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My Problem

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

Finish these sentences: “I have a little bit of a problem. I like to ______. It all started when I was ______, when _______.” Use this as a jumping point into a fictional story.

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

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559 Responses to My Problem

  1. NoBlock says:

    I have a bit of a problem, I like to put things in toilets and watch them go around when I flush. It all started when I was about 8 years old and my mother took my to the circus. We got popcorn and sodas and were having such a good time watching the show. There was a man walking up and down the aisles selling an assortment of kids toys from a huge buggy he was pushing.

    I saw this flashing ball about the size of a golf ball, and its colors just hypnotized me, so I begged my mother to please buy it for me, which after relentless efforts on my part, she groaned, “Allright, pick the one you want and that’s all you get.” I picked the red and blue flashing ball and hardly saw anymore of the show after that. Before leaving the circus, mother asked that I please try and use the restroom before we left for home.

    Well, as the business was being done I of course was still playing with the ball, however as I began buttoning up the ball dropped in the toilet. I was at first devastated and cried for mother to retrieve it, she did not and told me to just flush it. It looked more amazing than I could have imagined, and ever since that day, I have held up public bathroom lines in grocery stores, gas stations, you name it.

    I have heard responses from waiting people such as,” Is there a water problem, you flushed like 18 times?”

    I lost a girlfriend over my problem, when I was caught flushing her birth control pills, I didn’t close the door because I had just went in to briefly wash my hands, but I opened the medicine cabinet to find the colorful orbs to be too great a temptation.

    Please help me!

  2. I have a little bit of a problem. I like to watch rainbows in the sky. It all started when I was 8 when one day my mother had been a little bit too stern on me and I was ready to burst in to tears. I remember how I hid myself in the balcony of my little bedroom where I refused to let the tears have the best of me. Even at eight I was tough and didn’t want to cry over silly things. My eyes were filled with tears of stubborn anger and I dutifully kept my eyes glued on the ribbon on my frock which I played with, my fingertips as pink as the ribbon itself.

    A while passed and my heart lightened up some and I raised my head. My eyes lost focus as the bright light of the sky entered them. I rubbed them with my chubby fists. As my sight cleared I noticed a wide colorful rainbow across the sky. I still remember how my eyes widened and how I felt air gather inside my chest in an awestruck gasp. I watched it in wander.

    And then I burst into tears. I still can not comprehend my reaction to such a glorious creation. I can not recall what my eight-year-old mind saw in it. But I remember how I wept, my eyes still gazing at the rainbow. I was angry at the rainbow for being so happy when I wasn’t. I resented it for being prettier than I was.

    It was not the first time I had seen a rainbow but it certainly was the first time I noticed one so completely and I could not imagine why it would bring me down to look at something so innocently beautiful. I cried like the stubborn, angry child I was. Not realizing that all I had to do was to simply leave the balcony if I wished to be away from the rainbow, I glared at it like it was especially put there to torment me.

    As a child, I had always been a stubborn, difficult one. I demanded things from my parents and at occasions when they failed to give me what I wanted, I would suffer in silent rage. I wanted to be deemed as the “prettiest one” and I always wanted to get my way in everything. So that might have explained my reaction to the rainbow. I still don’t know why I turned out that way, given that I now, in my late 20’s am a very sensitive, compassionate lady who would do almost anything to make my parents -and anyone else- happy.

    So that is the thing with rainbows. From that day on, whenever I noticed a rainbow in the sky, a dull sense of frustration mixed with several shades of sadness would engulf me. I still overlook the beauty of the creation, enjoyed and loved by everyone in the world.

    Now, as I sit here and ponder the incident, I imagine that the rainbow really meant to cheer me up. It was smiling at me to make me smile too. After all, I was just a child. Children are always loved. And the rainbow knew what it was like to be loved. That rainbow must have wanted to give me a smile even as I stubbornly refused to accept it. The nature has a pure heart that fails to see darkness even in the heart of a child. As an adult, I silently thank that rainbow for keeping me company, not minding my dark thoughts and emotions.

    The rainbow and me, we stayed without merging. Her light and my darkness did not hinder each other. Though it would have if only I had opened up my heart.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      This is a very beautiful, self examining story you’ve written. Kind of a theropy session of the mind. I had similiar experiences as a child about the same age. I was always the younger brother, never getting to the things he did. He was four years older than I and the torment of not being able to keep up with him, caused me to imagine castles in the sky.

      Far off lands, knights in shiny armor and maidens to rescue from evil doings and bad people, did I find in my imagination of clouds. After many years, I still look on them as friends. Thank you for the memories. Kerry

  3. derrdevil says:

    Starting off a little unconventional, but it is along the same lines . . . I hope. Enjoy :)

    It was nearing evening after a warm spring day, twilight turning the sky into a brilliant orange haze across the horizon. The great thunder clouds sprawled out over the hills ushering in the threat of a cold and wet night in the valley. Under my patio’s awning, contrasted in shadow by the beauty of the setting sun behind her, Nadia’s hair had caught the fleeting light’s glare as if she had adorned an angel’s halo.

    Halo or not, she certainly had the look of a divine descendant. Soft, earthly features, yet with an alluringly stern mien, this tight lipped exemplar of beauty intimidated nearly every man that dared to approach her.

    On this day, however, her bold brown eyes, which would normally pierce through the toughest of mortals, now wore a sort of wounded puppy dog expression. The strong and proud single mother, now showing her youthful age, was reduced to no more than a lost girl way in over her head, and learning just how difficult a simple life can be.

    “What’s wrong?” I asked, intrigued by her presence.

    “I can’t make the rent.” My tenant nervously admitted, her voice almost a quiver.

    “What happened now?” I sighed, as I leaned over the side door admiring her full frame, the sun giving off a heavenly glow around her, accentuating her deep curves. Folding her arms, she strolled up to my kitchen door. Her worry lines raced above her brow in an exaggerated frown before she answered as my eyes drew into hers.

    “Things are tight, Ed. I just can’t make it any more.”

    “This is the third month in a row, Nadz. I can’t make the bills without your rent. You know that.”

    “I know,” she admitted, pulling her eyes away from mine before locking them back. “But there’s got to be something you can do.”

    “I’m already giving you the place for half the price. There’s no way I can cut it any finer without any expense to me.”

    “Please, Ed! I need this.” Nadia begged. This time with angst in her voice.

    “I’m sorry, Nadia. I can’t.”

    Sensing a losing battle, she reached out for my hands, her fingers wrapping around my thumbs. Her hands were warm and clammy, but her touch was enough to flood my senses. “I’ll do anything, Ed. I can’t go back there. I just can’t.” She was on the edge of frantic. Her lower lip pulling into her mouth. She looked dishevelled. It was a good look for her.

    She can’t go back. Not to the past. Not to the way she lived before. Her ex is there. Her son’s dead beat father. A man who would abuse a lady over an overcooked chicken and unsalted eggs. A man who would raise his hand to his two year old son for leaving his toys out of it’s box. A man not fit enough for a title such as ‘man’.

    “What do you suppose I do? Shack you up here? In my place?” I offered as a joke. It was not really an offering, but rather more a ridiculous proposition for a landlord to his tenant.

    She didn’t find the humour. In fact, she flirted with the idea. “Why not?” She asked harmlessly.

    “Why not?!” I was bemused. “You my tenant! I can’t let you live with me.”

    “Why not, Ed?” She asked again. This time, more a plea. Her eyes locked deep into mine, sensing hope, her hands still clinging onto my thumbs.

    I pulled away, trying to think of all the negatives. “It’s ridiculous, Nadz!”

    “Really? Why is that? You have a spare room. I’ll pay the same levy – when I can . . . You could rent the guest house to someone else. That’s a double score, Ed.”

    “I don’t know. It just breaks all the rules.”

    “Who’s rules? She challenged. “Come on, Ed. You know it’s perfect. After work, I’ll cook for you. Clean up. Do your washing –”

    “Your kid . . . I need my space –”

    “You love having me around.” She opened the side door to my house and stepped in. “I see you watching me, fixing stuff up around house, playing with my kid.” She slowly closed the door, arms behind her, showing off her ample form.

    “I always watch the two of you.” I defended, rather hopelessly.

    “Not us. Me.” She corrected. “I see the way you look at me.” There was a long pause. I couldn’t look at her. I held my breath and looked out the window. I could feel her eyes on me. She knew I wanted her. “When’s the last time you had a woman in this place, Ed?” She bit her lip again, only this time it wasn’t out of uncertainty. Her eyes locked onto mine. She had my attention like a siren had it’s sailor. And in the recesses of my sub-conscience, I wondered if she really was a damsel in distress.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      I like your writer’s voice,it’s honest, compelling and realistic. You handle dialogue easily and the story is a heart warming read about two souls who need each other’s help.

      • derrdevil says:

        Thank you. I didn’t say much of Ed. I wish I did. His story would put the two souls into perspective. It’s a big leap, but I guess you could tell that he’s lonely.

        I hardly write. I draw (a lot). And write poems (not very well). But hardly ever write. I thought prompts would be a good way to spur this writing bug in the right direction. And I’m glad because your comment made me smile.

        Thank you!

  4. Smileyface256 says:

    This is purely fiction. It just popped into my head so I wrote it down. Enjoy! :)

    I have a little bit of a problem: I like to play with poisonous reptiles. It all started when I was eight, the year I went to Scout Camp with my big brother. Usually girls aren’t allowed in such places, but after begging, pleading and doing extra chores, I was allowed to go.

    The camp was in the middle of the woods somewhere in Texas; I didn’t pay much attention to directions in those days. My big brother passed his reptile merit badge that year and got to handle some rattlesnakes. I was fascinated. The light playing off the sand-colored scales, the cold, calculating yet intelligent eyes. I wanted to hold one so bad, but I could only watch.

    That night, I took the keys and sneaked out to the reptile pavilion. I got a mouse in case I needed a distraction for my reptile of choice: the diamondback rattlesnake. I slid the bolt on the cage, lifted the trap door and dangled the mouse in front of him. He lifted his head and licked the air, searching for the heat source. Then he struck. As soon as his fangs sunk into the mouse I had him by the head. He flailed around and wrapped himself around my wrist. I stroked his scales, entranced by their smoothness and pattern and the way the light from my flashlight made them glitter..

    Then I heard footsteps. I crouched under the table with the snake and the lights came on.

    “Sophie?” It was my older brother.

    I held my breath, hoping he would think I was somewhere else, but then I remembered the open cage.

    “Sophie, can you hear me?” His tone was panicked.

    I sheepishly stood up from under the table and held up the snake. “I just wanted to hold him.”

    My brother was relieved, then angry. “You could have been bitten.”

    “That’s why I—”

    “I told you not to touch the snakes! Now I’ll get into trouble because I brought you along.”

    “But I held it just like I was supposed to!” I stamped my foot.

    “Put up the snake and go to bed.”

    “Fine.” I gently put the rattlesnake back in his cage and shut and bolted it.

    I did get into big trouble, but to me it was worth it. After that I saved up my money and bought myself a pet snake. I managed to keep it a secret from my mom for awhile, but she found out eventually and made me get rid of him. That didn’t stop me, though. I found snakes in the wild to tame. I learned how to charm them with a recorder. My mom thought it was great that I wanted to play an instrument. Little did she know…

    I never got over my obsession with snakes. Now I have my own cobra, all the way from India. I also have a python, and, of course, a rattlesnake. With the fangs. I still wonder why I’m single.

  5. mommasase says:

    I have a little bit of a problem. I like to sleep. It all started when I was 98, when I was put on morphine to dull my pain.” Everyone crowded around me as if they thought I was dying. I felt I was just beginning to live again. I couldn’t lift my head or speak because I was too weak to care. The dreams were beautiful. It had been a long time since I’d had restful sleep. I finally wasn’t hurting. I could actually see the blue sky, unhindered by haziness, and feel the peace of just being. I could hear children laughing. When I saw mouths move I could hear words instead of silence. I felt young again. I didn’t want to leave.

    I was beautiful in my younger years. I was the girl every boy in school swooned over. I had the strength of a man built from living on a farm. Back when a farm was a farm. I lived through the flu epidemic of 1918, though I can’t say the same for my siblings. I was tough. I had to sit by and watch my mother die while my father had to run ten miles to fetch the doctor. We were poor, but we survived. We didn’t have any of the nonsensical things that many of our neighbors had. We had what we needed to get by. Our farm supplied everything we needed to sustain life.

    As I aged I moved away, the farm was sold and turned into a strip mall. Somehow along with the farm went my strength. I would never be the same. Time couldn’t stand still even if I wished it. I never married, perhaps in fear of losing anyone else I loved. I had lost my father at age 16 and I was on my own to survive.

    I was still beautiful. When I looked in the mirror my eyes were still as blue as the sky, though had somehow lost it’s sparkle. My hair was still long and soft, but now grey and brittle. My face was still cream colored but had lines full of hard memories. I lost a couple inches in height. I could no longer stand straight and tall. My skin was so fragile it would tear at the slightest touch. My hands could no longer grip a utensil so I had to be fed. I could no longer help myself with the littlest of tasks. So I liked to sleep. When I slept, I could be young again. I was back in my farm with my mother, father and siblings. Back when things were hard but good.

    So here I sleep with everyone crowding around me as I take my last breath into life. Back to a more peaceful time, a never ending peaceful, wonderful sleep.

  6. mrchuckles@sbcglobal.net says:

    I have a little bit of a problem. I like to look up women’s dresses. It all started when I was seven, in Miss Hass’s class, when I dropped my pencil (by accident, I swear) in front of Becky Pender’s desk. The sight of Becky’s white cotton panties with those little blue flowers changed me forever. I dropped a lot of pencils that week, earning myself two trips to the principal’s office and an ear twisting by Miss Hass. I guess she recognized a budding perv-boy when she saw one, and was determined to head me off at the pass.

    It didn’t work. In those early days it was as if panty spotting was a sport, much like hunting, and I was determined to become the master hunter. At first, I dropped everything… marbles, pencils, and just about anything else that would put me at eye level with a girl’s panties. I quickly learned that the stakes were high, requiring a great deal of stealth. Getting caught meant trouble. But being stealthy? That was rewarded with a glimpse of the prey. Victory to the hunter.

    I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point that year the hunter became the hunted. In our small town, word traveled fast. I noticed that increasingly girls would cross their legs and tug at their skirts when I came around. I assumed this was due to the natural skittishness of the hunted at even the slightest scent of the hunter. That was fine by me. I was up to the challenge.

    A few weeks passed and the quarry was becoming increasingly difficult to find. Discouragement was setting in when out of the blue Becky Pender (the girl who started it all) hollered at me. “Come here you. I’ve got something to show you. It’s something I know you want to see,” she said and took off running around the corner of the building.

    There was nothing I could do but follow. In my mind’s eye I could envision Becky raising her skirt to show me her panties, not a fleeting glimpse in the shadows, but out in the open, with full sunlight, for a leisurely gaze that I could take in with all its glory. That would be heaven.

    Heaven was not to be. When I rounded the corner of the building, I was met not just by Becky, but also by about a dozen other girls from my class. I froze, unsure where this was going.

    “You want to see my panties again don’t you,” Becky said. “You’re always trying to look. You think you’re all sneaky, but you’re not. We all see you stupid boy,” she said. “Well maybe now we want to see yours!”

    I turned to run, but that fat girl Melissa was on me quick. (I had no idea a girl that big could move that fast.) She wrapped her arms around my legs and brought me down with a tackle that would have made Mean Joe Green proud. I was trying to get away from fat Melissa’s death grip, when I felt my shoes being taken off and someone pulling off my pants.

    To the teachers on the playground that day I was the invisible man. They didn’t seem to notice when the girl-mob dragged me to the basketball goal about fifteen feet from where they de-pants me, and duct taped me to goal post. They didn’t seem to notice that I was still standing there in my underwear, taped to the goal post when everyone else went in from recess. Two hours past and I was still standing there when the next bell rang for recess. Finally, Mr. Albright came over and set me free. He took me to the principal’s office after that, not knowing what else to do I guess, but it was worth it to be free.

    I learned a very valuable lesson that day – never underestimate your prey, and always wear clean underwear. Your mom was right; you never know what might happen. That’s also the day I started saving for a telephoto. With a worthy adversary, you have to up your game.

  7. I have a little bit of a problem. I like to people watch, with hopes of seeing how we are all alike. How we really connect. I really mean to say, I just need reassurance that I’m normal. It all started so long ago, when I first became subconscious or self aware so to speak, but that’s a different story.
    Now I’m not a certified weirdo or anything. You can categorize my behavior as an observation of the human condition. So to speak.
    I watch all kinds of people: athletes, cheerleaders, brainiacs, models, actresses, passer-byes and even policewomen. Anytime I see someone who’s totally different, or so ahead of the curve as to probably have nothing in common with a guy like me, I watch them.
    Not that sit-on-a-park-bench-and-stare type of watching, because that would just be plain creepy. I follow them for a very short time. Long enough to see how they think, what they do, how they live, where they live, who they love- I mean what they love. I give them plenty of space and they are never to know I’m there.
    See, this isn’t about me. It’s about them, in relation to me. Once, a girl spotted me, I think. She never reacted or anything. She just went into a store, and never came out. I should know. I waited for almost two days. Luckily it was just a little snow outside and not a full-blown blizzard. It was actually pretty good that it was snowing because it probably helped me to blend in with my surroundings. There was also a park across the street from the store, so I could look occupied, while I was occupying. Maybe she worked there.
    Eventually, I saw someone else who looked almost as interesting as the one that got away. That one that got away, really reminded me of me in a way. I just didn’t get to watch her long enough to put my finger on it.
    My new subject was indeed a breath of fresh air, even if I was already in a snow-covered park. I saw her taking pictures, and I let her get far enough away, so that when I left the bench she wouldn’t notice. She wore a ski mask as to keep the cold away, I presume. She looked right at me when she walked by, and snapped a picture of something behind me. Nobody ever really notices me though. Wish she would’ve taken my picture.
    She must’ve been some sort of sport photographer, because when she got a little distance from the bench where I was, she kind of ran. Not a full out sprint, but she certainly picked up her pace. Yeah, she must’ve been a lot like me after all. Because I always like to run, sometimes after I’m taking pictures too. I start jogging a little bit myself, with my camera. Hope I see her. Or somebody else worth watching.

  8. Zighana says:

    “I have a little bit of a problem. I like to cook. It all started when I was seven, when my mother forced me to bring my lazy self to the kitchen.” I began, sweat pouring down my temple. My therapist was nodding, jotting down notes in his legal pad while nodding his head. I can honestly say I don’t think he’s listening. But I continued.

    “Mom had gotten tired of me eating all of the food she cooked, so she grabbed my pudgy little arm and hissed, ‘if your fat-ass can eat, your fat-ass can cook!’ She had a cruel look in her eye, as she put the knife in my hand. ‘you’re gonna chop some onions for me. Get blood on the food and you’ll get no supper’–”

    “Stop right there. Who says ‘supper’ anymore?” My therapist interjected, his glasses glimmering from the sunshine peeking through his drapes. He seems playful.

    “Well I do, and what therapist interrupts a patient while they’re talking?”

    “When they know their patient is bullshitting them.”

    “Well played,” So I lied back in my chair, staring at him.

    “What is your actual problem?”

    “Self-mutilation, alcoholism–”

    “Actual, Mrs. Jones.”

    “I want to cheat on my husband.”

    “Tell me why.”

    “He’s boring! He never pays attention to me, we hardly ever make love, and when he does he bores me to sleep! I need action, danger, suspense!”

    “Mmm-hmm.” He stroked his beard and continued writing.

    “What should I do? I love my husband, but I fear our relationship will end unless…”

    “Have you tried role-playing?” His brown eyes flickered up to me on the chair, a smile tugging at his lips. The name tag on his desk says, ‘Hartwell Jones, PhD., therapist.’

    “Why, yes, Mr. Jones. And I think I enjoy it well.”

    “Good, now get back to your husband.” He winked at me, and pulled me in for a kiss.

    “I’m a lucky woman, Mr. Jones.”

    “You sure are, Mrs. Jones.”

  9. kimcoleman says:

    I have a little bit of a problem. I like to kill. It all started when I was twelve. When I accidentally killed my best friend Susan. I’d found out that she had been sneaking around with my boyfriend Danny.
    “How could you?” I yelled.
    “Why not Linda,” she tossed her long blonde hair in the sexy way that drove all the boys wild. “Every guy in 7th grade wants me.”
    “Cause you’re a slut,” I countered.
    It was true. Everyone said Susan did everything except vaginal. Even the upstairs and backdoor were open for business!
    “Well, Danny wasn’t complaining,” she said coolly.
    At that moment I could see myself scalping her. She would have a bloody skull where the long golden strands had once been.
    “As a matter of fact he dumped you for me,” she spat out.
    Then she started to laugh and something in me snapped. I grabbed her by the long blonde hair she tossed constantly. I started to bang her head against the concrete. Each time I banged her head I felt ecstatic. It was as close to an orgasm as I had felt in my 12 year old life.
    I don’t know how long I’d banged her head against the concrete, but she was dead and I was euphoric. I hid her in the abandoned warehouse where we use to go to smoke. I cleaned myself up and went home in time for dinner. I was in such a good mood for the rest of the night that I helped my mom with the dishes. Of course, I knew what I had done was wrong and that I should have been appalled, but I couldn’t have felt better. I slept like a baby that night. A serial killer had been born.
    Of course Susan’s disappearance made me somewhat of a celebrity. The best part was that no one knew the killer was a 12 year old girl. The police eventually found the body and charged her stepfather. Turns out he was molesting poor Susan. In the end, he hung himself in jail awaiting trial.
    As with all things, the media circus died down and life returned to normal. Danny and I got back together. I killed him our senior year right before graduation. Seems he couldn’t keep his genitals to himself. I decided to relieve him of them. This time, I made sure that they would never find the body. I played the grief-stricken girlfriend. I got out of town as quickly as possible. Of course everyone understood that I wouldn’t want to stay in a town where my best friend was murdered and my boyfriend had disappeared.
    I have since gone on to bigger and better things. I killed my college roommate. I even had the police looking for a Jack the Ripper copycat. Although I’ve gotten better at killing and racked up bodies across the globe, it really is true what they say. It’s never as good as the first time.

  10. WriterMorgan says:

    My Problem

    “I have a little bit of a problem. You see I kind of like to run towards trouble. It all started when I was a teenager, when my mom was dating this dirt bag that liked to knock her about. I was barely at home, so I didn’t even realise it was going on, but one time I was listening to music in bed when I heard her scream and him yelling at her. It was quite the festivity as you can imagine. Anyway, without even thinking about it I stormed out of my room and just jumped him, scratching, kicking and even biting him until he bled. So what do you think happened?”
    The man shrugs.
    “He starts beating the crap out of me after he bashes my head against the fridge. And what do you think my mom does?”
    The man just looks at me.
    “She starts crying. Crying!” I hold out my hands for emphasis. “Like that is going to do anything. Did you see me cry? No, I acted, because that’s what you do when you feel very strongly about something…like wanting to protect someone you love. But no, not her. I was in a coma for three months before I woke up. Know what I did when I got back on my feet?” I slurped on my lemonade. “I set their house on fire.” I slurped again. “They survived and had some scars and absolutely no possessions or a home. Serves them right, no?”
    The man blinks.
    “Here’s the thing, though. I got away with it, so I guess the moral of the story is, when you run towards trouble, at least make sure you can punch it before it starts running after you.” I wink.
    “Why are you telling me this?” the man asks in a gruff voice.
    I place the gun on the table. “Just to explain how I became a bounty hunter and that you’re totally under citizen’s arrest right now.” I flash him a smile. “Thanks for the lemonade, though.”

  11. wohisme says:

    “I have a little bit of a problem. I fake it, that is to say, I fake cell phone conversations to avoid people. It all started innocently enough while leaving my apartment, I ran smack into my neighbor, what’s-his-name, from across the hall.” I’ve endeavored as best I could, based on studious observations, to avoid him. Sad to say, in spite of my best efforts, there we were nose to nose; my survival instincts kicked in.

    “Sorry, I have to take this” I said as I looked intently at my phone that appeared, with gunslinger-like speed. I pressed the phone to my ear and headed off. Who knew, six simple words, pseudo disappointment and a little white lie would be my pathway to freedom.

    From that time on, when I saw someone coming that I didn’t care to speak with, I’d simply take out my cell and start talking.

    It was, early on anyway, great. I was less stressed; felt relaxed, balanced and empowered. What could go wrong?

    I soon found out, when I began noticing people, seeing me coming, would take out their cell phones and begin talking or worse still texting.

    “Don’t play that game with me”, I said to myself. Turns out, I was the only person who had any interest in what I had to say, go figure. Not wanting to be ignored, I’d take out my phone and I’d start talking too.

    With the glaring exception of the Washington DC, I’d never heard of so much talking and so little communicating.

    Being ignored set me off, so much so, that I would have feigned conversations at inappropriate times. It came to a head when I did it to Beth, my former (emphasis) girlfriend. It led to other problems; you know, in-the-bedroom-problems.

    I was just a little distracted while making love one night…, oh…, who am I kidding, at best, we were making like, anyway, anxiety got the best of me and everything went, you know…, south.

    Being literally and figuratively (sans phone) naked, I reached into Beth’s nightstand groping for any electronic device I could grab. I wrapped my fingers around something nice only to find, to my dismay, I had a sex toy pressed to my ear, looking up at Beth I reflexively said, “Sorry, I have to take this.”

    Beth told me where, as far as she was concerned, I could “take it.” Then she ushered me naked into the hallway outside her apartment. I stood slack jawed and flaccid; hiding myself with one hand, while in other I continued to hold a disturbingly large rubber penis to my ear.

    I was relieved, albeit briefly, when again her door opened, she, still naked, threw my clothes in my face and smashed my phone, slamming the door behind her.

    I was in the same spot when the door opened a final time. Beth glaring at me walked over and grabbed the rubber penis from my hand and said, “Sorry, I have to take this.”

  12. snuzcook says:

    HOME FOR THE HOLIDAY

    I hang up the phone and crawl back under the covers. He looks up from his book with a look of concern.

    “Your cousin?”

    “Uh huh. She’s disappointed that I won’t be there for Christmas breakfast again.”

    “You could go, you know, if you want to.”

    “Are you kidding?” I snuggle against him, my red flannel and his cozy and warm together. “And miss Christmas morning with you?” He smells of cinnamon and pipe tobacco, an intoxicating mixture.
    “I told her that the neighborhood ‘girls’ are having a potluck again this year and I’m cooking the ham.”

    He chuckles. “One of these days you’re going to slip up and they’ll figure out there are no ‘girls’ and no potluck.”

    “Maybe.” I get up to fetch our cups of cocoa from the counter where I had left them when the phone rang. I glance through the window to the private garden just starting to brighten with a wintry sunrise. Eight brown shapes are browsing their feed, shaking their antlers occasionally to clear bits of snow and ice still clinging to them from the night before. “Maybe one year your wife will start to wonder about Prancer coming down with tendonitis every year just as you finish your route.”

    As we cuddle again under the comforter, I smile. I decide not to think about my problem again until next year.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      That was warm, cozy and cheerful. I very cute, fezzy story.The first part of your story is patrticulary good. The reades know there is romance in the air and settles for a delightful read.

    • don potter says:

      The first Christmas story of the year. Loved it. And, Merry Christmas to all.

    • Susan says:

      Nice one, Snuzcook – a lovely naughty Christmas tale. I wonder how many more unofficial pit-stops Santa has on his rounds :)

    • snuzcook says:

      Author’s note: do you have any idea how hard it was to avoid a double entendre for a final line? I may never be able to write again with a straight face since Toni S’s story.

    • BezBawni says:

      This one brought smile to my face. Cheating Santa is very original! Snuzcook, I can still smell cinnamon and tobacco.

    • jhowe says:

      Good writing snuzcook.

    • wohisme says:

      Dear Naughty Girl,

      I see a clear conflict of interest here. Clearly you are a naughty, naughty girl. You should be at the top naughty list. I shouldn’t tell you this and don’t let it go to your head but Santa talks about you wherever he goes, Ho! Ho! Ho!

      Now I am seeing Mrs. Claus, the aggrieved spouse, in a whole new light; I always assumed she was a tiger between the sheets – thus a jolly Santa.

      Okay, truthfully, I am a little jealous he must be quite something if you are willing to wait all year for him to… um… come.

      Now I can’t get that holiday favorite out of me head, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I don’t suppose you are Miss Town?

      I suppose, given all he gives, he deserves a special gift too. Okay I have to ask do you do it under the tree?

      I hope you can count of the discretion of the reindeer. You know Rudolf, with that nose so bright, can be quite the blabber when he’s had a few.

      Speaking of discretion, I have along list of gifts I’ll be expecting under my tree, and if fatso has an issue with that, Rudolf’s drinking problem will be the least of his worries. A Mercedes E350 for weekdays would be grand in the garage of my Upper Westside Manhattan brownstone and a nice red (The red by the way is to match Santa’s sweet ride. It has nothing to do with a mid-life crisis.) Porsche 911 would be jolly for weekend rides to my new East Hampton beach house. The beach house should not be red, too gaudy.

      This whole sorted thing’s appalling! Still, I have to admit, I like your style. So, what are you doing New Year’s Eve?

      Cheers!

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Dear Mrs. Claus:

      Honey, your husband is cheating on us. If want to get together and work out a plan to get rid of that no good man stealing backstabbing tramp I’m in.

      The Other Other woman

      Good job snuzcook. I enjoyed your post very much.

      • snuzcook says:

        Dear Other Other Woman,
        Yes, dear, I know. Nicky has been Ho-Ho-Ho-ing with a lot of different women over the years. I understand your distress. And I sympathize. What can I say? He has never been able to pass up a Christmas cookie, either.

        But you must understand, it is all just a part of the “magic,” if you will, of the holidays. There is an irresistable compulsion to be near to others, to share at some level or other. He is perhaps more susceptible than any other man due to his position at the very vortex of the phenomenon.

        Just keep hanging up your stocking and wishing for the right gift under the tree, and someday your perfect partner will come along.

        For me, it’s enough to know he always makes it home for the other 364 days out of the year.
        Sincerely,
        Mrs. Claus

    • Toni Smalley says:

      Christmas! Already!…lol j/k ;) It’s never too early for Christmas spirit :)

  13. op2myst says:

    I have a little bit of a problem. I like to gamble. It all started when I was seven years old when we moved to Las Vegas. You might think a seven year old can’t gamble, but you would be wrong.
    It began the day I said to my mom,”I bet you can’t guess what I have in my pocket.”
    “Sure I can”, she replied looking over her shoulder and giving me “the look”.
    Now, I’m sure she can’t guess and so I say, “Go ahead, guess and if you’re wrong I get to stay home from school.
    I have in my pocket a dead, a two week old dead, cockroach. She guesses I have a rock in my pocket and I am ecstatic I won the bet. It was downhill from there.
    Then it was family card games, which I did not always win, but when I did…oh the feeling. After that came bets at school. “I’ll bet you a dollar I can jump over that chair without touching.” All silly stuff, but it fueled my desire to make more bets and risk more. By the time I was eighteen I was sneaking into casinos and playing video poker games…. until I got caught and sent to a juvenile detention center.
    You think that stopped me? No. As soon as I got there I bet my roommate I would be out in 24 hours. The thing is, I couldn’t stop. I was hooked. I failed in every way as an adult. I couldn’t keep a house or car. I lost my wife and I lost my job. Finally, I decided to go to gamblers anonymous.
    As I got up, trembling, I did not know where to start. Then it came to me…”I bet you don’t know how I came to be in this place.”

  14. snuzcook says:

    “Mr. Brenner, I feel I need to tell you: I have a little bit of a problem. I like to talk in funny voices. I can’t seem to help myself.

    “It all started in grade school. I was painfully shy, but I discovered that if I talked in a funny voice, then it was not really me talking but this alter ego. You might say I became my own ventriloquist dummy.

    “All through college I was something like a female Jim Carrey or Robin Williams. I was okay during lectures when everyone was focused on the instructor. But in social settings I couldn’t control myself. I would sit alone in a corner table in the quad, but to anyone nearby it sounded like I had a crowd of people at my table.

    “I realize that this ‘talent’ doesn’t really help me get over my shyness. It’s actually a very effective way of keeping other people from approaching me. It tends to get me a lot of attention that is fleeting in nature, and people ultimately leave me quite alone. I amuse them momentarily, then make people uncomfortable because they feel they can’t have a serious conversation with me.

    “I think the worst incident was last spring. I applied for a job downtown when I got out of school. I don’t drive, so I took a bus to the interview. The bus was crowded, and I sat near the back. I was anxious, so occupied myself by reading a magazine aloud. I was suddenly self-conscious when I realized that everyone else on the bus was either standing or sitting in the front 2/3 of the bus, while the seats around me were miraculously empty. That’s maybe the first time it registered that this was going to be a major problem in the real world.

    “I have been seeing a counselor, and he’s helping me practice other ways to deal with anxiety. And it really is getting better. “

    “I appreciate you sharing this with me.”

    “When I saw your ad, I really thought this job might be a good match for me. And I desperately need a job. I hope you will consider my application, in spite of everything.”

    “Consider it? I think you’re perfect.”

    “Really?”

    “Absolutely. You see, we’re a small company, and we can’t afford a large call-in center. Our last customer complaints specialist quit because people would repeatedly call back knowing they would get the same person; they wore her down. In you, I see an entirely different approach. Potentially, no one will ever think they are talking to the same person more than once. It’s brilliant! When can you start?”

    • Susan says:

      Nice one, Snuzcook – a problem turned into a solution – this is a very original idea and has a great ending. Loved it :)

    • jhowe says:

      I liked this Snuzcook. I would have liked a tag line for Mr. Brenner’s first comment, but I think you were going for the conversational approach with no tag lines. . Good story.

    • snuzcook says:

      Question from the author — does it seem a little adverb-heavy to you as you read it?
      Even tho short of the 500, it reads wordy to me.

    • don potter says:

      The best way to deal with our defects is recognize them. By doing this, the defects can be turned into assets. I presume this is what happened to your MC.

      • snuzcook says:

        She is continuing counseling, but is thriving in her new job. It turns out that the anonymity of working over the phone and web chats to respond to customer complaints has been therapeutic. She has even started a shyness-support group that encourages people to create verbal “masks” to deal with uncomfortable situations. One of her support group alumni has begun a new career as a stand up comic with a dissociative-disorder schtick that is tasteful and really hilarious.

    • Interesting twist. I had no idea where you were gong with this. Perfect job for the narrator!

  15. Susan says:

    I have a little bit of a problem, so I’m told. To be honest, I don’t really see it as a problem myself. It seems perfectly natural to me. But the folks go on and on about it, saying it’s my one fatal flaw – otherwise I’m a popular guy – handsome, much loved, greatly admired for my friendly ways and wonderful laid-back temperament. Unlike my big sister, who’s a tight-arsed bossy-boots – but VERY well behaved.

    Me – I like to make people smile. And I’m good at that. My problem? I just like to eat – a lot – all the time – whenever the chance arises. Don’t ask me when it started – how the heck should I know? Twas ever thus, as far as I recall. Doesn’t everyone feel this way? I mean to say, FOOD – that’s what it’s there for, isn’t it? To be eaten, man! Like, NOW! You have to eat it NOW, I’ve found, before it disappears – no point hanging around. Gotta get it before someone else nabs it – or puts it away some place I can’t find it. I never can see the point of that – putting food “away” – very strange.

    You’ll be wondering how fat I am, eh? Not as fat as I’d like, I can tell you, thanks to a draconian regime here – would you believe it, I’ve been banned from the kitchen since the incident with the butter, but it was worth it. Mmm, my word, did that taste sweet – the whole packet, down in one fell swoop. Delicious. Anyway, that new house rule’s somewhat cramped my style, but I’m working on it – they’ll weaken in time. Just you wait and see.

    My best chance, these days, is when we have visitors for dinner – after a few glasses of wine, the powers that be often take their eye off the ball, and the plates of nibbles on the coffee table are at just the right level. I lie there being ever so good – but I’m just biding my time, watching their every move, waiting, and the moment they’re distracted, I’m in there, like a heat-seeking missile. I usually manage to grab a couple of mouthfuls of crisps and nuts before the drunken idiots get their act together. You should hear them scream!

    What gets me is this – I get two little bowlfuls of food a day, but the bosses – they’re eating all the time. And they tell me I’VE got a problem!

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

    This was dictated by my best friend, Toby – who does still occasionally wheedle his way into the kitchen.

    • snuzcook says:

      That was delightful. I started wondering about you MC’s identity with the butter incident, and it concluded in a predictable but satisfying way. Up to then, I was afraid you were talking about me!

      • Pattypans says:

        Very original, Susan. I didn’t get it until the line “I lie there…” Though I admit I couldn’t quite figure out what the situation was with ‘the powers that be’ in the house, ha.

        Even the line about the butter incident didn’t give it away, but maybe that’s because when I was little, and the table didn’t get cleared right away after a dinner that included butter, I used to go under the table with the butter dish and eat it by the spoonful! Can you imagine! I was chubby (no surprise there), and my nickname was “Butterball,” as in the little round butterscotch candy.

    • agnesjack says:

      Wonderful, Susan. I actually didn’t get it until the “I get two little bowlfuls of food a day,” line.

      You’re right — he made me smile!

    • jhowe says:

      Loved the POV of the dog. You gave us a lot of hints before the end that were quite clever. Thanks for the story.

    • don potter says:

      Oh the life of a pampered pouch. I was thinking this person you described was a people-pleasing glutton until I got to the “two little bowlfuls” phrase. A fun read. Nicely done.

    • Amy says:

      Charming, Susan. Exactly what I imagine our lab is thinking all the time.

    • BezBawni says:

      It’s good I’d eaten before I read this))

    • frankd1100 says:

      Nice job of misdirection. I first thought well done, taking a guy’s perspective. Right up to and including swallowing the butter…

      My dog, (110 pound Bouvier), looks at me like, “how can you be such a hypocrite?” as I work on a second helping of meat and potatoes while keeping her on a strict, dietary regimen.

      Well done, Susan.

    • Great job! I got it once the mc said “eye level”. Though the first part about not telling a lie, did confuse me. I loved the premise, and wondered who would eat butter.

      Lol

    • Toni Smalley says:

      Haha, sounds like my boyfriend…you’re talking about a puppy dog, right?…Lol, this was cute. I’m so slow, I didn’t get it until the sneaking in for nibbles part, so the whole butter thing made me wonder if this person was away in the head. Cute :)

  16. Susan says:

    Dearest Charles,

    I hate writing to you like this – I realise it’s the coward’s way out, but I have a terrible confession to make, and I can’t bear to say the words out loud. I don’t think I could cope with the look of disappointment or disgust – or, worse still, pity – on your face, when you discover the awful truth about the woman you were planning to marry. I realise this will mean the end of our engagement, the end of all my hopes and dreams of our future together – and I also know you may feel unable to keep my secret to yourself, in which case the consequences for me will be even more serious.

    I’m putting myself at your mercy, and beg you not to judge me too harshly. But I can’t go on deceiving you.
    I’ll be honest, in my weaker moments I’ve thought about waiting until after we were married – but that would have been to put you in an intolerable position, considering your career. Isn’t there something about husbands and wives not having to testify against each other? I love and respect you far too much to do that to you. Like Hardy’s Tess, I want to come clean before we tie the knot, whatever the outcome – but unlike Tess, I’ll make damned sure you get this letter!

    Here’s the thing, Charles. I have a little bit of a problem. I like stealing things from shops. There, I’ve said it. It started when I was 12, on a school trip to Blackpool. I did it for a dare, first time around, to get a bit of respect from the other kids. They all thought I was a boring Miss Goody-Two-Shoes teacher’s pet. Well, I showed them – you should have seen the looks on their faces when I emerged with a box of Terry’s All Gold – it made their measly Mars bars and packets of crisps look a bit pathetic, I can tell you. The trouble is, I got such a buzz, I couldn’t resist doing it again – and again. It’s become a compulsion – an addiction. I simply can’t stop. I don’t like to boast, but I’m frightfully good at it, and all the new technology – CCTV, security tags etc. – just adds to the thrill of the game. I love a bit of a challenge.

    In my defence – if you’re still reading and haven’t torn this up and thrown it in the bin, along with my wedding ring – I don’t do it out of greed. I give most of the stuff to charity shops – and, like Robin Hood, I only steal from the rich. I’m sure those big stores can afford it.

    Please don’t hate me, Charles – whatever happens, I’ll always be your ever-loving bunny,

    Christina xxx

    Dear Christina,

    Or should I say, Ms Hood? I’m afraid you’re not quite as good as you think. We’ve been onto you for months, just biding our time and waiting for some hard evidence – so thanks for your letter…..

    • don potter says:

      So Charles is an undercover cop, and she’s busted. Guess the wedding will be delayed 3 to 5 years, not counting time off for good behavior. That is unless Christina gets caught stealing cookies in prison as OJ did. I enjoyed the twist at the end of your story. Although I doubt Christina shares my opinion.

    • snuzcook says:

      Aw, she’s better off without him, I say. Her clear failure to steal the one thing in the story that mattered–his heart.
      I enjoyed it.

    • jhowe says:

      Another good one Susan. Very witty and well written. What a great way to get a confession from someone.

    • Pattypans says:

      I thought of Tess before I read that part. Good one, Susan. I think you got her voice just right. And I was hoping Charles would answer her, but I had no idea what was coming! Would a policeman go to all that trouble to catch a shoplifter, though?

      • Susan says:

        A valid question, Pattypans – I’m thinking she’s no ordinary shoplifter, though – she’s indulging her passion on a rather grand scale.

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          Great twist at the end, Susan. He was worthless anyway, trying to set you up for an arrest. You’ve got a good chance of getting off with public service. The First Baptish Church needs someone to count the offeratory during church service.

          • Susan says:

            LOL, Kerry – but I think McKevin’s got her number – this lady’s not going to go down quietly. I suspect there’ll be a sting in her tail, which might just keep her out of jail ;) (Hey, I’m not usually any good at poetry – that just slipped out!)

        • Pattypans says:

          Maybe jewels or something.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      You just might have a page turner here because I’m wondering what Christina will do next.; 1) My guess would be to send a copy of the videotape she made the last time she and Charles made love. 2) She goes to the pawnshop where she’s been hocking her stolen goods and he tells he knows a hit man who’ll make her problem go away for a price. (which could be sex, money, Christina’s assistance in a future crime spree. 3) The possibilities are endless.

      Good job Susan and I hope you at least make a short story.

    • BezBawni says:

      Am I the only one who thought of Breaking Bad while reading the story? The reference to Tess was brilliant, and the end is my favorite part))

  17. iceni says:

    How do I get into the writing prompts for a reply or write my own story?

  18. Svapne says:

    “I have a bit of a… problem.

    “I like to, well… you know. That’s why I’m here, ain’t it?

    “It all started when I’s younger, when this… this thing… sorta… happened.. I’s just, you know… and things sort of just… snowballed from there. I didn’t think it was a big deal when I sta’ted… it was just… I don’t know… everybody else was doin’ it, you know? Was I so wrong? It seemed so harmless and innocent… I never thought anyone could get hurt.

    “But now it’s too late. I wish I had known, back then, you know? Then maybe it woulda worked out differently. Not like this…

    “My mama always said growin’ up was all about takin’ responsibility and not just learnin’ from mistakes, but tryin’ t’ fix ‘em too. But I dunno if this can be fixed. Some things just stay broke.

    “I dunno if what I’m doin’ is gonna change anythin’. It won’t fer me, I know. It’s too damn late fer me, but maybe… maybe you got a chance. I guess that’s why I’m really here t’day. I wanna make sure you know you got a choice, an’ it don’t hafta be the same choice as all th’ other kids’re makin.

    “I hope you make the most of it.”

    ~Generic PSA~

    • Svapne says:

      This one is kind of an exercise in silliness. I wanted to be as vague as possible.

      And for some reason a sort of Southern country bumpkin voice was playing through my head.

    • calicocat88 says:

      I don’t know about anyone else, but I thought this was deep, lol! It set home for me. It’s broadly written, but in this case I think that it’s kind of poetic the way it leaves interpretation open for the reader. I liked this!

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Silly is not the word I’d use. It sound like a PSA to prevent Meth use for me. I liked it and it was good. So there…

    • Pattypans says:

      I don’t think this was silly at all. I read it as a general (since the narrator doesn’t name his fault/vice/crime, or whatever it was) lament and warning about giving in to peer pressure, which is a huge issue for teenagers. It would be interesting to see this further developed.

    • Susan says:

      Svapne, I absolutely loved this – I don’t think it’s silly at all. It makes a lot of sense, and the “vagueness”, as you put it, adds to its power, allowing us to use our imaginations to fill the very interesting gaps. Love the narrative voice.

    • Svapne says:

      Oh, wow… I’m glad it was effective. I clearly had my doubts.

      I guess writing in science has shaped me a lot. We get reprimanded for vagueness, so I naturally assumed someone might have a problem with it detracting from the story here. I guess it lends to the ability of readers to relate based on experiences they’ve had or have watched others go through. Whether it’s sex or abuse or drugs or alcohol or, to me, probably some poor old guy in a hospital dying of lung cancer from smoking too much…

    • BezBawni says:

      I just love vague stories. But this one was more natural than vague, I enjoyed the voice of the character.

  19. DMelde says:

    No one knows me, not anymore. I’m immortal, and I’ve lived through each successive generation, meeting ever and ever more people, but not anymore.

    I was happy when I was surrounded by people, but then they started dying faster than ever before. The sun grew hot, the food grew scarce, and the water became contaminated. Everyone died, leaving me all alone. Now, I live a lonely existence.

    The plants all died. The air got thinner. The planet became nothing but a cinder. When I breathe it feels like I’m living on a mountaintop. I can’t get enough air, but I can’t die, and I gasp in agony for air that isn’t there. Every year grows worse.

    It started when I was young, in a small fishing village in ancient Greece. One day, as I was walking down the street, my niece, a girl of eight years, appeared around the corner carrying a sword. She walked towards me. I smiled, for she was my favorite, but then she laughed a wicked laugh. I stopped in my tracks and the blood froze in my veins. That high pitched squeal was not her laugh. I looked closer at her. She looked like my niece, but there was hardness in her features. I was facing evil, I was certain of it, a demon of some sort. I silently drew my sword.

    We slowly circled each other.

    “Aren’t you glad to see me uncle?” she asked. She laughed again.

    “Do not mock me.” I replied.

    “If you win, I grant you immortality, but if I win, your soul is mine.” She said more seriously.

    “I refuse!” I shouted, for my soul was worth far more to me.

    “Silly uncle,” she said, laughing again, “as if you have a choice.”

    She lunged at me with her sword. I parried and riposte. We fought for what seemed like hours. I was bleeding from a dozen cuts on my face and hands. She lunged again and I pierced her with the tip of my sword, square in her chest. She laughed in my face. I grew enraged at this demon, and I picked her up by my sword tip, and at last she squirmed and cried out in pain, and for a moment, I saw my niece again.

    “What am I doing?” I thought in horror. “This is my niece! What have I done?”

    I sat her gently down and with a pleading look, I begged for her forgiveness. She laughed at me again, and walked towards me, impaling herself ever further upon my sword. She touched my shoulder and she said—

    “You win uncle. We shall meet again.”

    Then she was gone and I was alone in the street.

    That was a long time ago, before I grew weary of life. Hell itself would be better than this lonesome existence. At least I would be surrounded by people again. So now I wait for the demon to fulfill her promise, for the day when we meet again.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      DMelde, I wish I could see page 2 of this. I picture a wizard looking being walking around a worn torn desolate earth. Uncle must have a larger purpose and I’m wondering what it is. You have really peaked my interest in Sci Fi and I’m going to start reading more of it just because of you. Good job. Hope the script is coming along well…

      • DMelde says:

        Thanks MCKEVIN. My script is in rewrite so it’s going well. a few of my favorite SF books that i’d recommend are “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke, “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula Le Guin (or another book by her, “The Dispossessed”), and “A Voyage to Arcturus” by David Lindsay. I’ll be participating in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November. I tried it last year and failed, but it was still a good experience. Should be fun!

    • don potter says:

      I agree with MCKEVIN, this story has legs. I found the Greek village scene engaging. You set me up to follow this lonely warrior on his escapades that take him to the ends of the earth. Nice job.

    • Susan says:

      A very enjoyable read, DMelde – loved the vivid description of their encounter and you bring out the emotional turmoil of the narrator very effectively.

    • jhowe says:

      I liked this one DMelde. I loved how he outlived everything on the earth and his lonesome life as the last man standing. I loved how he valued his soull more than immortality but had no choice.

    • calicocat88 says:

      I’m with MCKEVIN. I just need some more of this. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I think they may have bulged from the sockets a few times, lol! Very enjoyable! I liked it!

    • BezBawni says:

      I was almost going to say ‘oh no, not another fantasy movie-scene’ when I read: “…and walked towards me, impaling herself ever further upon my sword” and the line (along with the image of that) won me over completely. The action was epic.

    • Toni Smalley says:

      The creepy little demon impaling itself further on the sword was a disturbing vision, but I liked it :)

  20. jhowe says:

    I have a problem with women. It started in sixth grade when Karla Snider smiled at me, her braces glimmering in the sunlight. I’ve had plenty of women since then but I have never found the right one. Maybe this time.

    I was sitting in a nearly empty car on the South Shore Express in Michigan City Indiana. Two people got off the train and one got on. The girl wheeled a small brown suitcase and wore a short denim skirt with a very flattering light blue belly shirt. She stopped in front of my aisle seat, pushed in the handle of the suitcase and lifted it onto the overhead rack above me.

    Her bare midriff was inches from my face, her skin taut, the color of coffee with three creams. She sat in the aisle seat across from mine, crossed her legs and caused me to catch my breath.

    “Can you do me a favor?” she asked. “I get a little anxious when I travel. Would you mind if I sat by you for a while, until we get going?”

    I made the mistake of looking into her eyes. They were brown with green flakes. Or maybe green with brown flakes. They kept changing. I slid over to the window seat and she hopped into my seat.
    “Ooh, still warm,” she said. “Where are you going?”

    “Chicago.”

    “Me too, what stop?”

    “The last one,” I said.

    “You know, if I was a psychologist, I’d probably read something from that. My name is Essie Rockford.”

    “Jimmy Frank.” I paused. “Are you?”

    “What,” she said.

    “A psychologist?”

    “No. I took a couple of classes at GRCC but I had to drop out.”

    “Where are you going in Chicago?” I asked.

    She took a train schedule from her purse, studied it. “Millennium Station.”

    I looked at the schedule on the wall. The last stop. If I was a psychologist, I’d probably read something into that. The train made a few stops and we didn’t speak for a while.

    “I’m starved,” she said. “Interested in grabbing a bite when get there?”

    I pulled out my phone, twenty minutes to go. “I’ve got a lot on my mind, I better not.”

    She smiled, “That’s fine. You know, I’m okay now, I can probably sit by myself.” She started to get up.

    I put a hand on her bare thigh and quickly pulled it away. “No, I’m sorry. It’s just that I’m a little down. My girlfriend’s been cheating on me. We were trying to work it out and last night I caught her again, with my boss.”

    Essie placed her hand on her thigh where mine had been. “Did your girlfriend ever hit you?”

    “No.”

    “Did she ever humiliate you in public?”

    “No.”

    “Did your girlfriend ever offer you up to her friends?”

    “God no.”

    “Did she ever threaten you with a knife?”

    “No.”

    “Do you love her?”

    I though a few seconds. “No.”

    “Then get over it. It’s just a goddamn dinner, I didn’t ask you to marry me.”

    I said, “Your boyfriend? Did he do these things to you?”

    “I wouldn’t call Leon my boyfriend, but yes, and much more.”

    “Does Leon know you’re gone?”

    “He’s playing poker with his friends. He won’t be home until tomorrow at the earliest.”

    “How will he take it?” I asked.

    “Not well.”

    We rode a while longer in silence. There was an announcement and the train pulled into Millennium Station. I said, “Are you stuck on Chicago as your destination?”

    “I don’t know what I want. Why?”

    “I was thinking,” I said, “that I might be interested in heading south. Somewhere that doesn’t get so cold in the winter.”

    “Maybe we should discuss that over dinner,” Essie said.

  21. MCKEVIN says:

    Pssst…“They had a little bit of a problem with me because I crochet and I’m really good at it. It started when I was eight years old practicing for tryouts for the little league baseball team. Calvito pitched the ball to me and I smacked it over everybody’s head. The ball just missed Mrs. Cole’s nose and landed in her string basket. I was the closest to the Cole’s house so I agreed to get the ball.
    “Good afternoon Mrs. Co-.”
    “Is this your damn ball and don’t you good afternoon me?” She said pushing the ball towards me.
    “Yes.” I said.
    “If this ball comes near me again, I will shove it up your-“
    That’s when I noticed the nail, colored string and an unfinished hat attached to it. It looked like fancy knotting and I was mesmerized by it.
    “Are you listening to me?” She said flipping the string and twisting the nail.
    “Yes.” I said staring at her hands moving quickly.
    “Then go!”
    From that day, if I saw Mrs. Cole on her porch, I’d race to see her making something with her string and nail. I would try and learn it by watching her hands.
    “Why are you staring at me Nelson?” She asked.
    “I’m not stari-.”
    “You are staring and you’re making me nervous!” She insisted.
    “I’m not-.” I said.
    “You should go-.”
    “But- “
    “Go!” She directed.
    I left crying because I was watching her hands not staring at her. I practiced knotting with a pencil or pen and used the fringes that hung from the edges of my bed spread. I spent many days and nights knotting and re-knotting pieces of string. The guys in little league laughed at me and my new obsession. They called me unflattering names, the team didn’t want to play with me and Mrs. Cole wouldn’t let me watch her anymore. So I practiced and practiced on my own and pretty much messed up everything in our house that had fringes on it. My mom was pissed. So I used my allowance and made extra money cutting my neighbors grass or washing cars to buy a nail and string. One day I asked Mrs. Cole from the bottom of her porch steps, because she didn’t want me near her, where to buy string and a nail like the ones she had.
    “Why do you want to know that?”
    “I’m teaching myself to do what you do with your nail and string.” I said.
    “What?” She asked in an irritated tone.
    “I said-“
    “I heard what you said.”
    She stared at me as if I’d grown another head.
    “My dad’s waiting to take me to the hardware. I just need to know which one and I promise I won’t bother you anymore Mrs. Cole.”
    “You really want to learn this?”
    “I already know. I just need my own string and nail.” I said.
    She grinned and said to tell daddy to “go to Goldblatts store.” Finally got my string and nail and every day after school, Mrs. Cole and I sat on her porch and she taught me to crochet. My father wasn’t happy about it. My mother thought it was odd that her son wanted to learn to crochet but never discouraged me. My brother Gil dared me to make a crochet hat like the ones Sly Stone wore on his album covers. I made it and he wore it to Sears where he worked. People liked and wanted to buy the hat. He told them they cost $15.00 and immediately got me three orders. From then on, I paid my brother $5.00 for every hat he sold. I’ve been hooked on nails and strings ever since and that’s how I created my first successful business. My fall line debuts on my birthday November the seventh. I like funerals too but that’s another story.

    • jhowe says:

      Pretty charming there MCKEVIN. Nice piece of writing.

    • BezBawni says:

      If the above is very Jhowe, than this is Very MCKEVIN))) I adore guys who are good at cooking and art (I do consider crocheting art), so I alreadly loved your character before I got deeper into the story. Your scenes are always easy to picture, and when I pictured the boy he was a bit like Roald Dahl’s Charlie.

    • Toni Smalley says:

      Awwww, I love this, it’s so charming and cute, and, I just noticed as I am typing jhow said “charming” too, so it must be :) It had a nice opening paragraph, instigating incident to send the boy on his quest to learn how to crochet, and one of those feel good endings that make ya smile :) I really liked this.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      This one was easy because it’s absolutely true. It’s actually a condensed version of a longer short story I wrote awhile back. You guys have given me an idea.

    • don potter says:

      Nicely done. Your happy ending had an interesting second ending. I enjoyed the read.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        In the original the MC (Nelson) kills 3 guys on the little league team because they beat him up because he preferred crocheting to baseball. Still like the story?

        Just kidding. Lol. I just said that because I know you like happy endings..

    • DMelde says:

      Good story. I thought it was charming also. It has an innocence to it that I liked.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Would you like it more it the story happened on planet Kanot kanot and the MC (Nelson) quest was to convince the powerful and evil “Lady Cole” (the ruling wizard over the Sneedles army) to teach him the magic stitches to make a Ruler’s Hat. Lady Cole has no one to inherit her throne. Captain Baa Baa ruler of the SheepAnites Is planning to over throw her and allow sheep to mate with humans. Lol. Just kidding and thanks for reading. .

    • Susan says:

      This reminded me of my Mum who was a whizz at crochet – I could never get the hang of it myself. A profitable little problem, this – and a lovely story. Your last line leaves me looking forward to the next one, McKevin.

    • agnesjack says:

      Interesting birthday, McKevin — two days after mine, but I won’t reveal the year.

      I liked this a lot. Charming has been used several times already, but it fits. I love the picture of the boy sitting with Mrs. Cole on her porch.

      I used to knit and crochet (taught by my mother) and they are both very relaxing crafts. I’ve also done some woodworking, which is not considered a female hobby, but wood is such an amazing medium.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        You know if this wasn’t a true story, I would have had Mrs. Cole stab Nelson in the eye with the crochet hook and called the piece “A hat to die for.” Thanks for the compliment and you should put some of your woodwork on Etsy.com.

    • calicocat88 says:

      What a sweet story! Such a lovely message and the characters were wonderful. I liked every bit of this! Great job!

  22. Toni Smalley says:

    NAÏVE NADINE GETS HER DRAIN UNCLOGGED

    I HAVE a problem? No idea WHAT my boyfriend means. It seems perfectly normal to me. Roy first said something after seeing my phone bill. “What’s this?” He pointed to a 1-900 number.

    “Cleaning services…duh.”

    “Really,” Roy scoffed.

    “Ummmm, ya.” Why would I lie?

    Then, a week later, my maid was on the ladder, dusting the fan when Roy walked in. He saw my maid and dropped the pizza. “What’d you do that for?” I whined. I didn’t get an answer. He just turned and left.

    My maid brushed the duster across my shoulders. “Anything else sweets?”

    “Clean the floor,” I muttered. My maid shimmied down the ladder, thrusting his hips like he always did. Why? I don’t know, but I put a dollar bill in his apron and smacked his bare ass. Perfectly normal, right? Geesh, like Roy had never seen a maid cleaning a fan before. I called him to ask what was wrong.

    “Are you crazy?” He said.

    “Pardon me, I’m perfectly sane. Sounds like you have a bit of social anxiety.”

    “I. Am. So. Flabbergasted.” He pronounciated.

    So, I decided to explain.

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

    It all started when my shower drain was clogged. Mom had been a maid, and luckily, I had her business card in my photo album. (Dad had thrown it at her when he stormed out of the house and disappeared. I kept it as a souvenir.) On the phone I said, “Send one ASAP! And I need a hugeeeee stick drain cleaner, my drain hasn’t seen one in ages.”

    “You got it,” the girl laughed. “I’ll send our biggest.”

    When I opened the door, I gasped. A male maid? Shame on me! That’s stereotypical to assume all maids are female. I led the maid, Alphonso, to the bathroom. When I turned around to show him the drains….

    He. Was. Naked. I looked down and slapped my hand over my eyes. “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!”

    “Just what you ordered sweets.”

    Guess I couldn’t judge the way mom’s employer did things. “Can you at least put on an apron from the kitchen?” A few moments later, I peeked through my fingers. He wore a frilly, pink apron…and that was all.

    “Whadda want first baby?”

    “Did you bring a lonnnnng drain cleaner?”

    He grabbed the bulge in his apron. “Whadda think this is?”

    That’s how you clean drains? Jiminy Crickets. I motioned to the shower drain.

    “In the shower?” He winked. “Works for me.”

    As I pulled the curtain back, his hands wrapped around my waist, pulling me against his body. I squeaked and elbowed him in the face.

    “Rough, eh?”

    I glanced at the drain. It was kinda small. “You’re right. You’ll need to get physical. It’ll be a tight squeeze.”

    “Mmmm, sounds nice.”

    “Riiiight…” I muttered, grabbing the trash can. “Empty it in here.”

    “Darling, I did bring condoms.”

    “Sorry, what do you need condoms for?”

    “Hey, I don’t take chances.”

    I nodded. He’s right, safety first. “Gloves?”

    “Role-playing? Doctor and nurse?”

    This guy was so weird. But, hey, if that’s how they do things.

    The phone rang. “Excuse me,” I said and answered. “Mom, can you call back? My maid’s here. Guess what! I used your old employer. They sure do things differently.” Alphonso shook his hips and smiled. After a long sigh, she wanted to talk to Alphonso. As he listened, his face went from confusion to shock to amusement. When he hung up, he started to grab his coat to leave.

    “Where are you going!”

    “Honey, I don’t believe I have what you need.”

    “You get your ass in there and unclog that drain!” I blocked the door and stared him down. He laughed and agreed after I offered double the money. Geesh, these maids drive a hard bargain. He did such a nice job, I called him from that day forward to clean my drains, and eventually he started doing all my housework.

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

    Roy?”

    “Yes,” he sighed.

    “Coming back?”

    “No.”

    Click.

    I pouted and Alphonso put his arm around me. “Sweets, I think we need to have a talk.”

    I glanced down and smacked my hand over my eyes. There was a hole in his apron! “Alphonso! That’s probably why Roy was freaked out!”

    “Yea,” Alphonso chuckled. “My ass was hanging out as I cleaned your fan, and the hole in my apron is why he ran away.”

  23. BezBawni says:

    (I’ve never written anything autobiographical, I find it hard to own up to my weaknesses and dark sides. However, this prompt is an excellent opportunity to take a load off my chest. I already feel better.)

    ***

    CONFESSION

    I have a little bit of a problem. I like to be late. Well, I don’t really like it, but I AM always late. It started when I was in my mother’s womb when she was waiting for me to come out and I wouldn’t. I don’t remember what urgent matters were keeping me inside her at the time, but as soon as I was out I didn’t hesitate to announce them to the world in a loud cry (I may not be the only one to do so).

    My mom looked at the fat red-haired crimson lump that was me and said, “Is this mine?”

    “It’s yours, don’t you worry,” said the nurse.

    I was never late for school (my father drove me there), but I was always late home after school. Our neighbors would come to our home and tell my mother in concerned voices that they had seen me strolling leisurely alone in the park, jumping over puddle while talking loudly to myself. Then I would come home and tell my mother the poems I had made up while jumping over puddles in the park. My mom loved the poems. I even got published in a local paper. I was eight at the time.

    I certainly was always late for classes in the university, but it was Russia, so nobody really cared. Then I had a gap year and lived in Germany. During the year I had to take an exam in German for a very important and high-level certificate, which made the German family I lived in as au-pair extremely proud. I had been preparing for the exam the whole year, my family had paid for the classes and I’d paid about 200 Euros for the chance to take it (80 % of my monthly income.) On the morning of the exam I woke up from a call. It was my group mate.

    “Where the hell are you?” she said, “Everyone’s been waiting for you for half an hour already.”

    This was the only time in my life when I almost hit the ceiling jumping out of my bed. My German mother was shocked and appalled and drove me all the way up to the exam venue in complete and utter stupor. I passed the exam with a “B”, but the world has never been the same in the eyes of the poor German woman since then. That morning I might have contributed to the ever-increasing number of stereotypes about Russia.

    I thought I might change when I started working. Throughout all three years as a teacher I didn’t have a single student who hadn’t had the honor to wait for me. It took me 15 minutes by bus to come to work.

    Now it’s a 5-minute walk from where I live to the prestigious consultancy company I’m working for now. The short distance doesn’t help, nor does setting all the clocks in my apartment 10 minutes back. My mind is the hell of a trickster.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Wow. That’s a brave and painful admission, BezBawni. I can’t say I understand fully because I have the opposite problem. I’m pathologically early and can be freaked out by people being on time, let alone late. But I know the sensation of being out of synch with the rest of the world.

      That said, your story was also clearly and well written, as I’ve come to expect from you. The imagery is accessible and not overdone. I can almost hear you reading this out loud.

      • BezBawni says:

        Tim, you’d get on with my German mom just fine)) And thank you for the compliment, I do always read my stories out loud, it was a tip in one of writersdigest articles, I also hope I make progress in writing. Since I started writing for the prompts I’ve done many genres for the first time which is amazing, but I also see how much room for perfection there always is. You never know what you’re capable of, right?

    • Toni Smalley says:

      This sounds like me. To. A. T. It’s like I always try to do one last thing before I go anywhere. Loved it, I could totally relate…except for the German mother part ;)

    • agnesjack says:

      BezBawni — This was an interesting piece because you didn’t apologize. You just stated the facts that you are, and always have been, chronically late. It has the feeling of resigned acceptance.

      I can identify with how a 5-minute walk to work doesn’t help. As an adult, I hate being late, but when I was in High School, my house was two-blocks from the school and I remember having to sprint the last block (on a daily basis) as the late bell rang.

    • Svapne says:

      “I certainly was always late for classes in the university, but it was Russia, so nobody really cared.”

      Is this why so many of my Russian colleagues are -literally- late to everything? Classes, tests, meetings…

      I was taught in marching band that “on time IS late,” so I like to be early to everything. If I ran late to a class, I would just skip it to avoid the embarrassment of walking in late.

      • BezBawni says:

        I guess because the country’s so huge, Russians have a bit ‘wider’ perception of time. For example, a Russian party host usually makes most of the preparations last minute, so he/she’s only happy if the guests are a bit late. Punctuality is such a thing with us)) However, I can’t speak for everyone, I do know a lot of Russians who would fit in just perfectly in Germany))

        P.S. I don’t apologize, agnesjack, that’s true, but I certainly will if I’m on the way to improvement and I slip up once in a while. So far, being late is the bane of my life.

        • agnesjack says:

          Forgive me, BezBawni. I didn’t mean that you don’t apologize when you are late. I meant that your confession was regretful, but somewhat resigned to the reality.

          • BezBawni says:

            That’s the bad side of written comments, I guess, that one can’t see the emotions. I knew what you meant and I was smiling when I was writing a response for you. Now that I read my words to you, I see I sounded like a grumpy old crone)) I actually liked your comment and … God, I don’t know how to explain this. (Svapne must know how I feel now))) Anyway, it’s fine, you’re cool))))

          • Svapne says:

            This is what emoticons are for! :P

            :D

          • agnesjack says:

            Yes, very true about communicating by writing. I went back to school later in life to finish my bachelor’s degree and refused to take the online courses for that reason. I liked the interaction in a classroom, where you could see the person’s face and hear the inflection in their voice.
            ;)

      • Toni Smalley says:

        Lol Svapne, I was taught the same “on time is late” bit too…the whole thing was “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. And if you’re late, don’t bother showing up.” …I learned what happened when you were late, eeep! Suicides up and down the basketball court.

        • Svapne says:

          We were made to run the track if we were late. At least they didn’t make us carry our instruments along for the ride!

          It’s a good thing my dad hated being late as much as I did. There was no one better to make sure I was early.

          • Toni Smalley says:

            Ohhhh, my grandpa and boyfriend hate tardiness, they play this game where they’ll tell me we have to leave to go somewhere an hour before we actually have to leave.

    • This is a very insightful and personal piece. I’m pathologically late as well.All the tricks in the world are useless.

      • BezBawni says:

        I once was almost (phew!) late for a plane from Germany to Russia on the last day of my visa and with no extra money to spend for another ticket. I’m scared what may happen in my live if God decides to seriously teach me a lesson.)

    • seliz says:

      This is well written. Autobiographical pieces are never easy (at least for me!), but you did a good job with this. :)

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I liked it simply because it was about you the writer not the main character. Had you not wrote this, I would have never learned it about you unless you included snippets of it in your other works. Good job.

    • don potter says:

      Confession is good for the soul. But it only identifies the short comings; you have to fix them. The process of writing this things down and sharing them may be the inspiration needed to tackle the problem.

    • Susan says:

      Loved this, BezBawni, and I can certainly relate to it, because I’m also nearly always late! Just a small point – won’t setting the clocks back make you later still? I’m thinking I should start setting mine forward a few minutes – that might do the trick :)

    • jhowe says:

      Nice piece BB. I would like to point out that your stories are always on time, at least in this forum. And your responses are aways timely and thoughtful. You also respond to people commenting on your stories very quickly. I would never have pinned the late thing on you. I agree with Susan that your clocks should be set ahead a bit and not back.

    • Pattypans says:

      BezBawni, my hat is off to you for how well you write in English when it’s not your mother tongue.

  24. THE CRAFTSMAN
    ===============

    “You see, Detective, I have a little problem with knives. I collect them, large and small. Not swords, mind you, or anything garish like that. Just a simple blade will do, thank you very much.”

    “Folding pocket knives are particularly useful. They’re easy to handle and I rarely cut myself. I insist on a locking blade. It’s very important to keep one handy, in your pocket, for the little jobs such as cutting a length of rope or duct tape. Serrated the first third, I prefer the business-end beveled and sharp to the point. I always grind an edge on the back as well; it can make all the difference in a pinch.”

    “For the important jobs, the real work, I prefer a fixed blade with a single, full tang, one that’s strong and light but still weighted enough to be balanced. A ten-inch blade is best as it can pierce and cut clean through all but the thickest abdomens.”

    “Making your knife is a satisfying art. Have you tried it, Detective? No? You probably prefer the comfort and distance of a gun. I made my first knife in eight-grade shop class. I stole a metal file and ground an edge on it when the teacher wasn’t looking. I fashioned the hilt out of pine. Me, the artist, the master craftsman!”

    “I remember that stray cat that followed me home. It took a few weeks to get it to trust me. Tuna works best for making friends. A cat only has about a half pint of blood. It seemed like more.”

    “Can I have a cigarette? Thanks, Detective. You’re a good sport, given all that’s happened.”

    “My favorite knife, the one you found, is actually a dagger. I made that one too. Do you like it? The hilt is wrapped in a hide I tanned, another useful skill, I might add. You’ll never guess what I used; or should I say ‘who?’ I special-ordered carbide steel for the heart of my creation. If it can cut metal, it can cut bone, am I right?”

    “So here we are, Detective, in this lonely basement. It’s just you and me, compadre. Are the ropes to tight? Would you like a smoke? You look like you could use one. These things’ll kill you, ya know. A pretty lady like you shouldn’t have such a nasty habit. We’ll leave the tape on, okay?”

    “By the way, it was eight girls, not seven. You missed one. Well, with you that’ll be nine, plus your partner over there. He makes an even ten. A nice round number, but nowhere near the record. A have so much work to do, so many masterpieces to create.”

    “Hold still. If I miss the spine, it’ll only hurt more. That’s my girl. Close your eyes. This’ll be over shortly.”

    “For you, at least.”

    • seliz says:

      Very creepy. I liked how you hinted about, “Who” the hilt was made from. It definitely added to the macabre tale.

    • BezBawni says:

      I always brace myself before I start reading your stories, Doug. This is a perfect example why I have to. Your stories are terrifying and terrific at the same time!

    • Observer Tim says:

      I love a well-crafted monologue, Doug. It’s nice to see a skilled craftsman proudly describing his work (gyee-ee-ugh).

    • Toni Smalley says:

      I. Loved. This. You. Are. So. Sick. And. Twisted. I don’t know why I’m doing that, I’m tired. Thanks Doug. First pennywise, now a Buffalo-Bill-Ed-Gein-esque maniac to keep me up at night! Haha! Really so friggin creepy, and the voice is fantastic!

    • agnesjack says:

      Successfully suspenseful, and I didn’t realize the killer had the upper hand at the beginning. Excellent detail regarding the knives, too. It gave it authenticity.

    • Svapne says:

      Delightfully- if terrifyingly- well done! I honestly thought it was just a man that was stopped by the TSA or something… quite unexpected! The dialogue is flawlessly and effectively done.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I liked this. Very good Doug. The only thing I caught was the killer asking for a cigarette and saying thank you. That implied the victim’s hands were free. Then a sentence or two later the killer asks the victim is the rope too tight. No biggie and I still enjoyed the story.

      • Svapne says:

        I envision it- sort of like Doug says below- that he’s rifling through her things and comes across them. He holds them up and asks permission. It’s not uncommon in this type of situation.

        I guess it’s left open to interpretation, given that it’s a monologue, and it wouldn’t be something you could work in without revealing the MC’s hand too early… unless the order of those two things was reversed.

    • Thanks all. I’m getting firmly in to the Halloween spirit.

      @MCKEVIN- I pictured the detective’s purse dumped on the table and he helped himself to one. I’ll probably clean that up in my next editing pass. Thanks

    • don potter says:

      This is a spine tingling tale. OK I said it. So there. The beauty of this was how you laid out so much info about the knives to both educate us and divert our attention away from the killer and the situation at hand. Bravo. Guess the message behind this is knives kill people not the people using them. If I got the message wrong, please set me straight. I loved your story, Doug.

    • DMelde says:

      Very well done. Nice twist at the end about who was in control.

    • Susan says:

      Love the way you write this as a macabre monologue – totally gripping – nasty, but nice :)

    • jhowe says:

      This would make a great scene in a movie. The perp could be sitting in a chair, like he was in an interview room or something. The detective would be off camera. When he reached for the cigarette, hands off camera, it would look like the detective handed it to him. At the end of the scene you would learn the detective’s fate. I liked this story a lot.

  25. Kera says:

    Despite the pounding in my chest, the sweaty texture on the pads of my fingers, and the roiling of butterflies in my stomach, I still manage to swallow my nervousness and exert an aura of calm. The other girls in the room are looking over pamphlets, thumbing through their smart phones (which may admittedly be smarter than them), or whispering nonsensical chatter about their ambiguous romantic lives. I can feel the throbbing in my temple, hear the thin whispers seeping through the cracks in my focus.
    Not too long after a woman wearing a grey sweater- long sleeved to cover the barbed wire that traces the inside of her forearm- calls me in with a warm smile and the long, sterile white hallway is a blur when I’m seated abruptly in a cushioned wooden chair. The office I stepped into is stark contrast to the hospital-esque white on white outside, I recognize my father’s old poker buddy grinning from behind a monstrous mahogany desk. The whites of his eyes are too white compared to his wrinkled tan skin.
    After giving him a play-by-play of my parents greeting that they told me to relay to him, I sigh deeply and seem to sink deeper into the leather cushioning; a voice louder than the other ones in my head remarks, “Don’cha wish you could just sink until you disappear?”
    Shaking the thought away I purposefully lean forward with my tail bone on the edge of the seat. “I have a little bit of a problem. I like to listen to peoples thoughts. It all started when I graduated High School, when I was wondering if my aunt was talking bad about me at graduation to my mom…”
    The look Daryl Epping has makes it hard for me to even believe myself. For one, if I were a Women’s Psychologist of 32 years, I would have dismissed the idea of mind reading… A very long time ago.
    Shaking off the chill that his disbelief inspired, I start up my resolve again: “… I just, well, I knew that my aunt was telling my mom she was surprised that I graduated, and I wanted to hear her-“
    “You’re telling me you can hear your aunts thoughts?”
    The chill racking up my spine intensifies, “No, what I’m telling you is that it started that way. It went on to being everyone around me, and now I can’t think or sleep, or be around people I love…” Tears crest my lower lids when I think about the things my parents thought.
    Daryl puts his head into his hands, and even now I can hear him wondering what drugs I’ve gotten into.
    She was a good kid, he internally sighs.
    As I try to grapple with his thoughts my mind takes hold of his, and Daryl Epping stiffens in his seat, suddenly straight backed and stuck in a frozen gasp of shock. Slowly, his nose starts to bleed.
    My stomach drops. Why me?

    • seliz says:

      Well this story takes the appeal away from the idea of mind reading. It seems as if the MC has been tormented by it. Interesting take on the prompt. I enjoyed your descriptions!

    • BezBawni says:

      Mind reading!! The idea is wonderful and the story is well put, I just think that the theme of mind reading is so huge, you can do so much with it! I’m telling this because I felt the ability was a little underused here, I can see by the way you write – you can do so much more with it!)))

    • Observer Tim says:

      Beautiful if disturbing story, Kera. I was thinking of doing a mind-reading story as another take on the prompt, but now I don’t have to because you’ve done it better than I could.

    • don potter says:

      Mind reading has always fascinated me. Your story was well told. Maybe I won’t be so as interested in this subject in the future.

    • Susan says:

      Beautiful – very powerful – a great idea, really well executed. Atmospheric and moving.

  26. don potter says:

    “Yes, you could say I have a little bit of a problem. I like the taste of human blood. It all started when I was ten. My cousin introduced me to this simple pleasure.”

    “I would call this more than a little bit of a problem,”

    “Come on, Doc, everything is relative. Get it? Ha, ha. What’s the matter lost your sense of humor?”

    “Are you suggesting you’re part of a family of vampires?”

    “No, just my cousin, Charlie. He was out late one night and took a shortcut through the old graveyard. That’s when he came face to face with a vampire.”

    “And the vampire bit him?”

    “Who’s telling this story, you or me?”

    “Sorry, I was simply trying to help move the session along. We only have an hour.”

    “Oh yeah, an hour. Since when is an hour only fifty minutes? You psychiatrists sure know how to screw with folks that are three bricks shy of a load.”

    “You’re not paying for it. The county is.”

    “Then you’re screwing the county for the money and me for the time.”

    “Please, continue with your story.”

    “Okay, so Charlie is faced with this big old bat guy and before you know it, he’s a vampire too. It’s very addictive.”

    “And Charlie did the same thing to you?”

    “He bit me in broad daylight.”

    “Vampires are supposed to sleep during the day.”

    “I thought so too. But I guess he was in some kind of a training program. Never asked him about the details.”

    “Why not?”

    “Because I don’t have a comfy office like this and make the kind of money you do. Anyway, being introduced into the program of Vampires Anonymous by a novice like Charlie is not good enough to get full VA status. Can you imagine that?”

    “Does this make you anxious? I could prescribe Xanax. A low dosage, of course.”

    “Nah, the only thing that makes me anxious is not getting what I want when I want it.”

    “Perhaps Valium would be better.”

    “Don’t need any of that stuff, I get high on the natch. You might say it’s in my blood. Now that’s funny.”

    “You certainly take your condition lightly.”

    “Speaking of that, I put on a few pounds. Maybe you can write a script for blood thinner. Admit it, that’s a great line.”

    “Time is running out.”

    “You bet it is. Halloween is just around the corner. So jump on your broom and ‘Come fly with me.’ I love that Sinatra song, don’t you?”

    “You make me crazy.”

    “So let’s switch places. You get the couch and I get the two hundred bucks for working fifty minutes. That’ll buy a lot of Coumadin, and I’ll get my boyish figure back.”

    “Do you intend to go out tonight and suck the blood from innocent victims?”

    “Not just any victims. Beautiful young women just like you.”

    “What about your cousin Charlie?”

    “Let him get his own victims. Besides he likes boys.”

  27. Amy says:

    Hypnotize Me

    “You have a problem, Terry. You’ve lost something very dear to you, and I’m going to help you find it.”

    The words floated through the darkness of his mind, indiscernible and soft.

    “I need you to retrace your steps from the last few days. You want to find it; it’s very important to you. Let’s start with Monday. Did you leave your house on Monday?”

    He saw himself in his bathroom mirror, shaving the stubborn shadow he had accumulated over the weekend. He had nicked his chin and watched the red river flow over his jaw and down his neck. Blood was the only pure thing left in the world and he couldn’t help but be entranced by it.

    “Terry, where did you go on Monday?”

    He jumped to a street lined with tidy houses and pristine lawns. He had perused this neighborhood many times and knew it well. Plastic pumpkins and cotton spider webs festooned front porches in a mockery of horror. They would know true horror soon enough, he had thought. The girl he had chosen was walking alone, again, as if she was waiting for him. Please take me.

    He searched for his own voice in the darkness. “I went to Berry Lane.”

    “That’s good, Terry. We’re getting closer to finding it. You took something on Berry Lane, didn’t you? Something that didn’t really belong to you?”

    “Yes.” The words were coming easier to him now.

    “And when you took it, you put it somewhere to keep it safe, right? Somewhere secret?”

    He pictured the place, a desolate waste of space in the middle of nowhere. It had been a dog food factory, years ago, and still held the pungent smell of congealed meats and stale grains. He had whistled “Shake Dog Shake” as he dragged her down through the empty floors.

    ‘Wake up in the dark,
    the after-taste of anger in the back of my mouth’

    “Yes.”

    “Of course you did. She’s precious to you, isn’t she? But she’s lost, Terry. She’s lost, and we need to find her. You need to find her.”

    “She’s not lost,” he mumbled. “I know exactly where she is.”

    ‘Follow me
    Make up in the new blood
    And follow me to where the real fun is’

    “Where is she, Terry?”

    Terry opened his eyes to the desperate faces around him. The psychiatrist was pretty, in an obvious and flaunted sort of way. Her red hair curled around her face in ringlets. Meghan had red hair, too, he thought.

    ‘I’ll tear your red hair by the roots
    And hold you blazing
    Hold you cherished in the dead electric light’

    “Where’s Meghan, Terry?” she asked again. The men around her were leaning in, arms held tight against their chests in restraint. Their badges stuck out like emblems of conquest.

    She was my conquest.

    “Where is she?” one of the agents yelled, slamming his fist on the desk. Terry basked in their fear; let it fill his veins and feed his heart.

    ‘And cuts me from my throat to my pounding heart
    My heart
    My shaking heart
    My howl my shake dog’

    “She’s gone.”

    • BezBawni says:

      Is Terry a werewolf or a sick murderer? I’m still trying to figure out. I enjoyed reading the story though, especially I like the way you let us know Terry’s thoughts.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Terry seems like the kind of kid who’s going to be seeing the inside of a lot of institutions for the rest of his life. Excellent slow reveal, Amy; it was obvious Terry was sick from the beginning, but the build to showing how sick was well done.

      Should I be worried that so many of us here have the ability to construct such cruelly twisted thoughtscapes in such exquisite detail?

    • agnesjack says:

      Amy – I had to read this twice before I was sure that he was a killer and not another vampire.
      I liked the glimpses into his mind — vague, but effective. I also liked how this fragile, hypnotic interrogation was destroyed in a flash by the officer who just couldn’t be patient. One nit: unless he nicked a vein while shaving, I doubt the blood would have flowed like a river.

      • Amy says:

        Yes, no supernatural elements here, other than the supernaturally insane, I suppose. Terry is, indeed, very ill and, like Tim said, will most likely be institutionalized for the rest of his life. And agnesjack- I agree with you that “river” may not have been the best word choice, but when you get any kind of cut on your face, for some reason, it does bleed like crazy. Perhaps “stream” or “trickle” may have been more appropriate. Thanks to you three for reading and commenting.

    • seliz says:

      Nicely written piece. I especially liked the description of his memories and when they jumped from one scene to another. It gave the hint that there was something not quite right with him, even before learning about the girl.

    • JRSimmang says:

      Amy, you dragged me in. It has a “Momento” feel, the MC being propelled by a back-seat driver. Nice take on the prompt as well, letting the subconscious reveal the story. Nice taste of suspense.

    • don potter says:

      Terry is sick and dying, but your writing is alive and well. Thanks for posting this tale, Amy.

    • Toni Smalley says:

      Wow, this was awesome. I was like the cops, leaning in, listening to this maniac, waiting to find out what had happened to the girl. Creeeeeepy.

    • Susan says:

      Hi Amy, I loved the way this story unfurled – it captured my imagination from the word go – very spooky.

    • jhowe says:

      Another good one Amy. I wonder if the murderer would have revealed the secret if the cop hadn’t butted in. Probably not. I loved the little thoughts between the conversation. The guy had a creative mind.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Great writing Amy. I’ve read it three times and each time I travel into the mind of the murderer. I suppose this glimpse into madness is in reality, what an insane person thinks about.

        I don’t want to be in the dark after this. Even taking the garbage out at night is off my job list. I admire your prose and wonder how it’s possible to write like you do. I am going to try it on a prompt and see what I can do with it. A real challenge for me.

  28. McBloach says:

    I have a little bit of a problem: I like to eat cell phones. It all started when I was a kid, when I first tasted a gorgeous Motorola StarTAC. They say you always remember your first time, and I do. It was my dad’s phone, and it wouldn’t stop ringing. I was home with my older brother Mikey, a gluttonous waste of space. We were sitting at the kitchen table, trying to watch TV on the tiny set my mom put in when she decided she’d learn to cook. My dad was sleeping in the backyard and his phone just started going off, right there on the counter. Mikey and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes before he lifted a pudgy hand and raised the volume on the TV. The fat bag had his mouth full of coffee cake, and when he tried to call out to my dad he inhaled a bit of the crumb, making him cough and wheeze.

    The phone kept ringing, and for some reason it was making me hungry. Every encore of “La Cucaracha” that blasted from the device caused tremors deep inside my belly. After the fifth repetition, I couldn’t take it anymore. Surprising the fatso (who dropped the last remnant of his pastry), I lunged off my chair, grabbed the phone and swallowed it whole, no chewing necessary.

    The feeling after consumption was electric. I’d never felt anything like it before. Mikey’s eyes were wide with what I knew must have been jealousy–he hated when I got anything he didn’t. His envy fed my elation. I felt fully charged.

    After that, I was hooked; no phone was safe. Unfortunately for my new-found lifestyle, the supply was low. I literally couldn’t get enough. My dad replaced the StarTAC, but Mikey ratted me out and no matter how hard I tried my dad never let me near his new replacement, a simply stunning Nokia that shook me to my core.

    I had to have it.

    One night, I sneaked into my dad’s room like a friggin’ SEAL. On all fours, I navigated the pitch-black room from memory (I’d staked it out earlier in the week like a friggin’ detective), arriving at my pop’s bedside table like the whisper of a shadow. A second later I’d crept up to my knees, and the phone was in reach. It could have been my imagination, but it looked like it was twinkling. Shaking, I extended a hand and grabbed it. I couldn’t believe how hungry I was. I couldn’t wait to devour it, but the soft Velcro case was driving me crazy. Like a rabid wolf I tore it off right there on the floor, then rammed the phone down my gullet. Bliss.

    Nowadays, feeding has become easy. The only problem is the wide variety available to a gourmand like me. You might think otherwise, but an iPhone and a Droid don’t just have different operating systems–they have completely different tastes as well. The iPhone goes down easier, while the Droid has an incomparable flavor medley that takes a few meals to get used to. Of course, I’ll take either in a pinch.

    But the delicacy that drives me really wild? Motorola StarTACs.

    Nothing like your first time, right?

    • BezBawni says:

      Thank you for a great laugh. Also, the story is a great metaphor for the modern world consumption and the tendency of people to update (I hope it’s in there and I haven’t made it up)).

      Anyway, if the last prompt ended with a competition for a shortest story, I think this one is on the way to “The Weirdest Problem Contest”. (And to think it all started with charming bees!)
      My favorites so far are eating cellphones and killing people (and don’t forget, I’m only talking about weird problems).

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      I liked it, a whole lot. I think I still have my original Motorola “Brick” 6 pound cell phone. Do you think it would make your mouth water? Perhaps I could post it to you.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Good story, McRoach.

      This character has a real future ahead of him in the circus. Maybe he could be a sword-swallower. He’d have to start small, of course, with a Razr.

      Sorry, I had to.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was fun, McBloach. Very entertaining and well written. I loved the line, “I felt fully charged.”

      (However, the practical, logical side of me had to suspend belief that all the heavy metals that exist in cell phones wouldn’t kill him, toute suite. Yet, as a metaphor of the perils of over-consumption, I guess that would work, too.)

    • Svapne says:

      …but what about when the phone has to come out? That can’t be pleasant.

      Probably, as BB said, one of the weirdest problems on here. Kudos for such creativity! :)

    • don potter says:

      Please pass the Tums. I liked your story, especially reading between the lines.

    • Susan says:

      Made me laugh out loud – my favourite line “the feeling after consumption was electric” – great fun :)

  29. Kerry Charlton says:

    GUN POWDER

    I was adorable as a child. At least my Mother said so. Sister Joy was ten years older and treated me as her own doll to play with. On the other hand, I had a little problem with my brother, Bill four years older than I.

    It all started when I reached three and took claim to being the biggest stinker of all. This was Lou Costello’s line from ‘Africa Screams’. It rang true with me, I wanted all of my Mother’s attention. Tactics included setting my brother up for all kinds of things he didn’t do.

    What I received was more attention from my Father, a curious mixture of Victorian sternness, cave man attitudes and Prince Charming. The latter of which became evident when Dad happened to be around good-looking women. There was a built in equation to my Father’s attitude. The amount of his charm directly correlated to the quantity of women.

    My Father saw through my shenanigans like freshy cleaned glass. A civil war ensued. The parties in question, my Mother and I against two formidable opponents, my brother and Father.

    Mother grew adept at war planning and I at guerilla warfare. As I grew older, my brother became an athlete on the school track field, while I ran like a John Deere tracter missing it’s ball bearings. I had to stand and fight and both of got into constant trouble.

    We continued our fighting until the problem was solved over gun powder. On my twelfth birthday, I received a professional chemistry set. The instructions came with boring recipes, safe and smelly. Bill was taking chemistry at school and brought a list home that supposedly made gun powder.

    In our back yard one afternoon, we quickly assembled the recipe. We were missing an item or two from my chemistry set. It was my idea to double down on the rest of the recipe to compensate for the missing ingredients.

    After placing a large pile of the mixture on a flat rock and sprinkling a small trail of gun powder leading away from it, we placed a large tomato can on top to use as a rocket launch. We lit the trail with a match to an old painr rag tied to a broom handle.

    We had an explosion all right. The tomato can lifted a full six inches off the rock. Smoke and fumes poured across the lawn and into our open windows. The smell of a pack of skunk drunk on sulfur with a mixture of old fish heads and stink weed permeated the yard and into the house.

    Neighbors rang our telephone and heated conversations arose. By the time Dad came home, with the help of Arm and Hammer and Spic and Span, the party was over. But not the punishment.

    The cave man [Dad] subjected inhumane trearment upon us. No TV, no radio and no telephone for an entire week. Plus yard cleanup and cleaning out our garage.

    “Do you think it worth it Bill?

    “Are you kidding, Kerry? Did you see the look on Mother’s face?”

    • jhowe says:

      Kerry,
      You captured the antics and rivalry of young boys very well. I had a brother, but I was the older, bossy one. We used to lay .22 shells on a large flat rock and hit them with a hammer while holding garbage can lids as shields. No one died.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you jhowe, that’s really funny about the .22 shells. My buddy and I used to tape cherry bombs to hunting arrows. One of us would draw the bow back, while the other lit the cherry bomb. The arrow soared in the sky with a trail behind it and exploded. No lost fingers or eyes because we ran out of hunting arrows. Go figure. Now you know why I beleive in angels.

    • BezBawni says:

      I felt like drinking tea with a friend and cracking jokes about our past when I was reading your story. First, because I was having so much fun, sometimes even laughing out loud, second, because the way you told the story was incredibly warm and easy-going with so much of imagery that my mind had some entertainment for itself up there. The story was so interesting to read, that I went through it like a knife through soft butter.

      • BezBawni says:

        Not that I minded, but there are a few typos. Just thought you might want to know))

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          Thank you BezBawni,

          That was such a nice response from you. I’m glad I made you happy and want to laugh. I shed enough tears with my last story, I wanted a little cheerfulness with this one. My brother Bill, is going to get a kick out this. Most is fiction but my brother and sister are real.

          My typos always haunt me. I found them after my post. But thank you for pointing them out. Someday I will write without them but please don’t hold your breath waiting.

    • Toni Smalley says:

      Lol, is this a true story Kerry? Funny, sounds like the shenanigans of a pair of mischievous little boys. My favorite part was rocket launch scene. It was a clear visual where something was happening.

      I didn’t get too caught up in the beginning so much, maybe because it was expository and there are many things going on, which made me unsure of what the story was really about. Just something I was thinking about as I read. I was enjoying it, of course, because the story is great, but I wasn’t sure what plot line I was supposed to be following. JUST my opinion. Of course in a longer short story, novella or novel, that wouldn’t be a problem, just because there’s only 500 words here.

      Okay, so my favorite line was: “The smell of a pack of skunk drunk on sulfur with a mixture of old fish heads and stink weed permeated the yard and into the house.” Haha! It was great, it was like a *KICK* *BAM* *POW*, in you face, descriptive sentence…I dropped my spoon and spilled tomato soup, no joke. It was like the descriptive sentence that keep going on and on with awesomeness. Really, one of my favorite lines of sensory descriptions I’ve read in a long time. Very nice :)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Toni. I got a little carried away describing my Father’s personality and it didn’t have much to do with the brothers. Most is fiction except for my brother and sister. I’m glad you liked it. I’ve got a lot of these real stories my brother and I got into and I’ll use another one when the prompt’s correct.

        I had a great time growing up in Philadelphia, then Washington and finally Miami.

        • Toni Smalley says:

          Ohhh, so this is a true story, I thought maybe it was. It’s always fun to tell the tales we know so well, which makes it easy to fill them with so much detail and personality :) Wow, sounds like you moved around a lot as a child :(

    • Observer Tim says:

      Great story, Kerry. It makes me wish I had a brother to raise heck with. I’d take either role.

    • agnesjack says:

      Back in the day when kids actually played outside with inventions of their own. I do remember…

      You’ve captured this kid’s world very well, KC. I felt excited with the boys when they lit the trail of powder and cringed with them when the smoke went billowing into the house.

    • frankd1100 says:

      “I ran like a John Deere tractor missing its ball bearings..”

      Great line Kerry!

      Very funny story. Of course if you did this today you’d have ATF all over you.

      I miss those days.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        So do I Frank.

        I was thirteen when a buddy and I make a 14′ open Kayak from a Boy’s Life set of plans. We converted an old baby carriage and dragged it to a canal a half mile from home. Paddled thru the deep waterway in Coral Gables and into Biscayne Bay in Miami, a trip of four or fives miles.

        Thank you for helping me remember the good times.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you JR.

        Did you have food fights at the dinner table? We did but mostly between my brother and Father. My Mother sat between them and all she accomplished was learning how to duck.

    • don potter says:

      You have a way of taking me back to easier, softer times. Growing up in the city, Philadelphia, we didn’t have access to ammo, but there were BB guns, firecrackers and other forbidden ways for boys to have a little fun. I enjoyed your story.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you, Don. If you’re like I am, your memories of your earlier years are as acute as yesterday. It’s necessary to live in the present and look forward to tomorrow but it’s always fun to wander back through time and remember.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      This reminds me of the many fights I had with my older brother. I didn’t realized until we were grown that I loved him so much that I wanted to be around him all the time. Good job and thanks for bringing back the memories.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you MCKEVIN, that’s what big brothers are for to fight with. I bet I can top your big brother story. We got married on the same day, in a double wedding. Our Mother took to her bed, weeping because we left home the same day. However, our Dad bought a new set of golf clubs and hit the links every day for 21 years. That happens to be 7,665 rounds of golf.

    • Susan says:

      A lovely, entertaining romp of a story – a great read that had me gripped to the end.

  30. Svapne says:

    (I was considering writing some sort of deeply personal biographical post, and I may yet, but not right now. I had some fun instead.)

    -*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    I have a little bit of a problem. I like to kill.

    The sweet tragedy of the victims’ pain brings me to a crushing catharsis that I find… addictive.

    It all started when I was in eighth grade, when I murdered my first victim. Victims, actually: two very loving parents with a brat of a girl that managed to escape. Their screams will echo in her ears forever; it’s just so beautiful I could cry.

    I had a few failed attempts… half-cocked plots that were too easily escapable. I ensnared a few of lesser minds, but these slaughters gave me no sustenance. I even murdered this… goddess… of a woman, and… nothing. I almost gave up my rampage, but then…

    The next one I murdered was the girl’s sister. It was tragic and beautiful and full of sacrifice and heart-felt emotion. Their pain was as my pain, and it was as cleansing as the autumn rain. I found myself again, and with self-rediscovery came a far more crafty killer.

    There were those here and there… the next that stood out was a military man, beloved by his wife and his fellow soldiers. I think I felt my soul shudder when I heard her plaintive screams. A simple dagger in the gut brought me the sweetest feeling I have ever known.

    Oh, who’s next? There are so many… I’ve killed a universe’s worth. I began a plague of horrible proportion just to watch the poor bastards squirm. Each death- so very deeply personal, so impeccably intimate- brings me my sweet drug of sorrow.

    And I won’t lie… I’ll kill again… and again… and again: until the world trembles in fear and bows at my feet, worshiping me for the great goddess that I am! I am their Shiva, and they will be right to hold fear. None of them can stop me. None have the power.

    But it is their pain I find so sweet… so beautiful and touching… it fills a void within me, by hollowing out one inside someone else. Sometimes I wonder if it’s fair… or if maybe I’m the sick bastard here…

    So this brings me to my question, the one burning in my soul, and I can think of none better to answer me than you:

    Do you think that, maybe, my writing is a bit *too* gruesome?

    • agnesjack says:

      Svapne — this was horrifying.

      I liked it because you didn’t pull any punches, but I was a little disappointed in the ending. The narrator seemed to drift from the character to the author.

      • Svapne says:

        But the narrator *is* an author. Maybe that was too unclear?

        Perhaps squeezing the project into 5 minutes was a bad idea. :P

        • agnesjack says:

          Ah, yes, Svapne. What I meant was: I felt the voice changed. You were so successful in creating such a ruthless and unrepentant character, that I just couldn’t imagine him/her caring one whit if the writing was too gruesome.

    • jhowe says:

      This goddess with a mission is one bad bitch. I agree with agnesjack that the goddess would most likely not be concerned with what we think of her writing, although I do like her writing.

    • BezBawni says:

      I’d have been horrified if I hadn’t read your blog, Svapne. But since I have, I was smiling all the way to the end of your story. And if it’s not autobiographical I don’t know what can be))) Anyway, my favorite phrase is ‘it was as cleansing as an autumn rain’, because I’m mad about autumn and I can so perfectly imagine how it feels to be cleansed by it. I’m almost in a trance now.

      • Svapne says:

        I’m glad you got it. :)

        My favorite season is autumn! I live near the Adirondacks, which are sort of locally renowned for beautiful fall foliage, but the truth here is that autumn is very short. It gets cold very fast and the transition doesn’t last very long. How is it in Russia?

        As for the rain, I love the smell of October in general, and rain, while refreshing, also releases that sort of sweet decaying scent of leaves. It’s the best rain.

        • BezBawni says:

          Judging by the fragrance, autumn comes here around the beginning of September, but due to the recent weather changes, September is very cold, and the October and the first half of November is really the time to fully enjoy every little nuance of autumn.

    • Observer Tim says:

      A beautiful and disturbing piece, Svapne. This is the voice of the sociopath.

      I saw some comments about the last line, and I think it is the only weak point. I could think of several recasts. Here is mine, which makes an assumption about who this is written for.

      Is my writing too gruesome? I value your opinion, given your ‘intimate’ involvement.

      I’d love to see what you can do to strengthen that final sentence.

    • Svapne says:

      I appreciate the critique. I’m writing this full well knowing that, as BB says, it’s autobiographical- which clearly doesn’t come across as neatly as I’d hoped.

      The voice changes because I’m telling the story-

      -of the king and queen of the earthen Elves-
      -of the failed murderous dreamscape-
      -of the goddess of balance, driven to madness-
      -of Trystav, the poor tortured thing-
      -of General Kyoucirin of the Dark Elf army-
      -of The One, she who will end the universe-
      -of the fae, and the plague set upon them-
      -and of all the poor souls to come…

      This story is my story. I chose Shiva as my analogy because of the destroyer of worlds aspect, but also because Shiva is the patron of the arts… but mostly because in another life, Shiva is also the creator.

      But if it needs this much explaining, it’s not a good prompt response. I’ll try harder next time. :)

      Thanks,
      Svapne

    • calicocat88 says:

      Ha! Ha! This was interesting. A convo with an author? I like it. It’s unique. To answer the author’s question ;) No, not too gruesome.

      • Svapne says:

        You know… I think putting the title “A Conversation with an Author” at the end of the post would help clear up the interpretation, if I wanted to keep it a personal writer’s confession.

        Also, I’m glad it’s not to gruesome. I take my death very seriously- it tends to make my writing very sad, even if it’s also trying to be uplifting. The end of the universe is actually really beautiful (there are a lot of people who think it’s terrible, but everything’s got to die sometime, right?).

        My fascination with death in literature probably started because I read The Deathbird by Harlan Ellison (a story I would highly recommend if you’re into that sort of thing).

        • calicocat88 says:

          I’ve always been told that my writing can be too “rough” or “disturbing.” I never saw it that way, but I toned it down anyway. I actually started reading Poe and Sylvia Plath when I was a youngster just starting out. So I suppose they may have rubbed off a smidge ;) But I enjoy reading your stories. I may just check out that book as well.

    • don potter says:

      Writing is a great catharsis — you fought the demons and won, while doing it in a fun manner.

    • Toni Smalley says:

      This really disturbed me. The MC takes such pleasure in killing, and the way s/he talks about it made me sick to my stomach. I agree with others about the last line in regards to it not sounding like a sociopath. I’ve known a sociopath, and I think your story really fits his personality, the pleasure in the pain of others, which is why I think it made me so sick; he didn’t care about what anyone else thought, UNLESS it would advance his agenda in some way, which was just a tool of manipulation. This was really good, frightening to read, but obviously it’s powerful and effects the reader :)

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Dear Death Diary: is how I would have started this piece out. I would delete the last line completely and replace it with….

      “So this brings me to my question, the one burning in my soul, and I can think of none better to answer me than you: Who’s next?’

      End of Story. Good job: Sick but good. Lol.

    • Susan says:

      Hi Svapne – I enjoyed this but, like Agnes, felt the last line took the edge off the horror.

    • Svapne says:

      I’m really glad the writing comes off as a convincing sociopath… But given that it’s from my point of view, as a writer that kills all her characters (see my comment above)…

      Stop calling me a sociopath, guys. It’s starting to hurt my feelings! :P

      (I’ve been having issues with making my meaning clear, so… that last bit was sarcasm. :D )

      In all seriousness though, thanks for the critique. This personal confession about my writing can turn into a sociopath’s monologue with a tweak of the last sentence, and that’s a pretty nice accomplishment.

      I’ve never written a piece quite like this before, but it will be interesting to see if I can write other honest documentations of my thoughts/feelings and twist them around to something new and terrible (and apparently convincing!). We shall see!

    • DMelde says:

      Nice writing Svapne. So you say you’re just having some fun? ha ha. No, your writing isn’t too gruesome. Your story effectively shows the dark side of humanity. nicely done.

  31. peetaweet says:

    I have a little bit of a problem. I like to steal things. It all started yesterday when I mistakenly walked out of the pharmacy without paying for my Plavix prescription. An innocent mistake, I was driving home when I realized, but before I could turn around a tingling rushed through my thinning blood, causing my hands tremble with….

    Oh I’m so ashamed. Of course I didn’t tell Edna. Why she would have my hide! After scripture, I laid my head to the pillow and prayed for forgiveness. To my stark horror the thrill returned while talking to the Lord. Oh what has happened to me?

    The next morning I stopped at the old filling station on the way to the pharmacy. With Mr. Hensley occupied, I was seized again by the rush and could not escape its grip. I nabbed a phone, a coat that was just my size, and I even walked out on my tab at lunch. That night after prayer, I promised myself that I would return everything and pay my debts. But first I had to rid my face of its ghastly smile.

    As the week progressed my wicked game continued. I left my wallet at home as though to challenge myself. I was unabashed, with an appetite for theft that could not be satiated. I lifted Mr. Dolan’s wallet as he painted the stairs. Paying him with his own money when he left! I could hardly keep a straight face.

    At the bank my hands shook like a drunk. Waiting in line, between the drooping ropes and under the watchful eyes of the cameras, my urges screamed with want. A dry swallow as I held my hands together for steadiness while glaring at the checkbook peeking out from the burgundy purse swaying teasingly from a frail shoulder. It was only a foot from my reach. Behind me a distracted teenager chatted endlessly on her cell phone.

    I allowed my hand to drift forward, leaning in with as much casualness I could muster. My heart thumped with life unknown since the war. A slow pull, just a tug when,

    Her face was a scrawl of wrinkles. “Reverend?” She said, eyes falling to my hand lodged in her purse.

    “Ms. Carter, you’re going to lose your check book dear.”

    “What? Oh. Thank you, Reverend Paul,” she said, her thinning nest of red hair shaking with her head. “I lose everything these days.”

    After my close call I prayed for the Lord to forgive me and vowed restitution. My trunk was filled to the gills with the week’s transgressions. I began by paying Mr. Hensley at the filling station, feigning ignorance due to senility.

    On that crisp Sunday afternoon I gave a blistering sermon about the pitfalls of temptation. The spirit steered me along as I railed and banged the pulpit with a tenacity I’d all but forgotten. The offering was generous; the pews creaking as hand reached for their wallets and came forward with an outpouring of guilt. I took my seat, passing Mr. Roberts, the associate minister, my lips tight in their familiar minister scowl. My eyes followed the plates of cash and envelopes to the front. Mr. Roberts began with his notes, searching for his glasses as I wiped my brow with my kerchief, unable to control my trembling hands.

    • agnesjack says:

      Very interesting and unsettling story. Discovering that he is a minister two-thirds of the way through makes it even more disturbing. It’s as if he is suddenly possessed — OR finally giving into a temptation that he was previously able to resist.

    • jhowe says:

      The good reverend has a touch of kleptomania I see. The story was well told but there seems to be a timing issue at the beginning of the story when it says it all started yesterday, but the week progressed through the body of the piece.

    • BezBawni says:

      Boy, this is some obsession he has! It sounds very much like a drug addiction to me. The story is well put.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Whoa. This story hits home with me on several levels.

      Not because I’m a minister or a kleptomaniac (I am neither), but because I do spend time in clerical company and have seen the shock when they are found not to be superhuman. The tale is made doubly realistic by its humanity, and by the intensity of the emotion.

      To bring this to the next level of realism, petatweet, all you’d have to do is ramp up the self-loathing at the sinfulness of it.

    • don potter says:

      If the minister succumbs to petty theft, what must the bishop be doing? Interesting read.

    • Susan says:

      Very disturbing, with some vivid descriptions that really bring the scenes to life – love the way you show his inner turmoil, particularly at the end.

  32. jhowe says:

    ‘My Problem, which doesn’t mean I’m necessarily talking about me.’

    I have a bit of a problem, but only when it doesn’t work out. I like to crack jokes. Maybe cracking jokes isn’t quite the term I’m thinking of, more like employing humor in almost all situations, even when it’s not appropriate. It all started when I was young, when I was able to reason beyond toddler status.

    When you’re a somewhat funny guy, it most often works to your advantage, but not always. The trick is to use tact and not to utilize humor in inappropriate situations. Herein rests my problem. I’m tact free.

    Beyond my tact deficiency I also possess a great deal of decency which in itself is an oxymoron dusted with contradiction. Even as I tell myself to be serious, out comes the pun disguised as witticism. When that goes over like Iggy Pop playing a kids birthday party, I feel bad and find myself grasping for explanations like paper straws in a cup. Too many clichés?

    On the plus side, this problem has helped me become a better writer. When written humor goes bad, you can’t fix it with a facial expression or a hand gesture. You can’t say, “Hey, I’m only kidding.” So you learn to write more clearly and get your point across fittingly. But that doesn’t always work either.

    More times than I care to admit, my written meaning gets misconstrued. I get responses ranging from, ‘come again?’ To, ‘WTF?’ Once that happens, you’re best off moving on as a comeback enlightenment often digs you in deeper. By moving on, you leave the recipient thinking, “Was he serious?” Better that than, “He sucks.”

    That’s my problem somewhat defined. In retrospect, I’ve never really lost a friend over it but I have discolored a few potential acquaintances. For that reason, who cares? I’ve received a lot more ‘LOLs’ than ‘WTFs.’ So in terms of acronyms I’m way ahead.

    I was going to end this piece with that last sentence. But I’ve decided to include a written exchange that went bad, for clarification, in case I didn’t get my point across, which as I said, happens.

    I risk offending someone, but here it is. A person I know wrote an impromptu review of a new restaurant in an e-mail exchange that goes around my neighborhood occasionally. She wrote, “Just about everyone from every trailer park in the area was there.” Since this is a sensitive thing to say, I tried to help by adding, “In that case, it would have been a good time for a tornado to go through.” You see, I wasn’t there, at the time of the reading to explain that mobile homes are often damaged in tornados, and since all the inhabitants were at the restaurant, nobody would have been hurt. That was one time I just let it go and moved on.

    • BezBawni says:

      Come again? (Hey, I’m just kidding)) I enjoyed it even if it’s not necessarily about you))

      • jhowe says:

        BB, Did you do those parenthesis right? It seems like a lot of them in there.

        • BezBawni says:

          This seems to be my problem, jhowe, this is just the way I show that I’m smiling. Well, I guess you’ll have to accept me as I am, parenthesis and all)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            Hello ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]], JHOWE. I’ve read your story very carefully. And now, I asking you, How in hell did you get into my personality and put it on the written page? The more I read, the funnier it got and then my legs started to twitch and I’m having to take medicine for it. Cheers!

          • jhowe says:

            OK, you’ll do. I accept you. ))

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Damn it, it’s not about jhowe. It’s about me.

    • agnesjack says:

      I liked this, jhowe. It had an easy, conversational flow. The closing paragraph was a perfectly cringe-worthy example. Excellent.

      I have to admit that I have a pet peeve: I think the word “utilize” is utilized too much. I’ve always felt that “use” works just fine most of the time.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Great one, jhowe!

      I’m afraid I have (or share) this problem. Normally I can keep my sense of humour in check, but sometimes I have to tell people that the part of my brain that stops me saying it out loud is still asleep.

      I recall hearing of someone I know having a heart attack while waiting in Emergency at the hospital. The first thing that came out of my mouth was “he chose the right place to have it”. Luckily people know me.

    • don potter says:

      This was a thought provoking post. Being honest in what you write is more important than concerns about ruffling a few feathers from time to time. It takes courage, but you must do it. Sometimes, connecting with others makes people uncomfortable. The question is will what you said make them uncomfortable or will you be uncomfortable for what you didn’t say?

    • Susan says:

      Very funny – “tact free” – I like that. Your narrator is irresistible – someone you’d love to have to break the ice at a stuffy party ;)

  33. Observer Tim says:

    “My name is Fraspthagior, and I have a problem. Damn, this is harder than I thought. I chose tonight because hoped most of you would be at Halloween parties. And everyone showed up in costume, too. It’s so beautiful, a touching metaphor for the masks we all hide behind. That’s why I have to do this.

    “Like I said, my name is Fraspthagior, and I have a problem. I like people. Humans, I mean. I like the way you run around with all your petty vices, disguising the real ones as ‘just being sociable’. And the cute little way people lie to themselves. And the lengths you go to to prevent others from finding out!

    “But we stick up for each other. That what Addictions Anonymous is all about, isn’t it? Like when Frank ran over that boy last week after his little lapse. I was able to clean it up so there was no sign of the accident at all. The only evidence the child is even missing is the milk cartons.

    “But I’m not here seeking praise; I have a problem. Like I said, people are my weakness. You’re all just so damnably delicious-looking! It started when I was much younger. I was rampaging through the streets of Megiddo and I used my fangs to tear the arm off a Jew. Instead of spitting it out like I’d been told, I accidentally swallowed it. And that’s when I was hooked. Over 3500 years of eating humans, but I now it’s time to …

    “Wait! Where are you going? Don’t leave! It’s going to take at least ten more minutes for the barbecue to warm up properly!

  34. BezBawni says:

    I’m in a traffic jam when I realize I’ve left my phone at home. I arrive at the restaurant an hour late with all hope lost and see the perfect man (I managed to enchant at my friend’s birthday party yesterday) still there, by the window.

    My off-the-shoulder cocktail dress matches his suit ideally. Leonardo (that’s his name, and yes, I’m so lucky) sees me. By his smile I know I look breathtaking. I hardly touch the chair he’s pulled out for me when a waiter appears and puts two plates of …something on our table.

    “I took the liberty to order, hope you don’t mind,” he says, discreetly ignoring my being late. He’s so my dream I want to pinch myself.

    He pours us some wine and raises his glass to me. I raise mine, take a sip and choke it down with a smile. (I hate dry wine.)

    “What is this?” I ask, beckoning at the plate, and put a piece of the delicious-looking stir-fry into my mouth to chase away the taste of wine.

    Before he utters a sound, I already don’t care – the meat-and-pineapple horror widens my eyes and I spit the disgusting chunks back onto my plate. There’s no way back. I can feel it without even looking up at him.

    I wash my mouth with the rest of my wine and spit it onto the plate (again).

    “Yuk,” I say, “Can I have some more wine?”

    He’s startled out of his shock by the question and reaches for my glass.

    “To hell with it,” I say and drink half the bottle in gulps. I find a cigarette in my bag and light it. The waiter comes to our table as on cue.

    “I’m afraid you can’t smoke in here, Ma’am,” he says so politely I might vomit.

    “Do something!” I snap at Leonardo whose jaw has been moving up and down every two second and now freezes like a seized piston. He hastily takes out some money out of his wallet. The waiter takes the money and leaves without a word.

    “You’re rich, aren’t you?” I say with a chuckle. “This waiter’s a slug, though. Oh, the stories I hear about him!”
    I laugh.

    “My, isn’t it hot in here!” I pull my dress down to flaunt a bit more skin than Leonardo is obviously used to. He blushes.

    “Why don’t we go to my place right now?” I whisper smoke into his face.

    “I…er…I have …er,” he stands up, slapping his pockets until he notices his wallet in his own hand.

    “I have a meeting,” he says avoiding my stare. He places the money for the food and wine on the table.

    “I’ll call you,” I shout after him. (He’s already at the door). “Like hundred times a day!”

    He leaves the restaurant, probably to go change his phone number.

    Yeah, I have a little bit of a problem. I like to go to extremes. I don’t like fate ruining my date, I can perfectly ruin it myself. It all started in a small alley when I found a note and missed my last bus.

  35. PeterW says:

    WRITING PROBLEM
    by the one and only PeterW.

    I have a bit of a problem. I like to drink. It all started in college, when I was eighteen. Before that, the only drink I was privy to was a sip of my mother’s red wine. I was a good kid, I got good grades, I played volleyball, I was on the math team, and I marched percussion in the school marching band. I wore glasses, was thin, and generally considered nerdy, one of those “smart” kid. I had a limited world view, I did not think that smart people drank or partied or smoked blunts or recklessly had intercourse with most boys on the floors. This world view was shattered, along part of my soul, when I moved into the dorm at the University for my first year of college. You could say I had been sheltered. Now I hold this tumbler of bourbon, and think of how sheltered I still am, how shocked I still am at what happened on those weekend nights, when us freshman met in those little rooms, took shots of vodka, and let the night play out with each following sip. The only difference is now I have extracted a habit from those crazy nights. Alcohol. It is my sin and each night it opens my soul.

    I met my roommate, Tyler, on the day we moved in. His parents shook my parents’ hands. I shook his parent’s hands. We sent up the room, 932, on the ninth floor of the Warren, in the heart of campus. The room was small and surrounded by similar rooms all down the hallway. 30 boys and 30 girls. 60 very smart individuals at a top public university.

    When the parents left after we had all eaten dinner at a pizza place not too far from campus, Tyler and I walked back towards the dorm. Tyler was tall, athletic, and lanky. He had come from a small town of 4000, two hours north. He had been the 2nd in his class. He was dark, not exactly handsome, but seemingly sure of himself. He was already on his phone, texting. I was from the city in which the university was located. Most of my friends had gone to private schools out east. I stayed in state for the low tuition.

    “So you drink?” he said.
    “No,” I said.
    “You smoke?”
    “No.”
    “You ever had sex?”
    “Umm, no.”
    “Why not.”
    “I guess I just never did any of that stuff.”
    Then Tyler had laughed, “Oh we’ll change that.” It was friendly.
    “Sounds good,” I had said.

    Tyler removed a bottle of Malibu from a suitcase when we got back to the room. Orange juice and Malibu was my first drink. It was delicious.

    The first night. The first night… people left from our floor to go to parties, people met and mingle, weed smokers found other weed smokers, music blasted out of someone’s stereo system, girls dixied up with make-up and leg-revealing skirts, like it was normal for them, but it wasn’t exactly normal, for most it was their first night of freedom (adulthood?). My first night of freedom I was giggling on a dorm room desk chair. There were two other girls in the room. Tyler had invited them in. One had brought vodka and we had done shots. I just kept giggling. I spilled booze down my shirt. One girl, the excitable one, who was mapping out where the best parties were, and complaining about where her classes were, Tyler fucked in a stairwell that night. The other girl must have been more like me.

    I don’t know if it was bliss, but I was dizzying and giggling and happy finally discovering what so many kids (kids?, people?) had discovered before me. The others laughed at me. When Tyler and the party girl left, the other girl, who would later become my best friend, got me some water, and told me that she always marked the number of drinks on her arms… shots left, beers right. Then she made me get into my bunked bed. She said good night and she left.

    That was the start. I’ve never fucked someone in a stairwell, but six beers is nothing. Five shots is a warm-up. And the late, late night bourbon opens up a well, which can only be drained through writing, tilting, finding the bed barely ambulatory, and that rich ethanol-saturated sleep.

    • PeterW says:

      Authors note: Someone asked why I don’t proof-read last week. I do proof-read. But it’s like a two to five minute scan. However, I don’t ever revise these or spend more than an hour writing these. I treat them as exercises. I spend my other writing time (limited very much now by my new job) trying to write short stories or doing a diary for my blog. This is an exercise, so I always create a new voice/character/settings, and just let it flow. And I usually let myself go over 500 words. This is because once a story has been formed in my mind, it should be completed in ‘toto’. Also, I no longer post comments on this forum, because one I’m jerk and a very harsh critique, and two, I sometimes suspect the readers cannot tell good writing from bad… and this is not to say that I am necessarily a good writer. Enjoy anyhow. .

      • BezBawni says:

        It’s a pity you don’t comment, Peter, I actually miss your harsh words. Someone needs to be harsh. I myself find it hard to say that I don’t like something if I don’t like something, I’d rather say nothing. But I’ve always appreciated your critique.

      • Observer Tim says:

        I have to admit I also enjoy your comments, PeterW. While phrased more harshly than I prefer, they do get my attention.

        Those I agree with I take to heart, those I somewhat agree with I take as guidance, and those I disagree with remind me that readership is varied and give me ideas about how to write so I only offend in a good way.

        If you want permission, feel free to comment on any of my posts.

      • agnesjack says:

        This was an interesting character study, PeterW, and very sad. I have known people like him.

        Anyway, I, too, use these prompts as a writing exercise. I enjoy it and, like Tim, I do not take any criticism to heart. If it is constructive, I appreciate it. This is a wonderful place to experiment and improve. To me, reading stories that don’t quite work is as educational as reading stories that do.

      • Pattypans says:

        I was the someone, and I asked because you said you didn’t proofread, so I thought you really didn’t.

        I also hope you will return to commenting. We need to hear what’s not working in what we write, as well as what is. I’d be glad to hear your comments on anything I write.

        • Pattypans says:

          And besides, Peter, I don’t remember any of your past comments, but I’ll bet you’re not a jerk at all. Maybe just a little curmudgeonly? Or maybe not even that, but simply honest, in a blunt way. You can be bluntly honest about what you think of my work any time you want. You can even be curmudgeonly about it, if you want.

      • snuzcook says:

        PeterW, I wasn’t going to leave a comment here, but after I thought of what you and others said, here are my thoughts:

        I am new to this site, and I am struggling with my writing. The usef things I find I can receive here are: 1) validation that the idea was communicated and connected to the reader at some level (or didn’t), 2) comments about the flow, pace, consistency, voice from the reader’s perspective, and 3) comments from other writers as to its viability as a stand alone or expandible piece. Personally, I tend to comment only on #1, since I don’t consider myself sufficiently proficient to critique on the other levels.

        If someone wanted to say: “That was the tritest piece of crap I’ve ever wasted the time to read,” I guess I would prefer they said: “Snuzcook, you could have chosen a better direction,”or “this has been done too often before,” or even, “take a risk and try something new.”

        As to word limit–for me personally, I write quicky then go back and cut down and I always find that it is tighter and more concise, and really loses very little of importance from the need to craft it within that limit. I enjoy that challenge even while I’m cussing a blue streak because for my particular needs it is helpful.

    • lailakuz says:

      This piece is both really sad and really compelling. You don’t use any high-fallutin or ‘nice’ sounding words; instead, you use simple words really, really effectively. Your style is very readable and gets the meaning across. Nice job!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        PeterW,

        I find this a very compelling piece. I read prompts as quickly as I can to get to the heartbeat and your’s fascinated me. I put myself in your place and I understood your character description. It hit home to me because I also was a nerd and never had a drink in high school.

        The University Of Miami was such a rush and a different world, it came back like a freight train running through my mind. Thank you for the story and I also think you should start commenting again

    • Susan says:

      Hi Peter – I found this very compelling – my only frustration was that there wasn’t more about how he’s affected by his drinking in the present. Your narrator is very engaging and pulls us into the story.

      Like others, I hope you change your mind about not commenting. I’m very new to this site and think one of the best things about it is the way people give each other feedback.

    • DMelde says:

      Nice writing PeterW. Late night pizza, beer, and shots. Sounds familiar. Sad that she needs it every night.

  36. calicocat88 says:

    (I believe you will all be pleased to discover that this sucker is at 500 words ;) )

    “Hey Alice”

    They say I have a problem. I like to chase rabbits, the real perfect kind with fluffy white tails. It all started when Mama said Daddy chased rabbits too. But he chased too many and she shot him. She made sure she brought it to my attention that I was on my way down the same road. I told her that maybe if she’d try chasing some rabbits herself every once and a while she have something to smile about and not go around popping caps in family.

    You know, I started paying attention real good and I wish Mama could have been here to see it—there’s people chasing rabbits all over the place. So there’s nothing wrong with me.

    After a while I started finding a bunch of rabbits, so many I couldn’t breathe. I was gonna say “too many” but you can never have too many rabbits.

    When I was five I wanted to marry Mickey Mouse and live in a tent in the front yard with my Barbie car parked beside it. I also thought it would be nice if I had magical powers.

    Rabbit.

    At ten I wanted to be a dancer and by the time I was twelve I dropped out because the girls were mean to me and the instructor replaced herself with a student teacher who didn’t know her head from her ass. I didn’t feel like watching the other girls hop up and down like blobs of snot anyway.

    Rabbit.

    Fourteen I just knew I was gonna get a boyfriend and we’d get married and make a million babies.

    Rabbit.

    I was gonna be a rock star at seventeen—

    Rabbit.

    Then a novelist at twenty.

    Rabbit.

    For every one I didn’t catch there was another one popping its tiny head out a hole and would set to leaping around so that when I’d tried to grab him, he’d be just out of my reach. Them little bastards are difficult to catch and damn near impossible to get rid of once they decide to stay.

    There was this one rabbit—I’ll never forget him—that I almost got. I had went around the house shutting all the doors and stuffing the cracks of them with wet towels. I had a gas stove and set the fumes loose. The last thing I remember was sticking my old ugly head in there and breathing like I never had before. A day or so later (they say it was months) I woke up in a small white room where I lay in a bed with plain sheets. What bothered me was that I was strapped to the bed so I had to just let those critters run about the room.

    My nurse asked me if I was done chasing rabbits. I told her the day I quit chasing rabbits is the day they can put me in the ground. And then I figured maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea—

    …falling down a rabbit hole.

    • seliz says:

      I enjoyed this. There’s nothing wrong with chasing rabbits! I had to laugh because at 5 your MC thinks it would be nice to have magical powers. Here I am at 25, thinking, “Why yes, it WOULD be nice to have magical powers!” Anyways, good job :)

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks seliz :) Rabbits are good! I personally have plenty to chase. And I concur with the magical powers. I think we should somehow invest in some ;) There are a few people I’d like to zap into toads.

    • frankd1100 says:

      Whoa! I’m reading and smiling, then laughing and bang! My head snaps back and I have to reread to be sure I’m getting it right… Smart, weirdly cool with an unexpected u-turn. I like this story.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Why thank you, frankd1100! I wasn’t sure how this story would be taken since I feel that it’s a little different than my usual type. Glad you enjoyed it :)

    • BezBawni says:

      This is a wonderful allusion to our life. I have loads of rabbits I’m chasing too)) Thank you for this story, Calicocat.

    • Toni Smalley says:

      And, finally, the true story of how Alice found herself in the rabbit hole. Thanks for setting us all straight, we’ve been told lies for years ;)

      Lol, very trippy, very weird, very funny, totally my kind of nonsense.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Ha! Ha! Toni, actually I didn’t have Alice in mind at all when I was writing it, but when I was finished the title came to mind and I was like “Hey, that could work.” Lol! I think maybe I should have mention Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit in there ;) Thanks a bunch!

    • Observer Tim says:

      I thought the rabbits were standing in for something else, but you kept me guessing until the end. A fascinating view into the mind of the delusional.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks Tim :) I was nervous about employing the symbolism in there with the rabbits. I love symbolism and psychology in short stories.Glad it seemed to work out here.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was very different, calicocat. I loved the Mickey Mouse, tent, Barbie car, magical powers paragraph. It sounded so much like the disjointed thoughts of a child.

      I wish she hadn’t ended up in the white room, though. A dark turn for someone chasing dreams, like her father.

      • calicocat88 says:

        agnesjack, I wrote this late and while feeling a tad bit upset, lol! My stuff usually gets pretty strange the later and more emotional I become, lol! I was actually different as a child so it was easy to get into the mind of the narrator. The ending was sad, but also some-what hopeful. Maybe she’ll get out and finally capture a rabbit? Or maybe she’ll just continue falling deeper and deeper into her world? There’s no telling! Thanks for reading :)

    • snuzcook says:

      Read this with a wide-mouthed grin! I can relate. Now, of course, they call it ADHD.
      Or a Russell Terrier in the family tree.
      Thoroughly enjoyed it!

      • calicocat88 says:

        So glad you enjoyed it, snuzcook :) I have always suspected ADHD in myself, but never been diagnosed. I think it’s sad that children and adults with hyperactive minds and bodies are labeled as having something “wrong” with them. They’re just different and that’s a good thing :) A Russell Terrier in the family tree–that’s hilarious! I’ve never heard of that before, lol! I’m so using that from now on.

    • don potter says:

      I enjoyed your post. I grew up chasing the opposite sex, but that was a different time and place. Loved your last line.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks Don :) We’re all chasing something at some point in our lives, whether it be rabbits, people, hallucinations…lol! You never know what’s going to motivate you.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Good for you for staying within the desired word count. I hope you don’t get too caught up in that because you might deprive us of some really special writing. This is a nice take on the prompt. I tried to write about a rabbit in a previous prompt and it felt forced. The forum all said it felt forced so I try to steer clear of rabbits. But you did a good job. Thanks for sharing.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks MCKEVIN :) I don’t think I’ve ever written anything for the site that was within the word limit. I thought it was about time I did so at least once ;) I think that rabbits are kind of obvious, but it just fit this time. I’m glad you liked it!

    • Susan says:

      Hi – I just love the twists and turns in this tale – your narrator’s very entertaining and engaging – excellent, if rather depressing, ending.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Susan, thank you so much! I wasn’t really trying for a positive or depressing ending, just one open for interpretation. I like to see how readers feel about certain circumstances. I hope it didn’t make you sad though :)

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          I loved your story Calico. An age of childhood to a life time of madness, perhaps. The way you used rabbits to portray her struggles growing up is excellent.

          We’re all fascinated by rabbits when we’re little. I never caught one despite all kinds of traps. It’s fun to write in the word limit. It’ll get automatic after awhile. Great read.

  37. Pattypans says:

    Monday, April 11, 1960

    Dear Diary,

    Today I overheard my friend Timmy’s mommy say that redheads have bad tempers. Timmy is a redhead. Other kids tease him about it—his red hair, I mean. But I don’t. And anyway, I don’t think redheads have worse tempers than people with other colors of hair. My hair is light brown and wavy, and I have a temper.

    Today when my big sister Angel (believe me, she doesn’t act like an angel!) hurt my feelings, I got mad. She said I’m just a dumb little kid. But I’m not! I’m 9 years old, and she’s only 10, so I don’t know why she makes such a big deal about it. I hardly ever even ask her to help me with my homework, even though when we come home from school my mother isn’t home from work yet. She doesn’t get home til we’re in bed, and I miss her. Anyway, when Angel said that, I got real mad. And when I get mad I like to do something. Well, it’s not like I really like doing what I do, it’s just that my body does it before my mind gets a chance to think about it. So I do it. But I don’t hit people. If I’m home, I usually slam doors. That’s why none of the doors inside our house shut right. Or I pick up the black chair by the phone table in the hallway. It’s not very heavy, you know. So I pick it up and slam it back down on the floor. That’s what I did today when she said that. But I felt bad about it.

    I have to go to bed now, but first I’m going to have a glass of milk.

    Wednesday, April 13

    Dear Diary,

    Today I tried a new, prettier hairstyle!

    Thursday, April 14

    Dear Diary,

    Today I got 95 on an arithmetic test, but Mrs. Mallory marked an answer wrong that was really right. It was on a story problem. So I raised my hand and stood up and told her. She said I was right and changed my grade to 100. She’s fair. But I didn’t act disrespectful.

    Friday, April 15

    Dear Diary,

    I got mad at my sister again today. She said my hair looked ugly and hers was prettier. We were in the hallway and the telephone chair was right there, so I picked it up and held it up so I could slam it on the floor really hard. But something strange happened right then. I was holding it up in the air, and I looked at it, and then I sort of looked at myself. I mean, there wasn’t a mirror there or anything, but it was like I could see how ugly I was acting. So I didn’t slam it down at all! I just put it down on the floor gently, and came here to my room to think about it and tell you about it. I feel a lot better than when I slammed it down the other day. I don’t want to do that anymore.

  38. seliz says:

    The house was empty when I got there. It stood ominous against the night, like the message I received earlier, “Please Chelsea, it’s urgent.”
    And yet, Johane wasn’t there. This wasn’t the first time he let me down. On our first date, he was over an hour late. I should have never given him a second chance. Or third. Or fourth.
    A creak behind me broke my melancholy thoughts. The door slowly opened, revealing a dark entry way. Perhaps he was home after all.
    “Johane,” I called, as I made my way into his house. “I got your message.”
    Silence greeted me.
    “Johane?”
    A light clicked on at the top of the stairs.
    “This is not funny, Johane! I’m leaving,” I said, whirling around to leave. The front door slammed shut and the bolt slowly clicked in place.
    “What the–” I whispered, backing away from the phantom door.
    “Chelsea! Up here!”
    Relief rushing through me, I sprinted up the stairs.
    “That was so not funny,” I said as I pushed open the door to his bedroom. But the bedroom was empty—and strangely neat. The only thing on his usually cluttered desk was a single sheet of paper.

    “Dear Chelsea,

    I’m sorry to have called you here in this way, but you see, I have a bit of a problem. I like to drink the sweet nectar known as human blood.”

    I laughed aloud when I got to that line of his handwritten letter.
    “Johane, you can come out now. Good joke.”
    I crossed my arms and stared expectantly at the door. The lights flickered, then went out. My heart flew to my throat. I hated the dark. The past several months, I’d been getting the strange sensation of being watched. One time, I could have sworn I saw red slitted eyes outside my window.
    “That’s not fair,” I said, unable to keep the whine from my voice. “You know I don’t like the dark.”
    A match struck across the room and one lone candle was lit. Like a moth to the light, I went and scooped up the candle.
    “Johane?”
    With shaking hands, I used the candle to read the rest of the letter.

    “It all started years ago, when I lay on deaths doorstep—sickness ravishing me. A man came to my bedside and had me drink from his wrist. I was feverish and delusional by then. I thought the red eyed man was just another hallucination brought on by the sickness. I was wrong. Two and a half centuries later, the man has returned for repayment. I’m sorry my love, but he has told me the price for immortality. You.”

    The candle flickered out and wild red eyes narrowed across from me. I screamed, but a cold hand held my mouth closed. The creature leaned in and whispered, a vile hissing sound. “You must tell them—vampires don’t sparkle.”

  39. agnesjack says:

    I have a little bit of a problem. I like to go into Barnes & Noble and move books around. It all started years ago when the right wing yahoos took over our country and our discourse. Since then, when I see a book by Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh on the showcase tables, I am compelled to move them. I’ll put Ann’s books in the Antiques and Collectibles section. Bill’s always end up in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section, and Rush, well, I like to put his books in either the Marriage and Relationships section or the Self-Help section under “psychological delusions.”

    It’s difficult, sometimes, to stealthily move all the books, and I’m always nervous that I’ll get caught. Can they arrest me for deliberate book displacement? I’ll think, and then laugh at the absurdity of it.

    Today, I’m standing with a pile of Michelle Malkin’s, “In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror,” which I have just removed from the 50% discount table. I’m trying to decide the appropriate place for them when a young, well-dressed woman comes up to me and says, “Can I have one of those? There aren’t any left on the table.”

    I have to think on my feet. “Oh,” I say to gain time, and to straighten the teetering pile. “These are, uh, damaged. If you go downstairs to the information booth, they’ll tell you where to get a nice new one.” If you must, I say to myself as she heads to the escalator.

    Of course, now I have to get rid of them quickly. The Horror section is too obvious, as is Mystery and Crime. Bibles and Bible Studies seem inappropriate because the irony of it might be missed. The same can be said for the African Americans section. Humor is out, too. It just isn’t funny. Crafts and Hobbies are a possibility, or, perhaps, Parenting and Family. No. That’s not quite right. Time is running out, so I decide to just drop them in the New Age and Spirituality section.

    As I scan the shelf to find a good spot, I hear a shrill voice down the aisle to my right, “That’s her, officer! Grab her!” Before I can turn, there’s a heavy hand on my shoulder and a gruff voice says, “Ma’am, put the books down slowly and make sure I can see your hands.”

    It’s all over, I think with a sigh, and in a way, I’m relieved. My little joke, my creative way to protest, just isn’t fun anymore.

    I put the books down on the floor and smile at the officer. “I haven’t done anything, sir,” I say.

    “We’ll just see about that,” he says as he grabs my arm and starts dragging me toward the exit.

    Behind us, I can hear the girl shrieking, “I told you! I told you she looked like a foreigner!”

    • seliz says:

      Funny take on the prompt!

    • frankd1100 says:

      Funny and frightening at once. Nice piece.

    • snuzcook says:

      I love the images of hiding books. What a subversive sense of empowerment and entitlement for your MC! A fun story.

    • calicocat88 says:

      I will never go into a bookstore and be unable to think of your story :) Hilarious and good reading at the same time. I had to chuckle at the MC’s problem. Very unique and I could honestly see myself doing something silly like that–book protesting! I had fun reading this :) Good job!

    • BezBawni says:

      This is a brilliant idea, I’d like to try that myself)))

    • Toni Smalley says:

      I watch O’Reilly all the time, so I was like, oi, a politically motivated story, but the concept is hilarious. Loved how serious the characters all took the crime of book displacement! Very creative, I enjoyed it :)

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is hilarious to me, but not for the reason you think. I sometimes do it!

      Not for political reasons; I believe everyone has a right to their demented political beliefs. I do it because I think the books are arranged wrong. Sometimes I sort them into alphabetical order by author, or move a book to the “correct” subject area. And I seldom move more than two or three books on a visit. I think there’s a crazed librarian hiding in my mind.

      Great story, agnesjack!

    • jhowe says:

      Great story AJ. Do I detect a slighty left slant?

    • don potter says:

      This was an interesting read, but I found the concept disturbing because hiding books is the first step in stomping on freedom of speech. Is book burning next? No matter what we think about what other people say, in America they have the right to say it and we have the right to disagree. The playful little prank is scary to me. Think about it; would you want someone burying your books on the basis of not accepting the principles you believe in?

      • agnesjack says:

        don — I am absolutely with you regarding the slippery slopes that can lead to oppression. First, there are cameras on the streets to protect us, then they become the means by which our faces are being recognized and put into a huge government database, etc., etc.

        However, I would argue that this protagonist’s prank does not equate at all with burning books. She is merely putting them on the wrong shelf. They are not hidden, and, practically speaking, they are probably put back where they belong by the store staff before too long. She is not a government entity deciding what you, as an individual, can and cannot read, or what you can and cannot do.

        That said, the real point of the story is the irony. She is racially profiled and arrested because she moves (not burns, not hides, not destroys) a book that condones racial profiling.

        I do appreciate your comment, don. I think it is a worthy subject and I’m glad you responded.

        On a lighter note, my husband used to draw mustaches on the faces of politicians he didn’t like in the Sunday paper. I’d turn a page and there would be so-and-so with a dastardly mustache curling up toward the sky. It was funny.

        p.s. I hope this response is within the 500-word limit.

        • agnesjack says:

          p.p.s. If someone put a political book that I’d written in the House and Garden section under “pests,” I would think it was funny.

        • don potter says:

          I did not expect such a complete answer to my comment. Moving the books around is funny to some and a dirty trick to others. I just wanted to suggested to our little group of writers how important it is for us to continue to have the freedom of expression. Your piece was a playful fantasy and well written too. It stuck a cord about America today and how intolerant we have become while pushing for laws that will make us more tolerant. So I reacted to your post after I thought about what could happen if there was an organized nation-wide effort to hid a particular author’s work. However, I found your thought below about putting a political book in the pests section to be funny, but actually doing it would give me a rash.

          • agnesjack says:

            :)
            I thought you brought up a good point and wanted to give a thoughtful response (with a little humor thrown in).

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I rearrange people furniture when I visit them. I’ll push a table back against a wall or open the drapes. I didn’t think anyone noticed until my friends brought it up at a card game and they were pissed! Good descriptions. I could totally see the MC moving books around the store. good job.

    • Susan says:

      Very funny – and a great, if alarming, ending.

    • Heart2Heart says:

      So creative – well done!!!!

  40. frankd1100 says:

    I have a problem. The UPS guy caught me wearing women’s clothes and it all started with my wife, Ellen.

    Our marriage, folks said, was a healthy match because we complemented each other. I was loud and boisterous at parties, for example, while she was demure, fragile in an alluring way.

    Early on, though, I detected a restlessness in our love making. I was thirty at the time. “Twisted steal and sex appeal,” I’d often announce to an embarrassed Ellen and our guests after six or seven beers at barbecues or parties we hosted.

    Ellen was twenty-six and based on the frequency and passion of our intimacy, I thought we were great together. When the ripples began to appear I considered the possibility that I’d become too demanding. I read a book describing men as Martians and made an effort to ‘communicate’ better.

    “Ellen, what’s up?” I asked, in bed one night, pulling her against me. She wore a thin, cotton, mini-nightgown, simple and seductive. I couldn’t see her face as her back was to me. She stiffened and pulled away as I tried to hold her.

    “Honey, what’s the problem,” I asked, sure it was something I could fix.

    “Chad, you have the problem, not me.”

    “Babe, come on, I thought we were doing well.”

    “You’re all talk, Chad. You sold me a bill of goods, ‘Mr. Master of the boudoir.’ You’re about as adventurous as, as… Dick Cheney!”

    “Dick Cheney,” I said. “How does he relate to….”

    “He’s a Dick!” she shouted, spinning into a sitting position on the bed. “It’s a metaphor, OK? He’s a Dick and so are you… Get it now… Dick?”

    I was stunned. Apparently she’d been waiting for a more exciting me to emerge in ways that would sate her needs.

    During counseling, a suggestion was made that I dress up as a woman, an idea that repulsed me so much I stood and left Ron’s, (the counselor), office. He caught me at the elevator and persuaded me to persevere. Arriving at the following week’s session, I thought I’d entered the wrong office and apologized to the woman behind the desk.

    “Chad,” she said in a deep voice like Ron’s. “It’s me, Ron. See, it’s not so weird.”

    Ellen came in just then and said, “Hi Ron,” and took her seat like everything was wonderful.

    That night Ellen came through the door carrying bags from a women’s specialty shop.

    “Ron and I spent the afternoon shopping,” she said. “We found a few ensembles in your palette that will be really cute.”

    It was a disaster. I tore the flimsy, (expensive) panties right at the start. When I came out of the bathroom in the first outfit, Ellen, lying on the bed in her nightgown, took one look and began shaking her head.

    “Now what,” I asked angrily, as she sat in stony silence, glaring at me.

    “Ron said this might happen, Chad. How could you not think to shave your legs,” she said, her voice rising. “I ask one thing of you…”

    A week after Ellen had moved in with Ron, I sat in the kitchen smoking a cigar, thinking of ways to get her back when the front door buzzed. As I opened the door to the UPS guy, I remembered I was wearing a pink blouse and a blue flared skirt. I couldn’t begin to explain that I was trying to overcome certain prejudices to win my wife back. I signed for the package. He said, “Thank you Ma’am,” and turned away, a smile on his face.

  41. jhowe says:

    Nice story. Very light and entertaining. How would you get a kid to stop charming bees anyway?

  42. JRSimmang says:

    SHE’S ALL RIGHT AT NIGHT

    Wednesday. Not the day, the woman.

    She told me once that she was born on a Wednesday, and her mother was a crack addict. Naming her after the day she was born required the least amount of thought. Then, when we were fucking one night at the Super 8, she told be it was because her mother named her after her grandmother, who was also born on a Wednesday. Her mother was never a crack addict. This time, she told me she was a preschool teacher in west Detroit. Thing is, I can’t tell which one’s the truth. She’s a problem. A big one.

    During the day, she tells me she works at the big firm downtown. That’s why I can’t reach her when I need a lunch break. But, one time she met me behind Style’s Burgers. She had on her lawyer powersuit, the matching pinstripe one. I guess some rules can be broken. She told me when we were finished that I can’t call her again during the day. It’s not like we were married, you know. She kinda chuckled when she said that, a flash across her eyes, and she scrunched up her face real fast, like I knew she was trying to say something to me. Subtext, right?

    I like to spoil her. I bought her a necklace the last time we were together, which she put on immediately. I lied to her. I told her it was around a thousand dollars. But, it was my mother’s. It was a shame she had to leave the motel so soon. I was going to ask her to marry me.

    But, that’s the problem when you’re porking a call girl. And she ain’t the only one. Sometimes, I call up Eloise. She has these hands, these hands that just… man. But, she ain’t got that thing that Wednesday got. It all started when she whispered into my ear. I ain’t gonna tell you what she said. Oh no, that’s be rude. A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell.

    Anyway, I can’t tell you when it started exactly. I guess, it would have to be when I pulled into Grace’s House of Worship. She was sitting in the back of the sanctuary, mascara streaming down her cheeks. I can’t let a woman cry, especially in the presence of his holiness, so I sat real close and offered her my hanky. She took it, dried her eyes, deep blue eyes, and thanked me. Then, we fucked in the bathroom. I was, let’s see, 32. I’m 35 now, and I think I wanna settle down.

    So, yeah. That’s the story. Like I said. I got a problem. It’s Wednesday.

    -JR Simmang

    PS. Beamer’s story may have to be on hold. I’m working out how to fit this prompt into the plotline.

    • jhowe says:

      You should have posted this tommorow, or is it already Wednesday where you are? But besides that, you can change your voice like nobody I know. One post you’re a 19th century poet and the next you’re a man of the street. Great job, loved it. I’m glad you didn’t let her cry in church. Talk about inappropriateness.

    • seliz says:

      I like how you used this prompt. Reading the prompt, it seemed a bit restrictive, but you managed to make it unique and interesting. Also, great opening line!

    • frankd1100 says:

      Worlds crossing people being ground up just like it is…

    • calicocat88 says:

      Well this is an interesting relationship :) You really got down with characters here and the narrative was great! Enjoyed this very much!

    • BezBawni says:

      I’m reading this and it’s Wednesday (not the girl, the day). The story is so honest, I think I’m gonna read it again. Yeah. I’m gonna read it again.

    • Toni Smalley says:

      THEY DID IT IN CHURCH! OMG!…lol, it was good, it really added to the story. I love how the character’s personality shines through, the voice is totally unique. Though, the guy sounds like a tool, I enjoyed the story.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Now here is a very plausible story of addiction. Well told, JR.

      Don’t worry too much about Beamer; even if he gives this week a miss we can always look back.

    • Amy says:

      JR, you are an amazing storyteller. Super character-driven, and I love that. Guess there’s more than one reason why they call Wednesday “Hump Day” eh? (sorry, couldn’t resist) Excellent writing, my friend.

    • don potter says:

      You choose the perfect metaphoric city for this story to take place. Detroit represents the crumbling of society and the MC is symbolic of how individuals are caught up in this decaying process. Sad story but well told.

    • JRSimmang says:

      Thanks, everyone.
      J: It’s Thursday, now. But I suppose it’s always Wednesday where the MC is, am I right?
      Seliz: Thank you so much. I agree, sometimes we have to cover our white lies.
      Frank: Nothing like a little people sausage…
      Cali: Thank you as well. It’s always fun to write in dialect.
      Bez: You can read it as often as you desire.
      Toni: Wrench or hammer?
      Tim: Beamer is going to hit tomorrow. I’ve got a day scheduled.
      Amy: I am humbled.
      Don: What an incredible observation. Nicely done.

      Every one of you is awe-inspiring. And, even the ones who continue to write and share. Man, it’s great to have a place to collaborate!

    • Susan says:

      A very engaging narrator – and I just love the closing line :)

  43. QuiverPen says:

    I have a bit of a problem. I like to Walk the Path of Souls. It all started when I was 87, when I stumbled across a rift in the realm between worlds. It was like nothing I had ever seen before, a rent in the very fabric of reality. It shone with a deep scarlet light tinged with shadow and mist, like a wound gone gangrenous with acrid purification. It called to me, spoke to the depths of my soul, as if the Universe herself was calling out in pain. My heart heard the call and answered.

    I do not know what moved me to enter the rift, but when the shadows enveloped me, I experienced a searing pain and a tender loving caress, which felt all the more compassionate when juxtaposed against the intense agony that plagued me. That is when I came to know Her. The Mother. As the refining fire of pain and despair wracked my body and mind, my soul was set free and answered the call. I was Hers. I Walk the Path of Souls. I am Nepja.

  44. snuzcook says:

    BTW — sorry for a few typos. Wanted to post before I go to work.

  45. snuzcook says:

    Mr. Carstairs We Have A Problem

    I have a little bit of a problem. I like to charm bumblebees. It all started when I was six, when I wandered off one morning from a family picnic and fell asleep in a broad meadow of tall grass filled with wildflowers.
    Before I was found hours later, I had discovered quite accidentally that bumblebees are nearsighted, and easily fascinated by certain hand gestures. Over a period of a few hours I had hypnotized a dozen or so bees into sitting quietly in a circle, like trained dogs at the circus, while I made them dance in the air, one a time, and do tricks.

    My parents tell the story that I was rescued from the midst of an enormous swarm of gigantic wild bees and in grave danger of being stung and going into anaphylactic shock. The truth is that my uncles had heard me laughing and came crashing through the tall grass, startling the bees into an angry swarm. My uncles snatched me up, and ran howling out of the meadow with me slung over one shoulder, happily waving goodbye to my new friends.

    When I started school, it soon became apparent that my bee friends would not be welcome in class. The first time I came into the school room with a large bumble bee on my shoulder, a boy rudely swiped at it with his hand and got stung. I was sorry for him, since I knew he thought he was doing me a favor, but still he should have minded his own business.

    Over time, my teacher and the other kids in class figured out that bees just seem to like me, and Mrs. Lemon would nervously ask me to invite my buzzing friends to leave so we could get on with our lessons. Mrs. Lemon was very understanding, though I think she secretly was terrified of bees.

    The next year, a note went home to my parents about my disruptive behavior. My new teacher didn’t like “bugs or vermin of any kind.” I was pretty sure that children fit into the category of vermin for her. My parents made me promise to stop charming bees at school, and I kept my promise for the most part. But there was the unfortunate incident in 5th grade when bees invaded the boys’ restroom after Billy Jenks stole my homework and threw it around the playground with his friends.

    A few months ago, I read an article about the importance of bumblebees as barometers of a variety of environmental factors. I immediately realized that there was a need for trained bumblebees to assist in a number of research venues. I have been working writing a grant proposal based upon my work with bees ever since.

    “So you see, Mr. Carstaires,” I said as I opened the door to the other room, “I couldn’t possibly allow anyone to spray in this apartment.” Mr. Carstaire dropped his pest spray wand and fainted dead away.

    • agnesjack says:

      This made me think of the problem with the bee colonies disappearing. Perhaps your bees could look into that.

      Creative take on the prompt.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks for the comments.
        BTW–did you hear about the 2″ Japanese hornets in the news tonight that are causing havok?
        Now they need a bee charmer…

        • agnesjack says:

          Yes, snuzcook. They had a picture of them online. They’ve killed several dozen people in China. Yikes!

          Bees, however, lovely pollinating bees, are our friends. :)

    • calicocat88 says:

      I was blown away by this story. I don’t even know what to say–the concept of the bees and the stories that come with it is just beautiful! And of course the ending couldn’t have been more appropriate. So lovely!!

    • frankd1100 says:

      This is fine writing… Clean, tight and paces the reader from one scene to the next with a natural, efficient flow. Within your humorous context you shine a light on the importance of bees. When I was a kid, (decades ago) we coexisted with honey bees. I see bumble bees now but not honey bees except in commercial hives. Without bees the eco system we rely on ceases to exist.

      Well done.

      • snuzcook says:

        Either way, thanks for reading, BB!

      • snuzcook says:

        Thank you for your comments, Frankd1100.
        Isn’t it interesting how the world we experienced as kids on such seemingly trivial levels is very different from the world that kids today are experiencing, and the things that we notice are now missing are things that they never even knew. Talk about a generational disconnect when we address “normal” or “expected” or even “should be”

    • BezBawni says:

      I’m finishing the third book of Cassandra Clair’s trilogy, so the name Carstairs is a bit disturbing for me. I’d rather wait for another post of yours, snuzcook)

    • Observer Tim says:

      I would utterly freak if I met this guy. I am terrified to incoherence by bees. Wasps and hornets I can stand, but bees bring out the terrified child in me.

      That said, it was a great story, snuzcook. Maybe this guy can help with the pollinator problem … if only he were real.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks O.Tim,
        6-8 legged critters have always been my secret cousins, tho I confess that I am a tad more comfortable with nectar eaters than omniverous hornets. That said, it is a real eye-opening experience to watch a bald faced hornet hunt among the branches of a Douglas fir in mid summer–truly the tigers of the micro-system.

    • don potter says:

      You laid out the case for being kind to bees. I have been stung but don’t have the fear of bees some folks have. Besides doing the job of pollinating, bees also bring us honey.

    • Susan says:

      I’m very envious of you – I love bees and would love to charm a few more into our garden – great story, very entertaining – brilliant ending.

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