Writer’s Block

With a book deadline fast approaching and an empty document tormenting you on your laptop, you realize you need a change of scenery to get your work done. You go to the airport and take the next flight out. Your travels take you to the gorgeous country of Ireland. But now you need a place to stay. You find your way to a quaint local bed and breakfast: the perfect place to write. Only problem? The attractive owner of the B&B can’t take their eyes off of you! Is this the beginning of a new romance, or maybe just the material you needed for your book?

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

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206 thoughts on “Writer’s Block

  1. Pseudonym

    As AerLingus’ wheels bumped into a touchdown on the tarmac, I marveled at the surrounding countryside. Surely, we had not landed in a country; rather, we must have landed on a green patchwork quilt under which an Irish giant slumbered.

    I was terrified to disembark the plane without Eoin; my cousin had lived here for years before returning to America. Though I looked the part, I knew that once I was into the heart of the country, I could not pass for a local; my American dialect gave me away every time. It’s a strange thing, being in a place and wanting to belong, but knowing you can’t.

    Hastily, I bundled my belongings into the back of the waiting cab that Eoin had scheduled for me.

    We were about two kilometers out from Dingle when the cab’s right rear wheel went flat. Despite the driver’s discouragement of the idea, I decided to walk the remainder of the way into town. It was only after I lost sight of the cab that the thunderclap rattled the air around me, and the sky opened up on my head.
    When I did finally arrive in town, soggy, cold, and dripping buckets, I found that inn after inn was booked. So I squished forth in my waterlogged sneakers until I came a small inn. It was a little run-down outside, but inside was as cozy as a favorite book.

    I rang the bell hesitantly, and immediately, a cream-colored, well-fed cat appeared. It mewed cheerfully.
    “Oliver? What is it?” A voice asked from a hall behind the counter.
    “Kitty needs another kipper from the?-Oh!…Hello there!”

    A slender, pale fellow with ash-brown wavy hair and brown eyes scrambled to get my things.

    “You’re soaked!’

    “Lil’ bit, ” I said meekly. “Please tell me you have a room.”

    “Sadly, yes,” he said then, “Oh, not sadly because you’re visiting! It’s just– not many visitors, ghost rumors,–I tried to tell them there weren’t…” he trailed off.

    “Well, hopefully the ghost won’t mind sharing a bed, ” I smiled, “besides, I’m a writer. Ghost stories are some of the best.”

    His features (not unattractive) became radiant in his sudden smile.

    “Glad to hear it! I’m Sean.”

    “Allison,” I said, “pleasure to meet you.”

    As he ushered me into my room, I couldn’t help but feel warmer already.

    After my bath, which had chased the chill out of me, Sean had a pot of tea ready and fresh pavlova drizzled with fruit syrup. He eagerly offered me some.
    I accepted gratefully.
    “It’s wonderful; thank you.”

    With a “ching” of a cat bell, Oliver was in my lap, purring like a motorboat.

    “Oliver! Manners!” Sean exclaimed.

    But I had already set my partially-nibbled dish aside and was cuddling this big, furry pillow.
    Sean smiled.

    “You’ll spoil him, you know.”

    “Maybe,” I grinned, “but tell me more about this ghost of yours, if you don’t mind,”

    Sean remembered the stories well, and I forgot my self-consciousness entirely.

      1. Pseudonym

        Thank you for reading! I’ve actually been to Ireland, and so I wanted to write this. The people are lovely, and the food is excellent! Pavlova is a sort of a meringue, and with fresh fruit compote, it’s quite tasty. I appreciate your interest in my story, JodySc!

  2. ReathaThomasOakley

    (Once more, this time typing EVERYTHING in the comment box.)

    Writers Block
    (501 words)

    “Iceland? Why Iceland?” I asked calmly in my best teacher’s voice as I resisted the urge to hurl the phone through the window. For my sins, I thought yet again, for my sins.

    “I’ve been reading about Iceland,” oh, Lord, Marva’s been reading, “weird fairy tales and stuff, and they wear fur, beautiful fur, and, besides, we haven’t done an Iceland book.”

    “We, Marva? We?” I gripped the phone more tightly. “Dear, please remember who actually writes and who fronts. And, about fur, don’t you remember the last time you…”

    “But, in Iceland, fur’s okay.”

    As she droned on about fables and fur, I thought back to when Marva entered my life, when I was sure I’d found the perfect way to make my best-selling author dream come true.

    There I was, retired English teacher, supplementing my pension with You Too Can Write, an Adult Education offering. The previous six-week sessions had been fairly predictable, realtors wanting to spice up listings, folks even older than I who thought their boring lives worthy of publication, stay-at-home moms starting parenting blogs, so I assumed this session would hold no surprises. I hadn’t expected Marva, good looking, well dressed, divorced, stupid.

    For several years, after surreptitiously ordering Fifty Shades of Grey, I’d been writing my own soft porn, SM books, based on obscure folk tales and myths, but didn’t know what to do with them. What publisher would consider something from a widowed mother and grandmother who looked exactly like who she was? Then I’d had an idea. I would find an attractive, younger woman to be my public face.

    When Marva said, during introductions, “I’m taking this class because my Facebook friends all say I write the cutest stories,” and later asked, “Why are cliches bad, I mean everybody uses them?”, I knew I’d found who I needed.

    Now, three best sellers later, I’d foolishly mentioned writer’s block. Marva needed a new book. She missed the launch parties, People magazine reviews, book signings when I, the faithful assistant, stood at her side.

    I did give her credit for never breaking character in public, for maintaining a shy, demure facade, for claiming a fantasy life she was too conservative to act on, for being rather like me if we were honest. But, in private, Marva could make me nuts. I had to do something.

    “Marva,” I finally interrupted, “Google Iceland again, check out winters and volcanoes…yes, volcanoes.” I hoped her silence meant she was thinking, as I’d certainly been.

    “Now, dear, don’t be upset, you’ve given me an idea. Let’s forget Iceland,” I said, remembering a lovely bed and breakfast I’d seen on the Love After Sixty website, one with a hunky seventyish owner who just might be able to move my writer’s block.

    “Marva, start packing. I’ll make reservations and write press releases. Think of the headlines, Best-selling author headed to Ireland, new, more provocative book expected.”

  3. mbtheory

    I hated the coffee.

    It wasn’t that it was bad, but it was trying too hard. For morning coffee, I wanted something angry and bitter. Instead, there I was, tucked into the tightest corner I could manage, looking at the laptop in front of me.

    As spur-of-the-moment decisions go, Ireland wasn’t technically a bad idea, but it wasn’t doing much to break the inspirational dam I’d managed to build. Fortunately, it wasn’t my idea. Also, it wasn’t my nickel. My agent had pushed the idea on me, said a new pal of his came back raving about the place, especially this one little bed and breakfast. Phenomenal atmosphere, he’d said. Atmosphere doesn’t write books, I’d countered, but he’d pressed the ticket into my hand and half-stuffed me on the plane.

    He was right, it wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t paying much attention. Flagstone walls, check, old farm implements for rustic charm, check, fire-haired farmer’s daughter whose eyes had just the right amount of smolder, check.

    Another cup of hot, piping disappointment gently came to a rest on the table I’d wedged myself behind. I gave it all the attention it deserved (none), and painfully scraped a few words onto the page. The farmer’s daughter with the staggering eyes hadn’t left yet.

    “Mister Ricksley?” she said quietly.

    “Hmm?” I wittily replied while killing off another sentence.

    “I was wondering if you’d like to go for a drive through the countryside with me.”

    I paused, less because of what she’d said and more because of where she’d said it—breathily, into my ear. It was… distracting. And she had to have known it. And I hadn’t been here more than sixteen hours.

    “No, thank you,” I replied.

    “Are you sure?” I felt hands drift across my shoulders.

    I shrugged, gently, just to get her to move. “Positive.”

    She stepped back. “Why not?” She sounded genuinely confused.

    “I haven’t been here a day. You run a popular stayover for travelers. And I’m not nearly handsome enough to catch your eye.” I raised an eyebrow, risked a glance. Just what I was afraid of—she was stunning. “Don’t know what the angle is, but it’s not sitting right.”

    A minute passed. Two. She still hadn’t moved. Finally she heaved a sigh. “Okay,” she said, less breathily. “But you won’t believe me. I need help. I owe something. To a… a monster. It lives on top of Carrauntoohil. Everyone here knows, so I hoped I could get an outsider for an escort.”

    I pondered it a moment. “Terrible monster?”

    “The worst. Teeth like knives, claws like bedposts.”

    She seemed to shrink on herself while I thought. Finally I stood up. “Okay,” I said, moving to the door. “Got a car?”

    She stared at me incredulously. “Wait,” she said. “You won’t get up for sex, but you will get up for the monster?”

    I stopped next to the door, “Of course,” I said. “You were finally honest about what you wanted.”

  4. Pete

    Writing came easy, before the editors came along. Now they haunt me to the letter. I try to write handcuffed, knowing they’ll find fault with work. Good stuff means I’m overdoing it, spare stuff is boring. Too many words and I’m showing off. So now I’m left with nothing.

    I close my laptop. This isn’t working. My little office. My old town. What was I thinking? That I could come home and live here? Before I wrote in phone booths. I wrote on the bus, I wrote on the train and I wrote in bathrooms. Now I’m a real writer. With an office. So how come it feels like a prison cell?

    I get outside and look to the real world for inspiration. The real world is too bright. I head to Brody’s down the block. Wood paneling. Sticky surfaces. HI-FI no WI-FI. Now we’re cracking. It’s 2:20, I grab a Guinness. Coffee time, I take a booth in the back.

    Something’s different though. The windows. The smells. Not my writing. It’s still shit.

    I slam the laptop shut. My book has hit a wall. The door opens with a whine. Daylight floods into the bar. I stand up and, holy shit.

    “Sean?”

    Ryan Morgan, Brody’s little girl all grown up and—she crashes in to me for a hug—strong.

    “How are you?” I ask, looking her over and wondering just how in the hell Brody’s barfly toddler became, this.

    “I’m good, she says,” wiping back a stay bang. Short hair, boy’s name, yet, remarkably female. She gives me a shove. “Congrats on the book deal, Dad keeps me up to date on all the old trouble makers.”

    “Yeah, well…” Writer. I haven’t written a thing in a week.

    Brody rushes out and puts another pint in my hand. The last time I saw Ryan I was leaving for school, she was twelve or thirteen, legs mangled with scrapes and bruises. Braces. Girls used to call her bar wench until the boys couldn’t stop staring. Now, she’s maybe 25, last I heard she’d married that piece of shit Tate Gringley. A motherless girl from day one, Brody gives her a bear hug.

    “She’s taking over the bar.”

    “Really?”

    Ryan shrugs, gives me a most sarcastic, cheery smile. “It’s what I know best.”

    But it makes sense. She’d grown up in here, cracked more than a few guys in the jaw when they’re hands had roamed too far. There is no doubt in my mind that she could kick my ass.

    We catch up for a while until some regulars arrive. They ask about the terrace outside and Ryan explains that she’s “expanding the menu.” I take a seat as Bob Marley shakes the cobwebs from the speakers. No one says a word. I look up and see Ryan over bobbing her head. This is not your father’s Irish pub.

    Suddenly I’m energized. I switch to water, otherwise known as Miller Lite at Brody’s, but the words come, they come crashing down on me and I get a week’s worth of stuff in, enough to give to my agent to let her know I’m working.

    I take to my new office. Same table, same time. Ryan sits and talks with me in the afternoons, until happy hour. I ask when they got windows and she tells me she cleaned them. She talks about moving to Boston. Her divorce, Tate’s cheating, the blah blah blah. She apologizes, then hops up and tends to the bar.

    A year later. My book signing. Another first at Brody’s. The wood paneling gone. Gutted to the brick. Open mic nights, acoustic guitars. The regulars shake their heads but love it all the same. Bob blares over the speakers. Ryan sits across from me, eyes glittering. I slide her a copy of my book.

    She opens it and her mouth falls open. At the bar, Brody gives me a thumbs up. Ryan smiles, shakes her head with a giggle.

    “No.”

    “I’ll do it again. I’ll keep writing books just so that I can propose.

    “I’ll keep saying no.”

    I shrug. Sip my Guinness.

    It’s good to be home.

  5. Paint on Parchment

    I’m currently sitting in a field in Ireland, surrounded by cows whose sole purpose is to provide milk. These cows won’t be murdered like the ones that my family keeps behind our shack in India to hack into leather for the shoe business. If we were in a higher caste — anything but dalits — we wouldn’t need to slaughter holy animals to make a living. And that’s why I need to be a writer. To escape.

    But I had to flee India, albeit temporarily, for those murdered cows to stop haunting my pencil and allow me to write something worthwhile. And Ireland was the most bovine land that any plane was going last night. These particular cows belong to Patricia O’Sullivan’s Bed ’n’ Breakfast. One of them ambles up to me and prods my knee gently. “Hello, madame,” I whisper to it. “Perhaps you will be an inspiration.”

    “Look, I don’t know if you’re talking ‘bout me or Sunshine here, but neither of us wants to inspire you.”

    My head jerks behind me. The woman who spoke is small, young, and grubby, wearing a loose apron stained with milk and grass and what’s most likely cow dung. I scramble up and dust my pants off hastily. “Hello, rude woman. How do you know what your cow wishes?”

    She sticks her tongue into her cheek and plants her hands on her waist. “Well, rude man, Sunshine is bursting with milk right now, and I’ve known her long enough to know that if you don’t get out of my way right now, she’ll be milk-pissing on that nice shirt of yours.”

    I edge a few centimeters closer to the cow. “Allow me to milk her, then.”

    She snorts. “An inexperienced chap like you? Let me guess. You’re Indian but you grew up in some Western city, maybe London, maybe San Francisco, and you want the Irish experience but—”

    As I’m about to protest, Sunshine releases an urgent moo. “Give me that,” I say, snatching the milk bucket from the woman and plopping it onto the grass.

    I reach underneath the cow and begin to knead her udder. A stream of milk patters against the bottom of the bucket.

    The woman leans back against another cow. It nuzzles her shoulder. “Not bad.”

    “I’ve always lived in India, by the way,” I grumble, still mostly concentrating on the cow and reveling in the purity of its milk.

    “I’m Margaret. Margaret O’Sullivan.” She squats beside me. “Meeting you is much nicer than I originally expected. You have no idea how many city chaps saunter into my mam’s B ’n’ B hoping to commune with leprechauns, and I assumed that you were looking for the Grand Tree-Cactus-Flower Fairy of the Magical Irish BedandBreakfastland, or something like that. Sorry for the hostile greeting.”

    I remove my hands from the cow’s udder and turn to face her. “I understand, but this exchange is of no importance to me. What is important is that I finish my manuscript. And Sunshine was about to inspire me when you told me that she wouldn’t deign to do that.”

    She crosses her arms. “Well, maybe she’s changed her mind. You’ve shown that you know what an udder is, so you can’t be completely clueless. And maybe I’ve changed my mind about inspiring you, too.”

    “You as my inspiration? You think you can compete with the holiness of a cow?” I pat Sunshine on the neck, and the cow stares at Margaret in what I’ll assume is agreement.

    Margaret smiles. “I think so, yeah. I’m liking you now. If you’re from India and know this much about cows, then you’re likely not a high-caste pompous twit. I prefer the low castes. Better people.”

    My body convulses. Five minutes with me and she recognizes me as a member of a low caste. Am I that obviously pathetic? The shudder shakes my foot, and I knock over the bucket of milk. The white fluid seeps into the grass, but neither Margaret nor I make an attempt to rescue it. Then I register what she’s said. Better people. For the first time, I look directly at her face. Her nose is sharp and rather impish, and her eyes are almost black. But they’re a warm black. Like lava right before it cools into ash.

    My glance flickers from her to Sunshine. And in the moment, I realize that I’m inspired.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Paint!

      I really enjoyed this story, especially the ending. I think Margaret is either some form of Irish fey or she’s an Irish cow goddess come to bless those who care for cows. 😆 But that’s just my interpretation. Either way, this is just a very charming story.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Let me fall in place with the others . Seems like the Irish Lass may represent a lot more than she’s letting onto. Some what kissing a frog that turns into a Prince, only in this case, kissing a scuffy milk maid and having her turn into a princess. I can see a story for children here that would teach them a awful lot. What a charming write you have here.

  6. Ananfal

    Laoch Láidir was his name, and Alainn couldn’t stop herself from blushing every time their eyes met, even accidentally. Their hands brushed once when he handed her a cup of tea, and she couldn’t even hold the cup for five minutes afterwards because her hands were shaking too much. She came here to find inspiration for her next book, and boy did she find it! However, the steamy scenes that came pouring out onto her computer screen were not the type of material her editors were expecting from her! She just couldn’t stop thinking about him…

    “Hello, Alainn. Are you working on something tonight?” The smooth tones of Laoch broke through her thoughts and she blushed again, causing a small chuckle to escape his (perfect) mouth. “I didn’t mean to startle you, but I couldn’t stand to see such a beautiful woman all alone in her thoughts.”

    “Oh… well, thank you…” Alainn smothered a nervous giggle and tucked a strand of cherry blonde hair behind her ear, looking up at him bashfully. “I… can’t seem to write anything right now anyway, so I guess I’m glad you came over. Here, sit down!” She waved her hand at the chair across the table from her, and Laoch sat down gracefully, propping his head up on one hand as he smiled gently at her (her heart skipped a beat).

    “Have you tried writing something about… vampires?” He asked, and startled Alainn out of staring at his (perfect) features. She blushed again (had her previous one even gone away yet?) and stuttered a denial, taking a breath to calm herself, before asking what had made him think about vampires. It wasn’t a common topic at the moment, werewolves were much more popular (at least according to her editors). He waved away her question as just a random thought, and then leaned forward on the table. This obviously brought about another blushing spell, but Alainn managed to wave away her embarrassment enough to listen.

    “I know a place that will really inspire you, Alainn. It’s best when the moon is out though, so do you want me to take you there tonight?” His voice was low and intimate, and Alainn could barely manage to nod in the face of his intense scrutiny. Her voice completely failed her but she continued to nod until his hand reached out and gripped her chin, stopping her unconscious action from continuing. “Good.”

    True to his words, the moon was out in full that night, and Alainn shivered in the cool breeze that blew through the trees in the forest next to the inn. Where was Loach? He said he was going to show her something. “Through the trees here, Alainn. Come and find me…” His voice floated past as though borne on the winds. Helpless to resist, she slowly stepped into the darkness, her legs moving slowly and almost hesitantly.

    “That’s right, Alainn. Come closer… Isn’t the moon beautiful tonight?” She agreed quietly, her voice meek and timid. She was starting to feel scared. “No, don’t feel scared, Alainn, I’m here…” Finally she found him, a pale face glowing in the dark. Without a further thought she ran towards him, causing his face to break out into a fanged smile. Wait, fanged? She tried to stop, but it was too late. He caught her by the wrist and laughed.

    It was the most beautiful thing she had ever heard.

    It was also the last.

    ————————

    Worst ending, I know, but there was nothing else I could write. Ugh.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Ananfal!

      I love the names you’ve chosen for your characters. And I really liked this line: “…but she continued to nod until his hand reached out and gripped her chin, stopping her unconscious action from continuing.” 😆

      As for the ending, I liked it. It fit with the story and it just felt right. From your description of Laoch, he had to be something more than human. And vampire was just about right. 😀

      1. Ananfal

        Thanks so much! I got both of their naes from Google translate, so apologies to any native Irish speakers! Loach’s name means “strong warrior” while Alainn’s full name means “lovely lady”.

        I’m really glad you liked my little short crappy piece. 😛

    2. Beebles

      I liked the idea of the desire making it into the writing and shocking the author. I am not a great officianado on vampire stories so I will bow to cosi on the ending. I do like its juxtaposition.

    3. Observer Tim

      In a piece this short, the mention of the vampire kind of telegraphs the ending, but even so your story is so powerfully and compellingly written I didn’t care. Reading it is like standing at the door waiting for an old friend. Overall the effect is lovely, and I see no problem at all with the ending. Great job, Ananfal!

  7. kittycat4ever

    The country side will give you a creative boost, they said. It will be fun, they said. It will kill the writers block that’s been plaguing you…. I should have just stayed at home. Sure, staring at kids down in the street playing Bball possibly creeped a few of my neighbors out, but it wasn’t like I was able to work with all that noise. In hindsight, it hadn’t been so bad, it had wifi and central air and cooling. I mean, I would think AC would be a given for any respectable place. Apparently not.

    The tiny puddle hopper of a plane they had drop me off here, had thrown my luggage at me, and hollered that he’d be back in fortnight. As a writer, I totally should know what the is, but honestly I have no idea. Did I also mention that its raining? Correction, its pouring.

    Soaking wet, mad as all heck, dragging my luggage behind me I headed off towards what I assume is the quaint little Bed and Breakfast my agent had promised me. Approaching the house I slowed and then came to a stop. “Quaint: attractively unusual or old-fashioned” This is the definition in Webster’s Dictionary, my agent needs to read it more frequently apparently as this looks more like something out of Stephen King’s Rose Red, than an Inn. There wasn’t even a sign. Like if a serial killer had come out of the place waving an axe at me, I won’t be surprised in the least. I could almost see my agent calling it “mood setting” but I’m writing a romance novel!

    So it did really shock me when out steps this stunning half naked man. (Maybe my agent isn’t such a smuck afterall) He give me a once over and waves me over as a crack of thunder booms over head, he like literally materializes next to me. Scoops up my luggage and grabs my hand pulling me along as we make a dash to the cover of the Inn. Standing in the doorway, drenched to skin, I shiver from cold as the temperature drops rapidly as night falls with the pounding rains.

    Looking someone at a loss, the man runs his hand though his auburn hair, “Names Conner O’Dell. Come sit here, I’ll light a fire to warm you.” Leaning over abit to peer behind me, at my bag which is about as wet as I am, he gives me an apologetic look.” Ill try to find some spare clothes too.” Kneeling down near the fireplace it takes him mere moments to have a raging fire roaring.

    “Thanks, I’m… shivers.. I’m Sarah.” Scooting closer to the crackling fire, I wish again for my city apartment. Looking around, it suddenly strikes me that other than the rustling from Conner who ducked into another room, presumably looking for something dry for me to wear. That there isn’t any other sound to be hear over the rain. It’s just us. Mentally, I feel the first ping that something is off.

    When Conner returns with just a pale blue dress, I raise a brow questioning. Flushing, “Sorry, that’s all I have. I wasn’t expecting visitors, much less ones in need of clothing.” Rubbing his arms idly, he gives me a sheepish smile. “You’ll catch cold if you stay in those, its simple but its dry.”

    Nodding dumbly, I stumble into the room he directs me to, strips off my clothes and towels off before pulling on the dress. It fits but barely, the dress was designed for someone with a smaller bosom. I feel somewhat self conscious as I emerge from the room but determined to as the question thats burning in me.

    Conner nods, “It looks good on you. Do you want some coffee, lass? I want some coffee.”

    A smile tugs at my lips from his friend demeanor. “Sure, coffee sounds lovely.” Pausing, I lick my lips, “You said you weren’t expecting visitors, does that mean this isn’t The Scott’s Bed and Breakfast?”

    Looking confused, Conner utter the words that drop one by one like lead in my stomach. “No, it isn’t. I’ve never even heard of them.”

    1. Observer Tim

      I think she may have just found her romance novel; either that or a solid excuse not to write one. <leer>. The description is excellent and the straightforward story perfectly matches the atmosphere. 🙂

  8. Doakley

    Reathathomasoakley speaks.
    Trying to fool this site by submitting my story as my husband, who does poetry, using computer rather than ipad. Still no luck. For those of you who had problems these past few weeks, how were they finally resolved? I haven’t tried rewriting the whole story in the box. That might be next.

    1. Bushkill

      I mentions below but will say here so you don’t have to dig … I often write on the iPad and then mail it to myself and dump it into a word processor in my laptop prior to posting. The I can edit and fine tune before posting. … It’s also a little bigger and easier to read in that format. My $ .02

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks. That’s what I did, twice, when I read your suggestion below, emailed story from iPad to computer to post. Then tried using husband’s login, from computer, and that didn’t work. I’ll contact Brian. I don’t want a dozen copies to post, each a little different.

    2. Pete

      I had problems for a few weeks, then no problems for a few weeks. Now I can’t post again so I have no idea. I’ve tried everything, including the typing in the box to no avail!

      1. Witt.Stanton

        Brian told me that some comment postings were getting stuck in the SPAM filter. Maybe we’re having the same issue. I’d suggest contacting him.

  9. Doakley

    Writers Block
    (501 words)

    “Iceland? Why Iceland?” I asked calmly in my best teacher voice as I resisted the urge to hurl the phone through the window. For my sins, I thought yet again, for my sins.

    “I’ve been reading about Iceland,” Oh, Lord, Marva’d been reading, “lots of weird fairy tales and stuff, and they wear fur, beautiful fur, and besides, we haven’t done an Iceland book.”

    “We, Marva? We?” I gripped the phone more tightly. “Dear, please remember who actually writes and who fronts. And, about fur, don’t you remember the last time you…”

    “But, in Iceland, fur’s okay.”
    As she droned on about fables and fur, I thought back to when Marva entered my life, when I thought I’d found the perfect way to make my dream of becoming a best-selling author come true.

    There I was, retired English teacher, supplementing my pension with You Too Can Write, an Adult Education offering. The previous six-week sessions had been fairly predictable, realtors wanting to spice up listings, folks even older than I who thought their boring lives worthy of publication, stay-at-home moms starting parenting blogs, so I assumed this session would hold no surprises. I hadn’t expected Marva, good looking, well dressed, divorced, stupid.

    For several years, after surreptitiously ordering Fifty Shades of Grey, I’d been writing my own soft porn, SM books, based on obscure folk myths, but didn’t know what to do with them. What publisher would consider something from a widowed mother and grandmother who looked just like who she was? Then I’d had an idea, I would find an attractive, younger woman to be my public face.

    Marva shared a lot in student introductions, including “I’m taking this class because my Facebook friends say I write the cutest stories.” Later, when she said, “Why are clichés so bad, I mean, everybody uses them,” I knew I had who I needed.

    Now, three best sellers later, I’d foolishly mentioned writers block. Marva needed a new book, she missed the launch parties, People magazine reviews, and book signings, when I, the faithful assistant, stood at her side.

    I did give her credit for never breaking character in public, for maintaining a shy, demure facade, for claiming a fantasy life she was too conservative to act on, for being rather like me if we were honest. But, in private, Marva could make me nuts. I had to do something.

    “Marva,” I finally interrupted, “Google Iceland again, this time winters and volcanoes, yes, volcanoes.” I hoped her silence meant she was thinking, as I certainly was.

    “But, dear, don’t be upset, you’ve given me an idea. Let’s forget about Iceland and consider Ireland,” I said, remembering a lovely bed and breakfast I’d seen on the Love After Sixty website, a B&B with a hunky seventyish owner who just might be able to move my writers block.

    “Marva, start packing. I’ll make reservations and write press releases. Think of the headlines, Best-selling author headed to Ireland, new, even more provocative book expected.”

  10. agnesjack

    Jane Grantham, the famous mystery novelist, sat in the open-air lounge of the B&B in Doolin, looking out at the field of cows and the water beyond. She adored the western Irish landscape, where cows and sheep would graze so close to the cliffs above the ocean. The cows, with their soft tan and cream faces and sweet, beautiful eyes were especially dear to her. Watching them made her happy in a way that she could never quite explain.

    A year and a half earlier, she had decided to kill off her famous sleuth, Molly Middlemouse, a decision that nearly gave her long-time publisher a stroke. She felt she had lost her creative spark as a writer and wanted to try a different genre.

    “I’m knackered, Michael,” she had said. “After twenty odd years of this, I’m just regurgitating variations on the same plot and re-dressing the same characters. The only part that I’ve managed to keep somewhat interesting is the manner in which the brutal killers do their deeds. Besides, I have an idea for an historical fiction novel about the orphans sent to Australia after World War II. It has practically written itself already in my mind.”

    Of course, it hadn’t written itself at all. All she had was a concept, an outline and piles of research, but whenever she attempted to put it down, it was disastrous. Years of using the same formula in her writing had destroyed her ability to create something new. Imagery and metaphor had deserted her completely.

    So, here she sat watching the peaceful cows and low, lazy clouds that seemed just out of reach, hoping to find some inspiration.

    “May I bring you tea?” the proprietor, Donal, asked. He was handsome in that rugged Irish way, and she felt oddly shy around him.

    “Ah, yes, thanks. Delightful,” she said, much louder than she had intended. “I am a bit peckish.”

    Jane had lost her husband, Lionel, several years earlier. At sixty-three, she couldn’t imagine being with anyone else, but there was something about Donal that brought all those jittery feelings back and she didn’t quite know what to do with them.

    When he brought the tea, he sat down and watched her pour.

    “May I pour you a cup,” she asked, afraid to look him in the eye.

    “Tanks, but no,” he said in his lovely brogue. “I just enjoy watching you. You have a grace about you.” Then he smiled in such a sweet way, she felt heat coming into her face.

    “Oh,” was all she could manage.

    “Ah, I’ve made you uncomfortable. My apologies,” he said. “Sometimes I speak before thinking.” Then he got up, gave her a slight bow and went back inside.

    I’m an idiot, she thought. I came here to find something new, didn’t I?

    She picked up the laptop with the blank screen that she had been staring at for months on end and shut it down.

    If you keep staring at the same closed door, Jane, you’ll miss seeing the one that has opened.

    And with that thought, she went to put the laptop in her room hoping to run into Donal on the way.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      What a difficultly the first step might be
      You have your reader in the MC’s pocket. To start over at 63, no wonder the hesitation. This is one of those small stories that touches your heart. Very well written, you haven’t lost your touch

  11. Witt-Stanton

    As we pull into the drive leading to the inn, we’re greeted by two stone angels crouched alongside a towering archway. Just as we pass under, a bloodcurdling scream echoes through the sleeping valley.

    My literary partner-in-crime is out the door in seconds, undeterred by the speed of the car. I catch a glimpse of Declan in the side mirror, giving me a thumbs up. He shouts something indecipherable and takes off in a staggering run, sliding in the wet grass.

    “It’s barely above freezing,” I mutter, pulling the car to a shuddering stop. I shove the keys into my pocket, flip up my hood, and throw myself into the frigid air after him.

    A blowing rain shoulders against me as I trudge through the Irish greenery, another scream ringing out. We must be close. I smile. My partner is a expert in historical folklore. Paired with me, a renowned mystery novelist, we have the perfect skill set to successfully track down and kill the real-life versions of our fictional monsters.

    Declan’s already clambering up the stone angel, his leather jacket tight across his shoulders and his jeans soaked in rainwater and mud. One of his feet stands precariously balanced on the statue’s wing, the other on the outstretched hand. He’s using the decrepit arch for support, metal groaning under his weight.

    “Give me a hand, D’Vera,” he shouts, fumbling for a handhold. I move to stand underneath the rusting arch, bracing myself against the wobbling metal.

    Declan finds his perch above me on the angel’s shoulders. The rain slows to a shower, and when I look up at him, he smiles. “See, not so bad.” Then the Banshee we’re hunting screams for a third time. I grit my teeth, struggling to keep the arch steady. She’s going to kill, and soon.

    “Can you see anything from up there? She’ll be –” I begin, but my voice chokes when I feel her cold presence, blind terror sweeping through my veins. I slowly raise my head, and there the monster is, a few feet away.

    I try to call out to my partner, but he’s already there, rolling in the grass to break his fall. “The innkeeper,” I whisper, half to myself. “We missed the obvious.”

    He nods, never letting his gaze leave the female apparition, risen from the dead. This time she appears to us in her true form, a beautiful woman, cloaked in dark robes that billow in the mist, her eyes alight with hunger. She takes a step forward, beckoning my partner. And that was her mistake.

    I pull the handgun from the holster on my thigh, dropping to a crouch as my partner takes cover. I cock it, take aim, and fire in one fluid motion. She lunges forwards, her claws extending in the moonlight. The gilded bullet strikes home, centered in the monster’s forehead.

    She lets loose one last scream, echoing into the night as she becomes nothing more than a myth.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Hey, Brian, any ideas about mine not posting? I did send an email, and am still hoping for some version of the story to appear one day. Thanks.

  12. Witt-Stanton

    As we pull into the drive leading to the inn, we’re greeted by two stone angels crouched alongside a towering archway. Just as we pass under, a bloodcurdling scream echoes through the sleeping valley.

    My literary partner-in-crime is out the door in seconds, undeterred by the speed of the car. I catch a glimpse of Declan in the side mirror, giving me a thumbs up. He shouts something indecipherable and takes off in a staggering run, sliding in the wet grass.

    “It’s barely above freezing,” I mutter, using a few choice swear words as I pull the car to a shuddering stop. “What did I do to deserve him?” I shove the keys into my pocket, flip up my hood, and throw myself into the frigid air after him.

    A blowing rain shoulders against me as I trudge through the Irish greenery, another scream ringing out. We must be close. My gut clenches, but I force myself to keep going. This was our job; we hunt evil, setting even the odds stacked against humanity. My partner is a expert in historical folklore. Paired with me, a renowned mystery novelist, we have the perfect skill set to successfully track down and kill the real-life versions of our fictional monsters.

    Declan’s already clambering up the stone angel, his leather jacket tight across his shoulders and his jeans soaked in rainwater and mud. One of his feet stands precariously balanced on the statue’s wing, the other on the outstretched hand. He’s using the decrepit arch for support, metal groaning under his weight.

    “Give me a hand, D’Vera,” he shouts, fumbling for a handhold. I move to stand underneath the rusting arch, bracing myself against the wobbling metal.

    “Better?” I feel the arch shudder as more weight was put on it. “Don’t strain yourself.”

    Declan laughs, an oddly comforting sound. He finds his perch above me on the angel’s shoulders. The rain slows to a gentle shower, and when I look up at him, he smiles. “See, not so bad.” Then the Banshee we’re hunting screams for a third time. I grit my teeth, struggling to keep the arch steady. She was going to kill, and soon.

    “Can you see anything from up there? She’ll be near the –” I begin, but my voice choked when I feel her cold presence, blind terror sweeping through my veins. I slowly raise my head, and there the monster is, a few feet away.

    I try to call out to my partner, but he’s already there, rolling in the grass to break his fall. “The innkeeper,” I whisper, half to myself. “We missed the obvious.”

    He nods, never letting his gaze leave the female apparition, risen from the dead. She appears to us as a beautiful woman, scantily cloaked in dark robes that billow in the mist, her eyes alight with hunger. She takes a step forward, beckoning my partner. And that was her mistake.

    I pulled the handgun from the holster on my thigh, dropping to a crouch as my partner does the same. I cock it, take aim, and fire in one fluid motion. She lunges forwards, her claws extending in the moonlight. The gilded bullet strikes home, centered in the monster’s forehead.

    She lets loose one last scream, echoing into the night as her body dissolves into smoke, collapsing down upon itself. Then she’s gone.

    Holstering the gun, I push myself to my feet. Declan continues to pose, positioning his hands as if they held a gun. He pantomimes shooting the gun, looking vaguely embarrassed. “Bang.”

    I rub a tired hand across my face, scrubbing at the fine layer of stubble on my jaw. “Let’s go, tough guy.”

    Declan rolls his eyes at me, getting to his feet. “I forget my gun once, and this is what I get?” He shakes his head, the smile disappearing. “Hey, man, thanks for having my back.”

    I laugh, clapping a hand on his shoulder. “What are partners are for?”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I’m sure glad your post came through, Witt. It is spectacular, all the descriptive detail, especially of the stone angel. I could see it before me. Then the description of the Banshee is chilling indeed. Also the interaction between the two partners in chasing down real evil is extrodinary. Firing on all 12 on this one. Great job.

  13. Hiba Gardezi

    Writers, I think, are a lot like actors.
    I? I feel like I’ve forgotten how to act.
    I’ve tried! Don’t blame me for not trying.
    I’ve cooked up my pride and eaten it for breakfast. I’ve walked up on stage to act. To let go before other people letting go
    But they all seem better.
    And every time I attempt to summon an expression, to sadden my audience or to cause laughter and to thrill their hearts.
    It.
    Doesn’t.
    Work.
    I put all my focus, all my might into that single tear that does not roll out of my eyes. In to that purely happy smile.
    What formerly wrote itself is stubborn now. And my keyboard will accept no tapping fingers.
    I never tried.
    I never thought.
    I only felt.
    I called writing something that comes from the heart.
    I thought it depended on the richness that organ encases.
    I thought the more you loved, the better you wrote. The more memories you had the more you wrote.
    Now look.
    Nothing.
    Do you see beauty?
    Do my words startle you.
    Do you claw at your head?
    Do you wonder where this is coming from?
    No.
    You don’t.
    Because this is all very mundane.
    And heard before.
    I cannot muster those expressions or those words.
    Every time I open my mouth the man in front of me yells “cut!”
    And gives me an apprehensive look.
    Then I feel dizzy and wonder where that little natural power went.
    I never thought of what to write you know.
    I never tried to write.
    It was my heart instructing my fingers. My fingers brushing keys on the keyboard. And I?
    I’d only stare in amazement at the eloquence of my work.
    It was worth praising.
    Worth loving.
    Worth.
    Reading.
    Where is it now?
    Does anyone know?
    Or did the brown eyed woman steal it.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I found this fascinating to read. So much emotion and where does it get us?. Suppse you do reach the top of your mountain, then where do you search for more? For once making the top, a new struggle starts. How to stay on top. It is easier climbing up, falling back ang climbing up again than it is to walk a level of excellence. A great example would be Ernest Hemingway. When he couldn’t walk the level of excellence, he ended his life. So enjoy the struggle upward.

      1. Hiba Gardezi

        Thank you, Kerry Charlton! It’s so nice of you to read and comment. I value your words very much. Thank you for showing me the bright side 🙂

  14. Parttimer

    The other day I overheard a conversation at Starbucks while enjoying a caramel mocha latte and a sesame croissant. Low fat and gluten free, in that order. I wasn’t able to fully understand what was being said, but I was intrigued enough to mentally record one side of it. Here it is:

    It’s great to hear from you, Stephen.

    Yes, it’s been a while.

    How’s the deadline looking?

    No, seriously. How’s it looking?

    Ireland?

    I know where Ireland is. What’re you doing there?

    Somehow I doubt that, Stephen. Last I heard there were no water buffalo in the UK.

    Yeah, yeah, just tell me you’re working on your book.

    Who’s a babe, the B&B owner?

    I take it Tab’s not there.

    Ok, listen. Humor her and then get the hell out.

    No, none of that. Just get the hell out.

    A pit bull?

    I know what a pit bull is. Just don’t move too fast. They hate fast movements.

    You have to do what?

    The babe told you that? Did you tell her you have grandkids?

    Ok, let me think.

    She named the dog Cujo?

    Ok, we have a bonafide nutcase on our hands.

    What? What could be worse than that?

    The B&B is called The Dark Tower?

    Why in the hell would you stay there?

    Ok, we’ll talk about that later. I think you’re going to have to just do it.

    I know, do some stretching first.

    Ok, call me tomorrow. The editor’s been down my neck.

  15. cosi van tutte

    I dream of blocks. Been dreaming of them for some time now. They start off innocent enough – just baby blocks made out of felt and stuffing.

    Then, they start rolling.

    They become solid.

    They become real.

    They become monsters that want to suck away my soul.

    Large, gluey eyes.

    T-rex fangs.

    Lightning speed.

    I can’t escape them. I can’t even hope.

    But I try.

    I run.

    They roll after me. Thunk-a-thunk-a-thunk: the heavy, hearty sound of doom.

    I wake up just as they’re about to smash me flat.

    *sigh* It’s been this way for too many months.

    My editor and agent call me every day to get my act together. They don’t quite put it that way, but that would be the general gist of it. Get my act together or else.

    But my act is not the problem. It’s all of these characters inside my head. So many characters and they all sound the same – like boring mud puddles melding into an ocean of muddy mud dull.

    Yet, my editor and agent don’t seem to understand. Or maybe they just don’t care.

    I go onto my Divine Writer’s Forum and wail at them about my writer’s block. Ten out of ten forum members tell me that there is no such thing as writer’s block. It doesn’t exist.

    Ha! Tell that to my dreams.

    I go into my sulk corner. It’s where I always go when the world overwhelms with their blatant uncaring.

    I eat a whole bag of Fiery Mama’s barbeque chips and chug down a whole liter of Chimmi Sho’s Excellent Water Pop. No one really knows what’s in that water pop. If I were feeling imaginative, I’d write a wacky story about it. I’m sure there are many possibilities.

    But I really do need to get down to the matter at hand. I can’t ignore it anymore.

    I slosh over to my computer and bring up my document.

    There it is. Black letters on a white screen.

    “Esmerelda had danced her last dance and Death had his final hurrah. But Death didn’t realize that he was…”

    The cursor blinks blandly in the white, open area after “was”.

    I set my fingers on the keys and type.

    “But Death didn’t realize that he was overweight and middle-aged and no one loved him anyway.”

    *unhappy sigh*

    This is why my fellow forumites say that I don’t have writer’s block. “If you can write, you don’t have writer’s block.” Ahh, but they can’t see the horrible pig swill that’s on my screen. If they could see it…If only they could witness the true horror…Well. They would definitely understand.

    I sigh again for dramatic purposes and because the third time has to be the charm. I backspace up to “he was…” Good. All of that rubbish is gone.

    So!

    He was what? Eating noodle soup? On the next train to Jamaica? What?

    I sit.

    And I stare at the screen.

    And I think.

    And I think.

    And I don’t write.

    I think of reasons to give up.

    I think of calling my editor and my agent and begging for more time.

    I don’t think they’ll grant it.

    I think of going outside for a walk.

    Out the door.

    To my car.

    To the nearest gas station. I can’t go anywhere without gas.

    To the nearest train station.

    To the airport.

    To Ireland.

    To home.

    To true, fresh air.

    To vivid, wild green.

    To real life.

    To—

    I smile.

    I have an idea and it makes me smile and I like it!

    No.

    I love it!

    I lean forward and type.

    “But Death didn’t realize that he was dying. Oh, he may have suspected it. But he didn’t know. He only knew that he had to go to Ireland. The green, fresh air would help him. He knew this for certain, even if he were uncertain about what ailed him…”

    I keep typing.

    All day and all night.

    I’ll edit the socks and shoes off of it tomorrow, but not right now. Right now, I’m in the zone with not a single block anywhere in sight.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Great way to describe writers block, which is real no matter who would argue otherwise. I did like sulk corner. I’ve been there since yesterday!

    2. Bushkill

      Ireland’s got a magic of its own. The devil my find himself making a deal … And getting lost in the details. More’s the pity.

      I also like th fractured way you wrote the piece. Short lines as if even simple words couldn’t help against the block. Each line a different angle at getting past it, I suppose. Nicely done.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Sometimes I think this way and then I sleep on it and have the wildest dreams. The dream I had last night was too horrible and diverse to let any one even know about it. I can relate to you. I certainly have a huge sulk corner, enough for six people, that’s how many sulks I have. No one can relate more to the power and ingenuityy you write with. I wish you had a twin so I could read more of you.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a nice take on one manifestation of Writer’s block, Cosi. I know the feeling, when the brain jumps on its dream horse and rides off across the cosmos trying to chase down every idea at once. I’m glad your MC found something to write, eventually. 🙂

  16. E.T. Nell

    A bit more than 500, but here it is

    _____________________________

    The sun had not yet peaked out from beyond the horizon when the rooster crowed his welcome to the dawn, waking Matthieu. It may have been the guilt he felt, fueled by the early morning gloom, but Matthieu thought he heard something mocking in the tone of the farm yard patriarch’s cry.

    Matthieu slowly moved his head to the side to steal one last look at the tavern owner, asleep beside him. Beautiful, witty, charming. Smart. They had stayed up late the night before, discussing Matthieu’s research and drinking the good wine he had carried with him all the way from Marseilles, and when that had finished, the strong Irish whiskey kept high on a shelf in an unassuming clay jug. The coals of the fire in the common room had long since faded to ash when the conversation moved to Matthieu’s room, where it was promptly smothered by tangled bed sheets and ardent whispers.

    Matthieu slowly rose from the bed, doing his best not to rouse his sleeping companion. On a small table in the corner of the room lay piles of paper, quill and ink. The single candle in the room had long since burnt down to a waxy nub, and Matthieu could not remember at what point he, his lover, and their affair was obfuscated by the night. He began gathering the scattered pages of his research, a treatise on the Catholic Churches in Ireland, and its tie to ancient Celtic mythology.

    “Leaving so soon?” The voice was lazy with sleep, but no less charming for its morning haze.

    Matthieu hands paused for only a moment, before he quickly stuffed his work into his bag, no longer concerned with silence.

    “Yes,” he replied. “I have to be in Kildare by sundown. Tomorrow is Sunday, and I was hoping to be at the church for mass. Would you be so kind and ready my horse?”

    Matthieu knew his companion could see through the chill in his voice to the turmoil beneath, but he still felt it necessary to maintain the facade. They both knew just how egregious their actions of the night before were, and how dangerous. It was for their own protection that Matthieu leave as soon as possible, leaving the tavern owner and their affair as far behind him as possible.

    His companion took a long breath and let it out in a slow, teasing manner, as if nothing shameful had transpired between them and Matthieu was just being melodramatic.

    “I will get your horse ready,” his companion said. “Will you be having breakfast here, Father, or will you eat on the road?”

    Matthieu whirled on the tavern owner, his eyes glittering with anger and guilt.

    “Do not call me that,” Matthieu hissed, teeth clenched.

    His companion smiled in a wicked, knowing manner. The light from the still rising sun glinted off white teeth and wiry copper hair that covered the tavern owner’s head and jaw. Green eyes glimmered with mischief beneath a strong, masculine brow, crinkled with barely suppressed mirth.

    Matthieu grabbed the black robes and prayer beads hanging over the chair and dressed quickly before storming out of the room, the sound of Brennan’s laughter echoing down the hallway after him.

    1. Observer Tim

      Ah, the sins of the Fathers – not quite in the intended context of the old quote, but a story that likely rang true more than once over the course of history. I knew something was up with all the explicit pussyfooting around the sex of the Irish beauty, but you snuck in a couple of good surprises. Nicely done! 🙂

    2. Observer Tim

      Ah, the sins of the Father revisited, though not in the manner of the original quote. This is a fascinating and saucy tale, ET, with the added kick that it probably has really happened numerous times over the centuries… 🙂

  17. igonzales81

    I crouched low behind the thick clump of bushes, wondering how I’d gotten myself into this mess.

    It had sounded fine when my agent suggested it, a nice little trip to County Donegal, a cozy room in a quaint B&B, some time to get the creative juices flowing again, maybe even some material for that stalled novel.

    Now I was in mortal danger, fleeing across the salt marshes south of Lough Swilly. Some trip.

    The howl came again, much closer than before, and I realized hiding wasn’t going to work. I broke cover at a dead run, already trembling from exhaustion and fear.

    The day had started great, with breakfast made and brought to my table by a beautiful Irish lass who gave her name as Meghan and kept find reasons to come back to my table. Eventually, she got around to mentioning that she knew who I was and had read my work and had the greatest idea for something that I could put in my next book. Flattered and more than a little curious, I agreed to come with her on a moonlit walk across the flats.

    That turned out to be a mistake.

    No sooner had the moon come up than my lovely guide had vanished. Moments later, as I wandered around calling her name and feeling properly stupid, I heard the first howl. To say that it froze my blood is a lot more than a cliché.

    When I finally spotted the creature that made that chilling noise, I think I peed a little. It wasn’t like any animal I’d ever seen or heard of, something part wolf and, well, part man. All too much man. Okay, so it was a werewolf. And yes, the rational part of my mind said that werewolves aren’t real, and it must have been somebody playing a prank and I should just call the bluff. But that rational part of my mind stayed behind when I saw the blood dripping from its fanged maw and the rest of me took off running.

    Now it was getting closer and closer, so close that I could heard its panting breath. If this was all a joke, it was in really bad taste, but I wasn’t going to sit still and find out. I ran, I ran harder than I’d ever thought I could, until my legs were rubber and my lungs felt like somebody was burning witches in my chest.

    It didn’t do any good.

    Something large struck me, knocked me to the ground. Before I could even start to crawl away, the heavy weight was on top of me, pinning me down. I felt hot wind on the back of my neck, heard the slavering growls, and just hoped that it would be over quickly.

    Then a gunshot rang out, and the furry body atop me was gone. Several more shots rang out, and a moment later I heard soft footsteps.

    Lifting my face out of the mud, I saw Meghan standing over me, a very deadly-looking rifle in her hands. She was grinning, as if things had worked out just the way she wanted. A glance to the side showed me a corpse, a man lying naked on the peat, his chest riddled with bullet holes.

    I think I had all the inspiration I needed.

    1. Observer Tim

      You had me at werewolf, Igonzales; I’m a sucker for a wolf-story well told, and this is well told. I was wondering how Meghan turned into a wolf-man, but the reveal at the end made it all clear. I’m pretty sure he’s got plenty of inspiration, and luckily not expiration. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        “Thank you so much,” Charlie Chan said. “Thank you so much, where is the exit?. Thank you so much, please excuse my peeing my pants, Thank You So Very Much.”

  18. flyaway

    Janet could feel the hair on her body rise each time she caught the B&B owner staring at her. He was an attractive man, there was no denying that, and this was all very flattering, especially after the dip in self-confidence she’d been experiencing since she noticed last week that she’d gained a couple of pounds. Or eight. Really, who keeps track of things like that? This man was staring at her and had no idea that she had a smaller waistline last month.
    But he just wasn’t her type. Janet liked men who seemed a cup of coffee away from suddenly singing “Make ‘Em Laugh”, choreography included. Her ideal man wouldn’t give into social pressure to appear calm and collected, and would instead use his hands to show you that the person in his story was thiiiiiiis wide and thiiiiiiis tall, with crazy curls of hair covering his entiiiiire body. Janet always imagined such a man to have eyes with no secrets, crowned with wrinkles formed by smiling too much.
    This owner, Mr. I-can’t-stop-staring-because-I-clearly-have-no-idea-people-have-eyes-and-can-see-me?
    He was the brooding type – the man you read about in books, who only speaks to confuse you, is always a step ahead and could have a torture chamber in his basement, which authors pretend to not notice and seem to never mention. The skin around his eyes was smooth because his smiles never reach it. For him, smiles were used to charm and win people over. The very particular way he parted his hair, so that it aligned with the middle of his right eye, showed much care and attention to the smallest details. Every sentence he’d ever said was filled with description, to help you imagine his stories without his lifting a finger. He was, in short, not what Janet was looking for.

    She had entered the dandelion-themed breakfast room only four minutes prior, but already she had caught him looking at her at least three times. He was taking guests’ orders for breakfast that day, dressed in a crispy white cotton shirt and maroon pants, which ever so gently hugged his noticeable muscles. One husband was getting annoyed as his flustered wife tried to tell the handsome owner her order. Yet, the owner glanced would glance mostly at the pink-cheeked Janet, sitting in the corner booth next to the ficus plant, trying to hide herself behind her humming laptop.
    Janet fidgeted in her seat, pulling her blue pencil skirt slightly lower till it covered her knees. She really wasn’t sure how to act when he came to her table. It was nice to have caught his attention, but how should she let him know she wasn’t interested? She could already imagine him coming over with a pitcher of water and “accidentally” missing her glass, soaking her skirt instead. He’d act embarrassed, but they’d both end up laughing about the whole situation. She’d insist it was fine and he’d offer to give her a private tour of the Irish countryside (as restitution, of course), where he’d hope to win her love. Or maybe breakfast would be uneventful, with casual eye contact, but at the end, he’d slip her his number and, again, offer the private Irish countryside tour. Either way, she’d needed to let him down gently. She didn’t have a lot of practice with this and was worried that if she did it tactlessly, she could find herself on the receiving end of a scorned Irish man’s anger.
    Aside from Janet, only a quarreling middle-aged couple and a group of giggling older women, who kept waving the owner over, were eating breakfast so early. It didn’t take very long for the owner to free himself from the handsy group of women and make his way towards Janet. She could feel her heart beat a little faster and her discomfort grow as he came near. Pausing at her table, he leaned in very close to her ear, so that only she could hear what he’d say. Her breath caught in her chest as he whispered, “Miss… you forgot to put on a shirt.”

    1. igonzales81

      Oh, that was good. I like how you start of by doing such a good job of putting the reader in your MCs mind. It adds gravity and tension to the tale. The ending was perfect. Seriously did not see that coming, and you delivered it so well.

    2. Observer Tim

      Oh my. You did a great job building this up, Flyaway. I only got suspicious right near the end, and still got a really good chuckle from the story. Poor Janet. 😉

      This is a fine example of why prose will continue to exist for a very long time; the story cannot be reasonably told in any form but text – visuals would blow the surprise, and audio would miss so many of the lovely nuances. Nic job.

        1. chandra_wd_writer

          Totally agree with Tim on this one, and prose, of course 🙂 I really got curious as to know what will happen in the end, but your ending was nowhere near what I was expecting. Great surprise 🙂 Really enjoyed it. Nice job. Sigh. 🙂

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Unfortunately, I broke out in laughter with three people within hearing range i our office, and it’s all your fault. One of the best last lines in a story I’ve ever read. Stroke of “you know”.

  19. Bushkill

    Ah, deadlines … I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.

    Not my words, really, I read them somewhere. I am living them now. Missed the first one, though my editor found it in her heart to forgive me. A slice of humble piety, to be sure, but I’ll take what I can get.

    And dither it away again. Truly maddening.

    Now I have sojourned to a not so out-of-the-way BnB in a local historical district (for context, mind you) to finish my assignment.

    A deadline. Just like high school … except for the overpriced room that I can afford and the alcohol I am old enough to enjoy, but shan’t touch for fear of that whooshing sound again.

    Abstinence will be complicated. I love a finely crafted beer, and there are brewpubs on nearly every corner. Most have the nominal Irish name carved into a wooden shingle swinging above the door. Some, perhaps less reputable and certainly more poorly lit, offer less in the way of customer messaging.

    Ireland was what I wanted. An Irish neighborhood fit the budget. One with history. And a BnB.

    The WiFi was dodgy, so I had to use my phone’s data plan to do research while I soldiered on in my narrative about love lost, love found, a great blue ocean, and eyes of green.

    As it happens, the innkeeper’s daughter is roughly my age, very roughly, I might add, and a vision of the divine if ever there was one. Lying on the bed next to the writing table and watching me, sheets twisted from behaviors that matched, she marveled at the veracity of my typing skills.

    “Your hands moved far slower last night.”

    I cough, shuffling awkwardly in the chair trying to balance the phone on my lap and continue my blistering pace. “Yes, well, different task, different skill set.” It sounded ill said in my ears. Hers as well.

    “Skill set? That’s what I am to ya’?”

    The Irish came flashing through when she was angry. It was evident on the syllables of each phrase. She’d been in the US most her life.

    Not all.

    “You’ve been coming down here for a decade. Always take the same room, me here with ya’, and I am a skill set?”

    A pillow smacks the back of my head and I turn to defend myself. She is kneeling, the sheet sliding away.

    A vision. An angel even, though perhaps not in the classical sense.

    “You inspire me, Shannon.” I set the phone on the writing desk next to the laptop and move to wrestle the pillow from her grasp.

    I slip, sort of, and tumble over her, twisting the sheets still more. She laughs, not the chittery, high octave laugh of a school girl. The laugh of a woman who knows who and where she is, what she wants.

    Her arms close around me, other limbs as well.

    The books write themselves when I visit her. Really, they do.

    1. Observer Tim

      Oh my. You did a great job capturing the world-weariness of the seasoned (read: aged) writer, Bushkill. Between his overaged high-schooling and her imported Irish temper, it’s not a surprise the stories write themselves…

      I especially love “sheets twisted from behaviors that matched” – it’s so wonderfully subtle but leaves no doubt as to what’s meant. Why is there no ‘leer’ emote on this site?

        1. Kerry Charlton

          My mouth is agape from reading this. Why can’t I write this way? Watvch out, I’m heading for my sulk corner. Great piece of work. Proud of ye lad!

          1. Bushkill

            Thanks Kerry. I just got back from a weekend at a BnB with a green eyed goddess, so …

    1. chandra_wd_writer

      Hi Reatha, Did you try to copy paste entire story?

      For the last two prompts, this is what I did: I typed in first three or four lines, and then copy pasted the rest. Also, type something at the end. I am not sure if this did the trick or I was just lucky 🙂

        1. Bushkill

          I always use crrl-A and then ctrl-C to select all and then copy all. Then I come to the site and paste it in using ctrl-V. Never really had any problems with it either.

          1. ReathaThomasOakley

            Thanks. I write and post using my iPad mini, so will try again using computer. This is my first time with a problem copying and pasting, but know others have had them.

  20. Kerry Charlton

    A NEW BEGINNING

    PART TWO

    [PART ONE IS BELOW]

    Brian stood in front of a three hundred and forty year old painting in the great hall of Ross Castle. The townspeople surrounded him with cheers and applause as they saw a new hope that the missing heir had suddenly stepped out of the painting and had come back to claim his destiny. Maureen joined in the cheers and held tightly to Brian’s arm. He felt confused, happy and acutely aware that this Irish lass seemed to have mesmerized him.

    He thought back to the stories his grandfather had told him, handed down by his grandfather‘s, great grandfather who had lived over a hundred years and filled Brian‘s grandfather with legends and stories about the Browne clan of Ireland. ‘Could those legends have been true or is it a quirk of nature that I look exactly like a possible ancestor twelve generations into a storied Irish past?’ Brian thought. .

    There seemed no doubt in the minds of the townspeople and they greeted him as an old friend would. As the excitement settled, out of the crowd, stepped the mayor of the village of Ross,

    “We welcome you Brian .O’Malley as one of our own. If we can prove your lineage, then perhaps you can claim Ross Castle as your own. What are your thought on this?”

    A hush of silence coated the walls of the room as the townspeople waited for Brian’s answer,

    “Even if this were true, it would not change your beloved castle, for I would deed it back to your fair town.. But if my luck holds, there might be one think I might not return to you.”

    “Oh,” the mayor said with curiosity, “and what might that be?”

    Brian just stood there holding on to Maureen for dear life,

    “I think I might just be able to give you a clue,” Maureen said.

    That evening, the citizens of Ross threw a celebration of the morning’s events that the entire town attended. Maureen stood next to Brian’s side as the couple personally greeted the townspeople.. After a while, they managed to slip away from the crowd and walked down a flower-laden pathway.

    He turned her in his arms,

    “I wanted to kiss you yesterday when I saw you blush but then realized I might be too old for you. I am forty one.”

    “Posh,” she said, “so are you going to kiss me or not, lad?”

    She melted into his tender grasp as he felt her lips upon his face. She started to cry and it startled Brian.

    “Please don’t cry,” he said.

    “They’re tears of happiness, you might as well know, I’m an emotional woman.”

    “How emotional are you?”

    “If you please me enough, you might find out lad.”

    They started home in their small carriage. A full moon spilled over Lough Sheelin and lighted their way. The Irish Cobb knew her way home and Maureen tied the reins to her carriage and cuddled in Brian‘s arms After several kisses, she hesitated,

    “Did anyone tell you about Sabena?”

    “Who is Sabena?”

    “The ghost at your castle who’s been crying her heart out for 250 years over her lost love.’

    “Fascinating, tell me about her.”

    “Oh, that’s another whole story.” .

    1. jhowe

      The Irish setting and the theme of new love certainly bangs into your wheelhouse KC. You drew me effortlessly through your wonderful story. The ending leaves a little bit out there too for us to mull over. Nice job.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks John, I haven’t had this much fun writing a story in a long, long time. It’s good to feel that way and it’s great to be a part of this forum.

    2. Observer Tim

      Wow, nice turnabout at the end, Kerry. I love the way you captured the feel of the village and the sense of the people. I can see this turning into an Irish love story that spans the centuries. I doff my tam t’ye, sir.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim, you know I love writing Irish. If I could embed one movie in my brain to run over and over, It’d be The Quiet Man, Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne. Next week I might post the ghost story, with Brian mixing it up with the ghost and Maureen. How about a cat fight between the two of them over Brian’s favors, just for good measure.

    3. igonzales81

      Very nicely done. Couldn’t stop till I’d read both parts. And I picked up on the relation between her calling him ‘lad’ and the story of the 250 year old ghost. A fine tale, thank you.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you igonzales81. fine praise indeed. Irish stories are joys for me to write. My ancestorial blood starts pumplng and fingers fly.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Bushkill, glad you picked up on the byplay before foreplay. Both Brian and Maureen could pick any choose anyone they desired, but it’s the mind play that fascinates both of them.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reatha, you think you know me like a book, well…… You’re probably right. We haven’t seen the last of Brian and Maureen.

    4. Beebles

      I think you nailed that Kerry. Nicely sprung at the end. If I didn’t know better I’d think you had a penchant for spectrophilia. Now I thought I just made that word up but the predictive text seems to like it.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Great scott Beebles, you’re right, means sex with a ghost. Now a new word for you …..tri-spectrophilia, guess what, a three way with Brian, Maureen and the ghost, Sabena. Careful, just double dare me to write it in a romantic way.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Amaria,

        I already have her back story, just need to figure out how Brian and Maureen are going to handle her. I’ll have it next week for you to read. I’m glad you stopped by and also enjoyed my little Irish folklore.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        What a wonderful idea to place into my story next week. I am thinking of having Sabena and Maureen in some sort of tiff over Brian. Not a real battle but what a ghost might do is try to scare Maureen away. [Not hardly, she is a determined lass.]

  21. danbill

    Well, what he lacked in suaveness he certainly made up for in confidence. Every time I looked up from my Mac he was peering right at me from behind the bar, arms crossed. His biceps, sturdy rather than stupidly inflated, contoured a grey t-shirt. He was either chewing gum very slowly or suffered from occasional involuntary jaw movements. His face had a weird lack of symmetry but a definite rugged charm. His left eyebrow had clear silver streaks, his right eyebrow was jet black.

    Tsarevna Maria. She had to lift her blouse. Again. But how? Between her sneaking out of the Kremlin for the funeral of the stable boy and the whole peasant siege there was just no freaking way to sneak it in with any dignity. Ah well, screw it. If it was nudity Blackstone wanted so damn much, he would have to learn the hard way that dignity would be the first thing chucked out the window. Except as the lead scriptwriter of the whole thing, did I really want to turn it into a car crash of puke-inducing soft-po*n meaninglessness.

    “You dumbwit! Don’t you remember me saying two nudie scenes per show? Jesus, we’re paying that pretty thing who plays Maria a million per series and she only got her kit off what, seven times last series? Don’t give me any more of your fag sh*t!” The angry words of Blackstone, hired as the new producer after ratings took a nosedive in series five, still resonated half the world away.

    Up I looked. There he was again. Looking right into my eyes without a single flinch. But was he? Really? Only one way to find out.

    I walked over to the bar and smiled.

    “Hey!” I said.

    “Alright, so,” he replied. “What’ll ye be having?”

    “Oh I might have to be good and decline your kind offer. I get the most horrendous headaches after more than a couple of drinks these days, and I mean horrendous.”

    “Right you are then. You’re from America aren’t ye?”

    I turned around to glance over the empty bar. Not only were the scattered assortment of tables and booths all empty, some of them looked like nobody had sat there in my lifetime. Yet it hadn’t been an hour since I checked in and he was telling me he had a second cousin in Laguna Beach.

    “Er, yeah.”

    “And you’re staying here are you?”

    I couldn’t help flinching. The whole idea to escape was to rid myself of nut jobs.

    “Damn right,” I said, smiling.

    “Oh, Jaysus, I remember you know. You’ll have to forgive me. I have a bit of trouble with the ol’ short term
    memory loss.”

    That could have its advantages, I thought.

    “This may sound a bit, well…out there…but I was wondering if you could just do something for me, oh…?”

    He gave me a puzzled look.

    “What’s your name, sorry?” I asked.

    “Donald.”

    “Donald, could you imagine for a second, now this is just an idea to help me write something, as I have got a crazy bout of writer’s block. Could you imagine that you are a 17th century Russian princess.”

    “Jaysus!” he said.

    1. Observer Tim

      I had no idea where this was going, but the ending made me laugh. Everything came together wonderfully in a perfectly strange manner. I also note that (until the very end) you’re the first one to introduce a male Irish lovely. Not sure if there’s a meaning there, it’s just interesting… 🙂

    2. Bushkill

      That was cool. What bar keep wouldn’t want to visualize himself as a Russians pricess? Beautiful artistic twist. That will put a knot in his knickers.

  22. danbill

    Well, what he lacked in suaveness he certainly made up for in confidence. Every time I looked up from my Mac he was peering right at me from behind the bar, arms crossed. His biceps, sturdy rather than stupidly inflated, contoured a grey t-shirt. He was either chewing gum very slowly or suffered from occasional involuntary jaw movements. His face had a weird lack of symmetry but a definite rugged charm. His left eyebrow had clear silver streaks, his right eyebrow was jet black.

    Tsarevna Maria. She had to lift her blouse. Again. But how? Between her sneaking out of the Kremlin for the funeral of the stable boy and the whole peasant siege there was just no freaking way to sneak it in with any dignity. Ah well, screw it. If it was nudity Blackstone wanted so damn much, he would have to learn the hard way that dignity would be the first thing chucked out the window. Except as the lead scriptwriter of the whole thing, did I really want to turn it into a car crash of puke-inducing soft-porn meaninglessness.

    “You dumbwit! Don’t you remember me saying two nudie scenes per show? Jesus, we’re paying that pretty thing who plays Maria a million per series and she only got her kit off what, seven times last series? Don’t give me any more of your fag sh*t!” The angry words of Blackstone, hired as the new producer after ratings took a nosedive in series five, still resonated half the world away.

    Up I looked. There he was again. Looking right into my eyes without a single flinch. But was he? Really? Only one way to find out.

    I walked over to the bar and smiled.

    “Hey!” I said.

    “Alright, so,” he replied. “What’ll ye be having?”

    “Oh I might have to be good and decline your kind offer. I get the most horrendous headaches after more than a couple of drinks these days, and I mean horrendous.”

    “Right you are then. You’re from America aren’t ye?”

    I turned around to glance over the empty bar. Not only were the scattered assortment of tables and booths all empty, some of them looked like nobody had sat there in my lifetime. Yet it hadn’t been an hour since I checked in and he was telling me he had a second cousin in Laguna Beach.

    “Er, yeah.”

    “And you’re staying here are you?”

    I couldn’t help flinching. The whole idea to escape was to rid myself of nut jobs.

    “Damn right,” I said, smiling.

    “Oh, Jaysus, I remember you know. You’ll have to forgive me. I have a bit of trouble with the ol’ short term
    memory loss.”

    That could have its advantages, I thought.

    “This may sound a bit, well…out there…but I was wondering if you could just do something for me, oh…?”

    He gave me a puzzled look.

    “What’s your name, sorry?” I asked.

    “Donald.”

    “Donald, could you imagine for a second, now this is just an idea to help me write something, as I have got a crazy bout of writer’s block. Could you imagine that you are a 17th century Russian princess.”

    “Jaysus!” he said.

  23. Witt.Stanton

    As we pull into the drive leading to the inn, we’re greeted by two stone angels crouched alongside a towering archway. Just as we pass under, a bloodcurdling scream echoes through the sleeping valley.

    My literary partner-in-crime is out the door in seconds, undeterred by the speed of the car. I catch a glimpse of Declan in the side mirror, giving me a thumbs up. He shouts something indecipherable and takes off in a staggering run, sliding in the wet grass.

    “It’s barely above freezing,” I mutter, using a few choice swear words as I pull the car to a shuddering stop. “What did I do to deserve him?” I shove the keys into my pocket, flip up my hood, and throw myself into the frigid air after him.

    A blowing rain shoulders against me as I trudge through the Irish greenery, another scream ringing out. We must be close. My gut clenches, but I force myself to keep going. This was our job; we hunt evil, evening the odds. My partner and I are experts in historical folklore. We use this knowledge to track down and kill the real-life versions of our fictional monsters.

    Declan’s already clambering up the stone angel, his leather jacket tight across his shoulders and his jeans soaked in rainwater and mud. One of his feet stands precariously balanced on the statue’s wing, the other on the outstretched hand. He’s using the decrepit arch for support, metal groaning under his weight.

    “Give me a hand, D’Vera,” he shouts, fumbling for a handhold. I move to stand underneath the rusting arch, bracing myself against the wobbling metal.

    “Better?” I feel the arch shudder as more weight was put on it. “Don’t strain yourself.”

    Declan laughs, an oddly comforting sound. He finds his perch above me on the angel’s shoulders. The rain slows to a gentle shower, and when I look up at him, he smiles. “See, not so bad.” Then the Banshee we’re hunting screams for a third time. I grit my teeth, struggling to keep my hold on the arch steady. She was going to kill, and soon.

    “Can you see anything from up there? She’ll be near the –” I begin, but my voice choked when I feel her cold presence, blind terror sweeping through my veins. I slowly raise my head, and there the monster is, a few feet away.

    I try to call out to my partner, but he’s already there, rolling in the grass to break his fall. “The innkeeper,” I whisper, half to myself. “We missed the obvious.”

    He nods, never letting his gaze leave the female apparition, risen from the dead. She appears to us as a beautiful woman, scantily cloaked in dark robes that billow in the mist, her eyes alight with hunger. She takes a step forward, beckoning my partner. And that was her mistake.

    I pulled the handgun from the holster on my thigh, dropping to a crouch as my partner does the same. I cock it, take aim, and fire in one fluid motion. She lunges forwards, her claws extending in the moonlight. The gilded bullet strikes home, centered in the monster’s forehead.

    She lets loose one last scream, echoing into the night as her body dissolves into smoke, collapsing down upon itself. Then she’s gone.

    Holstering the gun, I push myself to my feet. Declan continues to pose, positioning his hands as if they held a gun. He pantomimes shooting a gun, looking vaguely embarrassed. “Bang.”

    I rub a tired hand across my face, scrubbing at the fine layer of stubble on my jaw. “Let’s go, tough guy.”

    Declan rolls his eyes at me, getting to his feet. “I forget my gun once, and this is what I get?” He shakes his head, the smile disappearing. “Thanks for having my back.”

    I laugh, clapping a hand on his shoulder. “What are partners are for?”

  24. chandra_wd_writer

    Could’t find a satisfying ending due to my writers’ block probably 🙂 But posting it here just to share.

    Shorty Story: A Novel Killer

    Type. Backspace. Type. Backspace. And repeat. I was a writer stuck in my writer’s block trying to write about a writer who is stuck in his writer’s block. Well, that was the irony of my writer’s block. The deadline for my second novel was in three months, and I had just finished talking to my agent on the phone. It was her fifth call in twenty-four hours; without counting those five missed calls I had ignored.

    I was writing a psycho serial killer story, riding high on my debut novel’s moderate success. I was in my mid-thirties, and I finally felt like an arrived writer before this brutal writer’s block. I am not sure what made me sign a contract for the second novel even before writing a single word. But there I was going nowhere with my writing and hours ticking by like seconds as I stared at my laptop.

    The protagonist of my novel is a serial killer who happens to be a best-selling novelist. That was as much as I knew about the story when I signed the contract. For some reason, my agent was as crazy as I was about the idea. A bestselling-novelist-serial-killer. A Novel Killer.

    Ironically I stopped where my character is stuck in his worst writer’s block. He was writing a novel, and he had a deadline too. And there I was stuck in my worst writer’s block ever. If this isn’t the worst writer’s block ever, what else can be? What should I make him do to come out of his writer’s block and finish his novel so that then I go on with the rest of my novel?

    “I am going to book a flight ticket and accommodation,” said my agent on the phone. “Choose any place in the world. I think you have to get out of your house to see if that could help,” she added as she hung up.

    A free trip to any place in the world. Wow. How could I say no?

    Ireland it was. I called my agent and in four hours I was at San Francisco International Airport waiting to board the flight.

    I had never been to Ireland. I have a few Irish friends from my neighborhood in San Francisco, and that’s as much as I knew about Ireland. They were as Irish as I was an Indian. Born and brought up in the States.

    I slept after two glasses of wine eased my anxiety. I only woke up when the flight started its descent.

    After I had stepped out of the airport, I saw a driver holding a placard with my name. He did not talk much after the initial hello and confirming I was the right Mr. Vikram he was waiting for.

    In thirty minutes, he dropped me at the entrance of an old-fashioned inn in a countryside. I wasn’t sure who would live there. There were no signs of civilization anywhere on the horizon.

    I stepped out of the car, still feeling sleepy. It was around noon, and the cloudless sky had already seemed to inspire me. I saw a small lake a half mile away and the blue water was as still as the entire landscape. As if it was from a huge painting.

    I dragged my baggage cursingly as I wasn’t sure if this was a place supposed to help me write or help me forget about my deadlines.

    I went to the front desk, and it was reassuring to see another human being in this deserted countryside.

    She was facing the wall, and her hands, I guessed, were fiddling through some notebook. My instincts told me that she must be a beautiful woman with greenish eyes and rather large lips for her nose. I wasn’t sure why I thought so. But her body language in those few seconds conveyed that she must be a young and beautiful woman. But why would someone young and beautiful work in this remote inn?

    “Hello,” I said.

    “Hello, sir,” she said as she turned around after she closed the notebook.

    She was beautiful, for sure, but no green eyes, no large lips. But yes, beautiful, of course.

    We shook hands, and she said her name was Cara.

    “How was your flight, sir?”

    “It was as good as my sleep was, and Call me Vikram, please, ” I said as if to impress her.

    She checked my passport, and then pulled my reservation. Then she handed over my room keys. Then an old man came to help me take my baggage to my room. One more human, I thought.

    I took a shower and ordered some lunch and drinks. I took a nap, and when I woke up it was still bright outside. I checked my phone, and there were ten messages from my agent. And it was already seven in the evening.

    I put on some jeans and a polo, then washed my face, groomed a bit and took the stairs to the lobby area.

    She was still there at the front desk, and I had forgotten where she said the restaurant was. Or maybe I wanted to talk to her again.

    “Hi, Cara, Sorry, I forgot where the restaurant is?”

    “Sure. Go straight, take a right. Then take a left through the second door, and then a right,” she said with an accuracy of a recorded message.

    I had a confused look on my face.

    “Alright, let me come with you,” she said.

    “For dinner?”

    She blushed and said no.

    We walked together to the restaurant. And right when we took the last right turn, she said here her shift would end in an hour. That was enough of a hint for me, and I said I would be happy to wait. I was hungry for sure. But waiting for an hour for a beautiful girl wouldn’t kill me.

    Then we walked back. I saw a few senior couples walking in the opposite direction. I thought they were headed to dinner as well. Is this an inn for only the elderly? I cursed my agent. What was she thinking?

    I went back to my room. Took my laptop out from the bag and started writing, or should I say typing? Again, all I did was matching the strokes of characters and backspaces in the count. I left where I left it fifteen days or so ago.

    I thought I could write in the night after the dinner. Maybe, I needed this dinner and a beautiful woman to inspire me.

    Just when I closed my laptop, as if by a flash of the divine, an idea appeared out of nowhere, like all those ideas. Like some of those ideas, when they hit us, we would laugh at how obvious they are.

    I had to bring my serial killer to this inn to get over his writer’s block. Then he I would make him fall in love with this beautiful girl. Then the rest of the story would just happen. I knew it would happen.

    Thank you for reading.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a wonderfully introspective look at a traveler. The only thing that didn’t ring true for a moderately successful writer is that his agent would never have offered to pay for the trip. 😉 I like the sense of hope you built against the background of a seemingly insurmountable problem. Very nicely done.

      1. chandra_wd_writer

        Hi Reatha, Thanks for reading. I agree about narrator being unreliable. But I did not intended it to be. But I wanted to play with this idea of writer’s block inside writer’s block.

  25. Kerry Charlton

    A NEW BEGINNING

    Brian had slept halfway to Ireland when he awoke with a start. “Free trip to the Emerald Isle,” his publisher said, “but you’ll swim home to Philadelphia if your manuscript isn’t finished in four weeks.” His eyes glazed over in disbelief that he had jumped at the idea. Even staying at a historic house in ‘The Ring of Kerry’ in August, failed to lift his spirits.

    The Stone House which overlooked Lough Sheelin, a midland lake, appeared through his cab’s window at the end of a windy path. At eight in the evening an Irish sun prepared to dip below the still water surrounding the area as he carried his own luggage to the check in counter and gently tapped the small bell. An Irish lass about twenty some with passionate, blue-green eyes, red hair falling across her pheasant blouse, and a face from a museum painting, appeared as if from nowhere.

    “Are you Mr. O’Malley, sir?”

    “Yes, Brian O’Malley, is my registration in order?”

    She stood speechless and stared at him,

    “Have I said anything wrong Miss, Miss…”:

    “ Maureen Murphy, oh, I‘m sorry sir, it’s just the way you look.”

    “And that is?”

    “I’d have to show you Mr. O’Malley.”

    “Is it a dark secret?”

    “Oh no sir, can I take you to Ross Castle in the morning? You can judge for
    yourself.”

    “Is this a date you’re asking me on Maureen?”

    Her face turned beet red, he thought his heart would stop if he didn’t kiss her.

    “It’s part of our service sir, can you be ready at nine tomorrow?”

    Brain lay awake half the night thinking what the morning might bring. Maureen knocked on his door at nine and led him to their waiting transportation. A wary, quizzical look spread across his face as he studied a two wheel carriage hooked to a small horse by extended rails.

    “You want me to ride in that? Who’s driving?”

    “I am Mr. O’Malley.”

    “Well, If I’m putting my life in your hands, at least you could call me Brian.”

    “ Okay Brian, it’s a Irish Cobb horse, she’s very gentle and she’s an old friend.

    They made their way through the village of Ross, the large yellow wheels of the carriage clumped on the cobblestones. As towns people lined the streets to watch, Brian’s curiosity grew,

    “Are you showing me off. Am I your latest catch Maureen? And why are they following us?”

    “We’re heading to the castleand they’re as curious as I am.”

    “About what?”

    “You, of course. You’ll understand when we get there. Here, try the reins awhile.”

    He found himself in charge of a horse that knew exactly where he was headed. He felt Maureen’s hand rest gently on his thigh as a jolt of passion thrust through his body. By the time they arrived at the castle, a crowd of two hundred followed.

    “We need to walk to the fifth floor, Brian. I’ll show you why the town is curious.”

    Climbing five flights of stone stairs led the towns people along with Brian and Maureen into a massive great hall at the end of which a huge portrait hung over a cut stone mantle. As Brian drew closer, his eyes riveted on the ancient portrait.

    “Is this some kind of joke Maureen?

    “No, you‘re looking at Sir Valentine Browne, a portrait done in 1688. Legend

    refers to him as the lost heir of Ross Castle.”

    “I can’t believe it, he looks exactly like me.”

    [To be continued tomorrow]
    . .

    . : .

    1. agnesjack

      Aha! Can’t wait for part 2, Kerry. Perhaps he won’t have to swim home OR finish his novel. Living in a castle in Ireland seems like heaven to me (so long as it isn’t falling apart).

  26. Pete

    Writing was easy before the editors came along. Now they haunt me to the letter. I try to write handcuffed, knowing they’ll find fault with work. Good stuff means I’m overdoing it, spare stuff is boring. Too many words and I’m showing off. So now I’m left with nothing.

    I close my laptop. This isn’t working. My little office. My old town. What was I thinking? That I could come home and live here? Before I wrote in phone booths. I wrote on the bus, I wrote on the train and I wrote in bathrooms. Now I’m a real writer. With an office. So how come it feels like a prison cell?

    I get outside and look to the real world for inspiration. The real world is too bright. I head to Brody’s down the block. Wood paneling. Sticky surfaces. HI-FI no WI-FI. Now we’re cracking. It’s 2:20, I grab a Guinness. Coffee time, I take a booth in the back.

    Something’s different though. The windows. The smells. Not my writing. It’s still shit.

    I slam the laptop shut. My book has hit a wall. The door opens with a whine. Daylight floods into the bar. I stand up and, holy shit.
    “Sean?”

    Ryan Morgan, Brody’s little girl all grown up and—she crashes in to me for a hug—strong.

    “How are you?” I ask, looking her over and wondering just how in the hell Brody’s barfly toddler became, this.

    “I’m good, she says,” wiping back a stay bang. Short hair, boy’s name, yet, remarkably female. She gives me a shove. “Congrats on the book deal, Dad keeps me up to date on all the old trouble makers.”

    “Yeah, well…” Writer. I haven’t written a thing in a week.

    Brody rushes out and puts another pint in my hand. The last time I saw Ryan I was leaving for school, she was twelve or thirteen, legs mangled with scrapes and bruises. Braces. Girls used to call her bar wench until the boys couldn’t stop staring. Now, she’s maybe 25, last I heard she’d married that piece of shit Tate Gringley. A motherless girl from day one, Brody gives her a bear hug.

    “She’s taking over the bar.”

    “Really?”

    Ryan shrugs, gives me a most sarcastic, cheery smile. “It’s what I know best.”

    But it makes sense. She’d grown up in here, cracked more than a few guys in the jaw when they’re hands had roamed too far. There is no doubt in my mind that she could kick my ass.

    We catch up for a while until some regulars arrive. They ask about the terrace outside and Ryan explains that she’s “expanding the menu.” I take a seat as Bob Marley shakes the cobwebs from the speakers. No one says a word. I look up and see Ryan over bobbing her head. This is not your father’s Irish pub.

    Suddenly I’m energized. I switch to water, otherwise known as Miller Lite at Brody’s, but the words come, they come crashing down on me and I get a week’s worth of stuff in, enough to give to my agent to let her know I’m working.

    I take to my new office. Same table, same time. Ryan sits and talks with me in the afternoons, until happy hour. I ask when they got windows and she tells me she cleaned them. She talks about moving to Boston. Her divorce, Tate’s cheating, the blah blah blah. She apologizes, then hops up and tends to the bar.

    A year later. My book signing. Another first at Brody’s. The wood paneling has been gutted. Open mic nights, acoustic guitars. The regulars shake their heads. Bob blares over the speakers. Ryan sits across from me, eyes glittering. I slide her a copy of my book.

    She opens it and her mouth falls open. At the bar, Brody gives me a thumbs up. Ryan smiles, shakes her head with a giggle.

    “No.”

    “I’ll do it again. I’ll keep writing books just so that I can propose.

    “I’ll keep saying no.”

    I shrug. Sip my Guinness.

    It’s good to be home.

  27. Beebles

    Right lets see if this posts…
    ———————————–

    The dog growled, crouching low, teeth bared. I took one foot closer and the intensity increased. It didn’t move, even as my host’s elfin wife came across the farmyard.

    ‘I don’t think your dog likes me.’ I tried to sound casual, but even I heard the tremor in my voice. No young man wants to come across as scared. Dogs usually liked me.

    Fand threw the boots in the back of the Defender and slammed the door. The name rang a bell, though I couldn’t put my finger on it. She used one slender finger to pick the windblown copper hair from her face. It revealed a fine archipelago of freckles across a sea of young lily white skin; a single ray of my home Californian sun would turn her to ashes, I thought.

    ‘Strange, t’be sure … Macha’s usually so tolerant of strangers. Come on girl.’ When Macha didn’t move, Fand dragged her by the collar to the pen and closed the gate.

    ‘Right, Mr Collins, shall I show you the fort? We’d better make a start if we’re to beat the weather.’ Her accent was pure Connacht.

    Manannan farm fell behind as she swung the landy down the single lane roads, between grey stone walls, encircling small green pastures.

    ‘So you’re in Ireland to write a book, Mr Collins?’ Her quick eyes flickered between me and road. The same look, combined with the slightest of smiles, had unnerved me all the while she delivered my ample breakfast. If it hadn’t been for her husband, whistling and sizzling in the guesthouse kitchen, I really would have thought she was flirting with me. I still wasn’t sure.

    I laughed. ‘Trying, yes.’

    ‘Oh, is it not going well? I’m sorry to hear that. What do you seek here, if you don’t mind me asking?’

    She turned the landy through set of monolithic gate posts set into a field wall and I held on as we began to bump and sway our way up the track. I could see Rathcroghan on the skyline, a dark raised platform above the field.

    ‘Inspiration.’

    ‘Ah,’ she replied. ‘Ireland has plenty of that. The Tain Bo Cuailnge, for example. A mighty tale. You are familiar with The Ulster Cycle?’

    ‘My grandfather was an Ulsterman. He would tell us stories whenever.’

    We arrived at the crest and Fand swung the Defender off the track.

    ‘Come on, I’ll take you in.’

    She ran ahead, scattering the sheep, and stopped at the foot of the ramp that led up through the earth ramparts. I trudged behind, full of breakfast. I watched her move like a spirit of the county, as one with the land as her forebears. I decided that if she was coming on to me, then husband be damned. She was the very essence of what I was here to consume. I wanted to be filled with the mead of this land, my ancestors, to immerse myself to the point of intoxication and hallucination. And what better way than through the pangs of love? The passion, the danger and emotion. It would spin the story from me. Fand beckoned from the top.

    At the ramparts a strangeness overtook me. My flesh froze. Sweat pushed its way from my pores like a thousand beetles and I was overcome with weakness. My vision blurred.

    Fand’s joyous laughter was in my ear and her arms around me. Kisses covered my face.

    ‘Its not easy for a true Ulsterman to enter the fortress of Maeb of Connacht, Mr Collins. Especially for you my Cu Chulainn. Forgive me; I had to t’be sure it was you. I knew you would return, my Hound. I knew you would come back and challenge my husband for my hand.’

    Her shining face filled my sight and, to my surprise, just one phrase filled my mind – oh, what the hell.

    1. Observer Tim

      You’ve been there, haven’t you Beebles? This captures the land and people of Ireland so mightily. I found the Irish part of my heritage calling out to me, even while the Scottish part was sharpening its claymore. I love the development of the mythology. I sense that book may be a little late.

      1. Beebles

        Thanks for reading OT. Er … no, I haven’t, though the mythology is so wonderful – The Tain is my favourite epic lit. Beats the Iliad hands down. Of course my name could be Irish and like you I have a good helping of scottish (the scotti being originally irish of course). The Indian doesn’t show in my looks, only in my tastes. 🙂

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Your tale fascinates me Beebles. My Irish ancestors on both sides arrived in America in 1812 in Philadelphia. I am fifth generation Phladelphia. You Have to arrive at least to five before any one notices. My Mother’s family had a little scottish thrown in but I’m about 85% irish. Your writing is tremendous here. The tension mounts with each sentence. I hope you will consider extending this. Too good a prompt fpr only 500.

  28. jhowe

    The Irish countryside is as green as I imagined, even greener. My host paces on the patio, undoubtedly upset I haven’t come down for breakfast yet. Backlit by the noontime sun, her form beckons from beneath a yellow cotton dress. Count on the Norwegians to send a bombshell. How better to weaken a man’s guard.

    “Mr. Slayton,” she calls out. “Your bangers and mash is getting cold?” Damn, even her accent seems to hold character. She waves to my window and I type out a few lines, a breeze picks up and the hem of her dress flutters on cream colored thighs.

    “Mr. Slayton?” There is an appealing lilt, a standard trick of the Norwegians. “Everyone else has eaten. I need to close the kitchen soon.” How do they simulate the freckles? They seem so deep, so soft. I type furiously, distracted but still coherent. Maybe it’s the Swiss. The Swiss are cunning little perfectionists. They probably have her so brainwashed, she doesn’t even know who she really is. I should get close to her; give them a taste of their own medicine.

    She’s right. The bangers and mash is cold. I pick at my food as she washes dishes, humming beautifully. Perhaps it’s the Danes. They’d stop at nothing to obtain their goals. I type into the memo app on my phone.

    “What are you writing, Mr. Slayton… another tale of intrigue and suspense?” She smiles. Her teeth are perfect, her eyes dance. No, not the Danes. They could never pull this off. I hate to think it, but I’m certain it’s the Russians. They have found me at last.

    She takes a book from a cupboard and walks toward me. This is it, I ready myself.

    “I’m terribly sorry for being brash.” Her lips sparkle, her shoulders shrug daintily. “But would you be kind enough to sign this for me? It’s by far my favorite.”

    What ruse is this… treachery in disguise? “I suppose I could, yes.” My fingers tremble slightly as she hands me a pen. We touch inadvertently and she looks away shyly. This is one cunning Russian.

    “Yes, I’m sorry, but I seem to have forgotten your name.” I resort to a trick I learned in the Orient. I watch closely as she answers.

    “It’s Macey.” Hmm, not the slightest hesitation. I write a short note and sign my name. I’m dying to get to my laptop. The scene is practically writing itself. She notices my discomfort.

    “Am I keeping you, Mr. Slayton?” She reads my note on the inside cover of ‘Spy Town’ and smiles. “Do you really think I’m pretty?”

    “I do, yes.” No sense playing coy now. The Russians may have won the battle, but the war rages on.

    1. Observer Tim

      Fascinating, John. I see Mr. Slayton has not yet reached the most terrifying conclusion of all – that Macy might be a spy working for… The Irish! This is one part introspective crazy and one part thriller, and I can’t tell which it is even though I’m inside the MC’s head. This looks like the beginning of a light (neo-comedic) thriller with a damaged protagonist.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I love your characters John, they seem to be broken in one way or another. That is a great sign of a novelist, to create broken characters. And the intrgue builds beautifully. You’re out-doing yourself one more time. Don’t you sometimes wonder how many stories a mind can hold? I do.

    2. Bushkill

      I like his certainty that she’s a plant. That plays wonderfully next to the idea that he has no clue who planted her. Wonderfully neurotic. Fine job here.

    3. agnesjack

      I don’t know why, jhowe, but I felt as if he were stuck in one of his own stories. He could have been sitting on a train in New York, looking at the woman across from him, or at home looking out his back window, imagining all that he was seeing. Intriguing character.

  29. jhowe

    You’re becoming a force to be reckoned with in the little forum dustymayjane. Your stories keep getting better and better. I loved the shy dialog from Maggie. I’d have pie with her and I don’t even know her.

  30. thejim

    I stepped into an authentic Irish Bed and Breakfast. Well, not that I would know what an Irish bed and breakfast should look like; I have never been out of the US. My agent booked everything for me; I just had to get on the plane and go. I have a deadline for my fifth book and since this time, my normal process for writing, produced 3 short children’s poems, of which two did not even rhyme and a recipe for baked enchiladas. Charlie, my agent, figured he better do something to get me fired up, I suspect he does not want to lose any commissions.

    Now here I stand with my brand new ice blue roller suitcase and passport in hand in front of the check-in desk with no one around. Slipping out from the corner I spied a beautiful redhead. She made her way across the front room and into a side door, and then appeared behind the desk. Her piercing green eyes smiled at me, but deep down behind the sultry eyes, something else was waiting.

    “Hello Mr. Cavendish,” Her voice was soft and gentle and lifted my soul. I could smell the scent of lavender, but I did not notice any flowers.

    “Your room is ready. Just take the stairs to your right down the hall,” She said as she handed me a key, her hand softly touched my fingers. A chill danced across my skin; it was if I was frozen, taken in by the mystery of her. The key, in slow motion, fell to the tile. Our eyes never broke away. When the sound of the key hitting the floor filled my head it I was if I was awoken from a trance. I fumbled with my passport and quickly bent over to grab the key and made my way to my room.

    It took me a good half hour just to settle in. I arranged the desk to have a view out the window; if I leaned enough to the right, I could see a large bluff in the distance. I doubted seriously, I would even venture outside my room. A discreet knock upon my door startled me, I walked over and opened it slowly, there she stood in a flowing maroon and flowered sundress.

    “I could not let you go tonight without a taste of Ireland’s Kilbeggan; it’s an 18 year old whisky.” She smiled as she lifted two empty glasses, and like the fool I was, I opened the door and took the glasses.
    She floated in and with the bottle of whisky in hand. I held the glasses as she poured a quarter into each glass. I handed her a glass she lifted it and said, “May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.”

    I lifted my glass and drank it down; I could taste the vanilla with a deep oak flavor.

    It was but a mere moment when I felt the room spin and before it went dark I saw a wicked smile appear on her ruby lips.

    When I awoke, I was strapped down to a wooden table. The cold, humid room was lined with plastic. I could smell the stench of rotting flesh. A dim yellow light rocked above me, I feared what would be next, I tried to get loose but I was paralyzed. I could not move or speak. I just lay there, waiting, watching the light swing back and forth.

    1. Observer Tim

      This does not bode well for Mr. Cavendish…

      I love the way you contrasted the detailed imagery of the opening of the story with the stark description in the last paragraph. It really ramps up the horror of his situation.

    2. Beebles

      And now I am torn: I want to try a kilbeggan – but do I dare? Liked the key falling, I got lost in that moment. Ah sod it. For a redhead and a glass of whisky you can strap me to a table anytime.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You can’t strap me to anything, I’m afraid of blood, even my own. Although I might had hesitated from your description of the red head, I might have said, “Oh what the hell, just be gentle with me.” Little would I know! I loved the swing action from sexy to evil in a few short words. Lots of chilling power here. Great job.

    3. agnesjack

      Yikes, theJim. I laughed out loud at the line “my normal process for writing, produced 3 short children’s poems, of which two did not even rhyme and a recipe for baked enchiladas,” — blissfully unaware of the coming dark twist at the end. Can’t help but wonder what’s next?

  31. Observer Tim

    BURNING RED SANDS

    “S’yer a writer, then?”

    Her curly hair is the brownish-red of the fresh-turned Martian soil and her eyes are the green of the grass and clover that feeds the oxygen processors. She’s fifteen centimeters taller than me with the lithe figure that comes from living on a world with only 0.4 earth gravity. Her near-black freckles and deep-tan skin indicate she’s descended from the early colonists, the ones who settled before the full radiation shielding was put in place twenty years ago. The overall effect is part alien, part Irish, and all gorgeous.

    “Yes I am, Miss.”

    “Kloay; Kloay O’Tharsis, at yer service.”

    I’m going to be staying with her for the next week; I’d run away from New Toronto to get some time to think about the novel I should have started six months ago. My publisher gave me a three-week extension on the deadline, which would be fine if I had more than two pages written.

    “I’m Jason Storm; I write mystery novels.”

    In my haste to run I’d booked the first flight out and ended up on a trip to the Irish Colony, three days flight from Earth and another day by dust-buggy from Mariner Spaceport. When I got there the Desert Sands Tharsis was closed due to an accident in the environmental system and the locals were taking its booked guests into their own homes. The selection computer had given me into the care of Miss Kloay O’Tharsis, great-granddaughter of colony founder Donald O’Tharsis.

    “Would ye be surprised if I told ye I’d read them? Murder Above the Clouds is my favourite.”

    Clouds had a respectable half-million likes on Bibliotaku; it was about a disgraced medical researcher during the plague that wiped out the old-model Artificials. I’d taken the artistic liberty of having Doctor Alex Parker murdered on the cruise ship instead of having him just vanish.

    “Actually, I’m flattered.”

    “I do wish ye’d written mair aboot the love affair with the Artificial lass; wouldna be romantic if they’d run away together?”

    “Yes, but there’s no evidence the girl was even on the ship.”

    “And they na’er found his body. Not like uncle Patrick.”

    She surprised me with the change of direction, but this sounded intriguing.

    “What happened to him?”

    “They found his body in the dust collector tank a’the Sands. But uncle Kerry, he’s in the Coroner Office, he said the body looked like it’a been Left Ootside.”

    “Left Outside?”

    “Exposed to Martian air; it’s mostly vacuum and minus a hundred on a summer day. The dust collector runs hot ena’ t’boil water.”

    So the body was found frozen inside what was essentially an oven; now that was a hook for a murder mystery. Burning Red Sands started writing itself in my head.

    “You’re beautiful, Kloay! I’ve been trying to come up with a hook for my newest mystery and you just became my muse.”

    I’d start writing it as soon as her lips parted from mine. If they ever did.

    1. jhowe

      You write about far far away places so effortlessly. I like the way you just come out and show us what’s going on without any need for explanation. A half million hits on Bibliotaku: who needs to know exactly what it is, we get the picture precisely. Great story.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, John; I can tell you my secret but I can’t give it away – these places are every bit as real to me when I get there as the 7-11 up the street. Personally I’ll go with Bing and “Pray for the day when I’ll find a way, those far away places to see.”

        As for Bibliotaku, it’s a portmanteau of “to biblion” (book – Classical Greek) and “otaku” (obsessive fan – Japanese). I envision it as a social network for book fanatics, and I’m surprised it doesn’t already exist. Wait, it does; it’s called Goodreads.

    2. Beebles

      Hmm. Don’t think my comment posted. Anyhow. I like the take, I guess you are in book mode. Like Jhowe said, your writing is clear as a mountain stream and just as vivacious – especially those last lines!

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks Beebles; I’m guessing the original post didn’t take. Yes, I am still in book mode, but I also like to try to tie posts together into chaotic mini-stories. This is a side-take from the larger story I’m working on right now.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Once again you’ve taken us to alien world that becomes familiar. Great take on the prompt, plus the uncles’ names caught my eye.

    4. agnesjack

      Amazing, Tim. The language, the descriptions of the characters and place, that seem so completely believable, I feel I’ve been there. I would definitely read the whole novel about this world.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Reatha hit my response, and why did you make me the coroner? I can’t stand blood. The song goes….. Wouldn’t be romantic? I love all your stuff, especially space and aliens.

        1. Observer Tim

          Don’t sweat it too much, Kerry; after all, your namesake’s a doctor. 🙂

          On the other hand, a businessman/entrepreneur seldom comes into stories in a role other than villain. I couldn’t do that with your name. Consider the inclusion a nod to cleverness.

      2. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Nancy; I have (over time) realized that the trick to making an “alien” setting believable is to put perfectly ordinary activities and situations into it. This is another case where less is more (the exact opposite of what I’ve seen in many SF novels). 🙂

  32. dustymayjane

    Her name was Nina. She wore a red wool beret with a little gold pin on the narrow black satin band above her flawlessly arched brow. Here hips swung gently to and froe within her black pencil skirt. The pièce de résistance was the way her white cashmere sweater filled out perfectly. I smoked the last of my cigarette, and dropped it on the gravel, stubbing it out with the toe of my Italian leather loafer. The few bills I had left in my pocket were tossed on the table. I was sure the glass of wine cost significantly less than forty euros and it was far too dry for an eighty four cabernet. I’d have left less but the waitress was a doll and I knew she worked for tips.

    “Scratch that! Damn I can’t get past the tip!” If this were 1974 I’d pull the paper from my typewriter and have the satisfaction of crumpling it up and throwing it in the trash along with my other failed attempts. Instead, I saved the file for future use. It was good, just not good enough. Was this change of scenery going to work? Maybe I was just trying to hard.

    Looking out the window, I see Maggie O’Brien pulling laundry from her basket. She stretched to pin the bedding on the clothes line in the yard. Her silhouette outlined against the sheet of pure white. Her fuzzy red hair was tied up on the top of her head but the wind whipped strands of it free and across her face.

    “Humph. That’s something you don’t see in New York City.” I appreciated the view of her full figure from my second story vantage point. “Typical Irish coloring.” I say to no one. I was staring when Maggie waved. I looked around the yard and than behind me wondering whom she was smiling at.

    I waved back. Her emerald eyes sparkled. Of course she was a whole forty feet away and I couldn’t actually see them sparkle, but my imagination made it real. An idea was sparked and I let my fingers take over. Within an hour I had three chapters completed. The shrill ring from the phone made me jump. Knowing an interruption could halt the flow of words, I reluctantly reached to answer it.

    “Hello.”

    “Mr. Patterson this is Maggie O’Brien. You asked to be notified of tea. It will be served in ten minutes in the dining room if you’re still interested.”

    Her lilting Irish brogue made me smile. “Thank you Miss O’Brien. I will be down shortly.”

    “Wonderful! I, um… I’m wondering.” She hesitated and I waited patiently, my heart pounding. Why was it pounding, I wondered.

    “Yes Miss O’Brien?”

    “I have made a special pie just for you Mr. Patterson. I was hoping we could share it over tea?”

    “I accept your invitation and please call me James.”

    “Thank you Mr., I mean James. And you can call me Maggie.”

    Maggie my muse my love!

    1. jhowe

      You’re becoming a force to be reckoned with in the little forum dustymayjane. Your stories keep getting better and better. I loved the shy dialog from Maggie. I’d have pie with her and I don’t even know her.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I have to jump in here with jhowe. Your writing is so good and so easy on the eyes. I can visualize the charming Maggie in all her detail. What amazes me is the structure of your writing, it flows so effortlessly and says so many things in so few words. This sentence says it all…… “Wonderful! I, um… I’m wondering.” She hesitated and I waited patiently, my heart pounding. Why was it pounding, I wondered.

    2. Observer Tim

      Very nice, DustyMayJane. Here’s hoping Mr. Patterson doesn’t end up living one of his thrillers. I sense he’ll still be in good form after his tea. Either that or he’ll be in ‘Misery’ (with apologies to Mr. King).

      1. Observer Tim

        P.S. I really love the way you built the vivid imagery with so few words; I don’t know if it’s a natural talent or lots of hard work, but the artistry shows. I can feel the sunshine in the Irish afternoon.

    3. agnesjack

      Even James Patterson has moments of writer’s block! The descriptions were great, Dustymayjane. I especially liked the writer’s voice in the first paragraph.

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