Childhood Piece of Clothing

You’re rummaging through an old tub of clothes from your childhood that your parents had stored away in their attic. As you search you find one particular piece that you remember as your favorite. When you hold it in your hands, you’re magically transported back to the moment you got that piece of clothing (birthday present, shopping with a parent, purchased with your own money, etc.). Write about that moment and how you felt when you received it. (Can be nonfiction or fiction.)

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

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274 thoughts on “Childhood Piece of Clothing

  1. DrJayJo

    When Dominic reached his childhood home to help pack up his parent’s belongings night time had fallen. He turned his key into the door as he did many years before and walked into familiar smells and an aura of nostalgia. The faint smell of curry and cardamom filled his nostrils as he made his way to the attic. Taking in the space for the final time before the house was given to the next family, a feeling of sadness and wistfulness overcame him with each step. He began to think of various memories and lives that were lived in this house. Remembering running around the house chased by his little sister, playing endless hours of video games in the living room, having sleep overs with various friends, and the hours in his room blasting My Chemical Romance expressing teen angst. As he reached the end of the stairs to the door he suddenly remembered his old fears of ancient demons and monsters in the dark attic. Quickly brushing them away he went into through the door and started sorting out the various affects.
    About half an hour passed by when Dominic came upon a wooden chest. The vessel looked quite old-fashioned perhaps came with the house. There was an old rusted lock, and the wood was dark mahogany. He looked at this box as if it was a fixture of the house, meant to keep all the secrets of past residents and those to come. Swiftly, he opened the lock and was met with a cacophony of ancient smells and visions of his past. Rummaging through he saw old photo albums, lacey baby clothes, a Baptismal gown, and various cassette tapes of his childhood. Clear family treasures that were meant to be saved for future generations of the Lopez family to marvel at.
    As he went through the various articles he kept getting déjà vu as if everything he touched was distant memory happening all over again. Clearly digging through the sands of time to reach an ultimate memory from childhood. Continuing through various memorabilia he came across a strangely pristine white tuxedo. Unable to place when he once wore this glistening tuxedo he quickly picked it up. Then as if falling into a dream Dominic was transported 15 years ago when he was in the 5th grade.
    He knew exactly where he was although it has been years since he’s returned. The same green paint of the auditorium still lingered, and full with a silent crowd. A small stage for various school plays and recitals at the far end of the wall stood bright. The lights were on waiting for the play to commence. And then a second later he came out, the 11-year-old Dominic donned with the same shimmering white tuxedo. Full of innocence and wonder he came out nervous but ready and began the play.
    “Christmas Comes to Hamlet,” younger Dominic said loud and confident so the whole room heard. Older Dominic watched filled with nostalgia and happiness to remember this moment. His mother was here, he remembered second row eyes glued onto stage as the play progressed.
    Adult Dominic watched from the outside and as quickly as the play began it ended. The lights turned off and the crowd erupted in applause, following the audiences lead Dominic applauded. The audience quickly got up and parents suddenly went to offspring. However, your eyes quickly fixated on your mother. She got up ready to see her son filled with emotion your eyes began to water. For some reason she looked at you and smiled her angelic smile. And as a tear rushed down your cheek you suddenly returned to the source of your journey the attic.
    Realizing your return, you quickly went through all your albums looking for the specific picture from that day. And without fail you found it, you in that tuxedo and your mother taking time off work to come see her son play the toymaker of Hamlet.
    “I miss you mom,” Dominic says with a slight crack in his voice and with that a gust of wind pounds through the window. Not cold, just comforting air to show him that he’s not alone, he was never alone. He always had her memory and that would be enough.

  2. idiaz

    The old photographs were scattered across the wooden floor of my parents’ living room. Decades of memories escaped their plastic box jail cells and wafted up into our memories as we gently handle each picture trying to mentally place ourselves in the time and place they captured. Lost in thought, I hardly hear my mother’s slippers flop across the floor as she comes up behind and places a delicate hand on my shoulder. Startled, I jump and turn to look at her red rimmed eyes.

    “Do you remember this? It was from your grandfather.” She whispers as she hands me a ratted brown object. As I reach for it I remember the tattered brown fur before I even touch him. Wrinkles I called this stuffed dog because he was covered in wrinkles including his large wrinkly eyebrows that hide his dark brown marble eyes. His black nose was rubbed raw.

    My eyes twinkle as I pull him towards me into a hug. The sounds around me fade and turn to hushed, urgent whispers and loud beeps. My eyes fly open and I am no longer in my parents’ living room but instead am standing in a hospital hallway with fluorescent lights running along the ceiling and white/green tiles glossy beneath my feet. In front of me is a large window with several people blocking my view of what is inside; all of them looking somewhat familiar.

    I creep slowly towards them with a feeling of déjà vu. As I stretch out my hand the tallest man quickly turns around and I jump back as I see a much younger version of my grandfather look towards me. In his hands he holds my brand new Wrinkles. My longing to touch him is mingled with my confusion of how he could be here but he quickly walks past me and up to a nurse in green scrubs.

    “I give this to my granddaughter?” he pleads in broken English.

    Her face softens at the look in his eyes and she nods briskly reaching out for the stuffed dog. He gingerly hands it to her as she whispers “We will have to put it through the disinfecting process before being able to put it in her incubator but I will make sure it gets to her.” She smiles up at his kind face.

    “Thank you” he mumbles as he walks back to the window and places his large arms around 2 small women. They are both crying into his chest as I draw closer to them my heart catches in my chest. I know who they were. The young face of my mother looks up into her father’s face. It was full of worry and hope.

    “Will she be ok?” She questions him in Spanish. My throat catches as I see my beloved grandmother, looking much healthier than before she passed, look up at him full of expectation.

    My grandfather smiles “She is my granddaughter. She is like me. We are fighters. She is strong and will get through this.” He replies confidently. A familiar man with jet black hair that was no longer graying at the temples, as I last remembered, came up behind my mother and took her in his arms.

    “Oh Eddie” she cried. “I’m so worried about her.”

    “She will be fine” my father replies. I couldn’t wait any longer. I needed to see what was behind the glass. I walk up to the window and peer inside. Several incubators line up in front of me, most empty except for two. A door to my right opens and the nurse in green scrubs steps in walking towards one of the incubators. She approaches the clear box and opens it gently placing Wrinkles next to a tiny figure inside. My parents and grandmother step away whispering to one another. My grandfather stands solemnly watching the figure begin to cry and move around. The nurse picks up the crying baby soothes it and places it back down. As it begins to coo and move around I gasp recognizing my baby self.

    As I gasp I feel my grandfather suddenly turn towards me squinting hard in my direction. It was like he could see me! I reach my hand out towards him as he reaches his hand towards me. When our hands connect a jolt runs through my body and we jump in unison. Tears run down my face as his eyes light up in recognition. I can’t speak as he affectionately looks at me his eyes filled with love.

    “You’re ok.” He whispers as I nod stunned. “You will do great things I can see it, I can feel it. Even after I’m gone, my Negrita, don’t give up. I know you will do great things. You are strong and I am so proud of you and I love you.” I felt the room shake and knew the connection was breaking. I could feel my hand slipping from his.

    “I love you Papa. You are the best grandfather ever.” I cry out to him as the sound of crashing waves fill my ears and the room blackens the last thing I see is his smiling face full of pride and love. I awake, finding myself lying on the wood floor. My mother and father hover above me their faces full of worry as they help me sit up.

    “Are you ok?” My mother’s worried voice calls out to me. “You just blacked out!”

    As I sit up and look around I find that I still have a tight grip on Wrinkles. Comfort floods me as I remember the memory (or was it a dream?) I just awoke from.

    “Yes” I respond smiling. “Yes. I am going to be just fine.”

  3. Donna

    “Look, Sis, here is the jacket to that little red and white polka dotted dress Mom made for me when I was in first grade. It was a feed sack, one she bought flour in at the mill. Do you remember it?”
    “I do”, said Sister Sue, smiling slightly, and looking up from the box of photos on her lap. “The dress wore out and the good parts became the center of each piece of that flower garden quilt she made when we lived on the old Haney place. Do you remember?”
    “Yep, I remember”, I answered smiling too. Those were the days, weren’t they?”
    For a long moment we stood quietly, minds drifting back to the log house, wood cook stove, fireplace, pine trees and mountains where Mom, Dad, Sister Sue and I once lived in sweet harmony with one another and the world that surrounded us. We grew our own food, made our own clothes, fished and swam to our hearts content in the rushing blue waters of the Piney river that, in her excitement to reach civilzation, thundered behind our house, on down the mountain and over the hill. She was filled with wanderlust and discontent, that river, but we had no such impediments. Peace and serenity was right here, in this place, at this time, where we two little girls were the center of the universe. We wanted for nothing more.
    But that was in the carefree days of our youth before the accident that took our Daddy to Heaven, left the three of us alone, to wander like strangers through a house that seemed completely empty no matter how many people were inside. I spent long hours sitting on a stump down the lane where I could see the highway and catch a glimpse of the occasional car as a neighbor made his way to or from town. I thought somehow he would come home, that he really had just “gone” somewhere and would, one day, be back. I would see his car first on the highway, then watch as it turned down the lane. He would stop when he got to my stump. “Wanna ride, Red”? He would laugh, like always. I would jump inside as quick as I could, so I could feel him just to make sure he was real.
    “Red”, Sister Sue’s pensive voice jerked me back to reality. “Let’s just keep these thingss for a while longer.”
    “Yes,Sis, let’s.”

  4. Donna

    “Look, Sis, here is the jacket to that little red and white polka dotted dress Mom made for me when I was in first grade. It was a feed sack, one she bought flour in at the mill. Do you remember it?”

    “I do”, said Sister Sue, smiling slightly, and looking up from the box of photos on her lap. “The dress wore out and the good parts became the center of each piece of that flower garden quilt she made when we lived on the old Haney place. Do you remember?”

    “Yep, I remember”, I answered smiling too. Those were the days, weren’t they?”

    For a long moment we stood quietly, minds drifting back to the log house, wood cook stove, fireplace, pine trees and mountains where Mom, Dad, Sister Sue and I once lived in sweet harmony with one another and the world that surrounded us. We grew our own food, made our own clothes, fished and swam to our hearts content in the rushing blue waters of the Piney river that, in her excitement to reach civilzation, thundered behind our house, on down the mountain and over the hill. She was filled with wanderlust and discontent, that river, but we had no such impediments. Peace and serenity was right here, in this place, at this time, where we two little girls were the center of the universe. We wanted for nothing more.

    But that was in the carefree days of our youth before the accident that took our Daddy to Heaven, left the three of us alone, to wander like strangers through a house that seemed completely empty no matter how many people were inside. I spent long hours sitting on a stump down the lane where I could see the highway and catch a glimpse of the occasional car as a neighbor made his way to or from town. I thought somehow he would come home, that he really had just “gone” somewhere and would, one day, be back. I would see his car first on the highway, then watch as it turned down the lane. He would stop when he got to my stump. “Wanna ride, Red”? He would laugh, like always. I would jump inside as quick as I could, so I could feel him just to make sure he was real.

    “Red”, Sister Sue’s pensive voice jerked me back to reality. “Let’s just keep these thingss for a while longer.”

    “Yes,Sis, let’s.”

  5. Craig the Editor

    Play Ball!

    In the Spring of 1967 I was nine years old and our family had recently moved to a new town in Illinois. My father had gotten a better job so I was forced to say good bye to old friends and old familiar ways and go with them. To be perfectly honest I did not adjust to change well. I still don’t.

    I was at that socially awkward stage of life, which after fifty plus years I’m still waiting to pass, and my social circle was rather small. So in an attempt to enlarge it my parents signed me up for Little League because at that stage in life “professional baseball player” seemed like a viable career choice.

    My first baseball uniform was for the Adams Insurance Agency and we were the Cardinals and I was in heaven. The St. Louis Cardinals were my favorite team and they looked to do very well that season. Obviously the Adams Insurance Agency Cardinals were a farm club for the St. Louis Cardinals or so I thought at the time.

    I use the term “uniform” in the broadest sense of the word. It consisted a red cotton t-shirt with the name Adams Insurance Agency Cardinals emblazoned on the front and a red baseball cap. Everyone wore jeans and tennis shoes to complete the look. I was very happy with it and wore it proudly. I signaled a new era in my life, star athelete. Or at least that was the hope.

    After a few afternoons of practice we were ready for our first real game. It was to be against the Peoria Glasswork Pirates on a Friday evening.

    I was nervous, scared and excited all at the same time. While my father was not one of those loud mouthed blowhards that often fill the stands at Little League games I knew that he wanted me to do well. I did not come from a family of athletes so this was new territory for them. I hoped to do well and make them proud.

    As game time rolled around my mother drove me down to the ball field near my grade school. She explained that my father would join us a little later when he got off work.

    It was a perfect spring afternoon for baseball. Not too hot, muggy or windy. The outfield grass was a dark green thanks to the recent rains. All was in readiness for the game to begin. I was put in the short stop position to start the game. My father had yet to appear. No matter. There were eight more innings to go.

    I made my first plate appearance and promptly struck out. Cooperstown seemed further away. I was embarrassed and glad that my father wasn’t there. But where was he? I knew that he had been working a lot but I was positive that he would come for my first game.

    About the fourth inning and another uneventful plate appearance a black and white police car rolled into the parking lot. At the time I didn’t give it much thought.

    Then I saw the officer being directed over to where my mother was sitting. At that point I knew the news was not good. Everything around me took on a surreal feeling. Like everything was in slow motion. Like a bad dream. I watched my mother stand and then collapse with an anguished cry. The umpire stopped the game and I was called off the field. I don’t recall what happened to the other players.

    My father had been killed by a drunk driver on his way to my first game. He was hit broadside by a pickup truck doing over sixty. He was driving his pride and joy, a little green MG. He never stood a chance.

    I honestly don’t recall if they continued the game or not. For me baseball ended that evening. While the adults told me not to blame myself, naturally I did. If it hadn’t been for my baseball game he wouldn’t have been at that intersection. He would still be alive. It is a terrible burden for a nine year old.

  6. Cynthia Page

    The Scents of Seven

    With Dad gone for over a year, it’s time to clean out the house and donate or sell everything we don’t want. But it’s so hard to let go. It’s not a matter of possessiveness. Nor is it a matter of usefulness. Everything I touch has vivid pictures, or sounds that come at me like pile drivers, out of cloth, and steel, out of wood and brass and paper. They rise up and fill the space around me, holographic, almost touchable. The smells associated with these things have faded, but they return, one by one, or en mass, ghosts of the past that invade and take over. I’m haunted by these things, possessed by all the consequential, trivial stuff Dad saved for eighty three years.

    Some things here in the attic I’ve never seen before. Many have imagined videography embedded within their significance. I found a photo of the USS Maryland, the WWII battleship on which Dad was stationed during WWII, and where he was injured during the Battle of Saipan when a torpedo blew a hole in the port bow. I see smoke and fire, men tossed about, and the South Pacific sea pouring in. I smell gunpowder and coppery blood. I hear screams and moans of pain, strident orders shouted over the noise of gushing water, and pleas for help.

    Some things I know and remember, like my math papers from fifth grade. They bring back laughter from sneering classmates, and stern looks of scorn from a stout teacher in a flower print dress as large as the beach tent we used when we went fishing on the coast. Why Dad would save a math paper with an F on it, I have no idea. If he saved the story about a young girl who wanted a pony that I wrote the same year, I haven’t found it, but all my fifth grade math papers are here, neatly stacked away with moth balls and roach powder in the corners.

    A box on top of my brother’s school books is light and small. I open it, put a hand in, and velvety polka dots on crisp organza brings tears to my eyes before I’ve even seen what I touched. I remember it so well that can I feel stiff velvet cutting into my waist again, and itchy lollipop sleeves and neck seams. As I pull it out, ever so carefully, its pristine condition surprises me. The dress has a dark red velvet skirt that bells outward from a tightly pleated waistband, and a double layered, sheer, white organza bodice flocked with black velvet polka dots, and a red velvet baby-doll collar

    It was Dad’s gift to me for my seventh birthday party, the first, and only real, planned, birthday party my family gave for me. I wore it once, for about three hours, for a birthday party where nobody from my second grade class showed up. To quiet my nose-dripping whimpers, Dad told me to change into sturdy pants, and he took my brothers and I to a place where little children were given rides on ponies around a small circuit that resembled a miniature race course. I was almost too big for the ponies.

    I smell dung, and sweat, and leather. I smell horses. I see a dark dirt track, and sad, overworked sweaty Shetland ponies. I feel coarse horse hair, strong muscles, and long silky mane for the first time, again. I’m disappointed only a little by an ambling walk around the track behind an old man in a dirty cowboy shirt, jeans, and muddy, pointy-toed boots, who holds the lead line all the way around the spot-lighted track. Then I’m jolted in surprise by a second circuit at a slow trot. I taste copper from my teeth clamping down on the tip of my tongue half way around. I begged for another ride the pony was too tired to give. When the cowboy said it was closing time, I saw the weariness in that poor pony’s eyes, so I stopped begging and told Dad never mind.

    I still smell Dad’s Old Spice cologne, and feel his scratchy cheek against mine from when I hugged his neck before bed that night.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is magical imagery, sense of smell and touch you’ve written here. Talk about writing your heart, this is simply magnificent!

    2. Reaper

      This is gorgeous Cynthia. Full of so much true emotion that I can’t tell if it is real or fiction. If I had to guess I would believe it was a real memory though, and a wonderful one at that.

      1. Cynthia Page

        Thank you so much. The dress he gave me and the pony riding scene are real, although from different dates. My parents divorced when I was four, so that last sentence is fiction. I can’t recall him putting me to bed. I’m glad you all could feel it as tangibly as I.

      1. Cynthia Page

        Children’s lives revolve around their senses, so I wanted readers to be immersed in this moment. Did you ever have a beautiful dress that chaffed your skin? You can’t bear to wear it, but you can’t bear to take it off either. First pony ride? — unforgettable — no matter the girl’s age.

  7. JRSimmang

    THE GREAT SOCIETY

    It’s not that I wanted to go through the attic, but it was customary, expected, and we were obligated to do so under Penal Code 56.01.32: All surviving family members must, upon death of one, remove all belongings from assigned housing (per Code 133.62 s88) and distribute to Repository Center 001 via Sector Repository Centers. Mother just died. I called her Mother. Technically, she was Surrogate #229.

    I secretly hated the attic, though it would be unlawful to say so. It was nearly illegal to think it. So, as I stared from the top of the stairs to the back of the attic where the ventilation fans were dispersing the heat of the summer outside, I pushed the emotions that burbled up from inside me aside.

    “TAKE YOUR TIME, CITIZEN. I’M HERE FOR YOU IF YOU NEED ANYTHING,” droned the Police Unit at the bottom of the stairs.

    “Thanks,” I muttered.

    It locked itself into facing me, and I felt uncomfortable, so I took the final steps two at a time until I was completely in the oppressive, claustrophyllic heat.

    The first two boxes were easy to bring down: government issued IDs, paperwork that we’re required to keep for 15 years or until death, school work and such tchotchkes. The Police Unit kept his unwavering, red, irregularly blinking gaze fixed upon my progress.

    More boxes, more stares.

    I worked until Mandated Lunch Break. Standard Rations.

    I stared down the final three boxes in the corner. “Heretical Persecution Documentation,” “Miscellaneous Penal Logistics,” and, scrawled in her handwriting in an ancient ink, one that had been banned for public consumption over 100 years ago, “Memories.”

    Memories had been debated almost a thousand years ago, and it was agreed upon by the Supreme Courts of the time to limit access to memories, in particular the memories deemed too oppressive and inflammatory. I didn’t want to open the box. I didn’t want to look inside.

    I didn’t want to move aside pictures of me and Mother to find odd pieces of plastic shaped like men and women. I didn’t want to see shiny pieces of metal that contained greying faces with smiles plastered on them. I didn’t want to feel myself lose control of my body as I was compelled backward onto my tailbone, trembling.

    “ARE YOU IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE, CITIZEN?” I could hear the tinny, rattling voice of the drone.

    “I, uh,” breathless, “no… I’m fine. Fine.” But, I was dizzy. Clutched in my hand was a shirt, soft cotton.

    I felt it pulling at the darkest corners of my mind; it was almost painful. It, like the attic surrounding me, was hazy and I was drifting in it.

    “Like this, honey.” Her arms were outstretched to either side, like she was trying to fly but her feet were sewn to the earth. Then, she spun, her gracious hair twirling around her.

    “But, I’m scared,” I remember saying.

    “There’s nothing to be scared of, young one.” She smiled. “It’s called dancing, and you can do it whenever we’re here and you’re in your dancing shirt.”

    Months. Months was all we had left, then the government drones found us. I slept, and when I awoke, I was with Surrogate #844. She did not dance.

    The shirt bit back into focus as I became aware of the Police Unit’s footfalls on the stairs. I stood up, threw the shirt back into the box, and slammed the lid shut as its head crested the attic.

    “CITIZEN, YOU HAVE TWENTY MINUTES REMAINING. MAY I ASSIST YOU?”

    I stood upright and turned to face it. “That one.” I pointed to the box of memories. “You can take that one.”

    “YOUR EYES, CITIZEN. YOU HAVE BEEN CRYING. UNDER CODE SS44.381 I AM REQUIRED TO TAKE YOU IN FOR QUESTIONING.”

    I knew. Memories were dangerous. As the drone put his hand up to my collar, I slid back into the circles Mother and I created, the night sky above us, and the way the grass felt when we fell onto it, cold and comforting.

    -JR Simmang

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is riveting story, JR. A future of bleakness, control and little emotion, one of the scariest pieces of witing my eyes have fallen upon. This is a breathless trip into terror. Great job here.

    2. Reaper

      This is wonderful. The way it pairs with the one below it is great, you two could write opposite sides of this hellish future. This also reads like it could be the prequel to Equilibrium which is the highest praise I can think to give it. Everything Kerry said about this rings true for me.

    3. cosi van tutte

      Wow! This was an amazing story. Like Reaper said, it feels like a companion story for Stephen’s story below.

      And, just so you know, I really like the word “claustrophyllic”. It’s so unexpected.

    4. JRSimmang

      I appreciate all the feedback, folks. I’ve been busy this last month with Robert Brewer’s Poem-a-Day challenge, and I feel guilty neglecting this wonderful place. But, it’s over, I’ve got a chapbook, and now I can work on another love of mine: the short story.

      This one’s going to need work…

  8. Stephen S

    “Given”
    My mother stood and said nothing as I took a storage bin off the shelf. The two men stood behind us, watched in silence. After placing the bin on the ground, I bent down and opened it, on top was just a few board games, they where questionable but not on the ban list. I pulled the games out and set them aside, below them where items that would send my mother to the reeducation camp for sure.

    Booklets of anti-D.H.S. leaflets and capitalist propaganda posters laid helter skelter inside the bin. I recognized them as my father’s work, that was before he was arrested and shot for treason. I took them out and set them to the side in a growing pile. On the bottom was the uniform my father had given to me when I had turned twelve. My mother saw this and started to cry softly, behind me. On the front of the uniform was the insignia of the resistance; they had been almost wiped out by the time I had reached fifteen.

    I picked up the uniform and I was suddenly twelve again. My dad and I sat on tailgate of his truck, it was early morning still. He held a box in his hand and handed it to me wordlessly. I knew what it was, he had told mom and me, that one day I would be apart of the change that was coming.

    I opened the box, inside was the uniform and a SF19 hand gun. I hopped off the tailgate and took out the SF19, ejected its clip and cleared the chamber; after it was clear I placed it on the tailgate and striped off my clothing to put the uniform on. My father watched me in silence.

    Once the uniform was on, I picked up the SF19, slammed in the clip and chambered a round. I holstered the gun and stood before my father at attention. Smiling, he leaned forward, straightened my collar and said, “Son, today you’re a part of something bigger than me and your mother and you. Your choices will be yours and the repercussions of your choices will be yours to own. Like the king and the beggar we all have our choice to do or die. “

    I let the uniform fall back in to the bin and instantly I was back in the attic with my mother and the men.
    “Men, place her under arrest,” I said.

    “Yes sir,” they answered; she made no sound as they step forward and place handcuffs on her.

    I stood up and turned to her, she wasn’t crying anymore. Looking in to her eyes I said, “You are under arrest for the position of enemy propaganda. How do you plead?” She instantly spat in to my face, I nodded to the men and wiped off the spit. The men led her outside, by her arms. I was boxing up the items when I heard her scream and a single gunshot.

    1. Reaper

      Other than a couple of things like apart instead of a part this flowed so smoothly. I didn’t expect that ending and found myself wanting to leap through page and strangle your MC both for the betrayal of family and freedom. This is a wonderfully told story of a truth that we see far too often in many forms and intensities. Nicely done.

    2. Stephen S

      Thank you for the comments, I have been hit and miss on the prompts lately, do to writing a new novel. But like any addiction I start going through withdraws if I don’t post on the prompts when I can. Thank you all again.

  9. Amaria

    I thought I give this prompt a try:

    Michael had left three days ago. Although I knew it was inevitable it still felt strange. The house felt empty. The children stayed in their rooms absorbed by video games. I supposed it was their coping mechanism.

    As for me, I was in the attic packing away boxes of mementos that were too painful to look at now. As I sat the box down, I tripped over another box sitting in the corner. It was a box given to me by my sister after our parents died. I had never thought about looking through the contents. Their sudden deaths were too painful. However, something in this moment compelled me to do so.

    I opened the box and rummaged through the dust and old smelling fabrics. Then I saw it – a pink sweater. I pulled it out, marveled on how it was still in excellent condition and began to remember the day I received it.

    It was for my eleventh birthday, which that year fell the day before Easter. My parents had a small party for me with cake and ice cream. When it came time to open presents, my mom handed me a pink wrapped box. I opened it and saw the pink sweater that I had been asking for. The material was soft against my skin. I could not wait to wear it with my Easter pink and white dress.

    The next day we went to a new church for Easter Sunday. My parents had recently left our old church and decided to give this one a new try. It felt strange being there since I didn’t know anyone, but the service was all the same to me. Afterwards I stood outside on the lawn while my parents spoke to the minister. I saw a group of children and stared at them until one of the boys turned my way. I felt guilty for staring, but the boy had the most beautiful eyes I ever saw. Unlike so many other boys who looked through me – I was a nerd – this one looked me right in the eye and smiled. I nervously smiled back. He then walked up to me and introduced himself.

    “Hi my name is Michael”, he said. I responded, “Hi. My name is Gabrielle.”

    Of course, I did not know at the time that I had just met my future husband. No one thinks of those things at eleven. But at that moment I knew we would become friends. Years later Michael told me it was the pink sweater that caught his eye. Funny how easier things were then. We still had our youth and innocence. It was before love, marriage, careers, and kids came into the process. I wondered how my life would have been different if I had never met Michael. Would the four bedroom house with a pool and yard still exist, or would I have become one of those independent women living the jet setting life? I could only guess. For the rest of the afternoon I sat in the attic, holding the pink sweater against my chest, wishing to go back to that time.

    1. Reaper

      There is a lot of power here Amaria. I liked it. My two suggestions are to separate the speech from each person onto separate lines. Also I would say eliminate the of course in the last paragraph because unless it is on a very obvious point that one phrase can make your MC sound unsympathetic and arrogant because of course you know this but I’m telling you anyway is how it can read. Those are small things through and this was a beautifully sad story.

  10. madeindetroit

    Sorry about the additional words. Thanks to my father for this one..

    LAST CHANCE

    Dave Wilson was in a daze when he slid the key into the lock and pushed open the door to his mother’s house. After five weeks, it was still difficult for him to believe she was gone. It’s not like her death was a complete surprise. At eighty-eight, she was frail and suffered from diabetes. It was just a matter of time he convinced himself.

    “Ugh…Smells like a tomb in here-”

    Dave turned and glared at his wife Maggie, her hand clasped over her nose and mouth. “Don’t be a smart ass” he demanded.

    “Ohhhh, dad. Mom’s right. It stinks in here,” complained eleven-year-old Kelsey.

    Dave flashed his daughter a smile. “You’re right, princess. It is ripe in here. We’ll open a window.”

    “You’re such an asshole,” Maggie said.

    Through his teeth Dave said, “Don’t have to talk like that in front of Kelsey.”

    Maggie shrugged as she walked toward the kitchen. “Whatever.”

    Dave cradled his daughter’s cheeks in his hands. “Why don’t you check out the spare bedroom? Your grandmother would want you to have those old board games you and her spent so much time playing.”

    Tears welled in the corners of her eyes. “I’m going to miss playing Monopoly with grandma. She always let me win.”

    When Dave walked in the kitchen Maggie sat at the oak table staring out into backyard. Her eyes floated slowly from the window to her husband. Tear tracks streaked her cheeks. “Your nightmare can finally end now that your mother’s not going to be around to see the destruction.”

    He glanced down at the speckled linoleum floor. “This marriage has been over for a while.”

    “You’re a stubborn and selfish jerk-”

    “I thought we were past with this.”

    “We should try to make it work for Kelsey’s sake,” Maggie pleaded, her voice shuddered as her eyes narrowed.

    “Dammit…as a last resort, let’s try counseling-”

    “There’s a few things in the attic I need to get.”

    * * *

    Under the faint light of a single bulb, Dave found the dusty box on the top of a wobbly metal shelf. He removed a tattered photo album and opened the cover. He ran his fingers across a faded photograph of a handsome young man in the crisp, dress-blue uniform of the United States Marines. His father. Korea. 1952.

    With dust burning his nose and eyes, he tucked the album under his arm and turned to leave. A box scrawled with black marker caught his attention. DAVE’S STUFF. “What the heck could this be?” he mumbled. He left nothing behind when he moved out after college.

    Dave pulled the box off the shelf and set it on the floor. A child’s snowsuit, mittens, scarf, and a pair rubber boots. He smiled. He peered inside the box and couldn’t believe what he saw.

    A pair of ice skates. His first pair of hockey skates.

    C.C.M Junior Tacks. Kangaroo Uppers. State-of-the-Art. The best hockey skates money could buy an eleven-year-old kid in 1968.

    His hands trembled as held the skates to the light. The steel blades had dulled but his memory about the day he got those skates remained razor sharp. As the room started to spin, Dave sat down on a dusty steamer trunk to catch his breath.

    Late August 1968
    .
    Denny McLain won thirty-one games and the Detroit Tigers had won the World Series. MLK and RFK both assassinated. Hey Jude blared on the radio and the Olympics in Mexico. Something about a black fist in the air? A war raged in the Vietnamese jungle. Student protests. Solders coming home in boxes. The Apollo space program. For Little Davey Wilson, his life was perfect. Lazy summer days filled with Matchbox cars, Spiderman comics, mowing lawns, swimming, and baseball.

    And his father.

    He coached the baseball team. Put the pool in their tiny yard, and drove the Dodge station wagon packed with kids and sleeping bags to the drive-in theater every weekend. When his father arrived home from the plant that day, Davey could see the excitement in his eyes. The drive to the hardware store was a blur. His father smelled of exhaust smoke and axle grease; sweat trickled down his forehead. When Davey slipped that skate on his foot, it fit like a slipper.

    Six years later, Davey Wilson led his high school hockey team to the state championship. A first-team All-state selection, he won a full-ride to a Division 1 college and was a three-time All-American. His father, a decorated Korean War Marine wasn’t there to see his son’s accomplishments. The heart attack when Davey was thirteen….

    “Dave? Are you okay?” He felt a hand on his shoulder and warm air in his ear.

    “What?” Dave opened his eyes.

    Maggie stepped into dim light. “We’ve been downstairs for over an hour. What’s going up here?”

    “Are you okay, daddy?” Kelsey asked, wrapping her arm around his neck. “Neat skates. Were they yours?”

    Dave hugged his daughter and squeezed tight. He looked at Maggie, his eyes blurred with tears. “I’ll go, he whispered. “I’ll go.”

    Maggie’s eyes softened and her lips quivered. He could see from her reaction, Maggie understood.

    “Go where, Daddy?” Kelsey asked, a bewildered look in her eyes.

    “Nowhere, sweetie,” he said squeezing her tighter. “Your father is not going anywhere.”

    1. Reaper

      Wow, what a powerful story of memory and correlation. I’m sure there might be some errors in here but I was so deep in the story I didn’t notice any of them. Well done.

  11. cosi van tutte

    This may be way off prompt, considering that the item is not a childhood article, but I couldn’t help myself. 😀

    It’s a hat. Just an ordinary top hat. It’s old and dusty and the brim is busted.

    But it is dear to me. I put it on my head and it is like a crown.

    And, in my mind, I see her. A young woman in a full length gown and a veil upon her head. She looks at me. Joy is in her eyes and love fills my heart. She makes a promise to me and I repeat the promise to her.

    I love her.

    I slide a ring, bright with new diamonds, on her finger. She slides a golden band on mine.

    She is mine and I am hers.

    And I kiss her. Gentle and pure.

    And so our life began.

    I take off the hat and put it back in its box.

    I sit for a moment, quiet with reverie. Then, I pull the gold necklace out from under my t-shirt’s collar.

    A ring hangs down in the middle of the chain. The band is old, but the diamonds still shine bright.

    I will always love her.

  12. Hash_tag5

    Sorry about the length and any grammatical or errors. 🙂

    The cowboy boots, the corduroy trousers, denim overalls, a little white dress and another one with red polka dots, all were stuffed inside the large brown box in the attic. It even had my name on it. It was kind of hard to find the exact piece of clothing I was looking for. Eventually I found it at the bottom of the box. THE green t-shirt. It’s just a plain green t-shirt, really. But to me it was the most marvellous and cool thing ever. That does say a lot about my childhood doesn’t it? The easily pleased and ever so happy me refused to part with my green t-shirt. I could pair it with anything and I mean absolutely ANYTHING and still look good. Or so said my best friend but later we found out she was colour blind. But you get it, right? It was my protection from everything negative around me. When I used to put it on, I felt indestructible. No bullies, no Fs on report cards, no fighting parents could bring me down when I had my little green t-shirt on. A few years ago I thought it had something to do with the energy of the colours. Maybe green was my colour. So I went and bought a green blouse and wore it next day to work but guess what? Turns out it was just my green t-shirt that did the trick. It was miraculous.

    So you can understand how happy I was to finally hold it and touch it again. Greatest feeling ever! My mother peeked through the door and gave me a fond look and for a fraction of a second, I thought I saw a deep sadness in her eyes. As she walked away, I followed her down the stairs with the t-shirt still clutched in my hand. I walked into the living room and froze on the spot. You wouldn’t believe this, but I know what I saw. My parents from when they were young. And that’s not all. Our living room transformed into the image that I had of it in my mind from when I was a child. No flat screen TV or the electric fireplace that we have now. I could even see the grandfather clock that was my father’s prized possession. For a moment I thought I was dreaming. So I did what I thought was the best thing to do at that time. I walked into the kitchen wordlessly and started boiling water for a cup of tea. Like that would’ve worked. Even the kitchen wasn’t the same for god’s sake and what worried me the most was that I took it really well. I wasn’t scared. I was just…confused. There I was wondering what the hell just happened when suddenly I heard a shriek. Bolting out the kitchen door to see what was going on and I saw my parent hugging a little girl. And the little girl was laughing and shrieking with joy. The little girl was me. ME! I was hugging my parents back and kept on saying ‘Thank you!’ a thousand times. The fondness, the love they looked at me with left me breathless. The little girl or should I say me? Well, the little ME bounded up the stairs and in my hand was my little green t-shirt. Funny how I forgot that it was still a bit well-worn when I got it. As soon as the little girl (me) was out of my parent’s sight, my father turned to my mother,

    “Was it a good idea Joelyn? To give her Jasper’s t-shirt?”

    “She loves it. Always asks me whom does it belong to from the day we brought her home. I’m sure it’s fine.”

    “Yes but…Jasper used to wear it. He loved it as well.”

    “Now she will wear it. Richard, you have to understand. Harriet is our child now. I am a mother. I gave birth to Jasper and believe me when I say that I lost a part of me when…when he…”

    “Jo. It’s okay. I understand. Please….”

    “Jasper will always be a part of us. A part of me. But Hari is too a part of our lives now. We are not replacing Jasper with her. That can never happen. But she is our child now too. Not a replacement.”

    “I am sorry. I never doubted your love for them. I love her too. And now that you say it, I think she should have a part of Jasper. She is his sister now.”

    I have known about Jasper all along. Don’t really remember how but I remember asking my mother about him. For a moment I thought back then that she would not tell me about him and would avoid the topic altogether. But I was wrong. She not only told me everything about him but pulled out his pictures from the safe where she keeps all the family albums and her jewellery. And here I was, in my past, listening to my parents talk about us. Don’t know how I ever thought I hated my parents during my teenage years. The truth is that I love them. I will do absolutely anything for them. And I love Jasper even if I never met him. Never talked to him. He will always be a part of me.

    I turned around to leave the living room and head upstairs as I could feel everything fading away and going back to normal. I looked up and saw myself. The little girl sat on top of the stairway with the green t-shirt in her hand. She looked at me for a while and put her index finger on her lips and gave me a secret smile. Then, it all faded.

    I told you my green t-shirt was miraculous!

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hey, hashtag!

      This is a wonderful story. I love her reaction -> “For a moment I thought I was dreaming. So I did what I thought was the best thing to do at that time. I walked into the kitchen wordlessly and started boiling water for a cup of tea.” When in doubt of your surroundings, just make a cup of tea. 😆

      My Internal Editor’s only complaint is the parents’ conversation. It’s a necessary part for the rest of the story, but it feels like they’re being too obvious. Kind of like they know she’s eavesdropping so they’re saying what they think she needs to hear. It just doesn’t feel like a natural conversation. Otherwise, my Internal Editor is happy. 🙂

      1. Hash_tag5

        Hey Cosi!

        When I need to convince myself about something I REALLY talk about it. Hearing myself say it makes it better. I wanted that for them too. Unsure and yet sure about adopting a child. And if you see the mother talks about her not being Jasper’s replacement and she used it twice, maybe Hari was a replacement after all but wanted to convince herself and her husband otherwise? 😀 Am glad you liked it. 🙂 And that cup of tea part was a bit of me that I added. 😉

    2. Reaper

      This was wonderful and heartfelt hashtag, anything I might have suggested was covered by your intro. I think what cosi was hitting at was the parent’s conversation sounded a little bit stilted. However! I have to apologize for that word because it is correct but it is not an insult. with the conversation they were having it should have sounded a little forced as they were dancing around both their own emotions and the expected reactions of their partner. So it flowed for me at least.

      1. Hash_tag5

        Hi Reaper,

        Thanks a mill! And I completely understand where cosi is coming from. 😀 I was kind of on the fence about adding that conversation because in my mind it played out like that. And like Cosi pointed out it did seem a bit stilted. But then I decided to add it anyway thinking that it might be a good way to show their apprehension. I really appreciate any feedback I get on these prompts. Helps me with better structuring of my stories ! 🙂

  13. regisundertow

    The Land Rover pulled into the beach’s empty parking lot and came to a slow stop as the sun begun his slow dive into the ocean.
    Sol killed the engine and sat motionless for several minutes, taking in the sky as it turned golden and violet and crimson.

    Having made his way to the edge of the water, Sol inspected the 5 miles of secluded beach stretching in front of him. Sand dunes rose 30 feet up and blocked the view to the coastal road, giving him a sense of isolation. The waves broke some distance away from the shore and rolled gently at his feet, their fury spent. Flocks of seagulls were settling for the night on the twin seastacks out in the horizon. No one used the beach this late in the year and Sol saw with satisfaction that it was all his. He wanted to be isolated for what was to come.

    He walked backwards here and there, admiring how his footsteps became the only trace of humanity for as far as he could see. He lifted the collar of his frayed and worn-out beige jacket to protect himself from the elements. The biting westerly wind filled his nostrils with the decay of seaweeds and iodine. His duffel bag bit into his shoulder, but he paid it no notice. He felt like the last man on Earth and that filled him with an almost religious sense of profoundness.

    He finally found a shielded spot at the base of a dune. He dumped his bag on the ground and started digging a small pit. In there went a pile of dry beachgrass, followed by twigs and small branches. Finally, three logs came out of the bag, which he formed into a teepee. In no time, his bonfire was blazing.

    Several logs later, Sol played “spot the constellation” in the night sky, a habit from when he was a scout. There was Ursus, big and small. Orion’s belt. Gemini. He signed and decided he had postponed the moment already for too long. He produced a cell phone from his jacket. A press of a button and a number was speed-dialled.

    “This is Diana, you know what to do”.
    He hung up and silently counted to twenty. His phone rung.

    With trembling hands, he brought the phone to his ear and listened to the slow breathing on the other end for several heartbeats. He closed his eyes and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up.

    “Sol?”, a familiar woman’s voice answered finally.
    “Hello?”
    “Sol? It’s me.”
    “I’m here. I’m…I’m so glad to hear you”, a nervous smile appeared on Sol’s lips.

    A sigh of relief from the other end.

    “Sol…how are you?” Diana sounded concerned.
    “I’m…I’m not really sure how to answer that. Better. Worse”, Sol wrapped his free arm around himself. “The doctors tell me I’m doing better. It feels like I’m doing better. Certain things have gotten harder, though. But I’ll manage, same as always”.
    “Sol…This is it. Our plan. Are you ready to do this?”
    “Honest, Di? I don’t want to. I know this is the reasonable thing to do-”
    “It’s the only reasonable thing to do”.

    Silence hung between them, the wind and the waves and the crackling of the fire suddenly far far away.

    “Sol, sweetheart…You can’t call me anymore. You have a family that needs you”.
    “I know”.
    “And a bright future ahead of you”.
    “I know”.
    “You need to let me go”.
    Silence.
    “I know”.
    “Then, what is the problem?”

    Sol felt a knot in his throat and fought back tears he didn’t think he had anymore.

    “I have nothing left of my other half, Di. Not even a body to bury. Just this one thing”, he said as he touched the baby sock in his pocket.
    “Then, there’s just this one thing to hold you back”.

    Sol didn’t have to say anything. He just nodded.

    “It’s time. Goodbye, Sol”.
    The line went dead.

    Sol sat motionless for a long moment. Then, slowly, deliberately, he reached into his duffel bag.
    He assembled the sky lantern he had brought with him and attached a small string to its bottom. He brought the worn out baby sock out of his pocket, took a long last look at it, and tied it to the other end.

    The sky lantern rose slowly over the fire. A gust of wind caught it and pulled it away over the sea. Sol followed it with his eyes until it became one with Gemini.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I liked your story, Regis. There are so many unanswered question. I undestand the relationship between Sol and Di, or at least I thing I do. The build of tension through your story was smooth and relentless, good job on that. Do you anticipate a continuation?

        1. regisundertow

          Thank you Kerry, your comments mean a lot to me. There’s a few clues peppered throughout concerning the relationship between Sol and Di, including their names. I’ve always loved stories that didn’t spell out things, I hope I didn’t go overboard here.

          As for a continuation…I’m not sure how I could continue the story. Sol is free. Maybe a “prequel”.

    1. Reaper

      I like stories that leave a decent amount of questions and this does that well. Though I would like a little more information on the new family to round it out because I have a few too many questions on the sock though the ending kind of helps me with that. My main question is, with the beginning, are you actually telling the story of the gods or people that share their path, and I like that one a lot. This is some wonderful and intense writing. There are some word choices and orders that made for mild chop but didn’t pull me out of the story, because the story was that good.

      1. regisundertow

        Thank your Reaper, truly appreciated. Concerning the question you have, to what extent are myths an attempt at organizing archetypes? In my mind, at least, Sol and Diana are very aware of this comparison and used to play it up themselves while Diana was still alive.
        Can you please provide an example of word choice and order that I could have done better, for my own improvement’s sake?

        1. Reaper

          Sure regisundertow, let me find one of each here real quick. The first line you use the word begun where began seems a better fit, it’s little things like that on word choice. As for the order I can’t find the specific line I was thinking of but this will show a bit of what I mean about order. The waves broke some distance away from the shore and rolled gently at his feet, their fury spent. The line is fine but the order throws me, my mind says something like. The waves broke some distance from the shore, their fury spent they rolled gently at his feet. I wish I could find the specific line because that’s one that didn’t really need a change honestly.

  14. ReathaThomasOakley

    The Girl Returns

    “Girl, you listenin’ to me?” Mama was yellin’. I don’t like when Mama yells.

    “I been listenin’ to Granny. Don’t she sound like when the hired man saws up wood for the stove?” Granny was sleepin’ over in her chair. “That’s why folks say, sawin’ logs, ain’t it, Mama?”

    “Girl, don’t do this no more. You gotta listen. Yore Granny tried to tell you, but you kept on talkin’ foolishness. Yore talk ‘bout wore her out.”

    “Mama, looky there. Snuff drool’s comin’ outta Granny’s mouth. Want me to get a rag?”

    “Girl,” Mama got real quiet like, “you ain’t six, yore sixteen. There’s things you gotta know, ‘fore you get to be a woman, ’bout why yore daddy’s in Raiford Prison, ’bout the gift you got.”

    “Oh, Mama, don’t you cry. I’ll listen, I just don’t want to hold on to that there book I found under the porch. I’m sorry I looked, but Granny tole me to.”

    “Girl, you gotta see all the names. You gotta trace out yore name, my name, yore granny’s, and her granny’s, all them women way, way back. Here, Girl, take the book.”

    “Yes, mam.” The book was cold, but burned like when I grabbed a pot off the stove.

    “Now look here. Yore name got a star by it, so does yore Granny’s, but mine ain’t. That star’s put there when extra teeth come in. I didn’t get no star, I ain’t got the gift. Them other women and girls got the gift.”

    “Mama, I don’t want the gift. I want it back like ‘fore you put me on the town bus. I want to see good haints, I want to play with my pop-it-beads, and read the funny papers. I want to know ‘bout my daddy.”

    “It’s in the book, Girl. It’s ‘bout our family, ‘bout how the women take care of things, how we find daddies for our babies, but they gotta move on.”

    “But, Mama, why’s my daddy in Raiford Penitentiary? Why’d he confess to killin’ my grandpa, why’d he say it was for love of you?”

    “Girl, my daddy wouldn’t move on. He wanted my mama to use her gifts for evil ways. Yore daddy and me got married and you was comin’, I couldn’t let my daddy be the ruination of the family, so one day I got his rifle down from the wall and shot my own daddy dead.”

    “Mama, that was real bad what you done, that’s Bible, Mama, that’s Bible.” Mama was makin’ me cry. I don’t like to cry.

    “I know, Girl, I know,” Mama took to cryin’ hard. “But, I had to do it for the family.”

    “Myrtis,” Granny musta woke up we was cryin’ so hard, “you gotta tell her the rest.”

    “I know,” Mama blew her nose. “Girl, you know them red haints what scare you so bad? Them’s yore grandpa and other grandpas our women had to kill. They’s out there, you gotta take care of ‘em, for the family.”

    500 words, not counting this sentence and title.

    (After some weeks away I thought I would change the prompt a bit to try to bring closure to the Girl and her family. I’ve been visiting each week, and I must say some great writing is being posted here. I’ll be reading when I can. Congratulations to lionetravail on being published. That’s so exciting. I was pleased to get an honorable mention in the WD Popular Fiction Competition, Thriller Category. Keep writing, everyone!)

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you. I realize something happened on my way to closing this story as I intended when I saw the prompt. The play was great, thank you for asking, Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor with a cast of 17. Now we are getting ready to leave for Wyoming for the summer.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Yay! Another “The Girl” story! 😀

      Just so you know, I love the explanation for the red “haints”. I hope you keep going with this story, because I want to know what happens next. 🙂

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you for your always positive comments on everyone’s stories. They are much appreciated. I was trying to tie up as many loose ends as possible, but failed. This prompt was just too perfect to ignore, well, if I ignored parts of the prompt! Thanks again.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I enjoy the dialogue so much, I’m deep into your characters now, you can’t let the story die here. If you can’t continue each, I’ll wait.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you very much, started this story in January, added two relatives along the way, missed some weeks, keep thinking about the Girl.

    2. Dennis

      I have enjoyed the ride and will keep enjoying if you choose to more about this interesting story. It is definitely book worthy. Congratulations on the honorable mention.

  15. Kerry Charlton

    MY FLYING SCARF

    The year had been traumatic from losing both my parents. I had hesitated to visit the old Victorian beach house I had spent childhood summers at in Avalon, a barrier island off the coast of New Jersey. Twelve steps I tread up to the screened porch filled with turn of the century wicker. Inside our cottage was shotgun style, center hall dividing all rooms. Back steps, narrow in design, led to a forgotten attic I used to play ’Imagination’ in.

    I didn’t remember how narrow and steep the attic stairs felt, of course not, I last visited my imagine room many years into my past. I rummaged through forgotten toys, my tricycle I rode when I was three, a fishing rod I used to catch sea bass from an old turn-style bridge crossing the bay to Avalon..

    Coming across an old wash tub, childhood clothes were neatly folded in piles. I wondered if my scarf was still in there? Mother knitted it for me on my eleventh birthday. It would be the last year we would summer on the island.

    With a hushed voice, she told me,

    “Kerry, it contains magic. Wrap it around your neck, close your eyes, it will carry you wherever you wish.”

    “Really Mother?”

    “Yes, but let it be our secret.”

    “Okay, can I try it now?”

    “Wait ‘til you’re alone. Remember you have to believe.”

    Tears welled on my face as I recalled the time. The old scarf looked moth-eaten but I placed it around my neck again. “I believe,” I said and closed my eyes. Ground fell beneath me, I soared the sky and felt eleven again. Ahead of my vision, soared the time wall to the ‘Land Of Was‘. One hundred feet tall, black clouds emitted and boiled from the surface.

    . I flew higher over Avalon, I could see all of Seven Mile Island as I passed over the dark wall and back in time again. On the horizon , a clipper ship sailed, all thirty sails set to the wind as well as triple jibs. As I flew closer, ‘Flying Cloud, Boston, 1851’ appeared on the stern. I descended to the deck and walked to the first mate,

    “I am assigned to you sir.”

    “You’re just a boy, how old are ye?”

    “Old enough to climb the main sir.”

    “That be the spirit lad, let’s see what you’re made of.”

    “How tall sir?“

    “142 feet above deck, are ye sure lad?“

    “Time me sir”

    Scarf firmly in place, I scampered the rigging to the main and climbed hand over
    hand to the very top. At 142 feet, the mast swung gently in the stiff breeze as I looked at the tiny figure of the mate and cupped my ear.

    “Forty eight seconds lad, that ’s quite a feat for a boy.”

    “Thank you sir, can I stay awhile?”

    “Stay as long as you want. When you come down, we’ll discuss your duties.”

    After a few minutes surveying the horizon, I stepped off the top and flew high above the ship, I headed back to the time wall.

    ‘Thanks, Mother, I’ll never forget to believe.’

    .

    1. Reaper

      The beginning was a bit rough for me, which is strange from you on a story like this. Just a few hads and woulds that I would change out but not really necessary. Then you settle into this gorgeous voice that is just so you and so beautiful. This line says it for me, I last visited my imagine room many years into my past. How many of us say that as adults when we should be imagining and working towards those dreams our entire lives? The rest of the story was sweet and wonderful but that line, and the last line tell a powerful story even on their own.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reaper, I got hit by ‘hads’ and ‘woulds’ fever yesterday when I wrote this and posted it right away. When I read it today after your comment, I wanted to throw up with the first part. Thanks for pointing it out. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I have so many memories of my summers at Avalon, I could write an entire memoir book size.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank for the read, Reatha. I’m happy you enjoyed it. There was a children’s book I read while very young only they were flying shoes thet went over a time wall into a fantasy world.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Thank you madeindetroit. I try to wrtie stories that don’t cause nightmares unless Reaper challenges me to. I appreciate your kind thoughts and am glad you stopped by

    2. Dennis

      Very nice story Kerry. A child’s imagination is so powerful and so many let go of it. I’m trying my hardest not to. You should write that memoir. It would be something worth reading.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Dennis, I have pondered the idea of a novel-sized memoir just on my childhood at Avalon. Three months every summer until I was eleven, them we moved to Miami because of my Father’s assignment there. Wish we had held onto the cottage that Dad sold for eight thousand in 1947. The average cost of homes in Avalon today is $775,000.00. Oh well, the memories are worth far more to me.

  16. Dana Cariola

    It had been nearly 10 years before I had to courage to open that cedar chest from the lake house, after Eric died. My brother and I had made a pact not to open it until we were both married. Our children were to inherit it’s contents. Our hopes were, that the joy and wonder that these ordinary items brought us, would fill them with the magical feeling, my brother and I received from just having found them. Only, it didn’t happen the way he and I had carefully planned, so many years ago.

    Eric had died the night before. He was killed by a drunk driver on his way home from a business trip. He was survived by his wife, Laura and daughter, Sarah. They were going to meet me at the lake house, after he’d gotten home. And, together we were going to finally open the chest, and present Sarah with it contents. I never had children. I was unable too. Locked securely inside of the chest, were small treasures that had washed ashore, after each Summer storm. When the morning sun had finally rose, Eric and I would quietly dress, and sneak out of the cabin, to see what the tide has brought us. The morning air was filled with the scent of the surrounding pine trees, that had been violently shaken by the thunderstorm’s rumbling, causing it’s roots, deep beneath the forest floor to tighten their hold on the mighty sentinels, that stood watch over our lake house, and us.

    After the funeral, Laura and Sarah paid me a visit in Mom’s lake house. We had a quiet dinner together that evening, then retired to the back porch on the swing. Laura read, “Good Night Moon” to Sarah, as she drifted off to that magical place, only children were allowed to enter. We talked about her plans for their future, as we both put on a brave face. The lonely call from a loon, echoed across the dark waters of the lake, and a silence pause interrupted our conversation. I watched as Laura stroked her daughter’s silky blonde curls away from her face, and tenderly placed them behind her ears.
    “Eric and I, had such fond memories of this place growing-up” I said to her.
    “Yes, he told me.” Laura said, smiling back at me.
    “He wrote about this place in one of his children’s book. Sarah loved it, when he read it to her.” Laura said softly, looking down at her young daughter, who was fast asleep in her lap.
    A feeling of sadness ached inside of me when I glanced towards the slumbering child, who was now without her father, and Laura, without my brother.
    “Let’s open that box in the morning. I’d almost forgotten what’s inside, it’s been so long.” I nervously replied.
    Laura nodded. Then, carefully stood up, with her daughter in her arms and took her inside, into the safety of the lake house.

    The living room filled with a golden hue, as the sun’s rays gleamed through the glass windows, and quickly raised the temperature in the lake house. The sound of little feet scampering across the cold planks, just above the couch where I laid, alerted me to my niece’s awakening. I snapped the flannel blanket off of me, and headed towards the kitchen. The sound of the hot water pipes, knocking inside of the walls, as little Sarah turned them on, brought back memories, from when I was her age. How I hated going into that cold bathroom! I would turn on the hot water in the shower, just to warm it up. Dad would shower before I woke up, just so he’d have enough hot water to bathe.

    After clearing up the breakfast dishes, we decided to seat ourselves, directly in front of that cedar chest, and finally reveal it contents. Laura reached inside of her pocket and placed a tiny key inside of her daughter’s hand. The little turned the key, the tumblers released one by one, and the latch popped open. She giggled, then turned towards her mother.
    “Well, Go on. Open it.” she encouraged her.
    The tiny child placed her small hands on the wooden lid, and slowly opened it.
    “Oh my goodness!” she cried out. As she gazed inside of the box, filled with wonder and surprise.
    “Mommy! Look at this” she said, in a tiny voice. In her hand was a knitted scarf. “Eric found it, stuck in the branches of the Evergreen’s that stood watch, outside the cabin” I said to Laura. She wrapped it around her little neck, and continued on with her search. Each time, the child revealed what she’d found, inside the chest to her mother, I was grateful for my neice’s enthusiasm for such ordinary things, her father and I once loved.

    1. Reaper

      There was some rough wording at the start. Too many hads and such. Other than that. This is lovely, a nice emotional journey and I loved the daughter and her wonder at the simple things.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        What is so surprising to me is, we both wrote about scarves in our prompts. I never read any before posting my story and I’m right above you. I agree with Reaper, there is a lot of feeling of regret despite there being no mis-doings.

    2. Dennis

      Great descriptive writing. You captured a variety of feelings, from the sorrow of loss, to the wonderment of a child’s imagination. Nicely done.

  17. Observer Tim

    MY FIRST SUIT

    After lots of effort and a full bottle of solvent all four bolts are out. I pocket the hardware and pull the gate open. The freshly-oiled hinges don’t squeak. Dad would be so pleased if he hadn’t spent over six years keeping me out of this storage cage. This has to be where the evidence is stored.

    Or is it? Over the years I’ve been starting to doubt myself. Maybe Aunt Aggie really did do something wrong that week I stayed with her. Maybe she is in jail and I just can’t find the records of it. But if so, why didn’t the police ever come to talk to me about it?

    The box I’m looking for is dusty and covered in tape, grease and dust. Hastily written on the side is “lawn mower parts”. The parts for the lawn mower are in the garden shed, not here in the basement.

    I slide the box out and take a box knife to the tape, quietly as I can. I don’t want to alert the conspirators. I’m almost sixteen now, I have a right to the truth.

    I pull open the flaps; there’s a knapsack in there, the Winx Club one my parents said had been stolen. I put it aside because what’s under it is what matters. I lift it out and hold it up; my space suit, tailored for a nine-year old girl.

    It’s a little shell suit with black accordion joints at the hips, shoulders, elbows and knees. There’s a bubble helmet, a bedazzled galaxy on the front, and clips on the back for the air tanks and thruster packs. There’s little boots with magnetic soles and little gloves and even a tool belt of my very own. And yes, it’s brilliant rose pink.

    I can almost hear Aunt Aggie’s voice, “You need that if you’re going to come to outer space with me, Suzy.”

    And I did. We spent a week careening around the solar system, visiting the Martian deserts, facing down claim jumpers in the Asteroid Belt, surfing the rings of Saturn and even visiting dark distant Sedna so we could trade with the Outsiders.

    And then I remember the Argument. Mom called Aunt Aggie irresponsible and foolish for taking me to space. They forbid her to ever come near any of us ever again and that’s when the lies started. I hadn’t been to space; that was just crap Aggie had put in my head so she could molest me. And there were the therapists and the drugs and nobody, not even my friends, would believe me.

    I carefully put the suit back in the box and close it up as best I can. Once the bolts are back in place on the cage I sneak up to my room with the pack. Inside, among the souvenirs, is what I need. I pull out the ethercom.

    “Suzy Q calling Space Captain Aggie. Come get me off this rock!”

    The response is faint, “Roger, SQ, ETA three days.”

    1. Nicki EagerReader

      Sci-Fi fever! I’m really enjoying your alien/space romp, even if I don’t manage to comment on every part. Please keep it up!

    2. Reaper

      This was so nice, and had me thinking much darker things. I like where you went with this. In a strange way it reminds me of some classic scifi I read in school and that give me a warm feeling. Nicely done.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This is one of your best Tim, it is so believable and written with your special soft touch. It is begging for a sequel and another one after that.

    3. Dennis

      I love this. Concise and just enough to get the point across. And I love the ending. It has the feel of a child’s imagination, which is wide and expansive.

      1. madeindetroit

        Loved the Sci-Fi take on this prompt, Tim. Makes me wish I had a space suit!
        Great first paragraph. Couldn’t wait to find out what the evidence could be.
        Awesome!.

  18. Roan

    Boy, this looks like a fun one but I am going to pass. It’s time to revisit my manuscript which has been sitting for 6 months after two revisions.

    It’s been whispering to me and yesterday it screamed. “Kill Your Darlings!”

    “More?” I said. “You can’t be serious.”

    “Yes, please hurry. I need the weight lifted off of me.”

    So, I want to thank those of you who have commented on my stories and showered me with suggestions: Reaper, Observer Tim, Lionetravail, Cosi Van Tutte, JM Somebody, Dennis, Nicki EagerReader, Kerry Charlton. I am forever grateful to you, and look forward to applying your suggestions in my writing.

    And, thank you, to everyone else for showing up with your stories. What a fantastic creative group of writers.

    Reaper, I know I’m going to hear you in my head telling me to pay attention to, is it present or past tense?

    Oh yeah … and Tim … I am forever damaged. I will never be able to eat bacon without you coming to mind.

    Signing off,
    ROAN

    1. Nicki EagerReader

      Go for it, Roan! I hope you’ll sign on again once you’re through with editing (and editing, and editing, and editing…)

      1. Roan

        Thank you Nicki. I just got the results back from the WLT Manuscript Contest. I’ve been struggling with is it one or two books. The feedback was great and so helpful. It’s definitely 2, which is OK because originally I had 200,000 words. Cut it down to 150,000. Planned on cutting another 30,000. So now I’ve got a lot of content to play with in the restructuring process etc.

    2. Reaper

      Roan, there is a part of me that wants to tease you about not doing both but I have recently been trimming down the projects I’m working on and finding it wonderful to have more time to focus on each one. Good luck, don’t stay gone forever and make sure to let us know when it is out. Haha! I hear people from this site saying the same thing to me, so just know when you hear me saying that to you I am likely cursing myself for not paying enough attention to it too.

      1. Roan

        Thank you Reaper. Always good advise. There is an ebb and flow to everything, so I encourage you to follow your heart. Again thank you for all you helpful comments.

    3. Dennis

      Best wishes on your writing project. I am getting ready to embark on one myself and hope to still be able to do the prompts. Enjoyed reading your stories and hope to see you back in the future.

      1. Roan

        Thank you Dennis. Have a wonderful journey with your writing project. I would love to land here again. I expect I will pop in every now and then, when I have a need to feel kindred spirits. I’ll be the fly on the wall.

  19. jhowe

    The psychiatrist’s office on the west wing of the Treble Hills State Hospital for the Criminally Insane was a sparsely decorated functional room with thin oak veneer paneling, worn outdated carpeting and a stained suspended ceiling. Cedric Plum sat on the edge of a sofa with a floral print he wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy’s great aunt.

    “Mr. Plum,” said a demure woman, one Dr. Marsha VanHook, “The clothing came from your sister?”

    “That would be my best guess,” Cedric said staring out the large ground floor picture window. The west wing was on the free side of the facility. The tall razor wired fence and guard towers were not visible from this vantage point.

    “And why is that Mr. Plum?”

    “Because she’s the only one left.”

    “And this clothing that arrived in the cardboard box,” she said, glancing at her yellow legal pad. “Came from your late parent’s estate?”

    “Again, that’s my best guess.”

    “You don’t recognize the clothing then?”

    “No,” he said noticing the rotting wooden window frame overlooking a small parking lot. He noted the door on the left side of his peripheral vision and assumed an armed guard stood in the hall.

    “What about the purple scarf you’re wearing? Did that come from your parent’s home?”

    “No.”

    “Then where did you get it?” The psychiatrist noted that Cedric Plum rarely told the truth.

    “I found it.”

    “You found it?”

    “Yes.”

    “Were you wearing the scarf when you killed your parents Mr. Plum?” Dr. VanHook did not look up from her notes.

    “I told you already,” Cedric said with no emotion.

    “Yes, your alibi,” the woman peered over her dollar store reading glasses. “You claim you were in hell at the time.”

    “That’s right.”

    “As in Hades?”

    “It has many connotations.”

    “Yes it does.” She rose from her desk and walked toward the window. “Tell me Mr. Plum. Since you’ve already essentially gotten away with murder…. Do you have any regrets?”

    “Yes,” Cedric said shifting his feet. “Just one.” He bounded off the sofa and dove into Dr. VanHook, hurtling them both through the picture widow which gave way in a shower of exploding glass. He landed on the psychiatrist and heard something crack beneath him. The woman moaned and he heard shouting from the broken window as he sprinted across the parking lot toward a distant tree line. He heard more shouting and then gunfire, expecting at any time to be gunned down but he was un-hit and he made it to the trees as a siren sounded.

    Cedric ran steadily through the woods until the siren was no longer heard. He came to a clearing with a small house where a woman held a crying baby in one arm and unloaded a grocery sack from the trunk of a Malibu. Cedric ran up to her and snatched the infant from her arms. The woman screamed and Cedric said, “Where are the keys?”

    “Here, take them,” she held them out in a shaking hand. “Give me my baby! Please.”

    Cedric thrust the baby to her and grabbed the keys. Soon he was on a paved road with little to no traffic heading west. After a few miles, he came to a small town and he pulled into a grocery store parking lot. In a matter of minutes, he had stolen another car and continued to drive west. After an hour, he relaxed and was able to think clearly. ‘Dear Sister,’ he thought to himself. ‘My one regret…. The last one left.’

    1. Nicki EagerReader

      An exciting twist, jhowe. You worked in some very nice details (I especially enjoyed the floral pattern and the dollar store reading glasses). My only suggestion would be to trim the turning point, i.e.

      “Do you have any regrets?”
      Cedric shifted his feet.
      “Just one.” And he bounded off the sofa etc.

      But that’s just me- I liked narration imploding into a word, a moment around which an entire story pivots and swings. The way you did it also worked.

      Thanks for sharing!

    2. Reaper

      That is a disturbing story jhowe, I have to admit I think and hope the sister is setting him up and knowing what will be triggered here. The poor doctor is a casualty I feel bad for but I’m rooting for his one regret.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A lot of powerful writing here jhowe. Your flow of story is excellent and show, not tell writing describing the MC’s insanity trip is que on.

    3. Pete

      The first line pulled me in and I thought, this is going to be good. I love how you sprinkled in the descriptions of the facility. Great story and great writing!

    4. Dennis

      Wow. This was quite the take on the prompt. It pretty much tells you all you need to know in a short space, except maybe how it ends, but I like that it was left nebulous.

  20. gamingtheblues

    I took a little liberty with what item I used but be that as it May:

    My mother is one of the most complicated people I have ever known.   My most…unique personality traits can be traced directly back to her influence.  I received from her my opposite extremisms (whereby every action and reaction I have tends to lay at one end of the spectrum or the other.  I do not do middle ground.)  At various points she has been colder than imaginable, and at others, the only person I feel I can talk to and get some sort of modicum of rationality.  (Though the chilliness is always there, biting at the surface) 

                    One of her more endearing traits though, is her almost obsessive saving of different keepsakes from the family’s various stages of life.  There are dozens of boxes lining the basement and garage.  They are fragments of life and love, sorrow and sadness; each box that nondescript aged cardboard brown, black letters that chronicle a small American legacy. 

                    In the movies the air would be dry and silent, but this is New England and the air is earthy, moist, and I can hear a lone cricket somewhere in the darkness of the half finished basement.   The thin dust clumps around my fingers as I trail the tips across the boxes, cloying.  I stop randomly and kneel on the dirt floor, chunks of cement left over from when the foundation was laid almost a century before digging into my knees. 

    I open the box in front of me.  I would like to say that it smells of the past, sweet candles, precious memories, candy, pine and cologne.   But realty is rarely so clean and all I can smell is sour mustiness; old clothes, mothballs, dust, mildew, something hidden and sweet, the real smells of time and age.   

                    It’s under a jumble of clothes and curtains. The former creams and yellowing whites, the latter a deep blood wine red, all lace and silk.  It sits cradled in a warm pocket, sleeping still.  My first kitten.

                    The gray little kitten is curled up with its tail tucked alongside its little legs.  His eyes are closed tightly, his small nose cold and pink still.  I reach out my hand.  I feel my eyes welling up with tears that I force away.  I pick him up.  I forgot how stiff and hard he is and cradle him in my lap, fingers gently stroking along his beautiful cold lines. 

    The porcelain has been expertly weathered to resemble fur, with roughing of the edges for tactile aesthetic.   The kitten had been crafted in sleep, eyes tightly shut, a look of relaxed contentment on his little face.  My aunt had had a porcelain shop in her basement, and my mother was a frequent visitor.   

    I’m six years old again, and begging for a kitten.  I was lonely and sad and pudgy.  A little boy with no friends who was bullied in school, with no close family to play with, I am sitting in my room surrounded by my books and longing for a kitten. 

    My parents have never understood me, not really.  My father abandons all reason and family for friends, and my mother… the only emotions she shares are disappointment, anger, resignation or a strange sort of dutiful caring.  Her fun is when she and my father are with friends… then she laughs and plays.

    She brings me other pets to keep me company.  I little black puppy, a brown roaring Tyrannosaurus.  But my favorite…my best friend is my little grey sleeping kitten.  She brings him to me, as I sit reading in my room and hands him quietly to me.  I look up at her with pure gratitude, a real kitten just for me.  I carry him, awkward though it is (he is almost life size) everywhere I go in the house.  He sleeps on my pillow at night.  I kiss him before I drift to sleep with my cheek pressed against his cold sides, but…they turn warm as we cuddle in the dark.  I love him more than anything I can remember.   My first friend.  The only one who never asked anything of me but to take care of him. 

    I am back in the basement…the little grey kitten in my lap, the dust on his eye lids and back speckled with little drops that continue to fall in the quiet stillness of the New England night.

      1. gamingtheblues

        New is a relative term 🙂 I was quite prolific here about a year ago but life intruded. Reaper will remember as well as a few others. But I “am” new to you, so we’ll met!

        I truly appreciate your comments, and thank you. As Is my wont, I will comment on all the other stories as I read them, and look forward to yours.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hey, gaming!

      This is such a wonderfully descriptive story. I will admit a moment of panic when he pulled the kitten out of the box. I thought it was a real kitten that he had taxidermied or something. Then, I read on and I got it. 😀

      Just so you know, awesome last line. And I want to buy your MC a real kitten.

    2. Reaper

      GTB, where do I know that name from? I’m hoping your absence means you got the problems of life taken care of and if so send some of the luck my way. For a brief moment I actually wondered if you had donned a mask and taken up the name Jay but the two of you write so differently. Powerful stuff, a nice triumphant return.

    3. lionetravail

      Nice job with this, GTB, and welcome back 🙂

      I love how tactile things are, and the conclusion which completes the roundness of the story. It’s sweet, and I empathize, having fallen in love with the little cat hook on my grandmother’s kitchen wall- I used to talk to him during my visits to her house when I was a kid.

      If I may offer one constructive stylistic critique, more and more I get back feedback from editors who dislike the presence of explanation or exposition in favor of getting into the story. Not everyone feels that way, but from my foray so far, more seem to want to see minimal of it rather than moderate— and that goes quintuple for short stuff.

      In that vein, the first paragraph doesn’t compel me as much as everything that follows- the explanation is almost better included in your story as it’s happening, rather than by way of introduction, and I think it’s something worth experimenting with as you continue to write excellently.

  21. Dennis

    Legacy – w.c. 467

    Trevor meandered around in the attic of his parents’ farmhouse, an attic full of memories. He didn’t want to sort through any of the things when his father died, and now that his mother passed, he had no choice. For now he tried to avoid picture albums and stuck to boxes of toys and clothes.

    He opened one tub which contained clothes from when he was a boy. They seemed to have saved everything, he thought. From down near the bottom and neatly folded he pulled out a shirt that nearly brought tears to his eyes. “My first baseball jersey.” Trevor traced with his fingers the number six stitched on the back. He pulled it up to his nose. Besides the musty barn smell he swore he could detect the faint odor of grass and dirt, the way it always smelled after a game. The sensation was so powerful that he immediately became immersed in the memory of when it was given to him.

    “Ok son, here is your birthday present.” Trevor’s father handed him a medium box wrapped and with a nice bow, like they do at department stores. His mother looked on with a smile. Trevor began tearing at the paper.

    “Oh boy, I can’t wait to see what it is.”

    Trevor removed the rest of the wrapping paper and carefully lifted the box top. Pulling back the tissue paper, Trevor stopped with jaw dropped.

    “A baseball uniform?”

    “Yes son, we thought it was time,” said his father.

    “We know how hard you have practiced and have wanted to play,” said his mother. “We’ve been saving up for a while now.” She patted Trevor on the head.

    Trevor sat speechless, staring at the uniform. After a few moments he looked up at his father.

    “But with practice, I won’t be able to help on the farm as much.”

    “You’ll help when you can. Everyone needs to have dreams. Mine was this farm. For you, it’s baseball.”

    The memory faded with Trevor seeing his father beaming, as a father does for his child.

    Trevor sat on the attic floor wiping the tears from his eyes. That was the moment his dream became a reality. He hadn’t thought about his father in some time for it had been too painful. He died before Trevor made it into the major leagues. Shortly after his mother sold most of the farm land but kept the house. Trevor’s shining career made it so she didn’t have to work again and instead became his biggest fan.

    The memory brought much joy to Trevor that he decided it was time to remember his father, the man who helped him chase his dream. Now he would pass that legacy onto his boys, making sure they had the chance to pursue their own dreams.

    1. Reaper

      Nice take Dennis. If I were to offer one piece of advice it would be in the middle to eliminate the his before father and mother when they are talking. Immerse me completely in the MCs memory by just identifying father and mother. I love the continuation of the legacy at the end.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Cheers to you Dennis, such sensiiive writing you have here and the legacy ending is perfect for the story. One tiny suggestion, instill the idea in the Mc’s mind that even if he lived to see his son’s success, the MC might ponder his father knew anyway.

    2. lionetravail

      Beautiful story, Dennis. Deftly handled, a soft and sweet ride all the way through, and the MC learned something useful from confronting his pain. Nice!

  22. lionetravail

    Finally off call, projects on a deadline are advanced appropriately, should have a chance to get back to commenting and writing- hope everyone is doing well.

    On the plus side, the first anthology with one of my print stories in it has been published:

    http://www.lulu.com/shop/rogue-planet-press/warlords-of-the-asteroid-belt/paperback/product-22146315.html#ratingsReview

    I can’t swear for the whole anthology (having not seen it yet), but my contribution to it is ~6800 word sci fi story which appeared in a much more preliminary serial version back about a prompt near Christmas 2014… The anthology is about adventures in the asteroid belt- my story is Asteroid Christmas if you choose to check it out.

    (I am trying to not feel shame while shamelessly promoting the anthology. 🙂

    David

      1. lionetravail

        Ack! You’re in the hospital??

        Hope you enjoy the finished product, but I hope even more that it’s not serious, and that you’re well enough to get home soon.

        1. Observer Tim

          Unfortunately it is serious; a common but vigorous infection that is in my foot but also likes heart valves and pacemaker wires. The valves passed muster today, and the doctors hope they’ve otherwise caught it in time.

          If anyone finds themselves in calgary, Canada, in the next (hopefully) few days, feel free to stop by. Tim(othy) Smith, Room 3650.

          1. Roan

            Oh Tim I would visit, but I live in Texas. Guess I will have to put on my wings and do a fly by. Bless you and your heart. Look for me. I’m kinda small with purple wings. I can even slip trough a key hole.

    1. lionetravail

      Thank you so much everyone, for all the wonderful support! I truly appreciate it, and wish everyone luck as we all move forward, one big, happy, writing-fool cohort 🙂

  23. Pete

    The metal curtain rose and I stood facing my mother’s life, piled and crushed inside the acrid confines of a 50 sq. foot storage unit just off Brookshire Highway.

    It was ten am and already sweltering. The gnats greeted me as I begun the task of picking through her things. I welcomed the task and the solitude. The funeral was tomorrow, where’d there’d be a small army of aunts and uncles and cousins. We were so spread out now. Hard to believe it had been nearly ten years since my hometown came apart at the seams.

    I sifted through her things, old lamps, a bulky television, some threadbare blankets and the few warped photo albums that I’d come to retrieve. But then I found an old sun faded tub, stuffed with clothes. And just as soon as I lifted the lid I unearthed a time capsule of memories.

    The polo shirt.

    Our two bedroom home had stood directly in the path of hell’s ire. And when the water came it never stopped, bending and snapping the clapboard siding and sweeping it aside with the other ninth ward debris.

    I was eleven and Marcus was six. I can still feel the slime on my hands as we hung onto that pallet, our noses inches from the filthy muck that smelled of fish, raw sewage, death.

    We fled without a place to go, just out, into the canals that were our streets.

    It’s funny what sticks with you. I still see my mother’s armpits, stubbly and white, pulling with the strength of her grasp as she held us as against the current.

    A helicopter chopped overhead, recording it all.

    Later, when we were able to walk, we’d followed the others, dragging coolers and boxes down the street, some in canoes or kayaks, or even trolling in fishing boats. The stores were boarded up. Those that weren’t had smashed windows. Swarms of people came and went, walking out with bags or beer, some laughing while others wept.

    A truck pushed through the water, loaded to the axles with boxes of beer, music blared like it was just another parade. Mom pulled us closer.
    My shirt was ripped up the side. Marcus wore only shorts and was without shoes. He’d cried nearly the entire night, until his voice was horse and pitiful. I kept glancing back, through the destruction and chaos, wondering when we would ever go back home. Mom pulled me along.

    Two men handed out bottles of water. I took one and shared it with Marcus until it was empty. I thought about putting a note inside it and letting it float down the street.

    At The Fashion Fort a group of teenagers emerged from a smashed out window frame, their arms loaded with colorful shirts, hats, black and gold Saints jerseys. Two girls held an armload of shoe boxes, shouting and joking about their haul. Then they were gone, leaving us staring at the gaping hole where the glass had once been. I turned to Mom.

    She saw it. Two collared shirts lay on the jagged glass, like a gift from the storm. Just out of the murky water’s reach. I pulled away from Mom. She surrendered a nod.

    Up the street a camera crew set up cameras to film the carnage. I hurried along, swishing through the warm water towards the ransacked store where I picked up those two Ralph Lauren shirts and splashed my way back. I gave the smaller one to Marcus. He pulled it over his head. It was baggy and red, giving him a stylish look that was out of place amidst our hopeless surroundings.

    I ripped off my old shirt and put on the blue one. It was the nicest shirt I’d ever owned on the ugliest day of my life. And even though grandma said stealing was a sin, the storm had stolen so much more from me.

    Now, in the unit, I looked over the faded shirt. The collar held scars from the wash, and it was hard to believe that it had once been a shimmering treasure on such a gruesome day.

    I slammed the door shut, locked it, then wiped my eyes as the gnats returned like old friends. In the rental car the cool air filtered in through the vents. I set the albums and the shirt in the front seat, still reeling from the storm.

    I’m proud to say that I never stole anything again, and I wrote a full confession that was published in the The Times-Picayune, spurning me to go to school. And only a few short months ago I’d received my journalism degree.

    I think she’d be proud

    1. Reaper

      There is a lot of beautiful juxtaposition in this. An intense and enthralling story. There are a couple of places where the language becomes more clinical and loses some of the soulful poetry that is evident throughout. Even with that this is amazing and doesn’t need a change that I can see.

    2. lionetravail

      This is beautiful, Pete- nicely done. I found the story to have an almost hypnotic quality to it, and got lost in it, so great job with that.

      Only issue I saw was the use of ‘spurning’ in the second to last paragraph- probably a typo for spurring, but just wanted to help in case you polish the piece and submit somewhere.

  24. Reaper

    Part six, still going. Thank you all for reading this and commenting on it. I finally have a little reveal and some fan service.

    In the Beginning – Swaddling Clothes

    “What’s that?”

    Nicole’s voice shocked Chester revelry. The silken cloth slipped through his fingers, the golden emblem’s touch ended cool memories. He inhaled sharply, casting a look over his shoulder that implied she caught him in an act of masturbation rather than recollection. He gathered his calm to respond forlornly.

    “It’s that mantle your father put on me.”

    Nicole offered the first touch of mingled intimacy and caring he felt from her in weeks. Her body was firm and soft in all the right ways against him. He leaned back against her as she spoke into the cup of his ear.

    “You looked lost in it. What were you thinking of?”

    “I was thinking of that day.”

    “The last day you attended the church.”

    “My parents weren’t fond of the teachings after that day.”

    “I know.” He voice seethed then mellowed as she remembered she was bound to this man. “The girls are all tucked in. Tell me what you remember.”

    “I remember it being the only piece of clothing I ever truly chose for myself.” Tears choked Chester’s voice, real unguarded emotion for once. “I remember being so enthralled with your father. The adults were all terrified of him but the way he spoke to us kids was entrancing.

    “I thought it was wonderful. This prophecy of his, the world changing based on the actions of people of our generation. That’s what my parents hated. I don’t know why they sent me a tub with this in it. They must not have known it was still in the attic. I know they fled the church after that. My dad fumed all the way home about madness, and blasphemy and pyramid schemes. I never looked back to the church after that.”

    “Not them, never them,” Nicole whispered enticingly. “What did you feel.”

    “I remember the cool, smooth silk of blessed water flowing over me and pooling in that cloth, weighing me down into the pool. It pulled me into something deep, something important, something so much bigger than myself. Your father’s hands were rough of skin, gentle of touch and filled with love and compassion. Even then my soul screamed at the madness of his preaching but his voice was a gentle wave guiding me towards a better shore. I felt that and I felt…”

    “Felt what?”

    “Free, for the only time in my life I felt truly free and powerful.”

    “You can feel that way again.” Her fingers traced his shoulders in a way that made him shiver.

    “I should burn the rag.” He clutched at it.

    “No,” Her fingers slid over his hands, causing his grip to loosen. “We will need it for our children.”

    “Do we really want to bring them into this madness?”

    “We must, the world must have at least two children from us. One boy, and one girl…”

    “To lead the sides.” He whispered in lust and defeat.

    Nicole nodded. They both knew there was no time like the present. They slipped to the floor together.

    1. gamingtheblues

      Reaper reaper… you have come far in your writing skills. Excellent use of imagery and description. Pacing and tone were spot on. This read like the chapter of a book, not in that it’s the middle of a larger piece…though it is, but also in its confident writing and awareness of itself. Well done.

      My only criticism? The last two lines felt a little off or out of tone. And try to not add descriptors to dialogue..he could have just whispered and I would have felt the subtext of lust and/or defeat as long as the audience knows the character. The line about no time like the present is cliche and removes the power of the moment. Otherwise very nice.

      1. Reaper

        Oh gamingtheblues, how I have missed you. Thank you for the compliments. This is a bit easier because it is continuing. I still struggle a bit with the shorter works.

        I’ll have to take a look at that. I do like description in my wording sometimes but I see what you mean as well. Hmmm. Thanks for that. You’ve given me something to think about. I normally do the describing until the voice is fully developed now I have to look at that. I also admit I sometimes like cliches because the become that for a reason but I see your point there too. Though I was actually using it to make them a bit cliche, however it seems I may have fallen flat on that. Thank you for the comments they are very helpful.

    2. regisundertow

      Reaper, there is so much implied here and so many story currents under the surface, it’s almost frustrating 🙂 I think I’ll need to track down the previous parts.

      1. Reaper

        That will answer some of the implications but there are some I am still getting to. Working within the confines of the prompts may mean this takes a Stand sized book to complete this story. 🙂 Thanks!

        1. Kerry Charlton

          This is marvelous writing Reaper, so much emotion in so few words.I find no fault with using a cliche. If I were to change anything, I would drop the last word of your final sentence [ ‘They slipped to the floor.’ ” I remember the cool, smooth silk…….”] sentence is perfection.

          1. Reaper

            Thank you Kerry. I went back and looked and you’re right, that is a better line without the last word. Thank you for that and for the compliment on that line. I was proud of it.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      I went back to catch up, you’re doing a great job with continuity, which is challenging not being able to anticipate the prompts. Looking forward to the next episode.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you Reatha. Your continuing story inspired me to try this and it is difficult. I keep wanting to write other stories too but not finding the time as this is a challenge I set for myself. I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

    4. lionetravail

      Wow, the darkness here kinda snuck up on me, and brilliantly too. In context with the continuation, Nicole’s lustful gestures and looks, which seemed inappropriate and almost uncomfortable in this piece, totally work in the ‘overall’.

      On the critique side, ‘Nicole’s voice shocked Chester revelry’— I’m guessing ‘shocked Chester’s reverie’?

      Also, I found this paragraph a bit awkward in phrasing…. He inhaled sharply, casting a look over his shoulder that implied she caught him in an act of masturbation rather than recollection. He gathered his calm to respond forlornly.’…. not sure that implied is the best choice here, or the second sentence.

      It’s not as slick as the rest of the piece- ‘He inhaled sharply, and cast a guilty look over his shoulder more suggestive of being caught masturbating rather than reminiscing. He struggled for calm, letting the breath he’d taken slip out before he responded…’

      1. Reaper

        Thanks lionetravail. I was hoping they would, because I was wondering if she was coming off as too good for what I wanted from her. I’m glad they work here.

        You are right on both the word and the change of that line. I cut it down and couldn’t figure out the right way to make it work. It needs another edit and I think you nailed it. Thanks for the advice on that. I need an editor as good as you on all my writing. 🙂 Thanks again!

        1. lionetravail

          Sheesh, we all need a good editor, though I wouldn’t say it’s for ‘all your writing’- it’s just the ‘fresh eyes factor’ 🙂

          Meanwhile, will try to take the compliment- thanks.

          And, either way, it’s great story though.

          1. Reaper

            Oh I agree. Just realizing how wonderful and editor is recently and you do have a way with it. Thanks again.

    5. Dennis

      Reaper, I like where this is heading, although it is stretching my memory bank to keep the continuity 🙂
      Look forward to the next installment.

  25. cosi van tutte

    This may not be quite following the prompt, but ehh. Oh, well.

    Something calls me up to the attic. A thought? A memory? An overwhelming desire. I try to ignore it. I try to resist it. After all, I know that overwhelming desires lead to sorrow.

    But I follow it.

    Out of my room.

    Down the hall.

    Up the attic stairs.

    I follow it.

    I stop outside the attic door. I could leave. I could go back to my room and go back to bed.

    But I open the door.

    I could leave.

    But I enter the attic.

    Dust and dark. I turn on the light – a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling.

    Wooden beams and fluffy insulation. Brown and pink.

    I don’t know why I’m up here. I could go back to bed.

    Something calls to me in my head. Without sound. Without words. I walk around the attic, searching for what calls me.

    I only find wood beams and fluff insulation. Our family removed everything important and unimportant when Mom died and Dad became sick.

    So, why am I up here?

    So, what am I looking for?

    I could leave.

    But I find it.

    A wooden treasure chest decorated with carved parakeets and faded ribbons.

    I kneel before it and touch it. Carved birds. Dusty ribbons. Familiar feel. Many memories.

    I open it. Gently. Carefully. I don’t expect to see treasure in there. I know there isn’t treasure in there.

    But there is treasure in there.

    Not gold.

    Not jewels.

    But treasure all the same.

    It’s our clothes. My clothes and my two sisters’ clothes. Folded neatly, but blended out of order. My first ballet outfit sits on top of Jenny’s folded school uniform – the one with the ripped hem. They sit on top of Sara’s cheerleader uniform.

    And the layers run deep.

    And the layers are thick.

    I could take the chest downstairs. Out of the dust and into better, brighter light.

    But it would be like removing a casket.

    So, I stay put and so does the treasure chest.

    I find what I’ve been searching for.

    A royal blue velvet turtleneck shirt.

    It was Sara’s.

    It was Jenny’s.

    It would have been mine, but Jenny kept it too long. And I outgrew it too fast.

    It’s threadbare. Here. There. Elbows. Shoulders.

    I hold it close and close my eyes. We were best friends – my sisters and I. What happened? What went wrong?

    A hand strokes my hair. “It’s all right, Mary.” It’s Mom’s voice.

    I open my eyes.

    And she is there.

    And she smiles at me.

    I hug her as if I were a child. She feels so real. I wish she were real.

    “My darling girl. Don’t cry. I’ll buy you a new one.”

    “I didn’t want a new one. I wanted this one, because it was Sara’s and it was Jenny’s. And I wanted it to be mine.”

    “But you have each other. And that, my darling girl, is more important than any shirt.”

    I shake my head. “We don’t talk to each other anymore. I don’t know why.”

    “So, find them.”

    I release her. “Mom?”

    “Find your sisters, Mary.” Her eyes shine with tears. “Talk to them.” Her body transforms into something of sunlight and starlight and crystals. “Remember, my darling girl, life is short and death comes fast. Don’t let death find you still estranged from the ones you love. Promise me that you’ll find them.”

    “I promise.”

    “And you will make up with them.”

    “I promise.”

    “Promise me that you tell them that I love them.”

    My throat feels tight. It’s hard to speak, but I say, “I promise.”

    “And, my darling girl, my little Mary, I love you.” She disappears.

    The attic is so dark without her.

    Tears spill down my face. It’s hard to talk, but I say, “I love you too.”

          1. turtles88

            This is really deep, Cosi. The dialogue was so fantastic and so real. Loved it!

    1. gamingtheblues

      The cadence of your writing is special. You have some real talent for understanding the power in words. You create a compelling portrait of your character’s state of mind with the fixation on wood and repitition. I try to critique as well as praise, so your dialogue section could be a little more in sync with your protagonist’s inner observations of the environment. Not quite…”off” enough if you take my meaning.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, gaming!

        I appreciate both the praise and the critique. 😀 I read my story over again and I think I know what you mean by “off”. Normally, I would have waited a bit before posting it. You know, give it time to settle. Fix up this. Smooth out that. But I was kind of hyped up about finally having a day off this week. So, I skipped the preliminaries and posted it.

    2. Reaper

      Overwhelming desires lead to sorrow, that line sank into me and just defined this story. Love the message of hope never dying and just all of this. Very well done. I honestly have no suggestions on this, it felt right to me.

    3. Dennis

      Very poetic and nicely written. I can see what gaming said, it is really strong before the dialogue and just a little less after but still quite a story.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, Dennis!

        Like I told gaming, I posted it just a little too fast. If I had sat on it a little longer, I could have made the dialogue part a little stronger.

        Anyway! I’m glad you liked it otherwise. 🙂

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I thought upon reading, I was standing next to Mary thinking of my own daughters, all the truma each have experienced and when Leslie was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma, how they supported her. Your story touched my heart in so many ways, thank you.

  26. Trevor

    Word Count: 663

    Red Coat

    The memories came back to me as I walked up the rickety stairs to the attic. My Raggedy Ann doll lying on top of my handmade dollhouse. My stick horse leaned up in the corner. The plastic bin filled with Point Horror novels. All the fond memories played in my mind like home movies in my brain.

    That’s when I saw it. It was in the farthest corner, hung up on the old coat rack that used to sit in the front room. My old red wool coat. That aging piece of fabric was wrapped around me for two entire winters.

    That was when I was living on the streets.

    The first fifteen years of my life were a living Hell. My father ran off after I was born and my mother turned to booze and pills to cope with the heartache. There were several nights when she would come home drunk. I remember those nightly beatings. “You’re the reason your father left us! I should’ve aborted you, you stupid bitch!” She’d screamed as she’d slap me in the face.

    Finally, after years of abuse and neglect, I escaped. One night, while my mother was passed out on the couch, I packed up a small backpack with food and clothing and left my abusive mother behind.

    I hitched a ride into the next town over and tried to start over, but I found it was more difficult than I realized. I had no money, so I couldn’t afford food or a place to live. I ended up sleeping on park benches and scourging for food in trash cans. When the winter came, it got even worse because I only brought one thin jacket, and it did little to deter the cold.

    It was a cold morning and a thin sheet of snow was coming down. I was sitting in a small diner, just desperate to evade the freezing outdoors. As I sat in the booth, trying to get warm, a deep voice suddenly interrupted my sulking.

    “Wanna trade coats? You need this more than I do.”

    I turned and saw a boy my age standing before me, holding the beloved red coat. It looked so warm in comparison to my flimsy neon jacket. The boy had a generous smile on his face, the kind you would find on someone who worked in a soup kitchen. Slowly, I took off my jacket and gave it to the boy. He handed me the coat and took off without another word. I stared in amazement as the boy walked out of the restaurant and started down the street.

    A few months later, I was taken in by an orphanage and was soon adopted by a woman named Evelyn. She was a kind soul who treated me like her own flesh and blood. But after all these years, I’ve never forgotten that kind boy from the diner. I never knew the boy’s name, and yet his face is engraved in my memory.

    Gingerly, I take the coat off the rack. The fabric still feels as warm as the day I got it. This was too precious a memory to be left to rot in a musty attic. I tucked the warm coat under my arm and headed back downstairs.

    When I got home, I was happy to see my husband Kurt was home. He got up from the couch and wrapped in a warm hug, a gesture I had become accustomed to long ago. But when Kurt saw the jacket under my arm, a look of shock spread on his face.

    “What is it, Honey?” I asked, looking at the coat.

    “I remember that coat. I gave it to a homeless girl when I was 14”

    As soon as the words left Kurt’s lips, we knew what it meant. That old coat did more than just keep me warm in my time of need. It also brought me face to face with the love of my life.

    1. Reaper

      Though I got confused by the MC wearing the coat for two years but being in an orphanage so soon after that we the only glitch that hit me. This is heartwarming and very sweet. I would make the suggestion that the husband remember giving a coat like that to a homeless girl. The fact that he says he remembers giving it to a homeless girl does two things, one it makes me wonder how he knows it is exactly the same coat and two makes me wonder how dense he is to not get what it means instantly. Just me though, and since the power of this story is in the emotion and the connection not necessary.

    2. lionetravail

      Very nice, Trevor- sweet, loving, soft, and a wonderfully full story. It seemed like you kept the word count down and yet amped up the content amazingly well- awesome!

  27. DMelde

    That Which Will Scarcely Be Understood

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

    During the focus, a Thought-of-All observed a pinpoint in the fabric of everything, a window through which was glimpsed a place of only three dimensions; up and down, back and forth, and side to side. All-Thought agreed, ‘this realm of few dimensions is worthy of ponder’, so three-Thought shed their higher dimensions and traveled through the pinpoint, where they fell to Earth.

    Three-Thought struggled to understand the Earth, where volcanoes poisoned the air and meteors caused great destruction. Without their higher dimensions they couldn’t see forward while looking back, nor could they be where they once were, nor where they would be. They sensed a fourth dimension they hadn’t sensed before, one that stood aloof and alone from them. They called it Time, and although it caused them no harm, it trapped them in the now. Slowly three-Thought lost their power to be each other and they became three separate Thoughts.

    One Thought kept the memory of higher dimensions stronger than the other two. He became their leader and they called him Father. Father called the second strongest Son, and the last Thought, having lost most memories, became like a shadow, and Father and Son called him Spirit. Together they planted a seed on Earth (more of an idea really), and from this seed grew life.

    Life grew slowly until an explosion of life occurred that, like a blanket, covered the Earth. Father, Son, and Spirit watched as the Earth changed. Life fascinated the three Thoughts, because in the higher dimensions (that which they remembered) there was no change. Everything just was, without a beginning, middle, or end –without life or death. The three Thoughts helped life to flourish (and life noticed the help) until, eventually, Time itself died.

    When Time died, so did the realm of the three dimensions. The pinpoint closed. Father, Son, and Spirit, released from Time, became three-Thoughts once again. They rejoined the higher dimensions of All-Thought, but three-Thoughts never forgot their journey –or their seed.

    Then, or now, or sometime soon, three-Thoughts once again observed a pinpoint in the fabric of everything, and through the pinpoint they fell to Earth once again. Time was now, and with a joy that can only be felt with loss through Time, three-Thoughts rediscovered their seed. They cherished their blanket of life.

    And Time saw everything that was made, and behold, it was good.

    1. regisundertow

      Well, that certainly is different. I thought I was in for some Lovecraftian horror, but this is very poetic. It reminds me of being a kid reading Indian and Chinese cosmology myths. Thanks for sharing.

    2. lionetravail

      Dmelde, this is amazing work. What a wonderful perspective shift! I think this is emblematic of the best sci fi out there… worth looking to publish, imho, simply because it’s a new style, to me, and it’s excellent. Really nice to stretch yourself in this way: I’m very impressed with this one.

  28. turtles88

    ALL THAT IS GLITTER IS NOT GOLD

    “Mamma, can I have new mittens?”

    Mamma was knitting a blanket in the living room. She stopped, looked at her daughter, Gia and asked, “Why? What’s wrong with the ones you already have? Aren’t they warm enough?”

    “Yes, but….”

    “Do they have any holes in them?”

    “No, but….”

    “Did you lose one again?”

    Gia frowned, “No….”

    “Then why?”

    Gia lifted up the mittens and made a face, “These are all wrong, Mamma. Look at them. They’re too big, they’re green and they aren’t pink and sparkly like the ones all the girls are wearing at school.”

    “Ah.” Mamma nodded and returned to her knitting, “I’ve seen those mittens before, Gia. They’re too thin and not warm enough.”

    “But-”

    “Trust me, child. Yours are just right.”

    “But EVERYONE is wearing them, Mamma. I don’t want to be the only third grader wearing these ugly mittens. Please?”

    Mamma sighed, “I’ll think about it.”

    Daniela smiled, “Oh and can you buy them at the store this time and NOT knit them? They have to be perfect.”

    She sighed again, “I said I’ll think about it, sweetie.”

    Several days later, Gia was given the pink sparkly mittens. She wore them faithfully everywhere she went.

    One day, though, there was a bitter wind blowing and little snow flakes falling at great speed. Gia returned home from school with cold, numb fingers. As her mamma rubbed her fingers back to life, Gia admitted, “You were right, Mamma. My mittens are just perfect.”

    1. turtles88

      Sorry, I think I didn’t follow the prompt correctly and write about the MC finding the tub of clothes in the attic first. I just skipped that part and had the MC go back in time. Sorry 🙂 This is based off of a true experience so it may be bland and not exciting and not suspenseful.

    2. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      There seems to be a lot of heartfelt stories on here, and this one’s not bad. I do think it could benefit greatly from having a more memorable and lasting realization of the importance of listening to the older and wiser ones in our lives, but I think you did a fine enough job that people will get it.

      1. turtles88

        Thank you, Jay! I also think I could’ve done a better job with emphasizing the theme but I’m glad that people will get it anyhow 🙂

    3. Dennis

      Nice lesson to learn. Mother always know what is best. And oh, that peer pressure. Sometimes I wonder how we survive being kids. 🙂

    4. Reaper

      Turtles, I had this whole response written up and the site died on me posting it last night, so let’s see if I can recreate it. I’m going to disagree with the idea of a stronger moral, shocking that I disagree, I know. Your first line hooked me and misted me up, your last line hit me in the emotional gut again. You have so many powerful and emotional concepts here. From peer pressure, to mama being right, to her being wise enough to realize maybe she wasn’t, to that realization from the MC. You tell a story of sacrifice because the way I read this the mother couldn’t afford the mittens her little girl wanted but she figured out a way and the girl knew what her mother had given up and that is displayed in her loyalty of wearing those mittens which you expressed so well. Everything in this hit me in the emotion box and, for me, had you been more heavy handed with the moral instead of letting me get there myself while expertly and subtly leading me to it a lot of that power would have been lost. Thank you for this one.

      1. turtles88

        I am so happy you said that Reaper, thank you. To be honest, I was terribly afraid my message wouldn’t get through and understood and that I rushed the story because like I said before, this is a true experience and it was difficult to write from memory…. Everything you said about the girl and the mother was correct though and I’m glad you got it 🙂 Again thank you!

    5. lionetravail

      Never mind the prompt- use it for inspiration, but don’t feel locked in.

      I would love for there to be more of this, with an ending that brought us back to the adult MC learning something, but it works as it is in a very sweet, heartwarming way.

  29. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    Father’s Little Slugger

    Dust. That’s all I thought was in the attic. Just like everything else in my life up to that point, I was wrong about that, too. There were memories in that dirty, musty place. Ones that I wanted nothing to do with, but I found myself rummaging through a decrepit cardboard box full of tiny clothes anyway. I pulled a pair of denim shorts out, and under it was my favorite shirt I loved to wear when I was a boy. Long before the stains from my mother’s blood soaked into the fabric, I wore that thing every single day. When I picked it up out of the box, careful not to touch the stains, it changed my life forever.

    I don’t know if I blinked or passed out, but I was no longer in the attic. I was still in the house, but I was back in my old bedroom. Despite the Transformer posters on the walls and all my Ninja Turtle figurines posing as statues everywhere, I didn’t want to believe that I’d somehow found myself back in my old home. That’s when I heard his voice. Loud, dark, and seething with violence. He spoke words I knew well because he said them the day he murdered my mother.

    I went to the giant door and pressed my ear against the cold wood. A loud glassy crash erupted from the first floor, and I heard my mother yelp. She apologized, as she always did, even though he threw the dish. I didn’t actually see him do it, but I knew… I knew because I’d been here before.

    Another dish crashed, and I yanked the door open. I heard my mother’s cries echo up the stairs, and I bolted down two steps at a time.

    My father screamed, “You fucking bitch!”

    “Honey, please!” my mother said, trying to reason with the monster. It never worked.

    Mocking her, he said, “Honey, please!” Then his voice boomed again, “Just shut it. Did you think I wouldn’t find out?”

    It wasn’t a secret that my father was violent. Not just violent, vehemently violent. Everyone that knew our family knew how he got toward us. It had been a secret, however, that my mother started to siphon money from his account and put it away to get us both out of there. Later I’d find out my father’s friend at the bank ratted her out. The one thing no one ever realizes is that evil men attract evil friends, and because he was particularly friendly, she was never free from watchful eyes.

    He grabbed her shoulders and began to shake her, just as I had remembered. This was the part where he threw her down and her head split open against the cabinet. This was the moment he murdered my mother, and I didn’t want to watch. So, I turned my head and listened to him scream his final words.

    “You can’t fucking leave me!”

    Perhaps something about me had changed since I was a boy because back then, all I could do was look away while he killed her. However, now that I was older, so to speak, I couldn’t let it happen. I wouldn’t let it happen. With only seconds remaining before he tossed her aside, I snatched a fork off the table and stabbed his gut. Over and over I gored him until his shirt was damp with blood.

    “You little shit. What the fuck are you doing?” he screamed and backhanded me.

    I lost my balance and fell against the cabinet. My head rapped hard against the laminated wood, and everything spun. I tried to shake it off, but the vertigo remained. Managing to make it to my feet once again, I staggered toward him. My mother’s whimpers returned, and he was screaming again, but everything was so out of focus I couldn’t make out what it was. All I knew was that I’d pissed him off, and he was out for blood, now.

    There was no way I could take him on my own, so I rushed out of the kitchen. In the living room, my vision finally started to clear, and I made my to the coat closet. I threw the door open and fell into it like I had done so many times before when hiding from him, but this time I didn’t cower. This time I searched the clutter for my Grandfather’s slugger that he’d left me when he died, and when I found it, I snatched it up and ran back to the kitchen.

    At some point, he’d hit her. The left side of her face was slightly puffy and pink, and she had blood oozing from a puffy, split lip. He had one hand on her should, pressing her against the wall, and the other tightly wrapped around her thin, delicate neck. As her faced began to turn purple, she uttered soft noises like a duck fighting for air, and he laughed. God did he let out a hearty laugh, but I wouldn’t let him laugh any more.

    When the bat hit his skull, there was a solid thump and the vibration numbed my hands. He let go of my mother, and he grabbed his head. He turned, staggering as a drunk man might on his way out of the pub. With one arm reached out toward me and his hand formed into a claw, I hit a homerun with his knee.

    He dropped to the ground bad-knee-first, and when it slammed against the linoleum, he screamed in pain and fell onto his side. He rolled there for a moment, tears streaming down the side of his face as he grabbed his leg.

    “You little fucker! When I get done with you, you’ll wish…”

    I didn’t let him finish. I swung hard and fast, coming down on his head like a sack full of bricks. One, two, three strikes, but he wasn’t out. Even though his nose was a bulbous mess, his cheek concaved, and several of his teeth shattered, he continued to scream. Evil does strange things to men, and in this case, it allowed him to ignore that which I inflicted upon him and made his anger ten-fold worse. So, there was only one thing left to do, and that was to finish what I’d started.

    I beat him and beat him. Blood spackled my face, splattered across the floor, and wetted all the nearby carpentry. The sound of cracking bones and the slushy, sticky sound of his brain sickened me, but I refused to relent, at least not until the slugger no longer thumped against soft flesh but clattered against the linoleum. Even then, I continued to slam it into the floor, screaming so loud my hoarse voice burned. It wasn’t until my mother grabbed me from behind that I finally dropped the bat and wept.

    We held each other in that kitchen for a long time. I couldn’t really tell you how long because it had been an eternity since I felt her warm embrace, but time became nothing.
    Eventually, I began to wonder when I would return to reality. I knew this had to be a dream, and my therapist would likely tell me that I’d dreamt it to face my past, but a day went by and I was still there. Another day, and my mother had finished cleaning my father up from the kitchen. I was still there. A week later when the police came by, she explained he’d stormed out after she told him she was pregnant, and I was still there. A month passed. A year passed. I was still there. So was my mother.

    I’ll be damned if some divine being didn’t have something to do with me going back to right my past, and I really didn’t care to know. All I knew was that my mother was alive and something gave me another chance to live my life with her, and I did not intend to squander it.

    1. Dennis

      Jay, I have missed your writing. I hope you are still in the hunt for that contest prize. The writing here is exceptional. I wonder what the change will be psychologically for the MC, having switched out his mother being murdered with having him murder his father. At least the change had a happier ending overall.

    2. Reaper

      Jay, this is disturbing and beautiful at the same time. Your wordsmithing hasn’t last a thing. Evil men attract evil friends. What a beautiful line and such a true concept.

    3. Nicki EagerReader

      Luridly lovely. You wrote “He had one hand on her should,…” instead of “on her shoulder” (I assume that was meant?) but that’s really the only thing I can nag. I’m not quite sure why the MC and his mum didn’t owe up to the police because really, that was clearly self-defense, but the fact that they kept it under cover gave an interesting twist to the disturbing family dynamic (where did mom scrape daddy into? The line “my mother had finished cleaning my father up from the kitchen” is one of my favorites).

      Good job!

      P.S.: Love the pun in the title. I really have a weak spot for ambiguous titles.

  30. charkhanolakha

    My mom balances precariously on a chair, as she lifts the heavy plastic container of the shelf, and hands it down into my outstretched arms. I look down at it’s surface, it’s bright red lid winking through the layer of dust. I lift it open, the dust rises into the air,and for a second seems to shimmer and dance in the pale sunlight.I feel an explained shiver of excitement as I peer into the box and see, poking out from a under a pile of old t-shirts,a piece of vivid yellow cloth. I pull it out, and am instantaneously transported to a sweltering summer afternoon more than 10 years ago.
    The sun is glaring, the school has emptied of it’s boisterous inhabitants, and stands quiet, napping in the desultory heat. I wander lazily around the building, the teacher’s kid, waiting patiently for my mom to finish her work. Suddenly, the smell of paint meets my nostrils, I take a delicate sniff, then inhale deeply, running into the school garage. Ms. Sabeen, of the pretty brown eyes and short bobbed hair, kneels beside a cardboard contraption, can of silver spray paint in her hand. My eyes widen in awe as I take in the sight.
    Before me stands a gleaming space ship, red and yellow lights painted on to help guide it on it’s dark and dangerous journey across the reaches of the universe. A doorway beckons into the interior, which is decorated with buttons and screens enough to confuse the most competent of pilots. Ms. Sabeen turns to look at me, and laughs at my open mouthed admiration of her handiwork. “Do you like it?” she asks,unnecessarily. Our annual school play is in two days, and I, for my theatrical debut, am to be an Alien. I squeal excitedly,and count the hours to our performance.

    That night at home the dining table is covered with all the paint,glue and fabric needed to convert a skinny 3rd grader into a Fearsome Alien. My mom is working on that bright yellow shirt, carefully adorning it with glittery Styrofoam spikes, while I work on my alien ‘eyes’. These are smooth, white plastic balls, on which I paint purple,soul less pupils, as empty as the depths of space. I am to hold these in my hands, with my arms held aloft, and wave them about eerily.
    Play night arrives, and the polished smell of the wooden stage adds to my thrill. I am unrecognizable. My hair and face are painted yellow. The eyes are held up proudly. I am wearing that yellow shirt, it’s spikes glitter gold next to the silver spaceship. The applause rings as we take our triumphant bows.

    As I place the shirt carefully back in the box, my fingers tremble, as if it still has the power to reignite in me the excitement of those few days all those years ago.

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      It’s obvious you’re good with imagery, but the mechanical errors distracted me from enjoying it. Also, I think it’s perfectly fine to write a story that’s nothing more than an experience (little to no real plot in any traditional sense), but if you do that, the characters must come alive on the page to make the whole trip worth it for the reader. I didn’t get that, but maybe it was just me?

      As I said before, you’re good at imagery, but with that you must pay extra attention to what you use and how you use it. For example, you said the eyes were as empty as the depths of space, yet space is hardly empty. In fact, space is full of stuff. Space is also full of wonder, and with cold, hollow eyes, the last thing you want to use is space to describe them.

      Overall, not a bad job. There’s potential here for some serious character development. If you do that and work on the mechanical errors, I think you’ll have a very fine story indeed. 🙂

      1. charkhanolakha

        Hi! Thanks for taking the time to read my story. I hear you, esp. with regards to the character development. Will work on it :).

    2. Hiba Gardezi

      Charkhanolakha. Are you new?
      Anyway, I really liked your story. Your description is especially powerful and this story feels so light and sweet. It shows the innocence of childhood. Very nice 🙂

    3. Reaper

      I also like the imagery here. There were some technical errors that if fixed would enhance this but I got pulled in enough that they were hiccups instead of roadblocks. I do agree with Jay that fixing them would make this more intense. For me this was an emotional story and the only thing lacking was that punch of emotion at the end. I wanted something to tie it back to the mother, some sad or sweet or loving memory so I knew where she was now. She was so integral to making this happen that I wanted the character to relate to me where she was, why the box was being gone through, or lacking that something about this teacher who was obviously an amazing influence. It wasn’t necessary and the story was good, but with that one little touch it would have soared for me.

      Oh! Welcome to the site. I look forward to seeing more from you.

      1. charkhanolakha

        hmm…wow,yeah, you’re right..that would’ve made it more complete. I did want to talk about the mother a little bit more, but I struggled with the word limit and sacrificed her story for the description *blush*. I definitely need to work on this more!
        Thanks for the input..I really appreciate it 🙂

    4. Bilbo Baggins

      Agree with Reaper about the mother. This could’ve gone lots of other places. But, don’t get yourself hung up. This was great for a first story. Just go back and look at mine… *shudders* 🙂

    5. lionetravail

      I really liked this- one of the strongest parts about this was the visceral feel of this, and the sense of wonderment in the trembling fingers of your MC. While there may be some linguistic issues, they didn’t detract much for me, and I think you told a very complete story, and elegantly.

      Nice 🙂

  31. Hiba Gardezi

    She tiptoes across the dusty attic floor looking for something to help her remember.
    She’s been doing this for the past few sleepless nights .It helps.
    It does.
    Finally, she finds a box of clothes that she thinks will suffice for tonight. She bends, settling down.
    ‘Ah’ she says bumping her head on the low uneven, ceiling. She silently thanks God it wasn’t the other side of her head. The side where she has no skull bone. She would’ve fainted, then.
    She sits cross legged on the wooden floorboards.
    Taking a deep breath in she pushes her hair behind one ear and opens the box.
    It’s a big box She thinks.
    It holds so many memories. Memories that are no longer hers.
    Nothing.
    She remember exactly nothing of her past.
    It’s scary. It’s like watching a movie. When others tell her about her past, it’s like watching a movie. She sees everything coming but she doesn’t feel it. It doesn’t feel like it’s hers, like she’s felt the memories. It feels like someone else’s. Someone else’s life.
    But that isn’t the scariest part.
    This is.
    It all depends on what others have told her. She has to believe them when they tell her, her name. When they tell her, her identity. When they tell her her story. She is surviving on belief and trust. And when fear that they may be lying for whatever reason creeps in, she will destroy herself.
    This will destroy her.
    Instead she chooses to go up here every night. Every night when she wakes up with a start, lying with the wrong side of her head on the pillow.
    She comes here to try to believe them.
    One night it was a toy set, then a school project.
    Tonight she chooses clothes.
    She puts her hands in the box feeling the cloth. Then she brings the clothes out at random to inspect them in the light of a weak bulb.
    This one. she think looking at a particularly naïvely purple dress. This one reminds me of something.
    And then, she is not there, not a cancer survivor with half a skull bone in a dark attic looking nostalgically at old clothes in the middle of the night.
    She is a child.
    She stands near a clothes rack holding that purple dress in front of her mother. The lady that calls herself her mother. It seems as though she actually is.
    ‘What about this?’
    ‘Are you sure?’
    ‘I think so’
    ‘You think you are sure?’
    ‘Yes’
    ‘Sure means sure. Not think.’
    ‘Come on, Mom’
    ‘What if they bully you again. It’s kind of… childish.’
    ‘Make fun, not bully. Bully is a very hard word, don’t you think. And we are children.’
    ‘Oh yes, my 30 year old child ‘
    ‘I already told you, I don’t want to move out’
    ‘Okay fine. Buy it, but don’t come crying to me when you get pelted with insults.’
    ‘Oh Mom. You’re the best.’
    Her phone starts to ring.
    She drops it. Smiles.
    ‘What is it?” Her mother asks.
    ‘It’s cancer. They finally got it. Yes, they can help me now.’

    Now she is back. Back in the attic staring nostalgically at a purple piece of clothing. Now she knows the truth.
    She was at the brink of death and these people saved her.
    She lost her memories conveniently while they had to go through stress seeing their daughter in misery.
    They kept her safe and she kept suspicions.
    Now she knows.

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Hi, Hiba! This was definitely different that what you normally write, and a job well done. There are just a few mechanical errors, but I still found myself engrossed with your story. Thanks for sharing, and it’s good to read more of your work. 🙂

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hey, Hiba!

      What a great opening line! And, just so you know, I love this exchange:

      Are you sure?’
      ‘I think so’
      ‘You think you are sure?’
      ‘Yes’
      ‘Sure means sure. Not think.’

      😀

    3. Reaper

      This is one of those stories that made me stop breathing. There is so much raw passion and power in here. Oh my, just lovely Hiba. There are so many wonderful lines and images in this one. My favorite is lying with her wrong side of the head on the pillow. You hit me in the feelings box so many times with this one.

        1. turtles88

          I’m with Reaper on this one. So beautiful on so many levels. If this was the beginning of a novel, I would keep on reading. Amazing job, Hiba.

    4. Dennis

      Great writing and story. You create great feeling and emotion behind the fear of not remembering oneself. Nice how it is finally revealed to her.

    5. lionetravail

      Hiba, this is one of your strongest pieces yet- very surreal, with a hint of sinister and a whole lot of meaningful wistfulness.

      I’m not sure what i really meant by that, but I meant every word 🙂 Great job.

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