Wedding Crashers

You are standing at the altar waiting to marry the person of your dreams. The preacher says, “Should anyone here present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.” You smile at your soon-to-be spouse, ready to get on with the vows. Suddenly—just like the movies—the chapel doors burst open. “I object!” You turn to see who dared to interrupt your day. It’s your ex. Finish the scene.

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

writing-prompts

Download from our shop right now!

You might also like:

295 thoughts on “Wedding Crashers

  1. Orose Khan

    I facepalmed. Of all the girls I had ever crushed on, I;m finally on the altar with my bride-to-be and that one crashes my wedding. Crystal looked at me in confusion and I gave her an apologetic look. Turning to my ex, I said, “look, Liz, there was a time when I thought I loved you, I really thought I did. But it wasn’t meant to be…” I flashed my bride-to-be a dreamy grin and, despite the intruder, giggled. Whipping my head back, my face connected with Elizabeth’s hand. I had always called it an armor-piercing slap and it was true now. I cursed the existence of inertia as my face turned a good 90°. Stony silence filled the room and I started to sweat. Normally, I wouldn’t hesitate to discipline my ex, but I didn’t want to come off as a psychotic woman-beater in front of Crystal’s parents.

    Narrowing my eyes, I spoke coldly, “in case you’ve forgotten, there’re reasons we broke up. You didn’t like my idealism, I didn’t like your hard realism. You didn’t like my flippancy, I hated your perpetual seriousness. You hated my fanboy tendencies, I didn’t like your snobbishness. Need I go on?”

    With tears in her eyes, Liz started to shiver. I softened my features slightly. Then it happened. She kissed me. Her tongue persistently invading my mouth while I desperately struggled to free myself of her iron grip. Sure, it felt good, but that was beside the point! I was about to be married to the love of my life and this woman storms in, objects to the marriage, slaps me and kisses me. My face heated up and I did my best to clearly telegraph dismay with my current position.

    Desperate for air, I grasped Elizabeth’s hands and peeled them off my head before breaking away gasping. I glared at her and bellowed, “GET OUT!” All she did was look down. I glanced at my groomsmen who took the cue and carried her out of the chapel. Dusting my tuxedo, I walked back to the altar and grabbed the mic.

    “Sorry about that, everyone. I didn’t expect my ex to turn up but she won’t be bothering us again. Now,” I turned back to look at my bride-to-be. Tears were welling up in her eyes. Tears of sadness. She looked about ready to break down.

    “Crystal.” she looked up. “I pledge my love, my life and all that is mine to give, to you.” I nodded at the ringbearer who stepped forward and presented the rings.

    “May this ring bind me to my oath, in good health or ill, I will never ever abandon you. I swear to you, sweet Crystal,” I tilted her head up, “to always be faithful, kind and supportive of you. I swear to God and all those before me to look after you, to care for you and to love you always.”

    I smiled, her tears of sorrow had changed to tears of joy. Gingerly, she took the other ring and said her own vows. Without prompting, I swept up my bride into the traditional bridal carry and kissed her passionately. I discreetly groped her before she slapped my hand away. Time enough for that later tonight, I smirked.

  2. meganlee007

    ‘I can’t believe this’, she thinks. She rolls her eyes purses her lips. Her daughter could never get it through to this guy that he was yesterday’s news. They dated for 2 years but Samantha eventually came to realize that he was not the one for her.

    For the next couple years, he doggedly pursued her, calling, texting, leaving flowers and chocolates outside her door all while she had moved on and was seeing someone new.

    He was bordering on stalker behavior and she had finally had enough of it. She told him to back off or she’d call the cops. The calls and texts dwindled after that and finally dropped off to nothing. Sometimes she would see his car parked down the street from her house but she never followed through on her threat. She figured he’d lose interest eventually.

    It was almost sad seeing him standing in the doorway if it wasn’t so intrusive. David stood at the altar, holding Samantha’s hands in his, both of them turned in shock to face Eric.

    “Are you kidding me?!” Samantha lifted her skirts and marched down the isle, a fierce look on her face.

    “Sammy, please! I love you, you don’t need him! Come with me and we’ll be-“

    The last words were cut off as she pushed him hard in the chest with both hands back towards the doors. It took a couple of shoves and cries of protest from Eric “Hey! Wha-! OW! Sam, what are you-ah!”

    She gave him one last shove and slammed the doors shut.

    He pounded on the doors and she pounded back at him until he stopped, her face still contorted with rage, “Go home Eric! I will call the cops if you don’t leave”. She waited until she heard him walk away and the front doors close. She moved the floor lock into place to ensure the uninvited guest couldn’t return.

    She turned to face her shocked guests, smoothed out her dress and said, “Where were we?”.

    Her mother smiled and cheered, “That’s my girl”.

  3. NappyHairedGurl

    Was this a dream? Or a nightmare? Here I stood on my wedding day, a day that I had waited for, for the past 10 years and Jon shows up. It was 12 years ago that he had promised to marry me, to raise a family, have a fairy tale life … but that didn’t happen. The fairytale failed and Prince Charming had disappeared, so I moved on. I moved half way across the country. I sewed my wild oats to try to forget him and I settled … settled down that is, with a guy who made it a priority to hang around. A guy who had given me everything I wanted and, although he was not my soul mate, he loved me. Our 7 year old son was standing there watching eager for us to exchange vows, to be a real married Mom and Dad. Yet, in that one moment I was unsure. I felt exactly the same as I had the first day I laid eyes on Jon. That day he waltzed into language arts class in junior high with his mop of brown curly hair, bell bottom jeans and Pink Floyd shirt. I was sure we were soul mates that moment and spent the next 15 years convinced our two halves made a whole. Our time together had been filled with love-torn turmoil, the stuff that movie are made of. We were separated in high school when his father had to relocate for work but we had spent summers together. My parents would let him campout at our house and we spent our days and nights hanging out at the beach. Then came college. I enrolled and he joined the Navy. We wrote letters, poetry and sent packages. We had a few winter breaks and a summer rendezvous. Our timing was always slightly off. I graduated as he got out of the Navy and started college. I was 30 then, the prime of my life. It was the best year but the most heart breaking too. We danced in the spring rain, spent sweaty summer nights pressed together, camped in the crisp fall air and as winter approached he told me he planned to marry me once he was finished with school. It was just as I had dreamt it would be that day in junior high. It was just like in the movies. By the first snowfall though I was leaving on a plane to AZ and I knew I would not be back. Our trip to the airport was silent and even though he had bought a ticket to follow me we both knew it was a lie. I cried the whole flight afraid, knowing I wouldn’t see him again. I waited and he did not call. I called and he did not call back. I cried and then I had to face the fact that the dream was gone, or at least I thought it was. So why was he standing here now?

  4. Have Some Pie Darlings

    Her blood froze as she stared at the man bursting through the door, who was this man? His shoulder’s shook as he glared the groom, passing forward he lifted his finger seeming to throw it at him seeming to threaten him, she looked at her to be husband staring at him confused, but as soon the man approached him he seemed to break,

    “You.. you where supposed to be mine!” The bride gasped stepping away. She watched as the groom took his hand, her stomach flipped as she started to protest,

    “Whats all of this about?” The groom looked at her, he seemed torn. “Brian whats going on!” Stamping her heeled foot she stared at him. He chocked and looked away, dropping the man’s hand he looked back,

    “Jenna I-I can explain…”

    Clenching her bouquet she felt small thorns burrow into her palm. Throwing the roses away she seemed to start to wail,

    “I CAN EXPLAIN I CAN EXPLAIN! You always say that! TO BE HONEST I NEVER WANTED TO MARRY YOU! I only said yes because you did it front of my family, your family. I didn’t want to disappoint..”

    Falling to her knees she sobbed, covering her eyes she heard the crowd gasp. Her mother started to bicker with her fiancé’s mother. how he seemed to ruin her daughter, and how your daughter’s mistake hindered on her son’s happiness. The two grew louder and with a yell the groom silenced them all,

    “BE QUIET! Stop bickering between the two of you…” the two women stared at him confused, “I think me and my ex-fiancé come to an agreement. We will not get married.” Glaring at the sobbing women he turned to the man seeming to wait for him, “Jonas, lets go…” his eyes widened and he nodded, with smiling the took each their hand and ran. they ran down the isle to the new future for the two. His mother covered her mouth, a ghost of a scream of rage. They grinned as they disappeared through the swinging doors.

  5. Kameron1219

    My hands were sweaty and shaking as I clutched my bouquet of roses tightly, trying not to drop them on the alter. My fiancé was staring at me, a slight sheen of sweat covering his face, almost as if he felt just as sick as me. What were we getting ourselves into? Is this really what we wanted?
    As if it were planned, the doors at the back of the church burst open, smacking into the walls with a bang. I finally dropped my bouquet as I whirled around. The intruder was tall, dark haired, and tanned from the late summer sun that was streaming through the stained glass windows. I gasped and tried not to fall over; I knew him.
    My vision tunneled and I was starting to see black spots in front of me. My breath was shallow and uneven. My hand went to my sweetheart neckline as I tried to keep my racing heart from beating out of my chest. Was I dreaming? Or was this really the man that I always thought would be up here with me coming toward me?
    My mother squeaked like a mouse and raced up to the alter. She put herself in between him and I and held up her hand. “You are not welcome here.” She said. “This is her big day and I will not have you ruin it like you’ve tried to ruin her entire life before!”
    “Mom.” I breathed out quietly. She stayed where she was, chest heaving with rage as she tried to protect me. “Mom.” I said again, this time with more meaning.
    She whirled around to face me, eyebrows in her hairline. “Let him through.” I said.
    She searched my face for a long time. Sighing deeply and shaking her head, she made her way back to her seat in the front pew.
    “Um, honey?” My fiancé said as he grabbed hold of my elbow. “What is going on here?”
    “I’m sorry, I just need a moment. Please.”
    I started at the tips of his tennis shoes, slowly traveling up his slim dark jeans, taking in the view of his light gray shirt where it met his waist. I drank in the way the t-shirt clung to his torso in all the right places and how his shoulders looked just as broad as I remembered. A small gold chain hung around his neck. There was a day’s stubble around his mouth. His mouth was the same, full and strong, begging you to take a bite. His gray eyes were dark and stormy with emotions that I recognized all too easily. His dark hair was longer than I remembered. It had been almost ten years.
    I finally met his eyes full on with my own. I held my chin up high, my mouth parting on its own as I tried to find something to say. And then I knew at once what the right thing was. I smiled bigger than I had in several years and a giggle burst out of my chest.
    “Yes.” I said.

  6. T.M. Madison

    She half ran, half walked up the aisle, wearing a pristine white wedding gown. Her face was covered by a veil and she held a boucquet of red roses as well as a chunk of the front portion of her wedding dress against her stomach. The veil was opaque, but I knew who she was, everyone in the audience knew who she was, and the look on my fiance’s face said that she knew exactly who she was: My ex-fiance. She nervously approached the alter, with each step, her cacophony of objections echoed louder throughout the cathedral: “It’s suppose to me. He loves me not you. You are just a rebound that lasted too long.”, she bellowed.

    I began to walk towards her with intentions to calm her down, but before I could reach her my fiance was on top of her. Her tiny fist driving into my exes face like an oil rig pump jack. The members of the audience cleared their chairs, some people ran towards the scuffle with intentions o break it up, others watched the brawl through the lens of their camera phones, while the rest joined in the ass-whipping being afflicted upon my ex. It was a disaster. When the dust settled and the anger subsided, there were a total of thirteen people arrested for assault and battery, one which was my impending wife; two people arrested for theft; apparently during the brawl a few of my amoral cousins decided to raid the gift section; and 3 people sent to the hospital. As for my ex, she somehow escaped the wedding with minor injuries, a black eye and some scrapes and bruises but she’ll live. She has actually been very helpful to me during my wife’s incarceration. She has been my light in this time of darkness; which is why as I speak we are currently expecting our first child and discussing our wedding date. The last woman I planned to marry is currently doing a three to five stretch, so we have plenty of time to set a date that will leave us free from any interruptions.

  7. Flynnie

    Well, I missed the boat on this one but after getting my first issue of WD mag I thought I would make my 2nd post here. I hope someone finds it! Wasted effort if I can’t get the critique. [bummer]. Well, here is:
    THE BIG DAY

    A sweltering southern heat gripped the county and searing temperatures had resulted in every air conditioning unit and swamp cooler being called into action. Unfortunately for the small wedding party at the church by the lake, the resulting drain on power had caused an outage that spread over the entire community. This raised the already nerve-racking occasion of nuptials to a fevered pitch. Scheduling the event on a late Saturday in July was a gamble at best in these parts, but there was just something special about a summer wedding. Undaunted, the doors and windows of the small building were propped open and the event trickled steadily forward. Sturdy old wooden pews were spattered with family and friends huddled together under slow spinning ceiling fans, looking for every opportunity to find relief from the suffocating weather. It seemed like an eternity had passed as the small throng fought through the conditions in support of the bride and groom. Using the invitations as fans and armed with glasses of water they dug in, doing what they needed to in an effort set the new couple of in the right direction. Some thought that the ceremony might never begin but there they stood, bride and groom, face to face holding hands, at the altar. The preacher clasped The Good Book against his black cotton shirt and smiled over thin glasses, perched low across his swelling red nose. He looked at each of the young intended with a rising sense of optimism.
    Dressed in a beautiful, off-white gown that shone with a pearl linen fabric skirt below a laced skimpy top with thin straps, Jolene stared deeply into the eyes of her man. She was literally glowing, not only with the joy of the moment but with a thin layer of moisture that only accented her radiance. She had reluctantly pulled her luxurious wavy blonde tresses up to help keep her cooler but it did little to upset her striking beauty. She playfully blew at a small strand of hair that had worked its’ way loose and attached itself to her flushed cheeks. Warm blue eyes glistened brightly and she smirked wryly in frustration but would not let go of his hands; not even to rid herself of the incessant tickle. Blaine stood tall in front of her, shoulder length brown hair, tucked behind his ears brushed over broad shoulders. A mid length beard hid the bowtie of a tuxedo lent to him by his best man, MJ, who was almost the complete opposite build. Short in the shoulders the mid-section was far more ample, where a sagging cummerbund only accentuated his athletic frame. He wasn’t rich with money but had counted himself all the richer in love; having found Jolene. He wasn’t sure how, just yet, but he knew that he would find a way to give her everything that she wanted to make her happy. His soft brown eyes had been alert and he caught Jolene’s struggle with the strand of hair. He gently let go of her hand and swept the braid off of her face and resisted the urge to kiss her right then and there. Unlike the rest of the folks gathered for the celebration Blaine had hardly even noticed the heat. He was so focused on Jolene and this moment that everything else had almost completely faded away. It was just the two of them now, together, preparing for forever and it was almost clinched.
    Almost as if on cue the reverend had reached the part of the ceremony where he asked if any one present objected to the pairing of these two young lovers, when a long thin shadow moved slowly along the center aisle and rested just short of where the couple were standing. Those sitting nearest the entry path caught sight of it first and upon hearing the sound of heavy boots clomping up the last few steps to the entrance turned. Muffled but fearful chatter began to fill the small hall and more of the folks twisted in their seats to get a view of what was causing the commotion. Taken completely by surprise Jolene cast her ‘husband to be’ a concerned, quizzical look and slightly raised her shoulders.
    With the late afternoon sun behind him the intruder was merely a silhouette standing in the archway at the back of the room. And while there was no picking up on any of the man’s features in the stark lighting, they could easily identify the outline of a rifle. Having gained the full attention of the room the long, tall figure scuffed forward along the hardwood floor and then seemed to split into three, leaving a smaller and mildly hunched character in the middle. The man lifted the brim of a floppy, old tattered and sweat-stained wide brimmed hat and regarded the attendees of the wedding. A darkly colored face, leathered by years of over exposure working the land was framed by a thickly unkempt bristle of grey/yellow beard. Most of the yellow decked the upper lip, colored by an abusive smoking habit. As everybody’s eyes began to adjust they could now see that the man was dressed in faded, old denim overalls with a red, flannel shirt underneath. Even in the extreme summer heat the man still wore long johns, visible below the rolled up sleeves of the buttoned flannel. Draped comfortably across arms that were casually crossed near his waste hung a long-barreled, twin chambered shotgun. Two much bigger and much younger looking men stood one at his left and right.
    The reverend was not intimidated by the intrusion and spoke first. ‘I can only assume that you have an objection to this coupling?’ he asked.
    ‘I’ll take it from here, Preacher.’ spat the older man with the rifle. ‘Best if you just keep yourself quiet until I’m all talked out.’
    The man’s rude response drew a small murmur from the gathering.
    ‘Name’s MacGruder!’ he said, almost yelling over the swell of chatter, quieting the room instantly. ‘These here’s my boys, Buck and Dean.’
    He motioned for the two of them, who responded like trained dogs, to move around the pews and up near the front of the church.
    ‘Now you boys make sure ain’t no one gets any keen ideas about slipping up outta here until I’ve said my piece.’ He ordered. ‘And I will say my piece.’
    Jolene was feeling a bit claustrophobic now that the two sentinels had moved so close.
    She raised her hands to the sides of her head and mouthed the words, ‘Who is this?’ to Blaine
    He responded silently with shrugged shoulders, ‘I don’t know.’
    MacGruder continued, ‘This here groom ain’t fit to being hitched to nobody’s wagon just yet.’
    ‘Now just a minute, I don’t even know who you are.’ Blaine interrupted
    MacGruder remained completely calm, simply shifting the shotgun from its’ casual resting place loosely held in his arms bringing the weapon to bear, trimmed directly at Blaine.
    The people seated in the obvious firing line quickly slumped down against the high backed seats and shuffled as far out of the way as they could.
    Blaine raised both hands and MacGruder returned the rifle to its’ rested position.
    ‘Now, friend or family don’t make no never mind, but the folks in this here congregation have a right to know just what kinda man you are.’ The old man said, pausing to rub a heavily misshapen arthritic paw over his face.
    Blaine looked at Jolene and noticed that she appeared as angry as she did frightened. He tried to reassure her with a silent ‘I didn’t do anything.’
    ‘Now, a feller ourght not have done what you done did to my little girl and then think he’s going off to get married like nothin’ happened.’ MacGruder continued.
    Visibly frustrated Blaine looked at Jolene out of the corner of his eye and answered, ‘Mr. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I haven’t done anything to anyone.’
    Turning back to his bride he reached for her and said, ‘Honey, you gotta trust me. This has to be a joke. This is insane.’
    MacGruder raised his voice again over the clamoring of people beginning to whisper amongst themselves at the new development. ‘Son, what you done is illegal in 40 of 48 states of this great union. You ought be in jail, not in church.’
    ‘Now I know this is a joke,’ Blaine said reaching out for Jolene. ‘I didn’t do anything. Especially something illegal.’ But she backed away, confused.
    ‘Blaine, you promised me. You said you were done with the running around.’ She protested.
    ‘Honey, you have to believe me. This is a joke, it’s just rid-‘
    The blast of the shotgun filled the small room as MacGruder unloaded a round into the rafters.
    The concussion started Blaine’s ears ringing and he crouched to the floor his arms raised up by his head. ‘Shit!’
    Jolene shrieked and half the women screamed or whimpered loudly and then clung onto whoever was closest.
    Splinters fell from the ceiling, spiraling through a cloud of dust that swirled in the beams of light pouring through the holes left by the discharge.
    MacGruder pulled the butt of the gun down and sank two more cartridges into position. ‘Does this still seem like some sort of a joke to any of you?
    ‘You can’t come into this house and act like this,’ started the reverend. ‘You’re scaring the wits out of everyone.’
    ‘Preacher, I already asked you once to mind your manners and keep quiet,’ responded the old man. ‘So unless you want things a whole lot messier I reckon scared is a whole lot better than drippin’ blood.’
    Jolene was now scowling at Blaine, ‘This is my wedding day?’ This is the happiest day of my life?’ she ranted. ‘You promised me, you asshole!’ I counted on you.’
    ‘You were right to count on me. I didn’t do anything, this is just – ‘
    For the moment MacGruder seemed content to let things play out.
    ‘You fucking prick! He’s just like you, your boy is just like you, you filthy pig!’
    Startled, Blaine turned to find his mom frothing at the mouth to her husband.
    ‘I should’ve left you years ago, what’s the matter with me?’ she screamed just before she hit him over the head with a floral arrangement that she had intended to hand to her new daughter. ‘You, you made him like this! Are you happy now? Huh, are you?
    Watching the petals explode over his head Blaine pleaded. ‘Mom, I didn’t do anything. Why are you doing this?’
    He hadn’t even gotten the words out when Jolene’s mom joined in the action, ‘I told you he was a good for nothing loser, honey. Just like the one I married.’ She turned and punched her husband in the stomach. ‘Why can’t you keep your fucking dicks in your pants? It’s never good enough for any of you, you worthless jerks!’
    The men in the room just remained quiet and many absorbed the looks of disdain from their spouses or girlfriends.
    Blaine couldn’t believe what he was watching, the implosion of his matrimonial dreams was infecting the whole room. ‘STOP IT! All of you!’ he yelled. ‘This is nothing but a mistake!’
    From the still of the now silent church the light sobs of sadness behind him turned into amplified wails of anguish.
    Hope, Jolene’s maid of honor had moved over and was cradling her visibly upset friend. ‘I knew you should’ve stayed with Mike, I told you. You said he was a better lover anyway.’
    ‘Mike, who the fuck is Mike?’ Blaine shouted at Jolene.
    Just then, Blaine’s best man MJ darted across the altar to console Jolene.
    ‘Are you fucking joking? MJ? My Mike? You’re screwing my best man? What the fuck is wrong with you people? You’re all insane he said rubbing his eyes and holding his head at the same time. ‘This is a fucking nightmare. I was starting a new life here today. What the – ‘
    Hope was leaning just around her friend and flipped him off, pointing to Jolene who was now in the arms of the ‘best’ man, kissing.
    Blaine’s and Jolene’s mothers were now squared off, fighting over who was going to pay for this whole circus.
    The Preacher slumped onto the piano seat. He pulled a small flask out of his pocket and stared at it pensively for a second before bringing it to his lips.
    Two pretty young girls who sat alone near the back of the room exchanged a $5 dollar bill. ‘I told you he couldn’t do it.’ Said the one receiving the money.
    Buck and Dean watched the carnage from the sides of the altar, laughing. Dean said to his brother, ‘This is better n any picture show we coulda paid fer.’
    Destroyed, embarrassed and emotionally exhausted, Blaine calmly removed the sagging cummerbund from his waist and took off the dress coat, dropping both on the floor. He glanced over his shoulder at his gorgeous Jolene one last time, hung his head and strode directly past MacGruder, looking only at the floor on his way to the doors. As he passed by he muttered quietly under his breath, ‘I wish you’d have just shot me.’
    ‘That was exactly what I aimed to do, son.’ MacGruder said. ‘But I must admit, this might be even better. Yup, come to think of it, this is downright fittin’. What you done to my little Sara was unspeakable.’
    ‘How many times do I have to tell you? I didn’t do anything.’ He said. ‘I don’t even know a Sara.’
    MacGruder stuck two bent fingers into his mouth and whistled loudly signaling his boys that it was time to go. ‘Well, you can stick to that story iffin you want to, but it seems to me that Justice was done here today.’
    He strode off with his boys to an old flatbed pickup and lit off for his property on the other side of town.
    When they got home Sara could hardly contain herself. ‘Did you fix things right, pa? Huh, did you do it?’
    ‘Yes darlin’, we surely did.’ He growled.
    ‘You shoulda seen the look on that fellers face when pa stepped in with the shotgun.’ Buck said.
    ‘The whole dang place came apart, Sara.’ Whooped Dean. ‘The look on that boys face was plum jinky.’
    ‘Tell me all about it pa, will you huh? She cooed. ‘Please pa, tell me all about it.’
    ‘Well darlin’, he said rolling a cigarette in some flimsy white tobacco paper. ‘I ain’t righlty sure how to recollect it to you.’ He said lighting the thin roll-your-own. ‘cept to say it looked like his beard was tryin to grow back into his head.’
    The three men let out a loud cackle in unison.
    ‘Oh no!’ Sara gasped. ‘pa, the man I told you about ain’t got no beard, he caint even grow a mustache.’

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a heck of a story, Flynnie. You didn’t miss the boat, but you end up with commenters like me who like to look back now and then. This runs very long for the prompt (2500+ words), but is so packed with description that I don’t know where to cut without impacting the tale. It’s fascinating that nobody even considered that Blaine might not be the guy considering how many of the males present reacted as though they had been out cuckolding the neighbourhood too. So much for ‘love conquers all’. It has a strong taste of Southern Gothic to it, and is a very enjoyable read. 🙂

      I only spotted one continuity glitch: if the power was out, how were the ceiling fans turning?

      On the formatting side, it really helps to sneak an extra carriage return between paragraphs so it doesn’t end up as a big mass of text; this is especially important for long stories. Also, the custom is to use double-quotes for dialogue. Finally, it would make sense to slip a paragraph break between Jolene’s impressions and Blaine’s, since it is an implied POV shift. However, none of this is story-breaking.

      The story shows a good grasp of how to hold back the surprise ending, though the length of the story weakens the impact – the quick twist at the end works best with very short tales.

      And all that said, it is thoroughly enjoyable and I hope we’ll get to see a lot more of your writing as time goes on! 🙂

      1. Flynnie

        Thanks Tim, yeah! Dumb, Dumb, Dumb! How could I miss that? Stupid fans tripped me up, lol. Sorry for the formatting I simply cut and pasted, great catch on the POV change should’ve been a carriage return for sure. All things for me to work on. As I said in the reply after you critiqued my first ever post, I haven’t ever taken any classes on this nor do I profess to have the talent , but dang if it can’t be fun to spin a good yarn every once in awhile. I really appreciate that you took the time to read through the long story. More appreciative of the fact that you cared enough to respond. Thanks so much. If I’m doing anything right I’m moving in the right direction, I figure. So I’ll take the positives and wait for the next interesting prompt. Maybe I’ll try again, we”[ see. Thanks one more time!

  8. Critique

    Chester grinned at his uncles lined up on the front pew all gussied up in their starched shirts. They waggled their eyebrows suggestively and gave him the thumbs up.

    Luella stood in front of him, batting her baby blues as she peered up at him. His gaze wandered south where gleaming cleavage burgeoned from the wedding dress she’d poured herself into. Rivulets of water ran down his neck and armpits, a twitch started in his left eye, and he swallowed convulsively. He was the luckiest man in the world.

    Pastor Benny cleared his throat loudly several times until Chester glanced over to catch a warning glare directed his way.

    Chester sneered mentally. Every guy in the place including Pastor holier-than-thou was jealous of him snagging the hottest babe in these parts.

    Pastor Benny cleared his throat again and said. “If any person here can show just cause why these two people should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever, hold your peace.”

    A tense silence ensued (as often does during weddings with such a disturbing proclamation) broken when the double doors at the back of the church banged open.

    Heads swivelled collectively as astonished eyes witnessed Thelma – Chester’s red-headed ex-girlfriend clad in short shorts, a checkered shirt that threatened to pop its tortured buttons at each heave of her enormous bosom – clopping loudly down the aisle in cowboy boots.

    “Stop the weddin.” Thelma shrilled. “Stop.”

    Reaching the altar she stuck her hand into the back pocket of her denim shorts – drawing attention to what little that material covered – whipped out a sheet of paper and waved it in the air.

    “My lawyer gave this to me.” Thelma puffed importantly tossing her red curls like a horse’s mane. “Well y’all find out why my Chester can’t marry this, this hussy.”

    Luella made a face and stuck her tongue out at Thelma.

    “Hand it over please.” Pastor Benny leaned between the almost newlyweds, snatched the paper from Thelma’s hand, settled the pince-nez on his nose, and proceeded to read it.

    Minutes ticked by. Finally, the Pastor peered at the perspiring trio and said. “This is a legal document which states it’s a criminal offense to marry someone from your own blood line.”

    “It says here Luella Cartwright and Chester JImbob share the same mama.” Pastor Benny’s lips pursed righteously. “That makes you two half brother and sister.”

    Shocked gasps, murmurs, and snickers swelled in the little chapel.

    “Order in the Lord’s house.” The Pastor roared as he slapped his hand on the pulpit.

    Luella turned to flee down the aisle, stopped, and threw her bouquet at Thelma who caught it in her right hand.

    “Have a nice day honey-pie.” Thelma crooned.

    Chester stood still as stone, his mouth gaping.

    And like any judge in a court room, the pastor slapped his hand twice on the pulpit and said. “This wedding is adjourned. Y’all are free to leave.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This is great, Critique; looks like the only thing missing is them Duke boys. 🙂 I love the way the pastor takes on the role of judge (probably jury and executor, too); his sermons must be enough to keep the devil at bay even among these folks.

  9. Observer Tim

    TIMELY
    Short and irreverent.

    Annie screamed her passion to the stars as every muscle tensed. Who knew she was a cowgirl at heart? Just then the door burst open and Mavis, my ex, burst in.

    “I OBJECT!”

    She paused and looked around at the honeymoon suite, then got one of those Bugs Bunny sideways pouts on her face.

    “Ooh. Um, I guess I’m a bit late. I’ll just, uh, let myself out.”

    1. jhowe

      This is something a true professional will write if he only has a few words to spare. The cowgirl reference kept the irreverence to a strong PG rating and was funny as well. Very whimsical and concise, two words that generally don’t go together.

  10. cosi van tutte

    And one last long one before the prompt changes…

    ***

    He left Gabriella and walked to the two-chaired table in the middle of the room. He stood behind her chair, afraid to speak, but determined not to leave. “Hello, Elsie.”

    The menu dropped from her hands as she startled. She looked up at him. “Ambrose.”

    “You seem surprised to see me.” He glanced at the empty chair. “Oh. Were you waiting for someone?”

    “Did you follow me here?”

    He laughed softly. “No. You’ll be surprised to learn that I am here with a charming young woman. She’s right over there.”

    “I don’t have time for your silly games—”

    “Her name’s Gabriella. I’m sure she has a last name, but I didn’t bother with remembering it. You can guess the reason why and you’ll be right.” His expression turned sad. “She’s a good soul. I don’t look forward to hurting her.”

    “Then, leave.”

    “I will. If you’ll come with me.”

    She picked up her menu. “My fiancé will be here soon.”

    “I am not worried about your fiancé.” He smirked. “He should be worried about me.”

    “Was there something you wanted?”

    “Such coldness does not suit one who is so full of fire.”

    “Ambrose. We are in a public place. I do not want to make a scene. Say your say and then go.”

    He gently pushed the menu back down. “We both made a mistake. I acknowledge it. I lost control. I wanted to hurt you.”

    “You tried to bite me.”

    “You tried to stake me.” His words came out a lot sharper than he’d intended. He took a moment to collect himself. “If you come back with me, I will stay in control. I promise. I will never try to—”

    “Ambrose. I am engaged. I have an engagement ring and a wedding date and, I might add, a wedding dress.”

    He grabbed the menu and threw it on the floor. “I don’t care!”

    “Leave. Or I will break the legs off this table and stake you with every single one of them.”

    Something in her voice and her expression convinced him that she was telling the truth. “Fine. I’ll go. I’ll let you have your romantic dinner with whatever-his-name-is. I’ll go back to Gabriella. She and I will go back to her place to watch a romantic movie. I might bite her. But who knows? Maybe I won’t.” He started to walk away.

    “Ambrose!”

    He stopped and glanced back.

    “Don’t hurt her.”

    “Give me a reason.” He looked down at her bandaged wrist and then up at her face. “Or give me something in return.”

    She hid her wrist under the table. “I won’t do that again. I can’t.”

    “Then, I can’t make any promises.” He turned to leave.

    “Please. I don’t want to kill you.”

    So. he thought. She still has feelings for me. “Fine. I’ll sing your song. For now.” He walked back to Gabriella with hope in his heart.

    ***

    All week long, Ambrose had wished for heavy rainstorms, for flash floods, for tornados, for every possible calamity to strike The Small Jose’s Church.

    But the weather refused to cooperate. Sunday came as a beautiful, sunshine-radiant day. Perfect for weddings.

    Ambrose lurked in the church’s parking lot. He was all bundled up in his black leather parka with its fur-lined hood. He felt ridiculously conspicuous and warm. All too warm and miserable. He wanted to go inside and do the whole dramatic “I object!” scene, if only to get out of the sunlight.

    But Elsie hadn’t sent him an invitation. So, he couldn’t leave the parking lot.

    Every time he set foot on the sidewalk, he felt compelled to turn around and walk fifteen steps into the parking lot.

    He tried to run through the compulsion, only to find himself fifteen steps into the parking lot.

    He tried to run around the building to find a back entrance. Fifteen steps into the parking lot.

    He snarled and bared his fangs. This isn’t fair. This isn’t fair!

    Since there wasn’t anything else for him to do, he sat on the black pavement. The pavement grew warm and hot and irritating from the sunlight.

    Ambrose got up and paced. “Maybe she’ll get cold feet. Maybe she’ll come running out to me. Maybe the groom will get cold feet. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.” Sweat dripped down his face.

    He wanted to tear off his hood and drown it somewhere.

    The church doors opened wide and a cheering, confetti-and -rice-hurling horde of relatives and friends poured outside.

    He stood still and watched.

    There. There she is.

    Elsie wore an old-fashioned dimity gown with long sleeves and a high lace collar. A long veil chiffoned around her head and down her back. The groom held her hand as they walked down the front steps. She looked up at him, brimming over with joy and love.

    She stopped to talk to some woman in an ill-fitting mauve sheath dress. Elsie was all brightness and light.

    She doesn’t know that I’m here. His heart hurt as if someone had stabbed it. She doesn’t even care if I am here or not.

    He backed away. I don’t belong here.

    But he stayed a moment longer to just look at her.

    “Good-bye, Elsie.” he whispered.

    And Ambrose walked away.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is absolutely tragic, Cosi. The scene in the restaurant shows the depth of the emotions involved on both sides, and the fact that they are still unresolved. The scene outside the church would almost be comic if Ambrose’s desperation were not so evident (in case it doesn’t show, I’m a member of Team Ambrose on this one). But all is not lost; after all, ‘Til death do us part. 😉 Now, how to arrange it without Elsie knowing it’s him…

    2. jhowe

      Pretty cool Cosi. I was gone the week you wrote the first story, believe me, I would have remembered this. I’ll go back and check it out. I commend you on the dialog; very nice.

  11. Kinterralynn

    Holding On

    “..If there is anyone in attendance who has cause to believe that this couple should not be joined in marriage, you may speak now or forever hold your peace.”
    I held my breath as I looked at Newton, remembering how sure I was someone, namely his freak of an ex-wife, would show up and start causing a scene. I offered him a smile and faltered as a commotion in the back reached my ears. I turned, heart thundering in my chest, certain I would see Charity there, tears streaming down her plump cheeks, her short hair bobbing up and down as she sobbed and declared her undying love for Newton in a voice that was like a fork being dragged across a porcelain plate. I gasped in disbelief as a familiar figure stood, his arms crossed over his chest in that annoying way that used to just piss me off. Eyes of muddy brown met mine, and he smirked. “Yep, I have a problem with it.”
    “You’re supposed to be dead.” I heard myself say the words and realized how stupid they sounded.
    “Melissa, honey, you ought to know by now you can’t get rid of me that easily.”
    “Who is that?” Newton asked, his faced scowled in annoyance.
    “Its Royce.” I muttered, “its Fucking Royce…”
    “I thought he was dead.”
    “Me too.” I wanted to hug Royce and punch him at the same time. I felt the tears stinging my eyes and I felt the anger bubbling up, “How dare you come here now? How dare you?” I lifted my dress and stomped down the aisle towards my dead husband, rage driving away the knowledge that everyone was staring at me. “Six years you’ve been gone, I waited for you, Royce, and I mourned for you! You have no right to come back now and shout out ‘surprise!’ like it was all some big joke!”
    Royce met me at the aisle, his voice low and surprisingly gentle, “I know, baby, its okay. I just wanted to let you know I kept my promise.”
    “What promise?!” I was choking on my own tears now. I had imagined Royce coming back all these years and I knew it was illogical because people didn’t just survive airplanes blowing up in the sky.
    “I told you I would come back, Melissa.” He said softly, “Don’t you remember?”
    I did remember. His promise was sometimes the only thing that had kept me going while I mourned his death and tried to find a reason to keep going. Hearing the words broke something in me. I collapsed in his arms, the fight draining from me as I held tight, breathing in his familiar scent. The ache that I had been carrying around with me for six years was more painful than ever and I just knew that at any moment I would waken and see that it was just another frightfully realistic dream.
    “Melissa…” I jerked my attention back to Newton’s concerned face. He was watching me with confusion in his eyes of gray.
    I realized I was still standing at the altar, our wedding guests all in the pews. Royce wasn’t there though. The minister was staring at me intently, “Madam?”
    “I have cause to believe… this isn’t going to work.” I felt tears spill from my eyes as I looked upon Newton’s shocked expression, “I’m not ready, Newton, I’m so sorry…”

  12. AlanPaananen

    Oh God, why now? Of all the people, why Jay? I tremble in rage as the arrogant little sh*t walks down the aisle, smiling smugly like he just won the lottery. What bothers me the most is his self-righteousness, which I know is just a mask for his true impulses. I know he just wants to cause a ruckus, like a child with a temper tantrum, because I chose Gary over him and he never really got over it. It takes all my willpower to stop myself from strangling him with my veil.

    The entire chapel gawks at Jay as he strolls down the aisle. I see my mother face-palming and father muttering some expletive. Murmurs and gasps fill the entire chamber — everybody wakes up to a sudden and unexpected twist. Shame none of them know Jay like I do.

    Gary looks Jay up and down, calmly and without any change in expression. I always admired him for his patience — maybe this could be the ultimate test after all. Maybe now I’ll see if I chose my groom wisely when faced with my ex.

    Jay announces, “Gwen, you can’t marry this man. He’s not even a man!”

    The murmurs intensify as everybody’s imaginations take this new information and runs with it. Annoyed, I cross my arms. I know this is just a tactic for Jay to shake everything up. Everything has to be so melodramatic with him, it still sickens me.

    I respond to Jay, “Well, I’ll find out tonight, thank you very much.”

    “That’s not what I mean. This man is not human — he’s an android!”

    “Wow, really?” This is seriously the stupidest thing I ever heard Jay say. Then again, I wouldn’t say that if I didn’t know for a fact how shoddy his detective skills actually are. You’d think a private eye like Jay would have those skills, but Jay is living proof that standards in the field are shockingly low. I refrain from yelling out my frustration and let the man delivery his flimsy evidence.

    Jay says, “Gary Stalls is a false identity, given to him by an underground advocate group for runaway droids. This unit has been on the run for years. He’s drifted from state-to-state as an unskilled worker. He’s been paid under the table so often, he’s remained off-the-grid. But now that he’s been in this community for so long, he’s started to draw attention. That’s how I found out about him.”

    “So?” I ask. “None of that explains how he’s a machine.”

    “True, but the thing that really tipped me off was his spending habits. I followed Gary for a week, never saw him eat a thing. But he did buy up a ton of car parts. Computer parts, like memory, cables, and thermal paste. Why would one man need all that, unless he needs it for his own body?”

    “Gary loves working with hardware. I’ve seen him work.”

    Gary calmly says, “I don’t mean to question your methods, but your investigation is inherently biased. I don’t think your findings are conclusive. You just want to find a way to separate us. I find it sad that you’d resort to slander to ruin our love.”

    I feel warm and proud of Gary. The feeling is short-lived when I see Jay pull something out of his pocket — a glass vail filled with green liquid. Jay says, “I’ve never been more conclusive in my life, and I’m certain that this will melt the bio-silicon mask you wear and show everybody what you really are.”
    I say, “Jay, stop this. You’re about to throw acid into a man’s face! Do you even realize what you’re doing?”

    People in the pews hold up their phones — I hope somebody is calling the police. Knowing my family, they’re all probably posting on Instagram already.

    “I know exactly what I’m doing,” Jay says, to my disgust.

    He tosses the vail and lets the acid fly into Gary’s face. My hand snaps out on reflex, as if I could catch the liquid and stop it. I know it would burn my own skin, but I wanted to protect Gary. Unfortunately, it’s all out of my reach — the acid flies in front of my fingers and it lands on Gary’s head.

    When it hits, Gary throws his arms up and covers his face. He doesn’t scream, but everybody else does. Hell, I scream, and I feel appalled. My husband might not have a face when he pulls his arms away. What if the acid burns through everything and kills him?

    Just as Jay is yanked off his feet by my overzealous cousins, Gary lowers his arms. The room is instantly silent, as everybody stops to gawk at him. A pile of melted skin dribbles down his suit, revealing a shiny chrome skull underneath.

    Holy sh*t, Gary was a robot this whole time and I never even suspected it. It takes me by surprise like it does everyone else. Deep down, I feel a sense of betrayal bubbling up. Why didn’t he tell me? Didn’t he trust me?

    But when I see the angry scowls of everyone else in the chapel, I see the answer already. How could Gary trust me, when everybody’s first reaction to an android is to run him out of town? I’ve seen the severed android heads lined up on the edges of Peabody’s land. The news always shows clips of angry mobs beating down robots with clubs and rods, until their bodies break and leak oil. I never gave it any thought until now, because I never saw the machines for what they were — vessels of consciousness, no different than a human body. For the first time, I had to ask why do people hate the machines?

    I can’t even imagine what Gary must have felt. Some would say he doesn’t feel a thing, but I know what can’t be true. He’s expressed his feelings to me repeatedly — beautiful thoughts on love and life. We wouldn’t be in the chapel if it wasn’t for our shared feelings. He must have felt fear his whole life, living like a rat being chased by hordes of cats. I know him better than any of these cats, and I know he’s not a heartless machine deserving of punishment. He deserves love. My love.

    I look at the minister, who just shrugs sheepishly. It hits me — he can’t wed us anymore. The state won’t recognize a marriage between me and Gary, because of what he is. As to what the Church things, who the hell even knows? Nothing in the Bible condones the holy union of woman and robot. I can picture all my family and neighbors banding together and chanting the same old words we already know — marriage is between a man and a woman.

    But I see Gary as a man. Even as Jay struts proudly in front of everyone else and starts riling them up, I make up my mind. I grab Gary’s hand, and we run out the chapel. I fell in love with his consciousness, not his body. I will fight for it if I have to.

    1. Penney

      Nice idea, fill in gender, cause or minority here. Aside from the seemingly PSA, you’ve got the riething anger and hate down between ex’s. I think it’s vile not vail, check me on that and a few other tiny issues but, it’s good

      1. AlanPaananen

        Dang, there are a couple of typos. It is supposed to be vial (or phial), not vail. And I have things instead of “think.”

        Thanks for the feedback. I could see this becoming a larger story easily, but chances are I’ll work it into a larger manuscript I have in the planning.

    2. Observer Tim

      I love the take of loving the reviled one; Penney summed it up nicely. Despite the presence of the “soulless” machine, the whole tale is remarkably human. In a larger sense I could see this fitting into an anthology of tragedies about the android condition, sort of like an updated “I, Robot”. Nice one, Alan. 🙂

  13. Chaz

    The chapel is silent other than the aggressive footsteps progressing toward me. I’m in shock. There is no way that this is happening, and there is no way that this is happening right now. I looked by bride in her eyes. She is already crying, but her face displays that of anger, not sadness. My family and friends, they are all turned in their seats actively watching the scene as it develops. I’m sweating and my heart is beating painfully, so much that it is making me sick.

    The footsteps end in front of the altar. There is no sound now. I’m speechless. What can I even say in a situation like this? The day is already ruined, and I feel like the worst is yet to come.

    “I object.”

    “And why do you object the union between these two?” The preacher asks.

    “Because he,” A finger was shoved in my face. “Is lying to you and everyone else in this chapel. More importantly, he is not being true to himself, and because of this I do not believe this marriage will work.”
    My fiancé finally speaks up with impressive restraint. “How do you go about determining such a wild assumption. Would that not be decided between us? I don’t even know you!”

    “Then allow me to introduce myself.”

    Oh God, please don’t. Just leave. My chest is throbbing, but I only manage to say. “Don’t.”

    “My name is Blake, and I am his last ex.”

    Disgusted gasps filled the chapel. My cheek burns from the sudden handprint from my fiancé. My heart dropped to my stomach, and I can’t breathe. Oh God, I can’t breathe.

    “I-I can’t”

    The room is spinning, and I can’t breathe. I can-

    That was the last thing I remembered before I passed out.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is an intense scene Chaz; it leaves me anxious to know the backstory behind all three main characters involved. Did he lie to his bride about previous relationships? If so, is it a habit of his and is that what broke up his prior relationship, or was it the string of exes beyond Blake? And why was the whole thing so bad that Blake had to come out at his wedding? Enquiring readers want to know. 🙂

      1. Penney

        Agreed, but sometimes that may be all you remember after such an event when you’re telling the story to someone and in that cause a better opener might be called for. Interesting

      2. Chaz

        I may can elaborate on a bit of the back story that the small passage touched on mildly. There were plenty of lies that the groom kept hidden. One might would even say that he kept them “in the closet” (he he he). But I wanted to touch on just how nerve racking it is to be trapped in a life you HAVE to lie about and just the reason why you feel the need to do so. I wrote the family to be religious (in the chapel, disgusted gasps, etc..), so when Blake (which is male) made the “I’m his last ex” statement the reader could actually experience the nerve racking emotions that a closeted homosexual would feel when being shunned by society, or even their family for that matter.

        Hope that helped clarify the entire situation at hand. 😀

        1. Observer Tim

          Ah, this is suddenly much clearer. My brain immediately filled in Blake as female. The subtle touch needed to perfect this in situ would be to make explicit mention of the Blake’s sex, or provide a more stereotypically male name. 🙂

  14. Doug Langille

    ** This one got away from me. Sorry about the length.

    FOR THE LOVE OF A DRAGON
    =======================

    “Should anyone here present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

    I glanced to the big door at the back of the church. Nothing. She wasn’t going to ruin this for me after all. I looked back to the woman whose hands I held. I’d waited so long for this moment.

    She smiled and I smiled back. “I love you, Gwen,” I whispered. “I always have.”

    Why was this priest taking so long?

    The old man in front of us, dressed in white linen vestments, stood frozen with an equally blanched expression and mouth noiselessly agape. Was he screaming? The congregation was hushed and quiet and all I heard was my own accelerating heartbeat and the din of breathing not my own.

    I smelled sulphur.

    Princess Gwen turned first and she squeaked a tiny scream before fainting. Her father, King Thomas, caught her and helped her to the floor. She looked like Sleeping Beauty.

    I spun to meet the disruption, my hand instinctively at my side seeking a sword that wasn’t there. My eyes narrowed. “Maud,” I said through gritted teeth.

    My best man and best friend Larry, Sir Lawrence to most, hung several feet higher than his normal stature. Blood dripped from the corner of his mouth as a large talon poked through his belly, ripping upwards from behind.

    “What tangled webs we weave, Sir Rodney,” said the sweet and pretty voice of someone I no longer recognized. “What tangled webs indeed.” The owner of said voice discarded Larry’s body with a flick of her wrist.

    I looked around the room; all eyes and ears were either on me or the largish dragon, carefully picking the flecks of cloth and flesh from her claw. I cleared my throat. “We had a deal, Maud.”

    She snorted and smoke floated gently from her nose. “You tricked me.” A twitch of her tail sent the first row of my family scattering for cover. No loss for me. If wasn’t for my impending fortune, I’d never have seen them. A man on a noble mission was a source of embarrassment, unless he was successful, of course.

    My squire, Simon, appeared at my side and handed me my sword. I nodded my thanks to the generally useless boy. His internship was a favour to the King. I raised my weapon to Maud. “You promised to leave this Kingdom if I spared your life,” I said.

    Maud moved with an unexpected grace. She blew gently on the array of candles on the altar. They blossomed in flame. “How generous of you. Why it was only this morning, you pleaded to accompany me. For us to spirit away into the mountain valleys beyond.” Her tone was somehow musical. Dragon magic.

    I found it amazing that no one left. That this little drama warranted everyone’s rapt attention. “I sought only to appease you and perhaps to say goodbye,” I said and lowered my sword.

    “Liar.” A darker turn in her voice. Menacing. I could smell her scent– something from long ago. Lavender?

    “I’ve been called worse.” I saw King Thomas to my left. He’d managed to rouse Gwen. At least she was okay.

    “Fine,” she huffed. “Coward.”

    I winced at the sting and felt my stomach knot, knowing that all the cards had to be played and not held any longer. “You need to get over me, Maud. Move on like you swore. We’ve changed. You’ve changed.” I knew that last would hurt her, but it had to be said.

    Maud rose to full height and spread her leathery wings. She was enormous and powerfully wondrous. “And who’s fault was that?” she demanded. “I used to be so beautiful.” To me, she still was.

    I took a step closer to her, feeling comfortable that she’d not roast or disembowel me. The crowd rustled. “I warned you not to touch the Dragon’s Crystal. You just couldn’t leave it alone. I had to watch while you transformed. Mutated. It was awful.” I drove the point of my sword hard into the floorboards. I didn’t want to touch that thing again. So much bloodshed. And to what end?

    Tears hissed on Maud’s snout and she ignored them. “You know nothing. There is a far cry difference between witnessing a thing and living it.”

    I could see and feel the hurt in her eyes, blaming me. “I already apologized for abandoning you.”

    “Not good enough, Rodney. We were to be wed ourselves.” The King’s family gasped; mine chuckled. Maud glared at them, death-quiet restored. “Now, this?” she mocked and snorted.

    Frustration creeped into my tongue and I struggled to contain it. “This is how my world works, Maud. I’m a knight who slays dragons. I rescue the princess, marry and find happiness.” Behind me, I heard Gwen crying. I felt guilty.

    Maud pleaded. “What about my happiness? I’m cursed to live for eons, alone and feared. Will you not love me?” At once, she became smaller, diminished.

    The realization hit me and I felt lost. “I do. You’ve always known that.”

    The dragon’s desperation and magic crashed together in a sad song of heartbreak. “Then be with me. We’ll scour the lands for another crystal. We can be together. Forever.”

    I shook my head slowly, numb. “I don’t want that life.”

    “And I don’t want this one without you. You should have killed me. Instead of this… fiction.” My betrayal was fully laid bare then. To Maud. To King Thomas. To Gwen.

    All that was left was to face the truth of it. Raw. I took a step closer to Maud and touched her scales, at once warm and cool. “I couldn’t. I can’t.”

    Maud backed away and her tail smashed the stain glass of the window behind her. The cool March wind snuffed the candles throughout the church. We were not thrust into dim and darkness; the dragon’s belly glowed with a woman’s anger. “You will or I will roast everyone here and pick their meat from my teeth with their bones.”

    That’s the Maud I remembered. I couldn’t help but laugh, despite the danger. “Colourful. You’re bluffing.”

    “Don’t force my hand, Sir Rodney. Don’t make me live with that on my conscience.” No dragon magic speech this time. Just Maud– the girl of a younger man’s dreams.

    “I can’t, Maud.” I stopped short of speaking a larger truth: I’d rather let the Kingdom burn to ruin and myself with it.

    And finally, the ultimatum. Maud blew the candles a-light again and her tears fiercely streamed down her face. “You must. If you love me, you’ll grant me this; then you can have your Happily Ever After.”

    And there I stood, in the ruins of my wedding, all eyes upon me. What would be my decision? What could it be? A choice, my choice, that would change the fate of all?

    Do I slay the beast as was my birthright? Do I claim my destiny and sire heirs to King Thomas’ crown? Do I end my mortal days with the beautiful Gwen, content and happy?

    Or do I blaze a different path– a life of flight, uncertainty and adventure?

    And love. There was that.

    A day in the life of a dragon. An eternity of days beyond that. Even if we never came across another crystal, it’d be worth the journey.

    “King Thomas, I’ve made my decision.”

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      No, no, you can’t leave us here! Fun story with lots of depth. It is tragic when changes occur in a relationship, and one moves on, or becomes a dragon.

    2. Observer Tim

      I found this heart-wrenching, Doug. It’s the age-old story of having to choose between his career or his love. This kind of choice will haunt him no matter which way he goes. My personal hope is that he chooses love and the two burn like a shooting star until one day another knight comes along. 🙂

  15. Bushkill

    Wedding crasher, The Second

    The weather was perfect. The sun shone brightly and the air was warm and filled with the sounds and smells of spring. Yup, I was goin’ to the chapel and gonna get married.

    The service progressed unerringly and I had high hopes and visions of … Well, not sugar plums, dancing in my head. The wedding party itself looked like a collection of models from the pages of GQ. Me and my girl, too, just boundless, endless love. Just to see her smile made me so happy.

    We were coming up to the big finish and the reverend asked, “Speak now or forever hold your peace.”

    I wasn’t worried in the least. We had been dating for years and everyone here knew of our devotion to one another. This was the easiest part of the ceremony.

    A beautiful, white wedding.

    Except, it wasn’t. The church door banged open and a deep, booming voice barked out, “I object, wherever you are.”

    It sounded like a precision drill team, so sudden and complete was the rotation of every seated person in the room to turn and stare at the objector.

    There, casting a shadow across the last few pews stood a mountain of a man, six foot four and full of muscle. Dressed to impress and decked out in the precision and perfection of the state’s finest, stood officer Brown. He took out his ticket book and spoke again, “Look son, I write sins, not tragedies. And you sinned hard.”

    “Officer … It wasn’t me. I swear!” I was sweating, now.

    He shook his head at me, “You just had to get to the church on time. Clocked you doin’ near seventy in a fifty-five.”

    “But I was getting married. I couldn’t drive fifty fifty-five and risk being late.” I lamented.

    “Well it looks like a church, a courtroom, and then goodbye, for you, son.” Officer Brown was serious.

    My best man muttered something about a sting and being busted by the police. I hung my head in shame, trying to come up with a way out of this pearly jam. I looked up at him, “Officer Brown, take me the way I am, just don’t take the girl.”

    He came down the aisle towards me and asked me to turn around while he put the cuffs on me. As he clicked them tight and tugged them to ensure their snugness, he asked in his booming voice, “How do you like me now?”

    I stammered, pitifully, “Unforgettable, really. This had started out as such a beautiful day.”

    “Don’t worry, son, not so many weddings where you’re headed for the night, but plenty of jailhouse rock.”

    Later, as lawyers did their thing, I stared into the eyes of the most beautiful girl in the world through the bars of my cell, “You look wonderful tonight, my love.”

    She smiled at me, “Hush, just save the last dance for me.”

    I smiled and held her hands through the bars, “Always, by your side.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This story turned evil on me, in that whenever I ran across a song title I started hearing the tune in my head; talk about mental whiplash! It’s a wonderful trip down memory lane, made even moreso by the fact that each reader’s knowledge will evoke different triggers. Nice exercise and a fun story, Bushkill. 🙂

  16. Observer Tim

    THE WEDDING OF THE YEAR

    It’s been too long since I put out a superhero story, so here it is…

    The priest stares at the boxing glove protruding from the business end of the gun in the big black man’s hand. He gives a quick ‘get on with it’ nudge.

    “Should anyone present know of any reason why Gerard Thomas, a.k.a. the Villainous Prankmeister, should not be joined to–“

    The priest looks questioningly at the groom, who turns to the woman standing beside him bound and gagged with plush snakes.

    “What was your name again, dear?”

    “Mmmrffyl!”

    “Mmrfl, Father.”

    “Indeed. Mmrfl, in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

    My father turns and surveys the congregation. He’s dressed to kill (hopefully not literally) in his best biker gear and clown face. The bride’s side is filled with people kidnapped off the streets; the groom’s side with the kidnappers. It’s a tense moment.

    The door bangs open and my mother storms in waving a piece of gift wrap with writing on it. Vixen and I tense for the inevitable confrontation.

    “Hold it right there, you two-timing clown! You are not marrying this woman!”

    “You’ve no say in this, Alicia. You got the divorce certificate.”

    “This is not a legal document; it’s written in lipstick!”

    “I didn’t have a pen.”

    “You spelled my name wrong; yours too! You also spelled ‘divorce’ wrong, and the date on it is next week! So even if this was a legitimate document, it would still be bigamy!”

    “No, it’d be big of–“

    “Do NOT finish that joke, Gerard! Street Defenders, get him!”

    Da Man, Super Tramp, Emo Girl, Bling, and Stray Cat – collectively known as the Street Defenders – burst in. That’s Vixen’s and my cue to leap out from behind the back row of pews and attack Prankmeister’s goons. Seven superheroes versus about a hundred goons; they should have brought more goons.

    I have to hold myself back, and so does Vixen. I’m an A-List hero and she’s a B-List; the Street kids are all D-Listers, with barely any powers at all. Emo Girl’s only twelve; she’s doing this instead of babysitting!

    It takes several minutes, but eventually all the thugs have been clawed, punched, brushed off, obnoxious-smelled, or otherwise beaten into submission. Mom is holding a giant foam “POW!” and advancing on Prankmeister.

    “What’s the bright idea, Gerard? You made me call in an entire super-team to defeat you!”

    He smiles that crazed smile of his and reaches under his jacket. Out come a couple of dozen long-stemmed roses.

    “Happy anniversary, darling.”

    She smacks him on the head with the foam word, which bounces off and drifts away.

    “Happy anniversary, dear. You always know how to make me smile. Though I think one of these years you might try just taking me out for a romantic dinner.”

    “You know I don’t roll that way, babe. Now kiss me before the cops get here.”

    1. Bushkill

      That was fantastic! Great job bashin the goons and saving the day. Everybody loves a hero and this story has lots of them… right up to the groom who isn’t afraid to take a risk in the face of love. Awesome read.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Wham Bam! Tim. I wish I had this in comic book form although your descriptions made it perfectly clear
        Now I’m all.worked up with no where to go this afternoon. Everyone’s full of tacos in San Antonio.today.and waiting for Downton Abbey.tonight.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      I’m certain my husband, in the next room, is wondering why I’m laughing. So much to love here, including Emo Girl, who should be babysitting.

  17. JosephFazzone

    He flicked his finger back and forth over the filter end of the cigarette knocking any ash that dared remain on the cherry. It was a nervous habit, and excessive. There was no need to flick a cigarette more than once every minute or so. He always thought it was the flicking that made smoking look cool. He was an idiot.

    Tammy had called him a churlish brute, and honestly what stung most about the insult was that he had to look up what churlish meant. He still didn’t see himself as such, and wondered how it became possible that she would label him in such a way. She loved him.

    Satin pillows, sliding under the sheets, they shared an intimate and personal connection that set his world on fire and awaken the dormant giant from its slumber under mountains of judgment and self doubt. She released him.

    She drank diet cola, even though it tasted like malted battery acid. She loved sushi, but hated fish. A moose was her favorite animal. A moose, who picks a moose as their favorite?

    He kicked the dirt with the insole of his hard leather tan construction boots. Ten years, and they still didn’t show a stain on him. If only he kept his relationships as clean as his shoes.

    That one time, that one girl, that flirting moment where he unmistakably cast his reel into the sea, and caught himself a whole world of trouble, turned it all around. He was feeling low, less than attractive. Tammy had been having “female problems” as she put it. It had been a month, and she had no inclination to do the dance at the edge of the abyss where the orgasmic energy they created would send him into blissful oblivion, to rend him from him, and rebuild him pure and whole under the golden sun.

    The girl was of no consequence to him, she possessed endowments of biblical proportions weakening his will power. To be honest, he can’t even remember what she looked like past that point. She laughed at his stupid jokes. He lost count of the shots after four. He woke up in her bed.

    He was empty, a shell of himself. He saw Tammy’s smiling azure eyes, the flowing golden locks of hair, her crooked grin, and the way her brow furrowed when she was curious. She was the vision of allure he dreamt of from the moment he first noticed girls, when he dreamt of happily ever after. When he believed it was possible.

    Tammy loved toast, but not bread, hated pasta, but loved the sauces. She had doubles of every pair of shoe she owned in case one got ruined. She believed in the Loch Ness, but not Big Foot. Her laugh could make a rock smile. She was his world, his everything, and it came crashing down with one bad decision. The look she gave him when he confessed broke his soul in two.

    He took a long draw of his cigarette, and exhaled. An enormous plume of smoke billowed outward, and dissipated before his eyes. Today was the day. There wasn’t any time.

    He was going to win her back. His heart beat rapidly as fear gnawed at every fiber of his being. He steeled himself, put his smoke out, crushing it under the heel of his boot, and walked toward the church door.

    He kicked the door in, and yelled at the top of his lungs. “I object!”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A marvelous way you turned the prompt backwards to the intruder. I never would have thought of it. A perfect launch into a continuation. But it was also a perfect place to stop. The description of Tammy’s habits really endeared herself to me. Listen to Sintra sing, ‘The Lady Was A Champ’ the revised classic of,
      “The Lady Was A Tramp.’

    2. Observer Tim

      I find myself rooting for him; he was an idiot, he admitted it, and the one thing missing was that rare grace of forgiveness. Not that something like that can be held against Tammy; things like trust are always hard to recover. At least he’s willing to give it a go, and hopefully she doesn’t still detest him. The whole story is all too human. Nicely done, Joey. 🙂

    3. regisundertow

      Great, great story. The prose is lovely and poignant, especially when it dips into descriptions of your MC’s perception of Tammy. This is the kind of story I love reading and always get excited when I find in short story collections. Simple concept, literary approach, and fulfilling the adage that fiction is about how being human sucks.

  18. StephanieJDaniels

    You are absolutely stunned. It’s been years since you’ve seen him, and let’s be real… you aren’t even Facebook friends. What in the hell is Alex doing?

    “I know I told you I would stand back and let you go if that’s what it took. And after I’ve said my piece I will I promise, but I really need you to hear this, please.”

    His eyes had taken on a desperate, pleading look and he could barely control his panting. Even in college he was more prone to video games and smoking out than he was to working out. Looked like that hadn’t changed in the last ten years. Still, he managed to catch his breath. Taking her shocked silence as assent he took another step forward and clasped his hands.

    “You told me once that I was the love of your life and no one would ever be able to understand you as I could.”

    Not exactly the way she remembered their semester long “romance” which ended with her on academic probation. He wasn’t the only one who prefered the “j” to the gym in those days.

    “Even after you met him it was still me you came to when your mother died. My shirt you soaked with your tears, my arms that held you as you went to sleep.”

    I turned to my mom and shrugged.

    “I wrote a sonnet for you,” he said as he reached into his back pocket simultaneously wiping the beads of sweat from his forehead.

    He had gone on long enough. I pushed back my veil and he stopped short with the paper half pulled from his back pocket.

    “You aren’t Vanessa, “ he said his jaw going slack.

    “No shit, Alex, it’s me.”

    “Who?”

    “Danielle…” silence, “You know, sophomore year?”

    “Oh,” he said, finally recognizing me. “You know Vanessa?”

    I threw up my hands in frustration. “No, Alex, I don’t.”

    “She’s not here then…” his eyes went wide as he looked around at the pews.

    “Sorry sweety.”

    “This isn’t Holy Trinity? Nope, Union Trinity.”

    “I know where Holy Trinity is!” called out my cousin’s date.

    Alex scurried over and got hurried whispered instructions while I stood on the altar holding Paul’s hand.

    “Got it. Got it!” Alex said as he rushed back out the door.

    “Good Luck!” we called.

    “Go Gators!” He yelled over his shoulder as the doors slammed shut.

  19. Penney

    (Sorry, typos abound. I was on my break)

    You can get to Steilacoom, um, four ways, five counting the water. It is a little coastal town in Washington that faces the Puget Sound set on a hill. There is a small ferry dock and the railroad tracks run along the base of the hill against the water. It is beautiful, secluded, very reserved and private. I try to drive down there as often as possible to distress and reminisce. You see, this is a very impacting place from my childhood.

    When I was born, my dad was stationed at Mc Chord AFB, now JBLM (Joint Base Lewis and Mc Chord). They didn’t live on base housing. They lived with my sister in a small house on the last road, at the bottom of the hill in Steilacoom, overlooking the Puget Sound above the tracks. It was a quaint home with a fireplace and a yard with a swing-set. My mom skied on the road in front during the winter and in the summer she picked blackberries.

    We moved away for several years due to the military but in 79’ we moved back to Washington and until we could find a house, we rented a small house in; Steilacoom. Yes, we went back. This time we lived at the top of the hill. We still got a view of the Puget Sound but at the top, we go a view of Mt. Rainier. I spent my third grade year biking all over that town. I skateboarded down the hills like a daredevil and built forts in dark forested woods. I wood like to say I got my first kiss there but I was an experimentalist and took care of that in the second grade. Of my many adventures: checking out abandoned fish boats, trespassing in the haunted old ladies garage or jumping across the tops of freight cars, the one I will tell you about isn’t just that, an adventure. It is however, a life lesson that I didn’t think about until now.

    Down on the road that leads to the ferry and boat launching docks is a particular house that all the adults seem to avoid but whisper about. I remember asking my mom about it one day and truthfully back then, it wasn’t much but today, it was enough.

    She said, “That house is where a nice man and woman lives but they’re different then everyone else here.”

    “How,” I asked?

    “They are a mixed couple. The husband is black and the wife is a white woman,” she replied.

    In my brain as a third grader, this perplexed me for all of two seconds. So what? I think my mom sensed this and continued.

    “They are outcasts. A lot of people don’t like that black and white people get married. A lot of people are really mean and don’t understand love,” she told me. She also told me that both the man and the woman were super smart and special. That they don’t have kids but they do all kinds of special cool things and if I ever meet them I was to treat them with absolute respect, no matter what anyone said. Or else!

    All I can remember is their house became one I stayed away from like the plague. It just seemed like it was the best thing to do. To stay out of trouble, stay away from it. Really, I think back and I believe I even crossed the street whenever I road past. Horrible!

    Today I look back at this moment in my life and I wonder what might have happened when they got married? When the judge, pastor or priest said, “Should anyone here present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

    I’m almost sure the way society reacted to such things, someone suddenly—just like the movies—burst open the chapel doors and yelled, “I object!”

    I would like to think, just like in the movies, they took each other hand and hand, then ran out of that damned place and eloped. They said screw you all! We love each other and we will spend eternity fight your crap and loving each other while doing it.

    I think that couple is totally awesome.

    1. Observer Tim

      Awesome little piece of memoire, Penney. The little girl’s voice and imagination are the perfect setting, nicely offsetting the romantic nature and diffusing the tension. The truth of it more likely, is that very few people (even the bride’s and groom’s families) likely showed up for the wedding at all. Thus a moment that should be shared would end up presaging the loneliness of the rest of their lives. Or maybe I’m just an old curmudgeon with a low view of humanity. 😉

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Delicious story, Penney. The descriptinve verses you used for some reason, took me to the setting of “Doc Martin” on PBS. Normally I don’t have that type of flash vision when I read and I could see you skateboarding down that road, pigtails flying in the wind. I wouldn’t have missed this story for anything. If you have some photos from being a small girl doing any of this, send them along with a story of your experiences there to Reminisce Magazine. They will publish you in a heartbeat.

        1. Penney

          Thanks. I have considered Reminisce Mag. but a little of me is still scared of rejection or that I’m not good enough yet. I have a lot of pictures, because during that time in my life, my parents were avid photographers.

    2. regisundertow

      Is this fiction or something that really happened? I felt instantly transported to that era and place and couldn’t help but feel like I was invited to take a peek into your own private memories, to the point where I was completely absorbed.

      1. Penney

        Yes, this is real, yes, this actually happened. I chose to go with a memoir this time because I happened to remember this from my childhood and thought I could fit it in. We have been told that we dont have to use the prompt verbatum, that we can twist it a little and that it doesnt have to be fiction either. Thanks for the comments.

  20. Beebles

    Once again I fail to get under 500 words. Still, hold on to your bodices ….
    ————————————-

    The young Lord looked down into the aching chasm that separated his bride’s breasts. They cuddled in the bodice of the low cut dress, the pearls and thread of gold glowing in the rays from the stained glass window. The bride’s cheeks flushed and her downcast eyes darted up to tease him every now and then with sultry glances. He watched her tongue moisten her lips and, as the priest droned through the litany, thoughts unbecoming of that holy place raced like wild horses through his mind. He could wait no longer, by God. He had to have this temptress and if marriage was the only way then marriage it would be.

    His father, the Lord High Lieutenant, disapproved, but his mother he could twist around his little finger. Today she wore a whole aviary of feathers in her hat and dripped with gold and amethyst. His father, in his embroidered frock coat and gold chain of office, sat sucking his leaden dentures beside her. If only his dear, disinherited brother Montague had not shamed the family so, he could have been standing here instead, Rupert thought with a smirk.

    The heat of the day seemed to permeate the limestone. The fans of the ladies were working like factory looms, cooling those precious jewel encrusted necks and faces scarred by vanity. Their husbands, round as boulders on a beach, put their tricorn hats to similar use.

    The priest continued, ‘If anyone here knows of any just impediment why …’

    ‘I do! And so do my two friends here.’

    Every powdered peruke turned to view the speaker. He stood at the church door, framed in sunlight. He wore riding boots, tricorn and a scarlet woollen cape. A black ponytail fell down his back and two flintlock pistols were held in his outstretched hands. He cocked them menacingly.

    ‘Apologies, but the wedding cannot continue as the bride has a prior engagement upon my horse,’ the newcomer said, voice muffled behind the red scarf that left only the feral eyes revealed.

    ‘Good God, it’s the Crimson Horseman!’

    Some ladies swooned and a few of the young men rose urgently from their pews, only to be waved back down by another four armed and masked men who appeared from the vestry and Lady chapel.

    ‘Sir Rupert Cavendish, if you would be so good as to send your bride to me, there’s a good chap.’

    Rupert’s hesitation was interrupted by a single shot which splintered the rood screen above his head and sent the terrified young lady scurrying down the aisle to the highwayman. He pulled her to him and put a pistol amngst the gypsophila in her black hair.

    ‘Thank you, Sir. Now my Lords and Ladies it is time for the collection. Please place all your valuables into the bag being passed among you. I urge the young bucks in the audience to refrain from any heroics, or I will have no hesitation in shooting the Lady Pheobe.’

    There were protests and shrieks, but the helpless flock complied.

    By the time every jewel was stripped from every mercury pasted neck, the Crimson Horseman had the girl on his mount. Accompanied by his men, they spurred up the High Road.

    The highwayman cupped Pheobe’s perfect breast with one hand.

    She leant back into him.

    ‘You played your part to perfection, my love,’ he said over the thundering hooves. ‘With today’s haul we have our revenge and a life of leisure awaits across the channel. Though, just for a moment back there, I thought you might have changed your mind.’

    ‘Of course not. Wild horses could not take me from you, Montague my darling.’

    1. Observer Tim

      Do Alfred Noyes and Emma Orczy know you’re channeling them? This is such a wonderfully painted piece of history, Beebles, with a plot straight out of a nineteenth-century adventure romance. All things said though, better to end it here before the final act where Montague gets his comeuppance in lead.

    2. regisundertow

      I don’t think I’ve ever been so delighted to read the word “peruke” before. Very vivid imagery and point-perfect descriptions, even in a piece so reliant on action as this one. I always enjoy your prose, Beebles.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Oh, oh, oh, now we need the entire book! Perfect! Wonderful! So many great words and descriptions, but my favorite, husbands, round as boulders on a beach.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A true work of inspiration, Beebles
        I love the color and charm you have created here. My Mom had a saying for these kind of stories. Historical rape and plunder tales. You certainly don’t.disappoint. Bravo.

  21. HelenL

    I clutched my bouquet to my chest, suddenly aware of the ridiculously low-cut neckline of my gown. Daniel looked good. Really good. Granted, I hadn’t seen him in nearly six years, and his once dark hair was now tinged with gray, but that only made him appear distinguished, a word I never would have used to describe him when we were together. Somewhere at the back of my mind, I could hear Tim muttering under his breath, but that was just ambient noise. The guests and flowers and organ music had disappeared, and Daniel and I stood alone in the church, eyes locked.

    “Speak your objection,” the priest demanded, but Daniel ignored him. Instead, he moved down the aisle as if propelled by some magnetic force. The desire to toss my bouquet aside, run toward him, and throw myself into his arms clutched at me, but I resisted. I couldn’t do that to Tim. He was a good man. True, our relationship wasn’t passionate, but it was steady. Consistent. And consistency was what I needed, according to my friends and my mom and my therapist.

    Daniel was only a few yards away from me now, still moving relentlessly toward me like a freight train on its tracks. I could even smell him – that fresh, spicy aroma of sage and something else that always followed him. That used to surround me when we lay together in bed, his fingertip, calloused from the steel guitar strings, tracing a line downward from my belly button. My breath hitched at the memory.

    Tim’s hand on my shoulder shook me from my daydream. I jerked my gaze away from Daniel and looked into his eyes. His kind, concerned eyes. The eyes that kept me balanced and solid and firmly tethered to the earth.

    “Vicky,” Daniel called, his voice hoarse. “Is this really what you want?”

    The eyes of an anxious father or a worried uncle. I turned away from Tim, faced Daniel, and lowered my bouquet. Not to show him my cleavage, though the tightening at his jaw told me that he noticed it, all right. So he could peer through the skin of my chest, beyond the bones, and see my heart.

    1. Observer Tim

      Aaaaugh! Unresolved! You did such a wonderful job painting Vicky’s internal turmoil that now I need to know how it turned out. It would be nice for her to follow her heart, but the words “ex” and “therapist” paint a fairly clear picture that that relationship is more of a moth to a flame. My personal prayer is that she turns back to Tim, and not just because of my user name. 🙂

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      I enjoyed this, especially the details like Daniel’s scent and calloused fingertip that provide a backstory in just a few words. Nicely done.

  22. regisundertow

    Hope you enjoy.

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

    /BACK

    Can we please rewind?

    ***

    The watch on my wrist tells me I’m running out of time and the migraine pounding my head tells me whatever you did, however you did it, worked. There’s the church’s steeple rising like a needle above the park trees, a lighthouse in a sea of green. Lighthouses are meant to warn ships away from danger. Their rotating eye screams at sailors, don’t come any closer, stay away. Only rocks and black depths lie my way. I hear the warnings and ignore them and like a ship I set course towards the cross-peaked lighthouse.

    The pit of my stomach forms a fist whenever I’m about to make a mistake, as it does now with the church looming larger with every pace. You should listen to your body, I’ve been told. It tells you what you know before you even realize it. That’s the theory. Your body processes information while your brain is too busy avoiding it and warns you in the only way it knows, by malfunctioning and seizing up, all involuntary reactions and peripheral reflexes. My skin goosebumps. My flesh feels like the word wreck. The only reason I don’t stop in my tracks and freeze like the faded bronze statues in this park is that I don’t trust my gut reaction anymore. My gut reaction that remained guiltily silent at times when it should have screamed.

    Ma’am? Ma’am, you can’t go in there, there’s a wedding taking -Ma’am! Hey, come back! The young bearded man in the understated suit is only momentarily surprised, his mouth forming an incredulous O. He scampers off his seat in the narthex and hurries after me, but I already got a few paces on him. My pulse rises and it’s not only because he’s chasing me. I never thought I’d remember this church so well. The high ceilings with their angels and saints looking down in otherworldly judgement, the earth and spice smell of incense and half-burned candles, the increased humidity emanating from a crowd and trapped within these walls clinging to my skin.

    I can feel his fingertips brushing my arm. I can feel my elbow hitting his sternum and his future flashes across my retinas. This is the last drop for him and he quits his job. He tries using his degree and going freelance, photographing bands, but the money is never enough. He gets a temporary job at a liquor store. One night, on his way back to his cheap flat, a mugger takes everything he carries, breaking more than just his arm, shattering his will to face another day. All this happens in an instant. I gasp at the sudden onset of knowledge, but I don’t stop. I push the doors open and feel the eyes of every single guest on me.

    I object! You can’t marry-

    The words barely leave my lips. I never see who jumps me, but I get the air knocked out of me. Stern eyes from paintings, stern eyes from guests. Everyone, stare at the errant maenad. As I’m dragged away, I catch a glimpse of the bride, a flash of recognition on her eyes for a face she won’t see for another twenty years. The doors slam. A single voice says something I can’t make out in a breezy tone and a chorus of nervous laughter echoes, followed by polite applause. The ceremony continues. So, I’ve failed. So they’re getting married after all.

    Can we please rewind?

    ***

    The watch on my wrist tells me I’m early and the migraine drilling my head tells me you did it. Thank you for giving me another chance. I won’t squander it. I just need a moment to compose myself. The feeling is worse every time. My stomach cramps and threatens to empty its contents onto the grass. I’m not sure if this is another reaction to a mistake or simply a consequence of going back. Are the two mutually exclusive? I dry heave, nothing coming out, until my body gives up resisting and decides to cooperate. In the distance, the church steeple rises.

    Is it difficult sending me back? Do I break any rules? Do I cause any paradoxes with my meddling, by my existing where I’m not supposed to be? Or is it all a drop in the ocean, ripples bound to be overwhelmed by bigger waves? If this is all a waste of time…Would you tell me or let me figure it out on my own, make me learn the hard way? How many times do I have to run my ship aground before you let me in on the secret? Grain upon grain, when will you call it a heap?

    She arrives alone, a solitary figure in white with the train in her arms. The family that matters is inside already. She’ll walk herself down the aisle, the way she promised herself when she was seven, when her father walked out the door and her life. She stands for a brief second and takes in the church. I can see her filling her lungs and letting the air out in a single long sigh before walking up the steps to the door. The bearded man offers to help her, but she declines with a smile. I can’t hear her, but I know what she says. Can you just hold the door for me, please? I don’t want to ruin the dress. His eyes follow her as she steps inside. I’m taken by his soft stare, it almost makes me forget why I’m here.

    Diana! I shout. Diana, we need to talk.

    She looks at me. Surprise gives way to a trace of recognition. The more she looks at my face, the closer she’ll come to recognizing me. Maybe her body will put one and two together before her brain does. So many familiar features, it’ll say. The scar over our eyebrow when we hit that patch of black ice. The constellation of freckles below the hollow of our neck. The nose ring hole that never closed properly. Of course you know her.

    You can’t marry him, I start my monologue. I’ve rehearsed it so many times, I’ve once woken up mid-recital. I continue, There will come a day when you’ll trace the moments of your life that never happened and realize you would have been better off without him.

    There’s much more I want to say. Arguments, reasoning. Proof. She doesn’t let me finish. She squares her shoulders and walks up to me. She enunciates in a barely restrained tone, You have no right coming here on my day, trying to ruin it. Who are you and how do you get off talking to people like that?

    She turns and makes a disgusted sound. As she crosses the church door she shoots back, You don’t even know us.

    But I do.

    The bearded man takes me by the arm. He’s gentle, but his grip feels inescapable. Another flash, a different future. His beard is starting to turn gray, but he’s not old. The seat in the narthex becomes his kingdom. Day after day after day until he forgets what the point is. One morning, he feels unwilling and unable to get out of bed. His phone rings, but he refuses to answer. It doesn’t take long before the calls stop. The landlord is big and heavy and mean. He throws him into the street. The bearded man watches trucks rolling down the highway, wondering if it’d hurt stepping in front of one.

    Can we please rewind?

    ***

    The watch on my wrist tells me I’m right on time and the migraine caving my head in tells me you made it happen, just like you promised. But it hurts so much. I drop to my knees, clutching my body, riding the agony that comes in waves. Is this how childbirth feels like? Let’s get this over with. The church steeple is right over there.

    I stagger towards the church, a walnut shell tossed about in a sea storm, stubbornly aiming for the rocks. Do I look drunk? Do I look sick? I wonder if I can die outside of time. An imaginary coroner takes my fingerprints and cross-checks them in his database. A picture and a wall of text pop on his screen, neither of which makes sense. The woman in the database is much younger than the one lying on a slab in the morgue. She got married in the church a few steps from where Jane Doe was found. Let’s bring her over to identify the body. A paradox in the flesh. An unsolved mystery. Here, I don’t exist. There is some comfort in that thought.

    The bearded man looks at me with suspicion. Before he can ask me for my invitation, I lift my arms. I’m not invited, I tell him and for the first time words come out easy because they’re true. I’m not invited. I’m related to the bride, but the groom hates me. I won’t cause trouble. I just want to watch the ceremony and I’ll be gone before anyone notices.

    He barely breaks his stride as he comes towards me, his intentions plain on his face. Come on, I plead. Have you never regretted something? He freezes on the spot and a million thoughts flash behind his eyes. I stare at him staring into empty space for what seems like forever. Please, I tell him, I just want to watch them get married and I’ll disappear. I promise.

    He offers me his hand. I take it and the absence of a flash is electrifying in its absence, like a silent gap amidst chaos. Don’t ruin their day, he says as he carefully opens the door.

    She is standing radiant opposite him in what she will claim as the happiest day of her life. She won’t remember another single day when she smiled so much. And, despite what will come and what will never be, she will never regret this moment. The cheating, the boredom, the contempt, it’s almost worth it for this day alone. A single day when the sea inside is calm and you feel that someone does watches over you. It’s worth it. Almost.

    I gather my strength. I will bolt down the aisle, screaming false accusations and claiming disgusting lies. It won’t work, of course, but it will plant a seed of doubt before I’m stopped. I’m wondering who will tackle me first when her posture changes and her smile freezes. He looks at the ground as he speaks and a murmur rises from the guests. What? She asks, unable to mask the surprise in her voice. I’m sorry, he says and moves away from her, his hands outstretched with his palms up. Her eyes turn red and she drops her bouquet as her hands hold her head. This is not supposed to happen.

    Memories of my life blur and come into focus, only to become smudged around the edges. I can’t tell if they really happened or whether I saw them once in a dream a long time ago and they somehow stuck with me. The wedding is off. I guess I made it, then. But that’s not how I wanted it to happen. I wanted it to be her decision, our decision. It’s her who’s supposed to leave him, not the other way around. This will only bring her pain without the benefit of hate. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. This is worse.

    Long after the guests are gone, she sits shell shocked on a pew. I take a seat behind her and try to think of something that will help, but I come up with nothing. I’m as tired as she is and all I want is to stay here and enjoy the silence for a while. The ship has run aground. Might as well enjoy the view. The bearded man approaches her. His voice is polite, nonthreatening. He means well, he just wants to check on her, see if she wants to talk, but she asks him to leave her alone. He says he understands and he looks like he means it. As she ponders the next day, I feel my memories morphing in ways I don’t understand. There’s soul-crushing pain. There’s suicidal thoughts, followed by embarrassment at having gone down that path. There’s healing and timid happiness and manic highs, followed by black lows, and back again. And, throughout it all, I find myself forgetting that I can still ask you to rewind. But I think I’m done.

    I think I’ll stay here for awhile, keep an eye out for her. For both of our sake.

    1. Observer Tim

      Wow. This is deep, intense, and heart-rending, Regis, but you had over 2000 words to do it in. When thinking about going back and changing a moment in time, it’s hard to realize that in order to succeed you have to change who is experiencing it. Diana manages the change, but not of her past self. 🙂

      1. regisundertow

        Much appreciated, Tim, I Wanted to have some fun with time travel in a deterministic world. Now, if only I could keep stories at 500 words…

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      I always know when I start one of your stories I’m in for something wonderful. This is amazing. There is a rhythm and consistency to each scenario that allows your MC’s character to develop. The atmosphere pulls me into each scene. I’ve been fascinated by the idea of going back in time to change history and the consequences of that change, and what you did here will keep me thinking. Great story and writing.

      1. regisundertow

        Ah, that comment made my week, truly. Thank you. It’s interesting pondering the possible paths that were never taken. It may mean erasing, not just a crucial mistake, but a lot of good things that were a result of that mistake too. Who can ever know?

        1. Kerry Charlton

          You have my mind running at 60. I loved the supposition you present here. It fascinating to think time travel and the consequences it offers . As usual, you are extremely thought provoking. Good job here.

  23. dustymayjane

    Gasps from those attending the wedding had Ruby turning around at the altar to find her ex standing at the door.
    “I object.”
    Earlier that day…
    “Momma please. It ain’t gonna be the same without ya.” Ruby begged her mother to come to her wedding.
    “Harold Boon is a snake in the grass. He ain’t got no money and he ain’t even that handsome if you ask me.” Shirley slammed down the phone. It was up to her to get things fixed once and for all.
    Ruby hung up and joined her friend Kay who waited outside the phone booth. With a tear clogged throat Ruby uttered, “She ain’t com’n to the wedd’n.”
    Kay felt sorry for her friend. It was her wedding day after all, and a bride needed her Ma there. She wasn’t fond of Harold but Ruby needed a daddy for her baby.
    Ruby blew her nose into her hanky, determination had her jaw set. “I ain’t gonna let Ma’s pigheadedness ruin my wedd’n day. If she ain’t gonna accept Harold, I just won’t let her see her grandbaby when it’s born next month!”
    “I don’t know how you’re gonna manage that living right in the next trailer and all.” Kay tried to be supportive but Ruby could be a real ninny.
    “Harold’s gonna try for a management job at the plant. They get paid lots more than at Burger City.” Ruby wondered for the millionth time if Harold was ever going to better himself as promised. ”He promised me he’s gonna buy a new trailer across town as soon as he gets ‘nuff money.”
    Kay knew Harold wasn’t ever going to get a management job. “Well that’s just peachy. Now if you’re gonna do this, let’s get you primped for your wedd’n.”
    Meanwhile Shirley was knocking on Clyde’s trailer door. “Clyde, you in there?”
    With a belch Clyde opened his door. “What you doin’ here Shirl?”
    “I’m here ‘bout Ruby. You knocked her up and you’ve got to make it right Clyde.”
    Clyde was looking down the barrel of a rifle pointed at his nose. “Now hold on Shirl, Ruby never said it was mine and Harold wants her. I don’t.”
    Shirley jabbed the gun at his face. “You know that man ain’t got no way to make no babies after that accident with the chainsaw! Now you get your best duds on and get to the church before it’s too late.”
    Clyde returned to the door moments later dressed in a black suit three sizes too small. “This is all I got.” His dirty ankles showed under the cuff of the too short pants.
    “Just get in the car Clyde.” Shirley insisted, pointing the rifle at the car. “You drive.”
    Clyde drove to the church, all the while sweating through his long underwear.
    “Pull up to the curb and head on in there, NOW!” Shirley waved the gun at him.
    Clyde climbed the steps and opened the doors.
    He squeaked out the words. “I object.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Now you’ve got me wondering what’s going to happen next, Dusty May Jane. The personalities and the situation are painted well, especially the visual descriptions of flawed people. You did a great job building up to the prompt point, but knowing the past is best served when there is a resolution to the conflict introduced. So my final comment will have to be “more, please.” 🙂

  24. Observer Tim

    THE PACK

    The Priestess looks over the mob and licks her lips. “Does any will to challenge this union?”

    Nobody had better try anything. I’m not too happy about this, but Jaeger is strong, aggressive and handsome. And since everyone present is naked, they can see that he’s well-favoured and ready to complete his husbandly duty.

    Suddenly a murmur runs through the assembly; everyone is looking and sniffing around as the Outsider walks into the clearing. It’s Cassandra; of course it’s Cassandra. She’s as naked as the rest of us, but totally oblivious to the fact that the only thing keeping her safe right now is the solemnity of the occasion.

    “I would like to challenge this union, on the grounds that Ginger is mine.”

    Cassandra, why did you come here? Don’t you understand that this has nothing to do with our relationship? Don’t you understand that this is something I have to do on my own?

    A path opens in the crowd and she walks up as though she owns the place. Those nearest to her back away as she approaches while those further away mutter and growl their discontent. She stops about ten steps from us.

    “Ginger, come here.”

    There’s no question in her voice; there never is. She tells me, and I do. A moment later I’m in front of her; she pulls me into a hug and lightly strokes my back.

    The Priestess glowers, “By what authority do you come here, human? We may look like you, but we are not your kind; you have no right to see us like this. So the Pact has said from ancient times.”

    “Then the Pact needs to be revisited. Look at all of you; you bow to humans, but turn on each other like wild beasts. It stops now. My Ginger doesn’t get screwed by him or anyone else because some bitch says so. She has a choice.”

    “Cassie…” Ginger’s eyes are pleading.

    “Ginger. You know I love you as you are, and you don’t have to have children just to please me. I want this choice to be yours. Do you want to be the mother of his young?”

    I start sniffling where my nose is pressed to her chest. All I can do is whisper “No”.

    “Then you won’t.” She turns to my fiancé. “Jaeger, this is over. Go home.”

    He growls back, “This bitch is mine.”

    “No, Jaeger, she is not; Ginger is mine. She’s my friend, my charge, my responsibility, and my love. You will go home or I will use The Words!”

    “You wouldn’t, human.”

    “Try me.”

    The Priestess howls in anger, but turns it on Jaeger. “Jaeger! This is not the time or place to question. Go Home!”

    He literally bristles, guard hairs sprouting on his back as his jaws extend and his teeth sharpen. He drops to hands and feet and advances.

    Cassandra is terrified, but she takes a commanding tone anyway.

    “Jaeger, you are a Bad Dog!

    That seals it; the entire congregation, with the exception of the priestess and me, are shifting. Jaeger may be a trained attack Doberman, but even he can’t stand up to three dozen angry dogs of all breeds. Apparently he knows that too. He slinks off with his tail between his legs.

    The priestess looks daggers at us.

    “This isn’t over, human.”

    “Yes it is. My Ginger’s a good girl; she’ll be staying in human form the whole time she’s in heat.”

  25. cosi van tutte

    Sorry! This is a long one.

    ***

    Benedetta attended the wedding of Dorant Ela-Senezar and Mira Ney-Havar. She sat in the front row, dressed in a long black dress. Red cotton streamers bound both of her elbows. The vents on her bell-sleeves revealed her red silk arm wraps. The skirt’s wavy hem flaunted a touch of her red velvet petticoats. Crimson and black crystals dotted her silver veil.

    She sat with Mira’s family, but she was not a part of them.

    She was the Objector. It was her job to uncover the uncomfortable truths about couples and reveal it all on their wedding day. She was usually hired by an impartial outsider, but there were times that her services were requested by the parents of the bride or the groom.

    Mira’s parents had hired her.

    Dorant focused on his blushing bride, but his thoughts were not there.

    The high minister launched into a dissertation about marriage and love and faithfulness and other such wedding topics.

    Dorant’s thoughts were not there either.

    He tried to keep his mind calm and his breathing steady, but it just wasn’t possible. His thoughts kept turning and returning to the red and black figure in the front row. What did she find out about me? What is she going to say? Will Mira still want to marry me? What if she doesn’t? What will I do?

    “And love…Love is important in a marriage. But you should never underestimate the power of…”

    I need to keep calm. Mira’s calm. I must be calm too. I can’t let her think that I have anything to fear.

    “There will be good days and there will be bad days and there will be neutral days as well. You will find that the neutral…”

    Breathe calm in. Breathe calm out.

    “So, remember: Don’t take each other for granted. Remember also that…”

    Don’t sweat. Don’t breathe so fast.

    “It won’t always seem that way, but trust me. You don’t want to let your significant other…”

    Calm. Calm. Calm.

    “And that is all I have to say about that. Now, before we begin the vows—”

    Dorant curled his hands into sweaty fists.

    “—will the Objector please rise?”

    Dorant wanted to grab Mira and run out the door.

    Benedetta stood.

    “Do you have any objections to this man and this woman being made as one according to our religion and our laws?”

    Benedetta walked out into the aisle and bowed to the high minister. “Good Sir, I have performed my duties as the Objector. I have researched this gentleman’s life as well as that of his intended.”

    Dorant found it hard to breathe calmly while his heart insisted on pounding all too hard.

    “What have you uncovered?”

    “Mira Ney-Havar has lived a simple and innocent life. She has done nothing wrong, other than a lie she told back when she was five years old. Dorant had stolen a lemon custard pie, but Mira said that she did it. She wrongfully accused herself because she didn’t want him to get into trouble. She is also inclined to sulking when she can’t get what she wants. That is all I could uncover on her.”

    “As for him?”

    He curled and uncurled his hands. If only I could stop her…

    “Dorant Ela-Senezar.” She fell silent.

    Mira took his hands and held them tight, even though they were wet with sweat. She looked up at him.

    His fears melted into goop. I love you. I want to shout it and sing it and write it on everything in sight. I love you, Mira, more than I have words to say it with. When we’re married, I’ll prove it to you. Every single day. I promise you.

    “Dorant Ela-Senezar set blame on Vahn Ney-Havar for the burning of the northern fields. But that was not the truth. The northern fields burned because of Dorant’s lazy indifference.”

    Mira released his hands.

    “He saw that the fields were in a dangerous state, but he chose to do nothing about it. He offered no warnings to the field workers or to the villagers.”

    An angry mutter rippled around the room.

    Dorant reached for her hands, but she tucked them up against her chest and backed away from him. “Mira, please. Don’t…”

    “Dorant Ela-Senezar was involved in Conspiracy #32.”

    The angry mutter rose to a roar.

    “I knew it!” exclaimed Mira’s oldest sister, Aoush.

    Mira’s father Morned shook his head. “Never trust an Ela-Senezar. That’s what I always say. Seems to me, I’m about right.”

    “Yeah, you’re right all right.” said Aoush. “You’re always always right.”

    Benedetta didn’t stop. The words, the accusations, they just kept coming out of her mouth.

    Dorant, however, stopped listening. He focused only on Mira. “I’ve done many things I can’t be proud of.”

    Uncertainty clouded her features.

    I want to tell her that it’s all a well-packed bundle of lies. But I can’t.

    “Everything that the Objector is saying is true. All of it. I don’t know if this can make anything right.” He scoffed softly. “I don’t know if it will even make a difference to them. Or to you. But I mean this with all that I am: I’m sorry.”

    He went down on one knee and bowed his head. “I don’t know if you still want me. I hope you do. But if you don’t…” The words that he knew he had to say swelled up in his throat and brought tears to his eyes. “If you won’t have me, I understand. I’ll let you go.”

    Benedetta stopped talking and an expectant hush fell throughout the crowd.

    “Mira Ney-Havar. You have heard the Objector’s statements. What is your decision?”

    Tears fell down his face. I know what she’ll say. And I can’t blame her.

    “Dorant.” Mira’s voice was soft and gentle. “The Objector’s statements…They’re all true?”

    He nodded his head.

    “My brother Vahn suffered. Because of you?”

    “Yes.” He looked up at her. “Will you still have me?”

    She didn’t reply.

    “It is your decision. I will respect and honor it, no matter what.”

    “You accused my brother of something that he never did and he was punished for it.”

    His heart sank.

    “I should reject you now and always.” She wiped away his tears. “But I love you. If I don’t marry you, I don’t know what I’ll do. I just know that I will always regret it.”

    He stared at her in wordless shock.

    “What is your decision?” asked the high minister.

    “I will marry Dorant Ela-Senezar.”

    “You’re crazy!” said Aoush. “Crazy, crazy girl.”

    “That kind of craziness comes from her mother’s side of the family.” said Morned.

    She took his hands and helped him up. “I love you.”

    His mind was full of words, but he couldn’t find the voice to say any of them.

    “Very well.” said the high minister. “We will now begin the vows.”

    Time and space fell away as Mira repeated the vows that would bind them together. Dorant forgot about the crowd, about Benedetta and her statements. All that mattered in that moment was Mira.

    I’ll be a good husband. I promise I’ll make you happy every day. And I will always love you.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Wow, that was a powerful story. I do know sometimes that people can change with the power of love. A least, she was forewarned. Horray for true love and I wish them well. Great story response.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      That was an extremely creative take on this prompt, very thought provoking. However I don’t understand how Mira could forgive what he did to her brother.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, Reatha!

        I gave your comment some consideration and decided to write an alternate ending. Here it is:

        “Dorant.” Mira’s voice was soft and gentle. “The Objector’s statements…They’re all true?”

        He nodded his head.

        “My brother Vahn suffered. Because of you?”

        “Yes.” He looked up at her. “Will you still have me?”

        She didn’t reply.

        “It is your decision. I will respect and honor it, no matter what.”

        “You accused my brother of something that he never did and he was punished for it.”

        His heart sank.

        “I love you, Dorant.” She gently wiped away his tears. “I want to marry you. I do. But you ruined my brother’s life. I can’t forgive you for that. I can’t even pretend to forgive you.”

        “Mira.” He rose to his feet. “I was young and stupid and thoughtless. But I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve amended my ways. I swear I’ve become a better man.”

        “It’s too late.”

        “What is your decision?” asked the high minister.

        “I will not marry Dorant Ela-Senezar.”

        “Yeah!” said Aoush. “You tell him what!”

        “She gets her sensibleness from my side of the family.” said Morned.

        “Is it likely that you will change your mind any time in the near or far future?”

        She bowed her head. “No.”

        “Then, I declare this wedding to be at an end. You are both free to return to your separate lives and pursue other loves.”

        Mira and Dorant bowed to him and said the expected “Thank you.” But the words were like acid on his lips.

        Benedetta led Mira back to her family. Neither woman looked back at him. For all intents and purposes, Dorant Ela-Senezar no longer existed.

        He stood with the high minister, per custom, as everyone filed out of the building. Mira and her family were the last to leave.

        He wanted to race after Mira and beg and plead for her forgiveness.

        But I told her that I would respect and honor her decision, no matter what.

        So, I will.

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Wow! I better identify with this ending. After reading Tim’s comment below. I’ve been considering forgiveness vs. vengeance. I think she could forgive, but probably never forget, not a good way to start a marriage, I think the truth would haunt them both. Just my opinion.

          1. cosivantutte

            Thanks, Reatha.

            I like the idea of her forgiving him and letting bygones be bygones. But I have a feeling that you’re right. She would never really forget it and it would become a major sore point in their marriage.

    3. Bushkill

      Great take! Love the official approach to a listing of histories to bare all before gods and men. Your set up and other characters really brought to light the plight of the bride , too, so, well placed and written!

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, Bushkill!

        I will admit that I was kind of thinking of Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead, only applied to people about to be married.

        I’m glad you liked it. 🙂

    4. Observer Tim

      I’m of two minds about this story, Cosi, which is appropriate for a story with two endings. First of all, the combination of wedding day and judgement day is an interesting one. I think there would be a lot fewer “bad marriages” if this were part of the process; of course, there would also be a lot fewer marriages. Both of the ways you wrote this produce plausible endings and a real sense of the scenarios being played out.

      Which brings me to the split; it is a sad commentary on our society that the take in which love and forgiveness triumph is less realistic than the take in which vengeance and honour triumph. May I live in the less realistic world, please?

  26. Reaper

    Prostrating Westward

    On a man’s wedding day he is supposed to be the third happiest person in the room, except when he is fifth or sixth. Normally his joy is dwarfed only by that of the bride and her mother. Then there are weddings like mine.

    In a wedding like mine the groom can be fifth or sixth. They come in after the beaming joy of both mothers, two fathers relieved they get to see their son married after all, and before or after the other groom.

    So, there I was, staring into his eyes. Dueling crying mothers sounding in the background. The justice of the peace droning on with words that, if my parent’s had their wish, should have been droned by a clergyman. I didn’t care about things like that though.

    When our eyes met, I was purely happy. So was he. That was what mattered to me. Then the jay pee said the dreaded words. There were concerns you see. My ex was… well, a bit psycho is putting it mildly. Psychotically dedicated to things best forgotten would be a bit more accurate.

    It was like a Clark Gable movie, well, and edgy Gable movie. The Justice spoke to the heavens and the heathens. “Should anyone here present know of any reasons that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

    I looked around. I had nightmares about this all week. I knew it was going to happen, even as I hoped that it wouldn’t. It all came undone, just as I dreamed.

    The doors burst open. As one, my ex streamed in. The whole group of them carrying their trademark signs.

    Jesus will laugh when you have AIDEs – Read one.

    Reenact Soddom – Said a second.

    And, of course, the classic that would never die – God hates fags!!!

    There were many, many others. Most of them were variations of those three though. I saw microphones in some off hands too.

    My ex, and they never gave up. He started ululuating and I started crying. Our mothers bemoaned our fate and the destruction of their special day. Then the chanting started.

    Long story short? Most of the guests fell into the background in horror. Unable to raise their hands against religious men and women. No matter how zealotous and evil they were. Not everyone was willing to stand passively by.

    After years of questionable acceptance, some men will fight for their sons when a threat comes from the outside. Other men are willing to take on the wrath of heaven itself for what they believe in and those that they love.

    That’s why I’m here. It’s supposed to be my honeymoon. Instead of Paris I’m sitting on a hard bench. Waiting to bail out my father, father in law, and new husband. Yes, husband. Thank God some officiants can get the “I Dos” out quickly.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a tragic and terrifying social commentary, Reaper, moreso because it’s not off base. As a member of the non-vocal religious right I am totally embarrassed by the behaviour of the fanatics at the wedding and really wish they would actually behave in accordance with God’s beliefs and not their own. That said, I love the tone of the story and the setting, and everything came together perfectly. 🙂

      And now the nit-picking: Red pencil assumes you know ex is singular, exes is plural, and thus it’s a typo.

      My theological advisor (who rarely comes out) says that the script for a JP would not include “holy” before matrimony, because he/she is performing a civil function rather than a religious one. Of course, it could be a word slip on his part, or a cue to the protesters if he/she is in league with them. 😉

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I was also amazed by the first paragraph. I’m not sure I got all the references but enough along with your power writing to know prejudice at it’s extreme. The frightful thing for me was the visual created from what I was reading. You a master at word painting.

    2. regisundertow

      I’m finding that I can tell your voice regardless of the story, Patrick. This could have easily been part of the greater cycle of stories you’ve given us.
      Having said that, this story also strikes close to home. I’d like to say violence doesn’t always solve things, but you got to protect your family.

  27. Kat_Seeley

    Wedding crashing was a game to Jeremy. He just loved to waltz in and disrupt the ‘happiest day of everyone’s lives’ for a brief moment. Maybe it was because his ex had chose the person who interrupted his wedding. However, now wasn’t the time to thing about that. He was about to crash his third just today.

    “I object!” He yelled to the chapel. When he caught sight of the bride, however, he was thrown back into memory lane. She was his ex. Not the one who left him for the guy that objected his wedding. Not the ex that hit him with a cordless phone. No, she was the ex that distance pulled him away from. He had loved Avery with ever finer of his soul. She was the one that got away, for him.

    “Jeremy?” Avery seemed more shocked than anything. Jeremy ran up the front where Avery was standing.

    “Listen, Aves, I don’t mean to spoil your big day, but I really need to talk to you. I’ll explain this all.” He promised. At this point he was thinking about every moment of them together. The time she laughed at his joke during senior year. The way she flicked her dark hair over her shoulder when she wanted to concentrate. The way her lips moved when she spoke Spanish to him. The way she danced with him at his brother’s wedding. When she cried with him at his father’s funeral. When she said goodbye and flew to New York to chance her dream of Broadway. When Jeremy didn’t chase after her. It all came back to him like a flood.

    She nodded and pulled him to the side, “So?”

    He didn’t know what to say at first, “Uh… Well, you see it’s sort of a funny story. I don’t really know where to start.”

    “How about the beginning?” She suggested.

    He nodded, “Right. Well, when you left, I was a mess. A absolute mess for about two years. Couldn’t breathe without you, really. Then I met this girl Jenna. She seemed nice enough and she made me forget about you when she was… well whatever. Anyways I had finally got my life back together. I still missed you, but it was impossible, so I didn’t really let my mind wander on the what if,” he started.

    “I don’t get how this involves you interrupting my wedding. You came to object so you could tell me you’re happy, now?” she questioned.

    He shook his head, “Avery Grace I wasn’t finished. I proposed to Jenna but she had someone in the back of her mind, too. He objected when our wedding came around and she left me. I wasn’t really all that torn up, but I started crashing weddings. I don’t know if I did it because I wanted to someday stop yours- or if I just couldn’t find anything better to do, but I did it. I found you, and I love you. I always have. Please don’t marry this guy. He’s got muscles, but I’ve got heart and if you remember us together, then hopefully you’ll come back to me.”

    He paused for a moment.

    She shed a tear.

    He continued, “I know it’s a lot to ask. Aves, you were there for me when nobody else was. When my father died, I was unconsolable. Yet, the moment you were around I could smile. Through all the heartbreak I could smile. You were always the star in my galaxy and I don’t think I could make constellations in my backyard with anyone else. Please dance with me at one more wedding, and please let it be ours. I don’t want you to be the one that got away.”

    Avery looked him in the eyes, “I need a moment.”

    She stood from their sitting area and walked to her fiancé. They spoke for a few moments, before he hugged her gently, and kissed her forehead. Jeremy felt lost for words. He knew he needed to just go.

    He started to walk out, his head hung low.

    Then he felt a familiar hand entwine it’s fingers into his. He turned to face her, “How can I possibly marry someone else when you are here, asking me to love you again? I have loved you and I will always love you. Come to New York with me. Don’t let me go this time.”

    “Well, I mean it’s going to be rough since I have so many weddings to crash and all.” He joked.

    “I would follow you anywhere, Avery Grace. Tell me you love me. In Spanish.”

    “Te Amo, Jer.”

    “I love you more.” He said, and he spun her once before helping her into their getaway taxi.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is totally implausible and utterly crazy and awesomely romantic. I found the story totally engaging and despite the fact that it makes little emotional sense I found myself hoping they’d get back together. Life can be funny that way. 🙂

      You did a great job with the confession-style dialogue; it reads like someone pouring his heart out.

      1. val99star

        Love this! A serial wedding crasher reconnects with a lost love, prevents her from saying I do, and gets away with her. Nice character and backstory building!

  28. Amaria

    Ok this one is long so I’m separating into 2 parts:

    Ginger – Part 7

    Linda walked up the aisle towards the altar where Robert stood with tear-filled eyes. Linda looked breathless in her wedding dress. Robert took Linda’s hand after her father gave her away. They faced the minister to begin the ceremony.

    As the minister said, “If there is anyone here who objects to this union, speak now or forever hold your peace”, the church doors swung open with a load thud.

    “Stop!” a man shouted as he ran up the aisle. “Linda you can’t do this.”

    “Who is this?” Robert asked aloud.

    “My crazy ex-boyfriend” Linda answered. She stared at the intruder and shouted, “What are you doing here? Did I not make it clear that it is over?”

    “You heard her young man.” Linda’s father shouted. “You’re not welcome here. Now gGet out before I put you out!”

    “Thomas!” Linda mother’s gasped.

    “I love you Linda and if I can’t have you, no one will” the man shouted.

    Robert stood in front of his bride. “Well you have to go through me.”

    The man smirked. “Fine,” he said as he pulled out a gun and shot Robert in the chest.

    “And then he would wake up,” Linda whispered to Dr. Leveque. “He said he had the dream for weeks before the ceremony.”

    “He didn’t tell you about these dreams before?” Dr. Leveque asked.

    Linda shook her head, “No. In fact he never mentioned a word of it until our fifth wedding anniversary when I was pregnant with Ginger.”

    “Did he ever say why he thought he had these dreams? Did he have any reason to suspect that the marriage was a bad idea?”

    Linda replied, “No. I mean, I did have an ex-boyfriend who was a bit dramatic, but he was from a fine family. He would never have done something that outrageous.”

    “Many people have anxiety about getting married. It’s quite natural. Did you have any doubts?”

    “No. I loved Robert and I wanted to spend my life with him. Though, maybe we should have spent more time together. We only dated for about a year before the engagement. We married a year later.”

    “Do you have any regrets?” the doctor asked.

    “I wish I knew the real him before I we got married.”

    “And who was the real Robert?”

    “A man who wanted to give me the world, but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough for either of us. Not to mention, I would have like to have known about his weakness for young beautiful women.”

    1. Amaria

      Here is the continuation:

      “I can’t believe you got mom to a therapist,” Molly said as she sipped her beer. “Did the doctor say mom was crazy?”

      “No, it wasn’t like that” Ginger replied. “But you know mom, always skirting around things.”

      Molly tilted her head. “Did you think it would be any different? She’s always keeping secrets. Did she say anything about dad?”

      “He was a good man with flaws. He had a big heart but could be easily manipulated. I wonder if she was talking about herself when she mentioned manipulation.”

      Molly shook her heard. “No, I’m sure it was about the students.”

      Ginger stared at her sister. “Students? How do you know about that? Did you see the letter in the attic too?”

      “No, but I saw the love letters.”

      Ginger gasped. “Love letters? What love letters?”

      “Mom has letters hidden in her bedroom. I found them when I wanted to borrow her riding boots. I found a hidden box in the closet. Do you want to see them?”

      Ginger replied, “I don’t know. Mom would be furious with us invading her privacy.”

      “Oh please she did the same thing to us when we young. Don’t you remember her reading our diaries?” Before Ginger could answer, Molly stood up and walked towards the staircase.

      “Molly!” Ginger called out to her as she followed her sister upstairs to her mother’s bedroom.

      Molly walked over and opened the closet doors. She reached behind the many dresses hanging in the closet and pulled out a small black box. She placed the box on the bed and opened the nightstand, pulling out a key.

      “How do you know about these hiding places?” Ginger asked.

      “I told you. I found them by accident when looking for mom’s riding boots,” Molly responded as he opened the box.

      Ginger replied, “Yeah right and I’m Mother Teresa.”

      Ginger watched her sister pull out a faded envelope and handed it to her. Ginger saw her father’s name written in cursive on the envelope. She opened it up and pulled out a letter. She smelled a hint of perfume. It smelled familiar but she couldn’t place the scent. She unfolded the letter and read the first lines:

      “Dear Robert, I miss you so much. I wish we could be together all the time, but you have a family and I have school….”

      Ginger sat on the bed as she read the love letter. When she got to the end she saw it was signed by someone name Bridgette. Ginger was speechless.

      “I can’t believe mom has this and kept it all these years.”

      Molly smirked. “Yeah, weird.

      Ginger then said, “I wonder if Bridgette is the student who got dad suspended.”

      “Actually there is another letter from someone name Janice” Molly said. “But it kind of kinky so you probably don’t want to read that.”

      “Ewww” Ginger replied. “Wait. You read a kinky love letter someone wrote to dad?”

      Molly shrugged her shoulders. “I was bored.”

      Ginger shook her head.

      Molly stood up. “We better put this box back before mom gets home. She would murder us if she knew we were in here.”

      “I wish I had more time to go through this box. Something tells me there’s more to this story.”

      “Ginger, there’s always more to a story. The question is do we really want to know?”

      1. cosi van tutte

        Hi, Amaria!

        To answer your character’s question: “Ginger, there’s always more to a story. The question is do we really want to know?”… I do! 😆

      2. Observer Tim

        Yes, yes I really want to know more. You’re doing a great job building suspense here, Amaria, and the characters you’ve created are interesting and engaging. I find myself looking forward to the continuing adventure. 🙂

        A part of my suggests you write the love letters as an exercise (I don’t know whether you’d be comfortable with that or not), but I’m not really sure whether you would or should share it. I have a couple of really off-colour pieces in my “do not share with ANYONE” file, which I wrote just to see if I could bring myself to do it. It is an interesting way to stretch as a writer, and to get to know your characters. 😉

  29. Witt.Stanton

    “Are we there yet. . .” Sara draped her arms dramatically over her golden curls, shaking her head. “I’m bored. . .”

    Her father sighed, the road trip already feeling like a mistake. “Just take a nap.” Glancing back in the rear view mirror, he saw his son napping next to her.

    “But I’m not tired. . .” she complained, pulling against her car seat with renewed strength.

    “Close your eyes.”

    “Nooo. . .”

    Her father rubbed a hand through hair, tugged at the collar to his dress shirt, then sighed again as he heard his son wake up.

    For the rest of the drive to the chapel, the radio was on. It helped mute the sounds of their constant bickering.

    When they pulled into the parking lot, he’d just about had enough. The entire block was packed with cars. Finally finding a spot behind an old mechanic’s shop five blocks away, he grabbed his kids and ran towards the church.

    “You’d think they’d leave a spot for the groom,” he muttered. He checked his watch, confirming what he already knew: He was late for his own wedding.

    The ceremony had already started, judging by the fact that the doors were closed. Following the signs, and dragging his kids behind him, the groom raced through a back room and into the main hall. There.

    Off to his left stood the grand doors leading into the nave. A feeling of relief washed over him. He’d made it.

    He picked up Sara and let her cling to his shoulder, then, his son leading the way, walked down the aisle.

    All the heads turned, and many of the congregation gasped. In the front of the church, holding hands with his fiance was a man identical to himself, down to the very same suit and tie.

    He heard something shuffle behind him. “Daddy. . .”

    He whipped his head around, and saw a mirror image of his daughter standing behind him.

    The girl’s head was bowed down, as if ashamed. “You made Mommy sad. . . ” she whispered, almost to herself. “So I made her happy.”

    The priest in the front of the church seemed to gather his wits. “Should anyone here present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

    He looked blankly at the congregation, then smiled. “If not, then by the power–”

    “I object!” The shout tore from my throat. Sara, who had been napping on my shoulder, woke up with a start.

    I felt her lift her head. As I turned to comfort her, I froze.

    Her eyes were pitch black.

      1. Witt.Stanton

        Revised ending:
        “I object!” The shout tore from his throat. Sara, who had been napping on his shoulder, woke up with a start.

        He felt her lift her head. As he turned to comfort her, he froze.

        His daughter’s eyes were pitch black.

        1. Penney

          So you have a good rolling start. The frustration in the car is almost palpable. Then we find out he is late to his own wedding and he has kids, enter ready made family,interesting. He then sees himself, and mirror image of kids (Twilight Zone music). Now you lost me. No, not the POV, I get that, it’s the daughters head tilt, which one and why? You left too many question for a simple cliffhanger.

    1. Observer Tim

      I’m with Penney here; I can tell that there’s a deeper story going on, but I’m not entirely sure what it is. I get a vague feeling that his daughter is somehow capable of changing reality. It definitely belongs within the context of a larger story. That said, this piece is fascinating and engaging in a supernatural way. 🙂

      1. Witt.Stanton

        You’re absolutely right; the daughter’s in on it. Well, whatever ‘it’ is.

        And, as you’ve all probably noticed, I’m experimenting with cliffhangers. Bear with me if they seem more like sheer drop-offs.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Will!

      This line made me want to know more details -> “The girl’s head was bowed down, as if ashamed. “You made Mommy sad. . . ” she whispered, almost to herself. “So I made her happy.”

      The story as a whole, however, is as creepy as all get go. Especially that ending. If I were him, I would have freaked out and dropped Sara. 😆

    3. regisundertow

      That’s definitely interesting. Can the daughter create a pocket universe or unfold an alternate dimension at will? This is unexpected and definitely intriguing. I will have to agree with everyone else, though. I had zero clue what was going on at a certain point. That’s probably because the crux of the story is so different to what I expected, given how it started. I’m looking forward to reading more.

  30. madeindetroit

    ROLLING MEADOWS

    I met Lance Devereux when I was twenty-one. Straight out of a romance novel, he was mysterious, charming, debonair, incredibly handsome, and blessed with the body of a Greek god. Our eyes met over the roulette table at the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco. He was drinking martinis. I vaguely remember my third Cosmopolitan. After a night of passionate lovemaking, I learned of his secret identity. He revealed he was a member of her Majesties Secret Intelligence Service and his mission in Monaco had world-wide repercussions.

    “Should anyone here present know of any reason…”

    The words uttered by the silver-haired man in a black robe jolted me from a foggy gray haze. As I stood at the altar of the magnificent church next to my high school sweetheart, a shiver of doubt crawled down my spine. Like a classic movie, images from the past flickered through my mind.

    “That this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony…”

    Over the next five years, Lance and I traveled the world as he pursued evil-doers bent on world destruction. We skied the slopes of Switzerland and Austria, explored the coral reefs near Fiji in the south Pacific, hiked the mountains of Nepal, and lived for weeks at a time in grass huts on the white sandy beaches of Bora Bora and Belize. In a matter of moments, Michael and I would recite our vows, exchange rings, and embark on a lifetime commitment to each other with a passionate kiss. Regret flooded through my veins like a tidal wave.

    “Speak now or forever hold your peace…”

    My world crashed down around me two months ago as I sat in front of a roaring fire on a snowy February night in Michigan. I’d read Lance had been killed in the line of duty. He was tracking a terrorist group in Syria suspected of hijacking a shipment of enriched uranium when his vehicle hit a roadside IED and blew him into….

    Over my shoulder, I heard the squeal of a door.

    I turned. A man in a black tuxedo entered the sanctuary and strode down the center aisle. I trembled with joy as I recognized the handsome stranger. He stopped and raised a finger in the air. “I object,” he shouted.

    “Lance my darling “you’re alive!”

    “Yes my dear. I’ve come to halt this nonsense.” He thrust an open hand toward me. “Come with me Monique. The car is waiting outside. We haven’t got much time.” Lance turned and hurried out of the church.

    Michael grabbed my wrist, a bewildered look on his face “Sally, are you alright? Who the hell is Lance Devereux?” he demanded. “Who are you talking to?”

    I ripped away from his grasp and stumbled down the steps of the altar, tearing the train from my wedding dress. “Get away from me.” Stifled screams and hushed snickers echoed in my ears. “Lance Devereux is the man I love. He’s come back for me.”

    I heard Michael’s screams as I ran toward the exit. “Sally, there’s no one there.”

    I ran out of the church to a deserted street. “Lance, I’m coming darling. Wait for me…wait…”

    * * *
    The view from my window at Rolling Meadows is tranquil and soothing. It also provides an unobstructed view of the parking lot. I can see every vehicle entering the premises. I heard footsteps behind me and then a soft voice in my ear. “Excuse me, Sally. It’s time for your medication.”

    I didn’t answer.

    “Ms. Smithers, I have your pills.”

    I slammed my hands down on the arms of the chair and glared at the young nurse. “My name is not Sally Smithers. It’s Monique Delacroix!”

    “Er…okay, Monique,” the nurse stammered.

    As I swallowed the pills, a familiar vehicle turned into the parking lot. I jumped from the chair and slammed my fists against the glass hoping to get his attention. “Oh God. He’s here. Lance! I’m up here.”

    Two hands wrapped around my waist and yanked me away from the window. “Sally, I mean Monique,” the nurse whispered, “it’s just the mail truck. Please sit down before you hurt yourself.”

    I shook my head. “It’s Lance. He’s come for me at last!”

    1. Penney

      Bond, James Bond with a twist, a delusional twist. Nice. Almost felt sorry for her. Note: I think the last name for her was meant to match the spies name at the beginning?

    2. Observer Tim

      I find this tragic; I’m not sure whether the wedding was real or part of her delusions. The overall effect is slightly disorienting, which I’m sure is what you’re aiming for. I hope she gets better, if only to get away from the utter heartbreak of her situation.

  31. Kerry Charlton

    DOUBLE TROUBLE

    “Anyone fool enough to marry identical twins one after the other, needs a keeper.”

    The warning from Brian’s father rang though his thoughts even as he stood at the alter. He looked toward Alicia and saw her sweet innocence. ‘This time, I’ll get it right.’ Only the twins mother and he could tell them apart. Their father gave up after their teen age years, when they became exactly like clones. But Brian was absolutely convinced he wasn’t marrying Alexandria all over again.

    Alexandria had a mole high on the inside of her left thigh shaped like a crescent moon. Alicia amazingly had a tiny beauty spot located exactly in the same area. However the crescent was turned backwards. He paused suddenly, ‘God forbid, they wouldn‘t dare, or would they?’ His body started to convulse ever so slightly but no one took notice except Brian’s best man.

    “You have the shakes man?”

    Brian waved for his silence. The ceremony continued as Brian felt beads of sweat roll down between his shoulder blades. Finally the scary part started,

    “…. or forever hold your peace.”

    Two agonizing seconds went by. ‘Slam, Slam’ echoed through the small church as the rear doors were thrown back.

    “I object” rang out.

    Both bride and groom stared at the rear of the church, where Alexandria stood there stomping her foot,

    “I’ve been kidnapped,” she yelled. “Further more it was my sister and two ruffians who grabbed me, tied me up and locked me in a closet..”

    “You’re out of your mind sis, you are Alexandria. Your sorry that you lost him. Don’t make an idiot of yourself.”

    “Mom,” Alexandria screamed, “you tell her I’m Alicia., for God sakes.”

    The wedding party fell in a stupor of shock listening to this and the preacher’s comments didn’t help,

    “I’m not going to be a party to a circus,” he said, left the pulpit and walked out of
    the church.

    Brian took the mike and addressed the rather amused wedding crowd,

    “I’m sorry for the interruption, there’s no need explaining the problem, but if you’ll be patient with us, it shouldn’t take long to work out.”

    With the wedding party disappearing through the side door, the wedding crowd broke out in chitter, chatter to amuse themselves while Brian’s best man set out to capture the preacher. Forty five minutes later, the music started and Alicia marched down the aisle with a radiant smile.

    Brian leaned to the minister’s ear,

    “Skip the part about ‘forever hold your peace.”

    The preacher nodded, the wedding went on without a hitch as did the reception at a nearby hotel. Later on as the two lovers entwined each other, Brian froze as a moment of doubt arose,

    “I know I’m a worry wart, but would you mind if I look at your beauty mark for a moment?”

    A slight pause in love making, a quick look and Brian bolted out of bed. “Damn it Alexandria, I married you twice. Why?”

    “Well, we talked about it before the wedding and Alicia told her thoughts to me.”

    “Her ideas, I thought she loved me.”

    “She does and so do I, You know I‘ve missed you. So we decided to share you between us only we wont tell which one because we‘re having the beauty spots removed surgically, so you’ll wonder who you’re sleeping with. As you furious with us?”

    Brian thought for a moment and an devilish looking grin filled his face,

    “I kind of like the idea,” he said. “Let’s see which one of you can please me the most“

    The exhausted couple spread across the bed. Alexandria slept soundly, Brian grinned,

    ‘I know the key to tell them apart but don‘t think you as the reader is going to find out.’

    .

    1. Observer Tim

      Brian and the girls deserve each other. I bet Brian was thinking, “If I marry both of them it would be big of me.” This is clever and inventive and fun. 🙂

      My guess is that Alicia’s the pregnant one. 😉

      1. Penney

        So, the mole/birthmark isnt the tall tail sign? I’m thinking one isnt a true blonde. Anyway, a fun read. By the way, there are a few sentences that are reading funny to me. Like: “Her ideas, I thought she love me.” Say what? Is there a question mark?

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Thank you Penny for the critique. I knew something was missing and I see several sentences that need to be reworked. I’m always glad when things are pointed out to me. Oh, by the way, you’re wrong also, both are true blondes. A large box of turnips, shipped free to your house, whoever figures it out.

      2. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim, good hearing from you. You’re wrong of course about Alicia, it’s a;part of her anatomy. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It confused the hell out of me to write it!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hi Reatha, I don’t know how many other guys dream this way, but you’re never to old [me] to dream. Thanks for stopping by. I may go to bed early tonight.

      2. Observer Tim

        I’d personally prefer brunette or black-haired twins, but that’s my prejudice of appearance. However, it would never be more than a momentary fantasy for me, as I don’t know of any woman who doesn’t merit the full attention of her man. 🙂

          1. Observer Tim

            Mine’s from 1970, “Love the One You’re With” by Steven Stills (partner of masters Crosby and Nash). Of course this is all moot for me, since I have a natural ability to shoot the arrow of love and score a bull’s eye the “friend zone”.

    2. JosephFazzone

      Sounds like the perfect love triangle! I really love the possibilities that exist in this story. So many avenues to take on how they coexist together, and how they will make it all work. Very interesting perspective! Very clever! I loved it!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Joseph, looks like we both left our stories open for another part. I’m really glad you enjoyed this, I had my doubts when I posted it.

  32. starlightveronica

    I had never dared to dream of a wedding. I had never collected ideas, binders, or even pretended make believe style as a child that I was a bride. I had spent my life assuming that marriage and happily ever afters were for others, but never meant for me. Even during the planning, the dress fittings, the cake tasting, it felt like a dream that was happening to someone else. However, here I stood, resplendent in a dream of white and flowers, a gentle breeze stirring the curls of my hair around my face. The sun glinted off the water and sparkled in my almost husband’s eyes. He was so joyous and full of love.
    Our rapture was interrupted by shouts and curses and a cacophony of commotion hurtling down the aisle. At first I was confused, and it took me a few seconds for my mind to process what I was seeing. Perhaps it was because he was so thin. Maybe it was the way his hair was sticking up all over. Possibly it was the strange way he was clothed, and the fact that he was filthy. I hardly recognized him.
    “Stop! Stop!” he shouted, “I need to tell you something, there are things you don’t know! You can’t marry him! Not until you hear me out!”
    It had been three years since I had last laid eyes on him. My last sight of him had been when I glanced in the review mirror while driving away. He had been slumped over on his knees on the ground with blood trickling down the side of his face. He was lucky I hadn’t backed up over him and used him as a human speed bump. He was a total and utter piece of shit excuse for a person. I had just extricated myself from a long and arduous five year relationship. I cannot believe I wasted so many years with this violent, shrinking, farce of a man. Even worse, I could not believe he stood here, uninvited, disrupting one of the happiest days of my life. A day, that took one year to plan to perfection. He had ruined it in less than thirty seconds, and that was before he even opened his mouth to speak.
    Before he could speak again I began to run down the aisle towards him. His face lit up, he stretched his arms wide, as if to envelop me into them. It was only at the last foot of my sprint that his his mouth pursed, and his eyes widened in shock as he realized I was not running to him, but rather, at him. At full speed, I lifted my bouquet in the air, cocked it back behind my head, and swung it full force at his face. My fist made contact with his head in a loud thud and rustling of flowers. Petals exploded in all directions and rained down on us. I think I had made my point, that he was not welcome here.

      1. starlightveronica

        Thank you Penney, it is quite the challenge to keep anything under 500 words. I kept deleting and rearranging and wish I had worked on it until I felt it was perfect. Not terrible for a first try. Praying I can improve. I have so much to learn. I don’t even know where to put commas. I think I need some grammar lessons!

    1. Observer Tim

      I’m not sure what to think here. I can see the bride reaching out to begin her new life, but with nothing more than a couple of adjectives to describe why her ex is such a loser I can’t reliably say whether the issues are his or hers. For something she’s moving past, there’s a lot of pent-up rage. And her narcissism is palpable. Great job creating that portrait in a small space. 🙂

      1. starlightveronica

        Thanks Tim! This is my first attempt ever at creative writing and I was pretty nervous about posting it. After I posted I kept thinking of changes I would make to include more indicators to an abusive backstory and tone down the angst. Your comment totally confirms those feelings. I am excited about this site and an opportunity to grow and learn! 🙂

    2. Observer Tim

      Welcome aboard, Starlight Veronica (love that name, BTW). It sounds like you’re here for the same reason the rest of us are. This is my general advice:

      1. Don’t sweat the 500 too much. It’s flexible and not rigidly enforced, though the exercise does help streamline your writing.

      2. Calm the nerves; we’re all in the same boat, so it’s not likely you’ll find a troll here, just folks with helpful suggestions.

      3. For the sake of readers, please try to sneak a blank line between paragraphs; the white space breaks up the text and makes it easier on the eyes.

      On the story front, the trick is to find a personally-distinctive way to sneak in more information than the words say. For example, here you could cut out the comment about him being shit (to buy the word space) and add to the next sentence (e.g. “wasted so many tears and years on …”). Also, “shrinking” implies he’s non-confrontational, which is a bit of a disconnect with “violent” unless he flip-flops between the whining and attacking (in which case you could add a couple of ‘sometimes’ to bring out the variable nature of the behaviour). I’ve found choosing just the right words can be the hardest part of the whole process: consider keeping a file/list of particularly clever thoughts you come up with or steal.

      The biggest thing is to keep writing! I definitely look forward to seeing more of your work here. 🙂

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        I echo Tim’s welcome, and his suggestions. This is a great place to experiment, plus the weekly prompts keep lots of us writing.

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hi, starlightveronica!

      Just so you know, I love the visual in this sentence: “Petals exploded in all directions and rained down on us.”

      One small thing: I think that you could have combined these two sentences -> “I had just extricated myself from a long and arduous five year relationship. I cannot believe I wasted so many years with this violent, shrinking, farce of a man.” The “I had just extricated myself…” sentence kind of sticks out and disrupts the flow of the paragraph.

      Other than that, this was a very enjoyable first story. I look forward to your next one. 🙂

  33. ShamelessHack

    “Do you, David, take Donna to be your wedded wife?”
    David shuffles his feet and looks up for a minute. Then he looks at Donna. Finally he says, “Yes. I do.”
    “And do you, Donna, take David to be your husband?”
    Donna rubs her runny nose and says, “Yes.”
    “Should anyone here present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.”
    Suddenly from the back row—a voice. “Yes, me! David can’t marry Donna. He just can’t!”
    David looks around. “Linda, cut it out! I decided to pick Donna. It’s no big deal.” He rolls his eyes. There are few embarrassed giggles from the rows of chairs.
    Linda walks down the aisle. She stops in front of the couple. “David!” She grabs one of his arms and nearly pulls him off his feet. “Me and you were together. Me and you were—”
    “That’s ‘you and I’,” the officiant interrupts.
    “Yeah, poop-face,” Linda goes on. “You and I are still boyfriend and girlfriend.” She looks at Donna. “And Donna is a crybaby.” She sticks out her tongue at Donna.
    “Am not!” Donna speaks up. “Am not a baby. You’re a doody-head.” Donna looks at David. “Tell your girlfriend that she’s a doody-head.”
    The officiant interrupts. “Now please, settle down. This is—”
    Linda isn’t taking it lying down. She lets go of David’s arm and puts her face up to Donna’s. “Does David know you still wet the bed?”
    “He knows that you eat boogers.”
    “Your daddy’s girlfriend is a doggie–like a poodle or something.”
    “You—”
    “ENOUGH!” The officiant has lost patience. “Stop it everyone!”
    David, Donna and Linda decide that being quiet is now a good idea.
    “Yes, Mrs. Johnson,” they say in unison.
    But one thought is going through everyone’s mind:
    “Let’s Get Married” is a lousy idea for a kindergarten play.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is sweet and precious and perfectly in voice, Hack. I loved watching things degenerate as play-acting gave way to more typical five-year-old behaviour. I bet nap-time today is going to be difficult to enforce. 🙂

    2. jhowe

      Pretty clever Hack. My daughter and son are five years apart, as is my daughter’s friend and her sister. The two young ones must have gotten married twenty times over the early years. I attended a few of the weddings.

    3. JosephFazzone

      Well played sir. You had me at poop-face! I can only hope that this torrid love triangle ends well for everyone. Donna stops wetting the bed, Linda becomes less of a doody-head, David finally chooses wisely, and Mrs. Johnson has a nice long quiet evening once her shift is up.

  34. jhowe

    The minister adjusted his readers and prepared to start again after the bride was helped to her feet. The groom stood, slack jawed and looked skyward. The best man couldn’t keep his eyes off the bride’s naked double Ds. The bridesmaid closed her eyes as the best man tried to hide his woody.

    “Sorry about that,” the bride said. “That’s some bad ass tequila, let me tell ya. “She strode to the alter table and belted back another shot. “You ready for one, Henry?” The groom shook his head impatiently.

    The minister cleared his throat, his bible held in front of his privates as he ventured from behind the podium to snatch the tequila bottle.

    “First time at a nudist wedding, Father?” the bride said.

    “As a matter of fact, yes. Now, as I was saying, if anyone objects to this wedding, now’s the time to speak up.”

    From the back of Kalamazoo’s premier Moose Lodge, a man strode forward, fully clothed. “I have something to say.”

    “Oh, Crawford,” the bride said. “What are you doing here?”

    “I’ll tell you, Mabel. The whole two years we were married, you never even undressed in front of me, and here you are, parading it in front of the world.”

    “I’ve changed, Crawford.”

    “I’ll say.” He walked to the front and stopped. The entire congregation was naked. “We never even consummated the marriage. I say this bozo can have you if that’s what he wants.” The groom pursed his lips and frowned.

    “Do you mind leaving then,” she said. “I’d like to finish up getting married here.”

    “No, I ain’t leaving. In fact, I’ll join in and witness this farce.” He ripped open his shirt and peeled it off. Buttons bounced on the terrazzo floor. The tee shirt came next, then his boots. He let his jeans fall and stepped out of them. It appeared he had a rolled up gym towel in his baby blue boxers.

    “What are you waiting for, Crawford?” she said, wide eyed.

    “I waited two years to give you this, but it never happened.” He dropped his shorts. The bride’s mouth fell open and the groom backed away. The minister took a long pull from the tequila bottle. The bridesmaid smiled and started to move toward Crawford but the bride elbowed her in the throat.

    “Hands off Amy, he’s mine!” She tossed her bouquet into the crowd and took her ex-husband’s arm. “Let’s go Crawford; we’ve got lost time to make up.” The groom threw up his hands and stormed away.

    “Not so fast, Mabel,” He said, shaking off her arm and pointing. “I choose her.” The bridesmaid blushed and rubbed her throat. She raised her eyebrows to clarify… me? Crawford swooped her into his arms and strode from the Lodge amidst the chaos of a broken wedding. Mabel’s wails were still heard when the couple walked naked onto the sidewalk and into his double parked pickup truck.

    When they were out of town, Crawford turned to Amy and said, “Where to babe?”

    “I’d say we’re heading in the right direction,” she said and smiled.

    “Your sister’s not going to forget this, if you ask me.”

    “She’ll get over it,” she said and snuggled into Crawford’s muscular arm.

    1. Observer Tim

      This whole story is naked and irreverent, John. I get the impression several people (e.g. the best man) are not regular nudists, simply because of the staring. I understand (from reading/hearing interviews, thank you) that after a while it stops being a turn-on and becomes part of life. This whole thing reads like a “Carry On” film which is, believe me, quite a compliment. At least it didn’t end with a “grabbing the stick shift” comment. 🙂

      1. Observer Tim

        P.S. There goes one of my thoughts for another story. Mine might have been a bit less over-the-top, something like:

        “Um. Well. I uh, seem to have overdressed for the occasion.” She was wearing every item of clothing in the room.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Perfect story for a boring Friday at the office. I see you’re up to your usual tricks. The Donald could use you for a speech writer. Do you like Washington?

    2. Bushkill

      The naked truth. Good comment on th banality of human decision making at the end. Hope Amy and Crawford can make it work … Seem like the only two who know what they want.

  35. thejim

    “I Object!” she yelled from the back of the quaint white chapel.

    I turned my head just in time to see my ex-wife with a huge grin plastered on her face.

    Within seconds the trigger on the HK416 assault rifle squeezed down and with 900 shots per minute the room quickly became a blood bath.

    I grabbed my soon to be wife and dove in front of the first set of pews. The room filled with an explosion of bullets. Fragments of pews, walls and flesh flew in every direction.

    When the firing ceased the shrill of her voice came from the back of the chapel, “Steve, you alive dear?”

    I groaned to give the appearance of pain. I looked across to the other side of pews and my best man was motioning for me to look under the pew.

    I looked up and there taped to the bottom of the pew was a small bag.

    “I don’t want to intrude on your special day, but I wanted to drop off a little wedding present.”
    The room busted out again with gun fire and fragments of the ceiling came down around me and Michele.

    I looked at Michele and she had had been knocked out.

    I opened the bag and grabbed the guns and the extra clips that were stashed inside. Lying at the bottom was a small walkie-talkie.

    “Hey, how’s it going over there?” came across the walkie, “looks like the Black Widow is back, I can’t believe you married her, now I don’t want to gloat or anything but I told you so.”

    I glared at Allen he just smiled and waved. Then he motioned that he would cover me and I should make my way around the other side.

    Allen stood up and fired off three shots and stopped.

    “She’s gone,” came over the walkie.

    I slowly slid my head over the top of the pew. Then I duck back down and searched under for her.
    I could see her slithering under the pews; I motioned to Allen as to her location.

    Then I felt a tap on my back. I slowly turned around my eyes fell upon Michelle as she held out her hand. I gave her one of my pistols and we made our way around the outside of the pews and Allen did the same on his side. We were about halfway down when she popped up like a ground hog looking for his shadow.

    Before she could even think about lifting her weapon all three of us unloaded our clips. Her body danced for a brief second then slammed back into the pew. Her blood shot out form the holes in her motionless corpse.

    Allen moved over to meet us in the center of the room.

    “Six months’ work just to get her,” Allen said.

    “I don’t think it could have gone better,” Michelle said with a smile, my favorite part was the ballistics gel guests, that were filled with fake blood; I could have sworn it was real people being shot.”

    Allen walked off with his phone in hand, “I’m gonna call it in and tell them to get down here and clean this mess up.”

    I looked at Michelle and said, “This means we still get a honeymoon, right?”

    1. Observer Tim

      I’m afraid I lost it at, “Steve, you alive dear?” That one line set the tone of the whole piece more than anything else. I was on the edge of my seat with both suspense and suppressed laughter. I love the one-liner at the end, too. Very nice, theJim. 🙂

  36. ReathaThomasOakley

    Wedding Crashers
    Back to 1905

    “What you grinnin’ at?” Horace put his arm around the girl on the wagon seat next to him and pulled her close. “You thinkin’ I got us lost?”

    Sarah snuggled against him and laughed.

    “No, I reckon you know the way, second dark ain’t gonna stop you. I was thinkin’ ain’t been that long since I seen you sittin’ up in that window in that fine house. I reckoned you was jest one a the crew, a right handsome one, didn’t know it was yore house.”

    “Handsome? Well, I thought you was prettiest thing I ever seen.” He pulled on the reins and guided the mules along the road bordering the St. Johns River, silver in the moonlight. “Won’t be long ’til Palatka and the Justice of the Peace I head about. You just rest your head on my leg here, I’ll wake you we get there.”

    ————

    Sarah pulled herself out of her dream at Horace’s voice.

    “Here we are, look there to the porch, they’s waitin’ for the bride.”

    As if through a fog she saw Horace’s upturned face, his arms stretched out to help her from the wagon. Over his shoulder she saw a couple, both in robes, standing in flickering lantern light.

    “What…” she tried to ask, but her throat was dry.

    “I had to wake him up, but his wife’s heated up some coffee. Good people here, Sarah.”

    “She ain’t but a child,” Sarah heard the woman say as Horace helped her up the steps.

    “No, mam, I turned seventeen April last,” she said and pulled away from Horace’s arm. “Plenty old to git married.” The woman looked at her husband and laughed. “I reckon so.”

    Sarah was fully awake by the time the man said, “…speak now, or…” and she heard a faint sound behind her and turned around.

    “Horace, who they be?”

    “What?” Horace seemed surprised.

    “Them women, there in the yard, the old one and the Girl?”

    Horace and the others peered into the dark.

    “Ain’t no body out there, maybe a palmetto movin’, or a dog. Yeah, maybe some ole yeller dog wantin’ to see you wed.” Horace turned back to the Justice. Sarah moved to the edge of the porch.

    “Don’t no body see ’em? Girl’s ’bout half growed, smilin’ up at us. Look now, the old one’s cryin’. Horace, you gotta…” Sarah stopped and clutched her still flat belly in pain. “Oh, Horace, what do it mean? Old woman what’s cryin’ said ‘Mama’,” Sarah fell hard down the wooden porch steps.

    ———-

    Sarah gradually made sense of the voices around her.

    “Don’t understand, she was fine right ’til then.”

    “She with child? Could be that.”

    “She’s comin’ ’round.”

    “Oh, Sarah, I ’bout died, you passin’ out like that. No, don’t try to get up. I’ll just sit here right next to you. We’ll get married sittin’ down. This’ll just be something to tell our grandchildren about.”

    1. Observer Tim

      I love this deep and haunting take on the wedding, Reatha. Having your daughter and great-granddaughter show up for your wedding would be totally unexpected, but how touching it would be for the spectral guests. Also, knowing the bride’s future is tragic. This one reaches for the heartstrings and pulls in several ways, each of which has to be savoured by consideration. 🙂

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you, Tim, for remembering. I’m working on fleshing out the story, and this prompt seemed a good way to start connecting the women. A previous 1905, the cadaver one, story took place the morning after they got married. Thank you again for all the positive comments you give to all, week after week.

    2. JosephFazzone

      So beautiful and haunting, so much going on that takes me to a place and time that shouldn’t be so familiar, and yet you write it in a way that’s so relatable. It’s great to see the old gang again! Brilliant!

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      Every time I read one of your stories where Sarah interacts with Horace, I’m amazed how you show their genuine affection for each other through mostly dialogue. Then, I feel bad about how their future together will turn out.

      As for this particular story, I love the fact that The Girl and Sarah’s daughter showed up (albeit in spectral form) for Sarah’s wedding. And the last paragraph is so bittersweet.

    4. Bushkill

      Love it. Again, feel as if I’m sittin right there hearin’ it all first hand like. Wonderfully articulated. I like the I object as a stab of pain, too. Nuanced of you, that.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you, so very much. My goal is always to take the reader into the scene, even without lots of narration or description, my weak areas. I love doing dialogue and am working on several one-act plays, two from stories I’ve posted here.

    5. regisundertow

      This was genuinely haunting. There were a couple of “oh, shoot” moments for me, mainly because the imagery you’ve weaved here created certain unsettling associations. The whole scene of a couple getting married under lantern light in the Deep South, with dogs and phantoms staring from the darkness…I could almost hear the cicadas and see the reflected irises through the undergrowth.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you, regis. That scene is a retelling of my parents’ wedding, several decades later. Her father forbade her from even seeing my father, so as soon as she was twenty-one they eloped to Palatka and were married on a judge’s front porch, he was in the house, officiating through an open window, in his pajamas. They sent a telegram to my grandfather, he went to the police station to report a kidnapping, only to discover that the sheriff was my father’s cousin. My family provides lots of material.

  37. Bushkill

    It was the stuff dreams were made of. My dress was fantastic and my hair was the envy of the world, even rupaul would have been impressed and awed. When the preacher asked if there were any objectors all I could see were the deep green depths of my lover’s eyes. He was so handsome!

    But there was that harlot that burst through the back door of the chapel screaming “I object!”

    As if her dress of purest white was earned. Then she spoke to my betrothed, “Lover,” I seethed, “Don’t marry this girl. I can’t stand the thought of you in her arms. Come back to me.” There was the tiniest of pauses and then in a breath barely above a whisper, “Please.”

    It didn’t end there. A girl in the back row, just in front of the wedding-crasher, stood. Her gown of baby blue was gossamer thin and straining to confine her ample accouterments. Being so sheer it did nothing to hide them. When she spoke it was as if someone had left a 900 number on speaker, “I object. Who will comfort me at night when it storms? Stay with me, my lover.”

    I am certain that the look on my face was comment worthy, but I was speechless. It was tough to see who was looking where. Apparently the circus was in town.

    I reeled as woman after woman stood to object and confess their love for my betrothed. I was having trouble breathing.

    When my mother stood, I don’t know whose face was more shocked, mine or my father’s. I could feel tears begin, devastated.

    Then my bridesmaids stepped forward, batting eyelids and showing as much cleavage as they could muster. They, too, swooned in adoration and two of them were his cousins!

    Hyperventilation was close and my husband to be stood, smiling from ear to ear, in the praise and admiration his virility had stirred.

    My maid of honor, my very own sister, stepped forward next and handed him her flowers, kissing him on the cheek. I felt my knees give and I collapsed into a heap of dress and teary-eyed bride.
    How could this be?

    Lastly, my flower girl stepped forward, “I too. I will never forget the time we spent together just before the service this morning. Please don’t leave me.”

    She was so pretty, barely seventeen, and his sister. I silently began to shake and sob.

    My betrothed, the beloved of every woman in the room, bent and helped me to my feet. He whispered something in my ear, but I couldn’t understand it. I was a bit of a mess.

    He turned to the assembled, handed the flowers back to my sister, and spoke, “While I applaud your taste in men, truly, I am completely and wholly undone by the woman standing with me now. She is mine from now until death parts us.”

    He lifted my veil and wiped my tears away before kissing me.

    The gathered rejoiced.

    1. Observer Tim

      Nothing like being punked at your wedding. I love the way the bride didn’t get it even when her sister and the flower girl stood up. I really doubt this guy is that much of a Casanova. She’ll definitely remember it… Very clever, Bushkill. 🙂

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Bushkill!

      This story cracked my up. I loved this line: “When she spoke it was as if someone had left a 900 number on speaker…”

      I will admit that the flower girl speaking up made me say “Huh???” *shrugs* I saw flower girl and automatically thought of a little seven/eight year old. 😆

  38. Cceynowa

    Opposites Attract
    Word Count: 526

    At first I thought the doves had died. Wouldn’t have surprised me; they were the weakest and most pathetic of the ones Reggie owned. He’d been all in a huff about me trying to tell him that it was his duty as my favorite cousin to help out with my wedding. He raised doves for a living. Why not let me borrow a couple for free for my big day? I didn’t care if it was his business and all. I was family. I deserved the family discount. Right? Right. Given all that, I was surprised that it wasn’t Reggie bursting into the church mid-ceremony, screaming “STOP! You must stop!” Instead, it was my ex-therapist: Dr. Clyde.

    He stood there, seemingly unaware of anyone in the room except my soon-to-be-husband, Roger. “You must not marry this woman.”

    “Shut your face!” I yanked my hand out of Roger’s grasp and jabbed a pointed finger in Clyde’s direction, hoping the action would add force to my words. “Don’t you say another word! I’ll sue your ass for breach of confidentiality.”

    “What’s goin’ on?” My father had recovered from the shock of Clyde’s dramatic entrance first. My mother was remained wide-eyed on the front pew. “Lindy?” My father’s weather worn face, lined with years of manual labor, looked to me for guidance.

    “I don’t know Daddy. Make him leave.”

    “No!” Again, Dr. Clyde was speaking only to Roger. “She hasn’t told you. I know she hasn’t, but you need to know.” He began walking down the aisle towards us. The pastor had stepped away, clearing the area for any possible fall out. I briefly wondered if this was the first time any of his ceremonies had been interrupted by deranged exes. We were in the Deep South, so I doubted it.

    “I mean it,” I whipped my dress train behind me, nearly taking out my maid of honor in the process, and started toward the doctor. The guests on both sides held their breath, in fear or in anticipation depending on whose family they belonged to. My brother were already flanking my sides, ready to back me no matter the move I made.

    “She’s a…” I tackled Dr. Clyde mid-sentence. Roger’s mother screamed. Mine cursed. Daddy had his hands full holding onto my oldest brother while my youngest was trying to get a good hit on Dr. Clyde without hitting me. Roger had finally unrooted and was pushing his way through the crowd. The pastor had disappeared completely.

    “Lindy! Lindy,” Roger was grabbing for my shoulders and pulling me off the doctor. I could hear the man whimpering softly as he hugged his knees to his chest. “Lindy, stop this.” Roger held me close to him, calming the waves of anger that coursed through me. I hoped my well-aimed punches had bruised the doctor’s throat enough he couldn’t speak for days.

    “She’s a democrat,” Dr. Clyde whispered.

    Roger quickly released me, recoiling in horror at Dr. Clyde’s words. “He’s lying. Right Lindy? You ain’t a democrat, are ya?” My mother began to cry while I sat in the middle of the aisle, my dress torn and my shame evident.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Oh, this is wonderful! Could have been a wedding I attended. I could see, and hear, everything and identify with your MC. My southern brother worried that my first husband, from Montana, was a Yankee.

      1. Cceynowa

        LOL! That is great Reatha. My mother tells the story of my dad’s family wondering the same about her (she’s from Wyoming originally). Her response was that she didn’t feel Wyoming was established during the carpetbagger days. 🙂 At my wedding my oldest brother hid out in the kitchen ’cause he didn’t (stills doesn’t) approve of my husband. … Ah weddings. So dramatic. Perfect prompt material.

          1. ReathaThomasOakley

            Been through Baggs, beautiful area, we’re in Gillette, about as far away as you can get.

          2. ReathaThomasOakley

            Husband’s been there 35 years with four sons, knows everyone, I only a few. Might they know any Oakleys?

          3. Cceynowa

            You know, I’ll have to ask. Mike is a knapper now, but I’m not sure what he was in his past life. 🙂

    2. Bushkill

      Quality writing. Good story. I’ve attended a wedding or two somewhat south of my current location and they are … a more natural confluence of humanity than some of the preening and prancing i’ve seen at closer latitudes. I, too, could picture myself actually in the pews of this event.

    3. Observer Tim

      This one leaves me baffled, mostly because I’m Canadian and don’t have such uber-strength party views. That said, this is one of those wonderful tales that will be read differently by everyone, not so much for multiple layers of meaning as for multiple layers of humour. I know I was chuckling at the end… 🙂

  39. Pete

    I was at the altar, holding hands with Glenn Gordon Jeffries, trying not to notice the flap of skin that was his left eyelid twitching like a wet leaf in a fire. The windbag preacher was yammering on like it was Easter Sunday, about circles and trust and love and happenstance.

    Glenn Gordon, owner of Gordy Burgers—where I’d spent the last two years sweating in a drive-thru window fending off Saturday night drunks—right there in the palm of my hand. And I was looking damn good up there. My dress was killer—white, strapless, one of those mermaid lace bodice deals I’d found special order and it squeezed my boobs like a high school boyfriend while managing to cover that sun-faded, PROPERTY OF KELVIN tattoo on my lower back.

    I should have been counting down those last precious seconds of my life as it might have been. Because when that jolly fat preacher finally asked if anyone objected to me becoming the fifth and hopefully final Mrs. Glenn Gordon Jeffries the door swung open and there stood Kelvin. All six-foot-dumb of him.

    He was panting and heaving from not being on the couch. Worse still he had those two rug rats, Elvis and Exxon with him. They busted right in the church like it was WrestleMania, hollering, “Momma Momma!”

    Well, every head bald and dyed whipped back like the Kentucky fried Colonel had announced a new recipe. Then I remembered it was my weekend to have the kids.

    Son of a snapper, you’d think Kelvin could have cut me some slack. Gordy wasn’t looking so hot right then, even for him. I fluttered my inch long glamour wispy eyelashes at him, knowing how hot they looked with my mascara. He gave me a weak smile.

    “Carla, you have kids?

    I rolled my eyes. Sure my dress was white but what did he take me for? Freaking twerps, always coming in and messing up anything half decent. And worst still Kelvin hadn’t bothered to dress them properly; they had on those same Monster Energy T-shirts I’d dropped them off in last week. Figured.

    Elvis knocked into the bouquet while Exxon took to the organ. Kelvin stood there like a dumbass until someone told him that there’s no smoking in the church. He stubbed the butt out right there in the aisle, grinning like a jackal stumbling upon a nest full of eggs. Glenn Gordy’s flaccid grip was slipping from my hands.

    “Hey Carla, I ain’t the only one’s got something to say.”

    Oh my hell, could they not see I was trying to make a better life for myself? Kelvin, I swear, that man makes my blood hotter than a turkey fryer. If it weren’t for my dress and that curl-killing humidity I’d have marched down there and stomped another hole in his tail right there in front of that boob-staring preacher.

    Instead I reeled in Gordy, massaging his hand, trying to smooth things over but otherwise hoping I’d still have a shift in the drive-thru. That’s when Renee waltzed through the doors.

    The congregation murmured as she flitted past me, just as Exxon found the organ. I saw Gordy’s good eye go wide.

    “This who you’ve been spending your time with, Momma?”

    My daughter’s voice was like her skin, sunned and smooth and unblemished youth. Renee could charm the devil out of his horns. She looked like me twenty years ago, but she had Kelvin’s stunner blue eyes. Without the wreckage of the twins and without the years of working double shifts to keep the lights on in the trailer. She reached out and fixed Gordon’s tie in such a way that his tongue parted his lips. His pudgy hand fell like a rock from my grasp, and for a moment I thought stroke number three was on the way.

    “Carla,” he managed, still looking at Renee, rapt and stupid. I tossed the bouquet to the floor because I knew what was coming. “If you’re thirty-two, how is she—”

    A snicker from the preacher. A howl from the aisle. I set a butcher knife glare on Kelvin, who put up his hands. “Thirty-two? Awe come on, Carla!”

    The pews sang out with the commotion. Most of the guests up and laughing about the same old Gordy. He asked Renee what she thought of acting. His eyes on her endless legs. She was perfect for the new franchise commercial. My commercial.

    Gordy never saw me leave, stepping on my expensive dress that hid my tattoo and my stretch marks. The twins trailing behind me, yanking on the train and fighting over the last piece of gum.

    That stupid lug of a man handed me a cigarette, shaking his head and chuckling about me marrying our new son-in-law. I didn’t have the energy to slap him proper.

    Besides, I was late for my shift.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Oh, these great scenes just keep on coming. This is fantastic. You made every character come alive with just a few words. I knew all their past lives as well as their futures. My brother once married a woman who neglected to tell him about two much older children and several previous husbands. (Hmm, why do these stories sound like my relatives?)

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a chuckler, Pete. You really caught the characters well. I would never have considered the idea of having one’s daughter steal a potential husband, at least not without a really ramped up weirdness factor. Somehow it feels natural with these characters. Great job! 🙂

  40. yesitsme

    I hear the voice call out, loud and clear, and my head spins to see Lionel standing in the doorway, his head bobbing as he takes deep breaths. His eyes aren’t on me; they are locked on my soon-to-be husband. Lionel runs forward until I can see the blue of his eyes.
    “You can’t marry her!” he shouts. I look at the crowd, they’re collectively doing double takes. My half of the family is in disbelief. Jason’s side of the family looks confused.
    “Why?” Jason asks, “Why are you doing this?” Lionel takes a second, assessing the situation. His eyes brush the muted, whispering crowd.
    “Because she was supposed to marry me,” Lionel looks at me now, his eyes serious; pained. “She was supposed to be my wife.”
    “She can decide that, buddy,” Jason rumbled at him. I look at Jason and feel a burning desire to complete the ceremony. And a nagging feeling that, yes, while I cared about Lionel and what he had meant to me, I was at this crossroads where I knew he couldn’t give me what I needed. I needed to feel love from myself. And ultimately, I couldn’t find it with him. We had ended on, shaky, but solid ground.
    It was scary to let go. I had abused his trust one too many times. I apologized with every ounce of my soul. He decided that he needed time to figure out his head. And he had never wanted to come back. Because I had broken what faith he had of what I had given him in his life. He was angry that I was expecting everything to resolve quickly. I wanted it to heal. And I gave him all that I thought I could. I never game him time to hurt or heal, and he threw it away. And here I am, about to commit my life.
    I am committing with the man that I met in a book store, browsing origami books, drinking a cup of tea. I picked up a book, that he had apparently been looking at, and he met my eyes.
    Oh, those warm honey-chocolate eyes. The ones that fill me with warmth of our first meeting. They are the same eyes that are looking deeply at me, ponderous. When I had found my-self-love, Jason had found me after I was ready to love myself. I look back at Lionel, who looks determined to ruin it.
    “You can’t,” I said. My head murmurs with our memories. Happiness. Before ruin. “This is my happiness.”
    “As you wish,” Lionel says. He turns and walks out. As soon as he’s out of sight, the room bursts with emotion. I feel Jason take my hand, and I watch Lionel disappear.
    “I’m sorry,” I whisper to myself.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is intense and introspective, YesItsMe. She found herself by finding love, though I kind of wonder how happy she’ll be in the end with that huge unresolved issue hanging over her. This story resonates with me because I feel too much like I know the bride, and I was the one in Lionel’s place (mercifully the relationship self-destructed long before the wedding). Great story. 🙂

    2. JosephFazzone

      The honesty of that emotion is so true, and pure. To heal from such a grievous wound to the point that you’re ready to start over again is such a blessing. Ironically, I just got engaged last night, and i had been married previously, so I REALLY can relate the that healing process. What a great story! Thank you!

  41. val99star

    In his hands, a frayed Lisa Frank folder, a cell phone, and the keys to his baby blue classic Ford truck parked haphazardly behind him. Carried on the Atlantic breeze, steam rising from the engine wafted into the church; sweet antifreeze mixed with briny humidity. It was a tragic cocktail. One best not to drink.

    “Bray-”

    “No.” Steve declared, sounding every bit the powerful courtroom attorney that he aspired to be. “Not here.”

    His newly minted ring dug into my hand as he pulled me into the rectory of the quaint lighthouse church I had insisted would be the perfect location for our union. Storm clouds building in his eyes, he thrust the door to my dressing room open and tapped my mother’s purse under the dressing table with his toe. It was more than a gentle nudge. Her lipstick rolled across the dark green carpet and came to a stop against the baseboard.

    Finally, I looked at him, studied the smug expression on his face that was part “humor me” and part “I knew this was coming”, and braced myself for impact.

    He didn’t like the unexpected. Ever since our first date, when his favorite restaurant ran out of creme brulee, I knew that he valued order and predictability above almost anything, qualities I didn’t possess. I’d managed to fool him so far, but now the jig was up.

    A shuffle in the hallway and Brayden entered the room. Poised like an angry puma, he seemed ready for anything, and at the same time, looked like he’d already been through everything just to get here, his green eyes wild as he surveyed the scene.

    “So, I made it in time?” It wasn’t a question. It wasn’t cocky. No, Brayden sounded relieved.

    “I would say fashionably late, if not for…” Steve trailed off, motioning to Brayden’s choice of clothing.

    Brayden sighed dramatically and slapped my folder against his wranglers. “Petty.”

    Brayden’s wardrobe was typical, indicative of a career built on knowing quarter horses by more than name. His left arm still wore the scar from his brush with my daddy’s fence. Brayden was more than just my ex. He was my best friend. Two years of law school and a whirlwind romance couldn’t change that.

    “Steve!” I hissed with a trembling voice.

    Moments earlier I had read my vow. The emotion still lingered, though the quote by Alexander Smith was bitter on my tongue: “Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition.” I knew he wasn’t perfect, but his haughty arrogance toward a man he’d never met—albeit one who interrupted his wedding—was disappointing.

    “We promised, Sadie.” Brayden’s grip tightened on the folder. “Come hell or high water, we’d look out for each other.”

    My emotions were fraying. I sniffed, “What is it Brayden?”

    His green eyes searched mine. “This son of a bitch killed your cat.”

    “What?”

    Suddenly, Steve lunged at Brayden. The two crashed into the rock wall of the church, but Brayden had the upper hand. This wasn’t his first bucking bronco.

    1. Observer Tim

      This reads like something from a ‘True Romance’ story. It’s intense and emotional, though the punch line near the end was a bit odd. Just a simple case of “He’s not good enough for ya, babe.” Very well done. 🙂

    2. val99star

      Thanks. I wrote this in an hour. As soon as I read the prompt, the characters started speaking to me and I couldn’t help myself! You all know what I’m saying. I wasn’t sure how to end it at 500 words, and it was nearing midnight when I pictured Steve strangling her cat because he had allergies or hated cats or something. When Brayden happened to pull up at the same time, he confronted Steve about it. But Steve pretended to not know Sadie and said this cat had snuck through his window up the street and killed his parakeet. Long story short, Brayden let the matter drop and didn’t visit Sadie after all, (why? I haven’t figured that out yet) and it wasn’t till he got her wedding invitation with a picture of the two of them that he realized what a murderous liar Steve was. Brayden knew that his story about Milky would sound phony over the phone, so he drove to the wedding instead.

      Fun prompt!

      1. Observer Tim

        I find when the characters start talking it’s a sign they’ll make it to the page well fleshed out even with only a few words. Nice bit o’ backstory here; taking that extra work also shows in the writing. 🙂

  42. NOPE

    Covert Oops (Alternately, Double Oh Shit)

    “Do you remember the plan?” I ask quietly as Monica straightens my tie in a small room just outside of the sanctuary. Through the door we can hear the dull rumble of the two thousand guests my ‘fiancé’ has invited.

    “Relax, Gellar. It was my plan, remember?” She laughs and murmurs some sort of code into the microphone on her earpiece. “Everything is in place. We’ve got Miller, Vance, McCrory, and Jameson in there ready to play back-up if things turn sour.”

    “Rose has sixteen brothers, Mon. Sixteen!”

    “Well,” Monica replies, “then it’s a good thing you’ve got me and my trusty friends; ‘Anxiety’,” she points first to her concealed shoulder holster, and then to the one on her upper thigh, “and ‘Poor life choices’”

    Before I can respond there is a knock at the door and all sixteen of the groomsmen enter. Monica resumes her current role as our wedding planner, and the boys and I observe a moment of silence for my life as a single man.

    ..Later

    “…should anyone here present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

    I smile at Rose. She smiles back, looking lovely in her white satin dress from some designer I’ve never heard of.

    Several of her brothers (my groomsmen) have tears in their eyes and I want to laugh. Here are these big burly dudes dressed in tuxedos worth more than everything my family has ever owned, tearing up over their little sister’s wedding day. It would have been very moving if I were actually planning to go through with it.

    ‘Where are you, Mon?’ I demand mentally, staring down the aisle at the huge double doors, willing them to open. I glance back at the preacher. Just as his lips are parting to speak the next lines, I hear the creak of the doors and a gasp from the audience.

    “I object!”

    All eyes in the room are focused on the vision wearing a midnight blue shift dress, and nobody notices my huge sigh of relief.

    There’s a movement from behind me and I see that several of the groomsman are pulling handguns from various concealed places. Monica has drawn ‘Anxiety’, or maybe it’s ‘Poor life choices’. I never can tell the two of them apart.

    “Nick, why is our wedding planner interrupting our ceremony? Are you two having an affair?” Rose demands, gesturing to the heavily armed petite blonde making her way down the aisle. Several of the groomsman have shifted their aim from Monica to me. If I don’t die today, I’m definitely getting fired.

    “Um…” I pause. I’m terrible at thinking on my feet, this is why I like plans so much. “Because we work for a spy agency that has been conducting an investigation on your family for two years now?”

    In the aisle, I see Monica place her palm over her face and shake her head. Whoops. The truth it is.

    1. Observer Tim

      I think things just turned sour. 🙂

      This is wonderfully told, NOPE, though perhaps more Maxwell Smart than James Bond. I love the way you painted the situation, built up the tension, then made it explode in laughter. Nicely done.

  43. cosi van tutte

    He told me months and months ago that he was going to marry Honey D’Angelo. Oh, I was outraged and upset and determined to break them up. But things happened and life interfered. The alien invasion didn’t help much.

    So, the long-awaited day came and I slept in. I woke up with a horrified start. What if they were already married? What would I do then?

    My nerves were so wrecked and frazzled. I didn’t change out of my nightgown. I didn’t grab my keys or run to my car.

    I did put on my good running shoes.

    And, oh I ran.

    I ran to the church, which was twelve miles away from my house. I didn’t pause to think of what an odd sight I was sure to be. Honestly, it didn’t even cross my mind.

    All I could think of, all that mattered was my man and how he was getting married to the wrong person. Just the thought of them holding hands and saying those delicious vows of forever spurred me on and on until I burst into the church. “I OBJECT!”

    No one was there. No priest. No guests. No bride. No groom. “What? But where’s my man?” I sat down in a nearby pew. “It was this church, right?” I thought and thought. “Yes, I’m sure of it.” I thought some more. “It was today, right?” I frowned. “Today is…” I did some adding up in my head. “Yes. It should be today. So, where’s my man?”

    The church door opened behind me. “Ohh! Oh, Abernathy daaaarling.”

    I sat up straight. That voice!

    “Oh, daaaaarling! This church is perfectly daaaaaaaaarling!”

    It was her. Honey D’Angelo. Man-stealer extraordinaire. My nemesis.

    They walked down the aisle. Right past me. As if I weren’t even there. I would have been fired-up furious, but I noticed many odd details. He wasn’t wearing a tuxedo. And what she was wearing would never qualify as any sort of wedding gown.

    Oh no! They weren’t really going to get married looking like that, were they? Their wedding pictures were going to look tacky and awful!

    She posed flirtatiously by the altar rail. “Ohhh, Abernathy daaaaaaaaarling! Take a picture of me right here and then I’ll take a picture of you. Then I’ll pull out my selfie stick and take a picture of both of us and I’ll put it up on Facebook and everyone will say, ‘Ohhhh my! Look at the loooooovely couple! And I’ll be all like teeeee-heeee! That looooovely couple is me and my Abernathy daaaaaaaaarling.”

    He said, “That would be awesome.” in his flat-tone voice that I adored.

    Tears spilled down my face and poured all over my nightgown. “This is a travesty.” I said to myself. “I don’t understand what’s going on, but this is a sick and ugly travesty!” I rose to my feet and shouted, “I object!”

    She kept burbling on and on about arrangements and bouquets and daaaaaarling this and loooooooooooovely that.

    I stepped out into the aisle and yelled with all of my womanly might, “I OBJECT!”

    They turned and looked at me.

    “Ohhhhh, Abernathy daaaaaaarling—”

    I pointed at her. “Shut up! Just shut up.”

    To my great satisfaction, she did.

    I strode over to them in my billowy yellow nightgown. I stopped and focused on him. “I object.”

    “Priscilla. What are you doing here?”

    “I came to stop your wedding and—” I shrugged. “—I guess I arrived a lot earlier than I’d intended.”

    “My wedding? But we haven’t set the date yet.”

    “Oh, you will, but if you’d just listen to me, you won’t.”

    Honey opened her mouth.

    I pointed at her again. “Shush! This is my moment to have my say. I lost so many chances to nail him down and talk sense into his brain and you are not going to interrupt me.”

    “Ohhhhh? So, what am I supposed to do then?”

    “I don’t know. Go sit down somewhere.”

    “Abernathy daaaaaaaaaaarling! She’s trying to boss me around.” She wrapped her arms around his right arm and just sort of hung on it. “Tell her to jump in a lake.”

    “Why don’t you go jump in a lake?”

    “Ohhhhh, why don’t you?”

    “You first.”

    “Priscilla. Honey. Please.”

    “Fine.” She released his arm and sauntered over to the first pew. “My legs were tired, anyway.” She sat down and brooded.

    “So?”

    “So, I think you’re making a terrible mistake.” I glanced at Honey, who was busy making a sullen kissy face at no one in particular. “I can see why you’re attracted to her, but…Oh, darn it all! I love you.”

    “That is not what you said last year.”

    “Last year? Abernathy, you pillow-headed dummy. Forget about all that. Look at me. Here and now. I don’t know how I wound up in this moment, but I am here and I am telling you the greatest truth I possess: I love you. I have always loved you. Please. Tell me you love me too. Marry me.”

    He looked over at Honey. “She’s so sweet and fluffy. I love her.”

    My heart sank. “What about me?”

    He didn’t reply.

    “Do you love me?”

    He looked back at me. “You left me. How do I know you won’t leave me again when things go bad?”

    “I won’t.”

    “But how do I know? If I married you, would you keep your vows? Would it really be ’till death do us part’ for you?”

    I thought about it. If things were to go bad…There were so many ways that things could go bad. Would I be willing to stay with him through all of that? I smiled. “I love you, Abernathy, from now till death do us part.”

    He smiled and took hold of my hands.

    ***

    I stood in my room in a white lace and pearl studded wedding gown. I looked at my reflection in my full length mirror and wiped away my tears. “Today, I’m going to marry the man of my dreams.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Nicely done, Cosi. I can’t quite tell if this is the end of a long and romantic story or one of the worst prenuptial jitters dreams ever. Of course, Priscilla still has a chance to run for it… 🙂

      1. cosivantutte

        Thanks,OT!

        I wrote it as a sort of time travel story, where Priscilla gets one last chance to win him back. But I really like your interpretation of it as a prenuptial jitters dream. 🙂

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      I think Priscilla should have let him go long ago, fluffy Honey is a much better match. Loved the selfie stick, I always wondered who actually used one of those, now I know.

  44. staceypotter

    Anna felt Michael’s arm stiffen under her hand as his tension ratcheted and began to suck the oxygen out of the chapel as if a vacuum lock had been sealed. She closed her eyes in mute appeal to God, silently begging Him to let it be a dream. A bad one. One that she could wake up from if someone would just shake her awake…

    At first, Joseph’s perfect surfer-boy looks, along with his quick sense of humor, had captivated her. But it hadn’t taken long for the veneer to rub off and reveal the rot beneath. After all the nasty stunts Joseph had pulled on her through the years, the cheating, the drinking, all those times he belittled her and made her cry to draw attention away from his own shortcomings, she had finally mustered her courage and broken it off. But Joseph turned out to be the kind of guy who really couldn’t take “No” for an answer. She moved, he followed her. She got a new job, he showed up and did his utmost to get her fired. He ignored her pleas and demands to leave her alone just like he ignored the restraining order.

    This wasn’t a dream, and something was shaking her, but it wasn’t God. As Anna and Michael turned in disbelief to confront the dirty son-of-a-gun who had the gall to walk through *her* doors at *her* chapel and interrupt *her* wedding, and was now standing behind her with her arm grasped painfully in his hand, Anna felt something snap inside her head.

    Michael’s reaction was just seconds short of Anna’s, and once he saw where she was headed, he stopped and let her go forward full steam. While he would love nothing more than to pummel Joseph to within an inch of his vile little life, the satisfaction he was going to gain from Anna’s upcoming liberation more than compensated for his restraint. The room fairly crackled with the electric force of Anna’s livid anger. Eyes narrowed to furious slits, she rounded on Joseph, advancing one slow step at a time like a hungry panther intent on the kill.

    “How dare you,” she hissed at him, her knuckles white against the green of her bouquet.

    Joseph, still clutching Anna’s arm, fumbled backward with every step Anna took, as it dawned on him that he might possibly have made a considerable mistake. His eyes darted left and right to the congregation of wedding guests in the hope that someone might take pity on him and rescue him from his self-induced and escalating problem. No one moved a muscle.

    “How dare you,” Anna growled once more, then launched herself, dress, veil and all, at Joseph, whose first response was to turn and run. Anna caught him by the collar and spun him back to face her. “Anna, b-b-baby,” Joseph stuttered, trying to get his hands up between them and twist out of her grasp at the same time.

    “Don’t you ‘Anna, baby’ me, you little reptile!”

    Keeping her double-handed grip on Joseph’s shirt, Anna adjusted her feet, and, blessing her father for making her learn self-defense, slammed her forehead into Joseph’s perfect nose. He fell backward with a whimper, blood spurting down the front of his face and designer button-down shirt. As he tried to stem the flow with his hands, he looked upward and froze at the sight of two intense green eyes boring into his.

    “Do. Not. Ever. Come. Near. Me. Again. Do you understand me?”

    Anna took Joseph’s tiny head jiggle as an assent.

    “You’re bleeding on my runner. Get out of my church,” she said, straightening up and turning away from the miserable, bloody mess laying in the aisle.

    Michael was there when she turned; they both ignored Joseph as he scrambled to his feet and stumbled back out the chapel doors. Grinning from ear to ear, Michael took Anna in his arms and said, “I do.”

  45. Trevor

    Word Count: 523

    Shotgun Wedding

    It was the happiest day of Devin and Patricia’s lives. The chapel was beautifully decorated for the occasion. Devin’s tux and Patricia’s pure white dress were beautiful. All of their families were gathered to see the two young lovers wed. It was all like something out of a fairytale.

    “If anyone objects to this union, speak now or forever hold your peace.” The priest said out of pure formality. Everyone Devin and Patricia knew thought they were the perfect couple. When no one came forward, Devin and Patricia prepared to kiss…..

    “I object!” The shout of protest rings through the church. Everyone turns to see a young man with short blonde hair bursting through the doors, an infuriated look on his face. He storms up to the young couple, his eyes flaring up like flames of fire. Patricia was stunned, but Devin was almost stoic in disbelief. He never expected to see this man again.

    His ex-boyfriend, Adam.

    “No one’s taking you from me, Devin! NO ONE!” Adam shouts out. Then, to everyone’s horror, Adam pulled a shotgun out of his pocket and pointed it at Patricia. Her father tried to stop Adam, but before the overweight man could reach him, Adam pulled the trigger, sending Patricia’s brains splattering all over the white altar. Then, as screams erupted throughout the church, Adam ran up to Devin, grabbed his hands in a constricting manner, and put the pistol to his head.

    “Everyone, sit down and shut up! Anyone try to stop us is going to Hell with this whore!” Adam shouts as he puts the barrel of the gun deeper into Devin’s skull. Patricia’s family is busy grieving their murdered daughter while Devin’s family is too stunned to act as Adam forces Devin out of the church.

    What the crowd of weddinggoers didn’t see was the two ex-lovers getting into a black Cadillac and sharing a passionate kiss before driving away laughing.

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

    I never loved Patricia. I never even liked her. In fact, the very thought of that ugly pig made me want to barf. I’d always loved Adam, even when we broke up. My parents, being the religious nuts they were, always opposed to me being with men. They finally put their foot down when I announced Adam was thinking of proposing and ordered me to stop seeing him. Under the threat of disinheritance, I had little choice but to let Adam go. I got engaged to Patricia only to please my parents’ wishes.

    But then, the week before my wedding, Adam contacted me. He had the perfect solution to our problem: He would burst into my wedding, kill Patricia, and “kidnap” me. That way, Patricia and my wretched family would be out of the picture and me and Adam would be safe to live our lives together.
    And the plan went off without a hitch. No one interfered and the only causality was a stupid and desperate woman who would’ve probably ended up blowing her own brains out anyway. So now, me and Adam are finally together and we have the perfect life we’ve always wanted.

    Talk about a real shotgun wedding.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is pretty cold and heartless, Trevor. I find little or no sympathy for Adam or Devin, but then I sense that I’m not supposed to. Of course, Devin might be a little worried if Adam ever tires of him… 😉

      My red pencil notes that the verb tenses are a little shaky in the first part of the story, but nothing too destructive.

    2. MCKEVIN

      I like this take on the prompt because I know this couple very well. Lol. I think you have a great beginning of a great novella. I’m curious what happens in chapter 2. Good job!

    3. regisundertow

      Not sure how it’ll work out for Adam and Devin in the long run, but that just means there’s plenty of opportunities for drama and conflict. Actually, this would make a great seed for a thriller.

  46. changeishard

    I am standing at the altar waiting to marry the person of my dreams. The preacher says, “Should anyone here present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.” I smile at my beloved and prepare to begin the next phase of my life. The small wedding party gathered before me leans forward in anticipation of the “I Do” followed by the kiss to seal the deal. My stomach rumbles, feeling tight with anticipation, or maybe with dread. I have doubts. We both have doubts. The fact that neither of our parents agreed to attend the ceremony clouded the joy this occasion should produce.
    I picture myself turning around and running through the back door of the house and across the field to my car. I could get in and drive back to my boyhood home and beg my family for forgiveness. I could marry a nice woman and give them the grandchildren they dream of. I know I would never truly be happy. I would have to live a lie everyday of my life. I have to decide if it would be worth it. Which hole in myself could I leave unfilled for the rest of my existence? My family or my beloved, my true self.
    People think the hardest part of equal rights and acceptance is getting the voters and the politicians to allow the deed. Anyone who thinks that has never had to face the disappointment, disgust and wrath of a family that does not support you. The denouncement of a church or a religion that you have grown up with all of your life. The scorn of society as you walk hand in hand down the street. You can regulate the laws but not reactions of the people. You can’t make people support and love every part of you. Trust me, I tried.
    I put one leg behind the other and prepare to run. I can feel my heart beat in my ears. I turn around. Standing in the doorway are my fathers. They are dressed in matching tuxedos, embracing each other with tears in their eyes. I feel my fiancé turn around. Her tentacles wrap around me for support. I nod at my parents and they take a seat in the family section. Something in my chest loosens and breaks. I turn back to the front and do my part. I say I do, I kiss my bride. Everyone claps as we turn to walk down the isle.

    1. Observer Tim

      Wow, Change. Set me up for a moral lecture and then pull the red velvet carpet out from under me! This is a very well-done trope breaker, and you did it with such complete subtlety that it worked. As Mr. Legasse would say, BAM! 🙂

    2. Beebles

      Brilliant Change. Same as OT. Really well delivered – introducing the fathers at that point was genius before the final reveal. Oh, just noticed the last word which should be aisle i’m guessing, unless they are in Scotland?

    3. regisundertow

      I’d be happy with where the story was going until the last paragraph, but then you took it to another level. Brilliantly done, it left me with a smile on my face.

  47. machelledw

    A million thoughts rushed through my head, “You’ve got to be kidding me” escaped from my mouth.
    “Get away from her!” Keith screamed charging up the aisle. “She’ll kill you! She’s crazy!”

    I turned to my fiance, wide-eyed shrugging my shoulders. He pushed me aside and stepped forward to intercept the wild man who interrupted our ceremony. “Who are you?” he demanded. “What are you doing here?”

    Keith pulled up short of the altar and took in a long deep breath. “My name is Keith Wells. I was married to this woman for five seconds two months ago. I just got out of the hospital this morning. When I saw your wedding announcement in the paper, I just had to come and save you.”

    Reggie looked at me perplexed. ” Do you know this guy?”

    “No, I don’t. I have no idea who this man is.” I said with all of the innocence I could muster. But, I did know him. The night before our wedding I emptied his bank accounts. I then delivered a fatal “I do” kiss courtesy of the poisoned lipstick I bought on the dark web, careful to apply it over my non-fatal gloss. I saw him drop dead. I heard the EMT pronounce him deceased at the scene. So what was he doing here?

    “Someone call the police.” I heard Reggie’s mother say. “Get this maniac out of here!” Two ushers seized upon Keith and began dragging him down the aisle toward the exit. He kicked and bucked frantically to no avail.

    “Don’t kiss her!” he screamed as the men shoved him out of the door. There was pronounced silence in the chapel as our wedding guests just stared at me. I took a deep breath, counting to three in my head. Once I felt composed, I plastered a nervous grin on my face.
    “I think the world has gone mad!” I laughed, and the crowd laughed with me. “So,” I said turning back to the Pastor and Reggie. “Where were we?” I asked, careful not to run my tongue over my lips.

    1. Observer Tim

      Now you see that’s why praying mantis females bite the male’s head off. It saves having to deal with the whole “he lived through it” thing. This is lovely and twisted, Machelledw, a really enjoyable read. 🙂

      In the way of my two cents worth (which rounds down to zero in Canada, so the worth is about right), you could have ramped up the disconnect factor by moving the explanation down to just before the last sentence (with appropriate recasting). But it’s also really well-done as is.

      1. Observer Tim

        P.S. What a cool website! I listened to all the demos, and you have a great voice. The only technical thing I heard was a bit of echo in the Suicide Watch piece, which may or may not have been intentional. I especially loved the voice in the first bit of the Commercial demo. 🙂

  48. JosephFazzone

    “I said I object!”

    Those sparkling mint green eyes, petite button nose, pert smile, and that lithe tiny frame of hers presented the package of perfection manifested. I was terrified, and it was either the weird gun in her blood soaked hands, the blood on her hands, or the fact that she has been dead for two years.

    “Air!” my heart ached as I croaked. “You’re alive, but…” I looked at Faith.

    “You’re dead!” Faith’s golden skin had paled to a ghostly shimmer as she fumed. A small lock of her golden hair broke free from her perfect bun, and fell into her gold eyes. “Envoys were sent to your father to explain the loss.”

    “Got the message”, Aricia assured her, “and here’s ours.” She raised her rifle. “Move out of the way, Babe”, she told me.

    “Wait what? No!” I cried out “I’ve moved on, I’m happy, I…”

    “Shush”, she barked, and to Faith she commanded, “Move away from the human.”

    Human?

    Faith pleaded calmly, “We didn’t try to kill you.”

    “And you thought you got away with it”, Aricia scoffed, “I knew Deiragan were stupid. I didn’t know it bordered on colossally stupid. Hiring a Nerangue to do your dirty work, tsk tsk.”

    Several members of the bride’s side grumbled angrily.

    “It wasn’t us”, Faith’s insisted with a tone brassy and tinny. Her canine teeth were fangs suddenly. She gritted them fighting for control.

    Aricia countered, “The gateway is sealed, and your guard’s are slain. I have you”, she pointed at Faith and then slowly swung her rifle to aim at her father, “And him.”

    “This is outrageous”, Faith’s father stood up, his silvery waist length beard shook violently as he bellowed. “Lower your weapon. This is an act of war, Kinvian!”

    “Code 2188-1B in the Galactic Charter clearly stipulates that there be no propagating with humans. I’m within my rights to kill you all”, Aricia explained, “Besides, he was mine first.”

    The man next to her father’s left stood up tall and said brazenly clear, “You forget yourself, Kinvian; section four clearly explains that a Deiragan can abandon their gifts through the exchange of nuptials, essentially becoming human themselves.” He wore a simple navy blue robe with a silver diamond shaped pendant hanging from his neck. His facial hair was all black and manicured fastidiously. He was bald, but his shaggy black eyebrows almost compensated for the lack of hair.

    Aricia recognized the talisman and haltingly queried. “Who are you?”

    Confidently he responded, “Daniel Alderman, intergalactic arbiter of the Triumvirate. Princess Aricia, you are in violation with the Voleteraag Sanctuary Act of 23,112. Lower your weapon!”

    Aricia stumbled back. “I didn’t, I…” she looked at me through tear filled eyes, “Kent, I’m sorry.”

    I was too stunned to speak, everything was happening way too fast.

    “I love you, I can’t…”, she continued, “…want you to be happy. Deiragan’s who relinquish their power can no longer turn, and devour you if they get angry.”

    “What?” I squeaked bleakly.

    My best man Gavin helped me to my feet.

    “So, we’d like to conclude the ceremony”, continued Mr. Alderman irritably, “If that’s alright with you, Princess.”

    She stared and her mocha brown hair fell into her face as her head slumped in defeat.

    “Is this what you want?” she asked me.

    “We’ll be fine”, Faith snapped, “no thanks to you. The groom and I are going to have a little chat.” She fiercely grabbed my hand with her claw and steered me towards the back room.

    In a trance, powerless, I fell into step with her, and as I turned back, Aricia was being escorted from the church.

    Her father gratefully nodded to Mr. Alderman who spoke slowly and solemnly, “Family, friends, guests, we have us a small situation that requires a bit of your patience. The ceremony will be postponed momentarily.” To his watch he said, “Security detail, we need a mind wipe, approximately one hundred thirty guests, the groom’s side, and the wedding party.”

    I heard Gavin say, “Weirdest wedding ever.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Wow, Joey, this is totally confusing in the good way. This wedding needs the MiB and some high-powered neuralizers! At first I tried to keep the aliens straight, but then I realized since everyone looked human(-ish) it wasn’t really relevant and just went with the flow. I would not want to be there if the mother-in-law ever came to visit… 🙂

    2. Beebles

      Absolutely crazy. I really fell in with the whole legislative thing – it added something, order to the chaos maybe. Definitely a death or glory alien thing going on with this prompt so far. Nice one.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Fun trip Joseph, my mind’s in a whirl. I’m not sure but I think I’ve been to a similiar bash in East Texas. If only my mind hadn’t been wiped, I could remember better.

  49. Observer Tim

    MARRIAGE MAYHEM

    Those who read my first prompt response last week may remember Rhianna and her friends.

    “… let him speak now or forever hold his peace.”

    The preacher glanced over the congregation and waited the required two seconds while I stared down at Rhianna in her white dress and veil.

    “Then, by the power–“

    BAM! CRUNCH! KA-CHACK!

    I whirled to face the door, now lying off its hinges at the back of the church. Mary raised her rocket launcher and fired.

    “I object; the bride is out of her head.”

    With a colossal roar the bride’s head exploded, spraying fragments of skull in every direction. The minister and I were thrown back and someone in the congregation screamed.

    MARY! WHAT THE F–K?!?

    “What the f–k yourself, John? When did you start shacking up with this b-tch, an hour after I left? You didn’t notice that she was a f–king supernatural monster? Or were you too busy f–cking the supernatural monster to notice?”

    “What are you talking about, Mary? You just blew her head off with a f–king rocket!”

    “Did it slow her down, John?”

    While Mary was reloding I turned. Rhianna, my bride-to-be, was shaking herself and growing a new head. I watched as the night-black hair, dark eyes and ruby lips I’d fallen hopelessly in love with returned, the only sign of her recent decapitation being a red fringe around the top of her dress.

    “My God, Rhianna, you’re a vampire!”

    She sneered at me with venom in her eyes. “I am not a vampire, you overfunded piece of meat! Like many reptilians, I regenerate. The only thing I want to suck dry is your bank account!”

    I laughed out loud and pointed at Mary.

    “Then you should be marrying her! She got everything in the divorce!”

    Mary fired another rocket up the center aisle, blowing the altar to marble shards. Rhianna pushed me lightly toward it.

    “For once, Johnathan, I will take your advice. Nasser! Osiris! Finish him!”

    She stalked up the aisle as two huge crocodiles emerged from the nursery. Several smaller crocs followed them and lunged at the congregation. They panicked and filled the aisles, yet somehow Rhianna slithered through them like a reptile through still water.

    Mary’s voice rose above the clamour.

    “Get out of my way! I can’t get a clear shot!”

    I looked around for a weapon but there was nothing other than the large altar cross with corpus. I grabbed it and presented it forcefully toward the crocs.

    “The power of Christ compels you!”

    They didn’t find it very compelling.

    Finally I had to use it as a bludgeon, swinging it hard and calling out “Sorry, Jesus!” with each strike. But the damn crocs were fast for big dumb reptiles and I only got in a couple of glancing blows. It did keep them occupied while the church emptied, though.

    Finally the crocodiles backed off and I looked around. The only ones present were Me, Rhianna, Mary the crocs, and a half-dozen bloodied corpses. Mary stood there slack-jawed, Rhianna’s arm around her waist.

    Rhianna’s sultry voice carried up the aisle.

    “Thanks for the tip, John. Don’t come after us or I will have you eaten.”

    Then she and Mary turned and walked out; as they left I couldn’t help but think that once again my ex-wife got everything and left me with the bill.

    1. JosephFazzone

      So good! The action and the pace make this story fly by faster than I could scroll. Couldn’t wait to see how it ended, and then the last sentence cracked me up! Hilarious, and awesome! Kick ass, Tim!

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      So many great lines and images here, but a favorite is, I will have you eaten. And, forgive me, but when I read, crocs, I thought of all those shoes I own.

      1. Observer Tim

        I can just picture the wedding guests being attacked and eaten by brightly-coloured rubber shoes. Thanks for that image, Reatha; you made my day!

        🙂 🙂 🙂 nom nom nom 🙂 🙂 🙂

        [ It took several minutes to stop laughing and hit the ‘sumbit’ button ]

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Hey Tim, what’s a ‘sumbit’ button’? This is an amazing piece of work. I keep thinking Mel Brooks when I read it. A superior design of a romp. Well done, you better stay in Canada ’till our election’s over or I might need to borrow the crocs.

          1. regisundertow

            Same here. I also got Police Squad and Airplane!- type visual puns galore. This was a lot of fun to read! 🙂

  50. Dana Cariola

    It was just like the wedding scene from Kill Bill 2. The heartless, controlling bastard that had plagued my life, for years shows up to protest my decision to marry someone else – and not him.

    “Awe, no you don’t!…You don’t get to ruin this for me!…Just who the Hell do you think you are, Henry!” the new bride scolded her ex-lover, as she charged down the isle towards the man.

    “Baby, Don’t do this!.. I love you!… I can change!” he pleaded.
    “How did you find me, Henry!…What part of “Get Lost” don’t you get” she shouted out, as she swatted her ex-lover in the head, with her wedding bouquet.

    The wedding chapel stood in shock as this meek, unassuming woman, they’ve all come to know and love, beat the hell out of intruder. She grabbed the man by the lobe of his ear, and pulled him towards the double-wooden doors. Kicked him in the seat of his pants, pulled the doors shut.

    She adjusted her head-dress and gown, and slowly walked back towards the groom and priest, and threw her wedding guests a quick smile

    She placed a tiny kiss upon her husband’s cheek, and whispered, “Sorry about that!” Then ordered the priest to continue with the ceremony

COMMENT