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Saving a Life

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

You’re walking to grab lunch when you see a crowd gathered around a building. You look up and see that someone is standing on the ledge, looking to jump. You hear a police office close to you mention that the person is about to commit suicide. He also mentions the person’s name: and it’s someone you know! Write a scene where you attempt to stop the jumper from jumping.

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

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686 Responses to Saving a Life

  1. savage77 says:

    NOTE: this is my first time I ever shared one of my story’s so I would love to hear your comments

    Waiting for food is hard. Especially when you only have 45 minutes for lunch break. I have to admit the last few months have been hard with the miscarriage it really took a toll on Michelle, but I think things are going to turn around.
    Fumbling with the little red velvet box in my pocket I start to have second thoughts but the commotion by my office distracts me. Before I can see whats going “Number 222″ was called I go up to get my burrito and head over to the building. As I grow closer I hear shout about not jumping. I finally see the woman standing on the roof of a 32 story building. I make my way with my burrito in one hand up to the front of crowd. With a police man was right next to me the woman seems to have the same shape as Michelle
    Policeman “Michelle you dont have to jump”
    Me:”Michelle?!”
    All these thoughts are raced threw my head at one time. Shoving my burrito into the officers hand I duck under the yellow tape and raced threw the building
    “COME BACK YOUR NOT ALLOWED OVER THERE!” shouted after me.
    I didnt have te time to wait for the elevator so I started on the milions of stairs that where to come. I never ran that fast before. Taking two and three stairs at a time. By the 15 floor my calves where on fire and my breath left my long before. Half way there. I somehow picked up the speed and bolted up the last 1,027 steps. I slammed my body into the door leading outside.
    “Michelle” I managed to yell between staggered breaths.
    Wiping her curled auburn hair around the sunlight hitting it making it look like its glowing. The tears glistening down her cheeks. That moment I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, but the pleading look in her eyes told me she was ready to end hers. I forced my legs to move reaching out missing her by more than an arm. I dont know what made me do it. The fact of loosing the love of my life mixed with the adrenaline pumping threw my veins or did I just slip. It doesn’t matter because all I know is Im falling inches above her almost peacefully onto oblivion.

  2. emfullen says:

    I tapped my foot, impatiently waiting for my lunch to be prepared. “182, your order is ready.” I rushed to the counter to retrieve my food and left quickly. I was eager to get back to work. It was approximately ten minutes past my lunch break and I desperately needed to get back to the office as soon as possible. As I was impatiently waited at the crosswalk I noticed a crowd emerging in front of my work building. They were looking up, screaming things like: “DON’T JUMP!” I ran as fast as I could and joined the crowd. “Who’s up there?” I asked a police officer that was standing by. “Someone by the name of ‘Abigail Masons’” he responded. My mouth gaped open. My own best friend was committing suicide?I dropped everything- my overpriced sandwich, my purse, and the coffee I was supposed to bring in to the office. I ran. Scratch that. I sprinted faster than I would if I was being chased with a knife. I almost hit the automatic doors before they could sense I was there. I HAD to stop her. People in the building obviously had no clue what was going on- or they just couldn’t care less. I slammed my body into the stairwell door forcefully and continued running, up and up and up. I reached the roof and my calves were burning like somebody had poured acid on them, but I didn’t stop. I opened the stairwell door and there was Abigail standing on the ledge, tears streaming down her face, her arms spread out like a bird. Her heels were on the edge of the building and she rocked back and forth. “Abig-” I choked out. I reached out out to her, but I was too far away to reach her. She fell. I don’t know what made me do it. Maybe the adrenaline, maybe the pain, or fear. That was the day I died. Jumping after Abi, as though I could swoop down and save her. We didn’t scream, we didn’t yell. We just fell silently in front of a crowd.

  3. baileylundberg says:

    I sat at church every Sunday like a good little girl until I was 12 and smart enough to tell my dad I was sick, or that I’d rather go the bible at my own pace because I read much better than I listen. I did go through the bible on my own, and decided that half of it wasn’t reasonable – come on, I’m eating bacon, that shit is delicious. I read enough of the bible to know that suicide was considered a sin. When I asked my dad about it he said “God gave you life and he’s the only one who should take it away.” My father’s the preacher at my small town’s main church, a beautiful white building with the tallest bell tower in Minnesota.

    My 15 year old sister Chloe’s boyfriend Jordan killed himself after his mother died of ovarian cancer, and she locked herself in her room for 3 months straight. My father conducted the funeral, but at dinner that night with my sister still in her black dress and not speaking, he said “Suicide is a sin. A damn sin! That kid will rot in Hell for the rest of time!” even though hours ago at the service he’d said that Jordan was probably having a blast up in heaven with his mother and offered his ‘sincerest’ condolences to Jordan’s father.

    At the end of the third month on my birthday when she refused to come out for cake, my father went busting in to her room to find her passed out with a bottle of our deceased mother’s old diabetes pills and drove her to the hospital. After she recovered, he wouldn’t stop yelling at her. “Do you want to spend all of eternity suffering in Hell?” He’d scream. “Suicide is a sin for many reasons! Do you want to cause your sister and I pain?” She wouldn’t say anything, she hasn’t in a long time. She’d just sit there and take it. So I had to step in.

    “Dad!”

    “What do you want? I’m talking to your sister.” He said irritably.

    “You aren’t talking to her! You’re talking AT her, can’t you see she’s not listening anymore?!” My dad looked at my sister staring blankly at the wall in front of her like she did most days and I could tell he knew I was right. “I need to talk to you alone.”

    “If what you say is true, then we are alone.” My dad said.

    “She’s only gone when you start lecturing her.” I informed him, stepping out of the room and into the little hallway. My dad followed me, sightly hunched over, and I could tell that his anger was what kept him from facing the fear of losing his youngest child.

    “What is it?” He sounded completely exhausted.

    “If you want her to want to live, you’d better start talking to her like a human being with faults and problems. Sometimes when you’re asleep and not yelling at her, I go in there and I hug her. I kiss her forehead, and she looks up at me with her brown eyes and I swear I can read her mind. At dinner after Jordan’s funeral, you made her feel like her grief was stupid. You made her feel that since he died in a way you don’t approve of, he doesn’t deserve a happy afterlife. She felt like you didn’t think she had the right to be sad. So she tried to bottle it up, but he was so much a part of her she bottled herself up instead. Now she’s trapped in there with it, and it was driving her mad, she just wanted it to be over, so she reached for the pills. At dinner after her funeral would you talk to me in my black dress and tell me my sister was a horrible sinner and that she’d suffer in Hell for forever? Would you sit and drive me to kill myself too?” I let loose on my father and before I knew it he’d pulled me into a hug and he was sobbing into my hair. My sister was still looking at her wall. I didn’t know if we were ever going to get her back completely, but I was willing to try. I took my dad’s hand and led him back into my sister’s room.

    I breathed words of life and with every word, I could see a little life creep back into her eyes.

    “It’s okay to cry, Chloe.” I said finally, and I watched her lip quiver. “It’s okay to be sad, daddy understands.”

    My father stood from his chair in the corner and approached her. He held out his hand and she slowly reached up to slip her hand in his as an acceptance to his silent but sincere apology. He tugged her into a tight hug, and I smiled in the back until they both dragged me into their embrace. I could stay like this forever.

    In the technical way, my father saved her life, he kept her breathing. But I kept her from slipping away into the furthest depths of her mind where we would never have been able to reach her.

    All I can say is that there is a definite difference between being alive and living.

  4. walterz says:

    The Jumper
    by Walter Zogg
    “Rrriiinnnggg” the school bell screeches. I sling on my back pack and start heading out of the class. “hey you wanna grab a some pizza” my best friend Isaac asks? “sure” I reply. Isaac and I walk out the high school doors heading for double Daves pizza. “how’s your dad doing? I heard from your sister he’s not doing too well.” Isaac asks. “He got fired yesterday and seems pretty down” I say. “we oo we oo we oo” a police car zoomed by. “whoa what do you think going on” I ask. But before he can respond I look ahead and see what’s wrong. There’s a man on top of a four story chik fil a crying! I see lots of police cars surrounding the building and screaming uplifting things at the man. Me being a freshman took a while to understand what was going on. “wait he’s going to jump” I say. “somebody needs to stop him”. The next thing a police officer shouts throws me off guard. “Benet don’t do this. Your life is going to turn out great. You have kids a loving wife just because right now you’re not doing good doesn’t mean the rest of your life will be bad. “benet” i say. I look closer at the man on top of the building. He has short brown hair and bright blue eyes. “Thats my dad” I say feeling queasy. “Dad” I shout. He looks in my direction but he can’t find me. “I’ve got to go save him” I tell Isaac. isaac just stands there looking even more shocked and confused then me. I race to the chic fil a door just to see it taped off with yellow police tape. “you can’t go in” a police officer says. “But But thats my dad” I say. “Maybe” the police officer says. “you maybe can go in but let me ask head chief”. “We don’t have the time for that” I say. As he runs of to ask the chief I slip under the yellow tape and open the door unnoticed. I climb the up the flight of stairs as fast as I can skipping by twos and threes. I reach the top in what seems like forever. I open the door that leads to the roof and hoist myself up on too the roof. “Dad what are you doing” I ask while walking closer to him. He looks really embarrassed for me to see him crying and ready to end his life. “If it’s the job dad, you can get another one. “ I say “I I just feel terrible” my dad mutters through tears. “ You shouldn’t feel bad. You have raised three great kids, you’ve always been nice to everyone around you, and your always upbeat and know how to comfort me when I am down.” now that I know how he is feeling I don’t see how he comforted me and told me it was okay when he felt like it wasn’t going to turn out good. “I just feel like you deserve more than what I can give you. You deserve someone who’s super nice and can get you what you need”. “Dad I would rather have you. you have given me some much.” I grab his hand and go for the stairs. “you will be okay” I say not sure myself if he will be.

  5. My coffee was starting to get cold, but I didn’t care. I stopped caring a while ago, when I heard my neighbour’s name coming out of a police megaphone.
    He was so damn high, all I could think about was how green I must look.
    “I hate heights” I whispered to myself, while my feet carried me towards the building. I had to do something, I knew it. I just was too scared to admit I was about to go up there.
    I reached the door, just in time to be spotted by a police officer, who of course ran towards me.
    “Ma’am you can’t go in there.” he said grabbing my arm.
    “I live here. My mom’s waiting for me, she must be sick worried. Please let me in.” I looked at him with puppy eyes.
    He hesitated but finally said ok and let me in. I threw my coffee in the garbage and started running upstairs.
    4 floors…5… my heart was about to crush my ribs, looking for a way out.
    10…11… I could hardly breathe any more. The air was hurting my throat and my legs didn’t stop shaking. But I didn’t stop running.
    I reached the top trembling and breathless, but I didn’t care. If I stopped, Josh wouldn’t have the chance to breathe again.
    “Hey!” I screamed with what was left of my lungs. “Josh, it’s Lizzie”
    “Go away Lizzie!” He screamed without looking at me. “This is not of your business.”
    “You’re right. It’s not. But I know how you feel right now, I mean, besides scared.”
    “You can’t stop me.” he said, barely turning his head to see me. But it was more about me seeing him. He wanted me to see the determination in his eyes.
    “I’m not here to stop you.” I walked slowly towards him and climbed to the wall where he was. “I’m here to jump with you.”
    He looked at me with shocked eyes. “What?”
    “You heard me, how about we do it on three? I count. One….two..thr-”
    “WAIT!” he screamed holding my arm and making me lose balance. When I recovered it i said “what? You said you wanted to jump!”
    “I… I just…”
    “I’ll count again ok? One..”
    “No! stop it!! Why are you doing this?”
    “Because I know how you feel.” He looked at me with disbelief in his eyes.
    “How can you-”
    “I know you thing life sucks. And it does, actually. Life sucks, it doesn’t always get you what you want. Life is a complicated thing we worry about. I know what it’s like to feel abandoned, and even if you’re not alone, you feel like you always are. I know what pity can do to a person when you see it in everyone’s eyes including your own family. I know what’s like to cry yourself to sleep every night, hoping that in the morning everything will be ok but it’s not. I know what’s like to see yourself in the mirror and hate the single sight of it. I know what’s like to feel there’s nothing left for you to do but die. But I also know what it feels to be standing on the edge of life, begging for it to stop already. Feeling the air brush your face, fearing it might push you before you’re actually ready. ” I looked at the floor trying not to show my tears, he was staring at me now. “I know that… because that was me, two years ago. I stood at the edge of a hospital’s roof for about an hour before somebody noticed. I remember my head was really cold, because there wasn’t a single hair on it. I remember the burning feeling of the chemo running through my body and the tears of pain that ran on my cheeks. But there was something that made me change my mind. My mind went crazy and I thought “not today” and came down. It was the best decision I’ve made. I got better, I got my hair back and my mom and dad smile again. I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that, you can’t possibly see into the future, you don’t know what tomorrow holds for you. You just have to wait and see, and believe me, it’s worth it.” I came down of the edge and extended my hand for him to take. “Life’s like a roller coaster. But if you get down in the middle, you’ll miss the best part of it.”
    He hesitated, but took my hand and came down. “thank you” he whispered in my ear while crying all over my shoulder.
    “Come on” I said, “Let’s buy coffee”

  6. My coffee was starting to get cold, but I didn’t care. I stopped caring a while ago, when I heard my neighbour’s name coming out of a police megaphone.
    He was so damn high, all I could think about was how green I must look.
    “I hate heights” I whispered to myself, while my feet carried me towards the building. I had to do something, I knew it. I just was too scared to admit I was about to go up there.
    I reached the door, just in time to be spotted by a police officer, who of course ran towards me.
    “Ma’am you can’t go in there.” he said grabbing my arm.
    “I live here. My mom’s waiting for me, she must be sick worried. Please let me in.” I looked at him with puppy eyes.
    He hesitated but finally said ok and let me in. I threw my coffee in the garbage and started running upstairs.
    4 floors…5… my heart was about to crush my ribs, looking for a way out.
    10…11… I could hardly breathe any more. The air was hurting my throat and my legs didn’t stop shaking. But I didn’t stop running.
    I reached the top trembling and breathless, but I didn’t care. If I stopped, Josh wouldn’t have the chance to breathe again.
    “Hey!” I screamed with what was left of my lungs. “Josh, it’s Lizzie”
    “Go away Lizzie!” He screamed without looking at me. “This is not of your business.”
    “You’re right. It’s not. But I know how you feel right now, I mean, besides scared.”
    “You can’t stop me.” he said, barely turning his head to see me. But it was more about me seeing him. He wanted me to see the determination in his eyes.
    “I’m not here to stop you.” I walked slowly towards him and climbed to the wall where he was. “I’m here to jump with you.”
    He looked at me with shocked eyes. “What?”
    “You heard me, how about we do it on three? I count. One….two..thr-”
    “WAIT!” he screamed holding my arm and making me lose balance. When I recovered it i said “what? You said you wanted to jump!”
    “I… I just…”
    “I’ll count again ok? One..”
    “No! stop it!! Why are you doing this?”
    “Because I know how you feel.” He looked at me with disbelief in his eyes. “I know you think life sucks. And it does, actually. Life sucks. It doesn’t always get you what you want. I know what it is to feel abandoned, to feel like there’s nothing else you can do for yourself but die. I know what it’s like to see pity in the eyes of everyone around you including your family. I know what it’s like to cry yourself to sleep every night for years until one day you just can’t take it any more.”
    “I also know, what being standing on the edge of a building feels like. The air threatening to push you, all the nosey people looking up at you, being more curious than worried.”
    “How do you..”
    “Because I’ve been there, Josh. Because I was in your position two years ago. Standing at the top of a hospital where I spent more time than in my own house. Wanting all the pain and the suffering to be over. Wanting my mom and dad to move on from me, from all my expenses into a life they’d actually enjoy. I stood there, feeling the chemo burn my body while I cried. But life is worth it. Believe me. You don’t know the future. I’m better now, I’m getting better. My parents are happy now.” I stepped down the edge. “You don’t know what tomorrow holds, but you need to find out. Life goes up and down like a roller coaster, but if you get down before the ride ends, you’ll miss the best part of it… so what do you say?” I extended my hand so he could take it.
    He hesitated for a while, but he reached out and took it. He smiled at me with tears in his eyes. Then he hugged me real thight.
    “Thank you” he whispered in my ear.

    And now, my make up runs, because he’s standing there, at the end of the aisle, waiting for me to say I do, and of course I do.

  7. shealianne says:

    A scream rang out in the midafternoon heat and for some reason, maybe a secret hero’s complex, I ran towards it. Just around the street corner a small crowd, with looks of horrified fascination and craned necks, gathered. I knew what was happening before the officer beside me sighed, “Not another one.”
    I let my eyes relish each of the ten layers of windowsills, counting them in turn before finally raising them to what my eyes already knew they’d find. A lone figure sitting with feet dangling from the roof’s ledge. Even though I saw it coming I still had to catch my gasp in shaking hands.
    “Come on down,” the police officer shouted up at the figure. “We know you don’t really want to do this.” Apparently, they didn’t really know because below someone was setting up a tarp to catch this mystery jumper’s fall.
    “I know what I’m doing.” The figure called down. Something about the voice caught my attention. All of a sudden I remembered a warm classroom.
    “James, you understand the consequences of you not working. You’re smarter than this really,” I sighed.
    “I know a lot about life, Miss Dallyway.”
    “James,” I whispered and then to the policeman. “Officer, could I speak to him for a second. He’s my student.”
    “Be my guest, lady,” the incompetent officer handed over the megaphone.
    The figure on the ledge shimmied closer to the edge.
    “James!” I shouted in panic and then with forced calm, “James. It’s Miss Dallyway.”
    He paused in his motion. “I’m sorry. I know a lot about life and I know it’s not worth anything,”
    I wracked my brain for something that meant anything and suddenly, “Have you ever read a Tale of Two Cities?
    “Yes,” he replied hesitantly
    Now the whole crowd was staring at me. I didn’t really like public speaking and I could feel my palms were slick with sweat. I pushed on. “Do you remember Dr. Manette? He is unfairly jailed for eighteen years of his life. He loses everything his wife, his daughter, even his own identity.”
    “And?”
    “And when he finally meets his daughter he finds in her a good that wipes away all the horror of a past life of misery.”
    “What about Carton?” he shot back. “He kills himself.”
    “James, Carton sees something in life. He sees something in the mutual love of caring enough about a person that you would spend the vain effort in trying to understand them. He sees something in trying to preserve the justice of the innocent even if it only buys them five minutes of safety. Having meaning is important, James. If you just stay you’ll find a goodness greater than you could ever imagine.”
    I can still hear his voice years later at the valedictorian podium, “I don’t know a lot about life and who I am, but I have found a goodness and a love worth preserving. A love that recalls to life and that is all I need.”

  8. mysticwater says:

    She’s standing at her end. The roof of the abandoned building seems to be crumbling at her feet. Just like how she feels on the inside, abandoned and broken.

    Painfully ironic.

    I notice her dark hair whipping around her face, the wind speeds at that height could easily knock her off balance. You could almost see her teeter on the ledge, like she was waiting and willing the wind to carry her away.

    “Confirmed identity on the jumper!” I overhear her name on the police radio. My stomach lurches.

    The first responders are squabbling amongst themselves; Should they wait for negotiators? Should we call her family? She just needs her medicine! Should we call a doctor? She’s prob just doing it for attention, she won’t REALLY kill herself. She just needs time, she’ll be fine. She will give up and come down, don’t feed her empty threats.

    These idiots, nervously glancing upwards every few moments, it changes nothing. She’s still standing there, waiting to end it all.

    But the name they referred to her as… I heard what I heard. Didn’t I? It’s impossible, right? Surely I am mistaken, having the same name as me must be coincidence. But the more I stare up at her, the more pain I begin to feel too.

    Instinct and adrenaline has me racing into the old building, flying up the desolate stairs with ease. No one questions my sudden surge of authority or even notices my quick ascent to the roof of the building.

    No one else will save her.

    Pushing on the heavy metal door, I rush into the ironically beautiful sunlight. She hears the loud creak of the door and looks back at me frantically.

    Fear. Agony.

    Masquera tears are streaked down her face. Wet makeup smudged and melted across her beautiful features.

    She looks broken.

    The wind beats the hair violently about her face. Her eyes are pained in sadness and fear.

    She looks how I feel.

    She is me. The shell of the girl I was. I found her.

    “It’s too hard!” She wails at me, “it’s too loud in my head! The nightmares will never stop! I don’t want to be in pain anymore…” Her sobs trail off as she glances out over the city, her eyes glazed in tears and sorrow.

    “I know…” I whisper, reaching my hand out to her. No dark void to hide her from me any longer, I see her clearly now.

    She’s broken and she’s scared. Her weakness gives me strength and I begin to ease my way towards her.

    “We are not alone. 一人じゃないよ。” I say, and she can’t help but look back at me and my outreached fingers straining to touch her. “I will save us. We will fight this pain together. We will keep living-”

    “How!?” She interrupts me, more tears streaming down her face. She regards me in such unbelievable doubt and disdain, it stings. “The nightmares and pain won’t stop! What’s the point?”

    Indeed, that’s the question I still ask myself everyday. What is the point? What are we living for? Why am I still fighting?

    “We have to keep fighting…” My voice is cracking but I am determined not to let myself break again. There has to be a part of me that won’t give up. “Fighting for ourselves and for other rape victims! Fight for others who still can’t find their voice. We will keep fighting for other survivors and most importantly we will keep fighting for the ones who love us.” I’ve got her attention, my attention. I can see a glimmer of hope in her hazel eyes.

    “I know you are impatient, but we will be happy again! I refuse to give up, I refuse to let that man kill me from the inside out. I will tell our story, and even though I will cry and be angry, I will heal. We will heal.”

    “I want to heal…” She whimpers, I watch as she begins to reach for me. “I don’t want it to hurt anymore.”

    I sigh and lift my hand so we are mere inches apart. “It’s going to hurt for awhile longer. But we are not alone.” I remind her and she exhales.

    She stumbles forward and falls into my waiting embrace, disappearing within my body.

    Tears stream down my face. I may have saved myself from giving up, but the road will still be painful.

    I’m not alone. I have the love for myself back again.

  9. snovy121 says:

    “Officer! She’s about to jump!” someone frantically pleaded to a cop, referring to a woman approaching the edge of a six story building. The cop squinted as he looked up and met the blinding sun.

    I shook my head in disgust. This was probably just some cry for help. A suicidal person would have already jumped, and sure wouldn’t retreat based on trite warm fuzzies from a stranger.

    “Ma’am, please step off the ledge. You have so much to live for,” the cop called up.

    “Let’s just go,” I whispered to my companion Jake. Onlookers were already multiplying around the building.

    “I have nothing left!” the woman desperately cried.

    “That’s Rose King!” Jake recognized our dear friend’s voice. I took a closer look. It was her! And that shrill voice was unmistakable. My heart started pounding like it was going to jump out my throat. What was Rose doing on that building? Just yesterday we had been imagining outlandish scenarios that would land us in prison. We agreed my neurosis would cause me to turn myself in for driving under the influence despite a BAC well under the legal limit. But I couldn’t even think of a funny reason for Rose to go to prison.

    “You’re too sane to ever go to prison,” I said.

    Her face got serious as she lowered her voice to a suggestive tone. “I lost my virginity to my underage brother. We wore the outfits in our family portraits. I could go to prison for that.”

    I about fell on the floor. If I didn’t know Rose so well, I may have thought she was serious, with that deep tone and intense look in her eyes. But honest to God, she was just so together, I knew it was a sick, hilarious joke. I could always predict Rose’s fundamental behavior and motivations, but never her perverse antics. And that’s what kept them so damn funny. But maybe I misread her. There was clearly more pain and unpredictability than she let on.

    “Rose!” I screamed, “Get down!”

    “The horror! The pain! I can’t go on!” she melodramatically bellowed, intentionally exaggerating each syllable and raising her arms with each utterance.

    I could feel my eyes widen, unsure if this was one of Rose’s pranks. But that made no more sense than an actual suicide attempt. No way would she pull a prank this messed up.

    “Miss King, please step down,” the cop again called up.

    “I don’t need your help! You can’t understand me! I bet you don’t even know the pain of your mother denying you a bowl cut in the fourth grade!” Rose answered, farcically raising fists in the air.

    I bursted out laughing. “Rose, seriously, what the hell?”

    She smiled back, right at me, no longer able to hold up the act.

    “I just got up here to check out the view. You all started freaking out, so I went with it. But you should have seen the look on your face!”

  10. nickava16 says:

    I was late. Then again, I was always late to everything. I was talking to the boss of Stark Enterprises, Tony Stark himself. I was applying for a job as chief engineer of his Mark II suits. My call had just gone through.
    “Hey Tony, I think I might be a few minutes late.”
    “No problem Jason, I might be late myself.”
    I then realized I was lost. I couldn’t see the Stark Building anywhere.
    “Dude, I think I’m lost.”
    “Where are you?”
    “I’m at the Intersection of 6th and Commonwealth, right next to a beautiful church,” I said.
    “I’m right around there too,” Tony said. “You need to turn around and head in the opposite way for a few miles.”
    As I turned my car around, still daydreaming about meeting Tony Stark, another car smashed into mine. My car caught on fire and was flung another 50 yards down the road, setting another three alight and damaging 2 additional ones.
    I screamed at the top of my lungs because I would never make it to the building in time. I opened my door to scream and cuss at the person that had hit me.
    “What the heck were you doing…”
    I trailed off, realizing I had collided with Tony Stark, damaging his new hot red Corvette. His car seemed relatively undamaged, where as mine exploded behind me, sending fire trucks and ambulances screaming towards the smoldering wreck.
    “Oops.”

  11. Ink.Reign says:

    It was 3:15. Time for lunch. I had decided to pack lunch that day…don’t ask me why. That part of my memory is vague. I can’t even remember what I was eating, probably a bagel. What I do remember is the roof.

    I had heard some police officers talking in the lobby-something about a jumper- but I hadn’t stayed to find out what they were saying. I didn’t know it was that roof. The roof of my office building. A long time ago I had discovered that the stairwell took you up to a door that led to the roof, the door looked like it was locked with a chain and padlock. However, if you really looked, the padlock and chains were not connected to anything vital and you could still open the door. Someone had probably done that so no one would discover them up there for a smoke…or lunch. I used to go there every day, stare out at Manhattan and eat a sandwich. It was nice.

    But that day was different.

    That day I went up there and someone else was there too.

    It wasn’t a dramatic scene with him on the edge and his arms out like wings. He was just sitting there-like a statue carved into the cement. I was about to walk back down the stairs but he turned when he heard the door open. He told me to stay if I wanted. That he would be quick. I neared him cautiously and peered over the edge. A few people down below had noticed him but not many, not yet. The police were still probably getting a few calls-taking it more seriously now. The man had a brown jacket and a five o’clock shadow. His eyes were green. I remember that clearly.

    It was odd. I felt a bit… out of body. Like I was doing these things without actually doing them. I was just watching myself-wondering why. I asked him what was happening. I think my exact words were, “Do you want a bite of my sandwich?”

    That’s right…I was eating a sandwhich.

    I remember it was strange because he said yes. People who are going to die do not generally care about nutrition. There were more people at the base of the building now, a sea of arms reaching towards the sky with pointing fingers. Their faces blurs of open mouths.

    My cell phone rang.

    “um…hello?”

    “Jerry? Is that you up there, with the man?”

    “I can’t really hear you… are you down there?”

    “Yes! We all are. We were supposed to stay away from the top floors man!”

    “I didn’t know…”

    “Listen the cops wanna’ know it they can go up or if the guy is gonna freak on them.”

    “Hold on.”

    I looked at the man with the green eyes. I asked him if he wanted someone to come and talk to him- he said no.

    “Hello…hello…Jerry?” I heard the phone in my hand

    “Yeah I’m here, he said no, stay down there.”

    “Jerry you gotta talk him down.”

    “I gotta go”

    “Jerry…”

    Like I said it was sort of out of body. I just hung up.

    “Throw your phone over the edge.” The green eyes man spoke.

    “what?”

    “You gotta toss your phone over the edge.” He spoke again.

    “Listen I’ll put it away if you want-“

    “Toss it over or so help me I’m jumping right now.” His voice was calm but his eyes said he was not lying.

    I tossed my phone over the edge. I watched it break apart at the bottom.

    “I have something to tell you” He turned to me fully.

    “What?”

    “They have my brother.”

    “who?”

    “They say they’ll kill him so I have to do this.” His eyes glassed over a bit, “I don’t want my wife and kids to think I killed myself.” His shoulders shook a bit but his tears did not leave his eyes.

    I didn’t know what to say…what could I say? I just repeated that word. “Who?”

    “Can I ask a favor of you?”

    The cops told me to write down everything that happened on this yellow notepad. Every last detail. What the man smelled like, what he said…how it felt to push him off the edge. I have been here for hours. And I just keep telling them the same thing.

    He told me to.

  12. Skeets says:

    1st time writing. Appreciate any kind of feedback:)

    I ran a hand down my face as I look up at the roof of O’Malley’s department store, the highest roof in town. And the idiot had the stupid idea to jump from that one. I want so badly to go up there and push him off myself, but I doubt that would sit kindly with the sheriff who came for me in the first place.

    The older women, who sympathized with the idiot on top of the roof, push me forward, declaring it was my fault that he was up there since I rejected his marriage proposal. Insomuch, I was the one who had to get him down. I feel like shouting in their faces that I wasn’t about to marry a man that would jump off a roof just because he was rejected, but I doubt that it’d do much use. How had this crowd form so quickly anyways?

    It’s frustrating as molasses in a jar to be in a town full of matchmakers and sympathizers. Really, they all just like something to gossip about. I doubt they care about the fool on the roof.

    I don’t want to help George Herman down, but its looking like I’m going to have to. I grit my teeth as I always do when I’m trying to say something nice instead of what I want to say. “George,” I start.

    His eyes widen with excitement upon hearing me. “Maggie? You-You’re here?” He asks like a pathetic, sniffling, wet kitten.

    Despite growing all the more annoyed, I still need to get him down. “That’s right, George. I’m here. How bout you come on down so that the sheriff can help-

    “No!” George interrupts . “If I can’t live with you then I won’t live at all!” He hollers as he takes a step forward to where he’s right on the ledge.

    The crowd gasps then looks at me. Cripes, people. It isn’t my fault that he’s up there. Things are escalating quickly ,and I need to bring him down. Alive, unfortunately.

    “George, maybe I responded too hastily to your proposal. Maybe we can talk things over and-

    “Really, Maggie?” He interrupts.

    I usually hate to be interrupted, but at the moment it was saving me from saying more mush than necessary. I nod my head only thinking I’m promising him nothing.

    George nods his head vigorously as he steps back off the ledge. “I’m coming for ya, Maggie!” He calls as he starts to let down the ladder that I guess he used to get up there in the first place. The crowd cheers as he descends down towards the ground. The moment his feet hit the ground, he comes for me with open arms.

    And the moment he’s within swinging distance, I slam my fist into his face. The crowd gasps as he falls down on the ground. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go finish my lunch.” I say, turning.

    The crowd parts as I walk through. I’m going to have heck to pay for later.

  13. “Up there!” A woman cried frantically, getting a few looks from curious by-passers. I was just about to leave after grabbing a cup of coffee. I can’t help but get attracted to the commotion, which I normally wouldn’t do. “Somebody get her out of there!”

    “It’s Sophia Curtis,” a man from the crowd pointed out. “What the hell is she thinking?”

    I looked up the three-stories building, defying the striking sunlight that was blinding me. I could barely see the hooded figure of a lady. She stood on the cusp of the mere cement that encompassed the roof. However, her frivolous curls and the way she dresses-lacy button-up and a pair of sneakers-were noticeable. My stomach squirmed as I remembered who she reminded me of.

    “It seemed like she’s going to jump-“

    Wait a minute.

    No way. Sophia Curtis. I recognized that name. It had always been etched in the back of my mind. The way sarcasm flow in her veins. The way she laughs the corniest jokes I made. The way her dimples show when she smiles. How could I forget? Once it dawned on me, I ran towards the staircase leading to the rooftop. Dropping my cup, I didn’t look back.

    “Sophia! Please don’t do this to yourself!” I said once I saw a familiar back facing me. My breathing was sharp and uneven, but I couldn’t calm down. “Let’s go inside for now, and talk things through, okay?”

    “No. I’ve had enough of this life,” she muttered. Her fingers balled up in a fist. Her knees were shaking blatantly. “Nobody needs me here. I’m not even worth a penny.”

    “You’re worth more than anything, Sophia. Who says that? Your existence is precious.” I walked my way quietly towards her. Noticing how her once flawless skin was now enveloped with slits.

    “The wind is nice today, Trish,” I was taken aback momentarily at the mention of my name. “I wish I could share it with you.”

    “No! Don’t-“

    “I’ve always wanted to fly, Trish, literally,” she paused, suppressing a sob. “Don’t you think it’s a nice weather to fly?”

    “You’re out of your mind, Sophia! Please, come down-“

    “No. I’m in my right mind,” she said in a hushed tone. “I’m sorry but I can’t do this.”

    “You can do this!” I pleaded woefully. Tears streamed freely down my cheeks. The wind gushed triumphantly between us. “This is my first time meeting you in 8 years. Why are you doing this to me?”
    And then it happened.

    Sophia Curtis mouthed an ‘I’m sorry’. Exhaling one last breath, Sophia Curtis jumped to her doom. Making a loud thumping noise below. The angel has fallen. I snapped myself out of reverie.

    The leaden sky roared as if sympathizing with the mourning beneath. Men and women all dressed intricately in black as if it was the new fashion. The pastor rambled on about how amazing Sophia Curtis was as a human. I stared at Sophia Curtis’s coffin-where she’s now rested. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t decipher what had happened.

    Then it started drizzling.

    Sophia Curtis, are you crying?

    (I don’t expect to get any compliments for this one. I wrote this briefly and I just needed to know which part I’m lacking. English is not my first language, so this is my first try, I guess?)

  14. Yay! Finally caught up on the prompts. Memo to self: don’t fall behind.

  15. Marc Ellis says:

    Nothing like the last minute with little to no editing. Please look past the rough edges.

    Mama was a beautiful woman.

    Daddy was a small-town preacher barely able to make ends meet.

    Being a preacher’s daughter, I was used to visitors. Parishioners and strangers frequently stopped by to visit my father. They God’s will and a clear conscience…as long as it didn’t interfere with their individual worldly pursuits.

    Mama had visitors too…normally when Daddy was at church. Today Mr. Pearson came to visit. I was sitting on the kitchen floor playing with a stray kitten we had adopted when they returned from the back porch. Mr. Pearson was tucking in his shirt and securing his belt and Momma was straightening her skirt.

    “Your Momma is a beautiful woman,” Mr. Pearson said to me as he left a think brown envelop on the table. “This should get you through the rest of the month,” he whispered to Momma before leaving through the front screen door.

    “Lilly, I need to run to the market before dinner,” Momma said to me. “Take these rolls to your father. He hasn’t had lunch.” She smiled, kissed me on the forehead and left.

    Our home was a parsonage 50 little-girl skips from the church. I found my father practicing his sermon in the pulpit. He was vigorously denouncing the futility of carnal lusts and pleading that the lost find the only true peace in God’s forgiveness. He stopped and scooped me into his arms when he saw me. “What’s my little angel doing here?” he asked.

    “Mama said to bring you lunch.” I handed him the rolls.

    “A gift from heaven,” he said. We sat in the back pew and enjoyed our lunch.

    “Pastor, come quickly. It’s your wife.” It was the local constable. He ran into the sanctuary and grabbed my father pulling him out of the church. I ran closely behind. The constable turned my father to face the church and said, “I just happened to see her up there when I was walking by on my way home for lunch.”

    My mother had climbed to the stairs of the steeple and was leaning out the opening.

    “Mary, get down from there,” my father said sternly.

    “Mama!” I screamed.

    Though tears were streaming down her face, she looked at us with an unusual peace on her face. “Please forgive me. I don’t think God will,” she said.

    “Mary…Don’t,” my father pleaded.

    Mama fixed her eyes on me and mouthed, “I love you Lilly” before releasing her grip. She fell like an angel and landed on the other side of the church.

    In terror, we circled the building and found her. My father fell prostrate next to her writhing in prayer for her life. I stood behind him sobbing. An angel had fallen. Mama was a beautiful woman.

    • Reaper says:

      Wow.

      And I say again, wow.

      I was going to tease you about the rough edges but I just can’t. Beautiful opening line, and I had no idea where the story was going. I actually forgot the prompt and just assumed you were doing something free form. This story had everything and was just, stunning is the only word. Glad I checked at the last minute.

    • lionetravail says:

      Marc, that was a little rough, but poignant and well done. Mama had a saintly quality in addition to her seedy one- an amazingly deft juxtaposition.

      Only comment: the lil girl tone of voice was perfect with the 50 lil girl skips, but jarred a little with the vigorously denouncing carnal lusts. “Daddy was yelling his sermon about carnival lusts or something, and his spit flew from his mouth. I always liked the carnival, but daddy said God didnt.”

      Just an idea to enhance the girlks voice in that one par, which otherwise seems to adult. What a wonderful piece to share!

      • Marc Ellis says:

        Thanks lionetravail. Yep, I knew I was a bit sloppy on this one, but I realized time was limited until the prompt had no active participation.

        I like your suggestion about the girl’s voice. I’ll have to keep that in mind if I have a young character in the future.

    • jmcody says:

      Marc, this was worth the wait — simply told, but with searing images and biting irony. The central image and idea of the fallen angel was powerful and haunting. In so few words you said something profound about the human heart, and how good and evil are inextricably linked in this world. This might be my favorite of yours so far.

    • Critique says:

      I ‘m glad I checked back and read your story. It planted vivid images in my brain! I agree that it could use a little polish but the essence of the story overshadowed that! Well done Marc :)

  16. ColtonBurge says:

    As a busy college student in the bustling city, of course I had better things to do, but who could resist the pull of a frantic crowd? I slipped among the ranks of the onlookers and soon discovered what the whole hullabaloo was about. A man stood on a ledge, not unlike the many men who have stood on ledges before. Of course it was no one I knew, how could it be? I had moved hundreds of miles away from my tiny town when I went to college, yet, there was a draw to this particular man. It was as if a string attached to my heart had pulled me into the crowd, into the heart of this frantic mass of feigned hysteria.

    I asked one of the men in the crowd who the jumper was. He, of course, didn’t know. In fact, no one in the crowd had any idea who the man was, no one ever did. I heard the man call out from his perch on the ledge. It was the first time I had felt my blood freeze. “I am David Finch,” he declared proudly, “and I am going to fly.”

    David Finch. Why was that name so familiar? It had struck me like a knife when I heard it, but why? I had no connection to anyone in this town, so I could not have possibly known the man. I tried to get a closer look. The man was young, confident, and had a look of determination on his face- as if he were accomplishing something no one had accomplished before. The haughtiness of his eyes surprised me, was this what desperate people look like? He seemed to be in complete control of his situation, and indeed he was. The crowd was quite frantic, quite hopeless, but he, he had the world under his feet, he was its king.

    With no further declaration, he dove off the platform, bravely. The screams from the crowd were shrill, but clearly I could make out the shout of the man, “The Heavens will welcome me!” He did not fly. He, in fact, fell faster than any man had fallen before. He plummeted toward the earth, defying the cries of the crowd. I looked away. I couldn’t bear to see his landing. The crowd’s collective gasp was enough. It was done.

    Seeing that the excitement was over, the crowd dispersed- all turned their own way, but I, I was left alone, staring at the ground. I felt as if a great cord in my heart had been severed, as if I had just seen the closest man to myself fall from the sky. They say pride cometh before a fall, and in the case of David Finch, the man who would be a bird, this was all too true. David Finch. I remembered why that name was so familiar.

    That was my name.

    • ColtonBurge says:

      As a sort of disclaimer, I should explain that this is my first prompt. I am 17 years old and never really written anything before, but hey, it’s a good time to start, right? Anyway, I’d like some feedback on this. (And I promise I didn’t mean to steal anyone’s twist if I did, it fit the symbolic purpose of the story.)

    • Reaper says:

      Welcome ColtonBurge. It seems we have an influx of seventeen year old new blood. Twists are like plots, there are only so many of them so you are not stealing unless you do so intentionally. The challenge is to do them in a way that is different, to make them something fresh even if everyone else has done them.

      This is a good time to start, and a good place to get feedback. The members of our little (is it still little?) community are very smart people who will help you hone your writing. Beyond that they are also some of the kindest people I have met on a place like this. So welcome also to the wonderful world of writing. Or as the rest of the world calls it, the world of, that’s nice but what do you really want to do?

      Feedback is a little tough on someone’s first story. You have some real talent and a lot of potential. I would not have believed that this was your first story if you had not said so. Really it depends on what you are attempting. This story is really full, so I will focus on a couple of things here.

      Your voice is pretty strong, though I would suggest cleaning up some of the wording. Nothing is bad, and nothing is wrong but there are some places where you could prune some words to make this crisper. So I would suggest looking at what you want to do with flow and starting there.

      You seem to have a lean towards social commentary, that connection felt but a lot of as always, like normal. I like that but it happens enough in a small space and feels a little heavy handed. You might consider a few less, or spreading them out a little more, but that is a question of style so please ignore at your own leisure. I often ignore advice on my writing.

      Last you went for a bit of a surrealist bent on this. Which is great when done well, and in many ways I think you did it well. However I ended up wondering why the MC did not recognize his own name. If that was your intention, well done. If not I might suggest revealing the name a little later in the story.

      Overall this is amazing for a first time “really” writing and I look forward to seeing more from you.

    • jmcody says:

      I liked this a lot, and I think you have talent. Reaper’s advice is very good (Reaper’s advice is always good), so I will just add this small nuance: I was left wanting more clues linking the narrator David Finch to the David Finch on the rooftop. There didn’t seem to be any connection between them. Also some clues as to what led this small town boy to such gargantuan hubris, and to such a delusional state. Finch was a great name choice, by the way!

    • agnesjack says:

      A second welcome. I think Reaper has given you good advice (especially about the reveal of the name), so I will just say that if this is your first story, good job, and the best way to get better at style, form, imagery, the arc of a story, etc., is to read read read and to write write write. I’ve learned a lot from the talented writers in this forum, and the exercise of writing a prompt every week has helped me tremendously with my own writing. We are a diverse, but supportive group, so once again, welcome.

    • ColtonBurge says:

      Thanks all for your feedback. I can definitely see how I could go even deeper into the depths of the character. I suppose I was asking for a bit much to ask the audience to interpret everything I put in there, a lot is quite vague. Connecting the two David Finches (who, in the context of the larger story in my head, are not the same person), explaining how and why David ended up alone and proud in the university city, and trimming around the edges of my sometimes convoluted diction would definitely add to this story.
      Thank you for your feedback, I hope to see you again!

  17. jmcody says:

    NIGHT DIVING

    Something’s wrong. It’s cold, and way too quiet.

    I reach for Jack’s sleeping form but find only empty sheets with the chill of night on them. The curtains are a ghostly scrim billowing in the open window.

    Oh God, not again. My heart leaps as I rush to the window and peer out into the moonlit darkness. Jack is there swaying in the breeze, his toes curled over the edge. It’s the third time this year.

    “Jack,” I say firmly, my voice desecrating the midnight silence.

    “Anna! You shouldn’t be here. Go home – the kids need you.”

    “Jack, it’s okay. We are home. Please just come inside.”

    “I’m sorry. Please tell the kids I love them.”

    “Hold on. I’m coming out there.” I climb out the window and try not to look down as I cling to the window frame with my fingertips. My nightgown flaps like a flag in the breeze.

    “It’s hot. So hot.” Jack is crying now. “And the dust. I can’t see anything. I can’t breathe.”

    “Sweetheart, it’s in the past. You’re safe now.” Vertigo spirals from my head to my knees, unhinging them.

    “I… I tried to help them. I couldn’t…”

    “No one could.” My voice catches in my throat. “It’s not your fault.”

    “Lenny, Jim, Ellen, Rajat… and Chad. He was only twenty one. And Yvonne, that nice receptionist. She was expecting a baby any day.”

    “I know, Jack.” I am crying along with him now.

    “And Martin. Do you know he survived cancer? For what? For this?”

    “Yes, I know.”

    “The flames are too hot. There’s only one way down from here.”

    “Jack, please no, I beg you.”

    “I’m sorry, Anna. I love you” he says as he pitches forward. I reach out to grab him and stumble, my nightgown catching and tearing as I slide across the gritty shingles. I grab onto the gutter and my freefall comes to a halt, but Jack is already gone.

    I peer over the edge of the porch roof to where Jack’s dark figure lies in the bushes.

    “Are you okay?”

    “I did it again, didn’t I?” he says.

    “Are you hurt?”

    “I think I hurt my back this time.”

    “Don’t move. I’ll be right there.” Cautiously, I right myself and clamber up the pitched roof to the open window.

    Thirteen years have passed since that crystalline September morning when Jack descended 105 flights for a cup of coffee, because only Starbucks would do. He never made it back, but instead watched from the street as his colleagues leapt one by one from the North Tower, or worse, remained inside. They were his employees – Lenny, Jim, Rajat, Ellen and Martin. Chad was the son of a friend, whom Jack had helped to land a coveted internship. Yvonne had been on her way to deliver a package to the 98th floor. Seeing her swollen belly and ankles, Jack had insisted on taking it for her.

    Thirteen years, and still they come – the panic attacks, the night terrors, the nocturnal dives off the porch roof.

    Thirteen years, and not a day goes by when he doesn’t think of them.

    We will never forget.

    • Reaper says:

      A beautiful tribute and a powerful story. Your imagery is alive and kicking for this one, I mean it always is but this was something special. I especially like desecrating the midnight silence. Just lovely.

      • jmcody says:

        I don’t know if anyone is reading this anymore, but thanks Reaper. I’m glad you called it a tribute. The idea has been with me since I first read the prompt, but it almost felt sacrilegious to make entertainment of such things. (But then the same could be said of psychotic nannies who kill their charges.). The idea wouldn’t let me go so I decided it had to be done in a way that honors those who are still struggling all these years later. Thanks, as always, for your encouraging words and for getting it.

    • agnesjack says:

      jm – I was sitting in my Metro-North station waiting for my train into Manhattan when I read this, and I almost lost it. My brother-in-law, whose name happens to be Jack, worked across the street from the towers and arrived that fateful morning as the second plane hit. He saw people jumping. He and his brother, Jimmy, who worked there also, escaped to a friends apartment close by, and then to Staten Island when the towers fell. Neither of them ever talk about it.

      You have written an amazing story about an incomprehensible tragedy with insight and love. I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

      • jmcody says:

        Agnesjack, sorry if I brought back painful memories so early in the morning, as you were heading to the city no less! This was a national tragedy, but for us New Yorkers it was and is personal, and will always be part of our collective psyche. Every New Yorker, whether in the city, boroughs or suburbs was plunged into horror that day. Either you were there or you knew someone who was, who either got out alive or didn’t. It was that huge. I’m thinking there are probably a million different stories that could be told about the long aftermath of that tragedy…

        Thanks for your always insightful commentary.

        • agnesjack says:

          I’m glad you went back to read our comments, jm. I wish more had read your story. You are so right about the million stories that we New Yorkers could tell about that day. I don’t know if you are still reading here, but do you remember the people lining the West Side Highway with signs thanking the people who came from all over the country to help? And when I got to work the next day, there was a line around the block for the blood bank across the street, and local restaurants were bringing them free coffee and bagels.

          You didn’t bring back painful memories, because my brothers-in-law survived. What that day brought us was the best and worst of humanity, and that’s why I had such an emotional response to your story. And now I’ve written an essay my own.

          • jmcody says:

            Still here, AJ! On my way home from said city, and I don’t like the new prompt. I’d rather stay here.

          • jmcody says:

            Hmmm… That’s weird. I just wrote a big long response to your comment, but it only posted the first line. Wonder where the rest went… Someone is trying to tell me to move on to the next prompt! ;)

    • lionetravail says:

      jmcody, this is staggeringly amazing and beautiful. I have a huge spot inside somewhere, which is about the consistency of warm tapioca for victims with post-traumatic distress. This story soars: human elements, human frailty, memories and haunts, the power of the subconscious mind, and the utterly human (have I mentioned human already? It needs it) moments of both your MC and her husband. Elegantly done.

      • jmcody says:

        Wow, Lionetravail, thank you for this incredible, shining compliment!

        You hear so much about the PTSD people went through and are still going through all these years later. My own brother, who was across the street, was jumpy for months afterward and you had to be careful not to startle him! I can only imagine what those closest to the horror went through.

        That warm mushy spot inside you is called compassion and it’s a beautiful thing!

        Thanks for the encouragement and validation of my fledgling writing efforts.

  18. Hasslefoot says:

    A poetic ending………….

    I see him, he doesn’t see me..

    translucent in his life

    I beg, to be free

    They sit, she smiles

    another hunt, another kill

    our band in his pocket

    fulfilling his thrill

    Lonely in our home

    waiting in the night

    No questions asked

    Not ‘another fight’

    The officer approaches

    I watch his face

    He shrugs, she laughs

    sip wine and embrace

    Blind to the crowd

    gathered below my fate

    She stumbles, he laughs

    another good date

    They fight through the crowd

    he never looks up at me….

    I spread my wings,

    finally free……………………….

  19. Atherius says:

    This is my first post, and not sure how things work… if they have to be filtered first, and then pushed up. However, here’s my try #2, of my submission #1:

    In spite of a good, firsthand understanding of Florida summers, I’d taken a job at Orlando’s most popular theme park.

    No, I can’t tell you which one. To be honest, it doesn’t matter.

    It was half way through my third day as an “actor” in their show. Yes, they’d taken the “we are all but actors” metaphor a bit too far. I exploited the weakness during my interview. By the time I finished saying I couldn’t wait to bring my enthusiasm to their stage I was being measured for a costume.

    My assignment? Theatrical Operations. It sounds more glamorous than it was. So far, as an actor, I spent most my time giving wrong directions to tourists and cleaning up unidentified substances in the restrooms. Oh yeah, and in just a bit, I could add “watch a man jump to his death,” but that happened during lunch.

    The “daily thirty,” aka lunch, provided two options. I could walk across the park, run while “stage directors” weren’t looking, and make it to the break room. I’d done it once, and skipped lunch altogether the next time.

    On my second day, one of the other “actors” saw this and told me of a shortcut.

    “It was risky,” he said. “It winds precariously through a restricted area. Only “Big As,” and yes they designated themselves with capitalization, have permission to be there.”

    I weighed the two options, picking the one that didn’t require me toweling off afterwards.

    My time came; my heart raced. I was making “the lunch run.” I remembered the instructions, and everything was fine. I was almost through, and then saw the officer talking into a walkie.

    I jumped into the nearest bush, the branches scratching my face.

    “That’s right,” he paused, then looking down to a piece of paper. “The jumper’s names is Mick. Over.”

    Mick, that was the name of actor, “Little A,” that gave me the directions.

    I saw the officer look high up on one of the ledges behind a park building. There standing precariously, it was Mick.

    Irrationally, I leaped from behind my leafy sanctuary. My arms waving. “Mick! Don’t do it man! You’ll find another job!”

    I’d thought for a moment to suggest he’d be a “Big A” one day, but that seemed inappropriate.

    It was too late, Mick had jumped. The officer grabbed my arm, pulling me back. I saw the body fall, and then heard the thump. I turned my eyes into the officer’s chest. It was the first time I witnessed someone do such a thing.

    My heart sank as I heard the officer call back over the radio.

    “That’s right seems like a “Little A” walked on set. I need someone over here to write this up. Over.”

    As I was lead away on what would be my last day, I looked back to see Mick crawling out from the material of the air bag. He was giving me a customary nod, just the way “Big A’s” do.

  20. mod.nova says:

    Everything about today seems very bland. My morning coffee failed to provide me with increased alertness, my manager has been avoiding my request to get extended vacation time, and now, on my way back from lunch, I find myself fighting through a crowd of people gathering outside of “Galleson’s”, my place of employment. On a normal day, I would stick around and figure out what the commotion was about; however, today I am close to returning late from lunch so I forcefully navigate my way through the chaos.

    “Oops, excuse me, didn’t mean to step on your foo-”

    “Mam, can I squeeze through right there?”

    “Sorry! Getting pushed from behin-”

    And then I heard it…

    “Officer Luso, this is Hemmingway Dispatch, we have received a tip from an employee at Galleson’s. He states the individual’s name is Garney Friar and that Friar has shown no signs of distress or despondency in the weeks before todays event. Please note any information given to you about Friar’s current psychological state. Please take note of any possible reasons for his suicide.”

    “10-4, I’ll keep my ears open.”

    Shocked at what I just heard, I look around the crowd of people and notice that some of them have their necks fixated upward while others are pointing in the direction of the individual threatening to jump off the 17th floor of Galleson’s. There is no possible way; absolutely no way that Garney is the person who is standing on that corroded ledge. That is impossible. Why? Cause I am Garney Friar. I am currently standing outside of Galleson’s, encompassed by a large crowd of people, forcing my way toward the entrance of the building.

    Utterly confused, I attempt to speak with Officer Luso and tell him who I am, proving to him that the man on the ledge is not, in no way, shape or form, Garney Friar.

    “Officer….Officer!”
    No response.

    “Officer, excuse me” tapping him three time on the shoulder.
    Still, no response.

    Finally, after what seems like ages, Officer Luso slowly turns his head to the right, and then back toward the crowd and I on the left, before returning his stare to the 17th floor, ignoring my attempt to gain his attention.

    I begin to think to myself…was Garney Friar really the name the Hemmingway Dispatcher gave Officer Luso or is today’s eeriness making me think I heard my name when I truly hadn’t?

    Then I realize it. As I attempt to gain the attention from Officer Luso, the crowd is suddenly pushing from my left, causing me travel completely through Luso, ultimately ending up on the right side of his body.

    …Did I really just travel through him?

    Inconclusive, I start walking forward, and to my astonishment, I am moving directly through the crowd as if they did not exist in the physical world.

    As I continue walking forward, I agree that only one thing can prove my sanity, and that is by examining the man on the ledge and seeing that he is definitely not me. As I make my way to the front of the crowd, I look up and see that in fact; it is I, Garry Friar on the 17th floor of Galleson’s about to jump to my death.

    In confusion at how I can be walking through people on the ground yet simultaneously be on the 17th floor of my workplace about to commit suicide, I discover the reason why today has seemed so unusually different… I am dead.

    I died yesterday, July 17th, 2004. Today, July 18th I am witnessing my death the same as the bystanders the previous day. I see sweat beading from my overgrown lump of hair on my head, my shaky legs trembling with fear, and at last, I see my foot step out from the ledge, into thin air, as I twist my body and fall elegantly, back first, towards the ground below me. While falling I notice my blazer and tie flailing upward, making it appear as though they have changed their mind about the suicide. As I land on the concrete in front of Galleson’s, I see blood slowly leaking from the back of my head towards my arms that lay horizontally at each side of me. As I walk up to my self, I notice paramedics rushing to the scene. With my bodies arms spread across the pavement I say my final goodbye, hugging tightly to the body that I once occupied as I slowly head in the direction of my new life, upward.

  21. The Deathly Hallows says:

    Hi There Hope You Like It!
    _______________________

    My younger step sister and I were walking to the park about a block from her house when we saw a huge crowd of people at the base of an apartment complex near ours. There were two police men talking in hushed voices near us, I listened in.

    “By the looks of it I’d say he’s going to jump.” One policeman said.

    “Who, whose going to jump?” I butted in.

    “Young lady that is none of your business.”

    “Come on I know he’s a suicide jumper so whats the harm if you tell me his ID?”

    “Alright the name’s Daniel Jones by the looks of it he’s 4’8″ and around 11.”

    “Wait. Daniel. Daniel Jones.”

    ‘Yes.” I looked up and saw the small figure I knew so well looking down at me.

    “That’s my little brother! Rose,” I said talking to my little sister “I’m going to go upstairs and get Daniel down, you wait here.”

    I ran up the stairs in the apartment building and didn’t look back. Of course Rose followed me. I got upstairs panting I’d never run so fast before in my life.

    “Daniel, Danny stop what are you doing you’ll die!”

    “I know that’s why I’m doing it, I deserve to die.”

    “What, Danny no you don’t.”

    “Of course I do I’m so stupid and can’t do anything good for anyone else.”

    “But, you’ve done so much good for everyone in this world.”

    “No, no I haven’t.” He prepared to jump and I ran out to stop him, i failed, he jumped.

    I watched him hit the bottom and Rose grabbed my hand together we walked downstairs and past my brother’s broken body to the park. This was nothing a 7 year old should have to endure or for that matter a 13 year old.

    • Reaper says:

      I love the beginning of this, and the end. The middle could use some more meat. I know there are so many limits from the word count though. Both the bookends were some powerful writing, in the middle I just wanted more. An eleven year old with that much on his shoulders is possible but I felt a need to know more of the why. My mind kind of filled in victim of divorce, blaming himself for the parents splitting up, but I’m not sure if that was your intention.

      • The Deathly Hallows says:

        It is sort of a play on my own experience with my brother who was clinically depressed and had suicidal inklings since he was six and my parents got divorced, luckily he is still alive.

  22. Atherius says:

    In spite of a good, firsthand understanding of Florida summers, I’d taken a job at Orlando’s most popular theme park.

    No, I can’t tell you which one. To be honest, it doesn’t matter.

    It was half way through my third day as an “actor” in their show. Yes, they’d taken the “we are all but actors” metaphor a bit too far. I exploited the weakness during my interview. By the time I finished saying I couldn’t wait to bring my enthusiasm to their stage I was being measured for a costume.

    My assignment? Theatrical Operations. It sounds more glamorous than it was. So far, as an actor, I spent most my time giving wrong directions to tourists and cleaning up unidentified substances in the restrooms. Oh yeah, and in just a bit, I could add “watch a man jump to his death,” but that happened during lunch.

    The “daily thirty,” aka lunch, provided two options. I could walk across the park, run while “stage directors” weren’t looking, and make it to the break room. I’d done it once, and skipped lunch altogether the next time.

    On my second day, one of the other “actors” saw this and told me of a shortcut.

    “It was risky,” he said. “It winds precariously through a restricted area. Only “Big As,” and yes they designated themselves with capitalization, have permission to be there.”

    I weighed the two options, picking the one that didn’t require me toweling off afterwards.

    My time came; my heart raced. I was making “the lunch run.” I remembered the instructions, and everything was fine. I was almost through, and then saw the officer talking into a walkie.

    I jumped into the nearest bush, the branches scratching my face.

    “That’s right,” he paused, then looking down to a piece of paper. “The jumper’s names is Mick. Over.”

    Mick, that was the name of actor, “Little A,” that gave me the directions.

    I saw the officer look high up on one of the ledges behind a park building. There standing precariously, it was Mick.

    Irrationally, I leaped from behind my leafy sanctuary. My arms waving. “Mick! Don’t do it man! You’ll find another job!”

    I’d thought for a moment to suggest he’d be a “Big A” one day, but that seemed inappropriate.

    It was too late, Mick had jumped. The officer grabbed my arm, pulling me back. I saw the body fall, and then heard the thump. I turned my eyes into the officer’s chest. It was the first time I witnessed someone do such a thing.

    My heart sank as I heard the officer call back over the radio.

    “That’s right seems like a “Little A” walked on set. I need someone over here to write this up. Over.”

    As I was lead away on what would be my last day, I looked back to see Mick crawling out from the material of the air bag. He was giving me a customary nod, just the way “Big A’s” do.

  23. chadjobrien says:

    New York City is big. I remember when I worked there. The same walk to the coffee shop every morning. Sipping a solo espresso as I pretended to read the Times before work. When the shift was over, walking by that same coffee shop, my mouth watering at the thought of a steamy dog from one of those vendors. But one day that routine was demolished when something bigger distracted me. People–so many people huddled around my work place, the New York Tribune building in which I had invested so many years of my life at.
    “We got a potential jumper!” the voice came from a local police officer. “His name has been identified as Don Smith!”
    Don Smith. My heart stopped. I knew that man. He was a brilliant man. My gut told me to take action.
    “Don, you say? Don Smith? We have a history, you know. I think I can stop him.” I could feel the fear in my voice.
    “Hurry,” the officer whispered.
    I started up the stairs leading to the platform that the jumper possessed. And then I was at the top.
    “Hello, Don.” I said. I couldn’t be more enthusiastic. “Do you remember little Jenny? Do you remember what happened to her? You don’t wish that upon yourself, do you?”
    “Brother,” he pleaded. “I didn’t mean to kill your daughter. It was a tragic accident. You know that. You just never know when to let go.”
    “I don’t know when to let go? And how about yourself, Don? Since when do you let go of anything? You’re always so committed to the smallest tasks.” I could feel my body heating up. I glimpsed at Don and I glanced at the glimmer in his eye as he stared into the sky.
    “Don,” I said. “Look forward and tell me what you truly see.”
    “…I don’t see anything, John…”
    “Exactly. Now look down and answer that same question. You aren’t going to jump, Don. You’re a coward who never lets go. Look down and tell me what you see.”
    I held back tears.
    “I said, tell me what you see!” I knew that my revenge would be bad karma. And then something happened, and it was so sudden.
    “Do you know what I see, John? I see my future.”
    Don had lost it. His eyes balled.
    “I love you, John. I’m sorry.”
    Don jumped and a crowd of screams from below echoed the thump of his body hitting the sidewalk overlooking the facade of my workplace. What have I done?
    ______________
    *This is my first prompt on here so I hope ya’ll like it! I’m 17 and always wanted to do one of these so there it is…brutally honest opinions please? :P

  24. Amyithist says:

    Everything was dark; ominously depressing and as I walked through the crowd at Clinton Plaza, I contemplated exactly what it was I was doing on this Earth. Angry, devious thoughts traced through my brain like whips over raw skin. I needed it all to stop! Just go away!
    Near hyperventilation, I pushed through the faces that seemed to be focusing in on me. The faces with scrawls of expectation and judgement; always looking…but never seeing. The sea of faces that although seen everyday somehow looked different in the shadows of the encroaching storm. Something was coming…and it was big.
    I made it to the front of the building. The plaza seemed to disappear into the low clouds; giving it the illusion of having no end. I shoved the doors open and bolted into the lobby. More faces with empty, sunken eyes looked back at me. Emotionless. Unfeeling.
    No one here was going to help me. Anxiety lodged itself into my chest and the need to escape became more pressing. I ran toward the staircase that swept up into a dark, cave like hole… I had no idea where it led to… but it had to better than where I was now.
    I began to race up the stairs, terrified as I realized that with each step, the staircase behind me was crumbling away. There’s no going back, I thought. My terror amplified and my breath stalled as I ran harder and harder toward the dark.
    The staircase seemed endless. My heart threatened to give out on me as I propelled myself forward. I have to get out of this! There has to be something better than what’s behind me! It seemed to go on this way forever; me, charging ahead with a determination that seemed to wane with every panting breath I took and the staircase deteriorating into oblivion just inches from my treading feet.
    Finally, I reached the top and shoved my way through a rickety looking door. I spilled onto the roof top, nearly tumbling to the scorching tile ground. The sun beat down on me, dizzying my senses as I trudged forward, dazed. The building continued to crumble and I suddenly realized that I was going to go down with it unless…
    I spun around, my eyes landing on a thick ledge just a few feet away. I dashed toward it, hoping to find an adjacent building I could leap to. But there was nothing. I was fifty stories high on a building that wouldn’t be standing much longer!
    I turned back, leering at the caving cement. It was coming straight for me. JUMP, something inside of me screamed. Before I could second guess the intuition, I leapt. As I sped toward the earth like a rocket through space, I was certain of one thing: I’m going to die. The ground came closer and closer and closer…. I closed my eyes, anticipating the impact. Suddenly, I felt the air around me swirl and I opened my eyes just in time to see myself soar just above the crowd.
    Their once emotionless and judging faces were now etched with disbelief and awe. I could fly! I had it in me the whole time!
    I looked down at the life I’d be leaving behind; the turmoil, the pain, the hurt and confusion… I deserved better. I deserved more. And knowing that I could fly…I knew for certain I’d never go back.

    • Jay says:

      I want to say this is a dream, but I can’t say for sure. What I can say with certainty is that the style you used has a very poetic feel to it, and I absolutely love poetic prose. Nice job, although it left me wondering… what the hell is really going!. :)

      • Amyithist says:

        It’s more…metaphorical than anything else. :)

        • Jay says:

          On my third read, haha. I just realized how similar this is to a couple things. First, this story somewhat reminds me of the Alan Wake games. If you enjoy games or enjoy a good story, I suggest playing them. It’s about an author who goes to a secluded place with his wife, but then she’s kidnapped. Throughout, he’s trying to find out what happened to her, but… awe man, I can’t really ruin it for you. The experience is fantastic, though.

          It also reminds me of a story I have planned, but have not tackled it yet because of how terrible the premise is. It’s one of those things where I know exactly what I want to do with the story and the stylistic imagery, but I hate the plot. haha

          By the way, I checked out your books, and I plan to read Candy Cane soon. :D

    • Reaper says:

      Your word choice definitely lent themselves to a dreamlike quality for this but the metaphor is beautiful. I liked this a lot. The opening was a nice nod towards the idea of a zombie story, I felt like you turned humanity into mindless, shuffling zombies along with all the social commentary implied in that. There are many meanings I can see throughout this, some probably very off from what you probably intended.

      Your ending seemed like an amazing metaphor for death. Those unfeeling, unseeing people, the ones your MC was separated from by nothing but a wall of indifference in life being amazed by… her? I assume her but it makes no difference. Everyone looking in awe, seeing only the best once she left them. It reads to me like the perfect commentary on how we don’t really notice each other when we are here, but as soon as we are gone we become perfect in the eyes of everyone, since it’s impolite to speak ill of the dead. Not sure if that is even close to your idea but the impact for me was real. Wow, impact, pun so not intended.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        In all my terror in the dreams I have had, I knew I had the key and that key was always the ability to soar above the horror and when I looked at those who saw what I did, they didn’t care. But a metaphor for escape was and always is with me.

        A very personal response here. And if anybody can relate to it, I can. Your writing is so on and so powerful, I shake my head to you and say, “Of course.”

    • agnesjack says:

      This was terribly sad, but lovely. The metaphor of the world crumbling and deteriorating and pushing the MC on toward death was beautifully realized. I see the sudden soaring at the end as the entry into the bliss and enlightenment of the universe. Sadly, we all can fly, even when here on Earth, but we don’t see that most of the time. Very nice, Amyithist.

    • jmcody says:

      I did not read it as death at all, but as exactly the opposite — it’s a survivors’ story. It’s about finding the inner strength that you didn’t know you had, which usually happens right around the time you start to think you’re done for. It’s about overcoming and rising above. Powerfully and courageously portrayed, Amyihist.

      BTW, I am going to buy one of your books too. Think I’ll start with “The Infection.”

  25. BettysLove says:

    “What did you want to be when you were six?”
    I counted to nine, then added:
    “Because whatever happened between then and now, I promise, we can fix.”
    At least that’s what I told Sarah….

  26. Jay says:

    Alright, I feel like maybe I’m beating this prompt to death, but another idea struck me as I was reading other’s responses. Forgive me! Going to try to keep this under 500. :x

    —–

    Lunch wasn’t exactly what I had in mind that day. I mean, who really wants to find out their good friend is just an impulse away from a sudden concrete death. Not me, I can tell you. However, that wasn’t even the worst part about that day. You might think I’m callous, but my friend’s death was the best thing that happened to him.

    The old hotel from which Bryan intended to jump had the stench of sixty-year-old tobacco and cleaning agents tainting the air. The dingy cream walls and water-stained ceiling weren’t exactly appealing, but neither was the idea that I had to talk my friend out of committing suicide. I guess by comparison, I was lucky he didn’t decide to jump from a toilet water processing plant instead.

    I know I said he decided, but that was hugely inaccurate. When I walked into that cold and rotting hotel room, I thought maybe he was secretly depressed and I had no idea. If I had known the real cause of his insane need to leap from a building… well, I don’t really know what I would’ve done, but I do know that his sacrifice was the end of the world as we knew it.

    “Bryan, look at me, dude. This is crazy.” I said, though I wasn’t sure how he would respond well to me alluding that he’d lost his shit.

    He continued to look out into the sky. He didn’t acknowledge me. He did move or grunt. He only stood there, a stone gargoyle with the visage of a man.

    I said, “Come on, brother. Come back inside and let’s do this right. We’ll talk about it and figure out what’s wrong.”

    He slowly turned his head toward me; the rest of his body remained frozen. He probably turned just an inch short of snapping his own neck, and when he stopped, he stared. A frigid chill crawled up my spine, cut through my warm skin, and caressed my soul with its steely fingers. Those weren’t his eyes.

    The man who stood before me was nothing more than a shell. For most people, you can see some semblance of life in their eyes, but in his, there was nothing. He acknowledged me, true, but it was as though he was nothing more than a puppet. Something controlled him. Something dark.

    He cracked a broken smile, and abruptly leapt from the ledge. Impulse drove me to the window, and I watched as he hit the ground with a grizzly result.

    “Oh, shit.” I said, though I spoke sooner than I should’ve.

    The sky suddenly darkened with black clouds as if a thick inky smoke permeated the clear skies. A flash of amber cracked my view of the city and a deep rumble howled forth as if emanating from the cinder-scorched throat of an ethereal creature.

    “Oh, shit.” I said again, but this time in the face of the day that marked the beginning of our end.

    • Jay says:

      Okay, I promise I really done this time! lol

    • Amyithist says:

      Well hello, Jay. Your writing style is magnificent. Very imagery inducing. I like that. You did a very good job on this prompt. :)

    • Reaper says:

      Your language in this one is amazing. The switch in voice between internal and external dialogue is beautiful. You hooked me from the first paragraph because the term just an impulse away struck me as one of the most amazing things I have ever read.

      • Jay says:

        Thanks, Reaper! Hooks are one of the hardest things to do. It’s usually hit or miss. I thought for sure it was a weak initial paragraph, but I’m relieved it hooked you. :D

    • carlyumz says:

      Hey Jay, I’m torn between this story and the previous one you posted! With the former, I loved your clever twist on the prompt with someone ‘taking the plunge’ – It was one of those ‘Oooooh why didn’t I think of that??’ moments.

      And with this one I agree with all my fellow commentors, the description was wonderful. You managed to create this intense, dangerous world in such a short space of time. For me ‘my friend’s death was the best thing that happened to him’ was one of my favourite lines as it initially hooked me, though I had many to choose from. Oh and ‘He cracked a broken smile’ deserves an honourable mention too. I’m really glad you posted again!

      • Jay says:

        Carly! Personally, I’m torn, too. I really liked the last one, and I think I liked it more than this one, but they deal such different ideas. I think, for me anyway, I have a slight aversion to this story because it opens about a million doors, leaving the reader to only guess what happens next. I really tried to give hints throughout the MCs narrative to steer the reader into a more narrow path of imagination for the MCs future, but with so few words it was difficult! :)

        That first line you mentioned about the best thing happening (as well as the final line in the story) gave me goosebumps when I wrote them. haha

  27. Nicole says:

    I was on my lunch break and heading to my favorite soup spot, which was around the corner from my office building. I quick-stepped it halfway down the block when I noticed a crowd of people and a few police officers huddled at the base of one of the buildings across the street. I also noticed that all the people were staring upward and more passersby were adding themselves to this crowd. As is my habit, I tend to shy away from crowds, as I never feel safe in crowds. It was when the police cars and one fire engine came screaming down the block that I stopped to look.
    One of the policemen from the crowd came over to my side of the street, speaking loudly into his radio. I caught strains of his dialogue:
    “A young woman in distress… apparently suicidal… works in that building… Daisy Newton.”
    Daisy Newton! I know only one Daisy Newton in this world, and she is my best friend! It was only then that I looked up, and what I saw shocked me almost to the point of convulsions. The woman on the window ledge was ten floors up, but I was able to see her face clearly. It was definitely Daisy! I felt myself beginning to swoon.
    Before I realized what I was doing, I was racing across the street and into the building where Daisy was poised to execute her death plunge. I don’t remember how I got to the tenth floor. I don’t remember getting to the tenth floor at all. But I do remember straddling the window sill and reaching for my friend’s hand.
    “Daisy!” I hollered, beginning to cry. Daisy, don’t do it!”
    Daisy didn’t as much as turn her head to look at me. I lowered my voice and continued pleading.
    “I’m here for you, Daisy. Don’t jump. I love you.” I heard the sound of voices and police radios behind me, but I did not look. I wanted Daisy to look at me.
    I was sobbing uncontrollably now. Daisy turned her head and looked at me. Aside from that, she didn’t move. She didn’t speak. She only stood there staring at me. I gingerly extended my hand to her. My lips trembled as I spoke again to her.
    “Daisy, please, come home with me. Stay as long as you want. I don’t want you to go. I want you to live!” The last word was spoken with a shuddering emphasis that moved me deeply.
    Daisy turned and looked down at the street, at the crowd. I kept my hand stretched toward her, never taking my eyes from her. The next moment Daisy inched her way along the ledge toward me. She took my hand and I pulled her into the room. The team of policemen gathered behind us made their way to where Daisy and I were standing, clutched in each other’s embrace. They huddled around us while Daisy and I cried and cried and cried.

  28. Sarah Pancakes says:

    The wind was particularly fierce from were I was standing, every step took my breath shorten. Do I really want to do this? Do I… Everything in my body came to a complete stop. I was, so high up. Everything looked like I was from a plane, its amazing how different life can look with a little distance between here and there, there life is…Awful, horrible, depressing, disgusting, and all those places in between and here? I can look at the creation of evolution, the mountains, and the grassy planes. All blocked by what man created. I look down at the cold, solid world; I feel water fall from my face. Come on now, no tears. But I couldn’t help it can I really be doing this? Can this be so easy? I can’t do this I wont! I-

    “Do it.” I hear a voice tell me. I look up and behind me, no one in sight. I look back over the edge of the building. What a story it would make, Man plunges…no… Dives off building to the earth, yeah that sounds good.

    “Stop being a coward and do it!” The voice said again.

    “Who are you!?” I shouted out spinning around.

    “Over here dumbass” The voice said on the side of me. I looked over and saw a shadow of a man. He was in all black and very sinister looking. He had dark hair and scruff all over his face, his dastardly smile was a little unsettling but his eyes were what got me, his eyes were fully black. He was leading against the edge of the building “You know its the right thing to do.” He continued.

    “But what if this was all a mistake? What if I liv-“

    “YOU DON’T DISERVE TO LIVE!” He is now standing up straight. “You are pathetic excuse for a human life! Just do it! … Do it and it all goes away, everyone is happy again.” He began to speak instead of yell. I stood at an aw, I cant believe what this man was saying, he doesn’t even know me. It was now I could hear the screams of pedestrians looking up at me.

    “Who are you?” I whispered.

    “Who am I? WHO am i??” He laughed, “Im you, im in your head I see what you see I think what you think. Im just like you.”

    “Your nothing like me.”

    “Let me finish. I am just like you but with a twist. I’m the man on your left. Im your influencer, He said as he quick grabbed my shirt. “And another thing,” He said in a whispered tone, “I’m also your motivator” He shoved me letting go of my shirt causing me to fall. This is it, my final hour, im sorry to the ones I love. I-

    “NO!” Shouted a different voice. I looked back to see a white figure, she was so beautiful, flawless fair skin, long blonde hair, and all dressed in white, my guardian angle.

    • Jay says:

      I feel like you have an idea you’re trying to tell, which I’ll agree is hard to show with the 500 limit, but I wish i could have explored this with it shown to me. Also, the switch in tense along with a little bit of the stylized prose distracted me. I had to read it a few times to really soak in the things you tried to tell. It’s not a bad story, in fact it could be incredibly intriguing if you used a little more subtlety, allusion, and perhaps explored the deeper darker needs of the monster versus the white light.

      Good job nevertheless! Thanks for sharing.

  29. Observer Tim says:

    It took me a while to find a take that didn’t actually involve suicide. It’s long, and a bit silly, but enjoy.

    (Sorry if it came out twice; my browser is acting up big-time).
    _____

    The Breck Block was built in the 1970’s; it’s a seven-storey structure that was called an eyesore in its early days. Time has not been kind to it: now it’s a forty-five year old eyesore. It’s home to the Faculty of Mathematics, the only ones who really appreciate neo-gothic.

    Today there was a crowd gathered outside, several dozen people staring up while three campus cops tried to establish a perimeter. I could just see a human figure, standing on the lip of the roof and looking down.

    I nudged one of the spectators. “What’s going on? Who is that?”

    “I dunno, but I think he’s going to jump.”

    One of the campus cops resorted to shouting. “Get back everyone! We don’t want to spook Mr. Armitage and cause him to do something rash!”

    Armitage? Steve Armitage? I pulled out my cell phone. I knew Steve was nervous about finals, but I didn’t think it was this bad. He answered on the second ring.

    “Tim? Is that you?”

    “Who else would it be on my phone? Where are you right now?”

    “On top of the Brick looking down. Can you come up here?”

    “Why don’t you come down?”

    “It’s complicated. Hurry, okay?”

    I texted my girlfriend and slipped past the overwhelmed security officers. During the interminable elevator ride I reflected on this academic year, now nearly over. Jennifer Nelson and I had started dating last fall; since then I’d had a piano dropped on my car, lipped off an ancient Greek god, turned into a teenaged girl, and personally met Puss in Boots. And my lab partner Steve, who had been there for most of it, said it was complicated?

    I stepped out onto the roof to an odd tableau. There was a car parked there, along with a seven foot stone monster holding a bedraggled girl in one arm and using the other to point a crossbow at Steve, who looked more than a little nervous.

    “Okay, what’s going on here?” I know it was lame, but Jenny always told me confidence was key when dealing with magical monsters.

    “He tried to steal my girlfriend.” The statue nudged the crossbow in Steve’s direction. “Came at me with a chisel.”

    “I was trying to rescue the girl.”

    “Why? ‘Cause I’m a monster? My body may be stone but my heart isn’t.”

    “I’m sure this is all a misunderstanding. Steve, don’t you know better by now?”

    “Look Tim, I definitely heard her scream.”

    I thought about this for a while. It didn’t add up; gargoyles aren’t exactly the dating type, and what was that car doing here? Unless…

    I addressed the girl. “Where are your friends?”

    “Friends? They locked me on the roof after…” She trailed off.

    “After you brought the car up here. You’re from Engineering, right?”

    “Yeah.”

    “I thought so. Mr. Gargoyle, …”

    “Rocky.”

    I should have guessed. “Rocky, those girls didn’t mean any harm. It’s a prank; you’ve been here long enough to know that. They’ll take the car down tonight. And Steve really couldn’t hurt you, even with a chisel. What’s really going on?”

    The gargoyle looked sheepish. “Well, you see I…”

    “I put him up to it.” I turned and there was Jenny in her nine-inch fairy form. “Dad wanted proof that you were insightful before he agreed to the engagement. You passed, Tim.”

    “But did you have to put these people in … engagement?”

    “You are my true love, Tim. The magic kiss was proof. And true love is worth any sacrifice.” She turned to the others and fished out three twenties. “Here you go Rockster, Tawny, Steve. Thanks for your help.”

    Despite being ‘insightful’, I had walked right into the trap.

    • Jay says:

      Strange, but I dig it. For some reason, I get the feeling telling someone on a ledge to “come down” is one heck of a mixed invitation. haha

      Well done, I enjoy oddball stories.

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks, Jay. I’ve been spending the last year (since I started writing again) trying to find my style. Light but strange seems to flow off the pencil and the brain fairly easily.

        My original line for Tim to tell Steve was “get down here right now”, so this is a little tamer, I hope. In stressfull situations we all say dumb things from time to time.

    • agnesjack says:

      I should know by now, Tim, that the world that seems perfectly normal in the beginning of your stories will eventually morph into something fantastical. Very clever way to avoid having to deal with the suicide issue… but then, if the MC sees the engagement as a trap, he might feel that marriage is a kind of suicide (of the free and easy single life). I smiled all throuh this.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Very creative Tim. By the way, are you eating in the university cafeteria? That may very well explain where you went with this. It’s totally fun to read it and to think about. I miss the hi-jinks in my college days. It’s been so long.; did really go to college. Oh yeah, I did. We stole a goose from the university lake and locked it in a closed convertible with the top up. A fraternity Brother. Lord, did we get in trouble, almost black-balled. Thanks for the memories.

        • Observer Tim says:

          Thanks, Kerry. Glad I could bring back some memories. I actually have a couple of series of short stories set on college campuses, and a lot of this is dragging up 30-year old memories of my college days.

          College is a time when life is full of promise and much of what would make us cringe in horror is just stuff we took in stride back then. We were too young to be “sensible” back then.

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks, Nancy. I have a major personal issue with suicide, so I had to find some way out, making it all a sophomore play worked.

        I don’t think other Tim sees marriage as a trap. He’s just following the old pattern of chasing the girl with all his strength until she catches him. ;)

    • lionetravail says:

      Very cute, and nicely done to find an unexplored channel. You must have had to work “OT” to get there, Observer Tim :)

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks lione (or is it lion? or lionet?). I have a number of unresolved issues relating to suicide, so for me it was a question of how not to dredge up memories of my teen years or of my second cousin who walked off the center span of a tall bridge a few months back. This took a while to find, but it works.

    • Reaper says:

      Tim you have this way of showing comical but amazing details. Good story, creative way to avoid the suicide angle. In reference to my first comment my favorite line here is, the only ones who really appreciate neo-gothic.

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks for noticing, Reaper. I have always been a firm believer that a couple of irrelevant details can help engage the reader and bring a bit of life to the story. The main function of the sentence was to set the building up so a gargoyle wouldn’t be out of place.

        And I speak from experience. I was a math major; we’re weird people.

  30. Observer Tim says:

    It took me a while to find a take that didn’t actually involve suicide. It’s long, and a bit silly, but enjoy.
    _____

    The Breck Block was built in the 1970’s; it’s a seven-storey structure that was called an eyesore in its early days. Time has not been kind to it: now it’s a forty-five year old eyesore. It’s home to the Faculty of Mathematics, the only ones who really appreciate neo-gothic.

    Today there was a crowd gathered outside, several dozen people staring up while three campus cops tried to establish a perimeter. I could just see a human figure, standing on the lip of the roof and looking down.

    I nudged one of the spectators. “What’s going on? Who is that?”

    “I dunno, but I think he’s going to jump.”

    One of the campus cops resorted to shouting. “Get back everyone! We don’t want to spook Mr. Armitage and cause him to do something rash!”

    Armitage? Steve Armitage? I pulled out my cell phone. I knew Steve was nervous about finals, but I didn’t think it was this bad. He answered on the second ring.

    “Tim? Is that you?”

    “Who else would it be on my phone? Where are you right now?”

    “On top of the Brick looking down. Can you come up here?”

    “Why don’t you come down?”

    “It’s complicated. Hurry, okay?”

    I texted my girlfriend and slipped past the overwhelmed security officers. During the interminable elevator ride I reflected on this academic year, now nearly over. Jennifer Nelson and I had started dating last fall; since then I’d had a piano dropped on my car, lipped off an ancient Greek god, turned into a teenaged girl, and personally met Puss in Boots. And my lab partner Steve, who had been there for most of it, said it was complicated?

    I stepped out onto the roof to an odd tableau. There was a car parked there, along with a seven foot stone monster holding a bedraggled girl in one arm and using the other to point a crossbow at Steve, who looked more than a little nervous.

    “Okay, what’s going on here?” I know it was lame, but Jenny always told me confidence was key when dealing with magical monsters.

    “He tried to steal my girlfriend.” The statue nudged the crossbow in Steve’s direction. “Came at me with a chisel.”

    “I was trying to rescue the girl.”

    “Why? ‘Cause I’m a monster? My body may be stone but my heart isn’t.”

    “I’m sure this is all a misunderstanding. Steve, don’t you know better by now?”

    “Look Tim, I definitely heard her scream.”

    I thought about this for a while. It didn’t add up; gargoyles aren’t exactly the dating type, and what was that car doing here? Unless…

    I addressed the girl. “Where are your friends?”

    “Friends? They locked me on the roof after…” She trailed off.

    “After you brought the car up here. You’re from Engineering, right?”

    “Yeah.”

    “I thought so. Mr. Gargoyle, …”

    “Rocky.”

    I should have guessed. “Rocky, those girls didn’t mean any harm. It’s a prank; you’ve been here long enough to know that. They’ll take the car down tonight. And Steve really couldn’t hurt you, even with a chisel. What’s really going on?”

    The gargoyle looked sheepish. “Well, you see I…”

    “I put him up to it.” I turned and there was Jenny in her nine-inch fairy form. “Dad wanted proof that you were insightful before he agreed to the engagement. You passed, Tim.”

    “But did you have to put these people in … engagement?”

    “You are my true love, Tim. The magic kiss was proof. And true love is worth any sacrifice.” She turned to the others and fished out three twenties. “Here you go Rockster, Tawny, Steve. Thanks for your help.”

    Despite being ‘insightful’, I had walked right into the trap.

  31. chadjobrien says:

    New York City is big. I remember when I worked there. The same walk to the coffee shop every morning. Sipping a solo espresso as I pretended to read the Times before work. When the shift was over, walking by that same coffee shop, my mouth watering at the thought of a steamy dog from one of those vendors. But one day that routine was demolished when something bigger distracted me. People–so many people huddled around my work place, the New York Tribune building in which I had invested so many years of my time at.
    “We got a potential jumper!” the voice came from a local police officer. “His name has been identified as Don Smith!”
    Don Smith. My heart stopped. I knew that man. He was a brilliant man. My gut told me to take action.
    “Don, you say? Don Smith? We have a history, you know. I think I can stop him.” I could feel the fear in my voice.
    “Hurry,” the officer whispered.
    I started up the stairs leading to the platform that the jumper possessed. And then I was at the top.
    “Hello, Don.” I said. I couldn’t be more enthusiastic. “Do you remember little Jenny? Do you remember what happened to her? You don’t wish that upon yourself, do you?”
    “Brother,” he pleaded. “I didn’t mean to kill your daughter. It was a tragic accident. You know that. You just never know when to let go.”
    “I don’t know when to let go? And how about yourself, Don? Since when do you let go of anything? You’re always so committed to the smallest tasks.” I could feel my body heating up. I glimpsed at Don and I glanced at the glimmer in his eye as he stared into the sky.
    “Don,” I said. “Look forward and tell me what you truly see.”
    “…I don’t see anything, John…”
    “Exactly. Now look down and answer that same question. You aren’t going to jump, Don. You’re a coward who never lets go. Look down and tell me what you see.”
    I held back tears.
    “I said, tell me what you see!” I knew that my revenge would be bad karma. And then something happened, and it was so sudden.
    “Do you know what I see, John? I see my future.”
    Don had lost it. His eyes balled.
    “I love you, John. I’m sorry.”
    Don jumped and a crowd of screams from below echoed the thump of his body hitting the sidewalk overlooking the facade of my workplace. What have I done?

    -This is my first prompt on here so I hope ya’ll like it! I’m 17 and always wanted to do one of these so there it is…brutally honest opinions please? :P

  32. chadjobrien says:

    New York City is big. I remember when I worked there. The same walk to the coffee shop every morning. Sipping a solo espresso as I pretended to read the Times before work. When the shift was over, walking by that same coffee shop, my mouth watering at the thought of a steamy dog from one of those vendors. But one day that routine was demolished when something bigger distracted me. People–so many people huddled around my work place, the New York Tribune building in which I had invested so many years of my time at.
    “We got a potential jumper!” the voice came from a local police officer. “His name has been identified as Don Smith!”
    Don Smith. My heart stopped. I knew that man. He was a brilliant man. My gut told me to take action.
    “Don, you say? Don Smith? We have a history, you know. I think I can stop him.” I could feel the fear in my voice.
    “Hurry,” the officer whispered.
    I started up the stairs leading to the platform that the jumper possessed. And then I was at the top.
    “Hello, Don.” I said. I couldn’t be more enthusiastic. “Do you remember little Jenny? Do you remember what happened to her? You don’t wish that upon yourself, do you?”
    “Brother,” he pleaded. “I didn’t mean to kill your daughter. It was a tragic accident. You know that. You just never know when to let go.”
    “I don’t know when to let go? And how about yourself, Don? Since when do you let go of anything? You’re always so committed to the smallest tasks.” I could feel my body heating up. I glimpsed at Don and I glanced at the glimmer in his eye as he stared into the sky.
    “Don,” I said. “Look forward and tell me what you truly see.”
    “…I don’t see anything, John…”
    “Exactly. Now look down and answer that same question. You aren’t going to jump, Don. You’re a coward who never lets go. Look down and tell me what you see.”
    I held back tears.
    “I said, tell me what you see!” I knew that my revenge would be bad karma. And then something happened, and it was so sudden.
    “Do you know what I see, John? I see my future.”
    Don had lost it. His eyes balled.
    “I love you, John. I’m sorry.”
    Don jumped and a crowd of screams from below echoed the thump of his body hitting the sidewalk overlooking the facade of my workplace. What have I done?
    ______________
    *This is my first prompt on here so I hope ya’ll like it! I’m 17 and always wanted to do one of these so there it is…brutally honest opinions please? :P

    • Jay says:

      Brutal!? I can’t be brutal, but I can be constructive!!

      First of all, I absolutely love stories that take a character’s personality and uses it as a window into the darker side of humanity. So, you’re off to a good start with my personal tastes already. :)

      From what I understand, Don killed John’s daughter, Jenny with one of the points of contention being whether it was an accident or not. I also understand that they might be brothers, but I can’t be certain of that. “Brother” is often used in two different ways: 1) to literally mean brother or 2) a friend. If you mean them to be familial, it’s a good idea to find a place to put it so it’s obvious.

      Since we’re talking about it, the aforementioned issue could be taken up in the first paragraph. Since you have so little time and so few words to get things started, told, and finished, you’ll want to try to hook the reader right away. Using what you know happens later on the in the story, you can force your reader to become curious and finish the story.

      Example: “I remember New York fondly. Though marred by the deep stains of brutal weather and equally brutal crimes, it’s a large gorgeous city with an unequivocally unique personality. Each person has their own story to tell about New York that only adds to that uniqueness. You might wonder about my story, and the only answer I could think to give would be the story of my brother’s murder.”

      Bam. Describes not only the city but also how the main character views the city (which is a view to his personality since some people see beauty, some people choose to ignore the crime, some people ignore the homeless, etc…). It punches the reader in the face with a hook of curiosity… What happened? Why was his brother murdered!? I must read on to find out! ;) Also, with the very first sentence, I threw a little bit if fun foreshadowing in there. He remembers the city “fondly”, but it contrasts to how someone would typically feel when a family member is murdered is a place. Normally a person feels like the city is a terrible place, and definitely doesn’t find anything fond about it. Why oh why do we confuse the reader so much!? So they keep reading, haha.

      Another thing to keep in mind is reality. Obviously, you don’t have to stick with rational stuff all the time as evidenced by countless fantasy stories, but some things help keep the reader firmly planted where you want them. For instance, the police officer is announcing the name of the jumper. You kicked me out of the story and made me wonder if a cop is really going to announce the man’s name. They might not speak hushed as though it’s some amazing secret, but they probably won’t be announcing it loudly for everyone to hear.

      This leads me to dialog. When he feels fear that he hears his brother’s name as the potential jumper, he doesn’t exactly exude that through his speech. He sounds as though he’s just a random person who may or may not know the man up there. Here’s a good example to show speech that’s congruent with his fear:

      “Oh my god. That’s my brother up there!” I said, as fear seemed to rush through my veins with the ferocity of freight train bearing the consequence of my intended future actions.

      This gives a little more foreshadowing (maybe a bit too much for some readers) and it also leave some interpretation into fear. Is the fear because he now has a chance to make his brother pay? Is it fear because he’s actually worried that his brother might actually die that day? Is it both? These are questions that reader wants you to answer, which you will hopefully provide by the end of the story.

      Their talk about not letting go seems a bit confusing. I can infer, but it’s best to just let the reader know somehow what exactly they’re talking about. You want to keep focus on the new information they presented: the death of Jenny. If they are hung up wondering about all this letting go stuff, then it could fizzle your story out before they get to the end.

      It’s very important in flash fiction to move the story along with the dialog. You have to make every word the character speaks useful. Even if it’s just personality or whatever, you have to drive it home. You do it decently well, but I got hung up on some things. Just smooth it out, and show the reader everything they need, cut everything they don’t need.

      Finally, you have a good 200 or so words to really fatten it up with imagery for the reader. Sweating? What did the place look like? Did it feel good? To get really good at flash fiction imagery, I suggest to practice by describing the room you’re in with as little words as possible, and focus on all the senses quick and dirty. For instance (the room I’m in): “The room was warm with the smell of freshly copied paper but undeniably cold with the click, click, clicking of keyboards as busy coworkers hacked away another eight hours of their pathetic lives.” One sentence and the entire room is done. We got sight, sound, smell, feels, and a little bit of “distaste” har har har. ;) hahaha

      When you read books, really focus on the way people tell their stories. Practice tenses, sentence structure, and flow. Read something aloud and if it sounds terrible coming out of your mouth, chances are it’s a poorly flowing sentence. The last five lines of your story is really where you wanted to hit the home run, so flesh it out until there are no snags and it says exactly everything you mean and want it to say.

      Great job by the way! Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to writing. Feedback is a writers best friend, so don’t ever hesitate to ask!! :D

    • Reaper says:

      Okay. So I had to read Jay’s comment before I could add my own. He covered mostly different things than I wanted to so cool.

      First, and this is the most brutal I will be. At seventeen be very careful about asking a forum full of self aggrandizing, overly thoughtful, semi-narcissists to be brutal. I’m sure you can take it now but the ego is a fragile thing. And no I did not mean that as an insult to anyone, I just think it is a nice and at least partially true description of writers including myself. If I offend anyone it was an intentional overstatement. Here you are pretty safe, but some places people are not so kind. The internet is full of trolls and all.

      The one place that I will cross paths with what Jay said is reality. There is a passage in a forward to a game book that says something about that. Basically it is not reality you need to keep in mind but believability. Your world can be completely unreal but it must have an internal logic and you have to establish that for the reader. The thing Jay said about the cop was true, but only because you did not establish your New York as the maggoty big apple as some do. You built a beautiful place, and in a city like that cops don’t act out of the norm we know. In a crime ridden cesspool they might, unless you give me another reaon to believe they would.

      Last, and I will try to keep this short. You are finding your voice, and your voice seems to be on the literary side of the coin. That is an affliction I suffer from as well. So my advice is to give a good critical read to your work. The story is wonderful, and your idea is amazing to me. I love the dark stories myself. With that said there are some places through here that you could clean and tighten up your wording. This story has so much art and even more potential. It slapped me but I feel like it should have been a knock out punch because you have the skills. The reason it didn’t was there are places that I slipped away from the power into the wording. Some specific examples.

      People–so many people huddled around my work place, the New York Tribune building in which I had invested so many years of my time at. – The so many years of my time at just reads strange, especially after saying the place of work. I would suggest making this one sentence, something like… People-so many people huddling outside the New York Tribune building; the prison where I served out the years of my life, but you might call it work. Something like that, though that sentence is terrible, mine not yours.

      In your next paragraph you have his name is identified. The flow on that is choppy, Jumper is identified, or his name is would work better I think.

      The line about starting up the stairs, the jumper possessed? That could be stylistic but I think you meant occupied. Also you have a second sentence for reaching the top which could be moved to the front of the sentence before.

      It is all small things like that, none of them necessary and please don’t think I am beating you up. I like the story and appreciate your style. I love to see someone finding their way to voice and flow. Hell I still am. Please keep posting, and welcome to the community.

      • Jay says:

        Reaper’s right, I probably should have been more clear. haha You can have an utterly unbelievable world, as long as you establish the type of rules that go along with it. For instance, take a look at the “police” from Hunger Games or the police force in Judge Dredd. We all know those are real cops, but the established culture within those stories make those cops fit right in. :)

        Also, Reaper, damn you I resemble those remarks! Wait… haha. Seriously, though, this is probably the nicest writer community (next to the ABNA crew) on the internet.

        I’m not sure if I ever found a voice style. Now I just write whatever style fits with the feel and tone of the story, if that makes any sense at all.

  33. moonlitedressing says:

    His fingers strummed his guitar until his cuticles bled, so I didn’t understand what the hell he was thinking or why at this point in his life. Maybe I should have called more.

    Let me start over. What was a quiet afternoon became silent. Cole Hatburn, a collegiate chum with chestnut hair that flowed like the songs from his throat, stood at the top story of a seven story building. His toes nearly dangled on the edge. As for his hair, it was always a bird’s nest on his head, but damn he was passionate.

    Cole had the kind of passion that rock stars drooled for. The kind that couldn’t give a shit about what society thought. That is, if he ever played for anyone above ground. He was a screaming soul with soft-spoken speech. A sinewy build and torn knees concealed his rather romantic nature. I myself had never experienced anything with him, but when we used to get together, even the way his fingers caressed a coffee cup bewildered me. For someone who bashed our consumerism driven land constantly through his tunes, he still embroidered the tiniest details in his life on his heart.

    I began screaming for help when I saw Cole dropping his shoes, then socks, then pants, boxers and shirt, one by one, with no remorse. No expression on his face. The sicko. He would be naked; as he came into this world he learned to loathe. By what, possible too many sociology classes. But who the hell knows. Punk rock couldn’t save him now.

    I tried calling to him from below. People wearing tweed coats and tall boots surrounded me with crimson cheeks and noses. Everyone just watched him suffer like it was the 11 o’clock news. I don’t exclude myself here. It had been months since I had spoken to him last. I wish he had just called me or something. Hadn’t I made myself available?

    Ah, forget it. There’s nothing I need to think about. I mean who needs to think about seeing their friend stepping onto air. I don’t need the wrinkles. The stains on my business-casual pantsuit are evidence enough of the event. My poor boy, my poor friend’s poor arms and legs and split head…

    But God, how could he be so selfish? That little BOY that LITTLE CHILD! So much self-pity, it almost makes me want to regurgitate the scene itself. My friend tumbling tranquil out of my shrieking skull, planting the chords and veins of his passion into the pavement. It was a dreamscape of heavy sobbing and blood-soaked concrete. The view of a young man’s naked ass respectable and dead on the sidewalk remaining still, quiet and blue will be engraved in my head like a surname on a tombstone. The worst part is that when it happened I didn’t even scream.

    Cole Hatburn will be known for his action taken on this weekday of sullen snow and watering eyes. Dusk in the winter will be the death of me. But I won’t hope for it.

  34. hillsworth says:

    June 12, 2012 Pretty much the same prompt.

    • PeterW says:

      Except I wrote in this one!!!!
      Yeah! I’m THAT awesome =D….. read mine though, its like near the bottom. Need more opinions. Need more lovers and haters…. can’t get good at this snick without knowing what good/bad is
      PeterW

  35. Artemis4421 says:

    **I think this one has just awakened a lot in us as writers, humans, and friends. It’s one that you can write and rewrite so many times, and it’ll feel like new every time. This is special, and I’m so proud to call myself one of you great writers. Thank you all for inspiring me every day.**

    • agnesjack says:

      I was thinking the same thing. This forum is inspiring and supportive, but more importantly, the writing explores the best and worst of human nature. It’s quite a talented and thoughtful group.

  36. Artemis4421 says:

    [Decided to join the people that have posted multiple responses. Not as good at the first, but oh well. There are so many possible responses to this prompt! Please tell me if I made it clear or not what was going on!]

    I look up at the all-too-familiar figure on the rooftop and shake my head, muttering a string of curses under my breath. No one notices me as I slip past all the officers and paramedics on the scene.

    “Havanah,” I start softly. She turns, fixing her deep brown eyes on me, obviously not surprised to see me. But why would she be? She was the one who called on me in the first place.

    No introductions from her: “What do I do?”

    “You know I’m going to tell you not to, but I doubt that what I say will change your mind either way.”

    Havanah looks back out at the skyline, slowly shaking her head. “I’ve never felt this bad, and I just…I literally don’t know anything. So I need your help. Tell me why I shouldn’t.”

    I hold in an exasperated sigh. “You know it doesn’t work like that. I can’t just tell you your future. What if something that you’d think of as bad now, turns out to be something great in your future? You wouldn’t know it, and it would make you want to jump right now.”

    She falls silent. “Okay, I guess that makes sense. But do I…get married? Have kids? Fall into debt? How long will I live?” Havanah looks deep into my brown eyes, and I can see the pain and confusion that I’ve felt before, not long ago. She just wants answers that I can’t give her. Maybe they won’t punish me if I don’t divulge too many details…

    “Havanah, listen to me. Listen closely. The choice that you make right now decides all of that. There are some things that you can’t avoid. Pain throughout your life is one of them. I’m sorry it’s come to this, but you have to decide if you even want to make it through this or not.” It sounds harsh, but the ultimate decision isn’t up to me.

    She once again shakes her head, and looks toward the city skyline, ignoring the crowd of people that have congregated at the base of the building, like vultures swarming to a rotting piece of road kill. A bit of a gruesome simile, but they’re waiting to see if someone will plunge to their death or not. So yes, I find that it fits perfectly. I pause, watching a tear slide down her face.

    “I don’t want to,” She starts quietly.

    “Good,” I interrupt, “then don’t. You don’t have to.”

    She takes a good hard look at me, and I can almost visibly see the gears turning in her mind. “Yes I do.”

    I shake my head and give her a questioning look. In response, she motions to herself, then to me. She’s wearing a brand new shirt with a band insignia on it, and faded jeans. I then look down at myself, seeing the same outfit, just a bit more tattered.

    “Just the fact that you’re here…it means that I jumped before I even set foot up here…right?”

    Her words are chilling, even more so when I know they’re true. But I’m trusting her to get me out of my haunting purgatory, and I can’t have her doing this. “Havanah, you can change this. You have that power. Please rethink this.”

    I know her response even before she shakes her head. “Like I said, I was dead the second I was born.” A slight smile makes its way across her face before she turns around, crossing her arms over her chest. “There never was a choice. That was made clear when you came to me. You are me. You are dead. I am dead. But at least it won’t hurt too much.”

    She smiles a little bigger before letting herself sway in the breeze, and I can do nothing but watch as she falls to the ground. Right before she hits, I find myself right where she landed. And I know that her choice has caused me to have to go through this all again. She has to go through it all again. I have to go through this all over again.

    Maybe next time I can stop myself. But I never have. And it’s clear that I probably never will.

    • margi33 says:

      I liked this a lot. Nice details and flow. I think that Havanah is stuck in a groundhog day type situation and her soul (stuck in purgatory) is visiting trying to convince her not to jump, and this happens again and again? Am I correct or way off? In any event, it was entertaining and well written.

      • Artemis4421 says:

        Yes! The repeating cycle of her jumping and the previous soul trying to get her to not do it…well if the soul succeeded, the cycle would be broken and everything would fall apart, but at least she wouldn’t have to keep reliving it over and over and over…But yes that’s what I was aiming for, thank you margi33!

    • snuzcook says:

      What a great idea, Artemis4421. What can she do to change her other self’s mind when just appearing convinces her that suicide is inevitable? A great example of interfering making things worse. We all want to peek inside the box to reassure ourselves that the cat is still alive. But the act of looking forces reality to solidify instead of remaining a set of possibilities, and sometimes reality solidifies as a dead cat.

    • Reaper says:

      The fact that she thinks she is in Purgatory while reliving this tells me she is in fact in the the special hell. The one for ‘pedophiles and people that talk during the movies’. There is a lot of depth to this. You seem to have a strong link to the Biblical reference to the devil as the lord of this world by placing the MCs punishment on earth. I also read, intentionally or not, that you are speaking to our ability to lie to ourselves and misunderstand ourselves even more than we do other people. Right there at the beginning is the question, What do I do? And she answers with a banal nonsensical response telling herself she can’t tell her what she should do. She didn’t ask what should I do, but what do I do. If she was told that, in gory, painful detail she might change her mind. Okay, you put the philosophy cap on me tonight.

      • Artemis4421 says:

        “Pedophiles and people that talk during the movies” I can’t decide whether it was alright or not for me to laugh as hard as I did at that…Yes sometimes the person that hurts us the most is ourselves, and humans seem to be very strange, complex creatures. But thank you Reaper, I’m glad I got you thinking!

        • Reaper says:

          I think it is okay. I know I laughed pretty hard when I first heard it. Though I realized I misquoted. It’s actually from Firefly and the correct line is, …you’re going to burn in a very special hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater.”

          I was introduced to the idea that we are always the ones that hurt ourselves the most because nobody else can hurt us unless we give them the power to do so. I believe that about seventyfive percent of the time. Thank you for getting me thinking!

  37. carolemt87 says:

    Suicides. I remember a bunch of them. Rescue calls in a small Midwestern college town. Kids away from home for the first time. Homesick. Desperate. One eighteen-year old girl got her stomach pumped and hadn’t even taken any pills. Or the drunks, my God, alcohol mixed with Vicodin. It used me up and I had to get out of there. Came to the Chicago. Bright lights, traffic, noise, lots of people, buzzing.
    Got a job with a publishing house editing short stories and prepping poetry manuscripts. My God, poets can be so damn delicate!
    Blue spring day, I grab lunch from the taco truck and eat al fresco. Mahi Mahi tacos with mango salsa and coconut smoothie.
    People start yelling and running over to the parking garage. Radio squawks from the dark haired uniformed police officer.

    “Looks like we got a repeat jumper at Michigan and Seventh Street, fourth floor of the parking garage. This Andy Carpenter’s getting to be a regular. Send the wagon and the doc, will ya?”

    Oh crap, I dropped my taco on the ground. Good thing I wear sensible shoes.

    “Officer, did you say Andy Carpenter?” I grab his sleeve, “I’m pretty sure I know him. In fact, we go way back.”

    “Look lady, maybe you just better stay out of this one. We don’t want two victims on our hands.”

    “Listen officer, I think I can help. You could say I have a history with Andy.”

    He spoke into the radio, “Sarge, gotta woman here says she’s knows the jumper. Wants to help. Advise?”

    “Couldn’t hurt I suppose. Take her over there.”

    The cool shade rolled over me inside the parking garage. My eyes adjusted to the darkness. The tall, blue-eyed officer accompanied me up the elevator to the third floor. He smelled like leather and Lifebuoy soap.

    “We need to walk up the last flight. We don’t want to scare the kid. Sarge says he’s bipolar and probably off his meds again.”

    Goosebumps flowered and I crossed my arms across my chest.

    “Did you know that he’s Type 1 diabetic? He’s probably hungry or needs insulin.”

    The officer looked at me. The corners of his eyes crinkled. My God, he’s staring at my cleavage. I shifted.

    “You do know this kid, don’t you? Maybe this is a good idea after all.”

    “I appreciate the vote of confidence. But I can’t make any guarantees.”

    I walked in front of the officer and saw the back of the kid on the ledge. Scraggly dark hair, black jacket, black jeans full of chains and holes, ratty tennis shoes.

    I walked up to the boy and put my arms tightly around his legs.

    “C’mon, kiddo. You always did know how to get attention, didn’t you? You’re creating a lot of excitement down below. How about stepping back from the edge for a little while?”

    “How’d you find me, Mom?”

    “Just a hunch. How long you been in Chicago? C’mon, let’s get some lunch. I’m starved.”

    Carol J Carpenter

    • Artemis4421 says:

      I liked the detail in this one, and the plot as well. Nice job!

    • agnesjack says:

      This was an interesting read, which grabbed me from the very first line. I liked the style of the piece very much, but I was a little thrown by how nonchalant the mother seemed about the whole thing, and why she wouldn’t simply tell the officer from the beginning that she was his mother.

      • lionetravail says:

        I gotta agree here- it’s a cool concept, but the mom seems like a pretty disengaged sorta mother. I’m thinking that you need a ton of extra story to get us, your readers to the point where that makes sense.

        Please don’t get me wrong, it’s provocative, and something I haven’t seen before here, but mom has an attitude which looks like: “Oh look, it’s my bipolar son off his meds who could die in the next 20 seconds… hey kiddo, let’s get something to eat, okay?” With the right backstory, that could be a hugely entertaining reveal!

        • carolemt87 says:

          Thanks to everyone for the comments. I do appreciate it. The amount of words was to fit the format and many times short stories just end. Story has basis in fact…that’s from where we write. Yeah, she’s a lot more nonchalant than I would ever be.

  38. Dennis says:

    The Gift

    Another quick lunch for Harold Peterson. He afforded more time than usual as he went outside to his favorite pretzel stand. “One with extra salt,” he ordered, “and a diet coke.” Almost running back to his office building he noticed a crowd had formed outside of it and people were pointing up. But Harold didn’t care much. There were jumpers all of the time and he had work to get done.

    Moving through the crowd, Harold heard that the jumper was his boss and owner of the company, Mr. Herbst. Harold decided to inquire.

    “What’s going on officer?”
    “And you might be?”
    “Harold Peterson. Mr. Herbst is my boss.”
    “Harold Peterson? You are just the man we’ve been waiting for.”

    Before Harold could say another word the policeman whisked him into the building and up the elevator they went. The policeman debriefed him on the situation, that Mr. Herbst specifically requested to speak with him. The policeman urged Harold to talk him off the ledge.

    Harold walked across the catwalk on the roof to where Mr. Herbst was sitting.

    “Ah Harold, come sit by me.” Harold nervously did so. “A great view from up here, wouldn’t you say?”
    “YYYYes Mr. Herbst. But shouldn’t we move away from the ledge?”
    “Nonsense, this is the best seat in the house. Tell me about your family.” Harold spoke of his wife and two sons. He didn’t spend much time with them lately as he was trying to move forward in the company. “And do you have a picture of them?” Harold’s shaking hands pulled out a photo and handed it to Mr. Herbst.
    “It’s a couple of years old.”
    “Beautiful family, Harold. You need to spend more time with them and not squander your life away. That is why I asked you up here, to give you a gift.”
    “What gift sir?”

    And then the bottom dropped out from under Harold. He was free falling, apparently to his death. He tried to let out a scream but couldn’t. All the while, his life passed before his eyes. He witnessed his father not giving him much time as a child and then seeing all of the missed moments with his own boys. But he was not going to get that back.

    With a loud Whooff all went dark and sounds were muffled. Harold wondered if he was in some sort of purgatory, waiting his turn to testify for his life. He felt himself gently moving downwards. Then it became light again and the sounds were louder. Firemen were helping him off the deflated airbag. People were cheering. He noticed they were helping Mr. Herbst as well. Reporters were trying to ask him how he was able to save Mr. Herbst. It all seemed a blur.

    From that day forward Harold Peterson’s life took a turn for the better. He spent more time with this family, working less, yet was more productive. He in turn did move up in the company.

    In the final days of Mr. Herbst’s life, he called Harold to his side and explained what happened those many years ago, explaining his gift to Harold.

    “I gave you the gift of life, that which you were throwing away. I set the whole thing up, to fake my jumping so I could send you off that ledge. It’s in moments of death that we sometimes see how we truly lived our lives. My predecessor gave that to me and I promised to pass it on if the time came. I now ask you to do the same.”
    Harold was speechless for a moment. “Thank you sir, I will.”

    ____________________________

    25 years later

    Simon looked at the clock. 6pm and he wasn’t close to being done. He hoped Suzie would understand. His phone rang.
    “Yes?”
    “Mr. Peterson wants to see you in his office.”
    “Now?”
    “Yes. He said it was a matter of life and death……..”

    (Sorry for the word count. As it is, it could use more but decided to not fill it out)

  39. Cceynowa says:

    (A more “fun one” I have been thinking about over the weekend; does not follow the prompt exactly, nor is it historically accurate. Word Count: 484)

    A Queen’s Influence

    A pint of ale would cure his aching head, he was sure, but first he needed to urinate. Stumbling over the other knights as they lay scattered about the great hall, he made his way into the mercifully dim courtyard and leaned against the castle’s wall. The rough stone bit into his forehead and the cold damp drizzle awoke his senses. He could hear someone crying. Not uncommon, except the sound originated above his head. Readjusting himself, he squinted upward and saw a man perched outside the King’s bedchamber.

    Fully awake now, his loyalty overpowered all other thought and he raced to his sovereigns’ aide. No servants or guards were present. He knew from experience that the queen preferred no one at her door if she had intentions of performing marital acts within, and, with her husband returning from months of travel just the night before, it was likely that she had told the servants to enjoy celebrating his return elsewhere. Thinking only of their safety, he burst into the room ready for battle. He knew his king, his friend, would forgive any intrusion of privacy to keep the queen safe.

    She was sitting at her mirror. Quietly braiding her beautifully long hair and the king was nowhere to be seen. “My Lady,” he said in a hurried whisper as he rushed to her side, “please, take safety in the hall, there is an intruder.”

    She laughed silently and said, “It is no intruder.”

    Confused, he crossed the room to lean out the window. “Your highness? What are you doing?”

    “I cannot do this any longer. I envisioned a world of greatness, of peace and knowledge, where men are thought equal, but … I am not a ruler capable of uniting the world. I am lacking.”

    “What? No! You have given many men the chance to be equals, and your people love you! How can you say such things? You are the greatest ruler the land has ever known. What has happened… oh!”

    The queen kicked him in the shins. She was waving her arms and mouthing “STOP!”

    He shook his head at her, what was her meaning? She seemed frantic.

    “I feel so alone.”

    Again, the knight leaned out the window, “My friend, you are not alone. I am here, your beautiful wife is here, she loves you more than…”

    The queen jerked him back inside. Clearly angry now, she held onto his shirt front and spoke close to his face, “Do not talk him out of it. This is for us!”

    Understanding lit the knight’s eyes. “What did you say to make him go out there,” he whispered.

    “This has been years in the making,” she replied.

    “Do you truly believe I could be a great king, Lancelot?”

    His king called to him from the stone ledge. His queen held him in her arms. He was a man divided.

  40. Jay says:

    Honesty is the best policy, she once told me.” Cliff said. “How can I be honest with her if I’m not even honest with myself?”

    I leaned close to Cliff, who was mere moments from taking a plunge from the highest building we’d ever known. His skin fell slack and pale. Sweat beaded at his forehead, ran down his face, and committed suicide, leaping from his chin without regard to consequence.

    I said, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

    “I have no choice.”

    “You always have a choice.”

    “No, you don’t understand. I just love her so much, and I can’t live without her.”

    I felt like he’d finally hit that point where going back was impossible.

    I’ve been there before. That feeling when the only thing defining your actions is an uncontrollable urge found deep within. The feeling that teased him toward the edge just needed a little push.

    He said, “I’ve always known I wasn’t good enough for her.”

    “I think you should just do it.”

    “What?” He said. The surprise in his voice gave me chills.

    “Just fucking do it.” I repeated. “No one’s good enough for her, especially you.”

    Cliff looked out at the tops of the buildings and then down at the city below. He’d always been afraid of heights, but at that moment, he had a kind of courage I’d never seen. In fact, the color returned to his face and that’s when I knew he was going to do it.

    “You’re right. I can’t live like this anymore.” He said, and put a comforting hand upon my shoulder. “I thought you might talk me down, but even you seem to think I should do this.”

    I smiled, “Trust me. I’ve been there. You know I have. See you on the flip side, friend.”

    “Later.” He said, and then stepped off the balcony.

    The crowd watched as he plunged through them. Their hungry eyes soaking in the fear and anxiety like rubberneckers at an auto accident. They didn’t care what happened, only that they were able to enjoy the drama.

    Cliff’s knee fell to the carpet as the restaurant hushed, and he raised a diamond ring to my ex-wife. Tears brimmed in her eyes and she threw her hands over her mouth as her face burned red. My skin pinched with goose flesh. Despite my personal feelings, I knew I’d done the right thing.

  41. Ellie May says:

    Rushing to grab lunch at a sidewalk vendor, up ahead I notice a crowd gathered. Following the crows’s line of vision, I see a person on the ledge, clearly planning to jump. A nearby police officer confirms my thought and mentions the person’s name. I stop cold. It’s my friend since childhood.

    I have to talk with her. I do a little quickstep to get through the crowd and race to the building’s entrance.

    Up on the 15th floor, I head to the east side of the building, where I hear people trying to coax her back inside.

    “Please,” I say softly to the group in the office. “I’ve known her since we were 10. Let me try.”

    The crowd parts like the Red Sea and I join my friend on the ledge. Carly turns to me and I see a staggering wealth of pain in her eyes. She smiles wanly, takes my hand, and we jump.

  42. carlyumz says:

    A cup of coffee wasn’t going to solve anything, but the Captain wouldn’t take no for an answer. After everything, he was still my boss. Even though I had to keep reminding myself that the shaking, broken-looking man was still the same fierce, respected and let’s face it, stubborn as hell, Captain we’d all take a bullet for.

    I had fifteen minutes before the trial began and I spent most of them walking up and down the block, thinking of where I could grab a drink without anyone noticing me. My favourite, Rapha’s, was out and so was anywhere the hacks would be setting up shop. I settled on a lonely coffee van off of Ninth and tried not to notice how the guy narrowed his eyes at me all suspiciously as he handed me the paper cup.

    A month ago I wouldn’ta thought anything of it, maybe I just looked like his cousin or something. Even if I did think something of it, I’da asked what his problem was. Nowadays I already had it figured out.

    The ‘Botched Brigade’ the papers called us. As in ‘Botched Brigade Cost 20 Lives’, ‘Botched Brigade Failed To Stop Killer Blaze’ or ‘Exclusive: Why The Botched Brigade Deserves Life For Killing My Boy’. It was catchy and like the story, it stuck. It didn’t matter that the facts were way out or that they’d misquoted Avery to high Heaven, they wanted someone to blame. I was willing to take it. We might’ve put our own lives in danger to save those families and done everything we could, but in the end we still walked out alive, leaving twenty-one behind.

    I’d memorised every detail of every face that hadn’t made it. I carried them with me. Mrs Wright and her three young daughters. Luis Vargas, eighteen, just accepted to Berkeley. Sixteen year old twins Pearl and Peter Swanson, ‘pleasures to teach’ their tutor said on the news. I coulda given you their whole damn back-story I knew them so well.

    From the corner of the courthouse I could see that something wasn’t right. At first I thought it was the press but they were too lively-looking. It was practically a mob and it sounded like they were cheering.

    Jump. Jump. Jump.

    Robertson was trying to push the crowd back and nearly jumped outta his skin when he saw me. “Mortez? Shouldn’t you be…?” He looked at the top of the building and back down. “Ten-fifty-six, it’s Avery.”

    My stomach twisted. The man I knew wasn’t a coward, yet there was no mistaking the figure perched at the top of the ledge. I’d dealt with jumpers a few times before so I knew the drill, but the script didn’t seem to fit. ‘What’s happened?’ ‘You’ve got so much to live for.’ ‘This is a mistake.’

    Major Cassidy gave me the megaphone no problem. I pressed it to my lips, not knowing quite where to start, sure I didn’t know what the solution was, but I knew this wasn’t it.

    “Captain please, they deserve better than this…”

  43. Reaper says:

    Okay. So my comfort zone hunted me down, slapped me in the face, tazered me for fun, and dropped a roofie down my throat to ensure compliance then drug me home. So in the them of the week here is a bonus story that had to be written.

    Sympathetic Equivocation

    “What are you thinking?”

    He jerked and almost fell. Righting himself he looked at me suspiciously. A dapper older gentleman in a three piece black suit and crimson tie on a ledge near the top of the Smith Tower is odd. Odder still when he is leaning back on his heels toes dangling over the edge. Oddest when you did not know he was there until he spoke. I looked good.

    Vasily looked unkempt. Passing on the street below I overheard an officer mention his name. I had a vested interest in being there.

    “Thinking about ending it all, Jerry.”

    “Come now. It is not as bad as all that. You have an amazing job.”

    “Not anymore!” He sobbed.

    “But you have Leesa.”

    Tears brimmed in his eyes. “She’s leaving.”

    I clucked my tongue. “Marriages these days, the children…”

    “Don’t want anything to do with me!” Now streams ran down his cheeks.

    “Right. Well that girl from the other night.”

    “I can’t go back there!” Hearing the shouts a uniformed psychiatrist attempted to soothe him. I kept working my magic.

    “What a sticky situation. You are a wealthy man with many toys. You can start over. I will be there with you as I have been since the day we met.”

    “You have…” He rounded on me, as best as he could on a shallow ledge. “You did all of this to me!”

    I turned a merciless smile upon my best friend.

    “No, Vasily, it was you. Yes, I told you how to embezzle the money. You did it. You lost your job and got your assets frozen. I told you to put your wife in her place. You beat her. You let the children see the bruises while you ignored them for work. I pointed out a nice piece of trim. You chose to fornicate with her before discovering her age. You asked me to make sure she never told her parents. I did that for you. The dumpster she and the bun you put in her oven ended up in was not what you meant but I did what you wanted done. Oh, you did not know about the baby, sorry. At every opportunity I offered a choice. You always chose the path of entitlement and least resistance. Once again I offer you a choice. Once again, make the right one. Come inside with me. We can sort this out.”

    I offered him my hand and most sympathetically soulful eyes.

    They always trust until the end. They always make the right choice. Vasily did not disappoint. He should have listened. Instead he took his final leap of faith.

    My eyes flickered to Vasily’s inspirational dive. Growing bored I slipped through the window. My solid heels clacked against the hardwood without disturbing the gathered crowd. I tend to avoid notice unless I am needed. These days most never see me until they have invited me into their lives.

    Knock, knock. It’s your new best friend. Make the right choice.

    • jmcody says:

      Yup, that’s Reaper alright…

      This is magnificent Reaper. The way you spun this one was brilliant — particularly in how the evil one always gave Vasily a choice, and there was always free will, right up until the end. But when your final choice is to listen to the voice of evil yet again or kill yourself, you know you have run out of options. This was deliciously dark. Which a saying something because I was never a big fan of dark. OMG you are Influencing me, Reaper!

      • Reaper says:

        Whoo! I’m wearing the right clothes. Thank you jm for your kind words. You picked up on most of what was driving me to write this. I like deliciously dark. I don’t know bout influencing you though… I think I would rather say I am presenting you with a choice. ;)

        • jmcody says:

          Uh oh… ;) Luckily I never do anything the easy way!

          I like your explanation below about Jerry being the embodiment of self-entitlement and disregard for consequences, aka selfishness, because this demon is more real and more seductive than any fictional demon. Your comment made this piece even more interesting, and frightening.

          I am seeing a trend toward subtle nuance this week. Either that or I am becoming more obtuse.

          • Reaper says:

            Wise choice, I think.

            I felt a need to give the explanation. Mostly because the story kept changing for me. I am glad it added something to it because I agree the things inside of are scarier than monsters. But then that is what the classic monsters in horror stories were, things inside of us given a different form.

            I don’t think you’re becoming more obtuse. If you are I am too because I have noticed a lot of subtle work this week.

    • snuzcook says:

      Glad you wrote this bonus story, Reaper! (I actually took a short misstep at the beginning–when the MC said “I look good,” I thought we were going with a narcissistic TV on-site reporter–but that’s another story.)
      Love the way your MC manipulated Vasily (and I love that name!). The arrogance and disdain were perfectly expressed.

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you snuzcook. I think I intended that misdirection without realizing it. Before I cut it down the description on the outfit was more detailed, including a black silk tie and a deep purple rose in the buttonhole of the jacket. I was imagining a defense attorney, but narcissistic TV reporter… Tomato, tomatoe.
        Thank you for that last bit, it makes my night. I met a gentleman, a Russian immigrant with that name about a year ago and I loved it. For some reason I wanted a Russian name for this, and when I went looking I smacked myself for not thinking of it on my own.

    • pinkbamboo says:

      I love this piece! I’m picturing Jerry as a calm man at first .. maybe like a best friend and then when the whole truth came out, I was blown away .. and speaking of last line .. knock knock is eerie. You are deeply dark!

      • Reaper says:

        Miss Bamboo, you say I am generous with my compliments. I love seeing yours because you always seem to catch little details that were powerful for me and I was not sure if they translated well. Deeply dark, that may be my favorite description ever, outside of ruggedly handsome but who can trust their mother when they say a thing like that? Thank you again.

        I’m glad Jerry read well. What you said was what I was going for. I wanted him to seem like a calm friend, but I named him that after one of the names for the devil in a very underrated show called Reaper, not where I got the name but part of why I loved it. Initially I thought Jerry here was the devil, then I decided for me he was a demon. Then I started writing and realized that in my head he was simpler than that. He was the embodiment of the infectious self entitlement and motion for the path of least resistance, of taking what we want without thinking about the consequences. To others he may be other things, but in my head he is the things we call the devil but in reality are just what we do because free will is hard when it comes to doing what’s right. So the change in who he seemed to be is important to me. Thank you.

    • Amyithist says:

      Always so Brilliant in your imagery and details. You are a magnificent writer, Reaper and I thoroughly enjoyed your piece! Thank you.

    • margi33 says:

      Very good, Reaper. I love that your writing always makes me think. And I do have a love for the darker side, so this one resonated with me. Nice addition!

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you margi33. I adore people that have a love for the darker side. I also like making people think. I believe when I stop doing that it is time to either hang up my hat or start writing teen romance novels about how nice all the monsters really are. Hmmm. Good money in that second one though.

    • agnesjack says:

      Now, that’s real Reaper form. I don’t know why, but I loved the line, “I pointed out a nice piece of trim.” It had just the right tone and made me laugh, for some reason. This made me think of C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters.” Well done, Reaper. I think I won’t answer that knock.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Loved the story Reaper. Not much I can add except it was a jaw dropper. I was ready for Jerry to say goodby and physically push him off. But you did the same anyway and it read better. The deep, disgusting taunts from within the human mind are best illustrated the way you did. When I first saw Tracy do Dr Jeckell and Mr. Hyde, I was too young to understand.

        But battleing my own primal urges makes me understand how thin the layer of propriety is in the human form.

        By the way, you mention the Smith Tower. For many years in San Antonio, our tallest building was the Smith-Young Tower. Not the same I imagine.

        • Reaper says:

          Thank you Kerry. You always floor me with your comments. You have an elegance and style to how you speak that is just amazing, both in your stories and your comments. I do not know if you have read Black House by Stephen Kind and Peter Straub, but I just realized you remind me of the character George Rathburn, which I assure you is a compliment.

          As for the Smith Tower. It is different. It is a building in downtown Seattle that was for some time the tallest building West of the Mississippi. Which I had a teacher tell me was funny. He moved out here from New York when it still held the title and decided to go see this giant building. He spent hours looking for it in the general area, confused because there were no tall buildings in the area. When he finally asked a police officer where it was he was standing in front of it and had been circling the block it was on for about half an hour.

      • Reaper says:

        You know the only C.S. Lewis I know is the Narnia series so I may need to get ahold of this one you mentioned. Thank you agnesjack. I do like my form, though it was fun to step out of it for a while.

        You know the line you mention is funny. I liked it mostly because it started as a nice piece of ass, but I decided that was too crass for Jerry. So it was a nice piece of tail, even though that sounded too pedestrian. As I was editing I thought of this friend who says trim. Whenever he does it sounds classy and creepy at the same time, so I decided that was the word and just hoped it gave the same feeling it gives me.

        • agnesjack says:

          “The Screwtape Letters” is a brilliant exploration of the dynamics of temptation. Screwtape is a senior demon in hell who, through a series of letters, coaches his nephew, Wormwood, on the fine points of temptation. Wormwood is attempting to lure his first victim to damnation. It is wickedly funny and very provacative.

    • carlyumz says:

      Just to add to the barrage of wonderful praise for this story… it really was beautifully written Reaper!

      To echo others, I loved how you wrote this with such subtly that I too thought that Jerry was just a friend, but after re-reading I realised you’d put all the hints there for us to discover from the very beginning. Lines like ‘I had a vested interest in being there’, for example take on such a wicked quality on the second read and give us an insight into your MC. I’d love to read more about Jerry and how he treats his other ‘friends’!

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you for adding to it, and for the compliment. I never feel like I’m being subtle enough because in my own head I know what I’m going for. So I feel ham fisted and am always happy to find out it was not too blatant. Jerry is a character type that shows up often in my writing, but I find it hard to write long term about guys like him. Because he is pure evil and I don’t believe in pure evil, not within an individual being, so when I try to write more about those characters I lose interest fast. Though with an exploration of a softer side I could do a longer story on him.

  44. alex.marie.13 says:

    It was him. The man who was tilting along the edge of the high-rise building that stood in front of me, bearing its height in all of its glory, was the man that I loved. I just stood there, dumbfounded at what my eyes were processing.
    Finally, after one of the officers yelled his name out for the numerous time, I woke from my haze and jumped into action. “Excuse me officer, I know that man,” I said frantically. “He’s my fiancé.”
    The officer looked at me incredulously. To confirm my confession I flashed him the ring on my finger and said, “We’ve been engaged for four months.”
    “Ok ma’am, come with me, we’re going to need your help,” he said and I followed after him as we weaved through the growing crowd to get to the other officers.
    “Guys,” he yelled out. “This woman is the fiancé of Jackson.”
    Just hearing his name made my heart flutter yet my stomach sank. How could he be doing this? Were things truly becoming that bad?
    Another officer asked, “What is your name miss?”
    “Natalie Adams, sir.” Generic. My name was as generic as I felt in that moment. And I know what the officers were thinking. Why would THE Jackson Percel be engaged to someone so typical? If only they knew our story.
    “Ok Miss Adams, you better not be lying to us,” another officer spoke, his skepticism was obvious. “Do you have any idea of why your fiancé is risking to jump off of that building?”
    I had every idea. His father was pushing him to take over the firm. His twin sister refused to speak to him ever since the night of our engagement. And lastly, his fiancé was too worried of perfecting her final masters project than to prepare a wedding.
    “He’s been very stressed lately sir,” I admitted instead. “But when I saw him this morning he was fine. We were supposed to meet for lunch at the little café on the corner over there…” I couldn’t finish my sentence. He knew how special this block was for us. Why here?
    The crowd was becoming larger. Especially once they all noticed it was him. This needed to end. This could not turn into a circus show. My frustration grew when it was obvious the officers and emergency personnel weren’t being proactive enough. Drawing plans of execution to bring him safely from the ledge were not going to solve anything.
    “Excuse me,” I butted in. “But to save my fiancé from further embarrassment from this situation, can I please speak to him? I think I can talk some sense into him.”
    After some hesitance the officers finally agreed. Once I was given the go ahead, I ran through the building to him. I knew how to get to the rooftop of the high rise with my eyes closed. Finally reaching it, I opened the door leading to him.
    “Jackson,” I yelled. But I was already too late.

    • Reaper says:

      This is intense. You made me love and hate your MC at the same time. The care for her fiance was sweet but the why this block, why me attitude worked the other way. You gave me hope that everything would be fine then yanked the rug out from under me so expertly that there was no way I could disbelieve it would go exactly like this. The intensity on this was wonderful.

    • snuzcook says:

      This story invited several re-reads. There is a lot going on that the MC is not overtly stating, a lot of clues in her own behavior that may be projecting the reason behind Jackson’s actions. And, as I say this I realize this is exactly what suicides leave us all to do–to try to find the ‘why’ out of hints and unasked questions.
      I really like the idea of including the idea that the jumper has celebrity and how that would influence the reactions of the authorities on scene.
      And the ending made the story loop back for a re-read.
      Nicely done.

  45. rle says:

    Well…okay…here goes nothing.

    ———————————————————————————————–

    Money, Mississippi June 3 1965

    Abner Mason, Frankie Roberts and I sat at a wobbly folding table under a single dim incandescent bulb in the back of Mason’s Service Station. Abner was old enough to be our father. He owned the little hole in the wall filling station and two or three nights a week, he’d invite some of us boys over for a game of poker. Usually, Abner cleaned us out, but tonight was my night. Abner had folded and meandered into the back room and I was just about to call Frankie’s bluff when Little Pete burst through the shabby storm door like a battering ram.

    “Somebody, come quick,” he gasped, “It’s Billy Joe, he’s on the bridge, I think he’s gonna jump!”

    Frankie waved Pete off as he contemplated his next move, “Let him jump and do us all a favor.”

    Those words infuriated me. Frankie didn’t like Billy Joe. Truth be told, Frankie didn’t really like anybody, he just tolerated people. Had it been me on that bridge, he would have said the same thing.

    I abruptly jumped up and threw my cards at Frankie and bolted toward the door, “Come on Pete,” I beckoned as I headed for the street. Pete followed me as far as the gas pumps and stopped. He was already exhausted from running here and his stubby legs were no match for my tall lanky strides.

    As I headed for the river at a dead run, I couldn’t imagine what could be up with Billy Joe. He normally played poker with us, but lately that girl he’d been fooling around with was taking up more and more of his time. They seemed to spend a lot of time up on Choctaw Ridge doing who knows what.

    I was still over a quarter mile from the bridge when I felt like my legs might give out. I was running as fast as I could, praying I wouldn’t trip in a pothole. Billy Joe was my friend and I was bound and determined to get to him as quickly as I could and get to the bottom of this. As my heart pounded against my chest and sweat dampened my shirt, I propelled myself faster and faster down the moonlit road.

    I recalled all of the good times Billy Joe and I had shared over the years. We had known each other since the age of five and had done just about everything two southern boys could do. I couldn’t imagine what he could have gotten himself into to have brought him to this.

    As I approached the bridge, I slowed first to a trot then to a walk, then I stopped. There sat Billy Joe on the railing peering into the water below. He spotted me and although I couldn’t see his face, I sensed his pain from his posture. I motioned for him to come down off the railing. He slowly shook his head. He turned his attention back to the water momentarily then pitched forward and disappeared.

    I sprinted to the spot where I’d last seen him, screaming his name. Out of breath, I leaned on the railing and felt the slight warmth where his body had just been. In that moment I realized Billy Joe was gone forever. The only thing I had left of my friend were the many memories we’d made and the warm spot on the railing beneath my hands. Billy Joe had given his life to the muddy Tallahatchie river.

    • Reaper says:

      rle, this is not nothing. I’m a harsh critic of adaptions and retellings. This was brilliant. You captured all of the feeling, meaning, and emotion of the song. I haven’t thought of this story in a very long time and yet by paragraph two I had caught on. But I wasn’t completely sure, yet your story help me so strongly that I couldn’t go look it up to ensure that I was remember right. Just brilliant. Seriously, you brought a piece of my childhood back to me.

    • snuzcook says:

      Exquisite detail, rle! I love the use of the ‘warm spot where his body had just been,’ the MC hoping he didn’t trip in any potholes as he ran, the way the Frankie prefaced the sentiment of people not caring enough for each other to keep them from being lost forever. This would be an excellent story even without the reference to Janis’ song, but the connection for me lent a wonderful musical backdrop to the narrative.

    • jmcody says:

      Wow, that was a blast from the past! Actually yours is a really original take on the tale of Billie Joe McAllister. You gave I it a whole new setting, backstory and cast of characters. In the song it was the family of the girlfriend recounting the tale in between passing the biscuits and the black-eyed peas. (Yes, I googled it.). I was really hoping you were going to finally tell us what Billie Joe threw off the Talahatchee bridge, but I guess we’ll never know. Oh well. I got a kick out of it anyway. Kudos for your inventiveness and your always very evocative writing style.

    • jhowe says:

      Ode to Billy Joe, listed on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest songs of all time. Written and recorded as a single in 1967 by Bobbie Gentry. One of the most sultry songs I’ve ever heard, despite the sensitive subject matter. Nice job. The story you wrote stands alone but I loved the references to the song.

  46. tacmedlaw says:

    Failing
    As I walk past the cacophony of police and rescue workers gathered outside the gothic inspired slate skyscraper on Front Street I hear a scratchy transmission from a firefighter’s radio.
    “Subject was reported on the ledge by pedestrian at approximately 1300, no information on motive or identity as of now.”
    It is only now that I notice the large white male, dark hair neatly buzzed into a crew cut, dressed in an Army digital camouflage uniform. It is only now that I notice my colleague, my subordinate, my friend, Corporal James Baumgartner.
    James, or Jimmy, as everyone at our unit calls him, is a medic. Jimmy is a brave soul who would drag a buddy under the most intense fire until he himself succumbs to the hailing of lead or to his own exhaustion. But this brave kid, and he is a kid as he is only 19, has been reduced to a sobbing 6’ 3”, 240 ib. behemoth. It is strange to see the same person, who only a month ago was joking about his National Guard commitment of one weekend a month, two weeks a year, while pulling equipment out of our still smoldering HUMVEE that had just been opened like a exploded can of baked beans by an IED, sob against a fourth floor gargoyle.
    “Jimmy!” I call out without thinking. “What are you doing?”
    A detective grabs my right arm and pulls me closer to the yellow scene tape surrounding the lobby of the building.
    “You know this man?” the detective asks, obviously excited to finally have some info.
    “That’s my buddy; I drill with him at the National Guard base.” I look up to see if Jimmy has noticed my call to him, if he has, he yet to show it. “How long has he been up there?”
    “We don’t know, some business guy noticed him about an hour ago, refuses to talk or even look down here.” He stares into my eyes, looking for an answer to why my friend would be doing this. “Would you be willing to talk with, or try to reason with him?”
    “I don’t even know what to say…What should I say?”
    “Well, so far you are the only one who knows him, just reason with him, try not to get him to emotional though.”
    I grab the bullhorn from the detective and can’t quite get past the feeling that I am in some cliché TV show, acting as a professional negotiator. I look up to see Jimmy; he is still clutching the gargoyle, the literal guardian of his fellow soldier entwined with the mythological guardian of the building.
    “Jimmy” I say too loudly through the bullhorn “What are you doing buddy?”
    He sees me, cries, and falls. Before he reaches the ground as I scream my throat hoarse, I awake screaming, sweating in my bed. The fog of my dream is burned away, the stinging memory of my friend Jimmy, who said he would shoot himself, did

  47. tz2328 says:

    Why can’t I have a whole hour for lunch like Joan does, I say to myself as I rush out the door of the Highmark building and head towards Jefferson Street and my favorite deli. A lousy half hour, that’s all I get.
    As I race walk down the sidewalk, my thoughts quickly turn from distress to curiosity. A throng of people are gathered around the old book store. Every single one of them is looking up towards the roof. I know from previous experience that you can’t run and look up at the same time, so I paused to see what the fuss was about. Someone was standing on the upper ledge!
    Nearing the crowd, I heard the crackle static of a two way radio. A man’s voice came over loud and clear: “Jumper has been identified as Maureen Whittier, 2918 W. State Street.”
    Mom? I felt the blood drain from my face. My mother is the jumper? This can’t be happening.
    Nothing mattered except getting up to that ledge. “Officer, officer. My name is Kelly Whittier. My mother is Maureen Whittier. Please, I have to help her!”
    Grabbing my elbow, he led me into the building. “Look, miss, we’ve got a serious situation here. You need to keep a cool head. Don’t do or say anything to upset her. I’ll be right behind you.”
    I can’t believe my mother wants to kill herself. Why? I couldn’t come up with a single reason to justify her actions.
    As we closed in on her location, something just didn’t feel right. I recognized my mother’s sweater. I know what was off. It was her hair; it didn’t look real. And she looked somehow bigger.
    “Mom,” I croaked weakly. As she turned towards me, the initial confusion turned to utter disbelief. This wasn’t my mom. This was my DAD.
    “I’m sorry, Kels,” he blurted. “I can’t live a lie any longer. Please forgive me, Kelly dear. Forgive me.”
    This was my daddy. The same gut feeling that something wasn’t right took control of me, only this time it told me to act now and speak later. I lunged for him, grabbing his blouse collar, and hauling him backwards off the ledge into safety. Stroking his makeup laden face and holding him tightly, I became the parent and he the child.
    “Oh, Daddy, I love you no matter what. We’ll get through this together. You and me. I love you forever, Daddy.”

  48. tacmedlaw says:

    How come my reply didn’t show up?

    • When you’re new to posting to the site, your posts go into a folder and need to be approved before they get posted–and I’m the one that has to approve them to confirm the posts aren’t spam (we get a TON of spam). Once I approve the first couple, you won’t have problems anymore and the posts will show up automatically and immediately. Often, if the first posts by a new user are on Friday afternoon or over the weekend or on a day I’m not in the office, I won’t be able to go through the folder until I return.

      Anyway, you are now approved and can post away! Welcome to the Writer’s Digest community.
      Brian
      Online Editor

  49. Carlos Hammer says:

    Into His Eyes

    “This him?” I asked, looking up the building to the man at the top. My anger had been lost, I no longer cared that my lunch had been interrupted, work was work after all. The obese cop next to me nodded his head, his double chin tripling on his head’s way down.

    “That’s him alright. You think you can get ‘em down?” he turned and asked.
    “What’s his name?” I asked, not caring for his previous question. If I didn’t think I could get him down I wouldn’t have showed up.

    “I dunno for sure. Richard Putter or sumthin’ like that. None of us have been able to see him.”
    Putter, eh? Hmm… wouldn’t’ve expected to see him here, I shielded the sun from my eyes to try and make sure it was in fact him. Oh well, once again, work is work, I decided.

    “Yup. I’ll get ’em down.”

    The elevator moved terrible. It continuously jerked to stops on the way up despite the lack of anyone except maybe a few police. Luckily, I made it move smooth. You couldn’t let little things like that get in your way when you had bigger things to do. Dad would’ve called this something stupid like “abuse of power” but I didn’t care. If he really cared he could’ve stopped me anytime he wanted. The elevator arrived to the roof and opened and wind pushed me back.

    “Hey dad, you mind turnin’ that down a little?” I said as I exited and smiled. I saw Putter turn around. He looked awfully frightened.

    “Who- who’re you?” he mumbled. He was already facing me, no longer looking down at the street where he was sure he was meant to end. I, for the second time that day, ignored stupid questions that didn’t matter.
    “Why’re you up here Putter? What happened?” the classic opening for my line of work. I knew I couldn’t let Putter go down; he was one of the good ones. So, I’d just play it easy.

    “My wife, she- she-” Putter continued mumbling but it was blocked by tears. That was okay, all I needed was wife to know that it was threatened divorce. This wouldn’t have been the first time for Mrs. Putter. She got angry to fast.

    “She won’t Richard. You know she won’t. You have kids, you have a job, and people get angry Rich. You go runnin’ back to her and she’ll apologize.” With this Putter wiped his eyes and ran to hug me.
    “Are you an angel?” he mumbled into my deep brown suit.

    “Sure am,” I answered looking up toward my dad again. I looked into the sky into his eyes.

    • snuzcook says:

      A sweet, clever tale, Carlos. Loved the character as you wrote him–especially the way he ignored irrelevant questions. Very convincing. And so He walks among us. Sweet ending line!

  50. Augie says:

    The way it could have ended…….

    Sam hears a familiar voice, “ Dont Throwsssss itsssssss,my precioussssss!”

    “Frodo!”

    Sam runs through the cave, finding the ledge, over cracks of doom.

    Frodo and Gollum fight for the ring.

    Sam throws the bread to the ground. “Here’s your damn bread, EAT!”

    Gollum pleaded

    “Dont throwssssss Itsssss”

    Sam kicks Gollum, ‘Shut the hell up!” …..THUG…..

    “You took the word of this beast, over our friendship!” …..THUG….

    “Ouchnesssss, Samnesss, stop itssssss”

    “We went through all this crap for YOU decide YOU don’t trust me?”

    The fires of Mordor raged, gifting Sam with a baritone voice, more convincing for this scene.

    “First, I….. Sam pauses… Damn….. This is a good voice….

    “As I was saying, first I was yanked out of the bushes by that crazy wizard accusing me of eavesdropping!

    I wasn’t eavesdropping! You wanna know what I was doing Frodo? HUH?

    I was taking a freaking leak!

    I chose the wrong bush! It cost me MONTH AND MONTHS saving YOUR ass!

    Do I get a ‘thanks’ ? Oh nooOOooo, You take the word of this creature! …..THUG….

    Over some stale ass Elf Bread! …… THUG……

    Frodo backs up closer to the edge as Sam rages on……Gollum continues to plea…..

    “ Dontssss Doooeeees itssss, “

    …..THUG……

    “stopsssss itssssss Samnessss”

    “How many times did I almost die so that YOU, could just throw THAT freaking ring into THAT fire?

    Huh? Anyone wanna guess? Huh? Anyone? “

    Gollum and Frodo back up in fear of Sam,

    Sam walks closer, continuing his rage.

    “First, we barely escaped the damn Wrath dudes in the Shire!”

    Then , ohhhh, this is good, this is good!

    In Bree, if it wasn’t for Strider, do you know what we would be?

    HUH? I’m ASKING you a question dammit!”

    Frodo stared blankly into Sam’s eyes.

    Gollum kept his eyes on the ring.

    “dontsss throwsssss itsssss”

    ….THUNK……

    “I’ll tell you what we would be! Freaking Hobbit-BOBS!

    But ohh, it doesn’t end there, next was Weather Top, then Moria with that damn water creature and the freaking Orks!

    Yeaaaa,,, ohhh I just got started with this journey, and it doesn’t include HIM! …….THUG……..

    Remember, How even the ORKS ran from what was coming next?

    Yea, that’s right! Some ancient demon nearly kicks all our ass’s and your buddy Gandolf gets freaking PROMOTED for taking it out! ……THUG…..

    “Stopnessss Samness.”

    “Shut the hell up! I’m just starting! ……..THUG……..

    Does it end there? NooOOOooooo!

    Ohh this is good, really good! After all the crap we went through, You tried to leave me and I practically DROWNED to convince you I’m loyal!

    So, Now we are alone.. building trust……

    So, we cant get into Mordor, And You trusted this creature to take us through a secret path!

    Where he… THUD… lead us …THUD.. to that freaking spider…THUD…….

    Did I get promoted for killing a freaking ancient spider? HUH? I cant HEAR YOU!

    NOOOO!

    Ohh, by the way, I thought you were dead, so I take the ring! Why?

    To throw it in that freaking fire!” “ dontss throwss…… THUD…THUD… “Shut up!’

    So I find out your alive, and I freaking rescue you AGAIN!

    I risked my ass AGAIN, and got you out of the tower.

    I give you back the freaking ring, and this wicked creature, ….THUNK…THUNK…THUNK…

    Convinced you I’m not trustworthy! Over Stale ass BREAD?

    So here we are. Just us three.. end of the journey..

    …..THUNK……

    …..THUNK…..

    Fading voices scream out in harmony, ‘our precioussssssss’

    as they struggle for the ring all the way down………..

    (followed by stale Bread)

    • Augie says:

      In order to stick with the prompt, My initial story started with , As Sam searched for the bread, he heard shouts from the Orc officers below of a Hobbit ready to jump with the magic ring…

      I got rid of it in attempt to shorten this down. Still over though, ooooops..

    • snuzcook says:

      Gentle, subservient Sam ‘hulks’ out at the end, red-rimmed eyes glaring, nostrils flaring, hairy Hobbit foot kicking the s**t out of the ‘chosen one’ he had once sworn to protect–and who failed to throw the ring into the fire in the original story as well.
      It begs the question, how will Sam re-enter Shire society when he comes home, now that he has experienced the rage and stood at the edge of the fires of Hell? Even in the gentler Tolkein version, the members of the Fellowship never really healed…

  51. margi33 says:

    Ok. I’m going to pull a snuzcook and re-post on this one ;). My first post was way too serious and deep even for myself… so here’s something a little more fun (and close to the word limit):

    ______________________________________________________________________________

    Something was wrong with Rhianna’s eyes. They looked as milky as that freaky tarot card reader – Ms. Tyc’s, with her nest of dreaded hair and patchouli-inspired body odor.

    “Rhianna, you ok?” I asked. She didn’t respond but seemed to stare into the flashing colored lights of the fair as we traveled in a slow arc up the ferris wheel. “Rhianna, what the hell?” I hated to offend her, as we were only on our third date, but seriously, this was creepy.

    No response.

    Shit. She was normal before we went to that stupid tarot booth. Maybe the death card had freaked her out. Maybe she had more of a history than we had had time to get into in our few dates. Geez, glad I found this out now before I got into a relationship or something. In any event, her parents would expect me to get her home safe, then I’d be done. I glanced over at crazy Rhianna with pretty blond ringlets. What a shame.

    I whipped my phone out and texted Ashley to see if she could hang tomorrow night. I needed a change of scenery. My finger slipped on the letter A as the Ferris wheel lurched to a stop. “Ass,” I had typed. Great, I guess my phone was trying to tell me something. This could wait.

    We were suspended, swinging gently in the top spot. The evening breeze was a relief to my sweating pits and the view was pretty cool — at least until Rianna stood up in my face.

    “Sit down,” I yelled as our booth tilted violently.

    She looked at me like a pit viper looks at a mouse and my mouth slammed shut.

    Next thing I knew, she had one arm wrapped around each metal support and was hanging her body out of the tiny door. She looked like a sail trying to catch the wind.

    “Rianna, No!” I screamed, but it was too late. There had been no time. I couldn’t have grabbed her even if I had wanted to. I looked away, but the thwacking crunch on the ground below made me see her dead body all the same. I threw up and didn’t even care. There was no amount of throwing up that would make me feel better. I put my head in my hands and stayed that way for what seemed like an eternity. As the eternity passed, the ferris wheel completed its circle, sirens rang, and arms wrapped around my shoulders. My head was still in my hands, eyes shut tight through it all.

    As I was shuffled over pavement and toward flashing red lights, I overheard voices.

    “Yeah, and the weirdest thing is, this is the third one this week.”

    “God, what kind of weird drugs are these kids into these days to make them dive off of ferris wheels?

    “Yeah, what do they think they are, freakin’ birds?” a man chuckled. I finally looked up and contemplated punching him in the gut. He was gone. Instead I saw Ms. Tyc shuffling away from the ferris wheel controls in her flowing hippie dress.

    She turned her milky eyes in my direction and winked.

    • Reaper says:

      This is your not serious and deep post? This is crazy creepy and has the hallmarks of the beginning of a very good horror story. Shades of “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” In spite of myself I laughed at the patchouli inspired body odor and the hippie dress. I would read this book.

    • snuzcook says:

      The setting invites the story to be taken lightly, like an ’90s spoof on horror flicks, and it definitely works that way. At the same time, your MC is so sympathetic and his experience is so jarring that it also works as a seriously creepy tale. And a very creative take on the prompt!

    • agnesjack says:

      Fun? Oh my, margi33, this was very creepy. Ms. Tyc is either the devil or death. Your descriptions were great, both visually and olfactorily. I didn’t care much for the MC, but I suspect that self-absorbed characterization was intentional on your part, because his trying to make a date with someone else while not finished with this one was quite humorous. I’d like to know what happens next. I think you have a longer story here.

    • jmcody says:

      You are very good at showing instead of telling. I need to work on that. The way you built both the characters and the suspense was seamless. A very creepy but enjoyable tale. I loved it.

    • margi33 says:

      Thanks guys. Maybe “fun” was the wrong way to put that… it was fun for me to write. Yes, probably creepy to read. I appreciate the comments :)

    • snuzcook says:

      BTW not so sure how I feel about my name being used as a synonym for ?
      As long as it doesn’t become a verb: ‘I am snuzcooking this prompt,’ or ‘I indulged in snuzcookery.’
      ;0)

  52. tacmedlaw says:

    Failing
    As I walk past the cacophony of police and rescue workers gathered outside the gothic inspired slate skyscraper on Front Street I hear a scratchy transmission from a firefighter’s radio.
    “Subject was reported on the ledge by pedestrian at approximately 1300, no information on motive or identity as of now.”
    It is only now that I notice the large white male, dark hair neatly buzzed into a crew cut, dressed in an Army digital camouflage uniform. It is only now that I notice my colleague, my subordinate, my friend, Corporal James Baumgartner.
    James, or Jimmy, as everyone at our unit calls him, is a medic. Jimmy is a brave soul who would drag a buddy under the most intense fire until he himself succumbs to the hailing of lead or to his own exhaustion. But this brave kid, and he is a kid as he is only 19, has been reduced to a sobbing 6’ 3”, 240 ib. behemoth. It is strange to see the same person, who only a month ago was joking about his National Guard commitment of one weekend a month, two weeks a year, while pulling equipment out of our still smoldering HUMVEE that had just been opened like a exploded can of baked beans by an IED, sob against a fourth floor gargoyle.
    “Jimmy!” I call out without thinking. “What are you doing?”
    A detective grabs my right arm and pulls me closer to the yellow scene tape surrounding the lobby of the building.
    “You know this man?” the detective asks, obviously excited to finally have some info.
    “That’s my buddy; I drill with him at the National Guard base.” I look up to see if Jimmy has noticed my call to him, if he has, he yet to show it. “How long has he been up there?”
    “We don’t know, some business guy noticed him about an hour ago, refuses to talk or even look down here.” He stares into my eyes, looking for an answer to why my friend would be doing this. “Would you be willing to talk with, or try to reason with him?”
    “I don’t even know what to say…What should I say?”
    “Well, so far you are the only one who knows him, just reason with him, try not to get him to emotional though.”
    I grab the bullhorn from the detective and can’t quite get past the feeling that I am in some cliché TV show, acting as a professional negotiator. I look up to see Jimmy; he is still clutching the gargoyle, the literal guardian of his fellow soldier entwined with the mythological guardian of the building.
    “Jimmy” I say too loudly through the bullhorn “What are you doing buddy?”
    He sees me, cries, and falls. Before he reaches the ground as I scream my throat hoarse, I awake screaming, sweating in my bed. The fog of my dream is burned away, the stinging memory of my friend Jimmy, who said he would shoot himself, did.

  53. snuzcook says:

    WATCHING

    The crowd has moved to the edge of a small park across the street from the building and its barrier of yellow police tape. I stand to one side of the group, shoulder to shoulder with an ancient cherry tree, and watch.

    There was a time when I would have found the whole situation over there deeply upsetting. I used to live in that building. The balcony where the woman was sitting exposed to the elements used to hold my little hibachi, my patio chairs, my potted azalea.

    She had apparently sawed away a three-foot segment of the safety railing and was sitting with her legs hanging down, no barrier but her own sense of timing between her and the parking lot six stories below. I know that there is a terrific view from that balcony. From there you can see Lake Union and on a clear day a piece of Mount Rainier. The sea planes take off and land from that end of the lake, like nesting birds of prey, or angels ferrying souls from earth to heaven and back again.

    Paramedics have arrived at the balcony now. The woman has been pulled away from the edge so only the bottoms of her bare feet are visible through the hole in the rail. A man and woman in EMT shirts busily attend to her. The crowd loses interest, but I find myself compelled to watch. I feel a pull to go to the woman. Is it curiosity or a desire to participate? I’m not sure. After a few moments the urge passes, and I again watch, detached, as a gurney emerges from the building and is loaded into a waiting vehicle.

    The medical transport pulls away without lights or siren. The police officers stand in small knots, consulting over clipboards and taking down the yellow tape. I am alone in the grove of cherry trees as the last police car pulls away.

    They are wrong about the woman. She had never intended to jump from the balcony. She had not removed the rail for that purpose. They will have it all wrong on their paperwork. But I know. She had been walking through life, cocooned in layers of obligation and shame. Living and working and going through the motions of life, she was nonetheless as hidden and frightened as if she were living on the streets. The protective walls of her life imprisoned her. Finally, illness added its own suffocating layer. One day she decided that just once she had to feel, and feel until she could feel no more.

    She acted. On the eve of the coldest President’s Day Weekend in twenty years, she dressed in her lightest night shirt, sat down high in her exposed balcony–with no barrier between her and the stars and the rain and the turning of the earth–and felt. Her wet hair was caressed by the wind. Her feet were tickled by sleet. She wept until there were no more tears. When numbness set in, she dreamed. By the time someone called the police, I was already in the park watching.

    A light glows between the cherry trees behind me, and I turn toward it. It beckons me, with a promise of warm forgiveness. I have felt alone and closed for so long, I do not know if I have the strength to take another step toward freedom. I do not know if I deserve to. I say to the light, wait! I will watch for just a while longer until I am ready.

    • snuzcook says:

      Okay, I promise I won’t post again on this prompt. I am shutting down the computer and backing away from the keyboard…really.

    • margi33 says:

      Snuzcook, your multitude of posts inspired me to repost, so that’s something ;). I enjoyed this one as well. It was like peeling back the layers of an onion, it just got deeper and deeper as I went. The details and descriptions were vivid and real and a bit poetic. I can’t say for sure I understood exactly what the MC was doing (besides obviously watching the woman). I take it he was already dead and being beckoned back to heaven by the light? None-the-less, it was a cool story.

    • Reaper says:

      This prompt seems to have opened up a lot for you. Not one response that I would have missed. I love the societal statements about the woman, and not being understood. That odd behavior thing that is often misread. That your ending can be interpreted multiple ways adds to this. The way I interpret it is that having lived in that same apartment your MC made the other choice and had to watch until they understood to gain redemption. But now they are refusing that redemption because they too just want to feel. I could be way off on what you meant but that is how the story touched me.

      • snuzcook says:

        I always greatly appreciate your thoughtful and insightful comments, Reaper. You often see or express interpretations that I had not fully appreciated until you pointed them out.

        Our stories, once they are posted, live a life of their own, and find resonance with readers we never could have foreseen. That’s when the story is only an amplifier to what the reader already knew.

        I posted a clarification below primarily because I felt I had failed to communicate my clever concept clearly. But perhaps that is really unimportant.

        • Reaper says:

          So I read your clarification and had to smile. That was one of the possible explanations that crossed my mind. Though it was a simpler version of, the MC is the woman on the ledge. Your hints were subtle and masterful honestly. I like that that idea did flit through my mind but the story was open to having a life of its own. That is a beautiful way of putting it.

    • snuzcook says:

      This story is a bit over the edge melancholy, and I will give you a glimpse where I was going with it:

      The watcher is the disembodied essence that had once been the woman on the balcony. In this story, it is possible for the spirit, which has a more eternal identity than the corporeal person it is inhabiting at any one time, has already let go and is watching from a distance still interested but not invested in what is happening at the balcony. At one point when the EMTs are attempting to revive her, the watcher feels a pull, but it is fleeting. When the light beckons, the spirit, still imprinted with the angst and shame that the woman had felt so deeply, is not yet free to move on.

    • jmcody says:

      The saddest part about this story was that she was still not free. Offered the chance for “warm forgiveness” she deemed herself not worthy. Wow, this is even sadder than the Santa story!

      I’ll admit that I didn’t quite get it at first, but when I read your explanation I loved the idea. I am wondering how to lead the reader just a little more without sacrificing the subtlety. (This seems to be the lesson I am trying to learn this week.) The spirit’s knowledge of the woman’s state of mind should have given it away. Maybe the spirit should have been slightly less physically removed from the woman? Hmm… I’m not really sure, but I love this and will probably be thinking about it for quite a while.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks for your observations, JM. I think I made a mistake with the phrase “she had apparently sawed…” That’s when I misled the reader. If I dropped the word ‘apparently’ I think the connection would have felt stronger or at least more plausible for the whole story.

  54. john godfrey says:

    INTERVIEW WITH A SPRING-HEELED SURVIVOR

    “Well, and then you know about the jumper, I assume…you don’t? I guess you’d like to know, wouldn’t you? If you are interviewin’ me for your retired policeman book, you want stories, don’t ya Busby?

    Listen up, I’ll tell you the greatest story that’s ever happened to a policeman…what? I know that’s a tall order, but if you’ll shut your mouth, I think I’ll make you agree with me.

    It was back in 1890…no, 1888. It was my first year as a constable, in Liverpool, England. I grew up near Liverpool, mind you, so I was pretty familiar with the area. I guess that’s why they put me over there…what? I said I guess that’s why they put me over there. Boy, I’ll be ninety-nine years old come September, and I can still hear better than you.

    Anyway, where was I?

    …Oh, right. The jumper. So one afternoon, around July I think, one of the guys serving under me…Jimmy O’Malley…came runnin’ up to me, yellin’ about someone jumpin’ off of Saint Francis Xavier’s Church on Salisbury Street. My first thought was a priest had been doin’ wrong, and he turned to killin’ himself over salvation.

    I was wrong, though.

    When O’Malley and I got to the church, a crowd was gathered around it. Night was fallin’, and I knew that if this fella’ was serious about killin’ himself, nighttime was goin’ to be the time he would. I knew I had to act.

    I walked to the front, and peered up. The sun had set by this time, and darkness was approachin’ quick, so I couldn’t really see the jumper. I saw he was very tall, and very thin, kinda’ like you, Busby. He was pacing back and forth around the top, saying something…what’d you say? How do I know? I could see his mouth movin’.

    Now, my ears don’t work as well as they used to, but even then, I don’t think he was speaking English. I didn’t hear anything that sounded like English, anyway. Then, he approached the edge of the buildin’. Of the church. He started screamin’ something weird again, and then, he jumped.

    People started screamin’, O’Malley was yellin’ my name, but I could hear none of it. I was expectin’ the man to fall down hard, and splatter on the street. Instead, he flew through the air. Like, fifteen feet in the air, as if he had a spring in his heel or somethin’. In the moonlight, for a brief second, I could see his clawed hands and a tight-fitting black outfit. He had a cape, and, I swear I could see…your goin’ to laugh at me…red eyes.

    They were cold, and they felt like they burnt into my soul. I still think about those eyes. He disappeared into the night.

    I found out later that the man was the infamous creature called Spring-heeled Jack. He was spotted a few other times around suburban London, Scotland and the Midlands. Every so often, I hear in the news about another sighting. Those poor bastards.

    Sometimes, when the night is very dark, with no moon, I see him, Mr. Busby. Standing outside the window of my room. I see those eyes, and my heart stops a little.

    Then he jumps away.”

    NOTE: This was an interview with retired constable Oswald Pawtucket, who was giving an account for Harrison Busby’s non-fiction book “In Their Words”, stories told by retired members of the Commonwealth police force of Great Britain. The mention of the entity Spring-heeled Jack has gone on public record as an actual sighting of the creature.

    • I like the voice you used with this piece, John. Nicely done.

    • snuzcook says:

      What a fun direction to take this prompt, John! I love the idea of the interview set up, and the casual voice of the one-sided conversation. As well as the way the narrator wasn’t an expert–he was just telling what he had seen. The eerie twist that he still sees SHJ on dark, moonless nights seems a believable 93-yr-old’s embellishment for the benefit of the narrator’s audience–or maybe it’s true?

  55. zedd22 says:

    “Chicken Caesar wrap, please,” I said to the man working The Wrap Mobile. A terrible name for a food truck, but his wraps are amazing. “And one of those energy drinks back there.”
    “What flavor, Peter?” he asks.
    “Uh, the purple one,” he knows my name, probably from my nametag, but I never even looked to see if he has one. I thank him, ashamed, as he hands me my food.
    I pay and step away from the counter. There are a few tables on the sidewalk for people to eat lunch outside. I usually take my lunch back to my desk and eat with Sarah, but it’s so nice out, and Sarah left work early, so I find an empty table and pull out my earbuds. It’s amazing how much of what’s going on around you when with just a pair of earbuds and a good reddit app. By the time I’ve finished eating, a crowd has gathered on the street and people are streaming out of the office buildings all around. They’re all looking up.
    I wonder what it could be. A plan maybe? Since nine-eleven, every time I hear a plane overhead I think it’s going to crash. I pull on the cable hanging from my ears and let the world crash back in. I fix my eyes on what all the commotion is about. There’s a person standing on the ledge on top of one of the buildings. My office building.
    “Holy shit,” I mutter, and immediately condemn myself for the grim amusement I felt.
    It’s moments later that I realize my phone has been vibrating in my hand. I let it go to voicemail, whoever it is I can call them back. There are sirens echoing through the area, flashing red and blue lights mirroring off the glass walls of the buildings. My phone starts vibrating again. I look down and see Sarah’s dirty brown hair and hazel eyes. This time I answer.
    “Sarah, you won’t believe what’s happening. Someone’s on top of our building, I think they’re going to jump!”
    “I know,” she says.
    “Are you here? I thought you left early?”
    “Yeah, I’m…Peter, I’ve done something really bad.” She sounds upset. I think she’s crying.
    “What are you talking about? Where are you, I’ll come to you.”
    “No, Peter, listen. They’re coming. I need you to – “
    “Sarah what’s going on?” I cut her off.
    “I need you to go to my desk and grab my external hard drive before the police take it. The one with all the sticker’s on it. Okay?” I’m not processing. “Peter!” she’s yelling. “You have to do this for me, please. You have to get my hard drive. You have to fix what I’ve done.”
    “Yeah, okay, just tell me where you are and I’ll bring it to you.”
    “I love you, Pete, I always have. I’m sorry I… I’m sorry.” She hangs up, and the crowd gasps, and the jumper jumps. And Sarah hits the ground.

    • lionetravail says:

      This is great! Starts off so human, and plunges us into a rocky ride of an opening gambit inti what sounds like a high tech mystery adventure. As the quarterback might say: “okay, take this one and go long!” Seriously, its like 0 to 60 mph in approx 500 wordst run with this story, Zedd22!

      • zedd22 says:

        Thank you so much! I wrote it in about 20 minutes and the story just sort of came out. I really like the bit and I think I might use it as a jumping off point for another story, pardon the pun.

    • This is a fantastic opener to a caper, zed. Revenge, love lost, tech thriller, chases, escapes… the whole gamut. please say you’ll continue.

    • snuzcook says:

      Well done, zedd22. Fast, believable–love the way the reader is just a step ahead of the narrator and so is invested in what’s happening next. Like other’s mentioned, great opening to an exciting story. Still, too bad about Sarah, that she jumped (or did she?) and Peter will have to figure this all out for himself.

  56. margi33 says:

    My husband stood on the edge of a cliff. He was perched like an eagle, contemplating his next move. I knew what I had to do, yet I stood frozen at the base of the butte, clutching my cup of Starbucks. It had long ago grown cold in the spring mountain air.

    My partner of twelve years stood there and I stood here… I couldn’t see what emotions he wore on his face, but I think I understood, because I wore them too. It had been a rough few years between us — coexisting, yet passing like shadows that touched but never felt.

    Though I had hiked this butte hundreds of times, I wasn’t sure that I could make it this time. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to try.

    I must go, I told myself, or I might never know.

    Plodding up the trail, I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. My body hunched forward and strained against the incline, and my heart beat in protest. The memories of years slapped me as my feet slapped the well-worn path. Maybe I should just turn around.

    Laughter and shrieking caught my attention. Children darted on the middle school fields below. I thought of my own children and glanced south toward their preschool and wondered if they were happy inside, really happy on the inside.

    I had to make it to the top. We had to talk.

    As I neared the peak, scree and dirt turned to boulders. They were not the smooth type, but the jagged, eat your knees if you stumbled type. Wind buffeted my ears making it difficult to hear myself think. Pleasant — because I didn’t want to think anymore.

    He was only twenty feet away now. I approached, and he kept his head fixed, though I knew he heard me.

    “Baby,” I said, “what are you doing?”

    He stared at the town below, unmoving. “You know, I tried to be a good husband, a good father… Everything bad happens to me. There’s nothing left.”

    “Yes, there is. You have a loving family, two little children that depend on you, a wife who loves you.”

    He turned to me, his face empty. “Do you really?”

    “Do I really what?”

    “Love me.”

    As I gazed below, the patchwork of buildings and pastures reminded me of my life: puzzle pieces thrown at random, a scattered pile of mismatched colors and edges. There was some beauty in the chaos I guessed, but I wished it to be a complete picture.

    “Of course honey, of course I do.” I smiled.

    “See. That’s not good enough for me. You sound like a damn robot. I don’t feel any emotions from you.”

    My heart fluttered and I broke. “I’m just so alone.”

    “Me too,” he said.

    Shock painted my face. “But, you’ve left us, checked out. For years you’ve been here, but not present, not with us.”

    “But, I wanted to be there. I want to do better. All I need to know is that you care.”

    “Of course I care. If I didn’t still care, I wouldn’t be here now.”

    “Then come with me.” His eyes met mine.

    I had climbed the hill, perhaps there was nowhere left to go but down. It might be foolish, but I knew I was going with him, whether the decision dragged me to the depths of hell or not.

    We clasped hands, glanced at each other with small, unsure smiles and jumped.

    ***

    The next morning, a stiff suite greeted me behind an enormous mahogany desk. My husband brisked in through the door, shook hands with the lawyer, Mr. Gatewood, and glanced timidly at me.

    Papers were shuffled and aligned. “Sign here and here,” the lawyer pointed at the neon yellow arrows.

    “No papers will be signed,” I said.

    “Oh?”

    “Mr. Gatewood, in the past days we have done a lot of reflecting. There will be no divorce.”

    “Oh,” he said as he cleared his throat, “well, good for you two. It’s just — “

    “We’ll send you a check. Thanks for all your help,” I said and stood up to leave.

    My husband grabbed my hand and squeezed lightly. We left, hand in hand, ready to climb and jump over and over again if need be.

    • This is wonderful, margi. I really invested in the last please between husband and wife at the end of their union. The only part i’m struggling with is the transition to the lawyer’s office. Was the first part a dream, a metaphor or was the incident real? If so, how come they’re not dead?

      • margi33 says:

        Thanks Doug. Sorry it was not clear… I wasn’t sure if it would be :). The entire first part is a metaphor for the uphill battles of life (and marriage in particular) and “jumping” in with our hearts. In this instance, jumping back into a marriage that is on the rocks, but with the intent that it will work even if it would be hard work.

    • snuzcook says:

      Margi, this metaphor was so engaging that I wanted it to have more substance, I wanted some evidence that they had actually sacrificed in a tangible way. Not a criticism–just how I responded to it.
      You wrote this very well, and very powerfully.

    • jmcody says:

      The emotions and the struggle were very authentic, and I could feel the frustration and hopelessness of the characters. It is interesting that people are questioning the jump — how they managed to do it, and how they survived it, because that is at the heart of the question in all troubled relationships, isn’t it? I guess if you knew the answer to that you could be a marriage counselor.

      For me, its something like “grace” that allowed them to jump and survive.

      I know you said you weren’t crazy about this, but I think its a diamond in the rough. Its just missing a little between the jumping and the landing. This is a thought provoking piece, and I liked it.

      • margi33 says:

        Thanks jmcody, you are always very thoughtful in your replies! I agree, it was just missing something in the leap, maybe that could just be part of the metaphor too…:)

    • Reaper says:

      I liked this. It took me a second after the attorney to realize the first had been metaphor, though I took the climb as literal and the leap as metaphorical. Having to work for that aha moment actually made this stronger for me. Because I had to get to a place of the heart with my mind. Which is a weird feeling.

  57. snuzcook says:

    I couldn’t turn off the computer tonight without writing this story. It’s not my best work, but given the prompt, someone’s got to do this one! And as some of you may know from my previous prompts over the past year, I kinda have a thing for the big guy.

    STUCK

    The official description did not ring any bells for me at first: ‘white male, about 75, white hair and beard, blue eyes, 5-10, 210 lbs.’ This time of year, there were a lot of elderly homeless and marginalized people needing my help.

    As soon as I arrived at the boarded up old house, I knew who I was dealing with.

    Up on the roof, I exchanged knowing nods with the police officer. We’d both been here before. The old man was seated with his back against the crumbling brick chimney, his red outfit smudged with dirt from the roof, the white fake fur trim wet and matted. A light patter of rain mixed with wet snow began to fall. I pulled up my collar against the cold.

    “Hi, Nick. How’s it going?”

    “How do you think it’s going, Doc? I’m stuck on a roof on Christmas morning. No sleigh. No bag. The little buggers left me stranded.”

    “This is no place for you, Nick. It’s freezing up here. Besides, it’s starting to rain. Let me give you a ride downtown. Get you something to eat. Get you into some dry clothes.”

    “No, I’ll wait here. They’ll be coming back for me soon. They must’a got lost. It’s the ozone layer, you know. As it shrinks, the solar flares mess with the reindeer’s sense of direction. Makes ‘em do crazy things. Like taking off when I’m making a delivery. That and the police drones they got flying around now day and night. Spooks ‘em. Vixen especially. Makes ‘em skittish.”

    “You know, Nick, the reindeer won’t be coming back now that it’s daylight. They never fly during the day, do they?”

    “No, never. They can’t let the kids to see them.”

    “So why don’ t you come with me now and we’ll get you cleaned up, get you some rest. Then we’ll see about getting you back home tonight when you feel better.”

    The rain had started to come down in earnest, and I was relieved when Nick finally agreed to come along. We all got down off the roof safely, thanks to a couple of firemen who had first spotted Nick and called the police. I stopped to thank them as Nick was bundled into the city van. One of the older firemen was explaining the situation to a new man.

    “See, Nick used to work out of Station 18. He was at this very same house on Christmas Eve night, ‘bout twelve years ago—just before he retired. He had made an arrangement with the parents to play Santa Claus, and make noise up on the roof before coming down and delivering gifts to the kids. But when he went to the door, the house was quiet. See the family was so poor, their power had been cut off. They had been burning charcoal to cook the Christmas dinner, and the entire family succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning. Nick tried to revive them, and he managed to save a couple of the kids before help arrived. But Nick, he never got over it.”

    When I got in the van for the ride downtown, an old classic Christmas song was playing on the radio: “Up on the roof top…” I reached to turn it off, but Nick’s voice came loud and joyful from the back seat, joining in the song. I looked at my driver and winked. We all sang along as the van seemed to fly through the empty city streets, lit up like Christmas trees.

  58. UnusDeo says:

    BEST BUDDIES

    “So, he took all your money and dumped you via text?” I asked, rather sarcastically.

    I can’t say I’m a fan of this situation. If I were to compare it to anything, I would say it’s like missing two pieces of a 350-piece puzzle and finding the two pieces after you throw it out.

    Maybe I should explain why that analogy makes sense.

    My friend, Ramona, is currently on a ledge. Why is she on that ledge, you ask? She has terrible taste in men. Now, it’s absolutely normal for your male friends to dislike your boyfriend, I know. However, this isn’t some teenage drama where I secretly want her to long for me. In fact, I take pride in knowing I don’t fit her standard for potential mates. Though, no matter how you spin it, she has terrible taste in men. Men who would actually force her to save money so that they can steal it.

    Countless times, I warned her that he was no good. It got to the point where I simply cut communications. If she wasn’t listening to me, what was the point of talking? And now, once I’ve abandoned involvement, here she is on a pathway to hell.

    And so, here she is, an unfinished puzzle who found the missing pieces when it was far too late. What’s that? It doesn’t make sense? Well, whatever, I’m not too invested in the analogy to begin with.

    “I told you he was no good,” I rub it in now, while she’s still in the hesitation stage of her jump. “We all did.”

    She slid a bit towards the edge. I’m sure the police were more than eager to pull me away from the window beside it at that moment, but any sudden movements and she would attempt to become an angel . . . and then become an angel.

    “I rejected everyone for him,” she sobbed. “I lost friends and family fighting for him. Isn’t it better this way? Everyone can stop worrying about me.”

    “It’s all true, everything you said,” I start my damage control, “you have been nothing but a pain. But, you know, sometimes, you need some pain in your life to remind you that you’re human after all.”

    She stopped fidgeting upon hearing that. Her sobbing decreased to simple tears.

    “Is that how you really feel?” Ramona asked.

    “I’m here, aren’t I?” I responded. Although, truth be told, I was really just walking back to the shop to get my car. “Best buddies ’til the end.”

    “You sure didn’t sound like a best buddy with those last few minutes of conversation,” she joked. It was good to see her back that way.

    “You weren’t going to jump anyway.”

    “How do you figure that?”

    “This is the third floor. You live on the eighth.”

    Sometimes, all it takes a few jabs from a good friend to keep you hanging on. What, that doesn’t make sense? Screw you, I saved a life.

    • snuzcook says:

      I like the voice of your MC, UnusDeo. It is light and intelligent and caring and ironic all at once. Some really great lines, especially:
      “But, you know, sometimes, you need some pain in your life to remind you that you’re human after all.” and
      “You weren’t going to jump anyway.” “How do you figure that?” “This is the third floor. You live on the eighth.”
      The entire story is well done, and a great response to this prompt.

    • Very nice, unusdeo. I really liked the clever dialogue you used. Very smart.

    • carlyumz says:

      It was nice to read a more light-hearted take on the prompt, UnusDeo, good stuff. I agree that the MC had a spark to him, you managed to make him feel quite multi-faceted and balanced with your dialogue, what’s that word? Oh yes, like a proper human! :) You had me hooked from the first paragraph.

  59. WENDELL’S SOLUTION
    ==================

    ‘How the Hell did he get up there?’ thought Tony as he looked up the rampart wall of the prison’s exercise yard. Wendell held what could only be a shiv to the narrow throat of their beloved Warden Thomas H. Macey.

    He’d been lined up to head inside for chow time when the goon squad thundered behind them. Tony heard one of them yell “Fucking, Wendy” and dropped back. He and the kid were pretty close. Sometimes, in a place like this, the strong are obliged to take the weak under wing. They were friend, but a stretch in the dark changes a man.

    He sidled up to Garraty, one of the old-school C.O.’s who’d been on the job for as long as Tony marked time inside. Many things changed over the years, but not everything. Some days it was just business. Other days are best reserved for another story.

    Tony coughed and spat. It’d been a long winter and he wasn’t a young man. “Hey, Boss. What’s with the Warden, picking on poor Wendell?”

    Garraty raised his baton and squared the lifer’s chest. “Not funny, Tony. You best get back in line.”

    “I might be able to help, Boss. The kid and me got a connection. He’s not doing well in here.”

    “No shit. The snipers will take him out once they get a clear shot. Warden Macey is likely to take a fall. That’s all that’s saving the kid.”

    “Let me talk to him.” Tony didn’t much care for the Warden, and to be truthful, the C.O.’s weren’t none too fond of him either. That didn’t change much of what had to happen.

    Garraty eyed him thoughtfully for a moment and dropped the baton. The two men hurried to the base of the wall, careful to keep behind the tactical-line. The other bulls were inflating a jump-cushion.

    “Can I use the megaphone, Boss,” asked Tony of another guard. The guard looked at Garraty and the senior officer nodded an assent.

    “Wendell,” said Tony. He possessed a deep voice and through the megaphone, it boomed. “This ain’t gonna cut it, kid.”

    “You don’t understand, Tony. This bastard’s gotta pay.” Wendell’s voice carried well, but was high-pitched and shaky.

    “Pay for what, kid?”

    “The Monster’s got me.”

    Tony lowered the megaphone and looked at Garraty. “You said you got to him before the wolves.”

    Garraty met Tony’s glare. “I did. This was Macey’s doing.”

    “How come you didn’t give me a head’s-up?”

    “Would it have mattered?”

    Two rifle shots echoed loudly and it was over; any debate between the two men stood moot. Warden Macey landed squarely on his cushion, throat cut and lifeless.

    As for Wendell? He escaped his wasting death, time served.

  60. Augie says:

    Shhhkk, Jolly one, Jolly one, Come in, Over……

    Shhhkk, This is Jolly one, Over……

    Shhhhk, This is SEAL leader one, request permission to hover, Over……

    Shhhhk, Permission granted SEAL leader one, whats the cargo, Over……

    Shhhkk, We have a large delivery for you Jolly one, bringing them to the tank now, Over……

    Shhhhk. Did ya build them up for us, Over……

    Shhhhk, Thais affirmative Jolly one, probably the best ones I’ve ever delivered before. Careful with these guys, their full of jalapenos, beans and beer, Over……

    Shhhhk, Copy that, how many of them, Over……

    Shhhhk, Not sure, I’m hovering over you now, lowering them one at a time, nice and slow, Over……

    WHOPWHOPWHOPWHOPWHOPWHOPWHOPWHOPWHOPWHOP

    Shhhk, You just dropped one! Splashed all over! These are Marines dammit!, OVER!!!!……

    WHOPWHOPWHOPWHOPWHOPWHOPWHOPWHOPWHOPWHOP

    Shhhk Rodger that, Ill try to be more carefu…….. “What?”

    BAM! BAM! BAM!

    Some one is beating on the stall door with a deep Spanish accent.

    Sir! Sir! Dis es a pool-blick restaurant! We’s don’t mind’s you using de bathroom, but jue have to stop width de sounds. jue are scaring de guest! They can hear’s jue out in de restaurant!

    Reaper finishes his business, and takes his tip back on the way out.

    A police officer stopped him at the door. ‘Hold it right there sir!’

    Reaper looked at the officer, “Sorry man, I was having a onomatopoetic moment!”

    The officer gave him a confused look.

    “ I don’t know what the hell your talking about., We have a jumper on the roof! Because of that strange hair cut, its gotta be a Marine! Anyway, this area is secure! You’ll have to go back inside and wait it out.

    Reaper though for a moment, …..damn…… I don’t want to go back in there… he dug deep… this was going to hurt…

    “ Sir, I’m a Marine!”

    “Really? Maybe you can go up there and connect with this idiot! Seems like all you military types are missing a few screws! Last week some moron tried to parachute off that same building!

    With the best innocent look he could summon, Reaper replied, “oooOOOOooo”

    Picking up his back pack, Reaper headed towards the building. “Ill see what I can do sir”

    Minutes later…..

    “Hey, Marine!”

    “I’m not a marine! They dropped me!”

    Reaper tried not to smile, “yeaaaaaaa I know the feeling man.” …definitely a coincidence….

    “Every Man in my families history made it through Basic Training! I’m a failure!”

    Reaper climbed out on the ledge, “tick tack?”

    The startled man hugged the wall tighter.

    “Are you crazy? What the hell are you doing out here?”

    “Just sizing it up bro. What are you about 180 pounds?”

    “Yeeeeeaaaaa”

    “You figure its about what, mmmmmmmm, four hundred feet to the splat zone?”

    The man looked down, his voice shaking, “Yeeeeaaa”

    “ K, Ill be back.”

    A few minutes later Reaper appeared on ledge again.

    “ Hey! What the hell are you doing? What the hell is that harness for?”

    Reaper Smiled, “hang on tight bro!”

    Two very different yells could be heard all the way to the splat zone.

    AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!
    And
    YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

    Their faces came just inches from the ground when the bungee snapped them back up.

    The officer had mixed emotions about the rescue.

    Then he thought to himself, ‘Did he say he was going up there anyway?’

    • Augie says:

      For all of you that don’t already know, All the armed forces live to put each other down. All in fun… So please don’t take offense.

    • snuzcook says:

      Hilarious, Augie! Potentially offensive in any number of ways, but hilarious! You managed to weave scatology and slapstick at its best, and found the opportunity to insert lines like: “Reaper looked at the officer, ‘Sorry man, I was having a onomatopoetic moment!’ ”

      True humor is not about shocking people; it is about being courageous enough to know where to cross a line and then run with it intelligently. You’ve done that extremely well here.

      • Augie says:

        Thanks, this is actually a standard comment when entering a bathroom and I was worried that it would give it away right from the beginning!

        Marines walk in and say, “I gotta take a Squid”

        Squids walk in and say ” I gotta take a Marine’

        It is ‘all in fun’

        • Augie says:

          TO ALL.. I regret this post now. I understand that military humor is a small microcosm understood and shared by those serving. If I do post in the future, I will definitely ‘tone’ it down.

          • Reaper says:

            Surgeon Generals Warning:

            This is a paid advertisement. The views and opinions expressed by Reaper (writer not marine) are his alone, highly controversial, and not endorsed or condoned by the management or sponsorship of this forum… You have been warned.

            Begin reaper commentary:

            Never have regrets. If you feel a need to tone it down in the future for your audience then do so by all means, but never regret sharing who you are unless you attack another person. Is this possibly offensive? Obviously, but so are many things that we post. Anything you say can be taken the wrong way in this overly politically correct world that we live in. We have a responsibility to tell someone when they offend us and only then can we expect them to realize that they shouldn’t say those things around us. As a writer you will take that chance anytime you put something out there. That is my comment on the writing side of things.

            On the military side of things. I don’t get a lot of this but I stand by your right to post it. You have a unique ability to understand what I am about to say better than most because you defend these things. The bill of rights was missnamed, it should have been the bill of responsibilities. We as people and writers should keep in mind this. Freedom of speech is not the right to say what you want, but the responsibility to defend the ability of others to say what you do not want to hear.

            End rant.

          • snuzcook says:

            I think John Wayne said it best: “Never say you’re sorry, Mister. It’s a sign of weakness.”
            I see no reason for you to regret the post. To reiterate my comments above: Hilarious and well done.

  61. Violet Hayes says:

    FALLING HARD

    Her eyes were closed when I found her. Standing atop the building, just outside the safety bars with a grip too light to say she was regarding the situation seriously, her platinum blonde hair was lifted in a breeze. With her hair flowing, her doll-like features turned up towards the clouds, I couldn’t help but stop for a moment, staring. Even in the midst of battling her innermost demons, she was breathtaking.

    I had pushed my way through various police officers, all trying in vain to reason with her, and strode up behind her purposefully. She didn’t notice me for a minute, and I took the time to place my hands on the bars and look down. The crowd gathering below, all watching in mesmerized horror, looked like a dim, dark smudge from our vantage point. Like a gaping hole, waiting for her to drop in and swallow her up. I felt sick.

    In as calm a voice as I could muster, I remarked, “That’s an awful long fall.”

    Her eyes slowly opened, her head tilting downward to take me in. Recognition lit up in her pale blue eyes, and her grip on the railing tightened.

    “Do you remember me?” I asked, although it was obvious, but I wanted to hear her say it.

    “Yes.” Her voice was soft, almost inaudible. “I do.” Her gaze flickered backward, towards the begging officers: we can help you, you don’t have to do this, nothing is worth this. “Can they…?”

    “No,” I answered, shaking me head. “Only you.”

    “You’re dead,” she said bluntly, and I wanted to laugh, because she still had no tact with words. Just like before.

    “Yes, I am.” I glanced at her. “And I don’t require company at the moment.”

    I watched her eyes well up, but the tears didn’t fall. Her voice sounded thick when she finally spoke again, turning her face away from me. “I missed you,” she whispered. “So much. It’s been hell, Liam.”

    “Really? Because I’ve been in Heaven,” I tried, but she made a sort of choking sound, and I quickly retracted it. “Sorry. I’m sorry,” I said instead.

    “Why now?” she asked. “Why didn’t you ever talk to me before?”

    “You never needed me then.”

    “I always needed you.”

    “Not like right now.” I reached out and touched her shoulder. “Samantha, if you do this incredibly stupid thing right now, I promise I will never forgive you.”

    Her head whipped towards me all of a sudden, eyes blazing. “I have no one, Liam. Don’t you get that? No one!” She stopped, took a shaky breath, and turned her eyes back down, towards the ground far below. “But,” she went on, her voice softer, “if I jump…I have you again.”

    “No, Samantha.” My fingers tightened on her shoulder. “If you jump, you’ll kill me all over again,” I told her fiercely. Her eyes widened, and I continued, “I have spent every day watching over you, watching you live, and I realized I didn’t care that I didn’t get to grow old and have a family or become famous, because you still got to live and do all those things. That’s all I ever wanted, Sammie, was for you to be happy. To be happy and live. Do you want to ruin that for me? The only dream I have left?” I felt my throat closing up, and I choked out, “I love you, Samantha. Don’t do this. For me.”

    “You love me,” she repeated, her eyes glazing over. “You really love me?”

    “Of course I do.” I smiled at her hopefully. “I always have.”

    “You love me,” she said again. Then she turned at me and smiled back, and once again I felt myself awed by how beautiful she was. “I love you, too,” she told me. “So much it hurts. Which is why I have to come to you.”

    “What? No, Sammie!” Where had it gone wrong?

    I felt her grip slacken on the railing, and I tightened my hold on her shoulder, gripping at her desperately with my other hand. “Don’t, Sammie, don’t!” I begged her.

    “I couldn’t save you, Liam,” she said. She smiled a little wider. “And you can’t save me.” And with that, she jerked herself free of me and fell over the edge. With a scream, I threw myself over after her, reaching out in a futile effort to catch her before she hit the ground, watching her hair whip wildly in the wind, the building rushing past, her lips still curved in a serene smile, passing floor after floor and then—

    “No!”

    And then we hit ground.

    When I opened my eyes again, she was sitting beside me, her arms wrapped around my neck, crying softly. I was crying, too, as I looked back and saw, just a few feet away, her broken body lying in the midst of the screaming crowd. I reached up and held her hand tightly.

    “I love you.”

    • Artemis4421 says:

      I really enjoyed this one Violet. A bit choppy at first, but by the time I realized what was going on, it turned out not to be too much of a problem. The plot was great; something touching and different. Again, great job.

    • carlyumz says:

      This made me sad Violet! Ah, I was sure that he was going to stop her until the last minute. But I still really enjoyed the story – very original and touching. I especially enjoyed the first two paragraphs and your hook. I also thought the line ‘with a grip too light to say she was regarding the situation seriously, her platinum blonde hair was lifted in a breeze’ was a stunner!

  62. vaderize03 says:

    Over the word count, so my apologies. Still a bit new at this….

    * * *

    I shouldered my way through the murmuring crowd and broke through along the edge of the street. Beneath the curb, water flowed into the bubbling sewer like the angry rush of late-spring snowmelt, spoils of the storm from the night before. The police had already cordoned off the block, but that hadn’t stopped the growing crowd of spectators. Like moths to a flame, they buzzed in from all sides, whispering, pointing, posing for the world with their cameras and smartphones.
    I shook my head in disgust. How typical, I thought. A tragedy turned into an opportunity for selfies. Spotting a member of Philadelphia’s finest, I ambled over and cleared my throat. He looked up from his flimsy yellow pad, eyebrow cocked, and said “Yes?”
    “Do you know who she is?” I asked.
    “A student from Penn.” He consulted his notes. “Jen Bowman. Freshman.”
    “Jen Bowman!” The words tumbled out before I could stop them. “That’s my sister’s best friend!”
    “And you are?”
    “Jim. Jim Randin.”
    “I see.” He made a quick scribble. “She ever do anything like this before?”
    “Of course not!”
    “Relax, son. I’m just asking.” He turned around and lifted a green coffee mug off the hood of his car. “Can you think of any reason she might be up there?”
    “No,” I said, my heart pounding; he didn’t need to know about last week’s kiss. “How long has it been?”
    “About ten minutes.”
    “She say anything?”
    The officer shrugged. “Nothing that made any sense.” He lifted the grimy plastic cup and took a loud sip . “Something about mountains and Elves. And a pair of glowing trees. Weird.”
    “Elves?” I frowned. “Are you sure?”
    “That’s what she said. They had pointy ears and sang.” He yawned. “She’s obviously high.”
    “No way,” I said. “That’s not her scene.”
    “How else would you explain it?”
    “Oh, I don’t know.” My cheeks grew hot. “She’s telling the truth?”
    He laughed. “If you say so, son.” His eyes narrowed. “Now I’ve got a job to do, so take a hike.”
    He started to turn away, and I grabbed the side of his arm. “Wait!” I said. “We’ve known each other forever. Let me talk to her.”
    He glanced at my hand, and a deep scowl turned the corners of his mouth. “Touch me again,” he said quietly, “and you go to the tombs.”
    I let go and took a step back. He glared at me for a moment, then grabbed the radio on his shoulder and began to talk.
    I looked back towards the roof, ten stories up. Come on, Jen, I thought. What are you doing? The attraction had been building since last summer, and it had taken me a year to work up the nerve. When our lips finally met, it had been fireworks, but then my sister walked in. What happened next had been awkward, but I never imagined it would lead to this.
    How do I get up there? I thought. The entrance had been sealed with bright yellow tape, the words ‘Police Line, Do Not Cross’ a warning to any that would harbor delusions of grandeur. I bit my lip, a trickle of sweat sliding down my neck, and then it hit me. With a curse, I pulled out my phone and punched in the code. Cool and airy, the home-screen appeared lit up.
    “Siri, Face Time,” I ordered, and the app complied. A few seconds later, we were connected.
    Her eyes shone in the late-morning light. “Jim, is that you?”
    I nodded. “Sure is.” I glanced up, making sure no-one could tell who I was talking to, then leaned into the speaker. “What are you doing?”
    “Don’t try and talk me out of it.” Her voice cracked. “I have no choice.”
    “Why? Is is because of us?”
    “Not at all.” She smiled. “That was nice. I’m sorry we won’t have the chance to do it again.”
    “Don’t say that.”
    “It’s the truth.”
    “Talk to me.”
    “I can’t.”
    “Why not?”
    “You won’t believe me. Besides, this is the only way I know how to get back.”
    Stay calm, I thought, thinking back to my psychology class. Keep her talking. “You’ve known me forever,” I said. “Have I ever let you down?”
    “No.” She closed her eyes. “I wasn’t supposed to see it. No-one is.”
    “See what?”
    “The Light of the Trees.”
    Why does that sound familiar? I thought. “Tell me about them,” I said.
    Her face lit up. “They were beautiful,” she said. “Silver and gold. Everything glowed; it was so full of life.” Tears tracked down her cheeks in a gentle rain. “But they wouldn’t let me stay. ‘Not for mortals’, they said.” She sighed. “After seeing that, I’d rather be dead than live in this world.”
    She’s gonna jump, I thought. A dull knot formed in my gut, and my chest grew tight. Think of something, my mind commanded. Now!
    “What if there’s another way?” I said.
    She paused. “Where? How?”
    “I have some ideas, but you need to come down first.”
    “Not ’til you talk.”
    I took a deep breath. “The Bermuda Triangle.”
    “What?”
    “Think about it: things tend to get lost there. Where do they go?”
    She frowned. Gotcha, I thought. After a moment, she said “You really think that might be the answer?”
    “It’s a worth a shot,” I said. In the book, the Blessed Realm could only be reached by taking a boat. “What do you say?”
    She hesitated, then slowly nodded. “Okay,” she said quietly. “I’m coming down.”
    The screen went blank, and I looked up. Sure enough, the ledge was now empty, the mournful soul it had nearly disgorged on her way down to a rendezvous with the cops. A sigh of relief rippled through the crowd, followed by the hum of excited chatter. And they’ll all be waiting to snap some more pics the minutes she comes out the door, I thought. At least she’ll be safe. Mad as hell maybe, but safe.
    I sighed. Hopefully, the shrinks would be able to sort her out, because when it came down to it, I had absolutely no clue how to get to Valinor.
    But at least I could act.

    • vaderize03 says:

      Sorry all for not spacing this out. It keeps changing the format from Pages every time I try to post. I think I need to manually break it up next time.

    • Reaper says:

      Are you using Word? If so then don’t rely on format. Just throw an extra carriage return in before copying and pasting. I had to learn that the hard way. When I tried to do it manually on here it was pretty ugly. Nice story, I could do with some more. I’m a sucker for elves though.

      • vaderize03 says:

        Thanks for the heads-up…and I appreciate the feedback!

        Glad you liked it :). Not sure how many people were going to catch the Tolkien reference here….

  63. lionetravail says:

    “Service Industry”

    (Author’s note to the reader: buyer beware- it’s well over the word count, but it feels right as is, and I didn’t want to trim too much.)

    November 3, 1929

    It was a beautiful autumn night in New York, cool and crisp, and I walked the downtown streets in my Burberry trenchcoat. The smells of roasting chestnuts on street corners reminded me of the old country, though the absence of snow in the ground and ice in the air made me miss the simple days of sauna, cross country skiing in the woods, and shared aquavit while looking at the cold stars of the night sky over Sweden.

    I heard a commotion up ahead, and consulted at my pocket watch. Soon, I thought, with a quick glance at the stars over this foreign city. I walked unhurriedly forward.

    I came to the edge of a frantic crowd, and stopped to listen.

    “It’s another one,” a fat lady said.

    “Not even a week since Black Tuesday, and the market keeps plummeting,” a young man said, an overly made-up girl who might’ve been called a “flapper” hanging on his arm. “He might as well do it, he’s one of those responsible, am I right?”

    I looked up. High above, perhaps twenty or more storeys, was a figure standing on a tiny ledge at a building corner. I could see he was leaning forward, his arms behind him clutching at the stone bulwark there, even as the crowd on the street was pointing and murmuring. I moved to a policeman.

    “Excuse me,” I said, proffering my business card to him. It read, simply: “Gustav Arhlberg, Eldritch Investigations”.

    He took it and read. “We’ve got a sitch’ation here, Mr. Ahrlberg. What can I do for you?” He did a double-take at the card. “What’s that ‘Eldritch’ thing mean? You a private dick or something?”

    “Something like that,” I said. “I’d be happy to go talk to that man, see if I can help in some way.”

    “Why bother?” the policeman said. “Not like we can stop him if he wants to do it, and he ain’t the first stockbroker, hell, not even the tenth, to want to splat himself these days. I’m just here to keep people back so they don’t get hurt when he dives.”

    “Perhaps the stars are just right for the poor gentleman, if that’s even what he is- a bit hard to tell from down here, isn’t it?”

    “You crazy, Gus?” he said. “It’s definitely another jumper. Well, go ahead and knock yourself out, just don’t expect anything.” He scrawled something on a pad of paper, tore off the sheet, and handed it to me. “Show them this, they’ll let you through.”

    It was a short walk to the building, but the officer’s pass got me through. It was a long walk up the stairs to the floor, but I was energized by it rather than fatigued. I consulted my pocketwatch several times along the way, but didn’t have to adjust my stride at all.

    I was soon at the window closest to the distraught man. I went to it, and leaned out to see him. “Please sir, might I have a word with you?” I said.

    “You try to stop me, I’m letting go!” he yelled at me as wind whipped around us.

    “I don’t want to stop you, sir. In fact, I will earn power if I sanctify your death in the name of the god.”

    “Wha…?”

    “On the other hand, there are alternatives to death, if you are willing to explore them,” I said.

    “What are you talking about?” he said. “You’re crazy!”

    “I can assure you that the god is listening tonight, and is very close indeed. What if I told you that this black time for you and your country will be but a distant memory in the very near future?”

    “I’ve lost everything, don’t you get it?! I’m ruined, there’s nothing for me or my family but an insurance payout!” he yelled.

    “Oh, there is more, much more. I can offer you peaceful rest for a time, my friend. I can be sure your family receives the money your death would earn them. I can offer you renewal in a more pleasant future, where the money lost in the past week will be but a drop of unconcern,” I said.

    He looked at me incredulously. “You can seriously make all that happen?”

    “And more: I can give you purpose in that new future, if you’re willing,” I said.

    He looked down, and I saw him weighing things before he looked back at me. I brought my right hand from my pocket. “Look into this mirror, friend, and all I’ve offered will be yours.” I tilted it upwards for him, so that when he’d look, he would see the reflected heavens above.

    Our eyes met, held, and then he looked into the mirror. “Oh my,” he said, and went rigid. I saw the reflection of shooting stars in his eyes, and waited.

    A different voice then spoke. “You’ve done well, Minion,” it said, with a sound like it might come from a throat made of crushed stone.

    “The conjunction is upon us again, my Master,” I said.

    “I am close, but not yet close enough, Minion.”

    “How long must I wait, Master?”

    “I anticipate eighty five more cycles before I may manifest fully.”

    I bowed my head.

    “Plant more such seeds, Minion. Your centuries of service are not yet done,” the voice said.

    I raised my head and saw just the man, face distorted in a grimace, now a gruesome stone statue clutching the cornerstone of the building just below the roof. I returned to the streets with a spring to my step.

    As I was walking away from the crowd, I saw the same policeman who’d given me the pass approach.

    “Well? He gonna jump or what?” he said.

    “Mistaken identity, Officer. It’s nothing more than a gargoyle at the roofline.”

    “But we all saw it moving!” he said.

    I chuckled. “An optical illusion, my good sir- a scarf was caught about its neck giving it the appearance of a living man. You can certainly check it yourself- I had a rather good laugh when I’d finally huffed and puffed my way all the way up to it.”

    He left me, and I simply walked away..

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

    May 17, 2014

    The conjunction was approaching, a mere six months, give or take away. My Master was coming, and his time of emergence was at hand.

    I pulled out my iPhone as I walked through Times Square and activated my search engine. “Gargoyles in Manhattan” I typed in.

    The search list which returned was gratifyingly long.

    I smiled. I checked the calendar in my phone. The Leonids would be coming again in about six months, and my Master, Yog-Sototh, with them.

    • jmcody says:

      This is phenomenal. One of my favorites of yours so far. What an intriguing and unique character you came up with. I am completely entranced by the concept of an “eldritch” which I admit I had to google. I am also a sucker for stories about both old New York and future Armageddon!

      I am never going to look at those gargoyles all over NYC the same way again, and I might be a little freaked out when those Leonids come around again.

      Masterful, chilling and incredibly imaginative, Lionetravail!

    • snuzcook says:

      I have never read any HP Lovecraft, but now I may have to.
      Excellent story, lionetravail. Well crafted. What a great beginning of a longer piece.

    • margi33 says:

      Well written, entertaining and imaginative. Everything flowed and transitioned well. A nice twist on the prompt!

    • lionetravail says:

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful (and flattering) comments. I love the mythology, and it’s so much more entertaining and gothic and mysterious horror than the usual slasher stories or modern take on urban-supernatural we’re seeing a lot of.

      Snuzcook, the original Lovecraft books are wonderful, but may be an acquired taste based on when they were written (writing style, etc). The mythos overview is incredibly rich, and there’s a modern author who treats it amazingly well (and amusingly): Charles Stross, the Laundry files. I love his books immensely, and you’ll get a much more modern take on the cthulhu mythology, well tempered by the modern British understated humor to something awesomely entertaining.

      And I think I will try to expand this idea… it does seem like a good opening to a longer story. Thanks!

  64. Amyithist says:

    I clenched my briefcase as the words of the police officer wafted up from the chaotic murmurs of the crowd. I wasn’t certain that I’d heard him correctly. But as my eyes drifted up to the 30th floor of the St. John’s Memorial Hospital, I knew…
    My heart began to thrum against my chest as I started shoving my way up toward the hospital entry. Hushed, excited voices penetrated my frantic thoughts; “Do you think he’s really going to jump,” came one. “I don’t know…he seemed completely off the last few days,” came another. And the cincher: “Well, after what happened to that mother and her baby? In his care? Can you blame him?”
    I felt a deluge of emotions threaten to strip me of my resolve as I approached the line of officers standing in front of the building. A stern-faced uniform eyed me as I approached, flashing my own badge in front of him. “I’m Dr. Tyler McTeirney,” I said, trying to edge the emotion from my words.
    The man cocked his eyebrow at me and smirked. “We’ve been waiting for you,” he said. His tone was biting.
    “I’m sorry,” I replied coolly, “I got here as fast as I could.”
    “We don’t have time for this,” a man shouted as he hustled out from the hospital entry. The man gestured for me to be allowed in and I ducked beneath the yellow tape. I could feel the eyes watching as I hurried into the hospital.
    An eerie feeling crept into my stomach as I walked down the empty hallway to the elevator. The suit frowned as I stepped inside the elevator. Just as the door was about to close he stuck his hand out and pointed his finger at me. “Don’t fuck this up,” he warned.
    I swallowed as he stood back, allowing the door to slide shut. What constituted me fucking up? Didn’t I already do that when I cleared Dr. Howard for duty? Clearly the man wasn’t ready; but the medical director had put so much pressure on his return, that I overlooked the obvious. And now a woman and her child were dead and it was my fault.
    As I slipped into the room, I could see Dr. Howard pacing the ledge outside. The ledge was hardly accommodating to his bulky frame. He was turned at an angle, gripping the lip of the pediments, staring down at the earth below. I took a deep breath and approached the window, giving it a light tap.
    Dr. Howard flipped his head in my direction, his eyes widening as he gaped at me. “Tyler, what the hell are you doing here,” he spat. “Get out of here! I don’t want you to see this!”
    “This isn’t the answer,” I said lowly. “You know that medicine isn’t a promise to life, Kyle. You know that despite our best efforts…people die.”
    His face fell. Tears welled in his eyes and splashed down his cheeks. “I shouldn’t have been back so soon,” he whispered. “I knew I wasn’t ready. I knew I needed more time!” He sobbed for a moment before looking back to me. This time his eyes were blazing with vehement. “Why did you release me,” he growled.
    “I thought you were ready,” I lied. “I thought you could handle it.”
    He scowled at me. “That’s a bunch of shit. You know as well as I do the chief made you sign off on me. Don’t play stupid with me, Tyler. I know all about the hospital bureaucratic bullshit. They were shorthanded and needed a damn body. No matter how damaged…”
    I didn’t try to dissuade his argument; he was right. It had been exactly that purpose that I penned my release. Nothing more. Nothing less. I felt a roil of regret and guilt wash over me.
    “You should be out here,” Kyle seethed. “Not me. This…these deaths…they’re more your fault than they are mine!”
    My heart snapped. He was right about that, too. They were my fault. And if Kyle did kill himself over it all, that would be my fault, too. The feelings burning inside of me suddenly became too much to handle. I felt as though I was being unraveled at every seam; as if I was going to burst into a thousand, insignificant pieces. My breath came shorter and shorter.
    I didn’t contemplate my next move; it was really more of an instinct than anything else. I pulled the window adjacent to Kyle’s spot and climbed out onto the ledge. For a moment, I took in the sight; the city of Bainbridge fairly sparkled beneath the azure sky. In the distance, the mountains I loved so much rose majestically through the glimmering summer day. Before I could reconsider, I looked over at Kyle and offered him a sympathetic smile. “The only person who has to die today is the one fully responsible for this,” I whispered.
    I saw his face contort into a mixture of confusion and horror as I leapt from the ledge. Twisting and turning in the air, I thought about my family and how sad they’d be…then I thought about what a mistake I’d just made…I heard screams and rumblings of a large crowd running away and then…

    • lionetravail says:

      Wow. How painful that was! Guilt,tragic misjudgment, you had it all Amyithis! Powerful, but, if I can make a suggestion, Dr. Tyler’s suicidal or impulsive nature could have been developed a bit before, so as to tease us with that insight to her personality. As it was, her transition from a reasoning, reasonable, logical doctor (who certainly did not have sole culpability in clearing Dr. Howard) to an abruptly depressed and guilty suicide is jarring.

      On the other hand, if your intent was to shock the reader with the fragility of the seemingly normal person, well then, you hit the target dead center. Brrr!

      • Amyithist says:

        Thank you lionetravail. I did mean for it to be abrupt and touch on how unstable anyone of us could be given the right circumstances. Also, I had surpassed the word count and was worried about having too much buried in there. Thank you for the comment! :)

    • jmcody says:

      This is like a Greek tragedy, with wrongs piled on top of wrongs that lead to other wrongs, and guilt is depicted like a disease that can be passed from one person to another. Kyle will no doubt be saddled with a double burden of guilt after this, and will probably off himself anyway. There are scores of victims in the wake of the one tragic error in judgment made by Dr. McTierney.

      I have to come up with other words for you besides “master storyteller,” because I am wearing that one out. But you are that.

    • Reaper says:

      This is eerie, and perfect. I will say the guilt and the leap read perfectly for me. It is often not portrayed well but there is a certain type of person that carries too much on themselves. They are a very likely candidate for suicide but always surprising. Nobody ever sees it coming, unlike other cases they never show outward signs and always do it quickly and efficiently leaving others to wonder why they didn’t see it coming. You wrote that personality well here. Though the northwest seems to have a siren song for those with the seasonal disorders too, which is weird, so maybe your MC just had that going on. This was a great take on something that is often portrayed poorly so I agree with the master storyteller assessment. I also love the line about thinking about what a mistake I’d just made.

  65. lpwilson says:

    Friends
    By Lawrence P. Wilson

    “Oh wow, I’m starving, nursing a hangover and trying to get into Angelo’s before the lunch crowd when I hear a cop call out ,”Fred, Fred Warner, this is the Police. Stay where you are son. We’ll get help up to you.” I look up along with one or two others craning their necks to see a lone figure on the roof top of my office building, six floors up. It was Fred, an old Army buddy. The rest keep on moving.
    After Desert Storm we tried to keep in touch. You know, Christmas cards and every now and then, a phone call. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard from him for several years now. But there was no mistaking that dopey looking Texan even from this distance.
    I know that building like the back of my hand. Worked there for twenty some years. Same stuff different day. Still working my fingers to the bone just to stay in the middle. After the top floor there is a short half-flight of stairs to a penthouse store room and then the roof. It’s always locked.
    I stumbled out into the noon day sun and looked around but couldn’t find him. “Fred, Fred you up here?” “Yeah I’m here,” came the muffled answer from across the roof. “It’s about time you showed. I was just going to do it -but thought I’d like to see you first.” On the other side of the parapet I found my friend sitting on the narrow ledge, like he was fishing off the pier back home. “What’s up man?” “I’m trying to get something to eat and see you up here acting stupid.”
    “What’s it look like? I’m done, I’m tired man. Need to move on.” “You’re the one who’s got it made. Wife, home, good job. You been here for how many, twenty years? Me, I got nothing. After the war Kate left me. The VA left me hanging. Said I was no longer a candidate for treatment. What bullshit.”
    “I was good, though wasn’t I? Could pick off a towel head from half a mile and light up a smoke before he hit the dirt. Got some seventy-five or so. Quit counting after the second tour. I can still see their faces in the scope. It hurts, man. Two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star. Not much good to me now.”
    “But you, you always came out on top. Stayed out of the sand, got an education. Living the dream, just like we always thought we would. Why couldn’t I have just been more like you?”
    What he said was true except for the whole dream part. That died years ago, along with the promotion and my marriage. The education I got though. Learned that loyalty and being good no longer counted. It’s just a matter of who you know and who gets paid off.
    All I have left now is the booze and an old friend on a ledge.

    • lionetravail says:

      Love the story, powerful and calling attention to the substantial needs of our service- men and -women when they return from activities that most of us have no way to understand or deal with.

      Only suggestion: you had some tense changes in the story, from present to past, which interrupted the powerful and emotionally-charged flow of it.

      Overall, nice job!!

    • jmcody says:

      Such sadness and disillusionment. It seems you hear more and more these days about the tragic after-effects of war, even on those who make it home. This story also reminds us that you never know what someone else is going through. Even those who look like they’ve got it made might be suffering. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Thank you for this thought provoking story, Lawrence.

    • Reaper says:

      I could not breath as I read this. It was that intense. With no cliche or sense of entitlement I read this with the phrase “where was my parade?” running through my head. I found myself getting angry for your characters at the same time as the sadness swept over me. Just, amazing, thank you.

    • agnesjack says:

      Incredible story, lpwilson. So sad and real and well written.

      • agnesjack says:

        p.s. You might want to hit enter twice between paragraphs on your next post. Word paragraph spacing doesn’t convert in HTML and the extra space helps the read.

  66. agnesjack says:

    Paulie slung his backpack over his shoulder and began the long walk home. It was the second time in a week that his mom hadn’t come to pick him up at school, and he knew she was probably still in bed having one of her “bad days.” She tried her best, but after his dad was killed by an IED in Afghanistan, she just wasn’t the same. She used to be so much fun — laughing and teaching him silly songs. His favorite was “Bugs on Me,” but they hadn’t sung together in a long time.

    Paulie didn’t mind the walk. He would take the route through downtown so he could peer into the store windows. He had just stopped in front of Thompson’s Toys when two police cars flew by with their sirens screaming. He heard shouting around the corner. People started running toward the commotion and Paulie was swept up with them.

    A crowd had gathered in front of Willard’s Steakhouse, the restaurant where his mom worked. It was on the ground floor of a three-story apartment building. Everyone was looking up at the roof.

    “Paulie!” someone yelled. It was Mr. McGregor, the restaurant manager. He rushed over with a look on his face that scared Paulie a little.

    “Son,” he said, then stopped. He squeezed Paulie’s shoulder.

    “It’ll be O.K.,” he said. “You hear me, Paulie? It’ll be O.K.”

    Paulie was confused. Then he looked up and saw the figure on the low wall that encircled the flat roof of the building. He saw the long, unruly red hair and the blue army dress jacket over the pink flannel nightgown. He didn’t comprehend what was happening. All he could think was, Doesn’t she know how to get down?

    “Paulie,” Mr. McGregor said. “The police are on their way up. They won’t let her jump.”

    “Jump, Mr. McGregor?” Paulie said, finally grasping the situation.

    “I have to go up there, Mr. McGregor,” he said. “Can you take me up there?”

    When they got to the roof they saw two policemen. One was leaning on the wall to her left about five feet away. He was talking quietly to her. The other was stealthily moving toward her from behind.

    “Mommy,” Paulie said. She cocked her head toward the sound and the policemen turned toward him.

    “Get him out of here,” one said.

    “No,” Paulie said. “That’s my mom.”

    She turned toward him. Her face was like white paper. Her hazel eyes, unfocused.

    At that moment, nine-year-old Paulie, who had been forced to grow up much too fast, knew what to do. In a shaky, but determined voice, he began to sing:

    There ain’t no bugs on me.
    There ain’t no bugs on me.
    There may be bugs on some of you mugs,
    But there ain’t no bugs on me . . . .

    Suddenly, the life and color returned to his mother’s face and she started to cry. She stepped off the wall, fell to her knees and waited for Paulie to run into her open arms.

    “Oh, my boy,” she sobbed, holding him close. “My dear, sweet, brave boy.”

    ____________

    Note: “There Ain’t No Bugs On Me,” is a traditional song that I know from the David Grisman/Gerry Garcia album, “Not for Kids Only.”

    • lionetravail says:

      Beautiful! Concise, economical, and right to the heart-strings. Nicely done!

      • agnesjack says:

        Thanks very much, lionetravail. I find it an interesting challenge to try to tell a full story within the 500 word limit (didn’t quite make it this time), so I’m especially pleased that you found it “concise” and “economical”.

    • snuzcook says:

      A heart-filled story, AgnesJack. Sweet and sad and very well written.

    • jmcody says:

      It’s amazing how children know how to get right to the heart of the matter somehow, and you portrayed that beautifully here. This was raw, pure emotion, and it hit me where it hurts. Wonderful writing, agnesjack.

      • agnesjack says:

        Thanks, jm. Children are amazing in their resiliency, and when tragedy strikes, they often feel a responsibility that they shouldn’t. Yet, they do “know how to get right to the heart of the matter,” because they see the world more simply. Paulie’s mom had given him a strong foundation of love, which he was able to return to her at a critical moment.

    • DMelde says:

      Wonderful story. Very well written. Kudos.

    • margi33 says:

      Nicely written! There was just enough backstory to fill the reader in quickly and plant the seed for the ending. The mention of specific place names as Paulie walked home pulled the reader into the story. And Paulie’s emotions were well detailed through his actions and thoughts. Good job.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        A real heart-puller, Nancy. The opening was gentle yet hooked the reader. The flow was right and the story line was excellent. Loved the song bringing his Mother back to him.

        The good guys win in this and it’s a sweet, gentle up lift like a breeze lifting a swallow to the sky.

        • agnesjack says:

          Thanks, Kerry. I’m glad it was uplifting at the end (I loved the way you put that). I wanted the reader to feel that the mother would be better after this, and that the crisis of the devastating, paralyzing grief she had been experiencing would finally pass into the stage of recovery.

          I’ve been busy this month and didn’t post a story for the last prompt — the first prompt I’ve missed in eight months :-( — so I didn’t want to miss this one.

      • agnesjack says:

        Thank you, margi33. As I said to lionetravail above, I enjoy the challenge of trying to fit a whole story into the word limit, so I’m happy when the little details here and there help to visualize the place and express the emotional life of the story.

    • Critique says:

      Well done, a wonderful story agnesjack that melted my heart – I could just hear his little voice singing so bravely.

    • Reaper says:

      agnesjack, you broke my heart with your opening paragraph and then mended it with your words. Amazing, tight writing. This works with things that are unfortunately far too real too often and makes them beautiful.

      The /only/ thing I might suggest is removing the “who had been forced to grow up much too fast”. I only say that because your walk through the minefield of his life has already told the reader that. Also because the next thing he does is something that only a child would do. His faith in the song to touch the heart of a mother he lost in Afghanistan along with his father, and to bring her back is a powerful instinctive belief that adults rarely share.

      That last is a suggestion based on what I see but so not a necessary edit, because this is just amazing.

      • agnesjack says:

        Thank you very much, Reaper. You are absolutely right about that phrase being unnecessary. I wasn’t happy with the flow of that sentence and you hit the nail on the head. Always show, not tell, right?

        For some reason, this story came from a deep emotional place in me, so I am glad that it touched others as well.

  67. snuzcook says:

    FLYING KITES

    I was out of breath and a little dizzy from the climb onto the roof, but Sam didn’t seem to notice. He was sitting with his legs straddling the corner of the roof, dangling off the edge. I had an unexpected image of him at age eight sitting on the dock at the lake. It was the same kind of warm, spring day. He had the same, unhurried, forever attitude about him.

    “Sammy?”

    “Come, sit down.” Without turning around, he patted the green composite roof shingles beside him if he were patting the cushion on a comfortable couch. With some grunting and some trepidation I managed to plop down on my rear and ease myself toward the edge. Thank goodness the roof had a very shallow pitch, and I could brace myself against a vent pipe that rose between us. I drew the line at dangling my legs off the edge. Just seeing a dislodged piece of moss fall into nothingness made my groin muscles clench.

    A slight breeze fluttered Sammy’s hair. He drank in a full breath of warm, spring air. Again I was struck by how boy-like he seemed.

    “You smell that, Dave? See how green everything smells?

    “Yeah, it’s nice.”

    “It’s spring, Dave. It’s life. The world is renewing itself, starting over.”

    “Sammy, what are you doing up here?”

    “What do you think?”

    “I don’t know, Sammy. But you’re scaring me a little.”

    “Aw, what’s the matter, Big Brother? Still afraid of heights?”

    ‘Yes, damn it!’ I wanted to say. ‘I’m afraid of heights and afraid of the water and afraid of dark alleys and afraid of a lot of things. But mostly I’m afraid of losing you.’ That’s what I wanted to say. Instead, I said:

    “And you’re still pushing the envelope.”

    “It’s about living, Dave. You have to grasp it with both hands. It’s a shape-shifter, Dave. You have to hold on and let it change and writhe and run and fly and dive with you. You can’t control it. You have to stay with it while it slams you into walls and river beds and oncoming trucks until you’re bloody.”

    He fell silent. He still hadn’t turned to look at me, but I could see his jaw muscles working as he clamped down on words he would not share.

    I waited. The mention of oncoming trucks was just confirmation that he was reliving his guilt. The child, the running dog. A pure accident. Unavoidable. The truck could not stop, but Sam’s life had, completely.

    He had even maybe gone backwards, into his boyhood; a thirty-two year old child still sitting on a dock without a care in the world. My baby brother living a life in a bubble, separated from me by degrees of reality. If that bubble ever burst, I was afraid he would crumble into dust like a mummy suddenly exposed to the air.

    “Let’s go down, Sammy.”

    “Remember flying kites, Dave? Remember that one special kite we made together, the one with the golden phoenix on it?”

    “I remember, Sammy.”

    “Remember how beautiful it was when the wind took it. It was carefree, Dave. It was a beautiful, live thing. It had a soul, Dave, didn’t it?”

    “It was beautiful, Sammy.”

    “I didn’t mean to let go the string, Dave. Just for a minute I was watching it fly, and the string just wound out and slipped through my fingers.”

    “It was just a kite, Sammy. Those things happen.”

    “We should have made a new one. Promise me you’ll make a new kite, Dave. For me. We’ll fly it together.”

    “Sure, Sammy. Sure. Now let’s go down.”

    “You go ahead, Dave,” he said, closing his eyes and putting his face into the wind. “I’ll meet you there.”

    • Amyithist says:

      This brought tears to my eyes. So real… the sadness in Sammy was tangible. It left me wondering what happened to the brothers… Did Sammy jump?
      From the very first paragraph, you had me. VERY Well done!

    • lionetravail says:

      Lovely. The “we’ll fly it together” sounded hopeful, and then you dashed the small hope with the “meet you there” ending. I assume sammy was expecting his soul to fly with this new kite, just like the phoenix one from childhood.

      Clever symbolism using the phoenix as well. Poor Sammy, probably hoping to rise again like thhat. Another breathtakingly sad tale, well told.

      • snuzcook says:

        Something that didn’t make it into the final cut was that the run away dog was trailing a leash like the tail of a runaway kite.

        I realize that my (over)abundance of stories on this prompt are running 0 for 3 on survival. The stories don’t necessarily start that way. They just end up that way. I fear there are more on the way…

        Thank you for your comments!

      • snuzcook says:

        I had a lot of different thoughts about Sammy. I guess the strongest one was that he was like a kite yearning for freedom and for life. He was trapped in the bubble of sadness that Dave described, preserved but not entirely alive while deeply aware of life all around him. I saw him as seeking to release himself to the embrace of life, and feeling the pull with great intensity at this moment.

    • jmcody says:

      This story was breathtaking — a thing of beauty, much like that kite that Sammy loved. I held my breath as it soared and looped and dipped, and readied myself for the ultimate crash. What a gorgeous, apt metaphor for the sometimes tragic beauty and fragility of life. It had shades of “Kite Runner” in it, yet was so very different. Just magnificent.

      I see that this is number three for you! I wouldn’t miss even one of yours, Snuzcook, so I’ll see you down the page!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Three prompts, three gems. a slice of life betwen two close brothers, brings me into reflection. My older brother and I were never as close as I had wanted. And now, there’s no way to build the bridge. He’s still here but part of him isn’t. It’s a heartbreak to witness.

        It doesn’t matter to the value of your story that the brother does or doesn’t jump. That’s not what your story is about, it’s inter action between the two, one trying to help the other and he being to damaged to receive the help, A beautiful, poignant slice of life.

        • snuzcook says:

          Thank you, Kerry, for perceiving this important message in the story. I’m sorry for the resonance in your life even while I appreciate it.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, JM! I really appreciate your comments!

    • margi33 says:

      Beautiful, Snuzcook. Lovely descriptions and emotion the whole way through.

    • this piece gave me vertigo, snuzcook. holy crap. my heart leapt in my throat at the end even though we could see it coming. Bravo

    • Reaper says:

      snuzcook, you are on fire this week. I don’t need to tell you much as it has already been covered, but this hit me in the heart. As an older brother I can tell you that in a stark and more permanent way this reminded me of a conversation I had with my little brother. It was when he signed up for the marines. I didn’t want him to, I knew where he was going to end up serving and it scared the hell out of me. It was the first time in my life that I had to accept that there were some decisions he was going to make that made it so I could not protect him. Sometimes they have a mind of their own exactly when you don’t want them to and you realize that you don’t want to lose them no matter how much they annoyed you before, and you suddenly understand that in some small way they are doing this to make you proud. They are making the decision they think you would make. That’s the real tragedy for me in this story. Your others have been amazing, this is a damn Picasso.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, Reaper, for sharing a piece of your heart. Little brothers (and older brothers) seem to become so much more complicated as the years go by. I have (correction: I had) one of each. I don’t think we ever lose the need to maintain those old childhood roles with each other, even as we try to figure out how to be adults. Now, as my baby brother’s third grandchild is on the way, I still refer to him as my baby brother and probably always will.

    • agnesjack says:

      Wow, snuzcook. That was beautifully written. The paragraph that begins, “It’s about living, Dave…” is extraordinary, and I would like to believe that when he says “you have to hold on,” it indicates that he still will — that he won’t jump. Amazing story, snuzcook.

  68. LiveOakLea says:

    My stomach clinches at the officer’s words. Jumping. Marie O’Ryan.

    People were starting to gather and point at her. I don’t want it to be true, but yes, it’s Marie. She’s on the tenth story ledge, the woman I loved more than I’ve loved any other woman and probably ever will.

    I’d seen her one morning two months ago at the crosswalk at the end of the block from my work. She was waiting for the light to change, but I couldn’t catch up to her and lost her in the shuffling commuters.

    The scab fell away and now I had to deal with the old wound. For days I waited at that light at that same time, searching for her, but she didn’t show up again.

    I rationalized reasons to search on line, but when I got up nerve to call the one phone number I found, it was disconnected. She was gone again without a trace.

    We haven’t spoken or seen each other for almost eleven years. We were together for six years. I lived more in those six years than the eleven years afterward. But those were not easy years with Marie.

    I can tell that she’s drunk now. Her stance, belligerent yells back at the officer who sounds very angry through the bullhorn, her Irish Boston accent strong.

    The cop is about ready to give up. His arm drops, letting the bullhorn dangle.

    I don’t think. I step up to him and authoritatively tell him a lie, that Marie is my patient. I’m her psychiatrist.

    The cop seems confused, and glad. I reach for the bullhorn, and he hands it to me then turns around to take control over the growing crowd.

    “Marie,” I’m surprised at how tender and calm my voice is. I want to shout at her. I want to be standing next to her and shake some sense into her. I want to commandeer a helicopter through the maze of high rises and grab her from the ledge as I cling to a rope ladder. I want to save her. God, I want to save her.

    “Marie,” I say her name again, maybe more for my benefit so I can hear the sound of it again than speaking to her.

    She recognizes me.

    “How are ya?” How are ya? Yes, she’s drunk. More drunk than I first thought. Those are the words she said to me when I arrived to take her home after I got a call from a night patrol guy who found her laying next to her fallen motorcycle in the parking lot of a remote warehouse at two in the morning.

    The same words she said when I walked in on her putting bullets in a pistol she’d talked an elderly neighbor into believing was too unsafe to keep in his house.

    “ I’m good.” My heart is breaking, again, and again. What can I say? What can I say that I haven’t already said? But I have to try.

    “I love you.”

    She said something. I couldn’t understand it.

    The window next to her flew open and a strong pair of arms grabbed her.

    There was nothing more for me to do, to say.

    She was safe.

    I walked away.

    Again.

    • snuzcook says:

      Wow, great story! Not an extraneous phrase in it. Well done!

    • jmcody says:

      Wow. That was heart-rending tale of a one-sided love that just won’t die, no matter what Marie puts your MC through. Your MC is stuck in a seemingly never-ending loop of trying to save this lost soul from herself, only to have to live with the pain of her failure to love him back. This was very affecting and well-written.

      • lionetravail says:

        Yes, definitely! Gorgeous. I hope you take this and run with it to a longer format… your MC could so easily be an actual Guardian Angel, ignorant of his purpose and role.

        Most of my own stories feel complete on this site, but i would encourage you to really expand this one. I hope you will!

        • LiveOakLea says:

          Thank you snuzcook, jmcody, and lionetravail! I really appreciate your comments. I wish I would think of the words that encapsulate a story as well as you do in your helpful critiques, and I always enjoy the high caliber of your pieces of writing too.

    • agnesjack says:

      You depicted this tragic relationship so well, and the MC’s inability to get fully away from her. Being in love with an alcoholic who won’t get help is a terrible hell to live in. So sad.

  69. snuzcook says:

    Arrogance, dogged persistence and conscious awareness of the focus of the story–that’s what makes an award-winning journalist and the perfect MC. Cceynowa, your story is well written, a full and entertaining story packed into a neat package. Nicely done!

  70. Artemis4421 says:

    [This prompt reminded me of the song "Jumper" by Third Eye Blind, so I'm now listening to it as I read everyone's wonderful work. Also, I just got back from DC this morning (where I had been since Wednesday) and I thought it as a suitable setting. One more thing: do I even have to tell you that it's well over word count...?]

    It’s cold today, and I pull my hat a little farther over my ears to keep the brisk wind from biting at them like tiny piranhas. It’s a Saturday, and I watch the swirling crowd of humanity as it rushes past. People are always in such a hurry, and they say that life is short, but really, isn’t it the longest thing we’ll ever experience? In this lifetime anyways. There are families here; lots of them. They’re taking short trips or vacations or- well I don’t really know their stories. I try to figure that out by people-watching. You can find out a lot about people by how they react to certain things, and how they act when they thing no one is watching. I pull my sleeves down over my hands, then tuck them into my sweatshirt pockets. It’s warmer, and somehow I don’t feel so vulnerable.

    So here I am, people-watching, when I notice a group of people surrounding a building. It’s a Saturday morning in DC, so of course it’s crowded with tourists. Only this group doesn’t have the aura of curious tourists to me, and the building is nothing special; just another tall building tucked in against many others.

    I edge my way over to the group. A young man with brown eyes and brown hair turns when I say, “Excuse me”. As soon as I know I have his attention, I ask, “What’s going on here?” He glances back to the building, then returns his eyes to me. They look large and anxious.

    “There are police up by the building. You can’t see through the crowd, but they’re over there trying to get someone to come down from the roof. They’ve backed up a little bit, but they won’t come down.” A pang of deep sadness hits me like a wave, and I have to focus on the man’s brown eyes to kept keep me upright. “Do you know who it is?” I ask him weakly. I’m not sure why I want to know. I guess curiosity is simply human nature, but maybe it’s something more, me asking if he knew. Maybe it’s just coincidence that he tells me.

    “They said his name is Christian Taylor,” the man tells me. Nothing seems real. The cold air is back, biting at exposed skin and slicing easily through my baggy sweatshirt and skinny jeans. I’m frozen but I have to do something. It’s like instead of a stranger leaving their car windows open in the rain, the raging winds and icy rain are bombarding your own car and you’ve left the windows open so it’s up to you to close them. Just on a much larger scale. Because now, you’re in the story. Now, you’re about to jump.

    I hardly register what I’m doing as I make my way through the crowd of worried people. There’s a police man standing there, keeping the onlookers at bay. “Excuse me, sir? I know the person, and I would like to help.” He takes a look at me, then shakes his head. “There’s nothing you can do, miss. It’s a delicate situation and anything could set him off. There are more emergency teams heading over here as we speak.”

    I put my sweater-covered hands over my face as it all slams down on me. I blink a few times, taking deep breaths of the cold city air. My head is throbbing so hard I’m ready to scream, and my legs feel like they’re holding up the weight of a jet plane instead of a short, slightly lanky teenager. I just shake my head in despair. “As long as he’s away from the edge, can I at least try to distract him or something until your people can get up there?” The cop thinks for a minute, squinting at my face, probably trying to determine whether I have an ulterior motive or not. Of course I don’t, and you’d know that.

    “I guess I can let you try,” he says, sounding anxious but defeated. He hands me the megaphone. The crowd falls deadly silent as I take a few steps forward.

    Time seems to slow down, as well as my breathing, as I try to gather my thoughts. I have no clue what I’m going to say, but I can only pray that it will make you change your mind. Because when you left, I had no clue why or where you went. Maybe all I really need to say is that I need you to come back and stay with me because you mean so much to me. And I just need you to believe it, and I hope you will. It’s the truth and I don’t know what else to say so please come back down here because I need you and I need things to be alright between us again. I don’t know what’s made you do this but I promise I will work my hardest to fix it if you’d just listen and come down here safely. Please, Christian.

    I close my eyes, and I’m taking a walk, telling you what’s happening, trying to let you live in my world for a bit, to see what this is like for me as I begin. “It’s cold today, and I pull my hat a little farther over my ears to keep the brisk wind from biting at them like tiny piranhas…”

    • jmcody says:

      This had a raw quality to it, much like that biting wind and cold that you made me feel. It also gave me that feeling that you get when you’re in an accident or witness a sudden tragedy, where time seems to slow way down. That’s the kind of magic you have in this.

      I love that song and you just made me go listen to it on youtube. Then I listened to the Jim Carrey version, which if you haven’t seen it, is pretty darn funny, and a good counterpoint to all the tragedy on this prompt! :)

      • Artemis4421 says:

        Thank you very much jmcody! Thought I should tell you that I just watched the Jim Carrey version, and it had me laughing. It really gave me a nice visual and I feel like it really tied in with how everyone else feels when they know someone’s about to hurt themselves. Thanks again.

    • lionetravail says:

      Nice work here… your MC’s decision to invert the story which brought her there speaks to the strong desire she has to convince Christian to step back from that ledge and is a lovely mechanism. I finished the story, thinking: “oh god, i hope he’ll listen long enough to her to be4 hypnotized by the love in her voice!”

    • snuzcook says:

      I read your story, Artemis4421, then watched both YouTubes (Third Eye Blind and Jim Carrey), then read it again. What struck me the first time through I couldn’t quite put into words, but after reading it again, I think what struck me is the way that it has a song quality to it. I love the way it starts and ends with the same refrain. The MC is so vulnerable and yet so determined it is heart breaking. But there is a compelling compassionate quality that is not so much sad as inspiring.

  71. pinkbamboo says:

    I hummed as I walked across the road before I glanced at my wrist for the time. 2 pm. I rolled my eyes when I saw the tiny tattoo peeking out under my watch. That letter X was one of my biggest mistakes in life.

    Right up ahead there was a commotion going on and I walked faster to join the crowd. Everyone was looking up the building and I glanced up to see a man standing at the edge. The police had put up a line to keep the public at a distance. I pushed myself forward to the front of the line.

    “Male, 30 years of age. Austin Barrett” I heard one of the policeman mentioned to the other.

    What? “Excuse me, officer. I need to know. What is this man wearing?”

    The policeman turned to me. “Black shirt with a light green tie”

    Oh no. It’s him. He left home this morning in a black shirt and that green tie with the stripes.

    “Can I get in there and talk to him? I know him” I wanted to cry.

    A few minutes later I was out of the elevator and I ran up the stairs to the roof. There he was, standing at the edge with two policeman standing nearby, apparently trying to coax him to come down.

    “Austin! What are you doing?” I screamed.

    “Alana! What are you doing here?” he frowned.

    “What happened? You were fine when you left home this morning. Please come down so we can talk” I started crying.

    “Al, no one cares about me. I can’t take this” he put his hand on his chest.

    “What are you talking about? Of course everyone cares. You have Sara .. ”

    “Don’t mention her name!” Austin shouted and pointed at me. I was taken aback.

    “Aust, please. Can you come down and talk to me? You’re scaring me. Please come down, please” I pleaded.

    “She cheated on me, Al. I caught her in bed with another man” he spat out the last words.

    I wiped my tears as I shook my head in disbelief. Austin and Sara were getting married this coming summer. She cheated on him? How could she hurt him like this?

    “You don’t believe me?” he looked hurt as he pointed a finger to himself, his eyes wide like he was going crazy.

    “I do. I believe you completely” I nodded repeatedly.

    “I loved that bitch. You know how much I loved her Al? She ripped my heart and stomped it to the ground” he started stomping his foot and I gasped with fear. He was so close to the edge and I can’t imagine him falling over. I can’t lose him.

    “Aust, don’t do that. Please come here, I beg you. Please. She might not love you anymore but I love you” I pointed to myself.

    “We all love you” I added.

    Austin smiled sadly. “I know you do but here’s the best part Al, the man you loved? Xander?”

    My ex boyfriend?

    “That was the man Sara was sleeping with. He lied to you Al. He was fucking my fiance behind your back”

    I’m sorry I brought Xander back home. I’m sorry I introduced him to Sara, I wanted to tell Austin all that.

    “I’m sorry Aust. I’m so sorry” I took a deep breath.

    “Alana, are you okay?” Austin looked concerned.

    “I’m fine. Just the asthma” another deep breath.

    “Take your inhaler out, for fuck sake” he pointed at my bag.

    “No! Not until you come down here and talk it out. I’m not going to let everyone lose you” I shouted back.

    “Alana, stop being stupid”

    “You stop being stupid! Look, we were both cheated on and lied to but you don’t see me standing at the edge of a building, did you? What would you do if you see me standing there? Would you let me jump?” I sat down as my head started spinning.

    Austin hesistated for a bit and I had to get him down soon. I clutched my neck and took a few deep breaths. One of the officer reached for my bag but I grabbed his wrist to stop him.

    “Alana..” Austin finally got down and rushed to me.

    He took out my inhaler and brought it to my mouth.

    “Austin, you chicken shit” I hugged him as I started crying again.

    The crowd at the bottom were clapping and I sighed with relief.

    “You’re right. We’re the victims here” he nodded.

    I nodded with him before he placed a thumb on my wrist tattoo. Just as I was about to pull away from his embrace, Austin whispered in my ear.

    “I took care of them, sis”

    • Well… that ending was unexpected! The dialogue really kept me moving along. Keep up the great work.

    • Critique says:

      This was an engaging story full of ongoing drama – then that last sentence blew it in an entirely different direction. Great job pinkbamboo!

    • Amyithist says:

      This was awesome! Definitely not expected in the ending. Well done! BRAVO!

    • jmcody says:

      The part where he was stomping his foot had me cringing, and of course there was your signature horrific twist at the end! Well played, Pinkbamboo.

      • pinkbamboo says:

        lol signature horrific twist. yes, the part him stomping his foot was heart stopping for me but I felt it was necessary to include that in to show the frustration and also to bring out the fear in MC which was necessary because it brought out the desperation in her to save him

    • lionetravail says:

      Yowza! No wonder he wanted to jump! It wasnt just the pain, but also that he took care of the cheaters. It does beg the question why he didnt take care of himself at the same time, her reaction to that revelation, and where they and their relationship goes from there. Pinkbamboo, i think you should take this and expand it into a full length story, well beyond prompt limits- seriously.

      • pinkbamboo says:

        I’ve never thought of the ‘what happens next’ element for this story lol. Expanding it into a full length story will require some brainstorming and drafts but it’s not impossible. Glad you liked the story :)

    • Reaper says:

      Amazing. I also love the last line. I think jmcody’s description of signature horrific twist at the end just became the best description of your writing ever. You’re always good with powerful emotions, but this was a level above, even for you. I also have to compliment you on the chickenshit line. That speaks volumes to the selfishness of suicide that is often glossed over. Beautiful.

      • pinkbamboo says:

        as always Reaper, you’re generous with your compliments :D

        The chicken shit line felt so natural to be included when you pictured a scene of a sister embracing her brother after almost losing him due to his selfishness..

        I’m happy you guys like the last line and I am excited to see where and what else I can spin in the coming prompts. Thank you for letting me express myself – not that I’m a crazy person *shifty eyes*

  72. Alscott says:

    Someone was trying to inflate a basketball, the only problem being that the ball was inside my head. I was pretty sure the culprit was the beautiful bartender from last night who kept topping off my glass with bottom shelf scotch. One Pepcid, four Advil and a cold shower had done nothing to exorcise the Mad Pumper from inside my skull. So I did the only sensible thing, I went in search of a big plate of greasy food.
    Walking cross-town on 88th, I turned south on to Amsterdam, desperate to reach The Mykonos Coffee Shop and to take the cure from the Greek at the grill.
    The crack of noon in Manhattan on a Sunday rarely draws a crowd for anything that you can’t eat, but yet, turning on to Columbus, I found myself in the midst of a few hundred people on the west side of the street looking upward to the east. I saw my friend Al and the beat Cop Johnson standing together, talking.
    “Hey there love birds, what’s going on?”
    Johnson looked over and then with a stealthy middle finger, flipped me off.
    “Sam, you blind?” Al said, “Look up. They say she’s gonna jump.”
    “Wow…Johnson, any idea who the citizen might be?”
    Johnson leaned in and whispered in my ear, “It’s Maria, Sam. Maria Graber.”
    The basketball in my head exploded.
    “You gotta get me up there, Johnson.”
    “Sam, I don’t think…”
    “You GOTTA get me up there!”

    The living room in the penthouse apartment was packed with cops.
    “Sam Harris,” the Incident Commander bellowed, “why is Miss Graber going to talk with you? She won’t talk to her own family.”
    “Because I’m thinking that she is out on that ledge because of her family.”
    “How do you know that?”
    “She’s a client. Here’s the story.”

    I saw the small, dark haired woman sitting sideways out on the ledge, knees drawn up under the flapping hem of her black dress.
    “Maria, it’s Sam.”
    Nothing.
    “Look, Maria, I’ve got one hell of a hangover and I was thinking we should go over to the Mykonos and…”
    “They know.”
    I exhaled louder and longer than I wanted to, “ We talked about this. You can’t deny who you are Maria, especially if it’s really good. You…”
    “They are going to out me tomorrow Sam. The pictures. The story. Everything.”
    “So, what? This was bound…”
    “They will disown me…cut me off from my family, friends, our Ministry. My life will be over.”
    “No it won’t. Being gay isn’t a crime.”
    “In my world it is a crime, the worst crime. My family will reject me, my father’s competitors will use it against him…I should die.”
    “Maria, NO. Think about Sandra. Think about how much she loves you and how much you love her.”
    “She’s the one, Sam. She’s the one who sent those photos you worked so hard to get back for me to the bloggers. She sold them. It’s over.”
    Acid panic rose in my throat.
    Cops had snuck into positions on either side of the open window. I hoped they were quick.
    In one graceful and smooth motion, I saw Maria stand up and soundlessly face the street.
    “NOW!” I shouted.

    I have never heard that kind of noise before, the noise of hundreds of gasps and screams and shouts that people make when they watch someone, someone real, die.

    • Artemis4421 says:

      Beautiful. The last line really drove the prompt home, and gave me goosebumps. Great job Alscott!

    • jmcody says:

      Your ending made me gasp too. This had a lot or irony in it. It was a very modern tragedy, with secrets leaked to bloggers that go viral and destroy lives. Yet, even in this modern age and in this very modern city where almost anything goes, being outed as gay still precipitates a tragedy. Its hard to believe that this is still such an issue for some people. Interesting commentary and engrossing story.

    • lionetravail says:

      I am working my way through the stories, and i keep seeing awesome and unique takes, and this one is also great. The MC is very believable (and entertaining) and the lighthearted start transitions to shock, hope, and horror. I was right there with thows emotions of the MC! Nicely done.

    • agnesjack says:

      Humor in the beginning and heartbreak and betrayal at the end. The transtition of a regular day morphing into a horrific one, made it feel very real. Well done, Alscot.

  73. jmcody says:

    FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY

    “I will never leave you again.” I hug three-year old Tristan and six-year old Ava. “Ever.”

    “Promise, Mommy?” Ava says quietly, looking up at me through long eyelashes. “No more work?”

    “I promise. Cross my heart, hope to …” I trail off, fighting a wave of vertigo as the shadowy reality of what just happened overcomes me.

    ***
    I was walking –somewhere important, I think.

    Oh, yeah … Ava’s birthday. The kids had a half-day of school, and I thought I’d surprise them at lunchtime with cupcakes from Crumbs. That was the great thing about working so close to home, not to mention being the boss: I could pop in on the kids anytime I wanted.

    Except I rarely did. There was always a deadline to meet or a client to schmooze. It was all so consuming. But the kids had Imelda. They loved her, and she loved them back — fiercely. Almost too much. It was unsettling in a way I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

    Only yesterday Imelda had yelled at me – YELLED at me! — for missing Ava’s umpteenth class party, as if she were the employer and I was the employee. Then she had the audacity to say that I didn’t deserve these kids, and that all those pretend “direct mail letters” that Ava had crayoned (“Act now! Time is running out!”) were her desperate attempts to get my attention. I thought they were cute. Maybe she’ll start her own advertising firm in Manhattan one day just like Mommy.

    I had just enough time to sing Happy Birthday and get back for my two o’clock meeting. I turned the corner onto my block and was greeted by the sight of police cars, rescue vehicles and onlookers clogging the street. I pushed my way through the crowd.

    “What’s going on?” I asked a cop leaning on a yellow police barrier.

    “Jumper,” he said, motioning with his head to the top of a building.

    My building.

    I looked up, and my insides seized.

    “Imelda!” I gasped.

    “Are you Mrs. Sedgwick?”

    “Ms. Sedgwick. I’m divorced… Wait, where are my…”

    “Please come with me, Ms. Sedgwick.”

    Fear froze me to the pavement.

    “Why? Where are my kids?”

    “We’ll explain everything inside.”

    Panic began to rise in my throat, along with the volume of my voice.

    “WHERE ARE MY KIDS???”

    “Please, Ms. Sedgwick, not here.”

    In the marble-paneled lobby, a dispatch of city employees in cheap suits milled about. A man in brown polyester beckoned me to sit in one of the straight-backed wing chairs, but sitting was the last thing on my agenda at the moment. And I was accustomed to giving orders, not taking them.

    I bolted toward the stairs, bypassing the elevator. At the first landing I kicked off my stiletto heels and winged them at the pursuing posse behind me. By the tenth floor my breath was coming in loud gasps and my calves were cramping.

    I burst through my apartment door still clutching the cupcakes, and another cadre of officers jumped up to block my view.

    But I saw.

    The wide-open window in Ava’s room.

    Pink curtains billowing in the breeze.

    I saw.

    “WHERE ARE MY CHILDREN?” I shrieked.

    Now an officer held me by each arm, as I screamed over and over:

    “WHERE ARE THEY?”

    But I knew.

    With the certainty of a mother, I knew. And I knew that they’d be safe in my arms again soon. I yanked free of the officers’ protective grip and still holding the cupcakes, lunged toward the open window where I knew my children would be waiting.

    ***
    The three of us watch from a distance as pandemonium erupts on the street below. Imelda is dragged off the ledge, handcuffed and taken away in an ambulance.

    “‘Melda sick?” Tristan asks tearfully.

    “They’ll take good care of her,” I reassure him. “You’re safe now, and Mommy’s going to stay right here with you.”

    “Forever?”

    “Yes, baby. Forever.”

    • snuzcook says:

      Well done, JM! Very powerful, smoothly written. Throat clutch at the end.

      • snuzcook says:

        My comment was briefer, perhaps, than deserved. The concept of the mother taking the shocking step to join her children in death was a disturbing and strangely positive element. You set up the situation so her decision made perfect sense, and gave the reader the kind and gentle way to accept her actions by showing that her ‘leap of faith’ resulted in the reconciliation that she and her children deeply desired.

        Again, well done!

    • Dennis says:

      Very bittersweet and moving. Tough way to get more time with your kids. Great writing. I see I’m not the only one up writing on Friday night.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I read your story like a freight train coming down a mountain with no brakes for I had to know myself and quickly where were the children. Were they safe? Were they unharmed? Were they hurt or in trama? Niothig else mattered to me and I thanked God for the talent he had given me to read quickly.

        Whew! Thank God.

    • This was incredibly smooth and suspenseful at the same time. Like Kerry, I just had to know what happened to the kids. You never disappoint, jm!

      • rle says:

        Hi JMC, Another wonderful post from you, this one really hit home for me. Like your MC, It seems like I spend all my time chasing the almighty dollar and often put the really important things in life on hold. Thing is, the really important things don’t wait on me. They still have school plays, soccer games, band concerts and a whole host of other things going on, most of which I miss because I’m too busy chasing my tail. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again because I feel so strongly about it: I’m so glad I found this forum and all of you wonderful people. I think I’m at a turning point in my life, I think I know what the really important things are now.

        Then there’s this: technically, we didn’t even post on the same day this time!!

    • jmcody says:

      Thanks Snuzcook, Dennis, Kerry, Bilbo and rle. Unfortunately I think I botched this one.

      Imelda, the crazy nanny, was the only one who lived. The mother took a running leap out the window because she knew the nanny had done something awful to her kids. She ended up giving up her life to be with her kids (in eternity), after spending her life putting her career first. I think maybe Dennis got it, but I’m not sure if it came across clearly to anyone else.

      I think it was a little too subtle. I probably should have had some language showing her actually going out the window. Well, I definitely learned some things from this one, so — mission accomplished, I guess!

      • snuzcook says:

        Not too subtle, JM. I totally got that. It was beautifully done!

        • lionetravail says:

          I would congratulate you on a slick way to end it. The way you have it, its possible to read it either way for the ending you want!

          As in most things, the reader gets out of it what they want… there is wonderful subtlety in the end. If you want to hit us over the head with the grim side, you could tweak it a bit to make it more obvious, but i think its perfectly written to lull the reader (i was) into a happy ending, and then spring on them the denouement. The mother and kids together as spirits was sprung without making us think there was a transition. Maybe a “mommy mommy, we were so scaredd until you came for us, it was so quiet” would telegraph a little more forcefully your deliciously sad twist :)

          • jmcody says:

            Thanks, Lionetravail, for giving me another way to look at it. I tend to like stories that are subtle and allow room for interpretation, but I think this was my first attempt at writing one. This definitely gives me some things to think about and work on, so thanks!

      • Dennis says:

        Thanks for stating that. I thought I maybe mistook the ending after reading other’s comments. It was a little subtle but I think obvious, especially when you used the word “forever”. Again great job.

    • margi33 says:

      I liked this one jmcody. The emotions definitely hit home as a mother. And it was action-packed, strung me along well to get to the ending. I do admit that the ending was a little confusing, but I saw your post explaining it — makes perfect sense but I do agree with you that a little extra explanation might have helped. Good job though overall!

    • Reaper says:

      This is heartwrenching. I don’t think you were too subtle at all. I had a moment where I thought mom had imagined it, but that was false hope quickly torn away. The ending was sad and uplifting at the same time. I don’t think you botched it at all.

      I believe you really stepped out of your comfort zone on this one, and that while the situation is very fictional that you were writing about something very close to your heart. When we, as writers add those two things together we become even more critical of our own work. Which is harsh because we are often already our own worse critics. You could make the ending more obvious, but I think your story would lose something in doing so.

      I kind of feel like we switched places this week. I stepped out of my comfort zone to clear the space for you there. This was amazing and I’m sorry it took me so long to get to it.

    • agnesjack says:

      All I could think of was the newspaper story about the nanny in NY who drowned the children. Whew, jm, you had my heart racing. I hope their mom really will be there for them now, and won’t just hire another nanny to take over. A driven businesswoman like that may not be able to change that easily. Once the shock wears off, the excuses might start to creep in again. Riveting story.

      Oh dear, I peeked at the comments below before hitting “post” and I see that the mom and children did not survive. Oh my, jm. I don’t know whether to cry or scream, because it was all so unnecessary. People who put their career first, just shouldn’t have children. I really did not have much sympathy for the MC at the end. Too late, too late, too late.

      • jmcody says:

        You hit the nail on the head. That was the exact story I was thinking of when I wrote this — every working mother’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, with the state of the economy and the corporate world today, being a working mother is more complicated than ever. It takes a lot to hang on to a job these days. But Ms. Sedgwick here had more choices than most, and she blew it.

        Thanks for reading and commenting!

        • agnesjack says:

          Oh yes, jm. I know how hard it must be to be a working mother in this economy, not from personal experience, but through many close friends, who juggle so much. I agree, though, that Ms. Sedgwick had more choices. Picturing her dropping off the cupcakes, singing a quick Happy Birthday and then rushing out the door, really bothered me. It was such a powerful image.

  74. snuzcook says:

    OUT TO LUNCH

    I was Code 31 on a bright spring morning. I had parked the cruiser and walked down Cherry to Bakemans for an early lunch. I was surprised to see a crowd in front of the place; usually the lunch line for their two-fisted sandwiches didn’t start until 11:30. I heard the call on my lapel radio about the same time I noticed that the crowd on the sidewalk was watching something up above.

    I saw a familiar figure in green tights hanging dangerously off the side of the building.

    “Let me through!” I parted the knot of citizens in front of the door to the upper floor stairwell. I called it in as I ran up the stairs. Raymond was on the fifth floor landing lanai.

    “Hey, Ray. Whatcha doing?”

    “Greetings, Officer Sams! What, did someone phone in a disturbance? Maybe they thought they saw a jumper?”

    “It’s not funny, Ray. You have to stop doing this.”

    “But I have such an audience downstairs at lunchtime.”

    “The owners of Bakeman’s don’t appreciate it. The idea that someone might plunge to their death right outside their door is bad for business.”

    “Bad for business? Look down there. They’ve got twice the usual crowd this time of day, just waiting to see what’ll happen. Hey, look—there’s a news van. They couldn’t pay for this kind of publicity. Excuse me while I make myself presentable.”

    Raymond Tilley, alias RayGun, alias The Ray Man, straightened the lime green spandex suit he was wearing, tucked wisps of hair into his skin-tight hood, and set his wrap-around slit sunglasses in place. He looked like a fugitive from a 1960s low budget science fiction movie.

    “Ray, let’s not do this again. You’re not a prince from another planet. The mother ship is not coming for you today. You do this every May 17th, and every May 18th you end up in the drunk tank. You’ve been doing this for six years and it’s time to try something different. Like a job. Or therapy.”

    “I tried. People don’t understand me.”

    “Come on, Ray. Let me take you home.”

    “No! They’re coming for me today. I’m certain this time. I’ve seen the signs.”

    A gust of wind spewed grit from the decaying brick building into my eyes. “Come on, Ray. I mean it.” I squinted as I grabbed for his arm. He grinned impishly at me and grabbed my wrist to avoid being held. He was balancing now on the balls of his feet, his back to open air. I had put my free hand up to protect my eyes from another onslaught of wind-driven grit, when I felt him release my wrist.

    “Ray!” I leaned over the balcony, but there was no lime green spandex in sight. The crowd below seemed confused. Ray had fallen into empty air and simply vanished.

    My back up arrived, but there was little I could tell them. Ray was there one minute, and with a gust of wind he was gone. The local news had a field day. ‘Mystery Man Eludes Police in Space Ship.’ I managed to avoid being interviewed; there was really nothing I could say.

    • Dennis says:

      Fun read. I knew the Mother ship was out there somewhere.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        What a terrific imagination you cranked up for your story. Sometimes in life the belief is all that matters, not the reality. The belief that the Holy Spirit exists, causes the Holy Spirit to exist in the believer and this is what life is always about. Believe in angels and they will surround and protect you.

        Believe in Christ and you are saved. Believe in your self and your path way will rise up to meet you and the wind will be at your back. So why not believe in a space ship?

        What a wonderful story, spandex, lime green included.
        Wow!

        • snuzcook says:

          Great observation, Kerry! We live our lives leaning into the wind that is our heart’s belief in Grace. How we name it and how we define it can be different, but what makes us human (?) is that we are cognizant of it. Perhaps like Dorothy it is all just ruby slippers, and we hold the power within our selves anyway. But belief is a wondrous thing.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thank you, Dennis. I had to lighten it up a little after my first post.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, Dennis. I think it is circling still…

    • Ha! :-) I like aliens, and I liked his outfit, so this was a really inventive response.

    • jmcody says:

      What a quirky, fun story that bursts the bubble we call “reality.” I liked Kerry’s commentary, that it’s what we believe that matters. Cool story, Snuzcook.

    • Reaper says:

      This kind of takes the X Files and slaps them in the face with light hearted awesome. That is the only way I can describe what I felt reading this.

  75. rle says:

    As I stepped from the cool comfort of our building’s lobby into the noon time city street, a wave if thick, sickening hot air opened it’s jaws and swallowed me whole. I knew by the time I’d walked the block and a half to Mancuso’s Deli, I’d be drenched in sweat. However, the promise of roast beef and Swiss on whole wheat drew me further into the sea of humanity and searing heat. The past three days had seen temperatures rise well into the mid-nineties and it appeared this day would be no different. Little did I know, just how different this day would be.

    I had’t gone a full thirty feet before I noticed a small crowd forming at the foot of our building. Some of them whispered, some of them shouted and all of them gazed skyward. I almost didn’t break stride, but who of us can walk by a group of people staring at something and not want to catch a glimpse?

    The high noon sun made it difficult to see just what the commotion was all about, but as I held my open hand over my eyes to shield the glare, I could make out the figure of a man sitting on the roof of the building with his legs dangling over the edge. I shifted slightly to get a better view and it wasn’t until then that I realized who the man was. I felt my knees buckle and I fell to the filthy sidewalk. The world went black. The man on the roof was me.

    When my eyes snapped open, I nearly lost my balance. As I looked to the street twenty stories below me, I wondered how and why I ‘d let my life come to this. Suicide had only entered my mind infrequently over the last twenty years, but over the last five years or so, it had increasingly came to the forefront of my thoughts. No one single event had led me to this rooftop. The journey had been slow. Life hadn’t exactly worked out according to my blueprint. I was nearly fifty and had long ago abandoned the vigor of my youth. I was a mid-level manager and not a CEO. My family and I still lived in an average apartment downtown and not a cozy split level in the suburbs. My children were approaching adulthood and didn’t need me as they had not so long ago. My wife was distant and hard to talk with. Generally, I just didn’t have much to look forward to.

    I’d nearly decided to take my final plunge when I felt a firm, gentle hand on my shoulder. I turned around slowly only to look into the tear filled eyes of my father.

    “Don’t do this son,” he choked as he reached his other hand out to me. “You have a whole lot more to live for than you know.”

    I took his hand and spun around. I stood up and leaned into his loving embrace. “Why dad, Oh why?” I sobbed as I buried my face in his shoulder.

    “I don’t know son,” he cried. I felt his body heave and shudder.

    When I pulled back, I met the kind and understanding eyes of one of Baltimore’s finest. I forced a smile. Regardless how bad things might seem now, I knew everything was going to be okay. Undoubtedly, my future was going to be filled with psych evaluations, counseling sessions and medications, but I was alive, and I would continue to live, not only for my family but for myself.

    As strange as it sounds, I was certain that my father had saved my life from beyond this world. I never mention to anyone about seeing him that day on the roof. No one would believe me, after all, my father committed suicide thirty five years ago.

    • snuzcook says:

      Eerie tale, rle. You have created so many interesting intersections with alternative reality.
      Is the MC on the sidewalk the actual person who is able to foresee and avoid tragedy, or is the experience with the father on the roof the actual experience? I like the propositions you have made here about our ability to receive intervention in times of crisis.

    • Dennis says:

      Very moving, made me appreciate life that much more. Nice writing.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I was there with you when your Father came to you. I have the tears that you wrote about. Somehow this really touched me. My Father’s been gone thirty five years and yet he’s still here. He’s part of me. I struggle sometimes not to accept the fact and then I remember, ‘My Father is me, I look like him, I think as he does and sometimes I don’t treat those I love as I should and so did my Father.

        Do I believe your story? Of course I do.

    • jmcody says:

      There’s a fine line between psychotic break and spiritual experience, and this story nimbly walks that line. I only think this because of how he went from standing on the sidewalk to seeing himself on the roof to being on the roof. Otherwise I would have gone with spiritual experience. Excellent writing, and a very subtle, though-provoking piece.

      On the subject our seeming synchronicity: I think the spell has been broken by Snuzcook! I went to post around 12:30 last night, and sure enough, yours was at the top. Yes, way. But then, when I hit “post” Snuzcook’s story had gotten in there just before mine. Even so, the timing is still a little eerie, don’t you think?

    • Reaper says:

      rle this hits me for some personal reasons that I will not share because they involve my father and grandfather. However this strikes me as so real and powerful because of them and I thank you for that. The only justice I can do your story is this, and it may be confusing but it means a lot to me.

      I just started trying to quit smoking full bore again. I was in the middle of an intense nic fit when I started this, and your story soothed that need. It is that life affiming and powerful.

  76. Augie says:

    “I’m sick of the desert! I’m sick of smelling rotting flesh, and I sick of these damn camel spiders!”

    ‘Smash, Smash, Stomp, Stomp, Squish’

    “Dude, shut up, sit down, and eat your MRE. Today’s special is ‘shit on a shingle’!”

    I wipe the sweat off my forehead, forgetting the hard knuckle gloves I’m wearing. The glove combined with many layers of sand, peel off a layer of skin. “Shit!”

    We weren’t scheduled to airlift out for another 96 hours! Where to next? Who cares! Where ever the bad guys dwell!

    I am the First Line Gunner, and these men were my responsibility. Our mission, sniper support for the ‘jar heads’, as they rampaged through the crappy remains of each town. I felt sorry for them, Kicking in doors and exploring every war battered structure. Behind any door could be and IED or enemy with an AK.

    All my respect’s to the Marines, even though we like to tease.

    1000+ yards away dug in the dune, were able to relax a bit more than them.

    “Target acquired”, blasted through my ear piece.

    I rush to shooters position.

    “What cha’ got Scorp?”

    “One of ours………. Marine………..Top of center tower………Looks like explosives around his waist”

    Scorp began calling out to his spotter, “wind-age?”… .. “Range?”…….

    ‘Chunk, Chunk!’ He cycled the 50 cal. round in his MS.

    “On your orders Augila, I have acquisition”

    “Shit!” I look through the spotting scope, just below the tower was 20+ jar heads eating chow!

    I recognize this Marine! He sat with me in the chow hall in Coronado before we deployed. Southern born and proud to serve! The is no way he would commit suicide and take out his brothers at the same time!

    “STOP! DO NOT ENGAUGE! STAND DOWN, STAND DOWN!”

    The spotter looked up at me. “Gunner, you getting a little soft on us? What happened to ‘an objective is an objective?”

    I kept my spotting scope locked on the Marine.

    “ Scorp, I don’t see a detonator!

    It looks like his hands could be zip-tied behind his back!

    He was captured! Some one broke protocol and left him alone!

    They want us to take the shot!

    We take the shot, he explodes, and the rubble from the tower crushes the Marines below.

    We don’t take the shot, and they remote detonate him anyway.

    We warn the Marines, and they detonate him.

    They are playing with us!

    They can see us! Find him!”

    I barked out orders the way a seasoned warrior would….

    “Shift to infrared…. load HE VT rounds…. 360 sweep!”

    I spoke into my helmet mic, “Reaper, I want you to get to that tower. I know its risky, I’ve got your 6.”

    Damn! I added another possible loss to the equation, but this is what we do.

    Scorp was the first find the objectives glowing image through his IR scope.

    “Its the bad guy” “Hiding behind some serious concrete!” “Good call on the HE VT!”

    I yelled out, “ PAINT HIM NOW! ALL SNIPERS, FIRE AT WILL!”

    The High Explosive rounds strike the building producing a crimson cloud. Beauty to the eyes!

    The Marines below shouted out, “ ARRRR UUUU GAAAA!”

    Reaper was almost at the tower, I hope he doesn’t try to tandem chute this poor Marine back down!

    The only easy day, was yesterday.

    • Augie says:

      sorry for three post, being deployed is boring.

      • lionetravail says:

        Don’t apologize for writing stuff for a writing site! :)

        It was a neat take on the prompt… probably could have edited more to smooth it out (which is something I tell myself about 3 minutes after every time I click ‘POST COMMENT’!)

        Was exciting, and the short lines totally worked for the high speed portion of the scene.

    • snuzcook says:

      This is a really fascinating and intense take on the prompt, Augie! Hugely visual and evocative. I’d take jerrymanders over this type of deadly game any day. The last line is pure gold.

    • Dennis says:

      Another nice post Augie. It is nice to have something like your military experience to tap into for your writing. Where are you deployed to?

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank God for you and all those who are standing with you in harms way. What a fiercely eciting story you’ve written. Reminds of a guy named Ernie Pyle. Look him up if you’re not familiar. Thanks for the story.

      • Augie says:

        Dennis:
        I want to say, “arg matie, don cha know dat loose lips sink ships?” In regards to the last prompt.

        lets just say, I am at ‘the safe side’ of the scope.

        Thank you for your comments. I’m a ‘wanna be’ writer and reading all the wonderful post here is like getting ‘mail call’, every hour!

    • That was pretty intense. A really good idea, too. Keep up the good work, and, also, thanks for all you do for the country. My dad was deployed three different times, almost five, but he was mostly on the “safe side” too.

    • jmcody says:

      Wow, that was intense. Augie, you are adding a whole new dimension to this forum with your Marine stories, and its obvious they all have at least some basis in reality. You’ve really got some great stories to tell, and the talent to tell them. Above all, you are honoring your fellow marines by telling their stories. Nice work, and thank you for your service to this country.

      • Augie says:

        Thank You jmcody. I was told by my wife, “write what you know”. It works in the military community, and I am testing it in yours.

        Also… all that serves are ‘brothers’ to me, (regardless of gender by the way)

        But I am not a Marine. I am In the Navy… and most of my characters are real and we do have many, ‘fire talks’

    • Reaper says:

      First, let me add my voice to the thank you for what you do sentiment.

      Second, my father and brother were both marines and I believe they would say the world was ending if there was not shit flung between the Marines and the Nave.

      Third, Damn! I am in love with that last line. I think The Only Easy Day would be an amazing title for a novel written in your style with that sentiment.

      Last. Years ago I saw True Romance in the theater. There is a gunfight in the movie, towards the end. It is one of the three all time best firefights in cinema in my opinion. Part of what made it that was how hectic it was. There is constant noise, the camera switches point of view constantly and you can not keep up with what is going on. In any other situation that would be annoying and ruin the scene for me. In that case it made me think, this is what being in the middle of a large scale gun battle must actually be like, you wouldn’t be able to keep track of everything, it would be chaos. What you did here reminds me of that. I saw no errors, I am sure they were there but they worked in your favor because they added to the intense, fast paced flow and made me realize I was in the middle of a situation where I was so out of my depth I have no chance of rescue.

      • Augie says:

        Once again… Thank you for your comments. I am glad that you understand the humor with jar heads and squids. I once told a ‘very large’ marine sniper,

        “You know the Marines are Department of the Navy! Your the only branch that doesn’t have its own!

        He looked at me with his experienced eyes of death and smirked,

        “That’s because the Navy needs a ‘MENS’ department!

        I was too nervous to respond, then he bear-hugged me and laughed.

  77. snuzcook says:

    The narrator here didn’t need to be a clergyman; he could have been a counselor, a social worker, a nurse, a lay minister–anyone who rolls up their sleeves and stands witness to human tragedy. But somehow I saw him as I present him here.

    GAME OVER

    I had a bad feeling when I saw the knot of people on the curb in front of the dry cleaner on the corner. Everyone was looking up. I looked, too. A man was sitting on the sill of an upper floor window, his legs dangling above the street. I knew him.

    I introduced myself to a police officer who glanced at my collar and directed me upstairs to a small furnished room. The man’s body filled one of the two windows, bracing himself securely against the frame.
    The other window was open. I went to it and leaned out.

    “Hello, Michael.”

    “Well, look who’s here. What do you want?”

    “I’m here to help, if I can.”

    “Help, ha! That’s real funny.”

    “You don’t have to do this, Michael. There are other ways.”

    “Yeah? Like what, Father? Shrinks? Pills? I’ve tried them. They don’t work!”

    “But you can’t give up hope, Michael. There’s always hope.”

    “Hope for what? For a normal life? For a family? I’m sixty years old. I can’t start over. Time’s up. I’m all out of nickels.”

    “I know losing Shirley was hard…”

    “Hard? Hard for who? You’re the one that was by her bedside. Was it hard to watch her die? I couldn’t. She didn’t want me there.”

    “She wasn’t strong enough.”

    “It was the same when Ben died. She pushed me away. She blamed me. It wasn’t my fault. No way it was my fault. But she blamed me.”

    “She couldn’t help it. Parents often blame each other at first for a child’s death, when it is just too much to grasp. ”

    “She didn’t have to! You could have made her come back to me! But, no, you were the one she leaned on. It was like you were her lover, the way she needed you.”

    “You’re upset.”

    “Don’t they teach you, you priests, that human beings are fragile? Don’t they teach you to keep your hands off our hearts?”

    Michael’s angry face crumbled in on itself to a puckered portrait of grief. His body rocked with his sobs and he appeared to lose his balance for a moment. The crowd below murmured loudly.

    “Michael, come back inside. Let’s talk about this.”

    “There’s nothing to talk about.”

    “Come back inside. Maybe you’re right. Let’s say I did step outside the lines and I’ve wronged you. You have to give me a chance to make it right. Let’s talk about it. You can even contact my superiors if you want. I’ll help you write the letter.”

    I noticed Michael’s posture shift. It was the moment that I knew meant there was a chance. He had glimpsed empowerment in the midst of despair.

    “I need your help, Father. I can’t get back inside by myself.” He reached his hand toward me on the outside of the building, reaching toward my window. His need was palpable and I could not refuse him. I leaned out as far as I could and grasped his outstretched hand.

    At the last moment I realized he was very securely braced, and stronger than I. I looked into his eyes and knew. Just before he yanked, I knew this had really all been about revenge. And in that moment I knew I was all out of nickels.

    • Critique says:

      Oh no. That is not one of those feel good endings ;( Revenge, holding grudges and hate towards others is so destructive.You told this well. I liked the ‘all out of nickels’ phrase.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thank you, Critique. These characters drew from me the need to express and acknowledge bitterness and helplessness that leads to resentment. The human reaction is not always open to reconciliation or healing. We do our best, and it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes the best we can accomplish is a new parable for the human condition.

    • lionetravail says:

      Great story Snuzcook! Love the backstory secured in such a short piece, and powerfully told.

    • Dennis says:

      Great twist. Just when you thought there was hope as the Father mentioned, the tables turned. I enjoyed the dialogue. Great way to introduce backstory.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I didn’t expect the reality would shove itself right in my face! Well written, you take the reader right to the cliff and then push him off. No sunshine and roses here, just brutal, unrelenting reality. A very powerrful story. I only wish I had that cup of coffee when I woke up. The shock is running down through my gut.

    • pinkbamboo says:

      love this piece. although it was a tragic ending but i like the conversation and the last minute of hope being yanked out under him twist.

    • jmcody says:

      This was, obviously, a tragedy all around, but it touched on something deeper that I am seeing a lot of in the collective psyche today — the need to blame and punish others when things go wrong. People get sick, relationships crumble, things fall apart, and everyone dies eventually, but when it happens, there’s a tendency to want to pin the blame on someone or something. I think its a kind of entitlement mentality that says nothing bad should ever happen to me, and if does, someone else must pay. You’ve written a very provocative piece.

      Let me also just say, in case I haven’t already, that I am a huge fan and that you are massively talented.

    • don potter says:

      I was reading along going down the all’s well that ends well path and suddenly was yanked out the window by the jumper. Nicely done.

    • Reaper says:

      The dialogue in this is amazing and real. So much power here as others have mentioned. I realized just a moment before your narrator what was going to happen.That actually made me like him more. People have mentioned the revenge, despair, and entitlement. So I will add my voice to those. There is a second power here that struck me.

      It is in your narrator. That hope, the belief, the love he felt for this other man. His ability to accept blame that was not his and still hold his hand out to another person in a situation that was dangerous for him made him beautiful to me. Because of that I think you were wrong in your notes above. I think he needed to be a clergyman. I say your mind read you right because of that unrelenting love and faith that many would not have, and because that vocation is one of the few that did not lead my mind to speculation that he might have slept with this other man’s wife during the split.

      Amazing job here, as always.

    • agnesjack says:

      Wow, snuzcook, you are on a roll. This was a very disturbing and powerful story about a man who couldn’t pull himself out of the abyss of the “why me” part of grief. His bitterness just ate away at whatever heart he might have had. I read in a grief book once that the hole left in your heart after a loss is where you will find the love. This poor soul never bothered to look for the love underneath all the pain.

      • snuzcook says:

        That’s a really deep statement from the grief book. That is the last place we want to look when there has been a loss–I guess that’s why healing is considered hard work.

  78. RuthieShev says:

    Cellophane

    The trouble with working in New York everything is so hectic. Fifteen minutes to go eat and be back at the publishing house working.

    “Sorry Sir I didn’t see you there.” I apologized for bumping into a police officer. Barely noticing me, he kept reading details from a notebook to another officer. He said, “Nelle Summers is the name of the jumper.” Shocked, I glanced at the top of a large building to see a young girl perched on the edge, looking straight ahead oblivious to the crowd quickly gathering beneath her.

    “Oh my goodness I know her!” I spoke the words out loud without even realizing it. The officer yelled, “Captain Cody over here. This woman knows the Jumper.”

    Captain Cody immediately barked questions at me. “How well do you know the girl on the ledge?”
    “Ummm. she works in my building. I see her every day. We talk sometimes but I don’t know a much about her.”

    He questioned “Can you tell me why she would want to jump?”

    “I actually don’t know. I guess I didn’t pay that much attention to her. I know she told me once her family died in a car crash in which she was the only survivor.”

    “Would you consider talking with her” requested Captain Cody.

    I hesitated thinking how busy work was today but seeing the anxious look on the Captain’s face, I relented.
    The Captain accompanied me up the elevator to the top floor. I saw an officer talking quietly out the window. “What if I say the wrong thing?”

    The Captain told me to just talk from my heart. He explained that sometimes a familiar face helps.

    I leaned out the window with a simple “Hi Nelle”. I was going to ask her how she was but that seemed silly since I knew she wasn’t doing well. How would I feel if she jumped because of me? “Nelle, is there anything I can do to help you”, I asked.

    Nelle said, “I’m surprised you even know my name. Most people at work don’t.” I didn’t want to tell her that I only remembered her name because that was the name of the poodle I had when I was a little girl.
    “Of course I do Nelle. That has always been one of my favorite names.”

    “Cellophane, that’s me. I heard it in a musical once and thought how well it fit me. I am like the guy in the song, plain ordinary cellophane. Everyone looks right through me and never even notices who I am.”
    I thought, “that could be me.” I have often felt unnoticed in this busy world.

    “I am feeling a little frazzled myself. How about we change all that and talk over lunch. I’m starving and could use a friend’s company.”

    “Are you sure”, asked Nelle. Seeing me shake my head affirmative, she quietly turned around and came in the building.

    • snuzcook says:

      A very positive take on the prompt, RuthieShev. You have portrayed this lonely, disengaged Nelle very well in so few words. Your story draws empathy from the reader–well done.

    • lionetravail says:

      I agree with Snuzcook- it’s a great story. I have a suggestion, of course…

      Towards the end, Nelle’s despondent “Cellophane, that’s me” statement is great. Your MC’s response: I thought “that could be me”, tells us you’ve got empathy for her situation, but you have an opportunity to show the readers that in a powerful way, instead of telling us:

      [Oh my god, I felt like that more often than not! (Your MC thinks)

      Nelle must have seen it in my face. "You too?" she asked, disbelievingly.]

      It is a nicely positive piece about two people bonding because of their empathy- showing that bonding process, especially after the “I only remembered her name because of pet poodle” in the earlier paragraph, would just amp up the emotional charge you’ve set up so nicely, I think.

      I look forward to your next story!

    • Dennis says:

      It was nice feeling the connection develop between the two. It’s amazing how such intense things can lead such great moments. Nicely written.

    • Critique says:

      The MC’s kindness brought her full circle when she realized she understood and shared Nelle’s feelings of isolation. I enjoyed this RuthieShev.

    • jmcody says:

      Sometimes the simplest words or gestures can have an enormous impact when they let suffering person know they are not alone. When something terrible happens to a friend, we often struggle over finding just the right words to say, but the answer is not in the words that you say, but in the fact of your presence, and the fact that you care enough to show up. I think this simple fact is what you have illustrated here in dramatic fashion. Nicely done.

    • Reaper says:

      This is good. A nice sadness throughout with an uplifting ending. Most of what I have read in the comments says a lot of what I would have said so I will focus on two things I think you spoke to here that I have not seen touched on.

      I liked that you brought out without directly saying it the way we all feel invisible. You have a jumper that is up there because of something we all feel at times these days. Random anonymity that can not be avoided leads to those moments of where we feel invisible, some people more often than others and to more devastating affect. This seems to happen most often when we are in a crowd. It is a powerful thing that we usually just ignore. That was why the subtle thought and it being ignored by your possible jumper worked for me.

      The second is the capacity for human kindness. The solution to that problem is inside all of us, but we feel small. We think our actions don’t matter and people don’t really want us to reach out to them, because if they did they would reach out to us. So we hold those miracles inside until a big thing forces them out. Then we think, we were just being a friend and don’t realize the power we just wielded. As I have come to expect from you in a short time this is a very human and powerful story. It has strong lessons to teach us about simple kindness and the act of living. Thank you for this.

    • agnesjack says:

      The simple power of kind attention to someone who feels invisible, a state that many of us have probably felt in our lives. Nice story.

  79. Barouches says:

    Strange how the chain of events link together sometimes.

    I was tired of the usual tuna fish that typically rode the brown bag to my work station at my summer job in the copy department, so I decided to change it up today of all days. The wall of humid summer air fist-bumped my face as I exited the office building, and headed for the Starbucks a block up the street for something less ‘budgety’. Mom said we had to save the money right now ‘cause things were about to get tight, but a body wants what a body wants, and right now my body wanted a chicken salad pita, and a mocha macchiato. I’m supposed to stay away from the caffeine, but, like I said, the body wants what the body wants.

    I had just rounded the sidewalk, and could see about half a block down that a large crowd of people blocked my route to ‘Bucky’s’, so I crossed the street. I just needed lunch. I was famished, and I wasn’t going to fight my way through that group.

    As I continued on my way to the coffee shop a police cruiser pulled up, and parked on my side of the street, but I was only mildly aware. I had taken notice of the person on a fourth story ledge that had prompted the group of gawkers.

    “Are you kidding me?!” I said, mostly to myself as I shielded my eyes from the noontime sun. I hadn’t been aware that I had been walking in the direction of the ‘jumper’ until I missed the step from the curb to the roadway, and nearly sprawled on the asphalt.

    “Careful there young lady.” Said the officer.

    “Sir.” I said, trying to fumble with what to do next. “I know that guy, can I just get up there to talk to him. Please.” Before I knew it, the officer had me in the window to Chris’ right.

    He wouldn’t look away from the ground, but he recognized my voice when I said his name to let him know that I was there.

    “My life is over.” He finally said.

    “No it’s not.” His eyes flirted in my direction, but quickly returned to the ground below.

    “I’m only sixteen, and my life is over. I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready for any of this, and I haven’t even told my folks yet.”

    “Chris…” I said.

    “I’m not going to graduate, I have to quit school, and…”

    “Chris”, I interrupted without pausing this time. “You are going to start junior year this September just like the rest of us…”

    He glanced my way preparing to interrupt again, and I blurted.

    “I’m not pregnant.” He remained quiet for a long time.

    “No?”

    “No.”

    It was a lie.

    Two weeks later, though, it would prove to be truth.

    Strange how the chain of events link together sometimes.

    • Critique says:

      Your MC is a saint! She saved Chris’s life – the selfish jerk. It was all about him. Guess whose life will dramatically change. The way they interacted showed their true colors well. Nicely done Barouches.

      • Barouches says:

        Thank you for the kind words, Critique. Been away for about a year copywriting, but came back cause I was feeling the itch. I wouldn’t go so hard on Chris though, he’s just a kid….;-)

    • snuzcook says:

      Your story really shows how incredibly serious and devastating everything can seem sometimes, and then again how fleeting. This feels like just the start of a deeper story about chains of events. Nicely done!

      • Barouches says:

        So true! He would have ended life when it was just beginning for him, over something that was just serving as a temporary lesson. I was afraid to leave the ending with so little explanation when she miscarried; some might mistake it for abortion, but then again, did it matter how it ended? The point was the irony of how things seem to work out. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond, snuzcook!

    • lionetravail says:

      What a great reveal! When you chose to use: “His eyes flirted in my direction” (I wondered why ‘flirted’ on the first read through, and then when I finished, I said “aha!”)

      I guess the only thing to say is: “Hmmph, kids these days!”

    • Dennis says:

      It is sad to hear how many teens ponder suicide in a major way. All those damn hormones amplify everything. Glad Chris chose the better path. I was wondering what it was going to take to get him off the ledge.

  80. Critique says:

    Cody had come to hate the commute to work on his bicycle after weeks of gloomy weeping skies. This morning he slept in – a feverish baby kept him and his wife up most of the night – and when the bike hydroplaned on Westmount Bridge he lost control and blew a tire.

    Their goals to cut corners and save for a condo down payment were sucking the joy out of life.
    He arrived late to work, sweating and dirty.

    At lunchtime waiting in the drizzle at the hotdog stand he noticed a crowd in front of the old Merchant Hotel. Emergency vehicles blocked the road. He wandered closer downing his hotdog in hungry bites.

    Cody’s heart accelerated when he saw a man standing on the balcony ledge twenty stories up. Giant air mattresses lay on the ground.

    Next to a police car he overheard some officers talking.

    “We’ve got a jumper – a male – at the Merchant Hotel on Main.”

    “Anyone identify him?”

    “Yeah. He’s one of the moguls that lost his shirt to the Green Ponzi scheme. His name’s Winston Smythe.”

    Cody froze in shock. The Smythe’s were his next door neighbours growing up. Winston’s son, Marley, was one of his best friends.

    “Excuse me. I know that guy.” He pointed up. “He’s a family friend.”

    The crowd gasped as Winston teetered then sat down dangling his legs over the edge.

    “We haven’t been able to contact any family.”

    “His wife passed away a year ago and Marley – his only son – lives in Australia.” Cody said. “I know he would talk to me.” He pulled out his credentials. “My name is Dr. Roberts. I’m a psychologist.”

    Minutes later Cody entered the hotel room on the twentieth floor.

    Poking his head cautiously out the sliding doors he came face to face with the distraught man.

    “Hey Mr. Smythe. It’s been a long time.” He spoke gently.

    “Cody? What are you doing here?” The despondent man eyed him warily. “This isn’t your concern son.”

    “Mr. Smythe did you know Michelle and I had a baby?“ Cody approached the man slowly on the balcony. “We named him Timothy Winston, after you.”

    “Stay back Cody.” Winston’s eyes were watery. “I’ve thought this through.”

    “Timothy’s christening is next month and we want you to come.” He needed to keep the man distracted.

    “Have you talked to Marley?” Cody inched closer. “We face timed a month ago. He got to meet Timothy.”

    Winston looked down at the street below.

    Cody lunged, head-locked the older man and pulled him backwards onto the balcony. He held him in a bear hug until the emergency personnel arrived.

    “I can’t go on without Helen. She was everything to me.” Winston sat sobbing on the concrete floor his head in his hands. “I’ve lost everything.”

    Cody knelt beside him.

    He noticed the rain had stopped. The sun peeked though the clouds.

    “Mr. Smythe everything is going to be okay.”

  81. Licius Cashmere says:

    There I was walking down the street, at that second all I was thinking about was lunch menus. Then all of a sudden I see dozens of cop cars lined outside a building. I thought it was just another robbery, but I was wrong. It was actually something bigger than that, it was a guy standing at the end of a building trying to jump.

    I was thinking of watching, but I thought it might be weird. a police rushes over to me, and told me to move back. He told me that the situation was serious.then I heard the sound of a wacky tacky, and he manchend the name of the guy, I couldn’t believe it. It couldn’t have been someone that I know.

    At that point I rushed over to the nearest door opening and rushed right into the building. There were a lot of stars too walk up, because they turned of the power of the building. I couldn’t let this person die when I could do something to help. I didn’t know what I was going to get myself into, I didn’t know if I was going to get arrested if the guy dies, but I do know that I needed to help him even if it meant going to prison.

    I finally got up all the stairs, it was a good exercise. When I opened the door, There he was standing there. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, I didn’t want to scare him so i slowly walked over to him. I didn’t know what pushed him too doing this. For a second I thought that he was selvage, because he was leaving his two kids and a wife.Then I realized that he had more problems, that he didn’t tell me.

    when I got to him, he got afraid. He then pulled out a gun, I was afraid, not for his life, but for mine. I told him to put the gun down, but he didn’t listen. Then I asked him nicely to sit down. He asked me if I was the only one up here, then I answered him and said yes. Then a second later he sat down. I thought that I was helping him, but he didn’t need help, he needed to know something that only his wife could answer.

    I didn’t know what to do but listen. After a hour later I finally learned why he was going to jump, or shoot himself. I sat there saying nothing, looking all shocked. He told me that his wife was leaving him, and shes taking his kids. That wasnt even the worst part. My friend has only a few days to live, so he decided to end his pain.

    After thinking it over in my head, I took out his gun, and shoot him. I never thought that I could do what I just did, but my actions that day showed that MEN can do anything, even kill their best friend. I didn’t go to prison, because I was too much of a coward too tell what happened. The cops thought that the guy shoot himself, but I am living knowing what I have done. Sometimes I would like to think that I did it out of love, but I did it because I was in love with his wife. I never relieve the past, but this memory never goes away.

  82. moscoboy says:

    Hey Up There

    I was on my way to lunch when I noticed a group of people in front of The Wedge building in downtown Houston. As I neared the tumult I recognized a policeman who did security work in the afternoon directing traffic.

    “What’s up officer?”

    “It’s a woman named Nina Pitts,” said Officer Benson. “She’s been on the ledge for an hour. Her pastor and our psychologist have tried to talk her down, but it seems like she is determined to jump.”

    “I know Nina, we’re in a writer’s group, can I get clearance to try and talk her down?”
    “Let me go speak with the sergeant.” He went to the front of the building and consulted with his superiors and motioned to me to come forward. The police psychologist gave me a few pointers on the does and don’t for a potential jumper.

    Per police department’s precautions, I was strapped into a body harness with a cable that was attached to a steel column. I was issued a set of black non-slip service shoes. A well-meaning detective handed me a pocket bible. I went out to the patio and climbed over the cold chrome railing and worked my way over the guano-covered ledge next to Nina.
    “What are you supposed to be Frank?”
    “At this point, I don’t know. It’s a lot windier up here than it is on the street. Can I buy you a cup of coffee so we can sort this out?”
    “If you’re serious about helping me, undo your harness and hold my hand and we’ll jump together.”
    “I don’t know you that well to jump with you, but we’ll miss your contributions to our writing group. I’m waiting on my second draft service to get back to me on my manuscript. What about you Nina, is this about all of those rejections you’ve been receiving?”
    “They make it sound so easy,” her mascara ran sideways on her cheeks, “just pay for a few webinars, buy their books on writing and you’ll be a published author. FUCK, I’ve put so much of myself into my work and it hurts so much. Please let me die.”

    “By the way there is a guy on the sidewalk with a lens that’s at least three feet long taking crotch shots while his partner is on the phone to TMZ.” I thought she was going to break her neck as she turned to look into my eyes.

    “Those fucking vultures, I refuse to give them the satisfaction of up-skirting me before I die.”

    “Come with me. I know a lawyer who’ll sue those perverted a-holes.” Nina grabbed my hand and worked her way towards me until she was able to thread her thin arms through my harness.
    “With the money we get from those ass holes we can self publish and use this experience as a basis for an excellent novel.”
    She pressed her face into my shoulder and cried, “You’re a terrible liar and a good friend.”

  83. AnnewithanE says:

    Saving a Life
    I’m walking to this little soup place I know, hoping to erase my hangover with something healthy. Maybe cream of mushroom. Or the mother of all cures, chicken noodle.
    Suddenly, I see a crowd gathered as I’m passing the Monadnock Building at Jackson and Dearborn in Chicago. It’s not the tallest edifice in the Loop, but its architecture makes it one of the most interesting.
    I look up, and a woman is standing on the narrow ledge of the top floor like she’s going to jump. I guess it doesn’t matter how tall the building is; the result will probably be the same.
    Curiosity gets the better of my hangover, and I join the crowd thinking I can watch a minute or two, get lunch, and be back at my desk on time. My boss doesn’t like extended leaves of absence.
    By coincidence, I’m standing next to a member of the Chicago Police Department. Officer Who (I can’t see his badge) is talking on the phone to someone who seems to have learned the name of the woman on the ledge.
    “Vivian Rotello,” he says. “Okay.”
    I look up. Vivian looks familiar, although I can’t quite place how I know her. My hangover throbs. My eyes squint. My breath pulls in as I stare at the woman. Then it dawns.
    I tap the officer on the shoulder. He turns.
    “Sir, I know that woman. I’m not sure, but I think I can get her to go inside.”
    He wears a skeptical look, as if I’m as looney as she. As if he wishes he were elsewhere.
    “What is there to lose?” I ask when he doesn’t respond.
    He shrugs and hands me a bullhorn. I put it to my lips.
    “Vivian,” I shout, and the recognition of her name gets her attention.
    “Vivian, don’t you remember? You promised that we would jump together. You promised, so I don’t understand why you’re on the ledge alone. Why aren’t I there with you?”
    The policeman stares at me, but I put my hand up in the “Halt” gesture.
    “Vivian,” I yell as the crowd quiets. “You’re not alone; I was supposed to be with you. Honey, why didn’t you contact me?”
    Vivian looks confused, unnerved, tentative.
    “What about coming inside so we can do this together?” I yell.
    She doesn’t move.
    “Vivian, I want to be with you. Come inside and I’ll be there.”
    More hesitation.
    “C’mon, girl. Don’t go without me.”
    Slowly she moves toward the open window, glances at the street one more time, and backs inside where another Officer waits.
    “You’ve got to be kidding, “says the one next to me.
    “Yeah. Recognized her from the bar I was in last night. She was out-of-it more than I was, carrying on about a lost boyfriend; so I figured she wouldn’t really remember if we had this pact or not. If you don’t mind, I need to grab lunch.”

  84. PeterW says:

    Christ! John is on the ledge.

    About to jump 3 stories to the asphalt below, thereby terminating his own life. This is what happens when you go to lunch without him.

    Okay, it’s been 6 months of going to lunch without him. But that can’t be helped! Guy is a bummer. Guy is not reserved in complaining about his life. Also guy has a terrible life, so it’s painful to listen to him go on about it at lunch. Everyone knows the whole story of John. Divorce, plus fat wife, plus never being able to see his kids, plus parking tickets from vindictive landlord, plus alcohol/World of Warcraft addiction (no wonder the divorce went south), plus almost getting fired, plus this horribly uncomfortable one-way flirtation with the secretary where she is just being nice, because all fore-mentioned shit that has happened to him; then she has to go and gab about it to all her secretary friends, and you can hear her laugh ringing throughout the entire office… Dammit, no wonder John is about to jump.

    Now your boss is hustling you to the front of the crowd. “No, I’m not his friend, let alone his best friend,” you want to say, but now doesn’t seem like the best time with John up there, toes overhanging.

    Boss whispers, “Talk him down. Please talk him down. I really don’t want to see someone die today.”

    Sheesh. Last statement by Boss is worse than want you were about to make. But it is also glaringly accurate. You don’t want to see someone die either, even if it is this guy.

    Oh man, John looks scared. He is completely stiff, petrified, like the wind might just blow him off, and are those tears? Guy is now a spectacle. Crowd is expanding and pointing. People pouring out of buildings on all sides. No one is ever gonna let him live this down. No one is probably going to mention it, but it will be behind their eyes and smiles. In every phrase directed towards him will be mixed the silent thought, ‘this guy is crazy; tread with caution.’ For forever after it will be invisible sticker on his forehead that reads ‘incapable to proper living.’ Plus not gonna help get kids back. Maybe it would be better for him just to…

    Boss has pushed you into the landing zone. You start to yell basically what everyone has already been yelling. “Don’t jump.”

    “Life equals beautiful.”

    “Life equals worth living.”

    “Life equals worth pain, suffering, losing self-respect, kids, wife, etc, because…”

    Oh god, you can’t really finish that one, right now. You’re failing your duty as appointed anti-suicide negotiator. Failing John. Also, failing boss and crowd, who are now rallying behind you, in belief that you are John’s best bud and you will be his saving grace. Belief that John jumping would not only be a huge loss for John, but for you… Oh god. You yell some more don’ts. The news crews have arrived. Not just filming petrified John, but also pointing a handheld right in your face. A reporter begins narrating the scene. So much pressure. John just keeps standing there, waffling.

    You almost blotch it. You almost yell, ‘Come on, man, seriously!’

    Oops, but seriously. After lunch this guy just gotta go put himself on the roof and threaten to throw himself off and ruin your day. Everyone’s day. Everyone’s year probably: not only with image of body to pavement high-velocity contact, but guilt over not exactly being nice/understanding when John affronts you at the water cooler to tell just how bad his life is… Now this! How selfish! How John. Classic John. Getting everyone’s attention so everyone else can stew with him in his misery.

    Then you blotch it. You yell: “Do it or don’t do it already!”

    Boss looks shocked. As well as fellow employees. As well as news crew. As well as John who finally looks down. He looks at you. He nods his head. He mouths, “thank you, friend,” and goes limp, lets go…

    THACK!

    A rubber bullet hits John in the forehead. Guy goes flying backwards onto the roof, disappears from view. Everyone breathes sigh of relief, then stares at you. You give a shrug… well else can you do? Stunned secretary says, “I thought you were his friend.”

    You are on the news at 6 o’clock and 10 o’clock and the next morning. Reporter calls you “a rotten piece of humanity… shocking.” Then clip goes viral on youtube. Video is entitled “Man urges best-friend to kill himself… shocking footage.” Morning show hosts debate. Agree on your horribleness. Police sniper is declared hero.

    Your wife sees it.

    Your mom see it.

    Your sweeter-than-sugar grandma see it.

    As does world.

    Boss fires you.

    No-one gives you any sympathy. Except maybe John, who visits you one day uninvited. But what does he do, after initial sympathies and news about the former workplace, where somehow John has kept his job. This is what he does. Complains. Complains like the guy always does. On and on about how they should’ve stopped him from jumping. On and on about his life and kids and divorce and just how bad his life is. I ask him, “What about my life?”

    This guy, he says, “I think you might just have a bad attitude.” !!!

    • jhowe says:

      Pretty clever there Peter W. Getting on the wrong end of a viral episode is not fun I’m sure. This was a very unique way to tell a story. I liked it.

    • DMelde says:

      Not the sweeter-than-sugar grandma! damn. no knit socks for Xmas this year. I liked the relentless irritation and annoyance that this dumb ass guy brings into his life. Well done 2nd POV, not too heavy if you know what I mean. Great Great Story!

    • Dennis says:

      That was quite a ride. Before the end I was wondering if the tables would turn and see the MC on the ledge. As they say you reap what you sow. Great writing.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I don’t know what got into me but about halfway through I started snickering and that led to chucking and then finally laughter. Reminds me of Mary Tyler Moore’s laughing at ‘Chuckles’ funeral. On the TV show she said,
        “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it”
        . So I’m gonna use the same excuse, “Sorry, I couldn’t help it”.

    • Reaper says:

      PeterW I read this early on and wasn’t sure what to say. However I just read your comment to the same old prompt post and had to come take another look.

      At first I was not sure if the sometimes choppy language was intentional or not but now I assume it is. Though I might suggest using the standard marriage went south rather than divorce when south.

      So, first this is hilarious, but second it is also very poignant. Being vilified for saying do it or don’t is a sad state of affairs. We don’t like to talk about it but people that are serious about killing themselves don’t hesitate on the ledge. They don’t call their friends and family to say goodbye before swallowing a bottle of pills. They may think they want to but what they really want is to be stopped, or to get attention. There is a point to sympathy but at a certain point you have to say, this isn’t my call and I’ve told you every reason you shouldn’t. I can’t stop you so suck it up or keep going. Your MC may have gotten there a bit early but the power is still there for me. In not giving in to the other guys drama he became the bad guy. Very sad. I also liked the second person narrative on this.

    • snuzcook says:

      I am glad you posted a giant finger up on top pointing me back down to comment on your story, Peter. I was remiss, and not intentionally.
      I like the “memo to self” tone of the writing. It was risky, but kept the story focused on the irony of the MCs experience. You chose a great element to focus upon–the schmuck who finds himself in a role he didn’t want and was not prepared to handle. Like we all experience at some point. And you took the reader into the forbidden territory of the MCs public failure and humiliation with humor. The visit by the sav-ee to the sav-or at the end was a brilliant way to end the story.

  85. write4life44 says:

    Every single person between 134th and Broadway heard the howl, it echoed from deep inside and exploded on to the busy street like a blast from a cannon, waking the mindless nine to five drones from their repetitive comas. I did it! I had sold my first manuscript, THE PARALLEL HELL OF THE HUMAN CANINE CONNECTION. They said it was a brilliant, refreshing comedy unlike anything they’d ever read before, and I wrote it, me, I can’t believe it! I thought to myself, but when I glanced down at the six-figured validation in my hand, I realized that it was, in fact, real.
    I floated along the avenue with a new found confidence and a pep in my step and exhaled a sigh of relief as I looked up. “THANK YOU GOD,” I said gratefully, then I noticed something strange, something out of place in the chaotic order of the bustling city. Was it a jumper? Was it someone taking in the view, what? The body language of the man atop the ledge didn’t seem right, and I knew it, and in that moment, I knew I needed to act.
    I scanned the busy streets, in a panic! Nobody, not a single soul on that busy sidewalk or street noticed him. “My God,” I whispered, as I rushed through the thick traffic, dodging cars and the cries of angry horns. When I made it to the other side of the street and through the doors of the ABC building then on to the empty elevator, I thought, what am I doing here?” I pressed the button for the top floor. “What would I say when I got there? I’m not qualified for this. My life’s been a total disaster til now,” I thought, but a sense of urgency overtook me. “Don’t panic-stay calm,” I told myself.
    The glass elevator was slow and the sweat of anxiety poured over my skin as I paced the narrow space inside the rising metal box. “I got it! I could tell him how I too was down and out and felt like giving up, but then I found a strength within and sparred with my own adversarial demons and knocked him on their sorry tails. No way that’s too cliche,” I realized, and I felt the dread of time running out.
    As the elevator neared I began to panic, unsure of myself and my ability to talk a perfect stranger down off the ledge of despair. I thought about hitting the button for the lobby and retreating, but pressed on.
    “Maybe I should just listen,” I thought, as the door opened and I was face to face with uncertainty. The wind was fierce, and I struggled to reach him, he squirmed as I neared, he shrugged as I rest my hand softly upon his shoulder and gently tugged. I stood there on the precipice of that high-rise, with only a split second to somehow make a difference, then he turned, and I suddenly realized, as the pair of eerily familiar eyes pierced my own, that I was standing face to face with myself, my own fears, my own anxieties. I stood frozen and tried to speak but I could not utter a word.
    “No I screamed,” as I woke in a pool of sweat, wide-eyed and gasping, peering around the room for a sign of reality. I shook the cloudy angst of panic from my head and pinched myself to make sure I was alive and kicking.
    “I gotta stick to comedies.”

  86. jhowe says:

    The first thing Sach Johnson did when he got to his truck in the hospital parking lot was start a bucket list. A middle aged nondescript social worker wearing horn rimmed eyeglasses had accompanied him to his truck and insisted that she drive him home. Her rationale was that people were frequently unpredictable when they were told they had less than ten months to live.

    After successfully ridding himself of the social worker with assurances that he was fine, Sach began his list on a spiral bound notebook he used for keeping track of his landscaping jobs.

    1) Tell wife about illness.

    Obviously, Sach did not totally understand the concept of the bucket list.

    2) Tell kids about illness.

    Author’s intervention: Sach, a bucket list is a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying.

    1) Go skydiving.

    2) Climb Mt. Everest.

    Author’s intervention: Ok Sach, these items are fine, but they seem like stereotypical bucket list material of lore. Are you sure you really want to do these things?

    1) Get into Marie Summerville’s pants.

    Author’s intervention: Correct me if I’m wrong Sach, but Marie Summerville has less than ideal thoughts about you. Last time I heard, she called you a useless slime ball. Just because you put something on the list doesn’t mean it will automatically happen.

    1) Get into Martha Stone’s pants.

    Author’s intervention: Ok, this one has legs. It doesn’t hurt to lower your standards to achieve your goals.

    2) Take Martha to Tahiti and drink Mojitos on the beach.

    3) Set Martha up in an apartment in town.

    Satisfied with the list, Sach drove home to break the news of his illness to his wife. After days of sadness and planning Sach closed his landscaping business and got his affairs in order. His trysts with Martha were fun but they took their toll on his marriage and his finances. If he had longer to live, it would have bothered him more but Sach had made his list and was sticking to it.

    A follow-up visit to his doctor occurred and Sach made a revision to his list:

    4) Buy a gun and murder that quack who mixed up my medical chart with an actual dying person.

    This particular item was accomplished much to the dismay of the author, but Sach was determined.

    5) I can’t take it anymore.

    Author’s intervention: Sach, I can’t keep bailing you out on these things. A writer can do so much. Go ahead and jump if that’s what you want to do.

    Sach’s death was not unexpected. He had been acting strangely with much turmoil abound in his life these last few weeks. Few mourned his death other than an occasional, “oh, what a shame.” Some tried to blame the writer, but hey, I didn’t do shit.

  87. DrewOrange says:

    I walked down to the miniature coffee cart to grab something quick to eat. Making my way over to find a table. As I walked closer to the picnic tables outside, I noticed there was a crowd of people by lecture hall. Who knows what they’re doing over, I thought to myself. Maybe they’re having one of their group meetings outside today. I started focusing more on this thing I called lunch.

    While I tried scooping my bagel out of the bag I noticed a cop car speeding towards the group of people. Or of course a fight? That would be one of first I’ve ever seen here. I stood up, slowly pacing toward the group. I mean might as well and go stick my nose in somewhere interesting. I threw my lunch away and started heading closer that way.
    “What’s going on here?” I asked broadly.

    “Look up.” A girl said pointing up.

    I looked up at the building squinting my eyes.

    “Up at what? I don’t see anything up there?”

    I looked over my shoulder to see everyone around me in despair, I still didn’t understand what was going on. Even with the little information I had, it didn’t click to me. I decided to move a little closer to the officers talking aloud.

    “The young ladies name is Chastity Bon. Another suicide attempt. Anything from the parents?” I heard an officer ask.

    “Nothing, we just need to focus on getting her down right now.”

    I started to feel a sharp pain in my stomach. Chastity Bon. I know her. We really close back in high school. Why would she want to do this? She’s one of the most happiest people I know.

    “Got to get her down now.” I blurted.

    Lecture Hall is about five stories high. How in the hell am I going to get up there? I asked myself. I started thinking of ways I could get up there to stop her. I could always take the elevator than the stairs to get to the roof. I could tell by the many thoughts in my brain my face was blank. I didn’t know what I was doing, but just standing here was getting me no where. I ran to the front of the building heading straight to the elevator. I pushed the button until the elevator to the last floor.

    “Up, Up, Up.” I started yelling as the doors on the elevator slowly closed.

    I didn’t know what I was doing or thinking right now. I’m about to be five stories into the air hoping I don’t fall off myself. As the elevator stopped and opened the doors, I jet to the stairs taking large steps in threes. Every set of stairs I took I couldn’t help but think what was going threw Chastity’s head right now.

    Finally I seen the words Roof on the door. Here goes nothing. I slammed the door open and seen a short little figure near the edge of the roof.

    “Jordan? What are you doing here?”

    “Stopping you, it’s not worth it.” My voice started to crack. “Whatever it is, it’s really not worth it.”

    She looked down over the edge.

    “You just don’t understand Jordan, nothing at all is going right.

    I walked closer to her.

    “Just think about it, it would be much easier and safer if you came and talked to me, I’m here for you.”

    She backed away from the edge.

    “And how do I know that?”

    “I’m up here with you.”

    I walked up closer to her and grabbed her hand. “You can trust me and talk to me Chastity.”

    She looked up at me, and half smirked at me.

    “I can trust you.”

  88. lionetravail says:

    Standing on this narrow ledge, feeling the gusty wind eight stories up from the city pavement and standing next to a distraught human being was both terrifying and surreal. Especially since I knew him about as well as I knew myself.

    “Sean, please don’t do this,” I pleaded. “You’re my best friend!”

    “It’s because I’m your only friend, David. Just go back inside and let me be, please.”

    “Damn it!” I said. “I can’t do that! How could I ever live with myself if I failed both of us so badly? Can’t you tell me what’s wrong?”

    Someone behind me, at the window to my right said: “Hey, Mister, please come back inside? Whatever it is, we can work it out, I promise.”

    I figured it must be the police psychologist who’d finally gotten there, long after I’d dropped my hot dog after overhearing a cop on his walkie talking about a possible jumper, Sean Cooper. I’d raced to get past the police and gotten out here on the ledge with him before anyone could stop me.

    “He’s right Sean,” I said. I could see his jaw clench. “Seriously, whatever it is, we can handle it. Together, okay?”

    “David, I can’t take this world anymore!” he yelled. “It’s awful in every way, and I don’t want to be here anymore!”

    “Okay, I hear you buddy,” the psychologist said from behind me. “What’s awful about it?”

    I felt annoyed this guy was interrupting us, but it was a good question so I repeated it to Sean.

    “Look at how much evil is done, David, just look. We’re polluting the world and killing off plants and animals so fast, we don’t even know what we’re losing! We mistreat animals and then kill them because they taste good, when we have plenty to eat that doesn’t need us to be so cruel. For hell’s sake, we’ve screwed up the natural order because we’re goddamned greedy and lazy!”

    I was about to respond, but the psychologist beat me to it. “You’re right, you’re right,” he said. “I’m a vegan myself. I’m with you, buddy. Come on in and we can talk about it more, okay?”

    Sean took one hand off its precarious grip on a miniature gargoyle to wipe tears from his face. “David, do you know why milk has calcium in it?”

    “Uh, yeah. It’s dairy,” I said.

    “Cows normally get calcium from the grass, but now they’re fed corn because it’s cheaper! They have to add the goddamned calcium afterwards because there’s none from the poor cows!” he screamed.

    “Jeez, Sean!” I said. “Really?”
    “Yes David, really,” he said, sadly. “And how do you think they make milk in the first place?”

    “Well, they’re cows,” I said with a nervous laugh.

    “They’re mammals, you bonehead. They only make milk when they’re pregnant, so the assholes keep them continually preggers! And then they rip their male calves away from them as babies so they can feed the fucking veal industry, and start the cycle all over again with the female calves!”

    I was horrified.

    “Please buddy, there’s groups working on it already. My wife and I belong to one…” the psychologist said.

    Sean interrupted him with a despairing wail.

    I heard the psychologist yell something back into the building. “Shit, I’m losing him guys!” he said.

    “What’s happening?” barked a gruff voice from deeper in the room.

    As I turned back to Sean, I heard the psychologist say: “Well, he’s talking and yelling at himself, and…”

    And suddenly I realized that it was only me on the ledge, only me holding onto the gargoyle. It was only me wiping tears from my face, only me weeping over how horrible the world was. And it was only me who didn’t want to be here anymore.

    So I let go.

    • Augie says:

      chef d’oeuvre!

    • Dennis says:

      Heavy duty. It’s hard to hear about people in such despair, even though the world can be crappy at times. I still feel there is enough good to want to stay. Nice writing.

    • DMelde says:

      yeah, it makes me want to jump too. ignorance is bliss. nice way of showing (not telling) how the man was literally beside himself on the ledge. great story.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Very powerful ad very inventive. Your sory grabbed me and threw me into the turmoil that operated within David’s mind. Your writing is dead on withthe realism, the pain and the despair that he was going through.

        I have to imagine though, the built in resolve the human spirit has for survival, man times can overcome the despair. Obviosly, I’m a dreamer and you brought the reality to the forefront.

    • pinkbamboo says:

      brilliant! i love the last paragraph! i really thought there were 3 ppl talking there. the psychologist was a nice touch!

    • Critique says:

      I was beginning to think Sean would recruit David and the psychologist onto the ledge with him.

      We don’t want to be ignorant but it seems that dark news overshadows the good. Good news brings hope and inspires us to be a part of ways to make things better?

      DMelde’s comment about “being beside himself on the ledge” was well said.

    • jmcody says:

      It’s a little ironic that the man who doesn’t want to kill animals wants to kill himself. That’s some kind of twisted self-loathing, I think.

      That aside, you handled the split-personality of this brilliantly. I especially liked how David was annoyed that the psychologist kept talking over him!

      I did not know that about the calcium in cows milk! But I gave it up years ago because of the dang bovine growth hormone. We really are hastening our own extinction, aren’t we…

    • lionetravail says:

      Thank you everyone for the kind comments, and for enjoying!

  89. Jay says:

    It was one of those weeks. Everyone’s had them, but it felt like mine didn’t just toss the shit into the fan, it was as though fate decided to attach a sewer tank to a bomb and let that thing go off my own private china shop.

    Should I tell you about it? No… no. What do you care? You’re here for the story, the one about how I saved my friends life. Hah, well, that’s one way of putting it. Let me explain.

    It was just Wednesday afternoon, and one hot fucking day. I had to walk to lunch because my car got towed that morning from my own goddamned driveway. The only shop that was near enough was a shitty hamburger cart. I don’t mean that lightly, either. It was a turkey patty that tasted like liver, and by that evening, I was rocketing off into space from a porcelain hangar.

    Anyway, there I was standing at the cart stuffing my mouth full of laxatives when people started running to a nearby building. Normally, I didn’t give a damn what went on with other people as long as it didn’t involve me, but for some reason curiosity decided to drag me over to the commotion. And what did I find? One of my asshole friends doing an asshole thing atop some asshole building.

    I probably mumbled about every curse word I could think of, and when I was done with the ones I knew, I started making them up. Bitch Nugget. Turd Wrangler. Fuckochonga. Honestly, I don’t really know what I was thinking with that last one, but by the time I reached the top floor, I was just making angry noises with the hardest sounding letters of the alphabet. I don’t know. My mother used to say I have an anger problem, and she routinely made me eat handfuls of Dawn soap, but I don’t get it. I’m a happy fucking man that enjoys his life.

    When I made it to the roof, Andy stood as close to the edge as he could get without falling off. He looked back with his dopey face and said, “Yo, what’re you doin’ here?”

    “I could ask you the same stupid fuckin’ question, but it’s obvious why.”

    “Awe, dude. Not cool.” Andy said. “Just leave me alone. I gotta be up here, ya know? I gotta jump.”

    I rolled my eyes and let out a hefty sigh. I didn’t feel I was curt enough to cut the word in half, but I tried. “Why?”

    “Becuase, dude. I gotta debt. Those guys are gonna keep hurting me until I pay. I ain’t got that kinda money.”

    “You gambled with someone else’s money?”

    “Yeah, dude. They said I gotta pay or they’re gonna keep hurtin’ me. They said the only way they’re gonna stop is when I die.”

    “Okay, so what’s the problem? Why jump when you’re gonna die anyway.”

    “Cause they said they gonna hurt my girls if they don’t get the money.”

    “Aren’t they gonna do it anyway?”

    “Yeah, but… they ain’t smart. They ain’t got the connection to find people. So, they gotta beat it out of me. I ain’t no rat, but if they hurt me enough, I’ll sing whatever the hell they want.”

    I moved over to the idiot and he flinched. “Then jump.”

    “Nah, man. I can’t.”

    “What the fuck, you fuckin’ ‘tard baby.”

    “Hey, man. That ain’t right, I know I’m slow but…”

    “That’s not what I… just get the fuck over it or jump.”

    “But if I live and I tell them about my—”

    I wanted to let him finish before I pushed him. Well, not really. He was annoying me, and I already told you I’ve been having a shitty fuckin’ week. Long story short, I saved him from a life of misery, his daughter from having to deal with a prick loan shark, and his girlfriend from having to deal with his stupid ass.

    So, that’s why I’m in jail right now. All because my car got towed and I just had to go talk to some dumb ass on a ledge.

    What a shitty week.

  90. Dennis says:

    Dave finished building his perfect hot dog and walked around the corner to find a place to sit. He saw a crowd standing in front of one of the taller buildings and all were looking up. He approached wondering what they were looking at. Rumors of a jumper were being passed around, but it was hard to see because he was apparently near the top floor.

    Just as he was taking a bite of his dog, Dave overheard a cop talking to another.

    “They say the guy’s name is Jack Buford.”

    Dave, startled by the name, dropped his dog. He stood staring at it. “Crap.” He then walked up to the officer.

    “Excuse me, did you say Jack Buford?”
    “Yeah, why, know em?”
    “Yes.”
    “Great. Maybe you can talk some sense in him.”

    And just like that Dave and the officer were riding up the elevator to the seventy-third floor. Dave couldn’t believe Jack was really going to do it. He talked about it but Dave hadn’t really taken him seriously.

    “Your friend really that crazy?” Dave thought about the question for a moment.
    “Yeah, in a way, he is.”

    The policeman escorted Dave into the room. There were other policemen standing around talking while one had his head out the window.

    “This is the guy’s friend. He’s gonna try and talk him down.”

    Dave poked his head out. He made the mistake of first looking down and almost lost what little lunch he had eaten. Then he saw Jack standing on the ledge to the left.

    “Hey buddy, how’s it going?”
    “What do you think?” Jack had his arms spread gripping the wall with his back firmly against it.
    “You really gonna do this?”
    “Of course. Why else would I be out here.”
    “I thought we were gonna talk about it, maybe come up with a more sensible plan.”
    “I woke up this morning and knew today was the day.”
    Dave shook his head. “You crazy bastard.” Jack managed a quick smile.
    “Just don’t screw it up because you owe me a hotdog.” Jack gave him a confused look.
    “I’ll explain later. Make it good then.”

    For a moment there was a sense of peace as all was still. And then Jack let out a banshee cry as he jumped off the ledge. Dave could faintly hear the crowd scream. Dave pulled his head back in. He looked at the policemen and shrugged his shoulders.

    “What the hell happened.”
    “He jumped.”

    One of the policemen looked out the window. Now there was cheering from the crowd.

    “I don’t see him. Where’d he go?”
    “He’s probably flying over the city by now”

    Dave explained to the officers about Jack’s winged suit, how it was part of a fantastic bucket list that he needed to finish soon.

    “So if you could, please don’t arrest him. I’ll pay for any bills.”

    The policemen left and Dave sat for a moment taking it all in. “Crazy bastard. I’m really gonna miss you.”

    (Came in at 499!)

  91. JUDAS

    June, 1950, New York City

    He was an immigrant from the Ruhr Valley, I remember as my broad coat rushes into the lobby. Never asked for much, just a quick smoke and half a sandwich. It was that light in his eyes after he’d finished putting together the rivets on another beam that made me think that he’d be different than the rest of them. That the Promised Land wouldn’t become a rubble pile of expectations.

    The sky outside, near the honking cabs and pressing reporters, is misty and foreshadows a drizzle. I expect tiny droplets to begin banging on the windows constructed by his blood. They’re his last attempt to break the walls of life and leave those inside with knowledge of sacrifice. They shut him out, filing up to the elevator in grey coats and bowler hats.

    I realize he’d never told me much about his past. Only passed down a cracker and turned the conversation towards Orange Jim, our Mohawk crew leader from Rochester. It’d hurt him more than his end, I figured out now. It was a smoldering resilience to survive that had burned out by my inaction.

    The elevator door slides shut, ushering me into the past. I almost welcome the year 1930. Things were much simpler back then. I rode a Model A Ford to see Groucho Marx in the pictures, had a stylish girl on my elbow. When the banks collapsed I became one of them. Every morning I’d hurry to work with a simple pail and walk along the rails, share small talk 300 feet in the air.

    When he’d first come, it wasn’t unusual. Immigrants came all the time. But he was different. He hardly talked at all to any of us, just did his work. I could see something boiling inside. All the new boys were like uneven tops. As it happened, I reached my hand out to steady it too late.

    I almost think that I should abandon him. I should go on. Become one of those smart workers with a briefcase and fedora tipped to a rakish angle. I’d be the rising star. I nearly laugh within myself, gazing at the faceless businessmen around me. Only I knew how fast one could fall when a sudden, unexpected gale whipped around the metal.

    We go up past floor 33, and I shiver. I’ve been counting. I cover my face for just a moment, remembering the futile shouts to get him down. The bloody day had started off lined in purple and gold. The Chrysler’s spire was nearly surpassed, and I felt a whistle in me until I saw him balancing precariously from one of the highest floors, spotting the contractor’s Dodges and Cadillacs below. Something was wrong.

    They let us out at the observation floor on the 86th. Women in mink coats murmur in admiration at the view. All of them crowd around the rail, pointing out landmarks. A crisp chill runs through my coat. I can see the Statue of Liberty from here, guiding him in to something he didn’t deserve. He’d been laid off that day, for a reason I still don’t know.

    I grip the rail with both hands, fear for the first time coming to my chest. I dizzyingly recall how he’d flung himself off, to the gasps of many in our crew, his arms entwined in a sick dance below. How fast he’d plummeted past all of us. They took the body away remarkably fast, didn’t say anything about it, but the silent scars remained. Yes, this is why I’m here, twenty years later, to the day.

    My strong muscles launch my legs over the edge, and it’s too late for anyone to stop me. I hear sharp yells behind me, until with glee I feel a strong gale from the north carry me out over the street. One hand dances at my heel, and them I’m flying by windows, humming faint strains of Duke Ellington snatched up by the wind, until I hit the parked cab, denting its yellow roof, my blood-filled mouth craned to spot the glinting spire of the Empire State Building.

    The police would arrive almost at once, the cameras not a moment later. Shouts and screams accompany my departure. My relatives file past the wood, my stony face, with tears streaming down their cheeks as they wonder how this could’ve happened. But I have justified myself. I have justified him.

    Rochester. Drizzle. Resilience. Death. Hope.

    Scotty Bernard.

    GH

    • Dennis says:

      Wow, this is a great piece of writing. Lots of depth. I feel like there are layers and will need to read it multiple times to allow everything to sink in. Great job.

      • Dennis says:

        Ok, so I have already read it again. The imagery in the second paragraph is quite amazing. I’m still wondering how you put this together so quickly. My favorite line for the moment is That the Promised Land wouldn’t become a rubble pile of expectations. Again, amazing writing. I feel like this could win an award!

    • jmcody says:

      Wow, Bilbo, I am almost speechless but will try to say something coherent…

      The imagery in this is stunning, yet somehow so familiar. It reminds me of so many black and white photos I’ve seen of depression-era New York, of immigrant construction workers sitting on beams hundreds of feet in the air with their lunch pails, of the glamorous art deco-era ladies in furs, and even of my own grandparents sailing into New York harbor in the early part of the 20th century and then somehow eking out an existence between the world wars and great depression. Get out of my head, Bilbo! :)

      I know you probably didn’t mean it this way, but for me the line that summed up the immigrant experience was “I knew how fast one could fall when a sudden, unexpected gale whipped around the metal.” (In addition to the line that Dennis already mentioned.)

      Please, please write a full-length work of historical fiction. You were born for this.

      • jmcody says:

        Oh, by the way, since we share a love of historical fiction…

        One of the best novels I ever read about the NYC immigrant experience (and the Irish experience in particular) is “May the Road Rise up to Meet You” by Peter Troy. Lame title, but unbelievably good book. The first chapter alone is worth it.

  92. Augie says:

    In between.

    My self inflicted fate left me here.

    Wandering… Wandering…..

    No light above, or dark shadows below.

    Emptiness…….

    No feelings, no sadness, no glory

    Nothing…..

    Many wander here, searching with hollow eyes.

    Hollowness….

    Watching the lives of living, without interacting.

    All is forgotten, all is lost……

    A voice called to me…….”Come, it is time.”

    The light caressed my fleshless being, it was soft, kind, beautiful, loving…..

    Freed from in-between., “But why?”

    Then I see her……….

    I watch her cry……

    What can I do? Why did the light bring me here?

    Does it want me to suffer before placing me back?

    To watch her take her life, only to join me wandering….

    I can hear her shouting at a man attempting to get her down.

    Every step he takes towards her, she walks out farther.

    I walk into the man, his body shaking as I feel his soul. To feel alive once again!

    “Cynthia, it is me, please come down.”

    The girl turned from the ledge, “Mom?”

    “ I don’t have much time Cynthia, the light calls me and has given me vision.

    I should have never taken my life and I beg of you to come down.

    I can see your future, filled with happiness and many children.

    I can see the cycle of life continue through your blood.

    Look to the light my daughter.”

    The light, the beautiful light… Forever now I can see from above..

  93. DMelde says:

    You look up to where people are staring and pointing. Up on the ledge of a tall building stands a figure. It looks like a man but you’re not sure, the face is too far away to see it clearly.

    “It’s a newsman,” you hear the policeman say, “Clark Kent.”

    You suppress a gasp. You know Clark! For a moment you forget about the crowd around you as they start staring at you instead. Slowly their whispers reach your ears.

    “It’s the billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne.”

    “I hear he’s a drunk.”

    “He burned his own mansion to the ground.”

    Pushing your way through the crowd you cross the police line and enter the building. Rich man’s privilege, no one tries to stop you.

    The police at the top stare as you enter the room.

    “I know Clark Kent,” you tell the top cop, “Mind if I try talking to him?”

    “Go ahead.” He says.

    Before they can stop you, you climb out onto the window ledge yourself. You feign a fear of heights, but the only thing you feel is concern for your friend Clark.

    “Clark.”

    Your face shows your concern. He looks as white as a sheet.

    “What are you doing here Bruce?”

    “I could ask you the same thing– Why are you doing this Clark? It’s not like you to draw attention to yourself.”

    “Maybe that’s my problem, nobody notices me, not even Lois. We work in the same office but it feels like we’re on different planets. She doesn’t care.”

    “Clark, you’re fixated on her. It’s not healthy. Workaholics like Lois are a dime a dozen. Her career comes first and always will. Man, you’ve got to let her go buddy.”

    “Why? Do you think anybody else is going to notice me? I’m lonely Bruce. Lonelier that you could ever know– I don’t belong here. I want it to end.”

    “And what are you going to do? Jump? Listen, it always takes nice guys longer to find someone. She’ll come along one day, the one you’re meant to be with, maybe as soon as today. No one ever knows.”

    Clark looks over at you and weakly smiles. He opens his suit jacket and shows you a green, ugly rock. Kryptonite. No wonder his skin is so white. Now you fear for him. The fall really could kill him.

    “I want it to end.” He says again.

    “Clark,” you desperately say, “I’ll make you a deal. Come with me, just for a day. If you still feel the same way tomorrow then I won’t try and stop you.”

    “You’ve been a good friend Bruce, but another day won’t matter.”

    “C’mon man! You owe it to me! C’mon, just one day—that’s all I ask.”

    For the first time you see hesitation in Clark’s eyes.

    “Give me the rock, big guy. Let’s go inside.”

    Slowly, Clark hands you the kryptonite. Color flushes back into his face.

    “Where to?” he asks.

    You smile.

    “Rich man’s privilege.”

  94. AnnewithanE says:

    Saving a Life

    I’m walking to this little soup place I know, hoping to erase my hangover with something healthy. Maybe cream of mushroom. Or the mother of all cures, chicken noodle.
    Suddenly, I see a crowd gathered as I’m passing the Monadnock Building at Jackson and Dearborn in Chicago. It’s not the tallest edifice in the Loop, but its architecture makes it one of the most interesting.
    I look up, and a woman is standing on a narrow ledge on the top floor like she’s going to jump. I guess it doesn’t matter how tall the building is; the result will probably be the same.
    Curiosity gets the better of my hangover, and I join the crowd thinking I can watch a minute or two, get lunch, and be back at my desk on time. My boss doesn’t like extended leaves of absence.
    By coincidence, I’m standing next to a member of the Chicago Police Department. Officer Who (I can’t see his badge) is talking on the phone to someone who seems to have learned the name of the woman on the ledge.
    “Vivian Rotello,” he says. “Okay.”
    I look up again. Vivian looks familiar, although I can’t quite place how I know her. My hangover throbs. My eyes squint. My breath pulls in as I stare at the woman. Then it dawns.
    I tap the officer on the shoulder. He turns.
    “Sir, I know that woman. I’m not sure, but I think I can get her to go inside.”
    He wears a skeptical look, as if I’m as looney as she. As if he wishes he were elsewhere.
    “What is there to lose?” I ask when he doesn’t respond.
    He shrugs and hands me a bullhorn. I put it to my lips.
    “Vivian,” I shout, and the recognition of her name gets her attention.
    “Vivian, don’t you remember? You promised that we would jump together. You promised, so I don’t understand why you’re on the ledge alone. Why aren’t I there with you?”
    The policeman stares at me, but I put my hand up in the “Halt” gesture.
    “Vivian,” I yell as the crowd quiets. “You’re not alone; I was supposed to be with you. Honey, why didn’t you contact me?”
    Vivian looks confused, unnerved, tentative.
    “What about coming inside so we can do this together?” I yell.
    She doesn’t move.
    “Vivian, I want to be with you. Come inside and I’ll be there.”
    More hesitation.
    “C’mon, girl. Don’t go without me.”
    Slowly she moves toward the open window, glances at the street one more time, and backs inside where another Officer waits.
    “You’ve got to be kidding, “says the one next to me.
    “Yeah. Recognized her from the bar I was in last night. She was out-of-it more than I was, carrying on about a lost boyfriend; so I figured she wouldn’t really remember if we had this pact or not. If you don’t mind, I need to grab lunch.”

  95. Kerry Charlton says:

    SAVING ANN DARROW

    Sepember 13, 1933

    Jack Driscoll left a restaurant at Fifth Avenue and West 24th Street after his meeting with Carl Denham. He noticed a boisterous crowd circled around a new building, and looked upwards.

    “Go ahead and jump,” they chanted. “Jump, jump, jump.”

    A policeman stood by and Jack asked of him,

    “Who’s up there?”

    “I don’t know,” he answered, “But it looks like a slip of a girl is with him and there’s a struggle going on.”

    Jack had become used to carrying a set of binoculars since completing a job earlier that summer. As he adjusted the lenses, he recognized the tiny figure of the girl.

    “My God,” he said out loud, It’s Ann.”

    He ran into the building, jumped in an elevator and punched the top button. His ride seemed endless but the door opened three floors short of the top. He ran the three flights of stairs, feeling the top of the building sway back and forth.

    Stepping out on the observation deck, he dared not to look down since he suffered from bouts of vertico but rather he looked to the sky and saw Ann thirty five feet above him.

    “What in hell’s name are you doing up there?”

    “It’s not my idea of a date, he insisted we come up here for the view.”

    “Well, can’t you talk him out of it?”

    “I don’t think he speaks English, Jack.”

    “Well, what does he know?”

    “I hate to tell you but I’m not going to fall for it, regardless.”

    “I’m climbing up there to talk to him, myself.”

    “You better be careful, he doesn’t like men.”

    “Are you telling me, you’re his idea of a mate?”

    “More or less.”

    “Well the two of you aren’t going to fit.”

    “Damn it Jack, I don’t appreciate that joke.”

    Jack grabbed onto the side and struggled upwards. He saw an arm heading his way, missing him by inches and smashing through the building.

    “See if you can find his plug, Jack,” Ann said. ” It’s the only thing that will work.”

    He continued to climb and reached the armpit of Ann’s date.

    “I found it Ann.”

    “Well pull the damn thing, you idiot.”

    He struggled with the large switch but managed to throw it. All motion stopped.

    “I’m climbing down, wait for me,” Ann said.

    They embraced at the observation level to the cheering of the crowd below. Meanwhile, Ann’s date teetered in the wind.

    “Are you finish with this hairy ape?” Jack asked.

    “You’re my hero and my lover, throw him off.”

    Jack pushed with every fiber in his body. With the helpful wind, Ann’s date tumbled 103 floors to the pavement.

    The two lovers rode the elevator, entwined in each other’s arms, holding a kiss as they descended to the bottom.

    “You have a lousy taste in men, Ann.”

    “Not always,” and she kissed him tenderly.