      I don’t think either of you had anything to worry about. These stories have different voices. They are not the same but two sides of the same coin.

      This is a sadder tale about an unexpected tragedy. Where his speaks on the power of accepting the past and finding the joy in it, no matter how small, your story looks at the other side. The pain and scars we carry with us. How powerfully and tragically we are punished when we cannot let go, when we focus, no matter how understandably, on the pain and grief of the loss, because even when we remember those beautiful moments that made us happy they are followed seconds later by that aching hole in our heart. It is as powerful and true but very different.

      It is like the two of you wrote compatible stories defining different parts of the seven stages of grief. I am richer for having read both of them.

      • Reaper says:

        Apologies for the double post. I am slow this week and working my way up. Forgot I had already posted on this one or I would have tacked onto the end.

  76. Poeeop says:

    Old People Pills and the Fountain of Youth

    I had been back in my three year old body for nine hours already and I was pissed…….on several times, it was no different than if I had stayed back in my seventy-seven year old body really.

    My mother says for the fourth time today, “Jerry! Have you forgotten how to use the toilet son? My God! I’d run you around naked to save the laundry if I thought for a second you wouldn’t piss all over the dog!” She shakes her head and is still talking to herself as she leaves the room.

    It felt great to be able to walk again without the aid of a cane and you would think that having someone there to cook for you, hand feed you,- waaaaiiit a minute, is she holding what I think she’s holding?

    I bolt from the room as quickly as my short legs can move, damn it feels good to run again!

    “Jerry! Get back here boy! If you can’t hold it, you WILL wear this diaper!”

    Oh no I’m not! Not that I am opposed to diapers, I have been wearing one for a decade again, but, well let me see how to put this. Yes it’s true I am back in my three year old body, most of it is three years old anyway. I don’t know why IT isn’t three like the rest of me, but it’s a grotesque match with my puny toddler legs.

    I mean, sure if Dad walked in on the diaper change his chest would swell with pride, when Mom goes to put that diaper on me however, she’ll assume I’ve been stung six-hundred times by a bee and freak out, call the doc, maybe pass out; I don’t know. I just can’t let her catch me okay.

    Giggling while I run, I look back to see where Mom is and I trip on it. BAM! I hit my head on the floor and am out like a light.

    I wake up groggy, still laying in my recliner with drool streaming down my cheek. I feel as though I have been out for days and I can’t recall exactly why I feel the way I do. I start the long process of getting up on my feet and a pill bottle falls out of my lap and rattles to the floor.
    I put my glasses on, pick up the bottle and read the label that promises the fountain of youth, “Feel like a kid again!” it reads.

    Well if that’s the fountain of youth I’ll take my cane, my piroxicam, my cyclobenzaprine, my teeth and be happy watching Wheel of Fortune while trying to remember if I’ve pooped today.

  77. Amy says:

    I am underneath the grand piano. It covers me like a fortress, doing little to hide me, yet I feel invisible. Mama always shoos me out from under here, afraid the instrument will come crashing down upon my head.

    Strange. I am too big, too old, to fit comfortably here. Besides, adults don’t hide away under the furniture, not if they’re sane. I’ve always been rational.

    Everything surrounding me is different, but familiar. My own home is ultra-modern, white and sterile. No dust, no flowers, no personal touches adorn its linear surfaces. But this place, with its wood-paneled walls, braided rugs and flowery upholstered furniture, this place belongs to another era. A time filled with warmth and comfort and love.

    Why am I here?

    The clatter of a pot lid dropping to the floor, the sounds of running water, the fragrance wafting into the room, all of these tell me that Mama is in the kitchen. Mama died thirty-seven years ago, when I was fourteen.

    I stand quickly, realizing too late that I will bash my head against the piano’s hard wood. Only I don’t. I’m quite short…maybe three feet tall. Dressed in a beautifully smocked gingham dress, my feet are bare, my toes quite chubby, with nails unpolished.

    I extend my arm to view my hand…the left one whose ring finger was recently bared. There is no white strip of untanned skin, no indentation to remind me of my failed marriage. My fingers are tiny and unmarred, the nails short and unadorned. Like my daughter’s.

    I sit back down, my bottom in its training pants making a soft, crinkling sound.

    I begin to cry.

    Mama comes into the room, brushing flour from her hands, leaving white prints on her calico apron.

    She is shaking her head. Her mouth forms a stern line, but her eyes are smiling. She lifts me, holding me to her ample breast, her perfume that of yeast and sugar.

    Turning, she puts me in a cage.

    I cry harder. Not because I am imprisoned, but because I am so immersed in my memories. I never want to leave here.

    The playpen’s floor is wood, covered by a vinyl cushion. I see my favorite stuffed animal…a careworn dog that had once belonged to Mama. I pick it up and inhale its familiar, musty scent. It has more hair than when I saw it last. My tears fall soundlessly onto its stained fur.

    Mama leaves the room. I want to call her back, but I’m afraid that sound will break this spell.

    Is Daddy at work? I long to see him, to touch his face, feel his stubbly beard, smell his scent of shaving cream.

    I haven’t seen him in twenty-four years.

    I take a risk. “Da-da!” I say. “I want Daddy!”

    Mama returns, releases me. Hand in hand, we slowly ascend the stairs, an arduous climb for me.

    Daddy is in bed. Another memory assails me…Daddy hurt, his back in traction.

    I long to jump on the bed, be enfolded in his arms, but I must be gentle. I approach him, my chin level with the mattress.

    “Daddy.” I whisper.

    He reaches out to touch my hair.

    I am complete, my future melting into my past, setting me free to love again.

    • jmcody says:

      This was a very uplifting and well written story. I loved that the MC was able to reconnect with the original source of love in her life in order to heal her own brokenness. Lovely. Thank you.

    • Xevirus says:

      So many value childhood because of the innocence that we associate with it. What you reveal here is that the very innocence that is valued has the downside of both lacking true appreciation of itself (the character had access to this love at one point, and yet turned out the way that they did despite that because they did not have the alternative until later with which to compare) and of being prone to make mistakes which undermine it (else we’d all still be innocent). While it is nice that failed marriage has been erased from history (though not from memory) and that the deceased loved ones are back (for a time), the hopeful tone is less that the character is able to redo any or all of these things, but that the character is able to reconnect with that feeling of love at all. This is not uplifting because it gives a pleasant scenario (it is, but that is surface), it is uplifting because it reminds us that it is possible to return to love even having lost the innocence we once possessed. It may not come through the gift of time travel as this did, and it may take great effort, but the potential is there.

      I really like the rhythm of this also, and the way that you inject the information about the daughter without dwelling on it, so that what may have been lost by this transformation does not immediately hit the reader, but shows itself upon reflection.

    • Silver Sister says:

      For me, I think this reinforces the notion that you can overcome almost any adversity if you’ve been given a strong foundation. Once love crashes and burns, but an unconditional one fills the gap. This is a heartening story. Well done.

    • Observer Tim says:

      There is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said. Great story of personal redemption, Amy.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Such a personal story, it rushes from the screen and wraps it ‘s charm around the reader.It reads true to the emotion, especially of the MC of breaking the spell back in time. The last sentence, “I am complete, my future melting into my past, setting me free to love again,” is a polished jewel.

    • Dennis says:

      I enjoyed all of the description in the story. It also had this slow build of tension with the nice release at the end. Very thoughtful premise.

  78. Annica says:

    So this is pretty short and was written in a hurry. Though i did try to make it a bit humorous. Dont know how that turned out…
    The sun rays hit me , waking me up from my peaceful slumber. What happened to the curtains? Still half asleep I pulled myself up and stretched my arms a bit. Getting off of the bed, I felt the soft carpet fur tickle the soles of my feet. Which was weird, i didnt have any carpets in my home. I rubbed my eyes and as soon as my blurred vision cleared, a gasp escaped my mouth. I wasnt in my room. Atleast not my current room. Blue walls, a single blue bed, my old blue study table…. This was my old room. Bewildered, I called out to my mother. My voice was pitch-y like a child. As I headed towards the door, i caught my reflection in the mirror. And screamed. My mom thrust the door open and frantically asked me what was wrong.
    “Whats going on mom!? How did i get so tiny? And what are we doing here? what happened to our new apartment?”
    She stared at me for a moment. Not speaking a word. And then just started laughing! It was all so frustrating!
    “Why are you laughing!?” I could feel my eyes water. Trying so hard not to cry, I kept on yelling.
    “Calm down honey! You’re talking nonsense. We dont have another apartment and you’re not tiny. Youre of a perfectly normal height for someone your age.” I could see she was trying hard to calm me down. But ofcourse it wasnt going to work.
    “What age mom?”
    “Dont tell me you forgot your age” She rolled her eyes and patted me on the head. “Come on, let’s make you some breakfast.” And with that she headed out to the kitchen leaving me in utter confusion. With nothing making any sense , I did what I do best whenever I panic. I closed my eyes and I started pacing back and forth, trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I was probably prepubescent and all of my teenage life might have been just a dream. You know how philosophers always think hard about things and how they ask questions about what would happen if you wake up and realize all of your life had been a dream and if that is even possible? Well I have the answer to that now. Maybe I was taking it all the wrong way? What if this was God’s way of giving me another chance at life? A chance to not make the choices i had made earlier? My train of thoughts was interrupted by my mom.
    “Anni! You’re late for school!”
    My eyes snapped open and I realized i was on my bed. My current bed! Not the one from the my ‘blue-era’. I rose from my bed and rushed to the bathroom. So relieved to see my matured face. Although I felt a bit of disappointed.
    So much for a second chance at life…

    • jmcody says:

      You raise an interesting question. I wonder how many people would actually like to go back to age three, knowing what they know now. Your MC was definitely warming up to the idea. But it sounds like she is still very young and has many chances ahead of her to make of her life what she wants. Hope she realizes that. That was some philosophical three year old you had there.

      • Annica says:

        Since my character was a teen when she dreamt this, her reaction to the situation was just how it was supposed to be, confused yet excited. I mean come on, who doesnt like the thrill of travelling back in time? :p Her emotional immaturity was what I wanted to highlight :)

    • Observer Tim says:

      Thanks for trashing my tacit assumption. I never deamed of having an older youth living the life of a younger youth. You handled it excellently.

      I wouldn’t quite say humour, but the story is very light and happy: that’s how it left me after reading it, too.

      It’s also a good reminder that worrying can begin at any age.

    • Dennis says:

      That is the ultimate question. If we could go back and change things, would we. There is always the question of what consequences those changes will bring. If you have never wateched it, watch the movie The Butterfly Effect to get one take on that premise. Very nice story.

  79. Ahsuniv says:

    ‘No, not the same nightmare again…’ I mumbled as my sleep got disrupted by the loud quarreling issuing through my bedroom door. It was the same recurring nightmare that troubled me since my childhood. I fumbled for Pete’s arm in the darkness. He was the only one who could comfort me. I gasped as I failed to find his arm. I sat up in a cold sweat and searched the bed frantically. He wasn’t there, nor was his side of the bed. I was lying on a single bed.

    The quarreling grew louder and tears started to roll down my cheeks. I swung my legs over the side of the bed and saw my feet dangling high above the floor. Gasping, I jumped down with my heart in my throat. Just when I thought I was in control of my body, I stumbled to the floor, hitting my forehead. I stood back up with all my effort. I could see the small, fairy night lamp smiling eerily at me from the corner of the room. I went to the door, feeling the bump that rose on my forehead. The doorknob was far above me and although I could touch it, it was impossible to turn it.

    I sat down on the floor and looked through the bright gap beneath the door. I could see the pristine white living room and the side long view of the beige leather couch that I remember so well from my childhood. The quarreling had stopped. There was silence now and I knew exactly what that meant.

    I peered with my eyes wide open. I could see the tip of my mother’s foot as she sat on the floor near the couch. I saw my father’s feet shuffle past my bedroom door. A puddle of blood was now forming by the couch, by my mother’s foot. I sat down, unable to look and clutched onto my knees, shivering. I wanted to go outside and help my mother, but I couldn’t open the door. Even if I could, I was too scared to do it. What if my father came back?

    I tried to climb back onto the bed, but it was too high and I couldn’t reach it. I crawled under the bed and started crying for Pete.

    The bedroom door opened and I saw my father’s feet in the doorway. I clutched myself tighter and crawled as far away from him as possible. But, he pulled me out from under the bed in a swift motion and held me in his arms. He smiled at me in what could be passed off as a warm smile, but to me it was cold as a winter night.

    ‘It’s okay, darling. Are you having a nightmare? Go back to sleep…’ He said, stroking her hair.

    I could see the now large puddle of blood from over his shoulder. I tried to wriggle out of his arms, but his grip was vice like. I did the only thing that I could do. I closed my eyes and started screaming for Pete once again.

    ‘Is Pete your imaginary friend, honey? There is no Pete here.’

    I knew when my father laid me back in bed, chuckling, that this was no nightmare. I knew then that I was once again stuck in the misery that was my past, until I found Pete again.

    • jmcody says:

      This is like a nightmare that will never end for your MC. Well written and very unnerving.

    • Amyithist says:

      This is so sad. What happened to the mother? Did she die? Or was she just injured? Does the MC find Pete once more or is she trapped in this hellish nightmare of a childhood once more? I really enjoyed this…but could you maybe continue and let us all know what happens?

    • Silver Sister says:

      The father in this story is terrifying. Not only because of the violence he inflicts on the mother, but to be able the ‘comfort’ a child after such an act, as if nothing of importance has happened is chilling. I sincerely hope she finds Pete!

      • Ahsuniv says:

        Thank you for feeling for my MC and the story. Writing the father was a very terrifying experience for me, but I’m glad I could connect with you.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is very intense, Ahsuniv. You managed to create the scene so fully without actually showing more than a tiny piece. The story is excellent technically, stylistically, and emotionally. I hope I don’t end up having nightmares about this.

    • starwatcher says:

      I’m glad that, even though the MC had/has such terrible things happen to her, she has the hope that she’ll see Pete again. I’m with Amyithist on this one, part two please!

    • Ahsuniv says:

      This is the continuation to my story as requested.

      ————————

      After a disturbed night’s sleep, I woke up hoping to be back in my grown up self. Instead, I found grandma fussing over me. My grandma, whom I had last seen about two decades ago. Her sad, tear filled eyes overshadowed her smile.

      ‘Grandma, what happened?’ I asked her even though I knew exactly what was wrong.

      She merely stroked my hair. I could hear chaos outside the room as grandma got me dressed.

      ‘Honey, I want you to be brave, alright? Remember that I am here with you,’ she said, holding my hand.

      The happenings of the previous night and that day were my only vivid memories of my childhood and I knew exactly what was coming next. Photographers, police and lots of strange men swarming through the house and my mother lying at the bottom of the stairs in a puddle of blood. I also remember that there was no trace of blood near the sofa.

      ‘Mom is dead…’ I said in a monotone. She stared at me with wide eyes.

      ‘Sweetheart, how did you know that?’

      At that moment, I made up my mind. I would not repeat the mistake that I had made the last time. I would not be a coward. I would take a stand for my mother this time.

      ‘Because dad killed her last night. I saw it.’

      Grandma looked at me with astonishment. Perhaps it was more because I said the word ‘killed’.

      ‘Your mother fell from the stairs,’ she said.

      I shook my head.

      ‘Grandma, This has happened before. Last time, I was quiet. This time, I will make amends.’

      Grandma clutched her heart in shock at what was coming out of a three year old’s mouth. Then, she looked hard into my eyes and what she said next amazed me.

      ‘This is Déjà vu in it’s true sense, my child. When you want to make amends desperately for something that you regret, life re-iterates itself. It has happened to me and that is what is happening to you. It is a rare phenomenon.’

      I gaped at her wordlessly.

      ‘I am here with you darling and we will sort this out together,’ she said, pulling me into a warm embrace. I felt my face wet with tears at I clutched onto her.

      ***

      It is the day that I have been waiting for all my life. I sit in the school park pretending to read my sociology book. In reality, I can’t stop scanning the park gate ever few seconds. After what seems like forever, I see him walk through the gate, with the same serene expression that he wore the last time I saw him.

      After I made my amends and made sure that my mother got justice, I am now a new person. A free soul. More so than ever. There were no more nightmares. No regrets. I did miss my mother. And, my father left an irreparable scar in my heart. But, I was okay.

      I walk towards Pete with new hopes. I walk towards a new beginning, a fresh start.

      • Dennis says:

        Wow, even more of a pwerful story having read both parts together. I like the deja vu effect and getting a chance new start on life. I like the strength the MC obtains in the end.

      • Reaper says:

        Powerful story Ahsuniv. Both parts were compelling, the first is intense and terrifying, the second is a nice breath after that. The only thing I find missing is in the second part I want to know what happened to the father. I mean specifically, because I am hoping some angry villagers busted down his door with torches and pitchforks to enact choice scenes from Pulp Fiction on him.

        • Ahsuniv says:

          Thank you so much Reaper! And sorry to disappoint you but, no angry villagers and pitchforks…just a lifetime in jail for the father after his daughter’s testimony and a thorough investigation prove him guilty.

      • Observer Tim says:

        This is a beautiful continuation to the story. I love a happy ending.

  80. yaxomoxay says:

    For reasons that I will not disclose, I have not reviewed this little story. I don’t want to re-read it either, so there might be awful issues with it. (Bear in mind I’m ESL). Please feel free to give me any constructive criticism.

    —-

    Trapped. I don’t know what happened, but I found myself in my child’s body. According to the sports radio that was on, it was the same year of Jeter’s retirement, which places me at three or four years of age.
    At first I believed it a nightmare, especially since after I woke up this morning to get steal a candy from the kitchen table I had to employ all my balancing abilities and use the art of being undetected. Now I am sure that this is truly happening.
    I waited all day for my dad to come back from work, with my mom. She died peacefully thirty years later, or if you want in thirty years. She took care of me, helped me to dress, clean the mess I did with food and, although I couldn’t really communicate, she enjoyed the sentences I could put together. It was weird, growing up I never appreciated how lovely and caring she was.
    Then, at five, he came home. It was a Friday so he was home earlier than usual. He smiled at mom, and kissed her the same way he did every day until he died.
    “Too bad,” he told her. “I couldn’t be with you all day.”
    If I felt trapped in a body which was mine, I knew he was trapped in a universe which wasn’t his. To take care of me, and the brother that will be born in two years, he did anything he had to. But he never did anything he wanted to. He worked hard for us and tried to be the best he could.
    “Buddy, want to play some catch?”
    Of course I accepted wholeheartedly.
    I still remember the first baseball glove he gave me, it was one made of fake-leather with cartoon characters on it. For him, a young baseball players with good prospects in high-school, giving me that undersized glove was like signing a blood pact of eternal love. I remember that my mom told me that when I unpacked the glove I asked them what it was.
    That day, we want to play in the backyard as we often did. Of course I couldn’t catch a ball, and I couldn’t throw it very far either, but he kept encouraging me. He praised me, until I finally caught a “flyball”, at which point he took me and threw me toward the sky in happiness, screaming “Il Bambino!”
    At that very moment, I realized that I just witnessed my father’s only day of glory.

    • jmcody says:

      Your last sentence was the crowning glory of this story. This really touched me because of the appreciation your mc was able to gain for all that his father had sacrificed for him. Yes, there were a few issues with typos and grammar, but the overall effect was stunning — I can’t even believe you are ESL. You must be brilliant in your original language.

    • Amyithist says:

      I have a feeling this take on the prompt was something that hit you pretty hard. I can feel the emotion in the writing. I hear the sorrow, the longing, and the pain. Your story was very well done. Thank you for writing it.

    • Great job! I really enjoyed reading about the relationship between them, and your other stories were good, too. My grandfather was just like that, providing for five kids on a Montana farm, doing whatever he had to do. It’s great to know him.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a beautiful slice of life, yaxomoxay. It reads like it came from the heart, as your opening comment hints.

      You’ve clearly broken the language barrier here.

    • Dennis says:

      Wow, there was a lot packed into that story. There was sadness but also joy for having such a wonderful father who cared so much. This one really moved me.

    • Reaper says:

      This speaks in a language that is beyond words. Those spelling and grammar mistakes actually worked for me here because they read like tear stains on the page. I believe that you speak to a strong truth here, perhaps for everyone but I think especially for men, if we are lucky enough to have a father who gives his all, or often is even there he is our first hero. We see him as bigger than life and in many ways he is. We also want to believe he is immortal no matter how untrue that is.

      The power in this for me is in the memory. My own father gave up so much for his children. A bit back I told him I knew he sacrificed for us, and gave up so many things he wanted and told him I wanted to thank him. His response, unsurprisingly, was “Of course I did, I’m your dad and I had to.” I tried to explain to him that he didn’t have to, that a lot of fathers don’t and while he acknowledged that many don’t I could tell in his mind there was still no other option.

      That is the kind of man you conjured, one who has another choice but it never enters their mind. The only thing we can do is let them know, if we still have them, that they made us who we are today, that our successes are due to them. And if we don’t then we have to live our lives as best we can in tribute to them and what they gave use. I realize I’m dangerously close to deleting this post so going to hit post before I chicken out.

    • kj6hvc says:

      Absolutely fantastic. The emotion in this story is authentic. Your English is fine. Thanks for posting this.

    • agnesjack says:

      First, I loved that your past, when he was three, was really the present. Also, the relationship with the father was so real in its regret. Yet, sometimes we project onto others what we may be feeling, so I would like to think that the dad was happy in his sacrifices for the family. The fact that “he worked hard for us and tried to be the best he could,” shows great love, which is a blessing. Nice story.

    • Eclipcia says:

      As an ESL myself, I can see where you are coming from and commend you on that. The story was heartfelt and lifelike. Aside from the afore mentioned grammar mistakes, you did a great job. I know from experience how sometimes, you are still in the mindset of your primary language and have to constantly school yourself to revert back to English. The more you write the better you become at conquering that minor setback which frankly is not all that obvious if it were not mentioned. It could easily have been passed off as typos or something.

  81. FOR REST, COME TO ME

    I awakened to a small, dusty room that promised nothing. I’d been at the bar yesterday, so I wasn’t surprised at the new location, except for one thing—I was shoved underneath a basket.

    A wave of fear fell into me as I realized that I was once again a child, and I tried to turn over, but to no avail. Still imprisoned inside a blanket, I cried out fiercely, hoping for someone to help.

    “Ahh, stupid boy,” I heard moaned from one of the corn mattresses pushed into the walls. A blanket reared up and then fell away in the dark before my mother was crouched before me.

    “Hush up now, Ivan,” and her long, weary finger brushed my red cheeks, scattering away the teardrops. Her face was like a soft, undulating whisper calming me, until with a jolt I remembered what’s coming and my eyes couldn’t contain all the memories. The low ceiling above me felt like an enemy somehow.

    “Ma-ma,” I began to wail, reaching out. “The trucks…”

    Her face stiffened, but only a little bit. The tired fingers retreated, and she shoved her hair above her ear. It was that same face I’d try to dredge out of another empty bottle years later.

    “Don’t worry about the trucks, son,” she breathed. Her face turned to the bed, and I thought she was going to leave, so I reached out and grabbed her arm with a look of desperation. She stayed, but another shadow crossed the room and knelt beside my makeshift bed. I bowed my head for fear my heart would explode and just smelled the faint scent of pine needles and smoke.

    “What’s wrong with him?” my father said sleepily, in the most wonderful voice I can imagine.

    “He’s just too worried. Makes me feel like he doesn’t deserve this,” and when I looked up he’d turned away to a table and my mother was shaking everyone awake. This included two older-looking people and another man with a scruffy beard, Uncle Georgy. The sun had not yet waved its colors into the window; the dark being only another omen to me. It was the unfolding of some sick dream that sought only to deepen my pit, wasn’t it? I shook the bars of the basket, expecting to wake up in my familiar bar stool, but the show went on.

    “Mother, help me with the mattress, will you? I—“

    Without warning I heard his voice turn urgent as he looked out the window.

    “Hide the guns! Georgy, get in the passage, now!”

    My relatives scattered like autumn leaves before the flimsy door came down and a slithering train of black coats trailed in, shotguns at the ready.

    “Take them all!” he shouted, papers flying around. The four troopers that followed him grabbed anything within reach, while the elderly woman picked up the basket and placed me in her arms. A mattress fell against the wall and I peered around her shoulder to see.

    “Confiscate these,” the officer rumbled under his cap, pointing at the pile of SVT-40s and the bundle of maps. Two other soldiers held papa and Georgy with a stern grip. My father’s pale, bearded face flashed over to me with concern, but he kept silent.

    “Bring them outside,” he said, and the two soldiers began to roughly force them towards the door. I reached out for papa, but he was too far away.

    “Ma-ma, run!” I called. Their eyes darted towards the hidden corner, and they pulled my mother and grandpa up. My plan having backfired, things became worse when the officer’s eyes darted over to me. But, he simply turned around and ordered the others into the field.

    “Oh, Paul!” my grandma cried out, rushing to the window. A small red ribbon had appeared on the horizon. I huddled close to her chest as snippets of commands rushed across the windy soil and then four shots echoed in succession. There was a small silence before the German truck rumbled to life and sped away.

    It was then that I finally, sickeningly, and with sorrow, remembered what had happened to my parents during the Great Patriotic War.
    __________________________________________________________________________

    As evening approached, both of us were in a crumbling corner, watching the blowing grasses outside the bricks. She rocked me gently with her lithe arms.

    “Grandma, why did they… kill them?”

    “Your parents were killed because they were partisans,” she responded shakily. “You should be proud of them, Ivan.”

    “Will life ever be the same?”

    She peered deep into my little eyes and smiled just a little.

    “No, but we’ll make it by just fine.”

    She resumed her rocking, and sung a faltering lullaby as the sun once again set over the Russian steppes.

    “When white wispy sheets of moon fly in

    To lord over a blood-soaked field of sin

    We sometimes wonder if good will still win

    Yet little we see life’s new blossoming tree

    For our good Creator is preparing his plan, making us see

    Saying, ‘O heavy-laden, for rest, come to me.’”

    (Not my best, and a bit rushed, but I thought at least the concept was interesting. GH)

    • starwatcher says:

      I thought the idea (as well as the execution) was great. The poem at the end was a nice touch.

    • jmcody says:

      The fact that this is not your best speaks volumes about you and your talent, Bilbo. I was mesmerized by this, and I also learned a few things about Russian history. The depths of your knowledge and the vastness and acuity of your perception are stunning. You are the real deal, a true talent.

      • Thanks, jm! I actually considered scrapping this whole thing, just keeping the poem and rewriting it, but your comment told me I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I do enjoy reading about WW2 history a lot, I’m a history buff and can’t help it. On a side note, it’s just so great to be on here, entering month five today, reading you guy’s stuff and having true talents call me a true talent. Thanks, again.

    • Amyithist says:

      This was wonderful. It was a very melodic tale that left me chilled and saddened. You did a wonderful job. :)

    • Observer Tim says:

      Bilbo, you continue to astonish me with your grasp of history and the people that live in it. I find myself wondering if you’re actually a time traveller.

      Go hobbits, indeed.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Knowing that the Russians lost twenty five million people in WWII, makes this story so very powerful. It’s written with such a vivid reality, the words almost hurt as they enter the reader’s conscious. I only have one word for this, BB. Brilliant!

    • Critique says:

      Your descriptive writing as always paints vivid pictures for me. Well done Bilbo Baggins. This was a gripping story – loved the poem.

    • Dennis says:

      Great writing. It felt like one of those epic tales. That would be something to have to live through twice.

    • Reaper says:

      Jesus, Mr. Baggins. There are things wanting to come out right now but I have just no words. Instead I must, in Wayne’s World style, fall to my knees and bow while proclaiming, “I’m not worthy.”

    • agnesjack says:

      This was absolutely riveting, bilbo, and beautifully told. I loved the atmosphere you created, which seemed dreamlike from the boy’s perspective until it became quite stark and urgent.

      I think you could have eliminated the second part, however. The last paragraph above the line would have been a powerful way to end the story. (Also, it would have gotten you closer to the word limit. ;-) ) The poem and moment with the grandmother was lovely, but it seemed like chapter two of a much longer story.

  82. Dennis says:

    (Not my best but will give the disclaimer – Based on true events)

    I woke up in a fog with a feeling as if I had been on a long journey. As my head started to clear I noticed I was lying on damp sheets. Crap, I didn’t pee myself did I? I checked and sure enough. I wanted to curse but instead felt this well of emotions build up inside until I was wailing at the top of my lungs. I couldn’t stop it.

    And then the strangest thing happened. My mother came in to check on me, but she was much younger. The full weight of the situation became clear when she reached down and picked me up. I was a kid, a young kid. This must be some kind of nightmare. I wanted to say something, tried forming the words but nothing came out. It was then that I remember being told that I didn’t speak until after I was three. Apparently it was some sort of defense mechanism.

    After changing me, my mother brought me downstairs for breakfast. My father and older sister were already at the kitchen table. Always precocious, Sally made faces at me, mimicking my crying.
    “Mommy, mommy, wah, wah.” Sally began to laugh.
    “Sally, that’s enough,” said my mother.

    Again I want to shout, feeling the rage boil, but I just made some whiny noises and pouted. But then I looked at my sister so full of life and wondered, what happened to you? Why did you go down such a dark road when you got older? I began to feel sad for her.

    The anger returned as I caught wind of the conversation my dad was having with my mom.
    “He’s three and he still isn’t talking. Maybe something is wrong with him.”
    “Dear, we’ve been over this. Some kids develop more slowly than others.”

    Now my blood was boiling. I remember being told about this as well, that my father thought I was stupid or something for not talking and not participating is his games of let’s see what the kids can do. Of course Sally ate that up, but I could care a less and apparently grew silent the more he did it.

    I felt the urge of my young self wanting to pout, not knowing what else to do. But my older self decided it was time to end this. I had this great eloquent speech planned but what came out was,
    “Daddy’s mean.”

    The whole room was silent. Sally had her hand over her mouth, with a look of wonderment of what was going to happen next. I too expected the wrath of dad but something completely different happened. Tears were rolling down my father’s cheeks. In all my life I never saw him cry. He came over and gave me a big hug and told me he was sorry.

    I don’t fully know what happened this day. And for that matter how or why it happened. All I know is that it had to happen.

    • Daenerys says:

      True events aside, without being mentioned, I felt the realness of your story as it flowed pretty well. It is possible the MC lack of speech might have been to the father’s antagonizing ways. Nice story, Dennis!

    • jmcody says:

      Out of the mouths of babes…

      This father heard exactly what he needed to hear, from the person who most needed to say it. Poetic justice, and a very satisfying tale. Great job, Dennis.

    • Amyithist says:

      It’s good that the father saw the error of his ways. It’s sad that this really happened, but you did a great job detailing it.

      • Dennis says:

        Thanks Amyithist. Those weren’t my actual first words but the rest happened in one form. I saw your comment in JM story about taking the belt for your siblings. The things we go through as children. How do we make it through?

        • Amyithist says:

          I’m not sure. LOL I Have days where I think I’m going to go nuts rehashing some of the things that happened to me, but then I rebound and I’m okay again. It’s crazy.

    • Foxwriter says:

      Some parents need the cold, hard truth. When it comes straight from the mouth of their child, I can only imagine the literary smack in the face. This was a great read!

    • Silver Sister says:

      Whoa. I don’t think any eloquent speech could have been as powerful as “Daddy’s mean.” As soon as I read that, it took my breath away. Imagine waiting and worrying to hear your child speak and that’s the first thing that he said to you. Yikes! I’m glad it woke the dad up. I got a sense that this dad was not an intentionally malicious father, just an ill-equipped one. It seems both father and child get a second chance.

      • Dennis says:

        Thanks SS. Unfortunately, in my case the process took much longer as those were not my actual first words. I’m not sure it would have changed my father, but would it have changed me?

    • Observer Tim says:

      You’ve written something powerful here Dennis, intentionally or otherwise. The things that reach into our own souls often make the best stories.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I can relate on a personal level here. I was very late in speech development and when it did arrive, no one could understand what I said. You entered my personal thoughts describing the frustration of not being able to talk at three and everyone wondering how much brain power existed in me. Wel, I cetainly fooled the hell out of them, So there!

        • Dennis says:

          I think mine was partly to piss my sister and dad off. If I didn’t talk, then they would leave me alone. Now here I am writing all of these words. What a difference a whole life makes. Thanks Kerry.

      • Dennis says:

        Thanks OT. And to think, I originally wasn’t going to respond to this prompt.

      • Dennis says:

        Thanks OT. And to think, I wasn’t originally going to respond to this prompt.

        • Amy says:

          Dennis…I enjoyed your story! If only we could all go back and rectify some wrongs. The intro was great with the mc’s childish actions but adult reactions (language.) His regret as he observed his sister was palpable. I’m glad he was able to call out his bullying dad. Great read!

    • don potter says:

      A realistic post. Knowing this was based on a true story makes it even more realistic.

    • Ahsuniv says:

      That was an enjoyable tale Dennis! Loved the description of each and every character. I could picture the scene clearly.

    • agnesjack says:

      If this is a true story, I love the irony that you are now a writer, who has quite a bit to say.

      I loved what came out of the child’s mouth because it seemed real and didn’t break the authentic feeling of the story. Very nice, Dennis.

  83. BirdonaBird says:

    Posted as well at http://www.suitablyambiguous.com/?p=71

    This is… I’m still me. Oh my God, look at this carpeting. It took way too long for the 70s to go away.

    Damn, my dad’s chops really are awesome.

    My mom is so gorgeous. I mean, she’s always been gorgeous to me, even when she was in – will be in? – her 60s.

    And Nicole, too. Oh, little sister. I’ll be better this time. I’ll be better to you.

    Oh my God. My God. I can do it all right this time. I can change it. I can fix the things I did that were stupid. Do I want to fix those things? I had so much. My marriage, my husband, our house… the child we were trying for. Do I have to spend 30 years waiting for those things again?

    I’m terrified. I know too much. I can change the world. I can change history. I can place myself in the path of anyone. I can be rich, influential. Steve Jobs. Barack Obama. Al Gore. Heh, maybe I can even give George Lucas a tip or three.

    This is too much. I’m not responsible enough for this. These decisions can’t be in my hands. These little hands. They’re far too small. They’ll always be too small.

    Challenger. Pan Am 103. Tiananmen Square. Desert Storm. Rodney King. Oklahoma City. The recession.

    Columbine.

    September 11th.

    I’m so small. I’m so selfish. What right do I have to all this knowledge? And how can I make anyone listen?

    So I’m small. Start small. I already know the basics. And then some. I’m three, and I’m already reading and writing. At least if I can get my motor skills going. I’m limited.

    What does that mean for going to school? What does it mean for the people who will teach me? Can I go further than I did before?

    There was so much I would have done differently in college. I don’t have to experiment. I already know.

    I could be the musician I wanted to be. I could learn piano. I have all the time I need.

    I’ll have to be careful. What if something I do changes the world, ever so slightly? What if I create a world in which my favorite things never come into being? I’ll miss something that never existed. Won’t I?

    I can write the books that I always wanted to. I’d be a wunderkind.

    I have all this time. Another lifetime.

    I can right the mistakes I made. I can be sure they never happen. I can save the world.

    But should I? What’s right?

    Will I frighten people? What will my parents think? Who will I become? Someone who will know my friends the way I did before? Will I be someone my husband will love?

    Will I be me?

    Who am I?

    • Xevirus says:

      Lost in thought separated from action. Optimism slowly covered by doubts. This was biting.

    • kj6hvc says:

      That was fantastic. I love the character’s doubt mixed in with the excitement.

    • Dennis says:

      So many unanswered questions. It really would be something to ponder. Nice job.

    • Amyithist says:

      Wow. What an insightful and intellectually stimulating take on the prompt. Got me thinking about all of the things I’d do differently, too. Think about if we COULD have stopped all of those horrible things… what other horrible things would have taken their place? Would they have been worse? If we go back far enough WE could have invented the Internet or Google or… ow. My head hurts. LOL
      You definitely got me thinking! Thank you for the take. I appreciate it. :)

    • Silver Sister says:

      I love the phrases, “So I’m small. Start small.” I think this thought process is a very natural one. It all starts off positive and powerful and then the doubt seeps in and dampens the enthusiasm. I think you boil the whole thing down to two sentences. “I can save the world. But should I?” As wonderful as it sounds to change history, the consequences to such actions are unknown. Several members of my family often say, “When something bad happens, it’s usually to protect you from something worse.” This story made me think of this saying.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Wow. This is a great existential train of thought piece. I could see a very similar train of thought from myself if I ended up back in 1966. It clearly highlights what has always fascinated me about time travel (physical, psychic, or otherwise).

    • jmcody says:

      Knowledge is power and power is responsibility. In this case it’s imperfect knowledge combined with huge responsibility — a terrifying combination. Thank you for this thought provoking and well written response.

      • Amy says:

        Loved the 70’s sensory descriptors as you opened the piece. The mc’s regret’s about her sister Nicole were a good way to make me wonder…what happened there? I really liked her introspection about changing her own life, and then the world, followed by the doubts. It’s fun to imagine going back to school for a do-over and having all of the knowledge adulthood brings…A+ student all the way!
        Great job.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was very realistic to me and the growing ambivalence was very effective. Nicely done.

  84. Foxwriter says:

    I wake this morning feeling incredibly refreshed–like some kind of reincarnation has taken place. I stretch my limbs and find them incredibly flexible. Clearly I’ve forgotten what a good night’s sleep feels like.

    As I go to reach for my smart phone to turn off the alarm, it’s gone. When I finally open my eyes, I almost scream out in horror. The cloth