The Tortoise and the Hare

Start your story with “They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck” and end your story with “Now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.”

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

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365 thoughts on “The Tortoise and the Hare

  1. Rene Paul

    THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck, for me, it did, for the Turtle, not so much.

    Our wedding plans took ten months to complete. There was no money left for a Honeymoon. Still, we took the following week off from work to get acclimated to our new life as husband and wife.

    At our reception, during the Dollar Dance, my aunt Bertha gave much more than a dollar, she surprised us with a three- night stay at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. We decided to leave right after the cake cutting ceremony.

    My ’62 Dodge Dart was not worthy of such a long trip through the Mojave Desert so I begged, make that borrowed my brother’s 1965 VW bus. For us, it was a major upgrade.

    On the road, we passed a sign touting the small town of Baker, some 25 miles ahead. Since we needed a stretch break and something cold to drink, we decide to stop there. Just outside of town, there’s a serious uphill climb. It can take a toll on older cars and newer ones too, if their air conditioner is blasting away.

    My brother’s mini bus, all 53hp and 1500cc’s of pure wimp, struggled up the mountain pass. I liking it to riding a bicycle through sand, It’s a little squirrelly and hard on the legs and lungs.

    On the descent, just pass Zzyzx road, the Dub was flying. The lights of Baker glowed in the evening dusk. Then it happened.

    A rabbit ran out from the desert onto the highway, right in front of my jumbo bug. I actually didn’t see little Peter Cottontail until the reflection in his eyes lit up a few feet from my bumper.

    I pulled hard on the steering wheel and swerved off the road onto the dirt shoulder.

    That’s when things went bad for the turtle, or should I say the desert tortoise? I didn’t see him, or her. It felt like I ran over a helmet of some kind. I told my honey to stay in the car as I checked to see what I hit.

    The scene was something out of the movie ‘The Twilight Zone’. The rabbit stood frozen in the center of the traffic lane, cars whizzing by. He was watching and staring at me. He had a look of satisfaction on his face. I swear he laughed at me before hoping back into the scrubs.

    The only way to describe the departed turtle is to reference the movie, ‘The Blob’.

    I got back in the car and told my first fib to my darling.

    “Just a rock!” I said.

    We finally made it to our rest break and ordered cold beers at a place called The Mad Greek. I downed two. We arrived at Caesar’s around 9:00 p.m.

    We went to dinner around ten, and, as we headed back to our suite – Ok…I told her it was a Honey Moon Suite. Fib number two – I put a dollar in one of those over sized slot machines. My Love pulled the handle. Bells and whistle went off…we hit the Jackpot. One million dollars!

    I couldn’t believe our good fortune. To celebrate my wife purchased a 1962 bottle of Clos Fourtet for $695 dollars. We took it up to our room. However, by the time all the excitement died down, we went to bed, exhausted. We didn’t drink the wine and we didn’t, you know…it was a long day.

    The next afternoon we bought a brand new Corvette and arranged for my brother’s minibus to be transported back to California.

    The following morning we decided to go home. We open the bottle of wine as soon as we hit the I-15 southbound. By the time we passed Baker, the bottle was empty.

    This time driving over the mountain pass we were flying going up the hill. That is until we reached Zzyzx road.

    A rabbit jumped unto the highway straight in front of us. He had a smile on his face. I slammed on the brakes and lost control of the vehicle. We plunged down the side of the highway and rolled over a few times before I lost consciousness.

    3-days later, I woke up in a hospital bed. My right wrist was handcuffed to the bed rail. A police officer, seated in the corner of my room, stood up and walked over to me.

    I asked him, “What’s going on?”

    “You were in an accident. Let me get the doctor.”

    A few minutes later, a doctor entered the room.

    “I have some bad news for you.”

    Still a bit groggy, I asked, “How’s my wife?”

    He was deadpan in his reply. “She didn’t make it. Sergeant Connor has you under arrest for her death.”

    “What?”

    Connor chimed in, “Your blood alcohol was twice the legal limit and apparently you filed a false tax statement with Caesar’s Palace to avoid paying income tax on your casino winnings”.

    There you have it, exactly as it happened. However, I’m not the only one to blame. Now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.

    1. Observer Tim

      And that is the price of too much celebrating and too little thinking. This is a lovely morality tale, Rene Pau, the kind that would have been printed in a “tract” a century ago. I espially enjoyed watching the lies and the good fortune escalate until the calamitous end. Nicely done! 🙂

  2. charkhanolakha

    The tortoise and the rabbit

    Tortoises are wise, strange creatures. They have a lot of time to ponder things in you see. They ponder while basking in the sun on warm summer sand. In the winter, when they are tired, and go into the depths of their shells, they light their little candles, and they sit, and they ponder in the soft golden glow.
    One of their favorite things to think about is love. They think about all sorts of love. They think about the love clouds feel for the rain drops they carry. They think about the love the roots of a tree feel when they stretch and uncoil in their lovely, soil home. They even think about the dark, hungry love an eagle feels for its prey.
    This is what enables them to understand human love so well. It is said that if a tortoise condescends to visit your wedding, she brings as a gift a piece of advice that she whispers in your ear. If you heed it, you and your love will live a happy, full life. So before you get married, you bring a small tribute for the tortoise, you knock on the door of its’ shell home, and you await a response.
    Jamal had known all this. He had grown up listening to his grandmother tell stories of the wisdom of the tortoises. He would listen to her old, musical voice rise and fall, sitting on the rough, wooden floor of their one room cottage as dusk settled outside. So when he had grown up, fallen in love and decided to get married, he set out to find a tortoise he could invite to his wedding.
    On his way he met a rabbit. Now, unfortunately, Jamal’s grandmother knew no stories about these curious creatures. He had not heard that they love playing tricks on people, or that they have large families that are constantly hungry. Rabbits run about their tunnels, looking for food, and when they don’t find anything, they surface in search of people to trick out of their money.
    This particular rabbit was very sly. He had been waiting on a busy road for a human to pass, his mustache carefully oiled, his faded patchwork vest ironed, and an old red hat set over his eyes at a rakish angle. In his pocket hid a gem, a single gleaming ruby, which contained every shade of red that has ever existed.
    How did the rabbit come by such a lovely stone?
    The ruby had been sent by the king with his special errand man, to be set in a crown for his young princess. The rabbit had chewed a hole in errand man’s satchel, slipped the ruby into his own pocket and dived underground.
    He had tried selling it to his friend the mole. He had tried selling it to the swan, who was vain, and liked pretty things. He had even tried selling it to the magpie he feared. But all of them had heard that the king’s men were looking high and low for the ruby, and had laughed him away. Now afraid and desperate, the rabbit saw Jamal walking down the road.
    “Young sir! Please young sir! I am a lonely rabbit, will you talk to me a while?” he said.
    Jamal was a kind boy. “Of course, Mr. Rabbit”. He sat down.
    “Where might you be going, young sir?”
    “I am looking for a tortoise who will agree to come to my wedding, Mr. Rabbit”
    “Oh! Have you thought about what you will gift the tortoise, young sir?”
    “I am a poor man, Mr. Rabbit. I just have this sack of apples from the tree outside my cottage. I was hoping to trade it for a gift in town.”
    “Well, young sir, this is your lucky day! As it happens, I have a beautiful stone that will glitter in a tortoises’ shell, and make her happy!”
    The sly rabbit pulled out the stone and showed it to Jamal. Sweet, innocent Jamal, who had not heard of the ruby or its theft, looked into the gem’s red depths with wonder. Grateful and happy, he left the apples with the rabbit, carefully placed the stone in his pocket, and walked on.
    When Jamal finally reached town, he saw the sheriff perched on a wagon outside the gates. As you can guess, the sheriff had been posted there by the king, to look for his daughter’s ruby. The sheriff did not think the young man looked like a thief, but asked him to empty out his pockets anyway. And this is why Jamal now sits in the town jail, waiting for the day when he will be set free, so he can go home and finally marry his love.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a wonderful tale in the tradition of Aesop’s Fables or the Mother Goose stories. You captured the tone of that style of writing beautifully. Very nice, Charkhanolakha! 🙂

      I do not recognize your name, so welcome aboard!

  3. JRSimmang

    WHEN TWO FAMILIES UNITE

    They wouldn’t tell me a lot about the wedding day, but they did make it very clear I had to visit Turtles. Papa Ronnie was a good Catholic, superstitious and faithful, so we spent the morning in church. He didn’t want the wedding to end up in bloodshed.

    “You know where he is, right?” he asked while draping his arm around me. He always smelled like a department store.

    “Yeah, pops, I know where he is.”

    “Good, good. That’s my boy.” We were walking out to my car. “And you got the 9?”

    I pulled back my coat jacket. “No. I got my .40 instead.”

    He whistled. “Good boy, good boy.” Then he laughed and pulled his arm from around me to grasp me at arm’s length with both hands. “You’re sure you can do this?”

    I looked past him to Donny and Fran. “Better than they could.”

    Papa glanced behind him and snorted. “Yeah, yeah. They’re good in brawls, but they ain’t got that little voice upstairs that tells them when they’re being morons.” He threw up a thumbs up, and they two other men smiled.

    He squeezed my arms once more, and let me get into my car.

    “Remember,” he said. “If you feel like you’re cornered, tap the little button on your electronic doohickey. It’ll let us know you’re in trouble.”

    I nodded, started up my car, and merged onto the turnpike.

    Turtles owned a pizza parlor off Louisiana Boulevard. I had to laugh at how iconoclastically stereotypical this whole business is. Bosses owning parts of the city, taking up HQ in dreadfully Italian-themed restaurants, deals in cigar-smoke-filled rooms where topless women walked around refreshing drinks while dealers tossed cards on tables, pea-brained henchmen, shootouts. But, they were serious, so I had to be. Rabbit wasn’t going to sell itself.

    I looked into the backseat just to check if Rabbit was still there. Blocks of pure white stacked in neat rows and laid into a box labeled “Chuck Bongino’s World Famous Linguini.” It was a peace offering, a momentous occasion when the Ferragamos and the Delarusticos become co-owners of the Upper East Side.

    His restaurant is on the corner. I slowed down approaching the two watchmen and rolled down my window. “Turtles is waiting for his Rabbit,” I said, almost choking on the silliness that just left my mouth.

    They waved me past them and into the shipment dock. Two other men were standing there clutching their ARs. Both of them had to duck to get out from under the awning, and the both cast shadows as large as my car.

    “Out,” the balder one said. I obliged.

    “You here for Turtles?” the uglier one asked.

    I nodded my head. “I brought Rabbit.”

    They both nodded and the bald one shouted into the backroom, “he got the Rabbit. We bringing him back!”

    I took that as a good sign, and I walked around to the back of the car, opened the door, and pulled out the box.

    “It says linguini,” the ugly one pointed out.

    “Stupid, it’s to disguise it.” The bald one apparently had some brains.

    They took me into the shop, where it looked like Turtles was running a legitimate pizza parlor. It smelled like my grandmother’s kitchen, and the cooks were busy preparing sauces and rolling out dough. This guy really knew how to put up a front. He was sitting in the office, which was primarily a low wall with business behind it.

    He was younger than I thought he would be, pushing 40 maybe. When he saw me, then saw my box, he stood up and smiled. “Ah, you must be Theo. Pleasure to make your acquaintance. Please, come in. Come in! You can put that box down right here.”

    “Morning,” was all I said, and I put the box down where he requested. He grabbed his box opener, cut open the box, grabbed a brick, sliced it, stuck in his pinky, stuck the pinky in his mouth, and rolled the Rabbit around for a few seconds.

    “Fenomenale!” he exclaimed a little too loudly. “This is good stuff. Really good stuff.” He smiled large and bright. “I’ll tell the Delarusticos I approve of this marriage. You can go now.”

    The two armed men who brought me in escorted me out.

    “Well, that was easy,” I said.

    “He’s a really easy guy,” replied the bald one.

    “And he’s really nice,” added the ugly one.

    Then they both held up their ARs, aimed out into the loading dock and released a volley of shells. I felt a bullet hit my arm, and that’s when I noticed the cops standing outside, waiting for us. I backtracked before spinning around and running into the kitchen. I dodged the ricochets and pings of bullets bouncing off the iron cookware, the steel scaffolding, and the cooks. Sparks were flying at me, at Turtles (who was running up next to me), and into the food.

    I burst into the dining hall and into the open arms of eight men in blue. They threw me to the ground, read me my Miranda rights, handcuffed me, removed my gun, and tossed me into a car.

    They said that after 10, I’d be up for review. 20 would be pushing it. Stupid me. Stupid Rabbit.

    -JR Simmang

    1. Observer Tim

      It’s interesting how, despite the assurance at the top of the story, I still expected the MC to end up shooting someone at Turtles’s place. I love the description and the atmosphere; I can see this playing out on black and white film. Great gangster take, JR! 🙂

  4. Craig the Editor

    Just A Hare Off

    “They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck.” sighed Kevin, the newest addition to our Federal penitentiary system. Like many of his kind he was potbellied, pale and pasty, with a nervous twitch. His eyes bounced around my office like ping pong balls in a wind storm. Okay…I am exaggerating , but he did have very shifty eyes.

    I’m Margo Feldman, the prison “shrink”. It’s my duty to evaluate each new member of our happy family and make sure they fit in. My latest patient was Kevin DeCloud, a level two magic user with some grandiose ambitions.

    “Hold up a minute, who told you it would bring good luck?”

    “It was Kai, my familiar. He’s a wombat. They are very in, this year, for familiars. He told me that according to legend, that if you saw a turtle, it would bring good luck, I guess the idea is that because turtles live a long time, therefor seeing one would cause your marriage to last a long time as well.”

    “Trust me, that’s not always a good thing.”

    “Well, at the time it seemed like a good idea. Obviously I was mistaken. But it gets better.”

    “Please gp on.”

    “The bigger the turtle, the more good luck you should have. Makes sense doesn’t it?”

    “Sure, I suppose. So you were merely trying ot create as much “good” luck as possible?”

    “I assume you’ve read the transcript of my trial? The complete thing was a travesty of justice! I told the judge it was a simple, unintended miscalculation that could happen to anyone.” groused Kevin.

    “Yes, I have read the transcripts, but I want to hear it directly from you. You are listed as a level two wizard, but the spell you cast was designated for a level 10 or higher. What were you thinking?”

    Kevin, fiddles with the cuffs of his prison jump suit. “Clearly I wasn’t thinking straight. I must have been blinded by love….Yes, that’s it. I was blinded by love.”

    “You were so blinded that you crete a turtle large enough to destru most of the town and swallow your bride!”

    “It is a well known fact that dwarf warrior princesses are nearly indestuctible. I knew the moment he swallowed her, she would come out in the end.”

    “That is possibly the worst pun I have ever heard. The reason she was swallowed was because she was trying to protect the town. Where were you in all of this?”

    “I don’t recall exactly.” he replied. studying his cuticles.

    “According to the court transcripts you were hiding in a root cellar.”

    “I didn’t want to distract my bride, so I decided to quietly slip away.”

    “Let’s go back to what went wrong with the spell. What happened”

    “Well, I gathered the necessary ingredients, but in the original spell it doesn’t call for a rabbit…exactly.”

    “What does it call for?”

    “It calls for a gopher, but I went with the rabbit to accelerate the growth process. I just forgot about having a way to stop the growth. Now I am doing 10 – 20 in a Federal prison. Stupid rabbit!”

    1. Observer Tim

      I love how Kevin blames the rabbit for his multi-part colossal intended unintended screw-up. The dialogue makes for a nice gentle reveal of the escalating calamity. It reminds me of the kind of story that begins as follows:

      “Did everything go all right while I was away?”
      “Oh, fine. After we put the fire in the living room out, Jean and I…”

      The only thing that threw me was the “level” magic references, but that’s probably because I spent too many years playing (and refereeing) Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy RPG’s. The levels sound more like Tunnels & Trolls, to think of it.

      Great job, Craig. 🙂

      1. Craig the Editor

        As always thank you for the kind and encouraging words. As for the levels of magic reference I must confesss to not being a gamer. I just wanted to make Kevin, slightly more than a novice and I wanted the spell to be something only a more experienced magic user would attempt. Still if I have amused you and others than I have achieved my immediate goal.

  5. Dana Cariola

    They said, that if you see a turtle on your wedding day. It could bring you good luck. Me…I never believed in luck, or even karmic justice. Life is what you made of it!…Nothing more. No divine intervention to save you from the world. Or even yourself.

    I’d just gotten married to a hooker..I picked up on the Vegas strip. At least, that’s what she told me when I woke up the next morning. And, with my head still soaking wet, from Grey Goose.
    “What?…How much do I owe you, So you can get the fuck out of here?”
    “I’m not goin’ anywhere!…You and Me…are married.” the woman proudly announced. Then flashed what looked to be a very expensive diamond wedding ring and band, surrounding her bony finger.
    “Look..What’s your name?” the man paused.
    “The name’s Mrs. Durham!” she sharply replied. “Your wife!”
    “That’s enough!..You know what!..Who the fuck cares what your name is!…Just take the money and split, Bitch!”
    “I’m not going anywhere!…We’re married!…And, your taking me back to California with you. Just like you’d promised.” the aging hooker demanded.

    Shaking his head, the man reached for the phone and dialed hotel security. A white flash of light, along with a constant humming noise, banged inside of his brain, as he tried to make sense of what had just happened. A warm stream of fluid, cascaded down onto his brow. The strong taste of iron filled his mouth, as the cooling liquid trickled inside.
    “What the fuck!” he slurred out, unsure of his injury. He slide down onto the rug, crawling towards his suitcase, that contained his pistol. A screeching sound pierced through the hotel room, like the sound of an alley cat brawl. The woman quickly pounced on the man’s back, clawing at his flesh, like some wild beast. The hooker’s rage intensified with each blow. As the man looked up, he was able to catch a glimpse of his attacker’s reflection, in the mirror that hung on the closet door. It was a god dam monster! It had the body of a goddess, but it’s face was putrid flesh. The sickening smell of rotting corpse, all around. And, black pits where the eyes should have been!

    The sound of her ear shattering screams, alarmed the neighboring guests, alerting security to the room. As they busted down the door. Her screams, silenced. With gun’s locked and loaded on the man. He glanced over to see a beautiful woman lying dead on the floor next to him. Her body had been mutilated beyond belief, as the injured man, stare, in disbelief. And, noticed a small tattoo of a turtle on the woman’s left shoulder blade. And, then he remembered.

    There had been two woman dancers, that had caught his eye. As they both lapped dance for him, together. One had a turtle tattoo, and the other, a hare. And, Of course. The turtle won! Stupid Rabbit

    As the hooker’s rage

    1. Observer Tim

      This has the feel of an excerpt from a larger story, or one that got cut off by WordPress. It’s very intense, and I get the impression the MC is at least a little bit psychotic. Okay, a lot psychotic. Good job! 🙂

      I found the POV shift in the middle a wee bit confusing, but not insurmountable. I would suggest recasting the first part in third person (including appropriate changes to the forced intro).

    2. Katia.Snow

      Like Tim observed, I noticed that the point of view had changed, which was a little confusing. Aside from that, I quite liked the story and the menacing hooker.

  6. Observer Tim

    THE TRIAL

    “They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck, Your Honour.”

    “I don’t see what this has to do with the matter before us, Miss M’Randa.”

    “It’s key, Your Honour. That’s why I came to this planet in the first place. Otherwise I tend to stay away from human worlds.”

    “And why is that, Miss M’Randa?”

    “I’m an ELF, an Engineered Life Form. Normally my interactions with customers in my heavy cargo hauling business are deliberately limited. It was your planet’s formal customs that caused the incident.”

    “Please explain yourself.”

    “Okay, it started with the turtle. Why somebody would want a kilometer-long reptile is beyond me, but I just haul them. That part went fine. It was when we got here that the problem started. Mr. Narani…”

    “The Plaintiff?”

    “Yes, him. He insisted that I attend his son’s wedding feast, and he wouldn’t take ‘No, it’s too dangerous’ as an answer. Anyway, I know your planet’s laws about sex are all fucked up.”

    “Language, Miss M’Randa.”

    “Sorry, I forgot you people don’t even like to talk about …reproduction. That’s a real kick in the …sensitives to my defense. Anyway, the problem started when the plaintiff’s robot guards dragged me down and threatened me until I got into that silly-ass formal uniform.”

    “And why did you not stop them?”

    “Because they wouldn’t listen. Like owner, like robot. I tried to tell them that I’d been sprayed by a Vitravian skunkrabbit last week, which meant my engineered abilities were both super-enhanced and knocked totally out of control.”

    “So you found it easier to fly a starship. I find that of little relevance.”

    “I am not a spacer ELF! That’s the problem! I wasn’t engineered to fly a starship, I was engineered to be a pleasure ELF! I spent five years being a sex doll before the Liberation; after that I wanted a job with no human contact, thank you. That’s why I became a spacer, and eventually earned enough to buy my own ship. Now I haul cargo for a living.”

    “Continue, please.”

    “So I got to the feast and there were over five hundred people present. Normally my power would make a few nearby people a bit randy, but I was running on overdrive in a radius. That’s why it happened.”

    “The riot which took police officers and federal troops to bring under control.”

    “That’s it, Your Honour. Though I think ‘orgy’ is a better term. You should know, you were there; and from personal experience, you were quite good.”

    “Ahem. Thank you, Miss M’Randa. Do you have any more to add?”

    “Just this. I was probably the only person in that hall that didn’t act of my own volition.”

    “Noted. Now I turn the matter over to witness voting. …Hmm, that was fast. By a margin of 435 to 87 you are found not guilty.”

    “Thanks, Your Honour. I really thought this would end with ‘Now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.’”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I loved the part about Miss M’Randa having a trist with the honorable judge and she havingt five years preliminary training as a sex drool, oops, I meant sex doll. Then earning a living as a 16 wheeler long haul trucker. “Why anyone would want a kilometer-long reptile is beyond me but I just haul them.” Write that one in stone, Tim.

    2. snuzcook

      So many fun bits in this story, Tim. I was a teensy bit lost about the skunkrabbit connection on the first read through, and kept expecting there to be more to the kilometer-long turtle reference, but it all became clear. As always, the context you created was immensely entertaining, and your pace is flawless.

  7. cosi van tutte

    Okay! One last one. Just because. And, fair warning, this one is located several miles away from the actual prompt and it’s a little long.

    Turtle Lord MaComme sat still in his library of tortoise-shell bookcases and thick, dusty books. He had a maid who dusted the books on a regular schedule, but the dust always returned. It was a strange occurrence and the Turtle Lord enjoyed meditating on it.

    But, on this day, he was not in the library to meditate.

    The library door opened. “My Lord!”

    He muttered an incantation and turned into a turtle. He tucked his head into his shell and hoped for the best possible outcome.

    She entered the room and approached his hiding place. Her footsteps vibrated the floor and, very subtly, his chair. “My Lord, your presence is requested in the anteroom.”

    He tucked in his four legs.

    “My Lord! Please.”

    He kept his beaked mouth shut.

    She went silent.

    He waited.

    “I could pick you up and carry you out there, but I do not wish to injure your dignity. Please, my Lord.”

    He snapped his mouth before extending his head. He blinked in surprise. Her face was so close to his own. He snapped again and she took the hint. She rose to her feet and stood with her arms flat against her sides.

    “Queen Beulah of the Vrashlini Kingdom wants your blessing for her marriage.”

    “I’ve blessed ten marriages for her.” He tilted his head and fixed a beady-eyed glare on his maid. “I’d say I’ve done my part and then some.”

    “That may be true, my Lord, but it is expected of you.”

    “I don’t want to do it.”

    “Your father—”

    “My father!” He transformed back into his human shape. “Don’t speak to me of my father. He was the Sea Turtle Lord. HE didn’t have to deal with the selfish ingrates that I have to deal with every day.”

    “That is true, my Lord.” She waited a couple of beats. “But it is your responsibility.”

    He folded his arms across his chest and sulked.

    “The Vrashlini Kingdom is your closest ally. You do not want to risk upsetting them unnecessarily.”

    He looked away from her. “I am well aware of my responsibilities as Turtle Lord. My father spoke of it every day throughout my childhood. My mother spoke of it. My tutors spoke of it. My advisors speak of it all the time.” He shot a glare at her. “And now you. I know what I must do as Turtle Lord. I just don’t enjoy doing it anymore. I want a vacation from it. Even if it is for only one day, I want to be just MaComme.”

    She smiled and he liked how it changed her face. “You want a day off?”

    It sounded stupid and silly when phrased that way, but he refused to back down. “Yes, but you are in no position to grant it for me.”

    Her smiled didn’t disappear as he had expected. “You are right. I am only a maid. But, my Lord, I have a talent. I don’t use it very often, but it is a great talent. Almost like magic.”

    “What is it?”

    “I can persuade people to allow certain things to happen.”

    He unfolded his arms. “Have you ever used it on me?”

    “Never and I never will. It wouldn’t be appropriate. I am willing to use it on your advisors. Gently persuade them to let you have the day off. Maybe even the week off. What do you say to that?”

    “Magic or not, they would never succumb to your suggestion.”

    “Maybe, but I have found that advisors are very susceptible to my ability.”

    He looked down at his desk and contemplated the swirls and whorls ingrained in its wood. “You want something in exchange.” He looked up at her. “What?”

    “I want you to bless Queen Beulah’s marriage.”

    He almost snapped his mouth again, but stopped when he remembered that he was no longer a turtle. “I’ll grant you anything else but that.”

    “I understand your reticence, my Lord, but humor her. Just this one last time.”

    “Why? And don’t speak of responsibility and rot of that. Speak to me. Tell me why.”

    She hesitated.

    He rose from his chair and stepped into her personal space.

    She startled and started to back away, but he grabbed her hands. “Tell me why you care about Queen Beulah’s marriage.”

    “I don’t.”

    He smiled. “You do.”

    She bowed her head. “She’s marrying my brother.”

    “What? She can’t do that. He isn’t royalty.”

    “But she will marry him anyway. When they marry, he has agreed to acquire me from you—”

    He opened his mouth to object.

    “—by claiming Fraternial Rights and then he will set me free to live as I wish.”

    “As you wish…” He released her hands. “You wish to leave me.”

    She raised her head. “I will speak to your advisors before I leave.” She smiled, but it was weak. “They will be persuaded to give you whatever you wish.”

    He laid his hands upon her shoulders. “Do you wish to leave me?”

    “I only wish for my brother’s happiness.”

    “What of your happiness?”

    “I will be free, my Lord.”

    “You…” He released her. “I understand.”

    “Do you?”

    “Yes. I will do as you say. I will bless her marriage.” He felt like screaming with rage and sorrow, but he kept it well buckled inside. “And I will set you free.”

    Turtle Lord MaComme left the room.

    The maid stood still and alone. “I will be free. It’s what I want.” She looked at the closed door. “Isn’t it?”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A beautiful turtle love story. I suspected from the beginning, the maid was in love with Turtle Lord MaComme. For it was she with her power who brought back the dust so she could spend more time with him. Did I hit the mark?

    2. snuzcook

      Interesting and entertaining essay about freedom. Leaves a lot to be filled in by the reader and that is intriguing. I love the image of a political leader who can take the shape of a turtle–what great material for a satire!

    3. Observer Tim

      Wow. Very nice tale of two people striving to be free of their strictures and responsibilities. The dialogue is a bit stilted, as you would expect it to be when there is such a huge gap in social standing. Even so, the romantic tension is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Of course, when her brother marries the queen that will pull her at least into the nobility, which will make it possible for her to approach the Turtle Lord and make her case with him. Complex undertones for a dialogue-driven piece. 🙂

      P.S. It strikes me that the Turtle Lord is a god in the Eastern sense, an exemplar of all things turtle.

  8. Katia.Snow

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day brings good luck. At least, that’s what my crazy aunt Helen kept saying the day of my brother’s wedding. To humour her, I promised I would keep an eye out for one. My brother was nervously pacing the living room, running a hand through his hair. I have to admit he looked stunning in his suit, but I couldn’t stand seeing him so agitated, so I asked him to stop. He didn’t seem to hear me so I left him and walked into the kitchen, in search of some food. I didn’t eat breakfast today, and I wanted an apple. Upon entering the kitchen I found that it was crowded. Everyone seemed eager to help out with making my mom’s special blueberry pie. I wove my way past relatives until I found my mom.
    “Mom, can I have an apple?,” I asked. My mom looked up from stirring batter.
    “I think we ran out,” she told me.
    “Well what do we have?,” I exclaimed.
    “I think there should be some cookies on the counter,” my mom said, turning her attention back to the batter. In other words, she wanted me to leave. I looked at the counter where my younger cousin Jared was smashing eggs on his head. I decided that I wasn’t so hungry anymore and went outside. I sat down on the steps and I looked around the neighbourhood when I spotted…a turtle making it’s way across the street. My jaw dropped. This had to be a coincidence. I got up and started walking towards the turtle. I picked it up gently and considered what I should do with it. I could bring it to Aunt Helen, or maybe to my brother. That’s when I noticed a collar around the turtle’s neck. It read: “If found, please return to 91 Forde Street.” I knew that street! It was only four blocks away, and the residents of 91 Forde Street were very rich. I ran into the garage and grabbed a small cardboard box, emptying it of it’s contents. I set the turtle inside. Then, I got on my bike and texted my brother that I would be back in twenty minutes. With the box in hand, I started off to 91 Forde Street. I turned the corner and picked up speed. I looked straight ahead, and I didn’t notice a rabbit appear out of the bushes and start crossing the street. All I heard was the sickening CRUNCH of bones and a bloodcurdling scream. I looked down to see that I had ran over the rabbit. Oops. People who heard the shriek ran to the scene, and in minutes I think half the town was there. Someone actually called the ambulance. The paramedics handled the rabbit with extreme care, which baffled me. It was just a rabbit! Or was it? It turns out that the rabbit belonged to the residents of 91 Forde Street.
    “Hey, you,” one of the paramedics said, turning to me. “You killed this rabbit?”
    “Sir, I swear I didn’t mean to!,” I gushed. “I didn’t see hm until I hit him and I wasn’t even sure what happened and-”
    “And what’s in that box?,” the paramedic asked.
    “Um…a turtle. I was returning it to 91 Forde Street.”
    “Huh. Strange coincidence, don’t you think?”
    “You have no idea,” I muttered. Just then, Mr. Warner, the owner of 91 Forde Street, appeared. He paled at the sight of his rabbit. You looked at the turtle, who was peeping out of it’s box. Mr. Warner walked up to me.
    “Do you know what you’ve done?,” he yelled. “Rabbit was the most famous rabbit in history. He stars in three movies. And give me Turtle!”
    He yanked the box away from me and cooed at the turtle inside. I raised my eyebrows.
    “You…named your rabbit Rabbit?,” I asked.
    “Don’t change the subject!,” Warner snapped. “I’ll make sure you’ll pay. I’ll charge you with manslaughter!”

    Now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid Rabbit.

    1. snuzcook

      The first part of your story I felt very like I was walking around the house on the day of the wedding along with your MC, seeing through her eyes, understanding why she noticed the things she noticed and reacting the way she reacted.
      The mysterious, powerful people at 91 Forde Street are intriguing. It hardly seems fair that your MC would be blamed for what clearly was unavoidable destiny. That is where I find the core of interest in your story–innocent good Samaritan gets blamed for occurrences beyond her control on a day when nothing is within her control.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Fun story, Katia.Snow. I also felt I walked around in the house with a blur of people. The description was just enough to create the reader’s imagination and place him on the scene. The boy cracking eggs on his head seemed normal behavior, unless they were sioft boiled three minute eggs. God help him if they were raw. I have a nephew that I wouldn’t put past doing the same thing.

    2. Observer Tim

      I love the way you described the wedding preparations, with the crowded house and everyone too busy to pay attention to the MC. The utterly uncreative way his mother got him to buzz off is also totally spot on. This is a great slice-of-life story, Katia. 🙂

      Mr. Warner has got some kind of power, to totally circmvent the justice system; not only was he able to have the death of an animal tried as manslaughter, he was able to get a minor sentenced to federal prison. Of course, all this evaporates if the story does not take place in the ‘western’ world.

  9. WritingKittenOfLoki

    As much as I have loved how everyone seems to have taken this prompt in the same direction, I thought I would try something different.
    I’m bringing back Jessie and Seth that I have used before.
    ____

    Family and Weddings

    “They told me seeing a turtle on my wedding day would bring good luck!” Jessie Anne was pouring out her frustration to a patiently listening Seth.

    They were in Seth’s house. He was sitting at his baby-grand piano looking over a new piece of sheet music he had just gotten, and Jessie was pacing beside him.

    “I have to admit,” She continued, “Even though their subtlety hasn’t improved, they are getting progressively creative,”

    Seth spoke next, “Family reunions. Aren’t they great!” his voice was heavily lased with sarcasm.

    “All of them seem to be expecting me to get married as soon as possible!”

    “Horrifying thought,”

    “I’m not even interested in anyone!”

    “They don’t know that,”

    “But I’ve told them so!”

    “That doesn’t stop them?”

    “No. When I say it they just start suggesting guys they all know.”

    “Eww,” He recoiled at the thought of having a spouse recommended to him by his family.

    “I know right?!”

    They were both silent for a moment then Seth started playing the music in his hands.

    Jessie listened for a few measures before asking, “What’s that?”

    “Oh, um… it’s a medley my cousin wants me to play for her wedding, in two months,” he answered without stopping.

    Jessie groaned “Weddings are everywhere!”

    Seth nodded. “My sister just got engaged, her wedding is in a year.”

    “My older brother’s wedding is in three weeks – Wait, younger sister or older?”

    “Uh, younger…” his fingers tripped and hit the wrong note.

    “Congrats” Jessie said, coming around behind him to see the music.

    “Not my wedding,” He replied “But thanks anyway,” he quickly threw her a smile, “Could you turn the page in a moment? Please,”

    “Yeah,” she waited until the proper moment, and then turned the page with ease – having done it many times for him before.

    He paused his fingers and looked up at her “Do you want to be my plus one?”

    “What?”

    “To my sister’s wedding,”

    “You get a plus one?”

    “Yeah, even though I’m in the wedding party,”

    “Um. Sure.” She shrugged

    “Good,” He resumed playing

    “Do you want to be mine? My brother’s wedding is very small but we are allowed to have a personal guest at the reception.”

    “Sounds good to me, but you know what they’re all going to say.”

    “Yeah, but you don’t mind do you?”

    “No.” He replied “then it’s settled whenever one of us has to go to a wedding we will take the other with us.” He stopped in the middle of the song and stood up, “Now, allow me to escort you home,”

    _ _ _

    Back at her house Jessie sat down at her desk to write. She glanced at the notepad beside her laptop that held her random midnight ideas. The most recent one caught her eye: “Now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.”

    1. snuzcook

      I like this. I read it through several times and really got into the flow of the give and take, the intimacy between them, the agreement they make. The requisite turtle and rabbit references seem completely disconnected and gratuitous–leaving me wondering how you would prefer to have started and ended the story.

      1. WritingKittenOfLoki

        I’m glad you like it snuz. 🙂
        When I started writing this one I didn’t know how much the turtle and rabbit would come into play, I just started and let it all flow. Since it didn’t come back into the conversation I decided to leave it that way.

    2. Observer Tim

      Very nice and sentimental take, Kitten. I especially like the natural interplay between Seth and Jessie. Maybe they should be married; this reads like the beginning of an old-style Broadway musical. Absolutely fabulous! 🙂

      I noticed the only way to reduce the mayhem was to move the turtle and rabbit to incidental parts, but that’s okay. It was a nice break with a much-reduced death toll.

  10. snuzcook

    I’ve been trying to work a story from this perspective for this prompt, but when I finally did it got away from me and is incredibly long.

    SHARING

    I have to remind myself that this was all my own idea. I wanted our life together to begin with a deeply spiritual experience, something to join us forever through our own personal mythology.

    The SpiritQuest facilitator set us up with a wonderful location. The plan was that Stan would have 48 hours on a ridge about half a mile away on the other side of the canyon where White Creek flowed, and I would spend mine on a ridge on this side. Each of us had only the essentials: water, matches, tarps and a hatchet, and a flare in case of trouble. We also had voice activated recorders so we could share our experiences afterward, whatever they may be.

    The first day I set up my camp in no time at all. I was accustomed to camping alone, and rigging a shelter and building a fire circle as a simple task. The temptation was to go exploring, but that was against the rules. The whole idea was to stay put and let spirit animals come to me. Across the canyon I could see a hint of blue where Stan had set up his camp among the trees. He was too far away to shout, too far away even to see me wave. I found myself distracted with thoughts of him so close and yet so far. I spent the entire afternoon composing a poem on the recorder to use for our vows, knowing it would be the first thing I shared with him when we met again.

    That evening I heard something moving at the edge of my camp. The a large tortoise waddled into the circle of light from my fire. What a wonderful visitation. The tortoise symbolizes patience, earth, stability—all elements very different from my nature, but incredibly lucky for a bride to be. The tortoise did not approach; it moved away from the light and back into the brush. I stayed awake long into the night, hoping for another creature to appear, but the half moon set early and only the shooting stars were moving in the isolation of my camp.

    Across the way, I could see the winking light of Stan’s fire. I wondered what he might be experiencing this night. Would he be up to the challenge? Stan was an accountant, and a city boy. He was uncomfortable in Nature, and skeptical at best about this entire idea. But he had complied, as he always did, because I told him it was important to me. I hoped the experience would bring us closer.

    I could not sleep that night. Even with my experience, the ground was harsh without the comfort of a sleeping mat, and my belly was demanding food. I shivered in the predawn. I worried that Stan was having a more meaningful experience than I was. Or maybe animals were visiting him instead of me, and he didn’t even realize it. What if he was sleeping soundly while the entire spirit realm was trying to get his attention? How could they abandon me for him? Would he recognize the symbolism of a cricket’s chirp? Would he be awed by the rustle of an owl’s wings? Would he be able to distinguish the yip of a fox from that of a coyote?

    I was deeply disappointed that no creature other than that stupid turtle had revealed itself to me, and it’s only message was patience. I knew I should comply, but I couldn’t. I had with me special leaves that I read somewhere would enhance the vision experience. It was cheating, but maybe I was just too distracted by Stan’s presence to tune in to the spirit world. I put them into my water bottle and set it on a rock to catch the first rays of the sun. I was determined that my second day would bring me something worth recording.

    Time telescoped for me. The sun baked the ridge that day, but I was one with the sun in a way I had never before experienced. The tea from my water bottle satisfied my hunger and I was content to feel the wind. I could discern scents of the earth and the trees so clearly. I could hear the movement of ants on the rocks and the busy gnawing of a chipmunk as it dismantled a pinecone fifty feet away. I recorded everything until my voice was raspy with overuse.

    As night fell, I heard the approach of footsteps in the brush. I had been dozing, and I had dreamed of a rabbit walking in the shadows. Ah, I thought, a rabbit symbolizes marriage and family and home. But as I dreamed, the rabbit took the shape of a man. The man was trying to capture me, to keep my prisoner in a room with bars on the windows when all I wanted was to escape and run to the forest. I opened my eyes and the rabbit-in-the-shape-of-a-man was there, at the edge of my camp. It was Rabbit, the trickster. I knew he was there to fool me, to take me away. My dream had been a warning. My quest was to battle this Trickster and refuse to be taken.

    ****’
    Stan testified that he snuck over to my camp that night as a romantic prank and I attacked him with the hatchet. He insisted that I had said something to the effect that I wouldn’t let him marry me and lock me away. The prosecution charged that I knew what I was doing, even though I may have been under the influence of mild hallucinogens. It was attempted murder, they claimed. The recording I had made was evidence that I resented Stan to pathological levels.

    Now I’m doing 10-20 locked in a room with bars on the windows. I am learning patience the hard way. Stupid Rabbit!

    1. Observer Tim

      Stan is an idiot. That said, this is a beautiful story about harmony with nature and what happens when we let our own human expectations get in the way. I love the scene itself, along with the description of the MC’s mental slide. The problem with “experimenting” with psychoactive substances is that they can really make this sort of thing plausible. Lovely job! 🙂

  11. ShamelessHack

    They told me seeing a turtle at your wedding would bring good luck.

    They also told me that if I DIDN’T see one at my wedding, they would make sure I was framed for the murder of Lettuce Luciani, and wind up taking the rap for Don Carrottini, head of La Carrot Nostra.

    They were right.

    Now I’m doing… well you know the rest.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is an absolute riot, I love it! What’s so funny is, I built a high end Italian bistro for a man named Luciano who gave me so many headaches, I murdered him with five slugs to his chest in the first chapter of my novella called ‘A Journey In Terror.’ I should have sent him a copy, then he would have sued me!

  12. ArronP

    I went a bit over 500. My bad.

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck, so when I saw a small turtle dragging itself across my driveway on that fateful Saturday morning I couldn’t have been more elated. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, and I had a smile on my face and a song in my heart. I helped the little fellow (or madam) across the hot pavement and onto the grass on the other side, got in my car, and headed toward the church. I pulled into the parking lot trying to keep my nerves down to a mellow form of frantic as opposed to the heavy metal head-bashing frantic they were striving for. This was going to be the first day of the rest of my life and throwing up all over myself certainly wasn’t a good way to kick it off.

    A rabbit sat attentively on the church lawn nibbling at some greenage, its ears perked and beady black eyes watching my every move. The clacking of my dress shoes against the sidewalk sent it scurrying in to the shrubs that lined the foundation of the 200 year old building. I could hear my soon to be mother-in-law inside. Her voice was so shrill and piercing it even penetrated the dense stones that made up the walls of the ancient structure. No doubt she was harassing some poor caterer or decorator. I didn’t feel sorry for her latest victim to be honest. I had paid my dues with the woman, and god knows I would pay many more for the rest of her unnatural life. Part of me was relieved. So many people were involved behind the scenes of her daughter’s ‘perfect day’ that she’d likely be far too busy making their lives miserable to concern herself with me.
    That was the dream at any rate.

    The rabbit I saw earlier had become something of a nuisance in the hours leading up to the wedding. As the florists began setting up the countless potted plants and expensive flowers the rabbit soon ditched its garden salad for the lilies that lined the rows between chairs. I had chased it off more times than I could count on two hands, but it had grown increasingly brave with each taste of the exotic floral arrangements. The hour was at hand and the bride was nearly ready to walk down the aisle. The rabbit had somehow gone unnoticed as it hopped right up to the front row of chairs and began nibbling at the flowers there. I couldn’t help but watch it from the corner of my eye as the violins kicked up their rendition of Here Comes the Bride. It was then I noticed the curious rabbit began nibbling away at an electrical cord. I would have looked like an absolute maniac running toward the guests, arms flailing, trying to scare away a rabbit they most likely didn’t even notice, but I couldn’t let it continue. An electrocuted rodent wouldn’t bode well on this day of days. While everyone was busy watching Mallory make her way down the aisle I slowly bent down to pick up a rock. I aimed carefully and gave it a solid throw toward the nibbling bunny. At that exact moment my mother-in-law, completely unaware of what was happening, stepped between myself and the rabbit to take a photo of her beaming daughter. In slow motion I watched the rock tumble across the air and hit her directly in the head as she snapped the photo. She collapsed. To this day, I could swear I heard a caterer let out a faint, ‘ha’. The rock, no bigger than a large pebble, had struck her directly in the temple, killing her instantly.

    It didn’t take long for the jury to convict me of involuntary manslaughter. Now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.

    1. Observer Tim

      Very nice, ArronP. This reads like the story the MC would be telling at his new state-sponsored accommodations. On the plus side, he is rid of the mother-in-law. Good job! 🙂

      I am a little curious about one thing. He was throwing the rock at a rabbit in the front row, so how did he manage to hit his mother-in-law in the head? I think the prosecuting attourney would likely be asking that question as well, which might account for the 10-20 year sentence.

      1. ArronP

        Thanks for the kind words!!! I honestly wasn’t happy with the ending, but I was already nearly 200 words over the limit and had to wrap it up. I’m loving this site, by the way. There are a lot of incredibly talented writers here!!

  13. ReathaThomasOakley

    Another, very loose, take on the prompt, still in the museum, continued from last week

    “Sir, I don’t think you’ve had the pleasure, so may I introduce you to my cousin, I believe you’ve referred to her as The Girl?”

    “What the…” the security guard turned so quickly he dropped his nightstick. “What you doin’ here?” He backed away from the young woman. “Where’s my sister and Irene?.”

    “They ain’t comin’, least not tonight.” The Girl moved closer to the other woman in the attic of the historic house museum and asked, “You all right? I figgered you was needin’ me. You found her yet?”

    “Not yet, but I’m certain she’s behind this wall. You can see it was added after the original construction…”

    “Stop it!” The guard shouted. “Just stop it, where’s the ladies and I’m tellin’ you there ain’t no body hidden in this here house. Our great grandpa didn’t kill nobody and I’m tired hearin’ lies he did.” He slowly sagged until he was sitting on a box marked, Oriental Trading Company Rabbit Novelties . “I’m too old for this. The ladies say we gotta protect the family, but you all are family, too. I’m just too old…”

    As The Girl ran her hands along the wallpaper of the false wall, the other woman walked over to the elderly man. “Sir,” she began, “do you know the story of my ancestor Lureen’s wedding to Homer Hightower, the ancestor you and I share? I doubt you do since no record of that first marriage exists…”

    “Not his true wife, his true wife was my…”

    “Please, sir, let me explain, then I’ll hear your story.” The old man nodded as if too weary to speak. “Our great, great, great, grandmother, mine and The Girl’s, came south in 1877 from the hills of East Tennessee, walked fourteen miles after her folks died to get the train to bring her here to central Florida. She knew she had kin close by. But, before she found them, Homer found her, wanted to marry her.”

    “She witched him…” the old man muttered.

    “Lureen brought old ways with her, ways that served her people since the old country, ways some folks didn’t understand. She tried to tell Homer about turtle luck for weddings, but he misunderstood, thought she meant the giant sea turtles from the coast, so he had one caught and butchered for the wedding dinner. Lureen found the shell after they moved into this house and after her daughter was born. She was furious for what he’d done, threatened to take their baby and leave. We don’t know what happened after that but soon her relatives were given her daughter to raise, he said Lureen had deserted him and the child.”

    Neither of them had noticed that The Girl had found a slight opening under the wallpaper and was using the crowbar to widen it until she said, “She’s here.”

    And, there, in the space between the dormer windows was a skeleton clothed in a rotting dress from the 1880s and the shell of a giant sea turtle. Before either woman could speak, the security guard said, “You kill a turtle now, you could get jail…”

    Then The Girl said, “The red haints is here.”

    1. Observer Tim

      I was hoping to see The Girl; was going into a bit of withdrawal there. This is a nice reveal within the larger tale. On its own it’s clearly part of a larger story, but that’s okay because we’ve already seen the lead-up to it. I love it, Reatha! 🙂

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        I was hoping to bring her back with the next prompt, but had a little brain wave and figured out how to get her back with this one. Thanks, I really like The Girl, too.

    2. snuzcook

      Hi Reatha,
      I’m behind on my reading, and I haven’t gone back to see your post last week.
      This was an enjoyable yarn right along, but the last line gave me chills. Chills.
      Well done!

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      This was an excellent continuation. It’s great to see The Girl get back into the spotlight. I suspect she’ll really get into the spotlight in the next part, now that the “red haints” have showed up.

      I liked the subtle nod to the prompt in this line -> “…sitting on a box marked, Oriental Trading Company Rabbit Novelties.” I also really liked this line -> “Just stop it, where’s the ladies and I’m tellin’ you there ain’t no body hidden in this here house.” Poor guy sounds frazzled. 😆

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, Cosi. I was trying to think what cheesy trinkets a small museum would have in it’s gift shop and had this vision. If I pull all this together in the future that box will most likely get lost. Thanks again.

  14. Kerry Charlton

    THE FIRST SELF RIGHTEOUS CHURCH

    PASCAGOULA, MISSISSIPPI

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck, but
    being a Texas boy in Mississippi, with a handle like Jon Wayne McAllister, was bad
    enough, then add my bride to be, Miss Sarah Lou Squashcock, only daughter of the
    Reverend Brimstone Angel Squashcock and his wife Annabelle Dunglick Squashcock.
    During the planning of our wedding, I was told to show up and shut up.

    My best man, Chief Billy Thundercloud deemed the whole affair amusing until the
    good reverend informed him not to bend over during the ceremony if he insisted on
    wearing his native attire and to leave his tomahawk out of the ceremony. The only thing I
    insisted on was wearing my great grandfather’s kilts to honor my heritage. Brimstone had
    never heard of kilts and offered no objection.

    I will admit The First Self Righteous Church shone like a new penny after a total
    remodel, following the squirrel revival years ago. During rehearsal yesterday, I saw my
    first snapper. And another dozen or so during the dinner. Billy could hardly contain
    himself as his tomahawk rose and fell with each glimpse.

    “Me wantum,” I heard him whisper.

    “Settle Billy, they’ll be plenty more at the reception and most like dizzy from the
    cool aid. Take your pick then.”

    Wedding morning arrived, I set the spring loader on my arsenal,

    “Annabelle, reserve thirty seats at the back center of the church, my relatives are on the way.”

    “Thirty? Good God, are they all going to the reception?”

    “Absolutely.”

    She slunk off wailing to her father and was completely ignored. ’Finally getting rid of her,’ he thought.

    Zero hour came, we stood at the alter waiting for Annabelle to be two wheeled to the front. A sleek, black bus arrived in the church parking lot with Illinois license plates. Thirty playboy bunnies poured from the bus and filled the rear of the church. All the men in the church started shouting, “Halleluiah!! Halleluiah!!

    Billy and I turned with our rears to the audience and mooned them. The women shrieked in unison. Amen!! Amen!! Chaos erupted as Billy and I made our way through the aisle.

    “How many bunnies do we need?” I asked.

    “Forget the bunnies, grab twelve of the snappers,” he answered.

    With the girls safely ensconced in the bus, Billy and I headed west on IH 10 toward Louisiana, with the state police in hot pursuit. We left them behind at the Louisiana border and headed toward Texas. Unfortunately the Texas Rangers built a road block and dragged Billy and I to the big house. Last I heard from Mississippi was a news article,

    ‘The First Self Righteous Church of Pascagoula, has established a non-profit for unwed mothers and raised six million to rebuild the church

    The bunnies were never formally heard from again. Rumors swirled through the area, they have become the largest land owners in the state of Mississippi, operating out of Natchez

    And here I sit doing 5 to 10 in federal prison. Damn them bunnies! .
    .

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Reatha, Google Ray Stevens song ‘Mississippi Squirrel Revival and listen to what happened at The First Self Righteous Church of Pascagoula, Miss.

    1. Observer Tim

      I wasn’t sure what to make of this the first time through, Kerry, so I read it again. It’s wonderfully madcap and strange, with some very unual plot twists. I’m still not sure if Jon originally intended to marry Mary Lou or not. What a fun ride! 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim, Jon had planned on marrying her for her money but backed out, [clue], she was two-wheeled down the aisle. Jon and Billy planned to build a casino on the reservation and split the profits. See reference to Ray Stevens above.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Manwe , I thought it might be a little over the top and listened to Ray Stevens sing about the squirrel again. Glad you found it amusing.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you for the read, Katia.Snow. I’m usually more serious with my writing but the prompt just pushed this out of me and confused me a little while writing it. Chief Billy Thundercloud is real. I met him thirty five years ago when he was a country singer on Playboy Records. Young but scary looking, the real mccoy.

  15. Clawrie67

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding would bring good luck. I didn’t want to disrespect them so I went along with the bizarre ritual of digging in the dirt and waiting for them to appear. Sliding our bodies into cool ditches at the edge of the woods. Spooky nights rolling in sand and dirt waiting for the creepy little creatures to arrive. I tried to show enthusiasm and asked questions about this marriage ritual. I explained good luck in my tribe came from a rabbit’s foot. How they laughed. How I hid my little white furry lucky charm from them, from then on.
    After nights in the dirt, there was no sign of the turtles and I started to think it was a sign, that me and my man were never meant to be. How could this clever, exquisite man love me? How could this family and his people ever love me? Rubbing the rabbit’s foot, it agreed with me. It nursed me fears. I watch him, every little move, nuance, expression, his laugh. Every lilt in his soft, gentle, mesmerising voice. I doubted his motivation for every little thing he did, his kindness was manipulation. I rubbed the white fur and waited for more signs. His affection was selfish and was just lust. The rabbit’s foot was such a comfort. Cool sand and dirt ingrained in my skin, abrasive, skinning my belief and grinding grains into my psyche as the poison of the ceremonial drinks wept into my blood. The sounds from the deep trees whispered deception. I was being fooled, set up for some devious little trick of this tribe.
    She watched us with humour in her eyes. The one who wanted him, with the shining eyes and swollen lips. Her lips beckoned his response. He would look ashamed and search the edges of the beach for the turtle. None would come. Nights lost weeks and drunken time eroded my love. Something else was growing out of the doubt and lack of belief. Something like hate or was it fear. She would not win. There would be no turtles for either of us. The white fur now had a little groove that my thumb fitted perfectly to stroke and stroke. Soft, kind, telling. Exposing her lies, her desire, the solutions. The poison would be Potent. It would be deadly. Her throat would swell and her breath would stay inside. Trapped. As she lay in the sand, her head turned to the side, her eyes, beautiful eyes, looked beyond my horror to the beach. The turtles were arriving as she died. The rabbit’s foot felt cold. It felt like betrayal. It mocked my jealousy. It felt ugly and stupid. So small and so stupid.
    They came for me and took me to prison. The lucky charm dangled from my finger and I thought of dropping it. Letting it go. It came to prison with me. Now I’m doing ten to twenty in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a wonderfully atmospheric take, Clawrie. Interesting to wait on the turtles rather than hope to see one. Very nice. 🙂

      However, I had trouble with the point of view on this; did it switch? I’m a little unclear after reading who killed who (I do get that the woman/a woman died), and who is going to prison for it.

  16. cosi van tutte

    Sorry! This one has a very loose connection to the prompt, but I couldn’t help it:

    I am getting married today. It is most curious. It seems like only yesterday I was a little girl in a blue dress with a white pinafore.

    But I am not that little girl anymore.

    I am getting married.

    Me.

    I am Alice Linwrell and I will be Henry Liddle’s wife. I will be Alice Liddle.

    I know we won’t live happily ever after, because life is not a happily ever after event. Things happen. Things go wrong. Hearts break, but they also heal. I am ready for it all.

    We will have mock turtle soup, for that is what everyone has at weddings. It tastes like fish rot, but it is good luck. But I will not eat rabbit on my wedding day. For many reasons. And for one particular reason. One particular rabbit.

    Oh, but I mustn’t think back on those days. I was young and fanciful then. Now, I am all grown up and wear grown up shoes and wretched corsets. For that is what I must do.

    My days of white pinafores are gone.

    ***

    Alice closed her diary. “But I shall always write my thoughts down.” She set it on her dresser. “Otherwise, how will I ever keep my wits?” She picked up the necklace he had bought in Paris. It was a single strand of sugar white pearls – lovely with a smooth, clean sheen. Each pearl was perfectly matched in size and color. She had smiled and thanked him for it. He had smiled in return and enthused about what kind of clam produced those particular pearls and such and on and on.

    “He really is a dear man. I love him.” She frowned at her own lack of enthusiasm and tried it again. “I love him.” It came out as a flat statement. She tried to say it with a smile. The result scared her. She vowed to never do that again.

    Alice fastened the necklace around her neck and looked at her reflection. Her frown returned with many furrows.

    Pearls around her neck. Pearls all over her dress. Pearls dotted in her hair. Pearls on her veil.

    She shook her head. “No. I am not pearls. I am diamonds. I am crystals. I am sparkle. I am dazzle. But, if I marry Henry, I must become pearls. For he would not want me to be crystals or diamonds. But that is not what I want.”

    She grabbed the necklace and was about to yank it off. Then, she heard it.

    “Oh, bother bother bother.”

    She startled and released the pearls.

    “I don’t mean to become invisible, but here I am. Invisible!”

    “Excuse me? Is someone there?”

    “Is someone there, she asks. Ha! Of course, there is no one there. For you see, I am here not there.”

    “Oh.” Oh, dear. she thought. This sounds fearfully familiar. “Who, may I ask, are you?”

    “If you saw me, you would have no doubts about who I am. Just as I have no doubts about who you are.”

    “I’m sorry, but this conversation is becoming as clear as face cream.”

    “Face cream? Hmph! The Alice I know would never use face cream in a description. Why, she would say that something is as clear as nothing. No. Actually, only I would say something like that. Sorry if I’m confusing matters for you.”

    “Well. It is very considerate of you to apologize.”

    “Quite so. Now, to get down to business. I have come to steal you away.”

    “You can’t do that. I’m getting married today.”

    “Married? You? No no no! That cannot be. Alices are warriors.”

    She opened her mouth to object.

    “Alices never get married.”

    “That is an absurd thing to say. And I do wish that you would appear. It is most awkward to carry on a conversation with an invisible person.”

    “Well.” He hesitated. “You see. There’s a problem with that. I become invisible and visible and invisible again at all of the wrong moments. I have no control over it.”

    “Why is that?”

    “Haven’t the foggiest of foggy frog ideas. So, as I was. I must kidnap you now.”

    “Why?”

    “The Nearly Impossible has taken over our world and we need an Alice to rid our land of it.”

    “Can’t you find a different Alice?”

    He appeared in a flash of blue and purple feathers. He was a large white rabbit in a checkered vest and a weather-beaten busboy hat. Alice was not at all surprised. “Not on such short notice.”

    She was going to tell him about the Alice’s Pantaloon Emporium across town, but she never got a proper chance. A black hole appeared under her tuffet and swallowed her up, tuffet and all.

    Alice yelled, “You horrible rabbit!” as she tumbled head over heels in her long wedding dress.

    “I am not a horrible rabbit.” he hollered back. “I am a White Rabbit.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Okay, whimsy meets silly. Poor Alice, down the rabbit hole again. But at least she doesn’t have to be pearls… Great job, Cosi; truly wonderful in itself and in the reminiscences it brings. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m joining in with the chorus. This is whimsy at it’s best. I’ve alwanted wanted to write about the White Rabbit, guess I ‘ll have to settle for Harvey the pooka.

        1. cosi van tutte

          Thanks, Kerry!

          This is a somewhat continuation to my story for The Center of Things prompt. Like I said, it doesn’t quite stick to the prompt, but I just couldn’t help myself. 🙂

    2. snuzcook

      Love it! Absolutely love it! (BTW the pearls in my story were complete serendipity). So many wonderful passages, of which these are just a few faves:

      ‘“He really is a dear man. I love him.” She frowned at her own lack of enthusiasm and tried it again. “I love him.” It came out as a flat statement. She tried to say it with a smile. The result scared her. She vowed to never do that again.’

      ‘Oh, but I mustn’t think back on those days. I was young and fanciful then. Now, I am all grown up and wear grown up shoes and wretched corsets. For that is what I must do.’

  17. Reaper

    So I should apologize in advance. Between learning how to have a real job again and the your story contest I have very little time to read this week but will attempt to catch up. Also, and I hesitate to share this because likely one of you will beat me but… I came across a writing prompt contest that is flash fiction oriented and wanted to share it with you all. If you have a blog you should drop by and enter then vote for me. 🙂 If you don’t have a blog you should just go vote for me. 🙂 Okay, kidding. But seriously this looks like another good place to showcase your work, but without the wonderful feedback and community we have here. http://tipsylit.com/2015/07/28/prompted-who-stole-the-pen/

    1. Observer Tim

      I went in and voted; this prompt didn’t move me much, but I’m sure if there are others you will have competition.

      I’m beginning to think WordPress hates me. It took over half an hour to sign on…

  18. snuzcook

    SUSPENDED

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck. They didn’t tell me for who.

    Kyle and I were hauling ass down 97 between Yakima and Ellensburg. I was still wearing my white beaded jacket over my jeans. The skirt and the veil didn’t make sense for a quick getaway, but I wasn’t yet ready to let go of the magic of the morning. The heavy fabric felt like armor, protecting me from any negative vibes and putting the rest of the world on notice that I possessed the special powers that only brides posses on their wedding day. I could grant wishes and strike down anyone who opposed me. When the liquor store clerk tried to be a hero, I did just that with the handle of the K-Bar Kyle gave me for my wedding present.

    Kyle was all business in his black t-shirt and black jeans as he focused on bucking the cross wind that threatened to shove our little white Honda across the exposed stretches of road. He was cold, focused strength; I was white energy. We were opposites in balance, yin and yang. Nothing could go wrong.

    “Stop! Stop!” Kyle slammed us into a controlled skid and snarled his irritation. “Look! A turtle! You almost hit him!” A foot-ball sized tortoise was making his way across the center line, tottering like a big rock on little midget legs. I climbed out of the car, snatched him up and jumped back in.

    Kyle gave me one of his looks, but he didn’t say anything. I shoved the bag of cash back under the seat where it had slid out when we stopped, and settled the turtle on my lap. I could tell Kyle wasn’t really mad as he shot through the gears and the car leapt ahead. The vein on his forehead wasn’t pulsing anymore like it does when he was about to explode.

    I watched behind us. There was still no sign of any cops, no helicopters or airplanes overhead. Just a few more miles and we’d make it to I-90 and disappear east toward Spokane. The wind threw bits of tumbleweed and dry grass across the road, pelting the car with it. At the top of a rise we could see the freeway in the distance. There was just half-dozen rollercoaster hills between us and freedom.

    We were flying out of the third gut clencher when I spotted the rabbit. It had frozen in the middle of our lane at the top of the next rise, its long ears silhouetted against sky, looking right at us. “Watch out!” I grabbed at the wheel just as Kyle swerved. Too late, we saw the shape of a pickup nosing up the other side of the blind hill. The rabbit ran like it wanted to beat us to the side of the road. But our car leapt the ditch. caught a fence post in the neighboring field and spun us until we slammed up sideways against a boulder.

    By the time I came to, the air was filled with the whoop of sirens, and red and blue lights were bouncing off surfaces in every direction. They pulled me out of the car, and immediately discovered the cash spilling out of the torn garbage bag by my feet. I kept asking if anyone had seen my turtle, but they ignored me. They were busy working on Kyle where he was trapped behind the wheel.
    A few stray bills blew out of the car and caught in the grass for a moment before the wind lifted them over the cars and away. I remember watching the cash blow away and wondering if I’d ever be free like that again.

    Kyle’s lawyers managed to get us tried separately, since they said I was the one who assaulted the clerk. I heard he got 10 and suspended on account of his fractured spine. I guess the luck was all his.

    Me, I’m pulling 10 to 20 in Walla Walla, and we never even got to have our honeymoon. Stupid rabbit!

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks Doc! Couldn’t get truly serious about a turtle and a rabbit. It was a very close call that the getaway car was going to be a VW Rabbit, but I fought off the impulse.
        Walla Walla State Penn. is real, but the MC would not have ended up there–she’d be at the Women’s Correctional Facility in Purdy. Creative license…

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, snuz!

      This was a very enjoyable story. And, just so you know, I really liked this whole part:

      “The heavy fabric felt like armor, protecting me from any negative vibes and putting the rest of the world on notice that I possessed the special powers that only brides posses on their wedding day. I could grant wishes and strike down anyone who opposed me.”

      🙂

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, Cosi!
        I like that part, too. The sentences are a tad long, but the image will probably re-appear in a different story some time — it has legs.

    2. Observer Tim

      Great one, Snuz! I love the dark and unrepentant voice you gave the MC, and the matter-of-fact description of beating the clerk to death. And yet she still loves animals. Given that Kyle rolled over on her, the honeymoon probably would have had some pretty intense fireworks! Love conquers all, except for a criminal nature. I love it! 🙂

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, O.Tim! Yes, she is a bundle of contradictions–childish belief in magic and fondness for cirtters, and enthusiastic participant in criminal thrills. I think there are actually a lot like her out there.
        And thanks for the pep talk!
        S

    3. Claire Lawrie

      I like this. Casual flow, whimsical sense of humour but amazing to capture a whole narrative in this short space. A really natural style. I wonder what happened to your turtle?

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, Claire!
        I think the tortoise climbed out of his shell in the ditch where he landed once all the excitement died down, took a chomp of one of the loose bills that was missed in the general clean up, spat it out, and resumed his interrupted journey crossing the road to whatever he might find on the other side.

    4. ArronP

      Nicely done. I often find myself losing interest after the first paragraph, but this kept me engaged until the very end. Can’t wait to see your next post.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Way to go Snuz, For myself, it’s always the heart of your descritive prose that make your stories such a pleasure to read. And I liked the way you handled the prompt.

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Haha, I think so. You know, it takes a special kind of person to write what they write convincingly. I have no delusions that my mind isn’t twisted in some way, but that’s okay. I’ve come to terms with it. 😉 With all the murder on the news, though, it’s no stretch that people would associate 10-20 years in prison and murder.

      Now, if someone would write a story exploring this side of people in depth for this prompt… I’d love them for it. if only I had the time to do it myself… >.<

  19. igonzales81

    “They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck,” I said, lying back in my bunk and resting my head on my arms. “They didn’t tell me not to listen to a word it says.”

    “Okay,” my new friend responded, in a tone I was getting used to. “So what did it tell you?”

    “Actually,” I reply. “I think it was a tortoise, not a turtle.”

    “What’s the difference?”

    “Tortoise on land, turtle in the water.”

    “Okay. And it told you…”

    I sighed. “‘We need a ride’.”

    “That’s it.”

    “Yep. I mean, the ceremony was over, reception was winding down. Maybe I’d had a few too many, but there’s this turtle, just wants a ride for his friend and him.”

    “His friend?”

    “Yeah,” I felt my mood going sour again. “The rabbit.”

    “Sure it wasn’t a hare?” He was trying to make a joke.

    “No, it was a rabbit. Just a cute, little bunny. But it might as well have been Himmler. I’m telling you, it was an absolute fiend.”

    “Uh huh,” my friend shifted his weight in the bunk above me, making the whole bed creak and groan. “So what happened?”

    “Well, we were going to Vegas anyway, so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem.”

    A momentary silence from above. “You honeymooned in Vegas?”

    “Yeah. Why?”

    “Nothing.”

    “Anyway, I packed them into the back with the luggage, in this pet carrier they brought with them.” I rolled over onto my side to stare at the grey, cinder-block wall. “My first clue that something was wrong was the road block we hit.”

    “Seriously? A road block?”

    “Yep. The Staties were out, said they were looking for a man I’d never heard of. They weren’t very forthcoming with details, but insisted on searching our Outback. When I opened the rear and they spotted the carrier, they got all quiet. I was looking right at that little rodent, and I swear he was grinning. But after a minute the cops just told us to be on our way.”

    “Just like that?”

    “Uh huh. Then we hit this flyspeck town twenty minutes from Vegas, and all hell broke loose. Black sedans boxed us in, choppers hovering overhead. The rabbit popped the carrier and took off, screaming ‘They’ll never take me alive.’”

    “Whoa. For real?”

    “For real. Next thing I knew I was on the ground being cuffed, with federal agents reading me my rights. The tortoise was down there with me, apologizing, saying he had no idea, all that. My wife wouldn’t stop crying.” I blew out a frustrated breath. “Turns out the rabbit was a spy, stole some top secret something or another, stashed it in the carrier. I got nailed, for ‘aiding and abetting an enemy of the United States government.’”

    Another moment of silence. “Did they get the rabbit?”

    “Nope. Got away. You ever try to catch a rabbit?” I ground my teeth. “Now I’m doing 10-20 in a federal prison. Stupid rabbit.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This is definitely an original, Igonzales. The narrative style reveals the ending early on, but given the forced nature of this take that’s unavoidable. I love the style of the story-within-a-story and the way the MC never really knew what was going on. But he had no problem with talking animals… hmmm. Great job! 🙂

    2. snuzcook

      Wow, reading your story I have Toons before my eyes. It’s always trouble when you listen to a turtle after a few drinks. And when he’s got a friend in a pet carrier no less…definitely trouble. Fun story!

  20. regisundertow

    Hope you enjoy. Been wanting to write something along those lines for some time.

    **************************
    BIG BAD REPUTATION

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck. All I could feel was unease at the sight of the green bastard standing outside the church, like a demon lurking just beyond holy ground. Every time I looked over my shoulder, there he was smoking, the silhouette of his chipped shell leaning against the frame. I was sure he noticed me staring, but he didn’t make any effort to hide. I might be a meathead, but one thing I knew for a fact was he wasn’t stupid. I guess that meant he was desperate.

    There were a few of my packmates in there that would have loved nothing more than to boil him alive in his shell just to hear his screams. They all had his smell, but wouldn’t have moved a muscle until I did. As expectant eyes waited for my signal, I shook my head. There wouldn’t be any blood, not in the presence of my wife. Not on that day.

    The ceremony was short and sweet, just like she wanted it, and thank Lucifer for that. Her uncles were bawling their eyes out throughout the entire process, I don’t know how she stood them all these years in that tiny house without going mad. Beyond the rain of rice that fell upon our exit, I noticed Turtles hanging by the church graveyard. We made eye contact and I nodded.

    Picture time. The wife was having her photo taken with her best friend and her Godmothers. I muttered a couple of commands to the guys. Keep them busy, while I deal with the reptile. I loosened up my collar and lifted my sleeves. Fucker was ruining my day and my mood already. If the other guests noticed me talking to him…

    You’re not welcome here, I snarled under my breath. The boys are trying real hard to be civil, I won’t guarantee your safety. He took a deep drag as if he had all the time in the world. A calculated risk, he exhaled. I don’t believe you’ll let anyone hurt me, it’d be bad luck. How’s the wife? She looks happy. She really is the fairest of them all. My claws snapped involuntarily and his head disappeared into his shell. Without thinking, I grabbed him by the shoulders and shoved him hard towards a gravestone. Not looking where he was moving, he stumbled and fell on his ass. I walked over him and put a paw on his chest, as he was peeking out.

    A reputation is a difficult thing to shake off, I started, breathing slowly and counting to ten, thinking of the woman whose faith in me kept me straight. I’m trying real hard, Turtles, real hard not to tear your head off. Thank your lucky stars I’m settled down now and run as fast as your little legs can carry you.

    Hindsight is 20/20. Besides, I never was the smartest tool in the shed. I shouldn’t have threatened him. I should have dragged him behind the treeline and broken him into so many pieces that not all the King’s men would have put him back together. Hell, I would have gotten a medal. But the devil’s greatest talent lies in what comes out of his mouth. He stuck his arms out and begged, claiming he was in trouble. He knew I was reformed, but my name could still be put to good use. All I had to do was talk to the Rabbit, muscle him a little, nothing serious. I was walking away when he shouted out after me, he’s a freaking short-eyes, man! I just want him to leave me alone, I can’t pay him back, but I swear to Christ the guy has a hard-on for forbidden fruits, can’t I even get you to consider that? I’ve seen the shit he has in his flat with my own two eyes. If you’re not going to do it for me, do it for yourself, you charlatan! Or do it for your children and hers. You’ll never be one of the good guys!

    Devils speak and fools listen.

    I slipped out of the ceremony without telling anyone. It was only going to take 15 minutes and I wanted to do this alone. Jumping and running over rooftops, I found the Rabbit’s flat easily. Taking the stairs three steps at a time, adrenaline flowed through my veins, bristling my fur, and getting me more pissed off. The scents made me salivate and my claws came out of their sheaths.

    Flat number 42. No point knocking. If you’re going to terrorize someone, better do it right. The door blew off its hinges easily enough and went flying into the living room. He was there, sitting in his couch, looking at me with an impassive, arrogant expression. I grabbed him by the throat and it was all I could to control the blood lust. I threw him across the room, smashing frames and vazes, and waited for him to get up. When he didn’t, I froze. When I noticed the pool of blood on the couch and on my hand, my first thought was of her. My second thought was, how did the police arrive so quickly?

    They never found any illegal material in his flat and Turtles disappeared from the face of the earth. I also became the fastest divorced man in history. Now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.

    1. Observer Tim

      Wow, what a big bad narrative, Regis. And I mean that in a good way. All the oblique and subtle fairy tale references gave this hard-boiled story a sense of quiet whimsy. I’m not fond of the unpunctuated quotes, but they work really well in this style. All in all a great job! 🙂

      1. regisundertow

        Much appreciated, Tim. I remember reading the story of the turtle and the hare and suspecting the turtle of cheating. I mean, how can the hare possibly fall asleep in the middle of a race? Surely, his water was spiked…

    2. snuzcook

      Your story was rough and tough and kept me with you right to the end. The you pulled off the anthropomorphism really well. Delicious double cross; nice character development on the MC.

  21. HalcyonTale

    **Note: No Idea what I wrote. My friend says that this story sounds like as if it has been copied from some other story. I don’t know, may be. Please give your honest review.  
    “They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck”. Well if they say that it brings good luck then it does. If you are wondering who are ‘they’ then let me introduce you to Ace, King and Queen my three dearest friends. Some may say that they cannot see them. This is because they say that only people with good heart can see  fairies. Yes they are fairies and they that I have a good heart.
    Now coming to the present moment today is my marriage. I would have invited you but king and queen ask me not to (I didn’t know) and that Ace he has  again messed up the dress code. Well none of that really matters. I am marrying Priyanka, well she is an Indian girl. I met her at my college, she was the prettiest of all.
    Well now Ace suggested me to gift Priyanka something, the first and only useful suggestion in all his life. So here I am waiting in the gift shop to buy a bronze turtle. She will like it. And there it was a pretty bronze rabbit. I like rabbit, they are cute. So I bought one for myself.
    When I came back to the church. I saw her waiting for me, she was silent. I went up to her and kissed her. I don’t know why but lately she looks very pale and brownish well that does not matters anymore. I was marrying her. I love her. I asked the Minister to start the ceremony well now he  was silent. “He is very rude”, I thought.
    Suddenly someone came inside the church, it was the shopkeeper. He was holding the bronze rabbit, apparently I had forgotten to take it with me. He was following me to give it back. The shopkeeper didn’t look happy to see me and took 2 step back. He was sweating and looked scared. He now starts running so do I. I caught him very quickly and made him sleep with my magic wand. Some people call it with a funny name like hammer or something. I don’t like people interfering with my happy moments.
    But to my surprise there was this another guy most probably he came with the shopkeeper. Now even he starts running. I tried to catch him but he was quick so I let him go.
    I went back to the church to continue the ceremony. When the ceremony ended. I heard wierd sounds from outside, it was the police. They arrested me. They said many foolish things like I being a prime suspect of many murder cases and that Priyanka has been dead for 3 month.
    Queen said that the police have found many dead bodies in that church some have even started to rot. Ace mockingly said, ” Poor kid”.
    Kind said, ” So many have I said you not to be careless but you never listen, now we are doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.”

    1. Observer Tim

      I’m not sure where your friend got the idea that this came from somewhere else; I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen it before, aside from the insanity which has been a recurring theme this week. It’s a nice borderline supernatural take, and I quite like it. 🙂

      There’s still a lot of room for improvement in the grammar. I’m guessing by the nature of the errors that you’re translating the story. That’s okay. If you’d like help with grammar and idioms, let us know. 🙂

      1. HalcyonTale

        The truth is that my mother tongue is not English, so I do have a lot of problem in saying/writing something in English without a grammatical error. So please do help me.

        1. regisundertow

          You’re not the only writer here whose mother tongue is not English, so don’t let that discourage you. End of the day, Nabokov, Conrad, Kerouac and a host of others adopted English as their preferred tool to create with, some of them later in life. If you’re serious about writing, you must accept that you’ll do mistakes and it’ll frustrate you no end. The only thing you can do is persevere, refuse to feel embarrassed, and keep learning, always keep learning.

          This forum is full of wonderful and supportive people who are more than willing to point out ways to improve in a constructive manner. You’re in great company and, as another person writing in a second language, I hope you stick around.

          1. HalcyonTale

            @regisundertow thank-you and do not worry. I not gonna go anywhere . And I promise you one day i will write a great book.

        2. Observer Tim

          I can pass on one trick that some people (myself included) use when writing in a non-native tongue. I do my best to write the sentence properly, then put it into Google Translate to check my work. It’s not always the best translation, but the difference between what I did and what Google did tells me something.

          It would be very tedious to do for a whole story, though.

          1. HalcyonTale

            @Observer Tim thank you very much . Well, like eveytime even this time your replies and suggestions have helped me a lot . Once again thanks .(used Google translate)

  22. Dennis

    Nice story LS. I like had you made the story about the rabbit and not about the tortoise. Makes me wonder what the secret was, or was the secret that she was just crazy. :). The major editing piece for me was the misuse of me, like at the end of the first paragraph, me and Veronica’s wedding, sounds better as Veronica’s and my wedding. Great job.

  23. Pete

    Sorry for the length, I got carried away

    BUCK, CHUCK, AND TUCK

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck. But like any shotgun wedding, the good luck has already been had. All that’s left is the settling up.

    We were down on the creek bank. Maybe three hours before the gallows. It was already roasting, even in the shade and the creek smelled like fish slime. Buck was hitting the bottle on account of being about to get hitched. He was set to face Stella, Mr. Kemper’s wrecking ball of a daughter that afternoon, and had only himself to blame after Mr. Kemper had caught them in his pickup.

    When her belly swolled it was say your prayers or your vows. Poor Buck was saying both. I had been deemed the best man in the whole dastardly affair, so a few sips were coming my way. Chuck wasn’t much help in the moral support department, just trying to catch a fish with nothing but a stick and some string and the last of some rotten chicken livers.

    Chuck hummed along as he jiggled the string around the water, chewing on a piece of grass and giving sorry old Buck an earful of grief about what he was getting into. He’d gotten married last fall and seeing as he was the expert among us he took it upon himself to add to the humid conditions with his blathering.

    “Trust me, your fishing days are over, Bucky.”

    He was only fishing for trouble. Had been tearing at Buck for awhile. Buck only sat on that rock, forlorn and swigging on that bottle, his face splotchy and his hair like some old trampled hay. I was beginning to think we’d have to carry him to the church when Chuck let out a squeal.

    The grass fell from his mouth and he put both hands on that stick. It creaked and bent but held. I could see it wasn’t a fish he had on that line but a snapper. Chuck fought on anyhow, his forehead glistened as I scrambled over to help. We pulled that sucker up carefully.

    We got it situated up on the bank and Chuck held it tight. It was snapping and hissing and so that’s why Chuck went and named it Stella. Right about then all hell broke loose.

    Buck charged over and shoved Chuck clean into the creek. He went flying. Flailing and splashing in the muck. That’s how we lost track of old Stella. But she knew exactly where to find Buck.

    We did end up carrying Buck up to the house after all. My ears rang from all of his wailing. We laid him out on the grass, and pretty soon we had us a crowd.

    Mrs. Kemper, who’d been seeing out her linens on the line, joined in with the screaming when she saw what had happened. Soon the others came. Louie Stinson’s hounds got going something awful by it, and of course it being Saturday, Mr. Kemper was just getting back from his mail run.

    The old mail jeep slid to a stop, its shocks squeaking as the robust mailman disengaged himself from its clutches. By then Buck was in shock, and kind of reminded me of that glass-eyed snake preacher on the other side of the mountain, speaking in tongues and such.

    Mr. Kemper waltzed over and fixed his belt, a satisfied grin blooming through his fleshy face.

    “Well you done finally put that pecker in the wrong place boy, havencha’?”

    Buck could only moan. Mr. Kemper nudged the slimy turtle with his foot but it stayed clamped shut, locked down tight on his crotch. Right on the wedding tackle.

    I shot a glance to Chuck, just as Stella bust out of the house. Her hair was up in curlers and if I’m telling the truth she didn’t look half bad with that makeup smeared all over her face.

    “Daddy Daddy, no!”

    She pulled the mailman away while Buck groveled in misery, paler than the dawn sky lying in the grass. I took a step back. . Stella covered her mouth. I shook my head ‘til my neck hurt, but she pointed straight at me.

    “It’s Tuck, Daddy. Tuck’s the one I love.”

    For a second I envied Buck. I mean, even with his fragile parts in that turtles beak. Mrs. Kemper gasped. Mr. Kemper balled his face up, glanced to the ground, then proceeded to yank that turtle off of Tuck’s fragile parts. Buck howled, but Mr. Kemper came for me with that big old creek turtle in his hands. From that angle it really did favor Stella.

    “You been kissing my daughter?

    I don’t know much about kissing, but I wasn’t about to step in for Buck and exchange nothing with Stella. So I did what anyone would’ve done, I jumped in that mail truck and mashed the gas.

    Cans and streamers trailed behind me. Hank Williams wailed about city slickers. And being on the wrong side of the car it was hard to negotiate the turns. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Beside me sat Thumper, Mr. Kemper’s prize-winning bunny. Thumper was the size of a small pit-bull and didn’t take too kindly to anyone besides old Mr. Kemper.

    I’m told the wedding went on as planned. That the mailman’s daughter went on to have several little Buck’s that harassed the county for the next several years. But that’s just what I heard. I don’t get too much mail around here.

    I couldn’t say for sure because they really piled it on. Said that I had to pay for stealing and smashing up a postal jeep. For kidnapping an overweight bunny with half inch incisors. For mail tampering and even fishing without a license and so on. So there you have it. Buck got Stella and I’m doing 10-20 in a federal prison.

    Stupid rabbit.

    1. Observer Tim

      Lovely tale of rural mayhem and misplaced affection, Pete. I was out of breath by the time I finished reading; great job keeping the adrenaline level high. All in all a fun story. 🙂

      I notice when the turtle was pulled off, you accidentally swapped a Tuck for a Buck.

    2. snuzcook

      Hilarious! Huge imagination and well told. I think this prompt is a challenge because of the abrupt end as given, but your story was great fun!

  24. annakraft2

    my buddy’s ex-wife makes $75 an hour on the laptop . She has been unemployed for 10 months but last month her payment was $20679 just working on the laptop for a few hours. see here now c­­a­­r­­e­­e­­r­­s­­r­­e­­p­­o­­r­­t­­.­­ℂ­­o­­m­­

    1. regisundertow

      Are you on good terms with your buddy’s ex-wife? Just asking, some might consider it odd, given how much you know about her financial situation. I’d go so far to say it’s…suspicious. Is she paying taxes off that 75$? Are we talking American Dollars or Namimbian? These are the important questions.

  25. annakraft2

    my best friend’s step-mother makes $82 an hour on the internet . She has been laid off for ten months but last month her payment was $14595 just working on the internet for a few hours. view it c­­a­­r­­e­­e­­r­­s­­r­­e­­p­­o­­r­­t­­.­­ℂ­­o­­m­­

  26. Dennis

    The Rabbit and the Turtle

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck. Come to think of it, Barry Rabbit is the one that said that. Damn him anyway.

    Barry is the kind of guy who always had the angle, the right answer to everything. At least he thought so. With that slicked back greasy hair and crazy smirk of his, you just wanted to hate him. And yet there he was at my bachelor party.

    Barry stands up. “Boys, I raise my bottle to the groom to be. I wish you all the best”
    Everyone raises their bottles. “Cheers!”

    I stand up. “Thanks guys. Seems like a big leap, this marriage thing. I just want it all to go right, especially with all the work Deanna put into it.”

    “You know, said Barry, “I heard once that seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring you good luck.”
    The rest of guys, including myself self, burst out laughing. “Oh wise one, tell us more,” said Chuck.
    “No, I’m serious.”

    We laughed a bit more at the absurdity of Barry’s fortune cookie wisdom and then drank ourselves into the early hours of the morning. Why did I not see it coming?
    _____

    Wedding day and I’m nervous as shit. Seeing Deanna walking down the aisle with her father made me contemplate for a moment if I was doing the right thing. But seeing her in that beautiful white dress, her flowing golden hair, and sparkling blue eyes, I knew I was the luckiest man on earth. This truly was the best day of my life.

    But later at the reception the day turned into a nightmare. While everyone merrily ate and talked, someone piped up.
    “I just saw something crawl along the back wall. Over there.” She pointed while everyone strained to see.

    Then another woman screamed. “Something just crawled over my foot.” She jumped out of her chair. More screams and everyone stood up. Seemingly out of nowhere were a bunch of creatures walking around, but what were they?

    “Ow”, shouted Deanna. “Something bit my toe.” She jerked up too quickly and spilled food down the front of her dress. Her beautiful, perfect day was ruined. She ran out of the room in tears.

    Others began running left and right avoiding the creatures, not bothering to see what they were. My mother-in-law took a spill and landed head first into the cake. I was starring in my own comedy.

    Walking onto the floor my suspicions became validated: turtles. Everywhere turtles. But how did…Barry. I found him in the corner looking proud of his handy work.

    “What’s so funny dude. You ruined our reception.”
    “Chill out man. I told you they bring good luck.”

    All of a sudden, the years of not telling him off built to a head, and before I knew it, my hands were around his neck.
    “You’re gonna pay!”

    Lost in my rage, I tuned out all that was happening around me. Before long, someone tried to pull me off Barry. In the heat of the moment I turned and decked the guy. Bad move, a cop. But I didn’t stop. I somehow grabbed the cop’s gun, and with one clean shot, down went Barry, dead.

    “How’s your luck now Rabbit?” I laughed hysterically as other cops dragged me away.

    Too crazy, too hysterical to be true you say. Well stupid me. Now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid Rabbit.

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Nice job, Dennis. To be honest, I was hoping he’d deck the cop, shoot at Barry, miss, kill someone else, and then Barry later ends up with the bride (who he’s been in love with this whole time). That way, the turtles turn out to be lucky for Barry, not for the main character. I seriously thought that’s what was going to happen. haha

      Anyway, great job, I enjoyed it!

      1. Dennis

        Thanks Jay. Your ending is way better. If I had just sat with it for a little longer. I had to hurry it as I knew I wouldn’t have much time this weekend.

    2. snuzcook

      After ruining poor Deana’s special day, shootin’ was too good for him!
      Fun story, Dennis. Some wedding receptions are soooo volitile–really gotta check that guest list!

  27. Amaria

    A little over 500 words and its a rough draft, so there may be some grammatical errors. Sorry

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck. But that’s not true. Just ask Matt and Ava.

    Matt and Ava were on their way to Las Vegas to get married. They foolishly picked me up on the side of the highway one sunny morning. They wanted to get married, but their families disapproved of their relationship. So they decided to elope with no more than a suitcase and Ava’s pet rabbit, Buttons.

    I told them my name was Diana and I was from Texas (a lie). I was on my way to see family in California who I hadn’t seen in years (not entirely a lie). In the afternoon we stopped for lunch. Ava and I saw a kid with a huge pet turtle. That’s when Ava said that her great-aunt once told her that seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck. And to her seeing that turtle meant that she and Matt were doing the right thing.

    Later that day, Matt took a wrong turn down a road. Then the car stalled. Matt tried his best to fix it, but he was no mechanic, and no one had a cell phone that worked. Ava was quite upset. I tried to keep her calm. I could see her hysterics were getting on Matt’s nerve. But I was nervous too. The sun was about the set and darkness would come.

    Nightfall came and we had no luck in getting the car started. The road was so deserted we hadn’t seen a car for two hours. Ava was still crying about her special day being ruined as Matt became more agitated. I was getting agitated as well. So far I had learn on how to keep myself in check during those times of the month. But the full moon had a pull that no one could resist.

    Matt and Ava began arguing loudly. Their words got heated while Ava held Buttons in her arms. I began to lose focus on fighting the change. Then Matt hit Ava, causing blood to fill her mouth. Buttons fell out of her arms and hopped away. Ava tried to run after Buttons but Matt grabbed Ava’s arm violently. That is when the beast took over.

    Hours later I found myself lying on the ground, caked in blood. As my eyes cleared I saw the carnage I created. The only living thing left was Buttons, huddled under the car. I quickly left the scene, taking only what I needed. I’m not sure why I took Buttons. I guess I didn’t want to leave him there all alone.

    I ran for three weeks, with Buttons as my only companion. I first used Matt and Ava’s credit cards, but they soon hit their limits. In desperation, I decided to rob a bank. I almost got away it, but two days later Buttons got sick. I took him to vet. The vet saw my picture on TV.

    I knew my time of freedom was over. They would never let anyone like me on the streets again. But my lawyer did a fine job persuading the court to go lenient on me, playing up my tragic life story.

    Not sure what they did with Buttons. Hopefully he found a new home. So here I am doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.

    1. Observer Tim

      Werewolves and bank robberies and bunnies, oh my! This has pretty-much everything needed to warm my heart (except maybe the bank robbery). Maybe the MC kept Buttons in case she needed a midnight snack later. I love the way the narrative just keeps getting stranger and yet stays within the bounds of suspension of disbelief. Great job! 🙂

      I spotted a few tiny grammar things but, as you mentioned, it is a work in progress.

    2. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Nice story, Amaria. I especially liked the fact that he hates Buttons for all this, but then he still manages to hope the rabbit found a good home. I don’t think it was intentional, but it helps bring your character to life, so if you do revise it, don’t fix that. 🙂

      Nice job overall, thanks for sharing!

  28. SheepCarrot

    “They say seeing a turtle on your wedding day brings good luck.”

    I roll my eyes at my sister’s comment. As the oldest, she was already promised to a young man in town. Ever since that announcement at the dinner table last month, she’s been obsessed with wedding folklore and superstitions. Doesn’t she realize that there are more important things than shoes and dresses for her nuptials? If the Sacred Federation succeeds in ending the War, what benefit will a good-luck turtle on her wedding day be when the rest of her life will be lived in oppression?

    I tie my hair back in a braid. “Let the folks know I’m borrowing the hoverbike. I’ll be back by dinner.”

    She mutters something noncommittal as she turns another page in the wedding publication she borrowed from her best friend. I check the time as I head out the door. An hour to go. That will be plenty of time to get to the supply station, plant the micro-explosives, and detonate them from a safe hiding place. I pick up my communicator when it beeps. It’s Tomas, head of the rebellion that has become know as the Faithless.

    “I’ll be there in about ten,” I say, then end the transmission. Possession of the device is forbidden, but we’ve found that if we keep all communications under five seconds, the Federation’s agents can’t track us. It takes me a couple minutes to get the old hoverbike started, but once it’s going the engine hums. I take the route I scouted and timed for the past two weeks and arrive on schedule.

    There’s a rock outcrop with plenty of brush around it—a perfect hiding spot for the bike. I stash it, make sure I have the micro-explosives in my pack, and sneak into the secure facility through a series of tunnels and ventilation shafts. My petite frame is perfect for this job, never mind the fact that no one else in the Faithless would fit.

    I plant the five devices, exactly where Tomas marked on the facility layout diagram he provided me. At the last one, I leave the diagram and my now empty pack behind. No point in keeping the evidence of my heresy on me. My adrenaline is in overdrive as I make the crawl back out through the tunnels. A five minute delay on the detonator will give me time to be far enough away to be free of suspicion. I take a deep breath, double check the detonator sequence, then hit the button that begins the countdown.

    I conceal the detonator in the ground under a shrub and rush to my bike. It doesn’t start initially, but then it never does anymore. The dead rabbit not two feet away is the first sign that things just went downhill. I check the engine, and sure enough, the main power line was chewed through. I look in the small external storage container for extra wires to splice it together, and quickly.

    “Hold it right there!”

    I freeze, silently swearing at my luck. They quit dispatching external roving patrols here months ago. What are the Elders doing out here? “I—I was just out for a ride, and my bike broke down.”

    “This is a restricted area. You will come with us for questioning and stand before the Cardinal for judgement.”

    They restrain me and call for a prisoner transport, which arrives within moments. Their Holy Enforcement headquarters is only a few miles away, and we’re just arriving when I hear the distant explosion. I suppress my smile. At least the mission was completed.

    They deposit me directly into a holding cell after entering the Sacred building. I sit on the metal bench and lean my head back against the wall. It’ll take a miracle for the Faithless to break me out of here; it’ll take a victory in this War. If they figure out I planted the micro-explosives, they’ll put me to death. But even as it is, between possession of a communicator and being in a restricted area, I know I’m looking at doing ten to twenty in a Federation prison.

    All because my hoverbike wouldn’t start.

    Stupid rabbit.

    1. Observer Tim

      Great SF take, SheepCarrot. For some reason images of ‘Star Wars’ keep coming to mind despite the unique setting. I love the little touches that show the slightly worn nature of the universe. They add realism. And your MC as a freedom fighter is a nice twist. Very good job! 🙂

  29. Early Blogger

    I knew there had to be another way that was more a reflection of my own style. I’m going to blame the last attempt on the nightmare I had the night before I wrote the first attempt. And also the article I read that suggested to shake things up and do something you normally wouldn’t do…I think I like my style better. Here it is, minus the bad attitudes, insanity, and foul language.

    The Tortoise and the Hare

    They told me seeing a tortoise on your wedding day would bring good luck.

    I didn’t much put any faith in superstition, yet there were things still to be believed; some sense of the deeper wisdom associated with those beliefs. Grandma understood this, as I was still learning to. Perhaps that is why she gave me the beautiful, carved tortoise shell I wore around my neck.

    Involuntarily, my hand reached up to grab the ornate, jade-green stone. It’s what I did every time I thought of her. She would be quite happy to know that I found strength and happiness through all of her teachings and through the love of the man who stood next to me; and that today of all days, I wore her gift to me as something that embodied all of the love I felt for her and she for me.

    Her presence here today was palpable.

    ***

    “Will you Allister, take this woman…”

    Suddenly aware of where I was, I lowered my hand from my neck and reached for the strong, protective hand of the man I loved. He and everything about our relationship personified the attributes of the symbol I now wore: Protection, endurance, stability, longevity…

    ***

    “I do…”

    His gaze said it all but he spoke the words anyway.

    ***

    Beside him, his best man grunted almost unperceivably. Padriac shoved his hand into the deep pocket of his dark blazer and handled the soft fur of the rabbit’s foot he carried. He said a quiet prayer that would shock the person who called him best man and friend, and probably every person who sat riveted by the obvious show of love that the bride and groom exchanged.

    “Ceilia…” he only whispered.

    ***

    On the other side of the altar, a pretty woman with a deep frown thumbed the claw that protruded from the snow-white fur buried in the fullness of her bouquet. If this was a dagger, she would know just whose heart to plunge it in. She eyed the islet-laced bodice of the gown her best friend wore. Even she had to admit how stunning her mouse-like friend looked.

    Still…this was to be her moment, her life with Allister! Not Ceilia’s.

    The Lilies she held started to tremble. Instead, she was forced to stand up here and act like this was all fine.

    In all the shaking, the fur-lined foot she had stashed shook loose and fell to the floor beside the satin pumps Ceilia wore. Ceilia hadn’t noticed, but Allister had. His look grew dangerous as he turned to stare at his new bride’s friend. He said nothing as he stepped towards his wife and slipped the ruby encrusted band on her out-stretched finger. Under the strength of his frame, he could feel the delicate bones of the rabbit’s foot crush.

    “Ceilia, do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love, honor and cherish, to have and to hold from this day forward?”

    “I do…”

    And as the new groom and bride shared an affectionate, yet subdued kiss, the best man and the maid- of-honor shared a look of contempt and in unison mumbled “Stupid rabbit!”

    1. Observer Tim

      Very romantic, Early. It’s interesting how many things have to be buried when two people make that final commitment. The amazing thing is that both jilted/unrequited lovers agreed to stand at the wedding in such places of honour. Maybe they were hoping for a hollywood ending. Beautiful! 🙂

      One word struck me as odd – unperceivably. I’m more used to ‘imperceptibly’ in this context. But that’s probably just me.

      1. Early Blogger

        I’d have to agree with that but I listened to word auto correct. I should have looked the word up. thanks for catching that. And thank you for the lovely comment.

      2. Early Blogger

        Tim, I checked the online dictionary (several) in regards to the word discrepancy. It seems imperceptibly is obsolete in one, and in another (most actually) it is a synonym for unperceivable (unperceivably) hmmmm. Maybe I should just use barely detectable. 🙂

      1. Early Blogger

        Thanks Shameless. Uh-OH. Sounds like the beginning of a good story. It is incredible though when you think about what others might actually be thinking at any given moment. Sometimes you can intuit it, other times you couldn’t see it if it was an anvil on your head. It’s like Tim saw the romantic side of the situation, and you caught the subtle undercurrents of the others. Without doing it intentionally, I discovered a lot of symbolism in the story when I went back and read it; the biggest one being ‘love conquers all.’ I’m not sure if I believe it anymore personally, but that’s what came from the subconscious, soooooo. LOL

  30. jhowe

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck and they were right. Luck seemed to be flowing out my ample derriere that day let me tell you. First off, the fiancé showed up wearing the dress and the whole shebang. And her mom showed up and had no ill words for once in her life. Her dad didn’t come through, which further enhanced my considerable windfall. I should’ve kissed that box turtle right on his shiny little beak.

    Then there were all the little things that were falling into place nicely. My cousin’s barn was emptied out and ready for the shindig later on and he let me borrow his tractor so me and the missus would have something to ride off on after the ceremony. They always rode off on something. My buddy Earl had a fresh batch of shine ready and waiting. Earl even had a watered down jug for the missus seeing she’s pregnant and all. (Now you see why I wasn’t disappointed when her old man didn’t show up. I already had that shotgun pointed at my face once). And lastly, the minister agreed to do the ceremony for ten bucks, exactly what I had there in my Velcro latched wallet.

    But luck can be fickle at best. It all changed when my ma showed up toting a dead rabbit in one hand and her pea shooter in the other. She was never one to pass up a good meal. You’d believe that if you could see her. By pea shooter, you do understand that I meant a rifle, right? Just checking in case you happen to be one of those city slickers.

    Well, ma and the preacher got to arguing about the rabbit and all and the fiancé didn’t want no weapons at the wedding, for which I don’t blame her a bit. Let me tell you, things quickly got out of hand. In the end, there was no preacher to marry us and the law showed up and carted ma off to jail. Then the fiancé’s water broke and the baby came, born in the third row pew thanks to quick action by Earl and his wife. We named him Toby if you’re interested.

    That night I took the tractor into town and hooked up a chain to the window bars in ma’s cell. She got out all right but they caught her again right off, hardly two blocks away. My planning could have been thought out a little more but you probably figured that. It turned out that this sort of thing was against the law and now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.

    Since I have a few words left to stay under 500, I’d like to remind you I used the words derriere and fiancé in this story. Those little tidbits are thanks to Mrs. Schiller and my tenth grade French class that I took. I made it for three weeks before I transferred to metal shop but I did learn a few things. And I put this part in Italics so you wouldn’t get it confused with the story; where I learned that I’ll never know. And don’t get me started on that semicolon up there. Now I’m over 500 so I’ll tell you about the missus and Toby some other time. Dang, I really wanted to tell you about them and see if you could talk to them and have them come visit me once in a while. So if you see them….

    1. jhowe

      Start your story with “They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck” and end your story with “Now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.”

      Did you notice we were to start in past tense and end in present tense?

    2. Early Blogger

      this was a good story and no murders. Ha! If you don’t know what I mean by that, read some of the earlier posts. you would have thought we were all a bunch of psychos Anyway. Delightful. Was smiling the whole time.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is hilarious, JHowe. I love the voice and the style, and as Early said, lack of murder. The biggest crime, aside from the whole gun thing, is naming the child Toby. 😉 Or is that just a bit of my British heritage leaking through? Great one! 🙂

    4. Kerry Charlton

      Cute story John. Metal shop probably did you more good then French. I took Latin till it ran out my ears, and Father insisted I take Greek in high school. The last year any high school taught Greek was in 1923, thank the Lord.

  31. Observer Tim

    MY WEDDING DAY

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck, so when I ran over that turtle on the interstate I knew what came next. Time to get married! I started looking around as I drove.

    Five miles later I saw her, standing by the side of the road. She was a redhead, short and skinny-ish, wearing a pink hoodie with bunny ears and faded blue jeans, with a cardboard sign that read “Denver”. I instantly dubbed her my little Rabbit. She was smiling at me and holding her thumb up; that means “I like you” in any language. I pulled over and waved her in.

    “So, how far can you take me?”

    “All the way.”

    “Thanks, that’s great.”

    “Fine day, isn’t it?”

    “Yeah. Thanks again, this is really nice of you.”

    One bride; check. Next, a chapel.

    I smiled at her, “Could you keep an eye open for a church?”

    “I suppose. Are you religious?”

    “Not really. I’m going to get married.”

    “Congratulations. But don’t you need a girl for that? Or a guy, I guess. That’s legal too these days.”

    “Already got one.” Rabbit looked at me kind of strangely, but didn’t say anything.

    About twenty-five miles further on I spotted a little chapel by the road and pulled over.

    “Well, here we are. Now to find the minister.”

    To my surprise she shifted in the seat and tried to kick me. “No …ing way, creep!” She started fumbling with the door latch.

    She was actually pretty easy to subdue, mostlly on account of being short and kind of skinny. It wasn’t long before I had her hands tied behind her back so she wouldn’t succumb to pre-wedding jitters again.

    The chapel was rustic, lit by natural light coming through the holes in the roof. It was perfect except for one thing: no minister. We looked around, startling a few small animals who’d taken up residence. I love a church that’s in harmony with nature.

    When a raccoon leapt onto the altar and snarled at me I jumped back. Rabbit bolted up the aisle; I had to chase her out the door.

    She ran straight to the Minister, who was standing outside the church wearing the uniform of a highway patrolman.

    “What’s going on here?” he asked.

    Rabbit shouted. “This creep kidnapped me and wants to rape me!”

    “Don’t listen to her, Father. It’s our wedding day. I’m glad you showed up.”

    There was a bit of confusion and a minor scuffle, but eventually we got a ride to the nearest town. It turned out he wasn’t a minister, but we did end up before a judge. I guess that was good enough.

    The judge listened to my story and to hers, and in the end sided with her. Turns out the law gives more credence to twelve-year-olds than adults. Now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid Rabbit.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Jay. Your praise on the dark stories is especially appreciated. I have a grim side, but I prefer to present evil in a somewhat silly light. It’s more fun that way.

        I try to base the censorship on the tone and character of the story. In this one, the narrator is a happy-go-lucky psychopath, so he wouldn’t have truck with his bride-to-be using foul language, even while telling the story later. 🙂

    1. Early Blogger

      Morbid…completely and totally morbid. The scariest part is that it is all so believable which makes it Excellent. (That doesn’t mean I condone it:-)) Quite frankly, I can’t wait until a new prompt starts. I’m not
      fond of the evil, calculating side that has sprouted. LOL CAN WE CHANGE THE SUBJECT PLEASE???!

        1. Observer Tim

          Bloody straight. Hitch-hiking is still one of the most dangerous activities anyone can undertake, especially young people. There are good Samaritans out there, but there are quite a few creeps and fiends as well.

      1. Observer Tim

        I agree with you. This prompt is a “force” to write an evil MC; it’s an interesting exercise but one that can only hold me for a short while. I’m trying to think of some way to put a positive spin on the idea, but nothing has come up yet. I’m behind by about a half-dozen stories, so maybe someone else has found something. I hope so.

        I tried to make the MC a combination of my slightly-insane optimism with the reasoning ability of a psychopath. And I made damn sure that he got stopped before doing anything. I have several cousins who’ve been on the receiving end of that stuff, so it’s a sore point of mine.

    2. Observer Tim

      Oh, and a special note for Lily. I describe my MC as a ‘happy-go-lucky psychopath’. I mean that last word in the technical sense, being the psychological disorder characterized by a lack of empathy, a general inability to follow/understand social customs, and extremely poor impulse control.

  32. cosi van tutte

    So, I changed the ending a little. Oh, well. 🙂

    “Turtles are good luck.” Grandma Grace pulled on her black lace gloves. “If you see one on your wedding day, your husband will be faithful and ever true.”

    I smiled at my reflection. My wedding dress was lace and crystal perfection and I looked beautiful. I was so not going to need any turtle’s good luck charms.

    “Rabbits, though. Well, rabbits just aren’t any good. If you see them on your wedding day, your husband will cheat on you with a tattooed woman from Kentucky and run off with her to the Mojave Desert. It happens, dear. Every single time, it happens.”

    I turned to face her. “I’m not going to fret over rabbits and turtles. Andy loves me and I love him. Neither of us will stray.”

    “I’m sure.” She reached into her carpet bag and pulled out a Remington R-15 rifle. “But, if any of those fluffy interlopers show up, I’m prepared to take them out.”

    “Grandma! You can’t take your rifle to my wedding.”

    She glared at me. “Are you going to stop me?”

    “Well, obviously.”

    Her glare turned into hard steel. “I’d like to see you try.”

    I decided not to try.

    ***

    My brother, Dave, drove me to the church.

    I sat in the back of his neon green Ford Focus, trying my best to revel in happy, peaceful thoughts. It was not easy.

    Grandma Grace sat next to me with her trusty Remington stretched across her pink lace and damask gown. The business end of the rifle encroached on my happy place, touching my right leg. It actually came into contact with my beautiful white dress.

    I bit my lip and held my tongue the whole way there, which was very commendable of me, but ultimately my efforts went to waste. She didn’t pay any attention to me. She was too busy looking outside and watching for rabbits and turtles.

    I was quite put out. She should have acknowledged my heroic charity. She should have told me “Thank you for not making a big deal over my eccentricities and flaky superstitions.” But no. She didn’t.

    “Ahh, look! Look, Melanie. A turtle right ahead of us.”

    Dave drove over it. Roll. Crunch. Crack. Dead. And Dave kept on going like nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.

    Grandma Grace turned pale. “He killed it. It’s dead. He killed it. It’s dead.”

    “It’s okay, Grandma.”

    Her face flared to an angry pink. “No! It is not okay. That was your turtle, Melanie. That was your good luck turtle. And your brother killed it. It’s dead. Dead. DEAD! Doom will come upon you, Melanie.”

    “You’re overreacting.” said Dave. I agreed with him, but not out loud.

    She slapped the back of his head.

    “Ow!”

    “Don’t sass talk me, young man.”

    “Yes.” I said. “Please don’t. She has a gun.”

    “Oh, I wouldn’t shoot him with it.” Her eyes glinted in an un-grandmotherly way. “I’m saving my ammunition for those rabbits.”

    ***

    We arrived at the church in plenty of time.

    It took a lot of begging and negotiating, but we managed to convince Grandma Grace to leave her rifle in the car.

    “Well. Don’t blame me if rabbits show up and curse your future happiness.”

    “I’ll take my chances.”

    “I wouldn’t if I were you.”

    ***

    We entered the church and the wedding began.

    Everything went perfectly. No glitches. No acting up from the flower girl. The ring bearer did not try to swallow the rings this time.

    I was beautiful.

    Andy was handsome.

    Everything was so perfect. The priest, the choir, the service. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

    I looked at my darling Andy as he said his vows and the whole world around us fell away. It was just him and just me. I loved him and he loved me. Nothing would ever come between us. No matter what.

    Then, it was my turn. “For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or—-”

    “OOOO!” squealed Ginny, our flower girl. “IT’S A PRETTY BUNNY!”

    “What?” I looked down.

    There it was. A white rabbit with pink eyes. It looked up at me and wiggled its nose.

    Grandma Grace screamed, “DIE, CURSED VERMIN!”

    “Grandma! Wait! Don’t!” When did she even get the gun out of the car?

    But she didn’t wait. She pointed her rifle at the bunny and fired.

    “Ahhh!” Andy collapsed and cradled his left leg.

    The rabbit flattened its ears against its head and tried to hop to safety.

    “DIE! DIE! DIE!”

    She shot an altar boy’s foot, the floor, and three parts of the communion rail before someone wrestled the gun out of her grip and hauled her out of the church. “YOU STUPID RABBIT! STUPID, STUPID RABBIT!”

    I knelt before Andy and finished my vows while the rabbit fell asleep on the tail end of my wedding veil.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, Reatha! I thought about making the tattooed woman from Kentucky show up, but I just couldn’t find the right moment to bring her in. 🙂

    1. Manwe38

      For some reason, this made me think of the song ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’, and that the fact that this particular grandma would’ve shot the reindeer makes me smile just a little bit more.

      Nicely done!

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, Early Blogger!

        I think the ending felt rushed because I needed to add a transition sentence between Grandma being hauled away and them getting on with the ceremony. I wasn’t really worried about the word count. I just posted it faster than I should have. Sorry about that. 🙂

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a priceless bit of wedding day mayhem, Cosi. Imagine the story Grandma Grace will have when she gets back to the home! After she’s done her time. I found it sweet that the wedding was completed and nobody was too seriously hurt. Overall very nice! 🙂

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, OT!

        This was one of those stories that was too easy to write. I knew exactly what was going to happen next as I was typing. Especially with the turtle being run over.

        I was going to extend the story to show that the rabbit curse did take effect on their marriage, but I wanted to end on a positive note. 😀

    3. Amaria

      This story was too funny. I especially like the Grandma character. I don’t know why but I can imagine this scenario happening somewhere. LOL.

  33. Reaper

    Part 18 – This one needs more cleaning up than normal and will probably get extended to a full conversation when I compile them.

    In the Beginning – Folsom

    “They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck.” They were the first words Peter spoke after entering prison.

    His cellmate, a man of little import, stared blankly. Peter was thankful that in the end times men didn’t need smarts. Telling his story to this neanderthal was next to pointless, so he started telling the man about the prophecy. Peter’s mind wandered though.

    His parents told him about the turtle. Superstitious and half-mad at the best of times at least they brought him up in the church. He met Templeton there, and his lovely daughter years later.

    He met his wife in the church. After a whirlwind courtship, Templeton married them. The then five-year-old Nicole stood in as flower girl. Even then Peter knew she was destined for greatness. There was no turtle at the wedding, he looked. His wife killed herself a year later. There was always something suspicious about the circumstances.

    The police wouldn’t look into it. It ate at him. Until he ended up on the streets. Years later he found himself sleeping under a newspaper announcing the preacher’s death. He was sad and angry for a moment. If the preacher had not been born in the year of the rabbit Peter’s marriage might have had a happier ending.

    He thought little more about it, until fate intervened again. Peter was outside the bookstore when the rough man sold the preacher’s books. He remembered that golden child, and bits of the prophecy. He had to help. He snuck in and stole them, barely hiding them before being arrested. After tormenting the Father for a while, Peter dug up the books and took them to the sacred couple.

    After cleaning up he was introduced to the ladies. He met the daughter, she had a lot of big words for such a young girl. He even got to look in on the infant son as the baby slept. He dined with them. They even included him in the taking of the body and blood of Christ, which tasted much different than back when he bothered with mass. After dinner they explained it all. Peter barely kept the Eucharist down upon realizing he was a double cannibal. Chester put a task to him he would not refuse. A man brought as low as Peter, given an opportunity to be part of something great will rarely pass it up.

    “So, we have the girls, or the beginnings of them, our daughter will lead. This is a war women can wage with grace and charm. Our men must be rough, hardened, willing to kill for the cause. Like you, they must have nothing to lose. We need you to turn yourself in and recruit inside.”

    So he did. Funny thing, the original theft got him less time than fleeing justice did. Peter shocked himself out of his revelry by saying something he didn’t mean to out loud. He never realized how much he blamed on the preacher. Thankfully, unlike God, he didn’t believe sin was carried in the blood. His cellmate offered him a strange look but became his first convert. In jail and marriage it is better to agree with crazy.

    “Now I’m doing ten to twenty and looking for believers in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.”

    1. Observer Tim

      I wasn’t sure you’d be able to pull this one off, Reaper. Brilliant job! Is there an equivalent of Mensa for writers? Or at least a Writer’s Home for Extreme Cleverness? I love how you kept the story going, maintained the feel, and worked in a reference to last week’s prompt. Overall wonderful! 🙂 🙂

    2. Dennis

      Clever how you have weaved various past parts into this and keep the story interesting after all these weeks. I too played to soon go back and read them all again. It will be for some interesting and entertaining reading.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I realize how you do this now, never run off track. Have you ever discussed your photographic memory with any one? I’m talking about details you never forget. If you haven’t, talk to me about it. It’s certainly something to be proud off and quite helpful in writing. I wish to Lord that I had it, but I don’t. You have the gift, you know.

  34. ShamelessHack

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck.

    They also told me hunting season wasn’t over until September.

    They lied. They lied because they hate me. They’re jealous of me—of my talents, my capabilities.
    My new wife Elmira would have agreed with me on that point.

    But she’s dead.

    She’s dead. Thanks to my nemesis, the vile, mocking figure who now dominates my nightmares.

    When I think of him, my anger rises like burning bile. If I had my shotgun now, I would blow his head off.

    I gnash my teeth in anguish when I think of Elmira and me at the altar reciting our vows. I had looked over at the tortoise shell on the ground by the minister’s feet and started to stutter. Didn’t the pastor see it? What was wrong with him? What was that thing doing there?

    My friend Sylvester had warned me months ago: “Don’t trust turtles,” he had said. “They hide secrets.”

    I can still see that rounded shell of the turtle at my wedding. There wasn’t really a turtle in that large shell at all. No! There was a rabbit in there, staring out at me—laughing!

    Sam saw it all. He was in the last row of pews, and for whatever reason he had two pistols on him. He saw the rabbit squeeze itself out the back of the shell. “There he is!” he yelled. “Thar’s the varmint!” He whipped out the revolvers and fired.

    Elmira jumped back screaming as the rabbit made a mad dash for the exit. The furry gray missile came to a screeching stop at the church door, leaned up against it, gnawed loudly on a fat carrot, and said, “What’s up, doc?” Then he was gone.

    I yelled in fury, grabbed my shotgun and ran out of the church in hot pursuit, leaving Elmira at the altar.

    I saw his white cotton tail disappear over a hill. I started to take up the chase, but was suddenly in a tornado, twirled around a dozen times in the howling wake of a roadrunner flashing past me on the road.

    I regained my footing, shook my head to clear it, and looked back at the church. Elmira was standing in the road watching me in confusion. Then something caught my eye. I looked past Elmira up the road. Then back at Elmira. Then up the road again. Then I hollered at the top of my lungs: “No-o-o-o!!”

    A mangy coyote on a motorcycle with a rocket strapped to his back zoomed over the crest of the hill and crashed into my innocent new bride at a hundred miles an hour. She didn’t stand a chance.

    My rage was uncontrollable. I saw red everywhere I looked.

    Then from behind me I heard, “What’s up…?”

    I bellowed an obscenity, whirled around, and fired both barrels before I realized my grave error.

    A few black feathers floated down and a minute later a yellow beak hit the concrete.

    The beak hopped around on the pavement, said, “Thufferin’ thuccotash!” and then was still.

    I had inadvertently assassinated that annoying black duck who had crashed my wedding.

    And from somewhere in the distance came a chuckle, and the sound of two large teeth crunching into a carrot.

    Now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison.

    Thtupid Wabbit.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is just plain looney. 🙂 Don’t worry about Elmira or the prison sentence. Both will be totally forgotten next episode. Anyway, that time in Sing Sing should count in the MC’s favour (My name is Elmer J. Fudd; I own a mansion and a yacht). Beautifully strange, Hack! 🙂

    2. Dennis

      Ah Say, Ah Say, This is awesome and clever how you wove all the characters in. Glad someone thought to do this. (And no one seriously got hurt 🙂 ) This brings back many wonderful days of my youth.

  35. Speterson14

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck. Now, they weren’t wrong, but who the hell were “they?”

    I met the girl of my dreams back in college. We lived across the hall from each other during our freshmen year. We were never formally introduced – somewhere along the line she started fucking my roommate and the next thing I know, we’re smoking pot together every night before bed. That’s what college is for, right? A BBA in Finding your Dream Girls and Smoking Pot.

    We had a sexual tension that was palpable. I was dating another girl that I had met in high school and she was “dating” my roommate – in the loosest interpretation of the word. An unspoken rule developed between us that we should avoid any alone time. When it did seem to happen upon us, she was the “brains” of the operation. I was the “balls.”

    We finally did cross paths and came onto the scene with a shock that sent tremors through our worlds and our bed frames. For years we adventured through foreign countries, circles of friends, dead ends of jobs, and fuck ups of family gatherings. It was fun. It was hard. We showed the world the cloth from which we had been cut.

    Nearly twenty years after we had first met in college, we sat together smoking pot sitting in a swing on the side of the cottage just one hundred feet from where we were to be married in the morning. It was sometime past midnight and we were watching the clouds move in front of the stars. The moon was incredibly bright and as the dopamine ran rampant through our systems we tried to pick out the shapes that we could see floating past.

    “Ooh, dragon!” She said as she blew her own cloud into the night sky.

    “Eh, that looks more like your Uncle Sandy.” I retorted, taking the doobie she passed to me.

    “He’s going to kick your ass tomorrow when I tell him that.”

    As I walked to my cabin that night alone I looked up and saw the perfect image of a turtle – an omen of good luck among Irish families like my own, and smiled.

    I awoke in the morning with a splitting headache and quickly realized that Uncle Sandy was standing at the end of my bed with what can only be described as a blackjack hanging from his hand. As he brought it around in an enormous arc towards my genitalia, my instincts drove me backward and up onto my headboard.

    “Sand! It was a fucking joke!” I screamed to no avail.

    I reached for the closest thing – my pet rabbit, Stu, and threw it at him with all my might. In an unfortunate turn of events, Stu caught Sandy’s jugular as he sailed through the air, spilling his lifeblood on the floor.

    Now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.

    1. Observer Tim

      Love among the slackers; this is a great take, Mountain. I love the voice you gave your MC/narrator and his “yeah, well” attitude. Also, the subtle hint of Monty Python brought a smile to my face. I guess that’s the problem when you use a rabbit as a weapon: they’ve got biiig sharp… and they can leap abooot… look at the bones! I love it! 🙂

      Welcome aboard!

  36. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    Awe, Lily, I only count 432. Okay… you’re right, I used Word to count it for me, but I’m a writer! I don’t need no stinkin’ Maths! 😉

    Anyway, good story. There’s a few mechanical errors throughout, but they aren’t that bad. I think the most important thing I would have liked is to see more showing rather than telling. I know it can be hard to keep it 500 words or less, but if the story is good enough, most people won’t complain if you do go over. 🙂 I’m a big law breaker when it comes to the word count, and I haven’t been arrested by the WD police in the last three years, so I think you’re safe!

    As far as cutting things out, the idea with writing short stories is to start them as close to the end as possible. This way you have more time to spend on all the fun stuff like showing the reader all the important stuff you want them to see (as well as all the showy stuff they want to see). In this story, while it’s good in its own way, it you could have started with the bloody rabbit, had a good long fight/argument scene with Veronica, and then ended nice and strong.

    The only other thing I can think of is it will help us read it easier if you add spaces between the paragraphs. Good to see a new face around here Lily! Also, I like your style (murder/horror), it’s my favorite kind!

    Take care, now!

  37. ReathaThomasOakley

    Cousin Josephine

    “They used to say a turtle on a wedding day brings luck,” Cousin Josephine said. After Daddy died I decided to visit her in prison as he used to do. Mama wouldn’t go, she’d just huff up, look down her nose that way she had, and say, “No kin of mine would do such as that,” and go back to reading McCall’s. I wanted to go, it’d give me a chance to drive the car without Mama telling me how to shift gears or saying, “Lord, help us,” when I’d pass a truck.

    I got Marian to go with me with the promise of a Silver Springs glass bottom boat ride. That’s what we’d do before Daddy passed. We’d pack egg salad sandwiches, Coca Cola, and a thermos of coffee for Daddy, and off we’d go. Mama and I would sit in the car in the prison parking lot and read while Daddy went inside. Then we’d visit Silver Springs. I’ve got five or six photographs of us grinning into the camera in that picture they used to take before the jungle cruise.

    I’d first seen Josephine when I was about eight, when she was still living out Pellicer Creek way in the big house her grandpa’d built, two stories, with porches upstairs and down, a dirt road leading up to the house lined with tall palms and flowering shrubs in the front yard. Most of the railing on the upstairs porch was gone and one wooden front step was broken through. I was only inside a few minutes when a snake fell from a hole in the ceiling, then slithered away. Mama’d pulled me out so fast I didn’t have time to see if it was poisonous or not. After that Daddy went by himself to check on Josephine.

    After she moved into town she got a job at Woolworth’s lunch counter. We’d see her some Saturdays, Daddy said he was worried about where she was staying. She lost her job when her boss learned she was sleeping in her car. Daddy wanted her to live with us, but Mama threw a big fit.

    Then Daddy got a call in the middle of the night. I never knew what she’d done exactly, just knew she pled guilty and was sent away and we’d go visit her every year or so. Then Daddy died.

    Sitting across the table I wouldn’t have recognized her if I’d seen her on the street. Her gray hair was clean and pulled back in a pony tail. Her face that had been so thin and pale was rounder and tan. “I work in the garden,” she’d said proudly before the turtle comment. That came when I finally got up enough nerve to ask what she’d pled guilty to.

    “I done it. I was just sitting on a bench on the Plaza one day when I seen this turtle, what we used to call gophers. Annie,” she asked, “yore Mama ever make you gopher stew?” I shook my head. “My mama did ‘fore she took sick. Onions and taters, some of them datil peppers, ain’t nothin’ like a good gopher stew.” She sighed. “I was so hungry. When I had my job I could eat what didn’t sell. Then, right when I’m thinkin’ ’bout stew the cathedral doors opened and this bride and groom came out and I remembered turtle luck and I remembered I’d seen this rabbit cage behind a house two blocks over and how rabbits make good stew.”

    “Wait,” I interrupted, “you’re in prison for stealing rabbits?”

    “Yep,15 to 20 years, one stupid rabbit. And, the stupid woman who tried to stop me butchering it. Good thing I had that knife Daddy give me and matches to start a fire. I got most of the rabbit cooked ‘fore her husband come lookin’ for his stupid wife.

    “Oh, you goin’? Sorry ’bout yore daddy. Come back any time. I’ll be here.”

    That day Marian enjoyed Silver Springs more than I did. I kept thinking about turtles and rabbits and relatives.

    1. Early Blogger

      I really enjoy all your posts. Your writing is just so easy to get lost in; so smooth. Are you published? Or have a blog? I would really enjoy reading longer works of yours.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, no blog, but I’ve had a bit of success with short fiction, poetry, and playwriting. In the early 90s some success with short humor pieces originally published in a small town newspaper, then accepted by several national mags. Until recently my writing focused, by necessity, on grant applications and PR stuff, but I’m trying to get back into more creative things by utilizing this place, and Poetic Asides, to experiment and expand, and to get some feedback and critiquing.

        By now you are probably regretting asking, but thanks again.

    2. Dennis

      Still love these characters and the very believable way Josephine is in prison. I know some things are based in reality. Is that true for that different locales that you use?

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, Dennis, for reading. Most places are real, including Josephine’s house, which most likely is no longer standing. The Lowell Correctional Institution is in Ocala, close to Silver Springs, an old Florida tourist attraction. What is now the women’s prison was once a girls “school”. Folks visiting relatives there would usually include a side trip to the Springs. I have another story about my much older grandfather swimming in the Springs after flooding dislodged coffins from a nearby cemetery.

  38. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    A Wedding to Remember

    They told me seeing a turtle on my wedding day would bring good luck. I’m not really certain who they are, but they’re probably the same people that say a lot of things like chivalry is dead and that love is easy. Both of those, as most people know, are lies. Just like it was a lie that seeing a turtle on my wedding would be good luck. In fact, it was the exact opposite.

    On the day my life changed forever, I watched my fiancée enter the nave. It was just after noon, and the golden bars of light filtering through the windows cast quite the charming glow off her. Small sequins glittered on the upper corset-style dress. The lower section blazed with pearlescent lightning as the light refracted from the satin. Her blonde, curled hair bounced playfully behind the thin veil, and even though the fabric covered her face, my memory clearly saw the soft smile of her perfectly pouty lips and her brilliant hazel eyes. Her fair skin… ah, sorry, I lose myself whenever I think about her. I’ll get back to the story.

    Clair had bride-marched halfway down the aisle when the turtle appeared. It was maybe a foot behind her, making its way across the white rug.

    At first, I thought nothing of it. I mean, who really pays that much attention to a small turtle, right? Turns out, there was a lot more to that little reptile than I expected. The longer I looked at it, the more something seemed off. There was a trail of what I thought was either dirt or mud following behind it. It made sense because the church’s exterior had been under construction and the weather, before that day, was storming. Unfortunately, it wasn’t mud.

    As you well know, we all have our own ways of dealing with stress. Some of you drink while others smoke. Some do drugs, even, but that’s never been my thing. No, for me, I needed something closer to home. Something that I found that’s been keeping the anxiety and stress at bay since I was young. Murder.

    I know it sounds bad, but it’s not as bad as you think. I mean, we’re all going to die someday, so why not sooner rather than later? You might be thinking that it’s not up to me to decide when someone dies, and you might be right. Whose decision is it then? The tobacco companies? Pollution? Mother Nature? I am a force of nature created as a part of this ecosystem. Does that not give me the right to decide how to live it? Well, many people disagree with me on much of that, and I don’t blame them.

    Anyway, I was nervous before the wedding, and so I did what any self-respecting serial killer would do: I murdered someone to take the edge off. That’s fair, right? I mean, after all, this is my day. Okay, that’s not true. Anyone that has been in committed relationships knows that it was her day. I couldn’t let my stress and anxiety screw that up, right? I mean, I’d be in the dog house forever. I knew I had to do something.

    I lured one of the chaplains into his office by telling him I needed to talk about my various sins before getting married. Seemed legit enough, and it worked, too. When we were in there, I talked about how I couldn’t keep myself under control, which was a little too close to the truth, but I needed him to buy it. In return, he pointed to the caged rabbit he kept on his desk. He told me about how the rabbit always opened the door to the rectory allowing vermin to get into the house. He said that the rabbit represented my desires and that my lack of control was represented by the rabbit’s inability to communicate with him. He said that no matter what he did, he could never get the rabbit to stop opening doors, and although I wanted to ask him how the hell a rabbit opened doors, he had already charmed me with his story. Somehow, it made sense. In a way, he was telling me that I should allow my desires to play out because I could always seek forgiveness later.

    After having learned more about myself than I wanted in that small antechamber, I lunged at him. I keep in pretty good shape, so it wasn’t hard to keep my hands around his neck. However, I couldn’t keep his goddamned legs from flailing around. He knocked all kinds of things off his desk, which included the rabbit and what I guessed was the turtle. So, I grabbed his letter opener and stabbed him until he stopped. After using the mirror to make sure the blood on my shirt was completely covered by my jacket, I departed to get married. Of course, I’d come back later to clean up, but I had something more important to do. Or, so I thought.

    When one of my fiancées nieces saw the trail of blood left by that turtle, she hopped out of the pew and started looking at it. Well, that caught the attention of one of the adults whom Sherlock’d his way to the antechamber. On any other day, I might have followed him in there and took him out, but I couldn’t. I had dozens of people staring at us at the head of the nave. What was I to do?

    Nothing, it turns out. There’s very little you can do when you execute a murder minutes before your wedding. It was sloppy, and I left all kinds of evidence behind. It didn’t help, either, that I had blood all over my shirt. True, it was hidden, but the police searched everyone including me.

    After that, they found out that I’d been killing people for almost two decades. Like all killers, I kept trophies of all my murders. They connected me to each one, and that was it. I pled guilty to avoid the death penalty, but that was stupid. I hate prison.

    Well, that’s why I’m now doing 10-20 life sentences in federal prison. All because of that stupid rabbit.

    1. Early Blogger

      It looks like the only thing all of us could believe would require a 10-15 year sentence was murder. Afterwards I tried thinking of other crimes that would result in a sentence like that in a federal prison. How about robbing a bank? INside trading? I think I might try experimenting with this one. I’m not real keen on seeing everyone’s dark side all at once. LOL Good job Doc.

      1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

        To be fair, most of my stories have murder. 😉 I thought about using drug/human trafficking or white collar crimes, but I would want to spend more than 1000 words on both of those. 😉 This is a pretty black thread of stories, though. haha

    2. Observer Tim

      This is so wonderfully over the top, Doc. I love the simple matter-of-fact tone that the MC uses when telling about his crimes. He seems like a friendlier version of Hannibal Lecter. Great job! 🙂

    3. Manwe38

      I was simultaneously amused and chilled by the methodical, yet emotionally simplistic nature of the way your MC describes murder; it’s almost like a professor lecturing his class on the exploits of history.

      A great read.

    4. Dennis

      I had the same reaction, that of being intrigued by the straight-forward manner of the MC. You made it work. And I was mesmerized the fiancée description.

      Hey, are you doing the NYC Midnight contest. Wasn’t sure since there is a 1000 word limit, ha ha.

      1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

        Hah, yeah, 1000 is too little. 😉 Seriously, though, not this time. I have too much to do right now. 3 projects due and half a dozen editing jobs sitting on my desk. No time! However, if you are in it, I’d be happy to read your story and give you any advice!

  39. Bushkill

    Hello, interesting take on the concept and the introduction of the rabbits as inanimate objects. I really liked that idea. I think you could have used that throughout. The subtle and subliminal undertones could have been fun … And a little psychologically twisted. A rabbit ring cushion, rabbits chasing each other around the wedding dress (which you did expertly), rabbit shaped napkins at place setting, and things of the like. That would have embedded rabbits into the very fabric of everything about the day. And made the rabbit connection very fluid for you. As it is, the inclusion of the live rabbit seems forced.
    I also think you rush too much into the first para and it creates a little continuity and flow issue.

    Hope it’s useful feedback … If it’s a little too aggressive I am sorry, I m new to the critique thing and may inadvertently offend. If that’s the case, please accept my sincere apology.

    1. LilySmiles

      I know your comment was not directed towards me but this is excellent critiquing it shows what they’ve done well and what they need to work on. Writers need this type of crtisism to help them improve writing skills. This is excellent critiquing. It’s especially raw which is most likely the best kind. Very well done if I might say so.

  40. turtles88

    “I ain’t lying to ya, Po. Why would I be lying with ya? All I’m saying is that we are some good luck turtles. That’s all I’m saying.”

    Po dipped in the water and floated, looking skeptically at Hank, “I don’t know, Hank. What do we got that brings all that luck? I mean, we don’t got those big feet like them rabbits do. All we got are some hard shells.”

    Hank bobbed his head up and down, “Exactly! We got hard shells. And what do humans what the most?”

    “Uh….”

    “They want security. And what do we got?”

    Po looked off into the distance, “Uh….”

    “Shells! We got shells that keep us secured. So when humans see us, they see our shells and feel all secured inside. And when they see us at their oh so special weddings, they feel….”

    Po’s eyes widened, “They feel that their marriage is secured! I get you now, Hank! I get you! But, uh…. what do that got to do with us right now? We ain’t going to no oh so special wedding today are we, Hank?”

    Hank swam through the water with Po following behind, “No we ain’t going nowhere. But you know who did? Kyle. I heard that our brother Kyle was bought two weeks ago and was sent on his way to an oh so special wedding.”

    “Kyle? Our Kyle? Not Kylie from the other pet shop?”

    “Nope. Our Kyle. And you know what, he probably gave so much luck and stuff to those humans, they probably didn’t know what to do with all of it!.”

    They exited out of the water and climbed onto slanted rocks where another turtle, Kyle was sleeping.

    Hank stretched his neck out and shouted, “Hey Kyle! Wake up! We gotta ask you something.”

    Annoyed from being woken up, Kyle frowned and slowly said, “Yes Hank?”

    “We want to know what happened at the oh so special wedding that you went to. Did you do any luck and stuff? Did you spread any happiness?”

    Kyle plainly said, “I didn’t do none of that stuff. That jack-wagon rabbit took that from me. He’s been taking our stuff and thinking that he has the RIGHT to do so ever since the Great Race in the woods!” He stopped to breath and calmly say, “Stupid jack-wagon.”

    Po frowned, “What ya mean he took it all?”

    “Yeah, didn’t you give ANYTHING to them humans?”

    “I gave zip. Nada. Nothing! All I did was stay in my tank and watch that rabbit make a big stink about having to stay in his cage. And it wasn’t even a small cage! At least they gave HIM food. I personally couldn’t see the reason to why he started to cause a fit.”

    “Well, did they let him out and stuff? Did they let him hop around and stuff?” Hank asked. “What did they do with him?”

    “They took him out so he could calm down but the jack-wagon escaped and wrecked the entire oh so special wedding.” He chuckled. “The Bride got so frustrated with him that she kicked him real hard and good, over and over again until all of his rabbit insides were everywhere. Then the police came and arrested the woman. I don’t blame any of them.” Kyle then poked his head in his shell, hoping to fall back asleep.

    “So the rabbit’s dead?” Hank asked.

    Kyle sighed, “As dead as dead can be.”

    Po and Hank both grinned in unison and said, “Turtles DO bring good luck!”

    1. LilySmiles

      Intriguing and clever play on the prompt. An extremely amazing piece. Along with the legend and lore it veiws a completely different perspective on things. Wonderful work turtles.
      – Lily

    2. Observer Tim

      I love the dialogue; it leaves the impression of gangster turtles. This is a very clever take on the prompt; great job! 🙂

      I noticed a few rough spots around the idioms, but nothing earthshattering.

    3. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      I thoroughly enjoyed that, Turtles. I liked that the turtles weren’t mean, they were just… well… people in turtles skin, essentially. That’s what makes it so magical. Not people the turtles are people, but because we can relate to the turtles on a human level. Fantastic job.

  41. Trevor

    Other Installments in the Laine Reed series:
    Night At The Museum
    What Did You Do?

    Word Count: 783

    Laine Reed: The Dead Groom

    I’ve been told seeing a turtle on your wedding day brings good luck. If Olivia Brandt had seen a turtle the morning of June 12th, then it didn’t do its job. Because instead of bringing good fortune and a happy future for Olivia, that turtle brought something far from lucky.

    Death.

    When Jerry Collins, Olivia’s husband-to-be, didn’t arrive at his mother’s house to get prepared for the ceremony, his brother went to check on him. When he arrived at his house, he found his beloved sibling still in bed. At first, he thought Jerry just overslept-until he saw the bullet hole in his right temple.

    Olivia was a friend of my mother’s, so we both went to comfort her. We went to Jerry’s house and found Olivia in the guest room. She was lying on the bed, her face a mess of tears. A nearby trash can was filled with tissues.

    While my mother comforted her old friend, I excused myself to the bathroom. But as I walked down the hall, I saw a door that was sealed off with police tape. It was Jerry’s bedroom. Just beyond the door was the scene of a man’s murder.

    I tried to ignore the urge. I wanted to just go to the bathroom and let the police do their jobs. But detective work was in my blood. It had been months since I solved the murder at the museum. My love for crime scene investigation compelled me to search the room.

    Carefully, I crawled through the tape and stepped into the bedroom. Number placards were set up around the room, detailing every piece of evidence they found. On the bed, there was a pillow with a large red circle on it. Some blood splotches also stained the sheets and light blue blanket.

    I couldn’t find any DNA evidence, so I started to look through the dresser on the other side of the room. As usual, I made sure to leave no prints. The contents were normal: Underwear, socks, bras. But then, underneath a pile of boxer briefs, I found something interesting.

    A cell phone.

    There were two cell phones on the bedside table, presumably belonging to Jerry and Olivia. Why would there be a third cell phone hidden in the dresser? I turned it on and went straight to Messages. There were several back-and-forth messages between the phone’s owner and the unknown texter. I clicked on a message and read the conversation.

    “Jerry, where have you been? I miss you ”
    “I’m out with Olivia.”
    “How much longer are you going to stay with that ugly bitch?”
    “I told you, I’m still trying to raise enough money to get us to San Francisco. Then, we’ll leave and never come back. It’ll just be me and you <3”
    “OK. I just wish you were with me. I love you.”
    “I love you too. Don’t worry, we’ll be together soon.”
    “OK. Bye.”
    “Bye.”

    Jerry had been having an affair. Instantly, I could sense the possibility that his extra-martial fling was related to his murder. I checked the other conversations, hoping to find something concrete. But most of the conversations were the same as the first: Jerry’s lover begging him to leave Olivia, and Jerry promising to do so soon. Then, I got to the last message, which was sent to the phone on the day before Jerry’s death.

    “I can’t believe you, Jerry. I’ve waited for you for so long and you’re marrying that whore? You’re going to burn in Hell.”

    That made it clear: Jerry’s secret lover became angry upon learning that Jerry was going to marry Olivia and leave her in the dust, so she broke into Jerry’s house and killed him while he slept. It would make sense that she would kill him quickly and painlessly, since a part of her probably still loved him.

    Not wanting to break the news of her husband’s infidelity to the grieving Olivia, I put the phone in my pocket and left the bedroom. It wasn’t until my mother and I got home that I went to the police station and gave the phone to the police. They traced the phone number and brought the owner in for questioning. There was one detail I got wrong, though.

    The lover’s gender. Jerry’s lover was a man named Brett Retmer. The police interrogated Brett for hours before he finally broke down and confessed to the murder. He had heard about Jerry’s upcoming wedding to Olivia and, in an uncontrollable rage, broke into his boyfriend’s home and killed him in his sleep.

    Now Brett’s serving 10 to 20 years in prison. All because of that stupid turtle and a meddling teenager.

    1. LilySmiles

      Lovely. I’m completely amazed. This is so novel worthy. The murder. The secret gay love. The mystery. The meddling teenagers. This piece has it all. Im definitely going back to read the others. Extraordinary work Trevor.

    2. Observer Tim

      Very nice twisted tale, Trevor. Young Laine is going to have to take a course on crime scene protocol and what makes evidence admissible. But regardless, it’s an entertaining story! 🙂

      I got a bit confused by the bras in Jerry’s dresser until I twigged that he and Olivia shared the bedroom. But then, why would she not know what had happened to him? It’s a bit of a logic thing that will have to be worked out, methinks.

  42. SummerStars

    Turtles and Rabbits, Oh My!

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck.

    Now, really, how was I supposed to know the whole disaster would start with the turtle? Honestly. There should have been a warning sign.

    So I wanted a little luck on my wedding day. Sue me.

    Oh wait, they’ve already done that.
    Well, here’s what happened, in case you want the real story, not the ridiculous twist of events the newspapers are selling.

    It all began on Tuesday. Everybody knows Tuesdays are no good; Mondays are inevitable, Wednesdays are halfway through the work week, Thursday you’re almost there, and Friday you’re done. But Tuesdays? There’s nothing good about a Tuesday.

    Everything for the wedding was going so well; I had everything scheduled and planned perfectly. The day—my day—was going to go off without a hitch, and I’d wake up Wednesday morning a happy woman, married to the love of my life. I wasn’t supposed to wake up in prison.

    I went to the pet shop Tuesday morning, because everyone I knew extolled turtles as good luck charms for weddings.

    I’ve had fortunate results with relying on luck and chance in the past. My fiancé and I won the lottery several months ago, which is why I was able to book a very posh, very expensive hotel for my reception.

    I figured relying on Lady Luck might not be a bad idea; after all, she’d come through in the past. So I settled on buying a turtle.

    The pet shop had a sale—buy a rabbit, get a turtle free. Some advertisement to support children reading by alluding to “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

    That, or they were desperately trying to be cute to bring in business.

    I thought nothing of it; bought a rabbit from the perky girl behind the register, received my free turtle, and left the shop.

    My wedding then proceeded without a hitch, though the turtle did follow me down the aisle. I didn’t mind much, since it was supposed to give me luck. Besides, I had more to look forward to at the end of the aisle than what was behind me.

    The reception is where it all went wrong. Little did I know, one of the children at the wedding saw the rabbit in its cage in one of the hotel rooms we’d used to get ready earlier.

    He let it out, and the rabbit raced to the main lobby.

    There was a wealthy patron in the lobby, of course, with his family. His birthday party was being held in another reception area of the hotel. On his way, the patron came across the rabbit, and suddenly stopped breathing. His face began to swell.

    Unfortunately, he is—was—highly, deathly allergic to rabbits. He collapsed and died in the lobby, just like that.

    I was placed under immediate arrest for murder. The rich family sued, and I ended up penniless.
    Now I’m doing 10-20 in federal prison. Stupid rabbit.

    1. Observer Tim

      This took a sudden turn for the fatal; wonderfully narrated piece, Summer. I’m not sure how the woman could be held accountable for an allergic reaction, but credibility easily stretches to cover it. It’s an entertaining story with a twist. I like it. 🙂

    2. Dennis

      Very enjoyable story, liked the commentary and the way you foreshadowed, such as, I wasn’t supposed to wake up in a prison. If one did not know the ending line already, it would entice the reader to know more.

  43. Manwe38

    This is an excerpt from a novel I’ve written, “Equinox”, molded to fit this prompt. It’s WAY over the word limit, so I thank everyone in advance for taking the time to read it.

    * * *

    They’d said it would bring me luck. They, the endless parade of relatives and friends, some invited, most just showing up. They, the mindless drones who lived their lives by the same script. Just follow the rules, they said, and you’ll be happy.

    And at first, we had been. We finished school, got our degrees, and found jobs. Life was stable, and even good. Then the Tilt came, and everything change. Now, twenty years later, our happiness, like the seasons, was a distant memory.

    It had been my moron of an aunt, of course, who had given me the turtle, along with her puerile words of advice: if I just took it slow, all would be well. I tried, I really did, but I just can’t take it anymore. One more night. That’s all I needed, just like the old song from the pre-Tilt world. Is that thing recording? Good. Then here goes…

    I had just finished work, and was hanging out with my colleague David, in the garage before heading home….

    * * *

    Still shaking my head, I climbed into the car and started the engine. After waving David goodbye, I turned on the radio, scanning for a station that would stay within range during the twenty minute drive. Even after thirty years, the electromagnetic blackout was something I’d never gotten used to. Having a favorite song or interesting program cut out ten miles from its transmission source still managed to drive me nuts. I’d learned the best way to avoid the aggravation was to pick a station that covered both work and home. It both made sense, and was easier on the blood pressure. After selecting WCCX, a tolerable hybrid of music and talk radio, I put the car in gear and headed out. At this hour, traffic was relatively light, and it wasn’t long before I slid into his driveway.

    Like most of the other properties in Bridgeport, the lot was small, its coarse gray dirt the color of a late winter sky. The house, while nicely maintained, was too small for my taste, a feeling that had only gotten worse since having the affair. I got out and faced west, the last vestiges of the day’s light rapidly fading in waves of crepuscular blue. Gritting my teeth, I mounted the steps and reached for the door. It was time to play doting husband, my favorite part of the day.

    Inside, the house was cool and dark. After hanging up my coat, I strolled past the living room towards the kitchen, trying to take as much time as possible. Sitting on the floor in front of the television, I spotted Katie, my middle-daughter, and her school friend Jane. Both were glued to an old Sony PlayStation I’d picked up at a local flea market the year before.

    “Hi Katie,” I said. Neither girl looked up. Their faces were frozen masks–eyes wide, lips slightly parted, cheeks twitching as they stared at the screen.
    “Hey dad,” she said.
    “How as your day?”
    “Fine.”
    “Anything new?”
    She twisted the controller. “We’re trying to beat the old high score.”
    “I meant at school.”
    “We’re busy. Talk later.”
    I scowled. “You’re being rude.”

    Katie continued to stare at the bulky box, which was split down the middle into two equal halves. On either side, a pair of virtual race cars dodged various obstacles in a post-apocalyptic landscape of urban ruin.
    I glared at my daughter. This was not worth coming home to. I momentarily toyed with the idea of unplugging the TV, but didn’t want to deal with the chaos that would follow.

    “This is not over,” I said. No response. Shaking my head, I trudged off down the hall towards the kitchen. Behind me, he heard her whisper something to Jane, and they both giggled. My cheeks flushed. Little bitch. Between her and Rachel, one of these days I was just going to lose it, and that day was closer than they thought. Which is probably what they wanted, since he’d had with his pants.

    The battle for their hearts and minds hadn’t even been a contest. Mel had won, and with very little effort. Only Natalie seemed immune–at six, adults were strange and magical creatures whose problems never entered their shielded little worlds. Mu mouth curled into a thin smile. She would learn soon enough.

    I strode to the kitchen and stopped in the doorway. At the sink, my wife of eighteen years was bent down, attacking a dish with a ball of steel wool. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she was wearing those sweatpants I hated, the ones that made her butt look like a pair of overripe pumpkins. Clouds of steam billowed all around, fogging the small window which overlooked the garden. I watched as she beat at the serving plate as if it offended her, my ears catching an occasional grunt.
    She really needed to lay off those snack bars. Softly, I cleared my throat. She didn’t notice, so I raised his voice. “Hi.”
    She quickly whirled around, looked me up-and-down, then turned back to the dishes.
    “Hey.” Her voice was flat, like the adjacent counter.

    A rim of skin, dimpled with cellulite, poked out from where the bottom of her shirt met the rim of her pants. G-d, why did she wear stuff like that? I fought back a shudder. “How was your day?”
    “Fine.”
    “Do anything interesting?”
    “Not really?”
    “Did you work out?” The words shot from my mouth like a rogue bullet before I had a chance to bite them off.
    She turned around again. “Don’t start.”
    “I’m sorry.”
    Her eyes glinted. “No you’re not.”
    “It would just be nice if you got a little exercise, that’s all.”
    “Would you like to spend the night at a motel?”
    “As opposed to the couch?”
    “I’m serious.”
    I held up my hands. “Okay, I’ll drop it.”
    “Thank you.”

    She turned back to the sink. At the table, Natalie watched them, head cocked, her eyes wide. I gave her a little smile, followed by a wink. “We really shouldn’t fight in front of them,” Mel said.
    “They’re smart enough to know something’s not right.”
    “That doesn’t make it okay.”
    “I know.”
    “So why do you keep doing it?”
    “Now who’s arguing?”
    She sighed. “Go get Rachel, will you? She’s down in the basement.”

    “Okay.” I felt Natalie’s stare press into my back as I exited the kitchen. I wanted to hug her, but that would piss off Mel. Walking over to the narrow wooden door, I yanked it open and called, “Dinner!”
    From the bottom of the stairs came my oldest daughter’s voice, her reply a perfect summation of my thoughts on the day.
    “Whatever.”
    Huh. You said it, kid.
    Whatever.

    * * *

    I waited until after dinner, when Mel made do the dishes, to strike. It was over pretty quick–a few slashes, and stabs, and then cleaning the blood. It took a little longer to get their bodies to the protein processing center, but I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting the cops catch on so soon.
    I mean, who knew the hydroponic towers had DNA detectors in them? I know eating human flesh can spread different kinds of disease, but don’t they cook the protein before sending it to the distribution centers?

    Anyway, so there you have it. You recorded it all, right? That’s good, since I don’t feel like talking anymore. I guess my aunt was wrong–she gave me a tortoise, but it turned into a hare. Maybe I shouldn’t have turned her gift into soup. It wasn’t even that good. Scrawny, rough, and the broth needed salt.
    What do you think, Mr. Lawyer? Have you ever had rabbit? Would you like to come back in twenty years–that’s what I’m facing, isn’t it?–and have a meal with me? How about a bowl of cereal instead? Oh, you were born after the Tilt, so you’ve never had grain. Eh, you didn’t miss much. Trust. I’ll try not to laugh, or go mad in this cell.
    I’ll try really hard.
    Silly rabbit. Trix are for killers.

    1. LilySmiles

      Wonderfully written and very well done I might add. There are a few spelling and grammatical errors but unless your actually looking for them the brain will fix it for you as you read. I really wish there was more to this. I would definitely buy it if it were published. Overall superb job Manwe
      – Lily

      1. Manwe38

        Thanks Lily!

        It’s from a much larger piece; I snipped out a scene and changed it to,fit the prompt.

        Thanks for the compliment re: buying it 🙂

        And yes, I didn’t catch all the issues with grammar, unfortunately…

        1. LilySmiles

          The brain fixes it for you as you read. A little lesson in neurology here: the brain will analyze everything its senses see,hear etc. And if it doesn’t make sense we either inquire about it or the brain makes a correction for you. Therefore unless you are looking for mistakes you won’t find them. Other then the completely obvious ones of which have none.

          1. Manwe38

            Thanks Lily….yeah, I remember that about the brain from neurology in med school, which, sadly, was one of my least favorite classes.

            The issue was that I converted it from 3rd person in my novel to 1st person here, and not only did I miss some, but my wireless keyboard didn’t make the transition as smoothly with some of them.

            Grrr….

    2. Observer Tim

      Very disturbing, Manwe, in a good way. This is dystopian family life, the suburban purgatory, at its worst. You did a great job painting a picture of a totally unloving family. Wonderful. 🙂

      I could see several werpos where the story didn’t quite make the translation to excerpt smoothly (mostly leftover third-person comments), but it wasn’t really jarring. It did take me a bit to figure out Mel is probably short for Melanie. I thought there was another guy in the house… 😉

      1. Manwe38

        Thanks Observer Tim!

        So, the story is written with the MC in that particular scene in 3rd person, and I converted it to 1st for the purposes of the prompt. Unfortunately, I didn’t get them all :)…also, my wireless keyboard did not type the letters that I wanted for some of the words (“Mu” instead of “My” is the best example).

        Frustrating, but hopefully not fatal 🙂 Thanks for reading!

    3. Dennis

      I almost felt sympathetic for the mc. What a horrible life. Not sure what part he played in that but I could see why it needed to end. Well done.

      1. Manwe38

        Thanks Dennis!

        When you see it in a larger context, it makes more sense. Basically, the MC is going through a midlife crisis, and responded by having an affair. He and his wife are staying together for the sake of their daughters, but it’s like living in prison for him, hence the misery.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Manwe, you catch the reader off guard with the murder and the proteen processor, It is true horror. This web site is fighting every letter I’m trying to type. I’ll return later. KC

  44. Bushkill

    The tortoise and the hare

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck.

    I was misinformed. Or they were. The luck that showered upon me was far from good, biblically not so.

    Stupid rabbit.

    The ceremony was brilliant, spectacular even, and my bride was … WOW! I mean, she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen anyway, but she was resplendent at the altar. Divine.

    The reception that followed with friends and family was something to behold. I was dashing in my tux and top hat and her dress sparkled brilliantly in the light of the hall. We danced, dined, and moved through the assemblage like a prince and princess with lots of smiles, handshakes, and kisses.

    Someone had the curious idea of setting a turtle loose on the dance floor. Let me tell you, that’s the last place a turtle wants to be! And it was during the Electric Slide! The poor thing looked like a hockey puck getting kicked this way and that. It spun haplessly across floor until one of the flower girls rescued it, placing it in her basket of petals.

    That’s when I heard the epitaph about turtles and the luck with which they blessed the recently wed.

    On my way back from the men’s room I stopped at the hotel bar for a quick refill. There were a mix of different patrons but I ignored them all and went to the far side of the room before motioning for a drink.

    Behind me, a group of magicians sat talking in hushed tones. What were magicians doing whispering? It should have been a clue. I should have left.

    Stupid rabbit.

    Laughter sent the line of bar-leaning people in motion and I ended up staggering back and tripping over my feet. It was train wreck. Top hats went skittering across the table and decks of cards scattered in a rain-like fall. There were flapping wings of suddenly loosed pigeons, and the clang of metal rings bouncing across the floor. I landed awkwardly in the center of the table, in the middle of the five magicians. They stared.

    I bent and picked up ‘my’ hat. Then the police were rushing in, guns drawn; flashlights tearing at the dark corners of the room. The magicians scattered and officers chased them down, dragging each of them from the room.

    I thought it was over, but one of the officers stepped in front of me and blocked my path. He reached for my hat and stuck his hand inside. I laughed. I remember that quite clearly.

    When he pulled his hand back I saw it was clutching something and then two long ears broke the rim of the hat.

    My mouth flew open, amazed. I was mobbed by police, the other magicians forgotten. They cuffed me. There was a short ride to the police station and a lonely night in the county lock up.

    Now I’m doing 10-20 in a federal prison.

    Stupid rabbit.

      1. Bushkill

        I would love to have gone into that but there is the 500 word cap. I had to cut some things out. In short, magic isn’t illegal, but these magicians just robbed a local event. Originally i had planned to use a stolen and bejeweled rabbit broach but for brevity’s sake I had to change it up a little.

        Thanks for your comments!

    1. Observer Tim

      You set a nice scene here, Bushkill. I was kind of curious about what was going on with the magicians and why he was doing grand theft time for having a rabbit in his hat, but you answered Lily with that. I quite like it. 🙂

      A suggestion: you could have put the theft in with one small change:

      When he pulled his hand back I saw it was clutching something: a rabbit, and a large wad of stolen money.

      Just a thought.

      I don’t recognize your name, so welcome aboard!

      1. Bushkill

        Thanks OT, nice idea … I hadn’t thought of it that way with cash in the hat as well. And this was my first post so thanks for the welcome aboard.

    2. Pete

      For me this flowed extremely well. Great writing and story line. I agree, with the others that I was left wondering at the end but the robbery explains it. Excellent take!

    3. Dennis

      I really liked this and it flowed well. I like how you repeated the stupid Rabbit line, tying it all together. In short stories I don’t mind if the ending isn’t completely spelled out.

      1. Bushkill

        Thanks for the comment Dennis. I wanted the ‘stupid rabbit’ to echo through the story because the story wasn’t being told in present tense. If it was important enough to close with, I felt I could run it out there several different times to conjure the picture of a guy sitting in a cell shaking his head about seeing the rabbit coming out of the hat.

  45. Early Blogger

    The Tortoise and the Hare

    They told me seeing a turtle on your wedding day would bring good luck. Not so much when it causes a multi-car pill up on the only interstate leading to the church my nuptials were due to commence at. This couldn’t be happening…not today!

    “Would somebody please get the hell out of their car and pick the damn thing up?!” I yelled. My head completely out of the window. I could smell a mixture of antifreeze, oil, and gas bubbling on the cement in the already sweltering heat of the day.

    “I’ve got a wedding I need to get to!”

    “Keep your dress on lady!” some half-baked rebel on two wheels said, as he rushed to the aid of an older couple trapped in the vehicle some ways ahead of me, and for a moment, I felt bad for my outburst.

    I looked again at the clock. Twenty minutes to make it to the church. This day couldn’t get any worse. The girls, MY CREW, were already at the church waiting. Carrie mentioned that my groom was already pacing, assuming the worst. I don’t think I blame him. I’d already left him standing at the altar once and put off the wedding twice.

    In my growing anxiety I lean on the horn. Another man, shirtless and wearing long swim shorts with rabbits on it, kicks the driver’s side door of my jeep.

    “Get out and help, or shut the hell up!” He fires back.

    “Excuse me?! I KNOW you are not using that tone with me.” How dare he! I had a son not much younger than him, and if he ever spoke to me like that I’d pull his tongue out and beat him with it! I moved to open the door rabbit boy just so blatantly bashed to inspect what damage he may have caused, and in doing so, I caught the elbow of the young man with the edge of the door.

    “You bitch! You did that on purpose.”

    “Who are you calling a bitch?! If I wanted to hit you, I would have hurt more than just an elbow. How ‘bout I start with your mouth first?” Without my brain fully aware of what my right arm was doing, it swung out and caught rabbit boy on the side of his big, fat, square head.

    Sucker punch!

    He responded by pushing back with both arms and swinging his leg to knock mine out from under me.
    As I tumbled in my gauzy white dress backwards against the door of my jeep and a puddle of thick green and black liquid, I sputtered “Son of a …!”

    “Clunk!” My head hit with a momentum strong enough to produce stars.

    Shaking and a bit unsteady, I threw a glance to his shirtless back and got up and walked towards his 2015 Cadillac Escalade with the surf boards ratcheted to the top. The keys dangling from the ignition, I opened the door and got in. The smell of new leather hit me as I stepped on the brake and threw the car into drive. Without a second’s thought, I rammed his vehicle into his scrawny little ass and continued to push him down the road, trapping him between another of the disabled vehicles; not completely mind you. There was still life left in him when the cops came and strapped the cuffs on me.

    How was I supposed to know he was FBI.

    Now I’m doing 10-15 in a federal prison. “Stupid Rabbits.”

    1. LilySmiles

      This is a really nice piece. I loved it. You really captured the perspective of a true woman with rage. My red pen only has one thing to say. In the beginning of the piece it says pill instead of pile. Make sure to check spelling because spell checker won’t catch that. Overall superb job.

      1. Early Blogger

        Thanks LilySmiles. I did not catch that one. I did, however, catch a couple of grammatical errors I need to go back and fix. You know what they say about haste… LOL

    2. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Don’t worry about the mistakes, Early. I maintain it’s the WD gremlins doing it during transmission. haha

      The whole story felt average, but the end was what brought everything to life. Your reveal that the asshole was FBI was stellar. I didn’t expect it and I really really loved it. It’s rare that someone gets me to chuff-laugh, and you did it.

      Thanks for the excellent ending, and overall good story. Nice job. 😀

    3. Observer Tim

      Ooh, road rage at its finest. Your MC definitely needs counselling – at least she’ll be able to get it behind bars. This is great, Early! 🙂

      I especially like the way you handled the dialogue; it seemed totally believable and told a lot about the MC’s personality.

    4. Dennis

      Nicely done. I like how you tied it all in and made for a very believable story. And knowing the ending, I wondered how you’d make it a federal offense. Great idea.

  46. LilySmiles

    They told me seeing a tortoise on your wedding day would bring me good luck. I never believed them though. My fiancee loved rabbits. She would always have tiny hand painted figurines on every shelf. My daughter Rose invited her crush Jenna to be assistant flower girl at me and Veronica’s wedding.
    “Daddy?” She asked
    “Yes sweetheart?” I looked toward her. She was almost 14 now. Old enough to make some desicions I thought.
    “You know Jenna right? Jenna Rayne?” I recalled her in every detail. Mainly because Rose wouldn’t stop talking about how perfect she was. She is going to go live over with the Rayne’s while me and Veronica’s are honeymooning. I’m going to be with her for the wedding then I’ll drop her off on Christmas day.
    “Can Jenna be flower girl number 2 at the wedding. I want a reason to talk and hang with her at the wedding.”
    I pondered this. It could help them from crush to relationship and Veronica always wanted 2 flower girls.
    “I don’t see why she couldn’t be.” She embraced and then ran off to hunt down her phone.
    The day off the wedding Jenna and Rose did the flowers perfectly. Veronica stepped down the aisle in a pale pink dress with small pearl rabbits running around the hem. It was the long flowy kind of dress. Not the big puffy kind. After the reception she approached me with a live rabbit. A Live Rabbit. I laughed.
    “Veronica what is this?”
    “Have you seen Rose.”
    “She already left with Jenna.”
    Then I noticed there was blood on her hands, her dress, and on the rabbits fur. Veronica’s smile looked insane. She told me she’d been to a hospital for problems. Now I know why. There was something shiny and sharp in her other hand.
    “Veronica?”
    “Yes dear?”
    What, may I ask, have you been doing?”
    “Ensuring my secret stays secret dear.”
    She jabbed at me with the knife. I leapt out of the way.
    “Veronica honey! Let’s talk about this, what secret?”
    She was in tears and mascara ran down her cheeks. Still smiling all the while though.
    “I can’t tell you that,” she paused “and let you live.”
    With that I out manuevered her and took the knife. “Listen veronica we need to get you to a hospital…”
    “NO! anything but the shocks.”
    And with that she grabbed the knife and shoved it through her chest. Now I’m charged with murdering 7 people at my own wedding. And I’m doing 10-20 years in federal prison. All because of that stupid Rabbit.

    1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Awe, Lily, I only count 432. Okay… you’re right, I used Word to count it for me, but I’m a writer! I don’t need no stinkin’ Maths! 😉

      Anyway, good story. There’s a few mechanical errors throughout, but they aren’t that bad. I think the most important thing I would have liked is to see more showing rather than telling. I know it can be hard to keep it 500 words or less, but if the story is good enough, most people won’t complain if you do go over. 🙂 I’m a big law breaker when it comes to the word count, and I haven’t been arrested by the WD police in the last three years, so I think you’re safe!

      As far as cutting things out, the idea with writing short stories is to start them as close to the end as possible. This way you have more time to spend on all the fun stuff like showing the reader all the important stuff you want them to see (as well as all the showy stuff they want to see). In this story, while it’s good in its own way, it you could have started with the bloody rabbit, had a good long fight/argument scene with Veronica, and then ended nice and strong.

      The only other thing I can think of is it will help us read it easier if you add spaces between the paragraphs. Good to see a new face around here Lily! Also, I like your style (murder/horror), it’s my favorite kind!

      Take care, now!

      1. LilySmiles

        Thank you. I’m into the creepy horror stuff as well. I suppose I was to worried about the word limit to actually write to my full potential. This isn’t my best work I assure you. The flow wasn’t as good as it could’ve been and it was a little odd. But what did you think of the individual characters? We’re they okay? This is a sort of flashback. In the last prompt ( Bizarre Family Traditions) I used Jenna and Rose. I suppose you could call them my MCs or my reoccurring characters

        1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

          Hey, you! As long as you stay under 1,000-ish and the story is good, no one will complain. If you can pull it off 500 words or less, then bonus points. haha Most people don’t bother to stay near at or under 500.

          I like the individual characters. I missed last week, but I’ll have to go back and read yours to get a better sense of these characters. Look forward to reading it. 😀 It’s hard to get a sense of main characters in such a short amount of time, which is why i usually stick to one character per story while everyone else takes the back seat, but sometimes you can’t help it.

          Again, nice job and can’t wait to read more of your stories! 😀

    2. ShamelessHack

      Lily. Very good! You have a great imagination and good facility for putting it down on e-paper. See Doc Wilson’s technical and developmental comments above–he is an old hand at this and wise. I’m just old. Welcome to this group!

      1. LilySmiles

        Thank you very much. I like it here a lot. I’m a pretty young author and I haven’t published anything yet. Although I have been working on a manuscript for quite some time. The people I’ve met here (including you and doc) have been extremely helpful and friendly towards me. I appreciate that a lot. So thank you for you e-hospitality

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a very clever story, Lily. It took a pretty quick turn for the gruesome (not my favourite style, though I do like it), but you did it well. I’m glad Jenna and Rose made it out all right. Good job! 🙂

      As for the technical side, I think Doc has provided enough to absorb. I’ll second the “don’t worry about word count too much.” Keep on writing!

    4. Dennis

      Nice story LS. I like had you made the story about the rabbit and not about the tortoise. Makes me wonder what the secret was, or was the secret that she was just crazy. :). The major editing piece for me was the misuse of me, like at the end of the first paragraph, me and Veronica’s wedding, sounds better as Veronica’s and my wedding. Great job.

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