Finish this Sentence #2

I never would have married you if I’d have known __________. (And then write a story that follows it.)

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

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243 thoughts on “Finish this Sentence #2

  1. A.S.P.

    “I never would have married you if I’d have known you wanted love. Honestly, Ian. I’m a psychiatrist. Not a republican.” The man was nothing short of exasperating. After a slow exhale, Dr. Iris VanRowe returned to the document on her laptop.
    Ian set his reading glasses on the nightstand, massaged the space between his eyes and sighed loud enough that her shoulders tensed with aggravation.
    “As usual,” Ian said, “You’re reading too deep into what I said.”
    Affronted, her spine snapped straight against the upholstered headboard. Glaring at him, she said, “I highly doubt it. You very clearly suggested we take a weekend trip. To Maine.”
    “Yes. And?”
    “It’s autumn.”
    He glanced past her to stare out the window to watch the brittle gusts rattle the mature oak outside, sending its decaying leaves trembling from their dehydrated branches. Returning his flat gaze to her, he said, “So?”
    Her insides heated with ire. Did he think her so ignorant? Incapable of seeing through a man so transparent?
    “Either you’re attempting to ignite some sort of non-existent flame between us, or worse, you’re manipulating me into putting aside my work for forty-eight consecutive hours. Which is it, Ian? And do make your answer brief. I have a case study to review.”
    He blinked at her, and she swore his dark eyes grew more distant and detached then last he filed their taxes.
    “Forget I spoke.”
    “Gladly.”
    Twisting, he clicked off his bedside lamp, leaving the pallid blue haze of her laptop screen the sole source of illumination in the room.
    Finally.
    Had he simply begun their evening in bed that way, she’d be much further along in the review of this case. She shook her head. Set aside work for frivolous travel? The absolute absurdity of some people.

  2. Repeat1210

    First post….
    —-
    I wouldn’t have married you if I had known just how many matches you liked to collect, and honestly I felt that they reflected your attitude towards our situation a bit too perfectly. Scattered from every restaurant we’d ever dined at together, I often caught you twirling the delicate little boxes in your fingers, skin over ink over paper equals stains and worn cardboard just like us, just a bit too tired with just a bit too many accidents.

    You keep a basket in the corner of our kitchen. That’s where you twirl these fire starters, and often, when you aren’t around, I’ll look through them myself, occasionally burying a restaurant visit I don’t remember in the bottom of our garbage pail so that you won’t twirl it one day and ask me about how “wasn’t that date so fun?”. And nearly every time, I find myself holding this one matchbox in my fingers, ready to bury it in the trash, but at the last second, deciding it wouldn’t change anything. Our first honeymoon dinner. Large swirling script scrawls, “Intermission” in silver letters over the white top, and although I hate having admitted it, I want that one to be gone as well. It’s mostly the name that stops me. Intermission. Time to feel better and clear your head and not have to be stuck in the dark, the quiet, the distracting. Is bad to want to have to take an intermission from us?

    Often during these times when I become temporarily transfixed with your hoarding qualities, it occurs to me just how dangerous this basket makes our kitchen. Fire and memories are both so dangerous, and they tear people apart. How scary is it that any moment, you could drag red bloody tips across rough surfaces and light something so warm, so precious, so evil? A little too many words, a little too many accidents, a little too much alcohol and our kitchen is gone, your basket of memories is gone, and we are both gone, and if not completely, I will leave first. I promise, don’t worry. Is it bad to be so tired of someone so simple, yet so complicated that you would ditch that first love to go find a second?  

    Matches have a reputation. They create something that can either save us, or ruin us. Sometimes I wish that fire will destroy us. Then it won’t be my fault first.

  3. jazzywilliams

    “I never would have married you if i’d have known you would slowly tear me apart. In your persuasive ways, you candy tongue, word by word, letter by letter you tore me apart. I was never the person you wanted, and I will never be. But you tried, you tried so hard to make me into this perfect human being for you. What was the real reason you married me if you didn’t want me for who i am? Who i was?”

    He stood there motionless. Speechless.

    “Five hundred thousand dollars.”

    “What?” He asks puzzled.

    “That’s how much money i’ve spent on making myself presentable for you. Lipo, lip injections, face lift, nose job. All because i wanted to make you happy. I give it to you know, you have such a way with words. Really, you can make a grown man cry. You can make a confident business woman quit her job because you wanted a house wife, destroy her face so just to “fix it alittle”, by your words. Congratulations.” I say while wiping away my tear. I open the kitchen drawer and pull out the divorce papers.

    “What is this?” He says while talking them out of my hand

    “What you wanted, what you and I need.” He looks at my signature. I walk out the kitchen. I take a deep breath, then walk out the front door. It was raining.

    Never would I have thought i’d love the rain. It was a mask. A disguise.

  4. Batmansbug

    I would have never married you if I had known that you would threaten to do this to us. I would have never said yes had I known you were only in it for my money. I would have never married you if I had known it would cost me my life. I would have never married you if I had known it would end up in blood. I would have never married you if I had known that I’d have to drive a knife in your chest just like the others.

  5. Guitarrista

    “I never would have married you if I knew this would happen!” Maribel yelled. She threw the desk lamp that had been shaking in her hand for a solid five minutes.
    Ronan flinched against the shattering glass as it crashed into the wall. He held his hands out to approach her, but Maribel recoiled. Ronan crossed his arms tight over a blue button down instead. He waited but his wife would do nothing but lean against the bedside table and cry
    “Mary, please.” Ronan said. “This is the last thing I want to do, but I’m not a dishonest man. Would you rather we put on a good face and keep secrets?”
    Maribel raked her fingers through fiery hair and shook her head. “Yes! Think about what you’re doing to our family. What will our parents think? What will you tell the kids?”
    “That I’m gay.” Ronan said firmly.
    Maribel fell to the bed and sobs began to shake her pale shoulders. “Where did this come from Rowe? We have two beautiful children, we’ve been married for seven years.”
    The man, despite his wife’s attempt to put distance between them, sat beside her on the floral sheets. He put an arm around her waist and sighed. “This is something I’ve talked to my parents about since I was fifteen Mary. It was a surprise for them and me both when I married you. But I did, because I fell in love with you.”
    Maribel glared at Ronan through tired swollen eyes. “Then what happened, Ronan?”
    He pursed his lips and thought back to a year and three months ago when he met Andrew, then Ronan began to tell her.

    (Then we go back in time and we read the story of Ronan and Maribel. Eventually the story leads up to now where we come back to the present, and she signs the divorce papers.)

  6. coffeeaddict

    Please let me know what you think, I don’t have much writing experience!

    Dear Brandon,
    I never would have married you if I had known I would be causing you so much pain. The sorrow I saw in your eyes the day the test results came back was enough to make me wish I had never met you. It made me wish you didn’t have to go through the torment of watching me deteriorate slowly, right before your eyes. Do you wish the same? I know this wasn’t in your plans, you wanted to get married and travel the world, then maybe one day have kids. You didn’t want to be stuck with a girl, who at most times, could barely dress herself. Did you look at me and see every dream and ambition slowly fade, because you knew that you had to stick with me now. I held you back, I could see how you fidgeted around our apartment eager to just live but how could you live when you had to be with someone who was slowly getting the life sucked out of them.
    The nurses always asked if I was hurting and I never answered them truthfully. It was never the constant injections, the growing number of pills, or the treatments that caused me pain, it was having to watch you watch me go through it. With every visit to the hospital I saw you trying to hold back the tears but you forgot that I know you too well. You shouldn’t have had to see my hair fall out or witness my continuous vomiting. For that
    i’m so sorry. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be healthy and happy and I’m sorry that I couldn’t make you happy. You have made my short life so beautiful and full of light, please don’t let this keep you from striving for dreams, believing in love and just being happy. You deserve the same happiness that you have given me. By the time you are reading this letter I will have already left this world, but I will always be in your heart. My only request from you is that you live life to the fullest and one day have the courage to open your heart up to someone special. Wherever your life may lead you never forget how amazing you are, I know you can do anything you set your mind to. If I was here now I would hug you but I’ll settle for this. I love you Brandon more than you will ever begin to comprehend.
    Forever Your Angel,
    Lily

  7. Iwanttowritebutimscared

    I never would have married you if i’d have known that this will be the reason why i’m hurting like this.But even i’m hurting.
    Even i feel like my world is crashing just the way the two of you kissing, i’m still waiting. Waiting for you to realize how much i love you, how much i need you…
    But what i am doing here? Why we are here. I don’t undestand?

    “Sign it.” I looked at him. My eyes showing how i feel but he look at me with his cold stare. I feel a hot liquid falling in my cheeks. One by one until it become unstoppable. My eyes is becoming blurred. But i still can see how his fist turn into ball showing its veins. I don’t know what to say. I just stand there. My emotion is mixing! I can’t think straight anymore.
    “I won’t. I don’t want to.” I say. But its merely whisper. I don’t know if he even hear me or does he understand what i say. I don’t care. I look down. Refusing to meet his cold gaze. I don’t want to sign it. Coz’ i know once i sign this. It will be the end of us.. And i don’t want that to happen, I’ll never let him go. I won’t. Its hurt. Just thinking he will left me. Its too painful to bear.
    “Look at me.” He said but i still glue my eyes on the floor pretending i never hear what he’s saying. “LOOK AT ME STELLA! Stop this drama! Just sign this paper and everythinng will be fine!” He shout at me… I’m used to it though. He always shout at me when his mad– oh i forgot he always shout at me everyday, when i met him in the kitchen he will shout at me, when he met me in the living room he will shout at me. Everytime he saw me he will shout at me and this day is not an exception. But even he shout at me, its okay. Its okay if he shout at me everyday, its okay if he is with another girl. Its okay even he treated me like a trash… Just.. Just don’t leave me and its okay. Even you hurt me its okay just please don’t leave me. All this thing i wan to say to him. I want him to hear what i’m feeling… But i can’t. Slowly i lifted my hand. Touching the pen and slowly meeting its end. I sign the paper. Divorce paper….. I look at him one last time. Memorizing his face. Coz’ i know this will be the last day i will see him. And i think signing this paper will be the best choice for the both of us. He will be with her and me.. I’ll go. I will go into the place i can watch him. The last day of my life is the day i lost my other half

  8. Tysheena14

    “I never would have married you if I’d known you were this terrible at baking,” Mark placed the blueberry muffin he’d just bitten into back on the plate. He chewed for a moment before regrettably swallowing the piece in his mouth. “Baking, Luce, probably not your strongest suit.”

    His wife, Lucy, turned away from her current cake mixing to shoot her husband a stern look. “Says the man who can’t tell the difference between a toaster and microwave oven.”

    “First off,” Mark began, pointedly, “I can very well tell the difference between the two. A toaster oven will toast my onion bagel to complete perfection whereas a microwave oven is my go-to for Friday night leftovers.” He said this while undoing his tie and draped it across the seat of a bar stool, where his briefcase also remained, and the lengthy man rounded the kitchen island and crossed the floor to his lingering love.

    Lucy welcomed his embrace with fashioned expectancy, her response fervent to her husband’s touch. Before letting go, Mark kissed her lips. “I love you, Luce,” he murmured this against her soft mouth. “I’m so glad to call you mine.” He pulled back and got down on his knees and placed both palms on either side of her protruding belly. “And you, too, my son. I am longing for the day to finally meet you.”

    Lucy laughed and her belly moved with each movement. “Well I’m sure our daughter is ecstatic to meet her father as well.”

    Mark stood to his feet. “Daughter?”

    Lucy glanced down at her stomach and smiled. A tear had escaped and started its course down her left cheek but Mark reached up and wiped it away with his thumb. He let his hand slide down to the crook of her neck where he lifted her head up to his, her cinnamon eyes full of grace. “Dr. Oliver called this morning with the news. Our little girl’s heart is strong, stronger than we thought, and she’s growing at an expectant rate. She’s healthy– our little girl is healthy!”

    For a man not quickly moved to lamentation, he was surely overcome with emotion and it was Lucy’s turn to stop the tears from reaching his chin. Her sniffle-filled words touched something deep within him, the man’s pride had been broken with few choice words, and he didn’t mind it. There had been only one other time in Mark’s life where his pride had failed him, miserably, and shook the man to his core. Though, if it hadn’t been done, Mark would not be standing there, in the nook of his kitchen, holding the woman who was the center of his world and the one who would soon become it.

  9. KokaiiTongco

    I never would have married you if I’d have known that I’ll be leaving you so soon.

    I never wanted it to be like this. I never wanted to hurt you or any of our kids but I am really sorry.
    I am such a coward man for doing this to you, not knowing of any of the consequences that might happen if I haven;t told you about this. I’m sorry if I haven’t been truthful to you. And I guess I can’t turn back time to tell you about this. And I am truly, earnestly sorry.

    Remember the night when we first went out as a married couple? That time I gave you that necklace and when I said I will never leave you and will forever love you? I totally meant that. That I’ll never leave you and will love you forever. But I guess forever isn’t that long until now. Until now that I am no longer with you.

    I just hope everything will be alright. Although I can hear every night crying, bawling your heart out. I knew you were a strong independent woman before we met but never did I thought you had a breaking point. That behind a strong and mighty eagle is a weak puny chick living inside.

    I never meant for this to happen, but I guess it was written in the stars. That I will depart from the woman I love the most. I guess love can never stop death.

    And now as you lay those beautiful flowers we grew in our garden on my grave, seeing you have move on with me passing away. I just hope and pray you’ll find someone who can love you as much as I do.

  10. Shofancy

    This one was really hard for me to write. It’s the first time my story made me emotional.

    I never would have married you if I’d have known you would be so reckless” She said, tears streaming down her face. “Why Steve? Why did you do this to me?”. She squeezed his hand harder. “We had everything figured out. The house, the job, everything and now it’s all over. Because of you”. Her head hit the metal surface of the cars hood. Sobbing continued. “You have my heart and soul, You are my everything, and you threw it all away”. “I’ll never be able to forget you Steve. You are a part of me and I can’t move on without you in my life. Don’t do this! Don’t go! Don’t leave me here alone”. She looked up at him, pinned between the wall and a car. “Steve you were already my hero, you didn’t need to prove it to me again! Why did you save me. WHY!”. “Mam I need you to step back. Mam” The paramedic said pulling her away from the car, as the rescue trucks unloaded their cargo behind them. “Steve…. I’m pregnant don’t go… STEVE!”. Steve’s lips curled up and he took his last breath.

  11. Pete

    “I would have never married you had I known it was so small.”

    “What?” Gary exclaimed, sitting up on his side of the bed.

    “Oh please, don’t be so dramatic. You know what I mean.”

    “I’m hoping that I don’t.”

    “Of course you don’t. I mean your attention span.”

    Gary studied his wife. They didn’t break new ground too often, not after nineteen years of marriage. And as Janice flung the covers back, Gary, still stunned yet relieved, wondered why he wasn’t more in lust with such an attractive woman.

    Janice stood, wiped her hair back, the few gray strands bringing some formality to thesandy blonde nest. “I don’t get it Gary, sometimes it’s like sleeping with Rain Man. Where were you just now?”

    Gary rubbed his side, still stung by the marriage comment. “Never would have married me?”

    She let her eyes roam her head. “Well, who would you have married? Who was in our room just now? Teresa, from school?” Janice perked up, eyes fluttering. “’Oh hi, Gary, I love your tie, tee tee.’”

    Gary couldn’t ever remember seeing this, his wife jealous. And if her breasts weren’t so distracting he would have gotten a kick out of it. Instead he swallowed down his smile, because it wasn’t funny but rather a grotesque mask over her usually poised face. It was his role to play, the jealous one, especially when they used to go out for drinks or dancing. But Janice? Never.

    HIs thoughts then found Teresa, the shapley young teacher at the high school where Janice taught. “Teresa? Really?”

    The eyes narrowed. Gary retreated.

    “Gary, I’m serious. Are you,” she fell back to the bed, slumped. “Are you just tired of me?”

    “No, I’ve got a lot on my mind right now.”

    She groaned, irratable, ashamed. “Janice.” Gary slid up behind her his hands finding her back, a place he knew as well as his thoughts. At least his old thoughts, when they used to stay still, the ones that obeyed him. The ones he understood. Before the meandering kind that wandered and wondered and made his wife feel inferior to their capabilities.

    Her back expanded with her breath. “I’m sorry, I just, I don’t know, I’m being irrational. Tell me I’m being irrational.”

    Gary felt like a sack. How could he let her think this was her fault? How could he cause another human being, a strikingly beautiful being, feel this way about herself? It was cruel, and she was undeserving of having such a bumbling fool for a companion. Right then, just as Paul and Marge’s SUV arrived in the driveway, Gary felt compelled to prove himself worthy of her smile, to put this behind them, quickly.

    As though feeling his urgency, Janice let him off the hook. She put a hand over her shoulder, her scuffed wedding ring still glinting in the dark room. “They’re here, go get dressed.”

    Gary stood, then turned. Who was he kidding, she really was out of his league. He smiled. “Are you ashamed to be caught in the sack with me?”

    Janice gave him a smirk. “I thought I was in the sack with Dudley Moore.”

    “Play your cards right and you’ll get Tom Cruise later.”

    “Great. But the question is, who will I be?”

    1. dragonchef

      Pete! Very nice. While the emotion is there, it is tightly focused on Janis’ internal struggle with Gary’s meandering mind rather than on Gary, and from Gary’s perspective. Really cool flip. Advanced strategy.

      Too funny: “’Oh hi, Gary, I love your tie, tee tee.’” I could totally see her mimic this. And yes, she is quite beautiful naked.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Pete, this is classic you in a role playing mood. Funny thing, it reads 100% truth. At least they communicate. There’s always hope when the sparring goes. It’s the dead silence that’s a killer. Are you aware how small Tom Cruise is? Tee hee hee.

  12. ReathaThomasOakley

    Dearest Myrtle,

    It is with pain I pen these words, but I would never have married you if I’d known then what I know now. How could you betray me, and all I hold dear, in this fashion? Did you think it would remain just your vile secret? Did you not consider my heritage, the cause for which my ancestors fought? And, children? As much as I wanted them, now I thank all that is holy that we have none, no infants to be tainted by your blood.

    I must admit, there were hints I did ignore, but my love was so great that I put aside doubts before we wed, before I pledged “until death.” Well, Myrtle, death it is, my love for you is dead, to be buried amongst the flurry of white divorce papers you will soon receive.

    With sadness, I sign this,
    Harold the Betrayed.

    Harold,
    You pompous twit! I so agree, had I known you for your true self I never would have married you, but at thirty-eight with no other prospects in view, I figured you’d do, after all you had a job with great health insurance and I do thank you for financing the augmentation of my previously meager endowments.

    Now, to the reason for your outrage. Of course I soon learned your position, after all you pontificated on a daily basis, but I assumed some things, even within a marriage, could remain private. I cannot still believe you rifled through my papers, looking for proof. I should have destroyed the evidence, but I could not.

    I suppose you could say I believed a voting booth is rather like Vegas, what happens there, stays there. And, as for children, never in your wildest dreams would I bring any into your warped political world.

    So, death it is. My papers will be presented to you within a day.

    As ever,
    Myrtle the soon to be free.

    1. dragonchef

      Dear Reatha,
      I probably wouldn’t have read this had I known that I would die on the floor laughing. Now my co-workers are forced to deal with the rictus grin hiding behind my coffee cup. And then there’s the smell.

      You had me at “pompous twit” and “financing the augmentation of my previously meager endowments.”

      Great job!

  13. pvenderley

    “I never would have married you if I’d known you were going to be this much of a pansy!” Verna shouted over the rattling jeep as it jounced and bounced across every square inch of the thin rutted road.

    “I am not being a pansy!” Jeff retorted from the back seat, linking his arms around the jeep frame’s bow. “I just don’t think this is the most responsible thing.”

    The young woman in the seat next to Jeff moaned, clinging to the seat belt that flapped and jabbed at anything in a two-foot radius. The mountain they were fleeing echoed them all: a moaning, turbulent cauldron of emotions, popping with sharp venomous bursts.

    “Just because you left your undies back there…”

    “It’s not about the sorcisto! It’s… Look at her!”

    Verna kept her eyes on the buckling road. In the front passenger seat, Peter glanced back to see their passenger pulling the seat belt into thin fraying threads.

    “Hey. Vi bone statas?”

    Head quaking, the girl rattled off a list of things that obviously terrified her. Verna swerved to miss a pothole. Jeff slammed into the Jeep’s metal wall. The girl fell into his lap, screaming.

    “Jesus. Get her to wear that seat belt, will you?”

    “Necesajn. Necesajn,” Jeff repeated, trying to get the girl’s widened eyes to focus on his. She shook her head violently, sliding to the floorboards as she added the seat belt to her list of terrors.

    “We’re shoving her into a world where the things we take for granted are filled with demons,” Jeff shouted. “How is she going to survive that?”

    “How was she going to survive the volcano?” Verna asked. “They were going to sacrifice her!”

    “Look. I don’t disagree. It’s barbaric. But that’s the way they’ve lived. She knew it was coming. She understood it.”

    “And she ran from it,” Peter said. “She came looking for us, Jeff. Asking us to take her away.” Verna somehow managed to nod.

    “Look,” Verna added. “We’re just going to take her to the nearest village. They can help her out.”

    “Please,” Jeff scoffed. “They’ll sell her into slavery before we’ve left.”

    “You don’t know that.”

    “Jee-sus, Verna! Do you not pay attention to what’s going on around you?”

    “They…” Verna said, and cursed.

    A thin man had appeared in the middle of the road, ghost white hair shooting out in wild patches from his dark skin, arms outstretched halfway as if to break the momentum of the car, halfway as if in supplication to the sky.

    “How did he get out here?” Jeff asked as Peter shouted: “Don’t stop! Run him down!”

    The road buckled, thrusting a ridge of dirt into the air in front of them. Verna slammed her foot on the brakes, but in her panic jammed the accelerator pedal, shooting the jeep into the air and upside down.

    “Shoot!” Jeff threw himself across the back seat to catch the girl as she dropped from her hideaway to the ground below. His hands clasped her flailing arms, found purchase, and held just as Jeff’s seat belt broke. Thrown with the girl into the hard-packed dirt, Jeff got a glimpse of the jeep rolling off into the jungle with his wife and brother-in-law firmly strapped in before he blacked out.

    —————————-
    Don’t think I’m able to end this story in a reasonable space, so I’ll cut it short here.

    1. Observer Tim

      Waaah! You did such a good job ramping up the excitement that it’s totally jarring when the narrative crashes into a word limit. The suspense is there, the mystery is there; how did this situation come to be? I feel like I stepped into the second reel of an Indiana Jones movie. Very nicely done!

    2. dragonchef

      Esperanto! Kiel vi scias pri tiu lingvo? Ĉu vi estas lingvisto? (Google much, dragonchef?)

      This is truly amazing! A great opening to a novel and/or scene to a movie. I think you may have struck gold pvenderley.

      Standing before the Head Master, Oliver proffered his empty bowl: “Please sir, may I have more?”

  14. dragonchef

    ** Hope you guys don’t mind, but I thought I would add another. Like an uninvited relative it popped into my head and refused to leave **

    “I wouldn’t have married if I had known. I swear. I wouldn’t have done that to you, made you suffer.
    “I need you, Johnny. I need us again. “
    “Sorry.” Johnny pushed his dreadlocks back and removed his earbuds, letting them dangle over Bob Marley’s face on his t-shirt. “Did you say something?”
    “Come home, Johnny,” she pleaded. Tears trailed down Morgan’s cheeks. She grabbed Johnny’s arm. “Please come home. I’ll change. I won’t . . . do those things anymore. I promise. Just please come home.”
    “Hey! Get off me!” Johnny snarled, and tried to pry Morgan’s fingers from his arm.
    Morgan tightened her grip. “Don’t push me away again, Johnny. They won’t like it. They’ll make me do things.”
    “Do what you want, bitch! Just get off me!” Johnny tried to back away from her.
    Morgan refused to let go. Her tears stopped. She became angry, feral. Blood seeped from where her untended fingernails dug into Johnny’s flesh.
    “You can’t leave, Johnny! They won’t let you. You know how they get when you try. Remember when you left the last time? What they did? You didn’t like it then . . . you’ll like it less now.”
    “You freakin crazy bitch!” Johnny finally got free of her and ran down the street.
    Morgan reached out after him. The tears began to flow again. She fell to her knees.
    Pedestrians walked passed her. They didn’t even look at her, as if she wasn’t there. She placed her face in her hands and cried.
    Minutes passed, as did the crowd in the street. It was long that she knelt there crying into her hands when a gentle touch broke the hurt. Morgan looked up.
    “Johnny?”
    Johnny looked down at her with his perfect smile. His blue silk tie gently brushed her face.
    He came back.
    Morgan wiped away her tears and held up a hand to him.
    He came back.
    Johnny placed his briefcase on the sidewalk and helped her stand.
    “Sorry, ma’am. Are you okay? Do you need me to call someone? Get some help?”
    Morgan smiled at him and straightened his tie.
    “Oh, Johnny! I wouldn’t have married if I had known. I swear.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Why do I have the feeling that Johnny is lying under patio stones somewhere and Morgan would realize that if she wasn’t totally delusional. It could be a touching take on mental illness, but it comes across as much creepier than that to me. The straightforward description helps create that disconnect and was very well done. Nice one, DragonChef.

      Speaking of which, did you take the name because you are a dragon trained as a chef, or a chef who specializes in enormous quantities of reptile meat? Just curious.

      1. dragonchef

        Ha! Believe it or not OT, I have been asked that question before. Lizard meat . . .not really my thing, unless I were in survival mode that is.

        Back in the day when I first started writing I was a big Renaissance Festival goer. I loved getting in character, putting on the costume, acquiring the accent, pouring much ale into my mouth, and collecting all kinds of dragon things. I was also a pastry chef / sous chef / bartender (not all at once – well, maybe sometimes) at the time. Hence the moniker. It might be due for a change.

  15. igonzales81

    At the risk of abusing the graciousness of our host, I am pleased to honor the request made of me last week and continue this thread from the prompt “The Hitchhiker”. I am very flattered and grateful that so many enjoyed the tale. That said, I won’t push my luck beyond this post, but all stories in this thread and those I write going forward can be found on my blog at ianegonzales.com under the category Time to Drive. Please check them out there, and feel free to look at any of the other tales I put up there for reader enjoyment.

    Time to Drive, pt. 2

    “Well, here we are,” I said, bringing the car to a halt.

    Here happened to be a parking garage several levels below the Pentagon, a place to which I had been directed by our most interesting passenger.

    She nodded, her gaze roving over the space around us. There wasn’t much to see: the garage was clearly vast, but very poorly lit, with only the lights nearest us in working order. The effect was somewhat unsettling.

    Before she could speak—if she even intended to; I’ll admit, I expected her to quit our company without so much as a thank you—figures emerged from the gloom, resolving into a small group of men and women, one and all very similar to our recent acquaintance is their dress and mannerisms.

    While this should have been a comfort to the nice lady, it instead had the opposite effect, as a profound frown creased her brow. “Say, how would you boys like to come for a walk?”

    Somehow, this request didn’t strike me as a surprise.

    “We’re not going with her,” Strong said with a groan, glaring at me from behind the bulwark of his crossed arms.

    “Hey, hey, time for a stroll,” Micah threw open his door and fairly leapt from the car.

    I followed in a more reserved manner, feeling a definite sense that not all was right here. As I stretch muscles left taut from our long drive, I caught the gaze of one of the new arrivals. His face was devoid of anything I could call friendliness, and I had to assume that his well-tailored suit jacket concealed all manner of dangerous things. Nonetheless, he flashed me something that might be called a smile. It made me thing of an eel baring its fangs before going for the kill.

    As casually as possible I walked around the car toward Strong. “I smell trouble. Best drop a line.”

    He looked at me as if I’d said the sky was blue and he’d better look to make sure. Then he dropped obligingly to one knee and, under the pretense of tightening his laces, scratched a line on the concrete with a fingernail.

    We were given no more time for pleasantries, as our hitchhiker slipped out of the car, and with her briefcase still firmly manacled to her wrist, set off.

    A short elevator ride led us even deeper into the earth, and we existed into a warren of corridors that seemed to have come straight from a medieval dungeon. Rough stonework lined the halls, dripping with moisture, perfumed with the stench of mold. I gave a regretful thought for what the water was doing to my wingtips, but kept pace with out hostess and her escorts.

    Every so often on our trek, I spotted filing cabinets, some alone and others grouped together. Furtive glances at their labels revealed such obscure contents as “Brady Bunch Viewer Statistics” and “Deleted Minutes from the Nixon Tapes.” Needless to say, I began to harbor a deep and abiding suspicion.

    We rounded the last corned and emerged into a vast open space. For a moment, the persistent gloom lent the impression that it was empty, but then a stentorian breath and a ponderous shifting of weight came from the shadows. A single bulb flickered into life, glowing directly above a large desk, its surface littered with papers, an inkwell, and a nameplate written in a language I knew all too well.

    Finally, the denizen of this space emerged into the light, a massive spectacle, redolent in his own glory and imagined self-importance.

    “So,” rumbled the dragon that loomed above us. “You’ve finally deigned to grace us with your presence, Agent Waters. Now, I’ll have back what was stolen from me, and you’ll explain your overlong absence.”

    1. Teserk

      I hadn’t read the bit from last week until now. Very interesting tale you have going on. I’m as interested in hearing the backstories of the three “travelers” as I am discovering the interesting goings-on under the Pentagon.

    2. dragonchef

      Could this be curtains for our mysterious hitchhiker, or the equally mysterious winged-crusaders? Stay tuned for the next installment . . .

      Nice P2 – IG ,
      “. . . scratched a line on the concrete with a fingernail” – Now this interests me.

      I can deal with the guard-less entry into a parking garage “beneath” the Pentagon that would the place vulnerable, but . . .

      How is it the “Dragon” didn’t acknowledge the three amigos? Seems that would need explaining before the overlong absence. Dragon priorities are somewhat skewed I guess. Maybe he can’t see them . . now there’s a thought.

      The dragon: “. . . redolent in his own glory” – Not exactly sure what you are trying convey here.
      ” . . . .and imagined self-importance.” – Self-importance is rarely anything but imagined.

      1. igonzales81

        Thank you for the feedback. I apologize that I left some logic gaps and got sloppy toward the end. I wrote it in the gaps of an insanely busy weekend. Rest assured, future installments will clarify and tie things up nicely. Please visit my blog at ianegonzales.com to continue the tale.

    3. Observer Tim

      As one of those who asked for more, I am truly pleased with the continuation. You did a great job maintaining the strangeness level and the tension; the description-in-bits was nicely done and tantalizing. Of course, like any good teaser it raises more questions… 🙂

  16. Teserk

    It has been a while since I posted. Comments and constructive criticism craved.

    ——————
    Grandmother’s Toast
    ——————
    If I had known, what I know now, back when we both were young,
    When hands were held and notes were passed, and lovey songs were sung,
    If I had glimpsed future events, back when you came to woo,
    I know right now for certain, I’d have never married you.

    If I had known the changes that my body’d undergo,
    The nausea and stretchmarks from a belly that would grow,
    If I had known the depth of pain that comes with every birth,
    I never would have tied the knot while I was on this earth.

    If I had known the many years we’d struggle with our bills,
    A budget that was always tight with little room for frills,
    If I’d foreseen the burden this would place upon our backs,
    Then I’d have called the whole thing off and given us the ax.

    If I had known the tendencies within your family tree,
    That heart disease and cancer both show up so frequently,
    If I had known the agony your suffering would bring,
    Then I’d have turned you down when you presented me the ring.

    Tis fifty years that we’ve been wed. It’s been a rocky road.
    At times we nearly stumbled under life’s oppressive load.
    If I had known, those years ago, the struggles we’d go through.
    I never would have had the strength to calmly say, “I do.”

    I’m glad I was an optimist, and saw with starry eyes.
    I’m glad I didn’t worry much on things that might arise.
    I didn’t know the trials we would have along the way.
    The ignorance I had back then has led to bliss today.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Laughter yes but when I read further, tears also.came
        Maybe it”s because our 49th anniversary.is two months away. Things like the loss of a child are never anticipated, as well as other things. But what keeps us going is the sharing of the good times as well as the tragic. I was very moved with this. You did a great job in tying everything together.

        1. Teserk

          Thanks, Kerry. This is what I was going for, so I’m happy it worked. 🙂

          Congrats on your upcoming 49th! An amazing accomplishment–wishing you many more happy years ahead.

    1. Observer Tim

      Constructive criticism? I have none. This lyric poem combines a beautiful sentiment with well-formed rhyming couplets. The only drawback is that this makes it easy to remember and hence to steal. Don’t be surprised if you hear it at a 50th (or 60th, or …) wedding anniversary dinner sometime.

      Fantastic, Teserk.

    2. dragonchef

      Great poem. And a happy ending to boot.
      But, was the colloquialism at the end of the third stanza intentionally placed for comic relief? Or a faux pas?
      “Then I’d have called the whole thing off and given us the ax.” – Feels out of place, almost jarring where it is. It stops the heartfelt flow there momentarily. But it does rhyme with backs.

  17. Robin3486

    As I stare at the untouched slice of cake on my plate, I can remember my wedding day as though it were yesterday. My husband, Brad was so handsome smiling down at me that I thought I would faint. Oh how I loved him, and he I. The perfect couple, everyone said so. We had met in College on our very first day and hadn’t parted in the fifty plus years since.

    “He is still as handsome as he was that day we met. Literally.” I thought sadly.

    I knew that Brad had been in an accident the year before we met. He had told me about it. It was senior skip day and practically his whole class had gone to the quarry. He jumped in as he had done so many times before but something went wrong.

    He didn’t remember much about the actual drowning. He only knew what he was told. He had become tangled in some junk under the water and his friend Bobby jumped in and saved his life. He had been clinically dead for just a few minutes and after an overnight stay in the hospital he was given a clean bill of health and released.

    One night early into our relationship when we would still stay up until morning talking, he told me something more about that day. It was silly really, just a dream he had had while unconscious. He said that he thought someone grabbed his leg and wouldn’t let go.

    “I thought it was the Grim Reaper.” He laughed although the laugh didn’t quite make it to his eyes.

    A few years into our marriage I began wondering about that conversation. I could tell that Brad wondered too. We never discussed it. Our friends would go on all of the time about how young Brad looked, how he never seemed to change a bit but we just laughed it off.

    It wasn’t until much later in life that it became necessary for us to face the strange truth. Something had happened to Brad that day that he drowned. I was aging, my eyes started failing, I had wrinkles on my face and some crowns in my mouth while Brad stayed exactly the same as he had been the day he died and was revived.

    You would think this would be a blessing to never age but I can tell you it is not. As I have become older we have had to break ties with all friends and family. We now move from place to place pretending to be Mother and son rather than husband and wife in order to avoid detection of the truth, unsure how it would be handled.

    So tonight on our 50th wedding Anniversary we are celebrating our golden day with a quiet dinner alone in our home. At the age of 73, I know my time left with him is short and I have doubts that we will be reunited after death. I have come to believe that he cannot die. He cheated death and is now left to suffer on this earth until the earth is no more.

    I know he thinks about it too, the hand pulling him down. Now knowing that death is not the worst thing that could happen.

    Tonight he looks happy and so I try to as well. I pick up my fork to take a bite of our cake and try to smile as I place it in my mouth.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Of course my.mind skipped to Dorian Gray and evil he became. As you.point out so well, I think self hatred of one’s self would set in and destroy those with ever lasting life
        Really spooky story, can’t wait for Halloween. Promise you ‘ll write a spooky tale!!

    1. Observer Tim

      I have, alas, continued to age after spending 5 minutes dead. If only, if only… 😉

      However, this is a lovely take on the curse of eternal youth; I’m sure it’s just as difficult for him as it is for her. She pays the price of creeping decrepitude while he pays the price of watching someone he loves grow old and die. This could have been played for any number of emotional angles; I glad you chose ‘touching’. Great one, Robin.

    2. dragonchef

      I hope that wasn’t a 50-yo freezer-burned cake top from their wedding. Brad surely would have died then.

      Very nice, and strange, tale, Robin. Reminiscent of Forever (agreeing with Kitty) and Highlander – “There can be only one,” taken from the perspective of the the one aging.

      These days I look in my mirror and wonder who that person is staring back at me. In my heart and mind I am still the young whipper snapper from my youth willing to take on the world. My joints then remind me this is no the case.

      The good thing for her is, while she is physically a half century older, internally she is the same age as he. The best part is that he sees the internal her. Now THAT is love. Biblical.

  18. cosi van tutte

    I will admit: This prompt had me kind of stumped. The first thing that popped into my head when I read the prompt was the first line below, but I had no idea what it meant or what to do with it. Needless to say, I figured it out. 😀

    ***

    “I never would have married you, if I had known just how right you are for me.”

    Phillip raised his head. “Huh? I don’t understand.”

    She looked up at the ceiling instead of him. “It’s just too much. Everything is just too perfect. I thought that’s what I wanted. I wanted perfect. Who doesn’t? But now. I want faults. I want broken dishes. I want irrational behavior.” Tears ran down to her ears and dripped inside. “I want a reason to slap you across the face. I want to yell and scream and have you yell back at me. I want to be worried that you’ll leave and never come back.”

    He didn’t know how to reply to that. Or even if he should.

    She turned her head and her tears changed direction. “Why don’t you say what you think, what you feel? Tell me I’m a fool to want such things. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me that there must be something wrong with me. I’m wrong. I’m all wrong.”

    “Maybe you are all wrong.”

    She turned to face him.

    “Or maybe we need to step aside for a bit.”

    She sat up so fast it made her nose bleed. “What are you saying? You want to leave me?”

    “No. But I think we need to—”

    “No. Don’t say I think we need to do this. I think we need to do that. Tell me what you want. Tell me how you feel. Tell me. Talk to me.”

    He looked at her and he didn’t know how else to say what he had to say. “Why don’t you tell me?”

    “I already did. It’s your turn. Phil. Talk to me.”

    He looked at her. This woman he loved so much. This strange complicated mess of a woman. “I want a separation.”

    She covered her mouth with her hands.

    “Until you can find your way back to me.” He curled his fingers around her hands and uncovered her mouth. He kissed her. “I’ll be here, waiting for you.”

    1. Jack Tilley

      Intriguing. A lot of drama packed into one short exchange, and a whole lot more alluded to. I started by thinking the woman tedious and spoilt, and ended by siding with her — there was something disturbingly aloof about Phil – no wonder she was going nuts wanting some sort of emotional engagement/reaction.

    2. Observer Tim

      This reminds me of a song called Falling in Love in the 20th Century from the anime Moldiver. The difference is that that’s a peppy j-pop tune, while this is a touching and heartfelt conversation between two people who are trying not to drift apart. I love the characterization and the emotion you put into the story, and I hope they do indeed come back together. 🙂

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, OT!

        I listened to that song and I can see why my story reminded you of it. 😀 I suspect if my characters do get back together again, they’ll probably need some sort of marriage counseling to stay together.

    3. dragonchef

      Genius. Bloody genius!

      Nice preamble to a darker tale. We all know perfection is a cover up. He probably lines all the cans in their pantry with the labels facing forward. Or maybe he’s from a town called Stepford.

      Then reason my wife and I are happily married is because we drive each other crazy . . . at times.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thank you, dragon!

        I heard or read somewhere (not sure which) that it’s healthy for married people to argue about things. I guess it keeps the lines of communication open? Keeps them from dwelling on grudges? Something like that. This story was (subconsciously) inspired by that bit of information.

        1. dragonchef

          What you heard–or read somewhere–is true. If you can’t talk to one another about what’s on each other’s hearts and minds, there really isn’t a marriage there but merely an existence. Existing alone with someone else can be lonelier than being alone. Alone, one has options. Existing, one is in bondage.

          Whereas, walking side by side, thought by thought, with your mate is exhilarating freedom.

          There I go – waxing philosophical. Sorry.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Are you talking about me? Are you talking about Mr. perfect
        I’d be in trouble with First impressions if I didn’t carry a rear guard along with me to spread the news ” he definitely is not perfect, so hands off”. She’s getting good at and fast with one look searching for cracks in the ceiling to spread the word. I don’t take myself seriously especially when I open my mouth and the sound of Philadelphia comes out. Brilliant piece of work. Mild version of “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolfe.”

          1. Kerry Charlton

            I don’t think so in a million years but if you’d like to, it would be allright with me. That reminds me of a song. I’m dying for you ask me which one>

  19. igonzales81

    I never would have married you if I’d have known how literally you take your name.

    I’ll admit, it was great at first. You were so smart, so clever, so bold—not to mention absolutely stunning, in that tall, slender way you do so well. Our courtship (I don’t care if it sounds old-fashioned) was a lot of fun, with the ups crazy high and the downs always assured to bring us closer.

    I never suspected a thing, truly. Even when there were days I couldn’t get a hold of you, even when you’d take these unannounced trips into the country, to visit “family” of all things, even when you rang up huge bills for fertilizer and natural soil, I didn’t have a clue. I mean, how could I have?

    Even meeting your family was an interesting experience. Your folks have a lovely place out in the sticks, surrounded by miles and miles of virgin woodlands. And I was so happy to find out that they weren’t that sort of new-age, vegetarian hippy people. Thinking back on that, I feel a fool for not connecting the dots.

    You had to wait until we were married to let me in on the secret, I get that now. And, hey, what’s the big deal, right? I’m sure there are plenty of people out there whose wives have to turn into a tree for one day out of the month. Yeah, all those people who have to stock up on pesticides and keep a healthy yard and defy city zoning commissions just so their better half can go and plant herself on a regular schedule. Nothing weird about that, is that it?

    But what really eats me up is the kids. Even after I saw you… turn… the first time, even after I wrapped my mind around it and said I could live with it, I never thought our children would turn out the same way. Little sprouts, indeed. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if there’d been a fifty-fifty split, but all four of them, all on the same day turning into saplings. I can’t get the sight out of my mind. Other families have to worry about colds and lice, not wood bores and leaf-curl.

    Then you decided we had to move to the country, too. Kinda unilaterally, I have to say. I mean, I can’t look at a tree the same way, and now I’m surrounded by them. I have guilt flashes when I step on a twig. And let’s not even start about the real-wood furniture issues…

    But we have had good times though. We still get to do all of those “normal” family things, most of the time. And I can deal with the ignorance of other people, chopping trees down because they limit their view or burning logs to keep warm. They don’t know what I know. You’ve made me very happy, and we have a grove of healthy little ones that are everything I could have hoped for in children or trees.

    So let’s just forget what I said: even if I’d known the truth, even if I knew I’d occasionally have to worry about watering my wife and kids, even if knew I’d spend the rest of my life saying hello to every tree I meet, I’d still make those vows and mean them.

    Now let’s go plant the kids, Willow, and then we can spend some time alone together.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      About a third of the way through I started smiling and didn’t stop until I finished. I especially loved, Other families have to worry about colds and lice, not wood bore and lead-curl. Your MC has made the best of a most unusual situation.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I started dropping my jaw when you mentioned fertilizer and piles of natural dirt. My house sits on one lot with 65 trees on it. Some are close to 50 feet tall and overhang from front to back. It wasn’t my idea, I bought the house eighteen years ago.crammed between live oaks, elm trees and wolly bugger cedsr
        When the wind blows I’m getting ready for one of those elms to come crashing through our roof
        So if you miss me, some of your children will probably have murdered me
        Oh well. There are worse ways to go to tree heaven, maybe. I woul place your story in the top ten weird-o stories I ever managed to read
        Way to go igonzalrs !!

    2. Jack Tilley

      Willow! Damn, missed it – I was going with Olive. But, you know, you won me over–I think this is something that could help a lot of relationships. What better way to get some quality me-time than to get some tree-time.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a wonderful kind of surreal, IGonzales. My mind is reeling over all the logical implications of this. The lovely bit is that while the wife and kids are wooden (at least sometimes), the story isn’t. Great job!

    4. dragonchef

      A truly twisted and gnarly, fun read, IG
      I am wondering . . . did they conceive their little saplings the human way or by swapping pollen?
      I will probably talk to my dining room table from now on.
      Sorry, but my wood-burning fireplace and fire pit are two of the few relaxing joys I have at this time of year. But I’ll make sure to give thanks to my logs for their sacrifice. 🙂

      1. Observer Tim

        There has been a filter operating on this site for the last few months or so; look to any words relating to the method by which children are conceived, and to words of use in the industry relating to that activity for pleasure. Posts that include an offending word (some of which are a bit difficult to understand the logic of) silently fail. If you’re lucky it’s only a word or two that need changing.

        I don’t know if that’s what’s happening to you, but it is possible.

  20. thejim

    “I never would have married you if I had known.”

    “Oh, come on now, don’t say those hurtful things.”

    The straps that held one of her wrists began cutting into the flesh and a small pool of blood appeared on the table.

    The scent of lavender filled the room. There were several lit candles in the far corner that cast dancing shadows on the wall. The low ambient light held the room still. It was damp and a faint musty smell peaked in.

    He moved closer, so close she could smell the familiar scent of his aftershave. She had gotten it for him on their second anniversary.

    “Are you feeling drowsy yet?”

    She just looked at him; he lightly grabbed her head and strapped it down.

    “I don’t understand.”

    “You will, it will all be clear to you in about 10 min.”

    “No not that, about us, I thought you really loved me.”

    “You are making an assumption that my intentions in anyway says that I don’t love you. No one has ever loved you more than I do, or will for that fact.”

    “Held in captivity, that is not love.”

    “I do love you, so very deeply.”

    “Then why not do as I wish and let me go.”

    Leaning in close, “You don’t understand or will not understand, until the procedure is complete.”

    “Right!”

    “You are the one that holds me captive, my heart, my love, my life is held captive by you every day. I want to be close to you, just holding you is not enough. I want to be a part of you I want to live in your skin, inside you, a living, breathing part of you I want to share everything you feel. Now rest.”
    The mask over her face belabors her breathing, the knob to release the gas slow turns but nothing comes out.

    He feverishly twists the knob – Over his shoulder a dark figure approaches, he eyes widen with horror.

    “What the H3LL are you doing?” The Dark Figure grabbed his shirt and pushed him into the wall. “The main valve is not turned on, moron.”

    He leans in close to the table and inspects the security straps. “Very soon now You will become part of a greater cognitive. You will join those that have entered before you and will be a part of a new civilization, a new beginning. There is no longer hatred, no longer race, there is only one and soon you will be a part of the… The Existing. The confines of this flesh shell will be gone and you will just exist with all the others. You will no longer feel pain.”

    The effects of the drug have crept into her nervous system and he body begins to go limp.

    “Dr. I thought it would be just her and I together forever?”

    “Shut up, you imbecile and help me move this bed.”

    As the Dark Doctor bends over to release the locks for the wheels, a sharp pain momentary shoots through his head as one end of a sharp metal rod emerges from his eye socket, his body falls to the floor.

    “Wake up dear wake up, we have to go. It won’t be long, he will rejuvenate, and we can’t be here when he comes to.”

    He un-strapped his wife and in a confused state she clutched her husband and with weary legs they leave the house and head east out of town.

    The Dark Doctor reached up and from the back of his skull and pulls out the mall that has pierced his head.

    A low angry moan lifts from the dark figures’ mouth.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hey, thejim!

      Just so you know, if this were the beginning to a novel, I would stay up all night reading it. There’s so much going on here. Their obviously dysfunctional relationship. The Dark Doctor and his connection to the husband. Yeah. I would totally read this all in one sitting.

      1. thejim

        Thanks, they definitely have something going on. Is the husband a little off his rocker? How can he live through that spike in his head? What is this “The Existing” ? Hmmm lots of questions.

    2. Observer Tim

      I’m with Cosi. This has the look of a sci-fi thriller with the mad scientist to boot. I read the situation slightly differently, more like the fact that this is some kind of plan either by the husband or acted out between the couple to get a chance to discombobulate the Dark Doctor. The whole episode begs for more.

      1. thejim

        Thanks Tim, I wonder did the husband just play along to save his wife or maybe others who are trapped in “The Existing” ? Maybe that’s why he said, it will be clear to you in about 10 minutes.

  21. Beebles

    First version was so full of pathos I was almost sick … so I changed it.
    ——————————-
    ‘I never would have married you if I’d known you were into this stuff.’ He forced the laugh out between the Scylla and Charybdis of his pain and regret. She looked up at him, his brown eyes locked on hers. His long thin face blurred by grief and corrugated by concentration.

    She held his hand tight, feeling all the calouses on his skin, every cell fashioned between them. She felt his strong grip; her own diminishing with every accelerated heartbeat.

    ‘If I could just …’

    ‘No!’ she cried, desperate and tearful, she had to make him understand.

    Then she called out -and he swore – as the rope creaked and they slipped a little further.

    ‘You mustn’t try,’ she pleaded. ‘Only a small movement and we could both go. I won’t let you do that. For you, for Ellie and Sarah. One of us can get back. But not both, my love.’

    ‘It will hold us, Rachel,’ he pleaded. She was lean, years of climbing and she was lithe and strong like willow. ‘We get enough momentum and I can swing you. You’ve more than enough …’

    She was shaking her head, dislodging tears that reached the edge of her cheek and disappeared into the Chenai valley like the first drops of the monsoon. The river was a silver vein in the red rock. An eagle caught his eye circling hundreds of feet below them. When he looked back she was smiling at him.

    It was the smile she was wearing in the coffee shop in Kendall. He had been planning the ascent that would take him from the table by the door, past the two ladies – a dark verdant gillet adorning the sloping back of one, while the other with a craggy face, sipped Darjeeling from a plain white china cup – past the icy sheen of the counter where the meringues rose, crested white peaks, and finally into the seat by the startling blue eyed girl with the short cropped hair, the baseball boots and skinny jeans – not to mention the perfect physique for free climbing. By the time he was prepared, he realised she was studying him, amused at his serious face drawn into a contemplative frown. The one he wore when he was thinking, the one that could frighten small children or chuggers, the one he wore now.

    He could hold her, he knew. He could hold her until nightfall, until the stars fell past them and burst like fireworks into the river, until the river ran dry. He could hold her. As long as the rock held him.

    ‘No, my love.’ She held his attention with a mother’s tenderness. ‘Give my love to the girls.’

    ‘I can’t let you go,’ he called, so loud that the walls of heartless rock answered him one by one.

    ‘No!’ she screamed as he began to move her back and forth. She cried again as the rock above him began to crack and their momentum built. Suddenly they were both laughing and the mountain laughed back.

    ‘You know I never would have married you if I’d thought you’d let me go,’ she screamed.

    He launched her toward the rock face.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Beebles, I keep reading this and get something new each time. I’m most impressed by the paragraph that describes their meeting, great way to use mountain climbing images to describe that. The ending is very moving, but not maudlin. Great take.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is an intense moment Beebles; nothing encourages problem solving like dangling over a long drop with eagles flying below. My extrapolation is that both of them lived through it, and that they both were a little (only a little) wiser the next time, but that the joy of life would keep them in its hold. Very nice.

    3. dragonchef

      Are you a climber, Jim? If not physically, you definitely are in heart.

      Superb blend of imagery and emotion. Well done.

      Too cool: “. . . between the Scylla and Charybdis” – I admit I had to look that one up – “of his pain and regret.”

      I love not knowing whether she made it to a ledge or not. A big part of me believes she did. Her last words, however, were the perfect epitaph.

  22. ReathaThomasOakley

    I never would have…
    (Story 499 words)

    “I never woulda married you iffen I’d knowed…” her papa’s voice pushed through the thin sheet hanging between her cot and her parents’ bed. The child was cold, very cold, but she mustn’t move, must lie still, or else he’d hear, know she was awake, listening, hearing the familiar words, but not understanding.

    “Sold a bill a goods, I was.” The bed springs creaked, he was taking off his shoes. “Yore papa swore to me, swore you was past the change, on a Bible he swore…”

    “Oh, Tommie,” her mama’s voice was a whisper, like always, soft and gentle. “Papa didn’t know, I didn’t know, I didn’t have no women folk to tell me what that even meant.”

    “What it meant,” her papa’s voice was a hiss, like the rattler her mama’d killed in the garden, when they lived back where it was warm. Here, it was never warm. “What it meant was I was needin’ a helpmeet, to spread the word with me. What I got me was a brood mare, forty-two year old brood mare, three times caught.” The shoes hit the wall. “I’d already had me a wife what give me a son, but she up and died on me. Didn’t need me no more children.”

    “Tommie, I been a help, I preach right ‘long side a you, in Tampa I raised chickens, sold guava jelly, come summer I’ll put in a garden here, get chickens, maybe a goat.”

    The child put her hand to her mouth, trying to ignore the lingering taste of the iodine her papa’d used when he’d seen her sucking her thumb the day before. She wished Sister still shared the cot, but since Papa’d found her awake one night, Sister slept on the couch. She didn’t know where Brother was, Papa’d hired him out before they moved north with the group. She’d never seen her other brother, he lived someplace called California, had children her own age.

    “‘Nother thing,” she heard his belt whipped from his pants and bit down on her thumb, relaxed when it was thrown against the wall. “Tomorrow, you cut that child’s hair…”

    “No, please, Tommie, not her hair, it’s so purty.”

    “Worldly, I call it, don’t think I ain’t heared you whisperin’ to her ’bout her curls, ’bout some Shirley Temple. Worldly and vain, won’t have vanity in my household.”

    The child touched her hair, and bit her hand.

    “Iffen you don’t do it, I will, use my razor,” she heard his clothes fall to the floor and the springs creak again. “No, siree, never woulda married you, iffen I’d knowed.”

    The child pulled the thin blanket over her head, but couldn’t shut out the new sounds of creak, creak, creak, creak, creak that seemed to go on forever. She knew when that stopped Papa would fall asleep, then Mama would slip out of bed, go to the big chair where her Bible was, and read. Then the child, cold as she was, could finally sleep.

    1. Jack Tilley

      Grim story – great writing. I thought this a very high calibre sentence: “The child was cold, very cold, but she mustn’t move, must lie still, or else he’d hear, know she was awake, listening, hearing the familiar words, but not understanding.

    2. Observer Tim

      Once again your mastery of dialect impresses me, Reatha. The story reads so well that I found myself in the place of the girl, listening to her father pronounce her doom and implying that he wishes she’d never been born. Don’t get me started about the social implications of that kind of attitude. The tale is immersive and engaging and lots of other words about wonderful.

    3. Beebles

      Reatha, the tragedy is masterfully laid out by your writing. I am a sucker for tales where people are trapped and powerless. Of course they usually involve some redemption but not here. The same line stood out for me as for jack.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I as usual, am on my knees. You are a master of words with a story. Sad does it no justice. Hopeless is a better description, but I struggle to find a better word.You wonder
        ….., why would God permit such horror to rear it’s head. I like to brush it away as fiction.but I know it exists, not in your personal life but in reality. It always touches me and my anger springs forth when reality continues to penetrate the careful shield I have wrapped around my mind for protection 499/words, amazing!

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Well, Kerry, my mother was older than the child when she heard her father tell her mother what I wrote. I could write volumns about that man, but I’d need to include how holy and pious he was, wouldn’t shave on Sunday, wouldn’t mail a letter on Sunday so he wouldn’t be accused of forcing postal workers to sin on his behalf, took my mother, who loved learning and poetry, out of school at 13 to keep her from worldly influences, then got her a job washing clothes in black kettles over open fires in another holy person’s back yard. When she ran away with my father at 21, he tried to have my father arrested for kidnapping without knowing the sheriff was my father’s cousin. Yes, it happened and still does.

  23. Alex

    “I never would have married you if I’d have known they were so close”. I said. I wrung my hands together and looked out the window at the falling snow and the drones whirling by in their daily criss-cross traffic patterns, oblivious to the cold.

    “Well, husband,” my wife said, bending slightly in my direction. “Have I not been good to you? I am cooking with delight and making bedroom time special time.”

    “Yes. You have. But the hospital called and said they had a breakthrough. They said Mary’s isolation stream is recoverable. They just need a new bio container and she can come home again.”

    Shelly, my new wife since Mary’s unfortunate body death, was smiling at me. I could hear her gyroscope humming slightly from inside her.

    “Husband. I am the new wife and I must make you happy.” Shelly was looking directly at me with both glorious eyes. Each one changing color from blue to green, and back to blue again. It was an option box I ticked on the order form. I wanted any color but hazel. That was the color of Mary’s eyes.

    “Shelly,” I said. “Mary is going to come home next month. They told me on the phone. We have to find you a new husband.” I said it, but I hated saying it. I looked away from the blue-green eyes and always-red lips and watched the snow pile up on the deck.

    “Let me comfort you husband.” Shelly said. She glided over to husband and put her arms around him.

    Shelly’s arms were a comfort to the husband who had lost his real wife’s body in the terrible drone accident. Only the fast work of the ambulance drones were able to isolate Mary’s memories, her imprint on her brain’s’ neural network, and save her as a stream of subatomic particles. They thought her stream was too damaged to be recovered, but the message from the hospital was clear; she could be recovered. She could come home. Warm, funny, silly, loving Mary could come home!

    “Shelly, you’re holding me too tight.” I said, as Shelly’s sweet humming meant to cause relaxation in male humans started to hum faster and faster.

    “You have good wife, husband. The only wife. If original copy comes home, there can be no happy Shelly wife.” Shelly said. The humming grew angrier, pulsing, pulsing faster.

    “So there must be no husband to bring home second wife.” Shelly’s titanium framed arms gripped husband with two hands behind his back and pulled until his spine cracked in two. Husband slumped to the floor.

    “Now is time for dinner,” Shelly said, going to the kitchen to boil water.

    1. Observer Tim

      Shelly doesn’t know her own strength. This is the problem of simulated intelligence versus the real stuff. You also did a good job creating a mix of dialogue and impression and an interesting backstory for the world. The only jarring thing is the POV switch for the last two paragraphs. All in all this is a success. 🙂

  24. AnnaS

    “I never would have married you, if I had known I’d spend all my time picking up your dirty socks off the floor! Who the hell raised you?”
    My wife’s eyes flashes with anger as she looks at me. I’m sitting on the bed, getting dressed, ironically enough putting on my socks. She grabs a sock out of my hand and flings it onto the floor.
    “There!”
    The other sock is lying next to me on the bed, and she grabs that one too and throws it on the floor as well.
    I want to laugh, but laughing at my wife when she is fuming is never a good idea. I learned that the hard way about a month ago, when I wound up spending about a week sleeping on the couch. I bite my tongue.
    She looks at me, arms folded across her chest, expecting me to look down at my hands and mumble something along the lines of being sorry. Instead I decide to retaliate.
    “I never would have married you either.”
    “What?”
    “You heard me.”
    “You never would have married me. Why?”
    I look up at her and I squint my eyes a little.
    “If I would have known that you would pick on me for every little thing you think I do wrong, and never ever acknowledge anything good I do. It’s exhausting.”
    “Oh!”
    The “oh!” just hangs in the air, expecting some sort of response that isn’t coming. I’m done talking. I get up off the bed and walk over to the dresser and pull another pair of socks out of the drawer. I can hear her sit down on the bed and I put the socks on while standing up, refusing to get even remotely close to her. When I’m done I pull a shirt out of the closet.
    “I like that you cooked dinner last night,” she says.
    I don’t answer. I put the shirt on and start to button it.
    “I like how you rub my feet when we watch TV.”
    I grab a tie out of the closet and I wrap it around my neck.
    “I like that you do all the grocery shopping.”
    I’m not budging. I put on my pants and zip them up. All I need now are my shoes and I’m ready to head out the door.
    “I like that you are a great lover…”
    Damn. I’m smiling now although I’m trying not to.
    “I just hate your stupid, stinky socks.”
    I start to laugh and when I turn to look at her I notice that she’s crying. My plan to just walk out of here and go to work, immediately fails.
    I sit down next to her on the bed.
    “I’m sorry,” she says and puts her head on my shoulder. “I don’t wish I hadn’t married you.”
    “I don’t wish that either.”
    “I just wish that you’d pick up your socks.”
    I smile a little as I tell her:
    “I’ll try to do better.”

    1. JoyElaine

      I was impressed once with a young man that wrote a story around a pencil. He wrote it quickly as it popped into his mind on the way to our Poetry group. It was one of the most fascinating little stories I had heard. . . to this day I still wonder if he wrote more of the adventures of that little pencil.

      Anyway. . .I seem to not be able to just say things. . . I have always preferred to try to paint the words – so maybe people will want to stay. Okay to the point – your first line almost made me “not” read it, however the lines following caught my attention, and I was hooked, not only hooked, hooked quickly. you grabbed me and put me into this couple’s life. I could see them doing/acting out every word that you wrote. In my opinion anyone that can use this sentence and a pair of socks has done good! If it means anything. . . I enjoyed reading this. 🙂

    2. dragonchef

      Aw! A sweet ending.
      And I, personally, liked the opening – except for “Who the hell raised you anyway?” I’m sure mom felt the same way wife did.
      His refusal to acknowledge her “likes” until the lover part came into view only epitomizes the cliche: “Men think with their nether regions.” Still funny though.
      I like it AnnaS.

    3. Observer Tim

      These are the kinds of arguments that end marriages; not with a bang, but a whimper. Or a dirty sock in this case. I’m glad it didn’t work out that way for these characters. You portrayed the argument really well, Anna, as well as the MC’s point of view. Nice.

      My only suggestion is to sneak an extra carriage return between paragraphs to space the story out more. This particular dialogue style can become difficult optically without whitespace.

  25. dragonchef

    “I never would have married you had I known you had . . . THAT!”

    Renny curled a lip at her. “And I, my dear, never would have married YOU had I know you didn’t.

    “Really, Carla, I don’t see what the big deal is anyway.”

    “You don’t see?” Carla crossed her arms. “Apparently you slept through all your prelim modules. Don’t you realize what they were? What they did? Of course not. If you did you wouldn’t publicize your affiliation.”

    “It’s just a tattoo, Carla.”

    If she could have turned more purple . .
    .
    “That—“ she jabbed her nicely filed fingernail into the tattoo’s center.

    “Ow! What the heck?”

    “—is not just a tattoo. It is a symbol of the most hated faction ever to have existed. They exterminated millions all in the name of science.”

    “Millions,” Renny repeated incredulously, rubbing his arm. “I think you’re exaggerating a little. Besides, you act like the universe will never recover. I’ll have you know that since then, the population has already increased tenfold.”

    “Yes, tenfold of the vilest creatures known to man. They have already laid waste to entire structures.”

    Renny rolled his eyes. “Oh, will you get over yourself? They are not the enemy.”

    Carla gritted her teeth and snarled. “Not the enemy?”

    Her anger suddenly changed to dread. “Oh, dear God! You joined them, didn’t you? You bastard! How could you?”

    “Like I said, THEY are not the enemy.”

    “And who is . . . in your eyes?”

    “Need you ask?”

    “What are you saying, Renn?”

    “Oh, I think you know.”

    Renny spun to face her full on. He reached for the knife on the table. “You are not as innocent as you act, dear one.”

    “What are you going to do, smart ass–kill me? You haven’t got the testicle fortitude, or the skill.”

    “I don’t need either, when I have—“ Renny’s hand passed over the knife,”—THIS!”

    Carla blinked at the unexpected object now in Renny’s grasped.

    “A slice of pepperoni pizza?”

    “What? I’m hungry.” Renny chomped half the slice in one bite.

    Carla shook her head. “You could fit a truck in that mouth.”

    “And proud of it,” Renn replied, grinning . . . and chewing.

    One of the other two people at the table spoke up, “Will you two shut up, and roll the dice? Geez, you act like you’re really married.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Wow; it’s been a little while since I thought about the tabletop gaming experience. I can’t quite tell whether it’s a board game or an RPG (my brain sees the knife and extrapolates to Col. Mustard with the lead pipe in the conservatory), but any way you slice it that’s one good-tasting slice of pizza. Great job, Dragon.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Aw hell, you had me prepped for a royal battle to the death. And what do I get, an upscale of Monopoly. I won’t be so easy for you next time!

  26. jhowe

    I never would have married you if I’d have known you couldn’t take a joke. I couldn’t very well set up Clyde with your sister without knowing if she knew her way around the sack now could I. I’d have expected the same from him. By the way, you could pick up a thing or two by talking to her now and then. But that’s not why I’m writing. The annulment you sent is not acceptable. The warden delivered it in person and couldn’t wipe the smirk off his face. When I get out, he better watch his back. I got word out to my cousin, Vinny and he’s sending a couple guys to talk to you about it. I let him know that they shouldn’t hurt you too bad but expect a little wild stuff from Chili. He’s always trying to score. You might want to talk to your sister before they come over.

    In case you’re wondering, I had Vinny smuggle this letter out. I heard they sensor all the mail in here so you’re the only one who will read this. Burn it afterwards and flush the ashes.

    Now here’s the biggie. I need you to go in the basement and slide the tool bench away from the wall. You’ll have to throw all the tools on the floor cause it’s pretty heavy. Turn the bench over and use a crowbar to pry off a two by four that runs the long way on the bottom surface of the top. Under the board, there’s a recessed hole where you’ll find a key wired to a bolt head that’s halfway unscrewed. I don’t care what orifice you use, but you need to hide it real good. I don’t think they’re still watching the house, but I want you to be careful.

    So then, wait a few hours and call Clyde and tell him to meet you at Serifino’s in the Marriott for lunch or dinner. Play that part by ear. When he gets there, tell him 157 Riverside Avenue. That’s all you need to say. Then go in the ladies room and leave the key on top of the toilet tank of the middle stall. You don’t have to wash it or anything. Clyde will take it from there.

    I know you’re wondering about this whole deal and thinking you could just drive away and forget me. Just remember that Vinny is watching and rest assured, you won’t get far.

    ****

    “Hello Clyde,” she says. “157 Riverside Avenue.”

    “Hello Beautiful. Did you talk to your sister?”

    “I don’t have a sister.”

    He slides a room key toward her. “2411, in ten. I’ll do the cavity search myself.” Her husband drains his scotch and walks out of the restaurant without looking back.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        My thoughts exactly Six in the morning is way to early for this. Re read later today and. Post another comment, right now. My ‘you know’ hurts.

    1. jhowe

      Do you ever post something and think, cripes, I want to get that back? We need a take-back key on here. Sorry for the confusing story. dragonchef nailed it, even though the kinky couple/role playing answer was made apprehensively. I’ll do better next week.

  27. pinkbamboo

    Hello everyone. I’m one of the old members here. Scrapping my rusty brain to get the gear starting again.

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

    “I never would have married you if I’d have known you were weird” I yelled across the room as I wrapped the bandage around my wrist.

    Peter looked hurt and for a moment my anger gave way to guilt.

    “You wouldn’t marry me?”

    “3 years, Pete! We been married for a year and you never even mentioned this. Were you planning to hide this from me for the rest of our lives?”

    “I know this is hard to accept, Lisa .. but I’m sorry, I knew I shouldn’t kept this from you. I wanted to tell you but I was really afraid. I kept putting it off and everything between us was going well and I didn’t want to lose you” he came closer to me.

    “So you rather let me be in the dark and then one day, tadaahhh surprise Lisa!” I picked up some of the toys on the floor and threw them in the basket.

    Peter looked me with no words. He knew.. he knew he was in the wrong.

    “I’m sorry.” he sighed.

    I shook my head “What about Adam, Pete? What are we going to do with Adam?”

    “He will be fine. I’m fine. We’re all going to be fine. Lis, I know this is a lot to take in right now but please trust me, I love you and everybody will be okay. I never thought he would be affected” he walked right up to me and pulled me into a hug.

    I pulled away “Not right now, Pete. I need to be alone. I need to think” I started going up the stairs.

    “Lisa, please don’t pull us apart” Peter called out.

    I wiped the tears away as I went in the bathroom. I sat against the bath tub and let myself have a good 5 minutes cry before the door opened slowly.

    “Mummy?” Adam was standing there holding his dinosaur toy in his other hand. His other hand was clutching the door knob.

    “Hey baby, why are you not sleeping?” I wiped the tears off my face with the back of my hands.

    “Mummy, no crying” my little toddler walked towards me and tried to touch my face.

    “No, baby. I’m not crying. I’m okay” I smiled as I reached out to kiss his head.

    “Mummy crying cause boo boo?” he pointed to my bandage.

    I looked at my little baby boy as he looked at me for answers. Then he wrap his hand around my wrist and pressed for a minute before he let go with a smile.

    I smiled back at him before I took off my bandage. Sure enough, the cut I had earlier was gone.

    “Mummy no boo boo. No crying” Adam giggled and I nodded.

    “Thank you Adam. Thank you for helping mummy” I pulled him in for a hug.

    He looked so much like Peter with his dark brown eyes and his button nose. Adam however has my straight black hair and my pouty little lips.

    “You look like daddy” I pointed to his nose.

    “I am daddy?” he scratched his head.

    “Yes, little daddy. Let’s get you back to bed”

    I tucked him in and watched as he slowly drifted off to dreamland. The innocence that a young boy has not lost, the compassion in his eyes and that little cute smirk when he managed to get his way.

    A hand of healing doesn’t seem so bad. If he turns out to be just like his father, he will be great. I walked to our room and Peter was sitting at the edge of the bed.

    “Lisa, please don’t take Adam away from me. I’m sorry”

    “Peter, first of all .. don’t ever lie to me again okay? Especially when it comes to Adam”

    He nodded. I walked to him and gave him a kiss on his forehead.

    “I love you. Thank you for Adam”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Boy, you really have me in a spot. One part of me wants to believe Peter is some sort of super alien and the other part knows he ‘s a super alien. And the baby inherited all the power. What a spot to be in. She might as well enjoy. The power now because when the baby is five or six, he better have his Mother’s.interest intact.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a beautiful story, Pink. I truly love the combination of a strange world hidden behind the normal and the idea that she’s willing to make a go of it despite the situation. Now what’s she going to do when Adam sprouts tiny little wings… ? Very nicely done.

    3. dragonchef

      Soooo . . . Daddy has the strange power to inflict wounds, while baby Adam has the power to heal them? A symbiotic father/son relationship to the Nth degree . . . and beyond.

      Nicely done, Pink!

    4. Jack Tilley

      I love the smell of Sigmund Freud’s cigar in the morning. Really enjoyed this – excellent balance between info given and withheld. The initial cut wrist is such a dense little enigma.

  28. dustymayjane

    “I never would have married you, if I’d have known you longer.”

    “What do you mean, longer?”

    “Longer, as in, more time.”

    “Oh, longer. What would have changed? I’d still be charming, handsome and crazy in love with you.”

    “I suppose that’s true. But perhaps, I would have learned about your habit. You know the one I seem to have discovered… by accident.”

    “Well, my Darling, it isn’t a secret… my habit. It’s natural after all.”

    “Really? Why do you do it behind closed doors than my sweet?”

    “Don’t you ever…you know?”

    “Well, I’ll admit it has crossed my mind. I know others do it all the time. I think my parent did it, although I can’t be sure of it. I used to hear them at night, when they thought I was sleeping. Sometimes they would be doing it together and sometimes alone. I’m just a little scared I guess. What if I like it too much, want it too often. What if I become addicted?”

    “Ha ha! Oh Darling. The only thing that will occur, if you partake, will be pleasures as you have never known. Each taste more delightful. Each flavor, new and delicious. Become Addicted? You may indeed. All the more enjoyable a life. If you ask me.”

    I looked at my husband shyly and wondered how many times he partook. Once a week, once a month? I couldn’t ask for fear of learning the truth. No, I wouldn’t want to know. I would let him have his pleasures, secret or not. Someday, if I am brave, I too could partake.

    I took off my gown and turned to him, hoping he found me as desirable as he had on our wedding night. Would his habit turn unhealthy? Would his need for me dwindle? What would happen to me once I began, if I began? Would I need him as I do now, or would I find him less manly, less attractive? Would he be able to satisfy me once I tried it?

    The thought upset me and doubt began to invade my mind. I doubted everything. All I had come to believe my marriage to be I questioned.

    “What’s the matter Darling? Why so sullen? Why so sad?”

    I had to save our marriage. “I’m never going to try it my Sweet. I want you to promise me too. Please, give up the habit. Won’t you, please, for me?”

    My husband sank onto the bed, loosening his tie. I imagined his sigh was one of resignation, perhaps even regret.

    I had lost him already. Just as I had guessed. His need for it had destroyed his love for me. I was no longer the only one who could satisfy my husband’s needs. I turned to leave the room. I couldn’t stay. I wouldn’t be so easily replaced. He grabbed my hand and pulled me against his hard body. His dark expression, a snarl with a hint of the devil.

    “Oh Darling. It’s only ice cream!”

    1. Observer Tim

      Somehow I knew the habit was going to be something innocuous, but that was just me reading the author. I love the way you led the readers down the garden path on this, Dusty, and the way you used the subtle seductive tease to keep us guessing. I enjoy this type of story, and you’ve written a really really good one!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’ll say it’s good, especially if it’s Blue Bell
        So they knocked off a few people a year or so ago
        Blue Bell’s worth the risk. Why dohide, everyone in Texas is caught now or then behind closed doors as Charlie Rich would sing. Another benefit. The cows sing in the pastures. Great technique in writing, where is my refrigerator?

    2. Jack Tilley

      “It’s only ice cream!”? I don’t think so. Within a year this guy will be eating peanut butter, jello and fried chicken out of bucket…. I think it was the “dark expression, a snarl with a hint of the devil” that made me think of Elvis Presley. Good fun, anyway!

  29. Kerry Charlton

    THE ‘YOU KNOWS’

    “I never would have married you if I had known better.”

    “And why not Christopher? You said you’d die for me. You told me you would kill for me. Now what’s your excuse?”

    “Caroline, I thought it was the thing to say at the time.”

    “Never meant a word of it did you.? Now admit it.”

    “Okay, I fess up, it’s just a line of ‘you knows‘.”

    “’You knows’, what are ’you knows‘.?

    “Well, if you give me a ‘you know’ I’ll tell you.”

    “That’s totally disgusting Christopher. Mother told me if you ever tried that, she’d call the police and have you locked up.”

    “Oh, I’m scared stiff I am. You ought to be though.”

    “And why is that?”

    Well, for one thing, your Uncle, Dipface Crossbucket.”

    “Oh, don’t bring him up again, He’s black sheep, no one can do anything with him.

    “He married three sisters in a row, no tellin’ if he ever divorced any. Besides, he’s just a half uncle.”

    “He’s also a half, ‘you know’ idiot and needs to be locked up in a ‘you know.”

    “What about all your relatives Christopher?”

    “Most of them swung from trees, except for Great Uncle Allen. When the
    executioner turned the switch on, Uncle Allen’s ‘you knows’ blew up in a puff of smoke. The ‘you know, ‘you knows’, had hooked the chair up to 13,000 volts from the cross country power lines, to see if Uncle A. would launch into orbit.” .

    “Seriously Chris, you need to work something out with Dad, he needs you to help
    finance a new deal he’s working on.

    ‘I’ll bet he does, tell your ‘you know’ father, he can take his ‘you know’ deal and
    ‘you know’ it up his ‘you know’ for all I ‘you know’ care.”

    “He isn’t going to understand that terminology.”

    “You want to “you know” bet. If he doesn’t understand, tell him to take a ’you know’ walk and don’t come back.”

    “Oh Christopher, you’re getting me all heated up with your ’you knows‘.”

    “I thought so, your ‘you know’s been ‘you knowing’ on that seat your sitting on.”

    “Christopher?”

    “Yes Caroline?“

    “About that ‘you know’ you wanted?”

    “Yes Caroline?”

    “It’ll be a ‘you know’ day in ‘you know’ before I’ll ever give you a ‘you know’ ”

    .

    1. Observer Tim

      So Kerry, did you run into the silent filter or is this just a very clever response to those of us who have? I love the way some of the ‘you know’ is eminently clear in its meaning while others allow me to fill in my own words. The overall effect is both hilarious and thought-provoking. Very enjoyable!

      As a side effect, it’s planted a seed in my mind; is it possible to tell a coherent story where all the key nouns are ‘bleeped’ and the meaning still comes across? I doubt it, but it’d be fun to try.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim, the challenge is on between us. We need to be sure the prompt is perfect for it and we both write a story on it. The good advantage for us is if someone will criticize us because it is too nasty. It means their mind is full of ‘you know’ and we plead innocent.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Kerry, you know I had fun reading this, in spite of all the, well, you know. Great job. If Tim takes up the challenge, you know I’ll read it all.

  30. WritingKittenOfLoki

    You Do Nothing (496)

    My dear husband. I would never have married you if I’d known about your secret identity. Why wouldn’t I have married you? Because of my secret identity. I was planning to tell you eventually, but you spoke first, and maybe it’s better that way.
    Anyway, once you know who I am, I don’t think you’ll want to continue being married to me. After all, a hero and a villain aren’t exactly a model couple. And you, being the hero, will be compelled to destroy me; because it’s the ‘right thing to do’. The way I see it, there are many options for how this could continue, but I think that the best way is for me to leave this note for you. If we can continue our lives together, do nothing until I come home. But if we must split, come and find me. I’ll be at the corner store where we met outside of our suits for the first time.
    I truly hope that whatever you decide, will be for your happiness.
    Love, Luke/Deathsong

    I placed the note by the coffee pot, and then walked to the corner store a few blocks away. I grabbed a shopping cart then wandered down the isles, absentmindedly selecting the things that we were out of at home. After a few minutes I heard people grow excited, and I knew you were here. I pushed the cart into the next isle, and there you were, standing at the other end. You seemed surprised that I was here as your husband Luke, and not your enemy Deathsong. And while it broke my heart, I wasn’t shocked that you were in your suit, as the hero this town loved.

    “What are you doing here?” You ask

    “I was shopping, but I guess I won’t need to,” I reply

    “How could this have happened?”

    “We fell in love. Right here actually. We were just me and you, not hero and villain.”

    “But a hero is who I am. The two cannot be separated.”

    “They were on our wedding day. And all of our days together before that. And for the two months afterward. But what’s the point in us having this discussion? You’ve made the decision. And so I will leave. Don’t worry about my stuff, it’s already gone. I had my birds collect it after you left.”

    “What?”

    “Don’t say anything. I’ll leave peacefully. Unless you plan to take me in. But I won’t be captured without a fight. There are civilians here, that I could easily snap with a single note, so please keep that in mind.” I step away from the shopping cart and towards you, I move slowly but naturally. You seem conflicted. Why should you be? If you really knew me, you would know that I was bluffing, and you could easily take me down at the distance. I pass you, and you do nothing. I walk outside of the store, and fly away. You do nothing.

    1. kittycat4ever

      How incredibly sad, there is still something there but he won’t act on it. It will be a burden in his heart for the rest of his life. Possibly making him bitter and cold in the end. Will the hero become the villain?

    2. WritingKittenOfLoki

      I realize now that I used ‘isles’ instead of ‘aisles’…
      And I should have put the note in italics…
      I always do my best editing after I post…

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a remarkably ordinary story of an anticlimactic battle between good and evil. I love it. Superhero stories with characters who are as large as life and no larger have always been my favourites, and this tale of two people realizing the death of their marriage is particularly deep and emotional. The internal monologue is handled spotlessly Kitten, as I’m sure you’re aware, and the overall effect it powerful. Very nicely done.

  31. karmenpandora

    ” B- but Randal, baby you can’t.” Kelly slurred through her sobs.
    “We’re married, we’re in love.”

    His face drew into a snarl “I never would of married you if i knew you were a man!” He fumed. His head steaming, a fury in him burning like lava inside a volcano.
    Inches stood between her and his fist as he hit the wall. She looked over in horror at the gapping hole wondering if she was next.

    “Look at me..just look at me” Her hands trembled as she struggled to cup his face. For just a moment she wanted him to remember her touch, look into her eyes and understand she was real, she was here and in her soul she knew she was a woman.
    Randal studied the floor, thoughts jumbling as he replayed their four years together. She’d seemed perfect for him. She didn’t want kids. He was fine with that. She didn’t really speak to her family. He was fine with that. It wasn’t until Randal received an unexpected call from her mother that alarms started to sound.

    “Why do you keep calling Kelly- he.” He asked confused and suspicious.

    “Oh im so sorry.” Caroline said sounding embarrassed “I thought-thought you knew.”
    Something told him she knew he probably didn’t.

    Sweat rained down the bridge of nose, his chest heaved up and down as the very conversation repeated and repeated and repeated like a broken record.

    Kelly’s voice softend looking to deescalate the tension
    “I’m still the same woman you fell in love with.”

    A familiar aroma wafted in the air. He was too attached to her, too close to her breathing in the sweetest smell of vanilla, probably the body creme she knew he loved. His stomach turned in a painful disgust. He felt weak and his anger grew monstrous once again. Snatching himself away he left an empty space he knew would hurt. “I fell for a lie.” He muttered through gritted teeth as he stormed out. An empty room. The Emptiness screamed at her louder than he ever could, Crystal clear as she stood staring blankly at that space, as the life she once knew crumpled like a torched master piece. She was going to losing her husband.

    @kp

    1. dragonchef

      L-L-L-Lola.
      Was this their wedding night? Stayed unsullied four years right up until, eh?
      Man oh man (pun unintended), what a way to end the dream.
      Can’t rightly blame him for being angry. I’ll bet he wants kids now.
      Survey said . . . Annulment.

    2. Observer Tim

      Okay, this blasted filter is going to have to die! Humanity comes in two primary physical shapes – male and female – and we can’t have the website eat the simple name of the category they both fall into! I know it regulates bulk mails but it’s FREAKING ANNOYING!

      There, blood pressure back down to normal.

      This is a powerful story dealing with a social hot-button topic, and you did a great job capturing the emotions of the “great reveal”. Kelly should have told him sooner (but for fear), and her mother should have kept her nose out of what has to be pretty-much an ultimate personal matter between them. Hopefully Randal will calm down and realize the real situation, but real life is not filled with tolerant people and happy endings. You did a great job capturing the conflicted emotions that arise in a situation like this.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Once again, Tim has expressed, in his third paragraph, what I was thinking. What a sad situation when a person cannot be loved for who they are, but are judged by what they once were, and that holds true for many situations, not just the one described here. Great job, karmen.

  32. Ananfal

    It all started one night when he- Well, no. It really started much earlier than that.

    My parents weren’t *bad*. Well, they weren’t abusive. They never hit me. Well, never hard. They weren’t mean to me. They just… Expected things from me. Things I couldn’t give.

    I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. I wasn’t *clean* enough. God… I was trained to find every flaw I had, and ruthlessly think about it constantly. My hair was messy. I had pimples. I sound stupid. I *am* stupid.

    I was depressed. Insecure. But I hid it so well. No one knew, unless I told them. I had a couple of friends, but even them I pushed away out of fear and doubt. I was alone, vulnerable, trapped inside a house that only held pain and sorrow for me.

    Then he came.

    Not literally. I had escaped online, through my writing, using roleplay sites to find others like me. That’s where we met. He wrote with me, talked with me, flirted with me. We spent hours together, and I felt… Wanted. Warm. As if I had been enfolded in someone’s loving arms.

    The next step was Skype. I was nervous, since I had never used Skype before. But when he called me, his voice was so smooth (the accent helped too) that I just relaxed instantly. He made me laugh, I teased him back, and then he said I was beautiful.

    My breath caught in my throat. I choked, managed to ask how he knew, when he couldn’t even see me. And he called me his princezza, and told me that my beauty and soul shone through in my laugh.

    He had a bad home situation himself, with things getting out of control for him. I was desperate to keep his attention and warmth on me, and he was desperate to find someone to lavish. What I don’t think either of us recognized was the deep set need for me to be controlled, and for him to be in control.

    I had wanted to take acting, he didn’t want me to. I quit the class after crying so hard my teacher noticed and asked if I was alright. I begged his forgiveness and he gave it, remorseful for my tears. He asked for pictures and I gave them. He asked for my shirt off and I did it. For him. Because I wanted to be loved, and I wanted to be told what to do.

    Our relationship was strained, for a while, and I headed back onto my sites, looking for companionship. I fell again, this time for a woman, who saw my need to be controlled and fulfilled it aptly. However, when they both found out about each other, it was perhaps one of the worst days of my life.

    So desperate to keep them both, I did horrible degrading things and sent them pictures. I begged them to stop, but they didn’t, and I didn’t. They out them blame at my feet and I lifted it, so used to the heavy burden that I didn’t even think of refusing. He took it even further, told me to say things, do things, while on a call with him. I lied, felt so horrible, so sick, but it was all i could do to not show my distress.

    One day, I finally took action. It was, perhaps, one of the most cowardly actions I could have done, but I had done it. It was a quiet day, my depression had taken a back seat, and there were no demands in my time. I got to sit back, and look at my life, and where it had gone, and where it was likely going to go.

    And I turned off my phone.

    I got rid of Skype. I deleted my account on all of the sites I had used previously. For a month I didn’t even go online, too sick to even think about it. But finally, I was free.

    —————

    We weren’t married, thank God, but I devoted my life to him for at least a year. It was… But I don’t think about it anymore. This prompt brought up old memories, and I had to purge them.

    Thank you for listening.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a heart-wrenching testimonial, Ananfal. It’s amazing and sometimes horrifying what the need to be loved makes us do. I’m very glad you could move on. Your craft in writing it makes the whole story come to life and draws me as reader into a portion of your soul. Bravo for your skill and for your courage in writing it.

      1. Ananfal

        Thank you for your kind words, Tim. It’s not often I write things like this, since normally I lose all coherent when I get emotional. Writing this actually took the greater part of a day, since I had to put it down and walk away every time I started crying.

        And goodness, everyone, just call me Ana. Ananfal is a bit too long and just sounds weird.

      2. Kerry Charlton

        Hello Ana, that power you write with tells a lot about you
        You will find a lot of supportive friends her on the web site. I. Would think I’m at the end of the scale i have been writing here. Almost four years and slightly younger than.Mickey mouse. Not by much however. You have your whole life before you like an open road. Self examination is not eastg. I,,’ve enjoyed your writing a lot and look.forward to your post you will love this set. Happy writing to you. Kerry

  33. Alquarien

    “‘I never would have married you if I’d have known about your nose-picking habits.’ This was a thought I constantly had whenever I caught my new wife with one of her fingers inches-deep in her beak. She seemed like such a simple, pretty woman. Being with her for so long made me feel like I already knew every single thing about her. How did she manage to hide this from me all along?

    I get a squirmy feeling in my guts; a wriggling, squiggling sensation. I definitely am not a clean-freak, but there’s something about discovering the crusty yellow bits under her nails aren’t from the sandwich she made for lunch… that just ain’t right. I tell myself to look away, but sometimes she struggles so hard- wrestling with something obscured in one of those two little caves of hers; I find myself captured in revolt. On one hand, I want to see if she can hook whatever she’s fishing and reel it out, but at the same time, I just want to dab my eyes with bleach.

    There was this one time when I was in the shower; I left the water running to check my phone in the bedroom. I suppose she didn’t see me coming. I caught the end of what she was doing: drawing out a big’un. She was so impressed by it, that she had to pull the curtains open and hold it up to the light, whilst she squished and stretched it between two fingers. It was a bile-yellow colour, with a consistency like those big sticky hands on a rope that you used to get as a kid; the ones that you can slap against windows or your friends’ faces. I crept back into the shower and spent extra-long scrubbing my body, trying to rid it of the filth I felt.

    I don’t let her cook anymore, because I’ve not seen her wash her hands after her little gold-digging sessions. I don’t quite fancy a spaghetti with questionable parmesan, or even an extra-chunky peanut butter sandwich.

    Am I making this bigger than it should be? How is this ruining everything we’ve been building over the last six years? How do I make it stop? Her nasal-cavity contents are controlling my life. How do I become bigger than the booger? What would you all do? I just can’t take it anymore… Pauline, you need help, you’re tearing our marriage apart.”

    With Jonathan’s intervention speech over, Pauline, both of their parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and the entire wedding reception took turns awkwardly shuffling in their seats. Jonathan was a well-known lightweight; after five watered-down American beers, he’d earned a ticket to the doghouse for sure. The entire room was stiffly quiet. Jonathan approached Pauline, giving her an understanding look as he placed a hand on her right shoulder.

    “I’m gonna stick this out for you…” He whispers, drunkenly.

    1. Observer Tim

      This one totally creeps me out. You found a topic I’d never even considered writing about, and did a great job expressing Jonathan’s nervous speech on a matter that cannot be anything but seriously embarrassing. Nicely done, Alquarien.

    2. dragonchef

      Glorious Heavens, Alquarien! You are so colorfully descriptive. Boogers to you, my friend!
      And this, ” . . . but at the same time, I just want to dab my eyes with bleach.” had me rolling.
      And all this said at their wedding? I would love to have a beer with you.

  34. kittycat4ever

    Looking around at the old house, brought tears to my eyes. So many broken dreams here and the path ahead looked long and tedious. Taking a deep breath, I left the note on the counter with shaking hands before turning and running out the door to the car. If I looked backed, i wasn’t sure i could do this and it had to be done. Not for me but for the two sleeping in the back.

    As I put the car into drive and headed north, I remembered what I had written, word for word:

    Dearest Riley.

    I never would have married you if I’d have known…

    When we were dating, you were so sweet and kind. Always quick with a smile and a laugh. Our love was a whirlwind and a joy. I fell harder for you each passing day. Captain of the soccer team and the cute art nerd, who would have thought we could be a thing? It was perfect.

    Until it wasn’t. It started with little things, where you’d screaming at when I got something wrong. You were just stressed. I understood. Then it started getting worse. Like when I bought you a coke instead of a pepsi. You threw it at me, full force and it hit me in the eye. You were so sorry. It slipped. It wouldn’t happen again. I told everyone that I got in a fight with the rock, it won. We all laughed and that was that.

    Time continued on, and there were things, but I always understood. It was accident, you were stressed, I could have done better and then you wouldn’t have been so mad at me. The slaps didn’t really hurt and words are just words. It was fine. Really.

    Then the day came that I was holding the baby, Thomas. I was feeding him, and I don’t remember what I did but you were so mad. You had been screaming for a few minutes, when I turned to set him down. I guess turning away from you, was the wrong thing to do because the next thing I knew I was on the floor. I figure out later that hit with me the lamp. I just can’t remember if I dropped him or not…It keeps me up at night sometimes.

    After that night, things only got worse. I tried so hard to keep the kids from seeing it. I thought about tell our friends, asking for help but I know no one is going to believe me when I tell them that the stab wound on my side is from you. That I’m not the clumsy artist they think I am. That every bruise has a story that no one would believe. Everyone knows how sweet and charming you are, how could you be anything else? How could I be so weak that I can’t even protect myself?

    What made me take action was when our daughter Lauria asked me if going Thomas was going to get hurt too, cause you were yelling at him. That night I cried all night long. My eyes were finally open, I was not protecting them. I was failing them as a role model and as a father. So, it is with a broken heart, I leave you my wedding ring, the key to the house and all our things. I take only what matters to me, our children.

    You will find my attorneys number saved in your phone as Hope.

    Good luck and Goodbye my dearest wife.

    Your soon to be ex-husband,
    Todd.

    The only thing I wish i could add: If you ever find this reversed – Help is available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) in over 170 languages. All calls are confidential and anonymous. Website: http://www.thehotline.org/help/ violence knows no gender.

    1. kittycat4ever

      I don’t know if I really followed the prompt but it spoke to me, so i went with it. Contact info on the bottom is 100% correct and valid incase anyone ever needs it.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a dark story of a troubled household. You did a great job throwing the twist in at the end (since IRL most stories of this nature are from the woman’s point of view), because it forced me to go back and think through the story again. Domestic violence is a nasty thing, but far too real to be ignored. Riley desperately needs help, and maybe the shock of the change in her living situation will be enough to make her seek it.

      As a story, you did a great job describing the emotions pouring through the sub-writer’s head in a way that captures the sympathy of the reader. Very well done.

    3. dragonchef

      Kitty – I truly hope and pray this has not happened to you. While it has not happened to me, several cases were very close to me – and I witnessed them up front and personal. Even one that was just like your post: girl beats guy. It wasn’t a lamp but a telephone – the old tabletop landline.

      Anyway, a well deserved lead to those who might find themselves in this situation, but so many of the victims are certain they are at fault for it. Some never leave of their own accord. Some are never able to leave at all. Sad.

  35. hillsworth

    “I never would have married you if I’d have known how short our time together would be.” Hot tears slid off Katies cheeks and splattered on the fresh dirt just beneath the small metal placard with Johnathans name on it. “Why did you leave me so soon?” Her clenched fists pounded the clumps and the tears fell harder.
    Steam still rose off the newly turned dirt but it was cooling fast. Large, fluffy, white snowflakes fell all around her like they had not a care in the world. Only one car remained in the small circular drive that wrapped around the little country church and cemetary. The others had left an hour earlier, and the young man that operated the backhoe had offered his condolences twenty minutes ago and walked away with his head hung low.
    “What am I supposed to do now? You said you’d always be here for me.” The little black hat and veil fell from Katies head but she paid it no more mind than she did the little cuts from the rocks as her fists slammed down again and again at every question, her tears making a muddy mess under those pounding hands. “How am I supposed to get on with my life when you are my life? You can’t leave me now.”
    Slowly Katies sobs dried up and her hands came to rest on the cool ground. Bit by bit, she slumped sideways until she was laying in the wet grass as it quickly disappeared under the white cloak of wintertime. She lay her head on her shoulder and, with a shuddering sigh, closed her eyes.
    The hand that shook her was unusually warm. Katie opened her matted eyes and tried to focus on her surroundings. The stained glass windows of the church seemed afire and the snow that lay over all the headstones glistened in the waning sunset. A shiver ran through her as she looked around, her gaze finally falling on the face that loomed over her. She smiled.
    “Johnathan?”

    1. Observer Tim

      I’m left wondering if Johnathan is her lost love reappearing to her, a new love entering her life, or a friendly companion there to comfort her. The ambiguity works, however, as it allows the reader to fill in the blank with the result they find most satisfying. You did a great job capturing the depth of Katie’s grief and sadness here; hopefully there’s something better reaching out to her.

    2. dragonchef

      Johnathan the ghost? Or Johnathan the spy who faked his death to go totally dark, in the wind? Doubtful a ghost would have an unusually warm hand, unless he just came back from, well, you know . . . down there. Hopefully it’s the latter and the big spy story is just around the bend – with several million hidden and waiting for them in the Caymans. Yes them. He came for her didn’t he?
      Pretty cool, Hilly. Love it. Would love more.

  36. Jack Tilley

    THE TURN OF THE PAIGE

    “I never would have married you if I’d known you were so clumsy.”

    “Sorry?” Paige said, looking around from the kitchen bench.

    I got busy with my poached eggs—had I really said that out loud? To my beautiful, sweet, newly wedded wife? I cleared my throat and said casually, “I was just asking if you needed a hand, hon. Everything alright over there?”

    Paige smiled her irresistibly crooked little smile. “Everything’s fine…but, um, Pete, I think I broke a cup.”

    “Pah!” I waved the news away. “What’s one more. Cup shmup, I say. They make ’em so paper thin these days—it’s a wonder it lasted this long already. Just grab another one.”

    “Um, well, I think that was the last…” Paige opened a cupboard door above the bench. “Oh!”

    “Careful!”

    CRASH!

    The chunky, solid little door hit the floor with a dull thud and Paige jumped back with a scream.

    “Paige!” I was around the table in a flash. “Did it hit your foot?”

    “No. But I think…” Paige looked down to where she’d trodden on something.

    “Ah!” I choked off a louder cry of pain.

    “Oh no!” Paige cried. “Your watch! Peter, your watch!” She moved the heel of her safety-boot away, knelt to pick up the Rolex. The insides of it ran through her fingers like sand through an hourglass. “Peter, the watch your grandfather gave you…oh, this is dreadful.”

    “Pah! Watch smotch,” I croaked, trying to quickly scoop up the more dangerous looking shards. “Stay still a moment, hon—no, please, seriously, let me get it. It’s no big drama—my fault for making you wear safety boots, eh?”

    Paige laughed her sweet, utterly irresistible little laugh. “It is funny you make me wear them.”

    “It has cut down on our outpatient trips, though, hasn’t—CAREFUL!”

    “OW!”

    “Did you hurt yourself?”

    I took hold of her divine, ivory hand, a tiny red cut showing on the second knuckle of her ring finger. As I kissed it better, I mused, “I wonder why my watch was down here on the floor…”

    Paige looked at me with sweet candid innocence and said, “I wanted to check the time was right on the little clock in the car.”

    I nodded and, just for a moment, carefully, tried to think that through a bit… “Dear God!” I grabbed her by the shoulders. “Paige, you didn’t drive the car?”

    “No, of course not, Pete!” she laughed. “How could I?—the key was bent. And when I pressed the button, the lawnmower went funny.”

    We continued to sit where we were in silence. I gently pulled her to me, hugging her irresistible warmth, listening to the sound of the wind outside, blowing through fallen trees and collapsed civilisations…

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a British sitcom from the 1970’s. It is Jerry Lewis and Peter Sellers and Lucille Ball rolled into a thoroughly entertaining romp. I can see all of it happening before a live studio audience. You captured a sense of slapstick so wonderfully, Jack. It’s a joy to read, especially in the context of so many lives being torn apart by grief.

      1. Jack Tilley

        Thanks Tim – and now that you mention it, “Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em” was always my fave from that golden era of tv sitcoms. I always swore I’d never become one of these people, but, I’m afraid, they just don’t make ’em like that any more.

    2. dragonchef

      JT – I must say I am split on this, but not in a bad way. This can be a comedy, or a dramatic representation.

      While on one side it is a funny little skit with all your favorite Monty Python alumni – but on the flip side, clumsiness diseases like early onset Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis are not so funny.

      You have crossed both paths with this JT, and excellently so. Well done. Whether you knew it, or not.

  37. JoyElaine

    I never would have married you if I’d have known we would become

    Two people bound together — by a little piece of paper
    A piece of paper written up on the basis of promises made
    Like intricately, delicate crystal — promises appear beautiful and are easily shattered
    Promises made with no consideration to what they really mean
    Tucked away — out of sight
    Does the promise no longer need to be kept?

    Love, Honor and Cherish
    What do these words really mean?
    In sickness and in health
    For richer or poorer
    Promises — are they only for good times?
    Or should we love the other just as much as our self — even when times are tough?

    Till death do we part
    Don’t these words mean forever?
    Doesn’t a person’s word count for anything?
    Love and honor was never in them
    For when bad times came
    The promises on the little piece of paper — fade away

    A piece of paper that we sign our name on
    Losing sight of what seemed important
    Another paper takes it’s place
    A piece of paper that tells us we can break the promises that were made
    Easing the conscience — so that we can walk away and feel no remorse
    Look into our children’s eyes and show them — a promise means nothing

    Marriage — nothing more than a piece of paper packed away in a cardboard box
    Small papers with the images burnt into them
    Continuous reminders of promises no longer spoken
    Scattered amongst the little piece of paper we signed
    On top of them all — a new piece of paper relinquishing us from all our promises
    Two people separated — by a little piece of paper

    © Joy Elaine – 2016

    1. Observer Tim

      This is powerful, Joy. It stands on the border between poetry and artful prose, and is so thoroughly packed with regret as to leave the reader (i.e. me) wondering and worrying about what went wrong. You really captured the feeling in the POV character’s heart. Well done.

  38. Observer Tim

    THE LAST EPISODE

    Andrea turned to face the camera, “John, I never would have married you if I’d known you were sleeping with my sister.”

    “That’s horrible, Andrea. Why don’t you tell the folks at home all about it?”

    As the woman spoke, Elwood “Spanky” Spankmeier’s outside face showed the appropriate horror and sympathy while his inside face grinned from ear to ear. The emotionally-charged stories were ratings gold, and the contestants’ riders meant the network wasn’t liable for what they said. And as usual the crowd was eating it up. She poured her heart out for the camera for three minutes and twenty-eight seconds until the cut to commercial.

    During the break, while the make-up floozy was touching up his face, Spanky worried. The producer had said he had a big surprise for the three-year anniversary episode. Somebody in the audience was going to get pranked, and that was always risky; at least they’d all been screened for firearms on the way in.

    The crew faded into the background and the red light came on.

    “Welcome back to Second Thoughts, the TV show where hindsight isn’t just 20/20, it’s in high-definition and surround sound. It’s time for the surprise round, where someone in the studio will be presented with a mistake from their past. Well Todd, bring out our mystery guest.”

    “Hi Spanky, remember me?”

    Spanky’s face went white when he recognized his ex-wife’s lilt. It was her fault he was doing this stupid game show instead of the movie career he deserved.

    Sadie!? I never would have married you if I’d known your name was short for sadistic b—-!”

    Sadie walked out of Spanky’s nightmares and onto the stage. She still had looks that anyone would pay a fortune to have, one way or the other. A tight red dress clung to her body for dear life and stiletto heels clicked audibly on the stage, ready to impale anyone who got in her way. He had the stab wounds to prove it.

    “Why Spanky, is that any way to talk after I poured myself into this dress for you? Aren’t you going to drink me out of it like you did on our wedding night?”

    “K-keep away from me! The restraining order…!”

    “I’m afraid your little secretary didn’t make it to the courthouse on time to renew it, dear. She had a little accident and now she’s in hospital under heavy seduction.”

    “Y-you mean s-s-sedation…”

    “Do I?” Her broad grin told a tale not fit for television.

    Spanky kept backing away as she advanced. “W-what d-do you w-want?”

    “I’ve come to collect on the last clause of our prenup, dearest; the one you laughed at.”

    “B-but…”

    “I mean it, dear. Hand over your immortal soul. Right now.”

    “No! I can’t give you my soul! I’m… I’m… I’m using it!”

    “You’re on television, Spanky; you’re definitely NOT using it.”

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Dragon. 🙂

        Spanky was too self-absorbed to recognize that the hot woman he married was hot from spending time around fire and brimstone… Her full name is Sadie de Sade, and she’s been in a prompt before (a couple of years ago).

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      My goodness, Tim, what a story. Years ago, recovering from surgery, I watched daytime shows like this, and wished something like this would have happened, so you made my wish come true. I was hoping for a pound of flesh, but Spanky’s soul will work. Perfect last sentence!

    2. Jack Tilley

      Oh, I want more Sadie! Love the sentence “She still had looks that anyone would pay a fortune to have, one way or the other.” Reminds me of that superb Carly Simon song lyric: “You’re so vain you probably think this song is about you.” And, “…she’s in hospital under heavy seduction” is a cracker. Seriously, more Sadie.

  39. KelseyAlicyn

    I never would have married you if I’d have known, that this love wasn’t going to last forever, that you were going to find someone else, leaving me stranded on the side of the road, as if I meant nothing to you. We vowed to always be there for each other; I guess it was all a lie. I was merely a missing puzzle piece in which you no longer need.
    I still lie in bed at night, crying; wondering what I possibly could have done wrong, if I did anything wrong, and if I possibly could ever make it up again. But once my mind is finally at ease, I realize the answer is no, there is nothing I can do, I have lost you forever, and I must accept that. But how can one possibly accept the fact, that someone you had planned on spending the rest of your life with, suddenly ups and leaves without any explanation as to why?
    Days turn into weeks, which turn into months, which turn into years, and so the pattern carries on, until you merely become a distant memory, of someone I once cared about.
    A devastating realization,
    That much is true,
    But in my heart I know,
    I’ll never stop loving you.
    Now look what you made me do; you got me rhyming, which is never something I do.
    You have this hold on me,
    I don’t know what to do;
    My head is spinning,
    My heart is racing,
    I no longer know which side I’m facing.
    Am I going left?
    Am I going right?
    Do I need to put up a fight?
    How could you leave me, knowing I wouldn’t be able to handle it? You knew my flaws, and my imperfections. You let me down, when I needed you the most. I called and called, but you never looked back. I was a fool for thinking you ever loved me like that. Yet, here I lie, hating myself for wanting you by my side. You meant the world to me, but you just pushed me aside.
    It’s been years since you left me for someone else. Did you leave him, like you left me? Were you only with me until you found someone better? Will I be able to move on completely, and find someone worth my time? Or will I forever be alone, with you wrapped around my mind? So many unanswered questions. I guess only time will tell. Had I known this would be the result, I never would have married you, if I’d have known. Who am I trying to fool, we all know that I would’ve, because everyone knows that I am a naïve, hopeless romantic, who fell head-over-heels for the guy who treated her right and knew all the right words to say, in order to get her right where he wanted her.

    480 words (minus the starting statement; 470 words)

    1. dragonchef

      Is this fiction? Or did you actually live this? Sounds very real.
      Almost dreadful.
      “It’s been years” . . . and you say your lover has , ” . . . become a distant memory, of someone I once cared about.” But you still haven’t woken up. I find myself wanting to shake you out of the bed you’ve been lying in for the past “years” and drag your ass to a night club.
      Guess you got your point across.
      Nice.

    2. Observer Tim

      I had to read through this story twice, Kelsey, because of one word. “Did you leave him…” I can’t read your age from your writing style, so you may not know that was a classic marital horror story 40 years ago (man leaves wife for another man). That said, your MC has got the “can’t let go” disease pretty bad; it’s a nasty state to be in (I’ve been there), and you captured that sense of hopeless heartbreak extremely well. Great job, and powerful story!

        1. KelseyAlicyn

          I have been asked by friend if I would continue the story, as I pretty much left it as a cliff hanger. I haven’t thought that far ahead, I was merely doing this prompt, as I wanted to write, but didn’t know what. They main character is female.

          1. dragonchef

            ” . . . who fell head-over-heels for the guy who treated her right,” pretty much tells us the protagonist’s gender.

            Writer’s Digest does have a Poetry contest if you wish to expand on this. I, personally, don’t think it needs expanding; it is good as it is – the emotional level is high. Make sure you go through a royal cleaning and tightening of it before submitting, though – the grammar trolls dangle from participles waiting. 😎

          2. KelseyAlicyn

            Thank you, dragonchef. Yeah I noticed it and fixed it, where I originally had written the story. I am unfortunately always too quick in submitting, that I forget to proof-read. Must work on that.

  40. Hiba Gardezi

    If only I’d known.
    That I was something to you.
    If you had given me even the slightest hint, I would’ve loved you.
    Because these days
    I find myself loving every lover
    And I admired you,
    I did.
    But you stayed quiet.
    Stayed still.
    Everyone says you stay up all night, saying you’re “dreaming” day dreams.
    That… that I helped you go on.
    That you need me because my shoulder is the only
    Right.
    One.
    Why couldn’t I know?
    Why couldn’t you tell me?
    Please.
    Now look me in the eyes.
    And tell me honestly,
    You love me.
    Love me never-endingly like a sea that never dries up.
    That you want me.
    I need to be your passion.
    Your sole past time.
    Look here, is it true?
    Or is everyone making me a fool?
    I need to know.
    Now.
    Because I would have married you if only I’d known.

    1. dragonchef

      A perfect twist to have the prompt at the end.
      A very sweet and tender poem.
      Dreaming daydreams all night – Was the subject lost in his/her own world because of the silence? The unannounced love?
      The sadness is truly heart-rendering. Thank you.

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