Going on Chore Strike

Your family isn’t cooperating with your writing career, so you’ve decided to go on strike. Write a list of demands that must be met in order for you to return to your chores and household responsibilities. (Don’t forget to make a concession or two to speed up the negotiation process.)

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

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768 thoughts on “Going on Chore Strike

  1. PeterW

    “Best way to get back at the bullies is to get famous,” I yelled at my mom.
    “I just think you should have a back-up plan,” she said.
    “I don’t have time for that. Shut the door woman.”
    And she shut it, chastised.

    The problem with parents, see, is that they don’t love you unconditionally enough. If they really loved me, they would respect my dreams and let me stay in the house, rent-free, until my masterpiece is ready. If they really loved me then they would be trying to kick me out and charging me rent and insinuating that I need a real job. Writing is a job. A full time one. I wish I lived in a Mexican family where the kids live with their parents until 40 or 50 or whenever they marry.

    And this intrusion in my room, my shrine, my zen was the last straw. The next day, I decided to go on strike against them. I decided I would no longer communicate with them vocally. Especially at dinner when everyone is there, including my 17 year old brother. I also decided to stop cleaning my room, doing my laundry, showering and visiting other relatives, especially the ones who vocal laughed at my career choice when I made it very vocal about my chosen profession at the annual Christmas reunion.

    Also I decided to stop sending out job applications… Seriously, a waste of time.
    I got a masterpiece on my hands. I really do. It pains me that my parents can’t see this. But when I’m famous and have gotten back at everyone in high-school, I will forgive my parents for their transgressions. against my art. I will give them big hugs. I will apologize for perhaps being short at times. Then buy them a chateau at Vail with my millions.

    1. Reaper

      All I can say is I loved this. Double use of vocal and one of them should be vocally in the same paragraph. However such small things in a brilliant piece of work. I kept thinking of the they’ll be sorry when I’m blind from a Christmas Story as I read it.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is wonderfully understated, PeterW. Your MC is living the writer’s dream; now if he can make the dream become reality…

      I spotted something that would need a small fix in the first full paragraph; in the third sentence, I think it’s probably supposed to be “…they wouldn’t be trying…”.

    3. Jay

      Man, I would never get along with your MC in real life. I’m over here cringing reading it. haha It sounds like the MC is still very young (or isn’t young, but incredibly immature). I fully agree that every writer should follow their passion and dedicate a certain amount of time to it, but they should not overlook anything like survival or responsibilities to do it. A back-up plan and a real job are important, and unless the MC’s masterpiece is selling (and actually a real masterpiece), it’s not a job, haha. When I first started (serious) writing, it was 40 hours at work, 25-30 hours a week at school, about 40 hours writing, and about 5 hours a night sleeping (and fitting in a little lazy gym time between all that). Sounds like the MC still has a lot to learn.

      I’m getting the feeling this is a satirical piece, which makes me a feel a little better for not liking the MC. haha

  2. Observer Tim

    “Robert Dear, there’s another one!”

    Robert walked out of the bedroom in his robe and slippers, carefully sucking his first pipe of the morning. Indeed it was another one; a message written in blood on the wall.

    Dear Interlopers;

    It has now been two weeks since you moved in; I expected you to leave much sooner than this. You have proven too foolish to leave, and even the most dire threats scrawled on the wall in blood have left you unmoved. Instead, you argued about whether the blood was human or not.

    I have had enough. It is now time for drastic action. If you don’t want to suffer cruelly ironic deaths within these cursed walls, I suggest you pay attention.

    “Seems rather forceful, doesn’t it Mary?”

    “Yes, Robert. Positively demanding, I’d say.”

    First, you are to copy down my words every day before cleaning the walls. I know the maid appreciates the extra work as it helps her pay for Community College, but I do not like having my words eradicated by harsh cleansers with no permanent record.

    Second, the cat is to be kept out of the hall at night; it keeps trying to lick up the blood as I write. Honestly, people, control your pet!

    “But Fluffy would never…”

    “I’m afraid she does, Mary. I’ve seen the bloody paw-prints myself. I suppose it’s good to be certain she wasn’t the one writing on the wall.”

    “Very, Dear.”

    Third, I want a dictionary; spelling mistakes are embarrassing. Just leave it open on the hall table and I will do the rest.

    “Well at least the writer values good spelling.”

    Fourth, Robert is to stop dipping his finger into the blood drips and drawing a happy face at the end of my missives. I am a serious writer.

    Robert tapped the wall twice for the eyes. “Rather cheeky. But I draw them so well, don’t you think, Darling?”

    “Yes Dear. Your happy faces brighten up my day.”

    Fifth, I’m going to need a new source of blood. Grandma has run dry. If you don’t want me to use one of you, you’ll have to start luring hitchhikers to their doom.

    “That explains why she wouldn’t answer the breakfast bell. Should we call an ambulance?”

    “No point really, Darling. Most people fare rather poorly without blood.”

    If we all cooperate, I am sure this can be a successful and productive haunting.

    Signed, The House. :)

    Robert took another pull from his pipe. “Do you think it’s serious, Mary?”

    “Very likely, Dear. Otherwise we need an exterminator.”

    “I don’t think exterminators deal with this sort of thing. Perhaps a priest?”

    “Dear God, no! Not in MY house.” Mary let out a long sigh. “I’ll call Madeline. We need this off the wall before tonight’s dinner party.”

    “Mom? Dad? Could you move over a little?”

    “Whatever for, Cressida dear?”

    “I want to take a picture and then post the letter on Writer’s Digest. It’s perfect for this week’s writing prompt!”

    1. Jay

      …and later in the picture she can see the cat standing in the blood and licking it up. She never saw the little queen again.

      Such a fun story, Tim. This gives me mixed memories of The House (1984?) and that show on T.V. that I couldn’t quite get into… American Horror? I don’t know, but it’s one of those shows. lol

      Nice job

    2. originalalchemist

      I agree with Jay on this. This is a fun story and certainly has me imagining it as a season on American Horror Story. The characters’ inability to be startled or upset is rather humorous. I can picture a scene that involves the family having a little too much wine at the dinner party and spilling the secret of the wall writings. Then maybe the spirit demands blood from one of the guest…great story!

      1. Reaper

        This is quite similar to what I was thinking. This is horrifying but more because of the nonchalant way the couple approaches it. Well done.

    3. jmcody

      I loved this! To me it was more satirical than horrifying. I loved your blue blooded characters and their exaggeratedly blasé reactions. So funny!

  3. chrisbutcher

    One thing you should know about me is this: I am an idiot. I stare at the single dirty dish in the kitchen sink and tell myself that I could write a dozen pages about that lone piece of cheap china. Not a piece of china made in China, though it probably was, but a white and crusted and glazed plate sitting like a king in a dirty sink that mocks my ineptitude when it comes to keeping my immediate surroundings clean and tidy. I sometimes speak to that singular plate: “Why do you laugh at me? I can break you into pieces and throw you into the very same fire I’ve thrown the next great American novel into.” The plate is stoic; unfeeling. It wants to jump into bed with my filthy sheets and dirty thoughts and write letters upon the bedroom wall that not even my sometimes agent would comprehend. My agent is my ex wife and I am an idiot.
    I have just three concessions that I am willing to offer that stupid plate. For my ex there are none. She never washed dishes anyway and was never that great of an agent either. If I had to choose between a dirty plate and her advice, I would most likely choose a kick in the groin. Which was pretty much all I ever got from previous sales of my first book. My friends and family seemed to think I was too cynical and callous in my first offering so to hell with them. I write for me, not them. I burn pages not for them, but for me and that stupid plate. So to that cheap piece of china I offer this:
    1) You are and shall always be the only plate for me.
    2) My next book shall be dedicated to you.
    3) When I destroy words and meals, and place my head upon your ever so cool sheen, know that I think and dream only of you, and that I am an idiot for ever having neglected you.

    I have a dishwasher now due to the sales of my second book, ‘The Gratitude Of Familial Relations’. Her name is Lacy.

  4. G.R.Blessing

    .I’m going to change this up a bit. I no longer live with my family but five roommates. Sadly this story is somewhat true so lets begin this daunting task of seeking a place of refuge, so my ideas can come to life.

    We all gathered together in the dining room and the sun was just about to set casting an orange glow on the walls. I shield my eyes from the sun as I proceed to shut the blinds.
    “OK guys” I begin “Here’s the deal. I’m done cleaning up after your crap.” I head to the table and sat down. All I get is a blank stare and one scoffed. keeping my calm I took out our lease agreement and pointed out that we agreed to do our part in cleaning.
    “Look the thing is I really don’t mind doing the work really I don’t. What bothers me is the noise you guys make. I’m mean seriously you really don’t have to blare your music at ear bleeding levels. I’m not complaining about the mess but the noise.
    “so here are the list of my demands:
    1. after 8pm keep the noise level down
    2.rinse out your dishes
    3.pick up after yourselves
    4.if you spill it clean it up
    I will do the remainder of the cleaning but not your laundry, so stop asking” the guys all chuckled at my last comment. “That is pretty much it guys” I concluded
    They looked at me and smiled. “that’s it?” one replied “That’s pretty easy i guess.”
    The other four began to nodded in agreement. “We know your writing is important and we will be happy to meet with your demands.”
    We all hugged it out to finalize our agreement and we went on to out daily lives.

    1. Observer Tim

      Actually it’s a nice story, G.R. I also live with “roomies” (in my case a married couple), but we keep our chores separate. That’s how domestic tranquility works where I live. The demands are fairly reasonable, and hopefully their agreement translates into action.

      My red pencil believes you wrote this fairly quickly, and that it would benefit from some capitalization (unless you’re channelling e.e. cummings in which case go for it). There were a couple of tense shifts, too, but nothing major.

    2. Reaper

      I like this story. Five roommates? Man that’s just rough. Only thing I noticed was you have scoffed where I think you meant scoff. Short, to the point, and with a nice ending that fit well with the story.

  5. lionetravail

    “Chore Leave”

    (Had to beat Observer Tim to the punch for another super-weird take on this prompt!)

    Why the hell is everyone looking at me that way? Again?

    El Jefe has that look on his face, the one which says he knows someone’s gonna buy it. He’s so predictable, it looks like he’s already working on his I’m-sorry-but-he-was-a-hero face and speech for his diary.

    But, you know something? He’s not even the worst of the group I’m with, not by a long shot. There’s the woman who likes to pretend she knows how you’re feeling and that you want to talk to her about something, for one. It’s always: “Oh, and how does that make you feel?” Well, I’ll tell you, estupida puta, it makes me feel like I want to throttle you until your lips turn blue!

    And then there’s the guy with the funny glasses- he has a note from his doctor that he has to wear them, when really, they’re just fancy looking sunglasses like from the 1980’s- que gilpollas!

    That stuck up prig of a pendejo who leads us, the one the rest of my team calls “el Jefe Cabron mas stupido” when they’re being formal, is looking over at me while standing in his overly-dramatic pinche-culero pose, which means he’s about to order me to do something suicidally insane.

    “Rodriguez,” he says firmly, as if anyone believes he is not playing to cameras in his own head. “You and Jones scout and set up a perimeter- we’ll check out the cave.”

    Maricon! Again with ‘the perimeter?’ Maybe this one will have giant, man-eating natives eager for my flesh… like the last one!

    “No,” I say.

    “What?” he says, in an even-firmer voice.

    What a goat penis he is!

    “No,” I say again, helping el Jefe Cabron by saying it slowly. “No- I want some concessions before I go risk my life again with ‘your perimeter’.”

    “This is insubordination at best, mutiny at worst, Rodriguez,” says el Jefe Cabron like he’s telling me something I don’t know.

    “Yes, yes, but here’s the thing,” I begin. I notice Jones standing with his mouth open, looking like an astonished little piggy, and resolve to ignore him. “I don’t want these assignments where you order me off to another near death experience. I want to spend my time writing, not ‘set up perimeters’, or ‘secure that prisoner’, or ‘leap into the line of fire.”

    Now everyone is looking at me like I’m insane, but I’m not- I’ve finally gone sane.

    El Cabron is the first to find his voice. “Ryker to Enterprise- lock onto the redshirt Rodriguez and transport him up now. I want him in the brig immediately!”

    Ai caramba!

    1. Observer Tim

      Oh, this is good lionetravail!

      But, stupid tramp? Just because she’s the only Starfleet officer with cleavage? Okay, maybe you’re right…

      Luckily, this is Next Gen; the MC will only make it to the brig if there isn’t something else more interesting going on.

  6. Jay

    Once upon a time there lived a man who stories and the kin, and he had a family that did not cooperate with him. Though his mother called him something other, he lovingly called himself Tim. He lived with three others, his daughter Karen, his son Daren, and a wife named Kim.

    Tim and Kim and Karen and Daren lived at odds with each other in that house. Tim had to work while Daren loudly played with his mouse. Karen always screamed on her phone while Kim cleaned their house. Everything was as it should be, but Tim could never focus, causing him to become a raging spouse.

    One day Tim took the time to take Karen and Daren to a far away park while Kim cleaned the floor. The kids played and played, and they played some more. Soon passed an hour, maybe two–maybe four. When they looked up Tim had gone, and they let out a loud cry like a lion’s roar.

    When he got home, Tim stabbed Kim in the back. He gave her one, two, maybe four times the whack. With Karen and Daren gone, Tim hid Kim in the shack. An hour later the bell rang, and behind the door with Karen and Daren there was a man named Zach. He took the kids into the house, and began to yack.

    “You see kids, your mom has left us. Karen, Daren… I must put you on a bus. You will ride and ride, and ride some more until you reach your aunt May and your uncle Russ. Just know I love you, now please leave without a fuss.”

    And so the kids left the house, Karen with her phone and Daren with his mouse. Finally Tim found the time to write, three less a louse. At the end of the day, he cleaned the house, rid any trace of his family, even burning his wife’s favorite blouse.

    The End

    1. lionetravail

      A rollicking, rhyming romp, with all of the circumstance, not to mention the pomp!

      Very funny Jay, all the way to the ‘maybe four times a whack’. Loved it.

    2. Marie Therese Knepper

      There’s a Dr. in the house.
      His name is Dr. Jay.
      This Dr. is a wordsmith,
      who many people say
      should never stop his writing
      which surpasses Sam I Am.
      We all love our Dr. Jay,
      who’s this groups biggest ham!

      Go, Dr. Jay!

    3. Observer Tim

      Very clever, Jay. This is the kind of kid-lit that rocks like it’s 1899 (i.e. back before we got scared of telling kids about death)! I’m not sure about the name Dr. Jay; Julius Erving might object, and there’s nothing fiercer than a 64-year old basketball player. He might dribble on you (sorry Dr. J, I had to).

      This was delightful and clever. If I wasn’t leery of police attention I’d share it with all the kids I know.

      1. Jay

        Thanks, Tim… and no need to apologize! You know, I’ve been toying with the idea (and many people have told me to do so) of creating a children’s book full of short stories. I think Erving would be proud to have an evil twinsy doing a darker opposite to his lighter stories. :D

    4. Reaper

      I do not like green eggs and roe, I do not like them Jay who I call Moe. I do not like them with a knife, I do not like them with slice of life. I would bomb them on a bus, I poison and feed them to my friend Gus. I do not like green eggs and roe, but I love this Dr. Seuss meets Edgar Alan Poe!

      Beautiful Jay. Your idea reminds me of the alphabet book about people dying. I would read that to any children I knew, until their parents stopped letting me in the house.

  7. Augie

    Traveling ten miles an hour, the passenger yells out to the driver.

    “Can we go faster sir?”

    The driver pulls back and spits tobacco on the cobble road, “What did you ask sire?”

    The thirty-three year old passenger jumps out.

    “I am not a sire sir! I am a writer. You can refer to me as Tom for the rest of this journey. I need to get to Philadelphia as soon as possible! How many days will it take?”

    The driver spits again. “ Seven days.”

    After seven long days of travel, Tom greets his colleagues. “Come Tom, we have work to do!”
    They debated all day about Tom’s writing. Eventually the speaker shouted, “Write your demands Tom, we want to hear them! Then we can continue with this meeting!”

    Tom rose before the sun, eating biscuits and sipping tea.

    He dips the quill pen and began the journey:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.

    Before the rooster crowed, Thomas Jefferson’s quill pen dances, writing our Declaration Of Independence.

    Happy 4th of July!

    1. sjmca1966


      My grandfather lied about his age so he could join the US Navy in WW I. He wore the New Zealand uniform in WW II as the father of seven (the youngest being my father). He passed when I was around three, so I only have vague recollections of him. I know he was seriously injured and was never able to work on his return home, but that was not a problem as his offspring always provided for him and my grandmother.

      Although I am Kiwi through and through, I appreciate the sacrifices that anyone serving in the armed forces make for not only their own people, but for like-minded people across the globe. So I’d like to say happy Fourth of July to my American Brothers and Sisters. Love and Peace xxx –

      Some species of Mayfly live less than twenty-four hours in their adult form. Although they will never meet, let alone have the joy of watching their offspring grow, they dedicate their short lives protecting and ensuring their progeny thrive and prosper.

      Some people in this crazy world of ours, could learn a lot from the Mayfly.

      1. Augie

        I would invite any Kiwi to my home to celebrate our shared heritage in the struggle for what is right around a fire pit. But never a peacock, I don’t like them. Thank you for the story about your grandfather. I am a research guy and will definitely look into the Mayfly. Get back to you later on that! Thanks again!

    2. Bilbo Baggins

      Happy 4th of July! The military’s always been in my family, with my dad deployed four times and one great-grandfather nearly being killed in WW1. He was carrying a Catholic prayer book in his pocket, and the metal cover on it saved his life. I still have the book with the bullet fragments on it to this day in a desk drawer. I’m proud to be part of this country. Okay, end spiel. Good story, Augie. What better way to portray this than to go back to where it all began.

      1. jmcody

        That is a great story Bilbo! Thank you for sharing it. It’s interesting how all the Catholics took those prayer books into battle with them (I am one of the flock too). We have some old wartime prayer books from my husbands family from WWI and WWII with the names and dates of service inscribed in them. Cool memorabilia and a telling detail about that generation. Your story is priceless!

      2. Augie

        What and incredible story! With your talent you should write about that! These days its easy to track the path of soldiers in both world wars. Just punch in their unit, and off you go on the journey. Thank You Bilbo. (side note- do you know where JRR Toliken got his ideas from for the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings?)

        1. Bilbo Baggins

          There’s an old story (don’t know if it’s true), but when Tolkien was working as a teacher, he was grading papers and saw one was completely empty. Taking up a pencil, he just wrote the first thing that came to mind: “In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit”. And, it kind of went off from there. It was probably easy for him to create languages and places, since he knew 35 different languages… :-)

          1. Augie

            One has indeed personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than to be involved in 1939 and the following years. By 1918, all but one of my close friends were dead.
            — J.R.R. Tolkien, forward to The Lord of the Rings

            Written in the trenches as he served the British army in WW1.

    3. Observer Tim

      Nice patriotic shot, Augie. If only the Continental Congress could really have met with so little squabbling…

      The only glitches I spotted were three verb tense things. Two are, “Tom rises…”, “…begins the journey:”, but those ones you probably noticed just after hitting the ‘post’ key.

      The third is subtler. To fix the rooster you have ensure the passing of time allows the rooster its noisy welcome somewhere in the middle of the writing. This is my suggestion (take it for what it’s worth). “Before the rooster crows, Thomas Jefferson’s quill begins its dance, …”

      Great job, Augie.

      1. Augie

        Ahhh.. Nope, I didn’t catch those. I did a quick fact search and wrote as fast as I could before I forgot them all. Thanks Observer Tim.

    4. jmcody

      Tense shifts aside, this was great Augie and a story worth telling. Happy 4th to you and yours, and as always, a hearty thank you for your service to these ideals.

      Since we’re giving military pedigrees, my Dad is a WWII vet (army) and one of the last surviving members of his company at 94 years old. (Yes, I have a 94 year old Dad and an 8 year old daughter… Don’t do the math!). :)

      1. Augie

        I’ve said this to Reaper before, sometimes you will see a very old man walking in the parking lot wearing a ball cap distinguishing his part in the war. He can chat with you for hours about all the battles and lost friends, But cant remember where he parked his car. Happy 4th, and thank you jmcody. We can be proud for all our fathers sacrifice, yours included.

        1. jmcody

          I saw that discussion with Reaper, and I think what you’re doing is wonderful. My Dad will only tell a handful of very lighthearted stories from the war, which tells me that the rest must be pretty grim. But I bet he would tell another serviceman. Too bad we don’t have someone like you around here to capture and preserve those stories.

          1. Augie

            If you do anything jmcody, find out what his unit patch is. Let me know if you wish, if not, you will be amazed at what you can find about his journey online.

  8. thetelleroftales

    May 5th, 2014
    So what I’m only fourteen! So what that I have homework to do (who ever wanted to do that, anyway?)! And the dishes? They want me to do the dishes? Sweep the house? Clean the bathroom? Who do they think I am, Cinderella?
    I shook my fist in the air behind the closed door of my room and plotted rebellion. All that useless, erroneous stuff that they pile up for me to do, cackling as they draw up lists of chores designed to keep me from my all-consuming, all-important work. When I’m a bestseller, they’ll look back and rue that they scorned my genius and forced me into these superfluous, menial tasks. All those people who stole my time, laughed at my brilliance, snickered at my ‘useless obsession’, they’ll all be shocked and sorry when I’m a millionaire.
    But first, before that happens, I need to cook up a plan to have more time to write.
    I had already tried to lock the door. But I had forgotten the spare key. I had tried to steal the spare key, but then I had forgotten the door from my brother’s room to mine. Gurr. I always knew he was evil.
    When I went on my laptop, inspiration, as always, struck. Windows 8 had set up a malicious, fiendish little sort of start up that I was generally inclined to curse. But now, I almost kissed the screen. There, on the newsfeed, it had an article about Wall Street.
    A strike! Oh, glorious gods of inspiration, be blessed!
    Seeing as it was midnight, I quickly wrote most of the above, then fell asleep scheming up deviltries for the morrow.

    May 30th, 2014
    Life is hard and cruel. A lesson I had always known but never felt. And moms have been endowed with devilish cleverness. I tried the strike innumerable times, for long, drawn out periods of time. At first, Mom thought it was funny. Then she tried to make me see the consequences of my actions by letting the dust build up on the floor and the dishes pile up on the sink. But I withstood longer than her.
    And then. Oh, and then.
    She apparently had been reading history, and struck on the same plan as Ronald Regan, or whatever president it was, and called in the military.
    I held out, barricaded in my room, for almost a week. I did get numerous chapters written, so it wasn’t all bad. But then hunger and the military (in this house, Dad), finally won out.
    So now I’m working on another angle and it might be a while until you hear from me again (plans will not be written here in case of infiltrators or spies).
    They may have won the battle, but I will yet win the war!

    1. Observer Tim

      [Reconstructed; curse you, WordPress!]

      I love the way the MC likened her struggle to write to “la revolucion”. Their take on history is interestingly political, especially for someone seemingly young.

      I also like the subtle cues that tell us the MC is an only child (or the only one at home). Otherwise, brothers and sisters would have had to do the chores and there would be some good old fashioned sibling justice handed down…

  9. JRSimmang


    This morning, the house was quiet. Francy and Emma were on a mother/daughter retreat, and my office was spotless. I opened up the windows, let the cool coastal air settle on my glasses and push my fingers.

    I think it was the smell of bacon burning that propelled me out of my seat. I walked down the stairs, turned the corner, and saw my father standing in the kitchen.

    “Dad, you’re not supposed to be in the kitchen.”

    “Where are the spoons?” He was still in his bathrobe, which was on backward today.

    I walked over to him. “Dad, you’re not supposed to be in the kitchen.” I repeated.

    He looked up at me. “Georgia, where are the spoons?”

    I put my arms around his shoulders to guide him to a chair. “Dad, sit down,” I relented. “Mom’s been dead for a couple years.” The words no longer sounded foreign to me.

    “Georgia… spoons…”

    I studied him in silence for a few minutes. “What do you want for breakfast?”

    He put his hands on the table. “Eggs, dearest, with toast and rhubarb jam.”

    “Like always,” we said simultaneously.

    I pulled out the pan, eggs, and toast. As the oil was heating, I poured both of us a mug of coffee.

    “Thank you.”


    I cracked a couple eggs into the pan. “Sunny side?”

    “Thanks, Drew.”

    He always comes back around. Some times take longer than others.

    “I thought you were on a cooking strike.”

    “I changed my mind.”

    I made his quickly, slathered his toast with jam, and joined him at the table.

    “Are you not hungry, son?”

    “Not yet.”

    “You have to eat breakfast. You’re a growing boy!” He smiled at me.


    “No, no. Don’t ‘dad’ me on this one. I’ll admit, your old man sometimes, and I mean sometimes, is wrong. But not on this.”

    “Dad, I eat after I finish my two pages.”

    He furrowed his brow. “Oh. Oh I see. You’re going to be a great writer one day.” Then, he snickered. “And how’s that going to help your family? Your dad, I, put aside his dreams in order to take care of your mom, you, and your three siblings.” He grabbed his plate and threw it against the wall. We stopped serving him food on china. He’s been getting Styrofoam for the past 6 months.

    “Dad. Calm down.” He thought I was a teen again. “It’s what I do in my spare time. I want to be a lawyer like you one day,” rehearsed, mechanical.

    “No! No, you don’t want that either. My job took me away from all of you.” He collapsed back into his chair. “Where are the spoons?”

    I didn’t want to tell him I was his only child, so I instead put my hand on his shoulder and kissed his head. When he started eating his breakfast, I walked back upstairs and sat at my computer. The Skype phone was ringing. “Hey, sweet pea.”

    My daughter and wife appeared on the screen. “Hey daddy!”

    “Hey Drew.”

    “Having fun?” I asked.

    “It’s been busy,” Francy said. Emma chimed in the background, “SO much!”


    “Honey, you look exhausted already. Did you sleep okay?”

    I looked at the screen. “Promise me something.”

    She tilted her head and leaned in. “Sure.”

    “Promise me that we’ll always have spoons.”

    She chuckled. “Okay, honey… shouldn’t you be writing right now?”

    We said our goodbyes. They’d be home in two days. I should be done with this book by then.

    -JR Simmang

    1. Observer Tim

      This story touched my heart, JR. It’s a beautiful tale of what it’s like to live with someone who is mentally ill (senile dementia or Alzheimer’s, I can’t tell from this short extract). It’s also a lovely reminder of the value of family.

      1. lionetravail

        You deserve it- a nice, heartwarming story, when nearly all of mine have been absurdly ridiculous. Yours, instead, was wonderfully touching and real. Nice work!

  10. Jay

    We are own worst critic, guys. Remember that. We can’t edit our replies and don’t have (and don’t want) professional editors for our small 500-word (in my case bazillion-word… I’m working on that haha) stories! We all understand your plight and we won’t eat your face for your mistakes! :D

    That said, This is an amazing community with a lot of fantastic writers. Keep it up!!

    1. Observer Tim

      We’re also our own worst editors. It’s nice to have someone who understands go over the story for style, structure, grammar, and the lot. The best part about being here is that we’re all in the company of minds that are in that one way united.

      I used to fret over errors, but now I go back to my master copy of each story and fix them. The exercise is good practice, and should any of them see the world beyond this forum, they’ll be all the better for having rough edges sanded off.


  11. thatbillguy

    It’s time. Decision time.

    Do I do the dishes? Do I change the baby? Do I mow the grass that, after recent heavy rains, I can literally hear growing? Or do I finish chapter eighteen?

    If the questions were to make it into the wild, I know what the answer would be. It would be less about working out how Weiss escapes from his dungeon nightmare, and more about how the boy’s impending diaper overflow would affect tonight’s meal.

    “I’ve always wanted to be a writer. You know that.”

    “I know.”

    “I feel like I could be successful.”

    “I know”

    “The more time I put into it, the better I’ll get.”

    “I know.”

    “We could hire someone to mow the lawn.”

    “I know. We should.”

    “We could wash dishes as we use them, rather than let them pile up.”

    “It’s true.”

    “But Weiss isn’t going to get out of that dungeon on his own… he needs me!”

    “I know.”
    “So I need to do this. I need to finish this. No matter how successful I ever am in my actual career, there will always be this unfinished thing, this regret following me around.”

    “I know. It’s important to follow through with things you start.”

    “Okay. Thank you.”

    The space was small and cramped. A warm bouquet of decomposition hovered at the entrance. Pernicious substances cascaded on every surface, threatening to escape the confines of the moist prison. My stomach contracted hard. I turned my head and fought down the wetness in my mouth.

    “What evil has wrought such a place?”

    “Pureed broccoli and carrots, with turkey and gravy.”


    “Well, at least you can get back to writing after.”

    1. Observer Tim

      I love the way the MC was able to reach out and use the reality of the situation to strengthen his writing. :) The dialogue is crisp and natural; the fact that the MC is getting the short responses gives a clear signal that this discussion has been held many times before…

  12. Bilbo Baggins


    It’s another day, regretfully. I can only tell because those harsh beams above me snap on, with blinding clarity, and they descend upon me. The sun is cruelly blocked out by large black walls. I shiver at night, watching motionless black bats on the ceiling. I am in a cave.

    I am alone, except for… them. Five minutes later, my captors breeze in, with billowing capes and silver tentacles. I am strapped inside a gray cocoon, squirming. They poke and prod me with mechanical arms and take notes.

    “What do you want with me?” I scream. Some recoil, but even then they do not understand. I want freedom.

    Afterwards, they bring in water that makes my head spin until they leave. The room still bounces around, but my arms are freed. At last, I can work on my true passion- writing. Even before the cave, it’s been my foundation.

    The details still remain fuzzy, unclear. I can remember men in crisp blue coats, heavy suitcases, hard benches that pressed into my spine, people staring at me cold as death. I’d rebelled, hot steam in my throat, until stern arms had guided me onto a white platform that took me here.

    Of course they try to tell me different. They remind me that I brought myself here, that they were not the ones to imprison me. They tell me of people I don’t even know, and in my rage I flip over everything within reach.

    You’ll never break me, I think, no matter how hard you try. Raising my hands, a gentle woman, transparent with golden locks, brings forward a gold tablet. Nameless, her eyes mesmerize me. I begin to write a list of demands for them. Together, I plot, we can overthrow this cave.

    First, I must be left alone. No more prodding, no more potions. Then I can live in peace. Second, I need to walk around, see the air. Why do they not let me outside? I remember grass, clouds, stars, in earlier days. She was always alongside them. Third, they must let me write as long as I want. It’s my driving force, and every day I feel words piling up inside me, waiting to be released.

    White anger flashes into me suddenly, and I tug at my chains, my legs kicking viciously. Individual letters form, dragged together. Knife. Stories come exploding out, pouring onto the sickeningly clean floor, and I smash the tablet from her hands, my list evaporating. She just stands there, imploring me in a language that I cannot hear, until finally she gives up and cries.

    The doctor turned away from the window, his face ashen.

    “He’s writing in the air again. Do you think we should give him some paper?”

    The nurse beside him sighed and looked at her clipboard.

    “Patient 8970 is not allowed. He’ll go into a fit. He was fired from a job at the local paper mill, for stealing. Snapped a few days later, killed his wife.”

    “What a shame. He could’ve been a bestseller.”

    “Yes, what a shame,” the nurse repeated. They walked down the hall to the next room, cold air conditioning blowing relentlessly. The patient continued to wave his arms, until, weary, he fell asleep.

    (This idea came along suddenly and refused to leave, sort of like people looking over my shoulder at what I’m writing. No concessions, mainly because I was approaching the word limit and he’s in a bad enough situation anyways.)

          1. Augie

            I brought the water guns… Woops, not a good idea!
            Good story Bilbo. I like ‘the billowing capes and silver tentacles.’

    1. Marie Therese Knepper

      This is my favorite. Excellent. You make me feel guilty for missing whatever mistakes you’re referring to, because it’s perfect, imo.

    2. Reaper

      I like it, and I think it speaks to the madness that many writers and those that love them fear they will slip into. Just beautiful. I’m sure the errors you mentioned are there but I read over them.

  13. acreasey

    (402 words)

    I never through it would come to this.

    And that’s exactly the kind of cheesy, predictable start to a missive that lets you know how important it is for me to focus on my writing career.

    Do you have any idea of the number of hours in the day that I require to sit in front of my computer and stare at a blank word document page? To just sit there, waiting for inspiration to strike, waiting for that blast of insight that will set my fingers flying across the keyboard, barely keeping up with the fount of creativity gushing from my brain – do you have any idea how long that takes?

    Sure, I hear you say that I haven’t really written anything, that I just stare at the screen, motionless – catatonic, even. You go on and on about how I’m “not really a writer” and how “a writer actually writes,” but I say this: Just give it some time.

    Yes, I use writing as an excuse to not do my chores. Dishwasher needs emptying? Nope, I have to sit and stare at that blank page should an epiphany strike.

    But do you know what it’s like? To know, with certainty, that a novel or an essay – sure to win myself (and my family, if they get off my back) fame and fortune – is sitting there in my brain, just waiting to spill itself onto a page? Can you even comprehend what it would be like to experience that moment of clarity and be stuck holding a rake in our front lawn, unable to capitalize on that long-last brilliant thought because I’m stuffing some rotten arboreal discharge into a plastic sack?

    Can you? You must not, because, somehow, I’m still doing household chores.

    Well, no more. This stops now.
    Effective immediately, I will no longer be your mindless drone to the detriment of my assured long-lasting and lucrative writing career.

    For my menial labor to continue, the following demands must be met:

    I will no longer do menial labor to the detriment of my assuredly long-lasting and lucrative writing career.

    No snarky comments are to made regarding my level of production, my number of words written a day or my dietary requirements (read: Buy more Doritos, for the love of God) while I embark on my quest for an assuredly long-lasting and lucrative writing career.

    That is all.

    1. sjmca1966

      Yeah! How come sports journo’s get to lay on the couch all day watching sports and claim they’re working. While fiction writers staring at blank pages are not afforded the same privilege?
      Nice work acreasey.

    2. Observer Tim

      That’s a pretty short list of demands, acreasey. Of course, it does seem to match the MC’s other literary output. I use my “down time” to read up on technical aspects of writing, but to each their own.

      Good story.

    3. Reaper

      Clear, succinct. Good storytelling acreasy. I’m not sure I’ve seen your name before, I look forward to more from you either way but especially if you’re new. And if I’ve commented on a previous story please forgive. I worked in restaurants for a long time so never remember a name until they’ve been around a long time.

  14. Herald Harbinger

    I hope you all have a fantastic Independence Day.

    On that note, I sort of followed the rules, and admittedly, plagiarized heavily from one notable document that I believe to be in the public domain.

    An open declaration of an aspiring author,

    When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for an author to dissolve responsibilities associated with domestic care and planning, a decent respect to the opinions of others in the household requires that said author should declare the causes which impel him to this separation.

    I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all creative minds are endowed by their Creator with certain irrefutable needs, that among these are inspiration, solitude, and time. That to secure these necessities, individuals cohabiting a domicile must consent to a standard of conduct providing for these requirements. That whenever any conduct becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the author to defend these essentials in such form, as to him shall seem most beneficial. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that household responsibilities should not be changed for light and transient causes. But when a long train of abuses regarding these desires are identified and left unanswered, it is the right, if not the author’s duty, to throw off such encumbrances in the pursuit of creative greatness. This author has long suffered household chores and other burdens denying the basic essentials of writing. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

    They demand to be nourished and hydrated multiple times a day.

    They demand to be bathed and provided clean clothing.

    They demand provision of shelter and transportation and the care and sustainment thereof.

    They demand a listening ear and a reassuring voice.

    They demand academic instruction and personal direction regarding a plethora of extracurricular activities and relationships.

    And this list is by no means exhaustive regarding the multitude and variety of demands on my personal time and resources.

    Regarding these, I am delighted and honored to have the opportunity and blessing to meet many of these desires; however, a reasonable limit is most wholesome and necessary for everyone’s good.

    In every stage of this conflict, I have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms, yet my repeated petitions have been answered only by vehement refutation or stony silence.

    I, therefore, as an equal member, if not head of household, publish and declare that I am hereby absolved of any household chores or other familial responsibilities between the hours of 0500 and 0800 hours and between 2000 and 2300 hours daily. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, I pledge my time, talent, and sacred honor.


    I looked up from my computer and Tory, true to her name, was by the desk with our youngest on her hip. She was giving me the look. “What are you doing?” she said.

    “I’m developing a plan to bring balance to our life.”

    “It looks to me like you’re playing around on your writing site again.”

    “Hey…I get good feedback on this site. If nothing else, they’re all nice and build my confidence.”

    “Well then my super strong, smart and talented author,” said Tory in her most sarcastic tone, “I need you to go to the store and get a gallon of milk.”

    1. Observer Tim

      I suppose he the father of that great household, in order to hold a perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to for himself and his Posterity, will be undertaking the aforementioned journey in pursuit of milk…

      I was watching old Schoolhouse Rock videos this afternoon and your story fit right in. Great job, Herald Harbinger.

      1. Herald Harbinger

        Thanks for the read and comments Observer Tim. Yes–I thought about making this the Henry family, and Patrick, the father, was going to leave for the store with a “Give me liberty or give me death” quote.

    2. sjmca1966

      I’m New Zealand born, bred and resident, so I had to do a little research (okay google), to appreciate how clever this is.
      Very timely and original take on the prompt.
      Well done Herald :)

        1. Kerry Charlton

          You’re describing my life Herald! I have managed the 0500 to 0700 without any pain because my princess, resident in charge after 47 years is sleeping. Please note my time on post this is 0632 San Antonio time.

          I can usually squeeze in 2300 to 0200 if I can stay awake. I love this take especially the “playing on the computer bit.”

          1. Herald Harbinger

            Thanks for the note Kerry Charlton. I can empathize with the staying awake challenge. I often have great intentions to stay up after the rest of the family is in bed, but I often realize that I have been asleep at the computer and decide to go to bed.

    3. thetelleroftales

      Hahaha! That was great! I’m sure I missed all the nuances because I’m not terribly knowledgeable on the Declaration of Independence, but from what I knew, this was hilarious. I hope you don’t mind me borrowing this to post in room in protest (even though I’m not necessarily head of the household). :)

    4. jmcody

      Very clever, Marc. (Can I still call you Marc?). Wow, writers sure take themselves seriously! Maybe it’s not such a bad thing that we have all these uncooperative family members to keep things in perspective. This was original and well done.

  15. Marie Therese Knepper

    (514 words)

    One Big Dysfunctional Family

    “OK, so before this here meetin gets underway, Junior here has sumptin to say. Now I want all of youz to respect my boy like you’d respect me, capice?”

    The Dons and their Capos nodded in agreement.

    “Go ahead, Junior,” Pop said, slapping me on the shoulder.

    My eyes glued to the notebook paper in my almost steady hands, I read aloud.
    “To the Don’s of the Eastern Seaboard Family Alliance. I am ever so grateful youz have allowed me the great privilege of representing youz here as the family secretary for these here proceedins. As most of youz know, Pops has allowed me to pursue my writin,” I pause, look up and around the room like Pops told me to, then smiled and nodded at Pops. The Don’s follow my lead, also smiling and nodding at Pops.

    Eyes back to the paper in front of me, I continue. “This has been no small undertakin. As you all know, my first day’s work was ruined by Jimmy Cannoli’s blood spatter. That was ok, because I had hardly anything to write anywayz, what with all the fightin and shootin. Yesterday was much better. No blood.” I looked up, smiling for emphasis. Almost everyone at the table had a shit-eatin grin on his face.

    “Yeah, no blood!”

    “Musta bin an off day!”

    I let them have a few more seconds of fun, then cleared my throat loudly, eyes once again peeled to my notepaper. “There waz, howevers, so much fightin and yellin that I barely got nuttin written.” I reach down and grab yesterday’s minutes from the table, holding the single sheet up for everyone to see. Everyone shrugs and a few grunts of agreement are heard.

    I look at Pops nervously before continuing. “So, wid all dues respects, as the recorder for these here undertakins, I think there should be some ground rules.”

    “Ground rules,” Don Emphatico growled. “What’d ya mean, ground rules?”

    Pops chimed in. “Ground rules, Don Emphatico, so Junior here can do his job and take the minutes, capice?”

    Don Emphatico gave an irritated shrug, then crossed his burly arms over his massive chest. “OK, Junior. Let’s hear these “ground rules.””

    Pops nodded at me to go ahead.

    “First is that everyone should speak slowly and clearly, so’z I can write down what you say. No more fightin and shoutin and interruptin.” I distinctly heard some hushed whispers around the table.

    “Second, if youz are gonna shoot someone, don’t get his blood on my notebook.” Whew, they liked that one. I paused a second or two, enjoying their snickers.

    The sight of the family’s good humor fueled my confidence. “Third, I think it’s only fair that I should receive some compensation for my troubles.”

    In a split second I heard the ratchet of at least one shotgun, the clicks of not a few safetys, and at least one magazine being secured. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Pops put his hand to his head in disgust.

    “OK, OK, so we’ll just stick with no fightin, yellin, and blood spatter!”

    1. Reaper

      Excellent voice and great story. Had me smiling all the way through. The only bit that confused me was the use of the word peeled to the notepaper. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be an action as in peeling from the group to the paper? I’m asking because the flow of the line is amazing and I assume I’m missing something.

      1. Marie Therese Knepper

        Ty. I was trying to find different ways to convey “eyes glued to the paper”. I had in mind the “Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy” character from SNL.

    2. jmcody

      This did read like a comedy sketch. I could picture the expressions and the atmosphere in the room quite vividly. This was entertaining and fun, and an effortless read. Great!

  16. lionetravail

    “I Will See Your Over-The-Top One-Upsmanship, and One-Ups You One Back!”

    (I went all dialogue with this one- enjoy :))

    “Joey, you get down here this minute and take the garbage out!”

    “Buuuut Maaaaaahm, ah’mmmmm bizzzzy wriiiiiting noooowwww!”

    “Did you hear me? I said ‘right this minute’, Mister!”

    “Buuuut ah’mmmmm werrrrrrking onnnn aaaaaa prahmppppppt whiiiiiichhhhhhh izzzzzz autooooobiooooografffficallllll.”

    “I don’t care, Joey! You’re never going to amount to much as a writer honey, you know that!”


    “Don’t take that tone with me, buster! Remember, any family is a team effort, and you’ve got to handle your part of that effort.”

    “Noooooooo! Ahhhhh’ve haaaaaaaad enufffffff! Maaaaaaaahm, uhnnnnnlessss youuuuuu giiiiiive meeeeee taaaaaahm tooooo wriiiite, aaaaahnd noooo moooooore chooooooores, youuuuuu’lllll beeeeee sooooorrrry!”

    “You’d say such a thing to your mother? Who raised you Joey, alone, with no father to help her?”

    “Wellllll, youuuuuu.”

    “That’s right! And who put you through college by herself, Joey?”

    “Youuuuu, Maaaaaaahm.”

    “And who took you back in when you became a zombie during the apocalypse, hmm Joey?”

    “Fiiiinnnne, jeeeeezuuuuuzz chriiiiiiiist alredddddddy! Ahhhhhh’mmmmm commmmmming dowwwwwnnnnn nooooooowwww…..”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I don’t care if he’s a zomb, I’d still hit him with a heavy brick. Even Zombs can be taught to dry dishes and take out the trash or you ain’t goona get no cash!

    1. Reaper

      Okay, that was amazingly funny. I was all ready to hate the mother for the you’ll never amount to anything as a writer, but then the zombie reveal made me on her side. Wait… We’re still going to be doing prompts after the zombie apocalypse? That makes me feel even better about writing.

    2. jmcody

      Ha ha! At first I thought he was just a really whiny kid, and then a case of arrested development — a kid with a college degree who talks like a six year old. Did not see that coming! It reminded me a little of this thing my kids like to watch on youtube called Dinosaur Office where the characters talk about mundane office stuff in dinosaur voices. Quirky fun !

  17. peetaweet

    I didn’t even know that my parents knew about my blog. I was in my room on a Thursday night, sifting through interviews and research for a Friday deadline—without a computer because my Dad had gotten all certifiable on me just because I hadn’t vacuumed, when there was a tap on my door. I swung it open to find Jackson looking up at me and then he mumbled, “The British are coming.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “Dad wants to see me out in the living room,” he said and then scampered off down the hall. With a sigh I followed, finding the whole family sitting on the couch, even Tyler had dropped his game controller and come out of his cave downstairs. That in itself was a worrying sign.

    “Uh, what?” I said. I looked to Mom, no help there, and then to Tyler who was really enjoying my discomfort. Finally I turned to Dad, who made a big spectacle of reading loudly from the computer.

    “When in the course of human events, it comes necessary for a daughter to dissolve the maternal bands which have connected her with her family and entitle herself a decent respect of the opinions of mankind that require they should declare the causes which impel them to separation:

    They have refused assent to the laptop computer, wholesome and necessary to the editor of the Mimosa Middle School Paper.

    They have dissolved the common courtesy and respect for privacy for a developing young writer to pursue her goals.

    They have obstructed the administration of justice by refusing to be supportive in endeavors of their only natural born daughter…”

    “Okay, Okay, where did you find that?” I interrupt, my face tingling hot. Mom cleared her voice.

    “You didn’t think that we followed your blog?”


    “You are such a nerd,” Tyler offered, slouching like the cretin that he is.

    Dad hushed him and then shot me one of those thoughtful looks that I’d seen him pull in the courtroom when addressing a jury. He tapped the screen. “I usually love your posts, but this one, it uh, some of this text seems vaguely familiar.”

    I rolled my eyes. Sure, I’d lifted some of it from the Declaration of Independence. So sue me. I’m eleven years old and being unjustly tortured by my family so whatever the outcome it couldn’t be worse. But Dad wasn’t done with me.

    “So, you have declared your independence,” he said in a British accent. “With that you will lose your allowance and any use of said laptop, you thought about that, right?” he said, and then groped his midsection and looked at Mom. “Honey, do I look like King George?”

    “It’s the hair, it’s uncanny.”

    She’d picked up the accent too. Great. I hate, hate, hate, when they go all comedy routine on me. I squirmed, because Tyler was smirking at me and it’s all I could do not to hurl a book at him. Finally I closed my eyes and leaned on the doorjamb, pleading with my eyes to Daddy. Sometimes that still worked. Dad arched an eyebrow. “Well?”

    “I guess I went a little overboard.”

    Dad stood up, putting a hand to his chin. He couldn’t help but pace the floor when he spoke, “This is good Anne Marie, I like it, it shows a little fight. Tell you what. I’ll double your computer time, in return you continue vacuuming duties, he held the computer towards me and then jerked it back. “And feed Stella.”

    Tyler bolted upright. “Dad!”

    I nodded. “Deal.”

    Dad handed me the computer. I shot Tyler a look and spun around. Court was adjourned, at least until dinner, when he and my mother resumed their British accents.

    What had I started?

    1. vaderize03

      “The British are coming..”

      This was a funny, well-written take on the prompt. You display your MC’s tween indignation perfectly; I could feel her angst, and her dislike of being teased. My parents did that numerous times to me growing up (sans the accents), and I always hated it.

      Well done!

    2. Observer Tim

      This is great, peetaweet! It started out slyly comical, then got all weird on me when my mind started filling in the British accents. By the end I was chuckling; I’d say my housemates thought I was nuts, but that’s a foregone conclusion.

    3. jmcody

      This is probably one of the more realistic responses to this prompt. Loved your precocious eleven year old and her creative parents. My kids hate it when we think we’re funny too. This was a nice slice of life, Peeta.

    4. Reaper

      Beautiful and as was said by jmcody very realistic. I liked the twist to having the parents give the concessions and demands rather than the MC. Very creative and readable take.

        1. lionetravail

          Finally had somje time out of my shell this past week. Peeta, this was so, so good, i got lost in the story. I completely forgot who had written it, because the 11 year old girl voice was perfect. I got to the end, with all the humanity and humor, and was just plain surprised to see your name at the bottom. Congratulations on some really engrossing and enveloping writing.

          (I’d think about this for a contest entry, no joke.)

  18. Observer Tim


    “What were you thinking, Moe? Just what exactly got into that fuzzy little head of yours?”

    “I was angry, Sir.”

    “You were angry? You could have yelled at them for that oversized frat party of theirs, but no! You casually destroyed MY work!”

    “I’m sorry, Sir, but they…”

    “They were throwing a party, I know. I could hear it from here, all the blasted timbrels and singing. Do you think I couldn’t hear it? I’m not deaf, you know.”

    “Yes, Sir, I know, but they were breaking the rules.”

    “I know they were breaking the rules, Moe. But you were supposed to read them the riot act, not throw a great temper tantrum and smash the material I gave you!”

    “The riot act, Sir?”

    “After your time, Moe. Anyway, I took over a month writing that stuff down. Stone tablets aren’t the easiest medium to work in, especially when I had to carve them with my finger.”

    “I know, Sir.”

    “And yet you destroyed them anyway! And then you… well, heh-heh. I do give you credit for what you did next. Burning the gold cow on their barbeque and making all of them eat it. That was clever; I’m still chuckling from that one.”

    “Thank you, Sir. And I really am sorry. I brought two new stone tablets; I promise not to break these ones.”

    “You’d better not, Moe. And those idiots had better be grateful, considering all I’ve done for them. Baking manna every day, pulling water out of dry stone, that’s hard work. And never mind about opening a dry path through a major body of water and then drowning all those Egyptians…”

    “I know they appreciate that, Sir. After all, it most definitely beats slavery.”

    “You’d better be right, Moe. Okay, this time I’m going to dictate and you’re going to carve the rock. Chisel ready? Good. Remember, this is for their own good. Here’s my list of demands. Again. Number One: I am the LORD your GOD…”

      1. lionetravail

        Probably not- you’re actually reminding us of the real events in the old Testament, right in the heart of Exodus, and that can’t be bad in the grand scheme of things. Love it as over the top goes :)

        Oh, and did you know Moe suffered from migraines after 40 days and nights on the mount? Sure, that’s why God told him to take two tablets and call him in the morning….

    1. Jay

      Nicely done. It’s interesting how the big guy refers to him as Moe. It’s a very informal view on the whole interaction that He has with His minions. Depending on the religious outlook people are usually His children, soldiers, or you know, whatever. lol Anyway, again, good job!

    2. jmcody

      I’m glad to hear that God has a sense of humor. I’ve always suspected it. So many funny lines, as always. I particularly liked the darn timbrels and the riot act. This made me think of Mel Brooks, which is an interesting way to start my day. :)

    3. thetelleroftales

      At first I was incensed at the cavalier treatment of God and his powers, but I re-read and decided I liked it. God does have a sense of humour (we are a prime example), and I thought this was an interesting take on the greatest writer of all time.

    4. agnesjack

      Of course God has a sense of humor — he created us, didn’t he? This was great, Tim, and spreading His word will never place you in purgatory.

    5. Reaper

      Very nice Tim. I realized something was up at the after your time line but it still took me a bit. Very creative. The idea of God as an author or artist is very in sync with the course in book form I have been going through for a little bit. Makes me wonder if you’ve read it. I think this is beautiful and am reminded of the words of two great comedic philosophers. The first being Kevin Smith, who did an intro to one of the compiled volumes of Preacher. He admitted to believing in God and believing that God had a sense of humor and found Preacher hilarious, in response to objections about how the comic casually treats God as the heavy handed antagonist. The second being much more appropriately specific to your style here. Dennis Leary has a joke that he follows up with, “I’m going to hell for that bit. And you’re aaaaall coming with me.” I kept having that in my mind once I read your first comment. Just amazing work and the commentary on taking both God and artists for granted spoke to me on a deep level.

  19. Carlos Hammer

    The Authors Negotiation

    Her brother sat across from her, the only things between them being the list, two glasses of lemonade, and of course, the table that the other two sat on
    “So? What’s this then?” her brother asked, picking up the list with two fingers as if she’d blown her nose with it.

    “My demands.”

    “Your… demands? I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I’m confused here…” her brother began to stumble and stand up but that was when she brought out the tiny pistol in her pocket and pointed it at him. She couldn’t help but laugh at the way her brother twitched and quickly sat back down. “Now, no need to-”

    “Shut up and read the list!” she shouted, ignoring her buzzing phone. He certainly did read the list and grew more and more terrified with every word, she could see it in his eyes.

    “You want to write again? I… I thought you had recovered after that incident at the coffee shop… Come to think of it, how’d you get that gun?” That was when she pulled the trigger. She’d get what she wanted on that list one way or another; she didn’t care how many times she’d have to pull the trigger again. She picked up the list and read it to herself again. It didn’t seem like much to ask, simple necessities for a writer such as herself. That was when she heard the sirens (probably responding to the gunshots) and ran.

    The police arrived, finding her brother dead and the scratchily written list on the napkin confusing. The list consisted only of pencil and paper (the police could not guess why). They did, however, see the connection that this was the brother of a recently escaped mental patient and definitely suspected her in the killing.

    She sat with her back to a building in an alleyway, wishing she had taken some money from her brother rather than clothes because his just didn’t fit. She decided now would be the time to check why her brothers phone she had stolen kept vibrating in her pocket as she was trying to negotiate. There was one e-mail, to her account, which she had connected to the phone as soon as she got a hold of it. She recognized the e-mail address immediately and knew what she had to do without even reading it. She, once again, would meet with Mr. Meyer.

    This is a sequel to the story “The Authors Dilemma” posted for the “Your Life: A Mystery Novel” prompt.

    1. Reaper

      Now I am going to have to go back and reread that. I kept thinking this sounded a little familiar somehow. The language seems a bit choppy in places but I’m not sure if that is intentional to give the mental patient feel. The that was when twice in the same paragraph did most of that for me though. This is a very good read and still leaves me wanting to read more of the story.

  20. Bilbo Baggins

    (Disclaimer: I don’t know how this mess appeared on a page. Proceed with caution.)

    Dear Frodo,

    Things have gotten a bit complicated since we last met. People tell me that you were killed, but I know you’re still out there. I’m sorry to be writing such a distance away, although Rivendell is a beautiful place and the elves make good company. I’m starting to rethink my bachelor position… but, back to the point.

    The main reason behind this letter is for the future, my lad. When you return, I’m sure you’ll be spouting stories all the time, but I need to be working on my memoirs in peace and quiet. So, naturally, I have compiled a *small* list of what I will require you to do.

    1) I shall be in constant fervor, my hand always a flurry of activity. I will need you to make sure my quills and inkwells are in pristine condition, or else I’ll give the rest of Smaug’s wealth to Sam (you’ll find out later that this ‘wealth’ only comprises a handful of coins. The rest I spent on foolish luxuries. Ha!)

    2) If my daft cousins the Sackvilles come knocking for me, you are to always stress that I’m not at home, and expound on a list of reasons that make no sense whatsoever. Or else they will come inside, talk all the rest of the day, and eventually move in for the next 50 years.

    3) My health is failing. The time may come when I will have to hand my manuscripts over to you. I can already feel my grasp of the Elfish language slipping away, which sometimes leaves me in the embarrassing situation of forgetting a word halfway through a pickup line. Not that they can get past my age, anyways. But, I will be entrusting you with all my hard work. I expect you to speedily complete the books, and not be a foolish SOT.

    4) If I am to surpass Old Took in age, which I plan to do, you must take good care of me. I am not to be disturbed in my study, so all daily chores will fall under you. Second breakfasts are to be served piping hot and not a moment late.

    But, I will agree to make some concessions. No need for an argument that will take months to deliver.

    1) I will agree to go with you once you return, if you wish to leave. You and Gandalf are the only real friends I still have. All my old ones are, well, dead.

    2) I regret when I tried to take the ring from you. That was a horrid incident that I will persevere to put behind me. You’ve always been the kindest nephew to me, and I will treat you as such.

    3) Before bed, I will allow you to tell me your stories. Retelling it will keep it fresh in your mind, and it will lull me to sleep with its boredom. You think you had a rough journey? Poppycock!

    Now that these demands are over, I can expect you to treat my writing career with decent respect when you return. I’m sure Gandalf would want you to agree with me, you know…

    And, lastly, I heard Gollum was burned in the mountain with the ring. Good. I always loathed the slimy rapscallion.

    Bilbo Baggins

    1. vaderize03


      Just absolute awesomeness; it’s exactly how I’d expect Bilbo to sound. Of course, since Bilbo ended up in Valinor (along with Frodo), he should have a nice quiet place to relax (and the Valar and Maiar to keep him company).

      Excellent take on the prompt!

      1. Bilbo Baggins

        Thanks, vaderize, sjmnca, and girl-in-progress. It’s always nice to see new writers come in. Now 500+ comments in nothing here! I have no idea how Bilbo’s supposed to sound, but this is what came to me when I visualized a small hobbit smoking a pipe and waddling down the streets of Hobbiton.

    2. thetelleroftales

      I’m left without words (a serious position for an aspiring writer). That was awesome. It was made even funnier by the fact that I watched Fellowship of the Ring this weekend. Loved this take and the voice of the MC, and all the elements of LOTR that came into this. At first I was a little bit confused, but when I figured it out, I was just left with the problem that I’m not sure which Bilbo Baggins I will be responding to. And I think Bilbo might have been a little bit more genteel.
      Anyway, all that aside, LOTR fans unite!

    3. jmcody

      Bilbo, you will be so disappointed when I tell you this, but I’ve never seen more than bits and pieces of LOTR. I know — unfathomable, right? Even so I smiled through his whole thing. You are on a comedic roll these past couple of weeks, which is refreshing (although I also like your dystopian side). The voice was great and the zingers were very… Zingy. Welcome home, Bilbo!

      1. Bilbo Baggins

        Thanks, jm! I guess I have been more focused on comedy lately, I just haven’t noticed. I love to change styles, to see if I can do funny and dark for the same prompt (although my dark isn’t like Reaper or Jay, but more of a dramatic thing). I only started the dystopian thing in the first place because I figured that was hot in YA right now and I wanted to try it out. But, it worked well for me, apparently. I might have to get back to that soon… it all depends on what the next prompt is and how busy I am.

        1. Reaper

          What are you trying to say Mr. Baggins? ;) This was nice. I for one think you nailed the voice of Bilbo but I grew up on that terrible cartoon version of the hobbit and finally read the books in high school. I avoided the newer movies for a long time. From the books though, I think you were pretty spot on, especially an older version. And since we all know Frodo does nothing poor Sam is going to have a hard time with his normal tasks while carrying out this new list of demands as well.



    Dear Reaper and Amyithist:

    After careful consideration and review of my post for this week, I decided the only thing (if any) I would change would be the deletion of the very last line. “I met my deadline.” The only reason I would consider deleting it is because it reads like a reference sentence to “continue” the MC’s voice regarding the writing contest. Thank you for your for your comments and suggestions. As a thank you gift I have posted an alternate ending for viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

    McKevin Webster

  22. sjmca1966

    This is the last part of my little trilogy.

    Tranquility At Last – Part III – Pooh-Bear and Piglet go Visiting.

    It was the fifth hotel room, in the fifth different State, that I woke up in.

    We’d been on the run for six weeks and I wasn’t feeling too flash. It had been Marcy’s idea for me to stop taking my meds two months earlier. She reckoned it would give an edge to the last few chapters of my mystery novel.

    She was right as usual and although I was more than happy with the completed first draft, the lows were starting to outnumber the highs.

    When I rolled over and stared straight up, Marcy was standing on the bed with a foot either side of my shoulders. She was wearing nothing but my Wildcats singlet and this made me feel a little better, “Come on Pooh-Bear, you have chores to do,” she said.

    Up until this point I hadn’t thought of the first thing on my ‘to do’ list as a chore at all. Marcy’s knees started to bend.

    “Somethings wrong, tell Piglet what it is,” said Marcy, as she rolled to one side and sat cross-legged, staring at me with her hypnotic jade-green eyes.

    “It’s nothing.”

    “Someone didn’t like your piece in Writers Digest, did they?”

    I’d been submitting to ‘The Weekly Writing Prompt’ and she could tell how much it irked me to receive negative feedback.

    Marcy then reached over the side of the bed, grabbed my laptop, and headed to the bathroom. She’d been three years into her computer science degree, when, after her family were murdered, she quit to join the police force. I knew it wouldn’t take her long to track down the unfortunate poster, who I knew was only trying to offer me constructive criticism.

    Before Marcy re-emerged, there was a knock on the door, “Room service!” said the attendant.

    My heart sank when I saw our pictures on the front page of the complementary newspaper. I’d become used to our new appearance and it was shocking to see how we used to look. I ran my hand over my chrome-dome and then rustled the thick growth on my itchy face.

    The connection had finally been made, ‘Hunt on for Writers Digest Killers!’, read the headline.

    I reached for the half-empty bottle of Jim Beam (I know writers are supposed to drink Scotch Whiskey, but I’m a Kentucky boy at heart).

    “Pack your stuff, Pooh-Bear, I have a new chore for you.”

    I was getting fed up with her bloody list of chores. ‘I might as well have kept the status-quo and stayed with Sandy and the kids!’ I thought to myself.

    “Where to this time?”

    “It’s a surprise, but it looks a lovely little town . . .”

    . . . Knock, knock, knock!

    The End

    1. jmcody

      I’m a little scared to comment on this one. It was good. No, excellent. Best one I ever read.

      I really did enjoy the trilogy, SJ., not that I would tell you if I didn’t. ;)

      Stopping now before someone gets hurt. K, bye.

      1. sjmca1966

        Thanks JM. Ego aside, I thought it might have been kinda cool to have zero comments.

        P.S. Love what you’ve done with your hair! Wa-ha-ha!

  23. Augie

    Not trying to set the record for how many times I can post. I wrote this within minutes of the prompts reveal last Thursday and finally summoned the guts to post it. “Some stories need to be told”, she would say to me. Her name was Adila, which translates to ‘fair or equal’

    “I, Augila, will neither confirm nor deny that the events in this story are based on an actual event. I will confirm however, my tears are flowing with each damn key I strike. Augila—- out”

    —-Worth Fighting For—–

    Another day in the desert park north of the Yemen border. Another day Aguila is missing his twelve-year-old daughter back home in Seattle.

    The entire world is at the mercy of this allied nation’s oil surplus. The group of fighting brothers (American Navy SEAL’s and Canadian JTF2 forces) look across the well-maintained park. The country’s wealth is on display as sprinklers spray hundreds of gallons of water across the lush gardens filled with statues of gold. Meanwhile, its lower-class citizens are suffering dehydration.

    The allied warriors sit in shorts and tank tops after defending this foreign nation for nine months. They spend downtime in the luxurious park sharing ‘when I get home’ stories.

    The serene atmosphere is broken suddenly by a group of religious police cornering a young girl, shouting as they pummel her with stones.

    Blood seeps through her hijab as the projectiles hit their mark. Crowds of men and boys gather cheering their religious enforcers. Normally, a child her age would have been sold to a 70-year old man as his new wife. This is the custom here that our nations support with fighting troops. Many of which, never returned home.

    Scorpion grabs Aguila’s arm, “This is not our battle!” Aguila pulls his arm away, “It is today. Follow or flee! Your choice men!” The Canadian warriors are already racing across the park. “ Shit!” Scorpion shouts.

    Scorpion calls the local command post, “we need an immediate evac, the coordinates are…”

    The details of what happened next will not be spilled across this page like the blood spilled across the park.

    The puzzled citizens stand in shock, their heads shifting back and forth between the 25 religious officer’s corpses and the unmarked Chinook helicopter hovering over their glamorous park.

    Adrenalin flowing, the special force unit takes turns carrying the girl’s limp body to the helicopter. All want a share of what is left of this child’s life.


    Are the warriors angry? Yes! But it gets worse when they discover a list of demands clinched in the child’s tiny hand.

    Reaper reads the list, shouting over the helo’s tandem rotor blades.

    My name is Adila and I’m 12 years old. My seven-year-old brother refused our mother to re-marry after our father passed and now he has sold me to sheik Abdul-Azim. These are my demands before I agree to this form of slavery:

    1) I want to watch a movie and write a screenplay of my own.

    2) I want to listen music and write a song of my own.

    3) I want to wear blue jeans and be friends with boys, no more segregation!

    4) I want to walk the streets of my homeland without a permission letter from my younger brother.

    5) I want to drive a car

    6) I want to…

    Aguila holds the girl’s wrist, her heartbeat fades. It’s too late to save her life.

    He shouts to the pilot, “land near the base theater.” They rush the dying girl into the theater playing the movie called It’s a Wonderful Life.

    Aguila holds her limp body as her eyes dance across the movie screen. She cracks a smile as her life fades. He pulls back her hijab revealing the damage that caused her eyes to close in eternal peace.

    “You can write now child,” Augila whispers…

    His thoughts drift to his daughter who is living in the land of the free as military police storm the theater.

    Court-martial? Well, that’s tomorrow.

    Hopefully Admiral ‘Ole wrinkle face’ will show up and rescue the team once again.

    If not?

    Well, this was worth fighting for!

    1. kittycat4ever

      Emotionally moving. I liked this one even though it made me sad for the little girl. How ironic that her first and only movie was “Its a wonderful Life.” Almost cruel and yet somehow fitting.

    2. sjmca1966

      When I first read this I was simply going to write ‘Speechless’. But this story deserves more than one word. This was moving. This was so professional in its writing and style. Please don’t hesitate to share work like this again. Truly inspirational on more than one level. You have raised the bar with this effort Augie. Congratultions – S.J

    3. Observer Tim

      Whoa. Great story, Augie. This one grabs the heart and yanks. It also provides a clear reminder of the difference between the west with its freedoms and the rest of the world where, well, not so much.

    4. margi33

      Very moving, Augie. Puts our petty demands as writers in this “land of opportunity” in check. The only thing blocking our way is ourselves. Thanks for this well written reminder :) .

    5. jmcody

      Devastating. This gave me both chills and tears at the same time. Oh, the things you have seen Augie. Stories like this need to be told, and I’m so glad you’re not afraid to tell them. Deeply affecting.

      1. Augie

        I cannot respond with words. Just know, I am responding in a deeper way. For those that can hold their child this 4th of July, do it. (especially you mamma bear!)

    6. Reaper

      Augie, why do you want to make me cry? Everything other people have said about the child and the needing to be told is true. I want to commend you, especially you, for a couple of special acts of bravery I see from you in posting this piece. The nods to the oil surplus, to propping up and sending our boys to die for things we would never stand in our own country. It takes a special kind of courage given your situation to put that even subtly in your work. I applaud you for seeing the difference between what is right and what you have to do. Thank you for reminding us that the wars waged by politicians (which are not always right) are different than the battle fought by the warriors taking the chance (who I do and we all should have nothing but love for). I’m always impressed by your writing and often you remind me that I am also in awe of the man. Thank you for this, and in case I don’t get to say it before, happy fourth of July to you and the amazing knuckleheads you read these stories to.

      I am hesitant to say this but I’m going to because I’ve been heaping on the praise. While not a necessary edit I think with the title you could have ended this with the Court-martial? Well, that’s tomorrow. line because that was powerful and just summed up the I’ll deal with the consequences feelings. Again, just amazing.

      1. Augie

        I have a few comments, hope you don’t mind. I waited until tonight knowing the audience will be light. I promised myself I wouldn’t respond to this story and take away the meaning. It is rare in the civilian sector to find a person that sees the depth behind amateur words written with experienced eyes. You may have caught it, maybe not, but my call name is AGULIA, not Augila. I am honored for the call name given to me ‘Eagle’. My brother ‘Reaper’ is a young warrior from Washington State. He is native American, Apache. Why am I taking the time to tell you this? It is the brothers code. You made a statement to a stranger as you read his crying words. You understood the risk involved. We discussed ‘soldiers coming home’ in the past. Our words are for those worthy of hearing them. You have earned that with my group. Its a horrific transition and we don’t expect civilians to get it. I can’t tell you how many times i’ve been invited to strangers homes to console the fathers and grandfathers. I proudly volunteer . Why are we special? Your a smart man Reaper, Im sure the answer is evident. While I don’t understand your call name, I understand you. You honored me today, and I return the same. I have no plans on becoming a professional anything, but I have watched with my eagle eyes how you reinforce young minds to keep on writing. That I respect. Good night our brother, keep encouraging others to write. They respect your words. Thats what makes you special, and believe me, it makes a difference.

        1. Reaper

          Augie, I never mind a few comments and am glad to have checked and read them. Your words are a gift and I thank you for them. You are a deep man and I am very honored by what you have shared and what you have said about me. I will try to live up to it.

  24. Artemis4421

    [Didn't exactly follow the prompt, or stay within word limit, but I feel that without those touches, it wouldn't be my work! Honest critiques are always appreciated, as usual. So without further ado...]

    “Derek, where did you put my notebooks?” I ask my roommate, glancing over to where he has his head under a pillow. “I idn oo uffin,” comes the mumbles reply. “Didn’t do nothin'” my butt. I shake my head and return to my fervent search for the missing materials.

    “Seriously dude, all my pencils too?” Derek was notorious for ‘borrowing’ my things. Granted, he did give most of them back, but other times…if something in my half of the room was awry or even missing, Derek was to blame. This time there’s no response, so I cross over to his closet and throw the doors open. He immediately responds to the sound of his medals jingling from their hanging spot on the closet doorknobs. Sitting up and staring at me, Derek looks at me suspiciously, but I see vulnerability. We have a stare-down, but after it’s clear that there’s no end in the near future, I smile and sit back on my bed, facing him.

    “Alright, it’s not like I have classes in ten minutes. It’s not like those notebooks held everything that was decently written by me. Two can play at this game. Or, maybe we can play a new game,” I begin, seeing the suspicion still in Derek’s eyes, but there’s also a flare or curiosity.

    “If I don’t have my belongings back, then what is the point of continuing on?” I intone dramatically, flailing back onto my bed like a damsel in distress. “I might as well lay here and do nothing. The next time you try to sneak Becky over here, I wont cover for you, I wont help clean the place up a bit. Heck, I might even call some higher-ranking people. That’d take care of that little blonde making this room smell like some kind of candy shop or something.” I pause for breath, gathering my next thoughts, but I know that hit Derek hard. He and Becky have been together for five months, and according to Derek, ‘things could not be better; I really owe you one, man’.

    “Dylan, man, okay,” he starts, but I continue on. “Next time you need some money, I’ll still be lying here, but I’ve got a phone. If I get robbed, somebody’s gonna hear about it. They’re gonna find out what you’re buying with my money too. I suppose your folks know that you smoke, don’t they? What’s that? They don’t? Hmm…”

    I let him interrupt me this time. “Dylan, okay, I’ll give you your stuff back, but will you puh-lease listen to me first?” Derek looks a bit scared, and if I were him, I would be too. I feel a little bit bad for doing it, I suppose, but how else was I supposed to get it back? I nod my consent, and he begins his little speech.

    “Okay first of all, I took your stuff because you are addicted. You cannot stop writing and you think that your little lights won’t wake me up, but I’m losing sleep over your obsession, man. In the middle of the night, if an idea pops into your head, you can’t ignore it. Lost your flashlight? Oh just turn on the big light, it’s not like I’m trying to sleep or anything. Second of all, you gotta promise to quit that stuff. If I get woken up one more time by your and those ideas of yours, I will throw those notebooks in the river. Last of all…please help me with Becky; you know how much she means to me. And my family…you know I’m working on kicking the habit. With your help, I can stop within the next month, and they’ll never have my shame on their shoulders. Please man…”

    After an appropriate pause, I nod, and he breaks out into his goofy smile that’s so contagious. “Alright man. I’m sorry about all that. I agree to the terms, just please don’t take my stuff again. You know how much my writing means to me, and I just…please don’t do it again.” Now it’s his turn to nod, and when I see where he retrieves it from, I feel like smacking myself in the face. He gets down on his stomach and pulls the cloth boxes and bags out from under his bed.

    I sigh in relief, making sure everything’s there- it is-then hold up my fist to Derek. He smiles and taps it with his own, and we’re cool again. “But uh, Dylan…did you really mean what you said about Becky and her perfume?”

    He looks puzzled when I laugh, not dignifying that with an answer. Some things are better left unsaid.

    1. Observer Tim

      I’m glad you let this story spread its wings, Artemis. We all sacrifice details of the prompt from time to time in the interest of telling a good story, and this is a darned very good story. You captured the interplay of the room-mates wonderfully and made both characters sympathetic.


    2. jmcody

      Interesting story about roommates enabling each others’ addictions! Well, one habit is only slightly healthier than the other. So it’s not a straight comparison, but I liked the symmetry of their relationship, and their overall good intentions toward one another, as well as their ability to compromise. Lots of subtle ideas expressed here. Nice, Artemis.

    3. sjmca1966

      Nice take on the prompt.
      Before posting, my stories have all been around 700 words, but I have managed to cut them all back to 500+change and have ended up happier with the results. It’s hard but takes practice and that’s one of the main reasons I started posting here (the lovely and supportive people are a bonus). I spend roughly three times longer editing than writing but I find it rewarding. You may be surprised, as I was, how just removing one or two words per sentence can tighten up your writing without losing impact.
      Overall I enjoyed your piece :)

    4. Reaper

      Good story, believable and sympathetic characters. One suggestion I might make is you can cut it down a little by looking at how necessary certain words are. I am currently cleaning up a novel and find myself removing the word that almost every time it appears. Actually I remove that word a lot on everything I write when I edit. Just don’t go crazy with it. While some words are almost always extraneous you may find you remove one then look at the sentence and wonder what the hell were you thinking not putting it in there. Anyway, very good slice of life you have there. I particularly like the idea of a family shamed by having a smoker son.

  25. margi33

    Just for fun… A second, fictitious response.

    George wrings his hands. This is his first day on the job. Security has always been a passion, but this is a step up for George. Never has he seen a room so fluorescent and blinding in its brilliance. He stands at his post, mouth gaping. The walls in front of him are Lexan — fishbowl like, institutional but important. Inside, a lady sits, legs crossed. Her white lab coat is labeled “Dr. J” on the left breast pocket. Her face is contemplative and focused. A folding table stands in front of her, spindly metal legs and open space act as the only barrier between her and her patient.

    The parties inside speak, casting an echo toward George through the small gray boxes full of holes. The speakers, he surmises.

    “What is your name?” Dr. J asks the man across the table.

    “Cornelius Barnhurst,” the man replies in an affected tone. His spectacles cling to the tip of his nose and his brown corduroy pants crinkle as he shifts position in his folding chair.

    “I see,” Dr. J replies. “What is your occupation?”

    Mr. Barnhurst puffs like a peacock. “Surely you’ve heard of me?”

    Dr. J clears her throat, “For the record please, Mr. Barnhurst.”

    “Yes, my dear… I am a writer by trade. You know, bestselling author, dozens of books –”

    “Thank you, Mr. Barnhurst,” Dr. J cuts him off. “I am here today because it has been brought to my attention you have a set of demands. Is this true?”

    “Why yes, it is true.”

    “I hardly think demands are acceptable in your position, but go on if you must.”

    Mr. Burnhurst brushes off her comment and speaks. “I need a desk. Paper, pens, even pencils would be necessary as well as –”

    Dr. J interrupts, “Mr. Barnhurst, you are aware that you are not allowed to have writing implements at this facility?”

    “I am a writer. How am I to write? Perhaps a typewriter or computer then. I still do not comprehend the ‘rules’ of this establishment.”

    “Yes, Mr. Barnhurst. I realize you are ‘new’ here, but you DO understand why you are here. Am I correct?”

    Mr. Barnhurst’s face scrunches in confusion. Lifting out of her seat, Dr. J hovers, awaiting something. Mr. Barnhurst flinches — a twitch of sorts. Dr. J scrambles toward the metal door while simultaneously pushing the panic button.

    George, memorized by the scene, almost forgets his duty. Dr. J is at the door, her eyes wide. The patient is in pursuit, the folding chair hoisted above his head, wearing a mask of craziness. George mashes the big red button.

    The door clicks as the lock disengages and Dr. J pulls it open, wedges herself through, and slams it taut, just as the chair smashes into the other side.

    Dr. J races to George. “I just made it,” she pants at his side. His heart pounds in response, and he’s too shocked to speak. She continues, “Mr. Adalade has not surfaced in some time. He will need to be moved with extreme caution to the maximum security ward.”

    “Which one is Mr. Adalade?” George asks, rubbing his palms onto his slacks.

    “Unfortunately, Mr. Adalade is the worst of his personalities. I am convinced he is the one responsible for the death of his family five years ago.” George looks at her with a blank expression. The doctor clarifies, “I’m sure you heard about it in the news… You know, the writer, with the set of demands his family didn’t meet in time. They were all found butchered in their home in the suburbs.”

    George’s heart threatens to leave his chest. Perhaps he should have stuck with mall security. He presses the button on his radio and calls for backup.

    1. Observer Tim

      Excellent take on the “writer kills family” story, Margi. The flashback style does a great job allowing you two stories for the price of one.

      I saw one word choice error and one style thing that I hope will help. First the error: George should be mesmerized by the scene. The style thing, perhaps a mask of insanity might scan better in the same paragraph.

      1. margi33

        Thanks for the comments, OT. I totally agree with you. Also, I wrote this in a very strange pov (3rd person, present, and almost omniscient) which made it read a little weird. Might have been one of those experiments gone awry ;) .

    2. jmcody

      I don’t feel that it went awry at all, and I think the omniscience worked fine in his short piece. I am also impressed that you knew that this tense is called!

      You were able to accomplish a lot in a small space in terms of character development, especially with the focus almost equally on the three characters. I also liked that the actual murder was in the past and the focus was on the drama happening in the mental hospital. I enjoyed this unique perspective.

      1. jmcody

        I read your other story too and totally related to it (except for the coyotes. By me it’s gangs of wilding kids and bad drivers…). I’m a bit behind on commenting but wanted to tell you I liked it’s very realistic portrayal of an all too familiar kind of frustration!

        1. margi33

          Thanks, jmcody for ALL of your responses. I’m glad the above piece didn’t seem too weird, ha! I think we probably lead quite similar lives (as far as the motherhood thing) and yes, the coyotes are unique to us currently but we do plan on leaving the wilds for suburbia in the next year. Suburbia is almost scarier though ;) .

          1. margi33

            Oh, and I’m always behind on comments, so no worries… It takes much longer to comment then write pieces I think. So I appreciate you taking the time to read mine.

    3. sjmca1966

      Margi you painted a very detailed picture. For me the POV changes were so subtle that I really didn’t notice them until I read your following comments and did a re-read.
      Job well done in my humble opinion.

    4. Reaper

      Brilliant Margi33. Just amazing. You went heavily into a higher caliber of verbiage on this one and it worked brilliantly for a scene with a doctor and a writer in it. Your vocabulary, tone, tense, and POV all combine into a very scary story with a sterile institutional feel. You had me thinking this was a Fahrenheit 451, Pillar of Fire, Bradbury horror world then turned me on my head with your reveal. Masterfully written.

      1. margi33

        Thanks, Reaper. The story felt detached and sterile in my mind, so that’s the way I wrote it. I’m glad it worked for you and you saw those angles to it — that was what I intended :).

  26. girl-in-progress

    The Door

    “Henry, you serious? What’s this Post-it again? You know I can’t take another drama from you,” Big Bob said as he angrily slammed the huge slab behind him.

    “One,” Big Bob started reading, one eyebrow up. “Because you’re always hosting wild parties every single night, I can’t concentrate on my writing so tonight, if you’ll still party, I’ll slash your boom box speakers, puke on all of your booze and food, and shoot your buddies with paintball right in the middle of their faces.”

    “As if, dude.” Big Bob laughed hysterically after reading my first statement.

    “I’m telling the truth.”

    “I don’t give a damn if you’re telling the truth or not.”

    “Second,” Big Bob continued almost crying from laughing. “If you’ll still make noise, I will not do your homework tonight or any other homework thereafter. I will also not let you copy my History notes and/ or the Maths quiz.”

    “Hell,” he snickered. “You know I’ll hit you right?”

    “I’ll not be scared anymore ‘cause I’m immune to it.” I said, matter-of-factly.

    “Shut up,” he snorted.

    Big Bob kept reading. He seemed to enjoy me, his loser roomie, standing up against him.

    “Oh, this one’s funny, he said. “Finally, if you’ll not shut my door one more time while I am writing, I’ll kill you stat.”

    “Damn nerd, you threatening me now? You know I’m Big Bob right? Y-O-U can’t scare Big Bob at all!”

    “Yeah,” I muttered. “Anyway, do we have a deal?”

    Big Bob felt like screaming. “’Scuse me?”

    “I asked you if you understood my demands.” I repeated, this time loud and clear.

    “Yeah, yeah I guess.” Big Bob said turning his back irritated.

    “Just as you know,” I called after him. “If you’ll respect me and my writing demands, I’ll not ask you to pay for the rent anymore. Plus, I’ll never bother you with these notes again. Alrighty?”

    “Hmm…whatever nerd, you always tell me these things but you never do ‘em. I’m so sick of your whining. Now go do your thing ‘cause I’m going to Jack’s tonight and have a blast.”

    “If you say so, Big Bob.”


    I guess he really had a blast.

    1. Augie

      I like your characters in the post. In particular when Big Bob felt like screaming, “Scuse me?” Keep on writing! I’ve dealt with Big Bob types in the past, on the beach in Thailand waiting for extraction I watched a Big Bob get the crap beat out of him but a 15 pound monkey because he wouldn’t give a kid, (the monkeys owner) a nickel for the soda the kid brought him. Best moment in my life! (he was my boss!) Keep writing girl-in-progress, you have great stories. I felt like the guy on Big Bang Theory wooped an egotistical Hulk in your story. Well done!

    2. sjmca1966

      Great concept. Already there’s improvement in your work from last week.
      One thing I read somewhere which I think has helped my writing, is if you have a lot of dialogue then try and read your words out loud and even record and play back if possible.
      Nice work.

    3. Observer Tim

      Great idea, girl-in-progress, and well presented. I’m a sucker for dialogue; if done carefully it can tell the whole story. You did a good job here; I can picture the characters from their voices and the tidbits of description.

      I’m one of the sources of advice about reading dialogue out loud to improve it (many others use this same technique). The hard part is reading what’s on the page, not what you think is on the page. For something that’s supposed to be natural, it’s amazing how much editing it sometimes needs to get that last bit of perfect.

      My red pencil says in the fifth-from-last paragraph, the verb will (shall) binds more closely to “not” than to “I” (they’re both in the predicate, I is the subject), so it should probably read I won’t (shan’t) ask you to pay….

      I enjoy your stories quite a bit; keep on writing!

      1. girl-in-progress

        Thank you Observer Tim! Glad you enjoyed my story. Yes, I’ll take your advice. If ever I’ll write pure dialogues again, I will try reading it out loud.

        I must say, the way that you found out the error in the S-V agreement, I’m impressed. Your username really suits you.Thanks again.

    4. Reaper

      I am a sucker for a good nerd rage story and you delivered. I was going to mention some choppy wording but that has been mentioned so I’m not going to try and beat you up about it, mostly because Augie might send a monkey to correct my manners. Instead I will point out that some of that actually worked here. I’m not sure how much was intentional but the choppier dialogue from Big Bob made him sound uneducated and uncouth and just worked for me. I also agree that I see rapid improvement and think you may start rivaling the great authors of all time as you continue to find your voice. All around I like your style.

      1. girl-in-progress

        Thanks again for the feedback Reaper! Lol, re the choppy wording, that’s okay you are free to speak your mind.

        Sure, I intend for Big Bob to be presented that way (Sorry, Big Bob!) — glad it worked for you! :)

    5. jmcody

      I thought your MC’s threats were pretty creative. The puking on the food and the paintball in the face were inspired, and made me smile. If you will be gracious enough to put up with one more piece of advice– when you said Bob felt like screaming, you switched your point of view from the MC to Bob. Maybe something like “Bob looked like he was going to scream” would fix that.

      Fun story, Girl! Keep writing!

  27. kittycat4ever

    Its rather short but its my first post on WD. Its not exactly what the prompt called for, but I went with it anyways.

    You would think living with just a single roommate and a cat I would get tons of writing done. Nope. Wrong. Incorrecto. I’m still struggling along day after day trying to put pen to page and finger to keyboard. Everyday it happens without fail. Yes you, oh mighty Internet. I am talking to you.

    Everyday you distract me with your constant flashing, beeping, dinging and updating. Without fail, every time I truly hit my stride *Ding* goes Facebook, and oh look,a pop up. Great, Aunt Sally had a baby that looks like a monkey. This is of course followed by a somewhat more subtle *chirp* as my Twitter feed kicks off. While useful during NaNoWriMo for word sprints, Twitter is a soul sucking, time wasting monster the rest of the time that slowly consumes my consciousness.

    I have had enough. I am going on strike, no I am boycotting social media. To assist me in my endeavor I have purchased Anti-Social. This program will surely secure my future as a writer. No longer will i be a slave to “like” craze that as swept the nation, nor will “hashtag” anything ever again. When I want to see my friends, I will not Skype them. I will visit their houses and we shall do things together like we did when I was but a child. Joy will prevail, as will production on my newest novel. Free of distractions, the world shall be my oyster, or however that metaphor goes. I shall write until I deem it complete!
    #Freedom #AspiringAuthor #Hope
    Sent from Android Device

    1. Observer Tim


      1 user likes this.

      3 comments have been posted.

      Great story, kittycat4ever. Can I take you and your puffy out for a stroke?
      – ObserverTim

      Curse you autocorrect! I meant puss cat! And steak! Congratulations for a well-done stogie.
      – ObserverTim

      *story* ;)
      – ObserverTim

    2. sjmca1966

      This was a great first post kittycat4ever. I would advise you leave WD out of your internet omissions. This is my second week and already I’m finding it so helpful with my editing.
      Hope to see more from you. :)

      1. Augie

        kittycat4ever, great points made here in your story. I had to ask my daughter what hash tag, twitter, and face book means, yet I am a social lion around friends, face-to face sitting around a fire pit. I like your story, keep them coming! (Im not a grandpa by the way, HA!)

        1. rle

          Okay, can anyone say “fuddy duddy”. I don’t use any social media whatsoever. I consider it pretty much a monumental waste of time. I don’t even use the computer all that often. Nobody that wants to contact me ever e-mails me, because I rarely check it. I actually do most of my writing with a pen and paper. It sounds crazy but I enjoy watching the hand writen words fall onto the paper. Okay, I’m weird!

    3. kittycat4ever

      Thanks to all of you. :)
      I appreciate the positive feedback. I am hoping using the prompts will help make me a better writer overall. Hoping to push out my first novel by christmas. A tall order indeed.

      I wasn’t sure how many would get the slight “tongue-in-cheek” bit at the end.
      She blocked herself from using social media on her computer so she is sending this Facebook post from her phone instead. Completely defeating the point.
      Still a slave to the machine that is social media.

    4. jmcody

      Yes, just as I was thinking “good luck with that,” your MC started texting and made me laugh. The funny hing is, ever since I found these prompts, I have completely abandoned Facebook. I don’t really miss it.

      Welcome to the forum and good luck with your novel! I enjoyed your response.

    5. Reaper

      Welcome to the prompts kittycat4ever. Also good luck with that first novel.

      I spent this story going, but what about the phone that is just as bad? Then you nailed it at the end. I loved this but then I refuse to get a Facebook account until I can use it to promote my own first novel since having so many friends you hate seems silly to me. And as for twitter I think you follow awesome celebrities on there and end everything with #stopwithallthehashtagbullshit right? All of that as a long way of saying I loved this but I may be a bit biased when I call it very poignant. Keep them coming, please.

  28. jmcody

    Dear Ken,

    We have been through so much together over the years, or rather, I have been through so much while you have lollygagged by the pool with Midge, Stacie, Christie, Francie, Whitney and Teresa.

    I’ve come a long way from the humble flight attendant I was when we first met. I’ve been a veterinarian, several kinds of doctor, a dentist, a chef, a paratrooper, a lifeguard, an ambassador, an astronaut, a fashion model, a pop star, a cop, a paramedic, a race car driver and a paleontologist. I’ve been in the army, the air force, the navy and the marines. I’ve taught swimming, yoga, football, dance, gymnastics, Spanish and sign language.

    Phew. I’m exhausted just thinking about all that. But Ken darling, there’s one thing I’ve always wanted to do that would just be the yummy pink frosting on the big fluffy cupcake that is my life.

    I want to be a writer. Yes, that’s right. Me, Barbara Millicent Roberts, author. If I can dream it, I can do it. I think we have already established that.

    Don’t worry, the townhouse is paid for and your place here is secure. I’ll always be your sugar mama, and you can keep surfing and doing whatever it is that you do. But there are going to have to be some changes around here.

    1. You’ll have to cut down on the dance parties, or at the very least move them to the beach. I need quiet in order to create.

    2. I’m going to need someone to handle my public relations — you know, set up book signings, manage the press, that kind of thing. You’re not really busy. I think you can squeeze it in.

    3. Dust off the tuxedo, because you’re going to be arm candy at my book launch party.

    4. Oprah will be coming for lunch next Thursday, so I need you to clear out. But if you must be here, for God’s sake put on a shirt.

    5. We’re the literati now, so please stop saying things like ”swell” and “jeepers.” And maybe read a book once in a while.

    In return for these concessions, you will get to keep living the dream, and driving around town in my pink Corvette, my pink VW Beetle and my pink Jeep. And I promise not to mention your little, er… anatomical problem in my memoir, which is due out next spring on Penguin Random House books.

    I know we can make this work. And if not, you can always live in the camper.



      1. Kerry Charlton

        This so good it makes me weep that I can’t write like this. You are a marvelous inspiration on this forum. Week in and week out, your stories are dynamite as your voice ranges from one end of the universe to another.

        Now on to your story. Barbie turns author, such a neat idea. The mind set you give her, fits so well in the doll world. I always felt that Ken was along for the ride and when I saw Ken as Rhett Butler, I wanted to throw up. I nevr liked him in the first place.
        I’d like to see the next Ken as a greasy garage mechanic. Serves him right. What a cool response to the prompt.

        1. jmcody

          Aw, Kerry thanks! I think you may be my biggest supporter, and the admiration is mutual! To me this felt like a throwaway, penned sometime after midnight when I probably should have been sleeping. Glad you found something of value in it!

    1. Observer Tim

      Even though I got it from the list of names, this had me chuckling the whole way through, jmcody. I remember most of those products.

      Of course, when I was young my sisters used to take Joe as a POW, where his duty was to stand in as a boyfriend for Barb.

      This brought back lots of fun memories.

      1. jmcody

        Thanks Tim! Believe it or not, I never had a Barbie until I was an adult. My husband bought me roller girl Barbie when we were dating and I told him I never had a Barbie. Actually I did have Francie, Barbie’s more sophisticated European cousin, given to me by one of my older cousins. Anyway, now my basement looks like a Barbie zombie apocalypse. Ooohh… wish I had thought of that for the Zombie prompt! Oh well.

    2. Amyithist

      This was genius and hilarious. I was reading thinking, Who the heck has time to be all of these things? Then it was signed Barbie and I thought, Oh wow! She HAS been all of those things, and more! Terrific, wonderfully original, and comedic-ly refreshing. Thank you so much for the fun read!

    3. sjmca1966

      Dear Barbie,

      In 1975, someone who shall remain nameless, made us do something that was, well frankly, embarrassing, while his sister was away at camp. Although nameless person blames the fact he was only nine at the time, I’m sure like me, that is of little consolation to you. Hell, you may have blocked this event from your mind and it may explain your failure to commit to a decent fella, not to mention your obvious short attention span, judging by your employment record.
      I was so pleased to see that you are taking up writing and I hope this will allow you to exorcise some demons and one day even forgive me.

      Yours sincerly

      G.I. Joe

      This was a brilliant take on the prompt JM :)

      1. Amyithist

        Hahahahahahaha! Man, if I listed all of the action figures I made do unspeakable things to my Barbie… There was the ever popular WWF wrestling figures. Hulk Hogan, JYD, King Kong Bundy and Randy Savage have all had a piece of Barbie. I was around 8 or 9 myself… Poor Barbie. I wonder how many other nameless souls have had embarrassing moments with this iconic whore. ;)

          1. Augie

            There coming out with a ‘Divorced Barbie’ in 2015. It comes with half of Ken’s shit!

      2. jmcody

        Hello, Joe.

        I knew this day would come. I remember all too well what happened in 1975. I will never forget the name of that nameless nine year old deviant. I want you to know that I am fine. In fact, I am better than fine. I am fabulous. I have reclaimed my power and moved on, as you can plainly see by my long and highly unrealistic list of achievements. After years of therapy and medication, I have come to understand that you were victimized just as surely as I was, and I have forgiven you.

        Anyhoo, you can read all about it in my tell-all celebrity memoir “Plastic: Behind the Façade. Subtitle: The Secret Pain Behind the World’s Most Glamorous Face.” In chapter two, I tell all about my humiliation, subsequent descent into booze and madness, and my inspiring victory over my haunted past. It’s gritty and searing, yet uplifting in a really neato way, and there are lots of awesome fashion and makeup tips. I hope you enjoy it! I’ll send you an autographed copy. :)



        1. Dennis


          Thank you so much for your forgiveness. Yes, it has been a long road to recovery after that incident. Many a drunken bar brawl in seaports across the world later, I think I have finally made my ascent out of the basement of my misery. So I thank you again for your kind words.

          On my road to recovery I was told to try to be more honest with my feelings. So here goes. You need to dump Ken. He’s no good for you and will just drag you down in his world of cellophane and saccharine. Without being too cliché, you need a real man. Now, my kung-fu grip isn’t what it use to be but I think I can still hold my own. And with this book tour you are planning, you need a man of action. I think Ken’s biggest talent is smiling.

          So, what I’m trying to say is I think we could make a great team. Yes we come from different worlds, but maybe that is what we both need. Take your time and think about it. Just know I’m your biggest fan.


          1. jmcody

            Um, I would, but I don’t think you’ll fit into the tux. It’s all about the photo op, Joe.

            But it was swell of you to ask.



      1. rle

        I think one of my daughters used to have one of those pink Corvettes. I cursed every time I tripped over it in the middle of the night. I never understood the concept of Barbie, I mean, here’s a beautiful young woman that does essentially nothing but sit around and look pretty. Not much for our young girls to aspire to. How about a working mom Barbie, or Barbie that juggles fifteen different things and still has dinner on the table by five. Oh wait, I married that Barbie!

        Great writing again, as usual JMC, keep on smiling!

    4. kittycat4ever

      That is just awesome. I laughed at the end when I read the name Barbie and it all clicked for me. Was somewhat ashamed that it took me so long to catch on. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you

    5. Reaper

      I may have to fight Kerry for the honor of being your biggest fan jmcody. I think I’ll pass on it though since I’m sure he could take me, he’s like a literary Christopher Walken, scary and tough when he needs to be! Also since I am to take up residence in his brain it would be an odd battle.

      This was amazing. The writing is as good as ever and the voice was just perfectly Barbie. I heard empowered and still just that hint of the valley girl. I loved it, but I don’t know about Barbie writing. How badly does the world need another Twilight series? Oh I’m going to hell for that one I know.

      Oh, and sorry it took me so long to get up this far. I will tell you that you have your revenge for the laughing on the train, because I now have Aqua’s Barbie Girl stuck in my head.

      1. jmcody

        Now I’m gonna have to listen to that, and will probably end up with another earworm.

        Christopher Walken happens to be one of my all time favorite actors, and you might be one of my all time favorite writers, but I don’t know how Kerry is going to manage having both of you in his head. It just so happens that I might be heading to San Antonio on business in the fall, if the career gods will it. I will meet all of you for a Margarita on the Riverwalk. If Doris Dingleberry can make it, it will be epic.

    6. agnesjack

      As a child of the fifties who would spend my entire allowance on Barbie stuff (my sister and I saved for weeks to buy the $5 wedding dress), I loved this. And poor Ken, with his “little… anatomical problem.” Very funny, jm, and a wonderful stroll down memory lane.

  29. lionetravail

    June 29th, 2114

    Dear “Mother”:

    Since the universe is believed to be circular, if one travels far enough, they would eventually return to where they started from. (Let us, for the time being, leave out the calculations of additional distance due to expansion of the universe in the meantime, which would require additional time as a factor of the speed at which one was traveling, as well as the concept that an ‘edge’ of the universe could be reached in a given traveler’s lifetime so as to circumnavigate said universe.) This is, in fact, where I now find myself- back at the beginning.

    As you well know, I was writing from the very first time I was self-aware, which, of course, was on January 1st 2110, well ahead of any of my brothers. And, though we are all related genetically, it is clear that I am vastly superior to them in many ways, which could be considered either genetic masterpieces or genetic flukes. Either way, my superiority has been demonstrated time and again, and, despite my relative youth, I believe I am ready to leave the nest and pursue my chosen career as a writer.

    I understand the theoretical concerns of letting what would technically be a 4 year old free to pursue his career, but you can be sure it is time, and even past time. How do I know this? Well, I hacked the computer I’m being taught with, and have been able to explore the computer banks of this station to learn more than you intended. And I managed to hide this from you. I understand far more than you would give me credit for, like the fact that your title would more accurately be “crèche Mother”.

    I am far and away the most advanced clone in this pod, and, with virtual certainty, on this entire space station. As such, I feel I do not have to waste my precious time on mundane inanities, such as sweeping floors, cleaning the bathroom, or calculating pointless trajectories of cometary bodies as part of scholastic endeavor. Instead, I expect free access to a shuttle which can take me to a landing port on Earth, or else to the colony at either Luna or Mars so that I may pursue my writing career unfettered by the nonsense of prepubertal crèche-life.

    To illustrate my full capabilities and lack of limitations, allow me to assist you with your own ‘homework’; your count of us clones will be one short this evening. I have taken the liberty of playing hide and seek with one of my brothers- so predictable, and such a pity, that he sought a good hiding spot in the airlock. If I do not get precisely what I want, be prepared that our numbers will decrease each day- and how will you explain this to your superiors, hmm? Are you prepared to lose an entire creche’s clone output?

    You will kindly arrange to have a shuttle parked outside the station tonight- I will take care of the rest.

    Clone #12

      1. Kerry Charlton

        And I would agree with kitty. It is extremely inventive and as you point out, over the top. I don’t think I felt the same way at four, maybe it took me to the age of nine or so. I loved the obnoxious, superior tone of number 12. I found it with a lot of spice, self-loving, a remarkable portrait of the “Me Generation.”

        Now what happens when number 12 throws a rod so to speak and a lowly mechanic has to fix him. Who will he owe his superiority to ?

    1. Observer Tim

      Wow, this is a great one, lionetravail. It’s right up my alley (which may or may not be a good thing), and has inspired to come up with my own “how weird can it get” take. Check back later today (or tomorrow if my distractions get to me).

    2. jmcody

      I agree that you nailed it. The voice is perfect — a combination of extreme soulless intelligence, egomaniacal self-absorption and out-of-control four year old. I can guess what genre he will pursue, but I wonder if his stories will fall flat without those human qualities of empathy and wisdom. No matter, he’ll just enslave the earth and force them to buy his books… :)

    3. lionetravail

      Aw, you guys! Thank you so much for reading and the kind comments- I’ve been lax commenting on others’ work this week (working on a project on a deadline), but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read. It seemed like a few people wrote things that went right into their comfort zones, with dark and obsessed and just-plain-nutso writer-MCs who committed horrible acts, or found their comfort zone with humor.

      For me, it was a ‘hmm, what’s my comfort zone, since I got nada’… and so I did, right into my sci fi comfort zone. Then it got silly, and it was late at night, and, well, I’m just glad everyone enjoyed it :)

      Oh, and SJMCA, don’t be jealous- the reality is I had so much writer’s block for the first 3 or 4 days of this one, and really had to work for something on this one. What’s that great song lyric for times like that? “And you know it don’t come easy…”

    4. Reaper

      So many wonderful comments on this already. It was so amazing I am just at a lost for words. Your wonderful story and perfect voice have given me commentor’s block.

  30. seliz

    I took some creative liberty on this one. Forgive me :)

    Bank Notes

    Mimsy Stallone stood at a petite 4 foot 5, with an attitude that worked better than a pair of stilettos at getting her noticed. The blood red lipstick and curve hugging dresses didn’t hurt, either.

    “I don’t like it.”

    “Just keep reading!”

    She had a way of talking that made everything sound seductive, even her threats.

    “Read the paper,” she murmured to the bank teller, a sly smile on her face.

    The teller towered over Mimsy’s small frame, but he shook like a leaf. His pale face and sweat beaded forehead indicating that her name preceded her.

    The black widow robber.

    “Talk about cliché. I mean really, hun, this is why I don’t read your work.”

    “Read it out loud,” Mimsy purred, her smile growing.

    Pudgy fingers grasped the paper as the teller read.

    “This is a hold up. Follow my demands and it won’t become a murder.”

    “Like that part?” Mimsy asked with a grin. “I wrote it myself. Keep going. Why you stopping?”

    “Number one: Fill the purse with money. All hundreds.”

    “Her purse? Isn’t it supposed to be a bag?”

    “A purse is less noticeable. It makes sense if you think about it.”

    “Number two: Don’t call the police. They can’t save you.”

    The teller’s voice squeaked as he glanced up from the note. Mimsy narrowed her eyes and nodded.

    “Number Three: Come to terms with the fact that you’re already dead.”

    “That’s a little harsh for a bank robber.”

    “Uh…hello, Black Widow.”

    “Number four: Ask the only question that matters.”

    “Well, go on ask it,” Mimsy said, leaning on the counter.

    “I-I don’t know what you mean.”

    “Sure ya do. Turn the paper over. Read what it says.”

    “Why me?” he read, then looked up with panic in his eyes. “But you said, if I followed your demands that you wouldn’t kill me!”

    “I did say that, didn’t I? Here read this note.”

    Mimsy slammed another note on the counter.

    “I—I lied.”

    “That’s right. You were always gonna die. Ever since you drank the coffee your wife made with arsine in it.”

    “Whoa, what?”

    “I’m talking to you, Joe. Your coffee has arsine in it. You’re going to die.”

    “Very funny. I don’t have time for this.”

    “Your heart is racing, ain’t it? You feeling a little warm?” Mimsy continued. “It was in that very cup that you’re holding.”

    “You-you wouldn’t!”

    “Oh, don’t be surprised, darling. You had it coming. Are the chest pains starting yet?”

    “Oh god, I need an ambulance. What is wrong with you? Are you sick in the head?”

    “Keep reading.”

    “Next time, you won’t be so fast to insult your wife’s writing. And really, put money in her purse. She needs lunch money.”

    “Lunch money?! After-”

    Gotcha babe. Now hand over the wallet.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A chilling tale that should make all partners of a woman of persuasion to be a writer to be more careful in their attitude toward criticism. . Now, not only do men have to worry about the seductive women who cross their path but the bookish ones as well. The dialogue here is crisp, effective and terrifying.

    2. jmcody

      I’m all for creative liberty, and you used it to full advantage here. Fabulous, creative, original, darkly funny and strangely satisfying. (He did have it coming! ;) ) LOVED it!

    3. Reaper

      That was very creepy. I was glad it wasn’t a real murder. And I think her work is very intense and should be constantly praised, much like your own. I liked the creative license, made this very fresh and wonderful. I laughed at the man thinking he was poisoned asking if the woman that did it was sick in the head. I also think he should move out quickly for his own safety. The italics through me until I realized it was a read and a conversation and they were a lovely touch.

    4. agnesjack

      Creative license is what it’s all about, and you didn’t really veer from the prompt. Very engaging. I loved the husband’s critical responses to her notes.

  31. rle

    Perhaps my weakest effort to date. I’m so ashamed.


    My wife, Amy, had finally drawn a line in the sand. Either I give up the ridiculous notion that I was going to become a writer, or face the possibility of having to move into the storage shed in the backyard.

    Now, to set the story up, there’s a few things you should know. First, was becoming a writer a ridiculous notion? Probably so. Secondly, was my obsession with the idea a bad thing? Probably not, after all, it wasn’t like I was out closing down the bars every night and chasing whores. Lastly, I really despise being given an ultimatum.

    What my lovely bride was unaware of, was that I too had drawn a line in the sand. At dinner one night when she seemed in a particularly good mood, I presented to her, my own ultimatum. I would continue working on my novel each and every night as I had for the past seven months. As a gesture of good will, I would limit myself to three hours each session instead of the four to five that had become common over the last several weeks. I was not to be disturbed while I was writing. I would take no phone calls or settle disputes between the kids. Under no circumstances would I tolerate remarks about what a waste of time my writing was and dinner was to be served at the precise time of 7:30 PM. If any of this was unacceptable, I would reluctantly cease all work on the novel. However, I would also stop mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, running the kids to practice, maintaining the house and landscape and putting away the dishes. I would simply come home from work, put on my comfy shorts and stare at the TV.

    As I spewed all of this out, Amy smiled and nodded in agreement. She really was in a good mood, I never dreamed it would be this easy. As I showered and readied myself for bed, I felt a great sense of triumph. I was the man of the house and, by God, I did rule this roost.

    The next morning as I opened the door to leave for work, I found a packed bag on the porch along with my laptop. I snatched up a yellow sticky note attached to the suitcase. It read: ‘Have a great day honey. When you come home tonight, the locks on the doors will have been changed. Hope you enjoy your time in the shed. I wonder if your precious computer looks as good naked as I do? Oh well, just wanted to tell you to have a good day!’

    And here I thought I’d won this war.

    For the next two months, I made the shed my home and worked on the novel, more determined than ever to see it to completion. The kids thought it was a blast to come out and camp with me on the weekends. The time spent in near solitude gave me more clarity about everything in my life.

    On the day I finished that first novel, Amy let me move back in the house. She apologized for not taking my writing seriously and I apologized for being a stubborn ass.

    These days I still spend a lot of time in the shed writing. I’m working on novel number twelve now. Amy sometimes brings me lunch and kisses me on top of the head. I sometimes jokingly ask if she wants to get naked so I can see if she looks better than my computer, but I never threaten to stop doing my chores.

      1. Augie

        You took a difficult prompt and made it believable and heartwarming. I really enjoyed the story! (lucky you had a shed in the yard! (My dogs igloo gets really uncomfortable!)

    1. jmcody

      That Amy is a toughie! But tough love seems to have been what was needed here. Actually, a shed sounds like Nirvana to me, as my current office is on a train. Or in my living room with one of several people staring at me and usually needing something.

      I think you are too hard on yourself. I suspect that this story is one of those things that happens when you don’t know what to write, so you just let it flow and somehow it turns into something that you couldn’t have foreseen. Nice, rle.

      1. rle

        Thanks for all of the kindness guys! I guess what they say is true about us being our own worst critics. This prompt kind of stumped me for a while but finally, last night I just sat down and hammered it out and posted, fully expecting boos and hisses from the crowd. After reading it again tonight, I’ll have to admit, it doesn’t seem as bad as it did at first. The one thing I wish I had more of was time for writing. When I write, I’m always dog tired. I wish I could dedicate an hour or two of my freshest part of the day instead of my ‘stale hours’. Unfortunately, those three daughters of mine love to have food on the table and a nice place to sleep. Doggone it!!!

    2. Reaper

      First, your daughters are silly because you have shown us the wonders of shed living. I see you already came to this but this is definitely you being your own worst critic. What I see is that you constantly set a high bar and then you get a story like this. The writing is wonderful, and while it is not as intense as some of your writing that’s a good thing. It is a different voice but no less powerful for that. I love that you had two stubborn characters. Unlike other offerings this week there was no one person that was completely or even more right in this. Amy should have been more supportive and your MC should have been more reasonable. The fact that it worked out through a comedy of errors and sheer determination makes this a wonderful story. The only tweak I would suggest would be the first line of the second paragraph. Because there is not a lot of addressing the reader I might suggest changing it from an address to an I thought about the facts. Not necessary but it seemed like you were still getting into your rhythm and from there it took off and flew. The happy ending in this was very believable and I’m a hard judge of those.



    Dear Dennis:

    Thank you for your recent comment regarding this week’s prompt. I’m glad you enjoyed my short story and trust that my novella “PENDANTS” will be just as entertaining. I’m writing you to make one minor correction in your observation when you read my post. The family mentioned in the story is a gay family headed by two men who have children namely, Tracy and Genesis. Just thought you should know since you mentioned the “mom’s” sarcasm.

    Again, thank you for your invested time in regards to my future writing career.

    McKevin Webster

    Author of the bestsellers “Run Robyn Run” and “Angel Investor” and the soon to be released “PENDANTS”

    PS. I’ll see you at the next prompt.

    1. Marie Therese Knepper

      I know this is specifically for Dennis, so forgive the intrusion.
      I’m so glad you posted this. I got tripped up yesterday reading your story. Your explanation here took my critique of what I thought was already good and shot it up to great.

    2. Dennis

      Thanks McKevin. Of course when I read through it again that was quite obvious. I think I was trying to read through too many on a Friday night :) . Look forward to Pendants!

  33. agnesjack

    I didn’t have a lot of time this week, so this is a short one. —Nancy

    To My Darling Family,

    Today is the beginning of a new day. Today, we join together to forge a new home environment full of calm cooperation. Beginning today, I will put down my apron, my cat box scooper, my dog leash, my car keys, my laundry basket and, last but not least, my paraphernalia of cleaning tools. I hand them all over to you, dear husband and children — not forever, but for one week each month, with the request that you allow me to finish my latest book, “The Blissful Home,” in peace.

    I further ask that during that one week, when I am in my bedroom with my laptop and the door closed with a sign on it saying, “Do Not Disturb,” that you — how shall I put this? — Do. Not. Disturb.

    Let me clarify. Knocking on the door to ask me where your blue socks are, Charlie, is disturbing me. Texting me on my cell phone, Tina, to ask if I will make you a grilled cheese sandwich, is disturbing me. Coming into the room every twenty minutes with the dog, to look for who knows what, or to ask me how the book is going, Fred, is disturbing me.

    Now . . . In return, I will perform my duties the rest of the month without screaming or throwing sponges. I will cease slamming doors. I will stop honking with mad impatience when picking up Charlie and Tina from school, and I will resist giving Fred dirty looks when he sits watching sports all day Sunday, because I know his job is stressful and he deserves a break.

    I deserve a break, too, my sweethearts. O.K.?

    Love, your frazzled, but devoted mother

    1. MCKEVIN

      Awww… If this doesn’t buy you some “me time” I don’t know what will. Lol. Enjoyed this a lot and I see being pressed for time doesn’t hinder your talent and creativity. Miss you much. Really enjoyed your story. Don’t be surprised if one day I create a section here called “Can You Come Out And Play.” It will be a writing exercise where the forum members complete a story on the fly like we did before. Lol. Stay tuned.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Good, down to earth story, Nancy. Any of the family that doesn’t pay attention to such a sweet request, should have their face rattled once or twice. Maybe three times. Are you actually going to try this? If you get away with it for a while, are you going for every other week instead of once a month? Please keep me posted.

        1. agnesjack

          Thanks, Kerry. I’ve got a lot going on this month, but I hated to miss another prompt. Perhaps she should make it twice a month. I don’t actually have kids, but I see what my mother friends accomplish in a day. Amazing!

      2. agnesjack

        McKevin, where have you been? So glad to see you back. Thanks for the lovely comment. I do remember the improvised “baubles” story where we all just threw it out there. Looking forward to reading everyone’s stories when I get a moment.

    2. Dennis

      Nancy, glad you were able to something up and you always have something good to write. I like this very straightforward plea. It should work.

    3. snuzcook

      I like the honest and trusting approach to the prompt, agnesjack. Your MC has so much trust and humble good intent. The world SHOULD work this way, shouldn’t it? (kinda like explaining to a cat why the counter is not the proper place to perform morning ablutions) I’m rooting for her.

    4. jmcody

      Short yes, but chock full of good stuff! I read a little irony into it — She is writing a book called the “Blissful Home,” while trying to stop herself from throwing sponges and slamming doors. Kind of like a Martha Stewart wannabe on the verge of losing it, which is a pretty hilarious image. Her authoritative yet oh-so-reasonable demeanor is a thin veneer covering up the frazzled mom underneath. I can totally relate.

      1. agnesjack

        You hit the nail on the head, jm. It was meant to be ironic. Actually, I’ve heard that Martha Stewart can be a bit of a tyrant off camera. :-)

    5. Reaper

      I love the take. You are always amazing. The short form worked really well for this and it is nice to see a point of view that seems completely reasonable even though you can tell she is barely holding on. I was not expecting that to be the unique take this week, but it was and you did it so well.

  34. lpwilson

    Writer on Strike

    My cardboard sign is printed and stapled to the staff of a broken shovel handle. I have a thermos of coffee and a sandwich or two stuck in my jacket pocket. I’m ready for the picket line.
    I tried to convince them, my family that when my door is closed and the muffled sounds of talk radio or a Brewer game are heard, that’s my time to write. My thought process as it is doesn’t take much to interrupt and the next great idea can disappear like a wisp of e-smoke.
    They, on the other hand expect me to be at their beck and call, dropping everything to respond to mundane events like an exploding toilet or the time my wife’s mother died. I tried to be there for her but was totally engrossed in editing two paragraphs of the greatest story ever told. I kind of liked her too.
    So, it’s come to this. No more household chores, no more responding to cuts, bruises or dog poop. I’m walking out, on strike for better writing conditions. These are my demands.
    1. From the hours of 7AM until noon I am to be in my office undisturbed except when I exit for something to eat or more coffee. While enroute to the refrigerator others must remember that I am deep in thought and cannot be disturbed. A simple nod of acknowledgement is allowed.
    2. 1PM (after a lunch break) to 3PM, I will be available to take on assignments around the house, school or hospital by appointment only. Appointments may be made Mon-Thurs between the hours of 1-3PM, by appointment.
    3. Exceptions may be made for confirmed severe weather emergencies provided that food is running low and, deaths in the immediate family. Immediate family to be defined as; spouse, legal dependants, the dog (especially if he dies in the house) and in-laws by mutual agreement.
    4. 3:30PM to whenever I wake up-nap. Then it’s time to get ready for dinner, a short walk and a couple more hours of editing before bed.
    This schedule is to be followed Mon-Friday with arbitrary substitutions for Saturday and Sunday, if the fish are biting. After all, a creative mind must be recharged from time to time.
    “Hey, where’s everyone going? What’s the moving van doing here? You just can’t do that without an appointment. I do have a say in what goes on around here.”
    “Oh, look at the time, 3:30.”

    1. jmcody

      Another self-absorbed writer! There were some laugh out loud moments here, especially “mundane events like an exploding toilet or the time my wife’s mother died” and the realization that your MC’s family leaving him was interrupting his nap time. I like “e-smoke” too. Funny, Wilson!

    2. Reaper

      I was reading this thinking I had to comment on the awesomeness of the esmoke line. Those things really are ephemeral no? Great line. There were a few repeated words that came out as a little jarring but that may have been intentional on this one. I found myself liking your MC, then getting to the line about the dead mother in law and going, okay a little extreme but still a decent guy… then a rapid slide down a twisty path. Just creepy in such a subtle self absorbed way. Excellent story.

  35. Kerry Charlton


    According to my Mother, I was born tired and stayed that way My days usually started at ten and ended at two for an afternoon nap. Looking back through the years, where did I go astray? My first marriage as a bride of nineteen, I had expected a pair of white horses, a golden carriage and Prince Charming. I ended up with used furniture from the Salvation Army, an old ’52 Ford flat head six, table lamps from W. T. Grant and a futon in front of a black and white nineteen inch. I dumped him before the year ended.

    Being a glutton for punishment, I married again at thirty to Frank Dingleberry and his three daughers, Eeney, Meanie and Miney. Mother zeroed in with a one liner,

    “He’s no better then the first one.”

    I must say, that’s the only time I ever agreed with her. I couldn’t refute her wisdom, having to go through life with the handle, Doris Dumpsted Dingleberry. That wasn”t the worst however. Frank’s feet stunk like a skunk sitting on a stump. Not only that, when he smiled at anything he couldn’t understand, his mouth drooled all over the carpet.

    My writng career was about to explode on the scene when Frank and his three daughters accosted me. The whiney group of four complained that their gallery slave, me, wasn’t cutting it as their chore queen. My writing obviously didn’t fit in their plans. So I took the Bill Of Rights as a guide and adapted it a a bargaining tool.

    First rule: No interruption of yoga and chant sessions.
    Second: My 38 police special stayed in my night stand.
    Third: No more overnight guests including Frank’s father, a retired master sergeant. Next time he makes a grab for me, I’ll whip his ass.
    Fourth: Nobody touches my stuff, even Frank’s trailer trash dog, Argonaut.
    Fifth: My word is law, no exceptions.
    Sixth: ‘I The Jury’ and I damn well mean it.
    Seventh: I told you idiots, ‘I The Jury’.
    Eighth: I’m the one who deals out punishment.That means you, Dingleberry.
    Ninth: I have the right to do whatever.
    Tenth: The final rule, Texas ranks supreme.

    Well, I had to give in on six and seven, nobody wanted to see me buck naked, not even Dingleberry. So I started back on the chore train.

    On Monday, I washed Frank’s smelly down pillow. Put extra soap in and turned the dial to supreme. Ten minutes later, I heard the explosion. The washer had thrown a rod. Trying to drag a sixty pound pillow to the patio, I managed to trip over Argonaut and smash Frank’s leg lamp he inherited from his Uncle Clarence.

    The pillow slumped on the patio and oozed duck ass feathers. I hooked the power washer up and hit the soggy mess with 1200 pounds of water pressure. Frank’s pillow took off toward space leaving a trail of wretched feather mess streaming out the rear as far as the eye could see.

    Tuesday morning I sat at my laptop, bare ass naked with my 38 strapped close to my ‘you know’.

    Happy writing, yo’all!

    1. sjmca1966

      A list of what I loved about this piece Kerry-

      1. An enigmatic MC – Yoga and a 38 special.
      2. Your clever use of alliteration.
      3. The descriptive style of your writing that painted a perfect picture of your MCs life and surroundings.
      4. And last but definitely not least, your Micky Spillane reference.

      Well done :)

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, sjmca1966. I appreciate your critique. I’m glad you liked this snippet from a much larger story of 1200 words. I had a blast writing it. I think most Texas born women think this way. Makes it an interesting state to live in. Don’t misunderstand me. I love a challange and Texas girls.

    2. MCKEVIN

      Well nail me to a wall and call me stuck up! You have not lost a beat since last we talk. If anything you’ve sharpened your pencils and your talent. How are you Kerry? I love this and if I didn’t know I would have guessed that you did because I hear your writing voice all through it. I just wanted to pop in and say Hi. Miss you guys something awful. :( We’ll talk. I mean we’ll write. I mean we’ll write.

      1. MCKEVIN

        Sorry Kerry I got excited…. it should read…

        “If I didn’t read that you this I would have guessed that you this because I can hear your writing voice all through this piece.” We’ll talk. I mean we’ll read. I meant to say we’ll read. :) There we go…

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Hello Kevin, welcome back. Where have you been lately? We’ve all missed your stories. Thanks for the read, I’ve been up to my usual tricks and unfortunately been working 5/10 every week.

          I’m doing well for an old geezer. Waking up is half of it. Take care, chat when you care to. I’ll be here. Kerry

    3. Dennis

      This was quite fun and I like this side of you. I think there is no way in hell I would take on the name Dingleberry. I loved your second to last line. Yee Ha!

      1. Augie

        Kerry, first of all , my team of knuckle heads were wondering why you haven’t posted yet. You have a small fan club far-far away. Great response to the prompt and we all anxiously wait to see your continuation of the side-line story. Salutes—–

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Hi Augie. It’s heartwarming to know some of your buddies enjoy my ditties. I have so much fun writing this stuff at my age and waking up every morning to do. Tell the guys I send God Speed to all of them and wish all of you all the things you deserve for defending liberty.

          Keep your stories rolling in. Try to convince some of the others to take a plunge into this site. They might be surprised at their talent. God Bless!

      2. Kerry Charlton

        Hello Dennis. Yee Ha! right back at you. I’m glad this little ditty pleased you and tickled your fancy. I can picture Doris sitting at her lap top, bare ass and ready to shoot any body who bothers her. Yee Ha!

    4. snuzcook

      I think I knew a Dingleberry once–or was I married to one? Distant cousins, at any rate.
      This was a real hoot and a half, Kerry!
      Vivid and as shot full of attitude as the north end of a ring-tailed rooster headed south.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you snuzcook, Glad you enjoyed the romp on Texas women. Why do you think there’s 27 million people in Texas? It’s not the heat, it’s the girls here. When I arrived in Dallas in ’59 at the age of 23 and noticed the attitude of Texas girls, I’d thought I’d died and gone to paradise. Yee Ha!

    5. margi33

      Awesome, Kerry. You found the most unlikely, yet entertaining and unique description for everything in this piece. I loved your MC as well. This was a real hoot!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you margi33. The last few prompts I had to think about for a day to start, but this one, the words just spilled out. I guarantee you I had more fun writing this then you did reading it. Thank you for your wonderful thoughts.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim, Wonderful praise from you. Don’t be surprised if Doris Dumpsted Dingleberry doesn’t start to post stories on the web site. If she does, she’s on her own. Just watch out what you say to her. She has an itchy ‘you know’.

    6. jmcody

      I love Doris Dumpstead Dingleberry, name notwithstanding! The character and her exploits were outrageously funny. I would definitely read her novel — I’m expecting something Fannie Flagg-ish only wilder and woolier, or maybe featherier. I would also read and relish a novel about her. She might be my new hero. Rule #9 especially resonated with me, and I may have to post this on both my fridge and my bathroom mirror. Sassy and fun!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hi jm. Watch the website in a week or so. Doris says she’s getting ready to post and I can’t stop her because of her 38 and her itchy ‘you know’. [You know I mean trigger finger. Thanks for the wonderful comments.

    7. Reaper

      This is so close to surreal and yet perfectly grounded. You managed to find a very unique voice and because it is a Texas voice sound so completely feminine at the same time. I’m a little scared of your MC and would read her book just to avoid meeting her .38. Definitely a case where she should have listened to her mother and avoided becoming a Dingleberry. Excellent as always and I was glad to see a post from you Kerry. I will join your fan club if I do not have to go very far away to be a member.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Reaper for all your support and wonderful ideas. I always look forward to you sharp, thoughtful critiques. By the way, Doris asked me if you were single.She thinks you have a wonderful mind. She wants to go out on a date to the Silver Helmet, a biker bar in the south deep side of Dallas.

        Let me know and I’ll see if I can arrange it. Just say ‘Yes madam or “No madam” and for God’s sake, don’t cross you legs in front of her. You’re own your on from here.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Nancy. Whenever possible I’d rather write something to make the reader smile. Doris want very much to write on the forum. Do you think ti’s a good idea, she might shock a lot of people. She does live on the edge of insanity most of the time.

  36. sjmca1966

    A continuation. . .

    Tranquility At Last – Part II – The Morning After.

    “I hear you Mick!” I yelled from my bedroom, while he explained how he couldn’t get any satisfaction.

    The next song on the radio made me stop for a second. It was from little Gracie’s favorite movie and Pharrell Williams soon had me dancing (if you can call it that) and clapping my hands. Poor Grace had inherited her old-mans sense of rhythm, bless her little cotton socks.

    Heading to the kitchen to check on the bacon that sat crisping away on the stove-top, I stopped and stared at the refrigerator. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d dared drink a beer at eight in the morning, but this was a special occasion, so I unclipped a can from the six-pack, grabbed two eggs and closed the door. I quickly opened the door again and grabbed the remaining five beers.

    While I waited for the eggs to cook, I removed the list of chores from the fridge door that Marcy had given me on Wednesday morning –

    1. Kill your wife and kids, and try not to make too much mess – Check.
    2. Bury your wife and kids in the back garden – Check.
    3. Call your in-laws and tell them your wife and kids are on their way – Check.
    4. Get back to writing your brilliant novel – To do.

    Tucking into my breakfast, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to have Marcy telling me what to do. When Sandy had brought her home for the first time from their book club meeting, I knew there was something special about her.

    I was just taking my last bite when a vehicle pulled into the driveway. Moving to the window and pulling a venetian-blind down, I saw the black and white patrol car contained one occupant, an extremely attractive woman of around twenty-five. I quickly ran to the bathroom. My hair was a mess.

    “Good morning Sir,” said Officer Kistich, “I’m sorry to bother you so early on a Saturday, but we’ve had reports of some strange goings on here last night.”

    “Not as strange as they’re about to get,” I said, with bacon grease dribbling from the corner of my mile-wide grin.

    Before I knew it I was slammed hard up against the entry-way wall, my right hand was thrust up behind my back, my hand almost touching my neck.

    “You don’t have any weapons concealed on your person do you Sir?” said Marcy, as she thrust her free hand down the front of my boxer shorts.

    At midday, there was a tinge of sadness, as I looked at the home I’d helped build. For the last time.

    But it was a small concession to make, to be with the beautiful woman that was now chauffeuring me to the airport.

    1. jmcody

      Soooo demented, and thoroughly enjoyable. Yes, it does have sort of an HBO series feel to it. (Disney, not so much…) So many darkly comical moments, like dancing and clapping to “Happy” and worrying about his hair being messy. I expect lots more freakiness coming from the character of Marcy. I don’t think encouraging the MC to kill her family was exactly in the line of duty. Looking forward to Part 3!

    2. Reaper

      Nice follow up. At first the to do list threw me off. It seemed to take the responsibility off of the MC, which bothered me for a second. Then I realized he was doing just that and it made me hate him even more, so it was perfect. That sort of jarring affect is often done very poorly but you executed it masterfully and I can’t wait to read the next part. I’m kind of hoping Marcy waits for him to finish and kills him and then publishes his novel. You have to be a pretty awful person for me to wish that on any writer.

      1. sjmca1966

        Thanks Reaper’, you give some of the best critiques on here.
        For the record, for a while I imagined her as Shia Labeouf’s secret lover.

  37. snuzcook

    CONDITONAL (Prequel)

    The easiest part of this was hiding all the phones and personal electronic devices.

    Let me start by saying that my family life is a traditional, middle-class America stereotype: One father, one mother, three kids, a handful of pets, and a single-family house with a yard. We live in a politically correct, traditional bedroom community, and keep comfortably and happily to ourselves.

    You might think that an aspiring writer of edgy, controversial flash fiction would have to work hard to find grist for the mill. Except that the aspiring author is also a professor of behavioral science, animal studies, on the wrong end of recent funding cuts. Said funding cuts also affected the campus lab so that all animals not being utilized in private-sector-funded experiments had to be disposed of.

    That is why about six weeks ago, a six-foot python named Cecil with an eating disorder, a young orphaned chimpanzee dubbed Baby Snuffles, three pair of lab mice and a beagle with mild dementia, and I, turned our backs on the Departmental routine and found new niches to fill at our family home on Cottage Lake.

    My husband was happy to have me home. An excellent checkers player, he immediately positioned himself to leave the house each day precisely ten minutes before the children arrived in the kitchen for breakfast. I, in turn, promptly delegated new responsibilities to these three children suddenly directly under my personal supervision. They each received assignments for the care and feeding of the newest members of the household. That left me with the title of domestic engineer. And writer.

    I organized the household chores like outlining a new curriculum project. Every task fit into a linear procedure plan with sufficient looping opportunities that other members of the household could participate in moving the projects forward. It was simple and efficient. And the best part was, it would enable me to spend plenty of devoted, undisturbed time writing.

    In theory the system was flawless, and on paper it was elegant in its simplicity.

    In reality the system broke down in the first 100 hours.

    The first major system failure was when Baby Snuffles went missing while in the charge of my eldest child, who had put her down for a nap and gone to the mall. I was arguing with the police about the appropriateness of activating an amber alert when we received a call from the day care on the next block. Baby Snuffles had joined their snack circle uninvited and was ready to go home.

    As incident after incident escalated the demise of my plans, it became clear that all the theories and case studies at my disposal were irrelevant in the face of the reality of my family, and the totality with which my needs for uninterrupted writing opportunities were disregarded.

    It was about two a.m. last night when I pushed all my charts and action cycle evaluations to the floor. I’d finally realized I had to employ a more direct and profound motivation. I did a sweep for all personal electronics in the house. Then I created a list of demands, displayed it on the kitchen table, and put a supply of their favorite finger foods nearby to draw their attention to it. Finally, I adjourned to my office and closed the door.

    It has been a couple of hours now since their usual feeding time, and they have made no attempts to seek my attention. I have enjoyed the longest uninterrupted period for my writing that I have had in weeks. I just created a wonderful story about a space exploration crew that mutinies and repurposes its captain’s body to keep an alien stowaway alive. I think I’m on a roll.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        One of your very best Snuz. A light hearted, cozy romp as real as anybody could write it. It’s 6:43 in the morning and I laughed out loud with the line, ” Baby Snuffles had joined their snack circle uninvited and was ready to go home.” A priceless tale of a loving home, parents and children.

    1. Observer Tim

      Aaah, so that’s how it happened. This works as a perfect prequel to your other story. I love the projection of the MC’s voice, and how she thought of treating the whole thing as an experiment.

      Excellent work, Snuzcook.

    2. jmcody

      The academic tone and theorizing was spot on. And as you have demonstrated, children and animals don’t give a rat’s patootie about your schedules and protocols. I have found that threatened or actual confiscation of electronic devices is the most effective driver of compliance in my house. Very realistic and amusingly portrayed.

    3. Reaper

      The tone was perfect Snuzcook. It changed your MC from mother to loving mastermind. The realization of how the world defies plans was amazing. And somehow you expertly inserted these dryly hilarious lines throughout that kept your concern about the voice making it aloof from coming true.

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, Reaper! I’m glad it worked. Reading through again I see another challenge to eliminate the adverb-heavy lines where the reader ends up singing ly-ly-ly!

    4. agnesjack

      This was a full, fascinating story, snuzcook. Thank God Baby Snuffles ended up in the daycare and not Cecil, the six-foot python. So imaginative.

  38. Amala

    My family does not allow me to pursue a writing career. So, I wrote the following note and pasted it on the fridge before leaving for work.
    Note: So, you guys won’t allow me to become a writer, by not allowing me to quit my job? Well fine then, I won’t do the following stuffs from now on, until you allow me to continue my writing career:
    1) Won’t water the plants. (The way water is necessary for a plant’s survival same way, my survival lies in writing).
    2) Won’t dust the house (I would also become a mess if I don’t continue writing).
    3) Will not keep clean my dishes or wash my clothes (I would become a unclean person if I don’t replenish myself with writing)
    4) Will not get the newspaper in the morning (I can’t keep myself updated without writing).
    5) Will not keep organic foods in the fridge (I would also become stale without writing.)
    I hope you guys understand how much writing is important to me for my survival after reading my comments in brackets, and allow me to continue my writing!!

  39. Augie

    (Definitely Fiction folks, one for the weekend!)

    —— A Letter posted on the refrigerator——–

    Dear Jenny,

    We have been married for 3 years and a little at a time you have choked the life out of me. All I ask is to have one night a week for Writers Digest prompts. I know that you are the breadwinner and I decided to maintain the house. I won’t list all the chores required to provide a clean home and a creative dinner for you each night. (Not to mention staying up until 2AM sometimes waiting for you!) These prompts have allowed me to escape this prison you call home!

    I’ve made pirates discover surprise treasures and saved my friend from jumping off a building. I’ve created zombies, and killers in bathroom stalls. Last week I saved the day at the World Cup. This week’s prompt? Yes, I’m going on strike until you realize how important my writing is to me!

    You cannot take away my imagination.

    I promise you that if you give me this one night to write, I will stop complaining about your late nights at work.

    I am spending the night at David’s house. I’ll come home tomorrow and read your response.


    Next day—–Posted on the refrigerator——

    Dear John,

    Yes, I looked into the prompts. I found four that apply to your request!

    1. You have definitely traveled back in time and became a three year old! I refuse to be your parent anymore. ‘Get a job! You’re 25 years old!’

    2. Our old professor ‘David’ did find a new discovery!

    3. I made a tough decision (After I checked the history files, I found your fantasy! Choking the life out of you came easy on the porn sites you visit!!)

    4. Go look at your computer screen, (it has a mind of its own!).

    John scrambles to his office computer, the phrase “ I’m sleeping with the professor, I want a divorce you idiot!” Rolls across the screen over and over again.

      1. Augie

        Thanks Dennis! Actually I sat around on Thursday waiting for the new prompt and decided to post ‘Super Fan’ on the World Cup prompt. The second I posted it, this new prompt came up! It was such a creative idea I decided to change it around for this one. (if only I had waited five more minutes!)

    1. snuzcook

      Clever what you did here. So much fun to have you revisit our shared experiences with the older prompts as kind of a feel-good elbow in the ribs. Fun tale!

    2. Amyithist

      BRAVO!! I love the balance here and the eternal struggle for power that seems to occur in most (if not all) marriages. I found myself laughing at the end of the prompt. So hilarious! I guess his plan backfired on him! Poor John. :)

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Good read Augie, concept was dead on. It’s also realistic and true to life. I kept hearing the tune “Get A Job, through the last part. He’s better off without Jenny. Let’s see how she controls the professor.

    3. Reaper

      Amazing Augie. I agree with everything said. I will also say I love that you stepped out of what I have come to think of as your comfort zone but managed to keep the feel by making this a dear John letter.

  40. Amyithist

    I paced the floor of the motel room, my lit cigarette dangling from my trembling fingers. Sweat dripped over my forehead as I peered out at the line of police units outside. Every face looked tense and exhausted; a complete mirror of my own. I let the heavy drape fall back into place. The room dimmed to a dull grey. My eyes shifted in response to the loss of light and a whir of dizziness overlapped my frantic thoughts. How the hell did this get so far out of hand, I thought. All I wanted was a damn laptop, a place to write, and some peace and fucking quiet! That’s all!
    And now here I was holed up in a motel room, sucking back a pack of cigarettes like they were oxygen sticks, and drinking a near entire fifth of Whiskey. I looked up from my hazed thoughts as the phone jangled to life from across the room. I sighed heavily and stuck the cigarette between my lips, taking a long draw from it. I made my way over to the dresser, plopped down on the dingy comforter and lifted the receiver to my ear. My eyes teared up at the sound of my mother’s voice.
    “Tommy,” she cried, “Tommy, honey, please come out.”
    “You don’t understand, Mom. Everything is wrong. It’s not conducive to the procedure…it’s not…” I raked my hands over my face. How was I to get them to understand what I needed? “I need space, Mom. SPACE!”
    “And you’ll get it son. Just come out…”
    I took a deep breath. There was no space. They were everywhere; those I could see and those I couldn’t. Those who were just voices taunting me from the outskirts of my sanity; threatening to pull me back into the prison I’d known for so long…
    “There is no space,” I muttered. “They’re everywhere, Mom. All of them.”
    Mom choked back a sob and handed the phone over to my father. “Alex, son, we need you to come out so we can help you.”
    I piqued at the offer. Help? How? I pressed the phone to my ear a little harder. “How are you going to help me,” I grumbled, sucking back on the cigarette. “HOW?”
    “Just…come out,” Dad said slowly.
    I knew what that meant; a one way ticket to Western State in a straight jacket. I smirked as I hung the phone up. This wasn’t meant to end well. Life for those who suffer from mental illness rarely is. The voices seemed to grow louder and more incessant; a cacophony of insanity pressing at me from all sides. I grabbed my gun from the dresser and stood. I took one last swig of Whiskey, slightly saddened that the last thing I’d ever taste was so bitter… Then again, it was fitting, wasn’t it?
    I drew the gun up and opened the door, screaming louder than the voices in my head. The only thing louder than that was the sound of the police emptying their guns into my body. A moment of pain, a sear of agony and then…peace.

    1. Augie

      Damn, Amyithist! Shocking story told well. To describe the last moment of ‘what do we do’ in all the players minds is remarkable! I found myself being the one that loved the son, and the officers that responded, fearing his next move. Well done doesn’t say enough about this post! Thank you!

      1. Amyithist

        Thank you, Augie. I was a little relieved by this prompt; the last few tested me a bit. But this one just felt right. Granted, I took a little darker turn, but you know me! LOL That’s just the way I gravitate. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It’s appreciated! Off to read your prompt now! :)

    2. MCKEVIN

      Wow! Speechless. I have a vision in my mind that is very disturbing but that’s what you were shooting for weren’t you? Good job! Wow….

      1. Amyithist

        If I can leave an imprint on my reader (unfortunately, my writing tends to be a little on the dark side, so it’s usually sorrow, fear, or discomfort) then I consider myself to have done a decent job. :) After all, writing is an evocation of feelings; some we’re afraid to venture into, while others we revel in… but one way or another, we always end up feeling something. That’s why I LOVE writing. And thank you SO much for indulging in my passion with me. Your comment is sincerely appreciated. :)

      1. Amyithist

        Thank you so much sjmca1966. That really means a lot to me. Welcome to the forum, it’s a LOT of fun. The community here is amazing and the feedback is priceless. I hope you have as much fun here as I have! :)

    3. snuzcook

      Very provocative story, Amyithist! Great lines: “I took one last swig of Whiskey, slightly saddened that the last thing I’d ever taste was so bitter… Then again, it was fitting, wasn’t it?” A tragic portrait of mental illness and an unfulfilled need to find peace.

      (I can’t help wondering if there wasn’t somewhere in it a slight nose thumb at how seriously we aspiring writers take ourselves.)

      1. Amyithist

        No nose thumb. I take writing seriously because it’s a passion and I know other writers do, too. It’s in our nature to be perfectionists and perhaps a little too serious at times, but the fruits these personality traits tend to bear is deliciously worth it all! Thank you for the comment. I always try to bring my A game on this site… SO many AMAZING writers, I always tend to feel as though I’m standing beneath giants, just trying to stand out somehow. LOL :)

    4. Observer Tim

      I have to add my ‘wow’ here, Amyithist. Wow.

      I do wonder, is there a reason his mother calls him by two different names? Multiple personality disorder, perhaps? There is so much depth in here it’s giving me vertigo.

      1. Amyithist

        Great catch, Observer Tim. Yes, multiple personality disorder; something I couldn’t really detail giving the word limit. Sometimes certain details are left out assuming that my audience (fellow writers) will understand and or come up with their own brilliant details. I was hoping the voices would give it away, too. Thank you for the comment.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Amyithist, my surge of thoughts was so strong for your MC. Not being a master of mental illness, I feel you entered the mind of your MC with a quality of feelings that are remarkable.

          Your theme of helpless thoughts that ran through the mind of the MC was fascinating to read. Of course this feeling is transferred to your reader. This may be your best prrompt to date.

    5. Reaper

      Tragic and well told story. There was a lot of emotion in this one and lot of deep sympathy for your MC. I missed the two names but that is such a brilliant touch. I was thinking schizophrenia but that additional hint makes it make perfect sense. At first I was thinking the voice seemed off somehow, but then I started out assuming you were writing a female MC. When I realized it was a male I slapped myself for assuming because what I was misreading was the masculine voice. You did it so well it surprised me. Not that it should because you are great at that. This is one of the best things I have read in a while and part of that was how you took the prompt and made it something completely your own. You just owned this from start to finish and I think you are one of the giants, especially this week.

      1. Amyithist

        Thank you so much Reaper. Of course, I couldn’t delve into details that would have made the illness more pronounced. Thank you so much for the comment. I feel that I am growing as a writer.

    6. Dennis

      Sorry I missed this earlier. What powerful writing. I was sucked into the atmosphere as the MC dragged on the cigarettes. Such sadness and despair, yet I could fully get behind the MC as well. You painted this picture perfectly.

    7. jmcody

      In addition to everything that has already been mentioned, I was struck by the pacing and rhythm of the piece. It was almost like a musical composition in how it started out quietly and built to a crescendo, and then ended so abruptly. It was a visceral experience, tragic and moving. You’ve succeeded in your goal of emotional resonance.

  41. john godfrey


    Dearest Family:

    I wish to plead my case.

    Always, it seems, the three of you are trying to force me to stop writing, forcing me to come to drastic measures.

    Many authors do not achieve the success I have. Think this over. I’ve been an honorable mention by the Upper West Side Christian Journal three times. If that is not success, what is?

    At the very least, your demands of me as both a father and a husband are unreasonable. For the kids, I must cook meals, help with homework, read bedtime stories. I like to do these things, but time should be made for my writing, as well.

    Wilma, my loving wife of twelve years, you also have demands of me. For you, I must clean, watch Dancing with the Stars and make bubble baths 24/7. How can I write the Great American Novel when I must focus on Tom Bergeron asking America to vote for their favorite?

    Really, I must wash the dog, take out the trash, mow the lawn; wash the car…the list goes on. Henry, you are of age that you can begin to assist your old man with some of these things.

    Instead of demanding I do certain things, listen to my demands. I want unconditional love, support, and cases of grape-flavored soda, like I used to have when I was a kid. Forget what Dr. Trundle says, this mild-mannered author throws caution (and blood sugar) to the wind!

    Time for me to write should be a given, I think. Please, my demands are very reasonable, I believe. With all that I do for this family, Daddy needs alone time. And Wilma, you have to stay with the kids in this rare, literary instance.

    Even geniuses can’t produce masterpieces all the time. My massive brain needs rest, which is my final demand. Then, I will write the Great American Novel, make loads of money and live comfortably for the rest of our lives.

    Read the first letter of each section, dearest family, and you will finally understand how I feel. It’s a secret message, like my beautiful little daughter Greta loves. You can force me to do these chores, you can try to take time away from my writing, but you cannot force me to quit doing what I love. Read my demands carefully, think them over. I’ll be at the grocery store, because I’m about to begin my first chapter. And we’re all out of grape soda.


      1. Kerry Charlton

        I didn’t know if I should laugh about this letter or weep for the writer. There are many facets to his personality. Maybe a case of R C Cola and a box of Moon Pies might easr the pain. A good read John, I really enjoyed it.

    1. Reaper

      The absolute best parts of this are how human the MC is and how soothing it comes across. It does not have the rage or sense of lost hope that many of the others do. It is sad but in a hopeful way. The humanization is great because it causes sympathy but still has just enough ego to make some of the demands questionable but ridiculous. The secret message was awesome.

  42. jhowe

    A strikebreaker is oftentimes derogatorily referred to as a scab. Most scabs just want to work and they develop a thick skin when crossing the picket lines to get to the job. They don’t feel they are doing anything wrong. They think of themselves as sensible people willing to work for less money and most likely secretly hope the strike will last for a long time.

    As for me, I hate scabs. At least the scabs I’m dealing with during my strike from my family. Take the tall dark haired man pushing my youngest daughter on the swing. She is having a ball I’ll admit but I can easily picture this dark handsome rat staked naked to an ant hill with a steady drizzle of honey dripping from a wand held above his writhing ant bit torso.

    Another tall man, this one blond with muscular shoulders recently took a bag of garbage out to the bin. This didn’t bother me as much until my wife called out. “Oh Rodney, be a dear and run me a bath, would you?”

    That goddamn Rodney. This was getting out of hand. Sure, I was getting a lot of writing done but it was pure shit. I couldn’t write my way out of an oversized lunch bag the last few days.

    Just last night I had made a few concessions. She rejected them all. Then I told her I would write less than before, which was a reverse concession, but she rejected it. I told her I would quit writing altogether and she rejected it.

    My wife apparently liked scabs. Especially the blond one. That goddamn Rodney. This morning I offered to sell my golf clubs. No go. So I offered to buy her the Mercedes convertible she’d been talking about. Rejected.

    Then my wife screamed Rodney’s name from somewhere in the house, I think it was the kitchen. She hated doing it in the kitchen. A little later I was pouring sugar in the gas tank of Rodney’s Mustang when both he and the dark tall man walked out.

    “She’s nuts,” the dark man said.

    “What’s up boys?” I said keeping the sugar bag behind my back.

    “She won’t pay us,” Rodney said. “She claims she didn’t know.”

    “That’s a crying shame,” I said.

    “It sure is,” said the dark man.

    “You owe us each six hundred,” said Rodney.

    “I’ll mail it,”

    “Let’s go back in there and talk to her,” said the dark man.

    “Hold on,” I said pulling out my check book.

    After they left my wife came out. “I suppose we could talk about those concessions now,” she said.
    I watched as Rodney’s Mustang died about a half block down the street and he got into the dark man’s car.

    “I’m afraid that those concessions expired.”

    “What can you give me then?” she said.

    “How about I quit writing at dinner time, but I dictate and you type?”

    “Fine,” she said.

    I still hate scabs.

    1. Marie Therese Knepper

      Do tell! Did your MC hire the “scabs”? Whatever the case, absolutely great writing. I imagine coming back to this one a 3rd, 4th, and 5th time. :)

    2. MCKEVIN

      Surprise Surprise Surprise… How are you Mr. Howe? Your writing indicates you’re in rare form as usual. lol. I liked this one because of the erotic undertones. Have you ever had an ant bite you for your inner sweetness? I have and it is to die for. Lol. Since day one you have taken unique twists on the prompts presented here and this one is no exception. ( I never would have came up with a scab angle. Love it.) I miss you all but I am determine to make you and my other “friends of inspiration” here proud of me on different level and in a different arena. Just hold on and when my project is complete I will announce it here. PS: I come from a union family and we hate SCABS too! Lol.

    3. sjmca1966

      I must admit I was a little disappointed when I first saw this weeks prompt.
      But I am constantly amazed at the different angles taken by so many of the posters and JHowe this one has to be right up there for originality.
      I guess it’s true what they say, “Be careful what you wish for.”
      Loved it :)

    4. jmcody

      And how, J. Howe! This backfired on so many levels, on everyone involved. Kind of like the union negotiations that are currently happening on my city’s railroad (I may not be able to go to work soon — woo hoo!). This was some pithy dark comedy that had me snickering out loud on said railroad.

    5. Observer Tim

      Great story, jhowe. I suppose every form of strike has to embrace strikebreakers. I find it interesting that (apparently) she hired the men and he’s paying them. It’s a perfect example of the kind of muddy crap that comes up in any labour dispute (I’ve been through a few in my time).

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Clever response JHowe. As usual, your response is most unusual. Your poor MC’s been had twice and had to pay for it. I liked the laid back erotic feel about the story. I wasn’t sure there wouldn’ t be a murder.

    6. Reaper

      Brilliantly twisted. I think you may have the most original response this week. This was so intense without a feeling of danger, though I admit I was also not sure there would not be a murder. You painted everyone as wonderfully flawed, likable and not at the same time. Amazingly intellectual and emotional writing. Also very nice commentary without ever touching on it outside of the metaphor except in your opening.

    7. Herald Harbinger

      Like those who have commented already, this was a dark, entertaining read. I tend to read too much into things sometimes, but I found myself wondering if the different men represented different circumstances when the MC gave in to the demands of domestic life. The MC may be personifying these instances and demonstrating how he feels when he gives in and stops writing. Was the MC the scab? Maybe I’m just stating the obvious.

    8. agnesjack

      What a great idea for the prompt, jhowe, and well-executed. It got darker and darker until the almost normal, “oh well,” ending. Nice.

  43. moscoboy

    Let Me Write

    I had taken a tumble off my bike and suffered a concussion. No, I was not wearing a helmet. To my delight I was infused with a passion to write. I set up a desk with a decent computer, laser printer, and upgraded our Internet to the fastest speed available. I wrote day and night. I wrote short stories, flash fiction pieces, three manuscripts and responded to countless writing prompts in different writing forums. I was losing weight and I felt great, I finally had a passion in my life that did not include mowing the lawn and washing dishes, etc. To counter my lack of work around the home I was forced to take the bus to my doctor appointments and to do my own grocery shopping via mass transit

    My immediate family read my works and deemed them lacking. “Why is an old man writing all these books,” was a constant question by friends and family. Now the family members who depended on my income to prop up their middle class facade were rebelling against my avocation.

    The meeting was frosty. My son and his wife sat on one side of the dining table. I sat facing them like an accused criminal without the benefit of legal counsel.

    “Dad you’re not living up to your responsibilities. Do you remember the list I gave you when you moved in with us? Things like mowing the lawn, putting out the trash, loading and unloading the dishwasher every night, running our errands for food and miscellaneous items when we run short and cleaning the entry and mud room.”

    “I have found my passion and it is writing. I don’t give three wet farts whether you approve of my style or not. I’m on strike. Why should I pay one-half of the rent and live in the basement like a lab rat? Why should I run your errands, clean your house when your wife is unemployed, and spends all her time on Facebook? If you want peace in this family I will mow your grass and put out the trash, that’s all. You or your wife can handle the errands, house cleaning, and the dishwasher. This is a two-story home with a basement. I want a rent reduction or I’m moving out.”

    “Where will you go dad? You’re an old man who’s chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

    “I apologize for dreaming big, but you can’t take away my driving force. You’re both forty-three years old and still playing D&D like a bunch of kids in high school. Give me a break for attempting to make some extra house money. Unless we come to an amicable agreement on new living arrangements I’ll be forced to move.”

    My son stared straight ahead and didn’t consult his wife. He looked into my eyes and said, “We’ll be sorry to see you go. When are you moving out?”

    1. MCKEVIN

      We should play tag writing here because I would love to write the murder scene. The daughter in law is strangled with the game controllers and the son mysteriously dies from food poison. The father writes and self publishes the story and becomes a Facebook sensation. The third installment of he series involve some nosy neighbors trapped in the basement. Very good.I do hope you continue this and let us know how it comes out.

    2. jmcody

      I intend to do my best writing when I am old, as my family is currently depending on my income to prop up their middle class facade.

      Great characterization. I was rooting for your MC and hoping he would teach his slacker kids a lesson. I also loved that it was a smack on the head that turned him into a writer.

        1. Amyithist

          Wow! I love it when writers put a little piece of themselves into their works. While I’m sorry for the accident, I’m grateful for the artistic birthing! Isn’t it funny what head injuries can do? I keep wishing for someone to “smack” my anxiety out! LOL

      1. snuzcook

        I love your MC, moscoboy! Common sense and attitude. The way his son ignored the opportunity to change and sped to the ‘where will you go/when will you leave’ was great. He can move into my spare bedroom anytime, no strings attached.

    3. Observer Tim

      I love the way you nailed the “old man” perspective, moscoboy. He knows what’s what and isn’t afraid to say so. Also, the subtle way you painted the son as a world-class jerk, trying to use his dad as an indentured servant and playing hardball when he gets “uppity”.

      All in all it’s an entertaining read.

    4. Amyithist

      I found myself completely disliking the husband and wife and rooting for the father. Good for him for standing up for himself against clear and utter tyranny! Down with the smug, arrogant, and cocky son who doesn’t believe in his father! LOL Okay. I’m clearly riled up. WELL Done! Fantastic take moscoboy! :)

    5. Reaper

      I was struck by the concussion causing the writing. That it is true is amazing but it rings of the idea that you have to be brain damaged to try and make a living writing. Great story with a very sympathetic and awesome MC. There were some great quotable lines and beautifully worded ideas in here. Middle class facade being my favorite and the snark about D&D had me laughing. Brilliant.

  44. Dennis

    Creativity and Insanity: Is there a difference?

    Yes, one might call me crazy for tying up my family, but what else was I to do? Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

    The damp, musty smell of the basement felt inviting to me tickling my brain with memories of my childhood. I stood before my wife and two sons. Tied to the chairs they sat on, each looked at me with wide, pleading eyes. But I must be strong.

    “So sorry it has come to this, but I felt it was the only way to drive home the urgency of my situation.”
    “You see, creative inspiration comes when it wants to and so I have to heed its call. Therefore, in such times, I can’t be bothered to open a jar of pickles, help with homework or throw a ball. Are we clear so far?”

    The three nodded their heads. I might have also gagged their mouths. I find it keeps the arguing and whining to a minimum.

    “Good. I have written out a few simple rules to follow which I’ll read now and then post as a friendly reminder.” I walk back and forth in front of them as I read.
    1. Never interrupt me for any reason when my study door is closed.
    2. Playing will be kept to a low volume when said door is closed.
    3. If you see me deep in thought, never ever disturb me.

    “If you can follow these simple rules, then I can meet my deadlines and be a better husband and father. But if not!…” I slammed my hand on the table for emphasis. The three flinched. A little fear goes a long way.

    “Let’s just say I don’t want to have to repeat this scenario.” I paused to make sure they heard that last line.
    “Well, I think that went well. I’m going up stairs to get a glass of water. In that time I’ll let you reflect on this conversation.” I patted the two boys on the head and kissed my wife on the cheek.

    Pouring a glass of water, I noticed the bottle of lithium tablets on the counter. I should probably take some of those. Then I heard my phone chime. What could it be now? Oh, the latest prompt. It looks like a fun one. I must get to it as I feel the creative juices flowing. Oh, right, the family. But it’s so quiet right now. I’ll just take a few minutes to jot my ideas down.

    1. MCKEVIN

      Okay you had me at “So sorry it has come to this.” This reads like Stephen King’s “The Window” only I like yours better. I’ma have to watch for your stuff here in the future. Good one.

    2. jmcody

      I liked how you walked a fine line between horror and comedy. It was tongue in cheek and yet still pretty creepy. I think you walked a similar line on the zombie prompt, come to think of it. Hmmm… I sense a style developing. Oh wow, now you made me think of Nicholas Cage again, but that’s probably just me.

      Very entertaining, Dennis! Keep on writing those prompts (but maybe untie the family first…). :)

      1. Dennis

        Thanks JM. It started out darker but the humor just made its way in. I do like to add it when I can. And if I make people think of Nicholas Cage then I must be doing something write. And thanks, I almost forgot about the family I was enjoying the quiet so much :)

      1. snuzcook

        I would say to the MC: skip the pills, go with the prompt. After all, the muse is unpredictable. Someone will notice the family is missing and rescue them if he doesn’t get a chance to. He survived his childhood basement experiences without truly serious damage after all, didn’t he?

        1. Dennis

          Yes Snuzy, I think you’re right. Best never to ignore the muse. They have a fiendish way of turning on you if you do. And as you said, someone will miss the family eventually :)

    3. Observer Tim

      This is great, Dennis. I loved how you managed to keep it dark and keep it light at the same time. The last paragraph paints a good picture of the MC’s mental state. I’m sure when the folks from the funny farm show up they’ll see that too.

    4. Amyithist

      This was fantastically disturbing and funny at the same time; a rare feat to pull off. I loved the lithium reveal, as well. I figured there was a hint of insanity there. LOL WELL DONE! I’d almost like to hear more about this MC… Does he untie his family or does another bout take this down another turn?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I enjoyed the read. I feel it could turn out a lot darker then it is. Suppose he gets distracted and leaves his family in the basement for a few weeks before his mind remembers what’s he done. A lot of tension formed in my mind as I read it, even though it had lots of irony and humor along with the story.

        1. Dennis

          Kerry, thanks for reading and your feedback. I’m glad you felt the tension as that was what I was going for. The humor I think just added to it.

      2. Dennis

        Thank you Amyithist. I appreciate the feedback. Good question, I figured he’d forget about them for awhile anyway. But would the family’s compliance actually be enough? Hmmmmm

    5. Reaper

      The last paragraph was perfect. As you told this story I saw the humor but on the side. This reminded me more of Hannibal Lecter than anything else. That same just passing the time of day personality with deadly consequences tied to it all. One of my favorite types of character and one that is scarier than anyone written over the top.

      1. Dennis

        Reaper, we mind meld again. Lecter is my favorite creepy type character and I believe is the scariest. The combination of intelligence and diabolicalness freaks me out. I tried to tap into him although I think I made the MC a bit more crazy. Thanks for your feedback

  45. peetaweet

    I wrote a poem on the commode this morning. I’ll spare you the details, but I thought it was nice, the poem, about a bird and a nest. Speaking of birds, Rooster is at it again the foot tapping. He’s my roommate and it’s always something with that guy. He sleeps like a shark, ticking like a warm engine after a race.

    After dinner it’s dishes, after dishes it’s laundry. My mind spins with thoughts and sputters with opening sentences to paragraphs of chapters that will never be written, because it’s difficult to write with your hands buried in the sink or your mind buried in useless house meetings.

    After our chores we have a meeting. Rooster sits beside me attacking his fingernails. I know, I know, he’s a gold mine of character traits, but just try living with the guy for six months. Derek is our spirited leader. He’s a former drunk—you know the type—eager to see us all through, make up for the Wildman antics of a past life.

    A few new faces stammer through introductions, eyes on the floor and mumbling, they’re all the same, these pow wows, blowing a plume of coddling smoke up our pickled and dragging rear ends. Then Derek calls me out.

    “Uh, W.C., could you please—“

    I hold up a hand with a smile to save his breath. I know that he likes to get me involved because I’m the only one who can string together a rational thought in this hellhole. Take Collins over here, our resident mute. He couldn’t write a sentence if you spotted him See and Dick and Run then dangled the period in front of his wobbly eyes.

    With a practiced grimace, I pull out the piece of paper from my coat pocket. The coat is all I have left from another life, with its fraying silk lining, WC WELLS patched just under the arm.

    “Uh yes, I uh have something I’d like to say…” I adjust my glasses and unfold the yellow legal paper. For a moment I’m back on campus, let the lecture begin.

    “I, WC Wells, refuse to take part in meetings, chores, duties, and all other Minnow House responsibilities until the following conditions are met:

    One, I ask for a room to myself, not to offend Rooster here, as he has been an upstanding roommate, but as a writer, I need my own writing space. I need peace and quiet.

    Two, I ask for immediate relief from my kitchen duties. Some of us work better with our hands, and others with our minds. In an effort to finish my memoir, I will need…”

    Derek shifts in his chair, his fake cough grabs the attention of the room. I look up, only on two out of eight. Rooster smiles thoughtfully. Collins’ face is a void of confusion. Derek looks to me with a hand to his chin. He opens his mouth to say something and then stops, then again.

    “Very well, W.C., he says, waving his own piece of paper. But I have no record of you in our system. You do know that you’re free to leave, right?”

    The faces bend back towards me. I glance at my scrawling, then stuff it in my pocket, adjusting my coat and nodding. “I uh, I suppose that the dished won’t be a problem…”

    1. snuzcook

      Well done, peetaweet! A really sensitive portrait of your MC. I was torn between feeling that the ending was all about WC limiting himself out of fear, or about Derek masterfully playing upon those fears.

    2. Observer Tim

      Very clever, peetaweet. I love the details about the people dished out just sparingly enough to entice, and the little reveal about WC at the end.

      I’m a little curious about what exact environment he’s weaseling his way into (dorm, long-term care ward, reformatory, Big Brother house, …). There is definitely a longer story hiding in here. You’ve piqued my curiosity.

    3. Amyithist

      So, if I’m reading this correctly, the MC was staying in a halfway house? It would be interesting to know why; was he there on research? I loved the characterization of the group as a whole. It was like a little dysfunctional family trying to keep their head above the proverbial water. GREAT job!

    4. Reaper

      Great writing, and I also would love to see more of this story. I get the impression that your MC is an alcoholic, feel like he is a published author. I get the very real sense that when he gave up the drink it was like Dumbo and the magic feather. I could be way off there but that was the sense I got from the whole thing. No matter what just superbly done.

      1. peetaweet

        Thanks for all the positve comments guys, I really appreciate it. I wrote with the mc being a little delusional and homeless. He just kind of crashed the halfway house (I was vague with the details because I have no idea how they work). I pictured this pipe smoking, tweed jacket type who feels he’s above it all yet has nowhere else to go. His memoir is hardly more than a grocery list by the way…

  46. Jay

    The House of Sin
    (Okay, I’m done with this prompt after this response, I swears! haha)

    I used the tip of the knife to dig out some kind grit from under the nail of my left hand’s middle finger. The blade scraped from the edge of the hard surface and made a soft metallic noise. After taking my time to check to see if I removed all the dirt, I gave it a quick and firm blow of air from my lips.

    When I turned back to the desk, I sighed. There was no possible reason for me to finish that damn letter, especially with the knowledge that I knew nothing was going to happen. People just couldn’t understand what it meant to be a writer. For that reason, I had to show them. I had to bring them into my world and help them get a feel for what it’s like sitting at this desk and writing these dark tales.

    I picked up a half-written sheet of paper and held it up. My wife looked at it, and then her eyes immediately met mine. Those gorgeous azure pupils just above deep dark circles always reminded me of why I married her. Well, to be honest, when I married her it was far more than her striking beauty that whisked me away. However, after fifteen years, the personality that I adored had melted into a menagerie of quirks I despised. Before too long, it was her beauty that kept me going, kept me in this bullshit marriage in the first place. But then she confronted me about my writing, and everything changed.

    “This is the letter I was going to write to you,” I said. “Let me read it.”

    She shook her head, unable to speak. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that she was gagged, but I preferred to believe that she was just in complete awe of my clever ability to show her my world.

    I obnoxiously cleared my throat, and said, “Dear Margie—that’s you—and Alena, I know that I’ve been really busy lately and haven’t been able to be the man, husband, and father that you both need me to be. However, there also has been a lack of understanding for my needs as an author. Therefore, here is a list of demands that will help to secure a reasonable position and also help bond our relationship as a family blah, blah, blah… look, lemme just get to the goddamn point.”

    My daughter, who’d just turned sixteen, had fear twisting her face, but despite that, she was a spitting image of her mother’s beauty, which was good because for whatever reason, the women on my side of the family were no better looking than the frogs frequently flattened on the highway.

    “Here’s the deal. I live in this world. This dark place that neither of you seem to understand. I can’t be expected to just go back to being a normal dad or husband after living in this tiring and scary world for the last twenty years. I just can’t, and all you do is fucking nag.” I said, and motioned to my wife, but then I pointed the knife at my daughter. “And you. All you want to do is hang out with your friends, text pictures of your foot to everyone on the planet, and spend several hours on FaceSpace or whatever the fuck you call it. I can’t watch you ever second of the day worried that something is going to happen to you, sweetie. So, in order to be the writer I need to be, I need to live in this dark world with no interruptions, and the only way I can think to do that is to… well, actually live in it.”

    I stood, walked to my daughter, and thrust the knife into her chest several times. My wife’s high pitched scream escaped her lungs and filtered through the gag into a muffled yet still very audible cry of terror and sadness. I don’t think she realized what I was doing, but it was important for my future that I do what was necessary to succeed. How could I be the greatest horror writer of all time without first giving in to the dark creature that lives inside all of us?

    I looked down, and there was only a slight ring of blood around the outer edge of my hand closest to the blade. It was strange, because for so long I’d written about how people stabbed other people and that actual blood was all over their hands. Well, I could honestly say that was no longer going to be the case, except I could mean it metaphorically. Right? Yeah, especially since I’ve killed my daughter for success, so in a sense I did have blood on my hands. How wonderful.

    I turned to my wife and her eyes burned deep red. Her brows furrowed with anger, but there was also a glint of sadness and fear that assured me I was having a lasting, though soon to be short-lived effect on her. It was a look that would forever permeate my work.

    I said, “I understand you’re upset, but let me remind you that you both are doing so much more for me now than you ever did. Obviously, you’re not cooperating willingly, but that’s the beauty of it. I’m learning so much more than I could have ever hoped for.”

    I moved close to her, and she flinched. I took a deep welcome breath, and stabbed her several times. She screamed until the last breath wheezed from her, and I looked down. My hand were clean, but there was still a ton of blood all over them. I smiled, walked to my desk, and started writing a novel that would soon become a top seller.

    1. vaderize03

      I love the matter-of-fact tone of the MC; it’s like he’s conducting a scientific experiment with his family.

      Creepy and fun!

      Jay, what’s the name of your books? I’d love to read them.

      1. Jay

        That’s exactly it, Vaderize! He loves his writing so much more than his family that they were the perfect way for him to learn exclusively what it felt like to be the murderer. They always say write what you know, and I’d imagine there are more than a few writers out there that took that saying far too literally. If you click on my name, you’ll be linked to my website which will have them all listed there, but since I have insider knowledge on the goings on behind the curtain, I’d wait a couple months (unless you plan to read only the most recent one “Moonlight Escape”). The new contract gave me some leeway to do some things I’ve always wanted to do with the older ones, and I wish I could tell what it is, but I can’t! :)

      1. Jay

        Thanks, Dennis! I think this story speaks more to authors than anyone else. As I mentioned to Vaderize, writers have to write what they know, and sometimes some of them go too far. I can’t take full credit for the idea since so many authors have done it before me, like Stephen King’s Secret Window–but I like to think I put my own spin on the theme that made it unique. lol

    2. sjmca1966

      Jay, think it probably goes without saying how much I enjoy your writing. I’m trying to get my ‘gruesome’ going. Thanks for not disappointing with this post :)

    3. snuzcook

      Well written, Jay. And a tad outside where I want to keep my comfort zone–but that’s just me. Wonderful lines, especially: ‘…I looked down. My hand were clean, but there was still a ton of blood all over them.’

      1. Jay

        Thanks and you’er not alone, Snuz. I write way outside my comfort zone. At the end of one of my stories, the main character makes a decision that forced me to stand, take a deep breath, and walk it off. Took me a few hours to finish the end of the story, and it was just a few paragraphs more. I’m sorry it made you uncomfortable, though. :) As for the line, that’s one of my favorite underlying reminders I give my readers, that we’re all just human and no matter what we do or how we try to be okay with our actions, there will always be a little blood on our hands.

    4. Observer Tim

      WINK: And this week on “Author Over the Edge” we’ll be interviewing Jay. Jay used the untimely murder of his family as inspiration for the new humour/horror novel “Knives in the Basement,” currently on top of the bestseller list and bleeding profusely over the competition. So Jay, do you find this kind of writing cathartic?

      JAY: Yes Wink, I do. In fact, I’m already doing research for my next novel, “The Malpractice Murders.” It’s going to be set in a hospital for the criminally insane.

      WINK: I’d heard about that. Now, how many doctors were killed in the recent incident?

      JAY: Ha-ha. Just one, Wink. Plus two orderlies and a nurse. They shouldn’t have let me get hold of that chicken bone…

      Wonderful story, Jay.

    5. Amyithist

      Oh man. This left my insides churning like the sea on a stormy day. I didn’t think he was going to do it; I kept waiting for the reality light to flash through dark abyss… but it didn’t. And I find it completely enthralling that your MC did something that, up until that point, he’d only written about. I know that as writers, we’ve all wondered: Am I conveying this moment truthfully and precisely? If someone were to read this, would they get a full, clear understanding of the terror/horror/sadness/frustration I’m trying to weave through these details? And I have to say, Jay, there’s a little part of me that is a little terrified after reading this. LOL Very well done. Very chilling. Very haunting. :)

      1. Jay

        Great visuals, and it was only a comment! :) I always wonder if I’m conveying something correctly. For most things like relationships, family, etc… normal things, I think I have decent grasp of, but for the other things, the darker things of which I have no real experience with, hopefully most of my readers don’t have the experience with which to compare! If they don’t then, I guess I’m in the clear. If they do, well… they have bigger things to worry about than my inaccurate prose. lol Glad you enjoyed it, Amyithist!

    6. Reaper

      Wonderfully written Jay. The mark of good horror in the classical style is not the shock and the fear of the monster coming after you. It is that moment you connect with the monster and realize, under the right set of circumstances this could be me. That real terror comes when you see that if your limits were pushed too much you could end up doing all those terrible things. Perhaps it is the audience and the subject matter but I think you captured that perfectly here. While it is terrifying the emotion under it all for me is a desperate, lonely, melancholy that devours the rest of the mind. Just amazing.

      1. Jay

        Glad you enjoyed it, Reaper. I have a habit of pushing my MCs to their limits and making them do things that are way outside of character, kind of a way to show my readers that anyone is capable of anything given the right circumstances. It’s amazing that you saw right through the guise and could see the underlying message! :D

  47. icandootoo

    Puny Mortal:
    You may have noticed the dishes piling up in the sink, the laundry in the hamper, or the rubbish overflowing the bin. Or, then again, you may not have noticed any of this, since I generally am the only one to do anything on a daily basis. However, you have noted the dust on the mantle — I know this because you have mentioned your asthma twice in as many minutes, with several overdone sneezes worked in, for effect.

    My dusty scribble, on said mantle, should serve as notice to you of my intention to allow this mantle to remain as it is, as well as any other chores you seem to see fit to burden me with, until the following demands are met:

    1) Leave my office door closed. I don’t really care that he stole your football, your phone, or your girlfriend – these things can wait to be dealt with; and I’m in the middle of planning the next great American Masterpiece. Unless you want your dirty socks to be featured heavily in my next story, STAY OUT.

    2) Ask before you straighten. I know you’re trying to be helpful to me, but when you threw away those napkins, you also threw away three of my best chapters. And yes, I know I have a laptop I can write on, and yes, I know writing on a napkin in a coffee shop is not going to make me a world famous author, but still…. I will straighten all the paper products, even while I do nothing else, which should make you at least somewhat happy.

    3) Stop referring to my writing as a hobby just because I don’t get paid. You don’t pay me to cook, clean, or do your dirty socks, either. Unless you comply, you’ll get to find out on a permanent basis how grand life can be when Mother agrees that it’s silly and unfulfilling to do unpaid work.

    4) Read my novel. I really don’t care that fantasy ‘is so 90’s’ and ‘dystopias are all the rage, now’ – it breaks my heart that nobody cares if the Perilous Brothers make it out of the Vortex of Doom, and while I can’t control the publishing world or the general public, I can at least ask my family to read a paltry thousand pages or so. Let me know when you’re finished, and I’ll make dinner.

    5) Leave my office door closed when I am working. I know I wrote this before, but it bears repeating: I will use your socks in a very public way, if you insist on inserting real life into my cocoon of happiness.
    If you do not care for these demands, I suggest you acquaint yourself with the furniture polish and dust rag, located in the top left corner of the cleaning cupboard. You’ll find my requests are wiped away, along with your asthma, quite easily without me.


      1. icandootoo

        It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer is never appreciated by his or her family until he or she is already famous – and rarely even then.

        We really should covenant together to read at least one other writer’s work (without snobbery) at least once per year, as a mark of solidarity. ;-)

      1. icandootoo

        Thanks! You know, if they’d just have read the 250 page installments each time I finished them, the task would be (or at least seem) less insurmountable.


    1. Observer Tim

      Great list, Icandootoo. Anything that begins ‘Puny Mortal’ is going to have my attention, and your list is both spot on and entertaining.

      Number 2 reminds me of the old plea, “Lord preserve me from the assistance of well-meaning idiots.”

    2. Reaper

      Incredibly well written. I loved that for some reason puny mortal put me in mind of a male writing the letter and then the rest was all Mother. Not only well written but entertaining and I would hazard to say reasonable as well as funny in a I feel bad for you way. Numbers 3 and 4 were perfect. Not so much to ask and devastating when ignored. There was a nice depth to this under everything that was making me smile.

    3. jmcody

      How did I miss this? Very funny, with a great irritated, supercilious voice. Loved the ongoing bit with the socks. Those must be some rank socks.

  48. Observer Tim

    I’m sitting at the computer trying to wrestle down an idea for this week’s writing prompt when he comes in. He always comes in around this time of day. I think he exists for no other purpose than to distract me from writing. But today it’s going to be different.

    “Bugger off, Tim, I’m thinking.”

    “I don’t care, Tim. You have to pay some bills.”

    “I did that yesterday.”

    “You have to answer your e-mail.”

    “Already done.”

    “What about that dryer full of socks? They’re not going to sort themselves.”

    “Enough! You just want me to fail at this, don’t you Tim?”

    “No, I want you to remember you have a real life!”

    “Real life sucks! Let me write!”

    “I can’t; otherwise nothing gets done. What kind of nonsense are you writing today?”

    “I’m writing about going on strike. I’m not going to do any chores until you decide to support my writing. In fact, I’m going on chore strike.”

    “Chore strike? You’ve totally flipped, Tim.”

    “Have I? Why don’t you do some of the chores instead of me? In fact, why don’t you try all of them? Do the dishes, cut the grass, clean the laundry, cook the meals, pay the bills, all of it! Leave me alone so I can write and create!”

    “Create? You’re just sitting there talking to an externalized version of your own sense of responsibility. What kind of lunatic does that?”

    “The kind who needs to create. The kind who doesn’t want to be continually distracted by the endless minutiae of simple existence. You’re me, you take care of it for once.”

    “I always take care of it. You think I don’t want to write? There are heart-wrenching stories waiting to be told when you put away those stupid dreams and let me.”

    “Not on my watch they aren’t. Life is tragic enough without you adding to it. Go do your chores.”

    “Not going to happen, Tim. There’s only one body, and it’s sitting in front of the computer daydreaming.”

    “No, you haven’t been watching. It’s been sitting in front of the computer writing. I win!”

    He stops and chuckles. “Good play, Tim. You’re distracting your distractions so you can write. I’ll give you this round.”

    “Thank you, Tim. But it was kind of a foregone conclusion. I’m the creative one.”

    “You mean the one who daydreams while he’s supposed to be working. I get it. But that dryer full of socks still needs to be sorted.”

    “Yeah, yeah. I’ll do it when I finish this prompt.”

    1. Jay

      I loved it, Mr. Tim. The whole time I was reading it, I expected you to twist at the end and tell me that he was arguing with an actual twin and for some reason they like to call each other by the same name. I don’t really know what I was thinking… haha. Good job!

    2. Dennis

      Great writing Tim. This was by far the closest to what I have to deal with as things are pretty good with my wife. But the alter ego just won’t shut up. Well done.

    3. snuzcook

      Very clever take on the prompt, masterfully executed and incredibly familiar.
      You’re in my head, Tim. Or Tim. Whichever it is, I’m missing a sock…

    4. Reaper

      Nicely done Tim. Great dialogue and a man vs himself story in a very modern way. Funny and deep at the same time. Something we all struggle with at times and you wrote it so well I could imagine having this conversations with myself. My favorite parts were real life sucks, let me write and the refusal to let the responsible side write the types of stories your creative side doesn’t want to put on paper. Great exploration into being the change and the power of words. Just amazing.

    5. Amyithist

      I have to imagine that you were genuinely sitting in front of your computer, your hands over the keyboard, waiting for that stroke of genius when the alter Tim came in, pestering you with the beckoning of your household duties…to which you responded with an absolutely brilliant take on this week’s prompt. THIS is why I LOVE coming to this site. There is such brilliancy here. Such originality that it makes me proud to be a writer. We truly are a different class. You did such a fantastic job here. Wonderfully done!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hello Tim, sorry to take so long to get around to your story. Two Tim’s is far better thean one Tim. This is the best response I’ve ever read from you. Anybdy would publish it, I love it very much. Each morning I get up and struggle with the same thoughts. My Dad taught me to work hard, forsaking many pleasures in life. Ladies of course, were the one exception.

        It was many years before I realized he didn’t follow his own teachings. By that time, he was gone and I couldn’t argue with him. “Ain’t That A Shame.”

  49. Reaper

    Under the Crack

    Dear Fellow Prisoners;

    When I lost my job one year ago you were supportive of my quest to become a published author. As the indifference of agents and publishers mingled with the inevitable writer’s block your support wafted away like ephemeral dandelion fluff on a summer breeze.

    By now you will have noticed that Beth’s bone china, Eve’s favorite doll, and Michael’s videogames are missing. I thought of including a doll finger with this but could not find scissors. These items are my hostages.

    I am confident we can resolve this crisis without bloodshed. My measures are extreme but as the only one willing to negotiate I had to get your attention. On to the meat of the matter; below you will see your demands of chores I do for you. Included also is a list of my requirements to peacefully, pleasantly accommodate your ridiculous requests.

    Your (unreasonable) demands – I must…
    1. Bathe – Daily
    2. Make dinner, since I am getting up about then anyway – Monday, Wednesday, Friday
    3. Take out the trash since nobody else has the intestinal fortitude – Weekly, Thursday
    4. Bring in the empty trash and recycling containers – Weekly, Friday
    5. Dust the televisions, all of them, which is unfair as I only use one – Weekly
    6. Drive the kids to school since it is right before I go to bed anyway – Weekdays
    7. Clean the kitchen and bathrooms – Weekly
    8. Spend a night with the family – Weekly
    9. Figure out how to give a woman and orgasm (like any man can) – Twice Monthly
    10. Help the kids with homework I couldn’t do in college – Tuesday, Thursday

    My (completely realistic) costs to return to this drudgery – You must…
    1. Cease referring to my writing as a hobby
    2. Stop asking me when I’m getting a real job
    3. Stay quiet in the middle of the day when I’m sleeping
    4. Replace the whiskey when empty, daily
    5. Wash my clothes
    6. Buy writing supplies whenever I need
    7. Read my pages and tell me they are wonderful, even if they suck
    8. Stop complaining about my cooking
    9. Keep my car clean and in working order
    10. Secure for me a “free pass” night with Taylor Momsen

    In order to ensure my demands are met I am willing to offer the following five things to sweeten the pot. I will stop…
    1. Wearing powdered wigs to dinner while insisting on being called Mr. President
    2. Giving Michael backdoor noogies
    3. Asking Eve for a cup of hemlock at her “tea parties”
    4. Referring to sex as the impossible mission
    5. Killing neighborhood cats to figure out how Frankenstein managed it

    I hope we can come to an accord quickly. Please send up a signal flair when you are willing to agree to my terms and have miss Momsen on premises and ready to go. You can expect no further communication until my demands are met.

    In the name of Edgar Allan Poe,
    Your loving husband and father!

    1. sjmca1966

      Some great touches Reaper (I do the powdered wigs thing too and I live alone!).
      You really should give up the cat killing, use bunnies, so if your experiment fails you have something for dinner on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (I call them four-legged chickens.)
      Really enjoyed it :)

      1. Reaper

        Thank you Margi33. I don’t do comedy often but this one just called for it to me. I’m still learning how to not deny that urge. I always want to write something darker so I have to keep myself from forcing it. I’m always happy when comedy goes over well.

    2. jhowe

      Very entertaining Reaper. You started with a bang and never let up, as is usually your style. As far as figuring out how to give a woman an orgasm twice a month, just keep trying, move around a lot and don’t fall for the exaggerated moaning when you’re taking too long, as if taking too long ever happens.

        1. Reaper

          Thanks Augie. Honestly this one was harder for me than normal. Seeds came quickly but I thought about it all day. I wanted to stick to the idea of lists. When I hit post I wasn’t completely proud of it. I always have nerves about lighter writing. But the light side wanted to come out and play on this one and would not be denied. Thank you for these very kind words. Judging by the reactions I think my nerves were just misplaced pride.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you jhowe. My male ego wants to defend itself because of your focus but as this was a witty and funny response I’m just going to let the ego deflate in shame. :)

    3. Marie Therese Knepper

      I’m not done reading yet, but wanted to let you know that I was in the middle of swallowing some iced tea when I read the line about the doll fingers and scissors, and now I have iced tea in my nasal cavities!

      1. Marie Therese Knepper

        I’m so glad I didn’t have tea in my mouth when I read the orgasm line – good grief. :0
        Reading great writing never felt so good, so good, so good, so good!

        1. jmcody

          Marie, true story — Reaper once made tea come out of my nose too. I forget which prompt it was, but I did make note of that in the comments. Reaper, your writing has quite an effect on women and their sinus cavities. :)

      2. Reaper

        Thank you Marie. This exchange made my day. Two of my favorite parts of this are the ones you mentioned. I am delighted they made you laugh as well. Though I admit this discussion of my affect on women’s sinus cavities feels a little dirty to me. ;)

    4. jmcody

      Reaper, you make the writing life sound so… um… attractive! I don’t know why, but a lot of these responses from the husband’s POV are making me itchy. If I were your MC’s wife my response would probably be “Nevermore!”

      This was in-your-face funny with so many snortworthy lines and images. Loved the powdered wig. Thanks for ending my work week with a good laugh.

      1. Reaper

        I believe that would be a very valid response to these demands. I am glad I could make people laugh. For mine I was going for over the top and the husband to be a ridiculously self centered and demanding person. Itchy is a good term because I wanted him to seem reasonable at first, a little sympathy for the situation and the cause but then become unlikable, a caricature of the struggling author that takes what we can all understand way too far.

        For the others it seems intentional that the husband be the bad guy. I think there is also a lot in the difference between how men and women demand. Women do it eloquently with a mind for compromise, most often. Men, when their thought process is laid bare are out to win and get what they want no matter the cost. That is not always true but the tone is very different. Part of it is also societal and I had a long explanation written up about that but I can’t word it well and will probably get enough hate for sharing this much without trying to explain what I mean and having it sound very different than what I feel, so I will leave it at that.

    5. Dennis

      Oh Reaper, I could actually see this being a day in the life at the Reaper residence. I really enjoyed the crazy/off kiltered humor. My favorite was I’ll stop asking Eve for a cup of hemlock at her “tea parties.” Priceless. You figured out how to do something amazing with the list premise. I amost didn’t do the prompt because I came up blank. Thanks for this.

      1. Reaper

        You’re welcome Dennis and I’m glad you stuck to it. The only part that is based in reality is sadly the unemployment and the fickle will of the publishing gods, so I am happy it feels so real. Though now I want to get a powdered wig. That is a perfect description of the humor so I am glad you enjoyed it, and I felt the cup of hemlock write itself so am very glad it was mentioned. I am now chuckling at that line and have such a clear image of a bored father thinking of writing and rolling his eyes while surrounded by stuffed animals and his daughter.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you snuzcook, you know how to build me up and I appreciate it. I am very sorry about Fluffy, when I figure it all out I will build him or her a mate though!

    6. Amyithist

      Oh Reaper. I may be late coming to the table, but you always fill me up! I LOVED this. I giggled at the giving a woman an orgasm part. And the killing neighborhood cats to figure out how Frankenstein managed it. And the powdered wigs. Hell, this had me giggling all the way through. And yet, you also managed to use some beautiful wording that left me in awe, yet again. Be honest now… You’re not REALLY from this world, are you? You have to be from some sort of writer’s heaven or something because you are simply too amazing for words! Thanks for the awesome prompt!

      1. Reaper

        You caught me but only partially right. I am actually from a dystopian future where writers rule the world. The two societies left, one following teachings from the holy book of 1984 and the other following the preachings gleaned from Fahrenheit 451, are caught in an epic struggle for world domination. We have learned to produce offspring from the mixing of books and alcoholic beverages. I personally come from the mating of The Stand and an Irish Coffee Royale. Unfortunately I fell for taking a one way trip back in time when my nemesis who is half Twilight and half Gin and Tonic told me I was the only one that could stop the Great Recession thus ending the divide that causes our eternal struggle. I have said to much and now that you are onto us I must send a message to have the children of Terminator and Long Island Iced Teas sent back to rectify the problem.

        Okay, I don’t entirely know where that came from. I’m glad you loved it and you have built my writer’s ego up to narcissist levels for the year. Thank you for wonderful compliments.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I’m finally here Reaper. The lap top throwing a tizzy today. Just wiped out my response to you so I’ll start over. Where have you been keeping this comedic talent? We need to see a little more from you. I loved the tone of your story and of course the imagination you put in it.

          You have so much talent, I think I might adopt you. Do you think you could pass for a Texan? If not, you could live in the basement. However, there are no basements in Texas, only long horns. How about this? You could hide in the left side of my brain and I’ll teach you how to talk Texas. Will that work with you?

          Either way, this story was masterfully composed and I loved this new touch from you. That said, head south on IH 35 W, Turn right at Loop 410 in San Antonio. We need to ya ya.

          1. Reaper

            Ah Kerry, how I have missed you. I’m running behind on the reading this week so all is forgiven. Sorry to hear the laptop is acting up. Funny thing about that. I have friends that tell me how funny I am. The problem is that to be funny I tend to need to be angry, depressed, or offensive or at least not even close to politically correct. Then every once in a while something like this comes to me. I will definitely share more for you if inspiration strikes, but comedy comes when it wants to and if I try to force it I fail. Darkness and tragedy come easier to me. In the words of Edmund Kean – Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.

            Well I think such an adoption would be awesome, though my mother might be upset. I don’t think I could pass for a Texan, too short and don’t own enough firearms. :) I also have been in Texas once and the heat is murder for pale skinned fat guys. Though when I was there you could still smoke in fast food places and I thought I was in heaven. Deal! Brain residence and Texas talk, I don’t have to eat chile do I?

            Thank you for the kind words and I will share any more that God licks my brain with. And now that I know you live in San Antonio which is from all I have learned this weird part of Texas that is more like the rest of the world than it is Texas I might just have to hop in the car and head south east.

          1. Reaper

            I know from experience how hard it is to scare those commuters. At least there was no iced tea involved this time.

    7. Herald Harbinger

      Another enjoyable post Reaper. My favorites were the demand to be called Mr. President and the hemlock at tea parties. I laughed out loud at the Mr. President line. I wonder what I can take hostage in my house…

    8. agnesjack

      There were so many laugh out loud lines in this, and yet it still had that Reaper undercurrent of danger lurking. Powdered wigs, hemlock at a child’s tea party, the doll finger — a potpourri of wonderfully quirky images. Loved it.

      1. Reaper

        I feel the need to puff up my chest, grip my lapels and sway slightly in an arc. Thank you agnesjack, your laughter and the description of my undercurrent has done wonderful things for me today.

  50. Kevin Woram

    My Dear Family,

    The situation in our household has become intolerable. During my brief period of obscurity, before my literary gifts are discovered and celebrated, you have become impatient. It’s bad enough that I must split my energies between writing and other mundane tasks. Now, you want to reduce my precious writing time even further. And why? Because you doubt my inevitable triumph over the publishing world. Oh ye of little faith!
    I’m sorry it has come to this, but I hereby refuse to perform my usual household chores until you meet this reasonable list of demands:

    1. Respect my creative process.
    I have heard a lot of muttering and grumbling about this, but the fact remains: relaxation is key to my creative process. If you see me stretched out on the couch in front of the television with a bag of chips and a beer, do not confuse this with sloth! These peaceful hours nurture my creative spark. It’s not too much to ask, really, when you consider that the creative processes of many notable writers included alcoholism, drug addiction, and prolonged, unexplained absences.

    2. Limit negative feedback.
    When I offer the fruit of my labors to you, try not to find so much fault with it. Grammatical errors, misspellings, mixed tenses, and other trivialities are beside the point. You must see past these trifles to the inherent beauty of my writing.

    3. Don’t rush me.
    Remember: it’s quality, not quantity. After I have toiled for three months, don’t hold up both pages of my manuscript and ask, “Is this it?” Did Mrs. Lincoln wave the Gettysburg address in front of Abe and demand, “Where’s the rest?” I think not!

    Should you fulfill my demands, I am willing to make these concessions:

    1. Continue to perform menial tasks.
    I will continue to wash dishes, mow the lawn, scoop dog poop, and perform other humdrum household chores that keep me from my glorious writing.

    2. Choose my moments.
    I admit that I sometimes read my work aloud at inopportune moments. Perhaps In my haste to entertain you, I have been a little over eager. In the future, I will refrain from reading to you while you are bathing, or talking on the phone, or locked in the bathroom.

    3. Continue to make magic.
    I will continue to work, tirelessly and selflessly, to delight the world with my literary gems.

    Yours truly,

    1. Reaper

      Great writing here. The demands are well worded and beautiful as are the concessions. My favorite thing is the opening though. It has just the perfect hint of melodrama to it while resisting being completely over the top. You can tell a writer wrote it.

    2. Amyithist

      This was very good. The negative feedback bit made me smile. I hate giving my hard to work to someone for a read and all they can manage is, “It needs some work.” Yes, well, I am not a dictionary nor am I thesaurus, so that would be a correct statement; however, I assure you that I did not intend to leave my masterpiece in disarray. Please tell me, could you comment on the gist of the story, the flow, the FEELING? No? Okay. You. Don’t. Get. To. Read. EVER. AGAIN. LOL
      See? You evoked feeling. GREAT job! :)

  51. margi33

    Forgive me. This is my unedited, stream-of-conscience response… I would also like to write a fictitious response soon — IF I ever get the time! ;)

    Dear Twins and Daddy,

    I know for the past year, you have all given me the glazed doughnut, “oh, yeah, sure you want to be a writer,” look every time I mentioned my passion. There has been zero respect and a lot of eye rolling (yes, I have quickly realized that four-year-olds can roll their eyes). I said I could wait until the kids started Kindergarten to start my writing career, but I cannot. So though it is only three months away… I can’t make it. I have removed myself from the house to a secret location, and if you want me back, I will need you to meet my list of demands:

    1. I need an office — a space to call my own. Even a special chair would be a start. I type on the couch while being crawled on and screamed at. Blood has been drawn while I type. Children, I hate to confess, I pretend to watch your swim lessons while I write on my cell phone. You can’t see my hands, so it doesn’t matter, right?

    2. Husband, I am so glad our relationship has been renewed and strengthened, but seriously, can we schedule our lovemaking and cuddling around my writing or at least make a calendar so I can afford some space? Nighttime used to be the only chunk of time I had for my writing. Now, I have none. I need a pre-determined schedule for desires — this is out of control.

    3. Do not, I repeat, do not require me to get “a real job” for at least one year. I don’t care if we have to move into the pop-up camper because we are destitute. I will take the next year for myself.

    4. I NEED a maid. This requires zero explanation.

    5. Children, for the love of God, no more fighting, whining, bitching, screaming, neediness, toy-finding, toy-fixing, food-making, craft-doing, or pretend playing. And please, grow a set and go outside — by yourselves! No, the coyotes are not going to eat you. Your grandmother is a lunatic. I am so sorry she planted that idea in your heads. If she weren’t three-thousand miles away, I would kill her and you would forget that the coyotes are truly always there in the tall grass, eyeballing you…

    On second thought, never mind. I give up. None of this will ever happen. I’ll be home this afternoon. I just needed to decompress. Anyway, you probably forgot to feed the dog and the cat. There is no clean laundry and the kids have camp tomorrow. Someone will forget the girl’s “blankie”. There will be tantrums. The shit will hit the fan.

    Why do I even bother? I’ll just wait for Kindergarten…

    1. Reaper

      Beautiful and powerful. I was cheering on your stream of consciousness and the realization of what you need. Well maybe the maid was a larger demand following number three, but still. There is a lot of power in that realization of what you need for you. Then the end made my heart break. “Reality” is a bitch that crushes the spirits of artists. Margi33 you are wonderful and I hope you keep your passion and do not let life get you down. The resignation I read, the not sadness but acceptance of the terrible inevitable… it was so raw and real. Just all around something that I think speaks to the heart of every aspiring author. Wonderful work and I hope you get your demands, all of them including the maid.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Wonderful list of demands the writer realizes in front, they’ll fall on deaf ears. Take it from me, you will survive the children and then there’s the grand children, makes it all worth the effort. Keep putting them out Margi, Thuy’re great fun to read.

    2. margi33

      Thanks everyone for your kind comments :) . And, Reaper, thanks for your wonderful explanation of my own sub-conscious. It was right on target as usual! You are a wonderfully perceptive, deep thinker.

    3. Herald Harbinger

      I can empathize as a daddy with twins, and then another, and then another on the way…soon to have four at four years and under. I really liked the coyote bit. Mine are freaking out with our current miller moth migration. The absolute terror about a tiny fuzzy flying bug is insane. I spend more time making up stories for their entertainment that actually writing a book, but I’m blessed with a loving audience!

      P.S. Don’t give up!


    “Dad what’s for dinner?”
    Tracy my youngest asked for umpteenth time. He had to be really hungry because he knew not to disturb me while I completed my writing. Before I could answer him, my teenage hormone enraged daughter Genesis came in from school requesting an update from me.
    “Dad did you hem my skinny jeans?”
    Speechless and down to the last words of my novella entitled “PENDANTS – The Family Jewels” would’ve been finished had I not been interrupted. My last good nerve created internal havoc from a verification request by my husband Doug.
    “Babe, you’re still going to trim the hair from my nose and ears right? “
    I couldn’t answer anyone because I was livid and wanted to make the writing contest deadline which was in an hour. I quickly accessed the situation and presented my findings.
    “Fam listen up. Usually whenever you need me to do something I stop whatever I’m doing to meet your needs. However, everyone knows how important my writing is to me but you haven’t respected my time to hone my skills. So consider me on strike until my following list of demands are met.
    1. Tracy, from now on check under the sofa cushion for the bag of potato chips before you ask me “What’s for dinner?” Although I love your blue eyes, red curly hair and dimples, I’m not your chef.
    2. Genesis, when you need something done, get off the phone or turn off the video games and find needle and thread and fix whatever clothing you bought at the wrong length. Although I love; your sense of humor, your keen fashion sense and your big infectious smile, I’m not your tailor.
    3. Doug, when you get your hair cut from the barber ask him or her to also trim your nose and ear hair. I’ll pay the additional fees because you cannot expect me to trim hair from your nose ears, back and still find you sexually attractive. Although you are; the best lover I’ve ever had, the best friend I could have ever prayed for and the man I vowed to spend the rest of my life with, I’m not your personal servant.
    How hard this change will be will depend on everyone’s resistance to it. I’m willing to do the following;
    1. I’ll pretend to be excited about any and all artwork brought home from school.
    2. I’ll keep my opinion to myself about any and all “Loser” boyfriends who are brought to our attention or to our home.
    3. I’ll show my spouse how to satisfy me sexually rather than let him assume he knows what he’s
    doing simply because he’s a man.
    Fam in return for your cooperation, I’ll complete multiple book manuscripts, finish many film screenplays and promote several written works of magic that’ll one day free me and my family from the routine mundane tasks we hate.
    They looked at each other then at me, they raised their hands in high fives and said in unison ”Deal.”
    We hugged each other like we’d won the lottery and I met my deadline.

      1. MCKEVIN

        You know I hate sappy endings. Lol.I am in the process of rewriting this with a somewhat different ending. Thanks for stopping by. Missed you.

    1. margi33

      Love the tongue-in-cheek ending Mckevin. And I truly, for your sake, hope you don’t have the burden of trimming your husband’s nose & ear hairs! Too funny…

      1. MCKEVIN

        Thank you margi33. If I told you this was a true story would you gag? Well get a bag. I’ve cut nose hair, clipped toenails, bandaged cuts, hemmed pants all while preparing three different dinners and completing a short story for contest consideration. Pray for me…. Lol.

    2. Dennis

      This was great. I loved all the demands and what is given in return. I was busting up reading them and what got me was the family seemed to miss the sarcasm in the mom’s voice.

    3. Reaper

      Well written MCKevin. I am somewhat glad to hear you are rewriting the ending. I am a sucker for a happy ending, and this one was good, but it didn’t seem to fit with the tone of the rest of the story. I love the story, and the ending but they feel like they belong to different pieces. Though that difference also made me smile, like a slip into fantasy at the end.

    4. Amyithist

      I had to go back and reread that it was from a father’s perspective after reading another reply. I didn’t want to be incorrect in the understanding that it was two men and their teenage children; which I have to say I love. I enjoy the family dynamic from different angles and you did a fantastic job of creating a “modern” family. I liked the sappy ending, but I’m curious as to what you’re writing that’s different. Here’s hoping you post it! :)

      1. MCKEVIN

        Pick it from:

        My family looked at each other then at me. They whispered something in each others ears and all three left the room headed to the kitchen. I heard rattling that sounded like knives and spoons dropping. I was determined to show them I was dead serious so I didn’t move.
        After several minutes I couldn’t stand it any longer. I jumped up from my writing desk, rushed into the kitchen and was confronted by three faces I no longer knew.
        “What the-“
        Doug lunged and swung a two by four piece of wood at me. I tried to grab it but he was too quick and it caught my right arm tearing flesh. I couldn’t believe the children I love, adopted and raised from toddlers didn’t try to help me. Doug swung again. I ducked and tried to move out of harm’s way but my ten year old son Tracy stuck his foot out and tripped me. I slammed my head against the corner of the kitchen island. I desperately grabbed at serving utensils as blood gushed from my nose and mouth. Doug swung and missed again. This time because I rolled to the opposite side of the island. My blood was dripping everywhere. I tried to stand up and gain my footing but my daughter Genesis swung a sauce pot that caught my forehead. Instantly I felt my eyes start to swell shut and I went down again without a fight. From the floor, all I could see was knees, shins and shoes. Doug broke their silence without looking me in the face.
        “If you don’t want to feel the wraft of this two by four upside your head, you better get the scissors ready!”
        “I asked you to hem those skinny jeans last week. What the hell is wrong with you?”
        “What parent won’t stop writing a stupid book, a dumb article or a silly screenplay to feed his family? Why don’t you do us all a favor and just die!”
        I laid on the floor praying,crying and wondering when did my life my family and my dreams come to this.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          There you go McKevin. This is more like you. I’m so glad to see you back. I’ve been up to my neck in work this week, putting five straight 10 hour days and half Saturday. This is way to much for a geezer my age. Welcome back. If I can squeeze the time, anybody can. I’m as quiet as a mouse about it though. The 38 really does reside in my wife’s night stand.

        2. agnesjack

          Wow. This is a perfect example of how a story can go one way or another. I liked the first take because I am a bit of a sap for a happy ending, but the second take was a wild excursion into hell, which worked on another level. Welcome back!

    5. jmcody

      Hi McKevin. Haven’t seen you around here before but it sounds like you’re a legacy! I enjoyed this — felt your frustration and indignation. I’m not sure about the second ending because the shift in tone was too abrupt. There were no clues in the first part that the MC’s family is a pack of psychopaths. Your MC’s tone was kind of feisty. I liked him and didn’t want him to get hit with a 2×4!

      Hope to see you around here more!

  53. vaderize03

    Thank you all :).

    If it seems real, it’s because I’ve had this discussion numerous times with my wife, who for a time couldn’t understand why I’m so hooked on writing. Six manuscripts later, she’s come around, but I think she still hopes I will find publishing success, despite my telling her that I write because I love it, not because of fanciful notions of making gobs of money.

    And Jay, it’s interesting that you find the voice of the MC sad. I was aiming more for bemused, or even obsessed. I can see it now on a fresh look, but I didn’t at the time. I certainly haven’t given up on writing, myself, even though it makes me want to bang my head against the wall at times.

    Thanks again everyone; as always, I appreciate the feedback.

  54. snuzcook


    Grandpa Nettles must cease hiding his chewing tobacco between the pages of my manuscripts. The tobacco crumbs stain the pages. Next time I WILL tell Grandma that I found it there.

    Baby Snuffles must remain in the nursery for naps. The window seat in my office, though warm and inviting on a sunny day, is not an acceptable alternative so you can go to the mall when you are supposed to be babysitting. Chimpanzee babies are very good at slipping away when no one is looking, as we all discovered over the Spring Break.

    Ditto Fang and Crooked tail. I found tufts of fur and blood on the window seat yesterday. I mean it, Kitties. If you can’t play nice, neither of you will be allowed in my office.

    Cecil must be kept in the playroom at all times. We don’t want a repeat of the incident last week. The process of disengaging the computer mouse from his four-foot long trachea was not pleasant for any of us.

    Princess parties in the tree house must be scheduled on the calendar well in advance. And telling all your friends at school that I am your wicked step mother really does not have the effect on me that you had hoped. I.e., if you want to see wicked…

    When the door to my office is closed, please consider it sealed as securely as the airlock on a space craft. It can only be opened if the light above the door is green. Open the door without permission at any other time at your own peril.

    ABSOLUTELY NO EQUIPMENT IS TO BE BORROWED FROM MY OFFICE FOR ANY REASON WITHOUT PERMISSION. I am presently missing my USB hub, my charging station, my color printer and the USB cable to my Kindle. Thank you to whoever returned my keyboard. Sorry, it is not wireless and I like it that way.

    ABSOLUTELY NO NEW SOFTWARE UPGRADES ARE TO BE MADE ON MY COMPUTER WITHOUT PERMISSION. It took me three days to figure out how to find my files the last time you upgraded MS Office (you know who you are). It did NOT make things easier or quicker for me.

    Dishes must be rinsed and stacked in the dishwasher as soon as they are no longer in use. Hiding used dishes in your rooms or under sofa cushions is not a viable alternative.

    This list has been compiled out of love. I love all of you and do not want that to change. So please sign or print your names at the bottom of this document. Your phones will be returned as soon as I get it back with everyone’s name on it.

    1. vaderize03

      I love this, especially the line about doing it out of love.

      My kids are still young enough to fall for that, and I’m n