Today’s the Day You Save a Life

You’re on your way to lunch when you walk by a crowd of people staring up toward the sky. You look up and see someone at the top of a building getting ready to jump to his or her death. Quickly you realize you know this person—in fact, it’s someone from work. Something about this moment overtakes, so you rush to the top of the top of the building to save this person’s life.

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

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404 thoughts on “Today’s the Day You Save a Life

  1. Jaybo

    Lunch.
    I am a man of sustenance therefore, I must have lunch. There is nothing more satisfying than a great lunch at a Jewish Deli and I know of the best one in Baltimore: Charles Street near Hopkins. Ahh, life can be so easy when one has it all figured out beforehand. The little decisions are nearly already in place: deli fried chicken, with side of coleslaw, fresh lunch biscuit and large cherry cola. A soul needs only to merely accept what is good, placed it in front of him, and be grateful. My many years at the Bar allow for extravagance: repast, with a view of Homewood; where a guy like me, too old to really conspire with the urges, could still appreciate the beauty of academia; Pygmalion as a mature co-ed. To conjecture that they want only her brains, fictional zombies would leave must so much to waste.

    Now there is a real waste! Police vehicles are blocking Charles Street because some girl is perched on a three story brownstone rooftop on 30th Street. Poor soul! Whose daughter would have cause to want her life go out? I may as well park and walk to eat. Kaloo Kalay! Someone just pulled out! I am only a half block away! If the police would simply permit the rescuers to put up a bounce cushion beneath her and let her gripe…

    Great Scott! That young woman looks like my own niece. I thought she was working at Cousin’s Law office in Catonsville, not near this campus. WHY?! What has transpired for her to wish to die? Damned men have no respect for a woman’s feelings at all; I would tell any of them standing nearby, Why don’t they just go and get a piece of warm liver from the local deli…means just as much to them. To cause such a bright young girl to wish to commit suicide, By God, I’d call it Deicide! She’s smart, a lovely creature, from good blood, finished her law degree and …What’s this? The police are packing up. Are they going to leave her there? Maybe I can help in some small way to clear this matter up.

    “Pardon me, Sir, I realize you are busy. I happen to know that young woman. Has she expressed to the authorities why she wants to take her life? May I suggest allowing me to speak to her and tell her she is far too intelligent to let some menial man put her in a frame of mind to die because he slighted her honor? Has she spoken about her reasons of choosing to do it here?”

    “Yeh, Buddy. She was, like, feedin’ some friend’s pet pidgin’s on th’ roof. Seems a fledglin’ got stuck in th’ gutter an’ the gal wen’ ta geddit. Some crackpot tought she was gonna make like O’ville Wrike widdout wings. Get ma’ drift? She’s safe. We’re done ‘ere. Know you, huh? Hmmm.”
    Well, a pox upon me for a fool!

    1. rob akers

      Very funny. I like the descriptions of co-ed’s in the begining. Im not that smart to figure out exactly what you were saying but I got the drift. Also like the twist at the end and the local cop’s dilect.

  2. Andrew Waters

    We were standing on top of “Wallace & McRae” building, looking twelve stories down to the blue-black asphalt river of Third Street. Maggie was standing on the ledge; I was standing with her. There were people below us on the sidewalk. Jerry and Mitch were there, some of the guys from the sixth floor. I’d been down there a few minutes ago, but now I was here. With Maggie.

    It was one of those perfect, early June summer days; a light breeze blew brown curls in Maggie’s face, pushed the skirt of her thin summer dress against her thighs and her hips; lines of cumulus clouds with flat bottoms and puffy crowns terraced across an endless blue sky. In the distance you could see water sparkling on the lake, the profile of the Blue Ridge, green and hazy in the distance, maybe thirty miles away. I wished I was wearing my sunglasses, some shorts. I was thinking about jumping with her.

    “But you can’t,” Maggie said. “I mean, I’m the one who embezzled thirty grand. I’m the one who will go to jail. You, you’re . . .” Her voice trailed away.

    “I’m what?”

    This is what I came up her to find out: what Maggie thought about me. I’d wasted five years waiting for the answer to that question. Why not waste the rest?

    “You’re too good, Tom. You’re too nice.”

    Boy, that was the wrong thing to say. “Fuck you, Maggie.” I was mad now. How dare she? Nice? “Fuck you.”

    I’d told her once, how I felt, drunk at the Chili’s on Madison Boulevard. “You’re sweet,” she’d said. “I’m glad we’re friends.”

    Fuck you, Maggie Dupree. I can’t go on living like this. Not the way I feel.

    I took her hand; I was ready to go. I couldn’t take another minute in that cubicle. Not if Maggie was sitting in the cubicle opposite me and not if she was gone. This seemed like the only way.

    We tumbled off the edge of the building.

    We were falling, falling down past our cubicles on ten and past Mr. McRae’s office on seven. I shot him a bird as we fell past and Maggie laughed. “I wish I’d given you a chance,” she said, the fifth floor flying by, “I wish I wasn’t so scared to open my heart. I could’ve loved you. I see that now.”

    I felt joyful, buoyant, alive. The sidewalk was only a few feet away. I caught Mitch’s eye; he looked terrified but I gave him a thumb’s up. Everything was OK. My body was falling, but my heart, finally, could fly.

  3. Noodlebug

    “It’s so windy up here.” Clare said. The roof was aged and the railing along the side was rusted and flimsy. The day was nice and cloudy, looked like maybe a storm was coming.

    “What do you want Clare?” She asked.

    “You’re not gonna jump are you Jules?” Clare asked.

    “I didn’t plan on it.” Jules said. Jules wasn’t someone Clare was close too but she was her only reason for being here.

    “Well you got everyone out here looking at you for a reason.” She said.

    “Yea well I was hoping to avoid the dramatics but you know him… he’s one for a show if nothing else.” Jules said.

    “So I take it you haven’t found a way around your bargain then?” Clare asked.

    “No, young and stupid and there is nothing I can do to fix it.” Jules whispered.

    “So today’s the day then?” Clare asked.

    “I don’t really know I would think so but then again I have been up here for over an hour and I haven’t had any urges to join the ground yet.” Jules gritted.

    Clare leaned against the door frame pulling out a cigarette. Taking in the smoke was something she would get hell for later but for now it soothed her restlessness.

    “So it was you then?” Jules asked.

    “Yea it was me.” Clare said.

    “I should have known you just kinda showed up.” Jules said.

    “We do that ya know.” She said.

    “So why me?” Jules asked.

    “Well we could go into details but the man upstairs thinks it’s better if I don’t.” Clare answered.

    “It’s hard to see how you could help me.” Jules said.

    “It’s the smoking huh? Well I’m all you got sister so let’s get this over with; I have a feeling this is gonna really hurt.” Clare said. Snuffing out the cigarette she walked up to Jules.

    “What are we doing?” Jules asked panicked.

    “Ah well I am your way out… don’t worry you’ll live.” Clare said.

    “Isn’t this breaking the rules?” Jules asked. The wind picked up becoming more vicious and focused.

    “No rules apply to some of us…come on now we are out of time.” Clare said. Then it happened Clare jumped with Jules held tightly to her. Jules screamed.

    “You’re safe.” Clare said impatiently.

    Whatever Jules said afterwards was taken by the wind. The screaming came first then the scattering and finally the ground came into view. Clare was right the drop hurt, even damaged her a bit. She had done her part. Safely unraveling her wings Jules lay unhurt on the sidewalk.

    “Consider your bargain paid.” Clare said.

    “Thank you!” Jules cried.

    “Don’t thank me yet you will repay your debt just not with your soul.” Clare said sadly. Clare extended her wings and looked back at Jules.

    “We will be in touch.” She said with smile and took off. The crowd closed in over Jules making her the news story of the week.

    1. penney

      This is interesting but I had to read it a few times to understand. An angel is saving the girl? Good premise. Too bad you couldn’t highlight “the bargain.”

  4. kristof-journo

    Sam and Angie

    The crowd seemed more confused than afraid for the man standing on the rooftop ledge of the three-story building. “Crowd” might not be the right word for five people who shuffled out of the Starbucks across the street to look up at the guy and speculate, as one man said, “He’d probably just break his legs, right?”

    “Oh hell. It’s Sam,” I said. It slipped out before I realized I was talking out loud, and then all eyes were on me. I sighed and shrugged. What did they want me to say?

    “Sam,” I yelled up from the street. “What’s going on, buddy? I was just going to pick us up some coffee and couldn’t find you.”

    “She’s dead, Billy,” he called down to me, choking back tears like a child on the verge of a tantrum. “Angie’s dead.” And then he burst into outright sobbing.

    A young woman beside me offered a pitiful, “Ah, that’s so sad.” I shot her my best “you’re not helping” glance.

    “OK, Sam, why don’t you come down and we’ll talk about it?” I yelled back up. “He’s off his meds,” I whispered to the onlookers. “There’s not really an Angie.”

    One of the men in the group shot me a horrified look: how dare I suggest this man is only up there because he’s mentally unstable!

    “Billy,” he said, still crying a little. “Is Angie cheating on me?” I glanced at the crowd. Maybe now they were starting to see my point.

    “Why don’t I come up? Don’t move, OK, Sam? You could really hurt yourself if you fell from there.”

    I hustled into the building, half expecting the young woman on the street might try to follow me and cure Sam with hugs. Happily, I found myself alone in the elevator. When I reached the rooftop terrace, Sam was in the garden area, pulling up marigolds by the fistful.

    “How do all these damn weeds get up here?” he asked me. “Angie will be pissed when she gets home if I don’t clean out this mess.”

    “Sam, those are flowers, buddy,” I said.

    He looked at me wide-eyed through a long, awkward silence. Then he burst into laughter. “Oops,” he said and dropped the uprooted flowers onto the ground.

    “Why don’t we go see Angie, OK? I bet she has some pills that will make you feel better.”

    He stood up and clapped the dirt off his hands. “Yeah, she always makes me feel better. I’m so glad she’s not dead.”

    We walked together to the elevator. “There was a fire, you know?” he told me. I just nodded and kept him moving.

  5. metaman321

    Arnold had the world by the ass. He was young, good looking and healthy. And the market was up! The beautiful summer day found him walking briskly down the sidewalk in his expensive three piece suit and alligator loafers; king of all he surveyed.

    Checking himself out in the storefront windows as he strode past them, he didn’t notice the crowd that had gathered around the entrance to the skyscraper where he had his office, until he was almost on it.

    “What’s going on?” he asked an elderly lady on the fringe of the crowd.

    “There’s a woman up there who’s going to jump!” she said, pointing to the top of the building.

    Shading his eyes from the bright summer sun, he could just make out the silhouette of a woman on the parapet of the building. The sun shining through her fantastically red hair told Arnold it was Katy, his secretary.

    Katy was the latest in a long line of secretaries that had worked for him since his move to the big city five years ago. She was also the latest in the long line of secretaries that he had dated and dumped. Just that morning, in fact, he had told her that it was over.

    She was just too different. She enjoyed trying new things and taking risks. Her penchant for risk taking was one of the reasons she had been attracted to Arnold, a stockbroker.
    But Arnold was none of these things. A buttoned down throwback who never bought a stock without a juicy dividend, at least for his own account, he was more interested in looking the part than being the part.

    On their third, and final, date she picked him up on her motorcycle, or at least that was the plan. Arnold refused to ride because she had forgotten to bring helmets.

    “I don’t think a boss should date his secretary,” he had said that morning, “it’s too risky.”

    He thought she had taken it well. She seemed more mystified than down-hearted. And yet, here she was getting ready to end it all! I’ve got to stop her, thought our hero.

    Arnold ran through the revolving doors, sped across the lobby and into the express elevator for the upper floors. When the elevator doors opened, he raced up the stairway leading to the roof. He threw his weight against the door and spilled out onto the roof. Katy was balanced on the parapet of the building with her back to the street. He noticed she had changed clothes.

    “Don’t do it, Katy, don’t jump, we can work this out,” he called.

    “Wow, aren’t we full of ourselves?” she replied with a twinkle in her eye. Then, tightening the strap below her chin, she leaped backwards into space. “Bye, Arnold,” she called.

    Arnold ran to the parapet just in time to see Katy’s chute open as she guided it toward the park.

    “At least you brought a helmet!” he screamed after her.

    1. JR MacBeth

      Nice descriptions, great story Metaman321! The only thing that broke the spell for me was “…thought our hero”. Maybe could have skipped that? My personal favorite way of distinguishing a character’s “thought” is to use italics. The I’ve got to stop her then needs no further explanation. I suppose use of the word “our” might have been meant to more directly engage the reader, but to me it was a distraction, since it stood utterly alone in the piece, and was basically a sudden POV shift from third person. The “our” I think can still work great, but only if it is integral to the whole from the get-go.
      (I seldom use HTML by the way, but here it goes!)

  6. zo-zo

    ‘Hey! What on earth do you think you’re doing?’

    She was sitting on the very edge of the building, her feet dangling to and fro, like clothes in a tornado. She looked like Anne of Greene Gables, not the cool blonde whose heels make men’s heart-rate race.

    ‘They’re getting married next month,’ she said, feeling the edges of the tiles and edging forward.

    ‘Whoa!’ I yelled, pointing at her pajymas. ‘Hold on a second. You’re telling me you’re going to die in those clothes?’

    She ignored me. ‘They’ve been together for three weeks,’ she gazed at the jagged skyline. ‘He’s known her for three weeks and a night.’

    ‘Katie Hot-stuff-Collins, you’ve gotta be kidding.’ I point towards the bears. ‘You want to die in fuchsia pink bear pajymas? Really?’

    This had to work. Whenever anybody raised their voice at Katie, she shrank, realising that whatever it was she thought was nothing close to what you wanted her to think, and rapidly rearrange her reasoning. It’s been a bad habit that I’ve caught onto recently.

    ‘If I were you, I’d be dressed in the most sparkling studded diamond pink dress I could get my hands on, and then jump – that’s the way to make you look -‘ I paused, swallowing the words drop-dead gorgeous. ‘To make you look like a princess.’

    ‘He’s not going to care,’ she said into her hands. ‘He’s with that slut from the East Side.’

    ‘Oh but that’s the thing – if you go in bear pajymas, he’ll think – oh well, I made the right choice. She obviously wasn’t for me. But, if you look the hottest you’ve ever looked when you go down, he’ll drop that bitch in a second, and be the first one at your funeral. He’ll waste his life away with regrets. Don’t you see what you can cause?’

    I hoped Katie wasn’t thinking clearly. There were so many gaps in this argument. But there was one thing I knew about Katie – she had never in the five years I knew her looked anything less than stunning.

    Katie’s head was down, and I didn’t know if she was crying or surveying her clothes. I stepped gingerly towards her.

    ‘I mean,’ I carried on, ‘what will the papers say? Top fashion designer dies in pink PJ’s? You simply can’t do that, Katie.’

    She gulped for breath. ‘I didn’t think about that.’

    ‘Of course you didn’t,’ I stood behind her, holding out my hand to her. ‘Now come on, and we’ll talk about how stunning your grand finale will be.’ One day, I thought, in the very very very distant future.

    Katie slid herself away from the edge, a centimetre at a time, until she was sitting right beside me. ‘I’m so glad you saved me the embarrasment.’

    1. Ishmael

      Glad I got to this one, ZoZo! Very good. Loved the subject matter. Loved the psychology the guy, and I’m assuming the rescuer was a guy, used on her. And I got the underlying feeling that he was in love with her, so if you meant that, it came across as a subtle undercurrent.

      Quite enjoyable. 🙂

    2. metaman321

      This was excellent, a very enjoyable read. I thought the dialogue was well written and got a chuckle out of ‘drop-dead gorgeous’. This story is a happy play on ‘Vanity, thy name is woman’ and ‘Die young and leave a good-looking corpse’. Loved it!

  7. rtarazon

    “Lunch time!”
    Never in my life have I been so relieved to see 12:00pm strike as I was today. I tossed my pen and clipboard down onto the table and headed for the door. Collectively, a wave of grumbles and gripes flooded out the building. Usually I join in the choir but my plan of having one less tequila shot last night, didn’t exactly pan out. Coffee, black and strong was the only thing on the menu and I couldn’t get to the café any sooner if I had blasted rocket fuel out of my rear.
    Obstacles were at its finest today and I managed to lead off in every one. Of course that child would cut loose from his mother only to run and stop right in front of me, as I convulsed my way into a maneuver reminiscent of a newborn foal’s first walk. My leg raised sweeping from one side and landing crossed over the other. Wishing I had just trampled this giggling demon spawn underfoot I looked back at mother devil and glared into her childbearing soul before resuming my journey.
    Now, if there was possibly anything that I wished for more than coffee at this moment, it would be that when I dug into my back pocket, I pulled out three shiny throwing stars, engraved with the name of each one of the snot nosed, pimple-faced kids that deliberately power splashed into the nasty, disease ridden street water that landed ever so graciously upon my face and in my mouth. Good thing their legs work rather fast but if I see them again…
    “OH MY GOODNESS NOOO!”
    The sting of disease water escalated as I struggled to open my eyes finding the source of the cry. Focusing, I peered into the ear canal of a bystander who hadn’t noticed my intimate distance through his fixated gaze into the sky.
    Following his lead I strained until I was nearly able to make out the focus of the hundred or so gathered witnesses.
    “I think I know her.” I mumbled.
    The bystander turned startling me as we nearly brushed nose tips.
    “Do something. Talk to her!”
    Battling between confusion and fear, my legs took a jolt towards the building. Speed began to increase as the rest of me caught up and flew up the stairs in two’s and three’s until I reached the crowded floor that surrounded the room. I pushed my way through policemen and negotiators, “I know her! I know her!”
    Through the window I could see her balancing along the ledge in the same clothes she wore last night. Her tattered hair blew across her colorless cheeks and lips.
    Placing one hand on the window sill, I reached for her with the other. Turning her weary blood-shot eyes towards me, she smiled, “I waited for you. It’s ok. We won’t hurt anymore.”
    The caress of her warm hand filled me with peace I had yearned for as she disappeared.

    “Lunch time!” I awoke startled…

    1. JR MacBeth

      I never like the old “it was a dream” thing, but you pulled it off! A great story, maybe a little overkill in one spot, but in my opinion, your unique voice is what shines through here. Excellent.

  8. untoe

    Wednesday, my normal greeting from Tony’s Dog Shack was, “Hey, happy hump day Ralph. The usual I presume.”

    “Then you presume correct Tony,” was my standard reply.

    “Alright, one house special comin up,” Tony said.

    While I waited I noticed a group of people standing on the sidewalk looking up to the sky. Someone was standing at the top of the building like they were going to jump. Then I realized it was Walter Stinton from the office. I knew he was a family man. All I could picture was his wife and kids receiving the bad news. So I knew I had to do something about it.

    I ran into the ten story building he was standing on. I got in the first available elevator and pushed ten. When I reached the top, the doors opened to a long hallway of white marble. There were two men at the end of the hall standing guard outside the only door in sight.

    I hurried down the hall toward them and said, “There’s a man out on the ledge about to jump, we gotta stop him.”

    Emotionless, the one on my right said, “We know he’s there. Unless you want to join him, I suggest you leave.”

    “What!” I exclaimed. “What is the meaning of this? You’ve got to do something.”

    “Leave now or we will do something,” replied the one on my left.

    I decided to leave while I could. I took the elevator to the bottom floor and immediately ran for the stairs. Huffing and puffing all the way I finally reached the ninth floor. I went into a large vacant office – other than a few disks and chairs – that was directly beneath Walter. I pushed a large table part way out the window below him. “Hey Walter, down here, it’s me Ralph Quinimbalm,” I hollered.

    He slowly looked over the ledge, with tears pouring down his face he said, “Ralph you gotta help me, please.”

    “Count to ten and jump on this desk,” I said. Then I climbed on the other end to counter balance it. A couple seconds later Walter hit the table and crawled in through the open window. “Look, we have about ten seconds to find a way out of here before the goon squad arrives.”

    As we ran for the stairs I asked, “What the heck is going on Walter?”

    Between gasps of air as we descended flight after flight, Walter said, “I have a large unpaid gambling debt to these guys. They got tired of waiting, so they said if I didn’t jump to make it look like a suicide, they would kill my family.”

    “It’s going to be ok, we’ll get out of here and get some help.”

    At the fifth floor we saw a door with a sign reading ‘FIRE ESCAPE’. We opened the door and the fire alarm sounded. We ran down the stairs as fast as we could and out to the street where all of the on-lookers were. A fire truck and police cars came blazing down the street. We made our way down the sidewalk and to the police station to tell them what happened.

  9. clownfish

    I turned the same old corner onto the same old street and headed toward the same old office building. It was the end of my lunch break. I had walked the same route day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, for…how many years? The weather was the only thing that ever changed.

    But today, something else was different. As I approached the building, I realized a crowd was starting to gather. People were looking up. A few pointed. I saw fear on some faces. On others, expressions of alarm. I had seen these reactions before. I knew what they meant. A jumper.

    I looked up. There—a woman. Hovering by the ledge. Peering down at the gawkers, eight stories below. I blinked. It couldn’t be… She straightened and turned her face toward the sky. I felt instantly sick and weak. It was Maggie. My friend. My only friend.

    Maybe it’s not too late, I thought. Maybe I can stop her. I felt a surge of adrenaline as I weaved my way toward the building through the thickening crowd. I slipped inside and dashed across the lobby toward the elevators. The security guard, busy on the phone, paid me no mind.

    I punched the button for the service elevator and immediately the idle car opened its doors. I rushed in, hit the “R” button, and anxiously waited an eternity for the doors to close. The elevator started its climb. I watched its slow, steady progress on the panel above the doors. Hurry…hurry…

    Suddenly a feeling of panic. What would I say? What could I say to someone intent on ending her own life? What words could I offer that would possibly stop her? I wasn’t wise. I didn’t have profound insights into human suffering. What reasons for choosing life could I give her that she hadn’t already considered—and dismissed? How could I persuade her not to die?

    Ding. The “R” lit up. The doors opened. I took a deep breath and stepped out. My throat was dry. I walked around to the other side of the elevator shaft. And saw Maggie. At the edge of the building. Looking down. Still here, still alive. She’s hesitant, I thought. She’s not sure. There’s still a chance.

    I moved slowly toward her. “Maggie,” I said softly, trying not to startle her.

    She turned to me, her face…a blank mask. No fear, no sadness. Nothing.

    “You don’t want to do this,” I said.

    “I was waiting for you,” she said calmly.

    “Please move away from the ledge,” I pleaded. “For me.”

    A faint smile, then—or did I imagine it? “I’m doing this for us,” she said. And stepped into the void.

    I feel myself falling.

    What have I done?

    Falling…

    Oh god no what have I —

    1. annefreemanimages

      clownfish: I was with you until Maggie said she was doing this for us. Then i was lost. I missed the story thread. You spent a lot of time leading up to their dialogue – and that left percious little time for them. Although you did a terrific job in describing her thoughts, reactions, and actions leading up to the roof, the same was not afforded to their interaction. Try reducing the lead up by two thirds and then you’ll have a lot more space to develop their dialogue and reasons for the decisions and actions being taken. As I’ve said to some others, in a short short story, you really have to decide what the focus is going to be and relentlessly stay on focus.

      Nicely written work.

      ~Anne

  10. JR MacBeth

    “Oh my God!  Is that?  I think it’s Wilson.  Up there.  Look!”

    “You mean the guy from Accounting?” The woman looked as if she had seen a ghost.  “Oh God! It’s him!”

    “Alex, we’ve got to see if we can help the guy!”

    “John?  Did you know him?  He’s like someone I never talk to, he…creeps me out.”

    “Creeps?  Huh?  Well, I didn’t exactly know him, but maybe six or eight months ago, I spent some time talking to him.”

    “Oh yeah, I remember.” Alex said blandly.  “One of his kids got real sick or something, ended up in the hospital.”

    “The kid died Alex!” John said.  His eyes blinked a few extra times as if he were blinking away a painful memory.

    “OK. I remember now.  No wonder…Wait…what, where you going?  You really going up there?”

    “If the cops let me.  You coming?” He didn’t wait for the answer.

    “Excuse me, officer?” John pushed past the crowd of gawkers.  “Officer!”

    “Just stay back!”  The police officer squinted his eyes as if challenged.  “I said back!”

    “Sir!  We know that guy up there.  We work at the same place.  We need to talk to him!”

    “You ain’t taking to nobody,” the officer said.  “We got it under control.  They got people who do this professional like.”

    John squinted back up at Wilson.  “Murray! That’s what his first name is.”

    “John?” Alex looked concerned.  “They’re not going to let you up there.  Let the experts talk him down.  And, I really don’t want to be here…you know, when, I mean if…”

    “Damn it Alexandra!  What did he do to you?  He pinch your ass or something?”

    “Worse.”  Her eyes were getting teary.  “Im not talking about it!  Let’s just go!”

    “My God.” Did he even know his girlfriend?  “We can talk about it, or not, but this poor bastard needs my help now.”

    Without warning, John began shouting, “Murray!  It’s me, John Carver!  Can you hear me?  Murray Wilson!”

    “You cut that out!”  The cop was heading back in their direction.  “You best shove off buddy…”

    All at once, the crowd let out a collective gasp.  A loud crash, louder than anyone expected.  Time slowed down as John turned to see Wilson bounce off the car that was just about to be moved.

    “Holy shit!” Alex stood as stunned as everyone else.

    “My God, it’s too late.” John was in shock. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”

    He aggressively pushed at the crowd, needing to see it for himself. There was Wilson. Blood everywhere. What was left of his head was twisted in a bizarre unnatural way.

    “John! I told you! We need to go! Now!”

    They walked down the street, sirens absurdly going off. Both were in a daze.

    “Alex, long before we met, I had a kid. She died. She was only three. That’s why I talked to ‘creepy’ Wilson. Shit! I thought I helped him.”

    “John…I’m so sorry!” Alex put her arms around him.

    They walked another block in silence, arm in arm.

    “He raped me John. Two years ago.” She was steady now. She wiped the tears from her eyes.

    “It was two years ago, today.”

      1. JR MacBeth

        Interesting, thanks Imaginalchemy. A long time ago I used to listen to the old “Mystery Theater” when it was on the radio. Maybe it was an influence?

    1. Ishmael

      The dialogue drove that story to Pleasantville! I really enjoyed this! I haven’t had much reading time this week, but am glad I picked this one out. I can’t believe you had this excellent work right under mine and I’m just now getting to it.

      But I’m glad I did. 🙂

  11. Ishmael

    “Save Me!” She Screamed

    May 23, 1939 started off swell – eggs in coffee, as Johnny would say. He makes it a point to stay current on the latest slang.

    “Gotta schmooze the World of News if ya wanna make it big, Wheat,” he’ll chime, “and ya can’t do that using yesterday’s words.”

    ‘Wheat,’ meaning a small-town Joe living in the Apple, is the nickname he gave me the day I started at the paper and it’s stuck ever since. I kinda like it, but I never let on; it gives him a kick to think it rubs me the wrong way. Johnny’s a good kid, a budding street-wise photographer with a great eye. Grabbing my typical slugburger and Coca-cola at the corner roach coach, he sidled up to me.

    “Hey, Wheat!” I faked a cringe. “You’re in the paper again.”

    “That’ll be two bits, Pally,” gruffed the vendor. I tossed him a checker and waited for the change. It never came. Ahhh…life in the city.

    Johnny wasn’t referring to my usual daily byline; he meant this silly comic character that debuted a few months ago and looked like me. It should; I modeled for it.

    At the end of last year, some Joe approached me – literally, his name was Joe – asking if he could borrow my ‘wholesome look’ for a strip he and his buddy were creating.

    “Sure,” I agreed, “no skin off my nose.” An hour of posing and two sawbucks later, it was done…or so I thought.

    After a couple of weeks, more and more aspects of my life showed up: my job, my hometown, even my friendships. Heck, Johnny was in last week’s strip – under a different name, of course. They gave us all different names, but it was definitely him.

    “Here,” passing me the paper, “check it out.”

    Hitler and Mussolini Sign “Pact of Steel!” blazed the headline. Europe was going to hell and taking us with it, and Jimmy was interested in stupid cartoons.

    “I think you’ve got your priorities backwards, sport.”

    “Page 11,” he rattled, disregarding the whole World Crisis thing.

    I looked at this week’s offering. The damsel-in-distress was hanging off a building with the hero dashing to save her…

    “Save me!” she screams.

    …he swoops down, just as she’s falling, and catches her in his arms.

    “Wow. Whoopee.” I deadpanned.

    Johnny, distracted by the gathering crowd around our building, ignored me. “Look! Up in the sky!”

    “What the––?” It was Lola…finally out on that ledge. I knew she’d crack someday.

    “Save me!” she screamed.

    Now, I don’t know what possessed me, but I made tracks to the top faster than the guy in the comic strip, feeling like I could actually do something.

    “Lola – DON’T!” The roof access door slammed behind me.

    Turning calmly to face me, she smiled and whispered, “I have faith in you, Flyboy.”

    As I neared her, she stepped off the ledge and with one powerful lunge…I missed her by inches.

    KERPLAT! Right on top of the meat wagon.

    Dizzy broad…I’m NOT Superman!

    1. jincomt

      OK first, the dialogue was a blast to read with the slang. You did some homework for this! The idea is great– rereading it wondering what inspired the idea for you. Very nice job creating the setting and characters in such a limited word constraint. You are good.

    2. metaman321

      I second jincomt’s comments above. Your use of idioms and the vernacular for the setting was terrific. You continue to turn out enjoyable reads. Keep up the good work.

    3. annefreemanimages

      Ishmael – I don’t know how you do it. Each story brings a new cast of characters, but always so real, as if you’ve known them for years. A terrific skill you have there. I envy you! (In a good, positive way, that is.) I also try to learn from you. A great story.

      ~Anne

    4. Ishmael

      Thanks everyone, for taking the time to read and comment. This one was a ring-a-ding-ding to write, and I had a blast stepping into the past with it. I enjoy writing, so it’s humbling when my stories strike a harmonic chord with readers. Thanks again, and I look forward to writing and READING many more of the great works on the board. 🙂

  12. Rachel Radley

    My stomach rumbled with hunger, and I quickened my pace, keeping my head down and my callused hands shoved in my pockets. Glancing down at my watch, I grimaced at how late it was and barreled forward even faster, until I ran full force into a thick necked and heavily tattooed man. I was about to apologize when I realized I was standing on the fringes of a very large crowd of people who appeared to all be gazing at one thing, a small figure sitting on the edge of an extremely tall apartment building. Something clicked in my mind, and I frantically pushed my way towards the nearest officer.

    “Can I go up there? I know the kid.” The officer shrugged and I set off running into the building. I had absolutely no idea why I was doing this- although it was true I had met Mickey once or twice in the comic book store, I certainly was not in any position to talk him down from a suicide attempt. Despite this, I raced up the stairs, by- passing the broken elevator, and finally reached the rooftop.

    “Hey, Mickey.”

    The gangly, mousy-haired sixteen year old didn’t turn to look at me, so I walked over and plopped down next to him, resisting the urge to scream as my sneakers hung precariously over the edge. The kid finally turned to look at me, a sad look shadowing his delicate features as if I was the one about to jump.

    “Hey, Jack.” His voice was soft, carried away by a sudden gust of wind.

    “Whatcha thinkin’ about, Mickey?”

    He turned his head away from me, staring down at the swarm of spectators and kicking his feet in rhythmic circles.

    “They kinda look like ants from up here.” I forced my gaze down to the ground below, and swallowed another scream. Mickey looked over at me expectantly, and I nodded stiffly.

    “Can I ask you a question, Jack?” I’d never noticed before how blue his eyes were, they were like little pieces of the sky or something.

    “Whatever you want, Mickey.”

    “Do you think they’ve got comic books up in Heaven?” The wind whipped around us, and I almost reached over to smooth down his ruffled hair.

    “Yeah…Yeah, I bet they’ve got lots.” Mickey smiled wanly at that, apparently satisfied with my answer.

    It felt like years, then centuries passed as we sat there, staring down at the writhing mass of ants.

    “Can I ask you something else?”

    “Sure.”

    Mickey’s eyes were watery, peering solemnly through dark lashes. I glanced up at the sky- it was going to rain.

    “Do you think if…if someone dies, but nobody cares- do you think they were ever alive at all?” I felt drops of water slide down my cheeks. The sky was crying.

    Tension hung between us like a wall, somewhere miles below us an ant was yelling.

    “I would care, Mickey.” Thin fingers reached out for my coat and he yanked me towards him, whispering furtively in my ear.

    “I wasn’t really gonna jump.” Our gazes locked as he searched my face for signs that I understood. I did. He glanced away.

    “You wanna get out of here?” I stood and reached out to the crying boy on the ledge. Mickey grasped my hand and pulled himself to his feet.

    “Yeah, I’d like that.”

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

    sorry if this is awful, thought I’d share anyways 🙂 I’d love to hear critiques/advice, and feel free to alert me to any spelling or grammar errors!

    1. zo-zo

      This isn’t awful – you write with a lot of empathy, which I enjoyed. To make your writing sharper, though, I’d take out some of the ‘extras’ – I write a LOT of extras, so I always have to carve my writing down quite a a bit. For example – you only need to say, ‘my stomach rumbled’ and ‘glancing at my watch, I grimaced and barrelled forward – the other bits aren’t necessary and clutter the main points. That’s my advice! 😉

    2. DMelde

      Hi Rachel. I like how you write. I like how Jack..glanced down…and grimaced…and barreled forward…and ran full force into a thick…and heavy…man. It all flowed so smoothly together. It was easy for me to follow along and see your story unfold. Keep writing!

  13. leontrade

    Why would the CEO of the greatest company in the world be on the ledge? Actually, why is MY CEO, the company I worked for 25 years be up there? The crowd got bigger with every minute. Police cars covered the streets. News vans were everywhere. It was a scene from a movie, but this was real life. I was retiring in 2 months. Should I try to do something or let other people deal with it? What happens if he jumps? I mean we have the board of directors and shareholders to run the company… life will continue, right?
    I could not help myself think, WHY. Why is one of the most powerful man up there? Couldn’t be money, he made over $32Million per year. His family maybe? Or the company he was running? It was the first company to be able to invent and produce water from dirt. It brought the world hope for survival.
    I had to find out, it was now or never. But with so many police, how can I?
    Had an idea. Wasn’t the best, but it was an idea. I had my ID from work, maybe I would flash it fast and the guard will let me in. As went up to the guard I quickly showed my ID and started walking inside. I heard the guard yell “STOP RIGHT THERE” I turned around, he was talking to a group of people trying to break in through the side windows. I quickly got in through the door, rushing towards the stairs. My heart was racing.
    I approached the 54th floor. I opened the door slowly. Across the hallway I saw something that I couldn’t explain. I could not believe my eyes. In front of me was the real CEO of my company. Who was the man on the ledge ready to kill himself? What was going on here, I needed answers. I started walking towards the guards.
    “STOP right there” Said one police officer.
    “My name is Carson Bails and I work for Mr. Swatz for over 25 years I have a right to be here” I yelled
    “Let him through, hes right” Swatz said. I approached him while entering his penthouse. Looking around, there was boxes all over the marble floors.
    “What is going on here” I blurted out
    “Long story short, I have done something very wrong. The only way to end the mess ,is to fake my own death…”
    As he said that the man outside jumped.
    “I know your retiring in a couple months so here, Have a nice life and don’t ever mentioned what you saw here” As he said this 4 officers escort him out to the roof ,a helicopter was waiting for him.
    As I opened this envelope he gave me, there was a blank check for $3Million.
    All I wanted to really know was what did he do that was so horrible to leave and disappear…

  14. wendyzal

    He had a dog, a big, black, furry one. That’s all I knew about Matt. Some co-workers talked at the water cooler and even went for drinks after work. That wasn’t us. Matt and I were from two different circles. I worked in accounting. He worked in sales. When he wasn’t traveling and we happened to pass each other in the hallway, I plastered a half-smile on my face and kept my head down. Larger than life, he’d never notice someone like me.

    As I navigated through the crowded downtown, I ran as the sweat drenched my body. Legs burning, my heart slamming in my chest, I didn’t stop until the stitch in my side became unbearable. The nagging pain didn’t lesson even after I took five long deep breaths. But I ran anyway. I had to get the picture frame. And I needed to get the vision of all those people out of my mind, just gawking at Matt, wondering if today was the day they’d see a man jump from a 15-story window.

    When I finally reached the office, I scanned my security badge, flew through the door, and steered through the hallways and cubicles until I reached his office. I grabbed the picture frame from his desk, surprised that it was so heavy. I stared at the photo. Matt, decked out in his hiking clothes, had his arm wrapped around his bear of a dog. I swear they were both smiling. Every day, for almost ten years, I’ve looked at this photo on the way to my desk. I never knew if my eyes were drawn to it out of habit, or if something in the picture always drew me in.

    With the frame tucked in my arms, I ran 15 blocks back to Matt. As I reached the top of the stairs, the officer barred me from the entrance. “Ma’am. You’re not allowed here.”

    “I have something for him,” I said, my eyes pleading as I peak around the officer to look at Matt. “I can help.” From below, the scene was surreal. From this angle, it was horrifying. Matt’s body was halfway out the window, only one hand supported his weight. I could see his face. He was still very handsome but his eyes were dull. And pained. And scared.

    I wanted to yell to him, or wave my hands, or rattle off all my regrets and ‘what-if’s.’ And there were so many of them. But I didn’t get a chance. Eyes closed, Matt flung himself out the window, never looking back at us.

    Falling to my knees, I covered my face with my hands and let the sobs rack my body. The picture frame shattered as it hit the floor.

    “I’m sorry,” the police officer said, his hand squeezing my shoulder. “You must have known him well.”

    Raspy and raw, I didn’t recognize my voice as I whispered, “I only knew that he had a dog.”

  15. mjdad58

    I’ve done some idiotic things in my past, but this had to be the pinnacle of stupidity. I have rushed up six flights of stairs, to the top of my office building to do what? Save Joe? Joe, who for the last few weeks has made my life at work unbearable? What was he doing up here anyway? Oh well, I made my way beyond the safety fence to the ledge.

    “Hey, Joe,” I yelled. “What are you doing out there?” I was hoping he would say something like he was fired or his wife ran away with the butcher or some other crappy event in his life. “I just can’t deal with it anymore,” he whimpered. Now I was really curious. I pressed on with the questioning, “Why are you out here?” “It’s no use,” he replied. Being the somewhat saner individual, I uttered the words that as soon as I said them thought what in the world did you say that for? “What are you waiting for?”

    I really hated this guy. He stole my accounts, took credit for a project that I worked on for months, and was promoted ahead of me to office manager. I was justified. My inner-being was yelling, ”Jump, jump.” But, my true spirit was just as scared as his. I thought nothing could be so bad as to cause you to take your own life.

    As I inched closer to him I could see he was shaking, and I could see a tear trickle down his cheek. “Joe, what could be so bad?” I asked. Ready to hear some devastating life event, he said with a quiver in his voice, “My stapler ran out of staples.” Huh? What was going on here? “Joe, I will put more staples in for you. Come on over here now,” I said. “You will?” he responded, and he added “Okay, I will come back.”

    While I was playing psychologist on the edge of the building, the paramedics and police had managed to make their way behind me without either Joe or myself noticing. As I made my way back inside the safety fence, I felt a hand grab hold of my shoulder, and while I was turning around I saw the officer partially concealed behind an air conditioner unit hold his index finger to his mouth to caution me to remain quiet. Then Joe made his way back from the ledge and as he came through the safety fence of the building perimeter another officer with the motions that would make Jackie Chan envy, Pulled Joe out of harms way and wrestled him to the ground.

    Joe looked back over his shoulder at me. Just then I felt a hand shaking my shoulder and a voice saying, “Wake up, wake up, Joe is coming.” I could hear Joe in the hallway asking anyone within an earshot, “Has anyone seen my stapler?”

  16. lynnefavreau

    Shoes, extra-wide, dull black and scuffed with age sit atop a number nine envelop. The flap tucked in, unsealed, two words scrawled on the front—Derek Hamilton.

    I collapse red-faced, and exhausted, still heaving from the effort to reach the roof before Lionel jumps. I nearly fainted in the stairwell round the eighth floor. I must say—I shocked myself by pushing onward through to the roof entrance at floor twelve.

    The steel door slammed back with a screech that startles me. I trip over the threshold sprawling to my knees in my haste to reach the front side of the building. The blood rushes in my ears deafened the roar of the crowd below.

    I’ve been overweight all my life. Like most everyone else I’ve made halfhearted attempts at counting calories and losing weight, promising myself every New Years that I’ll start exercising. Promises I keep only long enough to sprain or strain something in the first few weeks of January which recuse me from further attempts at physical activity. Always just in time for the onslaught of the Valentine’s Day candy sales.

    You learn to live with the guilt but every bite of food becomes bitter in the presence of others. You image what they think of you. The hatred for your weakness that blends with every meal till food becomes your enemy. Tasteless gobs you force down your gullet out of habit not delight.

    It’s a miracle I even made it up the stairs. Would have been a miracle had I made it in time to save him.

    Lionel’s suicide note, a personal letter to his attorney, said nothing about why he jumped, but I didn’t need an explanation. We’d been co-workers for nine years, not friends, but in those nine years you witness a lot.

    His fluctuating weight. The lunches of salad and crudité which deteriorate to bags of chips from the vending machine after a few weeks. The handfuls of M&M’s from Maggie’s desk in the afternoons. It’s a pattern I recognized.

    I slump over the edge, the screams and sirens breaking through the grey fog and buzz in my head. Casting my eyes downward, I make out Lionel’s lifeless form. I wonder if my tears reach him.

    I try not to wonder if I could have changed his mind. I wish I could thank him for making that the first day I ever walked up twelve flights of stairs. The same stairs I walk up every day now because I couldn’t save his life, but maybe I can save my own.

    1. jincomt

      Having struggled with that dang weight stuff my whole life, you did a great job capturing all the complex feelings and frustrations that go with it. I was kind of amused reading it. I just got back from a jog and am feeling just like the protagonist did after climbing all those steps. I thought your story had a very touching feel to it, very honest.

  17. Pinlighter

    Well, John, that’s just stupid, I thought as my daily noontime walk to the Gyro cart was interrupted by the crowd staring at the top of the Global Washington building where John and I worked and atop which John was now perched, readying himself to do a face-plant into the six-inch-deep concrete on which I was standing. I’ll admit it; I looked longingly down the street at Gerry’s Gyros for just a moment before deciding that the line was too long anyway, and John was a friend of mine after all, so I’d better get up there and check on him. Four minutes later, (stupid elevator) I was standing beside my crazed friend.
    “Hey,” I said. Smooth, I thought.
    “Hey,” he said back, and we just stood there for a moment, feeling the wind coming up off the street, smelling the odor of Gerry’s cart at overload operation.
    “Crap. I’m hungry, John. Why lunchtime, man?” Normally, this would have gotten a chuckle.
    “Douglas Adams: ‘Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so,’” monotone, humorless.
    “What’d Janice do this time, man?” His ex was notorious for putting John on a ledge, metaphorical or real. He started to tell me. He told me for the next half hour. He reminded me of the emotional and financial abuse she had put him and the kids through for the past eighteen years, every dig in front of his friends, his family, hers. I felt myself sinking into his world, making it mine. Then the capper came;
    “But today. Today, she did the worst thing. The worst,” he began to cry. Great huge drops that blew away from his face like tracers toward the crowd below. I had never seen John cry in anguish before. Joy, yeah, laughing, yeah, but… he was broken. There wouldn’t be any fixing him.
    “It can’t be that bad,” I started. He wheeled on me, eyes red with tears, rage.
    “Don’t, man. Please. It IS that bad, there’s nothing worse. It’s done, Simon. It’s done…”
    I had always tried to stay out of the fights between the two, but at that moment, I hated Janice like I’d never hated anyone in my life.
    “What’d she do, man?” I almost whispered the words. The windy ledge had become a sacred place.
    “She died. Put the kids in the car to go north for the weekend. Up the coast, about two hours ago, met a semi. Wrong side of the road. The cops said… ‘quick’…” he HOWLED. Then he sobbed, his body contorting, possessed. Then he just let himself fall forward, off the ledge. Everything went slow motion. I grabbed, caught air. Looked below. John was accelerating toward a kid transfixed. I yelled, “Get that kid!!!” Somebody did. An older man, a ghost, almost, grabbed him, took him outside the circle that John was about to endow with a splash of color. Four friends gone in one day, but I saved a life, too, the kid. I gotta hold on to that.

  18. varshadutta

    That red shirt was the archetype of all that I wanted to be and wasn’t. I vividly remembered the first time I saw it on her. Stunning as always, she had popped in for a quick goodbye on her way out from work. I was envious of the spring in her step, the confidence in her smile, the pride in her stance and her ability to look so good at all times. I coveted her happiness.
    It was the same red shirt on top of our building now. My eyes were among the multitude of eyes that were looking up at it – poised to jump to certain death.
    The fifteenth storey was not the easiest place to get to in a busy building with just four lifts. Precious minutes ticked by as doors opened and closed and I convinced the lift operator to do a non-stop trip to the fifteenth floor and then made a mad dash up the last flight of steps to the terrace.
    She was a few steps from the edge. There was hope. I wondered if I should tap on the foot or call out to her. She sensed something and turned around. I smiled hesitantly and saw her relax.
    “Come down” I said softly.
    She stepped away from the ledge and relief swept over me.
    “What are you doing here? Do you want to die?” I said, annoyed that I had not rehearsed something better to say on the way up.
    She nodded.
    ‘Why would a person like you, ever want to jump to death?’ I persisted with my questions for want of anything better to say.
    ‘Did you know I was once a lesbian? She asked.
    A lesbian! I had always pictured a handsome hulk waiting outside the office on a Harley Davidson.
    “No” I replied.
    “Well I was – in college. Now I’m engaged to this guy and I love him so much that I realize I’m heterosexual after all. “
    “Well?’’ I asked.
    “Well my ex -roommate met my fiancée and told him about us”
    “And?”
    “And – he’s coming to pick me up and I can’t face him!”
    “You don’t even know what his reaction is and you’re going to jump?” I was incredulous. This was the self assured woman I had always envied. “How stupid is that?” I exclaimed
    Her phone rang. It was her fiancée. She handed it to me with shaking hands.
    “Hi! I’m on the terrace here with Saanvi and she is contemplating suicide because Jyoti told you about her past”.
    “Hey! Tell her I always knew! I worked so hard to get beefed up so that she would forget Jyoti and fall in love with me!”
    “What?” I said as I rolled up my eyes at Saanvi. “Speak to him – I don’t know what to say” I said – holding up my hand to yank her down.
    I watched as a smile lit up her face.

  19. hillsworth

    The scream stopped and Ann Darrow looked through a gap in the deeply creased, black leather mitt that encapsulated her and saw her impending doom. Roughly eighty floors up and still climbing. She closed her eyes to the madness and screamed again.

    “ROAH! (Stop all that incessant wailing)” King Kong grunted at her, stopping long enough to look at her small, delicate body. “ROAH! (Such a big sound from a small morsel)” He licked his lips and continued toward the observation deck on the one hundred second floor.

    A great crowd had gathered below, watching in horror as the big ape slung his way up the side of the Empire State Building, seemingly with no trouble. They knew he had a woman in his grasp but they had written her off as dead, as the last she was seen, she appeared to be unconscious.

    THUD

    The crowd turned toward the bay and was amazed at what they saw.

    THUD

    They ran to and fro, trying to get out of the way.

    THUD

    Three steps and it was there. Standing as high as the E.S.B. itself, Godzilla inquired to King Kong, “AHRGH! (What’s shakin’, Kong?)”

    “ROAH! (Nuthin’. What’s upwitchu, GZ?)”

    “AHRGH! (Just chillin’. Whatcha got in your hand?)”

    King Kong opens his hand and displays his prize.

    “AHRGH! (Man, that is one ugly white chick you got there. Whatcha gonna do with her?)”

    “ROAH! (I was gonna have a nice little picnic up here and eat her. Had I known you were gonna drop by, I’da grabbed another one.)”

    “AHRGH! (That’s alright. Those things give me heartburn.)”

    “You know, you two are pretty sick. I’m taking my dolly and leaving.”

    Joey and Bobby stopped their little charade and watched as Luanne grabbed her doll and climbed out the door of the tree cabin. Together they said, “Come on, LuLu, we’re just joking around.” but she never stopped. They heard her going down the rope ladder. When she was gone, Bobby looked at Joey and said, “ROAH! (Women, you can’t live with em, you can’t live without em.)”

    “AHRGH! (Truer words have never been spoken. Let’s go stomp some people.)”

    1. Ishmael

      Actually, I liked it, whether it’s to the letter of the prompt or not. It follows it enough for me. I loved the translations (since the words are the same, a lot must be said in body language). I loved that it was the kids playing. Very innovative.

      1. rob akers

        Great job, I think you followed the prompt close enough but that comes from someone who doesnt follow the prompts close enough.

        Loved it and yes I laughed out loud. I would love to see this between the real Kong and Zilla!

  20. Icabu

    Walking out of the building, Jeremy checked his watch before deciding which direction to head for lunch. With the boss in a closed-door meeting, he decided to hike to Muffy’s for the killer linguini. The walk to and from would dent the caloric punch.

    “Excuse me,” Jeremy mumbled, walking into a bystander. Looking up from his wrist, he noticed a crowd and they were all looking up, some pointing. Curious, he glanced up, not wanting to be caught in some kind of ‘Candid Camera’ hoax.

    Any hint of appetite vanished when he saw Amy. She was on the ledge of the building, swaying precariously. Jeremy’s heart pounded – this was no hoax. He knew she’d recently been dumped by the boss, Whitworth. Jeremy had been dating her himself when she took up with Whitworth, saying it was the only way she’d keep her job. Jeremy had tried to convince her otherwise, but she had virtually no self-confidence, which Whitworth had fed on.

    Jeremy stepped out on the roof and leaned over the short retaining wall to the left of Amy’s position on the ledge. He saw her body shaking with sobs.

    “Amy,” he said. He gentled his voice and hoped it didn’t waver with the fear piercing his gut. “It’s Jeremy.”

    “Go away.”

    “I can’t, Amy. Reach for my hand. I’ll help you.”

    “He fired me, Jeremy.”

    Fresh sobs wracked Amy so that Jeremy feared she would drop any second.

    “Dumped me, then fired me. I have nothing left.”

    “You have me, Amy. Don’t do this – for me, if not yourself.” Jeremy couldn’t keep the plead from his voice.

    “I dumped you, remember?”

    “I don’t hold grudges. Let’s talk.” Jeremy prayed; feeling divine intervention was the only hope he had.

    “You’d take me back?”

    Her small voice pained Jeremy. “In a second. You’re the sweetest person I know.”

    “You need to get out more.”

    Jeremy tried to laugh, but it caught in his throat and sounded more like a croak.

    “Is that an invitation?” Hope clung to Jeremy’s words.

    “I’m a mess.”

    “You’ve seen my desk, so am I.” Jeremy prayed harder.

    Hardly believing his eyes, Jeremy reached out to grab Amy’s outstretched hand. He smiled warmly as her fingers brushed his. He clenched tightly – around air.

    “NO!”

    Like the divine wind, a gust blew just as Amy turned toward him, pushing her away from his frantic grasp. He turned away when he heard the crowd gasp and the sickening thud. Shaking and shocked, Jeremy sat with his back against the short wall, sweat and tears running down his face.

    Hearing footsteps, he looked up, seeing Mr. Whitworth striding across the roof. Rage clenched Jeremy’s hands into fists. He slowly rose on surprising steady legs, waiting for Whitworth to step into range.

    1. hillsworth

      WOW! I liked the fact that Amy changed her mind and was not going to jump, but then there truly was a divine intervention. When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. Nice twist and an equally nice ending. As usual, Icabu.

      1. jincomt

        An after-post thought– you do a wonderful job creating a story and staying within the 500 word count. Being able to create the snapshot for the reader is the point of this exercise and you do it so well.

    2. DMelde

      Hey Whitworth, here’s your knuckle sandwich. Great build-up of tension. It was satisfying to know that Whitworth was going to get what was due to him. Great story!

      1. Icabu

        Thanks for reading. I’m leaving Whitworth’s fate to the readers. I’d probably pitch him over the edge after feeding him a knuckle sandwich (or ten)!

      1. Icabu

        Thanks, Anne. The word limit makes writing investable, single-instance characters tricky. I’m awed with Rett and Bill Rimes – such rich characters!!

  21. massagemom84

    Adrenaline courses though my veins as I make the rash decision to try and help. I push the button to call the elevator with more force than necessary. Why would Jamie do this? I wonder impatiently waiting for the elevator chewing my bottom lip with anticipation. We work in this building on the 13th floor, in a telemarketing firm. We have all talked about throwing ourselves off the building after a stressful day, but I never thought the treat was real.
    Jamie is beautiful, long blond hair, legs that I would die for and almost have with all the kickboxing classes I have taken. She is charismatic, and everyone in the office loves her. She is one of those people you want to hate because you wish you were her, but she is so damn nice it is impossible.
    The light flashes announcing the arrival of the elevator. Finally, I think as I sigh releasing my lip in the process. I press the button to the top floor, as the doors slowly close. I am anxious as the elevator starts its slow climb.
    Fear grips me, what if I am too late? What am I going to say to her when I get up there?
    I bend over placing my hands on my knees taking slow steady breaths, as I was taught to do after a rather strenuous kickboxing class. The elevator announces its arrival to the requested floor, and the doors slide open taking one more breath, I step out and head to the stairs that lead to the roof access of the building.
    I open the door and step outside to the roof the wind whipping through my hair pulling it out of the tight bun I had it secured in this morning.
    I spot Jamie leaning over the edge of the roof, ridged, I can’t tell if it is with fear or determination.
    “Hey” I almost whisper afraid to startle her off the edge.
    She whips her head around, her mouth open with a startled expression on her face.
    She laughs, and while shaking her head she says “of course it would be you Eileen to come save me.” She laughs again, and goes back to her position leaning precariously close to the edge.
    “Jamie, please come, and talk to me. Whatever it is it can’t be that bad, you have so much to live for” I plea
    She laughs again
    “No, I am a horrible person Eileen there is no redemption for me”
    “Honestly, nothing is bad enough to consider this” I say, waving my hand even though her back is toward me.
    Jamie’s shoulders sag, and she lets out a hysterical sound only the desperate can make.
    “I am pregnant with a married man’s baby” she starts
    I am startled, not knowing what to say. The wind is picking up, and I know I need to get her off the ledge soon.
    “Well, if he is cheating obviously the marriage isn’t that great.” I say taking a step closer trying to placate her.”
    She whips her head around again, her eyes huge with bewilderment.
    “You really think so?” She asks with a plea of her own, wishing it to be true.
    I swallow the bile that is rising in my throat, I can’t imagine ever cheating especially with a married man.
    “Sure” I say with as much conviction as I can muster.
    “He asked me to leave with him; he said she has a huge trust fund that we could siphon from. It is enough for us to live comfortably. He wants us to leave with the money, and raise the baby.”
    I am more stunned, now almost regretting coming up here to save her, what an awful person. Then I realize what I am thinking, and with a shake of my head I clear that thought and continues my recue.
    “Is that why you are up here?” I ask hoping for some redeeming quality.
    “No, she shakes her head. His wife is really gullible, and it would be quite ease to take it. We were planning on doing it tonight. But, he got a call from one of the women he was with before me, and she had contracted AIDS, and he may have it.” She starts sobbing hysterically.
    I step closer even more shocked than before.
    “Jamie it is ok” I am now almost an arm’s length away.
    “There is plenty of medication out there now, and you aren’t even sure you have it.” I am desperate to get her off the ledge the wind is surging.
    “Please, think of the baby. You should at least be tested, what if you don’t have anything?” I say racking my brain for anything else.
    “That’s what Mark said when I told him I was going to do this.” She whispers her voice sounds distant, and broken.
    Wait my mind registers what she just said.
    “Did you say Mark?” I ask
    “Yes.” She replies
    “As in my husband Mark?” while asking this I know it is true, the trust fund all the clues. I guess I am gullible, I think as I use my kickboxing skills to kick her off the roof. She screams as she falls. I smile to myself, and think I guess you can hate her after all. As the ground rushes to my face I spot the utter shock on my husbands face.

    1. annefreemanimages

      massagemom84:

      This story comes in at about 900 words. I know it’s tough to cut, but I’ve given you what I hope will be some helpful suggestions:

      Consider this when you are planning your story: what information is essential to be told? There are a lot of descriptions of the narrator’s physical reactions to the pending situation in the first four paragraphs. They really aren’t necessary to our understanding of the story (although you did a fine job of describing them). Details like the wind pulling the narrator’s hair out of bun – again, nicely described, but not needed to tell a 500-word story.

      What is the focus of your story? The narrator’s growing repulsion, her struggle to push it away and save Eileen, and the dawning realization of the truth and deceit. That’s the real story here, and I’d love to see you develop that more.

      Loved the ending – great final line! Terrific way to finish this tale.

      ~Anne

      1. massagemom84

        Thank you for the feedback,and you are completely correct. I actually retried doing this prompt later on. At this time in life I have three kids and summer vacation is here. My husband is working out of state. I found this website, and fell in love. I only get about 30 minutes to write, but I think it is keeping me sane. I hope I did better on the second attempt, and I am trying harder to get into the word limit. I appreciate your feedback, as this is my attempt at human interaction while surrounded by chaos.

  22. nko02

    When the events, meaningless and empty, of your life fill your mind the world around you fades into black. Deep sighs protruding from the foundations of your being drown out the buzz of the people bustling passed. Your eyes narrow on the repetitive heel-to-toe motion of your feet on the weathered sidewalk that leads to the building that imprisons the creative soul and produces mindless drones. This was my daily return to work from lunch.
    Twenty years. Twenty years of my life had blended into a fog of lost dreams and corporate approval. After college I envisioned a life of change and adventure; change for humanity and adventure into renewal of the human condition. Genesis was my passage into the future. They offered me phenomenal benefits and a pay that would allow me to live comfortably for years to come. For a broke, fresh college grad with enormous ambitions Genesis was paradise but the mirage did not last forever. Twenty years had gone by; I am still the same lab coat that signed that contract vowing my devotion to Genesis, my hand print, that opens the secure building, is still the same, but something about me is not the same.
    The solid back of a stranger jolted my attention away from my thoughts. The man was not fazed by abrupt halt into his bold figure. His attention, like my previous state, was drawn elsewhere. I followed the path of his eyes to the roof of the biohazardous laboratory where stood a shadow, a strangely familiar shadow. The shadow swayed as if moving to the rhythm of a smooth jazz melody. The shadow was calling me, drawing me to it. Without fully understanding why, I climbed my way up to the roof of the Genesis building.
    Busting through the steel door, the only viable method of entering and leaving the roof, my lungs released, “Wait! What are you doing?!” Stumbling to catch my balance and breath, I quickly spat out every cliché that seemed to suit the present situation, “You have so much to live for,” “Someone does care,” etc. Finally planting my feet in the gravel that paved the roof I faced the shadow looking for a positive response. The shadow just continued to sway.
    “I don’t understand,” slipped from my mouth as I slowly tilted my head to define the shadow. Without hesitation the shadow turned around to face me. No emotion was conveyed in the words that the shadow uttered, “Oh, but you do understand.” As the bone chilling sentence trailed off into the wind the shadow became clear. It was me. Before I could even express my distraught the shadow closed its eyes, spread its arms, and shifted its weight from its toes to its heels; a shift that forced the shadow plummeting to the sidewalk below.
    Jolted out of the comfort of sleep, I sat up. The room around me was strange but I knew where I was. The reflection in mirror on the wall mocked me.

    1. annefreemanimages

      nko02: I really like the use of the shadow, both as a figure and a figure of speach. I have to admit, when I came to the last sentence in the first paragraph, I laughted out loud. I thought the story was going to be comedic, because I thought the narrator was being sarcastic. Then I realized it as serious. I like the second paragraph a lot, where he explains his life with Genesis. You did a nice job a painting the picture.

      ~Anne

  23. whynot1956

    As I walkout the door heading for lunch I can hear Connie and Gina laughing and giggling under their breaths. I wonder what they are up to?

    Not sure what I want for lunch I turn left and start to walk downtown. Nothing strikes my fancy so I turn around and head back in the other direction.

    As I get closer to work I notice that a crowd has gathered out front. As I draw closer I ask the first person I see what is going on.

    “Someone is jumping,” she said so I follow the pointing finger and shock rocks through my body. I recognize that dress. I saw her wearing it earlier while she was yelling at me for yet another thing I managed to do wrong in her eyes.

    “I know her,” I told the cop who had just gotten out of the car.

    “Think you can talk her down,” he asked.

    “I don’t know. I could possibly make things worse. She is my boss and nothing I do is ever right.”

    “Well,” he says, “let’s see if you can do this right. We need your help”

    Uneasily I grasp the door and pull it open. I take the elevator and get off at the top floor. I head for the door marked “Roof” and hesitantly pull it open dreading what I am about to do.

    I open the door to the roof and step out. I take a deep breath and call “Susan, what is going on?”

    “Haven’t you done enough,” she yells at me.

    “What do you mean, haven’t I done enough? What have I done to you?”

    “I just got fired,” she said and I could see she was crying.

    “Fired? Why?”

    “Like you have to ask,” she screams at me.

    “Look Susan I have no idea what you are talking about. Tell me what happened.”

    “I was fired because you, Connie and Gina complained to Human Resources about me and my attitude towards you three.”

    “Wait one minute here,” I said dumbfounded. “I haven’t talked to anyone in Human Resources about anyone’s attitude. Who told you I was part of this?”

    “Connie and Gina said you were mad about me yelling at you and filed a complaint and that they just agreed when they were questioned.”

    “Did you bother to check with HR to be sure just who complained?”

    She must have seen something in my face because she came away from the edge. We will never be friends, but I think she finally realized that our coworkers were responsible for the firing and not me.

    The two of us headed downstairs to talk to HR about the incident and see if we could save her job.

    1. jincomt

      I actually had a confusion similar to this at work one time (fortunately not one that lead to a dismissal just a ‘she said -he said ‘ thing). Realistic set-up. The dialogue helped keep the pace moving nicely.

      1. whynot1956

        Thank you! I had a lot more detail, but had to cut it down to fit LOL! Hard to know if cutting things out will hurt the story or not. However it was easier than the first one I did.

    2. annefreemanimages

      whynot1956: I liked this approach to the prompt. I have some suggestions that I believe will help make your good story stronger:

      You start three sentences with “As I” in the first three paragraphs. In my opinion, “As I” is not a strong way to start a sentence, especially the opening line:

      “As I walkout the door heading for lunch I can hear Connie and Gina laughing and giggling under their breaths.”

      Try reorganizing it: ” I heard Connie and Gina laughing and giggling under their breath as I walked out the door for lunch.” That has more punch. Consider reworking some other sentences that are passive and make them more active.

      Similarly, look at these sentences: ““Someone is jumping,” she said so I follow the pointing finger and shock rocks through my body.

      Try a more active approach: “Someone is jumping!” she said. I follow her pointing finger up, then shock rocks through my body.

      For tension, think about getting rid of words like “so.” They tend to deflate the power of the sentence.

      Again, when writing action, you don’t want your language to be passive:

      “Uneasily I grasp the door and pull it open. I take the elevator and get off at the top floor. I head for the door marked “Roof” and hesitantly pull it open dreading what I am about to do.”

      Instead, consider condensing them into actions taken: “Uneasily, I grasp the door and pull it open, take the elevator and get off on the top floor.”

      Don’t pull your punches with overcautious language structure. Commit to the actions that the character is taking, even when those actions are hesitating.

      This is a good story and could be even better with some rethinking of your sentence structures.

      Of course, you can tell me to blow it out my ditty bag. Nice work.

      ~Anne

  24. alain

    Our cubicles are next to each other. We are a small department. I’m sure he is still angry about his wife running off with his software code. This is the code he has worked on at home for seven years. It is an online service which he was about to launch. He bled to get it ready for next month’s grand opening. He spent vacations, birthdays, sick days, feverishly building his vision of a company that would let him quit the corporate cube circus. He was hoping to buy her and their two kids so many things. They would do what they always said when she got him to play the game, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” I guess she crashed. The deepest cut she could make was to steal his Java treasure. House, cars, accounts, even her affair was less to him because he was driving to overcome it all with this online business. I thought he told me everything.

    I walked to ten feet of him. He kept looking around at the buildings, Stone Mountain 20 miles East. “She took even took my backup drive. She never cared zilch so how did she know about it. I cleaned up everything. You know? CODE PURGE CELEBRATION. Even copies of copies of damn copies. Gold code. That’s all I kept. Dan. I’m not doing it again. Not a wife. Kids are poisoned. She sent the files to our legal department who walked me out for Code of Conduct violations. Remember Sal? What is jerk. He deserved the FBI. Kidding me? I did every line of code at home and brought some to work, not the other way. You remember what you said about what is next? Next winner at work is the promotion. Our own IPO? Ours man. shredded dude. Karma, do me good darling…”

    He leaned.

    His wife and I bawled on each other. Not in a million years did she see this. It took me a year to figure out what he had built, to understand how it worked. I knew his coding style, but this was better than anything I saw him do at work. I finally got it working and even polished a thing or two. He was right; we turned a profit within six months. No IPO, but we didn’t care. I quit my job. She was so cute and we got along, but he was always there.

    1. annefreemanimages

      Hi Alain: It wasn’t clear to me in the story that Dan jumped off a building to his death. If it weren’t for the prompt, I would not have been able to figure it out. I loved the line, “He leaned.” You could have really set the scene with Dan on a ledge, tottering back and forth, all wrapped up in his emotions and betrayals. Then the “He leaned” lined would have had some power behind it.

      I liked your story idea. A few more story details would make it jump.

      ~Anne

  25. WriterInHiding

    Boring. That’s the word I would use to best sum up work lately. There are some that find underwriting enjoyable; I suppose I’m not one of them. Time for some lunch. What will it be today? I slog through the front door of the massive building into the anonymous streets.

    Why are all of those people looking into the sky? I gape through the smog to catch the image everyone now has frozen in their eternal gaze. A woman is balanced on the edge of the building above. One less freak in the world, I figure. Then I realize who is about to plunge into the concrete depths below. No!

    I spin around, slashing through the people on the street and back into the building. Please let there be time. I poke the button on the elevator. Please, hurry! Finally, I gasp for breath as I shove through the roof door.

    “What’s wrong Jessica?” I step toward her in measured paces.

    “Don’t, Alan! Get away, now! Please!” I expected as much. Someone to the point of suicide has no desire for reason once they’ve decided to end what they have been.

    “Nice to see you,” a gruff voice growls from behind. I feel the end of the gun forced into my spine.

    “He has nothing to do with this. Let him go!” Jessica strokes blonde strands of hair from her face.

    “Fine, you finish yourself off, and I’ll pretend he didn’t interfere.” Warm breath stabs the skin on the back of my neck. Do I fight? Do I go along?

    “One last kiss,” Jess looks at me with soaking eyes. What? Last kiss? I’ve wanted to, but never . . .

    “You can have your dying wish,” the man says, as he thrusts me to the ground. “Keep it short.”

    I stagger to my feet, and slink toward Jessica. “Don’t fight,” she whispers, “And make the kiss appear real.” No problem, I think. I wrest her jaw line with my hand and sink into her lips.

    “Alright, that’s enough.” I’m ripped back to reality. “Now then . . .”

    “Don’t do it Jess!” I scrap to release myself. There’s no use. I am propelled through the door and down a flight of stairs. Just before I descend I can see Jessica’s frame jumping away from safety. The bolt on the door slams closed. Locked.

    I unravel the crumpled paper Jessica pressed into my hand after we kissed.

    “Username: JJensen, Password: Penguin145, My Documents, Rainy Day”

    What? I collapse into her chair, login, and access the Word file named “Rainy Day”.

    “If you are reading this, I’m dead. I’ve uncovered a society known as The Band of Brothers. They must be brought to justice. Hurry, before you receive the same treatment I have. The combination to my home vault is 135-32-15”

    I head for the exit. Tuesday afternoon just got very interesting . . .

    1. jincomt

      It is so hard to cut it down isn’t it and still keep the context. I find I spend too many words on the set up then rush through the latter half of the story and conclusion. Like many on here, this hints of a big story beyond which is great in such a short space!

    2. Ishmael

      I enjoyed this. You had some great descriptions…’slog through the front door’…’I wrest her jaw line,’ and the ending line ‘got very interesting.’ You wrapped up the prompt plot, yet left the reader wondering how intriguing his Tuesday was going to be. Would love to follow him the rest of the day.

      In paragraph three, where the tension is supposed to start to build, it felt too calm for me:

      ‘I spin around, slashing through the people on the street and back into the building. Please let there be time. I poke the button on the elevator. Please, hurry! Finally, I gasp for breath as I shove through the roof door.’

      The first sentence, he’s nice and harried…I like ‘slashing through the people.’ I’d continue with that level of excitement, perhaps even have him ‘scrambling back into the building.’ But when you get to the ‘Please’s,’ that’s where the tension level drops dramatically. ‘Please’…it’s too polite. And then a quaint poke of the button. Feel how the level drops?

      I spin around, slashing through people on the street as I scramble back to the building. Time was ticking, but the elevator crawled to the roof, ignoring repeated jabs on the button. It finally stopped. ‘JESS–!’ I burst through the roof door, gasping.

      Keeps the tension up and continues with the level of excitement throughout. 🙂

  26. Heart2Heart

    I’m angry as I leave my desk for lunch. I don’t even bother to clean my desktop off. I need a break. Jen didn’t show up for work again today and I feel used. She hasn’t called the office all week and I’m stuck doing her work plus mine. She’s my best friend but she hasn’t bothered to answer any of my calls and I don’t know how else to reach her. She is married to a verbally abusive husband who resents any friends Jen has. Going to her apartment is out of the question. Worry has turned into anger. Last year he talked her into taking a week vacation and I had to cover for her. I haven’t had a week off in over 5 years. As I exit through the glass door to the pavement, I notice that the sound from my heels is loud and reflects my mood. I want to scream but don’t.
    I step over the curb out into the street. I can’t make it through the crowd of people on the pavement. They are bunched together like sardines. . Something is going on. They all are looking up at the five-story apartment building. I see worried looks, talk in lowered voices, people on cell phones, some with index fingers pointing skyward. I look up. A woman on the ledge. I see the red striped top and black ponytail and a rush like an elevator goes from my throat to the pit of my stomach. It’s Jen. I know it’s Jen. I recognize that top and that hair. And yes, that’s her apartment ledge. My best friend looks intent on hitting asphalt bottom.
    Anger gone, desperation kicks in. Help has not arrived yet. I need to reach her in time. She can’t do this, I won’t let her. “ I’m sorry Jen, hold on Jen”, hoping somehow she can hear my internal pleas. I reach her apartment. The door is unlocked. Everything is in shambles on the floor, lamps broken, curtains blowing into the room with the shadows and then glimpses of my friend standing there on the ledge. I remove my shoes and run and reach out my arms to grab her around the waist. I pull her in and she falls into my arms sobbing. She reaches for the letter on the table and shows me. I read. I know now he is gone. He has someone else. He has taken all their savings. I look at her and say, “I will not abandon you. You will get through this, one step at a time. My home is your home until you meet someone someday who will make you happy you never succeeded today. Trust me. Tomorrow will be a better day”. And I know without a doubt it will be for me too.

    1. annefreemanimages

      Heart2Heart: nice work. I like how the narrator swings from emotion to emotion in the story. You pack a lot in without going overboard on backstory. Just enough for us to understand what’s happening now. I like the shortened sentences as the tension increases.

      There are a lot of great lines in this story – the elevator rush, hitting asphalt bottom. They were great. I also liike that she ran in and grabbed her friend and dragger her in. No negotiating here. She knew her friend was in no state of mind to negotiate.

      Nicely done!

      ~Anne

  27. inkstains411

    Tomorrow’s Another Day

    The day was only half over and already I was waiting for five o’clock to roll around. Lunch was my priority at the moment, regardless, and so I forced my weariness aside as I made for the nearest fast food place. I was halfway there when I heard a gasp and instinctively checked to see where it came from. That was when I noticed the number of people that had suddenly stopped walking. I looked up, following their line of sight, and there stood a woman, no older than me. Her hair was undone and long enough to get caught in the wind from such altitude. The expression on her face in that moment was one of pure freedom, but it looked too sad to be real as she teetered on the edge of the building. She had her arms open, face to the wind, and the sun behind her to make looking at her appear almost painful.

    Even with the glare from the sun, I knew her. I sat next her every day at work. She looked different without her glasses, but I would recognize that beauty mark near her eye anywhere. I had wrongly assumed she had taken a day off from work – now this. I didn’t stop to think what it meant and all the signs I must have overlooked; instead, I found myself running, pushing through doors that stood in my way, and not stopping until I skidded to a halt on the same rooftop as her.

    “Jessica!” I shouted, the noise stifled by the wind. I questioned whether she had heard me or not until she turned around and opened her eyes. Again I saw that sad but free expression and hesitated to continue despite my impulse to run here, to help. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to do to and it must have showed because Jessica was shaking her head, a forlorn smile sent in my direction.

    “There’s nothing you can do,” she admitted and took a step backwards to further teeter on the edge. “I’ve had enough.”

    “Life isn’t that easy to quit!” As soon as the words were out, I realized I was the one that said them and immediately looked at the ground, embarrassed. Then, gathering courage I didn‘t realize I had, I went on. “I mean, sure, life isn’t all good, but what could be so bad that you would even throw away those small moments of joy?”

    I met her eye for eye to see if my words had any effect and I was surprised to find they had. She was considering my words as if they were answers to questions she had been asking herself. Perhaps they did and she just needed to hear those words coming from another person. The reason didn’t matter, I was only glad to see her step away from the ledge. She hadn’t given up on life and maybe together we could work through it.

    1. annefreemanimages

      inkstains411: I liked your character. I read the character as a he, but he could also be a she. One little comment – could the narrator really see the beauty mark by her eye from the street? I’m assuming the building as to be high enough to ensure death from jumping. Maybe the clue could be the celadon green blouse she was wearing, something obvious that could realistically be seen from the street.

      Here is a suggestion to take or leave: The last line, rather than doing a “big sum-up” of the two working things through together, consider him taking her hand, and wondering what to do next. That would keep the story in the moment, and would be a realistic reaction, too. Relief leads to “now what?” Just a thought.

      Nice work.
      ~Anne

      ~Anne

  28. Cequendly

    I finish the last of my sandwich, dreading the moment where I walk back into the office and have to deal with Alec, my boss. He’s rude, bad tempered, and just plain disgusting. Why I agreed to work for him, I don’t know, and ever since Celia, I don’t care. Shouts interrupt my thoughts, followed by a harsh, collective, gasp. And then, silence. The entire ordeal has piqued my curiosity.
    The bell tinkles as I shut the door of the deli, stepping outside only to see a mesmerized audience staring at my office building. Oh, God, I’ve officially lost it… And then I see it. Or rather, him. It is none other than my boss standing atop our office building. What does he think he’s doing?! I shake my head.
    Maybe it’s what looks like news cameras, each stationed somewhere near our office. Maybe it’s the ever-growing crowd that helps my sleep-deprived brain put it together. He’s going to jump! My boss is trying to kill himself!
    All my evil thoughts evaporate as human instinct takes over. “Even if I hate him,” I whisper, pushing through the crowd, “I need my paycheck.”A few rude remarks and choice words pierce the silence, no doubt directed at me, but I don’t care, I keep on moving. The entire time I’m thinking of Celia. I can’t let anyone else die on my watch, even if it’s Alec. He inches closer to the ledge and I stop thinking and just run, only stopping when I reach what I assume is a well-dressed news reporter with cameras.
    “Can I go talk to him? I need to go talk to him!” I say breathlessly and not quite caring that I’m not talking to the right authority figure.
    “Ma’am you can’t–” I don’t wait to hear the reporter finish before speeding off toward the lobby. I can’t let anyone else die. That’s my mantra.
    I push open the doors and a gust of warm air hits me. I race towards the stairs, only slightly surprised that nothing has been roped off. In fact, I don’t hear sirens. Nor is anyone is the building, it seems. It doesn’t matter to me. Alec just has to be alive.
    The stairs seem to take forever, and my legs burn with every step. I silently curse myself for not going to the gym when I had the chance. Finally, I arrive at the roof of the office, panting and clutching my left side.
    “Alec!” I call, but he doesn’t face me.
    “Alec, don’t do it!” I cry, stepping towards him. He turns around then, his expression one of sheer confusion, and then he sees it’s me, and he grows furious.
    “Debra, you moron!” He seethes. I recoil, suddenly aware the crowd below seems to be agreeing with him. I’m trying to help! I want to shriek.
    “But you were… About to jump…” I blubber helplessly. Alec trembles with fury.
    “Didn’t anyone ever tell you I moonlight as an actor?!”

    1. annefreemanimages

      Cequendly: this story has some great lines in it, as Ishmael pointed out. I like the way the story ended, too. Moonlighting as an actor was fun. I’m wondering where the cameras are? Is that what you meant by the sentence near the top – “Maybe it’s what looks like news cameras, each stationed somewhere near our office.” I wasn’t quite sure about that.
      ~Anne

  29. slayerdan

    Steve knew he needed to lose weight. Those three flights of stairs damn near killed him and he felt like an icepick was stuck in his side. “ I need to exercise,” he wheezed as he stumbled through the door to the 4th story rooftop of the Cobain-Entwistle commerce building. He saw her some 30 feet away. Jennifer from work. Her back was to him.
    She was on the ledge overlooking Main Street.
    “Jennifer,” he half shouted, trying to not startle her. His breathing had eased, but he still had the stabbing pain in his side. Steve looked around, sweat still covering his face from the stairs. He straightened his shirt, realizing it was somewhat snug. He was beginning to loosen his tie when Jennifer half turned to look at him.
    She was thin and about 30. Her auburn hair had been pulled back and clipped. Her loose fitting jeans and simple, off the rack shirt seemed to engulf her. She had obviously been crying. She never unclasped her hands as she replied.
    “ Don’t come any closer, Steve,” she paused, tears rolling down her face,” just please leave.” She then turned back, facing the street below once again.
    Steve found himself slowly inching forward, but his voice could find no outlet. Inside his head he screamed—WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO ? – as he felt himself start to sweat even more profusely. He felt nauseous now. “What if she jumps and I just stand here and watch?” he mumbled to himself. Taking a deep breath, pushing back the nausea, he managed to elevate his voice and ask,” whats wrong, why are you up here doing this?” The pain in his side worsened and he felt weak in his knees. `
    Turning her head to the left but still facing the road,” I am a loser and a failure,” she shakily replied, her voice quickly lost on the wind. “ I am bad luck and everything I have a hand in goes bad or dies,”she finished. She turned her head to the sky, watching the wisps of clouds as they went by uncaring of the spectacle beneath them.
    “Just go Steve, go back to your life. Go before I do something to mess up your life too. Don’t worry about me. Soon no one will have to worry about me,” she said. Her voice less shaky now. ”Steve, did you hear me?” she asked as she looked to the left, over her shoulder.
    There, under those same wispy clouds, Steve was face down. Motionless. Jennifer looked at his unmoving body for signs of life as her tears started anew.
    “Steve?”, she repeated three times. He was unmoving.
    “ Now, more than anyone, you understand why I am here,” she said as she turned and fully faced the road below.
    And without a sound stepped off the ledge.

      1. slayerdan

        Thanks. I have been a mental health counselor for all 17 years and this is loosely based on a true story. it doesnt always end up with the person coming off the ledge.

    1. Ishmael

      Steve dying was a great twist! I guess he really did need the exercise. Jennifer, such a jinx, will probably take a school bus of children out with her when she lands. Good story.

  30. Dean Kutzler

    GREENER THAN GREEN

    “Okay Rhanna,” Perry said, pushing his way out of the revolving door of the skyscraper. “I’ll take a look at the spreadsheet when I get back from lunch. You want anything?”

    “No, thanks. Too many calories… I’m headed to the gym—bikini season you know!” she said, squeezing through the crowd gathered on the street.

    “Please! This better not be another protest. Don’t people have jobs?” he shouted to her over upturned heads.

    “I don’t know, but my trainer won’t wait, I’m late! See you after lunch. Try and eat a few veggies. You know, those green things!” she shouted back over the crowd before disappearing in a sea of on-lookers.

    Perry had had enough of these protestors. Every project was run in the most economical green fashion possible. He may have grown up a baby boomer, but he wasn’t blind to what the human race was doing to the planet. Technology came at a price and it wasn’t money. How much more business could they dictate. It hardly seemed fair. Running a billion dollar corporation was difficult enough, but how could you stay focused on the business running lean and green with weekly protests?

    He’d settled last week with the protestor’s representative on the Tech-Com project. It was the biggest on taking in the company’s existence. He’d pooled all the corporation’s funds and assets just to stay compliant with the GTA. It was so green even Kermit would be envious. He could have played it safe and saved a ton by cutting some of the non regulatory costs involved in greenery, but the payoff would be twice fold when word got out that Perry Industries righted a wrong; cutting no expense in doing so. The company was slated to make billions on this project.

    Enough was enough. He’d shoo these people away himself and didn’t care about legalities! He was about to start shouting when he spotted Jack from accounting staring up the skyscraper’s curtain wall. What’s he looking at? “Hey Jack. What gives another pro—” he said, cutting it short when he found the end of Jack’s gaze at the top of the hundred and ten story skyscraper. “Is that—that’s not…” squinting he said, “Is that Larry?” Larry was the company’s top lawyer.

    “Yeah, I guess he finally cracked,” Jack said rubbing the back of his neck.

    “What happened? Did someone call the police? His wife? Oh my god, his wife and kids…” Perry said shielding his eyes from the noonday sun.

    “I called 911, they’re on their way.”

    “This can’t be happening. Not in my company!” Perry said sprinting back through the revolving door, just barley making it into the elevator.

    When the stainless steel doors opened, Larry was just about to jump as he turned and saw Perry. “Wait! Larry, buddy! Stop! Don’t do this. Think of your wife and kids! What ever is wrong, we can fix it—it’s not worth your life,” he pleaded.

    “You haven’t seen the spreadsheet?”

    “What? Huh? Buddy, just come down. Let’s talk about it. We’ll work it out together,” he said holding Larry’s stare.

    “Tech-Com is a flop. The manufacturer we were negotiating with went bust. I went over the numbers. We can’t even break even, we’re done.”

    A pigeon flew overhead as Perry looked through him, the slightest twitch at the corner of his eye. Larry hopped back down from the wall just in time as Perry bolted past him, forming the most perfect swan dive in the air. His body arced like a dolphin in the ocean against the noonday sun before it went limp and fell out of sight.

    1. jincomt

      The beginning description was good and set the stage for the story, but the story truly got juicy in the latter half. Well -written. If you wanted to shave it down to 500 words, the beginning could spare some of the set-up leaving space for the story that really took flight (so to speak!) at the end.

        1. rob akers

          Another masterful job, Dean. I love how you can tie so many different things into 1 post. You make a point about improper diets, excercise, protesters, environment vs business, generational view points, technology vs human responsibility, government oversight, rights of one vs rights of the many, police oppression, life stress issues, personal responsibility, business ethics, greed, guilt and punishment.

          I struggle to fit one theme in my posts. You are a master and one day I will make a pilgramiage to study at your feet!

    2. annefreemanimages

      Dean – I liked this story. Loved the opening scene. The discussion about the company could probably have been pared down a little bit to keep the story moving forward. Once you got back into the present, it took off again. Loved the way it turned out, and how you got there. Interesting. Too bad – tthe guy was trying so hard to do right!

      ~Anne

    3. aikawah

      Made me think of facebook and their recent IPO, nice stuff.
      I wonder if you thought of giving a hint of the importance of the spreadsheet to Perry earlier in the story, I’d definitely have suggested it just enough to plant the thought so that when the reader gets to the bad news about the spreadsheet, they begin to feel a bit of dread… what’s Perry going to do?

  31. Carl J McIntyre

    Lunch with Tim
    By Carl J. McIntyre

    Lunch, thank god for lunch I thought as I veered toward the nearest greasy dive on the strip for some quick unsatisfying refreshment. I happened to be watching the clouds and noticed, like all those around me that someone was standing precariously on top of the adjacent business centre. Ten floors of certain death, it was not the fall I thought, it was that sudden bring up on the end.

    Suddenly I realized that it was Tim, a co-worker and tormenter from work, he lived to make me unhappy. Now I realized why, he was miserable. Before I could reason with myself, talk myself down or have that change of heart that Tim might have deserved for all his abuse, I was running. I was running harder than my lungs cared to allow, but as I burst through those doors and sprang over those stairs it was like some supernatural force had lent strength to my every leap.

    My feet had wings and I was overcome with emotion, my heart pounded trying to burst its way out of my chest, like cannon fire. Before I knew it I was on the roof, the boom of the door was explosive and nearly startled Tim prematurely from the ledge. I screamed, “Tim! If you kill yourself, I will dig you up and piss on your corpse for being such a prick!”

    Tim started to laugh; he laughed hard and stepped down from the ledge. He watched me with that usual disdain, that quiet look of superiority that said, “Why are you talking to me amusing little bug?” I advanced and he stepped back on the ledge. I whispered, “Just tell me why?” He chuckled, “None of your damn Business.” I sighed and paced, not sure what to say next. I hated this tall curly haired man and some days I almost liked him.

    His mean narrow face watched my every movement, I could never overpower the much stronger man and if he wanted to die that was going to be it for sure. He looked down and turned his back on me muttering, “Hey, have you ever seen a cunt wrapped in plastic?” I sighed and whispered, “No,” he giggled to himself and said, “Look at your driver’s licence.”

    I threw my hands up in the air; I roared my outrage for all the gods in the heavens to hear, “Why Tim! Why now? Why ever? Why?” He snorted, “You’re easy.” I spun about and could not find the words to save this man; I wanted to save him despite how great a prick he was. I tried to find it in myself to save his savage life. But I failed, I failed again and again, that day and every day since I pushed him off that rooftop.

    I have asked myself every day since, “Why? Why did you do it? Why did you tell the police those lies, that you tried and failed, why did I fail myself and Tim so badly?”

    1. annefreemanimages

      Carl – an interesting and powerful situation between these two. It seemed almost that Tim was provoking her because he was too scared to jump herself. It would have been really cool if he yelled “Thanks!” or something that would make her realize that he wanted her to push him off – one last screwing, so to speak. It certainly would be miserable to work with someone like that.

      I loved that Tim told her that it was none of her business why, when she asked why he was jumping. He was a convincing character in those short moments.

      Given that he was such a prick, why did she try to save him at first? The fact that she realized he was miserable, too, – was that enough of a reason for her to try to save him? If so, maybe she could be sorting through her confused emotions towards Tim as she sped to the top of the building, rather than spending time describing how she felt physically when running. Just a thought.

      I loved what she shouted at him when she arrived. That was great, and really made sense given their history. I wanted her to stay in that hard, caustic zone when sparring with Tim.

      I was a little confused by the last paragraph. Was she regretting that she pushed him off? Had she been arrested? Was she guilty about pushing him off and not confessing the truth to the police? Just a little confusing at the end.

      All and all, you did a nice job with this story. You can ignore all of my comments. Tim was great meany.
      ~Anne

  32. codeman320

    I raced to the top of the building hoping Nick, my co-worker, wouldn’t see me and realize what I was trying to do. For a second I’m confused on the layout of the building. I run up and down hallways to see if I could find the fire escape. There it was, at the end of the hallway. I burst through the fire escape door and ran up the stairs and burst through the last door that leads to the roof.

    Nick heard the door slam shut behind me and looked behind his shoulder at me, “What the hell are you doing
    Charles?” He asks in a scared voice.

    I couldn’t find the words, and so I said, “I have no idea, Nick.” And it was the truth, “I came up here to stop you, but you know how bad I am at these types of things…”

    “Then stop trying and let me do this.” Nick said turning back towards the crowd of people below.

    “Why?” I asked.

    “What do you mean?” Nick replied but not looking at me this time.

    “Why are you doing this?”

    “Because I’ve found no meaning in my life, Charles that’s why…”

    “You’re 37; you’re still so freaking young. You’ve still got time to figure it all out.” I told him.

    “My wife left me, Charles.” Nick said sounding like he was about to cry.

    “Then find someone else.”

    “My parents are dead.”

    “They were old, Nick come on!” I kept giving him good excuses for the things he was sad about. I may have sounded harsh but I was being honest, “If you’re really going to be this pathetic, I might as well push you off myself.” I admitted walking closer and closer to him.

    “You wouldn’t do that…” He said looking at me over his shoulder again.

    Looking down at the crowd of people, I say to Nick, “You’re right I wouldn’t, not with these witnesses around. They saw me come up here and I’d get arrested if I pushed you.”

    “Are you really that heartless, Charles?” Nick asks.

    “No. I’m brutally honest.” I offer him my hand, “Either you come with me, or I might consider finishing the job for you.”

    I hear Nick chuckle and the sides of his mouth stretch into a smile, “I never knew how lucky I was to have an honest friend like you.” He takes ahold of my hand.

    “Now you know.” I smile back at him as he turns around and hops down from the edge and back onto the roofing with me. From that day forth, he never considered suicide again and I teach him everything he needs to know about how to live life happily and stress free.

    1. jincomt

      Hmmm….I need someone to teach me that. On one hand I admire how you told a complete story (almost a fairy tale…and they lived happily ever after) but it almost wrapped up too neatly –or maybe that was the intention.

    2. annefreemanimages

      codeman320: You did a nice job of keeping the narrative going and moving forward. I like how the narrator keeps throwing Nick’s sorry-ass excuses back in his face.

      The last line was a bit sketchy. What makes Charles a person who can teach Nick how to live a happy and stress-free life? You told us that, but gave no evidence in the story that Charles has mastered life. Think about how you might portray Charles as a great mentor in the story, rather than telling us he is a great mentorat the end.

      One other suggestion: Choose which tense you want to write the story in and stick to it. You switched back in forth from present and past imperfect.

      Good job.

      ~Anne

  33. Ginny Ollis

    THE DAY I SAVED A LIFE

    Always in a hurry and with the crowd in my way, I pushed through, but then I realized it was more than lunch traffic. I followed the glances up and saw a woman on a ledge. Carol! Not two hours ago I had suggested that, although we value her work skills, she should make some changes to her work attitude instead of creating discord. My feet headed into the building even before the potential guilt hit my brain. I grabbed the next elevator and rode up to the roof above our offices.
    “Carol,” I called as calmly as I could, stopping 10 feet from where she stood. “This is not an answer, tell me what I can do to help you.”
    “You can give me a magic wand. There are too many things for anyone to help.”
    “I am listening. Is there a place we can start? Is this why you have been so stressed? Carol, you are a part of our work family, and if there is something we can do, please talk to me.”
    “You can leave me to figure this out. Stop those police behind you! You could sit and talk to me.”
    The police could hear her, and I motioned them to give me a moment. Then I asked if I could come to the ledge and sit with her. After a hesitation, she welcomed me, although not too close. And she began to talk. Carol spoke about her ill husband, her angry son, her frustration with some issues at work, until her voice calmed and she seemed to be more tired than desperate. At last I reached out, offering a hand. Carol took the hand and smiled up at me. Knowing she was firmly in my grasp, I ripped off my jacket from my free arm side to expose the bright red and blue with yellow lightening insignia, and pushed off from the ledge. As we soared into the sunny sky, Carol recoiled then burst into an enormous smile and spread her arms. We dipped and rose and dipped and rose, people below were applauding. Finally, we set down on a grassy hill in the park, and I hugged Carol.
    “You know, I just happen to be the one with the Super Woman cape, but we all have these marvelous talents in life to help ourselves and each other. Remember last week when you gave your lunch time to work with Sammy on the presentation he just couldn’t get right? And the courage you give your husband every time you look at him with love and recognition? Sometimes we have Mondays and sometimes they are Fridays, but you, Carol, are a very special person. Perhaps if you remember that, dealing as well as you can with what is in front of you, you will also feel capable of asking for help, because you deserve it.
    And thank you for helping me today. I will be much better the next time I have an employee critique to deliver!”
    Carol met with social workers to locate resources she needed. She brought to work a new attitude of her own value. And became a lifelong friend, even after I passed on the cape to the next Super Woman.

    1. annefreemanimages

      Nicely done. I’ve never written a superhuman character, and wouldn’t know how to approach it. You did a nice job of creating a character who’s job it is to build people up. I loved the scene where Carol realizes she’s with Super Woman and bursts into a smile and readies herself to fly. That was great!

      ~Anne

  34. creativemetaphor

    Mikha-el eased forward, conscious to make no sudden movements. He could not claim to be shocked by Borr’s actions, however shocking it is to try to end one’s life. Mikha-el had seen this coming for some time, if he were to be completely honest with himself, though how many truly are?

    “It’s no good, Misha. You know it as well as I. We might as well accept it now and meet an end that will at least make headlines.”

    Mikha-el continued to put foot before foot as he crossed the rooftop. “This isn’t the way, Borr. This isn’t how it has to end for us.”

    “There is no other end we can make. I will not be among those who fade quietly into the night! Victory or death?” Borr looked back over his shoulder, a bitter smile on his lips. “We have long since lost any hope of victory.”

    “Is this what you would have for all of us?”

    “They don’t need us anymore!” The words were spat like venom from his lips, bitter and cruel. “They do well enough on their own.”

    Mikha-el’s eyes could just see the edge of the crowd, some thirty stories below. “Do they?”

    Borr’s eyes followed his, taking in the people, the spectators to his demise. “Who would have thought? The very ones we sought to rule have made us redundant.”

    “Then we bide our time. We will be needed again.” Mikha-el was now only an arm’s length from where Borr stood a hair’s breadth from falling.

    “No. They are their own heroes, their own villains. We have long since ceased to matter. We no longer fill them with fear and awe nor cause them to hope and strive. We are forgotten among their own thousands.” Borr turned, a deep sadness etched in his features as their eyes met.

    “You know that is not true-“ Mikha-el began, but Borr shook his head.

    “We are done, Misha. They have outgrown their bedtime stories and ancient tales. Humans don’t need their gods anymore. Ra knew it two thousand years ago. Now I, too, understand at last.”

    Mikha-el reached for him, and for a moment though he could pluck him safe from the edge. Borr smiled and leaned back.

    Mikha-el continued to stare at the empty space where Borr had been, unwilling to look down on his body. When the police arrived, they went about their business, never knowing an angel stood in their midst, invisible to their eyes. They felt only a passing breeze as he unfurled his wings and departed.

    When he returned to the Office, Mikha-el walked up to Borr’s door and took his name plate down. Everyone stopped, silence descending upon the eons as they stood watching, shocked by the gesture they all understood. Hera put her arms around Bestla as she began to quietly weep.

    Mikha-el turned, looking at each in their turn, then he passed his hand over the plaque before placing it back on the door. It now read ‘Odin.’

    1. jincomt

      I had to look up a few of these names to understand the mythology context, so for me, the first read through was difficult to understand. The writing, however, was really good, sophisticated and flowing.

      1. creativemetaphor

        Thank you. I appreciate the comment. I didn’t want to use overt names of deities or mythological figures because it would have been too obvious from the very beginning who they were, but I appreciate it can be hard to read such unknown names.

      1. creativemetaphor

        Wow, thank you very much. Yeah, I hit exactly on 500 this time, and I think I might take this story and expand it elsewhere. I’m glad you liked it so much. 🙂

  35. Nix

    Great dialogue! I like that they were honest about the consequences they were about to face too. You can’t almost jump and have nothing happen after the fact.

    Great piece, Thanks for writing it!

  36. DMelde

    “Go ahead and jump!”
    “What? You don’t think I’ll do it? What the hell do you know about anything?!”
    “I know you’re a loser about to throw his life away. I know Marcie isn’t going to give a damn if you kill yourself. She’s going to keep screwing her new toy until she gets tired of him, and then she’ll dump his sorry ass, just like she dumped you.”
    “SHUT UP! She’s not like that. You’ll see. She’ll be back.”
    “Tim, buddy, I’ve known you since grade school. Marcie really did a number on your head. Listen to me. She ain’t coming back.”
    “You’re lying!”
    Jon looked down at the flashing lights as police cars stopped below.
    “The cops, Tim. Once they get up here they’re going to haul me away from this window and you’ll be talking to them. Come inside before that happens.”
    “I can’t. I gotta think. Jon, you come out. Come out here with me.”
    “No, I don’t think so. You come in.”
    “I can’t.”
    Tim looked around with a lost, wild look in his eyes. Jon stood and grumbled to himself, then stuck his leg out through the window and onto the ledge.
    “Damn it Tim! If we go down, I swear I’m going to haunt you, your parents, and that flea bag you call a dog.”
    “You can’t haunt me. I’ll be dead.”
    “You know what I mean. Move over so I can get away from this window. You want the cops grabbing me?”
    Jon leaned against the building and brought his hand up to his head. “Whoa, all of a sudden, I don’t feel so good.”
    “Same old Jon, climb the rock face with the best of us, but when you’re at the top you get woozy. Here, sit down. Is that better?” Tim asked.
    “Yeah, better.”
    Both men sat on the ledge, twelve stories up, dangling their feet over the edge. A policeman stuck his head out of the window. Jon asked him for some time to talk to his friend. “You have ten minutes,” was the reply.
    “How’d you know I was up here?”
    “I was going to lunch, and I looked up, and I saw this loser about to kill himself. So I had to ask, why am I best friends with a loser?”
    “What am I going to do Jon?”
    “Do what you were doing before you met her, I guess.”
    “And how do I do that?”
    “Look, you can see our old school from up here. Remember when we put the picnic table on top of the entry roof? Me, holding it up to you, and you, hauling it up over the top?”
    “I was strong back then.”
    “You’re still strong, Tim,” Jon said quietly.
    Tim looked over at Jon and asked, “What do you think they’ll do to me?”
    “Suicide watch. Seventy-two hour hold. Probably a fine. Are you ready to go inside and face the music?”
    “Ready. Thanks Jon, for everything.”
    “No problem buddy.”

    1. Ishmael

      I liked it, but it seemed a little lackluster than your usual fare. My emotions weren’t pulled in this one like they typically are. I’ve probably not had enough coffee to fully appreciate it, but it’s still a good read. 🙂

      1. DMelde

        Thanks Ishmael. I agree with you. As often happens after reflecting upon what I’ve written, I wish I had written this differently. I wish I had used my opening sentence “go ahead and jump” as my closing sentence instead, and then built the tension leading up to it. Thanks for reading it!

    2. metaman321

      I agree with the others, the dialogue was very believable. It was so good, I felt like I was there listening (from safely inside, of course).

    3. annefreemanimages

      You did a good job of creating the scene with dialogue, adding just enough descriptions to fill in the blanks. Economical and you kept the story moving forward. Like how he brought Jon out of the present moment by bringing him back to the past, where he could get his sea-legs again. That was effective.

      ~Anne

  37. 13sgelda

    Does my story make sense? I was trying to depict how the white privilege of another person (such as Barbie) can corrode an African-American man’s self-esteem/belief in self-worth. Then, I was trying to show paternalism at the end with, “let me be the reason you stay” and Barbie trying to save him (not just physically, but also mentally) What do you think? This is the first prompt I’ve ever done and I’d really appreciate some constructive feedback.

    1. jmiff328

      It makes sense. I liked the overall tone of the story and the pacing was well thought out. What did it mean that she said “Really though, it was just reflecting off of me—refusing to be absorbed. Of course, no one had to know that.”?

      1. 13sgelda

        With the light reflecting off the skin, I was trying to subtly indicate that the narrator had white skin. Along with the physical aspect, I was also trying to show how some consider whites to have light (goodness, purity) radiating from within them because they are white. In reality though, the light (as in goodness and purity) was merely reflected away.

    2. rob akers

      Good job, easy to follow but I never got the guilt the main character felt. After reading your explaination is thing I got a little more but still didnt make a big connection. Is the main character African-American? I think he is but not sure. Also, I never got the Barbie thing.

      I have found it is very tough to weave any/multiple moral lessons into a prompt. Just 500 words to work with and you have got to have some action as well.

      I would suggest that you read Dean Kutzler’s work this week. He got a lot into his prompt. Also, some people (me) dont like to be preached at with a moral but I love to discover it when it suddenly appears in my head. It is very tough to do and even tougher to do well. Please keep trying because that is the only way to learn.

  38. 13sgelda

    Thai or Mexican? As I weighed the benefits of falafels bursting with steamy potatoes and a hot bowl of spicy gumbo, I glanced in the reflective glass of Samantha’s Shoes. I tucked back a long lock of blonde hair and instinctively sucked in my stomach a little more. There, that’s better I thought. As I continued walking down the street, the sunlight shone and radiated off my skin. It was almost as if the light was shining from within me. Really though, it was just reflecting off of me—refusing to be absorbed. Of course, no one had to know that. Except me. I approached the corner and was about to turn right onto Solomon St. when I noticed a motley of people standing outside Jerry and Bert’s ice cream parlor. I approached one woman to ask her if today was the day they would be releasing their new Afternoon Delight frozen yogurt, but before I could ask her, she grabbed my shoulder and pointed to the top of an old apartment building. “Look! Look!” she shouted, “Look at him; he’s about to jump!!” I shielded my eyes from the sun and squinted up at the old tenant buildings. Sure enough, there was a man standing at the edge of the building and holding his hands in prayer. Immediately, I recognized him: he was Elijah—the new janitor at our workplace. I didn’t even know his last name, but I still knew him…sort of. You know how people say in times of crisis your head becomes clear and you know exactly what to do? Well guess what: that’s not true. Blood pounded in my ears and sweat broke out over my forehead as I ran…abandoning my high heels halfway down Barnett St….all the way to the apartment building. As I scaled the eleven story staircase, I realized that Elijah probably lived here. After all, these were the apartments for blacks and Latinos. Ok, they weren’t explicitly for blacks and Latinos but anybody with a reason to live wouldn’t live here. With my heart nearly bursting out of my chest, I bust out of the door on the top floor and into the cool air. Relief washed over me. “Elijah…Elijah” I panted, “Don’t…don’t jump.” “Why” I said, “why would you jump??” He turned around and looked me dead straight in the eyes. “You’re the reason” he whispered, “You’re the reason that I’m jumping.” He turned around and braced himself to jump, but before he could, I reached out and grabbed his hand. I felt it—raw, hard, and sweaty. And underneath, tender and misunderstood. I locked eyes with him. “Well,” I replied coolly, “Then let me be the reason you stay.”
    *Narrator: Barbie

    1. DMelde

      Your story made sense but I would not have known the deeper undertones without your explanation. I liked your story and your descriptions, for instance — “anybody with a reason to live wouldn’t live here”. I thought that said so much using so few words. Thanks for sharing!

    2. annefreemanimages

      13sgelda: Loved the introductory lines. Your character’s behavior was real and funny. I loved how she went from total self-absorption to concern for her colleague at work. Great job at creating this character so quickly.

      At the end, I’m not sure about the “tender and misunderstood” line. She barely knew the guy, as she admitted earlier. I could see her saying something kind in an effort to get him off the ledge – whether she meant it or not – but that line seemed a little to convenient, an easy way to wrap up the story.

      I bet you can come up with something that matches the funny, pretty, slightly ditzy, self-absorbed yet soft-hearted character you’ve created, that would tap into her great personality. Challenge yourself!
      ~Anne

  39. Nix

    He sprinted up the stairs since the elevator was out of service to the top five floors, leaving Steve gasping for air when he finally reached the access door to the roof. He hunched over to take a deep breath.

    “Clair!” he called to the young redhead on the ledge.

    She twitched, startled from the sound of another voice behind hers but didn’t turn around. She knew his voice all too well.

    “This is what it takes to get you here?” She hissed at him.

    “I’m sorry! I told you a hundred times already I was! I was drunk, which doesn’t excuse it, but had I not been I never would have-”

    “But you did!” She spat as she cut him off. “You did get drunk! You did take that slut back to your place! You said you’d never cheat on me, you swore!”

    Steve slowly approached the edge one careful step after the other, hands up at chest level in a surrender. The sky was a dark orange and pink with the setting sun. The spring’s evening warmth wrapped around him and he took another deep breath as he reached the ledge right behind her.

    “You’re right, and you deserve so much better than that. I never set out to screw up as badly as I did, but I did. I wish you could just forgive me but I don’t deserve that, I don’t deserve you.”

    She turned to look at him, eyes and nose both red and puffy from hours of crying. Steve thought that this was violently out of control. They had been together barely a month, just a simple work fling that was lasting a little longer than he had expected too. Wasn’t she being over-dramatic? Technically they were dating but his mistake certainty didn’t merit this, did it?

    “Stevie, I love you so very much.” The sincerity in her voice shocked him.

    “Clair, you know how much I care about you. I never met to hurt you and I’d never be able to forgive myself if I knew you died because of something stupid I did. Please don’t do this, Clair’bear. Please”

    A smile crept across her face at the sound of her pet-name and Steve saw something in her soften a bit. The look of despair was replaced by something else that he couldn’t quite place. He spread out his arms to hug her.

    “I’m so sorry, Stevie. Sometimes I can get really jealous.” She leaned forward to hug him. “But you’re right, I shouldn’t let you live with the burden of me dieing for you”.

    She leaned forward to kiss Steve on the lips, deep and passionately. He hugged her tightly and whispered in her ear that he loved her and she hugged him back even harder. And with all of her strength, she pulled him off the roof with her. The news reported that his screams and her laughter carried for miles.

    1. Imaginalchemy

      Poor Steve and Clair! I was actually thinking of the term “star-crossed lovers” as I was reading this (because Romeo and Juliet only knew each other for about 4 days and were willing to kill themselves for love…hey, at least Steve and Clair dated for a month)
      I like the contrasts between the beautiful imagey (you paint a very lovely sunset) and the dark tone of the story…you get the sense of this being a seductive trap…nicely done.

      1. Nix

        Thanks very much for taking the time to Read it! I appreciate the comments as well! I read the prompt then wrote the story. Then just now I noticed the title of the Prompt was “Today’s the day you save a life”. Apparently I missed that part.

        See you around!

    2. whynot1956

      Great story! I am slow, it actually took me to the line before she pulled/pushed them both off the roof for me to see where it was going. Well done!

  40. Jeanie Y

    They say that when something shocks you, I mean really jolts you, everything slows down, and you can almost see the tapestry of time. I wish, cause I would pluck that cruel strand stamped 2/2/09 right out of the weave. I’d hold it up for a little while and tease it, like it teased me, but oh yeah, I would have no trouble positioning the bic underneath that sucker and watch it squirm while it burned. But, that slow-time thing didn’t happen. If anything, I would say that time speeds up and becomes a race, sometimes a race for life or death.

    But for you to understand all this, I need to rewind a bit.

    Julia and I go way back, I guess you could say that she saved my life, in a way.

    It was a sunny day when Julia and her family moved into the house down the street from me in the small farm town of Prosaic, Kansas. I remember because it was summer, and summer in Illinois has two conditions; thunderstorms or blazing sun, and I know it was not raining. She had the most beautiful hair, which is something a pre-teen zeros right in on, and there was no rain to bother that haloed coiffure. Blonde, straight, shiny and half way down her back. Beautiful, even at that young age, and I was just a little shade of green, maybe a lot of shade of green. Until I actually met her.

    The first day of school is tough for anyone at the tender age of 12, but when you don’t have a posse to blend into, life is like a lonely island. Julia fixed that problem quickly. She had, what I refer to as, the niceness quotient, NQ. Everyone liked her and wanted to be her friend. I was the lucky one who wore the other half of the broken heart necklace. Hers said “be fri” and mine “st ends.” I didn’t mind getting the ass end. We were bffs all through Prosaic High and beyond. She was the one who ignited my dream to go to college when most kids in town were content to live their life out as their parents had, a radius of travel about 50 miles. There wasn’t too much in that radius, and with her NQ, she opened my eyes up to that fact. No snootiness involved, just the facts ma’am. She made me realize that I would not be happy staying here and the world was waiting for me. Everyone needs a Julia in their lives.

    We graduated Prosaic High in the Spring of 1977, and she edged me out of Valedictorian by a smidgen. We stood up on the stage and gave our speeches and I didn’t mind one bit that mine came second.

    Being at the top of our class, we had our pick of schools. Virginia Medical became my alma mater, University Medical Julia’s. They were close enough that we could meet at the local pubs on the weekends. Paid the price Monday mornings, but oh, so worth it! Good times, and the occasional bad, we made it through and combined our practices for, as the accountant said in his fiscal-knowing voice, “mutually convenient affiliation.” Two peas in a pod, Radiology and Ortho. Get your diagnosis here, today, no waiting folks! People loved us, and our practice thrived.

    There is always a black spot in a success story, and ours is Thomas. Julia met him in medical school, and he came to haunt her, guess you could say he was her Achilles heel. What a charmer, and I suppose he did charm me too, at first. But there was a dark side to the charming Thomas. His jokes went too far, and people got hurt, you know the type. Julia saw the good in everyone and he latched onto her like a second skin. He knew I was a whisperer in her ear, so he stayed on my good side. Every good devil knows how to ice the highway, black ice is best, unseen and unheard, but just as deadly.

    Now, I can’t say that he actually set out to kill her, she did that herself, I guess, but he paved the way. Nice people feel guilty, even when they do something that is best for them. Breaking up with Thomas was best for her, and she knew it, but reconciling that was hard for her. She would see him to console him, and he would work the guilt every time, subtly. When he finally understood that she was not going to come back to him, he worked his magic. Presented her with a fake pathology report, which I found later. Yes, Julia, we are having a little side of sterility with lunch today.

    Thomas was a gynecologist, one of the best in the city. He had them lined up in his office, you know, the charmer that he is. Who best to do your exam than the one you love? And it can be done in so many ways. So, when he revealed that little line over hamburgers and fries, she was crushed. Having children was her prime directive in life, after finding the right man. When she came back to the office, I knew something was wrong, but the patients were lining up. She went into work mode, while I left to get a quick dog at the sidewalk stand. Walking toward Weiner Caboose, I received a text message, “be sure to tell Julia I was just kidding. ha ha. She’s not answering her phone.” Next I heard “It’s a bird, it’s a plane…” I turned around to see a crowd forming, and their view was toward our building. I didn’t want to raise my eyes, the feeling was dark and terrible. When I did, I saw her. The haloed coiffure on the sill with her arms out wide.

    I rushed toward the building, but before I entered, I heard the ‘gasps’ from the sidewalk crowd.

    I went through a portion of the grieving process, and bobbed up like an ice cube in a carbonated beverage, settling on an angry sea. Sometimes killing isn’t enough, there are better ways to revenge.

    1. Nix

      Great story.

      Word counts are always tricky to master. I have to constantly check so I can aim where I’m going, and even then when I go back over the story to clean I find words that aren’t necessary, or two word phrases I can switch to one.

      Looking forward to reading more of your stuff!

    2. jincomt

      It IS a challenge to cut to the 500 word length (almost in half for you?) I like the refining process the pruning forces. Choosing the most essential ingredients and still conveying a story is tough to master, I agree. A good (and dark!) story with elegant description.

    3. Ishmael

      Jeanie, I’ve started looking forward to your stories! However, lots of unnecessary stuff clogged up the word count. All the details of college could’ve been narrowed down to “We met Thomas, a charming man with a dark side, in our college years.” (Or something like that)

      I start my stories with a list of ideas, words, phrases and idioms, research, etc. MOST of that never makes it in, or the idea gets cut down to a sentence or two. I look at the 500 words as an editor who’s telling me, “Any more than 500 starts cutting into the ad underneath your work. The ad pays you.”

      So, not only is it an art to trim (and hard as heck to get rid of such choice stuff!), it is a necessity, and one that these exercises hone.

      As always, though, I enjoyed. 🙂

      1. Jeanie Y

        Ishmael, THANK YOU (yes, caps!) for using your time to give me a concrete example, and the reason for the trimming. (beside the fact that if we all wrote like Stephen King on this post, it would take all week to read them!) You would be a great teacher. I have my shears in hand for next week!

    4. annefreemanimages

      Hi Jeanie. It was a good story. Here is another way to think about your story. The narrator spent a lot of time talking about herself. By the time we got to her friend’s story – about the rotten boyfriend – I was not emotionally invested in the friend. I was invested in the narrator. That worked against you when you had to set up the problems the friend was having that led to her death. It would have been enough to say that she was your friend since childhood and was a nice kid, a trait that she kept to her demise as an adult. Then you could have spent the narrative time setting up the relationship between the friend, her boyfriend, and the narrator’s role could have been the one who was beginning to be alarmed by what was going on. The narrator’s growing concerns would have added tension and direction to the narrative. In a short story like this, you really have to decide who the main character is, and ensure that everything leads to and support that lead character. In this story, we had two lead characters – the narrator and her friend. That’s why you had difficulty getting it down to 500 words. In the words of that movie character who’s name I can’t remember: “There is not enough room for the both of us in this town.” (Of course, you can ingore everything I just suggested.)

      ~Anne

      1. Jeanie Y

        Hi Anne. Thank you for the instruction. I would never ignore any advice as I really don’t have much clue what I am doing. I heard about the writersdigest website about a month ago and have been having a lot of fun with it. It is very interesting to see the different creative ideas that others come up with. But, I have also found there is a lot more to writing than just the story. Maybe this is a no-brainer, but then again I usually have more in common with the tortoise than the hare. We can only get better with practice and good guidance—thank you again for your advice!

  41. JRSimmang

    I was supposed to meet Will for lunch this afternoon at this little café off Letty Street. Normally, we meet at the sidewalk under his building. That’s one of the drawbacks working in two different buildings. It’s sometimes hard to coordinate.
    I must have made it out first because Will wasn’t where he usually leans. I got my phone out and buzzed him.
    “Hello?”
    “Will, it’s Steve.”
    “Oh, hey bud.”
    “Lunch?”
    “Oh, shit. Yeah, sorry. Time got away from me. Mr Worthen is working my team hard.”
    “Tell me about it. You sound like you’re in a tunnel.”
    “Reception sucks up here. So, I’ll be down soon.”
    I leaned in Will’s spot, a nice shaded area just under the awning and next to the trashcan.
    The streets were busy, which was understandable. It was lunch time after all. People hustling and bustling. I couldn’t help but think I’m just like them, the only thing on their minds being what they want to eat. Sure, some of them are probably thinking about the morning, what they have to do when they come back from lunch, what’s due for tomorrow.
    I think it was the man in the red cap who pointed first. Straight up. The lady next to him followed his finger and replicated the gesture. She covered her mouth with her other hand to stifle a, what, scream?
    “Oh my god!” someone shouted.
    “Call the police!” someone else yelled.
    A few people had their cell phones out.
    “That man is going to jump!” The woman was wearing a tan trench and modest kitten heels. Her perfectly manicured nails pointed to where the man was.
    I don’t like accidents. I’m the person who’s behind you, honking my horn, when you slow down to leer at an accident on the side of the road. I’m the guy who pushes from behind when you stop to stare at the police handcuffing a guy. Today, I decided to take a look. Perhaps Will knows this guy. That would be excellent lunch conversation.
    I peeled myself from the wall and sauntered to the brunette. I followed her elegant arm line to the ledge of the roof.
    There he was. The jumper. He was in a grey suit, probably Armani. Nice suit really. If I were to jump to my death, I’d want to look that nice.
    Then, I noticed. Perhaps it was the swoop of the hair. Perhaps it was the way his toes stuck out over the ledge. Will Harson was about to jump to his death.
    “Oh shit. I know that guy.”
    “You do?” The brunette glanced at me. “Well, do something!”
    I didn’t realize I had said what I did out loud. She was right, though. I had to do something. I don’t remember getting to the roof. I’m pretty sure I knocked someone over.
    Despite the fact my best friend might become sidewalk art, the day was pleasant. And up here, on the roof of his building, the breeze picked up just enough to lift my hair from my head.
    Will was on the ledge just below the roof line.
    “Hey bud.” I said as I approached him.
    “Hey! Want to join me?”
    What else did I have planned? “Sure.” I sat on the edge of the roof, not daring to descend to his little ledge.
    “You’ve come here to stop me.”
    “Yep.”
    “You can’t. I just want to make that perfectly clear.”
    I sighed and stared out over the horizon. Down the street, the Empire State Building brandished its phallus heavenward. “Then, what’s going to happen?”
    “Don’t know.” He reached up to me. “Shake my hand, Steve.”
    I extended my hand down to his, warm and firm. He shook twice.
    “I’ll be seeing you pal.” He looked up to me.
    “Wait.” I held tight to his hand. “Just tell me why.”
    “Why?” He chuckled. “I guess I hadn’t thought it. But, if I had to say, I’d say, why not?”
    And then, he leapt. I watched his body falling through space, as if suspended. Little puppet strings pulling on a rapidly shrinking puppet. He had a smile on his face. I wonder what his last thought was.

    1. jincomt

      You had some marvelous phrases:

      The woman was wearing a tan trench and modest kitten heels. Her perfectly manicured nails pointed to where the man was.

      Despite the fact my best friend might become sidewalk art

      the Empire State Building brandished its phallus heavenward

      Little puppet strings pulling on a rapidly shrinking puppet.

      Wonderful,.

    2. Nix

      “He was in a grey suit, probably Armani. Nice suit really. If I were to jump to my death, I’d want to look that nice”.
      Ha!

      I love you dialogue! You’ve got a bunch of great lines in there and very well done story. Sad ending but great job writing it!
      I apparently need to strike “Steve” From my roladex of names because I think You, me, and a few others have dropped the name in this thread alone.

      Looking forward to more of your stuff!

    3. Imaginalchemy

      Ooooh, suddenly that line “I’ll be down soon” reads a lot more darkly…
      I wonder what Will’s last thought was too…what makes someone who seems to be doing pretty well (Armani suit and all) want to jump, almost gleefully, to their death. Shook me up a little (but that’s good). This story’s going to stick with me a while.

    4. JRSimmang

      Thanks for all the positive comments. Nix, you’re right. Steve is a jumper’s name, I guess. Rob, I’ll do that. I was trying to accomplish the same by “putting him in a tunnel.” I realize it’s a little cryptic. Again, thank you all.

    5. Icabu

      Wonderful descriptions … well, for all of us except Will. Interesting twist that he seemed happy to jump. Wonder why Will said “I’ll be seeing you pal.” ?? Does he know something Steve doesn’t ….
      Good read.

  42. cegan244

    It was 5PM on Friday and I had left the office twenty minutes early after finishing my work for the weekend. My brother and his fiance were waiting for me at Trio, the bar and grill across the street from my office. I always looked forward to their Happy Hour specials and the time spent with my brother after the week’s end to wind down. My IPod was on shuffle and I believe “Sleepsong” by Secret Garden was playing when I noticed a crowd of businessmen and women standing on the street corner looking up to the top of a business center. Some were pointing, some gasping and covering their mouths with their hands, and a few were crying and shrieking. A fire truck screeched up to the building as I looked up and saw a woman standing on the edge of the building’s roof, looking down and gripping the concrete facade as the afternoon’s wind blew through here short, blonde hair. I could see she was crying. Glued to the street corner a sudden shock of panic came over me as I recognized this woman. Her name was Chelsea Barone and we dated in high school for a year. I ran into the building and sprinted up the twelve flights of stairs praying that I’d arrive before she jumped.

    I kicked open the roof-top door and felt a gush of wind hold me back as I fought to run to where she was standing. She was still there on the ledge and looked startled when she heard my quick footsteps coming near to her. I stopped a couple of feet short of her and tried to catch my breath and gather my thoughts when I realized I hadn’t thought of anything to say.

    “Chelsea!”, I blurted out, “Hold on a second!”

    “Cory? What are you– Please just leave me alone.” She seemed confused for a moment but then that same look of anguish came across her face as she realized why she was there. To tell the truth she was annoyed that I was there, someone she knew from the past, to see how pitiful she was.

    I had composed myself by now and said, “Just hold on a second. I was just on my way to go grab a couple of drinks with my brother but I’ve got a better idea.”

    I put down my briefcase and took off my shoes that were so uncomfortable. I loosened my tie, took off my jacket and walked slowly over to the ledge next to her. I calmly took her hand in mine and a look of pure amazement came over her.

    “What– what are you doing?” she asked.

    I paused a moment and watched my jacket flying over the edge of the building, caught in a whirling gust of wind.

    “Something I should have done a while ago”, I replied as we looked into each others eyes. My eyes swelled up and we both began to cry together. She gripped my hand tightly and I felt the nervous sweat beading from our embrace.

    “Allright?”, I asked.

    “Allright.”

    We took a deep breath and both jumped at the same time.

    1. annefreemanimages

      That was a surprising ending. Really like some of the lines, like when whe recalled why she was up there.

      But, I don’t know why he jumped, too. There were no clues in the text that would lead me to think he would want to kill himself or was desparately unhappy with his own life. The story opened with him talking about meeting up with his brother and how much he enjoyed the happy hour, listening to the I-Pod. Maybe there was a clue in the song he mentioned, but I don’t know the song so I wasn’t able to pick up on it.

      I see what you might have been trying to do with the uncomfortable shoes – hinting that he hated his current job? But why kill himself?

      Really like the scene where she had a look of pure amazement. There is a lot of good work in this story – I just wasn’t able to hook into it emotionally. But – that may just be me!

      ~Anne

  43. Rebecca

    I walked off the trading floor disgusted and broke. The first one I can deal with but the latter, well it was going to take a little longer to sallow that bitter pill. The market was falling fast and with more brokers trying to sell and less offering to buy, my client’s portfolio was looking thin. We were sure to end the day with less than we started with. My partner and I had played this last hand together and went bust. Now the unpleasant task of breaking the news to the client over lunch loomed near and I was not going to do it alone. I looked around for Jim, unsurprised when he was nowhere to be found an all too common occurrence when it came to losing millions of dollars that belonged to someone else. Resigned I trudged outside to find him.

    The street was crowded and hectic as people milled about looking up at the sky before bringing their faces back around to their companion and whispering furiously amongst themselves. I felt a mild interest growing inside me as I surveyed the happenings around the building but not enough to distract me from the memory of watching over ten million dollars flush down the proverbial toilet however the crowd’s tense expectation eventually got to me and I looked up.

    Needless to say I found Jim but it seems he was not in the mood to listen to my banal empty words that promised better for tomorrow. He apparently didn’t want tomorrow. Dragging myself back inside the building, intent on getting to the window closest to him I fast forwarded the words in my mind searching for the right combination that would talk him down instead of driving him off. Shaking my head at his drastic measures I reminded myself the Parker deal was not to be spoken about even if he brought it up. That deal was done and we could both throw ourselves off the building but nothing would change as a result and Parker would still succeed.

    I opened the window next to him and stuck my head out, armed with what I thought was the right words for the dire situation Jim got himself in. But I wasn’t ready for the anger and fury that Jim blasted me with, hurling his hurtful accusations towards me so fast that I sat on the sill of the window in stupefied silence. Finally he had expelled all of his garbage, giving me a chance to rebuttal.

    “I realize you’re angry. I see you’re hurt. And I know you feel betrayed but believe me when I say that all of it is not worth your life.”

    Jim snorted in derision but otherwise chose not to respond to my opening statement.

    “It means nothing.”

    Staring at me, his doubting mind was on display. I could clearly see that he was way passed reason and well on his way to stupidity. I tried a different tactic.

    “She’s still your wife.”

    1. JRSimmang

      Nice way to tie the bow at the end. It hints at a greater story, one that extends beyond the 500 word boundary. I like the narrator. He or she shows his or her despondancy because of the bad brokerage deal. Well done.

    2. Imaginalchemy

      Sometimes I curse these 500 word limit prompts…there is so much more going on here than we get to see. I would’ve liked to read what “hurtful accusations” Jim threw at the narrator…I feel that there could have been some powerful dialogue in this scene. I encourage you to expand on this, it’s a good start.

    3. Rebecca

      Thanks guys…I wasn’t sure about this one but I posted it anyway…the encouraging words help especially since it is only the 3rd prompt I have done… 🙂

    4. annefreemanimages

      Rebecca – I, too, really like the way you ended – and started the story. The first paragraph really set things up. It’s a good story and story line.

      I wish there had been a lot less describing and a lot more dialogue between the two. Their confrontation, it seems to me, is the heart of the story.

      Your narrator told us about the anger and fury of Jim, but we didn’t experience it. That would have been an opportunity for some riviting dialogue. Consider making this story mostly dialogue after the first paragraph and see if it doesn’t start jumping!

      ~Anne

  44. jincomt

    Franklin jammed his hands in his pockets and flipped his collar up against the cold air as he maneuvered his way down the sidewalk towards his accounting job at Morrison and Son’s. He just about ran into the human blockade gathered below his office building, craning their necks, and pointing to the man who stood next to the menacing concrete gargoyle. Franklin followed their gaze, recognizing Marvin, his cubical mate, who was at the center of all this attention.

    Franklin also recognized the familiar red and white thermos sitting on the frozen snarl of the gargoyle’s nose, the thermos Marvin swore held the secret elixir with all his dreams. Co-workers gossiped about the crazy accountant and his illusions, but to Marvin, the dented thermos he brought to work every day held his hopes.

    Franklin pushed through the crowd to the police that stood at the entrance. “I know that guy. Can I help?”

    The policeman lifted the tape. “Sure, you think you can, have at it.”

    Marvin took the elevator to the roof and peered over the edge. “Hey, Marvin, whatcha doing?”

    Marvin looked up as if it was natural to have a conversation while his toes dangled over the precarious edge. “I’m gonna fly.” he said, licking a finger and holding it up, detecting the direction of the breeze.

    “Yeah, flying would be great, Marvin. It’s awful cold today, though.”

    Marvin considered Franklin’s words. “I just took a sip of my dreams.” He paused. “Do you have a dream, Franklin?”

    Franklin never really considered his dreams before. He had a good job, a nice little apartment on fifth and listened to the Amos and Andy show on his radio. Life was pretty good. But then he thought about the waitress at the diner down the street, the cute girl with the yellow handkerchief that poked its triangle corner neatly out of her uniform pocket. He’d sure like to ask her to the movies.

    “Maybe. Maybe I do Marvin. But I can’t reach your thermos from here.”

    Marvin sighed. “Give me a hand up, Franklin?”

    “Sure, Marvin.”

    Franklin and Marvin sat down on the roof as the crowd of ants dispersed along their various tunnels. “I wasn’t going to jump, you know. No one ever believes in me and my dreams.” Marvin clutched the thermos close to his chest.

    “No, I guess they don’t.” Franklin scratched his head. “Pour me a cup, will ya?”

    Marvin unscrewed the cup on top and poured Franklin a few drops and took a sip from the top himself. Franklin stared at the empty cup. “I don’t see anything in there, Marvin. It looks empty.”

    Marvin turned his head, a half-smile playing on his lips. “Ah gee, Franklin, that’s the thing with dreams. They’re hard to see, at first. But once you sip ‘em, you believe. Try it.”

    Franklin smiled back at Marvin, lifted his cup for a toast, tapping the metal edge of Marvin’s thermos. “Here’s to dreams, Marvin.”

    They each took a tentative sip as they looked over the city from the roof of Morrison and Son’s.

    1. Nix

      I second JRS, Way to show how unhinged that guy was.

      Good job to Franklin for sticking it out and making sure even the crazy guy gets a shot at recovery.

      Well done, my friend!

    2. Imaginalchemy

      I found this very touching. There is something to be said about the power that dreams have on us…especially when reality can weigh you so heavily down. I like how Marvin naturally is seated by a gargoyle…a symbol of fantasy and whimsy. I find Marvin more desperate for something better as opposed to unhinged…and you gotta love compassionate Franklin for trying to understand him.

      1. jincomt

        Thanks. That is what I was going for (in the frustrating low word count) . It’s a fable of sorts –how sometimes when we hold our dreams close and try to step out on them (be a writer, anyone?)people may not understand ; it may even look like suicide (career) . Sometimes we just need to have a friend sit and sip our dreams with us and look over the edge of possibilities with us.

        1. Dean Kutzler

          Fantastic story… I didn’t find him crazy at all. (What’s that say about me?) I think not having any ‘dreams’ is crazy. I worked all my life in accounting, when I should have been pursuing my ‘dreams’ (writing). Sometimes, doing what we think is the right thing (holding down jobs we hate to save money and pay bills) is the one true thing that slowly kills us on the inside. Taking a chance at your dreams may seem flighty and foolish, but how would we ever grow? How would we ever achieve greatness without chances. Life isn’t easy and YES, sometimes, you need to sit and sip a cup dreams to truly live.

          Look at all the comments and thought provoking you made us do.

          Thank you.

    3. lynnefavreau

      It must have been the flipping up of the collar but Humphery Bogart’s Phillip Marlowe reading me the story. When I got to “Here’s to dreams, Marvin.” I nearly did a spit take all over my laptop!

    4. Ishmael

      Great story! I love the image of the dented thermos as the Grail of Hope. Humanizes it and brings it into tangible existence. All of the symbolism was perfect. Sipping dreams with friends…and yes, that is exactly what it feels like to sit in here and read all the work of such superb writers like you.

    5. DMelde

      I like Marvin, for following the beat of his own drum. And I like Franklin, for taking the time to toast the pursuit of one’s dreams. This is a nice, uplifting story. Good job jincomt!

      1. rob akers

        Great theme. We all need a dream, we all need love and we all need a friend. You nailed it.

        Good for Marvin for keeping his dreams alive and shame on the world for not giving him the chance. Perception is reality only if you allow it to define you.

        I would love to know how this changes both Marvin and Franklin.

      1. jincomt

        Thanks everyone. Just reread it and saw where I had Marvin climbing the steps (to see Marvin) instead of Franklin and you kind souls spared me this mistake! One of these days I’ll get it perfect (someone please hand me my thermos of illusions please).

  45. joecover

    “Charlie! Charlie! Don’t do it.”
    Charlie, standing on the edge of the roof at Hammons Hall, eight floors above the ground, turned his head towards me as I exited the landing onto the flat roof. His eyes widened and he exclaimed, “You. You . . . What are you doing here?”
    “The question is what are you doing here?”
    “I’m jumping because of you.”
    “Me? I’m the nicest guy you’ve ever known. You telling me that you’re gonna turn yourself into a bloody splat of greasy flesh because of me? You are one insensitive jerk. Here I am, missing my lunch, just to rescue you, and you, ungrateful son of a bitch, want to blame me for this idiocy you’re engaged in.”
    Charlie stepped off the ledge and onto the roof. His hands, I had never noticed how big they are, were trembling as he pointed with his right index finger and, through clinched lips, stated, “You are the thorn in my side. You are constantly causing me problems. Who blocked my tenure last fall just because you thought I hadn’t published in the field? Two books plus several articles on the Homotopy Theory, and because you, Mr. Homophobic, ignorantly thought it was about gay rights, voted against me. You stupid asshole. At the Department’s Christmas party, you just happened to tell my wife that I have long lunch meetings with Charlene from Student Services, and today, you let it drop to the dean that she wasn’t invited to my party at the lake; pretty much insuring I’ll never see tenure. The same party that you weren’t invited to, but crashed, bringing Charlene along for the fireworks.”
    “Charlie, Charlie you are way overreacting. Sure you’re a loser and will never make it, but hey, that’s the way it goes in academia. Sharks are opportunistic feeders. I’m a shark and you are a seal flapping your flippers while floating on the waves. It’s karma. It’s the way you are wired. You can’t go killing yourself just because you’ll never amount to anything. It will disrupt the harmony of existence.”
    At that moment Charlie’s ham sized hands wrapped themselves around my throat and lifted me off the roof. Searing pain shot through my back when vertebrates T4, 5, and 6, shattered as he threw me off the landing and halfway down the top flight of stairs. I was gasping to catch my breath when a size 13 Florsheim caught me in the kidney sending me down to the seventh floor landing. I struggled to get up, but Charlie’s massive foot sent me flying further down the stairs. I believe it was somewhere between the fifth and fourth floors that I passed out.
    Now, I am here at Rodgers’ Medical Center, in traction, taped and bolted back together, waiting for reconstructive surgery, and that bum Charlie won’t even come to visit me after I saved his life by getting him down off that roof.
    That’s gratitude for ya.

    1. Nix

      Way to play the anti-hero card. Started to root for the guy for getting Charlie off the roof but man, you did a great job of playing both sides of that.

      Well written, good job!

      1. rob akers

        I like how the main character is upset that Charlie wont visit him in the hospital.

        Good Job, a small suggestion, choose a different name than Charlene. Very close to Charlie and I was a little trown off.

  46. Leond

    “Don’t do it!” I cried. “You have so much left to live for!”
    I acknowledge that that’s a cliche, but I figured that something can’t become a cliche without some merit. Besides, it was about the best I had. I didn’t know Ron at all. I just knew that he was the person who worked in the office two doors down from mine. And I had managed to persuade the crowd looking up at us here on the building-top that that was better than nothing.
    He turned around from the edge of the building to face me. “Steve,” he said, absentmindedly. “What are you doing here?”
    “I just want to talk to you,” I said. “Nothing else.” I took a breath. “What are you doing this for?”
    He turned his head around to the street, then back to me. “Money. Attention. Grief. Despair. Take your pick.”
    “What?”
    “In a few minutes I’ll be thirty-five years old to the dot. That’s my time to go.”
    “I don’t know what you mean.”
    “Have you ever heard of making a deal with Death?” His eyes became very intense.
    I shook my head. “No. Not really.”
    “I did it when I was ten. My brother and I were in a car crash. The car hit on his side, as I was losing consciousness from the wound in my head, I saw Death. The Grim Reaper, if you prefer. And the two of us made a deal.”
    I stared at him blankly and he continued. “I donated forty years of life to my brother. In fifteen years, he’ll find himself in another car accident, and he’ll die. Meanwhile, I die now.”
    He turned around, and as he did, I saw a figure hovering across the gap between this building and the next. I can’t describe it, but I recognized it immediately. Death.
    “Wait!” I said. He turned around reluctantly. “Could I make the same deal?”
    “Give your life to me?”
    I nodded. “However much you need from me.”
    Roger looked at the hovering figure who approached. It spoke, in a tone as withered as itself. “Twenty years. You may give him twenty years. And you will die at the age of fifty.”
    Instinctively, I held out my hand. “Done.”
    And then I felt an overwhelming chill over my whole body.

    Of course, a guy can do a lot in seventeen years. And I like to think I did. I looked down at the bottom of the cliff, and the figure waiting there, patiently. I may have been afraid when I took that step forward. But I can’t say I was sorry.

    1. jmiff328

      Great idea. I would love to hear more about this character who would give his life up for a relative stranger. I wonder what happens in 17 years. Does someone do the same for him that he did? Nice job!

    2. DMelde

      Very altruistic of Steve to do what he did. I liked the last two lines a lot — “I may have been afraid when I took that step forward. But I can’t say I was sorry.” Great take on the prompt.

      1. rob akers

        Great Idea. Would have liked to have more of a reason for the main character to give away 20 years of his life. Best friend, Billion Dollars, ect. I am not saying I wouldnt trade for it but it would take a lot.

        Had a Twlight Zone feel to it. Good story!

  47. Imaginalchemy

    “No Superhero”

    My first thought, before I was infected by the contagious panic that the swarm of civilians were feeling as they pointed and yelled at the man standing on the precipice at the top of the Tenth Avenue Bank, was, “That’s supposed to be ME up there!”
    I had had every intention to end it all. I was ready for it; I had even picked that exact building. But now, there was some guy standing right where I was planning to stand, and seeming strangely familiar…
    Oh my God. Him?
    The police had not arrived yet for crowd control, so I pushed my way through the throng of terrified gawkers to the side of the building, where there was a fire escape. I clambered up it as fast as my legs would carry me, and hoisted myself up to the roof.
    He glanced over at me. “You’re pretty fast,” he said, and then added with a chuckle, “And coming from me, that’s saying something.”
    “What are you doing, stupid?” I spat, my fear and my angry mixing in a volatile concoction. “You’re in my spot!”
    “Your spot?”
    “That’s always been my spot! Page three, panel one through four. I’m standing on the edge, monologuing about the futility of life, and—“
    “And as you jump, I swoop in and save you. The crowd applauds, you realize someone cares, then obligatory romance, yada yada yada. I’m part of this comic book too, you know.”
    He had unbuttoned his shirt just enough to reveal the symbol of a silver arrow on the costume beneath his clothes, the icon of Straight-shot. How did the roles get reversed? Dang it, I was no superhero.
    “Why are you doing this?” I wheezed.
    His sad eyes narrowed. “Do you know what it is like, day after day, to be trapped doing the same thing? Knowing that you’ll save the day, defeat the bad guy, be the hero. For what? There will always be evil. And I can’t actually do anything about it because I don’t write my own story. And, by the way, Miss Life Sucks, do you know how annoying it is to have to save your butt constantly?”
    For someone who claimed that he didn’t write his own story, he was sure screwing it up now. “If you’re so unhappy with being praised and adored, then what do you want?”
    He turned away from me, staring out into the sky. “Just…something different.”
    I knew he wouldn’t really jump. He could fly, for Pete’s sake. He was just being a melodramatic baby, wanting even more attention than he already got. And here I was, genuinely depressed, genuinely needing saving, needing a hero, and he was turning his back on me.
    I guess that’s why I used that gun I had been carrying around in my pocket.
    I’m sure the next geek who picked up that comic book was confused as to why there was a big red splotch that took up most of page three.

    1. Nix

      Very cool. I really liked the banter of “You’re in my spot!”. Thought that was a really cool twist and I’m glad you put it in there.

      Sad ending but good story! Hard to read a blood stained comic!

    2. lynnefavreau

      I’m thoroughly amused the outrage of “You’re in my spot!” and the “take that” attitude of pulling out the gun and shooting him.

    3. Ishmael

      “For someone who claimed that he didn’t write his own story, he was sure screwing it up now.” My favorite line. Killing the guy for needing a moment…I think damsel-in-distress was a little clingy. And carrying a gun…a little premeditated! Neat take. 🙂

    4. Imaginalchemy

      Thank you for the comments everyone…makes me happy that you all enjoy it 🙂 And yeah, the narrator whipping that gun out of nowhere would normally irk me if I were taking this story more seriously, but the idea was that since Straight-shot went and “screwed up” the story, she realized she could change the story too (so maybe she didn’t even have the gun until that very moment). Also, food for thought: who says that it was Straight-shot who got blown away in the end?…the narrator was suicidal, after all…perhaps she has been speaking asa deceased character the whole time? oooh…

    5. aikawah

      I used to love magazines as a child for this exact reason; I’d imagine each picture as a portal to a different space that was frozen in time, and that I could pass through and be the only person that could move while everything else stayed stuck, and I had the power to ‘release’ selected items or people from their motionlessness; this story took me back there. Nice.

  48. jmiff328

    I was heading back to work from lunch when it happened. My office was in the tallest building in town. It is called the Tower but in reality it only stood ten stories high and contained nine floors of office space, and a Subway restaurant on the first floor.

    I made my way down the street to the dilapidated office and joined a growing crowd of onlookers. I struggled to see what everyone else had already seen, with the glare of the sun making it nearly impossible. As if God had heard me, a slightly dark cloud moved in front of the sun and I was able to focus on the roof. Somehow, I already knew what I was going to see. It’s a simple calculation really, crowd of onlookers, plus tall building, plus moving object on top of the tall building. So yes, I knew what I was going to see but I didn’t know who was about to jump, until he hung his head over the side.

    Michael Greens, my best friend was on the roof of the tallest building in town. My body almost gave out as I tried to control the influx of emotions that threatened to overtake me. Fear, being the main culprit had my legs locked in place. I might have still been stuck there when he jumped had I not yelled the first thing that came to mind. “If you wanted to kill yourself you should have told me! I could’ve helped you without all this drama.” I thought I had gone too far as the gasps from the crowd died to a low mummer. Michael looked down on the mass but couldn’t see me in the ravelment. “Hold on!” I said, and stepped out of the crowd and into the Tower lobby.

    I could hear sirens in the distance as the elevator doors closed and started my ascent. I had to move quickly if I wanted to get to him before the police tried to talk him down, which I knew wouldn’t work. A felt a sprinkle of rain as I stepped onto the roof with my best friend. I yelled out to him “Mike, you never seemed the type for all this drama?” He turned quickly and saw who it was. “Don’t come any closer John, I can’t do it anymore, you need to go away.” I shook my head in mock disbelief. “ Fat chance of that Bubba, I wouldn’t miss this for the world.” Michael started to say something but I cut him off. “So how do you think we should do this? I was thinking head first so that there is no chance I end up veggie soup.” He smiled a bit and I knew I could bring him back “You’re not jumping John, you have everything to live for,” I nodded my head once and said “I could say the same about you Mike, now let’s do this before the cops can blow up that big air thing.” The next part of my plan was extremely dangerous but absolutely necessary. I ran right for the edge as fast as I could. Mike was bigger than me, about a hundred pounds bigger than me. He did as I hoped and stepped in front of my charging frame. I crashed into him with full force so that we both fell on the roof a few feet from the edge. “I can’t let you do this John.” He said. “I know buddy, I feel the same about you, now can we please go eat some Subway?” Michael laughed loudly, which was the best sound I heard the entire day. .

    1. Nix

      That was awesome! Great job. This is the first one I’ve read but I hope the feeling I got after reading the end of yours is the same I get after reading the next couple.

      Great form, great story, and great way to make that friendship seem very real. Well done!

      1. jmiff328

        Thanks Nix, I really tried to show that friendship can be a powerful tool. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a literal or figurative ledge, friendship can bring you back from both.

      1. jmiff328

        Thank you for your comment. That is high praise that you were able to connect enough to root for my characters in such a short story. You just gave me a huge boost of confidence. Thanks again!

        1. rob akers

          Nice job overall. Good pacing and easy to follow story. Like everyone else mentoned it could use some cleaning up.

          Like this for example: “Mike was bigger than me, about a hundred pounds bigger than me.”

          You could get that down to 5 words and gain some words to use somewhere else.

          You are on the right track and I look forward to more posts from you!

    2. creativemetaphor

      As purely a format issue, bear in mind that every time a new person starts to speak, you begin a new paragraph. You shouldn’t have two people conversing within a single paragraph. For example:
      “Mike, you never seemed the type for all this drama?” He turned quickly and saw who it was. “Don’t come any closer John, I can’t do it anymore, you need to go away.” I shook my head in mock disbelief. “ Fat chance of that Bubba, I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
      Should read:
      “Mike, you never seemed the type for all this drama?”
      He turned quickly and saw who it was. “Don’t come any closer John, I can’t do it anymore, you need to go away.”
      I shook my head in mock disbelief. “Fat chance of that Bubba, I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
      It helps to better define who is speaking.

      1. jmiff328

        Thank you for the advice. I am currently reading some books on style and grammar since that is my biggest weakness in writing. I have no shortage of ideas, I just have a hard time making them readable for everyone else. Thanks again!

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