Things We Lose

In honor of Harry Potter’s birthday (and J.K. Rowling’s), this week’s writing prompt is simply a line from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Do as you please with it—incorporate it into your story, use it as inspiration, turn it on its head, make it into an anagram—anything you’d like.

“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”

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

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110 thoughts on “Things We Lose

  1. Viv Insanis

    Kelly fumbled around her two-bedroom apartment tossing pillows and papers everywhere. She looked on the hook and in her dresser. Her mess of a closet was also found lacking what she so sorely needed at the moment. A look at the clock told her that despite the fact that she set it ahead, she could still be running late, and apparently, ten minutes wasn’t enough time to search the entire house.
    She dumped out her shoes and opened both the washer and dryer. She checked the cabinets and the dishwasher.
    Behind the TV? No.
    On the dining room table? No.
    In the couch, her old recliner? No. No. No.
    Where were they? She ran into the spare room avoiding eye contact with the face of the clock on the wall. They weren’t on her desk or mixed in with her mangled ball of earbuds that she really should have thrown away. Nor did they rest on her bookshelf like she would often find them in this situation. She dashed out of the room, not bothering to close the door. The bathroom, surely, if nowhere else, they would be in the bathroom.
    They were not in the bathroom.
    She let out a groan of frustration and banged her head on her front door. Daring to look at the clock she winced. She liked to be early. Even if she left now, she would not be early. If she left now, she’d be lucky to be on time.
    The fridge! She ran into the kitchen and slammed closed the dishwasher she’d haphazardly left open before. Yanking open the refrigerator door she scanned the contents. Not finding what she was looking for, she violently forced the door closed. Not feeling very hopeful, she pulled open the freezer. They wouldn’t likely be in there. They weren’t.
    Her irritation led her outside. No one would be in her quiet neighborhood at this time so she had no qualms in venting. She took a deep breath preparing to scream when she heard a noise behind her. She spun around expecting a shady character only to come face to face with her next door neighbor.
    His green eyes were bright in contrast to his black hair. The combination of colors always reminded her of a cat. She liked cats. He was wearing running shoes and basketball shorts paired with a light grey tank top.
    He smiled at her the amusement clearly showing on his face as she let the air out of her lungs. She blinked and he held out his hand, “I believe you dropped these yesterday. I saw them on the ground a minute ago and was just about to drop by to give them to you.”
    She didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. In his hands were the very things she had been looking for the entire morning. “Thank you, Nick. Would you believe me if I told you I’ve been looking for these all morning?” A laugh escaped her despite her earlier lack of humor.
    “Oh, I would. They have a way of hiding from us, don’t they?”
    She took her keys from his hand, “Thank you so much. I really do owe you one.”
    His smile widened, “Well if you already owe me one, how about a coffee? Not now, of course, I’d imagine you were looking for those for a reason, but Saturday?”
    Kelly was shocked, but she smiled, “I’d like that.” She looked at her watch, “Crap, I’m late.” She ran up her driveway to her car looking back for a second to say, “I’ll see you Saturday, Nick, and thanks again!”
    Nick smiled as he watched her drive away, “I’ll see you Saturday, Kelly.”

  2. bronwynslate

    It was two years ago that my boyfriend left. One morning, I woke up, walked into the kitchen to make breakfast, and found a note on the table. “Lucy,” I read aloud. “Goodbye. You won’t ever see me again. -Charles.” It was a shock to me, as the day before, Charles and I had been planning a wedding. After the shock faded away, the anger swept in. In my rage, I chucked my engagement ring out the apartment window. I heard a cry of excitement, and I knew that someone was going to be very happy. That made me feel slightly happier, and soon after that the anger faded away. For days after that, I sat in my kitchen, drank coffee, and read old books, wondering why Charles had left. Eventually, I decided that I was being stupid. I ventured back out into the world and drank quality coffee (instead of instant coffee) with my friends. I didn’t tell them that Charles had left, because the topic was still painful for me. But one day, when my friend Alice brought it up, I had to talk about it.
    “How are things going with Charles?” She asked. It had been two months since Charles left, and I was struck temporarily dumb by the question.
    “Um, well,” I said. “Well…” Alice seemed confused by my hesitation.
    “Did he propose?” She said, jumping to conclusions. “Are you… What happened?”
    “Well,” I began. “He did propose.” Alice squealed in excitement. “But a few days after that, he… Uh, he left.”
    “What?!” Alice screamed.
    “Be quiet,” I told her, not wanting to attract attention in the bustling coffee shop.
    “When was this?” Alice asked, keeping quiet.
    “Uh, what is it, Tuesday? Two months ago.” Alice’s mouth fell open. I could tell she was mad, and luckily, at that moment I got a text. I picked up my phone, and checked my text messages. “Sorry, Alice,” I said.
    It was from Charles. “I have to go,” I said to Alice, giving her a hug. I picked up my coffee and walked off, quietly reading the message to myself.
    “Lucy, you probably hate me right now. We’ll still never see each other again, but I felt that I needed to assure you that I’m not dead.” I stopped walking in the middle of the sidewalk, spluttering in disbelief. “He felt he needed to assure me he’s not dead? Aw, man, that idiot.” I sighed, and put my phone in my pocket. “I might as well get something done while I’m here.” I said quietly to myself. I walked around and did a little shopping, eventually heading back to my apartment. There, I picked up my phone again and forwarded the message from Charles to Alice. “This is from Charles. Today.” I texted. Her response came a few minutes later. “You should have left him first!” I laughed, and after that, I told the rest of my friends about Charles. My life started to go smoothly again, and then I jokingly mentioned to my friend Kiersten finding a new boyfriend.
    “Oooh, I know, like, twenty guys I could set you up with,” She said eagerly.
    “I was joking, Kiersten. I’m not looking for a new boyfriend.”
    “Are you sure?” She asked. “You need someone in your life, other than your friends. If you don’t want a boyfriend, you could adopt a child,” She offered.
    I paused. It actually sounded like a good idea. “Do you know any places I can?” I went back to my apartment with several options.
    Two months later, I was in Italy, going to an orphanage to meet a child I wanted to adopt. I walked through the door, and the amount of young children there hurt my heart. The obvious kindness the children showed each other, though, healed that hurt.
    I met with the orphanage matron, and found myself talking to a tiny, two year old girl. She wasn’t Italian, but her parents had died on a trip to Italy with her, so she found herself here. She had soft blond hair, and adorable blue eyes, and her name was Lea. The moment I looked at her, my heart melted.
    A month later, I brought the little girl home with me. I brought her to the coffee shops with me, and introduced Lea to all my friends.
    That was a year and a half ago, and since then, I’ve only grown to love Lea more. She’s four, and she’s already brilliant.
    It’s curious, really. I lost love, and it came back to me in the end, just not quite in the way I’d expected. It seems that things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not alway in the way we expect.

  3. RafTriesToWrite

    Following the previous prompt, here’s what I got.

    “Just tell me.” Mark walked out from the kitchen then sat down on the grey coffee stained couch on the left as he waited patiently for my response. I was very hesitant to tell him, or even tell someone else for that matter, but, I had to tell somebody. So I called him earlier, and told him that I had something to tell him. Mark’s a good friend, he never hesitates to help someone who needs him.

    I looked at the cracks on the ceiling trailing through this room to the kitchen, then at the light bulb illuminating the whole room. The antiqueness of the house reminds me of home, it helped me open up to Mark.

    “Sit down Raf, you can trust me” I looked at his steely gaze, it’s like piercing through my eyes. I’m like a gazelle caught in headlights, but at the same time, it felt like I could trust him. I followed his command and sat next to him, hands on my lap, head bowed down and my eyes closed shut. I was more nervous now than when I was told that I had to deliver an impromptu speech about horses being used in race tracks.

    “I have a crush on this guy that I used to see when I commute to work and when I go home” I blurted out, he looked at me for a moment, then he understood.

    “And?” that sounded so blatant, so plain, like he doesn’t care.

    “I keep dreaming about him now.”

    “But?” He’s making it difficult for me.

    “But I love him too much and I don’t know what to do.” I said laying back, accepting defeat and covering my eyes as I started to weep.


    A few moments later, I heard him take a deep breath.

    “You know, a famous writer once wrote, ‘things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect’. So don’t lose hope” Mark replied, his voice filled with every bit of enthusiasm that he can conjure.

    He places a friendly hand on my thigh, and then gently caresses it. I looked at him. He gave me a weak but genuine smile. A smile that says “it’ll be okay”.

    I didn’t want to bother Mark anymore. I just nodded in response to end the conversation. It wasn’t the kind of help I wanted, but maybe it was the kind that I actually needed.

    But, how could I lose someone if they weren’t even mine in the first place? Would they still come back nevertheless?

    1. Kerry Charlton

      It makes a good story Raf that could split and go in any direction. One little thing you might correct, in paragraph one , the word ‘tell is used five times. You would be better to substitute something in it’s place maybe two or three times. It is a distraction to an otherwise good piece of writing.

      Heep pounding them.out and I’ll keep reading them.

      1. RafTriesToWrite

        Noted Kerry, now that you’ve mentioned it, it does look jarring to read.
        I am eternally grateful for your previous comments and this. Even though I don’t always reply, I always read them, I just wanted you to know that.
        Thank you again.

    2. snuzcook

      Great illustration of two people looking at the same situation from very different perspectives–one will never hear from the other what they want to hear. It is all about faith that there is a destiny to love, isn’t it?–recognizing that attraction can be so strong that it is blinding, and hoping that if a thing is meant to be, it will be; and if it isn’t then it won’t. Nicely arranged to align with the prompt.

  4. Critique

    “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”

    The young man walked onto the stage in the hushed theatre, judging eyes branding holes in his faded t-shirt and jeans.

    Wishing his Mama could be here in person to witness this moment made him want to do her proud.

    Looking around the crowded theatre then at the judges, he took the microphone out of the stand and raised it to his face with hands that shook.

    “Hi there. What’s your name, how old are you, and what are you bringing us?” The pretty judge asked.

    “Ah, my name is Tristan, I’m nineteen and I’ll be singing.” Tristan leaned into the mike.

    “Well good luck Tristan – what will you be singing?” The judge asked.

    “Oh Happy Day by Edwin Hawkins – my mom passed away this year from cancer – it was her favourite song and I want to honor her and make her proud.” Tristan said.

    Complete silence reigned and then the music started.

    Bowing slightly Tristan took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and unbeknownst to the crowd, shot an SOS heavenward.

    To say the judges – and the crowded theatre – were surprised at the powerful raspy vocals that came from Tristan’s mouth would be an understatement.

    Uttering gasps of surprise the four judges looked at each other, eyebrows raised, mouths open, and they sat forward as one listening intently.

    In no time at all people surged to their feet clapping energetically.

    Tristan’s voice soared powerful and true as he leaned into the lyrics, striding confidently back and forth across the stage holding the mike with one hand and the other pointing a finger to the roof.

    Enthralled, the judges one by one were on their feet, swaying, arms raised pumping in time to the beat mouthing the words to Oh Happy Day.

    Immersed in the moment.

    No question Tristan had the crowd in the palm of his hand.

    Alive to the contagious joy of the song they were swept away.

    Incredible – magical moments in time.

    Tyra back stage danced wildly with the stage hands.

    “When Jesus washed, He washed my sins away. Oh happy day.” Tristan sang. “Oh happy day.”

    When the last note faded the place thundered with applause and Tristan bowed low then stood up a small smile lighting his face.

    Everyone cheered when the judges unanimously chose the golden buzzer and the air shimmered with the golden confetti showering down on Tristan as he stood stunned and overjoyed wiping the tears away.

    1. Critique

      (This is what I did: Create a story using these letters for the beginning of each sentence. There will be 22 sentences.)
      “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Oh , that was so inspirating to read
        You hit magic, Critique. You know that Don,,’t you? I felt in the first. Row watchilng Kristian sing his heart out. My wife sang all through highschool and has a beautiful voice when she uses it.
        She told me what is was like receiving compliments. in.her prime.she hit high E above C and favorite song was from Madan.Butterfly. thank you for a wonderful story.

  5. brookesmith

    it’s been a while, sorry guys.

    “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” My older sister consoled me, maybe trying to console herself as well. She patted my shoulder as I sat in a ball on her floor.

    “But, she’s gone.” I said, my voice barely a whisper, “Forever. How can she ever come back?” My grandmother was long and gone, died in her sleep the other night. It was only then that I had finally allowed my ten year old self to cry. She had left me her little glass eagle statue, the one she had treasured her whole life.

    My sister didn’t have an answer to that, so I stood up suddenly, grabbing my purple, smiley face covered bag. I frowned. Those smiley faces did not show my mood at the moment, not at all.

    I walked down the hallway, slinging my backpack over my shoulder, then stormed out the door to where the bus was waiting. As I entered the bus, I found rows and rows of kids staring up at me, with blank faces. I steeled myself as the pointless, “I’m sorry for your loss” was said to me as I walked down the aisle. I flung my backpack into an empty row, then sat myself down next to it.

    I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was James, my school’s known bully. “Hey, Kelsey, heard your grandmother died.”

    I raised my chin. “Yeah. So?”

    “So, how did it happen?”

    “I don’t want to talk about it.”

    “Come on. How did it happen? When? Where?”

    I turned away from him, towards the window. Partly because I didn’t want to talk to him, and partly because I didn’t want him to see the tears building up in my eyes.

    “Stop.” I managed to get out.

    “Why? You sad your grandma’s never coming back?” James spat at me, high fiving his friend.

    Suddenly, a huge eagle swooped by the James opened bus window, the wind from its wings knocking him backwards and off his seat. The eagle flew off, but I could’ve sworn it winked at me. Just like my grandma used to.

    James stared up at me in wonder, and I stared back down at him, fire in my eyes. “Wh-what happened?”

    I thought for a second, before replying with the perfect response.

    “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” I smirked and nestled into my seat, smiling because I knew my grandma wasn’t really gone forever.

    She would always be with me, looking out for me, like she always did.

    1. snuzcook

      Bravo, Grandma! What a delightful tale, brookesmith. I love this magical resolution to your young narrator’s grief. If we look hard enough, even adults can find some magic when we need it most, and this story is a nice reminder.

  6. Jennifer Park

    10. The Memento

    [Follows “9. The Dream”, posted under “Somnia”. You can see a listing of the Darth Barbara saga chapters—all of which are posted under WD prompts—by clicking on my name above.]

    Dean Heller was an old man who looked many years younger than his age, with a dignified streak of dark hair waving across his nearly-bald head.

    Today, he looked inordinately old. “I have some bad news for you, Barbarella.”

    Barbara’s heart sank. Walking in, she had expected to hear about her externship assignment. She had been interning at the Zürich-based Trade Missionary Office, supposedly doing menial work, but her connection to the Fourth Estate had given her some access to restricted materials and confidential communications. She was not on track for any of the glamorous part of diplomatic work, which meant that her externship would be quite boring, on the surface, as well.

    The dean was holding a long-ish box in his hands. He started playing with it in a way that made his hands seem ill-intended. “I know you and Sandi were… close.”

    Barbara frowned. They were, technically, still in a relationship, although Sandi had been dispatched to another octant for her externship. Was she breaking up with her through the dean? Ah, the ways of the rich and powerful…

    “And that it was hard for you when she left.”

    This was true.

    The dean placed the box on the desk, and pushed it toward Barbara. “‘Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.’”

    Barbara picked up the box.

    “Go ahead and open it.”

    The box snapped open, revealing a diamond-solitaire pendant.

    “She passed away… during a riot at our embassy on Ammumumeam. She was assigned the task of…”

    The dean detailed the circumstances of Sandi’s death, and Barbara did not hear a word of it.

    One of the unforeseen consequences of space travel was the demise of an ancient, pancultural custom of funerals, especially the kinds centering around the viewing or handling of dead bodies. Considering the extraordinary expense of transporting a corpse from one end of the galaxy to the other, it was best to leave the dead body where it was, and commemorate the dearly departed in a more abstracted way.

    Going to a burial, of course, was out of the question.

    But, rich families could have the deceased processed into jewels, which could be much more affordably transported back home.

    “And so the family wanted you to have this.”

    Barbara did not know what to say. “Thank you.”

    “That is all.” He was nearly in tears.

    As Barbara left, she thought about the last thing Sandi had said. “I am going to follow the stellar winds, see where they take me.”

    Barbara thought it was a dumb thing to say. So lacking in ambition. Control. This assignment was completely beneath Sandi’s status, and now it had killed her.

    Upon returning to her room, Barbara tried on the pendant. It looked fantastic against the contour of her neck line.

    She took it off.

    She tossed it in the garbage bin.

    She would chart her own destiny.

    [I was going to keep Sandi alive for a while, but the prompt was just too perfect an opportunity to kill her off. She and Barbara have been dating for something like two years, so, no biggie.]

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I enjoyed your story immemsely but I haven’t read all the chapters
      Your style of writing intrigues me, Iihhy breezy and comfortable from the narrator. I like the style, keep up the good work.

  7. jwismann

    He was standing in the cool drizzle on a gloomy Saturday morning attempting a yard sale with two small coffee tables mostly full of old dirty paperbacks. John had lived in the same house on 4th street in the same small Midwestern town since he was born. He was used to being alone. His only friend, his mother, died over a year ago. In fact, it was her paperback collection that John was selling.
    John had one customer when he first brought the tables out in the morning. It was a filthy man carrying on a colorful conversation with himself.

    “Weirdo,” John thought.

    The man grabbed the book without even looking at it and said, “I want this!”

    John thought for a minute about not selling it to him, such blatant disregard for his mother’s property, but he needed the money and, although the quarter would not go far, a few more would buy him a Coca-Cola. John examined the book’s cover. It looked to be about a woman who was rescued from a castle by a muscular blonde fellow who was having trouble keeping his long hair out of his eyes. His mother loved the books with this guy on the cover.

    “What is this creep going to do with mother’s book?” John thought as he took the quarter and made the exchange.

    “Uh,” grunted the man hobbling up the street.

    John breathed a sigh of relief when the man turned the corner. He was nervous around people like that. It was the spontaneity that got to him. He just grabbed the book, paid a quarter, shoved it into a little sack, and left. Oh, how his mother would have mourned the loss of that book; a favorite of hers John was sure. He almost ran after the man to retrieve it, but stopped and looked down at the stacks of books left on the table. They looked sad and ragged in the grey of the morning and he thought of his mother. John almost always thought of his mother; how he missed her so.

    John climbed into bed after a fruitless day. It was still light out, but John wanted to get up early to begin his sale on Sunday. Maybe Church-goers would stop. Church ladies were suckers for dirty paperbacks; God knows his mother was. John lay back in his bed; his long blonde wig adjusted just right. He snuggled up next to his mother’s rigid corpse and, brushing hair from his face, fell asleep.

    The next morning he rose extra early and went out. He returned with the book he sold yesterday. He could not let the man keep it. It had been his mother’s favorite and she had asked him to get it back in a dream. Besides, he had wanted a Coke. For just a little struggle, he was able to pry both from the hands of his formerly self-conversing victim.

    “He was a creep anyway,” thought John as he sipped his Coca-Cola.

    1. snuzcook

      I’ll never be able to go to another garage sale without thinking of this story, jwismann. You’ve drawn upon some wonderfully familiar creepy images, and then brought it round to a satisfying ending. Nice unexpected response to the prompt.

  8. cosi van tutte

    Asree sat on the hill where she had first met Lord Deama.

    He was a Lord and she was just a serf. There was nowhere for such a relationship to go. She knew this.

    She had known it all along. But she loved him.

    And he loved her.

    Oh, he was cruel and capable of great cruelty. He had killed many.

    He had hurt her.

    “But I love him.”

    And he will never return. He is lost to the Forgetting Planet and he has forgotten me.

    Asree’s cat-like eyes dimmed with sorrow.

    “But things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end.”

    That’s what they say.

    What they always say.

    “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us.”

    He will not come back to me. How could he when he doesn’t even remember me? He doesn’t remember us.

    Every sweet moment we shared.

    Every touch.

    Every soft and loving word.

    He has forgotten it all.

    “But the things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end.”

    Her ears twitched at the sound of approaching footsteps.

    A man’s voice continued the line, “If not always in the way we may expect.”

    She startled and rose to her feet.

    Lord Deama stood behind her.

    But he was not like her.

    He did not look like her.

    He looked weak.

    He looked human.

    He looked like Jack Jilhouse.

    “I don’t understand.” Asree said.

    “I’m here.” He touched the soft black and gray stripes on her face. “I’ve come to reclaim my fiefdom from Lord Eina and his simpery serf, Zahn. Will you help me, Asree?”

    She took his hands into her own hands.

    Her long fingers.

    His shorter fingers.

    Her eight fingers.

    His ten fingers.

    Her gray furred hands.

    His bare skin.

    Yet, she knew.

    She looked at him and she could see the traces of the cruel and arrogant Lord she’d fallen in love with. “My Lord. I am always on your side. Always.”

    He smiled. “Good. Let’s take that Eina sop down.”

    “Yes, my Lord.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Misfits from another era. Your description of both main characters is perfect and your story teaches that nothing ever says the same. What amazed me about your story was that she accepted him in the end and her life is going to get wors as time lapses. Using the pstt time of Lord’s and serfs is clever and realistic.

    1. snuzcook

      I remember these characters, Cosi. Such a romantic and poetic aura, at the same time the sense of her making a dangerous choice, romance-wise, is powerfully communicated. I want to believe he is redeemable, for her sake, but there’s nothing to give me confidence; I can only wait for the next chapter and hope for the best.

  9. chandra_wd_writer

    I originally wrote this for a writing prompt in a creative writing course that I took recently. I have modified it a little bit here to use for this prompt. Hope you like the story.

    When I woke up from the coma, not instantly knowing that I was waking up from a coma, the first thing I saw was the picture of my wife and me. On the wall in front of me.

    The memories came rushing in, overwhelming my long dormant brain. I remembered my wife and I returning from the photo shoot where that picture was taken. A maternity photo shoot for my wife. We were expecting a baby girl in two weeks. I was in the driver’s seat of our new minivan. We were debating between the two names my wife had shortlisted for our daughter.

    But that’s all I could remember. We should have been in a major accident. Did my wife survive? Did our daughter survive?

    But how long had it been? The faded paint on the wall wasn’t a good sign. We painted the walls of this bedroom to welcome our daughter. A bright pink that now looked more of a white than pink. Or maybe I became color blind. No, I could still see the lush green garden in that photo, and the rows of red and yellow tulips in the background. My wife was standing on a concrete bench, and I was on my knees, kissing our daughter, safely hiding in the warmth of her mother’s womb.

    There weren’t any signs of a toddler in the room. No toys. No crib. No diapers. No new-baby smell. If I could still smell, all I smelled was a hospital room. I tried shouting, but I couldn’t.

    Then I remembered telling this to my wife before the photo shoot: If I would ever see a more beautiful woman on this planet, it would be our daughter because she would look like you.

    If my wife hadn’t survived, who hung that picture on the wall?

    Then my eyes fell on something familiar on the wall to my left. Something that made me wish to go back into the coma again.

    A pair of infant shoes that we bought for the photo shoot. White, fluffy shoes for the tiny feet. I remembered holding them in my hand for another picture that day. The same shoes were hanging on the wall with their laces neatly tied to two nails, forming an “x” on the wall. As I zoomed in further, I saw a few dark stains on the sides of those shoes. It took me a moment to realize the stains were from dried blood. A few inches below these shoes was a poster with a handwritten quotation.

    “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”
    – J. K. Rowling

    I never heard of J. K. Rowling, but that was least of my worries.

    If my wife had survived, why would she do such a thing? Maybe it was my mother who kept them there, praying I would wake up one day, hoping those tiny shoes will be a thing I would want to cherish for the rest of my life, thinking I would see in them a daughter whom I could never see.

    Then I looked through the open window on my right, expecting to see the usual sight of our neighbor’s garden and the driveway. Tom was my colleague and a best friend. We bought our houses and cars at the same time, and we moved into this calm neighborhood, hoping to raise our families and grow old together. Tom purchased a used Honda Accord, and I a brand new Honda Odyssey.

    But what I saw now was a minivan in Tom’s driveway. I couldn’t recognize its make and model.

    Then I saw a man emerge out of the driver’s side. He had a lot of gray hair and wore a white polo. Tom had no gray hair from what I remembered of him if I could trust my overwhelmed brain. But I was sure it was Tom.

    Then the realization that I was probably in the coma for years had struck me with a shock that would have sent me back into the coma, if not for what I saw next.

    I saw two young girls emerge out of the car. One looked scarily familiar as if I had seen her before. Then I realized she was a more youthful and modern version of my wife, undoubtedly similar to how my wife had looked in her teens. The same long neck, short but a perfect nose slightly bent to the right, and the same perfect teeth with small lips and a beautiful smile. And then those curly hair!

    It was probably two hours, or may be less, I wasn’t sure as the wait was agonizing with every passing moment before I saw my daughter enter the room.

    “Catherine,” I said. The words came out on their own accord, without a command from my brain. I knew my wife would have named her Catherine.

    1. snuzcook

      I very much like the way that you unfolded this story, Chandra, walking us through the way your narrator makes sense out of the clues to his situation. It is written with great attention to detail. I think the final paragraph is wll done.

  10. BarlowTheSeeker

    Note: I guess that’s how a lot of these start out, but I really had a different idea where I was going, then I went a completely different direction. I was going fiction, but ended up non-fiction. It’s not good, but it’s therapeutic and a first attempt after a long, long, long. . . .long writer’s block.


    Who would have thought that after a year I would find myself again. I was at the edge. Couldn’t focus, couldn’t keep myself on track. It truly is amazing what time can do to heal wounds.
    “Everything will get better, just give it time” they said. I didn’t want to listen, but I kept chugging along hoping all the pieces would fall into place neatly – and quickly.
    Getting out of a toxic relationship was enough, but to try to throw myself into another one almost immediately – well, let’s just say I wasn’t thinking clearly. It’s unbelievable that not long ago I couldn’t control my emotions, but now I’m able finish a day without crippling depression.
    Those people brought out the worst in me and as they say: hindsight is twenty twenty. What was I thinking? Now here I am, sitting in a coffee shop feeling content – not happy, but content. That’s the first step, I suppose.
    The second step still eludes me. I’m not certain what the future holds. Nobody is and nobody ever will be.
    I go to work every day and try to find meaning in life where I can. Those relationships seem so trivial now. Isn’t that funny? I lost my grandmother this year and almost lost my mother as well. I’m so close to being alone. That should be terrifying, but I think I’m ready for those challenges when they may come.
    I can’t even begin to explain how I got myself back but I guess I owe it all to father time after all. It took me awhile to get words down about anything, but what finally gave me the final push was the air conditioning in my office. It decided it would stop working on a 90 degree day, so I said I’d sit down at Starbucks and write for a bit because the air here is like a wonderful icy oasis in the middle of a humid sweatbox of a city.
    This is my first attempt and trying to do, well, anything in awhile and while it’s not my best work or where I thought it was going to go, I’m glad I got something down. I’m going to try to write more and maybe that will help. I think I found myself again.

    1. jhowe

      Well, Barlow, this is a great debut. I think you have reached a positive place, not yet ideal, but as you say, content. I look forward to future stories. You write well and I bet you can spin a mean yarn.

    2. snuzcook

      I am a great believer in finding intent behind serendipity. Or is it just that I never want to be accused of looking a gift horse in the mouth? The important thing is that you are writing. The pump has been primed; the Tin Man’s joints still work. This is a great site to rediscover your writing ‘muscle memory.’ I look forward to your future posts.

  11. jhowe

    I can’t remember if I’ve submitted this one before or not. I’m pressed for time this week and went through my story file to try to find something appropriate.

    Lost Sobriety

    The sparkling water, pomegranate flavored, did little to calm me as the label suggested. I needed something sturdier, like tequila with salt and lime. I took the coin from my pocket and recited the eighth step. I thought of Delilah, her taut limbs, breath of fresh mint, her endless nagging. I’d harmed her, I knew that, but she shouldn’t have complained so much about the drinking. I was working on it, after all. If she’d not broken the sloe gin bottle in a fit of rage, maybe it would’ve been different. Driving her away was one of my greatest regrets.

    Mary, though… Mary was a mess. Her unwashed hair shone, like honey dripping from a rabid dog. Hell, she needed AA more than I did, but like me, she was stubborn. We attended a couple of meetings, but we didn’t take it seriously. We flitted from bar to bar after the meetings, drinking generic brand vodka like it was orange juice. I’d harmed her, that was true, but most of her harm was self-inflicted. I often wondered if she was still alive.

    And then there was Bethany. Sweet Bethany, with candy apple lips and an ass that could stop traffic on the 34th Street Bridge during the Saint Paddy’s Day parade. I think I harmed her more than anyone. She believed in me and I blew it. A recovered drunk herself, she, more than anyone, knew what I was going through. It was my goading that caused her to binge on Jack Daniels and Coke after the parade. It was supposed to be just one or two drinks, to celebrate, and then back on the wagon. I should have called for an ambulance sooner, but I was too damn drunk to operate my phone. I remember the next day, waking up with a head full of gravel and crying all the way to the liquor store.

    My mother, though… that one really hurt. She came to my apartment a week after the argument and told me she’d forgiven me, her eyes both still discolored and slightly swollen. She blamed herself. Like it was her that forced three quarters of a bottle of Captain Morgan down my throat.

    I slipped the coin in my pocket and stepped inside. When it was my turn, I stood. “My name is Garret, and I’m an alcoholic.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Gut wrenching
      I had an uncle the family tried to save but he fell in a gutter in Philadelphia and bled to death with no one caring. My own.fathet was functional but drank a case of bourbon each month. Never before five. It is a horrible disease that some don’t realize. Your story is perfect example of what happens to drunks.A horrible loss of human beings.

    2. snuzcook

      Powerful piece, jhowe. Reading it, I am struck that owning responsibility for harm one has caused others is a very tricky thing, and it takes courage not to use it as an excuse to run away from reality. I’m glad you have given your narrator that courage.

    3. Pete

      Yeah, this gave me chills the whole way down. I liked the format here, the trail of damage all the way down to what is hopefully redemtion. Great details, great writing!

  12. Pete

    The town loved to talk about her. They said she was on drugs. Off her rocker. That she’d lost her mind when Pop died. I knew better than that. Mom just liked to stare at things longer than most people did. Be it a colorful billboard or the or the way the trees wiggled in the wind. The passing clouds. An oily rainbow leaking from a dumpster.

    Most days I’d come home from school and find her flat on her back staring at the clouds. Some days I’d walk right past her up to our apartment to start dinner, other days she’d call me over so that I could see the cloud she thought looked like a dragon.

    Then I got in trouble for fighting. Again. I shouldn’t have to tell you I was fighting because of her. Russ Hendricks had said that my mom was crazier than a road lizard and so I told him how his Mom skips a meal Hardeez stock prices drop. Next thing we were going at it. I got two good licks in before I was jerked backwards and the next thing you know I was watching Mr. Reams work the phone and stuttering and fixing his hair as Mom came busting into the lobby.

    She had chalk on her shirt and her hair was pulled back and her eyes had that noon time fire in them and I just knew it was all true what they said.

    “Mrs. Penny, um, I’m sorry that I…”

    Well, it would have been funny, watching our usually buttoned up principal stutter and stammer. But I was more worried about my mom. We were three months late on the rent and she was supposed to be working the tables at Country Kitchen. Now here she was, wearing an apron sure enough, covered in chalk dust and charcoal.

    “Oh, is Lenny making trouble?”

    Yeah, Lenny Penny. This wasn’t my first fight, either.
    Mr. Reams shook his head, as though he hadn’t really considered the notion. “Well, uh, no..uh, not exactly…”
    Then he sat up straight, abruptly gestured to the seat beside mine. Mom sat, stared, and he leaned forward, his chin in his hand like he’d forgotten how much a smile weighed.

    Mom wiped back her curls, eyes drifting around the room before she found me. I wasn’t worried, hadn’t been at least, Mom wasn’t one to get upset about school. Unlike Miss Hendricks back there in the lobby, huffing and puffing and smacking old Russ better than I could have ever hoped to do myself.

    Mom and Reams spent the better part of an hour talking about art. I might as well have not been in the room as they talked about books, music, art and even poetry. For a man who wore so much brown, the old guy surprised me when he said he’d been to an art museum in Paris.

    My mom never once stared off into space, or maybe she did and Mr. Reams didn’t mind and that made it okay. She pointed to his the paintings on the wall, spoke French words I’d never heard her say. I never knew much about my dad, but I always thought I knew something about my mom. I looked up when she told Mr. Reams that she too had studied art. Photography and drawing and sculptures and stuff while he watched her the way she watched dragon clouds in the sky.

    I didn’t get in trouble that day. Russ Henderson did. And Mom walked out of that school blinking like she’d come out of a long dream. She said something about teaching. About finishing up and finally getting her degree. I guess it just took me getting into that last fight, but I saw my mom get her mind back that day. Although, then again, maybe she’d had it all along.
    Maybe she just needed someone to listen.

    1. Pete

      This is a bit disjointed. I wrote it before work and my five year old woke up before I could polish! Either way, it’s been a while and it’s good to be writing again!

    2. jhowe

      Pete, this is really good. It might need just a few polishing touches but I really enjoyed it. You know, I can see someone with the last name of Penny say, let’s name him Leonard, not even realizing the implications of Lenny Penny.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Pete, it’s a step in a different direction than your usual. But when describing Mom, you took the polite road and defended her actions. I like the way you ended with the reflections of your mom.. It look like a long period of withdraw from life and then suddenly return to living. You have written a very believable woman and the reader is on her side. Nice!

    3. snuzcook

      Love it, Pete. Specially liked:
      “…and he leaned forward, his chin in his hand like he’d forgotten how much a smile weighed.”

      “For a man who wore so much brown, the old guy surprised me when he said he’d been to an art museum in Paris.”

      ” I saw my mom get her mind back that day. Although, then again, maybe she’d had it all along.
      Maybe she just needed someone to listen.”

  13. snuzcook


    I lost an earring once. It was a favorite earring, faux cloissonet in abstract shapes of teal and green and pink. I had few things that I held close just because I liked them, and this particular pair of earrings was one of those.

    I had been undressing in the spare room that I had claimed for myself when our marital separation was looming on the horizon. Separate bedrooms. Within three months it would be separate houses, and shortly after…separate lives.

    In the process of slipping my sweater over my head, my earring caught on the fabric and was flung across the room. The tiny room was a jumble, a spare bed shoved into one corner, open boxes and bags of this and that stacked all around. I got a fleeting impression of the trajectory the earring had taken and heard its tiny impact somewhere among the boxes. I made note of the spot, but the search would have to wait; I had to start dinner for the boy who was tackling his homework at the kitchen table.

    By the time I remembered the earring that night, and did a cursory search, the prospect of unpacking box after box to find it was overwhelming. And I was easily overwhelmed. My life was piling up like boxes of unaddressed issues, bags of…well, emotional baggage, and my energy was being dissipated creating plans of action without a clear idea what the end result should be.

    The divorce was final six months later. Our son went to live with his Dad six months after that, because, my ex explained, he didn’t know if he could maintain a connection to his son if he didn’t live under the same roof. After all, he had a new wife and they lived across town and his life was moving in a different direction. He would never forgive himself, he said, if he lost his identity as Dad.

    At the first of the next month, I vacated the house so he could rent it, and moved into the cozy little mother-in-law apartment downstairs. All those boxes and bags that never were sorted and unpacked went into the garage, along with stacks of photos and board games, boxes of baby clothes, keepsake dishes and heirloom linens. Someday, Son might want them. Or maybe one day, I would have room once again to use them, and people with whom to share them.

    Two years later, my ex and his new wife sold the house and I was evicted. The boxes and bags moved with me to an apartment where they could live safely in a closet, anchoring my existence disconnected from the home where my son’s phantom still played in the yard and climbed the tree that was long cut down to make room for new landscaping.

    Twelve years later, the day came to downsize again, and there was no room anymore for even these anchors. The time had finally come to go through those boxes and bags, and weigh the relevance of what had been tucked away and preserved, unseen, for all those years.

    Much of it was really just junk—Son’s elementary school homework, now 20 years old, store receipts and even junk mail that had been tossed carelessly in with tax returns and bank statements, broken dog collars and cat toys for pets long gone, ticket stubs from performances I didn’t remember attending, brochures from vacation spots long forgotten.

    I had lost a sense of ownership with these things. They stirred a faint resonance, but no longer held an emotional connection. They were flotsam of some other person’s life.

    But then, there was the earring rattling around at the bottom of a bag. The familiar shapes of teal and green and pink drew a golden cord from my palm where I cradled it to my heart, and all the elapsed moments and years realigned themselves into a semblance of continuity.

    I went to my jewelry box, another place where lost and mismatched things were preserved for posterity. Its mate was there still, waiting to be reunited.

    If only this metaphor could ring true for all the other precious elements of my life that had flung apart in those months and years of inattention. It’s possible—the broken halves still exist in the hidden places of my heart, if ever I find the courage to look.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Heart_renching , beautiful prose. Having been through similiar eons ago, the memory dims. My ex mimiced Katherine Hepburn by throwing my gold clubs in a hedge as I left. So I understand. One set of golf clubs, some clothers and one used tooth brush.
      Fifty years later one of my daughters brought a large box to the house. In it was my record collection from fifty years past. I am totally absorbed with your story and it is an amazing trip thru time.

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, Kerry. Sorry to hear about the golf clubs in the hedge, but it made me smile to picture it as a scene out of Philadelphia Story — Kerry Grant?

  14. ShamelessHack

    “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”

    “Wilma! Have you found it yet?”
    “No Fred, I’m still searching. I don’t understand how it’s gone missing.”
    “I really need it Wilma! This burning sensation started at work while I was down in the quarry. Now I feel like I’m carrying a fiery boulder around.”
    “You shouldn’t bring your work home with you Fred. It’s not healthy. Har har!”
    “Be quiet, Barney, and keep searching. It feels like a saber-tooth tiger is biting me in the butt!”
    “Goo goo, da da!”
    “No, Pebbles dear, that looks like it, but you’re holding a tube of ColGranite toothpaste. Keep looking.”
    “Betty, what’s Bam-Bam got in his hand?”
    “It’s a tube of Head-and-Boulders shampoo. Nice try, son, but that’s not it.”
    “Wait a minute, Wilma.”
    “What, Fred?”
    “There’s something stuck way under the couch. I’ll try to reach it. Unhhh! Unhhh!”
    “Fred! Wait! Back out of there! Dino has it! He has it in his mouth! He’s found your tube of Prehistoric-H!”
    “Hold on! I’m stuck under the couch with my butt up in the air!”
    “Someone grab Dino! Dino!”
    “Fred! He’s heading straight toward you!”
    “Slow down, Dino! Slow Down!”
    “Arf arf arf arf arf arf arf…!”

    The moral of the story: “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Oh lordy, how do think this stuff up. Don’t you know a reamer machine works best or better yet a long corkscrew. Really Hack
        You are a pistol about to go off on these prompts. Bam Bam.

    1. snuzcook

      I suspect this was as much fun to write as it was to read. Only the involuntary clenching of glutei kept me from spitting my tea all over my keyboard. Nice one, Shameless!

  15. JosephFazzone

    I have lost my sense of scope, sense the rope pulls me away from the view I was currently succumbing to, and now this blistery wind burns coldly open my skin. I see. I see. A vista, a view, the Paris of hues, as colors dance from blue to bluer, a wintery wonderland filled with splendor, ever peppered with the verdant pine.

    Do Bears have any sense of time?

    My perspective can wait, apparently this Bear senses it’s time to feed, and I’m the prey, lost and unaware of my surroundings. I can’t see a path, a place I can go, there’s no turning back, there’s no escape, there’s no

    I have lost my sense of perspective, lost in a misty mountain peak, tumbling, and rumbling down as shards of ice penetrate my skin, stabbing, until I beg for it to…



    My eyes are wide to a white expanse of space, and open view with nothing to distract or delay, just a mote of possibility, or lack thereof. I sit and stare as the system halts, the operating system powers down, and my mind…reeeeee


    I had a pair of boots once. For the snow, my mother said one day we’d go if we could only find a moment to spare, and the time is gone. And here I sit, in this empty sheet of crisp white serenity. It’s so boring. I yawn, as my jaw cracks. The sound ripples upon the blank ivory, milk in a pond. I cough, and a ripple and a splash.

    “BLUNDERBUST!” I scream.

    Waves upon waves crash upon me, the color seeps in, purples, golds, subtle, bold…through the cacophony of splashes as each wave bashes in brass symbols shattered by sledgehammers. I cry out in pain, not that anything could be heard over the awful din, and then…

    A single note, soft and unabating rolls along into the world of color and sound, of motion and movement, flashes and dashes, people, cars, pets, birds, cloud, sky, and buildings.

    I am standing outside my car, holding my key in my hand. I don’t know how long I was standing here, but now that I am here, staring blankly at my keys, I remember the strange flash in my head. I remember the flips, and chuckle to myself.

    I kept a list this time, distractions. I don’t need to remember why I am outside the store. I pull out my phone, scroll down my notepad to the shopping list. HAH! I shake my fist in celebration to spite my fluttering mind. I need to buy some detergent, ketchup, the girls need new cups, some veggies, and a good protein to scramble together for dinner tonight. Work is about to start, I better get going.

    My sense of scope returns. The dreaming will have to wait for another 14 hours, when I have another moment to pause and lose it.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I thought for a moment your MC might be dying but it may be a drug trip, however I not that familiar. Whatever it is however could be acry for help. Maybe a single father trying to raisewriting probably his children. The colors description is like something.i have never experienced and insm not sure I want. This a powerful story.thst could be thought many directions. I know enjoyed writing it as much as I did reading. Amazing is a one word description.

    2. snuzcook

      What an intriguing intro, JF, and frightening. My imagination explained it as some kind of PTSD episode and the MC was reliving a near-dinner experience with a bear and a snowy mountain slope. It certainly gives me goosebumps because it does tape into the fear one feels when it becomes evidence that one has been ‘absent’ from the moment. Well done.

  16. GrahamLewis

    Something’s Lost But Something’s Gained (Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now”)

    I sat cramped by the open door of a small, single-engine prop plane, circling higher and higher over farmfields and a river, through wisps of white clouds in an otherwise bright blue sky. Call it bucket list or midlife crisis or simple stupidity, but I, queasy at any height, had decided to go skydiving.

    “So how do you feel? Nervous?” I could barely hear the instructor’s voice over the drone of the propeller, but my answer surprised me. “So-so,” I said. I’d expected to be paralyzed with fear, or, worse, sick with it. I felt only quiet anticipation. That’s when Joni’s words popped into my mind, “Something’s lost, but something’s gained/ In living every day.” Today, if all went well, I’d trade in part of my self-image for something better, challenging and overcoming a lifelong tendency to play it safe. I’d gain a sense of accomplishment, maybe even courage.

    We neared the drop-zone, and the instructor motioned me toward the door. No real danger, he said, since he would be clipped to my back and would handle the parachute. Faint reassurance, I thought, as I put one foot on the small platform and moved into the 100-mph wind. We could die together. Still I wasn’t overtly scared, and began to wonder if I ever would be. My wondering stopped when he nudged me over the edge and we were dropping.

    It didn’t feel like dropping, but like flying. A powerful rush of wind and sensation. For the first time in my life I passed through the clouds, from top to bottom, recalling something from a childhood fantasy or a dream. The view after the clouds was all absorbing. I truly forgot I was falling, until the jerk of the parachute’s opening surprised, and I must say, disappointed me.

    The next five minutes of gentle circling down felt like an afterthought, as I tried to process the experience. I couldn’t conquer a fear that hadn’t shown up. I’d polished my self-image a bit since I was now a “skydiver,” but that didn’t seem to matter much. Still, I knew something had been lost and gained, but what?

    Later, more of the song came to mind. “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now/ From up and down and still somehow/ it’s clouds’ illusions I recall/ I really don’t know clouds at all.”

    That was it. I’d taken off with the idea that life is a rational game to be solved, but I came to earth realizing that we live not in logic but in wonder. In drifting through those clouds I found myself lost in their illusion, and that was okay. What matters is how things feel and seem, not how they can be explained.

    I’ve lost the idea that I should, or even can, manage life, and gained the understanding that life is in the living. It’s okay to live with illusion, that’s the magic of it. It’s all we can really ever know.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I enjoyed this and especially the description of the sky dive. I would have done it myself if I had a brain transplant or other kind of vegetable. For a brain. Don’t get me wrong. I admire you for.doing this and still be declared sane. I can not imagine myself flying through clouds and living to tell about it.
      Your description was excellent.

      1. GrahamLewis

        Kerry — it was surprisingly fun and devoid of terror. I’ve been much more frightened on roller-coasters and other carnival rides. I’m not especially a daredevil, though I tend to be leaning that way now in the context of bucket list stuff. I’d rather jump from an airplane than into a swimming pool filled with cold water, I know that.

        Anyway, thanks for the kind words (except the “vegetable-for-brains” part.

    2. snuzcook

      Seeing your comments, I realize now that this is a true story. But on the first read through I found most fascinating the statement “I couldn’t conquer a fear that hadn’t shown up.” I had always thought that skydiving is ‘supposed to be’ about conquering fear, but you have invited your reader to see it differently. I really enjoy the song lyrics you incorporated; they fit perfectly.

    3. Critique

      I enjoyed how you used Joni’s lyrics in expressing your experience. I’ve never considered skydiving – not on my bucket list – but I liked how you described it. Even though it couldn’t be explained (and many things in life can’t) you ‘knew something had been lost and gained’.

  17. Lex Noël

    You’re not here anymore, I’ve lost you.
    And yet
    I find you everywhere.
    In the trees, along the river.
    In your mother’s laugh.
    How can someone be so very lost
    Never to be touched
    Never to be heard
    Never to be seen
    And yet
    Beside me in every moment
    In the sky each time I look up
    In a song each time it plays.
    “I once was lost but now I’m found”
    We sing on sunday morning
    The words ring different to me now.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Oh Lex, I pray this isn’t what it seems to be, a lament to a lost child. It is so touching, especially to me. There is nothing worse that can happen to a mother or father. Especially, I cried over…” And yet, beside me every moment”

      1. Lex Noël

        Hi Kerry, I have lost two cousins in the last two years. Both as dear and close to me as little brothers. It’s been (for lack of an appropriate word) excruciating to watch my my two aunts and uncles walk through the process of grief and shock as they miss their sons. The poem is a mixture of watching their grief and my own. Surely, there is nothing worse in this world than losing a child, whether they be 2 or 21, etc. Thank you for the feedback.

    2. Critique

      A moving tribute Lex. Memories of loved ones who have passed on and how we miss them easily revive the bittersweet pangs of grief and bring tears to flood the eyes.

  18. thejim

    I lost it, it was right here, I had it all along.
    Was it, were I was going, the tune to a song?
    All know is I have forgotten it.
    What’s your name again I can’t recall.
    One second it’s there, then I don’t know at all.
    You remind me of someone I knew way back when.
    So I must apologize, what’s your name again?
    I do remember the first time we met
    It was at a ball game, a rain delay, you were all wet.
    You warmed my heart with a sideways glance.
    I though,t you and me, there was no chance.
    it was a life filled with with good and bad.
    Happy moments and then some sad.
    You were always there, you gave me life.
    I would never have made it without my wife.
    Without you things would have not been the same,
    but once again,I’m sorry, I forgot your name.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Oh how sad weaves the reality of life. Is it supposed to be? I shutter by thinking. This a haunting and visual trip through the demons of the mind and all it’s mystery
      It will stay with me for a long even if I can’t remember who wrote it.thank you the jim

    2. snuzcook

      Ditto what everyone else has said here. I’ll just say that I struggle each day not to be frightened when my mental Rolodex spins out of my control–I see and even taste the word or the name I want, but can’t quite get to it. I can laugh about the lapses in front of my coworkers and my friends, but at what point will they catch on because it is more than just ‘senior moments.”

    3. Critique

      A lovely poem Jim. Having lost my father recently to Alzheimer’s I too fear when the little grey cells lose their recall…
      I laugh it off mostly but it does niggle at the back of my mind… what if?

  19. Kerry Charlton


    You think it’s easy do you? Consider this, running through my neighborhood without a stitch of clothing. Never mind the fact, I took them off all the time. Crying my heart out until I saw my Mother running toward me with a small blanket. The memories are safely forgotten because I was two, well maybe not. And then I was seven in the second grade and my homeroom teacher called, “Mrs. Charlton, I have a hard time understanding your son because he has … ‘Lazy Tongue.’
    First lesson: speech teacher placed two marbles in my mouth and made me pronounce vowels. Thirty seconds later I swallowed one and gagged the other marble up. A note from the speech teacher,
    ‘Mrs. Charlton, please check your sons stool until you find the marble.’ Bless her soul, she didn’t complain. Third speech lesson, I swallowed another. This time the note was shorter. Mother wrote a note back, ‘Miss Dingleberry, stop giving Kerry marbles or you’ll answer to me and the school board.
    Fast forward to the third grade, still doing my tongue exercises every day. A winter white out and my brother had to guide me through the golf course to the other side where our school was. He was born with a navigation system and remembered where all the sand traps were. I remembered breakfast and I walked in front of Bill, fifty yards and vanished in a deep sand trap. Of course he had to pull me out, snow everywhere in my ears and clothes.

    The next year we moved to Washington, D.C. as my father was elevated to deputy rent control director to the country. We lived in a new area called Fairlington, Virginia. Dad drove me to school the first day, and carefully explained how to walk back to our apartment. I left school at the wrong door. All quadplexes were of red brick and identical. Two hours later I trudged the streets having no idea where I was. Sat down on a curb and peeded in my pants.

    ‘Okay,’ I thought. ‘ I might as well rest a bit for I’m going to die here on this stupid curb ‘
    And then my father pulled up to save me.

    Fairlington was built during the war, with two schools and a fire department. And that was it, maybe a gas station where the two lane road split South Fairlington from North Fairlington. When you stepped from our apartment, the forest started two hundred yard away. Thirty yards into the woods and you were in a magic land. In a few weeks, my brother and I spent the night there on a weekend in December. No tent of course. We slept on blankets and old pillows and shivered the night away.

    I got up at dawn, took a walk to relieve myself and made a wrong turn on the way back. I yelled through the trees and my brother came and rescued me. How could two brothers be so different, Bill ran like a deer and I ran like a John Deere. He could always find his way and bless him, Bill found it for me also. And I’m left here and he’s not. It’s not fair, Bill. Don’t think I don’t remember the times you led me through my early life. Rest easy, I have a navigation system with me at all times. However I am the only one that has asked directions that Google hung up on.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        ” Why were you always such a stinker?
        I had no defense for it. I was a nasty stinker

    1. jhowe

      KC, whenever I come to your stories, I always relax and just read it through so effortlessly. It’s a kind of calm that comes over me; I don’t even have to even pay attention. I remember the first time I came to this site years ago, your story was the first I read. You had a name for one of the characters… Miss Busybody or something like that. Miss Dingleberry, though, may be your best one yet.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, old friend. I am so glad you understand the feel. It works for me also, even being the writer. I have lived through so much pain in my life, especially losing Leslie. I never thought it would ever go away and it doesn’t really. But I have survived only because I know now an angel walks with me.

        This web site has been a lifesaver. I have no idea if you know how old I have become. Let’s just say, I’m approaching the age of dirt. Keep up your fine stories and I will punch the keys until , well, who knows

    2. JosephFazzone

      This is very moving for me as I had to take speech therapy through Elementary school as well. No marbles, but a lot of tongue twisting. I still have issues. Great writing as per usual. Just a great visual of the story of Kerry Charlton! Amazing!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Joseph with all the tongue exercise the French girls appreciated it. Na na na na na
        Thanks for the k ind words. I get real tired, my.wife says I mumble and she has no idea what I’m saying. (May be a good thing.

    3. writer_sk

      So great Kerry. Your story was nostalgic had an ease and authenticity that creates a situation in which the reader forgets they’re reading something.

      I loved how MC gets lost after school- that s something I would do. I’ve gotten lost on foot as a kid and adult. No fun!

      I hope you save all your true stories and put them together. I just finished David Sedaris’ Calypso- all true about his family. Your true stories have that same appeal of wanting to know more, even sbou every day stuff.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you so much Writer for the kind words
        I relax when I write about myself. I don’t give a hoot who knows
        .Wife asked, “Did you write about peeing in.your pants? See what I mean? Third grade, I need a break. Stay tuned for some more in the near future.

    4. snuzcook

      Thanks for sharing your brother with us, Kerry. I remember you mentioning him before, and it is wonderful to read your warm and funny recollections.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you snuz, I miss him a lot since he passed away about two years ago, then lost my sister this spring. She was 10 years older than I and I’ve been breathe about her. I know it’s not unusual’re the youngest but no less painful. As I have said before, this web site is a life saver for me

    5. Critique

      As always your writing is a joy to read Kerry. This slice of life from your experience I’m sure could resonate with a lot of us – I know it did with me. My older sister wasn’t keen on having me tag along in our growing up years and I felt abandoned on occasion when she would cleverly disappear… but in retrospect I get why she wanted her freedom 🙂
      I love her dearly even though we fought like cats in our younger years!

  20. Bushkill

    Yes, much loss written herein. Fantastic retelling from the other side of the coin. I like the fact that war and killing has become a burden to even the mightiest of warriors. Great take on the prompt.

  21. B.D. Blanco


    Goliath lay dying. He had been dying for a long time. In truth, he was sick of living.

    “What I would give for a quick clean death to be quit of this life.” With an aching groan, he rose from his bed and called for his Hebrew slave.

    “Come, Reuben. I must dress for battle. We face the children of Israel this day. With any luck,” he laughed, “We’ll be back before supper.”

    “Yes, my lord.” The servant bowed and buckled Goliath’s iron sword.

    Though only one-quarter Nephilim, Goliath was the deadliest of men. All feared him, yet scars testified to his mortality. Today, however, would be a good day. Today, he would champion the entire Philistine army. They would heap praises upon him, and for a time, he would forget the torment in his soul.

    He had grown weary of the blood, the death, the victory, the honors, the glory of it all. He longed for a small cottage among the green hills of Judah, but that dream had died a lifetime ago with Esther. He could still see those emerald eyes that danced behind her saffron veils. They had been young once, he and Esther, and their love was pure, but her father would not have it so. He would not have a Nephilim, an abomination before God, grafted into his bloodline. She was given in marriage to another, and he returned to Philistia where he abandoned the plow and took up the sword.

    He stood before his tent now, gazing upon those same green hills. “This will be my last fight. Tomorrow I will ride into those hills and find a small cottage and maybe a wife, and we will raise goats and maybe children.”

    Approaching the lines, he could hear someone ahead shouting in Hebrew. The army parted before him, and he strode past their ranks. Half-turning, he called over his shoulder, “Does anyone speak this language of sheep? Who can tell me what this runt lamb is bleating?” He understood the Hebrew tongue. He had sallied forth in his youth, armed with clumsy poetry, to win Esther’s heart. He had vowed to, never again, utter that tongue.

    “My lord,” Reuben began. “The lamb says that today the world will know that there is a God in Israel.”

    “And, what God is that, exactly?”

    “The Hebrew God, my lord. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Moses, the destroyer of Egypt, the God of the law, The God who…” He had said too much. He bowed low before his master’s wrath.

    On this day, however, Goliath’s anger was fleeting. “Take heart, Reuben. You have served me faithfully. Bear my shield one final time, and you shall be free before the day is done.”

    “Now, who is this whelp with his ridiculous sling? Does he think me a dog to be stung by stones? I will dispense with him and be quit of this miserable existence this very hour.”

    He glanced at the morning sun and noticed a spot appear in the sky, descending toward him in a peculiar arc. He gasped.

    “I am undone…”

    The stone struck. Goliath toppled to the dust. He heard the crunch of sandals on gravel. He saw the flash of the sword. He felt the bite of the iron blade upon his neck. Before darkness enveloped him, his eyes fell upon a small cottage among distant green hills and a young girl with emerald eyes who waited for him.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      What a trip you took me on with your writing. I don’t use impeccable very often , but it rings true here. I enjoyed hearing the other side for a change. Marvelous response to the prompt this week. I never would have thought but in your hands, marvelous.


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