Setting the Scene

Since the recent writing prompt Creating the Character was a hit, this week’s writing prompt will take a similar approach. Rather than beginning a story by envisioning a character, we will begin with the setting.

Creative Writing Prompt: Setting the Scene

Begin a story or scene by envisioning the setting first. What is unique about this place? What does it look like? How does your character feel about this place?

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


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112 thoughts on “Setting the Scene

  1. AvatarSlim11

    Like the crick of an elbow, minimal light within moist air sat stagnant covering the image. No backlight to push the image forward nor overhead illumination to shine upon the image. Dewy within shadow it remained unrevealed day after day. October, when the full moon hangs off the building’s side, angular lunar light shines upon the image from above finally revealing the long-awaited sign. His daily pilgrimage to the scene rewarded in certainty that he had been here. The sign, an image of a man and a boy, holding hands walking west. West was where the houses became spaced a part, trees no longer lined neatly along the street but growing wildly with no template to follow, wind and sun forced their way into the wide-open spaces pushing and pushing. West was now where he needed to go, to find hidden images in the vast open lands into which he walked. Leaving the closeness of this city meant learning new light. No longer would paths have familiar shards and pin holes to mark direction or time of day. Buildings no longer would bounce horizontal spotlights on its neighbors. Constraints guarded by the sentry of streets would stand down. He began his walk.

  2. AvatarLacharmoure

    It’s a feeling of home as I settle down into my favorite spot on the hill where the beach sand ends and the lush green grass begins. The sky is a watercolor mural of purples and oranges with a burnt yellow sun melting at its center. The air is instantly cooler as the sun disappears below the horizon of the lake. I press my feet deeper into the cool sand and take in a deep breath of fresh Michigan air reviving a stream of memories from my youth that revolve around this place. I remember being young and reckless, full of hope and romance, sitting here welcoming the night. My sun kissed skin would welcome the chill of night with goosebumps. Tonight I am not quite as reckless or full of romantic ideas. The years have changed me. It saddens me to know that it has taken so many years for me to return to this place of peace. It also breaks my heart to know that further down the beach the home I grew up in no longer exists. Some millionaire tore it down to build a modern monstrosity. However I have found a new sense of hope with age and experience. Surviving hard times and cancer, as well as giving birth to a miracle baby late in life, has helped me find a new center. As I lay back in the cool grass to look up into the now dark and star filled sky, I am confident that my respect for the universe has not changed over all of these years. This place holds a piece of me that also can not be changed. I close my eyes for a moment and I am sixteen again laying here listening to the night and dreaming of love and adventure. When I open my eyes the sky is the same as it was 30 years ago and the woman laying here now is filled with a renewed girlish excitement.
    I breathe in the night, relieved to be home again.

  3. Avatarcarnek1

    “Sounds like they started the carnival without us, Nikos.”

    “Drats.”

    “Another Doge appearance. You’d think those Venetians would holiday somewhere without water.”

    Pierre shrugged away a chill, a nibble from twilight’s cool lips. “C’est le vie. It’s their wealth.”

    They paddled in concert, each skiff lurching together, slicing along the bank in peaceful silence.

    “What time will Helen and Dimitri go?”

    Nikos coasted for a stroke and caught his breath. “They should be there now.”

    “Nice night for it.” Pierre surveyed the water, the tide, the ebb and flow, the proximity to the bluff. “How old is Dimitri now?”

    “Eight. And gifted like his mother. We’re saving with hopes of sending him to apprentice, in Athens.”

    “Joli,” Pierre nodded while stowing his oar. “Let’s settle here.”

    Pierre uncorked a Chatteau L’range and primed the bottle for a nip, tipping it back just as the boat rolled into a trough. Rocking again, he pitched a toast to the sea and watched its crimson nectar fade, consumed, enjoyed. Unlike the day, where the ocean floor could be seen, at night he succumbed to superstition and prayed the nebula below him would be kind.

    “How about you?” Nikos interjected. “How will you use your proceeds?”

    “You know me. Wine. Women. World Travel.”

    The festival’s flickering lights played with the water and baited schools of foolish fry to the surface. Soon larger fish would follow.

    “Cast your net.” Pierre instructed, doing the same. “This is a good a time as any, although I’ve two more bottles to set the pace.”

    Reclining against their sheep-skin lined crate, Pierre looked up at the countless stars, the congested housing, the boisterous crowd, miniscule from his vantage, and wondered if the it’d be the sea or the wine that would lull him to sleep. Then, reaching to his side, he confirmed the proximity of his gaff, his bow, and his rope slung arrow and counted the people above, keeping his mind occupied.

    Before reaching a dozen, he heard a playful cry, a laughing horde, and caught something splash beside Nikos. “Was that a boot?” He asked.

    “I believe it was a stiletto.”

    “Better shift a bit.”

    As advised, Nikos retrieved his net, shifted a bit, and re-cast.

    Up above, champagne bottles popped, raining corks down around them, the music played, inspiring dips and leaps and twirls, and shortly after, another splash. Pierre popped to his feet, grinning ear to ear, bow aimed, then relaxed. “How’d we do?”

    Nikos pulled in his net, careful to keep the cinch, and with a yank heaved their catch into his boat.
    “Well?”

    Nikos was busy, the dead man had lots to unearth. “Jeweled rings.” He said. “A billfold.” He added, then plunged and removed a pebble filled sack from the man’s crotch. He peeked within the pouch; sparkle collected on his face. The two exchanged glances and glowed. “Should we wait for more?”

    “Why not.”

  4. Avatarakp

    The truck was an antique, her mother always said, though she didn’t know if that was serious or a joke. It was old, too old, she was sure of that. The passenger seat – technically also the driver’s seat, just one long uncomfortably springy bench that extended the width of the car – had a large rip in the vinyl that always scraped the back of her leg. The exposed foam created an ugly yellow gash contrasted against the still-shiny black fabric. It looked like a wild animal had taken a swipe at it, and for all she knew, one probably had.

    Her dad didn’t drive the truck every day. Not to work, or on long journeys, or to drop her off at school, thank God. But he used it for short runs to the corner store or hunting trips with his buddies. A fine sheen of dust crusted the windows, save for the rainbow swoop created by the wipers.

    The dashboard was massive, spread out across the car like a looming plastic cliff’s edge, so tall she could barely see over the top. She slumped down in the seat, propping up her Chucks on the dash, adding yet more dirt to its years of grime. Ten minutes, he’d said. Stay here while I run in and get a few snacks for the game tonight. And then, to appease her before she could wind up a tantrum – because he did this every Saturday, and he always said it would be ten minutes and it was always more like 30 minutes because his friend Bobby worked there and they’d stand there and talk about football and deer season and other boring adult stuff – he’d added, hey, I’ll get you a vanilla coke. And some of those chocolate donuts you like. So she sat; a 10-year-old girl waiting impatiently for her bribe in a filthy truck thrice her age.

    The clock in the center – analog, with a dingy white face and silver hands – had announced the same time as long as she could remember: 1:17. Her dad couldn’t be bothered to replace the battery (“I’ve got a watch and a phone that tells time!”), but it sure bothered her. She thought about that clock, steadily ticking away for God knows how long, until one day it just… stopped. What happened at that exact moment? Was it while he was driving to the corner store one Saturday afternoon? Late at night when they were all in bed, with no one the wiser? The thought made her sad, somehow.

    She heard a jingle and perked up. Her dad walked through the storefront, white plastic bag in hand. The door of the truck creaked loudly as he opened it, and he hopped inside, handing over her prize.

    Out of habit, she checked the clock, ready to complain about how long she’d waited – surely 45 minutes this time around?

    But time had no relevance in this antique junkpile; as always, he’d left at 1:17 and returned at 1:17.

  5. AvatarMoeberhard

    She stood in front of the building that laid her foundation saying goodbye for one last time. A white siding, red brick bi-level with black shutters and a huge oak tree in the side yard. The driveway covered with cracks she used as lines for basketball courts, volleyball courts and four-square. The flower bed she loved filling with marigolds as a Mother’s Day gift that is lined with red brick. She would balance on the tiny brick wall like she was in the circus walking a tightrope or walking across a rickety bridge to beat the bad guy.
    There was the backyard that transformed into whatever she wanted. An obstacle course, a soccer field, a campsite, a dog park, and a place where the entire family could come to celebrate. Woods as deep as those in fairy tale books full of precious moments. Her childhood dog is laid to rest there while vines hang down over her good girl’s grave that she used to swing on. She would beg to go to “The Tree Swing” whenever she could. There was a deck attached to the back of that home with a mystery world underneath. She remembers being scared to venture under but she felt like the queen once she did.
    Inside, she sat on the floor where all Thanksgiving dinners, family game nights, and most laugh crying happened. She went through the kitchen remembering all the smells of your past and the silly cooking shows she and her brother did for the camera with their stage names.
    She took her time to say goodbye, taking in every inch of the floor boards. She ran her fingers along the gold-yellow walls as she moved through her childhood home. She felt the knicks from playing makeshift soccer in the hallway with her younger brother when they were kids. She heard her younger self singing at the top of her lungs while she performed a skit she and her siblings created for their mother. She remembered the feeling on Christmas morning, walking down that very hallway to see the mountain of presents Santa had left and the smell of her mom’s Christmas quiche.
    While her throat grew tighter and her eyes welled up with tears, she felt blessed. For 25 years of your life she had a place to call home. A place that welcomed her with a warm hug and a full belly. The place she found herself. As she walked to her car with her back to the house she felt like a piece of her was left there. But at the end of any good chapter, it leaves you wanting more and that excited her. The many years she called it home, she learned just what it took to make a house, a home. Now it’s time for her to build a home with a family of her own.

  6. AvatarNot-Only But-Also Riley

    The Ballad of Johnny Boxhead

    Johnny felt his feet slide off the pedal and looked down, somewhat in a panic. He’d slipped in some of that green sludge, this batch still fresh, unlike the crusted layer coating the clubs floor. He put his foot back on the pedal and began pumping again, scanning the crowd to make sure no one had noticed. Of course they hadn’t. Everyone was still moving their heads erratically to a beat Johnny barely even held anymore, letting Polly’s unintelligible screams drown out any of the instruments anyway. Sometimes, Johnny thought no one would even notice if he were to not play at all.

    When the show had finished, after not one, not two, but three encore performances, Johnny found himself amongst his fans at the bar.

    “What’s with the green stuff?” he asked the female bartender who approached him. “It’s caked on the floor; it’s dripping down the walls; hell, most of the people are covered in it!”

    She gave him a wide smile, “It’s our specialty here!” she shouted over another band beginning to play. “Here,” she handed him a glowing green glass, “on the house for members of the band.” Johnny nodded at her and started to walk back toward Polly, Ritchie, and Blitz, but realized they had separated. Only Blitz was left at the table.

    Blitz was their bass guitar player and, for whatever reason, never seemed to catch on as well as the other members of BlastFuk. Often, the media would forget who Blitz was entirely, once resulting in security dragging him off a talk show set. Polly and Ritchie found it hilarious, and didn’t bother correcting the mishap.

    “Where’d Polly and Ritchie get off to?” Johnny asked as he approached Blitz. He looked up from his own, boringly non-green alcohol and shrugged.

    “No clue on Polly. Ritchie went off with some chick.”

    “‘Course he did,” Johnny said, positioning himself at the table. He took a quick sip of the green drink and felt an immediate burn.

    No wonder the whole club is coated in the stuff, he thought, it tastes like fucking piss and burns like a fucking a-bomb.

    Ritchie suddenly slammed hard into the table.

    “I’ll see you fuckers later; I’ve got some business to attend to,” his words were slurred and quick. There was a small woman on his arm, who seemed even more out of it than Ritchie was. Neither Johnny nor Blitz bothered responding. It was like this every night. There was no point trying to stop him. They helplessly watched Ritchie and the woman stumble off.

    Johnny quickly gulped the rest of the glowing drink and stood.

    “I’d better get out of here,” he said to Blitz. Blitz just nodded and kept his eyes on the band that had followed them.

    “Tell me if you figure what Polly is up to. We’ve got another show tomorrow.”

    “They always show up Johnny. It is their band,” Blitz mumbled.
    “Yeah. Their fucking band,” Johnny repeated, “Hopefully tomorrows place is better than this dump.”

    Blitz showed off a large, surprisingly intact and shining grin, “It never is.”

    Johnny let out a long sigh. “Fuck Blitz. What do you think would happen if I just quit showing up?”

    “Well Squimmy would fucking kill you for starters, maybe even literally,” Blitz laughed. Squimmy was their shithead manager, who had been a friend of Polly’s since they were kids and had no real experience in managing a band. “But even worse the media would never leave you. Your Johnny motherfucking Boxhead. The freak of punk rock. Without the band for you to filter through, the media would have unadulterated access to a fucking legend. And they’d never give that shit up.”

    There was a long silence.

    “I think I won’t show up tomorrow,” Johnny said, and started to walk away.

    Blitz just laughed again. “You and me both fuckhead.”

    1. Avatarpven

      Seems like this could have been one of the early scenes from The Dirt. But I couldn’t help but wonder: if this Johnny is a legend, why isn’t he able to parlay that fame into getting the band a better manager than Squimmy? Why’s he playing for no-talent bands in dive bars? I imagine that’s probably where this story is going, so good job getting me to ask these questions.

      I really wanted more out of the glowing green drink than you gave us. It wants to be part of the scene, not gulped back and out of the way.

      It took me a while to realize: this story made it past the filters? What magic did you work?

      1. Avatarjhowe

        I think the filter alerts Cassie that there may be an indiscretion. Then she decides if there are any terror threats or hate crimes being committed. The cussing is okay, as long as it is integral to the story and not inserted for the sake of profanity itself. That’s my take, anyway.

  7. AvatarPete

    The world is so full of life. It’s in the sky, underground, in the water and in our minds. It’s the crayfish in the creek, the morning sun caught in a silvery web, a gnat getting caught in my eye, his buzzing in my ear. It’s the red whelps down my legs. It’s a litter of kittens under the porch.

    Life is everywhere. But Raymond Ellis is fixed on death.

    Mom held the ice to my eye. It was puffy and warm, but not as hot as my head. I was crying, tears leaking out of my good eye, more upset than hurt.

    “Relax Eliza.”

    It was always “Relax Eliza”. How could I relax? With my skin flashing and my heartbeat feeling like it was going to thump right on out of my eye. My arms shook. My dangling feet kicked from the chair. “He was smashing a frog, Mom. Just smashing it against the street.”

    Just thinking about it caught my breath. Mom pressed the ice to my eye, trying to cool things down.

    “Honey, you can’t go picking a fight with every boy who does something stupid. You hear?”

    I shook my head, my way of talking back without talking back. It was crazy, Raymond Ellis hauls off and punches me in the eye and I’m the one told not to pick a fight. Every time I closed my eyes I could see it, that lifeless frog, legs hanging from his fist.

    “Easy now. Take a breath, Eliza.”

    I took a breath. Then another. Kept taking breaths until my blood stirred with rage. I knew one thing, sure as the sun rose against my window. Raymond Ellis was going to pay.

    The next day I showed up early, before we gathered in the yard waiting for Miss Stella to show up and open the doors. I set the bucket on the ground, wiped my nose, then took the rope with me as I climbed the old maple tree. I shimmied out on the branch, hidden well by thick leaves on account of all the rain.

    My eye throbbed like a drum as I tossed the rope over another branch, about a foot or so over my head. I used it as a pulley to lift the bucket, coughing from the smell of the horse muck and pig splat as it came to rest under my nose. I’d been up since sunrise, doing my chores without being asked, cleaning the stalls, scraping our horse Dale’s road apples off the floor and plotting my revenge, even as Mama had offered to do them for me on account of my eye.

    Then I waited. And I’ll say this, revenge may be sweet, but it smells rancid.

    Sure enough, that big headed boy came waltzing down the road, loud and brash, laughing about whatever evil he’d inflicted on the world since he’d gotten his sorry behind out of bed. I readied myself, taking the bucket by the handle, all that mess slopping around.

    As luck would have it, he was wearing his finest shirt and suspenders being how Mr. Eli was coming with his Kodak today to take our class photograph. Raymond had already ruined that for me, my eye swollen up like a prize-winning tomato.

    My bucket was heavy and ripe. I held it steady as I could as he wandered under the tree, coming and going, still spewing lies as I adjusted and timed it, trying not to spill. He paused for just long enough to where I closed my eyes and let go.

    It came down like a storm, five or ten pounds of Dale’s finest excrement. That boy screamed like a newborn. I leaned over the limb, seeing how it was a direct hit, splatting the crown of his head and washing over him like top dressing, behind his ears and down his collar as he danced like he was on fire.

    I nearly fell out from the tree. And it didn’t take long for everyone to look up, find me up on the branch, legs hanging and giggling. Everyone but Raymond, had gone arms-wide screaming down the road, leaving a trail of manure drippings in his wake.

    I called after him, with the line I’d spent most of the night in bed rehearsing. “There, Raymond Ellis. Next time you want to go throwing frogs or punching girls, you be ready for the crap storm that follows.”

    Soon as I said it I saw Miss Stella, wide-eyed and covering her nose. My bucket sat in the sludge of barnyard rot, the rope leading the way to my guilt. Martha and the girls were pulling at their skirts, trying to keep them clean. The boys were still giggling.

    Miss Stella looked like she was fighting off a smile, through I couldn’t be sure. She called up to me. “Eliza, why don’t you climb down that tree right now.”

    “Yes Ma’am.”

  8. AvatarSteffanieBarger

    He’s in there. Under the dust, the cobwebs, the lock. He breathes another country’s air. No one ever peaked inside. No one heard his voice screech in agony upon the page. No one dared listen to his heart pound the lines swirling into unreadable designs. Letters upon letters lie under that hook. Someone unlatched it. But why?
    Lift the old wooden lid Kassy.
    Lift the lid.
    Don’t close your eyes.
    Don’t squint.
    Be strong. Be brave. Remember?
    Only the courageous survive.
    Lift the lid.
    The sound of old wooden steps embraced the air, the attic seeped with regret, one tiny window filtered nothing. Her throat grew tight. She rose from her knees to lift it higher, to look inside.
    One empty envelope.
    Sealed?
    The heat. Perhaps.
    No address.
    Stamped.
    One empty envelope.
    She ripped it open to steal a glance of what resides.

  9. Avatarpven

    Nothing comes suddenly in a park, save perhaps a child’s skinned knee. Walk along the looping, curved paths past the raucous playgrounds and wander through rolling picnic areas dotted with smoking grills. You hear Santana blaring from a pavilion festooned with balloons and a pinata, and as you walk past you wave at the little boy whose birthday it appears to be.

    The trees begin to take over the landscape a few curves later, where you find the walkways bordered by benches populated with senior citizens feeding the local wildlife. They all pause a moment to watch you as you pass, birds and squirrels assessing the oncoming threat, the senior citizens merely curious. Again you wave as you pass, and each senior citizen nods and comments to their adopted pets about what a nice person you were as they resume scattering seeds and nuts onto the path. Another curve and you spy a boulderous work of art that cries out to the child in you to summit it. But you press on.

    All paths lead to the center of the park with its pond. Here children toss bread upon the waters for the ducks, despite the signs admonishing them against such action. There a man pilots a remote control sailboat across the brown-green waters.

    The trees give way to a new expanse: a sports complex. Middle-aged men and women go to battle on a pair of baseball diamonds, a soccer field, and a couple of basketball courts, emulating their childhood heroes as best they can.

    At the far end of the baseball diamonds you find the archery range. Bales of hay loom as monoliths in the open field. Behind the 100 yard bale you see a pair of feet, bare of shoes or socks.

    And because this is the kind of storytelling site where you expect this sort of twist — when you cautiously poke at the feet to see if their owner is all right, you are not at all surprised to learn: she is not.

  10. AvatarKoralie

    Nothing is as quiet as an empty classroom the day before the start of the school year. Desks, chairs and chalk boards wait calmly, ready to absorb clouds of adolescent hysteria. The smell of chalk dust mixes with the summer painting job of the classroom walls and I ponder the most economical use of space in this rectangular room. I drag my teacher’s desk to a more central spot, cringing at the harsh scraping on the floor. Should I optimistically start with desks in groups? Or will that arrangement only last the first week until I have to go back to rows? I walk the perimeter of the room, admiring my brightly colored walls filled with motivational sayings by Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Oprah. Pencils sharpened, desk neatly arranged. I heave a long and gentle sigh. Who will sit in these desks tomorrow? What will be their stories?

    1. Avatarpven

      Terry Pratchett had a great paragraph about the well-lived classroom that looked as though real learning had been done in it. I can’t recall it, only know it was in “Thief of Time.”

      This one appears to be the opposite: the potential ready to burst out of the walls once the kids put their stamp on it.

  11. AvatarJim Ditchfied

    Hergott Springs, Sunday, 22 March, 1891.

    Harriet Manning surveyed the drab hall. Most of the chairs were empty… seven, eight, nine… she mouthed the numbers as she counted. Only fifteen in the congregation today, plus herself. Mrs Sanderson and her husband were missing again.
    The hall was showing the effects of seven years in the harsh sun. George, with the help of a few of his congregation, had cobbled the structure together from whatever materials they’d been able to scrounge. Now the timber was split and cracked and the grey paint was peeling from the corrugated iron. It leaked when it rained, but rain was rare. It was the sun that caused the damage. As if agreeing with her a beam of sunlight streamed through a gap in the roof to shine on the floor at the side of the dais. It’s just as well it isn’t shining on the lectern, Harriet thought. If it had been, George would have claimed it was divine approval.
    She looked from the sunbeam to her husband who grasped the lectern with his podgy hands. His face was a mask of fury as he spat out his sermon, a tirade, warning of eternal damnation for those who failed to repent their sins.
    For some of us, she thought, that torment had already arrived. With a sigh she reached up to ease her hair where she had pulled it tight.
    Harriet sighed again. According to George, even her hair was an affront to God. Before their marriage she would brush it until it gleamed like burnished copper and it streamed around her shoulders like a cascade of tumbling water, but at George’s insistence it had for years been imprisoned in a temperate bun.
    ‘Today’s reading is taken from Deuteronomy, chapter 32,’ George intoned.
    ‘… a fire is kindled in Mine anger,
    And shall burn to the lowest hel;’
    He glared at the congregation, as if trying to find some fault, then returned to his diatribe.
    Harriet squirmed on her chair trying to ease her discomfort, but all the chairs were hard and unyielding, all cast outs from people’s homes.
    George had made few converts in Hergott Springs. Only fifteen in chapel this morning out of six hundred. Harriet wondered why the rest of the town wasn’t burning in the fires of hell. Hardly surprising the Sandersons had become disenchanted.
    Behind George she could see that ascetic pastor who’d arrived from Adelaide to inspect his flock and reinforce George’s message. He stood tall, a veritable Jack Sprat dominating the dais.. Harriet thought she could detect a smile in the pastor’s glowering features, but she knew she was wrong. Two days he’d been here. Two days of purgatory. He was so miserable he made George seem a bundle of joy.
    Joy…
    Harriet wondered about joy. It was a word with little meaning since her marriage twenty-two years ago, but this morning had been the first time George had used violence.

    1. Avatarjhowe

      Well, Jim, it was a pleasure to read this piece. Very well done. Though the last line was shocking, it doesn’t surprise me a bit. Fire and brimstone doesn’t set well with most, even in 1891.

  12. AvatarPete

    The world is so full of life. It’s everywhere. It’s in the sky, in the ground, in the water. It’s the crayfish in the creek, the morning sun caught in a silvery web, it’s a gnat getting caught in my eye, it’s the persistent buzzing in my ear, the red whelps down my legs. It’s a litter of kittens under the porch.

    Life is everywhere. But Raymond Ellis is fixed on death.

    Mom held the ice to my eye. It was puffy and warm, but not as hot as my head. I was crying, tears leaking out of my good eye, more upset than hurt.

    “Relax Eliza.”

    It was always “Relax Eliza”. How could I relax? With my skin flashing and my heartbeat feeling like it was going to thump right on out of my eye. My arms shook. My dangling feet kicked from the chair. “He was smashing a frog, Mom. Just smashing it against the street.”

    Just thinking about it caught my breath. Mom pressed the ice to my eye, trying to cool things down.

    “Honey, you can’t go picking a fight with every boy who does something stupid. You hear?”

    I shook my head, my way of talking back without talking back. It was crazy, Raymond Ellis hauls off and punches me in the eye and I’m the one told not to pick a fight. Every time I closed my eyes I could see it, that lifeless frog, legs hanging from his fist.

    “Easy now. Take a breath, Eliza.”

    I took a breath. Then another. And I would keep taking breaths but I knew one thing sure as the sun rose against my window. Raymond Ellis was going to pay.

    The next day I showed up early, before we gathered in the yard waiting for Miss Stella showed up to open the doors. I set the bucket on the ground, wiped my nose, then took the rope with me as I climbed the old maple tree. I shimmied out on the branch, hidden well by thick leaves on account of all the rain.

    My eye was still throbbing like a drum as I threw the rope over another branch, about a foot or so over my head. I used it as a pully to lift the bucket, coughing from the smell of the horse muck and pig splat as it came to rest under my nose. I’d been up since sunrise, doing my chores without being asked, cleaning the stalls, scraping our horse Dale’s road apples off the floor and plotting my revenge, even as Mama had offered to do them for me on account of my eye.

    Then I waited. And I’ll say this, revenge may be sweet, but it smells rancid.

    Sure enough, that big headed boy came waltzing down the road, loud and brash, laughing about whatever evil he’d inflicted on the world since he’d gotten his sorry behind out of bed. I readied myself, taking the bucket by the handle, all that mess slopping around.

    As luck would have it, he was wearing his finest shirt and suspenders being how Mr. Eli was supposed to show up with his Kodak to take our photograph. Raymond had already ruined that for me, my eye swelling to the size of a prize-winning tomato.

    The bucket was heavy and ripe. I held it steady as I could as he wandered under the tree, coming and going as I adjusted and timed it then closed my eyes and let go of five or ten pounds of Dale’s finest excrement.

    That boy screamed like a newborn. I leaned over the limb, seeing how it was a direct hit, splatting the crown of his head and washing over him like top dressing, behind his ears and down his collar.

    I nearly fell out from the tree. And it didn’t’ take long for everyone to look up, find me up on the branch giggling. Everyone but Raymond, who went arms-wide screaming out of the yard and down the road, leaving a trail of drippings in his wake.

    I called after him, with the line I’d spent most of the night in bed rehearsing. “There, Raymond Ellis. Next time you want to go throwing frogs or punching girls, you be ready for the shit storm that follows.”

    Soon as I said it I saw Miss Stella, wide-eyed and covering her nose. My bucket sat in the sludge of barnyard rot, the rope leading the way to my guilt. Martha and the girls were pulling at their skirts, trying to keep them clean. The boys were still giggling.

    Miss Stella looked like she was fighting off a smile, through I couldn’t be sure. She called up to me. “Eliza, why don’t you climb down that tree right now.”

    “Yes Ma’am.”

  13. Avatarkhoward

    The Well

    I did not believe that her father could be so insidious. To have his bodyguards throw me down this well. All I wanted to do was to take his daughter out. He came to the door with one mean looking man at his side. I asked “ is Bonny here? She and l have a date.

    The ugly guy opened the screen door. I started to step through and was caught from behind. He was a taller man and pulled me backwards. Bonnie’s father in a loud voice as if he demands respect and gets it. “Why are you here Bonny did not tell me that she has a visitor coming at this time of night.”

    “It is only 6:30 and we are going out to dinner. So may I see Bonny.”

    The two men now were holding me on the front steps. They were smirking. Like a cat playing with its mouse. Bonnie’s father then said “we need to talk. Take him to the quiet place.”

    My trip brought me to a dark area on the side of the four car garage. Then into the woods on a small path. It ended at a old stone well that I’m at the bottom of now. I looked up and saw three heads looking down at me. Their voices drifted down to me.

    “I thought there was no water in there. He is still alive what are we going to do? The father was quite unhappy.

    The taller man in that frog like voice said,”it’s spring water. It’s cold, so he will freeze.” They all laughed and the two bodyguards spit down at me. They then all left.

    I now am standing in waist deep cold water. My phone is changed and ready to use. I knew the waterproof phone would come in handy some day. It lit up when I pressed to call. The phone read no signal. There were no bars. I needed to climb.

    The rocks had good hand holds. They had slime growing on them. So I had to scrape it off before I grabbed it. I climbed now for 10 minutes and am only halfway up and still no signal. Then one more step. My phone chimed I had a signal, but saw red and blue flashing light reflecting off the wells stones. Then voices came to my ears. I yelled “ I’m in here.” A rope was dropped to pull me up. As I reached the top, two police officers threw me to the ground. One of them said don’t move. He had a frog like voice.

  14. AvatarKerry Charlton

    A WOMAN OF PROMINENCE
    CHAPTER FOUR

    The two broke their embrace for a moment. Blue’s eyes melted as she searched Bill’s face for another kiss. He quickly obliged and they cradled each other in their arms. Then they started to amble slowly toward her ranch house, not wishing to break the spell created. Blue’s phone signaled and she hesitated to answer until she realized it was Samuel, her ranch foreman. She listened intently for a moment and then answered,

    “You know the procedure Sam. Get everyone secured in Grand dad’s fort. We’ll be there is less than two minutes.”

    “Race you to the house,” she said. I’ll explain in a few minutes.”

    ‘Damn, she’s faster than I am,’ Bill thought as he tried to keep pace. Two minutes they broke through the woods and Blue raced toward what looked like a movie set from a John Wayne western. When they stepped inside, Bill realized the scene before his eyes was a movie set.probably built in the late sixties. However, he knew it really was a fort. Walls were of limestone sixteen inches thick, the roof was solid concrete, no chimney and four gun ports were built in on all four sides. Totally dark from lack of windows, state of the art lighting came on as the titanium front door was locked and fortified.

    Hidden security cameras located outside were projected on the main wall with 54 inch television screens. He looked toward Blue for an explanation,

    “My grandfather was a personal friend of Mr. John as he was referred to and built this set over fifty years ago and we’re going to need it. Two black limo’s are at out front gate. cutting through the steel and unless I’m wrong, we’re in for a battle. Bill, this is Samuel Thundercloud, My foreman and a goof friend. Sam, this is Lieutenant General Bill Jefferson

    “Just so you know Bill, Samuel was educated at Oxford on a full scholarship. Now to work. Bill, we have a county sheriff that has an armed helicopter. Should I call him?”

    “Right away, and send some sheriff deputies if available. How about electrical
    service, overhead or in the ground? “

    “Six feet deep and brought up inside through the concrete floor. Meters in the corner.

    “Fire condition?

    “Treated outside, nothing burnable. Inside sprinklers located hidden in ceiling, control box inside, connection at six feet, outside.”

    “They are going to have automatic weapons, Blue.”

    “Sam, please show the general our hardware.”

    “ It’s already out in each corner. Two rocket Air Tronic GSs -777, 4 MK19 grenade launchers, Four Rugar 10/22 Rifles .4 AK47, Shot guns, pistols and one very sharp tomahawk for me to use.”

    The conversation stopped as two black limos showed themselves on one of the observation screens making their way toward Blue’s compound. With six ranch hands, Blue And Bill and of course Sam staged and ready for action, the mafia killers would have no idea what they faced, or would they?

  15. AvatarDMelde

    The desk is littered with piles of paper. One pile has player projections. Another has average draft position. Still another contains the heart of the work from the past few weeks- the targets. It’s been all consuming, taking over my life, and taking me away from writing, as I compile tiers of players. I follow training camp injuries. I watch the contract extension talks and look at handcuffs that might be wise to consider.

    At the end of it all, in the middle of the litter, sits the laptop with its screen lit up, multiple windows open as I search the pro pages looking for any last minute advice that I can use to dominate the other owners. The computer and phone chime at almost the same time, announcing that another owner has arrived. [Chime] The Chalupa Batmans has entered the room. [Chime] Password is Taco has entered the room. Soon, everyone else has arrived and I’m the last one to enter. It’s five minutes to start of the draft, just enough time for one last review of the targeted players. Slightly nervous, with anticipation building, I hit the enter button. [Chime] Sacko del Toro has entered the room.

      1. AvatarKerry Charlton

        Yes he does need an assistant. She should be about five foot seven , red hair, green eyes and be twenty seven years old. A quick smile and beautiful teeth and high cheek bones and brilliant. Do you agree Dave?

  16. AvatarMoirai-TQ

    attempt #2. First one may have had one unacceptable word in it.

    Rooted to the street corner, Franklin looked around him. Nothing was familiar to him. He closed his eyes and slightly tilted his head to the left as he heard the quiet music from down the block. He found himself swaying slightly to the jazz beat. He opened his eyes, looked in the direction of, and started walking towards the music. He was looking around as he walked. The trees were not green, but purple. Looking around more, he noticed that all plants that were supposed to be green were not. They were all purple. He started walking more slowly to fully take in what was different about the street.

    “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” he said to himself, paraphrasing the Wizard of Oz line.

    Franklin bent over and smelled the purple plant. It smelled pleasant, like most flowers. Nothing special about that one. He wasn’t really a flower guy, so it didn’t matter to him.

    He paused and studied the buildings a bit more diligently. They looked normal. Bricks, windows, doors, gutters, roofs. Some of the windows were open and had flimsy curtains in the windows. Those curtains were moving gently in the breeze. It seemed almost as if they were dancing to the jazz beat. Franklin chuckled at that thought.

    He turned his attention back to the music and continued in that direction. He stopped in front of the building where the music was playing. A man was sitting on the stoop, swaying and nodding his head to the beat of the melody. When the song ended, so did the breeze and the curtains. This really caught Franklin’s attention. He also no longer felt like he wanted to sway.

    “Hello neighbor,” Franklin called to the man. The man looked at Franklin and grinned. A big friendly grin. “You wanna hear more jazz or somethin’ different?” His voice was friendly. “Play what you want,” Franklin said as he crossed the street to the man. He was looking at the stoop with a surprised look on his face. He couldn’t see a speaker. Nothing to indicate where the music was playing.

    The neighbor jerked his head slightly to the right and a song was suddenly playing. It was a nice soft rock sound, not quite pop and not quite rock. Franklin didn’t know the know the song directly, but it did sound familiar. He started nodding his head a little, the breeze picked up and the curtains were once again dancing to the beat of the song.

    A grin appeared on Franklin’s face. The neighbor replied with a wink of his left eye and a big friendly grin.

        1. AvatarKerry Charlton

          This is my third read of your story. Do you ever wonder if music does sooth the beast or not? I not only felt I was with you but I think I might have been there. Music has always settled the beast in me and if only others would follow, the world might be slightly more peaceful. By damn, I think I’ll go back and read it a fourth time.

    1. Avatarpven

      This story caught my eye and imagination. A few things I’ve observed:

      The primary focus of this story appears to be the music. It’s one of the first things that you allow Franklin to notice about the new environment. From there, you focus on the fact that the plant life is purple, not green, which establishes the peculiarity of the environment. Doing so beyond that first sentence begins to distract from the story about the music.
      “Nothing special about that one. He wasn’t really a flower guy, so it didn’t matter to him.”
      Since it didn’t matter to Frank, and it didn’t matter to the story beyond scene-setting, it shouldn’t matter to us.

      Now: If the colour of the plants had changed as the music changed, that would have been nifty, and made sense to focus upon (although I still probably wouldn’t include the bit about smelling the flowers).

      Ultimately, I think you would have done a great job setting the strangeness of the environment by having everything: plants, curtains, butterfly wings, move to the beat of the music. It sounds like a pretty cool world; this adjustment would make it a bit more solid.

  17. AvatarMoirai-TQ

    Rooted to the street corner, Franklin looked around him. Nothing was familiar to him. He closed his eyes and cocked his head to the left as he heard the quiet music from down the block. He found himself swaying slightly to the jazz beat. He opened his eyes, looked in the direction of, and started walking towards the music. He was looking around as he walked. The trees were not green, but purple. Looking around more, he noticed that all plants that were supposed to be green were not. They were all purple. He started walking more slowly to fully take in what was different about the street.

    “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” he said to himself, paraphrasing the Wizard of Oz line.

    Franklin bent over and smelled the purple plant. It smelled pleasant, like most flowers. Nothing special about that one. He wasn’t really a flower guy, so it didn’t matter to him.

    He paused and studied the buildings a bit more diligently. They looked normal. Bricks, windows, doors, gutters, roofs. Some of the windows were open and had flimsy curtains in the windows. Those curtains were moving gently in the breeze. It seemed almost as if they were dancing to the jazz beat. Franklin chuckled at that thought.

    He turned his attention back to the music and continued in that direction. He stopped in front of the building where the music was playing. A man was sitting on the stoop, swaying and nodding his head to the beat of the melody. When the song ended, so did the breeze and the curtains. This really caught Franklin’s attention. He also no longer felt like he wanted to sway.

    “Hello neighbor,” Franklin called to the man. The man looked at Franklin and grinned. A big friendly grin. “You wanna hear more jazz or somethin’ different?” His voice was friendly. “Play what you want,” Franklin said as he crossed the street to the man. He was looking at the stoop with a surprised look on his face. He couldn’t see a speaker. Nothing to indicate where the music was playing.

    The neighbor moved his head slightly to the right and a song was suddenly playing. It was a nice soft rock sound, not quite pop and not quite rock. Franklin didn’t know the know the song directly, but it did sound familiar. He started nodding his head a little, the breeze picked up and the curtains were once again dancing to the beat of the song.

    A grin appeared on Franklin’s face. The neighbor replied with a wink of his left eye and a big friendly grin.

  18. Avatarfreelancewriter0972

    Take one step inside the Last Stop Bookshop, and you immediately knew that it was once a vibrant, bustling place. The walls were yellow, conjuring up images of sunshine. A special corner was decorated just for the students who came to the Saturday afternoon book readings by local children’s authors.

    The walls were lined with pictures of the authors who held book signings there, along with inspirational quotes from famous writers.

    Rachel Thornton had been coming to the Last Stop Bookshop since she was in elementary school. She always felt at home there. Her mother first brought her, and never seemed to mind getting Rachel the latest in the Babysitter’s Book Club series by Ann M. Martin. Or the latest adventures of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield in Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High books.

    But on this Friday afternoon, stepping inside the bookshop, Rachel felt as if she might as well be inside a funeral home. Other patrons looked as mournful as Rachel felt.

    After 70 years of serving the people in the small seaside community of Cumberland, the Last Stop Bookshop was closing its doors. In exactly a week, they would be gone, and Rachel wanted to stop by one last time. The bookshelves were emptier than she had ever seen. Frank, an assistant at the shop, was busy beginning to remove the pictures from the walls.

    Rachel had known this moment was coming when they announced three months ago that the bookshop would be closing. But it wasn’t until now, being there for the last time, that she realized just how connected she was to the bookshop. She was thinking of the countless times her mother brought her there.

    She felt a lump in her throat as she hugged Connie Taylor, the bookshop’s owner. “Thank you for your support over the years. We couldn’t have done it without customers, friends really, like you” Connie said.

    “I’m gonna miss this place. I’m gonna miss you and all the good people here” Rachel responded.

    “I want you to have this memento from the shop” Connie told her. She handed Rachel a clock with the logo of the Last Stop Book Shop on it.

    “Thank you” Rachel said simply, tears in her eyes.

    Abigail, Connie’s 13 year old niece, stood at the door to give every departing customer a tote bag with a picture of the Last Stop Book Shop at sunset, emblazoned with the words “We have loved being in your lives for 70 years.”

    Once back outside, Rachel reached for her camera, and took a picture of the tiny bookshop.

    1. Avataruser613

      The emotions she was feeling were really felt. I especially enjoyed how you started with the happy memories of this place so that we could fully appreciate what it was she was losing.

        1. AvatarKerry Charlton

          You know, I do remember the first book I ever read. We lived in Washington and I had been so sick from the croup, I couldn’t stand.. My sister,,, who was ten years older, walked in my room and gave me my first book, Robin Hood. I think I was nine and dove into that book like you would a pool during the heat of summer. That was I think in winter of 1945. this is not a typo. I remember how the book looked, hardback with beautiful illustrations through it.

          Bookstores, especially old ones, soothe my heart. Thank you for the read, it was wonderful to an old geezer..
          i .

          1. AvatarMoirai-TQ

            My first book was in kindergarten or first grade. Run Spot Run. By third grade I was reading at sixth grade level and had read every book in our little local library that I could.

  19. AvatarShamelessHack

    Twilight deepened.
    The savannahs stretched to the horizons. Low hills and stark baobab trees dotted the darkening landscape beneath a carpet of stars.
    The small clan of Homo habilis crouched in perpetual fear of the snarls and grunts of the night animals outside their cave high in the hills. Their nights were always long with little sleep.
    But this night was different.
    From down in the valley came a new sound. A sound never heard on Earth before. The sound of a machine, and then the sound of metal scraping against rock.
    It lasted awhile and then stopped.
    The clan of Early Man slept not at all.
    ****
    The next day dawned in silence.
    The troop of hominids carefully left their cave and made their way down to the watering hole in the valley. As one, they stopped in stunned silence when they saw what had been placed there in the night.
    It was a tall metal cylinder, its top a few feet higher than the tallest of the pre-human apes.
    The tribe danced and yowled around the alien object. Finally, the bravest of the males climbed on the shoulders of his mate. His long hand grasped the top of cylinder and it moved slightly but stayed in place. It was a tightly fitting cover. The male pulled himself up and stood on top of it. He looked at the unfamiliar symbols beneath his feet, but of course they were meaningless to him. He beat on his chest to show his dominance.
    The male was the Alpha of the clan, the bravest of the tribe. Finally, he climbed down from the cylinder and warily the pre-humans made their way back up to their cave. There would be no foraging in the valley for food this morning.
    ****
    The next day the object was gone. The tribe quickly forgot about it.
    But the Alpha male didn’t. He would never forget those strange, incomprehensible symbols:
    “Recyclables Only. No Trash. Help Keep New Jersey Clean.”
    The tribe was wiped out in the next flood.
    So much for Darwin.

    1. AvatarKerry Charlton

      Wow! I loved this, especially New Jersey. Nopone talks about the garden state. I spent all my summers as a child at Avalon on the coast. Looks like a time warp got involved. It was a jolt but a funny one reading.. Darwin may be full of it but at least it’s different. Although in my younger days, I dated a girl, one time only that acted like Cheetah.

    2. Avatarjhowe

      Actually, Darwin’s theory may be accurate here, as the un-fittest were wiped out. For the first two thirds of this one, your descriptive imagination was clicking nicely, then the little pre-humans took over and were defeated by the trash bins.

  20. AvatarKerry Charlton

    A WOMAN OF PROMINENCE

    CHAPTER THREE

    Forward and Ch 1 So I’ve Heard, Chapter 2- Apocalypse Now Now

    Very early before dawn, Blue hopped out of bed even though she had only a few hours
    sleep. Her bed was a four poster from a century and a half back. French in style as was the
    remainder of the furniture. The ceiling was twelve feet with a wood, highly detailed crown
    molding. The floors were long leaf pine and shone from four coats of sealer. The wall paper had
    been replaced sixty years ago and still looked new.

    She entered the kitchen to make coffee. The counters were made of marble, two inches
    thick and highly polished. Cabinets were sixty years old of mahogany boards twelve inches wide
    and dove fitted with ancient glue. The three story house contained four thousand feet on the
    first and second floor and twenty five hundred on the third floor surrounded by a widow’s walk
    and balusters with rails that completely circled the home.

    Blue was given the home which had been passed through the family for over the century.
    The dining room was Chinese, the living room, Italian and the seven bedrooms were different,
    depending on what generation remodeled them. It was the only home Blue had owned as
    before, she lived at one university or another.

    As she sat drinking her coffee, her phone rang at seven thirty. She looked at the number
    and picked up the land phone,

    “Hello Mom, how are you?”

    “Well mostly hysterical. Have you seen the Inquirer this morning? You and your general
    are all over the front page with photos of both of you and the bodies. Why didn.t you call me?”
    “We didn’t get out of police headquarters until two in the morning, that’s why.”
    “Veronica, if your father were still alive he’d tan your fanny.”

    “Oh I know, he got a big kick out of that.”
    “What did you say?”
    “Forget it Mom.”
    She finished the call and shook off her mother’s advice to run Wanamakers.
    Her smart phone rang, it was Bill.
    He went on and on about body guards and security, until she was sick of it but she
    realized he was probably correct. They had breakfast at a neighborhood deli and found most of
    the customers politely gawked at both of them. She asked Bill to join him, otherwise she would
    have to face the three Johnsons by herself and didn’t like the odds.

    The meeting started as soon as she got there. Two of the brothers wanted to keep her
    at all cost but the youngest said no. She knew why and so did he but she didn’t argue to stay.
    She had become bored with the accounting audits and being temporarily famous, she wanted
    to move on to anything more exciting than spying on the mafia.Hours of negotiating clients,
    settling her share of the company and the financial gain, consumed most of the afternoon.

    They drove through the country side west of Philadelphia while birds sang their songs,
    cows chewed, and the dragon flies joined the couple as the two walked the land snuggled to
    the Pocono Mountains and the streams they created. They wove the way through the trees
    that populated Blue’s ranch and as the sun began to set, they stopped.

    He held both her hands as she stood close, stretched as hard as she could. His lips met
    hers and for some reason, the birds quit singing yet the couple never noticed. Perhaps they
    should have as the gypsy’s believe when birds stop, danger is close by.

    1. Avatarwriter_sk

      Kerry, Strong 3rd installment.

      The architectural details of Blue’s home created a distinct feel to the theme and I think all the structural details must be attributed to your line of work.

      The ending sentence was just the way to leave us wondering what will transpire.

      Expertly crafted tale.

  21. AvatarLaedschen1980

    Somboon wakes up at his usual time. It is still pitch dark around him, but he knows that the sunrise will be coming soon. His guts are already rumbling asking for fast relief of yesterday’s food.
    Somboon never needed an alarm clock; his guts were as punctual as a German train. Today will be a busy day on the farm; the strawberries were ready to be picked for the next day and a half, Somboon thought while getting up, trying not to wake up his wife. After he is back from the woods, she will have an excellent breakfast ready for him; he could almost taste the coffee on the tip of his tongue.
    As usual, Somboon gets out of the house while the day was still grey. He grabs his long bamboo stick from the side of the house and follows the little trail, leading into the woods, as usual, Samboon uses the stick to poke the grass next to the path to make sure that no surprise is waiting for him. He doesn’t hate snakes but the idea to encounter a phyton, possible to kill and eat you, never amused him. Not that he has ever seen such a big phyton, but he heard enough stories in his life.
    Somboon doesn’t need to take the risk every morning. Since years his family was the proud owner of a very well-functioning toilet system. His wife always made fun of him to continue his morning routine, but you can’t stop a habit quickly after fifty years. It was how he has to start his day. He loved going out in the morning and to step through his forest, reaching the area he used to poop since he can remember. He learned how to read nature. It just started to rain a little, and this will mean that today was going to be another hot, humid day.
    He turned around the corner, leading a little bit out of the woods onto a green, grassy area. He only needs to go straight for the next twenty meters, and he would be there.
    That’s when he saw her, like a ghost laying in front of his favorite tree. Her eyes seem to stare at him, her dress is as white as her face and is only distinguishable because it moves with the wind. Samboon has the feeling that her head turns, and she tries to say something, but no words are coming out from those flaming red lips of her.
    Samboon turns around, toss his favorite stick and starts running in any direction. He screams from the top of his lungs.

        1. AvatarMoirai-TQ

          I’m not an official editor, but I’m a pretty good proofreader. I can help with that.

          Penguin Random House should have writersmarket.com up and running soon. You can look for a literary agent from there.

    1. Avatarwriter_sk

      Laedshen
      This was *awesome*
      Stories like these are my favorite kind. I love movies on which very little occurs. Not to say nothing is happening. You know you are epically talented if you can make bathroom habits intriguing. I thought the phrase “punctual as a German train” was perfect.

      Have you read “The Hired Man?” Your stuks evokes it

      Look forward to more from you

        1. AvatarKerry Charlton

          The only think I’m not sure about is I don’t think I’d be running anywhere but asking the poor girl if she needed mouth to mouth resuscitation. Oh well, Kerry, dream away. Immensely enjoyed this.

  22. Avatarcosi vs. don

    The Hishal Yuon fiefdom wasn’t the worst place that Lord Deama could have been banished to. It was peaceful. No wars. No riots. No assassins. There were occasional spats between serfs and vassals that merited Deama’s intervention. But that was a rare occurrence.

    Hishal Yuon was a farming community. The main crop was oncoana grain, which was actually something of a weed. It grew wherever there was bare ground. It needed very little encouragement to grow, although the occasional firestorms seemed to increase the plants’ fertility.

    The tall leafy grains with their bearded seed pods were such a commonplace sight. It was impossible to travel through the fiefdom and not pass through a great many oncoana fields.

    Lord Deama hated the sight of them. They reminded him of home.

    There were no oncoana fields in the Hishal Ghen fiefdom. Plenty of rocks. Plenty of thick tres plants with their dense, hard stems. But not a single oncoana.

    If Deama closed his eyes and focused hard enough, he could still remember the roughness of the ground. He could remember all of the times he had fallen and skinned his shins as a child. He could remember the scent of spices in the air. He could remember climbing the treses with his two brothers.

    He refused to remember his brothers. He had to draw a line somewhere and that was it. He didn’t want to remember how close they had been.

    He didn’t want to remember how far he had fallen apart from them.

    He didn’t want to remember being banished by them.

    It hurt too deep.

    He knew that he could never go back to them.

    He would never be able to return to the Hishal Ghen fiefdom.

    He would never see his brothers again. He would not.

    He could not.

    They would always be apart.

    1. Avataruser613

      I loved how you used the current settings as a springboard to his memories. He sounds sad and like he has a great story held untold inside of him. You left me curious to hear more about it.

      1. Avatarcosi vs. don

        Thank you so much!

        Lord Deama first came into being in response to several prompts over here. Then, last year for NaNoWriMo, I decided to take the idea behind those stories and turn it into something a whole lot bigger. 😀

    2. Avatarjhowe

      Hishal Yuon fiefdom does sound pretty charming, despite the abundance of oncoana. I wonder what Deama did to be banished? Nice little piece, with just the right blend of Cosi style.

    3. Avatarwriter_sk

      Cosi,

      This was effective. I liked the inner monologue feel. Great adjectives in describing the plants and setting. Might you expand MC in the future?

      1. AvatarKerry Charlton

        This put me in a whole different world, one that I think I might fit in, who knows. I couldn’t even begin to write like this, I am too damn precise. On everything except spelling. I can’t spell worth a hoot, neither could my Father. . Thank you for the read, certainly intriguing..

  23. Avatarjhowe

    Bright sunlight burst in when she opened the door. Idle drink cradlers huffed at the intrusion until they saw her. She promenaded across the scarred wood floor and slid onto a stool. The ceiling fans rotated slowly and Mick Jagger crooned softly from unseen speakers. The men in the bar watched intently as she crossed her legs.

    “Black Velvet, if you please,” she said as she caught the barkeep’s eye. “On the rocks.”

    The barkeep polished a glass and nodded. “You know, you just ripped off a song.”

    She raised her dainty eyebrows, stared directly. “Hey batter batter batter, swing!”

    “Should I be impressed or something?” he said, secretly impressed.

    “Purge the negativity, Sam.”

    “It’s Charlie.”

    “In that case, make it a double.”

    He poured and skated the glass across the smooth mahogany bar. She picked it up, licked the rim and dumped the entire glass of whiskey into her purse.

    Charlie blinked and turned to serve the other customers. The PBR clock on the wall was stopped at 5:00 and a stuffed moose head kept watch above the ancient cash register.

    “Oh, Charlie.” She raised her hand and smiled radiantly. “I’ll have a draft beer, please.”

    He made his way back, not hurrying. Men stared over their beers. “What kind?” he said.

    “Surprise me.”

    He poured a Miller Lite and slid it her way. She again licked the rim of the glass and poured the beer into her purse. She slapped a twenty on the bar and sashayed toward the door, her leaking purse pulsing against her scantily clad hip. All was silent as the liquor seeped between the cracks of the floor boards.

    A man walked in and sat. “What’s happening, Charlie?”

    “Just the usual, Mitch.”

    1. Avatarwriter_sk

      Ha. Read it twice. Surprised me when she poured it into her bag. I liked the prose ~ evokes the time period and were very smooth. I liked the phrase idle beer cradlers”

      All the little details made this story.

  24. Avatarwriter_sk

    Author’s note: the two settings are Barney’s store in NY and the secondary character’s family’s home in Puerto Rico. This is from my unpublished book: “Cate and Freddie” Since there are new people on here I would like your feedback if u like! – Sarah
    Saturdays were always a night Cate enjoyed working at Barney’s. Most of her shifts were days and there was a different vibe in the evenings. People from work usually went out together too. It had started as just girls but had quickly gained momentum and turned into a major night out partying involving associates from all different departments and some people from the coffee joint next door. Cate also always dressed up more on a Saturday and wore a bit more make-up. Saturdays went by quickly as the store became crowded with customers.
    As Cate traipsed past the stockroom she tried to block out the thought that it was day four and she hadn’t heard from Freddie. Did his stomach feel empty and his hands cold the way hers did when he thought of losing her? She posed these questions and more obsessing on the issue over and over to a patient co-worker who also ushered her home after too many martinis. Cate had the next day off and usually she’d get up early to head to the yoga studio but she blew it off and wasted the day surfing the internet and watching reality shows on cable. At noon she felt like food and being a typical New Yorker she rarely kept much on hand other than coffee. She was forced to throw on jeans and head to the diner. Outside she breathed deeply letting the city air fill her lungs. She slipped into a booth, put her non-ringing phone within an arm’s reach and stared at the countertop waiting for the waitress to bring coffee and a menu.
    At the table they’d had since he was a child Freddie sat facing the small, sunny kitchen where he’d often watched his father cook and took a drag from a cigarette. Across from him, his mother’s eyes looked tired.
    “I must call the cousins,” she said wiping and rubbing at her eyes.
    “Mami, I’ll take care of that,” said Freddie’s sister.
    When his father’s heart gave out during the surgery and he died, Freddie had just made it there and was hugging his large family as they sat in the waiting room. His dad was pronounced dead at 4:03 that afternoon.
    Freddie forced himself out of the chair and began looking at the ingredients his father had on hand in the kitchen. As he cooked he noticed his mom, sisters and brothers relax a little around the table and Joey got plates and set the table. After they ate Freddie knew it was time to call Cate. He hadn’t really thought about her. To Freddie it felt like he was living a nightmare. Not only had he lost his father when he was only sixty but now his mother wanted him to stay, at least for awhile. His mother kept repeating a phrase the doctor had said “These surgeries rarely go wrong but his chest couldn’t withstand it” Freddie thought if his mother uttered that statement one more time he’d put his fist through a wall. He kicked the back screen door so hard it slammed against the house and bounced back, providing several smaller slams. Out in the garden he hung his head.
    Cate felt the phone ringing in her sweatshirt pouch on her walk back home and her heart skipped a beat.
    “Cate?” Freddie’s voice sounded crackled like he’d been smoking.
    “My dad died.”
    “I’m so sorry.” She said.
    “I’m coming back to get my things and then I have to come out here and live for awhile to help my family.”
    “What can I do to help you?”
    “I don’t know.”
    “When will you be here?” Cate didn’t like the sound of her own voice – whiny, clingy and demanding.
    “Jacked is picking me up at six so I’ll call you around then.”
    “Okay.”
    “Okay, then.”
    It wasn’t until eight that he called

    1. Avatarjhowe

      Thanks for the little intro about this being an excerpt from your book. It sounds as if Cate and Freddie’s relationship is imperfect, which you need to make the story interesting. No one wants to read about a relationship that has no hitches, so good job on that. I like how both characters have their own little flaws and insecurities. This also adds to the tension that every good story needs. I’m sure this is just a small piece of a big pie, but I like your style and wish you well with it. Nice job, Sarah.

          1. AvatarKerry Charlton

            I’m glad to have you back also. This story is stunning to say the least. It is so real, it almost hurts to read it but give me more please.

  25. Avatarjslaff

    In those days it was still possible to find a cheap apartment in Brooklyn, especially if you were willing to be flexible. Sagging floors, white wooden paneling, yellow shag carpet – it didn’t matter to me, as long as the walk to the subway was less than 10 minutes and you could get a pizza delivered after two in the morning.

    There were no hipsters in Brooklyn then, or if there were, I was one and didn’t know it. I had been looking for an apartment for weeks, ever since I got my first real paying job at a trade newspaper in the Village, writing about thermostats and energy management systems, two things I knew nothing about.

    I had grown up in apartment buildings, first on the fifth floor of a 7-story brown brick building on the border between the Jewish and Italian sections of southern Brooklyn, one of two boys in a one bedroom apartment with my parents, and then the seventh floor of a 23-story building, each with three sections of eight apartments each, and one of five buildings.

    Across the street was a complex of at least eight more buildings, equally dense and ugly. I never counted them, and I can’t remember ever setting foot on their grounds except to outrun someone larger and stronger. And two blocks away were five more buildings even uglier, built on the ruins of the famed Luna Park amusement park. It had been the Disneyland of the early 1900s, a pleasure palace where the masses went to be dazzled by electric lights, parachute rides and freak shows. The masses still came, all right, but now it was to live among broken street lights, the clatter of the elevated F train, and freaks of a different sort.

    Luna Park burned down in 1944, clearing the way for all these buildings to rise like giant bread boxes tipped on their side near the shore. Maybe all those buildings should have burned down, too. Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Brighton.

    1. Avatarwriter_sk

      Oh I really enjoyed this! The tone was very New York- as if a New Yorker was narrating.

      I never new about the amusement park.

      The bit about outrunning someone larger was a nice touch providing a visual.

      Nice flow. Well done.

      1. Avatarjslaff

        Thanks. I tried to evoke the beginning of Sophie’s Choice, which also took place in Brooklyn. In the middle section I wanted the reader to become almost numb with a cascade of numbers–23 stories, 7 stories, one of two, three of eight. And the end is the John Betjeman poem Slough (Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough / It isn’t fit for humans now). Not a memoir but the very very very beginning of a novel, and yes, I’m a New Yorker.

      1. AvatarKerry Charlton

        This is extremely intriguing. I have seen similar in Baltimore, East St. Louis,, and believe it or not, Miami. Washington, Philadelphia, Dallas and Chicago.Sometimes amazing people grow up in these and help tame the world,. When you start on your knees and work up is far better then starting at the top and working down. You have me really thinking this morning.

  26. AvatarTousLesJours

    A single red house, set back from the sea,
    Separated only by sun bleached stones.
    Its roof line sloping inward as if it were being hugged round the waist.
    Tall grass, lush in marshland muck, bending and bowing to the wind.
    A fence of whittled driftwood marked the lines of the property, a small plot of human resilience, or sheer stubbornness,
    surrounded by a wild, gray expanse of sea and sky.
    The windows of the house were dark, but the home well-kept with clean white paint on the trim and plaited shingles on the roof. Someone loves this square parcel on the edge of the sea, whipped in wind and rain, caked in salt and sun. But from the point where I stood to the edge of the horizon in every direction, I was the only sign of life. Beckoned by its aura of order and nurture, harkening some forgotten feeling of my mother’s home hundreds of miles away and years in the past, I began forward toward the house on the sea.

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