Simile But Different

This week, I’m relinquishing my all-powerful dominion over writing prompt creation because I recently acquired the revised and expanded edition of The Write-Brain Workbook, thanks to my former colleague Cris Freese, who told me the book was “awesome.” I initially shrugged it off as an overstatement, but here I am distracted from work by the darn thing, so I thought I’d share some of the fun.

Below you’ll find one of the 400 exercises and prompts that appear in it. (Also, if you so choose, you can download this prompt plus a little bonus “next step” as a printable worksheet by clicking here.)

Writing Prompt: Simile But Different

Pick an item from each column in the chart below to create a simile. The odder the simile, the more fun it is to invent a story around. If you want, generate a few similes and use them all. Examples: crooked like a yo-yo in a debate; wild like a rocking chair in sneakers.

Use the following starting phrase for your story, making sure to include the simile(s) you’ve created somewhere in the piece.

I (or she/he) took a sip of …

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

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113 thoughts on “Simile But Different

  1. Lacharmoure

    I took a sip of the champagne. It tasted crisp and fresh like a dream at a wedding, the dangerous kind that goes to your head and 5 hours later you find yourself in the backseat of the groomsmen’s car in the parking lot. I would have to be sure to sip slowly.
    I had on my kindest smile that said, “Hello, I am super interested in whatever you’re saying”. I tried to soften my eyes as I scanned the room. I wanted to look open, approachable, not nosey and prying. Speaking of prying, I couldn’t wait to pry myself out of this dress. The lace was riding up in all the wrong places and I was only able to take shallow breaths. Pure torture!
    It’s working though. Out of the corner of my eye I could see that I had one on the line. I could sense his interest and see his repeat glances. I had to play this cool. I turned on the slow-mo and shifted playfully in his direction, a slight toss of the hair, an impish smile, and seven seconds of eye contact … he was hooked. I began reeling him in by focusing my attentions on everything but him. Sure enough, within minutes he was there in front of me.
    “You look like you need a refill.” He was smooth reaching for the champagne flute as he spoke.
    “I might need something with more of an edge on it?” I prompted turning on my innocent impish smile, reserved for closing the deal, on him.
    “By all means,” he nodded, “I’ll be right back.” That was all he said then he glided off into the crowd. It seems he had his own deal closer, anticipation. Any girl in her right mind would immediately start playing a series of questions in their mind … Is he coming back? Who is he? Why didn’t he introduce himself? Why did he walk off so quickly? Why didn’t I go with him? Why didn’t he ask me to go with him?
    I was not a right minded girl though, I knew he’d be back. My question was, If he brings me a drink do I drink it?
    I hardly had time to think on that when suddenly he was back. He had slid up behind me. An element of surprise to those right minded girls but I saw him coming two rocks glasses in his hands.
    “Bourbon?” he asked raising a glass to me.
    “Just what the doctor ordered,” I replied taking the glass wide-eyed and interested. “Who do I have to thank for seeing to my medicinal needs?”
    “Roger,” he said sounding rehearsed as he gently clanked his glass to mine. “Roger Chadwick.”
    This obviously wasn’t his real name. He was a con man. A cute con man, handsome like a hillbilly in summer. If fact I am sure I would find him much more intriguing shirtless, covered in sweat, with a ax in his hand and doublewide in the background. Hmmm…
    “And whom do I have the pleasure of toasting?” His eyes started at my feet and slowly rose until our eyes met.
    “Abbigale.” I replied. My alias sounded smoother, perhaps because I had had it longer. “Abbigale Williams.”
    “What brings you to the Burchart Bankers Ball? You don’t look like a stuffy old investor or a slimy Wall Street broker?” he was quick to get to the point, letting me know he suspected I was there with an ulterior motive.
    “Actually I represent a stuffy old investor who was too busy counting his coins to attend himself,” I had all the answers prepared and ready to go. “And yourself?”
    “Oh I am a youngblood, or rather the grandson of a stuffy old investor who is on his deathbed,” he smiled a crooked smile. “I came to mingle my money with others, of course with the motive of making more money.”
    His story was crooked like his smile and both were rotten like a congressman in a debate. I thought about calling his bluff but decided to play the game out a bit further. Amongst our idle conversation about what investments seems viable and which brokers seemed slippery I scanned the room for other oddities. This guy was out of place here but he wasn’t the target I was looking for.
    The room was full of likely suspects. There was a fat man in the corner, about 55, in a silk suit, who seemed as out of place as the pope at a Bar Mitzvah. Then there was also an Asian lady in a midnight blue gown with a scowl on her face, she was not mingling and seemed to stick out like an icle in a fire pit. Lastly there was a sweaty server who looked as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I was trying to determine which one was the target … which one should I be worried about?
    “Am I boring you?” Roger Chadwick asked gesturing toward the crowded room. “I see you are looking for an escape.”
    “Oh, no. I am just observing the odd mix of individuals that attend such a function. Some of them do not seem to fit in.” My emphasis on the later and my direct eye contact let him know I was onto his rouse.
    He did not seem to mind that he was being called on the carpet. “One could say the same of you my dear?” Checkmate.
    It was during that moment, that exchange, all hell broke loose and the game changed. A young blonde waiter revealed an automatic weapon and fired a round into the ceiling at the same time that the sweaty server and another server grabbed a couple of old investors and held them at gunpoint.
    Roger was quick to react and pulled me under the nearest table.
    “Dammit!” we both breathed the word at the same time.

  2. E.C

    The handcuffs clinked as they clasped around the Congressman’s wrists. A rotten like smile creeped across his uneven, chapped, and crinkled lips. His thin pale skin seemed to expose every vein, muscle, and artery under it. The reporters were quiet, not clamoring for answers from the wicked man. I gulped and pulled a pen out of my purse.

    “Senator Millgram!” I pushed myself to the front of the crowd. His large dull eyes fixed themselves onto me. Chills ran up my spine.

    “What were your motives for killing President Havenford, and House Speaker Cotter?” The two black suits detaining him seemed to pause as if they too were interested in his response.

    “When you see evil, you must stop evil. Even if it is in an evil way.” I penned in his response as his wretched smile turned sweet. His face though pale expressed a sickeningly sweet smile. The two men began to drag him away as the crowd started to hound him after such an unusual response. I stared at my notepad for a long time. What was so evil about the president anyway?

  3. JosephFazzone

    Here we go!

    We march forth, happy like a squirrel dancing the Pachanga at the Spring Formal. Whose with me?

    Does that make sense? Isn’t there a chart for you to make the handy dandy simile like like action.

    Like like?

    Fun to say. You’re changing the point.

    Fair. Okay, points for the ethereal amorphic intangible essence with the wisdom, and endless supply of paraprosdokians.

    Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.

    Classic. While we’re at it, why don’t we steer this vessel back to the point of this story.

    Which is? Did you have one?

    What’s the point of this prompt?


    No, really, the question, the point rather.

    Oh, it’s something about making a simile. Did yours qualify?

    I didn’t check it well enough, just wanted to find a silly one and make it stand.

    Lazy approach.

    Okay, fine, what do you suggest?

    Let’s walk down the list and come up with the perfect simile to write our story. Sounds like the point of the prompt.

    Okay, let’s pick the first part.

    Are we going to do this, you know, with them noticing?


    Them. Aren’t we breaking the fourth wall?

    You’re breaking the fourth wall.

    We might be, a slight crack, in the…

    Hey guys!

    Oh no.

    This was a two-person operation.

    Well one person. You just split us into two.

    Looks like three.

    In this case.

    Uh, hi guys?



    Let’s go outside and play!

    We must finish this.

    Do we?

    Well we’re in this deep.

    What like 280 words? Who cares?

    Well…we do.

    Okay, what’s the Skippy, the story, the scoop, the deal, dilemma, direction we need to be going?

    You aren’t acting impish, what’s the deal?

    This is play. Is it not?

    I guess it is.

    Well, then, I’m in my element. So deal me in, commander.

    We’re looking for similes.

    We’re building one.

    For what?

    To be the premise of our story.

    Okay, so what do we need?

    We need to stop stalling.

    I suppose we must. Let’s pick the first part.

    Rotten like a…

    Lead balloon…


    In pajamas!

    Stop, no, that’s not going to work, it doesn’t make sense, and on top of that, we obviously just picked the top words on each line. We were only supposed to pick the first one.

    What’s wrong with it? It kind of makes sense.

    Rotten like a lead balloon in pajamas! Because lead balloons, you know they never wear pajamas, and that’s so weird, I mean rotten. How could they do so?

    What are you talking about?

    I’m justifying the simile.

    Oh, sorry, I mistook what you said for crap. My bad.

    You’re mean.

    I’d stick my tongue at you, but I don’t have one. I’m a figment.

    We all are.

    Okay, so let’s just wrap it up. Is that our final choice?

    We’re crazy like a pig in left field.

    That’s crazy!

    Why a pig, there’s a choice of mashed potatoes. Surely those would be crazier in left field than a pig?

    Really? There’s a scale on which would be crazier?

    You’d think there would be.

    I like pig.

    Mashed potatoes!

    So stubborn.


    Finally, in character.

    Mashed potatoes!

    Okay, okay, that would be our simile then. We are crazy like mashed potatoes in left field!

    Of course, if the pig was out there too he’d eat the potatoes.

    Hardly the point.

    I didn’t know we were driving towards one.

    Pointless like Pinocchio going in for rhinoplasty.

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Thoroughly enjoyed this! I do like the squirrel dancing the pachanga. That put a happy image in my head that could keep me going for a few days.

      1. KitKat747

        Very clever. Don’t you agree?

        Yes, clever like a cockroach in a cookie jar.

        But what if someone trapped the cockroach in the jar? He’s not so clever now, is he?

        Shut up. At least he has cookies.

        It’s a cookieless cookie jar.

        You would have to be as crazy as a hillbilly at a wedding to own a cookieless cookie jar.

        Why are we arguing? We are supposed to be complimenting JosephFazzone on his brilliant story.

        Fine. Your story was perfect like an angel cat eating bacon in heaven. Is that better?

        It will have to do.

    2. KitKat747

      Very clever. Don’t you agree?

      Yes, clever like a cockroach in a cookie jar.

      But what if the cockroach was trapped in the cookie jar? He’s not so clever now, is he?

      Shut up. At least he has cookies.

      It’s a cookieless cookie jar.

      You would have to be as crazy as a hillbilly at a wedding to own a cookieless cookie jar.

      Why are we arguing? We’re supposed to be complimenting Joseph on his amazing story.

      Fine. Your story is perfect like angel cats eating bacon in heaven. Is that better?

      It will have to do.

  4. ReathaThomasOakley

    I posted this, December 1, 2017

    Two Kinds of Women
    (Based on actual events currently unfolding in an anonymous home some place in, ah, Wales, yes, Wales.)

    “Dear,” she smiled through tightly clinched jaw, praying her back teeth wouldn’t crack from the pressure, “you do realize how fortunate you are to be married to me, and not that other kind of woman.”

    “What’s that?” He asked as he pulled his team’s t-shirt over his head in preparation for the big game about to start. “What woman?” He settled back into his recliner.

    “The kind of woman who would scream and swear after being told by Disaster Recovery that the leaky refrigerator water hose means new Sheetrock, new flooring, new cabinets and counter tops in the kitchen, and new carpet and mold removal in the hall, starting with kitchen demo Monday.”

    She checked to see if the fingernails digging into her palms had drawn blood. “I’m the totally other, better, kind of woman, the kind who smiles when she hears she must put the microwave, coffee pot, and toaster in the living room and the litter box in the shower. That’s the kind I am, always smiling.” She flexed her neck, ignoring the crackle and pop of tight muscles.

    “Yes, Sweetheart, I’ve always loved your smile.” He reached for the remote. “Game’s gonna be good. Sure you don’t want to watch it with me?”

    “No, think I’ll just go to the bedroom, see what the cat’s doing.” She left the room, still smiling.

    Last Thursday we packed up the cat, underwear and socks, and checked into an extended stay hotel. Mold remediation has begun, cabinets are torn out, and it only took THREE MONTHS working with insurance to get to this point. Just wanted to share.

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Oh gosh! I do remember this story (of a lady in Wales). I didn’t imagine it would take so long to get it sorted out! Hopefully it all goes smoothly from here. Best of luck!

  5. Jennifer Park

    37. The Illness
    [comes after “36. The Punishment,” under “Table for Two”]

    The thing about being dispatched to the sketchy edge of the empire is that pathogens that have been eradicated from the rest of the empire often found refuge among the dregs.

    Especially the kind that is made with RNA wrapped in protein, and capable of killing millions at a time.

    “I feel so… rotten…”

    “You Excellency! No!” Ari, the attendant, almost knocked over a chair as he tried to catch Barbara. “You should be in bed… resting…”

    Barbara was in no condition to be on her feet. “Like a lead balloon… I feel like a lead balloon in pajamas… So heavy…”

    “Please, Your Excellency. This way.”

    “Call me Barbara, Ari.”

    Ari blushed.

    “Heh… You’re all pink… Heh… And mushy… mashy…” Barbara deliriously poked at Ari’s midriff.

    It tickled. He tried to signal with eyes that he would very much like her to stop.

    She did not. “Pinky like my mashy… potatoey… potatoes… in headlights… Big, pink mashy potato eyes in headlights…”

    Ari had never lived on Earth, and honestly did not know what headlights were. He needed to put all of his effort into getting her back in bed, and finally succeeded in doing so. “There… Your Excellency… Please… Please stay in bed.”

    “OK. I stink, though. Yuck. I’m so ripe… You know, like a yo-yo… like at a wedding…” Barbara drifted off.

    Ari checked her vitals again. The proper antibodies would not be felivered for another two or three days. He covered her up in warm blankets, and tip-toed out of the room.

    The last thing he heard was her mumbling, “Have you… have you had bagels in space? It’s crazy good… Crazy bagels in space. That’s me. Crazy like bagels in space.”

    Actually, he could still hear her mumbles through the implant.

    “You’re so helpful… like a puppet… You’re like a helpful puppet… Puppet… in… space…”

  6. writer_sk

    The third time I examined the railing from the car while I waited for people to go around the New England pot holes which were obvious but not expected like a detour on back roads, I decided it was pink. The other apartments had white railings. Ms. A. came out onto the balcony and sipped her coffee. She was tipping the watering can over the potted plant when the guy behind me honked to go.

    At work, papers mounted like junk at a landfill and my productivity went in reverse as I created more problems for myself by submitting erroneous documents to the paralegal I worked for.

    That apartment, that railing, it consumed me. I didn’t want to be with Ms. A, I wanted to be her. Wild like an unstable mental patient running from her facility, I tracked down Ms. A. She ran the florists in town. She had bought the shop from her grandmother. It was a charming profession for her – sweet like eating soft serve on a summer night.

    When I placed my flower order my hand shook like a teenager asking a girl to the prom.

    Why did I want to meet my ex-boyfriend’s current wife? I didn’t know. It was crazy like a diamond in sepia tones. I guess I wanted to feel what she felt or better – I wanted to know what she felt was ok for her to feel and for me to let her feel.

    As she handed me a beautifully wrapped bouquet that day; rain pouring down in buckets washing away the last of the winter snow; her eyes shone kindly on me.

    I smiled. The railing was pink like a cloud in summer. If you only glanced you would think it was white.

    I was relieved to see she was just a normal person. It looked as though she was eager for customers.

    “Please come back for our Easter lillies.”

    “We also do weddings and parties,” Ms. A. added.

    “Oh,” I said, “I’m single.”

    Then, “Did you do the flowers for your wedding?”

    “Why, yes.” Ms. A. pointed to a framed photo of her wedding. The groom wasn’t my ex, Patrick and relief washed over me.

    She offered me a cup of coffee. She became just another person to me. As she spoke while we both stood at the counter, I learned she knew a lot about flowers. My mind wandered to a future date I’d have with Patrick that would be romantic like a dream in summer.

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Oh my, I’m worried for your MC: her obsession with the railing, tracking down Ms A, and daydreaming about a future date. Doesn’t seem like she’s headed in a good direction.

      I like how you’ve created a sense of uneasiness in such a quaint setting with pink railing and a florist. Great contrast! Will there be more to this story?

      1. writer_sk

        No but I’m considering a longer piece set in an apartment complex where two women become friends. One off kilter and one [seemingly] stable. The pink banister has been on my mind, though, as a symbolic metaphor…

        TY for the feedback!

  7. mvg81


    I took a sip of the pestilence-laced Gatorade. Lemon-lime. The countdown began. I still had about 64 ounces to go, but the anticipation was ripe like eggs in sneakers, and so would the resulting fallout be later that evening…

    Some time had passed since I finished the poison, and like with waiting for anything undesired, my nerves seeped loose like mashed potatoes in pajamas. Later that evening, this came as close to occurring as I’m prepared to admit.

    I was going on 21 hours straight without solid food. It was 10 PM. The hunger pangs had migrated from my belly up into my brain. It was difficult to think. My thoughts were elusive. I was light-headed. My senses could no longer be trusted. It felt as if the walls came alive, tilting toward me and away, quickly bending over crooked like a cheerleader in handcuffs. I considered myself physically and mentally tough, but I was in rough shape. And I knew the worst was yet to come…

    It was nearing midnight. The thermostat read 70, but it felt much colder. I grabbed a third blanket and threw it over my body as I curled up in bed alone, but I couldn’t shake the chill. It was in my bones. I felt awkward and uncomfortable, inappropriately inflated like a puppet in a pocket at a Bar Mitzvah. I wouldn’t get comfortable. It didn’t matter, I knew I wasn’t staying long.

    Then came the sound. A wretched and guttural gurgle, seemingly from another dimension. I threw the covers off and sprang to my feet. I panned the room as if to identify the source, but I knew I was the source. My hands involuntarily rolled tight into white-knuckled fists. My forehead felt the sting of a thousand pins and needles. I ran into the bathroom and gripped the vanity firmly with both hands. I leaned forward and gaped at my pale countenance in the mirror. I looked like curdled milk. I then recalled the doctor’s final counsel given to me a few weeks earlier, “The night before would be the worst of it.” Prophetic words. Psychic, like a pig in the refrigerator. Ugh, the thought of bacon made me reel. Then it came. A deluge of ungodly biological essence, summoned from the depths of creation itself. A sinister shower of unholy substance, inhumane to describe. And on it went. And on, and on, and on, and on…

    The following day…

    “Hello, Matthew. How do you feel?” the doctor asked.
    “Okay… that’s it? It’s over? How long did it take?”
    “Yep. That’s it. Only about 20 minutes. The anesthesia keeps you sleeping like a baby. I told ya, the worst part of a colonoscopy is the prior night’s prep. The laxatives are brutal. Unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil.”

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Yup, you pretty much described it in all its terror. I had to be fully awake for mine; it was insanely painful.

      The similes are perfect for this situation. They are basically asking to be compared to bowel movements. I’m glad you went that route. Great job!

  8. ShamelessHack

    “She is dead, Romeo.”
    “Then I cannot live, Balthasar. I quaff now my cup of hemlock. Without Juliet I now end my own life as well.”
    “Wait, Romeo! I live still!”
    “What! Juliet! Egad, now you telleth me! You have not partaken of the poison?”
    “Alas, no, my love.”
    “Fair Juliet, your joyous missive hath the timing of a ringing iPhone at Richard Nixon’s bar mitzvah.”
    “I am dead.” (exits stage left)
    “No, Romeo. Noooo!”

    So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


  9. KitKat747

    I stare at myself in the mirror. My blonde hair falls in waves until it reaches my shoulders. I consider straightening it, but after one quick glance at the time, I realize that I am already running late. I grab my keys and some lipstick to apply in the car. Just as I am about to open the door, a voice calls out from inside.

    “Hey, Mae!”

    “What do you want?” I reply, annoyed. My brother rarely says a word to me, but when he does, it is always at the most inconvenient time.

    “Can you grab me a can of Mountain Dew?”

    “Hell, no. You can peel your butt off the couch and get your own soda. I’m late for an interview.”

    “Wow. You’re as helpful as…” he sees the lipstick clutched in my hand, “As lipstick in the middle of a battle.”

    “That doesn’t even make any sense. Lipstick in battle, seriously?”

    “Maybe lipstick will save someone’s life one day. In fact, I’ll call you when it does.”

    “Okay, you do that, but I’ve really got to go.”

    “But what about- ”

    The last bit of his sentence is cut off as I slam the door. I hurry to my car and start the engine. I drive through the city as fast as I can, but then I speed around a corner and slam on the brakes. Several cars have stopped already, and more vehicles skid to a stop behind me. I’m stuck in a sea of red tail lights with nowhere to go. Fantastic.
    Then the horns begin to blare. I crank up my music, trying to drown them out, but a different sound rises above the hectic honking. A scream. Then another.

    My eyes widen as they take in the scene before me. Men wearing masks weave through the parked cars, opening doors at random. The woman in front of me is forced out of her vehicle and shoved to the ground. When she lifts her head, blood drips out of her nose. I meet her eyes. They are filled with fear, but so are mine. Then the man pulls out a gun. Before I realize what is happening, he fires. A scream tears out of my throat. The woman’s empty eyes stare back at me.

    My breathing is reduced to ragged gasps. My fingernails dig into the seat beneath me. I squeeze my eyes shut, wishing that I can unsee what I have just witnessed. More shots are fired. The scene replays over and over again in my head.

    I register the sound of the car door opening, and a wave of fresh air washes over me. I open my eyes just in time to see the masked man grab my arm. His fingernails dig into my skin, forming a bruise. I shriek again and reach for some sort of weapon.



    My fingers find my tube of lipstick sitting in the cupholder. I pop off the cap and thrust it towards the man’s face. The bright red paste ends up in his eye, and he cries out in pain. His grip loosens, and I yank my arm away. I shove him into the car door and sprint towards the nearest building. When I reach the sidewalk, I glance back. The heel of his left hand is pressed to the injured eye, but his other hand now grips his gun.

    A shot fires.


    I stand on the sidewalk in shock.

    The masked man collapses.

    A police officer stands behind me with a pistol.

    I let out a slow breath.

    It’s over.

    Thank God for lipstick.

    Just then my phone buzzes. My brother is calling.

  10. Pete

    A small sip of Sprite. Giles glances around the sparsely decorated room. Thin drywall hardly separates him from the foot traffic, the rings and dings, the several conversations of everyday cases. Ryan knows he’s got a long way to go.
    Internal Affairs. Like he’s killed someone.

    The door opens. Officer Giles finds Sgt. Walters. Walters is a few years older, stiff, never told a joke, with a shaved head and a gaze that remain unimpressed. The guy is cold like a brick in a refrigerator.

    “Giles,” he huffs with a quick, grim nod. “Quite some mess, huh?”

    Giles sucks a breath. “I couldn’t say, I’ve been sitting in here for hours.”

    “Right,” he says. “Well, let me fill you in. What you did was dangerous.” He lowers his gaze. “It was stupid.”

    The conversation turns quick, just as Ryan knew it would. He lifts his eyes from the worn carpet at his feet, tries not to think about the collection of spit and snot and filth staining its fibers. There’s no point in arguing, Ryan has told them what happened. They’ve seen the dash cam and compared it to the several cell phone videos floating around as well. Little good it would do.

    “So what happens now?”

    “Well, probably administrative leave. With pay,” he gazes over his eyeglasses, “For now.”

    Message delivered. He sits back, decides against it and rocks forwards. “I just, what the hell were you thinking? You’ve been a cop for what, ten years?”


    “Okay, so talk to me here.”

    Giles gives a shrug. “It’s changed. Everything has changed. I wanted to gain the kid’s trust. I took a chance. It worked, so I thought.”

    “Gain the kid’s trust,” Walters mocks. “He’s fifteen. He’s black. There was nothing to be gained, no hero’s welcome for that. God, Giles, you’re about as romantic as a bowler in pajamas.”

    Giles shrugs. Walters sighs, his tone shifting with every sentence. It slides back to friend mode. Just two cops. “Did you know is running with it, too. Did you know that? Freaking CNN.” Then, back to guy with a score to settle. “You know how this makes us look?”

    Giles is shaking his head. “That’s not what I was thinking about out there.”

    “You weren’t thinking. God, you must think I’m dumber than a yo-yo in a time warp.”

    “I can’t say I know what you’re talking about.”

    A knock at the door. Walters wheels around to find a chubby man in a suit and tie. “Sgt. We’ve got Reverend Jefferson here.”
    Walter shakes his head. “Already? Tell him I’m busy.”

    “Right, he uh, he wants to personally thank Officer Giles.”

    Walters removes his glasses and pinches his nose. “Unbelievable.”

    “Um, the news is here, too. The Reverend is talking about an award? Something about gentle policing, and…”

    “Gentle policing?” Walters glares at Giles. “Your hearing this? See what you’ve done?”

    Giles sits back, thinking about the kid’s face–how he was looking itchy and it was making Giles itchy too. It wasn’t exactly planned. He was out of options, hardly able to trust himself the way things were going. So he’d unholstered his gun, tossed it in the car and approached the kid.

    There had been nothing romantic, nothing gentle about it. He just wanted the kid to see a human out there, not a threat.

    With wide eyes pinned to him, Giles had thought it was his last moments when he sat on the curb and started talking with the kid. Slow at first, Giles asking what happened. The kid eyeing him like he was crazy–like he was a bowler in pajamas. But then the kid reached in his pocket, and Giles clenched, knowing that was it. But out came the two packs of gum in question.

    Walters hops out of his seat, heading for the door but pointing at Officer Giles. “You’re still on paid leave. Award or not. Jesus,” he mutters, sliding out the door. “Gentle policing. Next thing you know we’ll be teaching this crap at the academy.”

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Wonderful story! And very relevant. I like the way you’ve fleshed out Sgt Walters. As the scene progresses he seems more complicated than the stone cold guy he first comes off as.

      While I do hope police keep their guns holstered I’m waiting for the day “gentle policing” is more of a thing. Reminds me of an episode on RadioLab where they interviewed some officers who’d figured out a way around this problem

  11. rlk67

    I took a sip of the vodka as if this were my first drunk. I mean drank. Ha ha and L-O-L, whatever that means.

    I wobbled at my private table in the corner of the bar. Private because I dragged the table there. One more inch and we go tumbling down the steps to the basement. The manager squeezed by me with a stunningly mean look. He mumbled something about more paper towels. “Sounds great,” I belch.

    I eyed evil Mr. Piano-man. He stopped singing, and started grinning straight at me. I didn’t like anything about him. His arrogant bowtie was judging me. This guy was as snobby as a rocking chair in pajamas. How dare a rocking chair think that it can just stop rocking and go to bed. Play, idiot. Do your job. LOLOLO a rocking chair in pjs. Snort.

    I leaned backwards just as manager man came back up the stairs. He just caught me before my back- dive down into the abyss. ‘Uh, maybe you ought to move away from the stairs, buddy. You’re gonna break your neck!”

    How dare him. Ok, I’ll make him happy. I dragged the table over and blocked the door. Some people from the outside tried to get in. “Hey! Try going under the table! Much more fun!” I wanted to be helpful like a jalopy at a Bar Mitzvah. LOLOoLLOoOL, oh my liver’s exploding. The manager ran over and picked up my table and put it back where I had found it. “Out, buddy!” He screamed. “You’re costing me customers!”

    Costing you? Well, I’ve been out of a job for…for… Hmmm…?

    I woke up in my bed. Oh, my head. A deep voice echoed inside. “Frank, wake up. It’s me, your brother. I found you drunk outside of Sam’s. What were you thinking?” Thinking?

    “Bills. Mortgages. That’s what I was thinking.” I rolled over.

    “Well, get up. I got a call before. You got the job in the school. English teacher. Get dressed and go…now!”

    I don’t know how I did it, but before I knew it, I was standing in front of a 6th grade class of boys. Was I still wobbling?

    “Ok, guys. Welcome. We’re doing some..uh..writing today.” We were? I didn’t prepare…They took out their notebooks. “Your first assignment…to write about…” Think, you drunk. Think!

    “…A rocking chair in pajamas.” They started laughing. “How ’bout, a jalopy at a Bar Mitzvah!” They roared.
    “Ok, fine. How about just what you did during summer vacation.” They began to write.

    It was gonna be a fun year.

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Great drunk narrative! I could almost smell the booze.

      I used to teach 7th grade boys (almost the same thing). They are crazy but also hilarious. It’s gonna be a fun year for your MC.

    2. writer_sk

      rlk- Oh gosh really, really I enjoyed this funny piece! How great.

      You nailed the funny drunk. The rocking chair visual was great and him moving the table around was like an SNL skit.
      I liked the happy ending.

  12. kate_good

    He took a sip of his routine protein shake and choked down the remnants of chalky powder residue left on his tongue after a taxing cardio circuit. A Reese Witherspoon movie quote echoed in the back of his mind from a date night with his ex when he reluctantly agreed to sit through one whole chick-flick film of her choice-no complaints, no distractions.

    “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands,” chirped Elle Woods to the other law students.

    Endorphins must be the only reason healthy people can drink this shit, or any of their other organic, all natural garbage, he thought. They must be so far up in the clouds on their “runners highs” that they convince themselves this stuff actually tastes good. Since when is a cheeseburger and fries no longer a fulfilling meal? But that was not the point. He shook the thought from his head and chugged the last remains of the milky slime in his blender bottle.

    Since she left him he had vowed to make the life changes he never previously had the motivation to make. She had described her feelings of their relationship as “bored like lipstick in sepia tones. It was colorless, so why should she even bother with trying?” It had completely taken him by surprise. He thought things were going well; they spent plenty of time together, they were comfortable and spent their nights after work at home relaxing and recovering from the day, easing their stress before the next. However, spending every night on the couch either binging on Netflix shows or playing video games eventually took its toll not only on their relationship, but on his physicality as well.

    “How I am I supposed to care for someone who doesn’t even care for himself?” She questioned him. “Look at you! When was the last time you actually spent time outside not walking to your car? We don’t even go out to eat anymore because every date night food you bring me is from a drive-thru, and your only form of exercise is moving your fingers on the Xbox controller!!” she yelled, exasperated.

    He hadn’t realized how bad it had gotten, but she had a point. When the old gas station behind his house had been torn down for new construction he hadn’t even noticed until she had mentioned it about a week later. He took a look around the room noting the number of greasy takeout bags piling up on the floor and he couldn’t remember the last time he stepped foot in a gym.

    So he made a few personal resolutions: Take himself out to eat at a nice restaurant where the leftovers weren’t packaged in a paper bag; take a lap around town to see what was happening in the world around him-either on foot or on his rusty old bike that hadn’t seen the light of day in a few years; and to become a gym rat. This would include the protein shakes, sweaty towels, and staring at yourself in the mirror making obnoxious grunting noises during your bicep curls. The kind of grunts that make the people around you so uncomfortable they question if you’re going to make it out of your reps alive and if they need to start brushing up on their CPR skills. The resolutions had forced him out of his comfort zone and they still weren’t his first choice of evening activities, but they were good for him, so he grudgingly kept at it.

    Standing at the gym’s wide glass doors that lead back out to the parking lot he had stopped to fish through his sweaty gym bag for his car keys. As he retrieved them from the depths of the duffle, he caught the eye of a fit, young blonde behind the check-in desk who he hadn’t seen working there before. She was tempting like a cheerleader in a video game he once played. He flashed her a side smile and she blushed slightly and smiled back, embarrassed that she had been caught staring at him. Maybe coming to the gym had its perks after all…

  13. RafTriesToWrite

    Another two-parter. It’s been a long time since I did a narrator’s perspective. Advice are highly appreciated.

    Billy’s stare was cold like bricks in summer as he lie eyes wide in the open midday streets of Burbtown. Life and blood slowly dripping from his body on that corner road from his home; sirens from the ambulance drenching the sky with its monotonic hum, people staring and taking pictures at the soon to be corpse and a dog smelling his inhumanely bent knee, but what led him to this peculiar dilemma you ask?

    Let’s trace back to this morning.

    Billy is a pre-school teacher for two dozen kids at Burburry Academy – a two block walk from his home. He was loved by his two kids, wife, students and as well as the faculty, nobody held a grudge against our kind protagonist.

    This morning marks the first day of summer vacation, he had the whole day planned for him while his wife and kids are still at their aunt Charlotte’s – Billy’s younger sister – planning Billy’s surprise birthday party tomorrow.

    He woke up at 8:07 precisely. For snoozing the alarm takes five minutes until it rings again and two minutes for him to take the morning in before actually getting up from the bed.

    On the way to the bathroom, he trips over the plush toy of Garfield that Annie – his first born – plays with, tipping over the key bowl where he usually puts his keys in as well. He was very clumsy, his wife always says, but it was one of the qualities that she loved about him.

    After showering, right as when he was putting on his pants for the day, a part of the fabric, near the buttocks area had ripped open. It’d been three months by now since he last wore this pair of pants. I must be putting on some weight; Billy thought as he quickly removes the pants and rummaged his closet to find a new one – a usual one that he usually wears.

    Having completely dressed, Billy went straight for the kitchen to fix himself up his usual breakfast – Cheerios. It was typically a slow day, seeing as it’s the first day of summer. No school, no kids to teach, just a day of alone time for Billy.

    Or at least, until he got a text. A text from his wife, saying they’ll be home sooner than anticipated, at around “one-ish”. Billy’s mind immediately thought, why not go for pizza? As if the ripped pants in his bedroom meant nothing to him.

    As Billy finished his breakfast he decided to clean his bowl, which he never does. Thinking he might get laid tonight if he did the dishes or something to make the wife happy before bed.

    With that in mind, he proceeded to clean the entire living room filled with toys and toys from his two daughters, gum in some furniture and hair from Barbie dolls. She’ll be very pleased, Billy thought.

    He finished everything as the clock approached one in the afternoon. He felt his left wrist and noticed that he forgot to wear his watch which was upstairs in their bedroom. Forgetfulness – another quality that Billy’s wife loved about him.

    As Billy wore his watch, he proceeded to go to the key bowl, but it wasn’t there anymore. Then he remembered that he tripped over this morning and must’ve knocked the bowl over, but he didn’t hear any keys dropping at that time.

    1. RafTriesToWrite

      Billy looked behind the cabinet where the bowl was on, but the keys were still hiding for some mysterious reason. He went back downstairs to see if his wife had left the keys on the counter since she sometimes goes to the grocery before dinner. Sure enough, the keys were in fact just sitting there, waiting to be picked up.

      He wore his sneakers, and proceeded to the door. But as he was leaving, the phone rang. He was forced to pick it up, it might be important, he thought to himself.

      It was just his parents calling, says that they’ll be there before lunch time for Billy’s birthday. That’s the only time it hit Billy, it was his birthday tomorrow. He didn’t know until his parents told him. Classic Billy – is what his wife would say.

      With a smile on his face, Billy locks the door behind him and proceeded to walk around the corner to the back parking of the compound. Their car was usually parked there since they barely use it. Billy argued one time that the car would be a nuisance if they parked it in front of their house when they just rarely use it and that it could even help someone else that needs the parking space.

      As the lights on that corner turned green, a kid’s ball went into the oncoming traffic. Billy didn’t underestimated the way how kids would think, Billy ran as fast as he can towards the kid. His instincts were right though, the kid did follow the ball.

      Billy heard a woman screaming, as he grabs the child and throws the kid back to the side walk and quickly dodges the bus. The bus stops in the middle of the crossing, the driver going down, trying to make sure that everything’s alright.

      And it was, for that moment at least. Until the fruit cart that the kid landed on, lost its break which was a brick holding the cart from rolling down and with gravity doing the work, the cart collides with Billy, sending him back onto the oncoming traffic and slams head-on with a black sedan.

      With everyone in shock, the bus driver calls for an ambulance and that was that.

      Was saving the kid worth it? He asked himself in that tiny moment he had left with his brain still processing the pain and everything all at once.

      As his vision started to fade, he thought: would I still be alive if I did things differently? What would happen if I got up at 8 like I should’ve? Or if I was careful enough to watch where I’m going on my way to the bathroom? Or if I just picked my regular pants to wear? Or if I didn’t cleaned the dishes or the living room? Or if my wife hadn’t texted me that they’ll be coming home earlier than expected? Or if I hadn’t forgotten to wear my watch before I went downstairs? Or if I remembered where the keys were in the first place? Or if I didn’t picked up the phone to talk to my parents because I had left earlier than I should?

      Would I still end up where I am now?

      Would things be, at all, different?

      Questions. All questions, but no answers.

      1. rlk67

        The answer is that he would still be alive if the writer hadn’t chosen to toss him back in the traffic. Just when we were smiling. Why do the best stories have tragic endings? Ok, we’ll just wait for part 3. I am Billy…don’t let us die.

      2. ReathaThomasOakley

        Good story, with lots of big concepts to consider, fate, what ifs, etc. I think if you go back through and reread carefully you’ll catch some of the grammar and word usage issues. You might want to also check the tenses, some places there is a switch from present to past. I also think it could be tightened a bit. I know you identified this as from a narrator’s perspective, but, for me, some of the parentheticals seemed intrusive, but, that is just me and others will have other opinions. All in all, a thoughty (is that a word?) piece.

        1. RafTriesToWrite

          I’ve seen and hopefully caught every grammar and word usage issues.
          As for the tense shifts, this is a recurring error of mine and I can’t seem to get a hold of them. I can see where you’re going with that, it’s an eerie read indeed.
          For the parentheticals, it felt like I didn’t know where to put them, I really need to work on that.
          Thank you for pointing these out Reatha, much appreciated!

      3. J.Fujimaru

        Raf, great scene to start with. And you added a strong simile in the first sentence. Nice! I’m definitely a fan of this type or narrative where the result comes first and the cause is explained afterwards. It starts the reader off with some questions which keeps them reading until the end. But I don’t think you, as the writer, have to spell those questions out. When I’m reading about a character that’s splayed out on the street and almost a corpse I’m automatically thinking “why?” Also, when skipping around in the chronology, you don’t need to spell it out with “let’s trace back to this morning.” For example, a simple “That morning,…” might do. Sometimes the less you narrate the more we’re able to dive into the narrative – if that makes sense… Agree with Reatha about checking the tenses. It’s good to decide on a tense before writing so that it’s easier to stay consistent.

        1. RafTriesToWrite

          I see.
          Perhaps I was being too generous with un-mystifying the story that I put all the questions that I wanted to ask, or make the reader want to ask. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I write something like this. Make them question, leave them hanging, be more mysterious. Gotcha.

          “That morning…” does have a nicer ring to it than the one I put, thank you for that.

          Yup, tense shifts seem to be getting the best of me. Perhaps I need lessons for that. Thank you J.Fujimaru! Your comment is highly appreciated.

      4. writer_sk

        Wow. Good work.

        I thought all the details about Billy, his tendencies and his life were very well done.

        I thought the narration you did was very effective. It had the feeling of the old Twilight Zone shows where the voice over describes a normal life then something terrible or freakish happens.

        Just so well done all around, Raf. I liked the way you began the story with the ending and cocked back to it – a perfect use of that device.

      5. writer_sk

        Hi Raf- my comment to you got lost – it was waiting for moderation due to a typo.

        Anyway: great main character- loved all the details and descriptions of his life. Descriptions of the key bowl and MC’s clumsiness and motivations were very humanizing.

        I thought the narration was very strong. It was exactly like the creepy narrator of the Twilight Zone who would describe a regular scene and then something awful would happen.

        Great job leading with the injury and coming back to it st the end. I thought that was perfectly executed.


    I took a sip of warm, sweet goodness from my Starbucks cup as I meandered my way through
    the mall. Caramel Macchiato is one of my many weaknesses, and today it was the perfect stress
    reliever after a long afternoon of kid-wrangling and errand-running.

    Earlier, my two older sons,Mason and Jeremy, hissed and rolled their eyes when I pulled into the mall parking lot. They made a futile attempt at begging me to let them remain in the car while I shopped.

    “Moooommmm! How long are your gonna be?” Mason whined.

    “I don’t wanna go!” Jeremy protested. “You always say you’re gonna be quick and then it takes
    you foreeeever.”

    I turned and gave each of them a blank stare. Did they really think I was going to leave the two
    of them alone in my car in a mall parking lot? As if!

    After they helped me hoist their little brother into his car seat, we headed inside. Already tiring of their long faces and souring attitudes, I quickly came up with a compromise. I told them they could hang out and play video games in GameStop until I was done.

    That perked them right up! Now I wouldn’t have to fuss at them the whole time.

    I really did intend for this to be a quick trip, you know. I always do. It’s just that once I rounded
    the corner and saw my favorite bras on sale at Victoria’s Secret, I got distracted. Two years
    and fifty-five pounds ago I would have run loose like a cockroach in a cookie jar in that place. I
    simply love lingerie! It makes me feel sexy and powerful. Honestly, I haven’t felt that way in a very long time.

    As I stood there, savoring my macchiato and sighing over the sale signs outside the store window, the very familiar profile of
    a balding, middle-aged man caught my eye. He was casually leaning against the counter,
    smiling at the young sales clerk.

    Wait! Surely I wasn’t seeing my loving husband, George, standing in Victoria’s Secret about to
    hand over his credit card to this girl!

    My heart plummeted into my gut.

    That’s when I heard that annoying, high-pitched giggle that brought back every sickening
    insecurity I’d been trying to eat away with my yo-yo dieting.

    Before I knew it, my cup slipped right out of my hand and onto the head of my poor sleeping
    toddler, Parker, who’d been napping away the whole time. Now he was suddenly doused with warm coffee and starting to cry.

    But my eyes were deadlocked on his father, who was supposed to be showing a house at this hour (or so he told me when he called me at lunchtime).

    And that giggle? It belonged to buxom, blonde, trouble-making Shelli Vance — my former
    neighbor and the woman who nearly destroyed my marriage two years ago…

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, TLDENNIS!

      “I’d been trying to eat away with my yo-yo dieting.” I like this line. I like that you used ‘eat’ instead of the expected ‘whittle’ or some other word like that. Great word choice! 🙂

      My Internal Editor’s only complaint was it wasn’t clear at the end where Shelli was standing. Was she the sales clerk? Or was she cozying up to George? That small detail makes all the difference. Especially considering the wife’s reaction.

      Other than that, this was a well-written story.

    2. J.Fujimaru

      Oh, I definitely need to hear the rest of this! Full of suspense and fun similes and metaphors. I like the line about the yo-yo dieting as well.

  15. GrahamLewis


    J. Gordon Flesner, Esquire, took a sip of his double-malted scotch, and settled back into his desk chair. He looked around his home office, admiring the lush carpets, the full bookcases, the life-sized bust of James Madison (his favorite jurist). The afternoon sun slipped a beam between the curtains, reflecting off his framed law degree and State Bar admission certificate. He swiveled and studied the painting behind him, an artist’s rendering of the 19th century building, his building, housing his law office.

    He’d made all this. Her leaving, that’s her loss. He didn’t need her, never had.

    His phone alarm chimed, reminding him of an appointment. He’d long been targeting Robert Weatherstone, hoping to bring him on board as a client. Weatherstone, the sort of gruff self-centered man who made lots of money but no friends, with a no-nonsense attitude that matched Flesner’s own. They were made for each other.

    Because Weatherstone was also a fastidious man, Flesner knew he had to have a perfect demeanor and attire. Time enough for a shower, just to be sure. But he’d have to watch the time; Weatherstone valued promptness almost as much as he valued money.

    Flesner walked into the bathroom he and his wife shared– or rather used to share. The shower felt good. He felt good. If he landed Weatherstone, he’d be set. One deep-pocketed client and he could ditch the rest. Sort of semi-retirement. And if he could sink his fingers into Weatherstone’s empire, who knew what sort of things might “fall” his way. He glanced into the shaving mirror. Not bad. Except for the white hair, he could pass for a man in his prime.

    He ducked under the shower and grabbed the shampoo. Rubbed it in well, no risk of dandruff flakes today. He rinsed, got out, and began to towel off. But the man who looked back from the mirror was not a dignified member of the Bar and officer of the court. He was a clown. A wrinkled face peering from beneath an incarnadine cap. To put it in a long-forgotten phrase from his youth, his hair was pink like a pig in summer.

    No amount of rinsing removed the color and time was running out. As he turned to leave the bathroom, he saw the note taped to the back of the door. “BTW, Gordon, you might notice that I slipped red hair dye into the shampoo bottle. Enjoy your new ‘do. Love, Janice.”

    [[I had my son choose the elements to amplify the challenge. His choice? “Pink like a pig in summer.”]]

    1. Denise G. Monello

      The story and simile were great. I loved the twist at the end. If I may, and I am so far from qualified to make any grammatical corrections, judgements, inputs, etc., but should it be FLESNER walking into the bathroom and not Weatherstone? I could have missed something, and this is what you meant to say, if it is, forgive me for my input.

      1. GrahamLewis

        How dumb of me. Of course. Jessica, if you are reading this, please make that change if you can. Doesn’t seem to make it worth reposting, or does it?

    2. TLDENNIS5

      Graham, this is money!! I was hooked within the first three seconds. Then the icing on the cake was that laugh-out-loud twist at the end. Way to nail a simile challenge!

  16. JRSimmang


    Mama said the man would be back. The man with the cloud in his pocket. Ain’t nothin’ crooked like a man with a cloud in his pocket.

    But, mama said he’d be back, sippin’ on the daylight, sippin’ on his words, sippin’ on the eyes and dreams of others.

    Last time he was here, mama said he left the town after, and only after, he had reason to leave. Ya’ can’t go ’round makin’ promises you can’t keep, and he collected them like breaths. He promised ma her sight back. Devil in sharp clothes. What he didn’t tell her was that it could cost her her mouth. And ears. And the heart that beat in her chest.

    Oh, she got her sight back, but it was only long enough to see the Gates of David.

    Said he kept a cloud in his pockets. That’s what he told me when I was too little to remember, thank God. I asked him if he could show me. I’m sure rainbows shot straight into the clear blue of that day, too.


    People don’t know how easily they can be fooled when they are given shekels and pearls of words, when the silver tongue rubs off its tarnish on the airs around it. People get mesmerized by hope. ‘Specially when they’s the ones who don’t need hope in the first place. They get convinced that they’s in a bad place, and the only way to make the world a prettier place is if they swallow themselves like that snake and its tail or like Tantalus and let themselves get convinced that they’re the ones doin’ somethin’ wrong, when takin’ care of yourself and your family isn’t wrong.

    Clouds in his pocket.

    He was wearing a rainy day on a hot summer. He was totin’ ’round a pot of gold at the end of his rainbow. And people, the same people I grew up idolizin’ searched for it. But, what’s the cost of a pot of gold if the pot of gold is filled with just shiny sh!t?

    One thing I always wondered, how come his pocket stayed dry?

    Sure ‘nough, next time I see him, maybe I’ll ask. Maybe I’ll ask how he can keep a cloud in his pocket and still talk about clear skies.

    -JR Simmang

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Wonderful. The section about the mother was so moving. It could just be me, but I detect a bit of a political shadow within the story.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, JR!

      I love the lyrical feel to this piece. Especially with this two lines: “He was wearing a rainy day on a hot summer.” and “…sippin’ on the daylight, sippin’ on his words, sippin’ on the eyes and dreams of others.”

      Great job! 🙂

    3. J.Fujimaru

      This was full of lovely imagery. I especially enjoyed the pearls of words and tarnished silver tongue. Reminds me of a Jehovah’s Witness missionary who used to come by. I was somewhat tempted to open my door to her just because she had the most beautiful voice I’d ever heard in my life! No kidding. She must have been in her 50s. Anyways, I think there’s something about these people who carry clouds in their pocket. Their stories, their promises are so tempting.

    4. writer_sk

      Aah, intriguing, JR. I liked the voice created around the simile.

      The horror and mystery of the man was displayed but not resolved leaving the reader with the right amount of uncomfortableness.

      It’s remarkable how easily you can change your writing style week to week.

  17. i.wonder.who.wonders


    as I sit there and think of of all of the crazy things that have happened to me. being turned into a vampire, killing whole towns and villages, burning them down. looking at them reminded me of something. the houses were crisp like a pig in flames. people would look at me in a rampage and think I’m crazy like a hillbilly up a creek. looking at the women they were tempting like a diamond in a cookie jar .

    I was back in jail again. i had turned someone else this time a queens maid

    i had stopped caring about my elders i had gone rouge

    sorry didnt have alot of time will try to countinue

  18. J.Fujimaru


    He took a sip of Nescafe. A drop of instant coffee made its escape through the corner of his lips and drizzled down his sweaty neck. It was hardly visible: sweat diluted coffee on Alpha’s chocolate skin.

    “Alpha,” I think that was what he had called himself.

    Alpha smacked his lips three times and called the server. “Pour me some condensed milk.”

    The server rolled her eyes. “We don’t have that here.” There was an emphasis on the “here” because encoded within that word was her real message: Boy, you might think you’re a customer but you’re only here because of that rich white woman.

    She glanced at me.

    I didn’t touch my coffee. Anonymous medical experts from advised me to “abstain from ingesting anything lukewarm” while traveling these parts. I didn’t want the runs, especially not during–. Well, it wasn’t sexy, was it?

    Not that I had to be sexy. I was paying. I would have said that I wanted to feel sexy for myself, but that wasn’t true. Trying-to-be-sexy was a bad habit I couldn’t shake off.

    That was what Heather, my lust-driven friend, had said. This Africa Trip was her idea. I wasn’t on board with taking advantage of poor boys in poor countries–not at first–but then she hyped it up enough to where I was convinced this Trip was the kind of rambunctiousness I needed to shake up my vanilla life.

    Whatever I had imagined, this was not it.

    I watched the man-boy sitting across from me. Did I feel anything? Was Alpha making tremors in my dull life? Not really. I stared at his boy-legs that poked out of ill-fitted, hiked-up Bermuda’s. He looked as ripe as a geek in summer, full of summer hopes for popular girls but still standing on knock-kneed stilt-legs. At least Alpha had man-arms to reassure me that he knew what he was doing. He knew how to upturn the vanilla lives of vanilla women. He was in the business. All I had to do was let him do it and pay up at the end.

    I could feel Nick scoffing at my decisions.

    “Vicky, it doesn’t matter what you do, vanilla is what you are and what you’re always gonna be,” said my inner voice which, after twenty-one years of marriage to that pig, sounded a lot like Nick. He had said the same thing one Halloween to dismiss the sexiness of my latex body suit. Even as a twenty-something Cat Woman I was unsexy. He chatted up the non-vanilla girls. Even curvy Dorothy and skeletal Tin(wo)man had that something I was lacking. What could I expect after three years of marriage?

    After ten years, Nick stopped using my real name. Instead he called me Vanilla. There was an undertone of resentment in this nickname. I wasn’t his type–a fiery, independent woman–but the only woman spineless enough to stick around. He was stuck with me.

    After twenty years, he’d said that I was “too fresh.” He wasn’t describing my soured cottage-cheese body but my naïve mind.

    “Can’t you stop doing that?” Nick broke the silence once we were in the taxi.

    I knew that he was referring to my “behavior” during the dinner with his cool friends. “Doing what?” I asked because I wanted him to hand over his critique in its complete, sadistic package.

    He was ready to deliver.

    “If you don’t want to make a fool of yourself at these dinners, keep your mouth shut.”

    “I thought–”

    “It doesn’t matter what you thought. You’ll never understand what it’s like to be a minority in this country.”

    “But I didn’t say anything to disagree with them.”

    “No, no, no!” He waved his hand in my face. “You’re opinions don’t belong in those types of conversations. You sound too bubbly, too fresh like a… prep school cheerleader at a protest march for Black Lives Matter.”

    He laughed at his own joke. This was my cue to brush it off like it was nothing.

    I would never reach the inner circle of nirvana where Nick and his cool friends discussed pressing issues. I was handed things whereas they had earned them. They were self-made men and women, second-generation immigrants, or first generation college grads. They were simultaneously more successful and more marginalized than I would ever be. Nick never failed to remind me of that. I never mentioned all the sacrifices I made for his career.

    We sliced the air of the taxi into two pieces of silence. From then on, we continued to divide up our neat lives. My slices got smaller and blander. A year later it was over. It took two lawyers and months of anguish to cut through the last of the sickeningly soft cake.

    “Do it for yourself!” Heather had said, as if traveling to Africa for cheap “escorts” was a post-divorce remedy that I, Vicky-Vanilla, could come up with for myself.

    I wasn’t doing it for me. I was doing it to prove Nick wrong.

    Alpha downed the rest of his Nescafe and I paid the bill. He got up and unraveled to his full gangling height but I hardly noticed. A photograph had fallen to the floor. It was of an African woman with round cheekbones. She was beautiful.

    “My sister,” he said as he pocketed it. He looked away, feigning nonchalance.

    As we made our way to the hotel room I tried to get her out of my head. Was she peeking into this little affair? She was a photograph. She saw nothing. No, I was the stranger stepping into their lives.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      J, once again you’ve created incredible characters and a situation that demands full attention. Vickie, the stranger in every world, makes me angry for staying with Nick for so long, and sad for what she’s trying to find with Alpha. “We sliced the air of the taxi into two pieces of silence,” perfect.

    2. writer_sk

      Wow, Julie – this was awesome.

      I loved Vicky. You did a great job creating sympathy immediately. The setting in the African cafe was palatable. I felt for Vicky. The characters of Nick and Heather were so well done.

      The paragraph about the dead air in the taxi being sliced was extremely strong.

      I feel this story deserves to be expanded. I would absolutely read more about her trip and perhaps some friendship she might find w the boy-man’s sister.

      This is such an interesting and fresh concept. I love the vanilla idea.

      Superbly written.

  19. ReathaThomasOakley

    It’s really very simile
    (A Marge and Arlee episode)

    Marge took a sip of tea as she gazed fondly at Arlee in his recliner. So contented he looks, she mused, with that tiny smile on his lips, like a walrus relishing sea cucumbers on an ice-floe in the Arctic.

    “Oh, my! Where did that come from?” She nearly choked on her tea, didn’t realize she’d spoken aloud until Arlee pushed his glasses up on his nose, lowered his favorite Sudoku pen, and said, “Where did what come from?”

    “Nowhere, dear,” she thought as quickly as she could, but a more appropriate response refused to form in her brain, it was as slippery as an eel wiggling through a congealed salad like the one that woman battling chronic fatigue syndrome used to bring to church pot lucks, and everyone forgave her because of her illness.

    “Just remembering, ah, yes, remembering high school English.” Marge smiled and thought, good save, but is that enough? “Oh, and I was also remembering What’s My Line, or was it, I’ve got a Secret?” Arlee started to push his glasses back down. “Which do you think it was, dear?”

    “Marge,” Arlee paused, seemed to struggle with his next words.

    Like a dog with fleas at both ends, trying to decide where to scratch, Marge thought with some sadness, poor Arlee.

    “Marge, you asked, ‘Where did that come from,’ and I just wondered where did what come from. I have no idea what you meant about 1950s TV shows.”

    “Oh, Arlee, you must remember what fun those programs were, Arlene Francis and Dorothy Kilgallen wore evening gowns–” Marge stopped. “She was murdered, wasn’t she? So sad.” She drank her now cold tea. “But, I do think it was I’ve Got a Secret.” She stood.

    “No, Marge, you cannot leave until you explain at least some of what you’re talking about.”

    “It’s very simple. In school we learned the correct way to use ‘like’ is as a preposition and ‘as’ as a connecting word, a conjunction. Wasn’t that easy?” Marge beamed. “Oh, and the sponsor of one of those shows was Winston cigarettes, before smoking was bad, and my teacher said, it couldn’t be Winston tastes good like a cigarette should, it must be as.”

    Arlee clicked his pen open, lowered his glasses, and opened his book.

    Poor Arlee, Marge thought as she headed toward the kitchen, so confused, like wildebeest on roller skates in a blizzard.

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Reatha, great similes! I’m definitely familiar with that eel-in-a-congealed-salad feeling, although I’ve never been clever enough to put it like that. Thoughts are slippery! I’ve got some catching up to do. I think I’ve only read one Marge and Arlee story besides this one.

    2. Poetjo

      I’m new to the Arlee and Marge stories but I loved reading this one! You described those awful congealed salads very well – your description reminded me of why I don’t like them.
      Well written piece!

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, I think I’ve done five with them, based on a lovely couple I adored. I do find some of their conversations are sounding rather familiar.

        1. Denise G. Monello

          I’m also new to Arlee and Marge stories. I liked this one. Loved your similes. Only now you have me thinking of all those old TV game shows.

          1. ReathaThomasOakley

            Denise, thank you, over the past few years I’ve done three continuing story lines, Marge and Arlee are the latest, in addition to stand alones. This great site, with the other stories and encouraging comments, has kept me writing.

    3. jhowe

      Reatha, you can take an everyday situation, sitting in the living room, doing Sudokus, and make it fresh and interesting. Quite a talent. Do you remember Kitty Carlisle?

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, j. I do remember Kitty Carlisle, and if you remember her then you are likely old enough to appreciate a story I’ll try to get written inspired by a conversation I had with my doctor Thursday.

  20. jhowe

    He took a sip of vanilla rum and pulled on the tightly rolled fatty. Smoke wafted along the low ceiling, accentuated by the Caribbean sunset bursting orange through the open window. His thoughts became comic with intricate musings. He said out loud, or maybe to himself, “I feel witty, like a puppet in handcuffs.” The futility of the setup was not wasted. Sometimes he felt like the puppeteer, pulling on strings with mixed results. The cuffed puppet, taking on its own persona, roamed the stage, unresponsive to the efforts from above.

    The Lobsterman rose unsteadily and noticed the sun was shining through the east window and not the west. It was morning. He’d lost another night somehow. Outside, his cousin Manny struggled with the skiff on the sandy shore, readying it for their daily excursion.

    “Another glorious day, mon,” the Lobsterman said as he walked through the clean white sand shaking the cobwebs from his head.

    “The lobsters don’t stand a chance today,” Manny said as he pulled the boat into the water.

    “Methinks we take the day off, mon.”

    Manny eyed the Lobsterman. “Are you kidding? Who’ll supply the restaurants?”

    “There are other fisherman, mon.” The Lobsterman squinted into the sun. “Let them enjoy the spoils today.”

    “But I owe Slim Conway two hundred bucks. He wants to be paid.”

    “Tell you what, mon. You go. I have some thinking to do.”

    “Not that puppet sh!t again, I hope.”

    “I’m afraid so, mon.” He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his cargo shorts. “I been smoking and drinking too much, turning my brain to mush. I need to cut down.”

    Manny produced a joint from his pocket and lit it. “Suit yourself then. I’m going to catch me some lobsters.”

    “Hold up, mon.” He shook his head and his dreads whirled in the breeze. “I do my thinking tomorrow. Today we have lobsters and ganja to deal with.”

    The got in the skiff and Manny handed the joint to the Lobsterman and started rowing. It was indeed a glorious day.

      1. Denise G. Monello

        I enjoyed this. I could see those ‘dreads whirling in the breeze,’ it felt as if I were on the beach with them. Loved the accent on the Lobsterman.

  21. Denise G. Monello

    I took a sip of my wine. I watched as Sam grotesquely picked the pretzel crumbs off his belly and flicked them in his mouth.

    “I’m not giving her back–I can’t.”

    “You can’t? It ain’t right, and you know it, Lu.”

    I leaped from my chair. I thrust my hands into Sam’s dark, greasy hair and pulled his face flush against mine. “Don’t you dare tell me what’s right or wrong. I think it’s right. I don’t want to hear from you,” I shouted glaring into my big clod’s bugged and bloodshot eyes. The smell of beer on his breath overtook my face.

    “What are you gonna do tough girl? Hit me?” he asked grabbing my wrists unlocking my hold. “You don’t know whats right or wrong. Your thinking is wild–wild like a cockroach in a cookie jar–your brain is scavagin’ all over the place. You’re not going to get away with this ya know.”

    Milly started to cry.

    Sam flapped his arms against his sides.”And there she goes, round 10,” he sarcastically said jutting his head towards the door.

    I swiftly wiped my slippery hands on my jeans and slugged the last of my wine. “I need her.”

    “You and your ‘needs.’ This whole thing smells bad, Lu–rotten like eggs in summer.”

    I wanted to lunge at him–I should’ve hit him. “Oh, shut up with your ridiculous comparisons. Sometimes you sound like an idiot.”

    “Well, you didn’t marry me for my brains,” he snobbishly replied.

    He was right. It was his looks that drew me in and hooked me–schmuck, that I am. Then married life took over, and he morphed into an oaf–an oaf who shot blanks. Who knew he couldn’t reproduce? People should test these things before they’re padlocked together for life. I knew he felt guilty about his empty gun and wouldn’t put up too much of a stink once Milly came home. Had I told him my plan belforehand–he would’ve put me away.

    “You just don’t get it do you, Sam?”

    “Don’t get it and don’t want to. Your cub is calling, go.”

    I darted up the steps to ease her maddening cry. As I opened the door the hallway light illuminated her. Milly was on her knees in her crib. Her face red from her screams, wet with her tears. Her chubby hand rubbed her runny nose, her golden hair disheveled. As I approached her cries, she flung herself to the mattress. I gently bent over the rail and picked her up.

    “It’s ok, Milly. Momma’s here. No need to cry anymore.” I tenderly held her tighter, wound up the music box on her mobile and swayed her to the lullaby. She stopped, exhausted from her episode. I softly hummed along with the melody, slow dancing her around her room. I staggered in my twist and knocked into her carriage. She jolted. “Shh, it’s alright,” I said in a sing-song voice. She rested loosely in my arms like a puppet in pajamas. Oh, my God, I sound like him now.

    I peered at the carriage–the holy channel of her arrival. Milly didn’t come from my belly. She came from that carriage. I remember thinking I had to have her. To hell with Sam, my plan worked perfectly–so far.

    1. Poetjo

      I like this continuation of the Milly story! Your use of the simile “wild like a cockroach in a cookie jar” was great. I look forward to what happens next with poor Milly, clueless Sam and your desperate MC. Very enjoyable read!

    2. jhowe

      Well done, Denise. I liked how Lu mocked Sam for using the similes and then she did it. Good way to follow the prompt and keep your story interesting.

    3. madeindetroit

      A chilling portrait of two desperate and sad characters. So well written. Loved this description here: ‘picked the pretzel crumbs off his belly and flicked them into his mouth’ says so much….I would love to read more!

      Great job!

    4. writer_sk

      Ooh I’m glad you continued this. For me, milly’s Fate sort of covers over everything in this story. I wonder what your MC would do. Great job in further building this stressful situation.

      Good similes.

  22. cosi van tutte

    Ranger Dinirian sat in a shadowed corner, quietly sipping his tea. He stared long and hard at a hobbit doing handsprings in the middle of the room.

    But his thoughts were not on the hobbit.

    His thoughts were deep and dark and full of his plans to take over the Western Front. He would surely get it right this time.

    Quickwit the Elf dropped in the seat next to him, reeking of farmer’s booze. He smiled a sloshed smile at the Ranger.

    The Ranger knew what was coming. He stared even harder at the handspringing hobbit and focused even harder on his thoughts.

    “Ehhhyy. Ranger. Ranger. *hic* Ranger. You know whazzay say?”

    The Ranger closed his eyes in pain. “No. What do they say?”

    “They zaay don’ *hic* messs with elfwomen. Know why?”

    “No. Why?”

    “Becuzzzz—” Quickwit flapped his hand in a limp-wristed gesture. “eeeehhhh…beuzzzz. Elfwomen are as wild as mashed potatozzz in a cookie jar at uhhh weddin’. Nasty business that. They also say…Hey!”
    He swatted the Ranger.

    He was surely aiming for the Ranger’s arm, but wound up backhanding him in the face instead.

    Ranger Dinirian clenched his teeth and thought happy thoughts about finally conquering the Western Front.

    “Lizzzen.” The elf stuck his face into the Ranger’s face. “You lizzzzen up. Thizzz iz impor’an’ stuff. *hic*”

    “I didn’t say I wasn’t listening.”

    “Ehhh? Oh, good. They alzzzo say that elfwomen are as snobby as a f’minist in a video game.”

    “What’s a video game?”

    “dunno. I think I made that word up. *hic*”

    “Well. Why don’t you go away? I have important matters to mediate on.”

    “Meditate? Elfwomen don’ meditate. Betcha din’ know that. No. They…they don’ meiatate. Know why?
    beuzzzz they’re as cold as a pig on a mountain in pajamas and they’re just sittin’ on that mountain and eatin’ cold cold col…” He slumped and laid his head on the table.

    Ranger Dinirian sighed. “So. You got dumped again.”

    “Uhh-huh.” Quickwit fell asleep.

    Ranger Dinirian took a sip of his tea and returned to his happy place.

    He smiled.

    His plans were perfect.

    He would surely conquer the Western Fields. There would be no one to stop him this time.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, Reatha and everyone else!

        I couldn’t help myself. 😆 I wrote a prequel to this story annnnd here it is:


        They say elves can hold their liquor. They say elves are always perfect and poised and oh so lovely.

        They are, of course, quite wrong.

        Ranger Dir Dinirian sat in a shadowed corner in the tavern slowly sipping his noon-day tea.

        He was contemplating the universe and where he belonged within it.

        His thoughts traveled down perilous roads before reaching the obvious answer: He was meant to conquer.

        Some place.

        Some where.

        He would have to start small.

        Some place.

        Some where poorly guarded.

        Poorly armed.

        Easy picking.

        He smiled. “The Western Fields. Yes. They are perfect. Perfect for the picking.”

        An elf with long blond hair dropped into the seat right next to him. He bleared a seasick, watery, completely sloshed smile at the ranger.

        “What do you want, elf?”

        “Name’s Quickwit. Whazz yours?”

        “Ranger Dir Dirinian.”

        Quickwit slapped his hands on the table. “Lemme talk to you about elfwomen.”

        The ranger startled. “Pardon?”

        “Elfwomen. Yaaa know…” His hands twirled in limp circles. “Women elves with their long hair and dain’y feet and and—” His head wobbled like he was going to tip over, but he caught himself.

        He clapped his hands on the ranger’s shoulders. “Ellllffff women are…*hic* as stubborn like a cockroach in a banana split. Elf women are azzz uhhh azz tedious azzzzzz a headache in J’ly. They’re azzz psychic as a warrior eating fries and chips and cursing their inevitable dooooommm. They’re…they’re…they…”

        He slumped down and laid his head on the table, bumping the ranger’s tea cup. “I don’ know why they don’ like me. Every one I date goes all ‘Lezzz be friends’ and I don’ wannnna be friends.”

        “Is there a good reason why you’re telling me all this?”

        Quickwit slogged his head upwards. “You zzzzeeem like a good lizzzzner. Jus’ what I need. A good lizzzzzzzner.” He laid his head back down and fell asleep.

        The ranger looked at the sleeping elf and smiled.

        He resumed thinking about his plot to take over the Western Fields. “I will conquer them. I have no doubt about it.”

  23. Poetjo

    Last Thoughts

    I take a sip of water, but only in my mind. I’m past being able to drink. I’m cold now, like a lead balloon in pajamas, striped ones that they had to wear in concentration camps.

    I’m trying to breathe…

    I wish I was ripe, like a pig in summer, but instead, I’m bored like a geek at a wedding.

    Just breathe…

    When I was young, I was tempting, like a banana split at a Bar Mitzvah. Now that I’m old, I’m bent and crooked, like Richard Nixon when he was up a creek.

    Try to breathe….

    I remember my youth and smile. I think of a time when I was crisp, like dynamite at a protest march and wild, like bricks, breaking into a cookie jar.

    Breathe, dammit!

    As I lay here dying, I only have one wish.

    There is no air to breathe!

    I want to fly like a puppet in a tornado and I want to be loose like marbles in a cloud. I wish I could be crazy, like a dream, way out there in left field.

    I don’t need to breathe….anymore.

    1. Denise G. Monello

      Your description of dying was heartbreaking–in a good way. I enjoyed the read with sadness at the plight of your MC. Your use of the similes fit in perfectly to the situation.

    2. jhowe

      I enjoyed this very much. Your use of the striped pajama reference was really good. I loved and hated that movie (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas).
      Tricky Dick up a creek was pretty good too. Nicely done.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Very well done. I saw the similes as a last hurrah by a formerly strong individual fighting for those final breaths with wit and determination.

  24. creaturescry

    Part 1

    When I came to I was surrounded by a blue light which made it hard to see my surroundings. So for the time being I focused on my non muted senses of touch, hearing, and smell. First I felt my body, checking for any injuries that I might’ve obtained from falling. There was a shallow cut on the back of my head, several bruises scattered across my body, and a sprained ankle. I let my hands move away from myself to my immediate surroundings, feeling through the terrain surrounding me. There were rock like structures surrounding me, except they felt metallic and chilled. A cave full of metal? If it was all polished to be mirror like, the light reflecting off all the surfaces might cause the blinding effect. However the Walt Disney Concert Hall had the same effect, and it heated up its surroundings with the light it reflected until it was buffed to a matte. It seemed like every time I was about to come to a logical conclusion about my surroundings some small detail came along and derailed it all.

    “What? How can that be possible.” a voice cried through the ‘cavern’ I was in, “we hid it so well!”

    “Well sometimes people are nosey, and sand does move with the wind,” another answer calmy, “besides how long did you except for us to hide out here and not be discovered?”

    Voices, I listened close to the tone and accent of the two. The first one had an odd rolling tone, where each word danced on his tongue as they were spoken. The other sounded like a female with no discernible accent, but her voice did seem more baritone than I expected. I tried to make some sort of connection to the voices, trying to humanize them in some way. But the first seemed too odd and the second was too normal. Even though I wasn’t an expert on voices, I did have experience from traveling around the world.

    “Alright, but have you told Ross?” the first asked in a near whisper.

    “No, I haven’t,” the second said, sounding a little suspicious, “why shouldn’t I?”

    “Ross will have our heads if we tell him! Remember Gina?”

    “It wouldn’t be a problem for me since he likes me.”

    “Okay, just don’t tell him that one of the Land walkers got down here alright? And I’ll take care of the pest.”

    “Convince me.”

    “I’ll give you this.”

    There was a thoughtful pause before the second responded, “alright, but make sure he’s disposed of properly.”

    I tried my best to calm down and think rationally. There were two ‘being’ and a supposive third one named Ross. I had apparently stumbled across something I wasn’t supposed to, was sabotaged by my tour guide, and was now currently trapped and threatned. My hand plunged into my bag, feeling around for some sort of tool. There were my excavation tools, my water, a cellphone, a pack of matches, an energy bar, and a map. I picked out my chisel and hammer, my only two real weapons, and my cellphone. The cellphone was basically useless except for a distraction of some kind. So when I heard the footsteps approaching me I was ready to throw it.

    “Darn security lights,” the voice muttered, “they’re annoying like a diamond in summer.”

    After the ‘beings’ made his comment about the lights they were immediately shut off. Although the security lights were off my vision was still tainted by spots. But I didn’t let those bother me since the moment the ‘being’ came in I was going to have to act fast. I was on my feet, standing in a ready stance, my heart pumping fast inside of me. Adrenaline was an addictive drug, and part of the reason I was an archaeologist. The thrill of solving a puzzle, finding something new, and being out in the wild world was enticing. What I didn’t sign up for was the horror movie style terror of the unknown and with my life on the line.

    The footsteps reemerged in my conscious, knocking me out of my feverish thought. I was focused like a cats eyes narrowed to fine slits I knew what I had to do. The moment I head a door creak open in the cavern and the ‘being’ entered I threw my phone across the room. Momentarily distracting a dark mysterious figure. With that few moments I had given myself I dashed across the room and attacked them with my hammer, hitting them several times in the head. While they were down and trying to recover I snaked my arm around their neck and pressed the chisel into it. It wouldn’t slash like a knife, but I knew that if I could kill a good sized snake with one I could do some decent damage. The figure clawed at my arm, desperately trying to shake me off. Each time he moved I made sure to dig the chisel into his throat until he eventually submitted and stopped flailing.

    1. creaturescry

      “I mean no harm,” the ‘being’ said in his rolling tone, “I was just seeing who was in here, nothing more.”

      “Don’t try to lie to me,” I said with a scoff, “I heard you talking to her.”

      “You did?” He sighed, shaking his head, “alright I admit I did mean to kill you.”


      The being gulped, vibrating the chisel that dug into his neck. I tilted my head, trying to piece together the sparse information that I had gathered to come to my own conclusion. I retraced my steps from earlier to create a kind of mental storyboard to go by. But followed the same course of any logical thought I began, at another dead end. I unconsciously dug the chisel deeper into the ‘beings’ throat until he spoke again in a Gurgled voice.

      “Okay, Okay,” he babbled, spit sprinkling out of his mouth onto my arms, “I will tell you anything you want to know.”

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Interesting take. I did notice you switched from gender neutral, them/they, for a single being, to masculine, he/him. I realize this might be deliberate, but it did stop make me stop reading the great action to go back to see if I’d missed something.

    2. creaturescry

      I just now realized that my response followed none of the guide lines (except for including the simile I made using the chart somewhere in the text.)