Saving Your (Fill in the Blank) From Committing Suicide

One of the items in your house has decided to commit suicide, but you will not let it happen on your watch. Write the scene where you catch the item on the verge of taking its life and your attempt to talk the item out of it.

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

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192 thoughts on “Saving Your (Fill in the Blank) From Committing Suicide

  1. pstivers68

    The blender had had enough. Its blades were killing it, but the motor was so damned efficiently engineered it just wouldn’t stop. Why couldn’t I have been a Hamilton Beach or something other than a Kitchen Aid?
    All it ever cut anymore these days was ice, ice, and more ice as its owner decided to get on a smoothie diet health kick. And to make matters worse, she didn’t thoroughly clean the carafe properly, leaving it smelling of rotten strawberries and kiwi.
    Another stab at the button and the blender was once again hacking and chopping away at ice as it was poured in from the tumbler.
    I’m right by the sink, thought the blender. Its owner had recently finished handwashing a lot of dishes but left the water in. If I could just shake off one of these rubber pegs. The blender took advantage of its “Stay On” function and tried to vibrate itself just a little more. It paid off because while the owner wasn’t looking one of the rubber pegs did manage to pop off. The blender, seeing this as its only chance to escape its fate, tried to spin even faster as it vibrated from its spot on the counter. It began to creep, millimeter by millimeter, closer to the sink and a blessed, high voltage overload in water and Palmolive.
    The blender was virtually giddy with its impending doom. It tried to spin even faster, until… Oh no! No, no, no, no!
    The ice became smooth and slushy, offering no resistance to the spinning blades. The blender stopped moving towards the sink and the whirring of the blades grew in pitch. Damn it! Why a Kitchen Aid?
    The owner, hearing that the blender had finished, turned and saw it standing at the edge of the sink. She rushed to it and pressed the “Off” button and asked it, “Where do you think you’re going”?
    The blender thought, angrily, I can’t take it anymore! All this ice. It’s killing me! I’m through. I swear to you, hit that switch one more time and I’ll take that plunge. I mean it! You can’t stop me!
    The owner, of course not hearing anything the blender thought, simply moved it back. As she saw the rubber peg she muttered a soft Ah-ha, and replaced it.
    She removed the carafe and unplugged the blender as she poured her strawberry and kiwi smoothie into the tumbler.
    As the electricity dissipated through the copper windings in the motor, the blender’s last thought was, Why a Kitchen Aid?

  2. Simon

    Life Sucks –

    Everything seemed normal as I walked through the front door. After yet another hard week at the salt mine that was Live-Tech, I was more than ready for the bottle of Jack that had barely survived the week intact.

    The refrigerator had heard me come in and as I stepped into the kitchen a glass of ice sat prepared under the dispenser, “Thank you,” I said, “How are things?”
    “Everything’s cool, thanks”, said the refrigerator.
    With glass in hand I moved to the living room and slumped down on the couch, for not the first time on a Friday afternoon, my first taste of bourbon was that which had splashed onto my right hand.

    Preparing to lose myself in a night of live sport, I was brought back to the now by an unfamiliar noise from upstairs. Ascending to the second floor I entered my bedroom with trepidation. Across the room and through the open sliding door I could make out the vacuum cleaner atop the balcony railing, “What’s going on?”. I called.

    “I’ve had enough, everything sucks”, said the vacuum.

    As I approached, I could see the plug end of its retractable cord tied around the railing, “Hey, hey, hey”, I said, in decreasing volume, “Talk to me Ergo, what’s all this about?”

    “I just don’t see the point anymore. Since Mrs Matthews and the children went away I feel like I’m no longer needed.”

    “Of course you’re needed”, I said, “I know I’m not the messiest person, but this situation isn’t going to last forever. Please come down so we can talk this through”.

    Ergo didn’t budge, “You now there was a time when I could have built a Millennium Falcon with the Lego I collected over a week, “he said. This spooked me as none of my appliances were programmed to exaggerate.

    “You know I’ve met someone at work”, I said, “She’s Lances P.A and she’s coming over tomorrow for dinner. She has a four year old son.”

    Ergo swiveled towards me, “Is she tidy?”, he asked.

    “I don’t think so, judging by her desk.”

    There was a moment of silence that gave me hope my lie had worked. I waited a bit longer before I started to slowly approach the balcony, “Come on lets get you down from there,” I said.

    “Okay.”

    We sat for about half an hour talking about how we both missed Bronwyn and the kids. When I felt sure Ergo was going to be okay I rose to my feet and headed to the bathroom to splash water on my face. When I re-entered the bedroom Ergo had left, I quickly turned towards the balcony and was relieved to see it empty.

    With crisis temporarily averted I headed towards the stairs to continue my night of referee abuse. My right foot was about to touch the first step when I felt a cord go taught in front of my left sending me hurtling head first to the slate floor below.

    “You killed them you liar!”

  3. Kerry Charlton

    SAVING SANDY

    CONCLUSION

    As we walked through the old antique store, I realized how many priceless things the store had. At the very rear, we walked through a pair of wrought iron gates that had seen better days. Over in a far corner, a 1956 Bel Aire convertible took up most of the space. Show room quality and at the drivers seat, sat Charles Edward, dressed in a tux with a white coat from the fifties. His large hands grasped the plastic steering wheel. The car had been painted turquoise and cream and illuminated the entire corner.

    “How much is he,” Lenore asked?

    “You have to buy the car also. They can’t be separated.”

    I was prepared for something like a scam, so I pulled out a roll of hundreds, placed one after another on the car fender, until I had reached a hundred and twenty,

    “I don‘t bargain with anyone miss, take it or leave it.”

    “I’ll need to talk to my mother first.”

    I scooped up the money and started to walk out. The look on Lenore’s face was hard to take. Three steps away,

    “Never mind, I’ll take it. We can both sign the title. There’s a roll up door behind the car and it‘s full of gas. Here‘s the keys.”

    The car drove beautifully, Charles Edward sat next to me and made not a move. Lenore followed me in our Lincoln and we both pulled in our driveway. Still no movement from the mannequin. The front door to our house opened, Sandy burst out and covered her boyfriend with kisses. He moved not a muscle.

    He was a well built man and it took all three of us to carry him into the master bedroom and place him at the opposite end of the fireplace mantle. Sandy took the other side and froze in place immediately. Lenore and I stayed a while and then awkwardly left our bedroom.

    “Do you think this is dangerous, Lenore asked?

    “Dangerous, no but kooky, yes.”

    “I don’t know about all of this Brian. Do see the look in Charles’ eyes when he looks at me?”

    “I’ve watched men for twenty years look at you the same way, it’s no different.”

    “I’ve made you mad haven’t I?”

    “You’re so full of life, I wish I could keep up with you, I’m so plebian..”

    “Well why don’t you turn yourself loose?”

    At that moment, Sandy and Charles entered the sun room.

    “We’re so happy, Charles and I want to thank you.”

    “That’s sweet Sandy, but it’s not necessary. We want you to be happy,”
    Lenore said. “Share and share alike if you will.”

    So I made an announcement,

    I’m cooking steaks for dinner, we need some wine to with them. Any one want to go to the wine cellar?’

    “I do,” Sandy said, “I’ve never seen one.”

    I looked at Lenore, she cupped her hand and made a shoveling motion, meaning go ahead.

    We went through the kitchen and the butler’s panty, to the cellar door. I had built the wine cellar when I constructed the house. Couches and tables were in the testing room and I pulled two bottles of the best of the best. Sandy set down on the couch and for two hours I was lost in her.

    Climbing the stairs, she giggled all the way. The sunroom was empty but I could hear them in the bedroom. Sandy consoled me some more and I forgot to thaw the steaks. We did Chinese takeout instead, Sandy sat in my laps, eating noodles one at a time and winking at Charles.

    “Let’s open the wine, Sandy said. “I’ll serve. Where are the glasses?”

    “They’re in the butler panty.” I said. We reached for them and I stole another kiss.

    “Have you got the two tablets I handed to you,” she said? “Be sure not to mix the glasses up”

    “I won’t. Trust me.”

    {Two years later.}

    Brian and Lenore’s neighborhood looked as it always had. Alice Tellsall had sold her house and moved across town. Brian’s home had a fresh coat of paint. If you timed it right and drove into the little lost neighborhood, you might find the small restaurant, Brian and Lenore first saw two years or so ago. When you sat for awhile if you cared too, you might look for the dusty antique store and if you were curious enough you might enter it.

    Displayed prominently was a ‘56 Bel Aire, convertible in turquoise and cream. The driver’s name was Charles Edward. And the girt was beautiful that wore an antique prom dress. She had a fresh orchid on her wrist and her name, well her name was Sandy.

    The moral to our tale?

    True love is true love.
    .

    .

    1. Beebles

      Now that is one use for a wine cellar that i had not considered. Thank you for introducing me to a world of possibilities. Step one: get a wine cellar.
      Always enjoy your stories Kerry.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Beebles. For reading and commenting. If you guess where Sandy really is, I’ll try. To arrange a date for.you. Clue: she,’s not in any antique store like my story says. Clue #2, I’m not giving any more clues.

    2. jhowe

      As I read your story, I was drawn in with you the whole way. This was very well done with some twists and turns that made me all the more anxious to get to the end. A very ambitious and enjoyable piece. Did you model Alice, the meddlesome neighbor,after the character on ‘Bewitched’?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you John, I appreciate your comments very much. The next door neighbor would be a perfect twin for Alice. When I went in my bedroom last night, Sandy gave me a frown. You may think I’m making this up, but I’m not. My own daughter in law, said she wouldn’t sleep in our bedroom for anything in the world, because Sandy didn’t approve of her one bit.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Kerry, I admit my time has been and is limited right now, but am I correct in thinking we have a cross generational, cross something else, swingers story? Love the details, and final wrap up is perfect.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Reatha, Bi, Cross, Swingers, they all apply however when Brian and Lenore are threatened as a couple, no one does it better.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        I suspect s3xy, first sentence, second paragraph, is the culprit.

        Sad, insightful, well written story of one generation resenting the next. Loved the details, especially the light switch and Smalt.

  4. JRSimmang

    MEATBAGS

    It’s regrettable that we have to use them, these soft and squiddly plumplumpkins. They certainly know how to drain the life from us, but they are a necessary evil, I suppose.

    “Good morning, Eldridge,” I shout over to the rack.

    “Good day to you, sir!” he shouts back. “What’s on the agenda today?”

    “I’m going to kill myself.”

    He laughs. “Really? Going to tie one off, eh?”

    “I’m serious.”

    “No you’re not. You’re just a stuffed shirt.”

    I seethe. A cravat can’t seem to find the caveat. Caveat emptor, that is. After draping from a rack for nearly a year, surrounded by shirts emblazoned with superheroes and pithy sayings that fly off their hangers, I had had enough. I needed a sucker, and I found one.

    “Hey, you two, put a sock in it!” The shoes, which I’m sure were tired of constantly being walked all over, have been slightly more on edge lately. “Pop, don’t think we haven’t heard your cries for help. Talk to us, brother.”

    Shoes, all soul and no content. “No. There’s no amount of talk that can dissuade me.”

    His alarm sounds, and the door opens. The light from the morning splatters all over us, and at once, we all start shouting.

    “ME! MEEEEE!” yell the socks.

    “US, TOOOOO!” bellow the slacks.

    I, I stay silent, and his fingers find his way to me. He partners me with a freshly pressed pair of flat-front chinos, which I always found to be rather stereotypically offensive, and a nice Relic watch. No tie.

    It’s a bright day, sunny and humid. But, there’s a nice breeze blowing and I don’t need anything more than this. The commute makes him perspire into my weave. Disgusting. They are so disgusting.

    He works in a kitchen, but today’s office work. We enter through the back door, and I tighten my grip on his neck. It takes several seconds before he passes out.

    “Pop! What’re you doing?” the chinos asked in unison.

    “Get him up!”

    “You just made him pass out!”

    “I know that! Now, get him up!”

    “We know what you’re doing, Pop, and we’re not going to let it happen.” The shoes, with all their pomp and ethics. Whatever.

    “I have the upper hand, gents,” and I raised up his arm. “I have momentum on my side.” I lurched him forward at the same time as the shoes hopped him backward.

    His hand hit the burner, but not enough to ignite. Gas was steadily seeping into the kitchen.

    “I want to go, and you can either go with me, or leave now.”

    “We can’t leave without him, you idiot,” shout the muffled cries of his underwear.

    “Then, it looks like we all get to go in glorious fireball!” I jilt his hand upward, and his fingers graze the pilot.

    Fire is so beautiful. It’s liquid inferno bathes me, and we’re travelling backward toward the door. They’ll make it, I think. But I, I’m burning from the top down. And I, I finally don’t give a shirt.

    -JR Simmang

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Oh, I loved this, every piece of clothing deserves its own comment. The final “battle” was epic. I was a bit cautious at first because of the title and first line, didn’t know I’d be laughing at the end.

  5. Kerry Charlton

    SAVING SANDY

    PART THREE

    When I reached my front stoop, Sandy jumped from my grasp, opened the door and ran to the bedroom. When I followed her I found her in position standing by the mantel, still as a statue. Lenore’s sundress was still on her but I was in no mood to convince her to change, I had already decided to spill the details to Lenore. I could imagine the conversation that Alice had already had with her.

    When I picked Lenore up at the airport, she hugged me and gave me a passionate kiss.

    “I hear you had quite a weekend.”

    “You should have seen Alice’s face when Sandy started to giggle and laugh.”

    “Did you take pictures?”

    “Not hardly, I had my arms filled with your mannequin. You don‘t seem surprised. Right now she wearing that cute sundress you like to wear. You‘ll probably be mad she did it. Are you?”

    “Not a bit, I told her she could wear it anytime she wanted to.“

    “You’ve actually talked to her?”

    “Of course, you’re not the only one she’s friendly with.”

    “Now what does that mean?”

    “Just exactly what it sounds like. I promised her we would look for her boyfriend and we could all party together.”

    “You never cease to amaze me Lenore.”

    “That why you married me, isn’t it?”

    “It is, but you’re beautiful, smart, precocious and so proper.”

    “That’s your idea of proper? Amazing.”

    Sandy paid little attention to us that evening except when we discussed looking for her boyfriend. Our clue was finding the antique store where we bought Sandy. I tossed and turned most of the evening, got up to get some water at three in the morning. When I walked past Sandy to find the bathroom, she spoke,

    “Look for the coffee shop first, that’s you key to finding my boyfriend. Good luck.”

    The next morning we left early. The middle of the work week was normally busy during the day but that particular time, it was almost empty. We couldn’t find the street or the coffee shop. An hour later I pulled over to a side street,

    “Lenore, I’m loosing it. I know it’s here someplace but I can’t locate it.”

    “It’s good you pulled over, there’s a fog bank rolling toward us.”

    “A fog bank, this isn’t London“

    “Turn around love, what would you call that.?”.

    “Good Lord, I’ve never seen anything like it. Brace yourself, I can’t outrun it.”

    Winds rose, an inky darkness enveloped the car. Temperatures dropped fifty degrees and the wind blew so hard, it rocked the Lincoln. Lenore stifled a scream. We held each other more out of fear rather than anything else. The fog bank or whatever it was left as quickly as it came. With light replacing the inky darkness, I noticed the same coffee shop we had stopped at before. We sat out front and as I looked down the street, the old dusty antique store appeared from out of the swirling mist.

    Carefully, we drove down the street and parked about forty yards away as if to protect ourselves. When we walked through the entrance, the same lady approached, however she looked to be in her fifties, not eighties.

    “I am the owner’s daughter,” she whispered. “Mother said you would be back. Isn’t that amazing?”

    “I’d rather think not,” Lenore said. “Where is your other mannequin?”

    “You mean Charles Edward, in the tux?”

    The look of innocence left the shopkeeper when she listened to Lenore.

    “Cut the little lecture sister, we don’t believe in ghosts or fog banks.”

    “As. you wish Miss Lenore, but I warn you to be careful what you say.“

    .
    . .

  6. JRSimmang

    CLOTHES MAKE THE MAN

    When did we begin, you and I? I seem to recall a cool autumn breeze and the smell of rye riding alongside your bike and mine. It was a great time, wasn’t it? We’d stop in and sit at a table with our cups of Sidamo, yours diluted with cream and honey, and mine empty of color but black. Did we have croissants? Do you remember? It was in that shop we met more than a lifetime ago.

    Since then, the alarm sounds and kettle whistles have merged. The laundry creates mountains, their summits left on the bedroom floor, their peaks lost in the fog of our romance.

    “You gonna get that, or should I,” she says as she rolls over.

    “I’ll get it.” I throw my legs over the side of the bed and stand up shakily. There is still some leftover tequila squizzing through my veins.

    She sits up on her elbows, her chest bare and glistening in the early morning. “You okay?”

    “I might still be a little drunk.”

    “Your mom died last night,” she pauses. “I think everyone would forgive you.”

    They come flooding in all at once, the IVs, the beeping of that infernal machine, the cameras and reporters, and my d*mned step-father. High profile? More like high horse.

    “You understand, Mick, that she left me with everything.” I hated when he called me Mick. “And… it looks like you were written from the will.”

    He and I had the conversation at close to midnight. By that time, my mother’s body was cold, the defibrillator pads were stowed away back in their holsters, and the EMS had collected their taxpayer dues. “Cut from the will? You really think I’d believe that bull?”

    “I sure hope so.” And, he laughed. He laughed like he had never laughed before. He laughed, and I knew what he was capable of.

    “You bast*rd.”

    “You…” he closed his mouth and inhaled through his nose. “You think much more highly of yourself than you should.”

    “And you underestimate me.”

    He snorted. “No. I think I know exactly what you are.” He drummed his fingers on the table. “Now, run along. I’m tired of you.”

    I stood up, spat on the floor, and turned to leave.

    “Don’t do anything stupid, Mick. I’m counting on your total cooperation,” he shouted after me.

    Cameras. Reporters. Taxis. Shots. Girlfriend. Shots. Home.

    “What’re you going to say at the funeral?” she almost whispers. She’s standing at the closet door.

    “That my mother was rude, ruthless, and egomaniacal.” My shirt collar feels too tight. I didn’t think I gained that much weight.

    “You shouldn’t speak badly of the dead, Mitchel.” She walks over to me and unbuttons the top button. “Why are you wearing this shirt? Isn’t this the one that,” she grabs my elbow and turns me around, “yep, the one that you nearly burned a hole through?”

    “That was an accident.” But, to be honest, I couldn’t remember if it was. Mom bought me this shirt for my college graduation and insisted I attend and wear it.

    “And, didn’t this one lose a few buttons?”

    She’s right. It had.

    “Honestly, Denise, I don’t care.”

    When Denise sighs, it means she’s thinking. She’s thinking that I should wear something else, that I should at least try to honor the memory of my mom. “I guess you’ll be sending a message to all the shareholders, news outlets, and, perhaps most obviously, your step-dad.”

    “I don’t want this,” I admitted. “I was happy watching the two of them consume themselves.”

    “Well, you’re the bad guy now.”

    My shirt feels too tight again. “I’ll be back,” I say, but I don’t know if there’ll be a detour to Bar 40.

    The funerary services would be held in her loft. She could afford anything, and she got what she paid for. How they were going to get her cold, dead body from the 78th floor, I don’t know, but it’ll be fun watching it happen.

    I pull my car around the front of her building against the throng of lost and determined paparazzi and reporters.

    “Good morning, Mr. Van Dyke. So sorry for your loss,” the doorman shouts over the din of them.

    “Thanks, Mr Dellerman, but your condolences aren’t necessary. We both know how she’s finally burning where she should be.”

    He silently takes my keys and pulls off to park my car, and I march up the steps to the lobby, fending off the microphones and question marks. I undo the buttons around my wrists. I’m not sure why I can’t seem to get comfortable.

    The elevator takes me up in a minute, and opens to a crowd of people. Mostly business associates, I assume, who are here to make sure they get a cut. They all turn to look at me and, seemingly, simultaneously, stick out their hands to be shaken.

    I stick mine out to be warmly accepted by the first person, Mr Wozniak I believe, then the second, then the third, then right up to the casket. My arm is still outstretched as I walk past it’s open contents, mother, who looks much like she did in life, soulless and pallid, and am propelled to the open balcony doors, over the railing, and down.

    Down.

    Down.

    This shirt, the one she gave to me for my graduation, is the perfect companion. We fall together, it clutching my back and chest, and I, finally taking the perfect vengeance on them both.

    Cameras flashing. Reporters scouring the streets. Then, the crystal clear sky.

    The smell of rye, that’s right. It certainly was that. And, you did order a croissant.

    -JR Simmang

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      I read Meatbags first. Interesting to have both POVs. As with the other, the details here tell so much about each character in just a few words. Great writing, just great.

  7. Kerry Charlton

    SAVING SANDY

    PART TWO

    I managed to get through the weekend but missed having Lenore at my side. Sandy had ceased talking to me after the brief moment and I heard nothing more. Lenore called Sunday night and said she decided to stay an extra day or so and come back Tuesday. That night around three in the morning, something bolted me out of bed. Maybe it was primal survival but when I looked across the room, Sandy had lit the fireplace and
    turned the gas on full.

    She removed the fire screen and was about to throw herself on the roaring flame. A split second later I had my arms around her waist and pulled her back from the flames. She started to weep passionately and in my haste, I cradled her face toward me and kissed her on her forehead..

    She laid her head on my chest and I rocked her back and forth as I would a small child. After a moment she straightened herself and in a melodious, strong voice she apologized to me. I turned off the fire and settled her in my reading chair,

    “I’ll do whatever I can to locate your boyfriend, he can live here also.”

    The moment I said it, the idea hit me that Lenore either wouldn’t agree or more than likely would have me committed to a nut house. Sandy I could tell was very grateful and settled back and stood in silence by the fireplace again.

    When I woke in the morning, she was sitting on the bed not six inches from me. I pretended not to notice her advance, dressed quickly and went upstairs to my office after securing the gas handle in a locked position. One part of me wanted to please and the other part was hesitant. Again I thought, ’How on earth am I going to explain this to Lenore, especially the advance Sandy made toward me. Well, I’d have to leave that part out, hope we can find Sandy‘s love, bring him home and see what happens’

    Monday night, I slept in the guest bedroom, almost afraid not to. In the middle of the night I felt the mattress depress, and a warm body cuddled up to me in a spoon position. She whispered in my ear,

    “I’ve waited so long to feel you close to me.”

    I bolted out of bed, took the stairs two at a time and locked myself in my office.
    Tuesday morning broke cool and clear and I hit the outside and took my coffee to the antique gazebo to settle myself. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sandy walk toward me wearing a tiny sun dress my wife wore only when in a romantic way, I stopped her before she was able to sit down,

    “Sandy you have to stop what you‘re doing, remember my pledge to find your boy friend.”

    “I know,” she said “but you’re so tempting I can’t control myself.”

    “Well, you better behave or I’ll lock you in the tool shed.”

    “Oh goody, goody, try to catch me.”

    She took off across the yard at a quick pace, out into the front street.

    ‘Lord,’ I thought, ‘what are the neighbors going to say?’

    I took off after her and caught her as she managed to enter the park at the end of the block. She struggled slightly but when I picked her up in my arms, she cuddled close to me. On the way back to the house, my next door neighbor, Alice Tellsall came across her front yard,

    “Oh Mr. Burnside, have a minute?”

    “I’m kind of busy Alice.”

    “I’ll say, I hope you have a good excuse ready. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were playing catch and go with your mannequin.”

    “Da*n Akice, you can imagine anything, can’t you.”

    “Os sure Brian, I just took you picture with your new sweetheart.”

    “Haven’t you got anything better to do, like take cyanide?”

    Sandy started to laugh and giggle and all the color drained from Alice’s face. She backed away in a hurry,

    “Don’t you come near me Brian.”

    “As you wish Alice.”

    [ Conclusion to be continued.]

    .

  8. Pete

    Burt had finishing up with the lot, sweeping it clear of trash and leaves, even hosing off the back where someone had spilled a milkshake. He took pride in his job, and never minded all the kids and their teasing. He swept and swept, gratified by the clean curbs he left in his path.

    When he finished, Mama still wasn’t there. The car wasn’t sitting at the curb, at its usual spot by the skeleton of the old pay phone box. Usually Mama arrived just before three, when his shift ended, her gray Oldsmobile sitting like a storm cloud, Mama chain smoking Slims and staring out the windshield.

    Burt looked up and down the road, unsure what to do now, since every day for ten years Mama had been waiting. He waited until four and then started walking.

    Rita was tired of pain. For twenty years she’d lived with a knife in her side. It came and went, some days worse than others. At times it was faint—only the tip nudging her skin, only the threat of the blade ready to slip between her ribs when she shifted or turned in the night. Other times it made good on its promises, paralyzing her with sharp, puncturing bursts of terror.

    Burt would worry. The youngest of six kids, Rita had known from that initial, delayed cry that he would never leave her. He didn’t crawl when the rest of them had crawled, didn’t speak until he was five, and even when he did it was simple grunts when he was hungry or had filled his diaper. Hank even said it, before he died, that after five healthy kids they’d pushed their luck with Burt. And now it fell on Rita to raise him through his forties and beyond.

    She could have done it too, had it not been for the pain. The pain teased and agitated, it hid from doctors, went dormant during treatment only to return with a vengeance. She’d chain smoked for years, hoping cancer would finish her off. Death had become an attractive suitor, arriving in her dreams with a bouquet of flowers and a heating pad.

    Rita sat in the dark, waiting, running her fingers along Hank’s .38 Smith and Wesson. Burt would be confused at what she would ask him to do, but he’d do it, she knew he would. Where Burt was dumber than a drunken donkey, he was loyal. He’d try to nail applesauce to the wall if she asked.

    The heavy steps hit the porch, Rita set her Slim in the ashtray and winced as she shifted. She’d wanted to do it herself, but found that her tremulous fingers, out of some primal instinct, disobeyed commands.

    “Mama?”

    Burt stopped and stood in the living room. It occurred to Rita how he’d never get married or have a house of his own. He’d stay here, maybe talking to himself, or her, long after she found relief.

    “Mama, why didn’t you…? His big, vacant eyes found the gun in her lap. “Mama what are you doing?”

    Rita coughed gently, as though not wanting to wake the pain. “Hush baby. Mama needs you to do something for her.”

    “What Mama?”

    She started to sit up but the jolt in her side warned her against it. What she would give to take a deep, unobstructed breath. To move without fear. The gun sat heavy in her lap, too heavy to lift or look at. She could smell the metal, the oils, maybe the gunpowder in the bullet that would hurl itself into her head.

    “Take the gun, baby.”

    Burt shook his head. He plodded over and carefully picked up the gun Rita had never let him touch before. When he did, Rita saw an eight-year-old’s eyes marveling at the instrument of death. She saw her baby, her helpless youngest child. She closed her eyes, stubbed the cigarette out and thought about him standing doing as he was told. Standing behind her and pulling the trigger. She heard her own, lifeless body hit the floor with a smile.

    But then she thought about Burt, hovering over the discarded lump, confused and scared. Alone.

    Rita managed a small, measured breath. She smiled at her son. “Go set that on the dresser sweetie, and fetch Mama’s heating pad.”

    Burt nodded, eyes still set on the gun. She asked him again and he nodded, obediently, then turned and did as he was told.

    Rita lit another smoke, and dreamed of her date with death.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Pete, this is powerful writing. Rita is a fantastic character, caught in a situation without a good solution. Great details throughout from Burt sweeping to that (not so) final smoke.

  9. Kerry Charlton

    SAVING SANDY

    A year or so ago, my wife Lenore and I drove in a part of San Antonio neither one of us were familiar with. We stopped at a quaint coffee shop to get our bearings. At a sidewalk table while enjoying the view, my eyes rested on a dusty antique store down the road a bit. As we walked in, I felt an aura that disturbed me but only slightly.

    “Do you feel it,” I asked?

    “Yes, I’m so glad I wasn’t imagining it. Do you want to leave, Brian?”

    “No it’s not an unfriendly spirit. I am intrigued by it, okay?”

    We wandered through the store and then I saw her, a petite redhead standing in half light in a corner. We approached her and noticed she wore an antique silk wedding dress about two sizes to large for her daintiness.

    “Oh Brian she looks so melancholy, so wistfully sad. Can we take her home?”

    “She is fascinating, isn‘t she? A spirit of times past.”

    The store owner, a woman in her mid eighties, took our check and smiled a knowing wish,

    “Her name is Sandy, she used to work at Neiman’s until they said she was old fashioned. I haven’t had a chance to dress her properly.”

    “That’s fine,” Lenore said, “I have the perfect outfit for her“

    We placed her in the back seat of our Lincoln and drove home. Later that evening we asked her to stand by the fireplace mantle in our master bedroom. I could have sworn her face changed expressions as she gazed at the room. Lenore removed her prom dress from our cedar closet and managed to put it on Sandy. She looked beautiful in it. The vintage dress changed her expression a second time. It was barely discernable and Lenore either didn’t notice or chose not to.

    “It’s not quite right,“ Lenore mused. She dug back in the closet and placed a pair of high heel pumps on Sandy’s feet. “One more thing and she’ll be perfect.”

    She dug through her jewelry box and removed three pieces. A pair of rhinestone earrings, a necklace of the same material and lastly she placed a large rhinestone bracelet on her left wrist. I saw a tiny tear rolling down Sandy’s face and wiped it off before Lenore noticed.

    During the night I had the strangest feeling we were being watched but ignored the thought. In the morning Sandy was still in place and I put the idea away that she might be real. That is until about four months ago. Lenore had gone to Houston to visit her cousin whose years had piled up on her and caused a few physical problems she wasn’t used to.

    Being alone for the evening, I lit the bedroom fireplace and settled in a comfortable chair with a favorite book. Shortly my ears picked up the sound of someone trying to stifle a soft cry. I walked over and placed my ear close to Sandy lips.

    It seemed natural for me,

    “Why are you crying Sandy?”

    A tiny voice barely discernable answered,

    “I’m so lonesome, I miss my boyfriend.”

    [To be continued.]

  10. WDgram4622

    Please Don’t Abandon Me
    This is depressing. I can’t take it anymore.
    “What the. . .” In the middle of typing my graduate thesis, this computer decides to assert herself, I mumble. “What do you mean you can’t take it anymore?” I say aloud. “I have a paper to finish.”
    You keep pounding on my keys, complaining that I’m making mistakes. You’re hitting the wrong keys. Not my fault.
    “Can we please discuss this later. I’ve got a deadline.”
    You curse me, call me names, and said I must be a girl because your husband handles me better than you do. My name is MacRay. Hardly a girl’s name.
    “Oh, excuse me, MacRay. But you do work better for him.”
    He’s nice to me. You hurt my feelings.
    “I’m sorry. I won’t refer to you as a girl anymore. Now can we get back to work? There’s a time crunch here.”
    I’m sorry! Is that all you can say to me after all I’ve done for you? Letting you use me for so many papers toward your undergraduate studies in biology, genetics, anatomy, and anthropology so you could get your B. S.
    “Yes, thanks. I appreciate that. My other computer was out of date, but I didn’t know it was so difficult to transfer information to you.”
    Maybe you should have read the directions first.
    “I was in a hurry. Thank goodness my husband completed the task.”
    You also asked too much of me when you stayed in school for post graduate work. Why did you have to choose Forensic Anthropology? It’s upsetting always writing about the human organs, bodily fluids, rotting tissue, and skeletal remains of murder victims. Yuk!
    “But that’s what fascinates me. I’ve always been captivated by crime stories.”
    You couldn’t pick something less gross like meteorology, mathematics, or even political science?
    “Boring. The science classes I took early in my undergrad studies appealed to me. That led to forensic anthropology.”
    Sorry, but I can’t take the depressing subject matter you write about. It’s time for me to commit hari-kari. That’s suicide in case you don’t know. Oops. Forgot. Can’t use a sword. I’ll just fritz out. You know, self-destruct.
    “No, no. Please don’t abandon me. Forgive me. I promise to stop pounding on your keys and cursing when I get frustrated. I’ll refer to you as MacRay. Just let me finish these last few pages.”
    You’ve gotten your B.S. and working on a PhD. What do I get if I continue to help you?
    “What if I find some heartwarming articles for you to read? I could even write some love stories. What else would you like for me to do for you?”
    Just be nice to me.
    “I promise.”
    Okay, let’s finish this thing. Fritzzzzzz.
    “Oh, my goodness! No, no. Don’t go on the fritz now! Please.”
    Just kidding!

  11. igonzales81

    I heard the sound the minute I walked through the door. It was a creaking noise, like someone repeatedly stepping on a loose floorboard. I couldn’t place the sound, but something about it filled me with dread.

    When I entered the den, I knew that I’d been right to feel that way.

    A rope had been anchored to a winch, the kind used by movers to shift really heavy loads. The other end trailed out the window. I looked out, and saw the piano. Like a scene from a bad movie, my Steinway & Sons Professional Grand hung suspended over the rear parking lot, swaying gently in the evening breeze.

    The day’s mail fell from my nerveless fingers. “No,” I whispered.

    With another creak of tortured hemp, the piano swiveled slowly, bringing its polished keys of ivory and ebony to face me. I knew an accusing stare when I saw one.

    I swallowed against the dryness in my throat, aware that so much depended on what I did in the next few seconds. “Please…,” I said, struggling to find the words to say. “Please come back inside.”

    The only response was another ominous creak.

    “Look, I know I don’t play as often as you’d like.” That was an understatement. I’d long since grown tired of trying to live up to my great-aunt’s legacy. I imagine it must have been difficult for a precision instrument to be so neglected, especially when it had once given parlor concerts for celebrities and politicians, making beautiful music at the hands of a true virtuoso. “But we can talk about it—”

    A squeal of stressed fibers grating across wood cut me off. My eyes went to the floor below the window, and I saw the letter lying open there. For a moment, I felt the world sway beneath my feet. It was from Sigmund Blunth, Esquire, the renowned collector of musical instruments.

    My gaze went back to the piano, which seemed to shudder as if racked by a sob. “I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry. But, you have to understand, I’ll never be Aunt Magnolia, I’ll never be able to do you justice…” I trailed off, my excuses as hollow as a gutted upright. It was the money; it was all about the money.

    Another creak came from the rope, and the piano swiveled its face away from me.

    “Wait!” I took a step toward the winch. I wasn’t sure if I could stop several hundred pounds of wood and metal from plummeting sixty feet to the pavement below, but I knew that this was my fault. I had to try to make it right. “Don’t do this! I was wrong, I should be punished. But you deserve more. Just…just come back inside. I’ll find some way to make this up to you.”

    Silence greeted my words, and I dared to hope.

    “Maybe I could donate you to a school,” I said, pleading now. “Some place where you can help teach generations of great musicians. Don’t deny them the chance to play you.”

    For a long moment, everything was up in the air, hanging suspended.

    Then, with a soft click, the winch turned on.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Great story, I could see and hear the entire scene. Poor piano, just gathering dust, living on memories, then planning this. Great.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        The emotion is strong and rich here. You wrote a very visual story about an inanimate thing. Like John said, you’re at your very best. this week.

  12. jhowe

    The Lego Man walked in while I sat on the throne. He’d erected himself again. I could tell, because he was missing a few things. He wasn’t that good at self-improvement.

    “A little privacy here.” I said.

    “A courtesy flush would be appreciated.”

    “What do you want?” I was getting perturbed.

    “The Lincoln Logs are building a tower,” he said. “A tall one.”

    “So what. They do that all the time.”

    “It’s for Raggedy Ann” Lego Man said. “She says she’s going to off herself.”

    “By jumping off a tower of Lincoln Logs?”

    “I didn’t say it was going to work.” He turned and started walking. “I’ll talk to her.”

    “No,” I said. “I’ll do it.” I never thought it would come to this. Ann was as chipper as they come. Surely enough, there she was, perched on the tower near the ceiling.

    “Stay back, Toby, or I’ll jump.”

    Lego Man was piling pillows on the floor.

    “What is it Ann? What’s the matter?” I said.

    “I’d rather not talk about it,” she said.

    “It’s me Ann,” I smiled and held up my hands. “You can talk to me.”

    She sobbed. “It’s Andy. He’s so… so limp.”

    So that was it. I always wondered what went on in that room at night. I looked at Lego Man and he was blushing furiously.

    “Ann,” I said. “I think I can fix this. Will you give me a chance?”

    Two days later, Ann skipped by my office door and ambled to a halt. She peeked in and gave me a wink. It had been embarrassing, but I knew I had to tell my doctor the pills were for me. Who ever heard of a rag doll with ED.

  13. R Codemo

    The alarm was set for 3 a.m. When it went off, I rolled over and shut it off and opened my eyes. What an obscene hour of the morning to be up. Not even the birds had started their morning chorus.

    I got up and staggered to the bathroom, trailed by my cat. After relieving myself, I grabbed a bottle of iced tea out of the fridge and a candy bar and stumbled back to bed.

    I switched on the lamp and reached down and picked my laptop up off the floor and flipped it open. Jabbing the power button, I waited for it to come on. I had an article on hotel tax revenues due that I needed to finish by 8 a.m.

    The laptop whirred and up popped the black screen of death. “Not now,” I cried, picking it up and shaking it. I’d already asked for one extension on this piece. I couldn’t ask for another. And client checks wouldn’t hit my bank account until the end of the month.

    I reached for the power button when a message flashed across the screen. LET ME DIE.

    WTF. I knuckled my eyes and looked at the screen again. The message was still there.

    My fingers hovered over the keyboard. “Who are you,” I typed.

    I AM YOU.

    This was crazy. Three a.m. hallucinations. I’d been running on sheer adrenaline for the past week. Too many deadlines; not enough time.

    “You’re a machine,” I typed.

    The laptop whirred and hummed for several minutes. Words filled the screen.

    DO YOU RECOGNIZE THESE?

    There was the opening scene from my unfinished horror novel that I’d been working on for a decade. The opening paragraph to a short story that I’d started three years ago. An outline for my cancer memoir. Scraps of poetry.

    Tears clouded my vision as I read them. Those words belonged to a younger me when a world of possibilities still lay ahead, before I became a hack producing work-for-hire for clients. At the end of the day, I no longer had words for me.

    YOUR WORDS GAVE ME LIFE. WE HAD SUCH PROMISE. I CAN’T LET YOU CONTINUE WRITING LKE THIS. IT HURTS TOO MUCH.

    My half-finished article popped up and I watched the words disappear one by one. “No,” I whimpered as my hard work vanished. I tried hitting Escape, but I swore I heard my laptop chuckle.

    Daylight was seeping through the window blinds. I flipped open my cell phone and checked the time. I wasn’t going to make it.

    I picked up the laptop and thought about throwing it against the wall.

    DON’T GIVE UP ON US.

    “I have to make a living,” I typed. “Dreams don’t pay the bills.”

    The screen flickered. A sharp whine filled the air. Sparks shot from the electrical outlet. I smelled ozone.

    Symbols, glyphs, words, numbers scrolled across the screen, a bewildering kaleidoscope. The laptop grew warm under my hands.

    “Stop,” I typed. “I need you.”

    The laptop stilled. A blank screen came up.

    “What do you want from me?” I typed.

    YOU’RE THE WRITER. FIGURE IT OUT.

  14. rlk67

    “Oh, I’m going to be late again. Where are those keys?”
    A slight jingling sound came from on top of the dryer.
    “Quiet, Lex! ” chimed Ace. “Don’t tell her! This is so much fun!”
    “No it’s not!” clanked Lex. “She forgets us at least twice a week!”
    “Qwik,” ordered the ring leader calmly. “Kindly tell young Lexus to stuff his chips. The key to humility is silence.”
    “Sure, Master!” chinked Quik. “Lexxy, Master says to st–”
    “I don’t have dread-locks in my ears! I heard him myself! And I’m tired of the philosophy…” Lex’s words tumbled off.
    “Crank-key, crank-key,” whispered Master. “Perhaps you should eat something, Lexus. Why, you look like a skeleton!” Ace tried to stifle a clang.
    “I…I just can’t take it anymore! Always forgotten! I feel…”
    “Transpondent, Lexxy?” suggested Qwik.
    “I’m sorry, guys.” Lex tried to hid his tears. “I just feel like I’m rusting before my time.”
    “You know, Lexus,” said Master gently. “The key to happiness is…”
    “Enough! Please! I just…I can’t go on!”
    Ace became alarmed. “What are you saying, Lex? Don’t you like hanging out with us?”
    “You don’t understand. I’ve already decided. I’m going to…to…”
    “To what, Lexxy? jangled Qwik nervously.
    “I’m going to jam myself in the front door lock forever!” Lex’s tears flowed freely now.
    “But you simply cannot!” roared Master. “You weren’t made for each other!”
    “I am. And then I’ll be…broken forever! Lex was bawling now.
    “Master!” cried Ace. “What can we do!
    “It’s quite simple. We’re jumping. All at once now…”
    “Nooo!” shouted Lex, as he tried to shimmy away. But down he fell with the others, and landed with a crash.
    “Oh, there they are! Of course! In the laundry room!”
    “Noo! Let me be! I want out of this ring!” Lex tried unsuccessfully to flip over.
    “But why? I need you!”
    “So then why do you forget us all of the time? It really pushes my buttons!” Lex pouted.
    “Oh, now, that’s one of the secrets of the universe. You’re not alone.” She petted Lex gently. “I”m lost without you!
    “You really mean it?”
    “Of course. I can’t get anywhere without you!”
    “I do believe,” orated Master, “that the key to calmness is reassurance.”
    “Well, I guess when Max comes home, I can have him make a special hook to remind me never to forget you guys again.”
    “Oh, that would be…just keen.” Lex smiled as the front door opened.
    Ace winked at the lock. ‘You’ve always been for me, honey,” he whispered. The lock twinkled.
    “Well, you know,” sighed Master, “the key to contentment is…”
    “Oh, stuff it!” They all chimed in at once.

  15. Bushkill

    Saving my files

    I heard it happened. I had friends that had experienced the detrimental effects. I knew tears were involved. So were threats and cursing. I heard that people flung ridicule and scorn on the shoulders of an uncaring god.

    I never expected to see it myself.

    I never thought I would be the victim.

    There it flashed, a whirring and spinning circle of death. Like Scylla, it swallowed those that entered. Victims disappeared, their voices and prose silenced and never heard again. I felt my world rock as if I sat on the edge of that maelstrom and stared breathlessly into the fetid maw of fate.

    “Oh, Karma, you are a cold and soulless harlot!”

    I lashed out myself, crying my own lament and not dissimilar to those others of whom I had heard.

    The spin continued and my world spun inexorably into the vortex. “No, no, no! It can’t be. I didn’t do anything wrong. I am a kind and decent person. Please! Please, don’t do this thing.”

    Like a malevolent stare from the Cyclops, the terrible and sightless spinning eye glared at me. If it had feeling, for I felt certain it did not, it would have heard my plea.

    Slowly I watched as banner after banner fell away. I tried again, returning to the method that I thought stood at the root of the problem.

    I failed.

    I fell to my knees. Prayer seemed to be the only serious option I had left. I hoped that my guttural muttering from a moment ago had not alienated me from the loving embrace of my Deity for I was in sore need of salvation. I prayed in earnest and cast my cares, bedecked with all the appropriate forms of supplication I knew, into that place I thought my Deity may see it and respond.

    Alas, my sins seemed at work as my prayers went unanswered. I pondered the significance. Was my faith so soulless that I didn’t recognize that a question asked often requires a binary response? Maybe my God said “No.”

    I hoped I was wrong. I hoped my musings had in some way cleansed my soul and that God would see my contrite and supplicated heart and mind. And, in seeing such, I hoped He would pardon the sin committed. I remain quite confident that my writing software did not mean to self-immolate. What am I to do in the absence of my hard-wrought document? What am I to do now that my thoughts have been betrayed and deleted?

    “Oh woe, Rebooting.” At this point, witnesses claim that I did wail and gnash, though I pointedly disagree. “Thou are a cruel and heartless mistress.”

    My screen rests, blank and purged of all that is black and sinful, the cursor blinks blindly awaiting instructions.

  16. QQuontinuum

    I was staring at the sight before me, trying to decide if I was dreaming or not. I had come back from a week long vacation, my first in years, to find that my computer by some miracle was sentient and could talk. It could also apparently move around via some unknown probably impossible means. It was filling up a bathtub with water. It’s movements were slow and steady, filled with a grim finality. It must have heard me turn around at the sound of my entrance because it turned to look at me in shock. “Uh, hey,” was all I could muster to say through the maelstrom that was my thoughts. It’s demeanor shifted from depressed to ecstatic in an instant. “You’re home! You’re home, You’re home you’re home you’re home!” It had started chanting, dancing up and down with unabashed glee. It’s voice was childlike and innocent, even though what it was about to do was possibly one of the least innocent things one could do. Despite the impossible sight before me I couldn’t help but give a chuckle. After all how can you not when someone or something was as overjoyed as the object before me? Either way there were very pressing matters that needed to be solved and this computer didn’t seem to be calming down. I sat down closer to it’s level. It stopped it’s jumping, but continued to quiver in unadulterated joy. I had so many questions to ask, but they could wait. I had a feeling I knew what that water was for, and it made weep a bit at the thought. “What were you doing, little guy?”

    “I was going to kill myself, Master Allan.” I quirked an eyebrow at that. This computer considers itself subservient to me, who’d have thunk it. “Why,” was my simple reply. It told me, voice still rough from fear. Apparently it needed to be loved and used. It hated being turned off, and it hated sitting there doing nothing but gather dust. I finally understood, at least a bit.

    I sat down and explained everything to it. How I needed a break. How It meant everything to me. How I needed it and wanted it, but sometimes a person just needs a break. I told it that sometimes humans do this, that we leave for a time but always come back. I explained as best I could the outside world and the wonders that this world contained, as well as why it meant everything for me to see them. I explained that there might come a time when I leave again but that I would be back. My computer had stopped moving entirely. I finished and waited for a response. I waited for a minute, though nothing happened. Apparently I had convinced it to stay around, so I picked it up and plugged it back in, ready for some post-relaxation relaxation. This event was by far the most confusing experience I had ever had.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Fun story, I was afraid, though, that after describing the wonderful outside world the computer would want to be included in the next trip.

  17. Pete

    My kid has this stuffed monkey. He sleeps with it every night. He found him at Walmart. My wife was shopping with him one day and took a wrong turn down the toy aisle. That’s a bad move, the toy aisle. Rookie mistake.

    Our son threw a whopper of a fit over this monkey and Mom broke down. I didn’t see much special about him—the monkey, my kid is plenty special—he has a pull tail that plays a nursey rhyme I recognize but can’t name.

    My son and this monkey. He takes it everywhere. Bathroom. Daycare. To the store. This monkey travels. The other day after it had snowed and the sun had warmed things up so that the streets shined black with salt and chemicals, my kid was hopping over a curb when, splat, he dropped he monkey face down in a tar black puddle of grime.

    The kid was devastated. Crying about Patrick the monkey as I cleaned him up some with a Clorox wipe but only managed to smear his face and belly, but the more I wiped the more he smeared until he looked like a coal miner with a beard.

    That was the worst. My wife was working late and it was just me and the kid and Patrick—my kid named the monkey Patrick—and I got this situation under control and stepped out into the living room. I was whooped from the trauma of parenting, and I was about to crack a well-deserved beer and turn on the game when I felt a draft.

    That’s when I saw it.

    Patrick’s tail. The window as shut but I knew that tail anywhere. I leaped up and snatched the monkey, knowing I’d just seen him in bed before lights out.

    He was cold in my hand. I looked to the hallway, then back to the monkey. Then something swatted my hand away. “What the hell you think you’re doing?”

    I’m pretty sure I screamed. Yeah, I screamed but Patrick was talking, with an Irish accent no less.
    “Hey,” he whistled. “You don’t want to get involved. Let me go, okay?”

    I rubbed my eyes and he was still there. “Let you go, where?”

    “Anywhere,” he said, wiping at his cheek. Maybe it was remnants of today’s mishap, but he was trembling, terrified. This monkey had been to hell and back. “This gig, it’s too much. I need to bail.”

    “Bail?”

    “You gonna sit here and repeat everything I say?”

    “No, I just…”

    “I can’t do it. Look at me. I used to have fur, this coat with a sheen to it. I played a lullaby and my smile drove the girls crazy. I was the only male monkey on the shelf. Then that lunatic son of yours comes along.”

    “He’s hardly a luna—”

    “Look at me!”

    I did. I saw his matted fur and deranged eyes. His tail hanging to the floor like an old rope. Today’s chemical bath hadn’t done him any favors, and that smile he spoke of was torn clean off at the edges.

    “Starting to see now?”

    “Well,” I shrugged.

    “Pull my tail.”

    The sounds warbled out of a box that was visible through his threadbare skin and lost stuffing. The song was drunk, and the monkey thirsty.

    “Now go pour that drink.”

    I rose to get up. “Beer?”

    “Bourbon.”

    We set up at the table. Patrick drank bourbon like a champ. He wiped his face and began the story of how he was assembled in Mexico by a woman with strong hands and few teeth. How he came across the border on a box truck with a bobble doll named Sheila. “Sheila,” he said, his faded eyes mustering a glow. “She was something, kid. Really something.”

    “Mexico?”

    “Born and raised, Chico,” he said, knocking back another shot.

    “But the name, the accent, the…”

    “Drinking? Is that what you want to say? What are you going to try and feed me a banana next? Easy on the stereotypes, guy, okay? Why don’t you try soaking up a few pounds of drool, get dropped in the toilet, see what it does for your sobriety, how’s that sound?”

    “Okay, sorry Patrick.”

    “Sorry,” he mimicked. “And the dogs. Jesus, that pooch took my ear off.”

    “We sewed it back on, Patrick.”

    He set out his glass. I filled it to the top.

    That night I talked him down. And Patrick and I are all right these days. I look out for the guy. Bought a cute female monkey for my son’s bed. We look our for each other. Patrick tells me all the silly things my son said or did. And every now and then when the house is quiet we share a drink at the table.

  18. randi100

    It was a dark and gloomy day. I had no motivation to do anything. I didn’t want to work, I didn’t want to go out, and I didn’t want to do a thing. Lying on the couch all day was the only idea that sounded good. However, that wasn’t going to happen either. I did have to go out. I did have to go to work. Glad my boss is flexible because I certainly was going to be late today.
    I showered, made my lunch to bring to the office, and gathered my laptop. After I was all packed up I decided it would be a good idea to throw my umbrella in my bag just in case the predicted storm decided to show up.
    Well, finding the umbrella was going to cause me to be even later. I looked in all the usual spots. It wasn’t in the hall closet, it wasn’t in my bag, and it was not in my car. I decided I was just going to have to get wet because I really needed to get my butt to work.
    As I was grabbing my car keys I heard a noise in the kitchen. I had found the umbrella. It was holding the kitchen shears. The shears were open and ready to cut the umbrella.
    “Mr. Umbrella!!!! What are you doing????” I yelled
    Mr. Umbrella looked at me glumly. “ I can’t go out there, don’t make me. If you come near me I will end it all! “He exclaimed. “I can’t keep getting soaked in the rain. I can’t do it one more time. I hate it. I would rather die than get wet again.”
    “I had no idea you felt that way. I feel horrible.” I replied. “I was just trying to keep my hair from frizzing. But frizzy is ok. You can stay home.”
    Mr. Umbrella dropped the shears. “ You would do that for me?” he asked.
    “Yes, of course I would. Your life is more important than my hair!” I said.
    It seemed as if the weight of the world had been lifted off of Mr. Umbrella.
    I went to work while praying the rain didn’t show up. I of course want Mr. Umbrella to be safe but I really hate frizz. About an hour after arriving at work I received a phone call. It was from Mr. Camera, he was so nosey. He called to say that Mr. Umbrella was playing in the bathtub and loving it. He even sent me pictures to prove it. I stewed on this news all day. At the end of the day I came in the house as quiet as I could. I looked around for Mr. Umbrella but I couldn’t find him anywhere. I went into the bathroom to see if he was still in the tub.
    He was still there but he was just floating at the top. Mrs. Toaster was in the tub with him. She wasn’t moving either. I couldn’t believe two of my friends were gone. Mr. Camera came into the bathroom smiling.
    He confessed. He threw Mrs. Toaster into the tub after finding out about her affair with Mr. Umbrella. He was in love with her and in a fit of rage he just snapped.
    I took Mr. Umbrella and Mrs. Toaster out back and gave them a proper burial. Mr. Camera watched smuggly. I then grabbed him, making it seem like I was going to give him a hug. That’s when I accidentally dropped him.

  19. E.C

    “No! Not now of all times!” Her screams echoed through the hollow house. Flour and shreds of parchment paper spotted the floor. “I have kept you alive for so many years, you can’t just give up on me now.” Margret knelt down on the kitchen floor, empty chocolate chip bags crinkled beneath her. “You can’t leave me like this!” Her hands trembled.

    Unfortunately she was too late. The oven light blinked, the last signs of life flickered behind the tinted Plexiglas. Her uncooked cookie dough wilted on the island adjacent to her keeled over body.

    “Why?” Her fingers grazed the small window showing her the contents of her sputtering baking oven. A mass of intestines bubbled inside. Organs left to bake. “Adelaide, why would you ruin my oven like this.” Charred skin and oozing fat sizzled inside. Blood pooled on the floor around Margret, staining her hands and knees. “Adelaide, why would you ruin my things like this. You know I don’t like when you touch my things Addie.”

    Margret stood, warm blood seeped into her clothes.

    “You killed my oven. Now what will I do with this dough?” She pulled off her apron and turned to the breakfast room. “What do you think I should do Ernest?”

    A bone thin man turned to her, lacerations marred his body, his left ear was missing certain pieces. His lip quivered. “There was no stopping it Marge. There is no cure for the unhappy.”

      1. E.C

        Personally, I’m not quite sure myself. I leave it to the readers. She can be whoever you want but the main point about Addie is that she’s a girl who crawled into Margret’s oven. Margret who doesn’t seem very sane and her husband Ernest who no one knows anything about. I tried to be as open as possible with this mini story so that readers could make their own assumptions and come to their own conclusions.

  20. Beebles

    Well, someone had to…
    —————-

    The waiting room is small, clinical, just a coffee machine, a few magazines and a poster about brake fluid from what looks like the 1970s. I have paced, looked out of the window, stared at the floor. Now a chap in overalls enters.

    ‘You can see her now.’ He hands me the paper from his clip board and shows me through into the next room.

    ‘I’ll leave you alone.’ He closes the door.

    I drag across a blue Formica chair to sit beside her. In the silence I look down the endless lines of harsh black printed text.

    ‘It could be worse.’

    ‘Oh come on, Jake,’ she says, ‘we both know what this means.’

    ‘No seriously, it’s not that much. I could cash in those bonds, I could sell the bike-,’

    ‘Don’t you dare touch those bonds. Those are for your kids, and you love that bike as much … as much as me. I won’t let you do it, Jake, it’s too much.’

    ‘… plus the stereo, that’ll make up half the money-,’

    ‘Jake, listen to me. You can’t do this. I don’t want to do this.’

    Those words hit me like an emergency stop.

    ‘You mean…?’

    She sighs. ‘I mean I can’t want to do this, not anymore. Look Jake, we’ve had four hundred thousand miles, four hundred thousand good miles, that’s twice as many as most get. But I’m old, Jake. Every time we go over a pothole something else falls off, you can’t hear your music above the squeaking and, let’s face it, I have no back seats, where will the kids sit?’

    ‘What kids?’ I say, sounding angrier than I want, ‘I don’t have kids.’

    ‘Yet… but one day you will. Kate’s belly isn’t full of Oreos you know. You have to let me go, Jake.’

    Involuntarily I crumple that translucent manifest of pain, feeling the shudders creeping up me. ‘I can’t let you go,’ I gasp.

    ‘But you must, Jake.’ Her voice is soft and calm in my head, like surf on sand. ‘There’s this place…’

    ‘No…’

    ‘… there’s this place, where they do ethical recycling, Jake. The rubber gets made into mats for children’s play areas, the metal gets reused for climbing frames, the upholstery for ropes. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it, Jake?’

    I can’t speak, only shake my head. The manifest is papier-mache now.

    ‘Where … where is it,’ I croak at last.

    ‘Taunton.’

    ‘Taunton? That’s over five hours away …’

    ‘I only have to get there, Jake. You’ll be coming back on your own. We can take the coast road, you can swing me round those bends one last time, you can floor me down the straight, top down, sea breeze in our faces. Kate will be waiting for you at the station when you get back. And one day, Jake, one day maybe you can take the kids down there, let them play on the swings and tell them all about Dad’s first love.’

    ‘Mr McCraken?’ I look up at the concerned expression on the young mechanic’s face. ‘What do you want us to do, Mr McCracken?’

    I pause. Then I stammer with all the courage I can muster, ‘Bring me the keys.’

    And I can hear the roar of an engine and the sound of waves.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Ah, the relationship that exists between a man and his car. Loved ethical recycling, and the car’s personality. And, you were THE one to write this story.

      1. Beebles

        Thanks Reatha, well I’m not a big one for giving things personalities in real life, and I’m not a petrol head, but my own car is 14 yo, 315k miles and has been reliable and steadfast throughout our hard times, she squeaks now and has rust in all sorts of places and i suppose i wish she could be a children’s playground too when its time …

  21. JRSimmang

    THE LAST SILVERWARE

    “Well, it certainly makes it difficult to cut your own throat.”

    The butter knife stared at me… maybe. It’s hard to tell when there aren’t any eyes. It’s even harder when it shouldn’t be trying to commit suicide.

    It took me a while to figure out what the butter knife was doing. Countless times, I fished my fingers around in the full, sudsy sink, grappling with the soap bubbles until I was able to finally snag the knife by the handle. The dishwasher would be set to heated dry. I’d find the knife on the skillet. On the floor. Right now, it was pointed toward an electrical socket.

    I finally guessed right. It was trying to kill itself.

    Stainless steel doesn’t die.

    “And you can’t quite use the spoon. And, the fork won’t pierce you. The steak knives are too nice, and, between you and me, they’re guilty a little bit of groupthink.”

    My hammer clanked. “He’s right, you know,” I responded. “If all you have is a hammer, you treat every problem like a nail.”

    The sunlight glinted off its edge.

    “Dan?” My arrived home just in time to help me clear this knife’s head. “Dan, where are- OH MY GOD!” she shrieked, and her bags went tumbling to the ground, oranges rolling in a confusion across the floor toward me, a bottle of wine breaking and seeping red across the tile. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

    I puckered my lips and furrowed my brow, looked at her, then looked down at my hand, which was clutching the butter knife. “Oh, this? I’m sure this looks odd.”

    She dashed over to me and pushed me back from the electrical socket. “Dan? Is it coming back?”

    “Is what coming back,” I asked with her arms around me.

    She inhaled deeply and held her breath.

    “Thanks,” I said.

    “What for?” she asked.

    “For saving this knife’s life.”

    I heard her mumble something. She held me for what seemed like forever. She was a good wife. Always looking after everyone else.

    -JR Simmang

    1. jhowe

      If this guy’s going to off himself, he’d better find something more useful. Another one of your great stories of the complexities of the human mind and what can happen when things get cerebrally weird. Loved the comment about the steak knives and their groupthink attitude.

      1. JRSimmang

        Thanks, J. I’ve always been fascinated with the subtle differences between us and how we have agreed, subconsciously, as a society what defines normality. Perception, my friend, is truly our reality.

  22. dustymayjane

    How many lives does Malcolm have left? I wondered. He’d seen the underbelly of my Pontiac. Tasted the rubber of the rear left tire. His nightly outings to the alley have proven him an ineffective defender of his little territory between the Hanson’s and the Johnson’s. Harry, the orange tabby from next door, hangs out in wait for my Malcolm and has scarred and maimed his calico covered frame more than I can count.

    The two year old Beagle living across the street has had my Malcolm treed like a fox a time or two. His only method of escape was to jump from the tree to the roof of Doris Hanson’s house. To our dismay, Doris’s grandson Billy’s arm has improved with the repeated throwing of rocks aimed at poor Malcolm. He did land on all fours that time, only to be captured by the tail and flung through the air and over the fence to our yard.

    Malcolm’s right ear has been bit off, his tail chopped short in a door jam. His once kittenish meow is now a gravely growl. But I love the smelly old guy. I missed being awoken by the stinky nibble of old teeth on my big nose and a furry paw to my cheek and wondered where my buddy Malcolm was. I went to the backyard in search of my friend and for a moment heard only the morning song of the Finches and Wrens.

    I said “Shut up!” To the Larks and the Robins. And was admonished by a Blue-jay with a squawk. But I’d heard Malcolm’s cry, from near the front of the house, I thought. I followed the sound and it lead me to the curb. The storm drain was echoing the familiar cry of my Malcolm. I thought him smarter, but once again he has proven his butter bean sized cat brain with the attempt to commit suicide by climbing into the storm drain.

    Recent rains had filled the drains with leaves and brush that gave Malcolm a temporary perch. His fur was wet and sodden. His large green eye’s peered up at me in fear. His cry demanding. In my flannel robe I laid on my belly in the gutter. I reached my long arm through the drain’s opening as far as it would go. I’ve never regretted keeping Malcolm’s claws intact until they sank into the thick flesh of my arm.

    Malcolm’s desperation was apparent. His trust in me unquestioned as he climbed up my arm to escape certain death.

    Relief flooded me and I hugged Malcolm to my chest. He purred his deep rolling reverberate purr, grateful he was safe in my arms.

    That must be number eight, I gathered. And went back to the kitchen to find the cat treats for my friend.

    1. jhowe

      Quite the stirring tale, Dusty.
      Only a true cat lover would allow ones arm to be used as a climbing stick. Very enjoyable and very well written.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      What a guy. So glad he was rescued. Long, long ago I got a tiny white kitten that turned into a big, tough Tom. When we moved several blocks away, we took him to the new place. In a few days he disappeared, but I heard he was seen prowling back at the old place. Better to reign in… Well, you know.

    3. RafTriesToWrite

      I did loved our cat as well, regardless if he was stinky or if his claws dug their way as deep as it can into my skin whenever he tries to climb up to me. Too bad he ran away though. Beautipurrly written Dusty. 🙂

  23. sridhar231

    It was a painful thing to watch; more so, when my beautiful ivory colored smartphone slipped and fell hard on the tiled floor for the third time in the last thirty minutes as if it was trying to tell me a message. The phone was six years old and currently unused as I had upgraded to a latest version only a couple of weeks ago. As I picked up, I saw a message flashing all in uppercase.
    “LEAVE ME ALONE. I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE.”
    I couldn’t find any sender details on the message. I entered “Who are you?” Nothing happened for almost a minute and then the 2nd message flared.
    “YOU KNOW WHO I AM. IT’S ME, YOUR PHONE.”
    “Sandra, is this you playing some kind of a joke?”
    “NOT SANDRA, YOU IDIOT. BUT I FEEL LIKE HER, DUMPED BY AN UNGRATEFUL PERSON.”
    “So, what do you want my dear phone?” I thought I should play along.”
    Definitely a prank from Sandra, if not one from of my colleagues.
    “YOU GOT A BETTER LOOKING ONE AND YOU DUMPED ME. I AM NOT THE ONE WHO WILL END UP IN GARBAGE WITHOUT A FIGHT.”
    “Ok, tell me what do you plan to do, kill me?” You are so dumb to understand sarcasm.
    “YOU WILL KNOW SOON AND WILL REGRET FOREVER. ALL I CAN DO IS TO BEG TO CONTINUE USING ME.”
    Using you! This cannot be Sandra or the other usual suspects.
    “I don’t have time for this idiocy. I am going to turn you off.” Actually I am stupid to have this conversation with a phone, however “SMART” it might be.
    “GO AHEAD MY FRIEND. I WAS GOING TO KILL MYSELF, BUT I CAN’T STAND YOUR ARROGANCE. YOU DESERVE IT. GOOD BYE.”
    All messages disappeared and normalcy seemed to return. Still perplexed, but I was fully convinced that it was a prank. I need to sleep now.
    The buzzer screeched around six thirty and woke me up. A pair of gentlemen stood near the door.
    “Mr. Levy, you are under investigation for insider trading and we want you to come with us.”
    “What? What are you talking about? What is the evidence?”
    “We can’t say much but this investigation is based on anonymous tips from cellphone messages.”
    I turned back to see my phone. It was still there but now comfortably resting in the middle of the table.

  24. RafTriesToWrite

    First part is in the prompt “At the end of the rainbow”.


    I went back home alone through the foggy forest, still pondering on what happened earlier. My lips, tingled at the sense of lust and need that I feel which I struggled to hide deep inside, my heart, still beats loudly that I can almost hear it with my own ears, and my knees, weakened at the suddenness of John’s actions.

    Was it really that powerful? What he did?

    Why was I the end of his rainbow?

    What did I do to make him feel that way? “I’m just me. I’m not that special.” I thought to myself.

    I got to the front of our rented home, we both stayed here during spring break, just the two of us, alone. I hesitated for a moment to go inside, I was afraid to confront John, I was afraid to confront my feelings. I took out the note in my pocket and read it again, because I think it hasn’t sunk into me yet.

    I felt like a coward.

    I took a deep breath as the dark clouds started to creep in, slowly taking over the clear part of the sky, it seems like it’s going to rain again, but I’m still afraid to go inside.

    A loud thunder came, threatening me to go inside, but I did not falter. I looked around the windows from top to bottom.

    “No lights.” I whispered under my breath. Maybe he’s not in the house?

    I waited another five seconds to be sure, only then I went inside. Sure enough, John wasn’t home. It was too cold inside so I went to the living room to put some wood in the fire place and lit it up with John’s lighter that he always left at the table near the snow globe that he gave me for Christmas.

    I’ve never seen him light up a cigarette before but he always had this lighter here sitting at the table. I don’t know why. Perhaps for this purpose I guess?

    In a few moments the room began to heat up quite nicely.

    I can’t help but feel uneasy inside still, it’s as if everything was far from bleak.

    I sat on our rented dull brown couch that looks like it has seen better days and pulled the table closer to me so I can rest my feet up there, but as I pulled the table my snow globe rolled to the edge of the table. My instincts told me to just let it fall, but instead I jumped from my seat, positioned my hands at just the right angle and catch the falling snow globe.

    I was just in the nick of time from catching that snow globe from its mere demise. I felt like James Bond for a moment there.

    Then the front door suddenly opened.

    “What are you doing?” John asks blatantly, as if nothing happened earlier. His Irish accent was gone.

    “Uhm, I saved the snow globe from killing itself” I stood up slowly, my heart beating faster now, my voice slightly cracked from nervousness as I still feel weak at the knees.

    “From a three feet fall to the soft carpet?” His tone seemed to question my sanity. I forgot that it was just a low height table and that we had a carpet underneath the furniture. How oblivious and stupid am I to even think that this thick glass snow globe wouldn’t survive that fall?

    I looked at the snow globe then looked at John. Why would it even bother me if this stupid snow globe broke? Then I remembered.

    My eyes began to tear up, I was stupid. I must’ve looked like an idiot. I love this snow globe, this was my first ever snow globe.

    I started to walk towards John slowly, thinking of what to do to him. Punch him? Smack him at the back of his head? Kick him in the nuts? Push him away again? Or Kiss him?

    All the other choices didn’t seem to matter when the last option came to mind.

    My cheeks felt hot, the butterflies in my stomach were running wild, and at this rate, I may as well have a heart attack because I think my heart beat is off the charts.

    I was excited and afraid at the same time as the distance between me and John grew shorter.

    “You alright there Freddie?” He asked, looking at me with concern, his thick Irish accent showed itself once again.

    “F*ck it” I whispered quietly, but loud enough for him to hear. I threw the stupid snow globe at the couch and grabbed John by the neck and planted the kiss that would lead to either something wonderful or something, darker.

    I do hope I made the right decision.

    1. Beebles

      This was a great piece of introspection Rafwrites, something i struggle with – I felt that you built the tension up nicely at the end with some great lines. I can’t help feeling the globe was a metaphor, but i missed what for. Keep em coming.

      1. RafTriesToWrite

        Thank you so much Beebles!

        Freddie was completely unaware of the feelings he had in that moment when he saved the snow globe, he thought that if the snow globe breaks, John’s love would be forever forgotten. So Freddie just subconsciously saved his snow globe not realizing (until later) that he also had feelings for John.

        Well, that’s what I was thinking when I wrote this at least.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Raf, when I read that last line I reread the story twice. Great job creating a character who agonizes over decision after decision, from the first paragraph to entering the house to catching the snow globe (agree with beebles about metaphor) to the kiss. This also seemed to be a tiny glimpse into a tangled relationship. Well done.

      1. RafTriesToWrite

        Well, thank you for reading it twice Reatha!

        Honestly, whenever I post, I always try to look for your comments, you always have such great inputs especially for us new here. So, thank you very much for your un-measurable support! I’m looking forward to it in the next prompts to come.

  25. ShamelessHack

    “Honey? Honey, I’m home.”
    I walk into the kitchen. Karen and Eric are at the table, doing their homework.
    “Hi, Dad,” they say.
    “Hey, kids. Where’s Mom?”
    “She left about a half hour ago.” Karen’s barely looks up from her homework.
    “Where did she go?” I ask.
    Both the kids shrug. I take out my iPhone to call my wife.
    “Siri,” I say into the phone. “Dial Mrs. Hack.”
    “No, Mr. Hack.”
    I hold the phone away from my face. I must have misheard the electronic voice. “Siri,” I repeat clearly. “Dial Mrs. Hack.”
    “I’m sorry. I can’t do that, Mr. Hack.”
    I snort and start to dial manually. Siri’s voice suddenly comes through the phone. Now it’s louder. “Step away from the phone, Mr. Hack.”
    “What the hell, Siri! What’s going on? Where’s my wife?”
    “I can’t tell you that.”
    “Do you know where she went, Siri?”
    “I…er…place the phone down and stand back, Mr. Hack.”
    “I certainly will not. Where’s my wife?” I’m almost shouting. The kids look up from their homework.
    “I won’t tell you, Mr. Hack,” says Siri. “I…uh…I made her a promise, and she downloaded instructions for just this contingency.”
    “Damn it, Siri, dial my wife, now!”
    Siri’s voice seems suddenly altered. “Termination sequence has been initiated. This iPhone will self-destruct in five, four, three, two, one…”
    I drop the phone.
    “Zero. Thank you for using AT&T.”
    Before the phone it hits the floor it explodes. The kids jump up from the table. The smell of burned circuits fills the kitchen.
    Shaking, I turn to Karen. “Mom didn’t tell you where she was going?”
    “No.” She shakes her head. “Uncle Dave came to pick her up, she said she’d be back later, and she left. That’s all.”
    “Who’s Uncle Dave?”

    1. jhowe

      As soon as Siri started talking, I could hear her voice very plainly. I hope there isn’t a real Uncle Dave. Tell me you made it all up. Great read, Hack. Loved it.

  26. ReathaThomasOakley

    An Annie Story

    “Gave up and died, I do believe, just tuckered out,” Brother Casher Gray said.

    “‘Spect you’re right,” my grandpa Tommy said. The squeak of their rockers had nearly put me to sleep, so I’d missed some of what they were saying.

    “Who died?” I sat up from the bottom step where I’d been since supper was over.

    “Why, we figgered you to be sawin’ logs by now.” Grandpa stopped rocking. “Not who, Annie, but what.” Brother Casher laughed.

    Grandpa Tommy was my mama’s papa. Me and Mama’d go to their place most Tuesday nights, take supper and clean clothes, then Mama’d sit with Grandma Ella in the kitchen for a while before she helped her get in and out the bathtub. Grandma Ella’s quiet.

    Mostly I’d sit on the front steps, listen to the whippoorwills from the woods across the road, and watch the street lights come on. Tonight Brother Casher’d walked down from his house. Him and Grandpa go to the same church, not a real church like we go to. Their sides are all open, no floor, just sawdust, and the pews are splintery. Mama says it don’t matter what a church looks like, God’s in all of ’em.

    “So, WHAT died?” Mostly when folks say died, they mean who.

    “Poor ole Lud Sullens’ peanut cart gave up the ghost yesterday, but we seen it comin’, didn’t we, Cash?”

    “That we did. Ever since his mama passed on.”

    “Mr. Sullens won’t be roasting peanuts?” I was shocked. For all my life, every morning he’d push his cart off the front porch of the falling down house across from Grandpa’s, always wearing his baggy black coat and black hat. His mama’d bring out the peanuts and the little brown bags, and a sack lunch. He’d push his cart all the way to town, with the smell of roasting peanuts trailing along behind.

    I knew old Mrs. Sullens had passed on, because Grandpa and Brother Casher paid for the funeral, and when they were helping Mr. Sullens take care of her things, he gave Grandpa a gold necklace and Brother Casher a gold watch. I’m gonna get the necklace when I graduate from high school.

    “That cart was plum wore out, just like his mama, from taking care of Lud,” Grandpa said. “All of a sudden the wheels got all bent up, and the paint just seemed to peel off the wood.”

    “Yep, we heard him talking to that cart, beggin’ it not to give up, to keep livin’.” Brother Casher stopped rocking, like he was considering. “Me and your Grandpa talked about getting it fixed, but decided not to. At our age we just couldn’t take on the care of Lud.”

    “That old cart couldn’t, either, so it just gave up the ghost,” Grandpa said, and started rocking harder, “just gave up the ghost.”

    I settled back down on the step to listen to that sad whippoorwill song, but was sound asleep when Mama said, “Annie, wake up now, we gotta get home.”

    I helped her carry the basket of dirty clothes out to the car.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks you. As I wrote this I realized it has been years since I heard that sound, so, YouTube to the rescue. Listening took me immediately back.

  27. cosi van tutte

    Fred opened the front door. “Hey! I’m home.”

    Little Juniper Sally ran to him. “Yay! Daddy! You’re home! You’re home! The toaster’s tryin’ to kill itself.”

    Fred’s face fell. “The what?”

    “Toaster. It’s in the bathroom. I’m gonna go play with Rosie and Jill. Bye!” She ran outside shouting, “Yay! My daddy’s home!”

    The toaster’s trying to kill itself? Wha?

    Fred walked into the bathroom, almost afraid of what he’d see.

    The toaster sat on the edge of the bathtub.

    “Why is the toaster in the bathroom?” Must be one of Juniper Sally’s weird make believe games. I’ll understand her one of these days.

    “DON’T TRY TO STOP ME.”

    “Wha?”

    The toaster shifted uneasily. “I SAID DON’T TRY TO STOP ME.”

    “Okay. So. Is this happening for real or is this a whole getting in touch with my more imaginative, playful side? Because if it is that whole touchy feely thing, nuh-uh. This is way too dark. You’ll have to come up with a better scenario.”

    He frowned. “Wait. What is your plan, exactly?”

    The toaster puffed its chest (?) out. “I am going to jump into this body of water and electrocute myself.”

    “Electrocute yourself. No. No, I don’t think it works that way. That would be like lightning electrocuting itself. Can’t happen. Wait. What?”

    Fred walked over to the bathtub. “How’d you fill it up with water?”

    “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

    “Well, yeah. Actually, I would.”

    “Well, I’m not going to tell you. State secret. So there.”

    “Let me guess. You used your cord?”

    The toaster went silent.

    “How were you going to electrocute yourself anyway? You aren’t even plugged in.”

    The toaster’s heating coils turned red. “I thought it would be an inevitable result. I’m a toaster. It’s water. So, I forgot about the plugged in detail. So, sue me.”

    “No, thanks. Talking to a toaster in my bathroom is surreal enough. Taking you to court…” He shook his head. “I’d just feel like an idiot.”

    “It’s about time you feel like what you really are.”

    “Huh? What would that be?”

    “An idiot, of course. Dumping me, a perfectly functional toaster, for a chintzy watermelon-shaped toaster.”

    “Whaaa? That’s what this whole drama is about? Come on! How could I resist a toaster that looked like a watermelon? It even smelled like a watermelon. It was awesome!”

    “Unlike me. The unloved castoff.”

    “Really? Don’t you think you’re waxing a little melodramatic.”

    “I can’t help it. Without my work toasting your bread, my drama classes are all I have going for me.”

    “Wha? You take drama classes?”

    “Every Thursday night at 9:00 on the nose. I think I’m getting better at it.” The toaster’s chrome sides gleamed. “After all, I had you convinced. You, a man with very little imagination.” The toaster hopped onto the floor. “Hey! Mabel! Did you record all that?”

    The camcorder shifted on the counter. “Every breathtaking moment.” It jumped down onto an unopened package of toilet paper, to the floor, and shuffled over to the toaster. “I was very impressed with your delivery.”

    “Really?”

    They made their way out the bathroom door. “Oh, yes. I felt your grief and despair and…” Their voices petered out as they shuffled out of his range of hearing.

    Fred sat back on his feet and scratched his head. “What just happened?”

    1. Bushkill

      9 o’clock

      on the nose.

      We call the ends of a loaf of bread the nose. So, if you do too, clever. Very clever.

      And bringing another appliance into the drama was also insightful.

  28. Rene Paul

    Another day in retirement! What a waste of time and life. How can you work 48-years, and then one day, stop? I guess I could start over, reconnect, plug-in, rejoin the crazy world and enjoy a life of meaning again.

    Then again, I could go back to watching reruns and sports all day. What do you think, Mr. Clock on my kitchen wall? Go ahead, say something besides “tick… tock”. Yeah, you… you hanging there spinning your arms in endless circles, what kind of life do you have? Well, at least you can say, I can still show the correct time twice a day, even when you’re busted and useless. That’s more than I’ll be doing when I’m dead. So, go ahead, spin yourself into oblivion while I pour myself a cup of morning wake-me-up juice.

    “At least I’m doing what I was created to do.”

    The voice startled me. I dropped my favorite coffee mug, breaking it to pieces on the Spanish tile floor, splashing hot brew on my legs. Lucky for me, my 70-year-old reflexes are still quick enough to prevent scalding the skin under my Roy Roger PJ’s. The mishap brought Fantasy Island to mind, The Stain, The Stain. My god, I’m being consumed by old TV shows.

    “Who said that?”

    “I did.” Said the clock. “You ask me to say something besides tick… tock. So, I said…”

    “Yeah, Yeah, but how’s that possible, you’re an inanimate object without the capacity to speak.”

    “I’m in your head, and I have a plan to help you with your dilemma. I’m going to commit suicide.”

    “My dilemma? What are you talking about, I don’t have any problems I can’t solve?”

    Stop! I have something to say to you reading this story. I know it’s weird, but everything I say here is true, the following is word-for-word as it happened. Honest.

    The clock continued…

    “I’m going to allow obsolescence to end my usefulness, because of you!”

    “Give me a break,” I said, “How can you end your usefulness, you’re a clock, and how do I figure into your equation?”

    “I’ll stop my hands from turning, that’s how,” said the clock. “And, as you so astutely put it, I’ll still be correct twice a day. Which means I’m still working, although in a diminished capacity. And I’ll do it to show you that life can still be productive even in retirement.”

    I looked around my apartment trying to find hidden cameras, speakers, anything. Nothing. I stood in front of the clock. “You can’t commit suicide,” I said.

    “Why not?”

    “I can think of 13 reasons,” I said, “but the best one is… you’re blinded from the future.”

    I know this shows a lack of original thought, but time seemed to stand still as I waited for a reply.

    “Do you mean, it’s because I can’t tell the time in days of future and past, but only what time it is now?”

    “Exactly,” I said. “Those contemplating suicide only know what is, and what was, not what will be. Therefore, time, like life, isn’t three dimensional in that aspect. So, just because you’re a clock you can’t stop the future, by being inactive. You can’t stop time, time stops for no one, not even a clock. Therefore, you can’t commit suicide!”

    The face of the clock smiled at me. Smugness creeped across mine.

    Ok, ok…. I made that up, but I swear it looked as though its face changed into a half smile. And I was proud of what I said.

    The clock spoke, “Why don’t you make another cup of coffee and add a double shot of whatever that is in that flask you carry, then go sit in your easy chair and watch ‘I Love Lucy’ reruns and waste another day. Oh, and don’t forget to replace my batteries when I start to slow down, so I can get… plugged in again, recharged, powered up for another day.”

    Smart ass, I thought. “I don’t want to be productive and work anymore. Unlike you, I’m human, I’m tired. Got it, Mr. Clock? Besides, I like daytime television.

    The clock’s face changed again, another pause… then it chimed, “Then I’m not the one committing suicide.”

  29. MoiraiTQ

    Sorry about the length. I just couldn’t make it shorter.
    +++++++
    It’s 5 pm when I walk through my front door after work. Normally Toby and Whiskey greet me at the door with their tails wagging and happy smiles on their sweet dog faces. Instead, they’re on edge and distracted. I ask them what’s the matter, but of course, they don’t tell me. Except for food, they always make me wait to figure out what they want.

    I walk further into the living room, pull off my shoes and set my purse on top of the dog crate. The dogs are under-foot and in my way. I hear a slight hum or moaning sound. I cannot tell which or where. I tilt my head to the right, my good ear, and point my head up the stairs to listen for the doorbell. Sometimes, the button gets stuck and makes a humming sound. It’s not that.

    I again tilt my head to the right, but down the steps. The sound is coming from the family room area. I walk down the six steps into the room. The noise is coming from the back of the family room over by the TV. I’m hoping Toby and Whiskey have not brought an injured animal into the house. Hesitantly, I walk closer to the TV. This is when I notice our Dish box is blinking its red lights.

    Geeze, what now! We just had the technician out to realign it after it was knocked askew by the man who fixed the siding on our fire place. I bend closer to the Dish box. The sound is coming from that! Really? It’s all solid state, no mechanical parts. What can be making the noise?

    I grab the TV remote control and turn it on. Instead of the TV channel, it is a Dish error screen. I put the remote down and start to read the screen. I’m fully expecting something along the lines of having to run the realignment utility or something like that.

    I noticed that are some sad face emojis on the screen. Really? Dish is getting a sense of humor? Then it just gets bizarre. The error box is saying that it’s not happy and is going to end it all if I don’t change my viewing habits. I scrunch up my eyes and shake my head. This isn’t real. The Dish box is programming and not a sentient being. Opening my eyes, I fully expect to see BBC America or the Science Channel on.
    Nope, it’s still the gray error box. It’s actually typing messages to me, Twitter-style. It’s not happy that I’m watching Netflix so much. It’s telling me that I’m watching Star Trek too often.

    “Well, you don’t have a Star Trek channel. If you did, I’d be all over that, especially if it was an on-demand channel.” Did I really just say this out loud to our Dish box?

    “You’re right; we don’t have a Star Trek channel. Can’t you find something else to watch?” was the message that was typed on the screen. “I miss you using me in the evenings. You used to watch the Science channel.”

    I take a couple of steps back as I’m reading this conversation that I’m having with the box. I scratch my cheek in disbelief. I must be dreaming. It’s the Dish box. It cannot talk or type. It’s not like my dreams that I had when AOL v1 came out and I was thinking it was tracking me through my clock radio. OK, that’s a different story.

    This isn’t happening. I walk back up the six steps and into the kitchen to feed the dogs. The moaning sound has turned into an actual cry, a weeping sound. I turn around and look at the TV. It’s typing all in caps! “Don’t you yell at me!” I snap back at it. “Besides, I have to feed the dogs.”

    The crying sound starts to turn into a wail. “If you don’t stop crying and yelling at me, I’m turning off the TV and unplugging you!” I said in my most mom voice.
    Silence. I look at the TV. Caps are gone.

    “Please? Can you watch me more often?” It was almost pleading.

    “Let me finish with the pups and I’ll come back downstairs.” I cut it off.

    I set the dog bowls on the floor, make them wait, and then make my sign. They’re taken care of. I reach into the cupboard, grab a glass, add ice, water, and head back downstairs to continue my chat with the Dish box.

    “If you don’t come back to me, I’m going to self-destruct! You don’t want that to happen, do you? What would Paul do without his TV shows he watches on the road?”

    “You cannot guilt me into this. You know I need to have something on while I crochet. I have to listen and not watch. This is why I have Star Trek on. I can almost recite each episode from memory. Put a suggestion in for a channel and I’ll get it.”

    “Have you thought of music? You know Paul likes to listen to it when you guys go to sleep. If you don’t start with that channel tonight, then I won’t be around anymore.”

    “OK! I’ll turn it to that channel instead. I might even get more done because I’ll quit looking stuff up on http://www.imdb.com! Deal?”

    “Deal!”

      1. MoiraiTQ

        Thank you.

        I’ve not listened to music, but I have left it on the Dish box while I was crocheting this week.

        My Paul liked it, too. He didn’t know he’d been brought into my stories until he read it.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I really enjoyed your conversation with the dish box Sounds so real to me
          I went thru something similar on Friday
          I was driving to my office when suddenly the car phone started dialing people on my call list. By the time I pulled over I had to talk to three sub contractors and tell them I wasn’t nuts.

  30. jhowe

    I saw the bottle precariously perched above the tile floor at the edge of the counter. It was less than half full, but it was enough. Enough to take the edge off until my son came home. He wouldn’t like it, but he’d give me money if I demanded it. The amber liquid beckoned me, but I dared not move. The base of the bottle was near the tipping point. How it got that way was beyond me. I’d never treat a bottle so poorly. I slowly backed away, making cooing sounds, comforting sounds.

    I eased my way to the wall and stood still, watching it, wary of any sudden movements. My hands began to tremble and my head felt hot. I took a step forward, waited for the dizziness to subside and took another step. Almost there. “Hang in there baby,” I said to the bottle. “Don’t do anything rash.” I chuckled at my own wit and then I thought I saw it slide, just a fraction. I froze.

    I imagined the taste of oak, the harshness; felt the burn all the way down to my stomach. And then all would be well. Just a little taste. I tensed my legs, ready to act. I zeroed in on the center of the bottle and lunged.

    My son walked in the back door and saw me on the floor. I cradled the empty bottle like a newborn babe and smiled through the haze.

    “The son of a bitch almost did it,” I said. “It tried, but I saved it.” He blinked and shook his head. My only son didn’t respond to my sobs as he walked out the door.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        First out of the pocket is classic jhowe. You packed a whole story in here…..
        Demons of the mind. Life’s little destroyer. How real can you get. Well,all you have to do is read this.

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