Musical Incantation


We at WD are nearly as passionate about music as we are about writing and reading. Our very own Robert Lee Brewer, for example, recently put together a delightful roundup of the 20 best songs for writers. I myself collected 75 classical tunes to put on while you’re writing as well, which you can listen to below if you’d like some music while you’re writing up your response to the following prompt.

 

The Prompt: You’re absent-mindedly singing to yourself, when suddenly the topic of the song comes true.

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


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179 thoughts on “Musical Incantation

  1. T. Ransom

    Well, well, it looks like this prompt has brought out more than one of us old-timers, or better yet, “alumni.” A couple of you might remember me as JM somebody or something like that.

    MUSICAL INCANTATION

    The opening chords are stark, almost bereft, and the guitar’s tuning is strange to my ear, as if the highest note has gone missing and another more ominous one has taken its place. It’s dark and droning, and I can’t resist it.

    A drumbeat, and then pulsating, electronic distortion pulls me backward in time. I am in a foreign land, a land of cement and soot and barbed wire. There are soldiers in this land – the uniformed kind, and the kind who get their marching orders in dimly lit back rooms. And there are children.

    The metallic din gives way to an ethereal, haunting voice, a sad angel hovering in an ashen Irish sky.

    Another head hangs lowly, child is slowly taken…

    The soldiers pace, trigger fingers twitching. A group of hollow-cheeked children hurry home from school, but there is no joyful chatter, no laughter.

    The violence caused such silence…

    I know what is going to happen. I saw it all on the news.

    “Run!” I tell them, but they can’t hear me.

    The soldiers point their rifles at me in unison.

    “Glory to the crown!” they drone as one.

    A group of khaki-clad rebels emerge from the shadows. Black masks obscure all but their eyes and mouths.

    “Hundreds of years of persecution…” their leader seethes. “You could never understand. It’s no more real to you than your American reality shows.”

    But you see, it’s not me. It’s not my family.

    “But they’re just children. Innocents,” I protest.

    They advance toward me in slow, shuffling steps, each chanting their own version of the truth until they are as one soulless corpse. I see the vacancy in their eyes, ideology glowing red where humanity should be.

    What’s in your head, in your head/Zombie zombie zombie – ee -ee -ee The sad angel keens the musical incantation like a banshee.

    A blinding flash and schoolbooks fly. I hear screams over the raging electic guitar and crashing cymbals.

    And then I am in Libya, Syria, Ukraine…

    With their tanks and their bombs

    Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia…

    And their bombs and their guns

    Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany…

    It’s the same old theme since 1916

    And longer. For as long as there have been governments, hatred has been used as a political weapon. Get the people to hate each other if you want to win.

    Washington D.C.

    I just want it to stop. All of it – the viciousness, the manipulation, the slavery to ideology.

    And then, with a final, explosive drumbeat, it does stop.

    The music app shuffles to another Cranberries song called “Pretty,” and I sigh with relief. I have been binge-listening to the Cranberries since Dolores O’Riordan’s tragic passing a few weeks ago, and I think it’s starting to affect my mind.

    You’re so pretty the way you are…

    Ah, this is much nicer. I look in the mirror.

    You’re so pretty the way you are…

    My features do seem a bit more refined, my hair shinier. And my eyes glow an unholy red.

    In your head, in your head

    Zombie

    RIP Dolores O’Riordan, a brilliant artist and a true original.

    1. Reaper

      Who you calling old?

      Beautifully done. Only thing I saw was like a banshee could have been changed from a metaphor. The Banshee wailed for the noble families when one passed, Dolores could have qualified, I think. Maybe the incantation of a banshee? I don’t know, it works your way too.

      Timely, well done, and deep. You got pretty political on this one, I like it. I can’t believe I never thought about this before, but I just had to go watch Zombie by the Cranberries and House on a Hill by the Pretty Reckless back to back. Not only do the songs fit together, but the imagery of the two official videos matches your story pretty well. It’s amazing.

      Funny thing? I’ve been thinking about her, when I saw that article, and that she passed in London, my first thought was, damnit London, haven’t you taken enough great things from the Irish already?

      Good to see you still writing, and this was amazing.

      1. T. Ransom

        Me. I’m calling me old. Sigh.

        I don’t think I’m being political so much as anti-political. I am calling out both sides of the aisle with this. Both sides have been working overtime to manipulate people into hating each other, which is a dangerous game. There is no point in even talking about politics anymore when the goal of every discussion seems to be to dehumanize and destroy the opposition rather than to try to understand and address the valid concerns of those who don’t think like you.

        I could go on, but I’d rather talk about music. I listened to the Pretty Reckless song, and I agree that they go together incredibly well in terms of tone, imagery and message. Perhaps the Cranberries song was an influence? The PR song goes one step further though in pointing out that children who survive the environment of hate grow up to perpetuate the hate. (They will, they will, they will…)

        I totally see your point about the banshee metaphor! Thank you sincerely for the helpful hint. I’m glad I learned something today.

        1. Reaper

          That’s what I mean by political. I remember you mostly steering away from those topics. This was pretty daring for you. It’s very bold, and needed. You don’t need to go on, your story said it. That’s the beauty of being a writer. We can say what others need to shout by painting a picture with our words. Your words are about bringing together where others want to tear apart, and it is beautiful.

          I was talking to a friend about your story, and listening to those two songs. I’m not sure if he was right, but he said that House on a Hill was written as a follow up to Zombie. He may have been talking out of his butt, but Momson has been inspired by some very amazing artists, so it wouldn’t surprise me if she was inspired by Zombie for that song and then took it to the next step and made it a bit broader.

          You’re welcome. Glad to see you still writing. This was a gift. You were always amazing, so to see you get even better, it takes my breath away. The fact that I can offer any hints brings me a sense of pride. As always, I am looking forward to your next creation, no matter what it is.

  2. Reaper

    Okay. So, I couldn’t help myself. I blame MargoAddams for getting Pink Floyd stuck in my head. Almost nothing in this story is original, I hope that is obvious.

    Two Walls

    Presented for your approval… a man in an ivory tower humming along. Delusions of grandeur, or visions of mediocrity?

    Mother do you think they’ll drop the bomb?
    Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I doo have a Nuclear Button?

    Mother do you think they’ll like this song?
    Thank you all for the nice compliments and reviews on the State of the Union speech.

    Mother do you think they’ll try to break my balls?
    The fake news winners are…

    Mother should I build a wall?
    I will build a wall on our southern border.

    Mother should I run for president?
    If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican.

    Mother should I trust the government?
    Drain the swamp.

    Mother will they put me in the firing line?
    Anybody killing a police officer, the death penalty is going to happen.

    Is it just a waste of time?
    If I’m elected president, I’m accepting no salary.

    Hush now baby, baby don’t you cry.
    Get that son of a bitch off the field.

    Mama’s gonna make all of your nightmare’s come true.
    I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.

    Mama’s gonna put all of her fears into you.
    They’re sending people that have a lot of problems, and they’re bringing those problems.

    Mama’s gonna keep you right here under her wing.
    I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.

    She won’t let you fly but she might let you sing.
    Gitmo, we’re keeping that open.

    Mama’s gonna keep baby cozy and warm.
    I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks.

    Oooh baby, of course mama’s gonna help build a wall.
    And I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall.

    Mother do you think she’s good enough, for me?
    Crooked Hillary.

    Mother do you think she’s dangerous, to me?
    I will ask, to appoint a special prosecutor.

    Mother will she tear your little boy apart?
    We have to investigate Hillary Clinton, and we have to investigate the investigation.

    Mother will she break my heart?
    Lock her up.

    Hush now baby, baby don’t you cry.
    Little Rocket Man.

    Mama’s gonna check out all your girlfriends for you.
    She talks like a truck driver, she doesn’t have her facts, she’ll say anything that comes to her mind.

    Mama won’t anyone dirty get through.
    You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her, wherever.

    Mama’s gonna wait up until you get in.
    He’s a war hero because he was captured.

    Mama will always find out where you’ve been.
    I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.

    Mama’s gonna keep baby healthy and clean.
    Tiny children are not horses, one vaccine at a time, over time.

    Ooh baby, you’ll always be baby to me.
    Make America great again.

    Mother did it need to be so high?
    I thought it would be easier.

    1. T. Ransom

      Hey there Reaper! Glad to see you back, although I’m sorry to hear why. I feel like this piece could go viral. Very clever, and sure to hit a nerve with a lot of people.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you. Well, maybe it will be a good thing. I’m reaching out to some people to try to push up the book sales and launch a couple of patreon pages next month. So maybe I can actually stop working. That’s the dream anyway.

        Well, you know me and nerves, and how I like to dance on them. I actually toned down the intro since I tend to be a bit nicer here than I am most places. 🙂

  3. GrahamLewis

    Here’s an older [true] story that I recalled this morning. It was a good exercise, actually, trimming a couple hundred words to get below 500. Anyway, here it is:

    THE DANCERS

    Our four-year old son had been demanding things he could not explain and upset when we didn’t understand. He finally fell into a full-blown meltdown, filling the living room with frustrated cries.

    We were tired from a week filled with daycare and work and therapy. Our life seemed like one of those marathon dances from the 1920’s, except that we didn’t recognize the music and didn’t know the steps.

    The day had been hard for his twin sister, too. To her “autism” meant her brother was entitled to special attention, some of which should be hers. She had learned unfairness, that she had to understand when her brother could not, that we demanded more from her than him, that she had to sometimes step out of her little girl world, be patient and cooperative even when worried and upset.

    She tried so hard. That Saturday her demand to have her own needs acknowledged overcame her understanding. Her efforts to get our attention were lost in the noise of her brother’s meltdown and by our narrow parental focus.

    Finally she had a minor tantrum of her own. And, as I am sorry to admit happened too often, she was the one sent to her room. She left, eyes welling with tears, and shut her door. Between her brother’s wails, I heard her soft crying.

    Eventually her brother wore down, and welcome silence returned to the living room. And to my daughter’s bedroom.

    I opened her door. The early afternoon sun had slipped through the blinds, reaching across the room, laying strips of white against the beige carpet. She sat on her bed, holding and talking to her newest toy, her riding horse, a white, fluffy head on a long pink stick. A horse named Moonlight.

    How perfect a name for that toy, soft, white, and gentle. It reminded me of an old Dean Martin standard.

    I sang softly to her. “In the misty moonlight.” She looked up, eyes puffy. “By the sacred firelight.” She smiled and held her hand up, limp at the wrist. Her four-year-old image of romantic.

    I kissed her hand and picked her up, slowly turning, around and around, across the floor. She laid her head on my shoulder. We glided out of her room toward the kitchen, where her mother stood. “In a faraway land, by the tropic sea sand, with your hand in my hand.” Daughter gave me a soft kiss, slipping her hand into mine. “Everything’s okay.” She closed her eyes and returned her head to my shoulder. Her mother smiled.

    For that moment, anyway, I knew everything was okay.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A perfect read for a Saturday morning. A true to.life story. Imagine five daughters, spread across six and a half years. Only by a miracle, I am still sane. Perhaps it’s because those five girls gave me eight grand daughters in a row. That thirteen future women to control the world. Then finally one grandson.

        So many memories to write about and then oops six mind you, great grandchildren . And guess what. Six more girls you say.oh no, six boys in a row. Loved the story, brought back so many wonderful thoughts.

    1. writer_sk

      GL,

      I’m totally crying here. This was not only a wonderful fatherly gesture but a human one as well. The compassion shown to your daughter was so powerful. I think it’s so important to communicate in a way a child understands. In using her Pony and the song, it helped your daughter feel loved when she felt left out.

      How sweet. I hope your son and daughter are thriving.

      Lastly, i envy your editing skills.

      1. GrahamLewis

        Thanks for the kind words. It brings tears to my eyes, too, whenever I remember it. We asked so much of her, and she gave so much, and continues to do so.
        The kids are doing well. Daughter is a junior in college, majoring in theater and evolutionary biology. Son is finally finishing up high school this year and being edged into the real world, still living with us. He is gentle and sweet and deep and scary smart, but with no real understanding of or concern with life’s demands.

        As for the editing, 30 plus years of writing and editing ought to have some impact. I simply write and rewrite and, wherever possible, throw away words, even those I thought were so perfect when I first wrote them. Often those are the ones that deserve to die. As Elmore Leonard (I think) once said, I just leave in the useful words.

      1. Denise G. Monello

        A beautiful piece. Parenthood doesn’t come with a manual of instructions and scenarios–if it did there are some parents that would probably reconsider their choices. But your ability to give joy to one child while feeling pain for another should serve as the introduction should it ever be written. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Reaper

    Anyone miss me? I’m looking at you four with the names I recognize.

    So, for anyone interested, this is based on Brave New World, by Motorhead, which I know is not everyone’s cup of bleach, but it is what the prompt made me go listen to. Been a busy couple years. But, since my job decided they don’t need me anymore, I guess I have time for my real work again. Good to be back with you all again.

    Same Old World

    I surely looked like a freak every time my phone blasted that song into my eardrums. Long hair flipping about. Step taking on a cadence some might mistake for me marching along as part of the metal militia. Not that an old rivet-head like me gave a single damn. There were real problems in the world.

    I started growling along, in a passable imitation of Lemmy, if I do say so myself. Under my breath, I’m only willing to look like so much of a freak. It took a bit to realize the weirdness was my fault. I mean, if it was. I blame streaming media.

    Think about it. Being poor has been worse than having AIDs for, well I don’t know. Almost since the disease was discovered, right? Homeless living in boxes, ignored by everyone passing? Been going on since before I was born. I’ve almost been among them a few times. Innocent shot daily in the street? Not new. We’re just more aware of it, thanks internet. That’s the whole idea behind BLM, right? I mean, am I alone here?

    Sure, there was a bit of the esoteric. I’ve always lived in a state of dull, frustrated rage. Maybe I just didn’t notice more people were. I thought it was normal. Bureaucrats getting richer, the government pretending to be our friend, people sending their children to jail because they didn’t understand them. Those things were standard in my world. I guess not everyone else took them for granted.

    Honestly, I thought the posters about Big Brother, and snitching on your family were jokes. I mean, seriously. How could they be anything else? When I won the lottery, well that was unusual. It was a small win, but still. Then I got my dream job. I had to quit it when my music career to off. Looking back on it, I probably should have given something back. I could have fed a homeless person, bought my disowned uncle a house. You know, anything to show God I was on his side with as much as he was doing for me.

    Then Jesus came back. That was weird, and still I didn’t make the connection. You’d think with all the Christians in Congress he would have been okay. Why the hell did he come back in America?

    So, he starts tearing apart buildings, healing people for free. He fed some homeless people in major cities. He chased around a couple of televangelists with a riding crop. Gathered up some disenfranchised people, gave them homes, hope, and purpose. You know, Jesus stuff.

    They had him in jail in less than a week, it was the trial of the century. It was the less than a week thing when I figure it out. I should have told them this was all based on the song I was singing that day. I didn’t want to end up in an asylum though.

    And, I mean, shit, I didn’t think they’d kill him again.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Reaper, yes, you, and your dark stories, were missed. Bunch of new folks, writing some good stuff.

      I listened to your song, read the lyrics, understood your story. Frightening scenes, way too real. I fear your last sentence could be true.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Well, I’ll.be a monkey, Reaper, you’re back
        What an incredible time we live in. For myself, I have always leaned toward the disapplined, not from choice perhaps but from a strict father and a jewel of a mother to give me balance.
        Your story hit hard but not for what.you wrote but what you triggered. I thought I had buried it in a time vault. And what is it? Well. It’s doubt about what would happen if Christ returned today. I always feared another crucification because the human mind cannotn accept faith without a reason. And I’m not talking about salvation but would they believe? My grandfather said the angels are everywhere in hosts. I am certain he’s right. But how many were blessed with a grandfather such as he?
        So I’m stirred up again. I welcome you back with open arms.

        1. Reaper

          Thank you Kerry. There are a lot of places where I get on a soap box about this, but here, I prefer to let my writing do most of that talking. Though, I will say that when I left I think I’d published one book? Maybe I’d done two. I’m up to five now. One of them is a Satire novella with a very heavy religious bent. A lot of this has been on my mind.

          I think your grandfather was right, but there are so many who claim righteousness but ignore kindness. The reason I see a thing like that is because of people being confronted with the contrast of what they want from that image, and actual kindness towards the forgotten. The lines from the song that really inspired this are, God is on your side but I don’t think that you’re on his, if Jesus showed up now he’d be in jail by next week. It just kind of went from there.

          It’s good to be back. Just wish I’d been able to do it when I was still working. But you know sixty to eighty hour weeks, I haven’t even published in about two years. Had no time for here. Hopefully my next job will let me have more time for what I actually care about. Or, you know, the Patreon pages and book sales will take off and I can actually just do writing.

      2. Reaper

        Ah Reatha. Thank you. I’m noticing that about the new folks.

        I almost want to apologize, but I can’t ever do that for getting someone to listen to Lemmy, the world is darker for his passing, and that song, it was perfect for this prompt. Thank you for the kind words, and I fear it would be too.

    2. writer_sk

      Reaper- I recall your UN but will have to Bette get to know your writing.

      This was such an angry and motion filled piece. I could picture the MC walking down a city street narrating your commentary. For me, it also had a holden caulfield feeling. The short sentences were very effective.

      The thought of Jesus going to jail is such a statement on political correctness and societal norms being all weird.

      Yea great job . Welcome back
      I didn’t know the song going in but I feel I do now.

      1. Reaper

        You say that and it makes me want to pitch my books! 😉

        Thank you for the kind words, and that’s an amazing comparison writer_sk. Much of what I said in my response to Kerry holds true here as well. I think a lot of people in power who scream Christian would hate it if Jesus showed up. Something about give up all of your wealth if you want into heaven.

        Thank you. This place was always like home. No other place like it, and there are a lot of places that do prompts, but the culture here is different. I’m glad I could make you feel you know the song. I look forward to reading more from you.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Reaper, I should have added I’ve also missed your comments, yours was one of the first on my first posting here almost exactly three years ago, February 3, I just checked. Those words from the more experienced folks kept me writing and posting almost every week since. So, again, welcome back.

      1. Reaper

        Thanks Reatha. I’m glad. I remember when you first came around, and really hoping you would stick to it, because you are an amazing talent. Hope I can stay as true to my comments as I once was.

    4. JRSimmang

      Reap, I’ve comments from you dating back 3.5 years ago! You were so supportive then, and I see things haven’t changed.
      Good to see your writing again. Controversial, inspirational, and philosophical this one is. I think we can all strive to see our own shortcomings more clearly, and we can all hope to have a moustache as epic as Lemmy’s.

      1. Reaper

        It’s good to be writing again. I was writing after I couldn’t do here, but that’s fallen off for months. I’m glad that support hasn’t changed. I’ve said it before, we have to make each other better, but we have to support each other, there are too many people tearing us down without us doing that to each other too.

        Ah, all those things make me smile. We definitely all need to look inward for flaws more often. Instead of out. It would make the world a happier, better place. Then we can fix them. I don’t think most can have a moustache like that. It might be once in a generation.

    5. Critique

      Nice to see you back Reaper!
      I looked up the song and read the lyrics. I concur we live in unsettled scary times. The way you wove your thoughts through the songs lyrics was brilliant.

    6. jhowe

      Well, Reaper, I’m certainly glad to see you back. I’ll have to check out some of your books you mentioned to Kerry. I always enjoy your fiction.
      This piece is pretty progressive and you stay true to your narrator throughout. Very well done; I enjoyed it.
      I attended church a few times at my former father-in-law’s Dutch Reformed establishment. They’re pretty strict. I’m fairly certain if Jesus showed up during the service, he’d not make it through the door, but they are a bit stuffy at that place.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you Mr. Howe. I believe you’ve been on my blog, there’s a link there. Of course, I’m always willing to throw it up here if you want it as well. I just realized, my name still links to my Amazon author page too. Man it has been a long time.

        Thank you for that. I always feel strange when I find myself called progressive, but it happens more and more these days. I’m glad it felt true, I was trying for that. Been doing a bit of writing that shifts perspective, so I never know. Glad you enjoyed.

        Funny how that works, isn’t it? I think that’s where the table flipping and the chasing around with a whip comes in. That’s a personal opinion though.

    7. T. Ransom

      Nice work using the song lyrics to flesh out the character of the “old rivet head.” The voice was perfect for the character, as was the way you wove the lyrics in.

      Years ago I read a novel in which Jesus comes back (to America) and gets killed by the government again. Not a particularly well written book, but the point it made was solid. Jesus has always been a threat to the established order, and probably always will be. Also there will always be a disproportionate concentration of hypocrites in government. (Oops, there I go getting all anti-political again.)

      Your title kind of said it all, and agrees nicely with one of the points I was making above – It’s the same old theme since… forever.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you. I appreciate that.

        It’s definitely not a new idea. It just hit me the way it was spoken of in the song, mostly because of the lead up to it. The amount of people claiming a legacy but not honoring it. It’s interesting. It’s hard not to get that way these days I think, anti-political as you put it.

        It’s funny, some of the things you mention. My most recent published piece is a satire, focused on Jesus mostly, during the missing years. I’m working on an ad campaign for it that is based around the idea of, I am what you’ve made me. I might actually do a sequel with that title.

  5. RafTriesToWrite

    Here’s my poor attempt at the prompt:

    I feel so trapped, this… abomination in me. I can feel it taking over me.

    Is this the real life? I don’t know. Is this just fantasy? I hope so.

    I’m caught in a landslide, no escaping this reality. I struggle to break free.

    I opened my eyes as I looked up to the sky and see… Myself? Why? What’s the meaning of this?

    I’m just a poor boy, but I don’t need sympathy. I’m an easy come and easy go kind of guy, but yet, I can go a little high sometimes, but I’m mostly a little low. One thing is for certain though, anyway the wind blows, it doesn’t really matter to me. Not anymore at least. I have to tell her, I have to tell mama.

    “Mama, just killed a man.” I came barging in the living room, mama had been knitting all afternoon in there.

    She stopped her knitting and looked at me, her fourteen year old boy. Can she believe it? A young boy just killed a man?

    “What’re you saying boy? Come over here.” She ordered, with much less force in her voice as I initially expected. I guess she thought it was a joke, or was she just tired?

    “I put a gun against his head, then pulled my trigger now he’s dead” I spoke softly as I sat next to her, trying not to quiver to the fact that I had just killed a man.

    “If you’re trying to say something to me boy, spit it out.” Can’t she understand? I just told her I killed a man. Maybe telling my mama what I’d done isn’t a good idea after all.

    “Mama, life had just begun. But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away.” Haven’t I given her enough already? I did my best, but, there’s no denying what’s hidden inside of me anymore.

    She looked at me, inspecting my face, she then realized.

    “Oh honey. It’s okay.” I stared at her. Maybe, there’s hope after all.

    “Mama, didn’t mean to make you cry.” I wiped her tear, a single drop. It was enough to tell me that she understood.

    “Listen boy, I am so proud of you. I truly am. Your father… he- he would be proud as well.” She hugged me so tight that day, it was the tightest hug I’ve ever received from her in my whole life and I’m so happy that she understood me.

    I’ll never forget that day – the day when I killed the man inside me and went out of the closet as someone new. Life for me began since then and for the first time in my fourteen years of existence, I felt understood, I felt happy, I felt contented.

    Nothing really mattered to me that day, because from then on, everyone can see the real me and boy what a wonderful feeling it truly is to be free.

    Now I know what Queen meant by, “Any way the wind blows.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is dynamic verse to the max
      The hardest time in a boy’s life is fourteen, give a year or so. So many hormones running wild
      I have my own thoughts of what he is released from Lot of thought and drama here. It is a good thing his Mother understands

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      You have continued to develop as you’ve posted, this is one of the best. Great job getting inside the boy, and his mother, Don’t ever apologize again, okay?

    3. JRSimmang

      I second the sentiments here. I’ve only noticed growth week after week, and I think you’ve effortlessly incorporated one of the greatest songs of all time into a heart-wrenching tale of personal acceptance. The inferred motivation behind “Bohemian Rhapsody” pairs well with the guilt and shame of the MC.
      The editor in me would like a longer, more relevant ending. The last three paragraphs felt too tidy and length, I believe, perhaps with more dialogue, would unravel the resolution more carefully. There is only so much we can do with around 500 words, though.

    4. writer_sk

      Unbelievable! This was awesome. I’m blown away. As others have noted your writing keeps getting better. This was deep and the way you worked the song in was flawless.

      I admire the courage of the MC and what “killed the man” means when you get to the end. So powerful and such a meaningful interaction between mother and son.

    5. Reaper

      Self effacement doesn’t suit you. This is not a poor attempt at the prompt, it is a shattering of boundaries and one of the best things I’ve read. The choice of songs with your particular story is very poignant, and the narrative timely to current events. Only two places that could possibly improve. A couple of repetitions. I just killed a man comes back very fast a few times. The second time is jarring, the third time seems a bit more natural though, so it’s actually not that bad, but a slight rewording might be in order. However, you’re staying true to the song. The second, I agree with something else others said, this deserves to be longer. Your ending seems rushed, only because of the word limit, but I really feel like you could explore the rest of the song, the turmoil of the inner monologue, the MC worrying that the devil has a place for me. Mostly, as stated previously, because the story deserves it and your writing shouldn’t be restrained. This is amazing, and so are you.

    6. T. Ransom

      Wow, you really put a unique spin on that song! You changed the meaning while staying close to the lyrics, and yet still left it open to the reader’s interpretation. Very interesting approach.

  6. Kerry Charlton

    IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR

    The afternoon sun bathed the yacht basin at Avalon. A playful breeze danced across the water causing tiny waves. It refreshed Randell Whiteworth’s face as he stopped a moment from polishing the ebony deck of his Chris Craft. The twenty four foot beauty had been left to him by his grandfather who had passed recently.

    The ear was 1963, it had been 18 years since John had returned from the Pacific Theatre in a hospital ship more dead than alive. He had survived the battle of Okinawa, but had left a leg there. His face was scarred badly, but seven operations later, he was passable. Still, his fiancé had faded away and he said good riddance.

    A look of pain crossed his face but then turned to a relaxed smile as he started to polish again and sing a song, the third stanza he liked the best,

    ‘Then I was thirty five’
    It was a very good year.
    It was a very good year for blue-blooded girls,
    Of independent means.
    We’d ride in limousines,
    Their chauffeurs would drive,
    When I was thirty five.’

    “Hello the boat.” the woman’s voice drifted to him. He swung his head to a vision standing on the dock,

    “I’m sorry I didn’t see you.“

    “You have a beautiful voice, do you sing professionally?”

    “No, I just drift off and sing some times. Would you like to come aboard?”

    “Oh yes, your boat is beautiful. My name is Denise.”

    He helped her aboard and as he touched her hand, he felt a slight shiver.

    “My grandfather’s boat, I love it too.” By the way I’m Randell Whiteworth.”

    “We went to high school together, don‘t you remember.”

    “Of course, you were a knockout, now your gorgeous I might say.”

    “Thank you.” she started to blush,

    “I am so proud of you Randell. We all watched the news when President Truman pinned the Metal of Honor on your uniform.”

    “Ancient history Denise, look at my face.“

    “That’s not fair, I loved your face but was too shy to tell you. You think that makes a difference? Not to me, I see who you really are.”

    She started to cry softly.

    “Why are you crying? Not for me.”

    “Oh no, can’t a girl cry for being happy?”

    “Sit here Denise, I’ll fix some ice tea.”

    “That would be nice, it’s warm today or maybe it’s me. Why did you just disappear for so long?”

    “I really don’t know, after breaking up with Barbara, I didn’t want anyone to see me.”

    “Don’t you know it doesn’t matter at all, I’ll prove it.”

    She reached over and kissed him sweetly.

    “I wanted to do that since high school but you were going steady.”

    “To the wrong girl. Want to take a spin around the island?”

    “I’d love to, can I make a quick call.”

    “Certainly there’s a two way in the cabin, left side.”

    He tried not to listen but it was crowded aboard,

    “James, take the car home please. I‘ll be awhile and call when I need you.”

    They went back on deck and as he untied the boat, he noticed a Rolls drive away.

    “Your‘s?’ he said.

    “Yes, does it bother you.”

    “Does it bother you to ride around in it?”

    “No silly, kiss me and start the engine.” .

    :

    d

    .

    1. JRSimmang

      Not only is this one of my favorite Sinatra songs, it’s a ripe platform for a love story. Kerry, I have to say that I enjoy the brightness you bring to your stories. I have never walked away from a Kerry story depressed. You’ve lines in here (“Can’t a girl cry for being happy,” James, take the car home please…”) that remind me so much of Rosemary Clooney and Catherine Hepburn.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks JR, you have wonderful taste in women. I grew up listening to Rosemary. She was all over the top 40, consistently during high school with a voice that dreams are made from, marvelous personality. and what a beautiful look. As far as Katherine, the talent was immense, perky also a good word for her. I an not a down person, can’t be at my age, still working and dreaming along.

        Thanks for stopping by.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks writer. When I write, I have the first paragraph in mind and only that . I turn my mind loose after and watch where.it takes me. If I plan the whole story in advance, it seems to be stilted most of the time. No

    2. Reaper

      Ah, Kerry, yang to my yin, and inspiration to greater passions and brightness of the soul. Your stories still amaze. How is it that you kept getting better while I was gone? It’s not fair. You have always been so good, at some point you have to peak so the rest of us can catch up, my friend. I always love these reminders, that love is real, and things can get better. It is important, what you do is so great on so many levels. Thank you.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reaper, it is so good to have you back. As you can see, the site is a-buzz with energy this week and you are the cause. Sorry about the reason but as you know we share the rudder with one who knows where we are headed. Itching to see how you handle the next prompt. I have given you another mock name. Alpha and I’ll take Omega and heaven help.those that tary.too long. (Only kidding you know.)
        )

    3. Critique

      A beautiful story to lift the spirit! There is always hope. Love does conquer all. Thanks Kerry for the inspiration! I always look forward to reading your wonderful stories. Keep them coming!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Critique, I get happy Everytime I write a story like this because I put myself in the MC slot when I write. I may be just as interested in the Chris Craft as I am with Denise. Did I really say that?.Correction, ignore that last sentence

    4. T. Ransom

      Hey Kerry, it’s me JM, just dropping in. This is such a feel-good story and as romantic as ever. Your stories always make me feel like I’m watching a movie. I’d definitely keep watching this one.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks JM what an idea, I know Avalon like the back of my hand and I like both the MC and Denise.I’mull it over and keep you posted. With Randall’s background he could work anywhere.

  7. adoggedblip

    _do re re do re_ He whistled under cap and hood through the night. _ti do do ti do, what were the chances_ The night was clammy and cool: a prickly vapor clung to the air too snugly, like satin inside of a fur fedora that is just undersized. And like the inside of a hat, the night also sagged passively in a hush. _do re re do re_ An orchestra under his temples embellished his tempoed steps. _exchanging glances, doobie doobie doo_ Puddles glinted under him like bright blue eyes in the dark.
    _do re re do re, do re mi re do_ A warbling piccolo vibrato pierced his lips and bounded between the brick warehouses lining the sides of the street, crashing with trailing minor seconds above the yellow broken line on the concrete and vanishing in a quavering scuffle. The streetlamps bled over the streets as if everything had soaked in the recent rain. Silence bled over the streetlamps. His heart pumped a lonesome calm, like thirst and honey, a calm without time. The night had shaken time. The wine had shaken time. Time had been shaken until morning. (Time seduces calm.) _one and two and three, what were the chances_
    _la mi mi la mi…_
    “Before the night was through…!” A voice rang out singing from behind him and tore him from his muggy hat—he jumped around like a rabbit. A stranger in a cherry raincoat smiled from above her cheekbones, her gaze fixed on him, tender with warmth, cool with shared mischief, and he encountered a rare moment when there is certainty that something lovely has happened, something lovely in the night.
    _little did we know, love was just a glance away_

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is enchanting​, every word of it
      I tried signing along but since I don’t read music, I finally decided to hum along from The Sound Of Music. The ending is what I was hoping for and you delivered it well. I’m in a feel good mood. Thank you.

    2. JRSimmang

      Red permeates appropriately through this sweeping story, revealing the undercurrents of passion and sudden fire. Great imagery and alchemy, all of which was over too soon for me; I want to keep this consciousness going!

    3. Reaper

      There is an easy beauty here, and I agree, the ending does not disappoint. There are some beautiful images, like thirst and honey. I don’t know Sinatra well enough to know if this is from the song or not. One thing I would say is there are some repetitive words in short sentences that could be reworded, not really necessary, but something to mention, but like I said, could be from the song. Hardly noticeable because there is such a power in this one.

    4. T. Ransom

      Yes, I actually was singing the notes until the “exchanging glances” and “Doobie doobie do” gave it away! That was fun, but more importantly, this piece is loaded with some incredible imagery. There were so many wonderful images I don’t even know where to start. The part about shaking time was poetic. Actually the whole thing was poetic. Something lovely indeed.

  8. jhowe

    The morning sun shone through the blinds, zebra striping Maggie’s naked body. She stirred and my stomach fluttered. She was so pretty, so enticing. I ignored the lines around her eyes and the loose skin creasing her neck. I dreaded what I had to say to her.

    “Is that coffee I smell?” She stretched and smiled. I handed her a cup.

    “Did you sleep well?” I said hoping my voice didn’t reflect the quiver my mind was suffering from.

    “Spit it out, Rod.”

    How did she know? “Well, I’ve just been doing some thinking, you know, my thesis isn’t going to write itself.”

    “When are you leaving?” She no longer smiled.

    “I’m not leaving, really, just taking a little break.”

    “So, I’m good enough for sack time, but that’s it, huh.” Maggie’s nostrils flared as she stared at me.

    “I could say the same thing.” I took a breath. “I laugh at your jokes; I follow you wherever you go, what’s in it for me, besides a good roll in the hay?”

    “Just get the hell out, Rod.” Tears streamed down her cheeks and she turned away.

    “I tried, Mag, I really did.” I picked up my phone and ordered an Uber. I didn’t have much to pack. With my backpack and pool cue in hand, I faced her.

    “What can I say? “ I didn’t know if I should hug her. “It’s been real.”

    “Hold on a sec.” She ran naked from the room and returned with an envelope. “Happy Birthday.”

    “I don’t know, Mag, I really shouldn’t take it.”

    “It’s a plane ticket to Seattle. I wanted you to meet my son and his wife.” She shrugged. “If you show up, you show up.”

    “I won’t be there.”

    Maggie sidled up to me and placed her hand on my thigh, squeezing gently. A horn sounded from outside and I hurried away. As I was driven away in a silver Equinox I stared at the envelope. I’d never seen Seattle before, and right then, I knew I was being lured away once again.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      So real, I felt your characters jump off the screen and continued with the game that lover’s play. Actually the sophistication is excellent here
      We’re not talking about a dowdy couple but two people that the reader can relate to
      Certainly a different style for you John . And I do like what I read from you.

    2. Reaper

      I loved the story. I didn’t catch the reference until I was reading the comments, and then it clicked. Now I’m kicking myself for not getting it. Brilliant. Mr. Howe, how I’ve missed your words.

  9. ShamelessHack

    “José!”
    “Qué? What is it?”
    “José, can you see?”
    “Oh sí! It is early light now at the dawn.
    “Do we still hail?”
    “Sí, and hail proudly.”
    “Well, the twilight, she is still gleaming. José, can you see?”
    “Sí, I can. The stripes, they are broad, and the stars they are bright.”
    “But our fight, José. It is a perilous one.”
    “Todo está bien. The flag, she is still streaming over the ramparts.”
    “Ramparts? Qué significa ‘ramparts’?”
    “The wall, amigo. The flag it flies over the wall.”
    “José can you see?”
    “The glare from the rockets, it was muy rojo. And the bombs, they were bursting in the air.”
    “What does it mean, José?”
    “It is proof, amigo. Proof, durante la noche, that the flag, she is still there.”
    “José, does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave?”
    “Sí, of course, amigo. Over the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.”

    “José, can you see? Can you see that someday we will be there?”
    “Por supuesto. Of course.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      One week after another, you continue to amaze, not only me but the web site
      Love the banner. Do you.know how many Patriots died that night holding the flag, one after another? I’m not sure myself but when I read about,it, the love for country was certainly an amazing thing.

  10. margoaddams

    Sadie peeked over the top of her study carrel. Yep, he was still there. Still watching her. They made eye contact for a brief, terrible moment before she ducked down again.

    Ugh, now she’d done it. It had been the same every night for the past week. She’d be one of the last students in the library, and the creep who worked the closing shift would find any and every reason to pester her. She wished she had another quiet place to work on her thesis, but her roommates were awful and the Starbucks wi-fi was spotty.

    She fished in her backpack for her earbuds, jammed them in, and opened her writing playlist. She turned the volume up. Way up. Sure enough, like clockwork, the night guy sidled into her peripheral vision. She glanced up, gave a quick wave, and pointed to the earbuds. To her pleasant surprise, he seemed to take the hint and disappeared.

    Sadie gradually relaxed and lost herself in the flow of work and music. **Come on, now, I hear you’re feeling down. I can ease your pain get you on your feet again.** Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd, one of her go-to’s. She hummed along as she typed. A few more nights of this, and her thesis would be done. Then she’d graduate and be done with this stupid library and this stupid college and this-

    Something jabbed at her neck, a sharp stinging pain. Her hand went up reflexively, but someone caught it. She turned. It was him.

    **Just a little pinprick, there’ll be no more, but you may feel a little sick. Can you stand up?**

    She tried to stand, but her legs buckled under her. She saw the glint of something in his hand. A needle. She had to get away. She had to get help, but something was wrong. She felt paralyzed, numb.

    **I do believe it’s working, good. That’ll keep you going through the show. Come on it’s time to go.**

    He grabbed her under her armpits and began dragging her across the room. He propped her against a wall, then opened the door to the staircase. She watched her legs bump and judder as he dragged her down the stairs to the basement. She knew it should hurt, but she could feel nothing.

    **There is no pain you are receding. A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.**

    Her eyelids drooped and fluttered, and she caught flashes of her surroundings. Cement floors. Cobwebs. Cinderblock walls. He pulled her through a doorway, then heaved her body up onto a metal table. It looked like what something that would be used for surgery. Or an autopsy. She heard the metallic click of a lock, followed by a soft chuckle.

    “Stuck up bitch,” he said.

    In a moment of searing clarity, she knew there would be no graduation for her. No job in the city. No husband. No kids. Just this room, and terror, and blood.

    **The dream is gone.**

    1. Reaper

      Noooo! Not Floyd! I feel traumatized! Nicely done. My reaction to this is visceral, in part because you chose one of my favorite songs and made it even darker in a different direction. The writing is very well done, and of a type that I’m very, very fond of. Nice and dark. Amazing piece.

  11. rlk67

    Papers. Pile. Stapler. Bang.
    Papers. Pile. Stapler. Bang.

    Sitting in my Manhattan office cubicle with no air and loads of work, I ponder what life could be. Okay, that’s enough.

    Papers. Pile. Stapler. Bang! I’m forming a tune in my mind.
    Papers. Pile. Stapler. Bang! I’m transported to 1981, and begin to hum.

    I love a rainy night, I love a rainy night, I love to hear the thunder, watch the lightning as it lights up the sky…

    Wasn’t this song made for windshield wipers? Well, and stapling. I love a rainy night, such a beautiful sight…

    Then I scream. The sprinklers! Fire! All my papers are getting soaked. The boss will kill me if the fire doesn’t. Fiiiiire!!!!

    My colleague comes to calm me down. No fire? Then what…?!

    She pulls me further in the hall and tells me the boss needs to see me.

    I enter his office with water running down my hair and onto my clothes. At first he just stares, then tosses my another huge, and I mean HUGE pile of unstapled papers. Groan.

    I can’t stand this. Life isn’t supposed to be…well, no use in complaining, I begin. But with more ‘oomph’ this time!

    Paper. Pile. Stapler. BANG!!
    Paper. Pile. Stapler. BANG!!

    Oh, I’ve been working on the railroad, all the live long day…

    Bright lights blind me! A roar deafens me! What?! I freight train goes barreling past down the hall. Workers leap out of the way. It goes straight through to the bosses office! Oh, my! He’s gone! Hanging on to the front!

    I slowly walk back to my cubicle and smile. I start to hum.

    Do you know the way to San Jose? Bum bum bum bum bum bum bum…

    1. JRSimmang

      A worker drone droning on and on, and how we must find the fun in our daily menial work. Rlk, I think you nailed the mentality of someone caught in corporate mediocrity. I particularly enjoy how scattered the songs are, and how so very different.

    2. Reaper

      This was fun. It could have been terrifying, especially with what you were exploring. The fact that you chose to have the boss carried away instead of splattered made it more cartoony than gruesome, which really seemed to fit and made your MC more sympathetic. By the time I saw them going to San Jose I really felt like they deserved it. Nicely done.

  12. JRSimmang

    WHAT LIGHT UPON YON WINDOW BREAKS

    Every young man fights to die.

    Thus is the dawn on the battlefield, and daybreak only shatters against the breath of grass and the vast expanse between the phalanx and the enemy.

    “They’re just boys,” said the retreating night.

    “They’re glorious heroes,” replied the sun.

    Advance they must, emerging from their canvas tents and gangrene, across their last moments of childhood, across their last dreams of manhood, across the loves that will forever sit rocking the wooden chairs next to their never-hearths where their never-children would warm themselves and wait for their never-meals.

    One knight pulls ahead, stretching the line into a bow. Riders on his left and right dance behind, trippingly, fluidly, bounding over the red, red grass. This knight is undeterred. This knight must remain strong. He must not show fear.

    It is he who inspires the lives of the men behind him. He is a tower, unreal, unattainable, and in that moment he must be more than his flesh. He must be the armor he wears, and the helmet upon his head that shines with the brilliance and fierceness of the unborn day.

    He has a secret.

    He has shared his bread with his children, the five of them, and has smiled at his wife’s golden hair gracefully falling on her shoulders. He remembers the lines he swore to his king, the lines he promised to his God, and he knows that he will not be returning to the glory, to the praise, to the applause. He knows, too, that battle will make short work of the memories.

    The sun crests over the horizon, and brings the clanging and crashing, and shouting and sputtering, and falling, falling, falling, and the clouds reverberate and recollect, and the knight looks up into the eyes of the antagonist, realizing that his life has been a story.

    He has tripped into greying temples and failing eyesight, sore muscles, and the God of his youth is waiting for him on the other side of the blade. His sword is an extension of his arm, and he whispers through the onslaught, though he barely notices the number of transcending souls.

    He never will forget the men behind him, to the left of him, to the right, the men who tumble to the ground, and the score who will return with tales in their mouths.

    His time is short.

    He is predestined.

    The battle will be won, and the last ponderous steps he takes he takes clutching onto the last ray of the dawn.

    -JR Simmang

    1. Denise G. Monello

      Wow, JR, that was an incredible read. I forgot I was reading a prompt. I was wholly absorbed in the scenes with your beautiful descriptive wording.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Where does it all come from and when did you realize it was there in the first.place? It seems to me that most blessed of all are those that gather inspiration from the writer.

        If so, then may I be on the right or on the left to try to follow you. ?

        1. JRSimmang

          Kerry, I don’t know if you realize that I’m the one following you! I do hope to be inspirational. It is one of the reasons I write. Also, that if I don’t, I get all itchy and break out in fever rashes.

    2. Reaper

      I got lost in this. So much that when some noise started here I had to stop it, I couldn’t tune it out like I normally do. This piece deserved utter silence. Just, gorgeous. Wen I read his live has been a store, and the God of his youth is waiting for him I stopped breathing. Terrifying and wonderful at the same time. I just, I guess the biggest compliment I can give this is, words fail me in trying to describe or compliment this.

  13. brookesmith

    “Next up, Bella Smith singing, Drops of Jupiter by Train.”

    I took a deep breath, then warbled out the first line of the song.

    “Now that she’s back in the atmosphere, with drops of Jupiter in her hair, she walks like summer and she talks like rain, reminds me that there’s time to change , hey, hey.” My voice was shaking, and I could see several members of the audience roll their eyes, annoyed that another untalented kid was wasting their time at the school talent show. I could see my parents in the front, cameras snapping photos and blinding me. I could see Emily in the audience, whispering to her friends. Probably about my terrible voice.

    I regained a surge of confidence, wanting to impress my parents, but mostly wanting to make Emily shut up. “Since her return from her stay on the Moon, she listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey.”

    I reminded myself that I was indeed, famous among the nerds and geeks of this school, and they were probably riveted to me. They would compliment me, even if Emily and her pack of vipers wouldn’t. I wanted to make Emily pay for what she did.

    The next line came. “But tell me, did you sail across the sun? ”

    A blinding light flashed through the gymnasium, but I kept singing. “Did you make it to the Milky Way to see all the lights had faded, and that heaven is overrated?”

    Another light flashed, then dimmed. Then nothing. A blackness as thick as a milkshake enveloped the room. My pulse quickened as my voice quieted.

    “Keep going! Bella, its your singing!” A voice shouted.

    I swallowed hard and kept going, knowing the next part was going to be fun. “Did you fall from a shooting star?”

    The whole gym shook. A few kids screamed. Then, you know that sensation of falling from the tallest ride at the theme park?

    Yeah, it was basically that, but times a million.

    “SING!” Emily screamed. “SING!”

    I sang. I sang the whole song, until the last lingering note. The audience stared, dumbfounded, then erupted into clapping. I took a bow, threw a satisfied smirk in Emily’s direction, then took my seat. I guess everyone was so shaken up, they didn’t want to think about what just happened.

    “Alright, um, thank you Bella. Next up is Camelia Kellen singing, “Path of Destruction.”

    1. JRSimmang

      Having been in the theatre for over 20 years, I can tell you that each and every performance starts with sailing across the sun, then racing straight into the deep black of the infinite universe. It never changes. Keep your artist instincts sharp, Brooke.

    2. Reaper

      While a fantasy, this fave me that very real feel of being on stage, getting lost in the imagery. I loved that it was the nemesis screaming for your MC to sing too. Well done. The last line was very chilling.

  14. ReathaThomasOakley

    Come and Dine
    (I’ll use this with Josephine. An almost exactly true scene.)

    It started softly, one sister humming the chorus, then another starting the verse,

    “Jesus has a table spread
    Where the saints of God are fed…”

    Two sopranos joined in, then three altos, like when they were girls back in the little white church their papa’d built.

    The eldest daughter-in-law, hesitant at first, picked it up,
    “He invites His chosen people, ‘Come and dine’;
    With His manna He doth feed
    And supplies our every need…”

    The women paused, looked at Dorothy, the preacher’s wife, who with tears in her eyes, sang out, in her clear, rich tenor, “Oh, ’tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time!”

    From just outside the death-room door, sons, sons-in-law, grandchildren, momentarily silenced by what they’d heard, joined the chorus in near whispers,
    “ ‘Come and dine,’ the Master calleth, ‘Come and dine’;
    You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time;
    He Who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
    To the hungry calleth now, ‘Come and dine’.”

    On the bed the woman, white skin stretched over cheek bones and forehead like the onion skin leaves in her family Bible, stopped struggling, quieted as the song went on. She’d been hungry for so very long, but as the song came to an end, she smiled.

    “Soon the Lamb will take His bride
    To be ever at His side,
    All the host of heaven will assembled be;
    Oh, ’twill be a glorious sight,
    All the saints in spotless white;
    And with Jesus they will feast eternally.”

    Just before she relaxed into her final sleep, the daughter standing closest to the head of the bed heard, “The table, I see the table, prepared for me.”

    1. writer_sk

      At least she had a peaceful death.

      Now so there is a funeral parlor within Josephine and Marie’s house? Forgive me if I have the detail wrong.

      Nice take on the prompt. Very soulful.

      ( I’ll enjoy reading all the atories again when they’re together /I can be forgetful)

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you. In an earlier piece I mentioned the room kept for important visitors and viewings before funerals. I’ve jumped ahead because the scene seemed to fit the prompt, but Josephine will refuse the hospital and that room is turned into hers. Also, I should have added Marie is sitting at the top of the stairs and goes into labor as Granny dies.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You put me to tears this morning for dear Leslie. I’m almost sure the final words she heard were her sisters along with myself singing “Jesus Loves Me.” she asked us so many times those last four days, and we sang until we couldn’t. Thank you again for the memories, muted a little after ten years. May I never forget where she sits.

    2. JRSimmang

      Reatha, I have to be honest with you. I wanted Josephine’s death to be less peaceful, as awful as that sounds, and as painful as breast cancer is throughout its course. I think it’s a marvelous choice to send Marie into labor as Josephine passes, her confidence and comfort finally left unhindered and unquestioned. Now, where are those blasted boys?

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          JR and sk, this is about six months after the last Marie story, lots will happen in between, but the prompt was perfect. Many thanks to you both for remembering the other parts.

    3. Critique

      Reatha this song brought back memories for me from my childhood. A lovely story wove into the song. What a comfort to exit this life with loved ones around you and their voices in harmony singing you into your final sleep.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you, this is pretty much how my paternal grandmother died, surrounded by daughters and daughters in law, who had sang many times. She also had a vision of a table spread, ready for her.

  15. Denise G. Monello

    I drove home from church with my son. It’s nice when the kids come back, and they still like to go to church. A good sermon is a healthy thing. They also get to see their dad playing guitar in the worship band.

    I gazed at my son from the corner of my eye as he searched the music on his phone. It’s still hard to believe he’s a grown man and I’m so proud of him. He’s married to a wonderful woman, he’s successful–but he’s still my little boy. As his music played I wondered, where did the time go? Who would think I would have three grown children and grandchildren? Not me. I still feel like I’m 18–when I’m not exhausted by three in the afternoon or moan and groan as I play on the floor with my grandson. Oh, and God forbid I eat too late. I’ll never sleep–and my stomach will never forgive me. Those are the times I’m far from 18.

    My son plays his music. His favorite artist–one from back in my day, begins his tune. As his raspy voice fills the car and the melody warms my soul, a tingle works its way through my body as this sequence of notes takes me back to when 18 was a reality. I can see me and my boyfriend–now husband, hanging out in a friends backyard. The guys are strumming this same song on their guitars. We’re sitting on the concrete floor at the feet of our musicians all wearing worn jeans, t-shirts and denim jackets. The bottle of tequila goes from hand to hand. The air is crisp as the sun began to set. The street lights start to illuminate. You could smell the lilacs from the sidewalk gardens. The slight breeze gently moves the hair from my face. The gentle wind carries with it the aroma of all the colognes gathered in the sweet sounding circle. We sang at the top of lungs–thanks to the tequila–the same line over and over. The slight evening breeze totes our out of tune voices through the backyards that surround us. Those days were magical–encapsulated in your teens. You didn’t have responsibilities, no money and no worries about tomorrow. Nothing could compare to the freedom and freshness of youth, a guitar, a bottle of tequila, and Bob Dylan.

    “Hey, ma, snap out of it. You’re home.”
    “You coming in? You want to eat?”
    “No, I’m good. I’ve got to get back. Tell dad he sounded good and I’ll talk
    to him later.” We kissed each other goodbye, and I watched as he pulled out the driveway and turned the corner.

    As I fumbled for my keys, I noticed the sky appeared piercingly bright. It casted a white glow on everything around me. And the clouds seemed very low. Where are my keys? I hope my dad is awake and opens the door.

    “Mama, take this badge from me.”
    “What? You’re back?” I shouted as I sharply turned to face the driveway. No one was there. Huh? I started to the door. What the heck? The door was gold with giant pearls on it. A white mist encircled my stoop and cherubim hovered over the porch. I knocked. And I knocked again. And I heard it over and over again.
    Knock, knock, knockin’ on heavens door.
    Knock, knock, knockin’ on heavens door.

    1. writer_sk

      Denise,

      I loved it. So nostalgic and encompassing. You captured that feeling of young adulthood in the backyard.

      I liked the ending and how you revealed the song at the very end.

      That’s a great song.

    2. Reaper

      I love the way you hold the reveal. The way you entwine the song, and the church, and the nostalgia at the end, it all makes the ending feel like a moment of passing. I don’t know if that was intentional. If it was it is very well and subtly done. If not it is a little bonus to your writing. I heard the Guns and Roses version, but that worked beautifully because it triggered a lot of nostalgia for me too. Just all around well done.

      1. Denise G. Monello

        Reaper, thank you, but that’s exactly how my morning went–until of course, we pulled into the driveway–then we did go in and eat. It was a ‘divinely appointed’ morning for my inspiration to the prompt.

    3. JRSimmang

      So many times Dylan, a guitar, and a bottle of tequila ended up on my back patio, and how many more times it will happen in the future.
      This is a superb tragically heart-warming piece, Denise. After hearing “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” for the first time, I wondered if that’s how we’ll all go.

  16. Russ

    So you’re probably wondering why the outside and inside of my house is solid blue.

    Well I was in my home, sitting in my chair, in my living rooon. I decided to turn off the TV, so I did. I heard a car drive by (the living room was somewhat close to the outside street, but not TOO close, just close enough so I could hear music coming from peoples’ cars), and as it passed I heard the song Blue by Eiffel 65. You know how it goes–I’m blue aba dee aba dye aba dee aba dye aba dee aba dye.

    Well after I heard the chorus briefly, it got stuck in my head. I sat there on the living room couch, roaming around on my phone and humming the tune.
    But then all of a sudden my phone case turned a dark blue. I looked up from my phone briefly, and I saw that the TV set was colored blue. All of a sudden, my living room walls turned blue. The wooden floors turned a very dark blue, and the kitchen table nearby turned blue.

    I had stopped humming the tune, but I still heard it. It sounded like it was coming from the outside street. I hurried out the front door to find the source of the music. A car was parked right outside in the street, blocking the driveway. So I approached the car, which I saw was loudly booming the Blue song. But as I got closer, I saw that the one in the driver’s seat was small and blue. I hurried closer, and saw that it was in fact a little, blue, skinny-limbed, alien looking fellow. The creature was dancing to the music, standing on the seat.

    The little alien pressed some button on the dashboard, and all of a sudden the sidewalk and my driveway turned a dark blue. The little creature then kept pressing the button. My grass turned blue, my mailbox turned blue, everything was turning blue.

    Well after a few more button presses, the car starting hovering above the ground, and it kept going up and up. The little creature could still be seen dancing to the song. I saw there were other onlookers on the street now as well. Well the car all of a sudden picked up some speed, and it was soon out of sight.

    1. Reaper

      This made me smile a lot. It reminded me of something, but I can’t think of what. The dancing alien was trying to bring an image to mind, but it won’t come. Well done on that front. The only jarring thing was the onlookers on the street. For some reason my eyes got caught in a loop for a few seconds that I had to get out of. I don’t know why exactly. No matter what I I kept smiling, despite the fact that there was a definite creep factor when it came to, why is the little guy doing this?

  17. GrahamLewis

    THE RUB

    Driving over to see her, trying to come up with the right words, and I find myself instead with a nagging earworm. What the hell song is that? Something 20th, 21st century. Rock or pop. “Duh-duh, dud-duh, something, time.” Oh well, it’s not important. But I wish it would go away.

    What is important is to dispell this illusion before it’s too late, before one or both of us gets hurt. But no matter how carefully I put the words together when I’m alone, I can’t bring myself to say them. I’m never comfortable with this. They say it gets easier with practice, but I think it gets harder. Kind of like when I was studying tae kwon doh and Master Kim sent me into competitions. I knew what was coming, I knew I would hit and be hit, and I got better and better at both, but knowing what was coming hardly made it any easier. The bruises were just as dark and nasty-looking, and they hurt just as much.

    The irony is she’s the one who wanted to take things slow. “Let’s not rush this,” she said, “Let’s take all the time we need.” If only she knew. If she had all that time, we wouldn’t have this problem. I literally have forever, but she’s only promised the usual three score and ten, give or take a few years. The Restorative doesn’t work on XX chromosomes. She will grow older while I stay the same. And no matter how much either of us tries, we can’t make it work. I don’t want to be at her funeral. I did that once, and it made me understand what it means to be damned. Not to hellfire, but to icy-cold loneliness.
    We are eternal heterosexuals, and we wander alone, like bull elephants on the Savannah of endless time.

    I pull up in front of her apartment building and the song grows insistently louder. I start to place it. British, ‘60s. Beatles. But not one of the singles. From the “Revolver” LP. The one by George. “I Want to Tell You.” How did it go? And what did it have to do with me?

    Then the words came, crystal-clear and sharp.

    “I want to tell you
    My head is filled with things to say
    When you’re here
    All those words they seem to slip away
    . . . .
    I want to tell you
    I feel hung up and I don’t know why
    I don’t mind
    I could wait forever, I’ve got time.”

    As Hamlet said, “Ay, there’s the rub.” I could wait forever. I’ve got all the time in the world. But she doesn’t.

    1. JRSimmang

      I agree with Reatha, certainly a sad chapter. Is Hamlet a hint? Will RG become a mad prince still able to tell a hawk from a hacksaw? Will this woman throw herself into a river? I’ll need to know when your book is complete.

    2. Critique

      This begs for more… is the MC immortal? Who is the woman? That fragment of tune, line, word, that eludes then suddenly it falls into place and it makes sense 🙂

  18. writer_sk

    The rest of my excerpts are awaiting moderation but here is a response to the prompt prompt:

    Her prosthetic leg was not bothering her. It was not rubbing against where her skin and jeans touched. CC said a prayer aloud that the Buick would start after the cold snap they’d gotten. Another Nor’easter was set to hit over the weekend, too. The engine turned over and the heat came roaring in, to CC’s surprise. The radio blared with the sounds of the season and CC smiled despite her situation. The twins would have fun ripping open the few plastic toys she could afford and the new doll for each. It was no new iPad or bicycle like other children received but times were tough and CC couldn’t get back on her feet after the accident. She had to sell the dance studio she ran and Matthew had been working relentlessly at the auto body shop but that just barely put food on the table. She and Matt had financial problems, but more than that they had been moving towards breaking up right before she had the twins and the car accident. Emotions ran high and drama higher. If not for the nice tendencies and temperaments of the twins, the household would be in ruins.

    CC never took her hands off the steering wheel and was a very nervous and vigilant driver since her wreck. The snow began to fall, coating the treetops and just dusting the ground. CC relaxed as one of her favorite Christmas carols came on.

    Bing Crosby’s voice rang out, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.” CC found herself in an elegant hall. The year was 1941 and she wore long gloves and a shimmering floor length red and white gown. Someone tapped her shoulder, bowing, and removed his hat in an inviting gesture. It was Matthew, in a military uniform!

    He lead her to the dance floor and the big band sounds of the era took them. In this universe, CC had her leg back and her life, or better, back. They had a delicious feast and began seeing one another every night until Matt’s deployment.

    “Well, won’t you marry me?” Asked CC.

    “I’m supposed to ask you that,” he replied.

    “Not where I’m from.”

    He smiled, a grim half smile.

    “Well then, CC, Cierra Clair, will you marry me?”

    “And,” said CC, “we are supposed to have two twin daughters.”

    “But,” replied Matt, “none of that will happen because I die in the line of duty.”

    He stepped away from her, off the platform at the train station and as he approached the train began to vanish, first his limbs, then his torso and head.

    CC opened her mouth to scream in horror but she had no voice. She no longer had the dress on, her old tee shirt reappeared and her fake leg pressed into her body reminding her life wasn’t fair.

    1. Reaper

      This was a moving story. Great song choice. The stark, abrupt ending made it all the more horrifying. If I may, the only place I would suggest making changes is you fall into some one of the same traps that I do, assuming your readers need extra explanation. At the beginning you say she and Matt had financial problems, mot more than that, when you’ve already told us that. You could simplify and tighten by saying, worse than money worries, Matt and her were headed towards a break up right before. Then at the end you said she opened her mouth to scream in horror, when you’ve set the scene well enough that there is no other kind of scream for her. It’s all style, and none of it are necessary changes. I just know these are things I see in my own writing and end up changing, most of the time. Even with that, I was still touched.

  19. writer_sk

    I am going to share with you an excerpt from my novella. Open to any tips and critiques:

    PART ONE

    The equipment for Jacked’s DJ set up wasn’t just heavy, with it’s awkward angles, unnecessary girth and numerous parts but it was, for reasons Freddie couldn’t fathom, covered in sawdust.

    “Dudes, whoa,” Freddie’s own voice sounded far away to him and gravel-filled. He halted the guys from moving the large piece of – whatever it was. It looked to Freddie like an oversized guitar case and he ran his fingers along the hard stitch edge as he spoke.

    “Hold it. I want to make sure we need all this. Sawdust is getting everywhere and it’s going to get on the floor in there.”

    He phoned Jacked waving the guys away.

    “Do we need all this stuff? I mean the big,” he searched for the word, the hangover from the bachelor party getting the best of him, “case?”

    “Man chill, it’s all fine. Remember: Felix has a band and me. Most of the shit is the band’s. I’ll be right over, we’re ten minutes away.” As he spoke from the back seat in the taxi, his finger traced the soft skin just below his girlfriend, Adelaide’s neckline and he realized Freddie was likely back in that weird headspace thinking about Cate.

    After they hung up, Freddie realized he forgot to ask about the sawdust. At that moment he wondered why even cared and a lightness overtook him. He didn’t feel light in spirit but in his mind and somewhere else inside. He stood wondering why he cared so damn much about anything anymore. It was liberating. Birds dipped their sharp beaks in the mid-morning puddle competing and chirping. They were unaware of several nearby alternate sources of water. Freddie, not unlike the small minded creatures had been focused on one and only one option as well. His senses were dull, now, his body was busy moving the bulky items but his mind drank in the not-caring, imploring him to not care more and trying to keep that mindset. He tried to not care about Cate and how she’d gone back to that loser again instead of him.

    Jacked and Adelaide arrived and the though the DJ’d known his friend would brood over his lost love, he didn’t know it would start again on the morning of Felix’s wedding.

    “Would you mind getting us all a coffee so I can talk to Fred-man alone?” Jacked handed his girlfriend some cash. Her answer was a kiss and smile. Jacked leveled with Freddie, placing a stiff straight arm on his shoulder but his worried eyes betrayed the steadfastness of the gesture.

    “I know you miss her but you just have to get through today.”

    After they talked, Freddie, Jacked and Adelaide sat on the once-protected, fragile guitar case sipping coffee. Jacked places his hand high on his girlfriend’s slender leg and the electricity they shared made Freddie think of Cate.

  20. writer_sk

    PART 2

    Freddie’s mind let itself go to that place. In his head he was there, at Barney’s, and she was still his. It was still sacred. They’d been the ones drinking hot coffee and seducing one another. There had been that time in the stockroom when the store had closed they shouldn’t have been there. Orange light from the vents was always warm; retracting off the cardboard of the shoeboxes. Freddie was bringing the last of the shoeboxes around the very dark bend beyond the final role of shoes where the clearance items were held and he found Cate trying on a couple pairs of heels that he’d known she had long coveted. In her stocking feet she’d approached him. He hadn’t wanted to startle her and had made some overly obvious noise of some sort. He had always wondered about that night had she not seen him working with those customers late? Had she not known he would be staying in the department well past the store’s closing to get things straightened and put away? Freddie held a stack of about five pairs of shoes within boxes and she touched his half-flexed arm, squeezing the muscle beneath and teased, “you’re strong. You can carry all of those boxes.”

    His face lit up with dimples, a big smile and those sexy eyes. She returned the smile by taking some of the boxes and stepping lightly up the ladder, knowing he’d get a full view of her toned legs and butt.

    However he somehow missed his opportunity to make a move and the conversation turned to light store gossip. “The mistake of a lifetime,” he had thought later on. Although all had been saved in the greatest love affair of his life, he spent significant time tormenting himself in years to come by playing the moment over and over in his mind’s eye.

    Here and now the pain that he couldn’t go back once again assaulted him fast and angry. His head throbbed with the whole thing of waking up early, moving Jacked’s stuff, the late night bachelor party and running to get the tuxedo today. He ran to the men’s room and vomited. He didn’t know if he could take it. He didn’t know if he could stand up for Felix at his wedding knowing his own love story had been written, the chapter over and the book closed.

    He tried to summon that not-caring feeling again and would have to do it. He must get over her.

    He stepped out of the bathroom and inadvertently onto the dance floor. That it was happening too fast. Someone was testing the sound system in the smooth familiarity their song, “Escape my Love,” came piping through the speakers and Cate was everywhere again. Her hips were against his legs their bodies pressed together dancing moving and gliding. DJ Jacked’s voice rescued him from this. It was clear and strong, cutting through the air.

    “Shut it off!” he yelled. He knew the playlist of Freddie’s nights as well as he knew his own well- rehearsed songs. They left the hall to pick up the groom.

  21. writer_sk

    PART 3

    The air felt perfect. The sense of magic love and warmth were in the air on Felix’s special day. Freddie just concentrated on the task letting the thing take him. Felix’s wife to be was from Long Island and the wedding was to be held there. After the wedding and the reception Freddie longed to swim in the ocean. As it was, the party was wonderful going way past scheduled with people taking dips in the water, drinking, dancing and eating late into the night then spilling out onto the beach right outside. The night culminated in a large surf-side bonfire in which the hangers-on and those in the wedding, partook.

    Freddie allowed the flames to transfix him. Sitting against the large piece of driftwood, his rented shoes centimeters from the orange heat, he let his eyes close bringing him out of his depression and into sleep. His dreams of Cate covered him as the warm fire became her hair, the ocean air her breath, the soft sand her touch and the crashing waves her voice.

    THE END

    1. JRSimmang

      Sarah, there’s plenty of energy with this excerpt. I believe the ending was beautiful, fitting, for Freddie. And, there’s certainly something universally true of your story. I believe the love story to be done just right, not overwrought with melodrama.
      I would watch out for tense shifts, and the name “Jacked” bothered me. It’s fine if he’s DJ Jacked, but I would use his real name when referring to him outside of the dance floor.

      1. writer_sk

        Thank you, JR. I appreciate your reading of my stuff.

        This wasn’t the real end of the book just of this entry. I entered the material off my phone retyping it from paper so it’s messed up.

        I will strongly consider your recommendation about the name. Maybe I can work in a nickname or pronouns.

        Thanks again for reading and replying

  22. Pete

    Julie has really stuck to her New Years’ resolution. She’s doing aerobics at the Y. Hip hop dance things. I wake up in at dawn and find her in the living room, grunting along, doing squats and lunges to instructional youtube videos that promise a bigger booty. She looks incredible. All the hard work is paying off, if you get my drift.

    Now we’re going out for Valentine’s Day dinner. Amateur night at the steakhouse. She’s taking forever to get ready and when I peek in on her and find that the floor is a wasteland of shoes and dresses–scarves and what looks like Cat woman’s bodysuit. She’s wearing this tight gold number, something I’ve never seen before—which isn’t saying much because Disney hires interns to handle less costume inventory.

    “You almost ready, Jules?” I ask wondering if I should eat before we go. She throws her hands up, spins around and checks herself in the mirror.

    “Does this make my butt look big?”

    Well, this is my chance. She’s been working so hard to get that butt to grow and now it’s gold and round and a song enters my head. You know the one. Without a second thought, I spin around and throw out my own, very ample behind.

    “I like big butts, I can-not lie/You other brothers can’t deny…
    I like ’em round, and big/And when I’m throwin’ a gig

    I just can’t help myself…

    I’m actin’ like an animal/Now here’s my scandal
    I want to get you home
    And ugh, double-up, ugh, ugh
    Baby got back…”

    I wake up on the floor, in a sea of discarded clothing. My wife is in a t-shirt and jogging pants. She’s got her arms crossed tight over her chest like she does when I forget her birthday.

    “I can’t believe you,” she says.

    She’s sniffling. Her eyes are glossy and red. I blink to life. My head hurts. Let’s see, I remember gold. Big, beautiful gold. Singing. Then it went dark.

    I try to sit up. “What happened?”

    Julie shoots me a look. That look. I feel the knot on my forehead. See a broken high heel shoe beside me.

    “You know, just because we’re married doesn’t mean you can call me fat.”

    Fat? “I didn’t call you…wait, what?”

    “I’ve been working so hard, John. After work, before work. It sucks, but I do it anyway. I watch carbs and count calories. But you make it all a joke.”

    “I do not,” I say, digging the other heel out from under me.

    She sighs. “Right. I just…I wish you knew how hard it was. But you get to just come home and eat junk. How is that fair?”

    “I love the way you look.”

    I get to my feet but I’m woozy and have to plop down on the bed. I set my head back but there’s nothing but the headboard. “Ouch.”

    Julie blows a strand of hair from her face. “Your pillow is on the couch.”

    “Look, Jules, I don’t understand. I thought you wanted a big booty?”

    “No, John. I want a buttocks lift. Not a ‘bigger booty’. God. You really are dense.”

    “But I like your—”

    “Do not. Say it.”

    I’m so confused. More than that time she wanted a new clutch and I took her car into the shop. Okay, I am dense. But seeing her there, all fired up like that, well, I flop over onto my side and let my belly spill over. I give her a flutter of my lashes. “Is this where you want me?”

    She cocks her head but a hint of that gorgeous Julie smile cracks. “Shut up,” she says, taking a small step towards the bed.

    I trace the bed spread. “You know, I think I could use an abdominal lift.”

    Julie’s eyes go wide. “You want to go to the gym with me?”

    Damn. That’s the last thing I want to do. But she’s so damn cute that I shrug. “Yeah, I do.”

    “Umph.”

    She leaps on top of me. “Really? We could do mornings, say six, before work?”

    “Maybe.” Oh God. What have I done?

    She leans forward and kisses the lump on my forehead. “I’m sorry I freaked out.”

    “It’s okay. I’m sorry I tried to rap Sir Mix A lot.”

    “We could stay in? Burn calories?”

    “Yeah, and save money.”

    She lifts her head up, touches my nose. “Why don’t you just let me do the talking, okay?”

    “Got it.”

    1. Cceynowa

      Hahaha. Excellent, and so relate-able. (On a side note, I have this song marked on my Sirius radio as a “favorite” so that I can, if the Parenting Gods are with me, blare it at top volume when I drop my teenager off at school.)

    2. writer_sk

      Ah yes. Bad choice for him to sing that tune. “You look wonderful tonight” would’ve worked!

      Funny.

      Your characters are always full of personality.

    3. Reaper

      I’ve always admired your way of doing realism without having to use a hammer. That misunderstanding between what a husband wants, what a wife thinks he wants, and what she wants him to want, is so perfect. The sweetness is perfect and believable without seeming forced as well, which is so hard in something so short.

  23. Cceynowa

    “Mr. Rodriguez, what you want is some… class-i-fied, of-fi-cial, do-cu-ments… right now?” I stressed each word while holding the intercom button a little too forcefully. Mr. Rodriquez was the worst boss I had yet to work for: he had the most extreme ideas of what he was entitled to in his position as a government head.

    “Right now. Is that a problem?”

    “No sir. I’ll see what I can find.” Right now. Everything he ever wanted was right now. I gritted my teeth and started digging into the databases, accessing beyond my level and covering my tracks as I was trained. Usually my mind was totally focused on the task at hand, but not today. I knew where the files he wanted were catalogued, but accessing them was going to take time. To calm myself, I started humming under my breath the most ridiculous song I could think of: “Mr. Boombastic.”

    “…. She call me Mr. Boombastic say me fantastic, touch me in me back, she say I’m Mr. Ro, ro, ro…mantic

    “Cheryl.” My head snapped up from my computer screen. I had not heard him enter the room.

    “Yes sir.”

    “It is getting late, Cheryl,” he crossed the room to stand by my desk, “the documents can wait.”

    “Um, I should have them in another hour.” He settled his hip against my desk corner as I spoke. He had unbuttoned his coat, allowing his middle-aged paunch to test the limits of his shirt buttons, the top two of which were undone and showing thick curly black chest hair. I kept my eyes focused on the screen. “I’ll have them soon. No problem.”

    “No plans tonight?” His finger started to trace patterns along the desk’s edge, slowly working their way closer to my arm.

    “No,” his eyebrows arched, “I mean, yeah. Definitely got plans. I’ll get these and be on my way.” I was fumbling for words. Mr. Rodriguez had never been this close. I could smell his cologne and was becoming uncomfortably aware of his eyes looking everywhere but my face.

    “If you don’t feel like driving, Cheryl, hand me the keys. I want to put your mind at ease.” My eyes grew wide as I stared at him in surprise. Had he heard me singing earlier? In three months he had never shown any sense of humor or played a joke, but surely that was what he was doing now. Surely. Smiling at my attention now being on him fully, he leaned in close and said, “You know, I asked for you. You are the best at what you do… and so am I.”

    “Yes sir. Thank you. Ah, nothing else besides these papers?” His fingers made their way to my inner elbow. I slid my arms off the desk and into my lap. I wanted to push away, but, despite his annoying arrogance and disgusting appeal, Mr. Rodriguez was a powerful man in certain circles. My career depended on staying in his good graces.

    “I can take rejection, Cheryl, so you tell me go to hell,” he said a little gruffly, but he did lean away from me and I breathed an audible sigh of relief. “But,” he continued, “I always get what I want. Even if it isn’t right now.”

    ###

    1. writer_sk

      Ew yikes. Very uncomfortable situation, which came across. Good use of lyrics by having Mr R reciting them.

      I liked the part when he said “Cheryl” and she was interrupted from singing, it jumpers off the page because of your adjectives.

      Very tight writing and vivid descriptions.

  24. pven

    “Dude. Dude!” Jeff nudged his buddy to look at the stunning figure crossing the courtyard. The staccato clip of her heels became the metronome for the conversational drone around her as heads turned, voices slowed to a murmur and then picked up again.

    Jeff got to his feet.

    “Jeff, I wouldn’t…”

    “Grow some balls, Henry. If you don’t bother seizing the moments life gives you, what’s the point?” Jeff trotted up to the woman, and as they turned a corner, broke into song.

    “Hey, hey baby when you walk that way watch your honey drip, I can’t keep away.”

    He returned holding his face, blood streaming from his nose.

    “Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.”

    “Lemme see, dude.”

    “Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.”

    “Dude, I think its broken.”

    “Owwwwwwww.”

    1. ShamelessHack

      “José!”
      “Qué? What is it?”
      “José, can you see?”
      “Oh sí! It is early light now at the dawn.
      “Do we still hail?”
      “Sí, and hail proudly.”
      “Well, the twilight, she is still gleaming. José, can you see?”
      “Sí, I can. The stripes, they are broad, and the stars they are bright.”
      “But our fight, José. It is a perilous one.”
      “Todo está bien. The flag, she is still streaming over the ramparts.”
      “Ramparts? Qué significa ‘ramparts’?”
      “The wall, amigo. The flag it flies over the wall.”
      “José can you see?”
      “The glare from the rockets, it was muy rojo. And the bombs, they were bursting in the air.”
      “What does it mean, José?”
      “It is proof, amigo. Proof, durante la noche, that the flag, she is still there.”
      “José, does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave?”
      “Sí, of course, amigo. Over the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.”

      “José, can you see? Can you see that someday we will be there?”
      “Por supuesto. Of course.”

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