Last Day of Summer Break

You’re a teenager and it’s the last day of summer break. This is especially painful for you because, over the course of those summer months, you fell in love for the first time and that person is moving away (and breaking up with you). Write the scene where you say goodbye.

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

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271 thoughts on “Last Day of Summer Break

  1. TheFungyRock

    The night was crisp and black. From the damp grassy quadrangle rose an unexpected chill, as if summer was eager to be on its way. Side by side they trudged, an uneasy silence stretching between them.
    At last she spoke. “What time is it?”
    “Eleven fifty-six.”
    “Guess I’ll be leaving you here tonight.” Sure, check-in was midnight. Yet, this was their final goodbye. Before, she had always accompanied him all the way back to his dorm; now they were parting mid-way for a last and unceremonious farewell. He wondered whether things would be different if…
    “Hug, then?” His heart grew lighter at her suggestion. He thought her tone verged on “let’s-get-this-over-with”, but perhaps not – perhaps he’d imagined it, just like he’d imagined her flirts, her smiles. Everything.
    He pulled her in for one last, squeezing embrace.
    They were laughing in the dusk over a game of Uno, on the first day of the program. An eternity ago.
    He was annotating Richard the Third with the green felt-tip pen she lent him, and discussing their projects for next week’s class.
    They were dashing to find shelter in a sudden downpour, laughing with exhilaration and shouting to be heard.
    She was touching his hair and giggling about how different it was from her own.
    She was crunching on a cone, mint chocolate smeared all over her dimpled smile.
    She was sleeping on the couch, her face hidden under a cap, one hand trailing on the floor.
    He was kissing her in front of the dorm building.
    She was texting him “Why?”
    He was answering “Because I really like you.”
    “I’m sorry… but I wasn’t looking at us that way.”
    His fingers were trembling and he just sat there for a moment, in a trance.
    “That’s fine.”
    And there they were again, locked in their embrace, with her leaving for the other side of the country first thing next morning. A week later, she would be on the other side of the world. If not for the summer program, they wouldn’t even have known of each other’s existence.
    They parted.
    “Good night, then.” She attempted at a smile, but faltered.
    “G’night.”
    He watched her turn, start to stride back the way they came, and then break
    into a sprint, until she was finally engulfed by the night.
    * * *
    His tousled head of wavy brown hair – ever so soft – was falling over her shoulder in the dark lounge, his rhythmic breathing washing over her like the ebbing tide, while people hustled by in the bright corridor outside –
    She sighed loudly and squirmed under her blanket. Traffic hummed in the distance, and a lone cricket chirped.
    It just didn’t feel right at the time. Besides, they would’ve had to separate either way, so what was the point? But given the choice again…
    She lay awake till dawn, now and then picking up her phone to stare at her unanswered messages, a single tear trickling onto her pillow.

  2. Avid Daydreamer

    Violet tears fall from my dark eyes as I watch a shower of asteroids tumble through space. I wipe my face and stare down at my hand. A purple stream runs through scaly green foothills. I’m reminded of the planet Ashgar, our first meeting place.

    I flinch as I hear the airlock open behind me, and the familiar slither of her tentacles on the metal floor of the bay. My heart thumps uncontrollably in my tail. I can’t bare to look. I’ll drown.

    “The greatest sight in all the worlds.”

    Her voice is quiet but betrays no insecurity. One of the reasons I fell so quickly. My body turns of its’ own volition.

    A narrow blue face with plump seductive lips sits atop a slender, tentacled form, skin as soft as the humans’ of earth. Her wide yellow eyes seem to glow with life, like nothing I’ve seen before. Those eyes stare at me now, confused.

    “Indeed Siri, there is no world that sees the beauty of space with such clarity as we do now. But I called you here for another reason.”

    “Oh?”

    For a moment I’m unable to speak. My throat is tight and dry.

    “My father’s work is taking him to the far reaches of the galaxy, where he will command fleets of trade ships. It is his dream.”

    “That’s wonderful, Nisgir! But I don’t understand. Why bring me all the way out here just to tell me that?”

    Silence.

    Her wide, bright eyes seem to lose their glow as she begins to realize.

    “My father can be a demanding man, and he will not go alone. My clan leaves for the 46th Sector within the hour.”

    She breaks.

    Icy blue tears flow like rapids from her porous tentacles, forming clear puddles on the bay floor. Her body convulses in deep, unstoppable sobs.

    Dread consumes me. I rush to her and drop to my scale covered knees. One finger gently lifts her chin so her eyes may meet my own and see the grief that no doubt fills them, strengthening the bond that I came here to sever.

    “I will never love another as I have loved you. Your quiet voice that masks the strength inside you. Your smooth, almost serpentine curves that accentuate your unmatchable beauty. The way your golden eyes shine when the moons of Gorgesh bask you in a glow that pales in comparison to your own. These are but bricks in the foundation of my love for you.”

    “I will return to this place. Not for the knowledge from the academy or the scenery of Ashgar. Not even for the sublime meteor showers that tear through this nebula. I will return for you. For everything we’ve done up to this point, and everything we’ve yet to do.”

    I kiss her smooth forehead and rise to my feet. Her expression is dripping with emotion, yet it is unreadable.

    I turn and walk to the airlock door.

    “Wait!” I hear Siri cry.

    But the door has already closed. It shan’t stay that way for long.

  3. RobBob

    It was a long summer, according to people in the small town of Crawford. Very little of note happened, as it always was, with exception of a brutal heatwave back in early July. Otherwise, nothing really changed. The corn grew from sprout to stalk, as it always did. The cicadas sang in the sunshine, and fireflies danced in the moonlight, as they always do.
    For me, summer was sweet and short, as it always is to someone my age. But it was especially short this summer, for love changes things, as I’ve always been told it does. She abruptly came into my life. And now, just as abruptly, she is leaving it.
    “You knew this was coming,” Liz sighed.
    “Yeah. Doesn’t make it any easier,” I sighed back.
    Elizabeth Brock. A hell raiser, both by reputation and, from personal experience, by nature. And boy did she look it. From her mess of blue hair, to the torn and ratty band tees and faded jeans, to the scuffed engineer boots currently kicking at the gravel. A fashion staple of where she’s from, but a rarity here, where a gas station and a McDonalds made us the cultural hub for the county.
    “I know it doesn’t,” she said.
    She came in the middle of May. Her parents sent her here to her Uncle’s as soon as school was done for her. Various rumors spread, as only they do in small towns, each more fantastic and vicious than the last. Why she was actually here was, in the end, unknown, even to me.
    “We had fun, didn’t we?” she muttered.
    “The most I’ve ever had,” I responded, forcing a smile.
    And it was. First time we met was at a bonfire a few weeks after she got here. It started with hanging around the fire with the youth of the town, drinking as much ill-gotten beer as we could, with the crowd thinning the later it got. It ended with the two of us, a cherry bomb, a mailbox, and a successful run from the local deputies. We’ve been inseparable since.
    “I’ll miss you,” I said, moving closer to her.
    I hug her, and she hugs back. We stay there for a moment and then separate. She goes to the van and steps into the passenger side.
    Things hit their zenith on Independence Day. On her uncle’s farm, out in the barn’s loft we watched as the fireworks began out towards town, stinking up the loft with cheap weed, drinking cheap beer. Huddled there, in the glow of fireworks, we kissed. We kissed until the fireworks ended, then went up to her room and did…a little more.
    She closed her door. She looked at me once, waved, and turned forward as the van rolled out, and onto the road. I stood there a moment, silent. Then, I took my bike toward home. I forwent dinner and went to bed. An hour after my tears were spent, I finally fell asleep.

  4. Bobabob

    Frozen in Time

    Kyle had known this day was coming for weeks. What he didn’t know was how bad it would hurt.
    Jenny had become the center of his world in those seemingly short months. He had come to love everything about her. The way her long brown hair broke across her shoulders. The way her nose crinkled when she laughed and her big dimples that presented themselves when she smiled. And what a smile it was. It could warm the hardest of hearts and made him melt on the inside. Most of all were her eyes. She had pale blue eyes that could pierce his armor and see into the depths of his soul.
    He was already in head over heels when she told him they were moving. For him, the whole world stood still when he heard the words cross her lips.
    “We’re moving in a few weeks. My father got transferred.”

    “Really? Where are you moving to?”

    “Yes. The other side of the country to California.”

    “Wow. When is the big day?”

    “In two weeks. August 28th. I have to register for school there and we need to be settled in before school starts.”
    Kyle got quiet and suddenly distant as a thousand thoughts went through his mind.
    “Are you okay?” She asked.
    “Yeah, I guess so. I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t even know your house was for sale.”

    “It wasn’t. The company is paying for everything. My dad got a big promotion. He said he couldn’t pass it up.”

    “What about us?”

    “Let’s not think about it now, and enjoy the last few weeks we have together. Okay?” She said her voice starting to quiver as her eyes swelled over.

    “Okay.”
    He knew what the answer was. Their relationship was doomed.
    It was now August 27th and he was walking her home. He went to kiss her goodnight and that’s when reality set in.
    “I guess this is goodbye.”

    “Goodbye? I thought you were leaving tomorrow?”

    “We are. We’re leaving for the airport at 5:30 am.”

    “I thought we would have some time together tomorrow.”

    “Kyle, don’t make this any harder than it already is. What difference is today or tomorrow going to make? Is there anything we haven’t said or done that would make a difference?”

    “Yes. I love you Jenny.”

    “Don’t do this Kyle”

    “Let me finish. I love you, and I always will. I will never forget you.”

    She just started to cry unable to speak an intelligible word. He drew her close and wrapped his arms around her for the last time. She sobbed on his shoulder. He pulled his head back and she looked up at him. They kissed their last kiss and stared at each other. Her beautiful eyes shone in the dim glow of the porch light.
    “I love you too Kyle”.
    He wanted to keep this moment forever frozen in time. Their embrace broke and she turned to go. The door closed, and he left there broken, and numb.

  5. HereGoesNothing

    The Last Time

    I knew something was wrong the second she closed the door. I saw the way that she lingered there – the moment of hesitation. Instinctively, my heart began to pound. Things had been going so well. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had a place in the world. When she finally turned around, my concern increased. Her beautiful bottom lip gave her away with the slightest quiver, and her gray eyes were filled with tears.

    “I’m so sorry-“ she began. Immediately I felt my chest begin to shake. “Chloe, what is it?” I said, fearing and knowing the worst all at once.

    She took a long and troubled pause. “We can’t stay here, not after everything that’s happened. It’s my fault.” She looked at me with a flushed face, and I wondered why on earth she seemed embarrassed. “My parents found out. It’s best for the both of us.”

    “You’re moving?” The walls seemed to cave down upon me with the roar of the sea. I couldn’t hear or see anything – my senses were completely overwhelmed. For what seemed like an eternity, I was lost in the worst feeling I had ever experienced. I thought we were the same. She was the only thing that made sense in my world.

    It had never occurred to me that she would be taken from me so soon. I felt trapped in my mind with all of the colorful and warm memories of the summer – all of which seemed to taunt me cruelly now, calling me a fool for my typical teenage naivety.

    “Chloe,” the words seemed to die in the air as I exhaled them, “Your parents don’t understand. Did you tell them that we love each other?” She inhaled slowly, and as I watched the girl that I loved, I could see her heart was breaking as well.

    “I did.” She stared at her feet. “But it doesn’t mean anything to them. They said I’m going to ruin my future.”

    Now my pain became visceral, as if her words had injured my very body. “But… you said that I was your future. I thought you meant it.” The words were meant to hurt, and they had found their target. It was too much for her to handle. I felt guilty, in spite of myself. I wanted to comfort her – to smooth down her curls and clear all evidence of crying from her face. She was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, even now. Sobs wracked her chest and her nose had began to run.

    “It doesn’t have to be this way.” I told her. “Let me talk to your parents. Let me explain what this really is.”

    “No.” Her reply was trembling, yet firm. “I can’t. I’ve disappointed them enough already.”

    I blinked at her in a stunned silence. I couldn’t comprehend what disappointment or her parents had to do with any of this. All of our lives we had been waiting to feel normal, and then we found each other. Nothing else was supposed to matter. I moved across the room and sit next to her on the bed. She sighed as our arms made contact. Even now, we turned to each other for comfort.

    She took a deep breath and grasped my hand. “I will always love you.” She told me. We stared at each other – no more words and no more tears. I remember thinking that, even if we couldn’t have a future, this moment didn’t have to end. I would stay here with her forever – sitting on her pink butterfly comforter and clutching her warm hand in mine. I breathed in the scent of her shampoo and rested my cheek on the silky skin of her bare shoulder.

    The door opened suddenly. Chloe’s mother stared at us, and I could feel the disdain flood across the room. I saw the accusation in her eyes. She saw me as a corruption in her household. Her face was screwed up into such a rage that for a moment I thought she was going to spit at me.

    “Chloe, it’s time for Christina to leave.”

    I never saw her again.

  6. MoiraiTQ

    Aruba tied the belt loosely around her waist of the white caftan. The silky fabric was cool against her skin. Her summer love was leaving today. She wanted to look pretty, so that Jeminia would have a good memory of her. One to help keep her in her mind. One that will drive her crazy and miss her until they could see each other again.

    As she brushed her long wavy hair and pinned it up, her upswept and pointed ears started to tingle with excitement and turned a pale blue. Blue was the color of love. The shade of blue was dependent upon the type of love. The family love blue was different than the passion love. She couldn’t help herself. She was one of the gifted ones. Her skin turned colors with her moods. She finished fussing with her hair and left her house.

    Aruba walked down the path to the beach. It took everything she had to not run and throw herself at her love. She couldn’t wait to see Jeminia. Jeminia was a little taller than Aruba, but not much. Both of them are 16 and were swept away by their summer love. As Aruba stepped onto the pier, she heard voices, but couldn’t tell what they were saying. One voice was Jeminia’s. The other was a boy’s. She walked toward the pier directory and the bench behind it. The closer she got the more she could make out what they were saying.

    Aruba’s pace slowed to a crawl. What was she hearing? Could it be that Jeminia was telling that boy that she loved him? She felt her ears burn. They were no long blue, but now turning yellow. Sadness. She also felt her eyes well up.

    Aruba walked around the sign and looked at the two of them on the bench. THEY were holding hands. THEY were sitting close to each other. THEY were together. This was not supposed to happen. It should’ve been ME and Jeminia, not him and Jeminia.

    They both saw Aruba before they heard her. Aruba’s ears were yellow. She was crying.

    Jeminia’s face fell because this was not how she wanted the break up to go. She wanted the break up to be just between her and Aruba and not in front of her and Corim. Jeminia loved Aruba and Corim. She knew that Aruba wouldn’t be able to share her with Corim. Corim fit more needs than Aruba did. Tears sprung from Jeminia’s eyes because she had hurt Aruba so terribly. Oh the best laid plans….

  7. Critique

    First Love

    Becky had deliberately chosen an obscure spot on the beach behind a row of sunbathers. Now in the late afternoon she lay prone on the sand, chin on hands, and singled out the athletic figure balancing on a surf board. The grace and movement of the toned muscles topped off with that heartbreakingly handsome face caused her heart to quail and the tears to wet her cheeks beneath the sunglasses.

    How. Could. She. Bear. It.

    Last night she’d worn her long hair loose around her shoulders and the blue sundress that had made Preston’s eyes widen and say “you look amazing” when she’d worn it to a local band concert on the beach. He’d noticed the male attention she was getting, slung a possessive arm around her shoulders, and she’d never felt more beautiful.

    But last night when they’d walked barefoot in the waves, hand in hand – moonbeams gleaming on the silver ocean – she had been sure he would say it. Her family was leaving in the morning. Preston would be staying an extra day. They would be attending the same college in a week – she in her freshman year, he a sophomore – surely now as her heart almost burst with anticipation he would tell her he loved her. Instead Preston told her he’d decided to attend another college out east.

    At first she nodded dumbly in shock. Boom. Just like that. He would be moving 3000 miles away.

    “How long have you known about this?” She asked in a voice too calm for her own ears.

    “About a week.” He grabbed her other hand. “Becky this summer has been a blast. So much fun. I’ll never forget you.”

    As the waves and her world crashed around her feet she wrenched her hands free, turned and ran.

    “Becky wait.” He called.

    She ran faster.

    This summer she’d fallen in love for the first time with Preston. They spent hours surfing every day. He sensed other guys envy and he kept Becky close. In her eyes he was an insatiable feast. The silly jokes, his joie-de-vivre outlook on life, sloppy man-bun of blond curls, his sparkling hazel eyes, the way he threw his head back – Adam’s apple bobbing – and laughed, his expressive hands when he talked, strong limbs, wide shoulders – even his calloused size 11 feet. He made it clear she was his. She loved everything about him.

    And now she knew. He didn’t love her.

    The pain was unbearable. Her heart hurt. She’d soaked her pillow with tears through the endless night and her eyes were red and puffy. During the night her Mother’s soft words and back rub did little to ease the grief. Becky couldn’t bear the thought of food and after her suitcases were packed she walked to the beach one last time while her parents closed up the cottage. They would leave for home soon.

    Now as she hid behind the sea of sunbathers watching Preston as he skimmed expertly and with precision time and again over the waves. He seemed so carefree. All the dreams and secrets she’d shared so trustingly? The passionate kisses and the level of intimacy they’d shared. Her face burned with mortification. To think that he knew – and everyone else around them – how crazy she was about him, how she’d taken the bait, and how all along like a dispassionate fisherman he would let her go. Catch and release. That’s all she was to him.

    Preston was laughing with some of the surfers as he shook the water out of his hair and walked onto the beach carrying his surf board.

    Sobs burst from her throat and several sunbathers looked her way. How pathetic was she? Grief’s numbness yielded to the strength of the humiliation and anger washing over her and she jumped to her feet ignoring the sand sticking to her tank and shorts and headed back to the cottage. She thought she heard Preston call her name. She didn’t look back once.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I feel so sorry for Becky bit then look at it this way. Good riddance to him he’d be nothing but a heartache his whole life. Let him find out how cruel it is to treat people with indifference. Those curls aren’t going to look very nice as a lining for a bald head. And the pot belly isn’t attractive on a 60 year old. She deserves a prince and thankfully they can.be found . A lot of ordinary people have prince qualities.

        1. Critique

          I agree totally. Ordinary people do have those princely qualities – a girl should never settle for less. It’s what’s inside that counts for the long term. Thank you for commenting Kerry.

          1. MoiraiTQ

            I understood it to be for me. You’re welcome! I loved it and felt her pain. Like Kerry, she deserves better. He’s a &&&&. 🙂

  8. JRSimmang

    THE GREEN GRASS OF NORBERRY CASTLE
    (under the wire)

    It was soon to be dusk, and Lady Marianne was still nowhere to be found. I leaned against my saddle pack, an arrow nocked in my bow set in my lap. It was far more dangerous on the road than off it, but I felt no more at ease than when I had to watch over Duke Wellington. That man’s visage still sends chills down my spine even in death, his spite frozen in his visage as he swung from the gallows. He looked at me in those final moments, pleading first to be cut, then entreating me to slit my own throat. Bad things happen to bad people, so they say, and his comeuppance had been long in waiting.

    Long in waiting, I was, and about to resaddle my horse, when I espied Lady Marianne on the horizon. Ne’er before had I laid eyes upon an angel so frequently as when she stood nearby. Her voice unfroze the lake, her eyes penetrated through the dark of night. She was nonpareil an emissary of Heaven. I sat up and waved.

    This tree was a sacred one for us. It was where I found her fiercest hunting dog, Drake, with a broken leg, no doubt from pursuing the bears in the forest. It was here where her shawl ended its dance with the wind. It seemed only fitting that this tree be where we find our hearts tied forever. She coaxed her horse Ajax to a halt. He was so obedient. To her, so am I.

    “Milady,” I bowed. “May your feet never touch the ground.”

    “My feet are about to touch the ground, dear Garrett,” she smiled. “But it would be the only way I could kiss thine lips.”

    I extended my hand and let her gloved fingers grasp into mine, and she left the saddle, allowing me to envelop her in my arms. She is the quintessence of eternity, coming with her the beauty of the cosmos and the light of the sun. Her feet found the ground, though mine began to lift, my soul carrying me into her night.

    “A kiss, milady, I believe I was promised.”

    Against mine lips, a sweet honey flowed. “There, my daring knight.” She cast a glance over her shoulder in the direction she came. “Dear, Garrett.”

    “My love.”

    “That kiss is meant to carry you into the lands away from here.”

    The air felt thick around me.

    “I cannot allow you to linger, my dear Garrett. My father,” she paused and lifted my chin. “My father has betrothed me to the Earl of Norberry.”

    I felt a sigh escape through my teeth. “Norberry,” I repeated harshly.

    “No. Get that thought out of your mind.”

    In the distance a horn sounded. The horn of the hunt.

    “They will be here shortly. The dogs have caught your scent. Go,” she whispered, then yelled, “GO!”

    I looked to the horizon. “How many?”

    “Too many, you foolish boy. Run. Ride. Get out of here!”

    I peered deeply into her eyes, her gloriously dangerous eyes, and I kissed her one last time. “That, milady, will last you until we see each other again.”

    I grabbed my saddle pack, left my bow and nocked arrow, and ran toward my horse. The first arrow screamed past my left ear, thwacking into the ground, the second too long. It struck a felled stump.

    The third pierced my left shoulder, and I knew the road to Norberry would be long. As I reached my horse, I glanced back at Marianne. She clutched her hands to her bosom, and in those hands she held my crest.

    Norberry would be reminded of why he should never cross me. First, I shall ride to Deluthia to seek out his cousin. Then, one by one, the throne of Alamaria will be mine.

    -JR Simmang

    1. Critique

      Does anyone know what or who to contact when I can’t submit my story here? It’s never happened to me before. Quite frustrating. Thanks for any help.

      1. Doakley

        the new filter is touchy, doesn’t allow embedded words such as “c0cktail” look for unsuspecting words with an embedded word. even s$xy is disallowed.

  9. frankd1100

    Cholie was Captain of Lifeguards on Coast Guard Beach. Her short, sun streaked hair, bounced about her face as she monitored flailing swimmers. She was 27, with a tanned, cross-fit body in a red lifeguard swimsuit. I was 19 and hooked from my first day on the job.

    A summer laborer, I was on a crew resetting railroad tie steps from the bath houses down the clifflike dunes to the beach. Scheduled to report for two-a-day football practices at summer’s end, the hot, heavy work complemented the team’s summer work out program.

    It was quitting time on a Friday. As I pushed a wheelbarrow into the trailer I heard shouts coming from the snack bar area. When I heard Cholie’s voice I dropped the wheelbarrow and sprinted in her direction and took out a guy trying to grab her from behind. She was fighting three drunks who had been bullying patrons. We stood back to back and fought them until they got tired and ran off.

    Pumped up on adrenaline I asked her on a date for that night. I was stunned when she answered, “I’d love to go out with you, Murphy.”

    Later, at an outdoor bar, I got quiet as guys hit on her. “Are you really this shy,” she asked noting my silence? Cholie was something of a celebrity with the beach crowd and she liked the attention. “I’m cool,” I said.

    By the end of that first week we were sleeping together. Cholie was more experienced but brought me along fast, which raised questions that I never asked. I never asked how she could afford a condo on a lifeguards salary. I never asked why or for whom she was returning to Michigan when the season ended.

    Some nights we’d lie on a blanket hidden by the dunes, with the Ocean and the brilliance of the summer constellations laid out before us. We’d make love and discuss the most inane topics.

    One such night, with a week left in our summer, during a pause in the conversation I said, “Cholie, I’ve been thinking about us and…”

    I felt her stiffen and she said, “Murph, we’re better not thinking about it.”

    “Not think about it” I said, reminded of a scene from a movie. “Wait,” I said as she started to speak. “I get it…this is how it ends.”

    “This is the best way, Murph. Believe me.”

    I left her at the door of her condo and found my way back to the cottage. I gathered my stuff into a duffell, walked to route six and caught a ride and was home in Boston in three hours.

    “You’re a week early,” my Mom said, greeting me at the door. “Is everything OK?”

    “Yeah, I’m good. Just nervous I guess about college.”

    I went to my room, changed and headed off on a long run. The hubris of early summer had dissolved into stinging particles of dark, grey ash… For years I would wonder, what was it about Michigan?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’d be a little kinder then that. Eight years older then he was is quite a stretch for a man.to be serious about a girl. Maybe she knew she wouldn’t t be able to hold on for a serious relationship. Either way, I doubt that he wouldn’t think the better of her and chalk it up to an eye opening summer.at least I would.

  10. LunaShrimp

    The speakers roar something now indistinct. The hard-plastic chair beneath me moans from the weight it is forced to bear. I’ve been sitting here too long. I can already felt he backache that will plague me long into tomorrow.

    My hands twist into the letterman jacket draped over my shoulders. Soft black leather, supple from wear, and a blood red trim. The numerous numbers and patches rub against my fingers as I brush over them. The insides are lined with soft wool. It still smells like him. Like Andre.

    I can’t bear to have mama wash it. So, it has stayed packed away in my close until today.

    A hand closes over mine. His mama stands behind me, her homely face screwed up with sorrow. Tears sparkle in her eyes as her lips tremble. She looks like she wants to stay something. I feel a pinprick of pity through the numbness. What this woman has suffered no mama should go through.

    I stop whatever she is going to say by holding her hand in both of mine. I wonder why she hasn’t pulled away. Mine are freezing cold

    They said our relationship wouldn’t work. That it was too soon. We had seemingly just met over Christmas. I just graduated this summer, in May. Andre’s a 21-year-old soldier fighting for our country. For me.

    That’s what he used to tell me when we used to Facetime. I was his reason for fighting in that god forsaken land over there. He was so sweet. We would chat every chance we got, which wasn’t very often. But it felt enough. It was enough.

    So I thought.

    But here I am, sitting in a nearly empty airport. The luminescent lights up above cast everything into a harsh glow that gives reality a hazy edge. A part of me wants to deny that everything is real. That this is all nightmare that I will wake up from. Where I will wake up and he is right there beside me.

    Where I will wake up and he isn’t gone.

    Time blurs into nothingness, until I finally hear the voice of Andre’s commander. He’s saying something to Andre’s family.

    “I’m sorry for your loss.”

    My fingers dig crescents into my hands. That’s it? That’s all this man can offer? “I’m sorry?”

    Pathetic.

    I glare at the commander. I don’t even register his face. All I see is the medal that afford him his rank. He stands immaculately straight, a cold look over him. The double doors leading to the tarmac open, slowly, finally.

    Soldiers line a wooden box covered in red, white, and blue material. I hear open crying around me. I have to push a hand into my mouth to stop the torrent of sobs that threaten to spill.

    The soldiers stop near us. One of them is openly crying, tears streaming down his face. I don’t know him. But he knew Andre.

    The soldiers step away to give Andre’s family room. But I beat them to it. I’m standing beside the casket before I can think, angrily staring at the flag. That striped imperfection hiding my Andre from me. I clench my fists. “Is this all I get!” I shouted. “All I get is this!” I placed my hands on the casket. It’s heavy and smooth. Bu I’m once again stopped by the material. A part of me wants to rip it off, to see Andre’s face again. It isn’t her fault. Just war.

    “I didn’t want to say goodbye this way.” I whisper into the wood. “You were supposed to break up with me in person. Not leave me alone with just this.” I clench my hands into the immaculately folded flag draped over his coffin. I feel hands on my back, trying to pull me away. I know that Andre’s family loved him more than I did. But…

    I sob. “Please. Don’t leave me alone.”

    A part of me wishes I could hear his voice. Just once more.

    But all I get is silence.

  11. Silver Sister

    I’m grateful we decided to say goodbye this way. Ryder’s parents were sweet enough to invite me to come along tomorrow. But I don’t want to say goodbye in a generic dorm room with his parents awkwardly nearby. If it has to happen, I want it’s end to be as meaningful as the relationship. Earlier tonight, Ryder took me to the Mexican restaurant where we had our first date. Then Jaylen Cartwright had kind of a going away party for friends leaving for college. We went and enjoyed the bonfire, the music and the company. We did a lot of that over the summer, so it seemed right.

    Now, we’re propped up against the cab,in the bed of his truck. The tailgate is down and we watch mist roll over my family’s small pond. My midnight curfew doesn’t specify that I be inside, just that I’m home. So this totally counts.

    Any moment, Ryder will day, “Well, Hailey. It’s about that time.” But I’m not ready. I glance up at Ryder’s moonlit profile and feel a momentary flash of irritation with myself.

    I hadn’t meant to catch feelings. I knew he was leaving while I still have another year. But he’s fun and funny. And hot. I didn’t think I was in much danger of falling because he’s quieter and more serious than guys I usually date. A summer fling sounded fun and romantic. I didn’t think of fall’s fallout.

    I’m scared this is how my whole year is going to be. Just for a second, I hate Ryder for starting a year of beginnings while I have to go through a year of endings. Ryder is just the first of many endings.

    Next semester my friend, Madi is going to Spain as a foreign exchange student. She won’t return until after I’ve left for college. We’ve been friends since Brownies. It’s my last year in Mr. Mockobee’s class, too. I’ve had him every year for Algebra1 & 2, geometry and this year for pre-calc. I hate math, but have to have certain credits for college. Mr. Mockobee is such a good teacher, math class I’d bearable. And I even make decent grades. Some kids make fun of his life of puns, but not me. I think it’s comforting. But hardest of all will be there end of cheerleading. I’ve loved and excelled in cheer since Pop Warner cheer. If I played basketball, I could shoot hoops with friends. If I played volleyball or softball, I could join a church or company league. Not so much with cheer. When that buzzer ends the last basketball game, it’ll end my cheer days forever.

    Yet everyone expects me to be excited about all this. Hell, Mom has been on Pinterest since May researching ideas for senior portraits, Senior Night and graduation parties. I hold Ryder tighter, letting the smell of bonfire and cologne soothe me.

    Soon I won’t be able to do this anymore. We’ve promised to stay close, but I understand what that really means. Retweets, viewing each other Snapchat stories, liking pictures on Instagram. . . But I know the first time he posts a selfie with some hot girl I’ll cry my eyes out and listen to a playlist exclusively of Post Malone – just because he’s Ryder’s favorite. I feel tears welling, but I fight them back. Why is this so hard?

    This time next year, I know I’ll be excited. Everything will seem possible. My plans for the future will spread out as some kind of thrilling adventure. Tonight, though, all I can feel is what I’m losing. I’m losing Ryder. And I’m not ready.

    I feel Ryder shift. He kisses the top of my head and murmurs the words I’ve been dreading. “Well, Hailey. It’s about that time.”

    My eyes squeeze shut against a hot rush of pain. When I’m physically able to speak, I whisper the only thing I can. “I know.”

    1. Bushkill

      Touching story. I’ve lived a few of those awkward conversations and end of summer moments; they’ve all ended differently. There is no formula for avoiding heartache.

    2. MoiraiTQ

      I had something similar with a boy I met in Air Force basic training. I wanted us to be stationed together and he only wanted to be stationed near his dad. We were going to remain friends, call on the phone, etc. It didn’t work out that way.

  12. RafTriesToWrite

    Sunday, June 4, 2006

    The wind breathed smoothly through my slightly opened window, I can smell the ocean from here. Summer is ending and I feel so bummed out. Is it because of the radio playing Bad Day by Daniel Powter? Was it the fact that summer is ending and school is starting? I don’t know. I can’t put my finger on it.

    I was brought back to the real world by the ringing of my phone. I checked the caller ID. It’s her, my soul mate.

    “Hi” I breathed. I just woke up.

    “Oh hi Molt”

    “Lucy, what’s up?”

    “Can I talk to you? Like right now?”

    Her voice is different. There’s a bit of urgency behind her cheeky voice today. Almost close to nervousness.

    “Ohh, yeah, sure, where do you wanna meet?” I got up to change clothes as I put her on speaker. What could she want at 7 in the morning? She mostly sleeps in every day. What’s wrong?

    “Meet me at our spot in 5” She hung up before I could reply. She never hangs up on me without saying ‘I love you’ first, never.

    I hastily made my way to the big rock underneath our coconut tree where we engraved our initials inside a heart near her parents’ beach house.

    She was already there as I approached our spot, nervously. I smiled at her when she saw me, but she didn’t. Something’s wrong.

    “Hi Molt” She spoke, coldly as she could. First time I ever heard her say my name like that.

    “Hi Lucy. What’s wrong?”

    She paused for a bit. I think she knows that I noticed that she’s been treating me differently.

    “My dad got relocated to New York” I remember her telling me that her dad gets relocated at least 4 times a year with his job. Something about computer tech. stuff. I’m not really into those.

    “And?”

    She scoffs. “Don’t you get it Molt? I’m breaking up with you!”

    My world was shattered. Why? What’s wrong with long distance relationships? Did she find someone new? Am I not good enough for her? Or is this all just one big joke? Yeah! It must be!

    “You must be kidding aren’t you?”

    “No Molt. I’m not”

    My eyes widen. “How dare you say that?! Two months Lucy. TWO MONTHS!” She wouldn’t look me in the eyes.
    “Why Lucy? Why Lucy? Please talk to me. Please! You’re part of my life, you are everything. I could not go on without you Lucy!”

    “We’re done Molt” She walks away.

    “YOU ARE TEARING ME APAAART LUCY!” I put both fists up in the air and down for dramatic effect.

    “Bye Molt” Those were her last words.

    Later that night before they went away, cops surrounded Lucy’s house. Few of them were at our door, questioning my parents. I already told them what they needed to hear.

    I opened my closet to change clothes.

    “They would never know” I whispered to the wind.

    1. writer_sk

      Great work, Raf. I thought your writing was very strong especially going back and forth between descriptions and dialogue. The mysterious ending was a nice touch.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I was drawn in immediately and that doesn’t happen.often
        I fear for both of them although reading the dialogue did not prepare me for what I fear is a violent end to your story. One word analyis. “Gripping!”

  13. VRoseV

    The last days of summer are telling us their last goodbye
    I’m going to college this year so the ending of summer was exciting for me because college means a new beginning and a new life, so it means a new adventure, and I like life’s simplest adventures.
    I began to think of how would I flourish in college and become the writer and comic artist I wanted to be, I thought of college as an opportunity to start on developing my writing skills and my art skills as well, both by a new way.
    After a tough time at my high school’s last year, A success like going to a great college was a great prize to have, especially if it is a college about what you love.
    But recently, things changed.
    I thought that between the end of high school and college, there would be a gap empty of any events or empty of the surprises that faced me through the last high school year.
    But eventually, I was wrong.
    During the gap I found a treasure that no beauty matches, a great art piece that none of the greatest human hands can imitate and a piece of pleasure that beats thousands of beautiful shining pearls.
    A piece of heaven.
    I noticed the presence of such wealth all of my life but when my last year of high school finished, I realized its full glory and wonder.
    I’ve always admired the glory, but I have never admired it so much like now.
    But since college is approaching, we will have to separate.
    And by knowing the future, and how my life would be busy by that time, we might never meet again after life moves on.
    But who knows, we might live together forever.
    Who knows what lies on the pages of the book that is yet to be written.
    Nobody knows.
    That tears my heart apart, that makes me shed tears that I’ve never shed before, tears of agony, the tears of separation.
    My heart is breaking apart.
    But at least through the college year, we may meet sometimes, although we won’t focus on each other, we may study together, share laughs and coughs, share hopes and dreams, but with limited time.
    As the last day approaches, I send a message to this piece of heaven,
    I will never forget you, you will always be in my heart.
    Yours, me
    To you, my bed

    1. Rene Paul

      Nice story, especially the twist at the end. Picky point: You using a lot of Glue or Filler words in your sentences. Eliminating a few in each sentence makes an easier read and increases clarity. Example: I’m going to college this year so the ending of summer was exciting for me because college means a new beginning and a new life, so it means a new adventure, and I like life’s simplest adventures. (to,this,so,the,of,was,for,so,it,) It’s also a very long sentence. Otherwise, I loved the story. Good Job.

  14. Tysheena Jackson

    Mercy Hospital: Part I by T. M. Jackson

    Mary Jane’s heart slowed at the sight before her. The house, his house, once standing proud and tall, was now that of smoke and ashes. The event was completely catastrophic for the fourteen year old girl who stood with the whispering and weeping, underneath the black October sky. Bits and pieces of their wonderment sticking to her like cotton candy on a child’s thumb.

    “BOOM!”

    “…like firecrackers.”

    “I thought the war had reach us after all.”

    “And then the smoke–”

    “…screaming.”

    “Oh, what a horrible sound it was.”

    “The boy…”

    Hospital.

    The girl climbed back onto her bike and peddled away from the ruins. Mary Jane peddled quicker than she ever had–everything around her a smear of paint on canvas. But no matter how fast the wind whipped across her face she could not escape the voices from the ruined home. His home. They followed her all the way through Kearney Road and coiled around the tires of her bike when she trudged through the bulrushes near the pond. And finally, on top of the hill that overlooked the city, Mercy Hospital came into view. Tourists were told to look for the giant cross on top of the hill, because if they seen that cross they knew Providence was in that town, right in the center. And more than ever did Mary Jane need Him to be with her.

    Her old bike fell to the pavement and she ran inside Mercy Hospital. The woman behind the desk looked up and noticed the state of Mary Jane right away. For it was not the girl’s own trepidation that caused the nurse to call out to her, but the woman’s own assumption that the young girl was surely out of place. “Can I help you sweetheart?” She rose from her chair.

    Mary Jane looked to her. “The burned boy…” She swallowed, her throat dry. “Where is he?”

    “Are your parents here with you, Sweetheart? I think it’d be best if you waited for them?”

    “Can’t you just tell me where he is?”

    “I’m afraid that isn’t an option, Darling. Perhaps if you come with me we can track down your–”

    “NO!” Mary Jane snatched away from the woman and received looks. Knowing what would happen next she eyed the hall to her left and took off down it, ignoring the nurse altogether.

    She followed the signs hanging on walls and looked through the windows of rooms. “Have you seen a burned boy?” She stopped and asked. But everyone was too busy to care or just asked her if she should be there. Mary Jane was close to tears now, the desperation of her own thoughts getting the best of her. He was dead. He was dead and that was the reason no one knew of a burned boy. He probably perished in the fire instantly, along with his family, never having a chance. If only she had told him how she felt sooner, maybe it would have changed things? Maybe, just maybe they would be sitting up in one of the great oak trees and he would be reading his favorite book to her, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, not because she couldn’t read but for the mere fact that she loved listening to him speak. Even now as she curled up against the nearest wall, tears fresh on her face, did she yearn to hear his voice. “God,” she cried. “Please don’t let him be dead.”

    “Young lady?” Mary Jane jumped, startled at the voice. Peering down at her was a younger looking Doctor of Asian descent. His name tag reading DR. CHE. “Are you the one running around here inquiring about a burned boy?”
    ————————————————————– To be Continued —————————————————————–

    1. Tysheena Jackson

      Mercy Hospital: Part II

      Unable to voice her reply due to lament, Mary Jane gave a nod.

      He smiled, the first nonthreatening reaction she received all day. “I’m Doctor Che. Why don’t you come with me?”

      Mary Jane hesitated and contemplated running again but her heart betrayed her. Instead the girl stood to her feet and followed the Doctor. They walked down a series of hallways where many a people greeted the two with smiles and hellos. They came to one particular set of automatic doors accessible by key card only. Mercy Hospital Burn Center read the sign above their heads and when the doors slid open exposing the mystery within, an all too familiar laugh filtered the unit. Dr. Che placed a gentle hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Go on,” he motioned.

      Stunned, Mary Jane edged toward the laughs coming from behind one of the curtained rooms. She came to a stop before it and listened, “…Thank God you were able to get out quick enough. I’ll come back a little later to check up on you but for now it’s best if you rested.” And then, on cue, the curtain drew back and Mary Jane sucked in a breath when she saw her burned boy, who was not so burned, perched at the head of the hospital bed.

      The nurse looked between the two and understood that it was time to go. She departed and closed the curtain on her way out.

      As soon as she had gone, he, Noah, was on his feet and moving across the small room to her, Mary Jane. She burst into tears when he pulled her close. No, he wasn’t dead. He was alive, and breathing, and hers. And that night she stayed with him in that hospital room thanking God and the heavens for answered prayers.

      ————————————————————— THE END —————————————————————

      Author Note: I know I didn’t follow the prompt closely but this story has been gnawing at me for a while now. I have more plans for it for upcoming prompts such as why Noah’s home had gone up in flames and the two’s backstories. In the meantime, here’s to summer love and youth!

  15. madina

    Okay so I used to love writing as a hobby but after my history teacher told me I wasn’t good at writing, it really shot down my confidence and I stopped for months. So, I’m really rusty. Heck this may even be flat out bad, but I’m open to and look forward to any feedback and constructive criticism 🙂

    With my head tilted down, I burned the image of the slick, rugged gray rock below me into my mind. I focused on the crashing water filling my ears as unease simmered in my stomach. The back of my throat throbbed and settled to an aching numb. The back of my eyes began to sting.
    “Taylor…”
    I refused to look up at him. I couldn’t. I stayed still, letting the waterfall’s roar consume me.
    “Taylor, it’s time,” he said, his voice breaking a little. I felt his warm arms wrap around me, a feeling that I’ll always appreciate a little bit more every time. My ear was pressed against his chest, his heart racing. I forced myself to break the embrace and I looked up at him, for what will be the last time for a very long time, maybe the last time ever.
    His big green eyes were filled with longing, yet they were dull with despair. He entwined his fingers with mine as our gazes were glued to one another. Gold streaks filtered from the canopy of green above, illuminating his messy brown hair to a bronze. Without words, I knew he was expressing his love for me, and I reciprocated that deep, crazy, consuming love.
    I stood on my tip toes and planted him a soft, light peck, tears brimming my eyes, unable to hold back. We let go of each other, turned around, and walked opposite directions. This boy, who I met this summer, who could always make me laugh, who brightened up my day, who brought me on spontaneous adventures with, who I fell in love with… was gone. And life went on.

    1. ClutteredThoughts

      madina, I really hope you get back into writing again, because this was amazing. I have the worst problems with visualization but you wrote this so well I could see it perfectly. Really well done, especially packing so much emotion while keeping it short and (bitter)sweet!

  16. Jachel

    Feeling the weight of the book in my hand, I glanced toward the park. There she stood. It was where I first met her. Her auburn hair held a prism of red, gold, and orange as the brightness of the sun reached out to shine down upon her. We have become full circle. The first time I beheld her in my eyes I was bewitched with the beauty of hair. I now see her in the same prismatic spectrum. It was as if time stood still. She, was my first love.

    I glanced down at the book with some apprehension, but I knew it was a gift for which I must part. This book was one of my most precious possessions. It is only fitting I should give it to her. Remembrance. Togetherness. Thoughts. The forever memories of our time together in this short time.

    My legs felt heavy. I must walk towards her or the moment may be lost. As I began the path to her, memories of our time flooded through me. Odd. I felt happiness of the opportunity of our paths crossing in life, and yet, I felt loss knowing that our time was yet a fleeing brief moment in time. Which moments do I set my mind to focus upon? Which moments can my heart focus upon? I realized, that the mind and heart are two different entities that conversely focus upon opposite functions. It is strange, at my young age to realize these differences between heart and mind.

    Her hair blew behind her as a breeze struck from the north. She slowly turned towards me as if she knew I was there, approaching her slowly. The book felt heavy in my hands. She looked at me and her eyes inspired a look of contradicting feelings. One of love and one of sadness. My intuitive feelings knew by one look of her eyes of what was to become. It was the end of our happiness together.

    I approached her with my hands upheld, the heaviness of the book upon them. Our eyes met. She reached out for the book. As she turned the pages, the memories of our time together spoke the words of our time of happiness. A silent tear softly lowered down her cheek. We never uttered a word. The book said it all of our summer together. Our eyes met and we spoke without a sound. We both turned and walked away.

    My first love, never forgotten, but remembered forever with a single book. I had a philosophical moment. The contradiction between heart and mind became bound with an animate object – a book. The book of memories that possessed a myriad of concrete objects of our time together. Those memories in a book bounded feelings and rational thought into one. In that book, we remain, as one. Forever.

  17. JosephFazzone

    “Do you understand what’s going to happen?” He asked.

    “So, I will just fall asleep and wake up?” Alice asked.

    “Sort of,” he explained. “You will not really be conscious of the conversion. Based on the package you purchased, you will never be.”

    “So, what happens?”

    “We mapped your memories, you will basically live a year at a time, and then reset and jump to a different year.”

    “A good year,” she firmly pointed out.

    “All the good years,” he said with a nod. After a moment, he asked. “Are you sure you want to do this.”

    She looked at the folded note in her hand. Tears rolling down her alabaster face, “Nothing ever lasts, does it?”

    “That’s true,” he nodded. “Although I’ve been here now for about a hundred and fifty years.”

    “You don’t look a day over forty,” she noted.

    “I bought the premium package,” he explained.

    “Sounds expensive,” she said.

    He nodded. “It is, I am still paying. But I had lived my life, Alice, I lived to the fullest, and it wasn’t until I knew the cancer had me that I downloaded to SOL.”

    “SOL?”

    He laughed. “It’s what you are signing up for. We downloaded your Sentient Observable Life until the cloud server, and once we activate the program, you will be conscious there, and not here.”

    “So, I won’t join the game servers?”

    He shook his head. “You’d have to pay the monthly fee.”

    “How do I pay the monthly fee if I’m dead?” She asked.

    “Technically, your body will be dead, but your SOL will live on. It’s immortality. Ever since we mapped the brain, and found a way to drill to the core of a human being’s central core, what makes you, you essentially, we have been able to keep your consciousness alive indefinitely.”

    He turned and hit some buttons on a console. On the wall in front of them the screen popped up. He walked over to it with a pointer.

    “Since you will be essentially locked in your own memories, the basic package, you won’t be aware that you are doing more than living your life. Occasionally, it will feel all too familiar. It’s a glitch, some call it Déjà vu, but it’s a bug in the programming, and something we are still trying to figure out. Your family, or your friends, or anyone can pay for an upgrade to your package. That’s when we jump in and change your status.”

    “I can go on the other servers?” She asked.

    “Yes. So, we are all set on our side. Are you ready to disconnect and be uploaded?” He said as he walked to the gurney.

    She hesitated. “What year will I start with?”

    “You asked for the beginning of summer, right before you met…” he paused to check his tablet.

    “Kevin,” she said, her eyes misting up again.

    “Right,” he replied. “So, for now you are reliving the short package, and then we can go to any age you want to.”

    She looked at the note. “I’d like to see him again.”

    He patted the gurney. “Well, then let’s get started.”

    1. Bushkill

      First, touching.

      Second, holy cow! That was really cool. Nice sci-fi bend to the story and I love the SOL and its indefinite lifespan. And since my name is Kevin, I especially like the idea of women loggin in to see me. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

    2. Tysheena Jackson

      Joseph, this was pretty awesome the way you came up with this clever plot here. I agree with Bushkill about SOL and the idea about being able to relive the “good” times in one’s life. Good job!

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      This is great. I actually have “stored” several really good times that I pull out for MRIs, dental procedures, sleepless nights, etc. Hopefully I’ll never lose them.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I don’t really know what I would do? Boy this got the brain working quickly. Your imagination is soaring here and I might change my mind if you write a part two
        It does have a fixation about it
        Clear the bad memories, keep the good.

    4. writer_sk

      Joseph, great piece! Had such a Total Recall or Black Mirror feel. I like how the logistics came out in dialogue making something complicated make sense.

    5. RafTriesToWrite

      Wow.

      Someone who just couldn’t let go of the past. Sounds like me. I easily get attached to things, and once I do, and they leave me, I’ll feel terrible and think of stupid things as to why they left.

      I love the concept, feels like those virtual reality type of movies that I watched a few years back.

  18. Bushkill

    Last day of summer break. 8-24-17

    Slight twist on the the take.

    I watch my son, a handful of days before his nineteenth birthday. He is surrounded by packed boxes.

    And his sisters.

    The boxes belong to his sisters, they will be seniors in college this year. His stuff, packed and sent off the day before with extended family, will be waiting for him when he gets nearer his own college later today. For him, Freshman year is about to begin.

    The three of them sit and binge watch NCIS, Gibbs-slapping each other at appropriate times, and I wonder if they will ever be back here again like this. Certainly, the seniors could find gainful employment and not return post graduation.

    I yearn for that. Not that I don’t want my little girls back, but that I want to see them successful and adulting. That’s their generation’s word for moving on with all things post both school and living at home.

    And my son, too, is more outgoing and willing to accept challenges to earn a buck. He may find employment around his college that is better for him than traipsing back up into the mountains with us, miles from humanity and meaningful work. This really could be the last time they’re gathered like this, shorts and t-shirts, lallygagging at the end of summer.

    I ask him for a hand in the back yard. He built a fire-pit this summer and had his friends over for a backyard s’mores event. Now, summer over and his friends experiencing their own diaspora, I need a hand getting the benches back up onto the deck.

    It occurs to me that I will be responsible for all snow removal this year, too. It’s been more than a decade since I had that job to myself. It’s not just the driveways, the deck is large and needs the weight of accumulated snow removed also. The young ones helped greatly in that task but, as in all things, they have grown and move on with their lives.

    So yes, summer is over and my children are dispersing to their other lives. In the ashes of their departure, my wife, that woman who was replaced by the mother of my children, and I rekindle the hearth-fires.

    1. writer_sk

      This was so nice and the writing was perfect.

      Your love for your kids shines bright in this.

      I like how you want them to stay but acknowledge how it’s good for them (and you) for them to go.

      I like how there was no cliche conversation with your son.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I think its ‘heartfelt and absolutely a real story unless my old mind has been filled with marvelous words. It is a meloncoly time of your life when the chicks leave but I can assure you they will be back for heartfelt times. Laughter, sadness and troubled times. It is a beautiful story and I still think it’s true.

        1. Bushkill

          Thank you, both.

          End of summer means many things to many people for many reasons. This year, for me, I am in the position I’ve detailed. I am glad you enjoyed it and am grateful for your kind words and the hope that my kid’s shadows will fall on our doorstep, though that shadow may be an opening into their own futures as well.

          1. Critique

            I can identify well with your story. As a parent I (we) hope that we’ve given our children solid roots and now its time for them to spread their wings. My feelings are mixed: nostalgia for days past and a wee bit of apprehension for the future. Its not easy letting go but my adult brain tells me its all good.

    2. KevinIngram

      A Summer Love

      As the rain begins to pour, thunder sounds, “this is it”, Brad says to himself, as the final box is loaded onto the moving truck, Brad walks down to Leslie house for the final time, he’s heart racing, mind wondering on what to say to his first love as she heads 1200 miles across the country.

      Brad:
      (Grabs Leslie hand and gazes into her eyes for the last time) I cannot believe this is happening, you have made this summer so special, please tell me that you will write and call me every day.

      Leslie:
      I will miss your laughs, (as a tear rolls down her check, softly touches Brad face) jokes, our friendship, but I cannot write or call you, because it will remind me of what was and there is nothing that we can do about it. I want you to move on and be happy, and enjoy life, and not live in pain or wonder. For the first time I have loved. What you have giving me is special and can never be replaced. Promise me that you will love again and be what you were to me to someone else.

      Brad:
      (Brad head slowly raises) I will, (tears flows and rain continue to pour) I promise, my first love.
      Brad and Leslie reach in softly and gently kiss each other one final time, as Leslie walks to her parents’ car Brad opens the last door, for her. As the car pulls off Leslie looks back staring out of the window at Brad until he can no longer be seen.

    3. Tysheena Jackson

      I read this earlier today but got too caught up at work to write a genuine comment. But now that I can I must say your piece of writing touched something within me. I’m no parent–not yet anyway–but I have several younger siblings that I look at as children and the fact that one of them is graduating from high school very soon, and another has just started it, makes me emotional. Your story also reminds me how much I appreciate my own parents and the sacrifices they did for my siblings and me so that they too can be the ones to bless us as we venture off into the world on our own. Thank you for this story, you don’t even know. Xx

      1. Bushkill

        Thank you for your kind words.
        Painting is the single hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life.
        Ever.
        It requires patience when you would rather not,
        Constant engagement in a world that is hard to understand (Pokemon, high school musical Harry Potter)
        And is replete with little moments that take your breath away in laughter and wonder and pride.
        Also, without the omniscience of my bride in this endeavor, I would fail far more frequently.

    4. ReathaThomasOakley

      So lovely, brought back so many memories, thank you. And, as Kerry said, they will be back. It will be different, but it will be good, i promise.

    5. RafTriesToWrite

      I love NCIS! I need to binge watch the last season. I’m really behind on my NCIS episodes.

      In my country, “adulting” (getting a job) commonly starts after college, or when people drop out of college or when they drop out of college then go back to college. But there are others that get (real)jobs just to get by through college (when they’re old enough of course).

      Lovely piece about your kids, though I don’t know what it feels like to have them because I don’t have kids. Maybe in the future, only then I can tell you.

    6. Critique

      I can identify with this story. The melancholy thoughts, nostalgia, sadness yet knowing in my adult brain that hopefully I’ve given solid roots to my children and it’s only right for them to take to their wings. I enjoyed this very much.

    7. Critique

      I sent a note to you but it didn’t go. I’ll try again…
      I can identify with you here. The feelings of nostalgia, some grief at the inevitable changes but knowing with my adult brain that hopefully I’ve given my children good roots and not its okay and right to give them wings. I enjoyed this very much.

  19. Rene Paul

    I’ve got the car, a 66 Chevelle, the looks – girls ask if I’m David Cassidy – and, the girl: a cheer leader, Jr. Prom Queen, and total fox.

    What I need is more time to get past second base. She’s moving with her mom to middle America, somewhere near Fresno. If I’m to score, it must be tonight.

    I’ve tried everything: Told her how lucky she was to be with me, I paid for most of our dates, and I held her hand at lunch so everybody could see she belongs to me. Oh yeah, and I made her girlfriends jealous by letting her drive my car… my car! She’s one lucky girl. What I got in return was a few kisses, on the lips, at the drive-in, and, she wore an itsy bitsy tiny weenie yellow polka dot Bikini at the beach, twice. That’s it!

    I’m waiting at Jeff’s Dinner Box, I told her I’d buy a nice last meal, so I ordered fries and two cherry sodas.

    She’s late.

    She enters the restaurant, her long blonde hair falls straight, gracing both sides of her face. She passes under the ceiling fan, the wave of air it generates creates a vision, a euphoric queen riding on the back of a motorcycle. The vision inspires me to make a mental note to ask my parents to buy me a bike for my graduation gift; I’ll look good on it.

    She smiles and takes a seat at my table.

    “I thought we were going out to a nice restaurant?” She said.

    “We’re here, I ordered fries and your favorite drink.”

    “I got something to tell you, Chad.”

    Jeff drops the potatoes and drinks on the edge of the table, nods his approval of my choice in a woman by flashing an ‘OK’ sign before walking away.

    “Wait, let me guess,” I said, “you’re upset you won’t be with me again after tonight and you want me, right? I can understand that, I’ll be happy to oblige.”

    “Not exactly,” she said, “I want you to understand… never mind, you’re not worth it. I left a gift for you in your car.”

    “A gift… what is it,” I asked, confused.

    “It’s a surprise, a departing gift, consider it… a going away present. You’ve earned it.”

    “You shouldn’t of, but I’m glad you did. If you clued me in, I might have bought you something in return.”

    “I only decided on the appropriate gift,” she said, “right after I spoke with Linda, you know Linda Bishop, don’t you?

    “Ah…,” my hesitation gave her mood time to change, “Yes, I kind of know her, so, what’s going on here, what did she tell you?” I asked.

    She stood up, pretty bent, “I wasn’t aware you two were so close,” she said. Then she swiped at the fries, knocking them off the table, another swing sent the cherry colas crashing to the floor, too. “Linda said she was glad I was moving, she wanted you to herself.”

    Ok, I’m a Dork, just kidding, but I didn’t plan for this scenario. I needed a quick reply.

    “What’s wrong with that, Carrie?” I said, “Let me clue you in… you’re moving on with your life, so I’m moving on too. What did you expect? You know you’re my one-an-only, but you’re bugging out of here, right, so what’s a man to do?”

    “Never mind, everything’s honky dory, Chad,” I could tell the mood swing hit another level, “I guess my appetite for you and fine food has left the building. It happens when you get burned by someone you thought you could trust. Have a blast with Linda, maybe she’ll let you get to third base if you let her drive your car.”

    She stormed out, didn’t bother to glance back. It’s ok, I’m cool with it, bummed, but she was getting to be a drag.

    I decided to book. I exited Jeff’s and trucked over to my boss car, I saw Linda walking on the sidewalk toward me.

    “Hey, Flower Girl, what are you doing here?” I said.

    “My mom said you left a message for me to meet you at Jeff’s.”

    Now I’m freaking out, I didn’t call her house, and I didn’t leave any messages. But it’s cool, I’m glad she’s here.

    “Get in, Linda, time to split this scene,” I said. “I’ll burn a little rubber, jam over to Whittier Boulevard, cruise some, and get something to eat at the A&W. You can buy me a burger.”

    “Was that Carrie, I just saw?” Linda Asked.

    “Yeah, I told her to kiss off. You’re my, Wahine, now.”

    I fired up the SS 396.

    “Turn on the radio, let’s hear some tunes,” I said.

    She turned the dial to KHJ and the sound of the Surfaris, Wipe Out, filled our ears.

    “Louder,” I said, “I love the drums in that song.” She cranked it.

    The pounding beat, mixed with the sound of the explosion, shattered the glass windows of Jeff’s Dinner Box. Shards of glass, like clear psychedelic French fries, blew fifty feet and landed on top of the food debris Carrie scattered on the floor next to the booth we shared. The hue of the cherry sodas blended well with the blood stains and pieces of my car, new girlfriend, and me.

    My man, Jeff, had his work cut out for him. Somebody call the fuzz.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I picked a host of things I did wrong myself in early high school when I read your story. I almost ruined myself forever. I shudder to think what the girls thought of me as a sophomore. I was too embarrassed to ask .I don’t dare even think of i.t Gad what an idiot I was with girls. .If you wanted to get me wound up, you certainly succeeded. By the way, I loved it, despite the pain I felt.

      1. Rene Paul

        My first date with my wife was in H.S. I told her I would take her to a fancy restaurant, she told her friends her boyfriend was taking her to a fancy dinner! That day we couldn’t go so we ended up eating at McDonalds. Her friends saw us there, her friends all laughed at her the next day. Thank God I didn’t attend the same school.

      1. Rene Paul

        Glad you liked it. Chad is sooo not me. But the location – Jeff’s Dinner Box, the car – I had a 69 Chevelle, the cute girl (now my wife) and cruising Whittier Blvd was totally real for me.

      1. Rene Paul

        Thanks for reading and commenting. I was amped fer sure. I had to use a ‘slang of the 60s’ dictionary, I couldn’t remember all those terms, but those were the ones I used back in the day. I think. Cowabunga!

      1. Rene Paul

        Yes… I think we’re to blind to see ourselves when we’re too full of ourselves like the main character. Sadly there are to many real life Chad’s in the world. Watch out girls, you’re better off with the nerds!

    2. RafTriesToWrite

      Glad that there’s no Chad in my school.
      Kinda feel sorry for what happened to him – kinda – , but I think he deserved it for being such a douche bag to Carrie. But Linda, she’s such a man snatcher that she deserves totally what she got.
      Exciting piece Rene!

  20. Smileyface256

    I don’t want to say goodbye. I don’t want to accept that he’s leaving and there’s nothing I can do about it. I know I’ll cry. I’ll try to smile, say it’s okay because we can still call and text each other any time, but it won’t be the same. It will never be the same.

    You can’t text a hug. Crying into the phone isn’t the same as crying on his shoulder as he rocks you back and forth, tells you that it’s okay to just let it all out. Holding hands, walking in the park, lying side by side watching the clouds fly by and the stars come out can’t happen over the phone or video chat.

    I shouldn’t have done it, shouldn’t have fallen for his crooked smile and stupid laugh, that little mole on his lip and his warm brown eyes because how could it last? I let myself believe that it could last forever; I forgot the cold, hard truth: everyone leaves. Either I move away or they do, and no matter how close I get to anyone, distance made whatever love or friendship we shared go cold. Can’t say I’m not to blame for that. Doesn’t make it any easier.

    There’s a knock at the front door. I try to pull myself together as my mom’s footsteps thump across the floor; can’t hide in my room forever. I hear his voice through my bedroom wall.as I drag myself off my bed. The walk to the living room feels like I’m hauling a thousand pounds of pent-up emotion. My mom smiles, squeezes my shoulder and steps into the kitchen.

    His crooked smile is a little subdued. This is hard for him, too. “Howdy, stranger.”

    I force up one corner of my mouth. “Hey, dude.”

    He spreads his arms wide and I fall into his embrace, finally letting my feelings go. He just holds me and lets my cry, rocks back and forth. A wet spot dampens my shoulder where his cheek is as he shudders with his own sobs.

    “I’m g–gonna m–miss you, Todd.”

    He nods into my shoulder, pulls me closer.

    Too soon, he pulls out of the embrace, gazes into my eyes with a teary smile. “This isn’t it, Steph. I’m going to keep calling and texting you as much as I can; you’re not getting rid of me that easily.”

    I want to believe him so bad. “You know that long distance relationships are hard, though.“

    His gaze doesn’t waver, even as more tears run down his cheeks. “We can make it work.”

    Somehow, something in the way he looks at me makes me believe it, and I manage to smile through the tears. “Okay, smart guy. You’re on. One text or phone call a day, at least.”

    He swipes his eyes and grins. “You got it, sweetheart.”

    One more hug, a peck on the lips and he’s gone. My mom is ready with a chick flick and a tub of moose tracks ice cream. It’s still hard to say goodbye to Todd, but it’s not forever.

    ————————————————————————–

    Whoops, totally forgot the breaking up part…I’m just going to leave it. (Happy/hopeful endings are my weakness.)

      1. Smileyface256

        Thank you all for the lovely comments! 🙂 This is partially based on person experience (minus the romance). I moved several times growing up and had to say goodbye to a lot of friends, but now that I’m older I’ve been able go back and visit those friends. No goodbye has to be forever. 🙂

  21. rlk67

    AND ONE FOR THE ROAD

    I tried to catch my breath. She wasn’t really going, was she?

    “Max…” she whispered. “It wasn’t meant to be. You see that.” Oh, what a face.

    “Anne, I’m not as eloquent as you. But the poem…” I pointed to paper in her hand folded in half at least five times.

    She looked down. “I loved it, Max. Really. It was…special.”

    “I’m not a writer like you, Anne, but I tried…”

    “Wanna-be writer, Max. And you got the point over…pretty well, I guess.”

    “Look, I know that I don’t fully appreciate what it means to want to be a writer, but…”

    “See, that’s just it, Max. I like you, but I need someone who can love that side of me as well.”

    “I can learn…”

    “Max, you told me that you didn’t see the point of poems that don’t rhyme.”

    “Yes, but…”

    She laughed. “And I think it was you who said that every novel over ten pages should have pictures…”

    “No, but…”

    She smiled and gazed. “Oh, Max. I practice for hours. I even write on websites and get responses!”

    I looked away. “Robots. These sites have a bank of auto-responses from ‘people’ with sophisticated names. Sorry to tell you, Anne.” She choked on her Sprite.

    “You are so funny, Max.” Oh, that thoughtful look again. “It’s in my blood, Max. I feel it.”

    “Well, I also have in my blood, too. I have an aunt who is a writer…”

    “Really? You never told me, Max.”

    “…Well, she…er…thinks she is. At least that’s what her nurse Roberta told me.”

    “Nurse?”

    “Yeah…of the…um…mental hospital she might be in…”

    Anne winced. “Might be.”

    I sighed. “Anne…”

    “Max…please. It’s time to move on. It’s time.”

    Yes. Summer is over. It was time.

    Bye, y’all.

  22. ShamelessHack

    Summer growling, had me a blast
    Summer growling, happened so fast
    I met a bitch crazy for me
    Met a mongrel cute as can be.

    Summer days driftin’ away
    To, uh oh, those canine nights.

    Ruff-a ruff-a ruff-a, uh!
    Tell me more, tell me more
    Did you get very far?
    Tell me more, tell me more
    Like did he chase a car?

    She swam by me, she got a cramp
    He ran by me, got my fur damp
    Saved her life from a shark’s jaws
    He passed out, his head in his paws.

    Summer sun something’s begun
    But, uh oh, those canine nights.

    Ruff-a ruff-a ruff-a, uh!
    Tell me more, tell me more
    Did you have a dog fight?
    Tell me more, tell me more
    Was it love at first bite?

    Shooda-bop bop
    Shooda-bop bop
    Shooda-bop bop
    Grrrrr

    Shooda-bop bop
    Shooda-bop bop
    Shooda-bop bop
    Grrrrr

    Took her hunting I stood on guard
    We went sniffing in the back yard
    Got hot and heavy there in the dark
    Don’t believe a thing he might bark.

    Summer fling don’t mean a thing
    But, uh-oh, those canine nights.

    He got friendly, licking my rump
    She got friendly, thought we might hump
    He was sweet, he just turned five
    She was in heat, and that ain’t no jive.

    Summer heat, two doggies meet
    But, uh oh, those canine nights.

    Ruff-a ruff-a ruff-a, uh!
    Tell me more, tell me more
    Did she grunt, did she moan?
    Tell me more, tell me more
    Did he give you a bone?

    Grrrrrr

    It turned colder
    Summer was o-ver
    She barked, “I’ll always think of you,
    R-over.”
    Then we made our true love vow…
    Sounds like this: “Bow wow wow wow.”

    Summer dreams, ripped at the seams…

    But, oh!

    Those ca-ni-i-ne
    Ni-i-i-ights…

    Tell me more
    Tell me more!

    1. writer_sk

      Hahahaha! Those canine nights. So entertaining.

      I was picturing like a German Shepard with a leather jacket and poodle with a pink ladies jacket.

      Now u have to do a cat one sometime.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I’m not sure, but I think it might be the funniest thing I ever read and it hits deep and I go to sorrow. I need to read again to try to understand why I vacillate back and forth on this. ‘Tis a puzzlement Laddie.

    2. jhowe

      I agree with Kerry’s first assessment, that this is the funniest damn thing I’ve read in a long time. It’s perfect. I wouldn’t change a word. So many clever lines. Well done my friend, well done. This would make an excellent cartoon before a movie at the theater, especially Grease 3, which needed a lot of help.

  23. WritingMom3

    My eyes open to the fog filled morning filtering through the curtains. Or, perhaps more accurately I should call it vog – a phenomenon that arises when the lava hits the sea and steams arises, or at least this is what the local Hawaiians tell me. Fog…vog… does it really matter today? I concentrate on unweaving my thoughts from the maze of useless analytics, only to feel the pit in my stomach return. I know today is the day. If my brain didn’t know it, then surely my heart would remind me.

    “My heart is a traitor,” I think to myself.

    I go through my mundane morning routine; take the pills on my nightstand, shower, get dressed. I try to push the intruding thoughts to the recesses of my mind. I feed the dog and call for her, “Chrissy! Come eat!” As usual, Chrissy doesn’t come on command and I move on to other tasks. I get a glimpse of myself in the mirror one last time before heading to the dining hall. Disheveled? Perhaps, but it will have to do.

    I enter the small dining hall. I can smell him before I can see him; coconut suntan oil and salt water. If waves and freedom had a smell, then he was it. Golden locks of hair graze his shoulders and I know that if I get closer I will be able to see flecks of brown contrast the green of his iris. I love that word, “iris”. I roll the word around in my brain, letting it touch my tongue. I’m jerked out of my reverie by a litany of cheerful female voices.

    “We are going to miss you so much Stan!”

    My eyes widen, I’m not ready for this. “NOOO!!!” I wail.

    The nurses turn quickly and stare. I know I’ve said too much, too loud, too not normal. The nice nurse, Theresa, breaks the circle surrounding Stan and walks toward me. The tears don’t trickle so much as they gush out of my eyes. My mascara now an innocent bystander caught in the torrent. I try to calm myself by taking deep breaths like the doctor showed me. I need Stan to know how I feel. He’s my favorite, the nurse who has taken care of me all summer in this hell hole.

    My mouth feels detached from my brain, “Stan! I love you! This has been the BEST Summer of my life with you in it.” The word “best” comes out as a growl and I don’t even care. I continue on in my psychotic state, my voice reaching a feverous pitch normally reserved only for preachers who speak of hell and damnation with a smattering of insanity.

    “STAAAAN!” I shriek.

    The non-skid soles of my fuzzy hospital socks drag the checkered linoleum as the nurses try to get me out of the dining hall. A cool needle slips in my vein, a slight stinging, a nurse without a name, and then the vog…fog…whatever it is… returns, but Stan does not.

  24. rlk67

    Sagittarius Sara, interlaced with her unavoidable appellation, hunkered veraciously in her off-periwinkle quagmire. To her chagrin, Aloysius was maddingly enduring in her immediate universe.

    “We are polonium and bismuth,” he wretchedly exhaled. “Lightning can weld a bundt pan to flatware for twelve.”

    “Fallacious! I remain daringly underpaid, and my hair is knotty. Git! Subito!” She clawed at any fissure. She could do this.

    “A restoration to Socrates and Tintin? My relative infinity cannot be fettered sans you.”

    Of all things, she snorted. Mutation was inevitable. She fell into more comfortable Jazzberry Jam disposition.

    “Suppression stage three, ok? Practice. I must leave.” And she did.

    “I will stare at nothing until you return.” He was almost babbling.

    “You will starve,” she roared back.

    The cosmos belonged to her.

    1. writer_sk

      I love the way it sounds. I’m going to need to go over it again but the wording is magnificent!

      Really felt this line: “I will stare at nothing until you return”

  25. ClutteredThoughts

    The mountain air was dry and hot as we watched the dining hall. There were no words between us; at that moment, watching the younger students eat and talk about their next years, there was no need for us to add to the chatter.

    It was our last breakfast together. She ate a small mountain of eggs and french toast; I stuck with hashbrowns. We both had bags under our eyes, unable to sleep the night before graduation. Our last day.

    That was what I remembered now, standing on stage as the hats fluttered down, the ceremony over. Our last time together, without anyone else; sitting in silence, watching ourselves move on. No tears, no words.

    My family was coming up to the stage now, pulling my attention away from her, pulling me into photos without her, grabbing people who weren’t her. I was smiling a genuine smile, but deep underneath it I felt empty.

    The last day was over. I was leaving my school, my home. I was leaving my friends. I was leaving behind the person I loved more than anyone.

    Somehow we found each other again, and stood once more in silence and watched. Most of the students were crying and laughing, the parents cheering and clicking their cameras. We hid in our small reprieve from the attention, in our last moments.

    I was remembering. A year and a half ago, we became friends. Six months later, I had gotten a
    crush on her. For the next nine months, I had wholeheartedly refused to acknowledge that the attraction was there. By the time I let myself feel, it was full-blown love.

    She never knew, and she was never more than a friend. She never needed to be anything more than that, even to me. I remembered the desire to kiss her, to confess, the urges to simply touch her in some way; and how, when I did touch her, how I made up lame excuses and immediately drew away. I remembered constantly monitoring everything I said, because I may have loved her but greater than that was my fear of losing her friendship.

    Unbidden, she grabbed my hand on the stage and squeezed it, bringing me back to the moment. My mother was calling; her family had to leave to catch their flight. I turned to look at her, the emptiness rising.

    She breathed deeply for several moments before she finally spoke. “I’ll miss you, Emma,” she said quietly, and drew me in for one last hug.

    I wasn’t empty; I had filled with love and regret for never telling her, and I tried to put some of that into our last embrace. I tried to explain how I felt and how no matter what I felt, our friendship came first. No matter how much I loved her.

    We pulled away, and without any extra words, just a wave and a smile, she walked up the hill to her family waited, unknowingly taking my heart with her.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Very strong response, a perfect example of unrequited love. In all the different areas of love and affection, unrequited is the strongest, the one that brings the most hrartache, pain and remorse. However it is the sweetest and most powerful of all love. You painted a beautiful example of it.

      1. ClutteredThoughts

        Ah, I wish there was Reatha, but I can speak for Emma when I say there’s no chance of the crush ever knowing. Thanks though. A bit of hope from someone else is nice to hold on to.

  26. Kerry Charlton

    THE PIPERS OF AVALON

    David Pennington had spent every summer at Avalon since he was a baby. The barrier island off the Jersey coast was seven miles long with beautiful beaches facing the Atlantic all the way to Stone Harbor at the south end of the island. He had explored every inch over the years but this summer was quite different.

    Now at seventeen he was going back to Philadelphia to finish his senior year of high school. But his heart was sad to the point he didn’t give a damn about anything except Maria. Costello. Dark hair to the waist, legs perfect and seemed long enough to reach to the moon, but it was her bewitching smile and soft lyrical voice that drew him irresistibly toward her flame.

    Maria had smothering him with kisses that summer and would run her hands amuck across his tan shoulders, a tickle on the way down at his waist and then paradise. A perfect form was his for the asking but his shyness kept him away from that journey. The night before both families had planned to leave,

    “Honestly David you’d think I was going to harm you. If that’s the way you really feel about me you must be a “mama‘s boy.”’

    When he tried to explain she merely turned her back to him and walked away that evening. He had no one to talk to about such a personal matter and late that evening he took to the beach for a swim and he hair- brained the idea of asking Maria to join him. Her family’s home was a Victorian summer, three story that faced the beach and he tapped softly on the glass of her bedroom window,

    A sleepy Maria,

    “What is it you want now, David?

    “A midnight swim.”

    “It‘s too cold now.”

    “How about a walk to the pier?”

    She slipped out the window and they walked south toward the abandoned fishing pier.

    “Nothing‘s changed my mind,”

    “I‘m not asking you for anything, just wanted a little company.”

    ” Okay, we’ll walk and talk.”

    They approached the old rickety pier and climbed to the rotted deck and walked the three hundred feet to the end of the pilings and deck, gently passed over rotted boards. Watching the ocean glimmer in the moonlight, neither talked until Brian hollered her way,

    “See that monster wave in the distance, it means trouble. We have to run for it, it’s going to crash over the pier. God, it’s huge.”

    Halfway to the beach, the wave rose seven feet over the pier, took the ancient decks and rails along with Maria and David and buried them into the sea. He struggled to hold onto her as she had fainted with the fright. He knew the risk, the huge undertow of the wave going back would push them seaward and Maria was a weak swimmer.

    He swam to the nearest floating chunk of piling, spread Maria across the top and waited. The undertow was worse then even he imagined. He heard the sirens wail on the beach announcing disaster. So much debris was in the wash it was hard to avoid it as they were tossed into deep water..

    And it was over as quick as it came. Maria had awakened by then and her head
    rose up and her eyes glanced toward the shore,

    “My God,” she said, “there is a boat coming for us. You are a miracle David to save me.”

    “That’s what good friends are for.” He leaned over and kissed her cheek. .

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Hack for the compliment.. I have read every short
        story Hemingway wrote. Some were masterful, some were not. It amazed me that his writing quality changed as much as it did. Either way I never would reach anywhere close but I’m glad you feel that way.

    1. writer_sk

      This was so well done. I love the ocean and the wave and surroundings were very real. I actually got chills when they were swept away.

      It’s great getting to know Avalon through your words.

      Awesome

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you writer_sk, It’s so easy to write about something that’s branded in your memory as a child. I have haunted by a dream for many years, I am on the beach looking seaward and notice a monster wave in the distance. No one else sees it. I turn and start to run away, there is no high ground at Avalon. The wave crashes on shore and pretty soon it swallows me up. Every dream concerning the wave is exactly the same.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Tha k you Pete, I am happy you enjoyed this and very appreciative of your comments. Now send a boat, we are two hours from Corpus Christi and supposed to get Harvey here in San Antonio.

    2. Bushkill

      I am a frequent fan of the Jersey shore, having grown up fishing it from the jetties to cape may to the hook posited of NYC. This struck an even deeper chord with me because my last fishing trip, out of point pleasant a month ago, left the day a girl was killed after being sucked out to see in just such an undertow. She was on a summer work visa with several others from an Eastern European country. Tragic.

      That not withstanding, you did a beautiful job of describing the water and the waves and the sand. And summer love on a beach too.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Bushkill. Many, many, many years ago my brother Bill and I decided to fish for bass on the bay side of Avalon. The bridge through the bay was an old turnstile and when it swung open to let boats in or out. The bridge swung over the pilings on each side about two feet clearance from the bottom of the bridge to the cat walks built on top of the pilings.
        Naturally that’s where we would fish. The bridge operator finally got tired of chasing us off. One day we caught 33 sea bass in between laying flat on the cat walks every time the bridge would swing over us. Only God and the angels kept my brother and myself alive on our adventures.

    3. Tysheena Jackson

      Super sweet story! It reminds me of simpler times when love was… simpler. Wait. When has love ever been simple? Anyway, your voice and region in this is something unique. Great job, of course!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Tysheena, you did pick up my basic thoughts. I write simple because you can set scenes. Emotions. Anguish, Joys, Fascinations using just basic techniques and nothing elaborate or complex. I refer to it as “writing clear.” And the words don’t get in the way of telling a story. Does this make any sense at all?

    4. ReathaThomasOakley

      This was so very atmospheric that I felt as if I was there. You also made David’s shyness very attractive, I hope Maria understands it, soon.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you as always. I did make him shy because at the age of seventeen, I was shy.with girls. I’m sure the younger set on the site will think I’m trying to pull somebody’s leg. But maybe you understand.
        Call me a late starter if you will.

        You know while writing this I could smell the ocean and feel the breeze.

    5. Rene Paul

      This is very good, nice story. I like the part, ‘ her bewitching smile and soft lyrical voice that drew him irresistibly toward her flame.’ Also, the whole pier scene is well written, easy to visualize.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Rene. I liked that sentence too
        Sometimes they just.pop out. I glad you mentioned the visual because I always have that when I write and try to describe it.

    6. frankd1100

      Excellent imagery and, as usual, masterful dialogue, Kerry. Your story illuminates a realization that I arrived at later in life. That is that women are so far ahead of us in matters of the heart and intimacy. I had a crush on a beautiful girl I dated over the summer after freshman year in college, circa1968. She was funny and a wise guy, so we had fun together, except for the night she challenged me to a foot race on the beach and then beat me. Anyway, I remember wanting to take it to the next level, but I was afraid to try. Maybe the Irish Catholic thing or the fear of rejection. I met her years later and confessed of my wanton desire for her when we were young. She laughed and told me that she had expected and even hoped for it at the time but assumed I wasn’t that interested. Then she introduced me to her husband. Thanks Kerry.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I had two or three similiar stories about first love . Never worked up the courage on any of then from being a 50’s teenager. I thought I might go blind or something so I made up for it later, that’s why I put it in my story. How many years have you been kicking your rear over it? Try 50 for me.

    7. Critique

      This story captured the anxious feelings and confusion that are associated and all too familiar associated with first love from the perspective of a shy person. I felt the terror of the ocean’s power in this.

      I have a question Kerry. I can’t seem to submit my story after numerous tries. Any suggestions? You’ve mentioned having some trouble with this in the past. Thank you! Val.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Critique, I am amazed how many writers have commented on this. Maybe there is a lot of guys and girls too who were also shy about having a relationship but never have admitted it except to themselves. Anyway, I guess it’s good therapy. I am tired of beating myself over it. I always look forward to hearing from.you. Kerry
        P.S. I think all of us are terrified of large waves, especially movies like The perfect Storm

  27. jhowe

    The boy followed the dry creek bed through the darkening woods. It was a familiar setting and he tried to recall what year he had been here last. He strived to vary his movements, keep his locations mobile and untraceable. It seemed it was in the 1930’s or the early 40s. He was foolish to come here again, but one ran out of choices over the years.

    He flexed his limbs and marveled at the suppleness of the unmarred skin and tireless muscles. It was great to be young, once again. His mind drifted to Chloe. She was the real deal, not like the others. He considered sparing her, settling down to grow old with her. But that wouldn’t do. Not when he could stay young forever. Virgin blood. He needed virgin blood. Madam Grande’ would renew his contract if he brought her the virgin blood.

    The boy’s cell phone buzzed in his pocket. He read the text. Chloe wanted to change their meeting time. But he was almost there. He heard muted laughter, rounded a bend and saw them. Chloe sat astride Eric, writhing, typing on her phone. Another chime buzzed in the boy’s pocket. He didn’t bother to read it but instead pulled the stiletto from its sheath. He’d make quick work of this. He had to find another goddamn virgin.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      OHHHHH! how bitter is the demon who lives in a youth’s body. I shake when I think there are people in the world that would do this in a heartbeat. Look both ways they say, watch your step but against demons , none of that will work. The shadows deepen on your story and all is certainly not all right.

      Sound : Creeking door closing, end of “Inner Sanctum” radio show.

    2. Tysheena Jackson

      Was it not Bram Stoker who wrote “Alas, true love is what human flesh is to a vampire?” OK, I just made that up, but it would be funny if he did. In this case I’m actually on the vampire’s side!

    3. frankd1100

      A smooth writing style and efficient use of words. You keep it tight and move through the arc of the story without losing the reader. I don’t ordinarily look for the vampire genre, but I would like to read more of this story….

  28. Pete

    It was Sunday evening and dad had the Coach’s Corner on the truck radio. My shirt was orange and soaked through from working all day and I wasn’t sure I could take much more of his high school pep talk.

    I could only think about Lia.

    How this morning I’d found her basement apartment empty. Bags of trash lined the weed riddled brick patio. I couldn’t believe she would just leave like this.

    Dad pulled into the driveway, going on about my “big day” tomorrow. The start of high school and new adventures. I was missing my old adventures, and so I leaped from the truck, unable to hear any more as I took off down the street.

    The woods were buzzing and chirring by the time I got to Preacher Higgins’ driveway. Nature knew it was still August and that this was Virginia. Summer’s quilt would smother us through September.

    I plunged down the path, hoping for just one last breeze of summer magic but everything was haunted now. The sounds, the sun, everywhere I’d been with Lia. The path leading to the pond where we’d capsized the canoe under the moonlight. The tall grass where we’d spied on Preacher Higgins. The dock, where we’d kicked off our shoes and let our legs hang and our toes skim the water. The sky where the clouds drifted past and the world hurtled onward without us.

    Tomorrow was fast approaching. And up until now—this morning—I’d thought Lia would be with me. That she’d teach me all of those secrets that lived in her eyes. I wanted to stay tucked into that cocoon of summer, with the bugs and stings and bites and the tall grass and that first kiss on the dock when we were soaking wet.

    I wanted to drag summer kicking and screaming into school. Even as I could never picture Lia in a classroom, legs tanned and scratched and her filthy bare feet on the floor as she argued politics and religion. She didn’t fit in our town–a place known for pregame prayers and Baptists bake sales. Sometimes I went to bed at night, a smile too big for my face, thinking I must have dreamed her up completely.

    Now as my steps slowed and I saw that empty dock, I realized Lia had been trying to tell me all along. When she told me to never change my smile, or my attitude, or my hopeless dreaming. She knew she was leaving.

    I walked out to the dock, looking out to the reflection of my summer memories but seeing only a murky puddle in the dirt. The canoe on the bank was ordinary fiberglass. Lia’s wild laughter a distant echo in my head. A slight breeze hit my hair and I heard steps on the path. I nearly tore my head off my neck looking up. Preacher Higgins stepped out of the grass.

    “How you holding up, Mathew?”

    His hair a bit grayer and his wrinkles etched a little deeper in his skin. Otherwise he looked good for having been run out of his church. I shrugged. It seemed like a good time for honesty.

    “Oh, she was something, huh?” Preacher Higgins chuckled. “When Jolene died I told myself she was in a better place.” He stuck his hands in his pockets and shuffled around. “But that didn’t help me much, did it?”

    This was the kind of talk that got a preacher knocked off the pulpit. I looked in his eyes and saw a spark I hadn’t seen before. I followed his gaze out to the water, no longer a puddle but shimmering in the evening sun.

    “I thought she would have said goodbye.”

    “What, you don’t think it was hard for her?” He gave me a nudge. “She came down here this morning. Said her Mom had gotten a job in Florida, I believe it was. She wanted me to give you this.”

    The sun found the locket in his hand. It was bronze and worn, etched with fancy swirls and looked out of place not being against Lia’s chest.

    “She said she was afraid her mom would hock it. She thought you’d keep it safe for her.”

    He held it out to me. And I knew Lia would be back. Someday I gripped the locket in my fist. I had no address and no phone number. All I had was this locket, this pond, and this outcast preacher who missed his wife.

    And that was enough.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Better and better you march across this web site. This is real romance, not puppy love. I pray that she will return for he’s quite a catch for a girl. The wording you use to express how Matthew felt about his lost, innocent love. It was a beautiful thong. I enjoyed it, It’s wonderful Pete.

    1. writer_sk

      Hey Pete, this is fabulous.

      I like the use of a locket. I love the use of an item in a story- great job explaining the necklace’s purpose and giving a clue as to Lia’s mother’s character…

      The nostalgia really comes through in this. Descriptions of summer are warm and visceral. Hopefully you’ll continue into college age with this kid. I would love to hear more about the town. The info about Lia is very realistic.

      Why was the preacher ousted? because I only remember your story in which he returned the shoe at the end which endeared him to me.

      Nice work.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      This is wonderful. Each character is developed and real. The descriptions of the weather, summer’s quilt, etc., and the dock and even LIa’s feet, were perfect. A great piece.

  29. JRSimmang

    WHEN SENSES FAIL

    Hey, Callie.
    Yeah, no, I’m just sitting here.
    I know.
    That’s what mom said. She said your dad got a job somewhere fancy, California or Wash-
    Oh, Minnesota. Hmph, not fancy.

    Yeah, I know. You’re a kid. Me too.
    We’re both never going to grow up.
    Maybe you will. I suppose I will too. I mean, if there’s more to this, then we’ll come back around to each other, I guess.
    And, I just want to let you know that…
    that…
    I didn’t start loving you this summer.
    No, no, not like that, I hate trying to explain this stuff. It’s like, well, you wore that red shirt you have, the one with The Ramones in really crappy lettering on it, and those black jeans you have. And you sat next to Margaret, who you don’t really like but she was your only friend in that class, and you raised your hand to answer that insane question Mr Goodwright asked about Socrates, and I was like, ‘who is this girl?’ ’cause I didn’t know the difference between Socrates and Aristotle, and the way you just so confidently sat there… watching history and philosophy weave together, your eyebrows…
    Your eyebrows always scrunch together when you’re thinking and…
    Yeah, I know. I probably should. We have to say goodbye.
    Is there any way I can-
    … yeah, I understand.
    Yeah?
    I love you, too.
    And, I dunno, maybe…
    Hello?
    Callie?
    Bye.

    -JR Simmang

      1. Kerry Charlton

        It is a little heart wrenching and amusing also. She ought to hold on to this boyfriend even if only a pen pal. Parents never seem to understand the pain young adults go through when their parents move for reasons they aren’t told. A lost love is a lost love no matter if the position the father moves for means more money, it’s not happiness. You got the old brain moving this afternoon.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Excellent, just excellent. Back when cell phones were first in common use I’d try to listen to the one-sided conversations and try to imagine the other side, as I did here.

    2. frankd1100

      It’s hard to explain to someone you love, the basis, the little, seemingly insignificant things that makes your love uniquely fit to that someone to the exclusion of all others. I have an image of this young guy sitting there after he hangs up the phone not appreciating the beauty of his words because his universe has just been blown to smithereens. Well done JR.

  30. writer_sk

    ———- Forwarded message ———
    From: Kohm, Sarah
    Date: Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 02:42
    Subject:
    To: sarahkohm@gmail.com

         Erica was Hannah’s older sister and was only a year ahead of us in school but light years beyond us in coolness. Our families were friends and together we were headed to Monson, a New England hill town with lots of farms and open space, to visit another family friend. The sound of the car horn out front signaled the end of my make-up application. I was 12 and wore a black hooded sweatshirt my mother had ordered after I’d circled it in the Speigle catalog and left it on my bed stand. My hair was frizzy and curly but I’d saturated it with “L’Oreal Pumping Curls” to emanate the wet look girl group TLC’s Chili often sported in the videos. Satisfied that my curls were sculpted, I ran to the car. Erica sang along to all the songs on her tape by “The Cure” as I wished I knew the words, or the songs at all. Hannah sat in a familiar position I’d seen all my life – arms folded across her lap. She looked up from the book she was reading periodically to talk with me. Hannah only tolerated her sister and as we walked towards the small town fair she called her names like “slut” and “ditz” which stung my ears, hurt my heart and felt unfair and born of jealousy.

         Erica had beautiful green eyes and chose to wear mascara only compared to my eye make-up, perfume, lip liner and lipstick to in Drew Barrymore’s exact colour.

         The guys sitting next to us at the fireworks had what I thought were Boston accents. They were older than us. One had no shirt on, two were handsome and two were dorks. My mind went to the New Kids on the Block posters I adored but had ritualistically taken down at the beginning of eighth grade…”too old for these.”

         Erica giggled, loud and fast. Bold and emblazoned by confidence resulting from her own beauty, she approached the dudes.

         Touching the guy’s bare bicep, she said, “I love your accent.”
     
         Flirting 101. I’d seen my friend, Kim, who sat by me in homeroom do the same thing. It felt unnatural to me but she would laugh a lot while offering a male classmate a piece of gum. 

         I laughed along with Erica then, under the night sky, the smells of the mowed, cow-filled fields heavy in the late summer air. Hannah glared at me, my seal of approval. Hot in my sweatshirt but unwilling to subject my skin to the mosquitos I pulled the sleeves up.

         Maybe it was my hairspray or the scent of numerous other beauty products I’d applied but one of the dorky guys said “You smell nice,” and touched one of my curls. Though I wished it was one of the cuter boy band types, I knew I loved Jonathan and Danny at least half as much as I loved Joey, Donnie or Jordan of New Kids on the Block.

         The guys turned out to be from Rhode Island, not Mass but as David and I exchanged numbers, quickly scrawled on a tiny scrap of paper we split in half and Erica and Hannah’s mom laid on the horn, I caught a glimpse of Erica kissing the cutest of the bunch.

         Hannah grimaced as I hugged David goodbye, her disapproval making my hug more worthy.

    THE END


    1. JRSimmang

      I suppose it’s Friday, and Hannah’s in love. Loved the references, Sarah, and the pacing in this piece is relentless. As a teacher, I’m witness to this scenario more often than I’d care to see.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        It is so real, it bites when you’re reading it. Although a different world that I grew up in. The yearning for girls was just as strong but to get their attention was remarkably hard or at least I felt that way. The tables spun some in high school. but in collage, they dumped themselves in my lap. I loved your story and am going back to read it again, I don’t want to miss one word of it.

  31. MayaS

    “So, you’re leaving today?” I said, barely looking up from my bag of groceries. Rosie nodded. “Good thing mom made me do the shopping or we’d never say good bye.”
    “Don’t be like that.” She had grown taller than me that summer and was now looking down on me with her sparkling violet eyes. If she was sad at all, her expression didn’t give it away. “I’ll miss you, you know.”
    “You’re just saying that.”
    “No, I’m not. You’re my good luck charm, remember?”
    I smiled. “All that work and for what?” I had given up baseball with the boys to help Rosie prepare for the casting for the Peter Pan play of Ms. O’Donal. “What a wasted summer.”
    “Summers are never wasted, Josh.” Rosie’s mom called her name. She leaned in and gave me a quick peck on the cheek. I could feel my ears getting warm. “I’m sorry I said all those horrible things to you. I never would’ve gotten Wendy’s part if it wasn’t for you.”
    “Then stay, stay and play the part. You could sleep in our house, I’m sure my parents won’t mind.” I was desperate to keep her near, but I could see the holes in my plan and I was sure she could, too. The play was due the first week of school and Rosie would be going to a new school now. In a new city, finding new friends.
    “Rosie, where are you?” Mrs. Zeins showed up from behind the cornflakes rack. “Josh, how are you, dear?”
    “I’m fine.” I must’ve not sounded fine, for Mrs. Zeins looked at her daughter, tiled her head like I’ve seen her do when a new homeless dog was brought in the shelter, and said to Rosie. “Say your good byes, I’ll be waiting for you in the car.”
    Rosie nodded, then turned to me. “I have to go. I’ll write to you, ok? You can write to me too. Anytime.”
    This wasn’t enough for me. “Will I see you again?” I asked.
    Rosie shrugged. “Maybe.” Then she smiled. “I’m glad your mom made you do the shopping.”
    I smiled too.
    “I have to go now.”
    “Can I come by around your house? When are you leaving? I just have to pay for this…”
    She shook her head. “I can’t make everyone wait for me, you know Abby has a strict routine or she’ll keep us all awake tonight.”
    “Right.” I sighed. “Well then, good bye.”
    Rosie lightly touched my hand. “Good bye.”
    Then she turned around and ran out of the store and out of my sight.

  32. ReathaThomasOakley

    Saturday, September 3, 1955

    “Wilfred is what?” I stopped ironing Daddy’s handkerchief. Mama looked up from folding towels.

    “Weren’t you listening?” I wasn’t, I was thinking about fifth grade, hoping I’d get Mrs. Kaler for my teacher. “I said Wilfred’s family is moving to Palatka, your Aunt Helen says his daddy got a good job over at the paper plant,” she shook another towel to soften it up. Sometimes she snaps the towel out in front of her so it cracks and Daddy says it sounds like Lash Larue. I suspect he used to go to the movies before he married Mama.

    “Careful with that iron, Annie.”

    “Yes, mam.” I starting ironing again. “Is he going with them, to Palatka?” I asked, all casual like. Mama laughed.

    “I expect so, don’t think he’s gonna live here on his own. Reckon that’s why they’re moving now, before school starts.” She picked up the stack of towels and headed to the bathroom. “Finish up them handkerchiefs, so we can get to McCrory’s.” She stopped and looked back. “And, no big box of crayons, eight’s what’s on the list.”

    After I got all the handkerchiefs done and on the table, I unplugged the iron, set it careful by the stack, and folded up the ironing board. I was ready to go to town, but I had to think, so I went out on the porch to wait for Mama.

    Last year ’bout this time I’d had Betsy Wetsy with me, now she’s in that box under the bed, along with my detective kit, seems like lately I ain’t had time for lots of stuff. Last year I was worrying about fourth grade, hoping I’d get Miss Cowart for my teacher, and I did, but she moved or something, didn’t come back after Christmas and we got Mrs. Knight. Once I got used to her talking and some of her ways she wasn’t all that bad.

    I hadn’t hardly seen Wilfred all summer, he’d missed lots of Sunday School. At the big Lighthouse Park family picnic, he bragged about seeing Rock City, something Daddy’s promised for next summer.

    I got to thinking about the last day of fourth grade, how me and everybody couldn’t wait to get report cards, to see if we passed or not. When I saw a few just hurrying on home, I figured they didn’t have to look to know they hadn’t passed and I got real sad thinking how Mama and Daddy’d be if I didn’t go on to the next grade.

    Now, I was sad all over again, thinking how even if things stay about the same, they still change. Wilfred and me’d started first grade together, sitting at the same table even. Second day he got in trouble because he wouldn’t put his head down after lunch recess. Now he was moving all the way to Palatka.

    “Annie. Annie, you asleep sittin’ up or something? I called you from in the house three times.” Mama was standing right next to the swing, she had on her high heels, and was holding her best pocketbook.

    “Oh, no, mam. I’m just thinkin’ real hard ’bout Monday, wonderin’ who’s gonna be in my class.” I stood up. “Just thinkin’, just thinkin’.”

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        So, Hack, with your permission could this comment be used in the future? Seriously, this made my day/week/month/year. Thank you. I am humbled.

    1. jhowe

      Dang, Reatha. What a throwback: the big box of crayons, Rock City, report cards, wondering what teacher you’ll get, it was wonderful. You brought out Annie’s feelings so well, by showing us and not telling. Very well done.

    2. JRSimmang

      With each new Annie story, I fall in love a little more. This one, though it’s brief, has been my favorite so far. The dialect has tightened, and I really got a clear picture of her and her family. In love we reveal ourselves, and it’s no different for the characters we create.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You know it’s strange, the more I read about Annie, as a ten year old, I flash back to my daughters and wish they were small enough for me to gather in my arms and tell them stories. Them my mind rambles over to the movie,” Member Of The Wedding,” where Julie Harris played Frankie Addams, a 12 year old girl . If you thought Julie Harris could act in “East Of Eden,” watch her in “Member” She reminds me so much of your Annie.

        Masterful as usual.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you, so very much. I saw someplace, not much time recently, that you’re having trouble posting. Look for any words that refer to adult activity like S#X or swearing. That has stopped posting for some of us. Good luck.

  33. theexcitedquestion

    [The lights come up and we see Evelyn sitting at a table. Backdrop-the house].

    [Dante enters stage left and open a door, sitting stage left, where he finds Evelyn sitting at their dinning room table. He slams the door behind him. He walks toward the table center stage and throws a stack of papers on the table.]

    Dante: What the hell Ev? Explain.

    Evelyn: Where did you get this? Did you go through my stuff?!

    Dante: It doesn’t matter where I got it! Explain this!

    Evelyn: I don’t know what you want me to say.

    Dante: How about start with when you applied for a transfer to the L.A. office. The approval date was 5 months ago meaning this has to be at least from before Christmas. You know, when I proposed to you. So our wedding is in less than 8 months and there just so happens to only be one ticket and one transfer request. How about you start somewhere in there!

    [Dante hits the table with his fist and then sits at table with Evelyn, head in hands.]

    Dante: Evy I thought we were a team. You’re my partner. What ever this is we can work through it.

    [Reaches out to touch Evelyn’s arm. Evelyn stares at his hand on her arm then looks at Dante]

    Evelyn: Dante I wish I could tell you what you need to hear but I can’t. (Pulls arm away from Dante)

    Dante: What do you mean you can’t! This is the FBI we are talking about here Evelyn. It’s a government office meaning it takes an act of God to get anything done. You got a transfer request approved, through our Director and my best friend, in just a few months! You would have had to push for this!

    Evelyn: I did what I had to do. I am sorry Dante.

    Dante: How can you be so cold to me? We’ve taken bullets for each other and you can’t give me the decency of a good explanation; if not as your fiancé then at least your partner.

    [Evelyn walks off stage right and returns to stage with a suitcase. She starts to gather the paperwork on the table.]
    Evelyn: I was going to tell you tonight, if it is any consolation.

    Dante: Please. I am begging you Evelyn. Do not do this. Tell me what I did, what I can do.

    [Evelyn takes off engagement ring from left hand and sets it next to Dante on the table.]

    Evelyn: Goodbye.

    [Evelyn walks past Dante and leaves closing the door behind her. Evelyn pulls out her phone. Above the stage a projector will show her texts. The conversation is named “Unknown”. She is seen typing “It is done. Now promise me he will be safe.” The “typing” icon will appear. Then the response “A deal is a deal.” Evelyn disappears stage left. Scene closes with Dante sitting at the table holding the ring and staring at it.]

    1. JRSimmang

      We don’t get drama very often, and it’s always refreshing when I get to read a carefully crafted play. Nice integration of tech, very teatro nuveau, and I think there may be an Act 1 waiting. This feels like the steady climb to the climax in Act 2 to me.

  34. dustymayjane

    The Quilt

    “Do you have to go?” Georgina dabbed at her stinging tears with the hem of Chase’s plaid flannel shirt she wore.

    Chase put his truck in park and walked around to open Georgina’s door. He took her by the wrist and led her to the end of the dock where the sun was warm.

    “Come here you!” Chase pulled her close and kissed her gently but thoroughly. He pulled Georgina’s long blonde hair through his rough, calloused hands. He tipped her chin up with his thumb so she would look into his cinnamon brown eyes.
    “You know I have to. We agreed to enjoy this last day and not get all hung up on me leaving. Didn’t we Georgi?”

    “Yes, but…” She looked contrite but couldn’t control her quivering chin. “I’m going to miss you so much.” She wanted to hoard her tears, allow them to erupt only when she was alone in her room, after Chase had stepped onto the bus headed for Military School.

    Chase wrapped her in his arms and held her tight as she sobbed into his chest. He let her cry as his own tears fell to his chin. It was no use fighting them. Their despairing hearts soon quieted and they swayed to the sounds of music coming from radio of Chase’s truck parked near the shoreline. Tim and Faith’s, ‘It’s Your Love’ floated through the air. Chase hummed along and circled his palms across Georgian’s sun warmed back.

    The dock was their favorite hideaway. Tall reeds and pond grasses grew close, hiding the dock from sight of the shore. Chase and Georgina lost their virginity together on that dock. The dried and rotting boards had left them with splinters in the flesh of their backsides. After that first time, they’d stashed the quilt in Chase’s truck. It served dual purpose and warmed them when the night’s chill settled on their skin.

    It was the time of year when the sun of Indian summer warmed the golden air. The leaves floated from the tree tops in a mass of orange from the Maples, yellow from the Aspens and browns from the Oaks and Basswoods. The reeds had formed their cat tail tops, now ripened and exploding into white puffs of fluffy seeds that caught the breeze and hung on the glow of the sun before drifting off.

    Chase took Georgina’s face in his hands and kissed her before asking. “Should I get the quilt?”

    Georgina nodded and smiled knowing this would be their last time together for a long while. His footsteps on the old worn dock, clomped heartwarmingly as she watched him in his long sleeve t-shirt, jeans and cowboy boots. If Grandma Julia knew what her gifted quilt was being used for she would have cheered, unlike Georgina’s mother, who would scold her for using it so carelessly. Georgina felt her grandma’s love in every hand stitched pink and green printed square, and would cherish it all the more for the memories her and Chase had made with it.

    Chase’s hair had grown long over the summer and the sun had bleached it to a golden brown. Georgina regretted the thought of it being shaved to his scalp in a few short days. His suntanned face countered his bright white teeth as he smiled at her while she waited for her prince to spread the quilt over the worn boards of the dock.

    Georgina felt shy when Chase reached for her hand, inviting her to join him there. But soon passion would find their clothes shed nearby and their bodies in an ecstasy never shared with another. They laid together for a long time before the sun dipped below the horizon and the evening air cooled their exposed flesh. Chase wrapped the quilt over them and they laid awhile longer, in silence, for fear that talking about tomorrow would bring it that much sooner.

    1. JRSimmang

      Dusty, as usual, you painted this bucolic scene so well, making the characters part of the background, assimilating us into the lifestyle. Chase and Georgi are real because we know them and familiar with them. Elegant.

      1. dustymayjane

        Oh MoiraiTQ wouldn’t that be a fun way to live…thanks for all the great comments. I love these two characters. They have so much potential…in my head 🙂

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I’m sitting here at my computer trying to write something but your story is still trapped in my brain. It so sad, yet so beautifully composed. You are taking me back so many years, it”s difficult catching my breath. I want to wrap your story up in my pocket and keep it close.

  35. rlk67

    NO JOKE

    “Claire, please…” She couldn’t go. No way. “Just explain why you can’t stay!”

    “Shnikol yog pliffers..”

    “What?! What are you saying?”

    “Mifliki frogger zanooni.”

    What was going on? “Claire, please. Speak english!”

    “Quamkwatch alloovin sipper ci…”

    I started to shake. I sat down as she waved goodbye. “Goodbye, my Claire,” I whispered.

    “Yeedle hiphop shnoogin.”

    I cried.

    I guess it comes to the point where you’re just not speaking the same language anymore.

  36. jhowe

    Bora Bora?
    Well, that doesn’t seem so far away.
    I could save up my paper route money and come visit some time.
    Oh, Bora Bora, Mercury.
    Yes, that does seem a bit far.
    Kind of hot there in the summer I suspect.
    Well, I enjoyed our time together.
    Yes, I know the right words are hard to come up with sometimes.
    Two words would be nice though.
    Or even one would work.
    Oh, a gesture. That seems a little harsh.
    I have no choice but to interpret that as a term of endearment.
    Oh my, double terms of endearment.
    Ok, you can stop now, I love you too.
    Bye.

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