Handwriting Anatomy

Online Course: Fearless Writing with Bill Kenower

January 23 is National Handwriting Day. While handwriting is a less common practice in the digital age than it once was, writers know that penning notes or a full story by hand can help you engage and connect with your work. According to a study released in 2016, students who hand-write their notes instead of typing them are more likely to remember the material because it forces them to take the time to be selective about what they write down.

The appearance of your handwriting can also reveal much about your priorities, character and decision-making tendencies. Check out the infographic below the prompt to see what different elements of your lettering might say about your personality. (Note that evaluating personalities via handwriting probably isn’t an exact science and some correlations may not apply.)

Writing Prompt:

Consider your handwriting, or a character’s handwriting. What significance does it have, and what does it say about the type of person you/they are?

The infographic below was originally published via Business Insider and based on the work of Kathi McKnight.

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178 thoughts on “Handwriting Anatomy

  1. Amanda.brown2nc

    I personally believe that handwriting does not have very much effect on a persons behavior, although it can tell you a lot about how much they care about what they are writing. When a person has more interest in a subject or an article that they are producing, they tend to slow down and construct a well organized and developed project instead of rushing through it and regarding the presentation of their writing.

    1. faerourk@gmail.com

      I’d like to say that my handwriting varies. I think it depends on how I feel in that moment. When I’m feeling stressed or rushed, I write small and slanted. When I’m taking my time, I write bigger and neat. I consistently write with more pressure. According to the article, it means that I have strong emotions and feel things intensely. I also connect some of my letters, which means I’m logical, methodical, and make decisions carefully.

  2. Anissa.perez_1

    In my opinion, I don’t think my handwriting says too much about my personality. I have heard that by the way you write and whether or not your writing goes up or down, that shows how confident you are as a person or as a writer in general. As for a character and by the way they are portrayed I do believe their writing shows what kind of person they are. Whether that means through vulgar language or by their actions.

  3. austin.roberson2

    I don’t think hand writing tells much about a persons “emotions” or “personality.” From what I’ve seen, often the smartest people have really bad hand writing because they think faster than they can write. That doesn’t mean that someone with good hand writing is dumb, but they very well could be. So in my opinion hand writing has more to do with how speed of how you think, rather than how you “feel” t’wards the writing. If you feel passionate about a paper your hand writing will be the same on an essay you don’t care about.

  4. kennwills16

    Handwriting can most definitely tell you all you need to know about a person’s emotions and their personality. You can also determine how passionate someone is about a certain topic through their handwriting. In some cases, you might even determine how much effort was put into a piece of work through the words that were chosen and how those words were put together. I personally strive to make sure that my handwriting is pleasing and legible to anyone who may be reading it.

  5. mykaela.holley

    Mykaela Holley
    Zoel Kelly
    English 1301 Composition and Rhetoric 1

    Handwriting can tell so much about a person and their feelings about the subject they’re writing about. You can easily tell the difference between someone who took their time writing a paper and someone who just wanted to get it turned in. Someone who takes their time will have a very constructed and neat paper, whereas a person who just wanted to get it over with will have a much sloppier looking paper. I personally believe my handwriting shows that I take time with my writing, even if my paper doesn’t turn out to be good, I at least want it to be known that I put effort into writing it. I have changed my handwriting a few times over the years to make it look nicer and more sophisticated, so I’m not quite sure that handwriting can say a lot about someone’s personality.

  6. TysonA

    Tyson Allabu
    Zoel Kelly
    English 1301 Composition and Rhetoric 1
    September 17 , 2018
    Writer’s Digest

    For me handwriting conveys the writers feelings and emotions. The way someone may handwrite something will tell the reader about the situation. Sloppy, light writing may lead the reader to thinking the writer was in a rush or bold darker letters may mean the character or writer was angry or emotional. As for the writers normal handwriting which he writes everything I feel that it doesn’t mean anything, anyone can change there handwriting anytime for any reason they wish. If a writer wants to write fancier or be able to write quicker it does not matter, a writer may just not like his hand writing and change it.

  7. brianna.sayles

    Brianna Sayles
    Zoel Kelly
    English 1301 Composition and Rhetoric 1
    September 17, 2018
    Writer’s Digest

    I don’t think handwriting says much about a person or a characters personality, I have changed my own personal handwriting several times throughout my life just because I didn’t like the way it looked. Really, the only thing that has stayed consistent about my handwriting is that, unless I turn my page, it slants to the left a lot. More than a lot, about a ninety degree angle actually. Which I guess means I am very “me oriented.” I guess now I use a lot of pressure when I write as well, so that means I have strong emotions and react quickly. Which I guess is true. However, all in all I don’t think anything other than slant or pressure can tell anything about your personality, especially if you’re someone who changed it every couple of months.

  8. brianna.sayles

    I don’t think handwriting says much about a person or a characters personality, I have changed my own personal handwriting several times throughout my life just because I didn’t like the way it looked. Really, the only thing that has stayed consistent about my handwriting is that, unless I turn my page, it slants to the left a lot. More than a lot, about a ninety degree angle actually. Which I guess means I am very “me oriented.” I guess now I use a lot of pressure when I write as well, so that means I have strong emotions and react quickly. Which I guess is true. However, all in all I don’t think anything other than slant or pressure can tell anything about your personality, especially if you’re someone who changed it every couple of months.

  9. peyton.white

    Peyton White
    Zoel Kelly
    English 1301 Composition and Rhetoric 1
    September 17 , 2018
    Writer’s Digest

    To me handwriting is different, kind of like the way we look, none on looks the same but has some of the characteristics. My hand writing to me is actually pretty good, i love my handwriting except sometimes it gets sloppy when I start writing fast. I tend to write normally but I notice myself start to write in cursive, especially if Im writing a lot

  10. s.dean

    A persons handwriting changes overtime and changes based on how much they write. Someone hand writing can get better or worse over time. The way a person writes does not define what kind of personality someone has.

  11. grayson.crane

    Grayson Crane
    Zoel Kelly
    English 1301 Composition and Rhetoric 1
    September 17 , 2018
    Writer’s Digest

    My handwriting is generally rounded, with some or all letters connecting to each other. A key component of my handwriting is the spacing. Wide gaps in between both lines and words. When writing, my hand makes up large letters. My hand struggles to keep up with the constant flow of ideas. My handwriting always looks different though depending on my mood. Usually when I’m upset it’s sloppy. When I’m happy it’s neat and sort of cursive. I agree on what my handwriting says about me.

  12. AlexesF

    Prof. Zoel Kelly
    I have always seen that handwriting letters or notes always give it that personal touch, and makes it easier for my brain and hopefully others, connect and memorize what I had written more. Handwriting also tells a lot about a characters mannerism and etiquette in my opinion, such as poor writing, slanted, loopy, scratchy and in a rush shows that they could be fast passed or not give much care to what they’re writing whereas another much neater and legible writing shows the opposite and that they give more effort and thought to what they’re writing.

  13. mckenzie.roselle

    I have never thought of your handwriting to be able to describe a person. Although everyones handwriting is unique because every person has their own personality so i do think it is possible to be able to describe a person by their handwriting. nobody has the same handwriting so we do different things that makes it different from others. I have heard handwriting can say a lot about a person and their personality whether it just be the spacing or the pressure.

  14. JHarman

    I have never thought of handwriting as having anything to do with my personality. This infographic has been mostly accurate regarding myself. However, I believe you can’t accurately judge someone’s personality from a few characteristics in their hand writing. It would be like saying, “because this man walks with his left foot turned outward he is easily distracted.” While this may be true for some people that walk this way, it is not true for all cases. This infographic is believable because it gives examples that are as abstract as possible. These examples give it the highest chance of being correct. Consider the last example in the infographic about line spacing. It has two options one being a very rare case and the other being most writers. They make a negative assumption about little line spacing to make the reader inclined to relate to the second option. When the options are abstract statements like “you are aware of boundaries,” it becomes very easy to convince people your talking about them, and not making vast generalizations.

  15. riannw

    Handwriting is basically a physical manifestation of someones personality placed out onto paper. It’s no surprise that everyone’s handwriting is unique because every person is unique.

    My handwriting is ever changing and rarely stays the same, and I feel like that also accurately applies to my own personality. As I analyze my most recent handwritten notes, I see that my own personal font is large lettered. Large letters, as described in the provided infographic, mean that the writer is a people person who enjoys being noticed and connecting with people. I find this to be quite true of myself, because I love people and truly value emotional connections where I feel that I’m understood. My letters are not slanted, nor are they connected, which, according to the graph, means I’m pragmatic and intuitive. I find only half of that to be true, as I am controlled too much by emotion and don’t usually like to make practical decisions. However, I know my intuitive abilities are very strong, so I definitely agree on that part. Lastly, my writing is evenly spaced, which accurately places me in the “aware of boundaries” category. I am always aware of boundaries of everything and everyone I encounter, and I constantly make sure not to cross those boundaries and respect them. Overall, I feel like analyzing handwriting is a fun way to learn about yourself or someone else, whether or not the results are completely accurate.

  16. paulina.unger

    I believe that there are different styles of writing due to different personalities. People express their thoughts and emotions through writing. I am an emotional, friendly person and as I looked into my writing, I couldn’t have agreed more with the results. I have really heavy pressure when I am writing and that was connected with strong emotions, which was the best reflection of my writing.

  17. Jasmin.Espi

    I believe handwriting reflects the emotions and characteristics of a person because it’s basically putting what’s in your head into paper, there’s going to be emotions involved and it has to be you. We’re all different and so is our handwriting. The little things we do in our writing reflects ourselves, the spacing, the pressure, etc. As I looked into mine I definitely agree with the results. I usually do slant to the right when I write and that was connected to being sentimental and impulsive, although there were plenty of others that I would agree with this one is my favorite because I think it truly is me.

  18. arhynes

    Handwriting is special because it is yours and nobody else’s is similar to it. Many people have good hand writing and others, like myself do not. Some people believe that people with bad handwriting are unintelligent. This is not always true because statistics show that those with messy handwriting are more intelligent than those with good handwriting.

  19. cstoner99

    My handwriting is much like chicken scratch, I write tiny quick notes, that are mostly unreadable to anyone other than myself. Surprisingly I thought that would mean that I was unorganized, and scatter brained. At least that is the way I feel most of the time. It would seem that your handwriting cam say a lot about yourself. I wonder how much of it is realistic, and how much of it is a self fulfilling prophecy, much like your zodiac sign, or other astrology’s. I am of the mind set that people will believe whatever they want to believe if given the opportunity. I can look at my handwriting and say just about anything I want about it, but I am aware that handwriting can be largely subconscious, so I do understand the purpose of this assignment. My rebuttal would be that most people develop handwriting before they are old enough to have had enough experience with life to answer most of these questions.

  20. cstoner99

    My handwriting is much like chicken scratch, I write tiny quick notes, that are mostly unreadable to anyone other than myself. Surprisingly I thought that would mean that I was unorganized, and scatter brained. At least that is the way I feel most of the time. It would seem that your handwriting cam say a lot about yourself. I wonder how much of it is realistic, and how much of it is a self fulfilling prophecy, much like your zodiac sign, or other astrology’s. I am of the mind set that people will believe whatever they want to believe if given the opportunity. I can look at my handwriting and say just about anything I want about it, but I am aware that handwriting can be largely subconscious, so I do understand the purpose of this assignment. My rebuttal would be that most people develop handwriting before they are old enough to have had enough experience with life to answer most of these questions.

  21. DustinBrasher4

    The way people write is different from person to person. A person’s handwriting can be a way for someone to from a first impression on someone before they have even met the person. The handwriting of someone says a lot of person, I have always heard that people with bad hand writing tend to be more intelligent than those with better handwriting. One thing I found interesting was the fact that if someone writes and doesn’t leave much space between each word it could mean they aren’t good at time management and also don’t understand boundaries. Whether these stereotypes and ideas are proven and backed up by research isn’t important because it’s fun and interesting to think that you can tell a persons personality by their handwriting.

  22. Sembrey Mays

    Writing has been around for what seems like forever. Over the course of its lifetime, the written word has managed to carry stories through the ages, launch new adventures, and even help spark up romance and war. Though a person’s handwriting is thought to be able to tell you a lot about the individual’s character, one must be careful because it can also be very misleading. For instance, while one person’s jumbled, sloppy handwriting may in fact reflect their priorities and organization, for another it may simply be a case of minimal schooling. Therefore, I believe one must proceed with caution when attempting to place too much significance on another’s handwriting, though it may be able to reflect some surface-level qualities or behaviors.
    I think if one was to look at my handwriting, they would probably first assume that I’m a boy thanks to our nation’s tendency to stereotype, because my writing is by no means neat or organized. However, I in no way believe this to be because I’m unneat or unorganized myself. On the contrary, I tend to be a very neat and organized individual, although I do tend to struggle with time, hence my sloppy and connected writing. I also believe my writing, and the pressure I use when writing, can easily reflect my emotions at the time, because I do tend to use more pressure if I’m feeling hurried or overwhelmed. Lastly, I believe my handwriting to reflect my ability to see and respect boundaries as a result of its even spacing, even when my writing is the messiest.

  23. Katelynsc2000

    Handwriting can help people have a perception of others. There are many stereotypes when it comes to handwriting, such as, doctors, veterinarians, and other medical persons tend to have very messy handwriting. Handwriting helps know how a person thinks and acts.

  24. CVega26

    Cristian Vega
    Zoel Kelly
    English 1301.41H
    22 June 2018

    The process of writing has been around since the dawn of the first humans. Humans have used handwriting to depict stories, express feelings or emotions, and so much more. Today in the 21st century, people have tended to draw away from actual handwriting and preferably like to communicate through the internet, which doesn’t require the same necessarily time and obedience as actually writing something by hand would. However, as a college student I absolutely love handwriting compared to digital typing, as I tend to grip any subject better when I actually write it down instead of typing it down. However, recently I have noticed that my handwriting is sort of small and sloppy. I never really thought much of my actual etiquette when it came to handwriting, but after reading this article, it basically shows how I am sort of a impatient person. To be quite honest, that is truly me. While in a class, I tend to write down anything as quickly as possible with no caution of how my writing looks, as I only care that I get the proper material down to study later. After reading this article, I think I could improve my handwriting by slowing down how much information I actually jot down and only get the important information, instead of writing down each and every single word the professor says.

  25. allisonDela

    Handwriting can be a way for many people to make perceptions of others. It is a stereotype that doctors usually have messy handwriting. It is also stated that messy handwriting is a sign of someone with a high level of intelligence. Although these are not proven, they are examples that handwriting does carry significance.

  26. kimcatwil

    Everyone knows that middle school is a strange time in a person’s life. While high school is universally recognized as a trying time of figuring out oneself, many people tend to forget its more awkward, self-conscious little sibling. To middle schoolers, it seems their every move is not only watched, but also judged. I was no exception. From the clothes I wore to the music I listened to, I was deeply concerned about how others would perceive me.
    “Your handwriting almost looks kind of boy-ish,” someone once told me, as if that even meant anything. But in the years that followed, I made a conscious effort to change that. My letters became more rounded. My g’s and y’s became loopier. And something as unique and personal as my own handwriting slowly became someone else’s.
    Of course, I no longer consider these things when writing a grocery list or scrawling a note to a friend. But the remnants of this strange and awkward time still persist in my ultra-feminine script. At this point, it would be an effort to change it back, something for which the adult me with a job and bills doesn’t have the time or desire. Some small part of me wishes I could go back and tell that 12 year old that, while it might be hard to not care what people think now, it won’t always be this way. That she can change her handwriting if it helps her navigate this challenging time, because, when all is said and done, she will remain an intelligent, passionate, and caring woman, loopy letters or not.

  27. phoenixfeather


    I kept them hidden in the fourth drawer down, quietly folded in a navy blue box underneath my socks and vests.

    I never told her. I don’t know if she’d have understood, if she would have been hurt or angry or disappointed. Whether she had similar keepsakes of past lives, past lovers, tucked away in a secret corner of the house or somewhere in her heart.

    I don’t want you to think she was a second choice, nor that I married her out of fear, or obligation, or petty matters of conformity. No, I loved her first vibrantly, dizzily, exuberantly- and then steadily and surely. We grew up together, grew old together, through children and grandchildren and the steadily ticking hands of time.

    She passed peacefully on a November afternoon, wrapped in white and with the steady thrumming of machinery enveloping her fragile frame. Since that day, there’s been an ache somewhere in my ribcage that never quite goes away. She had slightly crooked teeth and honey coloured bobbed hair that faded to grey, the fastest wit of anyone I’ve ever known and a roaring kindness that went down all the way to her bones. She was mine and I hers.

    But this is not a story about her, for I have told plenty.

    This is a story about before.

    And before she made her way into my life and stayed there, there were others- some fleeting adolescent escapades, some fraught with tension and distrust, and even a few I might have loved.

    But there was only one who even came close to comparing to what I felt for her. It was he who the letters were from.

    We stumbled into each others lives when we were barely grown, just boys really. But the sort of grief that surrounded us grabbed us by the shoulders and shook us into a premature, unsteady adulthood. It was a time of dogged death, and fear always. A sort of madness gripped us all, a morbid ecstasy. We danced faster, laughed harder, loved more wildly, fraught with terror and recklessness. Every moment felt like it could be the last. The carefully balanced hierarchies of civilised British society, the rules and order and structure that had seemed so immutable started to fall apart like a house of cards. Poor and rich suffered alike; women handled machinery and men were sent off to be butchered by the millions.

    I had been blessed with a dodgy leg from birth, and so I sat at the sidelines and watched, helpless, as the number of friends I had rapidly diminished. I waited for good news from the front. There was little.

    It was at a party that we first met, one that was filled to the brim with titled aristocracy and so left me feeling distinctly out of place. He noticed me, standing awkwardly alone- the friend who’d sneaked us in had abandoned me to dance with a girl. He took pity, I suppose, or perhaps interest. He was skinny, with knobbly knees and a smirk that smelled of cigarettes. We became friends fast, and lovers gradually.

    The first time we kissed, we were drunk under the stars. Sitting in my tiny back garden smoking cigarettes, shivering from the cold and talking deep into the night. I don’t remember what we were talking about. I don’t suppose it matters much. But I remember the feeling- that feeling you get when you’re with the right person, when the topic of conversation doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it happened. We were in fits of laughter about something or other, when he leaned over and touched his lips to mine, briefly and giddily. He tasted slightly of rum, and my stomach twisted slightly in what could have been desire or fear. Our noses knocked together and that set us off again, laughing so hard we cried.

    It was only a blessed few months we had together. He talked a lot, and I mostly listened. He wanted to be an actor, after the war. Stage or screen, he didn’t mind much. His family didn’t approve, but that only made him want it more. He had a defiant glint to his eyes and a caustic wit. He told me about philosophy and literature. (He was much cleverer than I ever was. So was she. I wonder how they would have gotten along, had they ever met)

    He got up called up eventually, of course. His family name could only keep him safe for so long.

    He sent me letters from the front whenever he could. Of course, there was much that couldn’t be said. To an outsider, it would have seemed like exchanges between casual friends, nothing more. But I knew what was written between the lines. I could hear it in the ‘I do hope you are well’s and the ‘We will have to make sure to catch up as soon as I get back’s.

    He liked to hear about what was happening back home. I thought at first it might make him feel worse, but he seemed to relish it, the reminder that London was still living and thriving and breathing in some distant place. He didn’t tell me much about what he went through. He’d write more about after, about acting and coming home and seeing each other again. When he did talk about the war, it was funny stories about the other soldiers in his unit mostly, or jokes about how awful the food was. But I could imagine it, the freezing mud and shattering skies, the constant stench of rot and death. I knew his world was full of horror. I knew he was only trying to make me feel better.

    It was his handwriting that comforted me, as much as his words. His script was scribbly and unrefined, messy like his hair always was. It scrawled up and down the page in waves rather than straight lines. There were ink blots and crossings out and doodles drawn in margins. Sometimes I strained to read what was written, and despite being well educated he made spelling mistakes often. But I didn’t mind a bit. It was so distinctly his, filled to the brim with his personality. It was a reminder that his hands had written them, that blood still pumped through them.

    I treasured all of the letters. Sometimes I would go weeks without a new one, and I’d read the old ones over and over like a prayer, the familiar scratches soothing my growing dread.

    The guns took him, in the end, like they did so many others.

    I’ve kept the letters all this time. I used to take reread them every evening, when my grief was still white hot and raw. No one thought anything strange of my sadness- we’d all lost so much. The whole world was in mourning.

    But life and responsibilities didn’t end when he did, and so I put myself back together. I learned to breathe again. I fell in love again. Eventually, they came out of their box less and less. They faded to yellow.

    But I never forgot, and once in a while, I’ll still take them out and read them through again. By now, I’ve read them so many times now that they’re like a song i’ve been singing my whole life, every inside joke and grammar mistake etched into my brain forever. I could probably recite all of them by heart if I tried.

    I don’t have any pictures, nor any other keepsakes. I’ve never told a soul he was more than just a friend.

    I used to like to think that if he had survived, we could have grown old together. But I know there wasn’t much of a future for us, regardless. He had a family title to pass on, after all. And perhaps once the dust had settled from the war we would have realised we didn’t have much in common in the light of day.

    But whatever else has happened in my life, from the kaleidoscopic years of my youth to the peaceful banality of old age, I will forever be grateful for the brief time we shared.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is a heart-wrenching story and an experience I didn’t expect when I brought the web site up this morning. To say the writing is beautiful is not worthy of it.
      I got lost and thought I was reading Hemmingwayway for a while. It is an epic response for this web site and I am thankful I had a change to read it. Thank you.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      What a beautiful, and well written, take on the prompt. You captured so much of the era, as I understand it, and the people. I can see this as the outline of a much longer work that I’d certainly read.

    3. willwelch21

      My handwriting is very small. That is weird because I am not an introverted or quiet person. Along with that, my writing slants right and can vary in shade depending on the mood I am in. It is weird looking at all the meanings of handwriting and even weirder because if it was true I would be an introverted, logical, not good with time, and insecure. The only accurate description of me in those four qualities is not good with time, I have never been good at time management.

  28. JRSimmang

    And, now back to my comfort zone…


    When the candles burned low, the shadows crept from the floor to the table. Domek put down his quill, and focused on the shadow cast by his inkwell. It was shaped like Abbot Hugo’s head, huge and sagging, filled with insults. He felt sick, a wave of heat and acid rising from his belly, and he ripped a copy of Ars Poetica from his desk and hurled it at the shadow.

    “Penance, Hugo, shall be the words on your lips, you round-faced boar!” he shouted. The stone floor remained silent, and he settled back onto his stool, draping himself over his table.

    “Penance, Domek,” he whispered, “shall be paid in full to the Lord.”

    He propped himself up on his elbows and stared at his script. The words no longer made much of a difference to him. The Old Testament was old, he thought, and should be replaced. The New Covenant was much more optimistic, and he wanted optimism. Dredgery, spite, darkness in place of hope and the Church turned itself into a beast, a behemoth, a multi-headed dragon. He pulled his personal diary from under his stack of books, and scribbled a note to himself: There has been only one fire, lit from the hail at Sodom and Gamorrah, which still burns passionately through the bosom of man and woman. We are all to be pillars of salt, for there is no way to avoid its temptation.

    “Darmok,” a whisper.

    He snapped his diary shut and shoved it into his robes. He turned to the door.



    “Darmok. Here,” it whispered again.

    Darmok yanked himself to his feet, the stool clattering under him. “Who? Who’s there?” He backed himself up against the wall.

    “Tsk. Tsk, Darmok. Have you forgotten my voice so quickly?”

    He clambered up onto his bed, gripping his diary close to his chest. “Why have you come to me, Satan?”

    “Ah, recognition,” he burned, his voice a crackling ember. The shadows on the floor coalesced and slipped into the wall. A face steamed and smoked into the stone, a mouth becoming evident and eyes seething in through the darkness. “Sweet, sweet recognition.”

    “What is it you want, Deceiver?”

    “Deceiver?” he mocked. “I prefer Serpent.” The shadow forced an arm into the open space, away from the wall, leaving it entirely. “Or Beast!” It shouted and rent itself from the wall, sinewy and opaque in the center of Darmok’s cell.

    Darmok pushed himself closer against the wall until it hurt his back. “I have asked twice, I shall not ask again.”

    Satan laughed, which confused Darmok. He had felt a crawling shiver up his spine before, a warning that winter is knocking on his chamber door or that the abbot is lurking around the corner. He felt that same shiver when meeting with Widow Tralsky in the Fall. What he felt now was ten-fold to these experiences. Mixed with this was dread, then, curiously, elation. He was slightly aroused at the suffusion of evil and temptation.

    “Do not be ashamed,” Satan soothed. “I have had this effect on others in the past, present, and future. You are no exception.

    “In answer to your question, dear Darmok, I want you to fill the pages of your Penance Bible,” Satan spat the word Bible, “with me. Include me. Draw me. Make me visible, make me powerful, make me mean as much to your precious flock as your dear, dear, Savior.”

    Darmok felt his skin burn, the acrid smell of flesh on fire filled his nostrils. Then, he felt a tingling in his toes, which traveled up his legs, and he inhaled sharply with its coolness. “You are the most arrogant, egomaniacal, flippant monster of a beast. I shall not.”

    “You will,” he said, and the last remaining light of the candle snuffed out in a wisp of smoke. Darkness was the new light, and it infiltrated Darmok’s very being. “Or, you will bathe tonight in the blood of your ancestors and the purifying fires of Hell.”

    Darmok was suddenly aware that he was alone, which felt more alienating and terrifying than the presence of Satan. He slowly pulled himself from the wall, testing his legs, then fumbled for a match.

    He relit the candle, righted his stool, and sat at his table. He inhaled deeply, and let the tears that had been threatening to gush forth from his eyes release themselves on to his cheeks and onto the pages underneath.

    He jumped, realizing that his tears had smudged the ink on his page, then he stumbled backward, tripping over his stool and robes, and landing squarely on his back.

    The Bible he had been writing from memory laid open, the painted image of Satan himself staring up from the pages.

    From the corners of the room, Satan’s laughter seeped through the mortar, and Darmok had no choice but to bind his codex gigax. He did not move from his spot on the floor, and the last thought he had the rest of the night was how odd it was that he and Satan wrote so similarly. Was he more like Satan than Christ? How deeply would Christ bruise the parchment with the quill? How close are Christ’s letters?

    Darmok sat on the bed, awaiting sunrise, and ultimately awaiting the judgment of God.

    -JR Simmang

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Slip me in here with Reatha, I fear you not lest you enter my dear space
            Clear warning……. Should you do so, my Irish shall come after you. By the way, this is powerful stuff, but have your ever seen a mad Irish man?

  29. Floridapoet


    Apparently ReathaThomasOakley is no longer accepted here, so for now I am Floridapoet.

    I emailed Jess, knew site is having work done, she replied, thanks Jess, thought a new name might be easier for now.

    Later, Reatha

    1. Jess Zafarris Post author

      So sorry about this Reatha. Our site was timing out regularly, so we had a little work done, and as these things often do, it caused a few other problems that we’re tidying up with help from the devs.

    2. Denise G. Monello

      Floridapoet, I experienced login issues where none of my info was recognized. This caused me to re-register and of course, I couldn’t get my old username (Denise) back because it was already being used (by me). I had to re-register with a different username (Denise G. Monello) at the spur of the moment. Were you having similar issues?

  30. Jennifer Park

    93. The Lesson

    [Follows “92. The Crust”, under “The Duality of Humankind”. What is Barbara up to? Beneficence or maleficence? I don’t rightly know…]

    The princess stormed in, fuming, probosces held high. “Oku’Uma, what is this about…?”

    She was not expecting what she saw upon entry, and bafflement fell all over her body.

    Barbara was sitting at the table. On it was spread a wide sheet of fibroin, held down by rocks. To her right was a Kueninie bowl, in which was a pool of red, gooey Ekkamau sap. She dipped a wide brush made with the fur of newborn Ehamei, and spread the sap on the fabric, slowly and deliberately making fluidly looped strokes, from down to up, from right to left.

    “Yes, Princess?”


    Every item on the table was contraband, Barbara included. She paused, terminated the cursive in a downstroke, and began a new word. “Have you not learned the art of e’Ambi?”

    “We call it,” she meant in her kingdom, “Basa… Basa. Forbidden.”

    “Indeed you do. Have you not learned it?”

    “Of course I learned it! As a child! But it is now forbidden.” Just because the trees, the rodent, the fungus, and the silk-crab were all on the verge of extinction.

    Barbara finished the stanza, put down the brush, and stood up. “Here.”

    “What? No!”

    “Just come smell this ink.” It smelled of rotting milk, a smell that evoked certain nostalgia for the Kryzlamei, the smell of natural lacquer, the smell of traditional culture. “Before you throw it away or whatever. Just smell it.”

    With a sigh, the princess came closer, and took a long whiff. Bad idea. She closed her eyes, instantly transported to her childhood, scarcely 30 years ago. “Ah… That smell…”

    Barbara moved out of the way.

    Against her better judgment, the princess picked up the brush, without sitting down. She had learned it the really-old-school way. “Heke’e’Mute, omu’e’Date, mi e elite da’Ave Ote…” She mumbled the first line of the epic poem, about a quest for the essence of moon-blessed beauty. Every child’s nightmare, every calligrapher’s test of proficiency. When she reached where Barbara had left off, she started writing the next line.

    Barbara was surprised to see the deft movements, the large right-ward loops of the script. Large loops were the prerogative of kings, or those who aspired to be even greater. The princess finished the line without once re-dipping the brush. She continued on. “When did you learn this?”

    “When I was here the first time.”

    “Foolish custom. It’s good that it has gone extinct.” She did not stop.

    “Princess, do you know… how… Earth had come to dominate the galaxy?”

    The princess scoffed. “You all were greedy. You bought and sold things. For profit.”

    “Ah, you see, that is a common misconception. Yes, we were greedy merchants first, but we won everyone by buying their art.”

    “Art?” She finally stopped writing.

    “Yes, art. Everywhere we went. We gave away art, and we collected art. That’s how we made wealth, and made allies.”

    The princess frowned.

    “Art is how you conquer kingdoms… and the galaxy, Your Highness.”

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Barbara is a compelling character, I’m glad you’re continuing with her. I understand about not knowing exactly who she is, but she most likely will tell you.

  31. ReathaThomasOakley

    A Marie Story, still in 1954

    Marie shivered in the dark of the front room, watched the drapes hung across the dining room doorway open and close slightly in the draft from the front door, giving her a glimpse of her grandmother at the table, good stationery box by her arm. The rolled up towel was missing from the bottom of the door, the draft was getting worse, but still Marie stood, not moving.

    Writing letters, Marie thought, as she watched her carefully form letters and words on the page. Always writing letters, always bragging how she’d learned the Palmer Method of handwriting, how if Marie ever wanted to be somebody, she’d better learn it, too. Wonder who’s waiting for the mail man to deliver this batch, Marie mused.

    Supper had been really bad, everybody glaring at everybody, if she hadn’t been so hungry she’d have stormed off with Junior, but she hadn’t, had stayed and ate, then washed dishes like always when her mother and aunt and Granny had gone into the living room and shut the door.

    Living room, Marie’d laughed at the word. Not much living went on in there, just caskets for viewings and coffee with the preacher when he came to call, all dried up like some corpse they forgot to bury.

    Marie hadn’t wanted to know what was being argued over, but she figured it was Junior, not her. She’d touched her belly with a wet finger, not yet.

    “You stink,” she’d told Gary as she ran his bath water. “What you been into tonight?” She’d poured some of her bubble bath under the faucet for him. Gary didn’t get many treats.

    Now, as she watched Granny fill her pen from the ink bottle, she worried it was Gary she was writing about. Marie knew Granny thought Junior was a bad influence, that Gary needed to be someplace with a man to keep him in line. Marie clenched her fists. Gary was only seven, she could take care of him while Mama was at work, at least for a while.

    Finally, Granny finished writing, read the pages, crossed out one word, nodded to herself, then folded the pages, and put them in the box. Marie quickly slipped up the stairs, to the room where her mother and aunt were already asleep. Tomorrow, early, she told herself, I’ll see what she wrote. Then I’ll tell Junior.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Your characters are so real to me, I feel I’m part of the family but too shy to let them.know I was watching. Surely they would throw me out because I wasn’t legit. Being born a bastard isn’t ever easy.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, Jennifer and Kerry. I admire those who can write fantasy, etc., I seem to only be able to write the everyday. I’m trying to pull together 3,000 Marie words for a contest, so I’ll try for some conclusion soon.

          1. ReathaThomasOakley

            Thank you, Denise. I think this is the fourth or fifth Marie story. Using several prompts helps me tell a more complete story.

    2. JRSimmang

      Good luck with that competition, Reatha! Josephine is such an interesting character, so tragically flawed, so concerned with her family. I think there are people here who connect with Marie, seeing glimpses of their own lives in hers.
      And, that little horror you had written a while back (the thumping in the boot of the car prompt) was certainly well-crafted and certainly not “everyday.”

    3. writer_sk

      Reatha, well I wasn’t here this week for the website problems as it was my son’s 7th birthday. I can’t imagine having Gary from your story around and not giving him treats. That small detail tells so much about Grandma and how she regards Marie. I’d love to hear more about Junior. This makes me feel like I’m following a mini series on tv. I can totally visualize Marie tiptoeing around her dark house. It took me awhile to get used to the serious tone when compared to your light hearted Annie but this is just beyond well done. Look forward to where it goes. Great work. Sarah

  32. Madhuri Karra

    She broke up with me using a letter!

    A freaking letter!

    That was all it took for her to break our nine-year long relation, not to mention our recent engagement two months ago. I looked at the letter that was left on my doorstep. She must have dropped the letter, rung the bell and fled the scene. I thought it was some kids pulling their pranks but when I saw an envelope on the floor addressed to me, I recognized that writing immediately. I flipped the envelope open and pulled out the fated letter.

    “Sawyer. I am sorry for putting you through this. It’s all the work you do undercover. I can’t live a secret life anymore. There is something else in my life. Please do not come after me. I have no intention of continuing our relationship after this moment.

    I crumbled the paper and threw it across the room, using all my anger to force the paper out of my hands. I felt rage shoot through my veins and I wanted to throw something else. I wanted to scream.

    “There is something else in my life.”

    I was sure she meant someone else. I pulled my phone out and unlocked it. She thought she could drop a letter and disappear like nothing ever happened between us. I had to tell her exactly how I felt.

    At that moment, I could happily strangle her to death.

    She could have at least been careful writing the letter. That clumsy handwriting! She did not even have time to write it properly. The letters were all over the place. Half small. Half big. Half pressured. Half light.


    What was she doing when she wrote that letter? I would love to ask her that question. How many emotions was she experiencing when she wrote that damn letter!

    Pressure, my foot! I was sure…

    I stopped halfway dialing her number. Something clicked inside me.


    I rushed across the room and grabbed the paper, hoping I did not tear it in my rage. Thankfully, I didn’t. I wiped the brow of sweat trickling down my forehead with the back of my hand and starting reading the letter. This time I read it with my mind – not my heart.

    I read like a Graphologist.

    I felt my whole body cringe like it was fed with a dose of electric shock waves.

    I first looked at the words that were written in big, hefty words.

    “Sawyer. I am sorry for putting you through this. It’s all the work you do undercover. I can’t live a secret life anymore.”

    Oh God! Oh God!

    Why didn’t I sense this before! Jane was in trouble. And it was because of me! And I wasted one complete hour cursing her for leaving me. I reached out to my phone to call my colleagues when something else caught my eye. I lifted the letter closer to my eye and noted it for the first time.

    Only some letters were written with a lot of pressure. Heart thudding in my chest, I circled them with my pen and when I put them together the thudding stopped. My heart went still.

    Vanessa Rogers.

    Holy Hell!

    Vanessa was the undercover operation I was assisting the FBI with. I speed dialed the emergency contact for the operation and identified myself. The operator immediately connected to the lead of operation and my boss – James.

    ‘She has Jane.’

    I heard a click and the line went dead. I knew what that meant. I walked to my wardrobe and pulled the draw open.

    My fingers closed over the shiny metal of the gun as I tucked it under my shirt and walked out of the house.

      1. Madhuri Karra

        Thank you for the feedback, everyone. When I saw this prompt, I Google-ed to see what are these handwriting analyzing experts called. The word Graphology came up – as study of handwriting patterns and behavior. Thought I could use it in the story 🙂

  33. jhowe

    “Yes, Your Honor, I would like to make a statement. First of all, I don’t agree at all with your sentence, but I do realize you have a job to do and the media circus would have been duly disappointed with anything less.” He removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.

    “I’d also like to say I’m not looking forward to going to prison. Jail was bad enough, but I wake up in sweats thinking of what prison will be like. Nothing against the penal system, but I really think I’m going to hate it.” The defendant turned in his seat and looked at the prosecution team.

    “Also, the prosecutor, Ms. Day, though I’m sure she’s a lovely woman, was very rude and disruptive during my time on the stand.” The defendant stood. “Perhaps her mother never taught her not to interrupt. It’s very annoying. She didn’t give me a chance to tell my side of the handwriting analysis.” He held up a finger and beckoned the bailiff.

    “Sir, if I could see exhibit B, I’d like to point something out.”

    The judge rapped his gavel. “Sir, please continue your statement if you’re so inclined or take your seat. There will be no reexamination of the evidence.”

    “Very well, it would be much easier that way, but you’re the judge.” Murmurs filled the courtroom and the defendant continued. “Sorry about that, I get carried away sometimes. You see, the handwriting expert pointed out that my note showed extreme aggression with swirling loops and laid out the scene so clearly. But what he failed to notice is that the note was not a note at all but a story I submitted to Writer’s Digest. I used a handwriting font, which is frowned upon by editors, but I thought it added flair.” The courtroom came to life and the judge broke his gavel on the desk.

    “And to sum it up, yes, I sent the story to the wrong party. I admit my incompetence on the computer, but the story was just that, a story. I write horror; of course it’s going to sound morbid. The victim, if the body could be found, and it won’t be because it doesn’t exist, is a product of my imagination.” The spectators rose to their feet and shouted. The judge roared and the bailiff held up his arms, waving frantically. Two police officers grabbed me and escorted me through the throng.

    In the judge’s chambers the prosecutor and my inept attorney I’d found in the Yellow Pages poured over Exhibit B. I suggested they go to the Writer’s Digest site and see for themselves the story I’d finally got to post after being delayed by the word Peac#ck. And, with the 500 word limit on the horizon, all was well.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      What fun to read, you threw in everything imaginable, even the peacock. ( You see. Na na na na ) I am supreme over the filter
      Enjoyed the hell out of this. Some more please on the next prompt.

  34. Denise

    I rested by the window. I could feel the sun as it rose. It inched its way up, breaking through the darkness. It rays shattering through the trees to find its way to the window–finding its way to my friend and me. Would this be another day where we sit here–useless? I hope not. I looked at my companion who enjoyed the morning warmth with me. Shall we idly sit here another day resting in his spot? I need him to come alive. I am desperate for his touch. I know he feels the same as I. I know he’s anguished at his uselessness. Together we are magical. Together we bring life. But we need her. Will she need us today?

    We watch as she comes into the room. She looks out the same window that brings the sun’s warmth. She closes her eyes and absorbs the energy the morning sun brings. We watch as she looks at us and smiles. She gently touches us, but she gazes at the box that sits at the table. She leaves us. Disappointment fills us.

    Inside my segments hold the ideas and thoughts that stroll through her mind. I’m filled with the passion that’s born from her heart. My comrade has gracefully allowed all her exuberant emotions and yarns to crowd me. By the powerful ability of my partner, he fills every part of me with colorful declarations. His expressions are tender–he doesn’t apply pressure. He neatly forms every feeling. Sometimes his input is slanted and small. Sometimes it’s large. It all depends on how she feels. No matter how he does it, I welcome him. Through her, he creates my world. He fabricates the thoughts I will ponder–the feelings he will ponder. Together, through the three of us existence is generated.

    We wait. But today, once again, she prefers the box. Why doesn’t she want to touch the softness of my elements–smell the crispness of each new section? Why doesn’t she want to hold me close to her heart when she has a revelation? Doesn’t she want to grasp my friend? The friend who oozes blue? Doesn’t she want to twirl him while she thinks? I guess not.

    Today she allows her fingers to touch the little square boxes. The little boxes will form her feelings, emotions and ideas–each created precisely the same. There’ll be no flow, no loops, no squiggles. The boxes will be void of her expression. On this warm, bright day my friend and I will be still, left only to imagine what wonders we could have shared.

    We will lethargically wait for the day to come when she desires us again–a day when she yearns for her notebook and pen.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Filled with strong emotion, some pain and disappointment
      I’m not sure I understand all of it but writer’s block seems to be a big art of the paiin.

      A very interesting read. You might
      Want to expand on this.

      1. Denise

        Kerry, my intention with the story was to tell it from the point of view of the neglected notebook (and pen), and how it feels now that their writer has replaced them with a computer. I apologize for the confusion.

        1. Jennifer Park

          That did come across to me, although I had to think a bit to figure out what the little boxes were, if only because the Apple keyboard I’m using right now is very flat, so more like little square tiles. Even the little square boxes are going obsolete… Who will form our feelings then?

          And you beautifully captured some deep feelings.

        2. JRSimmang

          I, too, thought it clever. “Friend who oozes blue” made me laugh out loud, and that’s when it all clicked for me. At first, with the reference to the segments, I thought the MC was an insect, and I thought, ‘someone likes Kafka.’ But, the notebook and pen is a great perspective, and wonderful characters. I think their laments are spot on.

  35. ShamelessHack

    My handwriting’s a train wreck:

    My “A”s look like “O”s.
    My “I”s look like “L”s.
    “M”s and “W”s look inverted.
    My “D”s and “B”s seem reversed.
    As do my “Q”s and “P”s.
    And the worst is that my “E”s look like “U”s.

    So oll L con soy ls scrum thls qrowqt.
    Goob dyu untll towworom.

    Showluss Hock

  36. dustymayjane

    I cringe at the memory of my crooked and jagged letters. Time has robbed me of the steady flow and artfully crafted fonts of my youth. I regret that my hand is unsteady. That the words fail to display the depth of my emotion. I hope she sees the true meaning behind the scribblings of my stiff, gnarled fingers I so desperately want to lay bare.

    Oh, Saint Valentine! Why, oh why, if I may ask, do fools fall in love and why am I, one such fool?

    The plague on my meager existence shall forever be Saint Valentine’s Day. The one and only day I allow for my unrequited love to be acknowledged. I will follow my heart with each turn around the sun.
    The three hundred and sixty-four remaining days of the year, I intend to deny it.

    The flowers, the chocolates and diamond jewelry. The love songs and greeting cards that nearly drip with overly sweet sentiment. Worse still, the large three-foot tall stuffed, pink teddy bears.

    I’ve done it all, bought it all. Gifted my sweet intended, each and every February fourteenth.

    Yet, here I sit in my yellowed and frayed long underwear, a T.V. tray over my knees. On it rests my partially overcooked and partially frozen T.V. dinner, next to the small television in my apartment. One lamp, a hotplate and my only company are the mice and roaches that gather at night for their soiree, without inviting me, I might add.

    It’s a dismal portrait to present, but assuredly, even more dismal is my reality.

    Tennyson said, “Tis better to have loved and lost, then to have never loved at all.”

    Oh dear fellow, has your heart felt a squeeze of the unrelenting fist of desire?

    Three days ago, I dropped a red envelope with her name, barely legible, in the mail bin with a sigh and only …no, not even a small bit of hope for acknowledgement.

    Today I wait for the sound of the local post to arrive. The familiar squeak and click of the tin box with the hinged lid. Hopeful.

  37. mayboy


    Last twelve years passed faster than I ever imagined. People are using a touchscreen nowadays in comparison with old days, handwriting, and typing. Wherever you go, people are used to doing their routine using iPhones, touchscreen PCs. I am an older newbie and follow the same rules. Lately, I ‘ve noticed that squeezing my fist became difficult. Every day I cope with the same: how to stir up old bones. My friends have the same problem, and when we meet, they complain too. What a relief to me not to be the only one. For birthdays, I take the pen to write a personal note. My handwriting is different now, characters are leaning on left side and writing, well it doesn’t seem to be mine.

    “Hi, Jane! I came by to see you. How are you doing?” my old friend, concerned for my health, appeared in front of the door.

    “I’m doing fine. Thank you for being so kind, asking about my health. It’s deteriorating, and it is hard for me to even to write a postcard for my close relative, handwriting is childish, grammar errors occur.
    But I am able to show my thumbs up,” I was trying to be funny to hide my concerns.

    “No big deal! I have the same problem. Whenever I type, I push the wrong button. And whatever I write, I make too many mistakes,” my thirty years younger friend confided her troubles to me.

    “Find yourself a therapist,” she suggested,”maybe a physiotherapist. Plus, consider taking Omega 3 capsules, people at your age should eat them!”

    “Are you trying to convince me that I am an old, rusty lady who cannot stretch her legs anymore! I tell you, I can play football, yes, I could become a middle player on the field,” I hit back.

    My friend smiles: “If we compete, guess who the winner will be.”

    After this discussion, I have no intentions to enter the competition, my PC is a blackout, my willingness for verbal arguing diminishes. I prepare a cup of ginger tea, put a spoon of honey, and the cup has almost slipped from my fingers.

    “I am so sorry,” my friend says,”I have an appointment at the Pilates Center, see you soon.”

    “We have the same problem, the aging,” I am thinking, sitting in the rocking chair. Then I grab an old pen, it belonged to my mom. I hear her voice or feel her warm touch no more, she passed away years ago. But I can clearly see her name at the bottom of the birthday’s card she sent me once. Wrestling letters of her signature.

    1. Critique

      You captured aging brilliantly. My mother passed away last year, she was an avid writer of stories, memoirs, and letters. In the last few months of her life she lost the ability to write legibly and for any length of time. My heart broke for her. I love your last sentence – ‘wrestling letters of her signature’ – that was my mother.

  38. JRSimmang

    And now for something completely different…


    Among the gaslights, embalming cloths, and anachronistic Model Ts kept in pristine condition, were the thoughts of M. Davis MacDougall.

    Also among them was M. Davis MacDougall’s body.

    He often thought the two weren’t connected, one a nuisance to the other, and his colleague Seaniah Furlong could not have agreed more. “You’re doing it again, Mac.”

    “Did you know that my first name, the one I abbreviate, is Mac?”

    Seaniah puffed out her cheeks, stopping herself before she said anything, but decided to say it anyway. “You mean you’re Mac Davis MacDougall?”

    “That I am.”

    What started as a chuckle ended as a full-blown chortle, then exploded into raucous dry heaves. M. Davis sat unamused staring at the block of stone in front of him.

    “Well,” he concluded after Seaniah took to breathing again. “He most certainly wan’t an extrovert.”

    Seaniah focused on the tablet. “How do you know?”

    “See the size of the script? Small.”


    “And, he’s also very serious all the time.”

    “And, how did you figure that one out, MacMac?” Seaniah stifled a laugh.


    They sat staring at the stone for several minutes. “You know, we’re looking at chisels, not ink.”

    M. Davis sighed deeply. “I know.”

    “And, there’s always pressure.”

    He turned to look at her.

    “I mean, there is when there’s chiseling.”

    “Sure,” he said. “Sure.”

    “And, maybe he was just uncomfortable with working with a larger canvas.”

    M. Davis nodded, pushed his eyebrows together, then turned to face Seaniah. “We’re not talking about Seneca’s scribe, are we?”

    “No,” she shook her head. “No we are not.”

    M. Davis let his mind wander again to the Roman countryside, picturing himself pushing a plow through a field, flying to the Senate, and hammering out a few lines of philosophy before noticing Seaniah was staring at him.

    “I was doing it again, wasn’t I?” he asked.

    “Yep,” she giggled. “MacMac.”

    -JR Simmang

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Yes, completely different. I really liked this, especially the classical reference, but I need to read it again. Oh, also really liked the first two paragraphs. Great writing.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I happen to know Mac Davis and my wife and I met him years and years ago and he autodraphed his latest record album at the time. He is a all – around good guy.

  39. Bushkill

    With days of sun and shine undone
    When night’s shades move to subdue time
    When life’s bright youth, time unspun
    With memory’s fade sounds life’s final chime.

    I sat back and stared at my handiwork. It was horrible. Garbage. Sometimes, when the mood struck, there was clarity of prose and purpose. It was magic. I didn’t see any of that in my horrible script.

    I stood and went to the fridge, grabbing a cold beverage and twisting the top off and tossing it in the recycle bag near my door. I take a long pull on the bottle and appreciate the fine, aromatic flavor of the IPA.

    I turn to head back to my writing desk when a searing pain blisters the skin on my right arm. I jerk my arm in a reactionary spasm, sloshing beer out of the bottle. Tiny droplets flicked in the air and several larger ones tumbled to the tiled floor. One or two landed on my arm, immediately interacting with the scarring redness showing through my skin.

    I gasped, the bottle slipping through my fingers and shattering on the floor at my feet. My knees buckled and I dropped like the bottle, crushing the broken glass with my falling body. New pain lanced out through me and my breathing became ragged as I fought for air. I could see the blood pooling around my lacerated body as my arm continued to thrum with the sting of beer and whatever unholy enigma had overtaken me.

    I pushed myself up, feeling a shard of glass tear through my palm, a fresh pool of blood flowing around my fingers, which were white with the effort of pushing me up.

    I endured.

    I looked at my arm and read the words bleeding through in delicate script. Small pinprick-dollops of blood birthed at the collision of several of the lines in the neat, calligraphic letters.

    Death is a blanket
    Of darkness without an end
    Sleep tight, my lover.

    Foul magic, that, dark and depressing. I struck back, hoping to send a kill shot through the tenuous connection of her curse on me.

    Away, foul succubus
    Lecherous and cheating
    Lifestyle tumultuous
    May your heart stop beating.

    In seconds, my arm stopped throbbing the skin knitting together and the stain and burn of the ordeal washed away. Slowly, new letters appeared, bright and blue. No blood. No pain.

    I read them as they formed. “I loved yo…” The ‘o’ was incomplete and there was no ‘u’. I reached for the magic again, trying to undo my near-death response. Impulse and emotion can be powerful conveyers of the arcane. Perhaps, wounded and scared as I was, I had embedded too much in my cast.

    The power was gone. I couldn’t summon anything and sit bleeding and broken, the last mortal words of my lover forever now etched on my arm. It was a stupid argument and I closed my eyes, seeing her leave my apartment, my life, for the last time.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is so sad, there is nothing worse than a lost love, regardless the cause. Descriptions are alive and powerful in your story. The remorse is almost unbearable to read.
      So much power here, it is remarkable.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      So much to appreciate here, but the physical details caused me to stop several times to reread. “I dropped like the bottle” and the sloshing beer were masterful. Great writing.

    3. Critique

      “Impulse and emotion can be powerful conveyors of the arcane.” – a wonderful sentence that made me stop and think. Wonderful use of descriptive words.

    4. JRSimmang

      Poetic, Bushkill, even the prose. Be careful of your tense shifts, and keep up the consciousness. I’ve a fascination with the arcane, and I think you did a decent job describing the problem with magic.

  40. GrahamLewis


    “One thing you’ll never see,” I said as Billy and I were restocking the liquor supplies after closing, “is me doing any writing in cursive. Printing yes, but mostly Word printouts, and thank God for that.”

    “I never noticed,” he replied as he sliced open a cardboard box of Tito’s Vodka. “But I guess not many people do any more. At least the kids don’t.”

    “Yeah, because that’s what they know. Me, I prefer it but can’t do it anymore.”

    He looked at me. “‘Not anymore?’ I thought your restorative kept you in mint condition.”

    “It does, though mint might be an exaggeration. I was never ‘mint.’ The elixir keeps me as I was, and in the early days I was pretty good. Especially in school. Always got top marks in handwriting.”

    “So what happened?”

    “The 19th Century and beyond.”

    He turned toward me, just as he was reaching for a box of Johnny Walker Black Label. From his expression I could tell he presumed I was wandering off the beaten track, and in a sense he was right. “You need to explain,” he said.

    “Sure.” I grabbed sheet of paper and a pen. “For one thing I miss the old quill or at least the fountain pens. But anyway. . . .” I scratched something out and handed it to him. “Read it.”

    He scowled at the paper. “Yee olden dief hath paffed away.” He looked up. “Some kind of code?”

    I couldn’t help but laugh at his confusion. “No, that’s just how I learned to write. It actually says, “The old days have passed away.”

    “Then why don’t you write what you mean?”

    “I do, but I also write as I was taught. When I was a lad — and I really was, once — one used a sort ‘y’ construction for the ‘th,’ and a shape that could be mistaken as an ‘f’ for an ‘s.’”

    “Okay, and ‘olden’ and ‘hath’ I get, but what happened to the ‘a’ in ‘days?’”

    “There were no standard spelling rules back then, and we often left out letters for convenience, when it seemed the meaning would stay intact.”

    “Well, it doesn’t to me.”

    “No, not with your 21st century education. Things get lost as well as gained over the centuries, you know.” As I watched him process this I went on. “Handwriting is one of those fundamental and unchangeable bits of education. I can change my speech, and Spellcheck fixdes my typing, but when I write cursive I can’t help but lapse into the old ways. And that would be a dead giveaway to anyone searching out the real me.”

    Billy shook his head. “I guess it’s not all that easy to be immortal.”

    I smiled, but with a touch of sorrow. “You don’t know the half of it.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A wonderful lead in to something epic. And the conversation on writing hit a mark with me. For I printed for a lot of years and left the writing out
      You do get Rusty with no use
      So I am back writing real letters and posting them to the mailbox. Old soldiers never die…….

    2. JRSimmang

      So… 8 chapters now? The story gets more and more elaborate. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I remember Billy also quaffing the restorative. I thought they were members of the same society.
      I do so love the overarching messages here: we never truly change who we are, intellect is transforming, and there ain’t a thing we can do to stop it.
      Enjoyable as usual, Graham.

      1. GrahamLewis


        Your memory is right, JR, but as the storyline has evolved, Billy cannot be an RG, for purposes of story continuity as I had it framed. Just a friend who knows about the restorative. Didn’t work for longterm purposes, so he had to move back to the land of the mortals. Not that he knows it, he just suddenly is not one, never was. I liked him and their interaction for a short story, but I had my reasons. I hope the story can survive his reduced role.

        But now that I think about it, maybe I was too harsh too soon. We shall see.

      2. GrahamLewis


        Your memory is right, JR, but as the storyline has evolved, Billy cannot be an RG, for purposes of story continuity as I had it framed. Just a friend who knows about the restorative. Didn’t work for longterm purposes, so he had to move back to the land of the mortals. Not that he knows it, he just suddenly is not one, never was. I liked him and their interaction for a short story, but I had my reasons. I hope the story can survive his reduced role.

        But now that I think about it, maybe I was too harsh too soon. We shall see.

    3. writer_sk


      This was so cool. I like the stockroom setting. I am beginning to forget what the restorative does? Does it stop MC from becoming transparent? I know he continues living if he keeps taking it.

      Great work.

  41. RafTriesToWrite

    “I’m a lefty”
    “Very True”
    “But sometimes I feel like my right hand is neglected”
    “But you use that to pleasure yourself, as you’ve said in our last session”
    “I did. Didn’t I?”
    “Yes, yes you did. But tell me, what makes you think that your right hand is neglected.”
    “I… I don’t do much for it.”
    “Go on…”
    “I mean there’s the pleasure thing, uhm, I use my fork on my right hand, and then I use it to navigate my mouse on my computer and a bunch of other stuff as well”
    “But why do you think your right hand is neglected? Because it sounds like you use it as much as your left hand”
    “But there are things that my right hand can’t do, but my left can.”
    “Like writing?”
    “Yes. Exactly.”
    “You still write on paper?”
    “Well… No. I type my writings on a computer now.”
    “I see. Go on.”
    “And I drink with my left hand.”
    “Mmmhmmm. Uh, let’s go back to your writings. You said you type your writings now, correct?”
    “So, doesn’t it disqualify as an exclusivity of only your left hand to operate on?”
    “Yeah, I think it does.”
    “Alright, and that’s enough for this session.”
    “Already? Well, okay doc”
    “So, see you on Tuesday?”
    “Wednesday doc, I don’t live in America remember?”
    “That is correct. Take care Andrew.”
    “Thanks doc.”

    I turned off the computer where the only memory of my wife stopped playing.

    I wish I had recorded more of our moments together, those lifeless pictures don’t compare to the moving ones on my computer. But neither of them compare to the original thing, which is sadly buried six feet under the ground five miles from here.

    I took a final swig on the Jack Daniels sitting on the coaster emptying the wretched bottle that doesn’t even bring the dead back to life.

    I wish I could still feel her touch, her touch that sends my spines tingling with pure delight. I wish I could taste her lips once more, or maybe every night, so I’d stop crying every time I close my computer.

    I wish I could hold her in my arms again like whenever I see her standing in front of the mirror, I wish I could sleep with her beside me so my nightmares won’t come back.

    I miss her dearly and I can’t stand not being around her. It’s only been a month and I can’t take it anymore, the silence in our apartment is killing me. The blasted cat is scavenging the cabinets for food.

    I don’t really care. Not after when she left me… when she left me here to rot all alone.

    She was selfish.

    Couldn’t she stayed alive for me? For us?

    The heck with cancer. What a stupid excuse.

    She really just wanted to leave me. She got sick of my sickness.




    That’s right.

    She hated me.

    My guts.

    My… Sickness.

    I’m a lefty.

    She was too.

    They say opposites attract.

    I think she made the right decision to leave me.

    Good riddance.

    I miss her so much.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      The pour soul is so burdened with grief, he isn’t thinking about her but rather that he couldn’t save her

      regardless of his knowledge and.intelligence.if he’s not careful, he may join her and maybe he wants to.and then.maybe not

    2. Bushkill

      Guilt, shame, loneliness, coupled together with grief …. Good thing he is seeing a counselor. They have some work to do. Well written. The mental flip flop is spot on.

    3. Critique

      A pendulum of emotions going on in this story. An objective view (counsellor) can clarify what the real issues are – hopefully your MC will continue with this counsellor.

    4. JRSimmang

      A lefty, who made the right decision. Interesting juxtapositions you’ve laced in and out of this piece Raf. I enjoyed the minute details: the cat, the abbreviated conversations, the stages of grief. Left me breathless by the end.

      1. RafTriesToWrite

        You’re too kind JR. Ever since the first time I saw you write a piece on a mentally damaged person (Mother’s Day Fiasco), I was taken away by how brilliantly put together the piece was. Ever since then, on that genre, I look up to your works for a little light (sometimes the light of a light house) to shine upon my inspiration to make such types of stories.

        Keep them coming as well and thank you very much. Sincerely.


  42. Kerry Charlton



    A few weeks ago, I received a letter in the mail from my daughter Lisa. My middle child with two older sisters and two younger sisters. You want to know what I am like, spend a day with her. Back to the letter she wrote. It was hand written, six full pages long and so many things in it. She is now single after many years with a man that was so far from her personality, it is a tribute to her patience that she put up with him as long as she did.

    So what did I do with the letter? Well I wrote a six page letter back to her and unleashed what I always wanted to tell her. She was so pleased that I took the time to answer her by longhand. If you haven’t done this with a child or in my case, a child who is a grandmother to two marvelous boys, you’re missing something you would never want to let pass once you experienced it.

    The first thing she told me when she called was that I had my Mother’s handwriting which I considered to be as high a compliment as I have ever received. A woman with a tenth grade education who at the age of fifty five, went to the library and checked out some books on learning how to write. A month later or maybe two, she typed her first story about her life, took it to the editor of the local newspaper. He read it and published it the next week in his paper.

    I want to pull out a tiny part from it:

    “I met my future husband on a street car in Philadelphia. He was dressed rather well but in need of a haircut. He seemed impressed with me but I was not so.”

    Six years later and some four hundred columns she had written, she stopped. So to be compared to her in any manner was a wonderful compliment. Now what was it, this prompt supposed to be about? Handwriting I think. Well let’s get on with before I lose my concentration again. My handwriting moves with my personality and varies so many ways depending at what level I am.

    If were to walk into a room with a complete stranger and write one sentence and stop, and then the same day, write a note to my children, my wife or a best friend, you would not think the same person wrote it. Analyze it, I don’t think so. So back to Elva Adele, I want to tell one quick story about her,.

    My father’s mother and stepfather took a trip to Europe in the late twenties. Since the ship left from New York, my Mother and Father followed them from Philadelphia to New York as they drove their own car stuffed with luggage. The plan was for Mother to drive her in laws car back as my Father led the way.

    Two thirds of the way my Mother got lost and Dad was no where in sight. Her in laws car stalled at a traffic light and she couldn’t get it started again. A well dressed man, much younger than her, stepped to the car and offered to try to start it. She went to the curb and watched as he managed to start the engine and drove away.

    To make the story short, the car was never found, the police were called and my Father drove back when the police called. He decided not to tell his Mother as it would have ruined their trip. Three weeks later they drove to New York, met Dad‘s Mother and step father at the ship.

    My grandmother, getting nervous as she looked for her car with a puzzled look, interrupted my Father’s conversation,

    “William, where is my car!”

    “Your car mother? Well, Ellie lost it.”

    1. RafTriesToWrite

      Ha! Cute and funny story you’ve included at the last part there Kerry.
      I liked how you made it seem like you were talking to me in person in the part where you struggle to keep the concentration around the prompt. Brilliant!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you for all your comments. Funny how I felt the same way when I wrote that section. Like I was in a room with a crowd of people I was talking to.

    2. Critique

      A wonderful story – true I think? or at least part of it. The last line is perfect.

      Handwriting is going the way of the Dodo bird in our digital age.

      I would recognize my mother’s flowing beautiful handwriting anywhere – its reflective of who she was. Some of her letters/memoirs/stories have become family treasures.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Critique, I have so many stories my Mother wrote, when I read one I fell like she’s there.
        The story I’d
        It definitely is true and gets funnier each time I read it myself. My Mother had a hard time keeping cars
        When she first married, my Father bought her a Buick Roadster. She left the keys in it and that one disappeared also
        Twenty years later he bought her another one , she managed to hold on to

    3. Bushkill

      My, my, some malcontent drove off with the car. What a great conversational story. I was just recalling the days of penned prose last week. now we have it as a prompt.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Bushkill, my Mother had another thing with cars and I certainly inherited it
        She was the master of getting lost.and I’ve been lost so many times, my family wants to install a tracking system in me. Oh no! I’d rather be lost, I’ve seen some amazing things on.lost ways.

    4. GrahamLewis

      Nice. My mother — now 92 — has ornate and perfect. My father used to say it was beautiful but illegible. I do have to take time to read it. She and my college-aged daughter are pen pals now, exchanging handwritten letters on a weekly basis. I’m ashamed to admit that I always type my letters. According to my mother, in grade school the teachers used to say that I had terrible handwriting but it didn’t matter because I was so smart I would have a secretary. I even did for awhile.

      But my most memorable comment on my own handwriting was in high school. I turned in an essay, handwritten int those days. On the day the essays were to be returned, the teacher walked up to the chalk board and drew a long straight line. She turned around. “Mr. Lewis, what does this mean?” I said I didn’t know. She said, “well, your essay is full of them.” But I got a good grade anyway.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Graham, that sorry is so funny it ought to be cut into stone. She must have had a great sense of humor. I am afraid my teachers didn’t have it
        I did have a kind teacher who bought a brand new shovel for me so I could study by the fire better If you believe that I have land for sale.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I am actually floored by your kind response. I know I am old fashioned and quaint at times. I rather like the feel at my age.Glad you enjoyed this Hack.

    5. ReathaThomasOakley

      Kerry, I do hope this episode is in the book you’re doing for your family. Through the years I’ve written things for my sons, usually for their birthdays. Now it’s WhatsApp and while we communicate more, it’s not the same.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Sorry to say, nothing remains constant. The great oceans come close as do the mountains but human.nature is on a speed run, sorry to say. I have written a small novella about my Mother and Father but I have only scratched the surface of their lives
        Perhaps one day I will rewrite it If I make it to ninety Thanks for stopping by Reatha.

    6. JRSimmang

      I get so excited receiving postcards and letters from friends, people who still value the art of writing. It’s an echo, one that originates in these little anecdotes (fictional or otherwise) of yours, Kerry. You have such a sense of no nonsense and this piece is no different. Sometimes, we all feel like our cars have just been driven away.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank JR, I have. dreams constantly about losing my car. Usually it’s stolen and I can’t get anyone to help me find it. I bet I’ve been through this dream fifty times. Sometimes oi lose my clothes and stand there buck naked but I’ll hold that for another time. Glad you enjoyed this.

  43. Pete

    This guy’s a maniac, obviously.

    Why do you say that, Barb?

    Look at this. The loopy swirl, then, bam, print. Upper case, lower case. No contact with reality. I’ll lock this schizzo up on aesthetics alone.

    I don’t think, I um…Let’s focus on what the letter says, okay Barb?

    What men say isn’t half as important as how they say it.


    Tone is everything.


    See there. You say right, like you agree. But with the tone of a train passing through town.
    Barb. Can we stay on task here?

    Yes, Mr. Dial one, let’s work. We have Dear Boss note, written by an extremely dangerous schizophrenic madman.
    Is that a technical term? Doesn’t sound PC.

    He goes all lower zone here, and take a look at this S. I’m thinking our guy loves to travel. By now he must be in South America.

    You got all that from the handwriting?

    No, it says right here, ‘By the time you read this I’ll be in South America’.


    Hey, do you remember that trip we took to Punta Tombo? Swimming naked? Drinking martini’s through sunset before we went back to the room and, well, boom chicka wow wow. Remember that, Tiger?

    Um, I think that must’ve been your ex-husband, Barb.

    Hmm. Awkward.


    Soooo. This note.


    Well, look at this. Illegible signatures mean a person is private and hard to read.

    Explains a lot.

    What is that supposed to that mean? Oh, you’re not still mad about…

    Still? You just said it.

    Look, it was the worst weekend of my life. Can we move on?

    Let’s. So our guy is fleeing the country.

    And judging by the slant of his H he’s riddled with kidney stones.

    How could you possibly…

    Graphology. Concept Mapping. I took a study on forensic document examination. Worst weekend of my life.

    I thought…

    I’m kidding. Blue Bloods marathon last weekend. You were golfing.

    I don’t play golf.

    Oh, I meant cooking dinner.

    Right. So our suspect has fled the country. Has kidney stones.

    Is a raging lunatic, but likes sunsets, puppies, long walks—

    Stop it.

    No, really. See? The light pressure indicates he’s the sensitive type.

    He’s been dubbed The Butcher of Bedford.

    And he has piss poor time management.

    Seems to be going around.

    It’s the poor spacing. He writes impatiently.

    Probably likes martinis.

    Someone won’t let it go.

    Pfft. I think we should take this downtown for analysis.

    You aim low, Nolan. You have strong insecurities.

    Excuse me?

    You do. I’ve seen your grocery lists.

    So this is about me now?

    Let’s go to South America. We can catch the Butcher. Work on your tone.

    So it will business?

    And pleasure.

    We’lll catch this madman.

    And drink Martini’s

    Have a terrible time?

    The worst weekend of our lives.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Pete, you are really just a great writer, week after week I so enjoy what you do. So much told here in a glimpse of a conversation. Thank you.

    2. JRSimmang

      Got a bit of Rosewood and Taggart here, Pete. Sensational dialogue, humorous, and sets the bar high. Be careful with your possessives (Martinis needs no apostrophe s), and continue to blow us away!

    3. Kerry Charlton

      This couple knows most everything about each other including the kinky smazz. Who knows if it’s true? They like to play games, especially sexual in.nature. it wouldn’t surprise me to see them land in jail.just by murdering some one just for the thrill. All around a couple of kooks.. Great writing and conversations are smooth as silk

  44. creaturescry

    General Arlan was in charge of the army as a whole, General Harold was in charge of special forces, and General Devon was in charge of dungeon and slaves. General Noah had one of the least exciting tasks of all, Tactical planning and strategy. In other words he told troops where to go and what to do based off what the others told him. With candles around him and armed with quill he planned out a battle he’d never see. Plotting out the safest routes, swerving around where he had marked known Giant camps, and finally finishing it off with a dot where the troop would finally stop. After he finished he rolled up the map and shoved it into a tall leather casing that he would then hand off to one of the Captains.

    “Sir I’m sorry to interrupt you but are you finished with the map?” a young man asked, decked out in a full silver armor.

    “Yes…” Noah said, eyeing the man and searching for his name in the far reaches of his mind.

    “I’m Captain Dover, I’m under General Arlans command.”

    “Well the maps right here Captain Dover,” he patted the top of the map casing, “now I’ve got to go back to work if you don’t mind.”

    “Wait!” Captain Dover sudden shouted, and then quickly covered his mouth.

    “What is it?”

    “I’ve got a letter for you from the King.”

    Noah pulled out another map and began sketching, “and why do you have a letter from the King? Doesn’t he have servants for that?”

    “Well one of them stopped me in the hall and asked me to deliver it to you. Apparently there was an issue that needed her more immediate attention.”

    Noah turned around in his chair and took the letter from the Captain. It was definitely the real deal with the golden wax seal, wine red paper, and the slightest hint of cinnamon coming off the paper when he put it under his nose. The door slammed as the captain left, blowing out all of his candles. The room was left nearly dark except for light seeping in through a tiny window high above, trickling down through the darkness. An ominous feeling cloaked itself over the room, making everything seem much more sinister. Noah fought the feeling and opened the envelope with all ten of his fingers shaking. All the words were cold, calculating, and spoke in a earthy monotone when he read it in his head.

    Dear Noah Goune,

    As you probably already know by now I have returned from my trip to the wivno mountain region. It was a decent trip, but I ran into a new development while I was there. Of course to discuss a new course of action I need my four most trusted allies. We will meet at midnight tonight in the dining hall and will have an open discussion on the issue. Please bring a map with you and don’t be late.

    King Ezra

    Noah Felt a tremor in his left arm as he finished the letter. There was nothing sincere about the letter as it felt more like an order than anything. He dropped the letter to the side amongst a pile of discarded maps. He would have to see both the King and Devon tonight, two people he really wanted to avoid as much as possible. He took out a flint box to began to relight the candles the door had blown out. But before he did the scent of cinnamon forced him to take another glance at the letter. Then he lit the candles, there was no way he was going to get any sleep before the meeting.

    1. writer_sk

      Critique~ Nice, I liked your story! Now does he really have a nose ring that his fiancée wanted him to get? You captured the man-child moments some men have, well. I would like to see the reaction Linda has to the sunburned mark. This was reminiscent of The Hangover but not super silly like that movie. You captured how they could tell how he would rather a woman like Gloria than Linda.

      It’s an interesting glimpse into how your friends know you best.

      I haven’t had that problem with the posting in the old prompt but awhile back with the shark prompt I had to whittle my story down considerably and post it over and over til it worked. Different time I never figured out why it wouldn’t post and it never did.

      1. Critique

        Thanks for stopping by with your comments writer_sk. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything – the business of life – and it feels good to be back and great to recognize familiar writers (like yourself) still posting their great stories 🙂

    2. writer_sk

      Creature, I liked where this was going. Hopefully you will write the battle. Good work on a difficult prompt.

      I liked the scene where Noah read the letter in the dark.

    3. Bushkill

      hmm … mischief is afoot I think. This sounds ominous and a little like the butler did it in the library with the map case. A feeling I thoroughly enjoyed, wondering about the upcoming meeting.

    4. JRSimmang

      Okay, so the ink on Noah’s left arm is alive, squirming, and Arlan knows this. Is there treachery afoot? I agree with Noah that the letter isn’t as important as the meeting that will take place at midnight. Usurpation, maybe?
      My red pen tells me to tell you to be mindful of comma splices (“I’m Capt. Dover, I’m under General Arlan’s command.” “Then he lit the candles, there was no way…”), and when to use apostrophes (Gen. Arlan’s command, not Arlans, etc.).
      You’ve a solid piece of fantasy coming full circle here, Creature. Is it Creatures Cry or Creature Scry? I do want to get it right.

  45. Critique

    A Tattoo and a Ring

    “Don’t worry, be happy.” Bill sang off key in the shower. Turning off the spout, he stepped out and felt a bit dizzy as he grabbed a towel. He’d forgotten to put on sunscreen again, had fallen asleep in the blazing sun on the lounger by the pool, and it didn’t help that he’d downed a few too many during happy hour. Scissoring the towel across his back he winced at the burning sensation. He rubbed a spot clear on the mirror and looked at the sunburned face and blood shot eyes staring back at him – not pretty. She wouldn’t like that. He looked over his shoulder at the purple red of his burned back and the towel fell from his hand. He cracked his neck to get a better look.

    In crude letters inside a heart shape across his left shoulder blade he read backwards: airolG. Gloria? Wasn’t she the bubbly blond he’d danced with. He couldn’t remember how the evening ended. He wanted to throw up.

    Bill snagged the towel off the floor and dragged it savagely across the letters. No change except for the painful chafing on his burnt skin. How did that get there? A tattoo? Had he really been that wasted? The 4-day weekend getaway with his best friends had flown by in a blur of partying and little sleep. They would fly home this evening.

    Linda. His fiancé. Bill’s head started pounding. He’d told her the guys wanted to treat him to one last trip before his single days were over. How he summoned up the courage to tell her and stand his ground – knees shaking – and then she’d slapped him. He remembered the rage that twisted her face when he told her the flights were booked already.

    Craning his neck to get another look he finally clued in that it wasn’t a tattoo at all but an intentional sunburned sign. Had to be Alan and Jeff. It was mean. Immature. They didn’t like Linda that was clear, but to go this far? How long did a sunburn last anyway? He wanted to throw up again.

    The bus to the airport was packed. Alan and Jeff kept their distance. Bill felt panicky and the nausea persisted.

    Once the plane was airborne and the seatbelt sign off Bill got up and walked back to where the guys were sitting. The wary looks on their faces didn’t stop him.

    “What’s your problem?” Alan asked shrinking back when Bill leaned in his fists clenched.

    “Problem? You could say that.” Bill hissed.

    Several nearby passengers began looking around nervously.

    “Settle down Bill.” Jeff swore. “This isn’t the place.”

    “Why did you do it?” Bill glared at them.

    Alan snapped back. “It was supposed to be a joke.”

    Bill stood back. “I’m not laughing.”

    The intercom crackled to life. “This is Captain Warren. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened. We are experiencing some air turbulence. Thank you.”

    “Take the blinders off Bill.” Jeff held Bill’s gaze. “She’s got a ring in your nose.”

    Back in his seat Bill snapped the seatbelt on and leaned his head back.

    The past few days had been a blast. When was the last time he’d laughed so much and had a good time? A ring in his nose? If he was brutally honest? He hadn’t missed Linda. Didn’t miss her constant nagging how to dress, where to go, what to eat, and what friends were good for him. Alan and Jeff were the best friends a guy could want. Bill shifted in his seat.

    When the plane’s wheels touched down Bill reached back to scratch the itchy ‘tattoo’. His stomach had settled and his mind was made up. The ring would have to go.

    1. Critique

      Dear fellow writers: my apology for dropping this into today’s prompt – I wasn’t able (after many tries) to download it to last weeks prompt. Has anyone else had this problem?

    2. Kerry Charlton

      Critique, I am happy you posted this, I wouldn’t have missed it. It is a jewel.of a story and no one can relate more than I. My brother told me before I married the first time, she wasn’t right for me. We had a terrible physical fight over. Turned out, he was correct.

      1. Critique

        Thanks for the comments Kerry.
        I agree that disasters may be avoided if we valued to the advice of those (who cared enough to be honest and confront – even though we may not want to hear it) who know us well and have our best interests at heart.

    3. JRSimmang

      I think you’ve nailed the dialogue between two best friends, Critique. It was tempered well, and the internal dialogue was absolutely true-to-life. There is so much that can go on within one moment of our lives, and this is explained well.


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