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If Art Could Talk

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

After a long night out, you return to your house to find that every picture and painting in your house can speak to you. What do the characters in the artwork and photographs say? Write a conversation between you and one of them, or a conversation between two of them.

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

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195 Responses to If Art Could Talk

  1. Icabu says:

    Reginald McMaster VII shrugged off his driver’s assistance and stumbled up the marble steps to the Estate’s imposing double oak doors. If Penelope wanted that stuck-up lawyer over him, well, so be it. He’d drowned the ache and would again tomorrow if needed. After multiple attempts, he finally got the door unlocked. They creaked open as if on a medieval castle.

    “A party?” he mumbled, hearing voices. Everyone should be cozy in their boring beds at this hour.

    Following the sounds, he came to his father’s den, pushed the doors open and fell into the dark, quiet room. Reggie was glad there wasn’t a party in here anyway. The room reeked of his father’s cigars and there were the portraits of the five Reginalds preceding him and his father that glared down condescendingly at him all the time. They made his skin itch.

    Crawling, he climbed onto the leather couch. He’d show the Dour Five hanging on the wall and pass out right in front of them.

    “Deplorable behavior,” R3 said.

    “Remember the glass house adage, R3,” R1 said. “I can recall your fondness of spirits.”

    “Appreciating fine wine is hardly the same as guzzling booze to the point of blacking out,” R3 countered.

    “Gentlemen,” R5 interrupted. “Young R7 is in much the same trouble that most of us have experienced at some point, including his father. I think it’s time for the same intervention we gave R6.”

    “Yes,” R4 said, “that worked quite nicely. R6 settled down, won the hand of the lovely Angelica and produced a first-born son heir.” Frowning down at the lump on the couch, he added, “Such as he is.”

    “Since you have so much in common with R7, you can take this one, R3,” R1 said.

    “That’s not funny,” R3 grumbled, “but I’ll take the lad.”

    “What do you need from us?” asked R2?

    “Just hang around.” R3 snorted a laugh.

    R3 cleared his throat. “Reginald McMaster the Seventh!” he boomed. “You are a disgrace to your lineage.”

    “I’m sick, Ma,” R7 mumbled from the couch. “I can’t go to school today.”

    “If I had feet I’d kick that lad’s ass,” R3 said. He cleared his throat again.

    “Reginald the Seventh! Listen to your elders. You will find the Light and put all of this behind you. Do this and life’s riches will come to you to be enjoyed and shared. Find the Light, Reginald. That’s all it takes.”

    The Dour Five repeated ‘Find the Light’ as Reginald VII slept off his drunk. As the new day broke, a shaft of light splashed onto the rumpled form on the couch in the McMaster den.

    ~~~~~

    “Who are they, Dad?”

    Reginald VII looked down at Reginald VIII, smiling, then up at the six portraits on the wall.

    “Those are the Serene Six, your name-bearing ancestors. They all built on the McMaster name and fortune.”

    “They look kinda mean.”

    “Sometimes you have to be, Reggie,” Penelope said, entering the den to stand beside her husband and son.

  2. don potter says:

    I came home late from work one night and dragged myself into the apartment I call home on the Upper East-side of Manhattan. Rather than go to bed I poured a hefty drink and decided to enjoy the lights of the city twinkling below. Kicking off my shoes and settling into me favorite chair with the classical FM station playing seemed like a fine way to end the evening.
    Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” began to play in the background. I like this piece and turned the music up to enjoy the full impact of the symphony through my state-of-the-art sound system and speakers. Soon I was enveloped by the music. With a drink in one hand, I moved my free hand in a sweeping motion as if to conduct the orchestra.
    The musical tour began with the Promenade.
    While enjoying the genius of the music guiding me through an art collection in an old museum, I noticed the autographed photo of the great Leonard Bernstein. It was framed and sitting on the table next to my chair. The photo was a keepsake from the Youth Concerts I attended while growing up in New York City, and the famous Conductor seemed to be staring at me.
    The music continued.
    “Are you lookin’ at me?” I said to the photograph.
    “No one else to look at in this room,” Bernstein answered.
    “Whoa. I know you’re not talking, so it must be the booze.”
    “The alcohol relaxed you enough so we could have this moment together,” the maestro replied.
    “Well, I don’t need any more of this. Time for me to go to bed. Come morning, I won’t recall any of this insanity. Having a conversation with a black and white photograph of you is not something I plan to remember.”
    The Promenade movement played again.
    “Stay awhile and enjoy the music with me. I believe this is some of my best work with the New York Philharmonic,” Bernstein boasted.
    On went the music.
    “You can almost see the paintings. Can’t you?”
    “Yes, almost,” I said as the final movement began.
    “Use your imagination as I taught you back in the days of the Youth Concerts. It is the only way to truly enjoy music. Visualize it and you will feel it resonate throughout your entire body while melding with your very soul. That is the beauty of music” the great one said.
    “I’ll try.”
    My eyes closed momentarily. When I opened them again, my personal art collection had been transformed. Each of the paintings Mussorgsky captured in his symphony was hanging on my wall. I got up and walked to the nearest one. As I did so the opening Promenade played. I followed the music from painting to painting until the tour ended as the music came to a close.
    I flopped back into my chair, looked at Bernstein’s photo, and detected a slight smile.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Don, I have only a few comments to you. The first is I love this story; I could hear the music as I read it. You wrote as if you were there at the moment; that’s rare writing. May I make a suggestion to you? Post a note on the current prompt, to tell others about this story. It’s back a few weeks and many of the writers don’t go back and search for new stories posted on prompts more than a week back. If you don’t tell them, I will. Thank you for the music. Kerry

      • don potter says:

        Thank you, Kerry, for the kind words. I’m pleased that you liked my story. It would be nice if you posted the suggestion on the current post to go back and read my work rather than me engaging in self-promotion. Again, I appreciate your support.

  3. throughdiscreteeyes says:

    Throws book bag on chair.

    Girl: I hate school! I wish it would hurry up and be over forever! “Turns on tv”
    Painting: school? Did someone say school?
    Girl: frightened “uhmm yes?”
    Painting:how could you hate such a magnificent place?
    Girl: magnificent? More like lame!
    Girl: wait a minute who’s asking?
    Painting : up here, dear!
    Girl: “looks up”
    Painting: higher, okay good! Oh gracious! How do I look?

    Girl: um you’re a painting? You don’t have to look good.
    Painting: I’m not just a painting!
    Girl: okay yeah whatever-i don’t care “switches channels”
    Painting: listen! I’m miss Agatha enchantment!
    Girl: “lowers down volume ” who?
    Painting : Agatha Enchantment!
    Girl: so?
    Agatha: So!! Turn off that garbage and listen to me!
    Girl: why?
    Agatha: don’t ask my dear, casandra, just do.
    Cassandra : how do you know my name? “Gets up frightened ”
    Agatha: because I’ve been watching you. Everyone! I see everything that gos on in this room. But for how I long to be placed on the bookshelf. Next to Hemingway and Fitzgerald.
    Cassandra: Hemingway? Fitzgerald? Who?
    Agatha: “sigh” if only you knew
    Cassandra:if only i knew what?
    Agatha: nothing it’s nor important, go back to your moving picture.
    Cassandra: no! I wanna know!
    Agatha: you do?
    Cassandra: yes!
    Cassandra : tell me!
    Agatha: okay! “Clears throat” you my dear are blind! Blinded from the world! From possibilities and knowledge! I sit here all day long abd watch you sit on your bum and waste away-where you could be doing much much more. You’re lazy
    Cassandra :no I’m not! I do plenty of things!
    Agatha : oh? Like what?
    Cassandra: “grinning” my homework
    Agatha: ahahahahahaaaa! Are you joking!? I’ve. Never seen you touch your book bag once from coming home from school!
    Cassandra : do too! You must of not seen me touch it. But i have.
    Agatha: child, Cassandra it’s okay to admit you’re lazy but at least try to fix it.
    Cassandra : but how? “Sad”
    Agatha: hmmm..oh! I have an idea , lift me up and bring me to the libray.
    Cassandra: “lifts up”
    Agatha: stop. Oh splended just what I was looking for! Gatsby!
    Cassandra: gassy? Eww!
    Agatha: no silly! Gatsby! A story of a young handsome richman who falls in love with a taken man who will do anything to win her heart.
    Cassandra: seems interesting, i think I’ll read it. Okay back to the tv room you go!
    Agatha: NO! Imean no, no can i possibly stay. Here?
    Cassandra : um sure. Why not
    and on that day Cassandra was happy to read and fell in love with characters more more than the ones on tv. She was very enchanted to meet Agatha in the small painting.

    l me!

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      I liked the idea very much. Just a thought for you. What you have is a conversation between Cassandra, [An air head with a potential] and a [wise Agatha] who cares enough about Cassandra, to try to guide her. You’re telling emotions through the story, ie; ‘Sad’, ‘Grinning’ ‘Sigh.’ And setting stage directions, ie: ‘Lifts up,’ ‘changes channels’

      Try the whole story with conversation; for example,
      “Cassandra: how do you know my name? “Gets up frightened.” [Your line]
      Try it this way:

      “How do you know who I am? You’re frightening me.”

  4. sillyman23 says:

    The room erupted with a bombacious explosion of voices, each dripping with thick, ancient, wild dialects. Italian, Greek, Pig Latin, German, Owl, Loon, rising to the hair and lingering like mosquitoes around fresh blood. “Und dann habe ich begraben, die betrunken in den Boden!” Soupy, garbled German flows from an oil bar. Peach, short, dashes outline the lips of the laughing men as they howl and spill their drinks to the floor. New streaks of paint flowing across the canvas. “Kumbuka mbele baba zenu! Kumbuka yao katika nyota!” The charcol dark men and women chant as the fire floods their faces in an golden sheen that absorbs their bodies. The voices beat against my ear drums and thunders in the depths of my heaving chest. With cane strapped to my wrist, I tap the ground, tapping for the stairs. The noise ceases, slowly until I can feel the eyes of man and animal burning with curiousity on the back of my neck.
    “Well!” The Van Gough corhuses.”
    “Another human.” He grins, his eyes enlighting with glee.
    “This,” the paintings begin to advance, “Is going to be great fun.”

  5. randi100 says:

    I could have kissed the steps of my brownstone as I walked up them. I had been in meetings since 7am. That’s what happens when you are trying to start a business. I put the key in the lock, opened the door, and dropped my coat and bags on the floor. All I wanted was a nice glass of wine in my favorite wine glass. The wine glass that I bought in France six years earlier. It’s so beautiful and it looks even better with chardonnay in it. I started a fire in the fireplace, grabbed a blanket, and my drink and I sat down. That couch never felt so good. I opened a book that I had been meaning to read for months.
    “What are you reading that trash for” said a voice.
    I looked around, thinking that I was hearing things. Back into the book I went.
    “Seriously, why are you reading that trash?” “Didn’t I raise you better than that?”
    OK, now I thought that I was completely losing my mind. I got off the couch and started looking around. “Who’s there” I asked in a frantic voice.
    “Hello? Don’t you recognize my voice?”
    “Yes, you sound like my mother but she’s been dead for 7 years” I replied.
    “Well, at least your ears are still working. Why are you drinking?”
    Even from the other side, she still criticizes me.
    “Mom where are you” I asked.
    “My sweet angel, I”m over here.”
    Sweet angel. That’s what she always called me.
    I turned around and looked at her picture on the mantel. “MOM?”
    “Yes dear, it’s me”
    “How in the world are you talking to me? You are dead”
    ” I don’t know, but it’s great isn’t it?” Said my mom
    “Well, yes but you have to admit it’s bizarre ”
    “Not bizarre, amazing ” Said mom
    “Where are you , are you in heaven?” I asked
    “Yes, I am and it’s everything we think it’s going to be and more.”Said mom with a wistfulness in her voice.
    I have to sit down……
    I looked at her picture, just stared at it. There was so much I wanted to tell her and so much I wanted to ask her.
    The doorbell rang and brought me out of my trance.
    Grrrr, who could it be?
    I answered the door and there was no one there. I closed the door and went back to the picture of my mom. I knew the first question that I was going to ask her.
    I didn’t find the picture on my mom on the mantle but I found it on the floor. The glass was smashed. I picked up the picture and stared at it. It is astounding to me. I look so much like her. I started talking to mom again.
    “Mom, I have questions” ” Can you answer them?”
    Silence
    Silence
    Silence

    “That was the craziest night of my life.”Amber said as she started her lecture at the University. She was the keynote speaker on the paranormal.

  6. Raconteur says:

    “Last Retort”

    The minute I closed the door behind me it started.

    “Do you have any idea what time it is”?

    The question hung in the air catching me off guard. Last I checked I lived alone. Out of reflex I found myself muttering “Could you be any more cliché”?

    “Probably not, I am a portrait of your dead Grandmother”.

    I quickly scanned the room, she was right of course. Her portrait hung over the mantle presiding over my sparsely furnished living room. My cat Henry (short for Henrietta) was half stretching half contorting rather languidly into one of those positions that only a cat can manage on the carpet below her. The only sign of life in a room devoid of even a single plant.

    “Seriously, do you know what time it is”?? I can’t see the clock down there”.

    Exasperated I said “I’m going to bed” as much to Henry as to Grandma.

    “If you’re not going to move the clock, can you at least make an effort to clean the carpet when you get up later? I’m tired of staring at the same stain all day and night”.

    “Oh like you can see it at night and in the dark”.

    “You know what I mean; It was never that filthy when I was around”.

    “Please, that carpet is so old the filth is the only thing holding it together”.

    “I’ll have you know that carpet was brand new when your Grandfather bought it for me on our 10th anniversary; And it wasn’t cheap either”!

    I did know that. And all the other stories about all of her other keepsakes too. I guess Grandma doesn’t realize how long she’s been gone. Maybe I haven’t dwelled on that either. I should clean it though. If not for sanitary reasons, then out of respect. Maybe Grandma isn’t talking to me through her picture. Maybe its guilt, reminding me how much time has gone by. I guess that would explain why I would conjure up her asking me about what time it was. It suddenly washed over me just how much I miss her. I smiled at the portrait, remembering family dinners at her house. Closing my eyes I could smell the Sunday gravy. No, it wasn’t sauce. Not in an Italian household.

    Shocking me from my reverie I heard “Yo, could you clean my litterbox when you’re done here”.

    My eyes snapped open and I spun around to find myself facing Henry who was staring at me with a look of contempt, her head cocked to the side.

    All I could manage was a heavy sigh and a weary “Don’t you start too”.

    So much for pop psychology, I guess I’m just really lit after all.

  7. nelleg says:

    Scott walked in and dropped his backpack on the floor right where his mom always told him not to. He was just too tired to care neither did his grandma. She just walked right past it into the kitchen. Scott’s basketball coach finally got a hold of her after his mom failed to pick him up after his game, again. Tami wasn’t his real grandma, she was Roy’s mom. Roy was his mom’s third husband. He was killed in a car accident about 3 years after they were married. The house Scott and his mom live in now once belonged to Tami’s parents. Roy inherited it after they died. Even at eleven years old Scott could tell the disapproval Tami had for them living there. No matter what Tami thought of his mother, she had always been kind to him.

    Scott laid down on the couch while Tami fixed him a sandwich. He stared at the photos that his mother transported with them to every new house that every new husband brought. He closed his eyes trying not to think where his mother could be this time and what excuse she would have.

    “You know kid it could be worse.” A strange voice caused Scott to spring up.

    “Whose there?” Scott asked startled.

    “Over here.” Scott looked in the direction the voice came from. It came from around the table beside the fireplace. He looked up the chimney and behind the window curtain beside the table but no one was there. “Hey,in here. Look at the photos.” Scott heard the voice again. Then fell backwards when he saw the mouth of the Easter Bunny moving.

    “What the heck?” Scott quietly questioned.

    “You’re seeing things right Scott.” The furry creature stated. “I have seen a lot in the past 6 years and I know you’re a smart kid. You know where your mother is right now.”

    “Quiet, fuzz ball. Don’t undermine his relationship with his mother.” All of a sudden a deeper voice came from the photo beside it. This time it was from the photo of him and Santa taken when Scott was 4. “Scott your mother loves you very much.”

    “What do you know about a relationship between mother and son, you hang out with elves?” The big rabbit questioned the guy in red.

    “I know more than you, haven’t you heard the song ‘I saw momma kissing Santa Claus”. I’ve never heard of any woman planting a big one on a giant bunny,” quipped back the white bearded man.

    “That proves nothing….” The two photographic beings spatted back and forth as Scott just stood there wondering when it was exactly that he lost his mind.

    “Scott, come eat something. If you don’t you’ll go crazy from hunger.” Scott heard Tami’s voice drift in from the kitchen.

    “That explains a lot.” Scott thought to himself as he made his way to his nutritional salvation, while leaving the captured memories to bicker among themselves.

  8. IzzyBallard says:

    I slowly closed the door, waiting for the dreadful ‘click’ that would sound ten times louder than usual. I just prayed that my parents wouldn’t hear me. It was hard to be quiet, as mad as I was. Daniel had really tried to do it. He knew I wasn’t ready. We had that talk a million times, but he still tried. Sliding his hand up my shirt while we kissed. Squeezing my bum when I told him to stop. And I was tired of it.

    “Laurey! What would your mother say?”

    I sharply turned around to see the picture of my Grandma Jean. She had died the year before. Lung cancer.

    “Grandma?” I questioned. ‘Am I really that upset that I’m imagining things?’ I thought.

    “Sneaking out to see a boy,” she replied, “I would expect better of you.”

    I still couldn’t believe that it was her talking. She was definitely a picture, sitting in her lawn chair with a cigarette in her hand. But I figured not to question it. I missed Grandma’s pep talks.

    “I’ll never sneak out with him again,” I said, “He’s a jerk.”

    “They all are, sweetie.”

    I cracked a small smile. It felt good to talk to her again. I missed her crokked smile and thin white hair. The way she always smelled a little bit like tobacco and peppermint. I felt the tears form in my eyes, before I knew it, I was balling. I carefully grabbed the frame that my grandmother sat in, and I held it close to my chest.

    “Laurey?”

    I looked up to see my parents standing there in their pajamas. “What are you doing?” my mother asked.

    “G-grandma…she was here…”

  9. sns3guppy says:

    Blood trickled from the hilt to the tip of the knife, then fell, one drop at a time, into a spot on the carpet. Martin froze, held fast by that accusing stare. Sylvia’s grandfather glared at him from the painting, and Martin knew that the old man saw the whole thing. A warm mess of blood lapped at Martin’s boot, and promised a trail of rust-brown footprints out the front door. Martin didn’t care. He turned the tip of the knife up toward the wall.

    “What did you say, old man?”

    Sylvia’s grandfather only stared back, his painted gaze fixed and unmoving. Martin knew better. He saw that stare follow him before.

    “You’ve got a smart mouth, you pathetic old fool, but you’re not so smart when I’ve got the knife, are you?” He waited for a reply, but the old man stayed silent. “That’s what I thought. You’re very brave when my back is turned.”

    Martin looked down at Sylvia, her head cocked to one side, the wide slash across her windpipe open and gaping, a cartoonish second mouth that issued reddish bubbles and strands of tissue. Not quite dead yet, her final breaths came in halting gurgles and choked off sighs. He assumed she tried to speak, but the voice box was gone. Her eyes were distant, unseeing. Martin looked away.

    He hadn’t figured on the old man. Leave Sylvia to die on the carpeted flood, run out the door, and keep on running. Simple enough. It was the old man’s fault, sticking his nose where it didn’t belong. He was dead, after all, died long before Martin ever came around. Only his painting left on the wall.

    “Run, Martin. Run, and I’ll find you.”

    The hair on his neck stood, and he lashed out, cutting the painting from left to right. The old man in the picture said no more, now cut in two, Sylvia’s blood spread from ear to ear. Take that, old man.

    “I saw you, Martin. I saw you kill her, and you can’t kill me. I’m still here.” Her grandfather said. It was true, then. He couldn’t kill the picture. He killed Sylvia. He killed her dog. Martin couldn’t kill grandpa, not if he was already dead, and certainly not if he lived on through a picture. He slashed again, right to left, and her grandfather’s image withered with a large X cut through his face. A paper fell from behind, to the carpet, a single sheet, folded twice. Martin paused, and then snatched it up.

    Gilded, a title to their home. She hid it, he saw. In their name, not given to the Church. She didn’t lie after all, and he, Martin, didn’t need to kill her. Now, he understood. Slowly, he bent and kissed her forehead, still warm from life. Martin stood, and trudged out the door, leaving a trail of evidence, but he didn’t care. Sylvia loved him after all, and that was all that mattered.

  10. TD_Memm says:

    “You’ve got rats.”

    “I’m sorry?”

    Let’s ignore the obvious questions. We can move forward acknowledging a few important, albeit unusual, conditions and leave the “why” questions out of the equation. These things I’d request you just roll with include that my home because filled with talking pictures. The pictures were there long before the talking started, but one random day I came home and found they could speak.

    A picture of a grey tabby cat spoke those words. That picture was a present given to me by someone I can’t recall and it was given to me because it resembled my own, real-life cat. So you’ll also have to concede the shock of everything came and went for me. Suffice it to say I spent considerable time in shock.

    “You’ve got rats,” Grey Cats repeated. “Three or four, a family’s worth.”

    “How do you know this?”

    “I saw them run by while you were out. They’re bold when nothing’s around to threaten them. Borderline playful….I’m sure there’s some way to sum it up better.” The cat’s perennial squint made all its comments seem sarcastic.

    “What would you propose I do?” Asking a question to a picture makes you feel like an idiot, by the way.

    “I’m in a damn picture,” Grey Cat laughed. “What makes you think I’m an expert?”

    “You’re a cat,” I pointed out.

    “Am I?” he asked. “Hot damn! I couldn’t possibly have guessed that! Never have been able to look in a mirror. I’m more stuck on how I know what a rat is or how we’re having this conversation; or how I know how to talk.”

    “I suppose,” I shrugged. “It shocked me. You’re not the only picture in here.”

    “Really? What else you got? Any other cats? A bird? Fish? I’m thinking something I could look at here. Given how I’ve got a brain for however long, I was hoping to use it for all it’s worth.”

    I’m embarrassed to say I considered Grey Cat’s request. The notion intrigued me in the way talking pictures (not movies, old-timers) would intrigue anyone.

    “What else did you see, Grey Cat?” I asked. I’d be damned if I didn’t set the rules around a cat picture.

    “What else? Oh, well I saw the rats. And, well, there was a cleaning lady in here. An old woman dressed as a cleaning lady. Not sure what you’re in to. But she was snooping around in that room there.” The cat tried to gesture to my study.

    “In there? You sure?”

    “As sure as I am a cat.”

    “Thanks for the tip.” I began to walk away.

    “Wait!” Grey Cat exclaimed. “How’s about taking me with? For a little something of a ride, huh?”

    “I don’t think so,” I frowned.

    “Oh, well what the hell good are you then?”

    I moved away.

  11. jamieleawilliams says:

    This Friday night was like all the others since I had caught my fiancé with another woman; people-watching in a room full of strangers, one too many tall mojito’s, and my best friend talking away about whatever “problem” she had faced that day. As I looked around, I couldn’t help but notice a strange man in the corner wearing a long, white trench coat, staring right at me. His slicked-back hair and glasses were so distracting that I almost didn’t hear Kate frantically yelling my name.
    “Sarah! What the hell?”
    What? I asked.
    “You were doing it again; staring off into space with that awful look on your face.”
    “Oh.” I replied, “Sorry.”
    “It’s fine, just try not to look so constipated… you’re scaring all the guys away.”
    I had been feeling funny all day. Like my head was full of fog. And Kate’s rambling was not helping.
    “Actually Kate, I think I’m going to head home. I passed my limit about three drinks ago.”
    “What? No!” Kate pleaded. “You are not going to just leave me here, are you? I’ll come with you.”
    “No, you stay. You do better by yourself anyway. I’ll just catch a cab”.
    I climbed out of the cab and the cold air stung. Looking at the stairs leading up to my new apartment, I was fixated on the day I had come from. Just a few short hours ago I had taken this same walk up the steps to my new apartment. The new apartment Jason and I had just gotten the keys to. The new apartment with the new bed and the new girl Jason had in it. I cringed.
    As I shuffled to find my keys, I noticed that my dining room light was on through the front window. It was not like me to leave a light on. My attention quickly turned when I finally caught a grasp on my keys. I opened the door and hurried inside. I pulled on my pajamas and started to wash my face but was interrupted by what sounded like someone whispering my name.
    “Hello?” I yelled down the stairs. “That better not be you, Jason”.
    Surely I had not left the TV on too. I waited, holding my breath for a response. Nothing. I started the water back up and just as I soaked my face I heard it again, plain as day, someone whispered Sarah. I hurried down stairs, with my phone in hand ready to dial 911 when I ran smack dab into my Salvador Dali.
    “You’re not supposed to be here” I said picking it up and carrying it across the room.
    “Well I don’t like it over there in the dark corner.”
    I gasped for air, dropping the painting on the floor. What was going on?
    “Who said that?” I yelled.
    “Well, me of course. Who else? Now, pick me back up.”
    A muffled, dark voice was coming from the upside down painting. I turned to jolt outside but was stopped in my tracks by a very angry yell.
    “STOP! I said pick me up… now!” The painting demanded.
    I slowly turned around and put the painting up on its right side.
    “This can’t be happening” I sobbed.
    My legs gave way and I fell to the floor. I was now face to face with the painting. I looked around the room for the jokester.
    “Sarah, you’re in a lot of trouble. Murder is a very bad crime.” The painting said.
    “Murder? What do you mean?” I asked, confused.
    “Look in the kitchen, Sarah.”
    I glanced in the kitchen and noticed something red on the floor.
    “That wasn’t there a moment ago.” I questioned.
    “That’s right, Sarah. Go take a look at what you’ve done.”
    I struggled to my feet and slowly walked into the kitchen. With each step closer, the red kept got bigger and bigger.
    “No!” I screamed. “What have you done?”
    There lay Jason, half naked and surrounded by a pool of blood on my kitchen floor.
    “Sarah, you need to come with me now.” said another, unfamiliar voice.
    The voice was much softer. I turned back around and in my front doorway stood the strange man from the bar. He had the same white trench coat on but this time I could make out what was printed on it, Stratton Isle Mental Institution.

  12. rampmg says:

    In the last six years, I have been in love 4 times. Granted the affection was totally one-sided two of those times. Lame right? But my most recent love story was different, or so I believed until it ended abruptly on the evening of February 3rd. I thought that my boyfriend, Evan Scott III, was going to propose to me that night. Instead he politely informed me that he felt that it was time for him to move on. He explained that he had certain obligations, and he needed to start taking life more seriously. He told me that, while our ‘friendship,’ had been fun, he needed to start thinking about settling down. Then he looked at his watch, and said that he had to run because his mother had someone she wanted him to meet. He kissed me on the forehead and thanked me for being so understanding.

    I went home alone that night feeling crushed and betrayed. I collapsed in a soggy puddle on my couch, mourning the loss of the love of my life.

    “You look like a girl who has been kicked in the teeth,” said a vaguely familiar voice. The only problem was that there was no one else in the house. I chalked it up to an over active imagination.

    “Dry your eyes, sister. There are a lot of men out there. You don’t need to shed a tear over a fool like Mr. Scott.”

    I looked around the room, and my eyes fell on the vintage photograph of Mae West. “That’s right, it’s me,” said the image. “You listen to me, honey, and I’ll set you straight.”

    “You listen to her, and you’ll likely never have a meaningful relationship,” chimed in another voice.
    I spun around and saw that it had come from the photo of Rudolph Valentino.

    “You may be handsome, Rudy,” responded Mae’s photo, “but you don’t know a thing about women.”
    Thus began a heated argument between the photographs of two of the greatest sex symbols in Hollywood history about the proper way for me to conduct my love life.

    As the argument cooled in the early morning hours, I drifted off to sleep. When I awoke everything was back to normal, leaving me wonder if I had dreamed the entire experience.

    Around 10:00 am, a large bouquet was delivered. The card read, “I made a dreadful mistake. Please forgive me. Love, Evan.” I threw the card and flowers in the trash with an unexpected sense of freedom.
    A sultry laugh caused me turn to face the picture of Mae West, which said, “I believe there may be hope for you yet, honey.”

    “No, you must take him back! It will be so romantic,” exclaimed the image of Valentino.

    “I agree with Mae. Mr. Scott’s behavior was inexcusable. If I could get out of this frame, I’d pop him in the nose,” said an unmistakable voice…it was Cary Grant’s photograph.

  13. KristinaNicole says:

    “And if I never see another quaint bistro or provincial boutique again…you certainly won’t hear me complain.”
    “You don’t find it romantique? Intoxicating? Aren’t your senses alive?”
    “Alive? My senses are anesthetized by this city. The smells and sounds and sights—they leave me utterly emotionless. And frankly, you being overwrought with emotion is nauseating.”
    “Your cooking is nauseating.”
    “Pardon?”
    When I came upon the photograph of the Parisian couple that has donned my west living room wall for nearly seven years, I had to wonder if I had fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole.
    “Excuse me, are you talking?”
    The couple, taking a hiatus from their disdain for each other, looked at me incredulously. The woman, who I always thought was quite beautiful and, pardon the pun, picture of French beauty, now looked plain and discontented.
    “What are you looking at?” she snapped.
    Unsure of the appropriate response, I looked to her companion for help.
    “Forgive her rudeness, my name is Pierre and this is my, er, lovely wife Jeannette.”
    “Please to meet your acquaintance.” I decided that it would serve me no good to be accusatory and horror-stricken. After all, if this was a dream—my subconscious got something right. I had always imagined this bohemian couple to be married and I’d always loved the name Jeannette. Admittedly, I was a little dismayed at “Pierre.” It seemed a little cliché—even for a subconscious.
    “Perhaps you can help me—I am damn tired of this city. The baguettes and the bicycles and accordions.“ Jeannette came closer to the edge of the picture and attempted to peak out. “What are my options?”
    I looked around my living room—each wall donned a different city I have visited. There was Rome on the East Wall, London on the North, and finally Pamplona on the south. “Well, I’ve always loved The Eternal City, but that seems well, a little like what you’re already in. Well there’s Pamplona, but…”
    “Pamplona? Why does that city sound familiar?” asked Jeannette.
    A smile spread across Pierre’s face. “Oh my dear!” he said. “It’s only the single most famous beach resort in Spain!”
    I started to correct him, for certainly he had it confused with another city, but he interrupted.
    “They have the most fabulous white sand beaches and all the cocktails you can drink!”
    “Now that sounds like my kind of place!” she exclaimed. “Move me over there and I’ll hop in,” she said.
    I glanced over at Pierre who was looking at me with a sort of desperate insistence. So I did as I was instructed and Jeannette hoped over into the photograph of Pamplona, leaving Pierre next to the Eiffel Tower.
    We heard a quick scream and I think I heard a curse aimed at Pierre, but I can’t be quite sure, as the bulls immediately charged as she landed in Spain.
    I placed Pierre back on the west wall and there he stood, basking in the Parisian atmosphere and the silence.

  14. KristinaNicole says:

    Picture Hopping and Peace in Paris

    “And if I never see another quaint bistro or provincial boutique again…you certainly won’t hear me complain.”
    “You don’t find it romantique? Intoxicating? Aren’t your senses alive?”
    “Alive? My senses are ananesstizied by this city. The smells and sounds and sights—they leave me utterly emotionless. And frankly, you being overwrought with emotion is nauseating.”
    “Your cooking is nauseating.”
    “Pardon?”
    When I came upon the photograph of the Parisian couple that has donned my west living room wall for nearly seven years, I had to wonder if I had fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole.
    “Excuse me, are you talking?”
    The couple, taking a hiatus from their disdain for each other, looked at me incredulously. The woman, who I always thought was quite beautiful and, pardon the pun, picture of French beauty, now looked plain and discontented.
    “What are you looking at?” she snapped.
    Unsure of the appropriate response, I looked to her companion for help.
    “Forgive her rudeness, my name is Pierre and this is my, er, lovely wife Jeannette.”
    “Please to meet your acquaintance.” I decided that it would serve me no good to be accusatory and horror-stricken. After all, if this was a dream—my subconscious got something right. I had always imagined this bohemian couple to be married and I’d always loved the name Jeannette. Admittedly, I was a little dismayed at “Pierre.” It seemed a little cliché—even for a subconscious.
    “Perhaps you can help me—I am damn tired of this city. The baguettes and the bicycles and accordions.“ Jeannette came closer to the edge of the picture and attempted to peak out. “What are my options?”
    I looked around my living room—each wall donned a different city I have visited. There was Rome on the East Wall, London on the North, and finally Pamplona on the south. “Well, I’ve always loved The Eternal City, but that seems well, a little like what you’re already in. Well there’s Pamplona, but…”
    “Pamplona? Why does that city sound familiar?” asked Jeannette.
    A smile spread across Pierre’s face. “Oh my dear!” he said. “It’s only the single most famous beach resort in Spain!”
    I started to correct him, for certainly he had it confused with another city, but he interrupted.
    “They have the most fabulous white sand beaches and all the cocktails you can drink!”
    “Now that sounds like my kind of place!” she exclaimed. “Move me over there and I’ll hop in,” she said.
    I glanced over at Pierre who was looking at me with a sort of desperate insistence. So I did as I was instructed and Jeannette hoped over into the photograph of Pamplona, leaving Pierre next to the Eiffel Tower.
    We heard a quick scream and I think I heard a curse aimed at Pierre, but I can’t be quite sure, as the bulls immediately charged as she landed in Spain.
    I placed Pierre back on the west wall and there he stood, basking in the Parisian atmosphere and the silence.

  15. SallyintheValley says:

    Glad to get home and take off my shoes, I plunk down in my favorite chair and put my feet up. At 72, the thrill of having evening parties to go to has not only worn thin, but is bordering on punishment and torture. I close my eyes and lean my head back, as one of my two male cats snuggles up on my chest.

    As I am enjoying the feel of being home and stroking the soft purring body, I hear weeping. What? I jerk my head up and look around; what on earth? I live alone with my two felines, and last I knew, neither of them could make weeping sounds. I see it; a picture of my three children is alive and moving. My son is crying. I get up, much to the chagrin of my cat that walks off in a huff, to get closer to the photograph.

    “Bryan?” I ask.

    “Mom! Oh, mom, I miss you.”

    My heart breaks. My son Bryan died two years ago, homeless and alone due to his addiction to alcohol. “Bryan, I miss you too. How can you be speaking to me?”

    “I just can. I usually remain silent, but, today, my grief got the best of me. I see the picture of your 70th birthday taken and I am not in it. It hurts so much.”

    As I look at the large framed photo-on-canvas picture he is talking about, my eyes fill with tears also. Taken only three months after Bryan’s death, it indeed only has me, my two daughters, my son-in-law and my four grandchildren in the picture. Even if he had lived, we wouldn’t have known where he was; chances are he wouldn’t have been in the picture anyway.

    “Bryan, sad as it might be, would you have come home to be in the picture? Would you really have wanted to be in it?”

    “You’re right. I was a sick, selfish, ungrateful son. After the wonderful childhood you gave me, I tossed my future in the garbage. Mom, can you forgive me?”

    Never expecting to have a chance to say the words, I spoke: “Bryan, I forgive you. You were sick, and never got well. I will always treasure the memories of your childhood and the good times. I do not dwell on what has happened and can not be changed.”

    “That’s good mom. I love you and I’m sorry. I just wish I could have been in that picture.”

    “You were, Bryan. See the blue crystal necklace around my neck? It is actually a small vial that has a bit of your cremation ashes in it. I wanted you with me, and you were.”

    The picture of my son started glowing. His face was radiant and smiling. Then the light faded and the picture returned to normal. No more voice, no more weeping. What an extraordinary moment. I will never forget it.

  16. bjamison71 says:

    This is my second submission on this one– the prompt so nice, I did it twice! ;-)

    ***
    I clutched my head in my hands as their voices swirled around me, the highs and lows of pitch and gender sliding together to create a single, accusatory tone that rose to a humming crescendo inside my skull.

    “Enough!” I bellowed, nearly toppling my glass of vodka as I leapt from my chair. “Just shut up, all of you!”

    “Don’t speak to your mother like that!” my father barked from the confines of my parents’ wedding photo on the wall. “You show some respect!”

    “Seriously, Dad?” I spat. “You’re gonna lecture me on respect? You, the man who used his wife and kids as his own personal punching bag for all those years?”

    “You listen here, you little bi—”

    “Now, Earl, remember your blood pressure,” my mother soothed, patting his maroon-tuxedoed arm from her place in the photograph. “She’s not thinking straight, it’s the vodka talking now.”

    “Keep telling yourself that, Mother,” I glowered, flopping back into the chair and taking another sip. “Hey, maybe you could bring it up with Jesus at your next prayer meeting!”

    My mother gasped and made the sign of the cross, then bowed her head in fervent prayer.

    “Geez, Sis,” Ben groaned. “You just don’t know when to quit, do you? Can’t you just for once let it go?”

    “What the hell do you know, Ben?!” I whirled to face my older brother’s picture. “You took off every time the shit hit the fan, didn’t you? And then you just took off, permanently!”

    “Yeah, and I made something of myself!” he shot back. “You could’ve done the same, but you chose to stay here and become a drunk instead!”

    “I’m not a drunk! I can quit anytime I want to!”

    “Then why don’t you?” Ben challenged.

    “Because I don’t want to!” I shouted. “Because it makes it so much easier to deal with you people!”

    “You tell ‘em, honey,” my grandfather’s image chimed in from his spot on the mantel. “I love you just the way you are.”

    “Thank you, Gramps!” I raised my glass to him, and then turned to the faces of the rest of my dysfunctional family up on the wall. “See? Gramps says I’m fine just the way I am!”

    “That’s because he’s an alcoholic, too,” my mother sniffed.

    “A recovered alcoholic,” Gramps corrected. “When I died, I hadn’t touched a drop in over fifteen years…”

    The photographs began bickering amongst themselves, the din gradually rising once again. I jumped up and threw my empty glass across the room, where it shattered against the wall in a spray of glass and ice cubes.

    Late the next morning, after pouring the last bottle of vodka down the drain, I sipped a glass of ice water and surveyed the fresh coat of paint on my now-empty living room wall. The frames were in a Goodwill bin down the street, and the photos of my horrid family were on their way to the landfill, where their voices could haunt the sour ground for all of eternity.

    “Looks pretty good,” Gramps smiled at me from the mantel. “But remember, this is just the first step of a long, hard road.”

    “One day at a time,” I recited, admiring the fresh, clean slate before me. “But this one’s off to a pretty good start.”

  17. Laura Jones says:

    What a night! My feet ache as though I have danced my way down the cobble streets, my toes begging to be freed from their cramped prison inside my crimson heel. I tiptoe quietly into my humble apartment, shared with my fiancé. He is sound asleep. The whispers of his breath and the rumble of his snore can be heard from the door. Only our dog, Molly, hears me come in and cries for me.

    I go through to the dining room, placing my purse gingerly down on the chair whose arms might as well welcome me into them. Suddenly, a voice.

    “Excuse me.”

    “Excuse me?” I whisper. “Ryan, is that you?” My fiancé answers only by snoring a little louder. Thinking it prehaps my exhaustion or a glass too much of wine, I recommence my bedding down for the night. Then, there it is again!

    “Excuse me.”

    I go to the living room. There is no one there. Nothing there but a painting of a forest. But wait, there is something there that hasn’t existed before. A nymph?

    “Have you been asking for me?” I question her. She hair is long and white, her skin is the color of olive oil as though she has baked in the sun. She is dressed in the brush of the scene, leaves adorn her body and she smiles at me.

    “Yes, ma’am. I was wondering how long I must wait for someone to notice me. I have tried long to catch your attention. For you see, the man in your household does scare me so and your little protector is quick to eat me. Can you help me please?”

    “Why certainly, but how is it you exist? What do you need help with?”
    “I exist in this painting because I was banished here by Winter, a witch who lives in Nature. As I am sure she is long passed and a more benevolent witch has taken her place, I long to be freed into the world again. May I ask for a window sill?”
    “Please, climb into my palm, I will take you outside.”

    I hold my hand out, slightly cupped to allow no chance for her to fall. Hesitantly, I ask, “And what is the name of whom I am rescuing?”

    “Shannon. And yours?”
    “Laura,” I smile. “Hold on and I will be happy to take you outside.”

    Carefully, I walk Shannon down the hall of our little apartment, where she felt secure for so many years. I open the door where the warm Spring winds whip around the porch and smile to her.

    “The world, Shannon. It is yours again!” As soon as I said this, a swallow came down. Shannon climbed onto the little bird and smiled at me.

    “I will never forget your generosity!” And with that, she was gone.

    The next morning, I tried to tell my fiancé what had happened but he never believed me. He told me I had too much to drink, it was a figment of my imagination, that maybe I need to go to Ireland again, laughing all the while. But every Spring, a little swallow comes to my window at night. And every time, I see a little woman on his back. Perhaps Shannon is watching over me.

  18. Ross says:

    Two lovers kissing in a crowded street, eyes for no one but each other. A quintet of women, toes dipping gingerly into a pool, bare backs colored with the accomplishments of four. A musician leans back, wearing an easy, devil-may-care grin. Shades of mauve surround a woman; her blond hair cascades over her face, a peach dress falling just short of her knees; she sits comfortably on the floor, an old, blurry guitar in hand, she strums. A stream of blues tumbles down stoney mounds and moss covered logs. A dark, foreboding forest opens its branches to you, smoky air obscures the lowering sun, shivers over tree tops, and dives down low into the roots. A floppy ear falls to the back of a rich chocolate eye of an aging dog peering sweetly to the sky, the other eye hidden in the curves of a pillow.

    Our trees whisper to the stream ‘come on through, we won’t bite.’

    The stream quivers in response, and shakes pebbles loose from its bed. Taking with them memories of sediment and minerals the rocks travel downstream and through the city of people and chaos, until finally finding rest in a pool.

    ‘It’s cold in here.’ The ladies say. ‘Won’t you find warmth away from here?’ Delicate, melodious voices ring through room as the pebbles hop up and down, and tickle the feet of our women. They giggle with delight; their poses and purposes forgotten as the small rocks travel up their legs.

    The stream calls, the forest beckons. The rocks roll poolside and leave behind a wet playful kiss on each hand. Along they roll, traveling frame to frame through weddings they dance joyfully around the feet of our relatives. By a brother river they sing along side, and traverse down through the valleys of our past. The small pebbles, intrepid and without fatigue, journey to fantasies and to what was and to our memories. Stopping, along the way, to speak to each moment as if it were the only one.

    The forest wants, and the stream begs ‘come home.’ And the pebbles travel.

    Now our lovers, undistracted by the rocks twirling themselves around in delight; celebrating their love, wanting of their happiness. Wind blew them down a path to purple-rose of a world. They listen as the kneeling woman strokes guitar strings. Air was still and warm and the stones felt no desire to leave. Slowly time eked by (as if it were quicker in other worlds), they bid the woman farewell, and she played for them as they wander on.

    On to a geisha. Tenderness and grace and sadness swarmed the girl and the wind blew the pebbles. ‘We call and call and you’ve not come to us.’ The forest spoke.

    A hound groaned grouchily at being woken, soft ears perked up and a wet nose twitched at the smell of our memories. She blinks softly and, thinking it unworthy of her arising, falls to sleep again. A white flower splashed with red shows, with pride, its beauty to the plain, wind worn rocks. It shimmies droplets of dew from its paper thin petals down the vibrant green stem which holds it high in the air.

    The pebbles roll onto soft grass; a viridian world that bleeds into a harsh, deathly ground. Ominous, smoggy air surrounds the young stones as they push on. It calls ‘come on through here.’ The brave little stones carried with them our past and the forest calls to them.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      If this melodious paint brush filled with descriptions of vibrant colors doesn’t grab the artistic side of everyone who splashes through this story, I don’t know what would move you. Makes the thought of grabbing a canvas, oil paint and brushes, winding through the painting as the stones in the story. “Too Marvelous For Words” as the song says.

      • Ross says:

        Thank you for your kind words. Your story, too, was quite moving. I can feel your grief as you write, that must have been hard for you. Still, it was beautiful, thank you for sharing.

    • bjamison71 says:

      This is absolutely amazing!! The imagery is fabulous– not only could I see this painting, I felt as if I were IN it!! Superb!!

  19. abbyw says:

    The Gift

    “Hey I just got home. Let me get inside and I’ll call you back.” It had been the longest day in history. It was like the last day of school before summer break and all you can think about is the long summer vacation that awaits you to fill it with all things fun and exciting. I hung up the phone and threw into my purse. I couldn’t wait to plop down on my couch, kick off my 4 inch heels, and rest my feet upon one of my fluffy throw pillows. I stepped up to my door and froze. What was that noise? Hmmm? I listened again but the noise was no longer there and I just pegged it to exhaustion. Cautiously I opened the door still not completely sure if I was just going crazy or if I really did hear something.
    Looking around my living room, it was in the same disheveled mess that I left it in this morning in my rush to get to work. “Wow, I have got to clean this mess up,” I said.
    “Not to mention stop wearing those heels. They’re going to cause you to break your ankle one of these days.” A voice broke the peace that I relied upon so much.
    It was a voice that seemed familiar. My body froze in fear and my mind raced with thoughts of robbers and guns. The woman sounded so familiar.
    “Where are you? Show yourself!” I demanded.
    “I’m right here dear. You know who I am. Don’t be afraid. We have been given a gift.” The unknown being said in a tone so soothing I couldn’t help but feel unafraid.
    “I don’t see you. Am I going crazy because there is nobody else here?” I said.
    “No, you are not going crazy. It’s Mom silly. Look at the wall. I am right here. I’ve missed you so much,” she said.
    “Mom? It can’t be. You died 3 years ago.” My eyes filled with tears. I wondered who could be playing such a cruel and harsh joke .
    “Suzy Q, it’s ok. We’ve been given this precious moment. I have seen you come and go and never have I been allowed to say a word to you until now. I just want you to know how much I love you and how proud I am of everything you have accomplished. I don’t have much time. One day we will be together again. I love you my baby girl. I will always be with you.”
    With that the photo was still. What just happened? It seemed so real but how could it be. I knew how much I have been missing my mother, but I never thought I would get a chance to see her again, let alone talk to here again. I will never be able to comprehend what just happened but I know I was talking to another person and that person was my precious mother. I felt renewed and happy. What a miracle!

  20. ibartist2 says:

    The Artist and the Painting
    “You’re doing it all wrong! The colors not right and that line is too thick!” I stormed in the house ranting and threw down my art bag.
    I had heard about as much criticism as I could stand from people lately. Painting had become more of a chore since I had started college than the pleasure it was before. I could not understand any of the concepts they were teaching.
    “Well, aren’t you just a ball of joy today. “
    I nearly jumped out of my skin. “Who’s there?” I asked turning around. The room was empty except for the portrait hanging on the wall.
    “ I’ve been here all along. If you would only ask, I would tell you what you are doing wrong, but no, you know it all already.” The painting replied. “You know, if you would just quit assuming you know it all and listen to someone, you might be open to suggestions.”
    You sound like my professor.” I retorted. “Why don’t you just climb out of that painting and do it yourself if you know so much?”
    I stopped to give the painting an evil stare, but when I turned around, the frame was empty. I was still standing with my mouth gaped open when the paintbrush was whisk out of my hand by the now present child standing by my side. She began to paint.
    “Don’t mind if I do. See, you do it like this. If you hold your brush like so and apply it to the canvas like this, understand? Now try it and pay attention this time. If you will just quit assuming you know everything, and listen, you just might make an artist someday.” She said sternly.
    I took the brush from her, stunned that I was actually interacting with a painting and learning something I didn’t know.
    “Well, don’t just stand there with catching flies; I’m not here to entertain you.” She said. “I have only been allotted so much time with you. You aren’t Michelangelo, but he says you can do a lot better than you are now. “
    “You know Michelangelo?” I stuttered.
    “Who do you think sent me? He sees you have talent and potential. He also sees that you have a total lack of self-confidence and need a good talking to, so he sent me. So start painting! You have a lot to do and a lot to learn before your time is up on this planet.”
    I turned toward the painting with new vigor and touched the brush to it like I was shown. It looked different that it had before. It felt different. The painting was coming from within. I turned to thank my new teacher. She had disappeared. I spun around and she had returned to the frame hanging on the wall. She winked and shook her head in approval.
    “Look to me for encouragement.” Was the last thing she said just before returning to her statuesque poise.

  21. emily39 says:

    This is for a class:

    I kicked off my shoes. It had been a long day at work and I couldn’t wait to sit on the couch and lose myself in hours of mindless TV on Hulu. Nashville and Parks and Rec were my current favorites. In the darkness, I stumbled over my boyfriend, Rob’s, shoe and cursed. I reached the light switch and flipped it on.
    As I made my way to the couch, I passed the painting I had on my wall. It was a reimaginig of the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s shot of Audrey Hepburn. A friend knew of my obsession with the movie and repainted me the scene in one of her art classes.
    I did a double take when I passed the painting; it seemed like Audrey had winked at me. Working long hours was really messing with my mind. I studied the painting. Was Audrey’s smirk a little tighter? No, it couldn’t be. Wait. Smoke was wafting out of the cigarette Audrey had in her hand. Now, the people were moving around in the background.
    “Emily,” Audrey spoke. “Don’t be perturbed. We just get so tired of being perfectly still when you’re around.”
    I looked over my shoulder. Someone had to be playing a trick on me. To my dismay, the apartment was empty. No one was laughing at me.
    “Emily. Come on now. You have an imaginative mind. Just believe. I believe we could be friends. Have you seen Cat? I haven’t seen him in ages. I do hope someone fed him.”
    I slowly backed away from the painting and sprinted into my bedroom. I locked the door and called Rob.
    As I listened to the phone ring, I contemplated what I would say. “The painting is talking to me” sounded like I needed to be committed. “Come home now” sounded like I was hurt. I hung the phone up. It had to be my imagination. I would just stay in this room until he came home. Audrey surely couldn’t walk around. Could she?
    “A great person is never scared,” a voice came out of nowhere. I let out a small scream and fell of the bed. I turned and saw Gladiator movie poster Rob had. Russell Crowe was knelt down, sword in hand, speaking to me.
    Audrey was the lesser of two evils. I tore out of the bedroom and leapt onto the couch. “How is this happening?” I spoke to Audrey.
    “Well, I already explained to you; maybe you should listen. We get tired of not moving to make you and that man that lives here happy. But we’re tired of it; we have lives too, after all. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to move around?”
    “Because you’re a painting! You’re not real!”
    “On the contrary, dear. I feel very real. Maybe you’re not real. You seem a little fevered. Maybe you should call the doctor. Oh, there he is now. Open your eyes.”
    Rob sat next to me on the couch. “Here’s your hot tea, honey. You dozed off for awhile and I let you sleep. I hope you don’t mind.” He put his hand to my forehead; I think your fever is breaking.

  22. ndokken says:

    Alex staggered through the door to his apartment on the sixteenth floor of One Ten Grant in Downtown Minneapolis’ Loring Park neighborhood. His clothes were disheveled and wrinkled, and his breath smelled of gin and disappointment as he slammed the door behind him in a haggard state. Suddenly, he began to hear a faint scream. At first he thought it was coming from the streets below. “Another passing idiot,” he thought. But as he peered over the balcony all was quiet in the still of the urban night. Neither the sounds of a gentle breeze or the the blaring police sirens could be heard. Suddenly, he heard the scream once again, but now it was coming from directly behind.
    He turned, but each time he turned and began to move the scream stopped. The whaling scream commenced but this time it was much more maddening like the incessant whine of a child, or like the monotonous cry from a baby. The more he heard it, the louder it became. He was delusional, he thought to himself. He shuddered by the thought as to what it could have been. He sat down on the white leather chaise parallel to the balcony for just a moment to recollect his thoughts, and as his eyes darted across the room towards the wall perpendicular to him, he noticed something strange happening on a replica of Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream.” The apparent man in the picture had lowered his hands to his sides, and each time they lowered the screams had stopped. He stood up from the chaise and slowly inched closer to the painting. The man’s beady little eyes shot back an evil glare as he raised both his hands up to his face and screamed yet again.
    “You were drugged at three and hoped it would set you free!”
    “Huh? W-who are you?”
    “You were drugged at three and hoped it would set you free!”
    “Yes, I know! I heard you!”
    “You were drugged at three and hoped it would set you free!”
    The man continued to repeat this phrase over and over again, and each time he had said this, the louder his voice had sounded inside of his head. Alex slipped into a state of uncontrollable fear. His heart banged and rattled inside of his chest like it was attempting to flee for its life as his palms had grown damp and clammy yet ice cold to the touch. Suddenly the man’s hand from the painting pierced through the canvas like a bullet and punched Alex in the eye.
    Adam flinched, and like a record player his mind began to playback the absurdity of his thoughts that were scaled back from reality yet lost in translation within his hallucinations. The screams he had heard were nothing more than his erratic humming, and the movement of the man inside the painting was nothing more than the dilated pupils in his eyes that danced in the after-glow of the dim lighting above.

  23. bcw111 says:

    The door won’t budge. I hear voices coming from inside. I remember locking the door. “What is that?” I ponder.

    I push the door harder knowing someone is inside that shouldn’t be. The girl I brought home for the night is giving me a funny look.

    “Everything alright?” She awkwardly asks.

    “Yeah. I just need some water.” The door opens finally. “My room is the last door on the right.” She hurries down to it. Stripping clothes off slowly with each step.

    “You do this every night. Do you not feel guilt?” Photo 1 exclaims. “You have no respect for women.”

    “What the hell was that?!” I yell.

    “What?” My date screams from down the hall.

    “Nothing.” I yell back. “I’ll be there in a minute.”

    “You should leave her alone and call a cab for her to take home. DO the right thing for once.” The photo gleams at me.

    “Someone must have spiked my drink.” I stumble to the wall.

    “No one drugged you. You have been needing an intervention for some time now. The other paintings and I have had enough of your sloppy being.”

    “I must be going crazy listening to a painting.” I say as I roll my eyes.

    “You are perfectly normal. Let me promise you that.” Photo 1 paces around the picture frame. “ You see, it’s about time you settle down. You are at that age in life when having sex and random hook ups are not as important as a life partner.”

    I finally give in and see where this can go. “I enjoy my lifestyle greatly. Noting you can say will change that.”

    “Do you remember that girl from last weekend? When you were hooking up with her did things feel different, wasn’t it more memorable?” The photo points to its head.

    “I mean yeah. That has to be only due to the fact that she is most likely the most gorgeous girl I’ve brought home lately.”

    “It is not that. You will realize it soon enough and regret your loss. I tried to help. Oh and by the way dust me off once and awhile.” The photo freezes with him pointing towards the bedroom.

    “I cannot believe I am going to listen to a painting.”

    Memories run through my head. The enjoyable time we had out that night. The hesitation when we said our goodbyes. I am crazy to not give her that one chance. I sober up.

    I run down the hallway and come right to a naked girl ready for me. I stumble for a moment.

    I throw her clothes at her and proceed to make a phone call.

    “I need a cab ASAP.”

    “Wow. Your loss.” She says as she waits on the front porch.

  24. Larry says:

    Dave and his date Diane were just entering the house that Dave shared with his father Richard. From the other room they heard Richard say “hello Dave how was your evening? I believe this to be the second time you have dinned out with this lovely Lady”. “Yes it is”, Dave said “and hopefully it won’t be the last”. “Diane: may I call you Diane? “I am glad to finally get to speak to you, there is so much I want to tell you about Dave” Richard said. “Please tell me a little about yourself, so I may get to know you a better”. “I apologize for not greeting you face to face but I have been in an accident, and I am confined and unable to move around without help from Dave”.
    Diane was a little surprised, she did not normally go into a man’s house after only two dates, but she felt very comfortable with Dave, she felt very safe with him. From the sound of his father Richards voice she was immediately relaxed with him as well. “I am pleased to speak to you as well Mr. Lewis” Diane said. “I would love to learn more about Dave as well as you”. “That would be wonderful Diane and please call me Richard”. “I will call you Richard”. Diane looked at Dave and asked “is he sensitive about his being confined, is that why I can’t see him?” Dave said “it is very complicated and hard to explain, let alone how hard it will be for you to understand. I sometimes still can’t understand it myself”.
    Now Diane was very curious. She asked “may I see your father?” Dave had fully intended to introduce her to his father that is why he invited her into their house. He just needed to introduce her to him slowly. His condition dictated that he not rush in to the introduction quickly. Dave said “I need to give you a little history before I let you meet him”. Dave asked Richard if” it would be ok to tell Diane everything”. “Of course Son she will have to find out sooner or later”.
    “You see Diane my father fell while skiing about five years ago and broke his neck, which is how he got into his confinement”. Dave said “how exactly he came to be confined is a mystery to both of us, nothing any doctor can explain. We have both learned to be OK with his confinement, and I am so glad I did not lose him forever”. Richard spoke to them both “please Dave escort Diane in to the dining room”. They both walk into the dining room and Diane gasps.
    There on the wall was a life size picture of Richard dressed in relaxed evening cloths smoking a pipe sitting in a large arm chair with the evening newspaper on his lap. “Good evening Diane it is so nice to meet you” the picture of Richard says. Diane smiles.

  25. frankd1100 says:

    I guided her through the door ahead of me. Her jet black hair shined as I snapped on the foyer chandelier. Her tanned athletic body graceful in the strapless, black cocktail dress.

    She turned abruptly to face me, her wary dark eyes searching mine as she grasped my hands and said, “I’m not sure about this, Jack… It’s just not what I do.”

    I pulled her gently into my arms, feeling the anxious rise and fall of her breasts against my chest. All I needed was to get a glass or two of Cabernet into her and she’d be agreeable again. I whispered, my lips close to her ear;

    “Sheila, what I feel for you is an electricity I’ve never known. Introducing myself tonight, I could barely breathe. More than your physical beauty, there’s an aura of purity that encircles you.”

    “Noooo Jack, not that tired old line again! “

    “What the,” … I froze causing Sheila to pull back, confused. “Damn it,” I thought. “I had her right there and…”

    “What is it Jack, what’s wrong?”

    “Nothing,” I said. “I thought … did you hear a noise, a voice maybe, close by?”

    Turning toward the voice from the parlor my eyes were drawn to the painting of King Arthur, gently holding Guinevere’s hand. My Father had left it to me.

    Sheila was saying, “Well no, I thought we were alone here, Jack!”

    Arthur had loved his Queen knowing she had betrayed him. Why? I caught Rene’ one time with her young associate in the back of the Mercedes I’d given her for Valentine’s Day, and I was on a red eye to Boston that night never to speak with her again. Now divorced, my m.o. was to use women before they could use me.

    “Open your heart, Jack. She’s not been tainted with bitterness like you have.” The accent was Welch and I was certain she moved her head. It was the framed still from “How Green Was My Valley,” my Father’s favorite movie. In the frame, Pa and his miner sons at the dining table had all turned to glare while “Ma” stopped serving to speak to me.

    “Jack, are you okay? Sheila had taken my elbow to steady me.

    “How’s that make you feel, Jack?” My original oil of Muhammed Ali. I stared at the picture over the fire place as Ali shook his head. “Make you feel real big, or like a mud covered pig, Jack?”

    Sheila ran out returning with a glass of water and helped me sit.

    King Arthur, smiling now, said, “You might want to try opening your heart again, Jack. This one’s heart never closes.”

    It wasn’t a dream. Sheila knelt beside me saying, “Jack, are you all right?”

    “I’m fine, Sheila, thank you.”

    Placing the glass on an end table I rose from the chair and taking her hand as she stood, I asked,

    “Would you like to sit in the kitchen while I make us coffee?”

    “I would, Jack … I would.”

  26. phfed says:

    The cancer that was eating away at my father had finally taken it’s last bite. Mom and I held hands as Dad slipped away. No tears, both of us relieved it was over.
    Back at home, I got Mom settled into bed and tried Lauren’s number, hoping she would answer this time. I needed to explain how sorry I was, that I never meant to harm her. I chickened out as the call went to voicemail and tossed my mobile onto the couch. God, I needed a drink.
    Sometime later I found myself standing bleary eyed before what Mom called her wall of shame. Old photos, mostly of us kids, some in frames, others just pinned to the drywall. I got a kick out of how Mom dressed my sisters identically even though they are fraternal twins. There was my brother, looking trim and handsome in his navy uniform. Just then it struck me; maybe it was Mom’s shame for not stopping Dad’s drunken rages, stopping my sisters from leaving home. Or maybe it was their shame for abandoning me and Mom to fend for ourselves against the man.
    I remembered the night, shivering and crying in bed after one of his beatings, I made a vow to never become like him, never treat anyone the way he did.
    My eyes focused on a picture of me, taken at my uncle’s farm. Athletic, suntanned, full head of hair, it was hard to believe I once looked like that. I straightened my posture, sucked in my gut and turned to refill my glass.
    ” Hey Dad, couldn’t stay away huh? ” I froze. What the…
    ” Kinda hoped you wouldn’t make it out of the hospital. ” That voice. It was coming from the wall. I went back and scanned the photos.
    ” Geez, you look like hell, ” younger me said from the farm. I almost shat myself.
    ” Wait a second, what’s going on? How are you talking to me? ” I felt dizzy.
    ” Doesn’t matter how. Hoped never to see you again, Dad. ”
    ” But I’m not Dad…how could you…I mean I’m you, you’re me, ” my mouth was dry.
    ” Yeah, nice try. There’s no way I’d let myself go like that. You got no hair, big black circles under your eyes, a fat ass and gut to match. You got jowls for crisssakes. ” I pinched the bridge of my nose between my thumb and forefinger, trying to clear my vision. Staring hard at the silent and unmoving photo, I was either drunk or losing my grip on reality. There was no way it could talk but even if it had, how would I not recognize myself? That I was my Dad? The very idea disgusted me. I felt the familiar rush of blood to my head, my arms and legs trembled as I gave a primal scream and smashed the tumbler into the photo. I stood there, panting and jacked on adrenaline. As I came down, I remembered the promise, made all those years ago. I slid to the floor, shivering and crying, head in my hands. The hands of my father.

  27. DMelde says:

    Bob dragged the picture through the kitchen door and out into the back yard. All the doctors said he was crazy but he never felt better. How dare they call him insane, INSANE, but he’d show them. He’d show them all.
    “Where are you taking me?” the picture asked Bob.
    “Shut up.” Bob replied.
    He threw the picture on the growing pile of pictures, paintings, and posters, all in various sizes and frames, which set off a cacophony of complaints from the others.
    “Ouch.”
    “Watch where you’re throwing that.”
    “What’s going on?”
    Bob told them all to shut up and he headed back into the house to get more. He took the kitchen pictures of the chicken and the egg outside and he threw them on top of the pile.
    “I’m supposed to be on top of the egg.” the chicken complained, but to no avail.
    “You came first.” Bob snickered, and he went to the garden shed to get his five gallon can of gasoline.
    “My own pictures,” Bob mumbled, “turning against me. So they all agree with the doctors, well guess what, I DON’T.”
    Bob carried the gasoline back to the pile and searched his pockets for a match.
    “We should talk about this son.” a picture of Bob’s dad said. He was buried on the bottom and only his eye poked out from the pile.
    “Stay out of this dad. The time for talking is over.” Bob told him.
    With a flourish, Bob produced a match from his pocket.
    “But son, how can I stay out of it? I’m in it, right up to my eyeball.”
    “An eye for an eye.” the muffled voice of Chuck Norris warned Bob. His movie poster lay buried somewhere in the pile.
    “Not so tough now, are you Norris.”
    Bob opened up the gas can and prepared to pour its contents over the pile.
    Did you take your medication yesterday, dear?” Bob’s mom asked.
    Of all the pictures haphazardly thrown into the pile, his mom’s picture was the only one neatly propped upright, resting against the others.
    Sitting down in front of her picture, Bob said.
    “I don’t have to take it anymore ma. I’m not crazy.”
    “My dear son, who said anything about being crazy, your pills are vitamins to keep you strong so you can live here by yourself. You like living here don’t you?”
    “Yes ma. That other place wasn’t nice.”
    “And isn’t that nurse Lynn coming over to visit you today? You know, I think she likes you son.”
    “You think so ma?”
    “I do. And what is she going to think when she sees that you’ve burned us all in a fire?”
    “She won’t like it. So what should I do ma?”
    “I think you should go inside and take your vitamins and fix yourself a nice breakfast. Try and forget about last night. When you’re done come back out and take us all back inside.”
    “Before nurse Lynn gets here?”
    “Yes son, before she arrives.”

    • douglangille says:

      This was both hilarious and frightening. I know a few people who struggle with compliance with respect to their meds. This could happen. O_O.

    • slayerdan says:

      As a mental health professional, I appreciate this on subject matter alone. Although lighthearted, it definitely cuts directly to a reality many people with psychosis deal with daily—that which is not real, is real. At least to them. And the “you came first” he snickered made me lol. Missed a couple of quotation marks but liked it quite a bit.Yay for the good hallucinations.

  28. Michael says:

    A little groggy, Karl found himself sprawled out on his faded maroon couch still in his tuxedo. He could hear the sirens screeching up to his driveway as several highbeams flashed in his grey pupils making him blink. With his heart now wanting to beat outside his chest and his breathing becoming labored Karl did the only thing he could think of he eased his muscular frame off the couch and to the floor while he waited for the cops to enter is house.
    He stayed there motionless as they continued to struggle with the door. Karl laid there with his eyes closed as he heard an all to familar voice coming from atop the mantle. When he opened them he couldn’t believe what he saw. The painting above the fireplace was talking to him.
    “Hello Karl, my dear do not be afraid but it is time. I miss you so very much.”
    “Ga-Gayle is that you? But it can’t be I must be dreaming or still drunk maybe?”
    “You are dreaming dear but I want you with me now I’ve waited for you for such a long time. Please come to me so we can be together.” The hands and the arms of the painting began to reach out to Karl and tried touching his chisled face. Not sure what to do Karl continued to lay there as the cops got the door open and the arms from the painting disappeared.
    “Quickly, Quickly get him out before it explodes!” Both cops grapped ahold of Karl as they pulled him out of his car just before it erupted into a ball of flame along with the gasoline tanker.
    “Can, you find a pulse!?” The larger of the two felt for a pulse and shook his head.
    “Damn! Well we need to write up the accident report and the Paramedics can take over he’s dead on scene anyway.”
    “Yeah, to bad Karl Elmquist world famous art dealer died in a car accident.”
    “At least he will be with his wife now.”
    “True” Both officers headed back to there vehicle to write up the report. The larger of the two stopped for a moment as he felt compelled to look up in the sky and spotted two dark figures floating in the sky. He found himself murming under his breath.
    “Well sis, I hope your happy now you have Karl back with you. I’ll see the both of you soon just not yet.
    “What?”
    “Oh nothing we need to finish our report.” The smaller of the two officers began writing.

  29. sparklett says:

    It was light at first, the buzzing behind the red door. Reminiscent of the time we walked under the cherry trees when the blossoms were laden by thousands of honeybees. Yes, the sound definitely reminded me of bees. But there certainly couldn’t be bees inside my house, especially in the dead of winter.

    The skin on the back of my neck prickled as I inserted the key into the lock. As the door swung open the buzzing sound intensified into a vibrating thrum and then came to a sudden stop as I stepped over the threshold.

    I flicked on the hall switch and squinted as bright light flooded the cramped entry vestibule. A bee-less silence. And then, “Well hello!”

    I yelped at the sound of the tiny, tinny voice. Holding my keys up as if they were a makeshift weapon, I spun around the entryway, placing a protective hand over my bulging belly. “Who’s there?” I shouted.

    “Hello! Over here.” The tiny vice quipped again.

    Yet there was no one in sight. Equipped with only a few pegs for hanging jackets and a faded piece of artwork that my mother found at a flea market, the vestibule was barely big enough for one person. “Show yourself!” I demanded, waving the keys around madly. “I’m calling the police!”

    “I’m right here.” It sounded impatient now, as if it was talking to child who clearly wasn’t paying attention. “To your left.”

    I slowly turned, knowing that nothing was there besides the wall, the coat peg, and the picture.

    The picture of a honeybee.

    The buzzing returned. As I stared at the image, a pair of black glassy eyes stared back at me. A pair of wings shook and vibrated and a small appendage waved. “Here I am!” the bee said.

    I heard myself let out a gasp and then whispered, “Wha…how is this possible?”

    The bee in the picture thrummed and buzzed, as if it was laughing at me. “It’s time to tend the flowers.”

    I stared in disbelief. I had heard of pregnancy brain before, but this was something entirely different. Still, it wasn’t the strangest thing to happen this month. The toenails that still littered the alley were proof enough of that.

    “Okay.” I sighed, “What do you need?”

    The bee’s wings buzzed harder as it walked in the imaginary path of a figure 8, then doubled back and retraced its steps. “I don’t need anything.” The tiny voice said cheerfully, “But you look like you could use some direction.”

    I self-consciously rubbed my belly, feeling the tiny flutter inside. “Is that why you’re…” Awake? Alive? What do you call a pastel image that is suddenly moving and talking?

    “Buzzing around your entryway, that’s right.” The bee in the picture buzzed merrily. “I’m here to help you find your direction.” And then it started walking the figure 8 path again.

    “What do you mean, my direction?”

    Suddenly, the bee stopped in its path, its wings still. “That will have to wait.” It said, its voice changing from merriment to urgency, “It’s time for you to run. Now.”

    At that moment, the light in the vestibule turned off. And that’s when I heard it. Click. Click. Click. It was back.

  30. dayraven says:

    “Have you been drinking? Oh, Eli! How could you do that to yourself?”
    “You’ve Italian, Ma, how can you be chiding me for this? I don’t get drunk all the time, I’m not even really drunk right now. I’m just buzzed. And I’m not going anywhere, I’m no danger to anyone but the kitten. Why the hell can’t I have a drink?”
    “Mom, is older me really talking back to you like that? That seems disrespectful.”
    “God dammit, can’t you all shut up, Cheers is on!”
    “What? You’re watching Cheers Dad? That hasn’t even been on syndication in like 10 years. How are you watching Cheers?”
    “DAMMIT SHADDUP! Are you deaf, I told you to shut up, Cheers is on!”
    “Honey, please, Eli’s a big boy now, he doesn’t watch Cheers. Besides Eli, it’s 1984, Cheers isn’t on syndication, it’s on NBC.”
    “Wha-what? 1984? Bullcrap, it’s 2013. You’re talking to me from 1984? How does that work?”
    “I don’t know how it works Boo-boo, but in the picture, it stays 1984, forever. We stay right here, trapped in this moment, forever at Sears in the Elan Mills photo studio. You’re father’s watching Cheers on the big 36 inch TVs we can see from here.”
    “I’m talking to the picture of you guys? I can talk to young me? Christ, I have had too much to drink.”
    “Mommy, why does he talk like that? That’s not the way you talk to an adult.”
    “Shut up 7 year old me, out here, I’m 35. I talk like an adult because I’m an adult, you can’t talk like that to an adult because you’re friggin’ 7. My own kids are older right now than you are. Which, by the way, have I got some lessons I can teach you! I can spare you a lot of pain and heartache by preparing you for some of your big failings when you get older.”
    “Now what did I say? It’s always 1984 in here, in that photo studio. We can’t leave here, and we can’t change anything anyways. Trust me. We’ve been watching the same episode of Cheers for 29 years. Same Elan Mills, same Sears, same everything.”
    “Why isn’t Zach talking to me? What’s up little brother?”
    “He’s scared of older you Eli. He thinks you’re too much like your father.”
    “HA! I’m twice the man Dad was, largely because my kids love me. I don’t shush them for 29 year old episodes of Cheers, for one thing. They love me because I put in the work to actually parent them. You hear that old man?”
    “He’s not listening honey… Cheers.”
    “Ah, right. Well, where does it go from here? You guys aren’t going to start lecturing me every time I have a couple nips, are you? That could old very quickly.”
    “Nope, we only talk to you right before you die. We’ll see you in a few minutes honey.”
    “WHAT THE FU…”

  31. janrichgmr@aol.com says:

    “Hi Gramma!” he said, as I entered the living room. “Hi Nana!” he said. “Hi Gram!” he said.
    “Hello my dearest boy, my heart, my soul, my child. Hello.” I replied.
    “Come get me.” He pleaded. “Please Nana. Come get me.”
    “How? Where do I go? What do I do?” I urged him.
    “You know. You always know, don’t you? You know where I am and how to find me. Please come. Come now.”
    I look around the living room at all the photos of my grandson, the child I had raised from birth, the child who was now a father himself. The child who lived so far away and who I yearned for every day. There he is at 3 weeks old; there at one year; there at two and three and four and six and seven. Calling out to me. I could hear him so clearly. I looked away from his photos to some of the pictures of other children and grandchildren. But they spoke not a word. They blinked not an eye. They moved not a muscle. Only his pictures called to me. And to his pictures I responded.
    “Oh my boy. Where are you? Help me find my way to you, please.”
    “I will, Gramma. I will. You just have to be patient. You know I will return to you. I always do.”
    “Yes. I must believe in that. You will come back. You will return. I have to believe. “
    And in the meantime, I will go on hearing his voice, seeing his face, smelling his smell in his room, on his clothes and toys and books. And yearning and missing him so much, it is like a sharp, digging pain in my chest; a trench of longing under my ribs; a palpable pain. Not romantic and sweet and dear; but awful and sour and empty. And hurting so much, it makes the breath catch.
    I drop my purse on floor and stand there for a moment, disoriented and sickened with loneliness. The doorbell rings and I slow go to answer the door. I open it and nobody is there. I look down and there is a baby car seat. I look closely and see a small infant, barely a few weeks old. It’s him! It’s him, all over again!
    I pick up the car seat and carry it into the house and take the baby out of the seat and cradle him in my arms.
    “Oh my boy! Thank you for coming back to me. Now we can start all over again, like we did last time. We can live it again.”
    The baby looked at me. And smiled.

  32. Kerr Berr says:

    “So why didn’t you ask her out?” the regal, majestic tiger said.
    “Huh?” I wasn’t that drunk, was I? Pictures can’t talk. Maybe I was dreaming.
    “I said, why didn’t you ask her out?”
    Okay, so maybe my conscience was berating me. “Well, I wanted to. I was going to. I did get her email address. I thought that was pretty clever.”
    “She knew what you were doing. Didn’t you see the way she smiled at you, and touched your arm when you asked her for it? Telling her you won a poetry contest. Just to cadge her email addy out of her. Hmph. Clever my ass. You’re a dufus. At least you actually did win a poetry contest. You should have asked her out. She wanted you to.”
    “I’m not so sure about that. I mean, I could tell she likes me, but—”
    “Oh, please. She told you she likes you. Do I look that easy to fool?”
    “Well, you look like a painting. And tigers don’t even talk, not even when they’re real.”
    He snorted and rolled his eyes. “I see and hear everything you do and say, so don’t waste my time. And don’t change the subject. Besides, who’s to say what’s really real and what isn’t?”
    I didn’t have a quick or easy answer for that. “Well, I’m hoping that after she reads the poem, she’ll write me back, and I’ll work my way up to asking her out.”
    “Chicken shit. I should eat you and be done with this foolishness.”
    Could he spring out of the print, and do that? Despite my inebriation, I didn’t care to become lunch for an inanimate two-dimensional predator. And who would explain what happened to my friends and family? God help me if Julie finds out about this. She’ll never go out with me then.
    He growled, and that sounded real enough. “She pulled her cell out, let you see her holding it. You could have at least asked for her number.”
    “Okay already! I barely remembered to check if she was wearing a ring.”
    He sighed. “And you wonder why you’re single.”
    I could feel my face getting hot. “Look, Simba or whatever your name is—”
    “It’s Tony, not that that matters. And don’t you dare laugh.” His fangs gleamed as he bared them at me. “So, dufus. What are you going to do now?”
    I scowled at him. “I guess I’m going to send her an email with my poem.”
    “And then what?”
    Was that a snicker, from a painting of a tiger?
    “Well, then I guess I’ll wait for her to write me back.”
    “Do you have any cash in your wallet?”
    “Huh?”
    He closed his eyes and shook his head. “Because I doubt you can afford to buy a clue.”
    Great. I get the smart-ass tiger. “Look, I’ll tell her I want to see her again soon, okay?”
    He smirked at me. “I suggest you get busy, before she changes her mind.”
    I ignored him. Then I sat down at my computer and composed one of the most important emails I’ve ever written…

  33. mariakal says:

    So, I finally mustered up the courage to “post my response”. First time here, hello!
    I apologize for exceeding the word count, but it was really hard to even cut it down to 600 words.

    - – - My personal Dragon Slayer – - -

    The night was finally over. I don’t like the rich and crooked people of high society, even though I was a part of them. The fools had no idea who they’ve let in.

    The moment I got home, I poured myself a glass of sparkling water. It felt good after all the martinis.
    I was ready to call it a night, when I heard strange noises coming somewhere underneath me. The world spun and I shuddered with fear. Leaving the glass on the kitchen table, I reached for a knife. It felt heavy and alien in my hand, given the reason I took it. I don’t like weapons.

    Now is the time to admit that I’m a thief. And it seemed like someone was trying to rob me. I hurried down the stairs to the cellar of the house. In the back, there was the door to my fencing-ken. It was untouched and still locked, but the noises were coming from the inside, of this I was sure.

    I entered in haste and found myself amidst obscure clamor. All went silent when I turned the lights on. Everything seemed in order – the paintings were quietly hanging on the walls, precious jewelry and dusty antiquities resting in glass cases and open drawers. Nothing was missing, as I determined.

    A bit confused, I turned out the lights and tried to leave the room, when the chit-chat started again. On the brink of panic, I switched the key. This time, silence was broken by a distant neigh, coming from the back room of my vault. I almost ran there. Inside was the Raphael painting of St. George slaying the dragon. I stole it a few years back from a warlord, before helping the police to put him behind bars. He appreciated the irony.
    The soft light illuminating the canvas helped me see that his horse was the one neighing. A cold shiver went down my spine. I was blinking in disbelief, when the hero turned his gaze to me and spoke.

    “All these pieces of art can’t fill the emptiness. Am I wrong?”

    “I am mighty drunk.”, I whispered in shock.

    “Are you?”, inquired St. George.

    “You can’t be possibly speaking.”, I tried to think rationally. “You definitely weren’t when I stole you.”

    “Then, I guess it’s your conscience speaking.”

    “I’m a thief. I’m not sure if I have one.”

    “The people you steal from most certainly don’t.” He was trying to tell me something and I think I knew exactly what he meant. “You hoard riches, taking them from people who have no right to hold us. But to what end? You too have no right to keep us.”

    “What are you implying?”, I pushed further, thinking to myself that I must be going insane.

    “Do some good in your life, this might actually heal the hole in your soul you’ve been trying so hard to fill with art.”

    I felt offended by a painting. I left the vault in a rush and went straight to bed, hoping I was just drunk. That night, I didn’t get much sleep.

    A few days later, on almost every newspaper’s front page there was the same headline – “Precious collection of long lost art and valuables – donated to the biggest museums of the world.”

    I went to the vault, which now was naked, empty. I couldn’t help myself and in the end kept St. George and the Dragon. As I was putting down the newspaper, I confided in the hero, whom now I considered an old friend.

    “I think of taking up advertising.”

    A painting helped my conscience in slaying my biggest vice. Now I was the one appreciating the irony.

    As I was slowly leaving my old treasury, I swear the horse was neighing in approval.

    • Amy says:

      The concept is good. Sort of a modern-day Robin Hood. There was some awkward phrasing that I stumbled through but otherwise a good story. Also, the second line from the end isn’t necessary. We, the readers, have come to that conclusion with the evidence given and don’t need it spelled out. Something I have to remind myself with every piece of writing I create: Trust the Reader.

      • mariakal says:

        You’re right, I guess I should trust the reader more and will try in the future. Also, I’m not a native English speaker and this awkward phrasing is probably the shadow of my first language. I’ll try to clear my writing through practice and reading. Thanks!

    • Michael says:

      Ok I liked this one too. I really enjoyed how the painting was the moralistic one. :)

    • douglangille says:

      This was a fun take on the prompt. I enjoyed it.

  34. slayerdan says:

    Essie sat in her driveway, the car off and the windows up. She could not feel the cool, night air that skulked around the curves of her car as it headed for its eventual destination. She sat and stared at her home of the last 30 years. Its white and blue exterior only shades of grey and black to her now. Close to 45 minutes passed before she managed to get out and make her way to the front door.

    It was the same every time.

    She fumbled for the keys and shaking, managed to get the door open. Simply dropping her things inside next to the door, she checked the locks and took a deep breath of the stagnant air. It too, was the same. She made her way to the kitchen in the dark, her legs heavy, feeling double the age of her 52 years of life.

    “Life,” she whispered to herself. She took another deep breath, it as unsatisfying but necessary as the rest.

    She tugged at the door to the refrigerator and the light from inside illuminating the perfectly squared away kitchen and small table with two chairs. She grabbed a small bottle of a no name merlot and a small bowl of leftover soup and allowed the door to slowly close, taking back the light as the house once again fell into its darkness.

    Dropping into one of the chairs, Essie downed the cold soup from the lip of the bowl. She rubbed her tired, weak hands in the darkness. She stopped on the simple, silver band on her left hand. Spinning it several times she realized how big the ring seemed now. How loose it was.

    How heavy it was.

    Grabbing the merlot and popping the top, she made her way to the small foyer in the front of the house. She pulled the curtains a bit, enough to let a sliver of moonlight in to outline the large, brown recliner and the table in front of it with a framed picture. She pulled her blouse off over her head and allowed it to fall silently to the floor. She lowered herself into the chair and slid down so that she was eye level with the picture. It was an older picture of a handsome man in his 20’s, at some beach, highlighting his muscular frame.

    “Hello my love,” she said as she took a deep drink of the still chilled wine. She felt it make its way down her throat as the semblance of a smile came across her face. She closed her eyes and took another drink. The chair engulfed her as the wine made her senses swirl.

    Tears made their way quietly down her cheeks.

    “Hello baby, I have missed you today,” she heard the ephemeral voice reply as she opened her tear filled eyes and looked into the now smiling picture of her long lost love. She took another long drink of the wine as his words echoed throughout her head.

    The night passed and her wine gone and the moon now bright through the window, Essie sat slumped, in a deep slumber, dreaming of her love.

    And the man in the picture stood silently, watching Essie as she slept. A lone tear moving down his cheek.

    • Amy says:

      A beautifully sad slice of loneliness. Nice work.

    • Michael says:

      Really, really good. I kind of wanted to read on and find out what would happen to Essie the next day. :)

    • smallster21 says:

      Good imagery. I like the pause on the bracelet. Makes you realize it means something. I really felt Essie’s agony of being separated from her dead husband. I used to work in a nursing home and when I visited the resident’s rooms, they had old pictures up of their younger years. Makes you realize your own mortality. Saddest was when a lady developing dementia kept forgetting her husband was dead and we had to continually remind her when she asked where he was, same shock of grief every day. You really encapsulated those feelings of loss and sadness here in your story. Great story!

      • slayerdan says:

        As always–thanks to all. Smallster I too did some nursing home work, and it is certainly hard to see those folks longing for their younger years, missing those gone, or worse(better?) not recalling it at all. This was based on a friend of mine that 4 months ago lost her husband when he got struck by lightning at work(electrician). From the time I heard of it, all I could see her doing till she died was going home everyday, frozen in time, talking to his picture. It was the only thing that came to me when I saw the prompt. Thanks again to all…

      • douglangille says:

        Dementia is a tough way to go. I’m in the midst of dealing with it in my family right now. This kinda hits close to home.

  35. Noise, Noise, NOISE! “Can you all just stop your clattering and chattering, Please?!?” I can’t think straight anymore with all of them talking at once like this.

    “Well then focus on just me.” the Gargoyle of London photo made eye contact with me and the others faded into the background. “That’s right, just focus on me, just my voice.”

    “How are you doing this? How are you making the others stop talking?” Confused but curious I walked closer to the photo in the over sized frame. Seeing the details in it clearer than I had.

    “I’m not doing it. You are, your mind is clearing away the clutter and starting to focus again.” He grinned at me and motioned for me to sit in the chair in front of him.

    Sitting down in the chair I had to look up to see him and I noticed that he was sitting on bench that matched this chair. Wood, iron and stone, in the middle of a park. It’s night-time and there is no one around. The moon in the photo is a sliver of a smile, the large elm tree has names carved into it. It’s peaceful here.

    “Yes, it is. Stay as long as you like.” His voice feels like a lullaby to my mind. Caressing me into a gentle sleep.

    “Thanks…” I can hear myself say as I let myself fall. I feel like I’m floating and in the gentle wind I can hear music. Such soft music. I let it slip inside my body and allow the darkness to swallow me. Peace at last. No voices, just music.

    The cool feeling of cement and scent of wet grass wakes me and I see that I’m no longer sitting on the chair. I’m sitting in a courtyard of sorts, it’s night. “Where am I?” Asking no one in particular just needing to say something to break the silence.

    “You’re where you want to be, with me.”

    A voice slides through me and wraps around my senses. Feeling a rough hand on my shoulder, he turns me around to look at him.

    “Welcome home.” The Gargoyle whispers.

    “What?” Confused again I look around to find myself in the painting. “How did I get in here?”

    “Shhh…..” He motions for me to just sit and remain quiet.

    Hearing other people talking I turn to the sound and see them walking towards us. They are talking about a picture in an over sized frame.

    “No, I don’t know who the photographer is. This piece was donated anonymously to us a few days ago, and yes it is a rare photo of the Gargoyle of London. One of only a few known photos of that elusive creature, and no I do not know who the woman in the photo is.”

  36. douglangille says:

    ** I struggled with this one a bit. It’s a little off the prompt, but I think it came out okay. **

    O DANNY BOY
    ===========
    Danny fumbled for his keys in the dark shadow of his front door. He couldn’t control his shaking, his heart pounding in his throat like a frantic war drum. He nearly fell as he gained entry to the safety and quiet of the house.

    He listened to hiss of passing cars on the wet street outside, listening for the wail of sirens to announce their crescendo. He was rewarded with silence.

    Confident in the peace of the moment, stolen though it was, he leaned back against the door, closed his eyes and ran his battered fingers through his hair.

    “Hey Gramp”, he said to the photo on the telephone table at the foot of the stairs. “We need to talk”.

    Danny stood forward and walked cautiously to the kitchen, making mental note of the stiffness and ache that accompanied each step. He’d be sore in the morning – if he made it that long. There was so much yet to do.

    He ran the water tepid and gingerly washed the dirt from his hands, careful to not open the rips and cuts of the evening’s exertions. The blood and mud swirled around the porcelain sink that his grandmother spent so many years tending.

    Without warning, he took to coughing violently, feeling the sharp pain of something terribly wrong in his abdomen. Dammit. Time was running short.

    He spat in the sink, the blackish fluid joining the bright crimson in its stew. It was hard to look at. Quickly, he rinsed the threatening slurry away and turned the water cold. The icy shock on his face brought him back to alertness.

    Tearing several sheets of paper towel, he patting himself dry.

    Making his way to the sitting room, he scooped up his grandfather’s photo. The grizzled figure was of a robust man no longer in his prime but still quite vibrant. A little boy was at his side and a wooded lake-shore stood vividly at their back. Rods, reels and the trappings of weekend anglers were strewn about a one-night camp.

    Danny tucked the frame under his arm, a tight smile of fond memory forming on his lips. He made his way to the liquor cabinet and poured an old rye into a thick crystal tumbler. It felt heavy and comfortable in his hand, like an old friend too long absent.

    He sat down on the couch, the room still dark, but brightening with the morning dawn in a plodding way. The glow of the day’s onslaught brought little solace to Danny.

    He took a pull of courage and placed the photo on the coffee table in front of him. He felt his mentor’s regard of him pierce his heart with steely judgement.

    Danny needed his counsel now more than ever, his world in shambles.

    “What would you have done, old man”?

  37. Fedoraman94 says:

    Well yet another blind date gone terribly wrong. I’m gonna kill David for setting me up with this girl. He didn’t even know her very well, but he had the nerve to set us up on a date together!

    Throwing my jacket onto the chair, I closed my front door and locked it. Looking around my apartment, I sighed. A smile came across my face when my eyes came upon the portrait of Mona Lisa I had on the wall. It was a replica, but it made me smile nonetheless. I saw something out of the corner of my eye move and was startled. Turning around, I saw nothing except of a picture depicting a hunt.

    “Hey, over here!” I heard from behind me. I was panicking. Was someone in my apartment? Turning around I saw the Mona Lisa had changed. No, not changed. She was talking to me!

    Rubbing my eyes, I started to notice all of the paintings I had were alive. Mona Lisa said something, but I was too shocked to comprehend what. “Look over here,” she said.

    I looked her in the eyes and her smile went to a concerned frown. “What’s wrong?” I asked, now worried. As she came closer to me, she started to change. Her dress turned white and the scenery became brighter. What’s going on?

    I tried to move, but my arms and legs were strapped down to the bed. The nurse looked at me curiously. “Hey David, he had another hallucination again. Talking paintings this time,” she said to the other man in the room. The man she called David walked over to me. “Put him to sleep again.” As the gas mask came closer to me, everything started to fade.

  38. Kerry Charlton says:

    I want to thank you for your wonderful comments. This is the first time I’ve had the courage to write about Leslie. I’ve been shattered by her loss. My other four daughters feel the same. But I’ll write a lot more about her now that I’ve broken the chains around my grief. God bless all of you. Kerry

    • smallster21 says:

      The story below was about your little girl? It was sad the first time I read it. Knowing this relationship is real changed the story’s effect, strengthened it. I like your portrayal of Leslie. It seems fitting a little girl would be concerned with her father’s happiness, and that, along with her hope came through within her dialogue.

  39. danceswithhorses says:

    He doesn’t talk much anymore. She doesn’t either, but that’s okay, because she’s always been the quiet type. It’s his voice I miss the most. His voice I need like a drug.
    Mechanically I lower myself down on the couch, turning the TV on but leaving the volume muted. It’s a stupid sitcom, but he likes them. So I leave it on, but with no sound, my compromise.
    “I miss you,” I tell him, but his face doesn’t change, just grins up at me with the same expression as always.
    “Please,” I whisper, and my voice breaks.
    His crooked smile doesn’t falter, but I hear him. “You have to stop doing this to yourself, Sara. Five years is a long time. You have to move on.”
    “You don’t know what you’re asking,” I murmur, scooting closer to the picture frame on the side table. “I should have died with you. Why didn’t I die with you, Mark? You and Juliet?”
    “You didn’t know,” his voice is firm. “You didn’t know that driver was drunk. You think I would have wanted you to die? Move on, Sara, that’s the best thing you can do for me – for us.”
    Juliet’s face is radiant, as her sweet voice joins his. “I love you, Momma. You were my life. But now you have to go back to yours. We’re okay, Daddy and me.”
    “No,” I whisper, reaching out to touch his face. Her face. But it’s gone, the life that brought their voices to me.
    I know it’s the last time I will ever hear them.

  40. Kerry Charlton says:

    LESLIE

    The same nightmare that had plagued my dreams for five years, woke me at two fifteen last night. Stumbling upstairs to my study, the quietness of the house, surrounded me and yet my soul cried out within me. Sitting on my desk was the portrait that Leslie had made for us. She had managed to battle stage four melanoma into remission that year. Seven years she had waged a heroic fight against the insidious cancer.

    And then it came back, relentlessly tearing the very life from her body. Still she fought it, competitively, optimistically and tenaciously. My nightmare, always the same in exquisite detail, forced me to gaze into her blue eyes of the portrait. Her long blond hair cascaded over her shoulders and her quiet beauty of confidence filled the frame.

    Burying my face in my hands, my tears welled silently so as not to disturb the night.

    “For Pete’s sake Dad, cut that out. I told you not to cry for me,” Leslie said.

    It didn’t startle me, for her photo had always talked to me. “I’m sorry baby, I know I promised but sometimes I can’t help myself.”

    “Remember what we talked about,” she said. “That I would be with Jesus and everything would be okay with me.”

    “I know but I miss you so and I can’t forget that last day,” I answered.

    “I remember you standing around me with Lori, Linda, Lisa and Leanne, all singing to me over and over, “Jesus Loves Me,” Leslie said. Then her portrait laughed, that hearty, raucious expression of gaiety that defined Leslie’s off the wall, gregarious personality.

    “Are you in any pain, Leslie,” I asked.

    “It’s glorious here, Dad. Everything I ever thought about heaven, it’s more so,” she said. “I want you to get on with your life.”

    “I’m trying sweetheart. I’m doing the best I can without you.”

    “I’m always beside you, Dad. Remember, whenever you see a lady bug, it’s me. Now go back to sleep and rest. I love you.”

    “And I love you angel. Pleasant dreams and I’ll talk to you in the morning.”

    “Good night Dad.”

    “Good night baby.”

  41. Suzanne says:

    Timely Warning

    It sounded like a party going on in my house as I headed for the door. Coming home at midnight, the witching hour, I was beat after working a 12-hour shift. Twelve hours in total silence. Isolation. No interaction with my co-workers although they were in the same room. Talking to each other. Feeling stressed out, I started making stupid mistakes – each of which was immediately reported to the manager. Then there were the looks. Hostility personified. Being trite, if looks could kill, I would have been dead long before my shift was over. Talking with someone, someone friendly would be a welcome relief.

    Hey! Wait a minute! I live alone. The windows are dark. No one’s home. At least I hope I’m not coming home to an intruder.

    My hand trembled as I tried to slide the key into the lock. The noise didn’t stop. Incessant chatter. One voice talking over the other. It sounded like hell come to life inside my house. Bells ringing. I thought I even saw flashes of light. From what? I stepped inside. Turned on the light. Looked around.

    Silence. Eerie silence.

    But someone – or some ones – had been there – just a minute before.

    I walked into the living room and scanned the furniture. Nothing out of place.

    I looked at the pictures on the wall. Amateur art mostly. Some photographs.

    My eyes focused on a picture of a carillon. Bells ringing. I had heard bells ringing.

    Next I saw a lighthouse. Ahhhhh, that explained the flashes of light.

    The next moment, I found myself drawn into these two paintings as though I were standing in front of the lighthouse, hearing the waves crash onto the rocks and, at the same time, in front of the carillon looking up at the tapering bells.

    The lighthouse was flashing a warning of shallow, rock-infested water in my life. Warning me to steer clear of it.

    “Danger,” it shouted. “Change your course now while you can. The rocks are out to sabotage your frail vessel. The waves are too strong for you. Head to a safe harbor – NOW.”

    The bells started ringing. Not the usual Canterbury bells signaling the hour. These were ringing the funeral dirge. Slowly. Mournfully. Increasingly louder.

    The lighthouse started shouting over the bells, “Danger. Danger. Danger. Change course.” Over and over again. Strident. Insistent.

    The two paintings would not be silenced – or denied.

    The bells rang louder. Using words this time. Real words, not words embedded in the tune. “Ask not for whom the bells tolls. It’s tolling for you, Suzanne.”

    Clanging. Shouting. Clanging. Shouting.

    A cacophony of sound and light.

    I clapped my hands over my ears to shut out the confusion.

    As suddenly as it started, the clanging and shouting stopped.

    A moment of clarity followed. I knew exactly what the two paintings were trying to tell me. I made my decision.

    The next morning, I called into the office and quit without notice. I never looked back.

    The odd time, when all the conditions are right, I still sometimes hear a bell softly chiming concurrently with a shaft of soft light flashing once.

    At those times, I look at the two paintings in gratitude and say, “Thank you, both of you.” They know what I can’t articulate and chime and flash once more in understanding.

    • Amy says:

      I’m confused. It’s obvious they were warning her of impending death, but from what or whom? The way you write it, with the MC knowing “exactly what the two paintings were trying to tell them” makes it seem as though the reader should also know, but I don’t. I’m assuming it’s probably the manager or co-workers, but there wasn’t sufficient evidence to suggest her life was threatened at work. I do like your description of the carillon bells.

      • Suzanne says:

        Thanks for the feedback. They were warning her that the workplace abuse was going to escalate and eventually destroy her. Oh well, this is only my second attempt at fiction writing from a prompt.

        • Amy says:

          And a good one, at that. Just offering my perspective. These prompts are incredibly challenging to encompass a rounded, action-packed, believable story in 500 words. I still struggle with it. Thanks for sharing.

          • Suzanne says:

            Thanks Amy. I figure if I can learn to do this, I can do anything – in writing that is. It’s an incredible challenge – especially for a non fiction writer.

          • swatchcat says:

            I was also looking for an impending death in the literal since. Other then that I followed it pretty good. A teensy bit choppy but as you said practice, we’re all learning. Good job.

    • smallster21 says:

      My first sense was the lighthouse was warning her that the stress and isolation she felt at work because of the hostile environment were wrecking havoc on her health. Stress can kill you; I’m studying for the CPA exam, and my pulse has increased to a consistent gazillion beats per minute.

      …though now the character of your story is unemployed…that can be stressful too.

      Nice idea of using a lighthouse to represent the warning. I’d work on making the transitioning of thoughts flow better.

      • Suzanne says:

        Thanks Smallster. Actually this is based on the truth of bullying and while being unemployed has it’s own stresses – as does recovery, it’s also good to be out before I was totally destroyed. I’ve been spinning my wheels transitioning to writing and this is my first posted attempt. I’m enjoying the positive feedback. The lighthouse was warning her to get out while she still had her health (which I didn’t). The bells … well … they were part of the scenery of my life as a child. My parents painted all most of the pictures on my walls. Their favorite thing to pain? Lighthouses.

    • douglangille says:

      I liked this, but got lost somewhere. I agree with the other comments. It’s pretty easy to chew up 500 words and not get the whole story out.

  42. 3mag5num7 says:

    I can hear the humming of small cars zipping around small, tightly curving roads; the idle buzz of sun-soaked conversations. This is odd because I am not in a roadside café in Italy, but in my third floor apartment’s foyer in the suburbs southwest of Chicago. It’s three o’clock on a Sunday morning. The roads outside are not busy. The neighbors below us are 87 years-old, they’ve been asleep since seven. Our neighbors to the left just had a baby that, to my knowledge, is not an extraordinarily gifted mimic. Marilyn and I have no neighbors above us or to the right; we live in the top-right corner of the building.

    She must have fallen asleep with the television on again.

    Coat in the closet. Shoes by the door. I pull a handful of grapes from the cluster on the kitchen counter and start flipping them into the air. I stand, head tilted back and slack-jawed, as the first grape falls and bounces off of my check and onto the floor. I bite thin air when the second one hits my lips before joining the first grape on the floor. I catch the third and then drop the next three before deciding I might still be too drunk to properly play with my food. I shovel the last four into my mouth pointblank and decide I might be too drunk to be properly conscious. In the far corner of the kitchen, atop the counter and nestled between the coffee maker and the toaster oven is a photograph taken of Marilyn and I in cooking class after a particularly spectacular failure. The right half of my face is dripping the internal workings of a wild berry pie. Little bits of crust sit suspended in the goo. Marilyn is bent over the counter laughing and I am wide-eyed, not fully comprehending how the pie got from the counter to my face. The picture is a commemoration of one of my favorite moments with my wife. It is, however, misbehaving at the moment. Instead of standing still incased in amber, as good pictures should, it is heaving and laughing and looking around for an explanation. I can hear Marilyn’s voice, gasping for air between fits of laughter and ridicule.

    How…how did you…

    Behind me, I still hear sporty European coupes whirring through curves. I turn and I see sporty European coupes whirring through curves. Abstract black humanoids gesture lazily in time with the buzz of conversation. A waitress sets down a tray of hors d’oeuvres before wandering over to another table.

    Smooth saxophone flows from the living room. There is now a vaguely cubist jazz club rendered in greens and reds and in full-swing hanging to the left of my entertainment system.

    It occurs to me that my being drunk might be shielding me from the worst of the shock of seeing all the paintings and photographs in the house coming to life and that Marilyn, who is in all likelihood sober, might be having a harder time with the situation at hand.

    I stumble up the stairs and find shreds of Grandma Addie Millar resting on the carpet below an enthusiastically disemboweled hand-carved wooden frame. A few scrapes lead toward our bedroom.

    After seeing the finished oil portrait, Grandpa Millar had said it captured Addie’s essence. After seeing the state Marilyn left it in, I assume it captured her lip as well.

  43. margi33 says:

    “You are not supposed to be here,” whispered the rolling hills. “The barn, sun, and trees are welcome. I enjoy horses and cattle too but not the likes of you.”

    “I am sorry, but I am lost,” said the animal. Worry played across his long face as he shook his encumbered head, neck waggling.

    The hills exhaled a breath of frustration and blew a puff of wind across the landscape. “Where do you come from?” questioned the hills. “Maybe I can help you find your way.”

    The animal straightened with pride. “In my land, there are meandering rivers and ample willows for shelter and food. Snow laden mountains hang high above my head.”

    “Hmm,” said the hills. “I do not know of the land you describe, but I met a horse once who said he journeyed to a similar habitat. If you like, I can ask the horse the next time he appears?”

    “I would like that very much,” replied the animal. “Thank you for your help.” He dropped his head and bent his spindly legs in what looked like a bow.

    I sat on my leather couch, mouth agape. My eyes darted between two paintings in my home. One painting was a Wyoming landscape where the moose dwelled. The other displayed deep, rolling hills, a barn, and a few scattered trees. Somehow the moose had left its painting and stood awkwardly in the hills.

    My brain tried to make sense of the sights and sounds that emanated from the walls. I had just returned from a night out with some old college buddies and was buzzed, but I hadn’t taken any psychedelics. Those days were over and unless someone had slipped me something, I could think of no reason why this should be happening.

    With a clamor, a Tang Dynasty warhorse galloped across the floor, up the wall, and into the painting of the hills, instantly breaking my train of thought.

    “Hello there friends,” exclaimed the horse with a charming grin plastered on his face. “What do we have here? Well, well, if it isn’t a moose. I haven’t seen one of you since I was trudging my way through the mountains of Northern China. I say, I sure do miss the crisp air and tall grass, but I certainly don’t miss carrying my master’s hefty derriere all over the highlands.”

    Moose chuckled and said timidly, “Kind horse, do you think you could lend me a hand? I am lost.”

    “Why, sure, I would love to help a friend in need. I think I know where you live, follow me.” Horse skittered off the painting and the moose followed. Up the wall, across the ceiling, and through the kitchen they leapt until they landed in the western painting.

    Talk about trippy, I thought. I could hear the moose stammer his thanks and the horse received it gallantly.

    Horse leapt off the painting, crossed the log truss and landed with a clang on the hearth. He turned back into an inanimate copper statue and the paintings stilled as well.

    The next morning I woke and wondered if my visions had really transpired. As I was about to pour a cup of coffee, I caught a glimpse of the moose. He winked at me. I winked back, shrugged, and poured a stiff drink instead.

    • Amy says:

      I am missing the payoff here. There’s no arc, just explanation. That said, your language is good and I like the style.

      • margi33 says:

        Thanks for the constructive criticism. I am just a beginning writer, and after looking up “arc” on the internet, I understand what you are saying. Not much of a story plot, think I got a little too folky/artsy on this one ;).

    • smallster21 says:

      This was cute. Reminds me of children’s story. The interaction of the animals and hills would be entertaining for children, and the way in which the horse helped the moose is an example of the kind of lessons found in children’s books without throwing it in their faces.

      That said, I agree with Amy about the plot. If you expound upon this prompt, I’d suggest working on developing the story line and the characters; incorporating the reason for the horse helping the moose and how the moose became lost in the first place.

    • douglangille says:

      Trippy. Feels like a children’s fable brought to life. It begs for a story or adventure to set your characters upon.

      • margi33 says:

        Thanks everyone. I think it was my subconscious writing a small piece of a children’s story. I have had an idea for one rolling around in my head and it does have two talking animals, but really no resemblance to this. Thankfully, it does have a plot :). I realize this particular ramble was going nowhere.

  44. Winfilda says:

    After ten years of living in the U.K, I visit my family home in Zimbabwe. Things looks a whole lot different to what home was, when we were growing up. I lie on the living room couch trying to reminsce how it was growing up, now that all my sisters have relocated to other contries. My eyes comes into direct contact with my younger sister who is all framed up and looking at me with a mischievious look on her face, “so tell us how was the other side of the sea?” I look into her eyes and before i could answer her she rushes on saying, “well let me fill you in little miss prodigal daughter, since you have been away for a long time. In the far corner is our beloved elder sister, ye ye she looks all innocent in that photo but she has been quiite naughty, she is now on husband number four.” “Excuse me.” My older sister intervened, “it’s husband actually number five and for your own info, i am filling a divorce against him, i met prince charming on my way from Dubai.” “Girls, girls dont start now, do you want me to start rolling in my grave.’ My dad looked back at us from his A4 portrait. I swear, i could see him roll his eyes. I could only smile and say some things never change as i watched my mom in her silver frame, quiet and yet warm smiling at me. Welcoming me home.

    • Amy says:

      There is a nice familial charm here, but it needs a structural overhaul. Spelling, grammar and paragraph work would make it shine.

      • Winfilda says:

        Thanks for taking time to read, i must confess i did not really think you would read it after several attempts on other websites and getting no response. Thanks again, i will work on everything that you mentioned.

    • douglangille says:

      There’s a neat story here somewhere. I’d love to read a updated version.

      • Winfilda says:

        Here is an updated version, let me know what you think about it?

        IF ART COULD TALK

        Ten years had passed since I had left Zimbabwe and things were looking a whole lot different to what home was, when we were growing up. The overall outlook of the old family house looked like it had shrunk over the years; maybe it was because of years of living in a big house overseas. Everything looked different but there was that wholesome feeling of being home. Some sense of overwhelming peace and belonging.

        As l open the front door my eyes watered, feeling some sense of loss. Ten years, yes, ten indeed is a long time to be away from home. I threw myself on the living room couch trying to reminisce how it was growing up. A mixture of sadness and joy crept into my mind as I closed my eyes. As I slowly opened them my eyes came into direct contact with my younger sister’s photo which was all framed up on top of the television cabinet. I just could not help smiling as I saw the twinkle and mischievous look on her face.

        “So tell us, how was the other side of the sea.” I looked back at her and before I could tell her about the amazing journey, I have travelled, she rushes on to say, “well, let me feel you in little miss prodigal daughter, since you have been away for a long time, Miss Mary sunshine over there, yes our beloved sister has been quite busy in the legal office’s, hiring and firing husbands. She is now on husband number four.” “Excuse me.” My older sister intervened, “ it’s actually husband number five, thank you very much and I am sure you would like to know, I filed for divorce last week.” My sister chirped in from her high school graduation photo.

        I just could not believe that this was true. Of the two sisters, I have, my older sister had always have been the logical one. She was always the quiet and wiser one. Not trying to judge her but husband number five, I mean, really, I never saw that coming.

        “Where are you getting these guys?” I asked, “I mean, I am struggling to get a guy to put a ring on my finger and there you are changing them your panties,” have you been to Vegas?” I must admit I was enjoying the conversation; all those feeling of loss and trying to connect with my past had quickly disappeared.
        “Girls, girls, do you want me to start rolling in grave?” My dad joined in. Just looking at him in a big A4 portrait instilled a deep longing to run my fingers on his face. “I really miss you dad.” “I miss you too pumpkin, your time will come and it will be special.”
        “Well, if you are trying to say my fifth time won’t be special, I am going ahead anyway.” I swear I could hear a burst of laughter filling the room, including my mom who was looking back at me all framed up in an oval shaped frame radiating a certain warmness in the room, welcoming me home.

  45. smallster21 says:

    “Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday dear…”

    “Shut up!” Nora screamed as she threw a pillow at the wall, pulling another tight around her head.

    “That is quite rude,” said a muffled voice.

    “Not my birthday. So, shut the hell up.”

    “Do you even know when your birthday is?”

    Nora threw the other pillow at the wall and narrowed her eyes at the trio of cherubs flitting about in the pre-Raphaelite painting.

    “Thought as much, which is why we celebrate today.”

    “Why is that?” Nora muttered as she leaned her back against the wall wrapping her arms around her legs. Long hair fell across her arms, which hadn’t been cut in months. The pillow had caused her split ends to stand on end, and she brushed at them irritatingly, an attempt to smooth them down as well as distract herself from her current company.

    “Today is our anniversary!” The cherubs cheered in unison. “That is why we celebrate.”

    “I’ll celebrate when I don’t have to look upon your goddamned, nagging faces anymore.”

    The cherubs all gasped, “Blasphemous. What would the lord say?”

    “Nothing. Because he doesn’t give a shit about me.” Nora’s eyes widened as footsteps approached her door. “Jesus Christ, try to be quiet for ten damn seconds.”

    “Shameful, you better start saying ten Hail Marys.”

    Nora grabbed a book on her nightstand pretending to be engrossed within its pages. A knock came at the door, and Nora threw a scapula around her neck and grabbed the rosary underneath her bed for good measure. After a moment, a smiling shriveled face enshrined by a black habit appeared. “My dear, do you want to come join us…”

    “NORA! I don’t hear you saying your Hail Marys!” The cherubs bellowed.

    “Jesus Christ,” Nora muttered.

    “What was that?” Sister Elizabeth asked with a frown.

    “Um, nothing, what did you ask me?”

    “I said, do you want to…”

    “Hail Mary, full of grace, the lord is with thee…” The cherubs chanted. Nora glared at the cherubs, who shook their fingers then crossed their arms.

    When Nora turned her attention back to Sister Elizabeth, her eyes were wrinkled with sadness. “I’ll just let them know you aren’t well.”

    “No, I’m fine.” Nora jumped up.

    “No she’s not!” The cherubs dissented.

    “I’m going to kill you little bastards!” Nora screamed before she could stop herself. She rushed towards the door, but tripped over a stack of papers on the floor as Sister Elizabeth stepped back out into the hallway.

    “The nuns aren’t very tolerable of your shenanigans,” the cherubs scolded.

    Nora looked down at what she had tripped over and flipped through the multitude of calendars; days, weeks, years crossed off; the same day in September always circled in red. She peered at the current calendar on her wall, a bright red circle planted in the middle.

    Pressing her hands against the small window of her door, she peered out into the white, sterile hallway. The nurses were on afternoon rounds, which meant a few hours of silence and an end to the singing currently echoing through her room.

    “Happy Anniversary to us! Happy Anniversary to us! Nora, Happy Anniversary!”

    • Amy says:

      I liked the smartass cherubs. The end was a little confusing to me though. Was she really in a mental hospital or something? All of a sudden there are nurses instead of nuns and the bit about the stack of calendars was unclear. I liked the humorous tone though.

      • swatchcat says:

        I don’t know, in the last “American Horror Story” they were in an institution that had a few nurses/doctors intertwined with nuns helping to save the souls of the insane. That girl has a potty mouth, I think I’d have destroyed that darned picture of the cherubs a long time ago. Nicely played. Apparently my filth led yours to the insane asylum. HaHa.

        • smallster21 says:

          Funny how the subconscious mind works! Mine must be fragile, lol! And, I thought of her destroying the painting, but, then she is trying really hard to exhibit non-schizo behavior, so she can get the hell out of there, so she suffers. I think the doctors might have put it there as a sort of test.

      • smallster21 says:

        Thanks! And, it was a hospital. In my head I was at a mental institute called Saint John’s Institute or something so hence the intermingling of nuns and nurses.

        Nora is schizo, out of touch with reality and experiencing these hallucinations which come and go, so she keeps forgetting how long she has been there. The calendars are just reminding her how severe her condition is and how long she’s been there.

    • douglangille says:

      You captured insanity quite well here. I enjoyed it. Little bastard cherubs!

  46. bjamison71 says:

    Tossing my purse aside, I kicked off my strappy heels and sank heavily into the cushions of my favorite chair, reaching out to touch the framed photograph that rested on the table beside me.
    “So?” Paul prompted, smiling my favorite smile from the confines of the five-by-seven walnut frame. “How was your date with Greg?”
    That’s my husband, always right to the point. I lifted one shoulder and let it fall.
    “‘s great,” I admitted. “He’s nice, smart, funny…”
    “But…?”
    I sighed, holding back the tears that hovered just behind my eyes.
    “But he isn’t you.”
    “Maggie,” Paul said, his voice softening while his smile remained the same. “Honey, it’s been three years—you’ve got to move on. I want you to be happy again!”
    “That’s what I keep trying to tell her!” a nasally voice chimed in with an air of self-righteousness.
    Maggie’s eyes shot to the eight-by-ten on the wall above her.
    “Mom, this is a private conversation.”
    “Well, not when you’re having it here in the livingroom for all of us to hear!” my mother huffed.
    “Touché!” my friend Andrea cheered from the photo of us on our Spring Break trip to Mexico. “Sorry, Mags, but she’s got you on that one.”
    “Go back to your margarita, Andie,” I ordered, and my friend happily complied.
    “Maggie, all I’m trying to say is that I understand,” my mother continued. “When my third husband passed away—”
    Leaping up, I snatched mom’s picture from the wall and stuffed it into a drawer before flopping back into my chair. Paul grinned inside his frame.
    “You’re going to have to let her out eventually, you know,” he reminded me. “And she probably won’t speak to you for days…”
    “Promise?”
    “She means well,” Paul said, his tone growing somber even if his face no longer could. “And she’s right, it’s time. You’ve got to give this Greg guy a chance, if you think he’s worth it; and you’ve got to stop comparing every guy to me, because… well, let’s face it, I’m irreplaceable!”
    I couldn’t suppress a smile on that one. Again, that was my husband, always able to make me laugh, even in the worst of times.
    “Yes, you certainly are,” I chuckled, swiping away a tear that trickled down my cheek.
    Just then, my cell phone rang, and I dug it out of my purse to look at the screen.
    “It’s Greg,” I said. “He just dropped me off; why is he calling me now?”
    “Because he likes you,” Paul said with his eternal smile. “Because you’re smart, and fun, and beautiful; and because he’d be an idiot NOT to call!”
    I smiled at the gorgeous, remarkable man who had been my Everything for ten amazing years, until the cancer stole him away. My phone chirped again.
    “Well?” Paul urged. “What’s it going to be, Mags?”
    Looking into the blue-green eyes that I loved so much, I brought two fingers to my lips and then pressed them to those of my husband behind the glass. I could’ve sworn that he winked at me, and that his smile grew a bit wider. I took a deep breath and—
    “Hello?”

  47. Kindra says:

    MOVING PICTURES

    I am drunk. Again. I know I shouldn’t do it, but I miss him. I miss him. I miss him, and so I drink until I’m totally pissed. He won’t utter a single word otherwise. And neither will she.

    When I look at the photographs, I see a young woman with long hair, golden– a kiss from the sun– and keen, steel blue eyes, like encapsulated water from the North Sea. She is never without her consort, a man of alabaster flesh; hair, mahogany, expertly tousled; and eyes, a perplexing myriad of earth tones and metals– nut brown, olive green and burnt sienna with smudges of copper and flecks of gold. He is always gazing down upon his lover with an expression of amusement, perpetually affected by her wit. His lover is forever wearing a wry grin.

    Who the hell does she think she is? I don’t know anymore. She isn’t me…

    anymore.

    She is only a ghost, my doppelganger, alive in the moving pictures that captivate me. The pictures, they move loudly, boldly before my wild eyes like spliced film.

    I see the Quayside, north bank, on a cool, fresh morning. Rogue winds whirl about the waterfront, twisting her fine strands into tangles and nipping brusquely at her ears. But the soft yellow sun is cheerful enough to warm her face, and the River Tyne is shining so brightly! He is twirling her up down the walkway; up and down the walkway the couple spins, trips and laughs beneath an expanse of perfect blue.

    “I fucking adore you, you malcontent bastard,” she says.

    “And I, you,” he answers, lifting her off the ground. “I never laugh as much as when I’m with you. Now! Let us have a drink!”

    I pour myself a dram of Jack. He favors Jack.

    Then suddenly it is dusk. She is sitting beside him, sipping a gin and tonic and smoking a cigarette on the roof terrace of a trendy bar; he is having whiskey on the rocks. Filaments of smoke curl languidly before her eyes and then rise up, disappearing into the fast fading grey daylight. She looks about the hazy space before settling her eyes upon my own. She wears a wry grin.

    “You smoke too much,” he says, stealing the cigarette from between her fingers. He takes a long, deep drag for himself before smashing the stub in a tiny glass ashtray. “And you drink too much.”

    “So do you,” she says, turning away from me.

    “Indeed! Would you like another?”

    “Please!”

    “We are perfectly no good for each other, you know?”

    “Yes. I do know.”

    I light a cigarette.

    More whiskey.

    It is midnight. Black shadows have long settled across the City Centre. The couple stands in a heaving embrace, caught by dispersals of silver moonlight.

    “Hush now, my love. Don’t cry,” she says.

    “I love you. Please, don’t stay away. Promise me you will come back to the man who loves you.”

    “I adore you. Of course I’m coming back.”

  48. Marco Kenen says:

    Ok, Veronica, you definitely had a few too many. Her legs had already been wobbly and she considered herself lucky, as she had somehow made it to her couch.

    “Max! This better not be one of your jokes.”

    No reply, not even the sound of muffled laughter.

    Hmm, so it wasn’t one of her boyfriend’s attempts at being funny? Lovely, maybe it had been more than a few too many. She already loathed the hangover she’d probably have to welcome tomorrow morning. Veronica closed her eyes, hoping the paintings were once again just paintings when she opened them…

    “Woman! Wake up, I don’t have all night.”

    Veronica almost fell off the couch, frantically looking around for the source of the sound…

    She closed her eyes once more, pinching the bridge of her nose. This couldn’t be happening…

    A couple of days ago she had bought a set of oil paintings during an annual held flea-market. The old woman who had sold it to her had told Veronica the paintings were over 400 years old. They had been an heirloom since the day they had been painted. Unfortunately, she didn’t have any offspring.

    The eye-catcher of the set had been a portrait of a young woman, desperately trying to hold on to a ragged cloak. Underneath she was scandalously clad in what looked like a dirty and blood stained men’s shirt. Veronica had instantly fallen in love with it.

    … Reality set back in, as Veronica noticed the ragged cloak had fallen down on the floor. Her floor!

    The woman in the painting was desperately trying to get Veronica’s attention. She looked exhausted, as if trying to communicate was draining all of her strength.

    “Help me! Don the cloak, and recite the incantation written down on the parchment.”

    For some reason Veronica felt compelled to comply. However, parchment?

    A small piece of parchment, about the size of a sticky-note, fell down on the floor when Veronica hurriedly picked up the cloak.

    Ok, now this was a problem. Latin wasn’t a langue she spoke, or able to read for that matter. She donned the cloak and gave it her best anyway.

    For some reason she didn’t need another look, it was like she already knew what to say. A strange feeling took hold over her body, as she recited the incantation in a trance like state. Veronica could feel her strength fading away, until she blacked out entirely…

    Relief was the first thing Veronica felt, only to be replaced by fear and anxiety mere seconds later. What on earth had just happened? She still felt weak, barely able to get upright.

    The young woman lay down on the floor, curled up in foetal position. She looked exhausted, and as pale as a ghost. But she was alive, somehow. Veronica could clearly hear her heavy breath.

    The young woman had finally mustered the strength to say something.

    “Thank you… Veronica.”

  49. Amy says:

    The varying grays of the tile beneath her hands swirled into riotous waves that crashed upon her cheek. The cool slap of moisture roused her and she sat up. An ache that began at the back of her neck and slithered up to her forehead gnawed on her cognizance, creating an echo in the diminutive room. She moved to stand, knocking over a glass bottle next to her. The geese on the front of the bottle honked in irritation, sailing off the edge of the picture and out onto the vast angry gray sea of tile.

    She swayed on her hands and knees, feeling the lap of salt-water waves on her limbs, and looked up at the cerulean blue of the walls. A group of women with angular faces hung over her, staring in disapproval. One of them, seated below the other four, spoke with a familiar voice that echoed off the walls.

    “Samantha, what have you done?” she asked, her tawny skin glowing in the frame.

    She pointed with her cubed finger to the small orange container lying open on the tile. Samantha turned in the direction of her finger as a dizzying haze swept over her eyes and blurred the pill bottle into an orange splotch on the sea.

    The women gossiped in hushed tones of the tragedy before them.

    “What a train wreck…”

    “What would her mother think?”

    “Couldn’t handle the pressure…”

    Samantha groaned. She covered her ears, desperate to escape the judgment of these undressed cubist harpies.

    She dragged herself up off the floor and stumbled into the living room, where the verdant green on the wall spilled over into endless rolling hills. A young woman and child, covered in lace and frills, strolled among the vibrant poppies that dotted the hillside. She smiled a warm and inviting expression as she pointed to a particular flower in the grass. Samantha lay down in the warmth of the afternoon sun and gazed at the vivid red of the flowers.

    “It’s alright, love,” the woman said, and Samantha couldn’t be sure if she was talking to her or the child. “It’ll be over soon.”

    “Will it hurt?” Samantha asked the woman.

    “It’ll be easy,” she soothed, “like drifting off to sleep.”

    Samantha closed her eyes, the image of the woman twirling her indigo parasol against the bright sky playing behind her eyelids. She felt the gnawing pain in her head recede as she dipped into the darkness.

    A violent shriek tore her from the depths and thrust her back into the light. The crashing sound of both the pill bottle and the vodka bottle hitting the tile slashed through the silence as her mother came running to her side. Samantha clung desperately to the peaceful image of the woman and child in the field, but it retreated back to its golden frame upon the wall; a two-dimensional husk of what it had been.

    Her mother grabbed the phone from her purse and dialed three times. When she spoke, it was the same harsh voice of the seated woman full of judgment.

    “Yes, we need an ambulance now! My daughter took some pills…”

  50. swatchcat says:

    Warning, a bit risque. This hit me like a freight train.

    Photo shots of Burt Reynolds naked on a bear rug, Farrah Fawcett’s famous bathing suite, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Warhol, Dali, and more lined the walls. Pop culture lined the walls and cocaine lined the mirrored coffee table. Spoons, tin foil, and Budweiser cans lead the trail to the trophy case of Bongs. The party had made its way to San’s house after the after party.

    The sunken living room was in a haze but you could just make out naked body parts swaying and light moaning from the orgy taking place. Trip reached over and ran his fingers through the lines of powder and swabbed his mouth waiting for the numbing affect. He never lost rhythm with the pale bottom his groin slammed in and out of as he thanked a higher power for his new level of darkness he headed for.

    As San’s lay passed out with the a hookah hose tied loosely around her neck she never realized or cared that her director boyfriend, Trip, was in the living room making it with two guys and some star floozy want-a-be. She had lost all inhibition again. It was the only way she could survive the shit hole she had dug herself into. She rolled over and wrestled with the hookah, crawled toward the bathroom and vomited. Pink Floyd moaned through the stereo as she found her pile of Acid hits and popped one in to keep the train wreck going.

    Nothing was truly in focus, colors swirled and orgasms mixed with excessive base. She closed her door and lay across the bed looking at herself in the overhead mirror. The waves settled in the mattress as she began to cup her breast. She turned and looked at Burt smiling back at her.

    “Love me, please love me. You’re the only one that does.” She whimpered at Burt.

    He stepped from the frame and came up between her legs. Her ankles rested on his shoulders. “Honey, I’m the only one that does. But, you’ve got to stop this.” She took him all in. They swayed, sweat joining as they kissed.

    “No! No! Never!” She was lost in an illusion and could not find the exit. “Kill me, that’s the only way. F… me hard and kill me!” She was reaching peak.

    Trip wrapped the hookah hose around her neck while he F…ed her, “Let’s go babe.”

    Lost in her acid trip, she made love to Burt as Trip took the last breath from her in ecstasy.

  51. EccentricKim says:

    I finally made it to Hogwarts!

    *Casts spells upon the furniture.

  52. Dutchguy says:

    The elephant and the geisha

    “You’re drunk.”

    “Well, yes I am!” I answered the meditating elephant.

    “Didn’t bring anyone home with you?” the elephant inquired.

    “Nope.”

    “Well, that’s a first.”

    “You calling me a slut?!” I was not going to be insulted by a Balinese elephant statue.

    “Calling it as I see it.” The elephant shrugged haughtily.

    “Well, screw you to!” Stumbling through the living room I walked over to the kitchen block. “I will have you know…” my words were slurring. I really had been a bit too overenthusiastic with the whiskey tonight. “That my days of sleeping around are over.”

    “That’s what you said last time.” The elephant dismissed me.

    “Yeah, well! This time I mean it!” And I did. My life was a mess. Drowning myself in whiskey three times a week and ending up in bed with men I could not for the love of God remember the names of was not a healthy lifestyle.

    The elephant scoffed.

    I filled a large glass with water from the tap, and as the room was spinning around me made my way back into the living room to collapse on the sofa. “You know,” I raised my glass to the elephant which was standing on a side table next to the door, “instead of criticizing me every night you could give me some actual advise. Aren’t you supposed to be some Buddhist God of knowledge or something? As such you should be able to help me.”

    “I could. For a prize.”

    “What prize?” I asked suspiciously. Elephants could not be trusted. Especially this one. I knew it for what it was, a sneaky conniving trickster.

    “I will help you get your life back on the rails if you get rid of the geisha.”

    I looked over at the wall to my left where a picture of a geisha hang. I had taken the photo myself on my holiday to Japan. The white faced woman had posed at the entrance to a temple of luck. “Why?” I asked the elephant.

    I quite liked the picture. It seemed kind of random that removing the geisha was all I had to do to learn the answers to all of life’s mysteries. But I knew the elephant. Over the years I had the distinct displeasure of many hours long late night talks with the statue. The long nosed creature was a treacherous spirit. Trying to discern the elephants reasons I stared at the silent woman. She never spoke. In fact she never moved more than her eyes. They blinked and followed me throughout the house. Not just throughout the living room, but through the entire house. I could feel their gaze upon me through the walls in the hallway and through the floor of my upstairs bedroom. But not in a creepy way. No, the sight of the geisha always made me feel safe. Watched over, as if she was my protector. My paragon in the struggle of life. In fact she was the exact opposite of the always negative elephant.

    I looked from the geisha to the elephant and back again. Suddenly it was so clear to me. Finally, I knew what to do.

    The next morning I felt more alive than ever before. As I left for work I passed the garbage bin outside and could not help but smile. From now on everything would be better.

  53. liafiorano says:

    I returned home approximately an hour after midnight. Exhausted, I walked through the foyer towards the hallway where my bedroom was, when I heard a voice from the living room.

    “It’s been a really long time.”

    I stopped. It sounded like my mother, but younger. My heart jumped into my throat. I placed my hand on the wall to stabilize myself from falling. How?

    I twisted around and walked wearily towards the living room. Over the mantle was a set of pictures from my childhood. My brothers and sisters smiling. A portrait of everyone in a collage. A special, torn and wrinkled picture of my mom holding me in my yellow sun daisy dress. It was my favorite moment in my life, before everything fell to pieces for me.

    I picked up the photo. Started to tear up as I was looking at it. And then, “you know I never stopped loving you.”

    Gasp…

    Shaken, I dropped the frame and it shattered on the ground.

    I stared at the broken glass, wiping tears out of my eyes. I picked up the frame, being careful of the sharp edges. Looking at my beautiful mother, so young and precious. Only a few hours ago I was at her house, talking to my brother about the funeral arrangements. Calling the lawyers for her last will and testament. Calling my siblings and the newspaper for the obituary…

    “It’s okay.” While staring at the picture, I realized that though nothing seemed to be moving, there was a voice that spoke to me. Exhausted and unable to question it, I answered,

    “No, it’s not okay.”

    It was silent for a few moments. Maybe I am hysterical…

    “But it is, sweetheart.”

    There it was. That sweet lullaby of her voice… drunken, lost and dead now.

    “How can you say that, ” My voice trembled, “We all left you to rot.”

    “I was sick, honey.” My mother’s voice cooed.

    “We should have helped you.”

    “I was determined to follow the path of destruction. That was not your fault. If anyone is to blame, it is me.”

    I lost balance and fell to my knees. Feeling the stinging sensation of the glass piercing into my skin, I wailed. The guilt resonating deep from within me; my mother, alive in my hand and dead in my heart, was clear as day in my head. ” I don’t deserve this, God. Why? I don’t deserve your forgiveness.”

    My mother, softly and weakly replied, “You were always the brightest star of my sky. Do not despair. I was sick. I was lost. I am finally, at last… at peace.”

    My chest heaving for air. I felt the blood come down my hand from the cut on my palm. Dizzy from disillusionment, I quivered deep from the bones of me.

    “Mom, don’t leave me. Mommy, I still need you.”

    Silence. The air tinged with a cold, sharp grief. I cried and let the teardrops fall down my cheeks and onto the blood on the floor. I wish it so hard, but there was nothing I could do. Vindicated and yet guilt trodden, I was nothing but the shell of my previous self.

  54. phfed says:

    Really liked this one, it was well written and entertaining.

  55. Kerry Charlton says:

    VENUS WITH A MIRROR

    “Henry, I’m too old to bar hop,” I said.

    “Veronica’s out of town and you have nothing better to do,” Henry said. “I’ll drive.”

    “If you’re behind the wheel, I’ll need to drink,” I said.

    Three in the morning we staggered to my door. Henry helped me to a chair. The sounds from my walls hurt my head and I clasped my ears in pain.

    “Are you okey?” Henry said.

    “Can’t you hear all those paintings jabbering?” I asked.

    “Boy you’re smashed,” Henry said. “Take this pillow and blanket and lay down on the couch.”

    Henry left the house and a quiet hush filled the room. My eyes travelled to my favorite painting over the fireplace, ‘Venus With A Mirror’, a copy of Titan’s painting of Venus gazing in a mirror held by Cupid. I heard a soft voice, “Please help me.”

    I stared at my painting and Venus moved her lips, “Please get me out of here.”

    I removed the painting from it’s frame and Venus leapt from the canvas, pushing Cupid back into the art work. She stood before me, her velvet garment having fallen to the floor.

    “I’m so happy to be free from Stupid Cupid, I’ll give you all the love I possss,” Venus said, looking into my eyes with a mischievous look.

    “I can’t believe you’re real,” I said.

    “If you doubt it, kiss me,” she said.

    ‘The hell with Veronica,’ I thought. ‘I’m not turning this down.’

    It took all my strength to carry her to my bedroom, for Titan believed extra flesh added to her beauty. I fell into a sexual frenzy with her. Hours later, I whispered to Venus,

    “You have to let me catch my breath or I’ll have a stroke.”

    “Rest a while,” she said. “It’s my turn on top.”

    I must have fallen asleep for I awoke to the sound of my doorbell. I crawled out of bed, looking like a stallion, rode hard and put up wet. When I opened the door, Veronica stood fuming.

    “I’ve been ringing the doorbell forever. I lost my key. Where were you?”

    “Taking a nap,” I said.

    “It’s two in the afternoon. Why aren’t you are work?”

    “I don’t feel up to it,” I said.

    Veronica headed to the powder room and I, to the living room. Venus had returned to her painting and winked at me. Her left hand rose to her lips and she blew a kiss my way.

    “Why are you staring at your painting?” Veronica asked.

    “Venus and I made love all night long and she just winked at me,” I said.

    “Boy you must have tied one on last night. Did you go with Henry?”

    “He insisted,” I said.

    “l have to go back to Houston next week,” Veronica said. “I hope you don’t mind.”

    I looked back at the painting. Venus held her finger to her lips.

    “I’ll miss you sweetheart, But I’ll be okey.”

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