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Jan 28, 2019

In for the first time! Bring it.


Jan 28, 2019


The Root of Evil
1189 words

Clouds intermittently danced across the harvest moon as it shone its light on Stonegate. Fingery shadows from the old elm materialized on Emma’s bedroom walls, then disappeared as quickly as she had. It’d been so easy, magical even. As Emma lay contorted on the ground below breathing in dirt as her last breath, Jillian curled in a ball on Emma’s bed beneath the patchwork quilt she’d envied the first time she saw it. Her head was spinning, the aftereffect of showing Emma how to chew the root. It was a small price to pay. Now, all she had to do was wait. Wait and watch the shadows come and go until Emma’s mom appeared to say good night. Then she’d feign sleep and play her part as events unraveled.

Truth be told, she was slightly perturbed. Things had happened quicker than she’d envisioned. How was she to know Emma’s fair body would react so efficiently to mandrake root, or that Emma would drop with barely a sound, save a dull thud, drowned out by the sound of Jeopardy blaring on the TV below?

A light from the neighbor’s porch went on. Off. The light from Emma’s porch went on. Still no one came. A dog barked in the distance as if calling out, “Jillian, I know.” A smile known to no one save the Devil crossed her face. Stopping herself from laughing, she whispered, “You may know, but no one else does.”


Emma had been easy prey. She was the first to welcome Jillian to Stonegate Elementary: bubbly smile, perfect hair, fashionable clothes--everything Jillian wasn’t. Innocent and vulnerable. By the end of the week Jillian was invited to dinner where she was introduced to perfect parents and a magazine worthy bedroom. Jillian watched TV a few years back before the picture tube went; she knew only children longed for a sibling to admire. She was up for the task. Now, she too was an only child; it was just her, mama, and an unborn fetus.

Upon coming to Emma’s room, Jillian plopped onto the bean bag chair by the desk. Emma followed suit dropping onto the one by the window.

“Hey, I have something for us to try,” Jillian said, reaching into her backpack. “Before I met you, I spent time at the library, and old lady Abbott told me about an ancient way to become blood sisters.”

Emma sat up looking intently at the long brownish thing Jillian was holding, “What is it?”

“It’s Mandrake root. I dug it up in the woods. Mrs. Abbott said kids would take turns chewing on it while telling each other their darkest secret.”

Jillian sensed hesitation, “It’s OK, if you don’t wanna--”

“Of course I want to,”

“OK, I’ll go first.” Jillian nibbled the root enough to expose the juicy inside, then handed it to Emma. “It’s not the best thing I’ve ever tasted.”

Emma tenderly put the root into her mouth and chewed, “Yuck.”

“Yeah, like I said. You sure you want to do this?”

“Yeah, I’m sure,”

“I don’t really have a dark secret, so how about I tell you the scariest story I’ve ever been told?”

“I really don’t like scary stories that much, Jill--”

“It’s not that bad. I’ll stop any time you say.”

“There once was a little girl who lived happily in a big house by a lake with her Mama and Papa. Every day her Papa came home from work, picked her up and swung her around telling her she was the prettiest little girl in the world. One day, her Papa came home, walked up the steps into the house, leaving the little girl alone, confused. After dinner, she was told her Papa’d lost his job and had to find a new one. Soon, they’d move to an apartment in a big city with tall buildings, honking, and no yard. Their dog Binky didn’t like that. Neither did the little girl.”

“This. Isn’t. Very. Scary,” Emma said unaware she was slurring her words.

“Oh, just wait.”

“One day, the girl woke up to her mom screaming. She ran into the kitchen to see Binky in a pool of blood. Later the vet would explain that he’d eaten poison from somewhere. The vet asked if there was a disgruntled neighbor, did Binky bark too much? But the girl knew. She knew she had to save Binky from the horrors of city living. She’d found something under the sink with a skull and crossbones on it, and put it in his bowl with his food that night.”

Emma face looked flushed, “But didn’t the girl love the dog?”

“Love? It’s not about love, the girl was doing Binky a favor.”

Jillian continued, “Shortly afterwards, Papa came home distraught again. Another job lost, and Mama was going to have a baby. This time they moved to a mining town, a reflection of hell on earth, wooden shacks and black dust. Months passed, baby came, and kids teased at school. More winter and baby crying, and Papa too tired to kiss the girl good night.”

“This. Is. Sad. Not. Scary,” Emma said, attempting stand.

“Where are you going?”

“To the bathroom.”

“I’m almost done, please wait.”

Emma stood, wobbling as Jillian continued.

“Mining’s a dangerous job. It wasn’t long before there was a collapse, and one day the girl’s Papa didn’t come home. At night mama couldn’t stop crying as she rocked new baby brother. The girl knew what she had to do. That night while her mother was asleep, the girl snuck to her brother’s crib, pillow in hand, placed it over his face and pushed. Legs and arms swirled, but she was steadfast until they stopped. She slept well that night, until waking to her mother screaming.

Months went by. Things grew gray in the house. Mama barely got out of bed. Food was scarce. Until, one morning mama got up and made breakfast, announcing they’d be moving to a town named Stonegate, that she’d gotten a job, that it’d be a new start, that the two of them had to stick together.

So they moved. But things weren’t better because the girl felt different. No one liked her at school except one girl who was perfect and rich. It was only a matter of time. So one night she made her mama tea adding a root that’d cause her to be very sleepy; she wouldn’t feel a thing, and went for a sleepover at her friend’s house.”

“Jillian, is this almost over?” Emma’s eyes were glazed. She could hardly stand.

Serendipitously, the moon’s light cast a fingery shadow. Jillian knew it was a sign. “Emma, look at those fingers on the wall behind you. See? Isn’t it like a hand pointing outside? What’s it pointing at?”

Emma turned, following the shadows to the window.


Jillian thought it couldn’t be much longer. Another bark--how sad it must be to be a dog who can sense evil, but do little about it.

A knock. “Emma. Jillian.”

Jillian pulled the quilt tightly against her, squelching a sense of delight, and closed her eyes. The wait was over.

Jan 28, 2019

Thanks for the crits. I enjoyed writing to this prompt and will try to raise myself above mediocrity in the future.

Jan 28, 2019

Hit me.

Jan 28, 2019

Baki the Baka: A Moral Tale
(Japanese translation: Baki the Fool)
985 words

Here we go again.

Nine months ago if I’d asked my best buds, “What’s the worst thing someone can do to deserve a yearlong curse?” they’d say things like making a pendant out a and dollar, teasing a pufferfish without a license, or hailing an underwater Uber. Pretending to be something you’re not? Never. Well, that can’t be said anymore.

So here I am on display pretending to be something I’m not because I pretended to be something I’m not. The initial, “This is stupid,” wore off months ago. The “I’m going to kill Minamoto,” came and went. At the six month point I’d learned my lesson and petitioned for a reduction in my sentence. Denied. Three months a numb servitude to go.

So, here we go again. 9 a.m. opening for the Tokyo Museum of Bizarre Marine Life. Ikko, Mr. Gomon’s right hand man,, is barking out, “Places.” I shuffle to my spot, get into position, and wait.

I pass the day reliving how I got myself into this mess because what are my options? Watching snotty nosed brats cry at the site of me, or nerdy adolescents stare me down from claw to claw, or a stray art student draw my monstrous figure? No thanks.

Truth be told, at this point I’m not only comforted with the memory, it’s what keeps me going. Picturing Chiya in my mind still makes my gonopods tingle, even if I know there’s no way in hell she’ll ever speak to me again. If only Hydeko wasn’t snooping around, I might be engaged, (it was well rumored Chiya had a thing for us peasants). If only. But, who am I kidding? Her father, Rida, would never have permitted a marriage. Not in a million years. I see that clearly now. What an idiot I was to dream otherwise.

It was a sunny day. Low tide. My horsehair buds and I were hanging out on the rocks at Osaka Bay. I was chowing down on seaweed stuck in the cracks when Yuki starts to whistle. I turned and there she was, Chiya Minamoto, the most beautiful king crab I’d ever seen. I wasn’t the only one transfixed. We’re all standing there in a huddle staring like a pot full of horsehair crabs about to be boiled for a royal feast, knowing immediately our lives would never be the same.

I was the first to move. Behind me I heard a chorus of, “No, Baki, don’t do it!” But did I listen? Of course not. I was invincible. I’d once stuffed a dead mackerel into the mayor’s mailbox and strug nori all over the front yard of the chief of police. Never caught. Not once. Every time my Haha saw mischief in my eyes “heading to hang out with my buds, and warned me. I’d kiss her cheek and strut out of our hole like I knew better. Poor Haha. Now she’s the mother of a disgraced son. If Otosan was alive I’d be dead.

It seems like yesterday I sauntered up beside the lone princess and nonchalantly asked, “Come here often?” She laughed tossing her head upward. The sun sparkled from her eyes blinding me.
I put my claw on hers, “I’m sorry. I know that was stupid. But, give me a chance,” I puffed myself up as large as I could, “I’m Baki, heir to the horsehair kingdom.”

Chiya gazed into my eyes, reading my soul. She was about to speak when I heard the cackling laughing of Hydeko, her brother and heir to the throne. He’d followed her to the bay to catch her doing something that would bring her shame so he could find even more favor with his father. I suspect he had nothing better to do, as he was known throughout all of Japan as a universal jerk, and spurned by any self respecting female crab of any species. “Horsehair Kingdom? Where’s that? In the kitchen of Kani Doraku?” he taunted.

Within seconds, King Minamoto appeared atop a high rock, claws raised. The sky turned dark, winds blew, and rain began to fall as he commanded Chiya back to the kingdom immediately. She took one last regretful look at me and scurried away. Minamoto pressed his claws together like a madman uttering in an ancient language I couldn’t understand. Some lackey next to him interpreted. “You want to be the big guy, bottom dweller? So be it. You’re sentenced to one year exhibition labor at the Museum of Bizarre Marine Life in Tokyo. And, never speak to my daughter again, or you’ll be sentenced to a large pot of boiling water.”

I was frozen in place as I felt a strange sensation move from my abdomen, down my legs, and into my claws. My body seemed to be moving upwards. King Minamoto, who had been high above me, was staring me in the eyes. Behind me I heard my buds scream. I turned to see them scurry away without a word. Everything went black.

Later I was told it took twelve guards to reign me in and transport me to Tokyo. When I awoke, Ikko was staring at me shaking with pleasure as he gave me the lowdown of what my life would be like for the next twelve months.

A toddler is tap-tap-tapping on the glass. Good God, please stop! What do you think I’m going to do? Jump? Dance? Put on a show? His mother grabs his hand telling him to stop. She says, “Don’t bother the poor crab, it’s bad enough he’s so hideous.”

As the exhibit room turned dark that night, and Ikko barked the order to return to our cells, I quickly used my claw to write in the sand: “I get it now.”

The next morning when Ikko called “Places,” Baki was nowhere to be found.

Jan 28, 2019


onsetOutsider posted:

Interprompt: I'm so sorry. I'm dry.
200 words maximum

(197 words)

Just when Nic Waterford thought he’d get some rest she came alookin’ and frantic like too. She’d been like this before-once when she was pulled over for speeding and another time when she was short of change for the tollbooth-but neither time was he the object of her haste.

Today was his day.

“Where the hell are you?” She demanded. A huff of hot air pushed through the gap of her two front teeth. The wallet was flung through the air making a thud presumably on the floor. Boy, that had to hurt, thought Nic.

“Are you okay? A sweet voice asked.

No reply. Then lots of shuffling left and right.

Nic felt her fingers clamp down on him, raising him up toward the light.

“Yeah, got it,” she said.

Nic looked around. A few women surrounding a guy near the doorway, nothing unusual.

Suddenly a lunge forward propelled Nic and a piece of paper toward the guy.

“Leonardo, I loved you in Titanic.”

The guy clicked Nic and swirled him to no avail. Nic knew he was supposed to perform, but he failed her. If she could only understand, he’d say, “I’m so sorry. I’m dry.”

Jan 28, 2019


Djeser posted:

For the new page:


Jan 28, 2019

Cactus Conundrum
998 words

Trying to fall asleep, Maya couldn’t shake the poo poo-eating grin of the man in the cowboy hat. Working in the nursery at Home Depot in Bangor, Maine brought her in contact with locals, mostly. This cowboy was no local. She knew that right off.

A February wind snaked between the doors as he sauntered in. “I’m looking for a cactus, young lady. Can ya help me?”

Maya pointed to a table where cacti and other succulents struggled under a heat lamp. “That’s all we got, mister.”

He bent down to peer at a globe cactus, stood straight up, saying, “Well, ain’t that something. I do believe that’s my dear Aunt Delores.”

Maya gaped at him, not sure what to do or say. Her mind wandered to what kind of plant her Aunt Betty would be, if indeed she was a plant.

“Sorry, little lady, the name’s Jed.” He tipped his Stetson.

“Didn’t mean to spook ya. I’m alookin’ for a cactus like this.” He pulled a Polaroid out of his jacket pocket. “Has to be just like this one.” A tan, weathered hand held the image of a mini saguaro.

“That’s a pretty interesting plant.”

“Sure is. If you get one in like this you’ll call me, won’t ya?” A poo poo-eating grin crossed his face as he handed her a card that said: Jed, Just whistle.

Maya looked up and he was gone, leaving her alone and perplexed.

Maya was laying in bed thinking about the cowboy, then her grandmother, who used to tell her bedtime stories before she died. Although Maya barely remembered her, she suddenly pictured her as a prickly pear. Rolling over, she saw the paper on her nightstand in the glow of the nightlight. She picked it up. Just whistle.

Curiosity overcame her. She took a deep breath, pursed her lips, and blew. A light beam shot through the window and burst into tiny floating orbs. Maya blinked, and there stood Jed.

“Where is he? I mean, where’s the cactus?”

He surveyed the room. “Wait a gosh darn minute.”

Maya sat up, “I’m sorry. I didn’t think—.”

“Well, the dice’ve been rolled then.” Lifting a decree out of his jacket pocket, he read:

Dodge Ordinance #318: Summoning someone under false pretenses
by means of whistling is strictly forbidden. No exceptions. Penalty is immediate
trial at Gurdy’s Saloon.

Before Maya could protest, Jed was by her side touching her shoulder. She felt herself momentarily hurtling through a black void, and landing with a thud.

“One. Two, Three. Four,” a large red-haired woman was barking up to the stage. Maya couldn’t believe her eyes. A dance line of saguaro cacti where hopping left and right, arms swaying to the music.

Jed interrupted, “Gurdy, we need an emergency trial.”

“Who’d we have here?”

“I believe it’s Willa’s grand daughter. She falsely whistled. According to the law, she’s yours to deal with now.” He moseyed to the bar.

Gurdy eyed Maya, “Well, I’ll be. How’d you--nevermind. What’d ya have to say for yourself?”

Maya stood speechless.

“Cat got your tongue?” she chuckled.

Maya stared beyond Gurdy to the stage, “”

“You mean them?” she motioned to the dancers. “Them there’s the losers.”

Maya looked confused.

“You’ve been told when someone duels, the loser dies. Hate to tell ya, but you’ve been lied to. Losers turn into cacti.” Gurdy snorted, “Don’t know which is worse, really.”

She yelled to the piano player, “Henry. Take over ‘til I’m done here.”

“They got it lucky. Putting on a show here’s the best gig in town. Most losers give up and petition to be taken to your realm where they end up on someone’s window sill.”

Maya’s mind was spinning, “You mentioned my grandmother….”

“Loser,” Gurdy said respectfully.

Maya was trying to understand. “But, she was a human. How…”

“Jed went looking for his brother Jerry one day and found Willa in her garden. They had a conversation not unlike the one he probably had with you.”

Maya wore a blank look.

“See? Jerry lost a duel and gave up. He’s a cactus in your world now. Jed’s been looking for him ever since, even all the way up in Maine. You’re grandmother whistled too. She lost her duel. It’s really very simple.”

“So, she didn’t die? Where’s she now?”

“On someone’s window sill, I reckon.”

“So….I have to….duel, or be turned into a cactus?”


“But, I’ve never shot a gun.”

Gurdy laughed. “No guns. Go sit at that piano and play your heart out against him,” she motioned to Henry. “Not to scare ya, but he’s won 66 times in a row.”

“Can I play anything?”

“Sure, challenger’s choice, as long it’s western, darling.” Gurdy winked at Henry.

“You first.” She rang a bell.

Maya whispered, “Thanks, dad,” as she sat on the stool. Silence filled the saloon. All eyes were on her as she lifted her hands over the keys.

Maya’s fingers magically played “The Entertainer” from her dad's favorite movie, “The Sting.” After her lessons, he’d played it over and over. When she’d graduated from songs like “Heart and Soul,” it was the first song she’d perfected.

The saloon erupted into applause, except for Jed who asked for another whiskey and Gurdy who looked over at Henry. Sweat was dripping down his forehead as he started to play.

Within a few measures, Maya felt a whirlwind lift her into the air. She thought she saw a stubby cactus sitting on Henry’s stool as her body was whisked away.

She woke the next morning thinking, What a weird dream.

Her manager yelled from the back, “New shipment, Maya.”

Cutting the box open and lifting the flaps--her attention was drawn to one corner. There stood the exact cactus from Jed’s Polaroid.

Maya pursed her lips to whistle, but stopped. She gingerly raised the cactus and put it on a shelf. It’ll look perfect sitting on my piano, she thought, as a poo poo-eating grin swept across her face.

Jan 28, 2019


Yoruichi posted:

Lord Djeser the Mayor, judge and jury of this one horse town, has agreed in his benevolent wisdom not to send me to DQ jail. Instead, as punishment for playing fast and loose with the sign-up deadline, I am to write crits for this week.

Tell me if you want a crit, and I will crit you.

And don't be late. Being late is bad.

I’d be honored to get a crit from you.

Jan 28, 2019

Hopefully for redemption

Jan 28, 2019

The Undoing of Hannah McAllister
1453 words

March 30

Jillian called today. Mom called her yesterday and told her about my award as Midvale Teacher of the Year and how Jim got a raise and Meghan got into Harvard, and what’s wrong with me keeping this to myself, that she wants to know because she’s my sister, God drat it, and she should know these things, even though I live thousands of miles away in Connecticut, especially because I live thousands of miles away in Connecticut. I should call.

I told her I’ve been busy and figured mom would tell her, which she did, and I don’t have time to call for every little thing. She hung up.

April 12

I’ve been reading a book called Minimalist Living and decided to clean out the junk in my life. I went through my closet and filled three garbage bags full of clothes that were either out of fashion, didn’t fit, or hadn’t been worn in years, if ever. Seriously, some of them still had the price tags on. I made Goodwill happy.

I realized I wear the same things over and over: black pants, gray pants, tan pants, jeans, floral shirts, plain shirts, turtlenecks, a favorite sweater, t-shirts and a Villanova sweatshirt I treasure. I have a black cocktail dress and a sexy red dress I rarely wear, but I kept them. You never know.

April 18

Today I tackled the toiletries under the sink: tons of hotel shampoos, lotions and soaps- some of which were stuck together-razors, expired cold medicines, make-up, and old tampons, which I hardly use anymore due to an irregular period thanks to menopause. Most of it got tossed, but I kept an unused lipstick-Clinique, “Barely Pink.” It was a freebie from back when I used Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion.

After I decluttered, I stood looking at myself in the mirror for a long time thinking: When did my hair get so gray? Were my eyebrows always so bushy? I’d never noticed. Maybe I should pluck them, but I don’t own tweezers.

My skin is nice though, most of my friends have more wrinkles than me. I’ve noticed crow’s feet around their eyes and lines around their lips. Too much sun maybe. Lucky for me I burn, so I tend to avoid the sun.

My lips looked sad, so I decided to put on the “Barely Pink.” It made me look ten years younger. I almost felt pretty. I left it on and made dinner.

Dinner conversation was status quo: How was work? How was school? Any plans this weekend? Anyone want ice cream? Neither Jim nor Meghan noticed the lipstick. After dinner, Jim retreated to his office to finish some work, Meghan retreated to her room to do homework, and I washed the dishes. I grabbed a napkin and dabbed off the lipstick.

April 30

Today in the faculty lounge one of the math teachers, who I heard divorced last year, was chatting it up about some guy on a dating website. She had his profile up on her cell phone showing everyone. I normally don’t listen to this crap, but I overheard her say, “and he’s married to the mother of my son’s best friend!” That piqued my interest, but I pretended not to notice. I slowed down getting my lunch out of the frig and warming it up in the microwave. She never said the guy’s name, but there were plenty of judgements being dished out: What a pig, He’s not even that good looking, What balls, Men just want to get laid. Someone asked if she was going to tell the wife. She said, “Oh no, I couldn’t. His wife thinks they’re the perfect couple, and quite frankly so did I until now.”

I couldn’t help but feel lucky to have Jim. He’s such a loving husband and a great dad. Meghan adores him. He works hard all day, but still takes care of the house and yard. He even surprised me last year with a birthday weekend to NYC. We don’t have sex very much anymore, but that’s because I go to bed earlier than he does, and that’s what happens to couples that’ve been married as long as we have. It’s normal, right?

May 2

I have a confession to make. I couldn’t sleep last night. I couldn’t stop thinking about that guy on the dating site and how his wife doesn’t know, and how she thought they were so perfect and how I think Jim and I are so perfect, and how this math teacher would never tell, so who’s not telling me? I got up in the middle of the night, snuck downstairs, and visited a dating site to search the men. Of course Jim wasn’t there. I feel so stupid for thinking he would be.

May 3

On the drive to work I thought about how Jim used to kiss me goodnight and say, “I love you,” before I went to bed, but hasn’t done it in awhile. I honestly racked my brain trying to think of the last time he did and I couldn’t. Tonight I was going to ask him why, but I lost my nerve.

May 4

After dinner, Jim told me his business trip to California later this week has been extended, and he won’t be back until late Monday night. I asked if he wanted me to go, that it had been awhile since we’ve been away together, that I haven’t used any personal days this year. He said it would be boring and didn’t Meghan have a recital this weekend and one of us should be here for it. He gave me a quick kiss and told me we’d go away soon--maybe this summer we could go to Cape Cod. Then he retreated into his office for last minute edits to an important presentation. I spent the night researching vacation rentals on airbnb.

May 7

Jim left for California yesterday and didn’t text when he got there. I called before I went to bed, but it went to voicemail. There was a text from him this morning apologizing, he’d gone to dinner and didn’t feel well after so he laid down for a short nap that turned into eight hours, that I shouldn’t worry and aren’t I used to his trips by now. I texted back, “Miss you. <3.” When I was brushing my teeth, I heard a ping, he replied, “Me too. Stop worrying.” I’m not worrying. Should I worry?

May 8

It’s Saturday. Meghan’s recital is tonight. Jim texted her this morning to say break a leg and told her to tell me hi, and that he’s sorry he’s missing it but to look for a surprise later, and that he’ll see us Monday. The florist came to the house this afternoon to deliver a dozen white roses. They were for Meghan.

May 9

I don’t know why-maybe because Meghan’s out with her friends and I felt alone-but earlier I put on my red dress and “Barely Pink” lipstick and went to Rascal’s, the local bar, for a glass of wine. I sat there eying up every couple, wondering if they were happily married, or on a date, or having an affair. It would be so easy to have an affair. I had two more glasses before I left.

When I got home, I changed into shorts and a t-shirt and climbed into bed. I’m sitting here hesitating to put my thoughts into words, but here it goes: I keep playing a scene over and over in my head like a movie. Jim’s in a fancy hotel room lying naked in bed, head propped up looking across the room, big smile. The camera pans to where he’s looking, and there’s a gorgeous woman in a silk kimono. She has two glasses of champagne in her hands. “You look good enough to eat,” he says. “I am,” she giggles. She walks over and puts the glasses down. He sits up and slips off her kimono. And, I can’t watch anymore because deep down I feel it could be real.

May 10

Tomorrow’s a school day, but I waited up for Jim to come home. Just before midnight, he walked in the door surprised to see me still awake, flustered even. He gave me a quick peck on the cheek, rummaged through his suitcase, pulled out a bottle of Chardonnay from a boutique winery he knows I love, and says, “For you babe, for putting up with all these trips.” I thanked him and put it in the frig. Guilty fucker.

Right now I’m in bed with Jim, who has started to snore, and it’s become clear I’m lying next to Judas.

Jan 28, 2019

Thunderdome judging notes. Dog Week (part 1)

In general all the stories were faulty to very competently written, but kinda humdrum or lack of characterization to varying degrees. I had three HMs because honestly none of the stories knocked my socks off. That said many were solid. I tried to leave my personal story style out of the equation during judging and look for a character &/or dog I cared about. I was left disappointed. Mostly.

MAX by Yoruichi

First off-opening paragraph mathematical reference took me out. I wondered why? Was he a mathematician? Looking back there appears to be no reason. I like the potential of the “spiral” of Fibonaci as a metaphor for his downward spiral, but it didn’t work because of metal, in my mind, not being pliable and looking like ladders or scaffolding even if it was pliable. Spinning of tubular steel solidified that thought. Perhaps if the car was spinning a new type of flexible metal I could picture as webbing. Potential without effective execution.

There were several things that made me take pause like that: knuckled his tears, ladder like outstretched palm, falling from bottom few rungs? Leaning over a bar to wrap mouth around tap? Why not just go behind it? How old is this guy? Picturing this was awkward at best.

You spent about 80% of the story on the description of the new world of car spiders and webbing things. I allowed myself to go with it, but it went nowhere like the character. I had trouble picturing much of it although the bit about the Audi outside the window and throwing the keys at it and the controlled breathing was a highlight.
The story did create a setting-I know we’re in a city with quays. Instead of “the city” using a proper city name like Sydney here would have made the setting more solid. Likewise adding an adjective to tell me what kind of office (1 word) would have told me tons about Geoffrey-was he an accountant or a psychiatrist? Big difference.

Characterization is almost non-existent. Office worker guy with pricey car, is it wife or girlfriend who left? No sense of how long they’ve been together until the end when she had grey hair and he mentioned retirement. I assume he’s now regretting many of his marriage decisions because she left, but quite frankly I don’t care, I think I’d leave him too.
Also why does she have a rusty Hilux? He’s seems to have money.

Why is Jenn on the roof? Why does she take the ring back and give it to the car spider? Why is the car spider building a nest? I feel like I’m missing something very crucial to understand the story.

At one point I was wondering if it’s all in his head until there’s no one in the streets or bar, then I’m guessing, ok; it’s real. So how does he try to solve the problem? Goes to local bar he evidently goes to every night. Empty (again why? If this poo poo was happening in my city I’d be at a bar), oh wait, I’ll climb a few rungs, no wait, a car just caught me from a three foot fall and -problem worsening, it’s taking me to our roof, but not our regular building. Let me open the door and dangle out? What’s the motivation for any of these moves? I don’t want to go home? Go back to baileys and get drunk dude. Oh my is Jen safe? That’s supposed to be a turning point and get him to realize he loves her and wants her back?
Ah Jenna is there and the solution is to give the ring back? Nothing is resolved in the end.

Was not getting a dog the last straw for Jenn? If so I’d then I’d need to see much more about the dispute about the dog over years.
And his excuse is he’s too busy? Is she crippled and can’t take care if her own dog? I realize the toxx meant you only had to mention the dog, but where is golden retriever in this mix? It’s a faceless, breed less dog.

This was more like either car or spider week than dog week.
Bottom line I don’t care about these people.

Druid Tutorial by Simply Simon

I basically get the setting and set up through early description of the Game (although I’m not a gamer so had to read carefully and slowly) and the problem emerges quickly, as it needs to in 1000 words. Some description of the mastiff is there and certainly the dog plays an important role.

But there are too many jumps in action without development, which makes my head hurt. I shouldn’t have to re-read to understand what’s going on.
I’m missing characterization of the narrator. I like his viewpoint and thoughts but they seem censored. Why doesn’t he just kill this creature immediately, I’m not getting the hesitation really. More emphasis on the dog changing him and less at the beginning would have made things more satisfying for me.
As written I really don’t care about him or even the dog. That’s what I was longing for and the story isn’t compelling either.
It was a close call loser/DM, if that helps.

God Loves a Terrier by Lippincott

Well done. I really like this story even though it’s kinda expected and not earth shattering. I was leaning toward making this the winner for awhile. I liked your writing style.

Setting is a bit confusing upon opening-not sure what’s dead out there with the beady eyes. I’m assuming it was rats? But I don’t think it worked the way you wanted it to and opening sentences/paragraphs are SO important.

I thought the succinct description and dialogue of the characters was just right, making the focus more on the dogs. Most stories didn’t do that.
Nice description of the manner in which the dogs eradicated the rats.
The last line seemed canned and easy, but yeah.
Also the title?

Man vs Nature vs Buster by Nikaer Drekin

I wished you’d have taken time to put me into the setting with more description and a sense of more realistic pain from the narrator. He seems nonchalant about a tree on his foot. I don’t buy all his thoughts and they aren’t manic enough.
I basically thought the whole time I was reading that this is a canned plot with a character that is a robot because little he says it does is what a real person would do. I know nothing about his either except that he’s moronic enough to go camping by himself. That doesn’t endear him to me. As a matter of fact he’s super annoying.
Once the dog gets there it doesn’t get any better. He the lamest Saint Bernard ever.
Falls flat.
This story was the worst of expected canned dog story so DMed.

The Big Yearning by Sitting Here

So I get the total dog frustration and it’s well done with both the description of the fence and the “no” repetition. I wish I had a more solid hold of where exactly this is taking place geographically. It’s a generic backyard. Near a forest but then snow and cold. I think I would have been more grounded with a distinct place.

I like how you wrote the “adopted mother” and her reactions-how simplistic they were seen by the dog. Taking the picture-I could see someone doing that and posting online. A very telling detail about the owner and it makes me not like her-which I’m guessing was the intent.
I wished you’d used dialogue to give the dog a name since he’s the main character/narrator.

I wished he’d also have thought of where his birth mother was to give more emotional depth. Maybe a desire to find her?

The samoyed’s wish is clear as is his submission BUT I’m not convinced the other dog(s) on the other side of the fence can change that so quickly. For me the other dogs don’t add anything. They seem to be there to act as a catalyst for your dog’s change of attitude, but it doesn’t quite work for me. That said, I did like the yes/no “conversation,” but it doesn’t drive the story forward for me.
Also, I thought this could be any dog breed.

Not 100% sure what happens at the end either. Did he attack her? Did the fence fall down? Did he escape? It seems unrealistic. Or it’s all in his head, this change in attitude? If so, so what?

Stars and Stars by tyrannosaurus

So first off is the voice. Love love love it and it mostly stays consistent.
I kinda wanna know what’s got the narrator so ready to kill him self though but the doggy savior angle is cliche and I needed it to go somewhere more than every other doggy savior story. It didn’t.
It was fine for being that, but as such was meh.

I don’t know the character enough to really care about him other than he’s a human contemplating suicide,
So on that level I’m like, please don’t. But I know he won’t because the dog will save the day, so yeah, I don’t really care about him.

I was taken aback at the last paragraph. It was abrupt and preachy. I’d cut it.

Jan 28, 2019

Thunderdome judging notes (part 2)

The Great Dog Escape in the Hood by Nethilia

Opening paragraph didn’t grab me. It was fine but ok it’s about names that don’t seem all that important to the story so why start there?

I like the description of the dogs-it’s simple and clear by then giving the names of the girls and then never using them again didn’t seem necessary and I was trying to keep four names in my head for no reason really.

The paragraph about Okapi getting sick doesn’t do anything to move the story forward and I really don’t see the need for it. If you trying to establish “home” or care, maybe there’s a better way to do it because it took me off the track to oh boy, something’s wrong with one of the dogs, but then it didn’t go there either except for the parvo comment at the end, but having them registered is proof enough.

Then the theft. I liked everything about it except I don’t get why Okapi wouldn’t bite the guy. He’s the big one and he doesn’t want to be taken. Why only bark? And what kind of fence? I had pictured a wooden one up until now (not sure why) but is it chain link? Now I wanted a better description earlier so that the leaning over and picking up a big Rottweiler is realistic.

Also I was hip on the narrator being very close to the action but now all of a sudden the narrator knows how dogs think, so is the narrator another dog? If so, what dog? Idk it just took me abruptly by surprise and took me out of it slightly.

How did mamma know where Okapi was? Did she hear the whimper? It seems that way because of sentence placement. Or had those guys done previous mischief? Or did they have a bad reputation? I need more to make mamma know this immediately. How did “her people” show they were angry and sad? Did serafina not trust hem to do something?

Super nice voice/dialogue of the hood with the dialogue.

My attention was taken out of the story by how a hole was dug in a metal box. I get there’s dirt inside but how does a dog dog out of a metal box?

Why did the guy open the box for no reason just before the escape? Why didn’t Okapi notice serafina dogging all night? drat he must have been a deep sleeper.

I liked the last two sections a lot-except the last line. Just seems too easy and simplest for the story.

Dogs didn’t have to be Rottweilers though-could have been any kind of dog.

Overall, this worked as a story. I think I wasn’t invested in the girls at all and the concern of one dog toward the other didn’t seem all hat deep really. Maybe it was the narrator or maybe I wanted more of the sadness if the girls? I wanted to like it, really I did, and I think it has good bones. I’d like to see if maybe writtten from the POV of either one of the dogs or one of the girls.

Passing Note by anatomi

At first I felt like an utter idiot for not understanding a bit if this except that it’s primal pack feeding. I thought it was a wolf pack for awhile. I couldn’t get beyond the word masturbation to find a story. But, I re-read it and guess what, now I think it’s about Native Americans because of the names. Then I got frustrated with why the hell I couldn’t find a story. Then I get dumb again for about a second until I realized that I’m not dumb and it was your responsibility to not be so into words that you lost the story.
If I had re-read it again, it may have been the loser, so there’s that.

Looking Up by Chili

I know right away Zeus’s an outcast even from his own mother and right away you have me interested in him as a character. Finally! Love the first sentence.

There’s some tightening up that could have been done to free up some words to use later-which needed—I’ll get to that. Example: “He said as he nodded his head” p. 2. Also in that paragraph, I’m not loving he personification of the chair screaming. I get it. He’s a big guy. You don’t have to hit me over the head with it.

The second bit about him being an outcast-job rejection was effective.

The will reading seemed rushed and brought up unnecessary questions in my head like who are the other people in suits? How did they react to zeke getting the house?
Why is zeke’s birthday the pin pad password at his uncle’s house?

The situation at the uncle’s house is sufficiently weird enough to keep me reading and the grease on the wall of the stockpile is downright gross but in a good way. However, I feel like I need to know more about the uncle and the relationship here to care. I’d like to have something about how the uncle had been the only person to understand zeke maybe. Something. Or even how Zeke feels about all this. He seem now to be a big lug just moving through life where at the beginning I liked him, now I’m like “are you a doofus?” And he lays down to think and happens to feel a piece of paper? I get the set up in the will of the bed being able to hold him, but maybe later that night when we went to bed. It just seems odd to lay down at that moment.

So the yard is so small and surrounded by tall fencing but he has to ask the dog “where is it?” Yes, he’s a doofus. But ok, it was sorta hidden.
Ah! A twist. I’m so thrilled I’m completely ok that it came out of nowhere BUT that may be due to the lack of anything in previous stories and not your brilliance-just not sure.

Why is Hermès distracted by a butterfly? Really? Later in the letter Len says to bring Hermès because he acted interested but now, woah a butterfly, gotta go?

I like the placement of the letter and it’s written simply and clearly enough but I’d Len will be so heartbroken to leave Hermès behind then then why didn’t he take him his drat self?

I’m actually ok with the ending and not knowing what happens. I’m a little disappointed in the usage of the dog. Doesn’t seem like the dog is really necessary. Take the dog out and everything could still happen.

I also would like the story to go back to Zeke and how maybe he’s doing this because it’s saving him from his situation on earth if being an outcast. I mean that’s what drew me to him, but then it got lost.

Also the name Hermès for the dog wasn’t most on me and you could have done so much more with it. :(

Even with all these flaws, I liked it enough for an HM because I actually liked a character and was surprised by a twist that almost delighted me. In this batch, that’s saying a lot. It has real possibilities to be so much better. I’d love to see it reworked.

Enough’‘s Enough by kurona bright

I’m confused by the get go of who is who-maybe if you named the sister in law. I had to read-read the opening but several times to figure out who is who and that’s super annoying.

I must say I was impressed by how you had the brother and sister look like your dog breed-yes I caught that and loved the concept.

I am fixated on the fire but you never explain it and it hangs like a mystery over the whole story and I never get any satisfaction about the fire or Eric just something happened and boo goo goo this guy’s a wreck. Poor him? I don’t know enough to care about him so drink more buddy because you’re a loser.

These people are terrible even if I could figure out what’s going on. The actions and dialogue seem cliche and formulaic and just plain stupid. I honestly not only don’t care about them, no one is likable.

Like Passing Note, if I re-read this anymore it may have been the loser.

I really can’t give a better crit than that, sorry. Write something more clear next time.

Walking the Dog by Thranguy

Congrats on 50.
Slightly confusing opening to follow but I get the gist.
Lots of questions like why’d Minerva leave the dog in the first place? And they’re only walking it? Won’t someone have to do this several times a day then? That seems stupid.

It’s also stupid how the dog dogs in and won’t move then randomly for no reason jumps on the guy and the keys go flying conveniently under the van....oh snap, a bomb. Luck for them that dog is schizo.

Stilted conversation after bomb discovery. No reaction? Now they’re having a disputed about you’re always complaining? Didn’t they start the story complaining? Am I expected to like these two complaining dudes? Um, I don’t. I almost wished they’d gotten in the van and blew up, but dang that means the dog would have died.

Then we get a bunch of magic.
The dog. He doesn’t seem very necessary.
Seems like a magic story with a dog thrown in because it had to be. It could have been any kind of dog.
But I did like the bone bit and the last line.

Basically, I didn’t care about these guys or the dog and well it wasn’t much of a story either.

Irkalla by ananomous blowout

It doesn’t draw me in because of the mythological aspect, but it’s well written, and I could see how I’d like it more if it was the kind of story I like so I gave it the old college try. I’m glad I did. Mostly.

I don’t live the opening paragraph because it doesn’t seem to fit with the first person narrative to me. And well, I need the setting, but meh.

The early description of the cities is heavy and weighs down the next paragraph but I’m mildly interested in this man and why he’d travel blah blah blah. So, I keep reading.

I really like a good bit of it—a lot even—until I get to him closing his eyes and see someone. I’m not sure who, a name, relationship? Idk I need something here, but not a mystery about why he came. I need to know more about who he wants back, what happened to her and why he was there.....

Then again I like the whole bit about she’s been used in others and what else do you want instead? A highlight is the dog giving him back time.
That said I would have liked the story better if the last paragraph was dropped and it was left with the dog’s hopefulness.

Still a good solid unexpected story and I cared that the guy went through so much. A convincing relationship between him and the beloved would have sealed this as a winner, so HM for me. But, yeah if I had to be forced to chose I probably would have picked this as the win also.

Max the Australian Kelpie Dog by anamist

I loved the first paragraph and how you came back to herding at the end.

However, another dog saves master who is depressed story that is very predictable and I don’t care enough about the character.

I mean it’s dog POV, competently written, but so? I knew what was going to happen and it did. So, yeah.

Jan 28, 2019

In with “A+ Anyang”

Jan 28, 2019

Prompt: A+ Anyang

Blind Date
947 words

Seung-jae drank his tea slowly, trying to appear calm, while inside a storm of massive proportions was brewing. So much so he thought it would soon need a name. All the while never taking his eyes off Jeong-ja.

Jeong-ja sat equally attentive. Her shiny black hair played upon her bare shoulders framing her porcelain face. Her plump lips were painted pink to match the lace tank top that highlighted her athletic body. Her eyes were like a dark pool inviting him to dive in for respite from the Anyang heat. Seung-jae swallowed his tea knowing he was undone.

The waiter came and took away the plates once piled high with bibimbap to make way for the final course of the evening, yaksik. Yaksik was Seung-ja’s favorite dessert, and indeed why he’d decided to spring for the romantic hot spot known for the traditional sweet. That, and to impress the young lady his cousin, Chan-u, assured him was his soul mate.

Seung-jae knew, however, it was only a matter of time until the question was asked, and time was running out. Running quickly like the many women who’d asked the question before: sometimes on the first date, sometimes a week later, sometimes a month in. But, always asked. He’d answer truthfully, and always they ran. If he was honest with himself, he’d only cared about a few. No one came close to matching the intensity he felt in the presence of Jeong-Ja. She couldn’t run; he wouldn’t let her.

“Seung-jae, did you hear me?”

“I’m so sorry, yes, I was just thinking about how lovely this evening has been, and how I’m both looking forward to dessert and dreading it as well.”

“Dreading it?”

“Yes, it means the night is drawing to an end.”

Jeong-ja blushed, but quickly recovering she flashed a smile. “You haven’t asked my blood type yet. Mine’s A+.”

Of course it is, Seung-jae thought, you’re perfect.

The waiter brought the yaksik and asked if everything was to their liking. Seung-jae was thankful for the interruption. Jeong-ja quickly replied yes, but Seung-jae knew that was about to change.

He made the decision hastily like a man choosing what to throw into a lifeboat when the ship is sinking. He picked up his fork and, while looking down to lift the first bite onto his fork said, “What a coincidence, I’m A+ too.”

“I’m so relieved,” a gush of air followed from Jeong-ja’s flawless mouth. “My last boyfriend was type B, but he lied about it. Let’s just say it didn’t go well.”

Seung-jae felt sick.

The room felt like it was spinning. He closed his eyes. When he opened them instead of seeing Jeong-ja’s beautiful face, he saw his cousin’s grave expression, wind blowing his short hair backwards; he was holding out a hand to save Seung-jae from falling deeper into the maelstrom.

“Cousin, it doesn’t have to be like this, grab me.”

Seung-jae fought the gale managing to lift a hand upward toward Chan-u, who grabbed it and pulled with all his strength.

Seung-jae confusingly found himself in the stall of the men’s bathroom. The realization he was no longer sitting at a window table at Doore Yoo across from Jeong-ja flooded over him. Panic followed. How long had he been in here? He composed himself and quickly made his way out into the hallway and back to the dining room. He turned the corner to see the empty table, approaching it slowly. Napkins were the only thing left on the table; it hadn’t yet been cleared, so there was still hope.

The waiter approached Seung-jae from behind. “Sir, the young lady asked me to give this to you. Also, here’s the bill.”

Seung-jae took the folded piece of paper and sank into his chair. He scanned the room. Only two couples remained, and they appeared to be deep in conversation. He looked down and opened the note.


Thanks for the beginning of a lovely evening. I don’t know what I did to cause you to
so rudely and abruptly leave me sitting here alone for so long, but I felt I had to leave.
I guess Chan-u was wrong about us. He said you were different. He thought our blood
types wouldn’t matter, but as soon as you lied, I knew they did. Lesson learned: You
can’t teach a B-type new tricks

Best wishes in the future, (You’ll need it)

Seung-jae sat paralyzed. His hands dropped to his lap. He couldn’t raise his head. The room held no sound. He knew he was alive only because his heartbeat pulsed in his ears. His only thought was self loathing. Tears ran down his face, one plopped onto the note. He watched as it was absorbed by the fibers before grabbing his napkin and burying his face in it.

“May I take the check?” the waiter stared down at him.

Seung-jae looked up, “In a moment.”

The waiter nodded and left him.

Seung-jae picked up the black case and opened it. Where there should have been a check was another note that simply said, “Look out the window.”

Out the window was a small courtyard strewn with white lights. Earlier in the evening it had looked magical. Seung-jae followed the directions. There on a bench sat Jeong-ja flanked by Chan-u. They immediately held up two signs. Chan-u’s read “Turn it” and Jeong-ja’s read “Over.”

Seung-jae turned the note over:

“I don’t believe in that blood type poo poo, --J”
“You moron, --C”

He turned to look back out the window. Jeung-ja and Chan-u were laughing. Rain started to pound upon the glass as he stood and threw some won onto the table.

Jan 28, 2019


A picture’s worth 10,000 dong

Jan 28, 2019

In with Anemoia

Salgal80 fucked around with this message at 03:00 on May 8, 2019

Jan 28, 2019

Anemoia: Nostalgia for a Time You’ve Never Known

1396 words

Lillian glided her middle-aged hand across the aged leather cover stopping at the lower corner where the name Henry Scull in faded gold leaf was barely noticeable. If told a year ago her research on would lead her to this brightly lit room at the Atlantic County Historical Society, she would have said. “Yeah, right, I have a life.” Yet, there she sat like an explorer about to unearth a treasure, freezing the moment before she would open a century old family bible in hopes finding an unknown limb of the Reiser family tree. Her pulse quickened. She wondered if her great, great, grandfather was the kind of man who felt compelled to record the births and deaths of his relatives as if they’d be important to anyone long after he was gone. Mostly she knew facts found in court records and censuses: births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, an occasional occupation, but finding anything about character traits or interests was near impossible. Lillian yearned for a breakthrough that would connect her to her past. If it was instead a dead end, she may end up spending another week in bed with no one noticing except her cat, Nana.

It started with a Mother’s Day gift. Lillian’s well meaning college-aged son bought her a DNA kit. A spit and post office visit later she received her genealogy with no real surprises. She regarded the whole process as a game she’d play along with at first, but then she discovered the website’s links to others with her very own DNA. Her nephew from Maryland was there, (he always was an odd duck), but an impersonal screen also reflected a dozen others with last names she’d never heard. Something about this bothered her, yet she felt a flood of curiosity about these strangers she couldn’t ignore.

Lillian found herself leaving the dinner dishes in the sink to spend time building her family tree. The wealth of documents maintained by the Mormons became her new friends--reliable and always there, for a yearly fee of $99. At first her efforts were haphazard, adding anyone she found without fully cross-checking names and dates. She cursed the ancestors who repeated names and failed to don middle ones. A few mistakes were made, but she soon developed a system whereby she stuck to one limb and followed it out as far as she could.

The first limb was her father’s father, the origins of her surname. Something about knowing more about the name that followed her every day intrigued her. She sat at the computer clicking away while remembering her grandfather as a dumpy bald man sitting in a chair in a high rise nursing home in South Jersey, the odd smell in the room, and his resemblance to her own father. Her father, now deceased, had rarely talked about his parents and only took her to see her grandfather once as a young child. His mother died of diabetes before Lillian was born--the only family tale being that she was a religious woman and bore eight children in her short life.

As Lillian’s nights grew longer, she started to eat at her computer. She was frustrated when the fraternal Reiser limb came to an abrupt halt. She turned to the the maternal limb, the Sculls, which proved more fruitful. She was pleased when she found her namesake, her great grandmother Lillian Scull, born of English immigrants who came to America, presumably searching for religious freedom. Although Lillian’s heart ballooned with this knowledge, she began to inwardly criticize her parents for not sharing this with her earlier.

A month into her research her mother died, and Lillian’s brother carted a cardboard box over to her house. “This is what mom left you,” he said. “Besides no one else wants it.”

She found the contents alluring in a way that made her recall her first lover, who was long gone, while simultaneously entertaining the thought that he’d never be a part of her like these priceless parcels from the past. Inside were yellowing papers, sepia photos, old perfect attendance certificates from elementary school, birth and death announcements, and a smaller box that had belonged to her dad. A pot of gold at the end of a rainbow wouldn’t have been more valuable to Lillian. She spent weeks pouring through and organizing the artifacts all the while trying to paint a picture in her head of each ancestor. She stared at photos creating stories about each one, and then chastised herself for pretending. As weeks turned into months, she grew more and more sad that her parents weren’t alive to tell her the true stories. Sometimes she lost herself for days fantasizing about sitting on her father’s knee while he laughed and told about the time his car broke down and he had to ride a donkey home.

Lillian had lost all enthusiasm for communicating with anyone alive, when one day there was a message in her Ancestry inbox from a woman named Ida Kumar. Of course she found the name strange, but upon reading the message she discovered two fascinating things: Ida had developed a family tree with over 1500 names and Ida’s great grandmother’s name was Scull. A correspondence commenced. Ida had spent the last five years researching her family both online and in person. Ida’s great grandmother was sisters with Lillian’s. Ida taught Lillian how to use historic societies, and that family bibles were often the key to otherwise unknown facts. It was Ida that pointed Lillian to the Atlantic Historic Society. Lillian headed the call.

Lillian felt the rush of the air conditioner, took a deep breath and opened the cover of the Scull family Bible. There, as in many old bibles, was an ornate family tree inked in black, red, and green. The first time she saw one she thought it a lost art. Her heart sank. Where multiple names should fill each limb there were only two: Henry and Elizabeth née Willis. Lillian felt her disappointment turned to anger. She’d driven three hours, slept in a saggy bed at Motel 6, and missed her niece's baby shower for this? The lack of courtesy of her ancestors made her sick. How could they not realize the importance? drat them.

She was about to slam the Bible shut when she saw a piece of paper sticking out from its pages. She turned to it, finding an envelope. She lifted it for further inspection and was struck by the simplicity of the handwriting. It was addressed to Henrietta Scull, 105 Kings Cross, Devonshire, UK. She pondered at the lack of a stamp.

Lillian paused before opening the envelope wondering if her intrusion would be forgiven by her great grandmother. A sense of obligation to treat this simple piece of paper with reverence overwhelmed her. She slowly opened the folds and began to read:

Dearest Mother,

There are no easy words for what I’m about to write. Henry and I are in deep sorrow. A week ago last whilst giving birth to their sweet son Jeremiah, our dearest Catherine fell ill and left this earth. Such hope and love for a new life has been clouded by our great loss. I can barely wake each morning. I struggle to even take sustenance. I find myself praying for Catherine’s soul and my own deliverance from this deep grief. Henry has been handling his sadness in silence. It’s been a blessing of sorts. Dearest mother, you have a new grandson on earth, but the cost was having a granddaughter in heaven. I hope this letter finds you well. Love to father.

All my love,

Lillian sat alone crying as if her own daughter died. She cried for the relatives she never knew. She cried for the relatives she knew but really didn’t. The distance between her and her own children loomed before her, and she cried over that too. Lillian cried, and when she was done crying, she stopped. She stopped and folded the letter, put it back in the Bible, and readied herself to leave. An hour after arriving, she knew she was done. She had people to see and stories to tell and a life to still live.

Lillian handed the Bible to the lady at the desk, thanked her, entered into the South Jersey sunshine, and said goodbye to the past..

Jan 28, 2019

In for the simple writer prompt, mostly because the word "loving" is OK and "sunny" is not.


Jan 28, 2019

Life is Good
440 Words

Emma sits resting at the table in her kitchen drinking her coffee. Ever since last year when she and her husband renovated by putting in new white cabinets and stone countertops, she waits for hours in this room every morning before starting her day. She loves the French doors that lead out to the garden where pink peonies are flowering. She loves how she can see through to the family room where Rachel Ray is making a new food to surprise her viewers. Most of all she loves the windows. On a day full of sun, like today, she feels like she's being lit by God.

And she is lit by God, for she has the luxury of sitting around drinking coffee with nothing to do until she feels like moving on to the next familiar calling for the day. The garden ladies will be coming over later in the week so she’ll probably plan the menu.

Emma is quite happy.

Emma is happy because she doesn’t know that the boy who lives next door and sits next to her daughter in homeroom is now sitting in his bathroom not more than 300 yards away shooting up heroin. Or that Mr. Diddle at the end of her street is "beating his stick" while watching little girls get touched by older men on his computer screen. Or that her old babysitter is sitting in a doctor’s office in Alabama being refused an abortion. Or that last week in the next town over a cop shot a black man dead for breaking into his own house.

Nor does she know her husband is loving his assistant in the cleaning closet at Williams & Wright as she gently puts her cup into the dishwasher. Or that the brother she has not talked to in ten years is now her sister and living in Thailand selling herself for money every night. Or that her mother tried to kill herself by cutting her wrists when Emma was a baby.

Emma decides to go to Planet Fitness to work out. A new trainer started last week who's easy to look at, and she thinks he noticed her. At least, he looked her way. She grabs yoga pants and a t-shirt--the “Life is Good” one with a dog and cat hugging--and heads to the bathroom to shower.

She passes the mirror on the way and sees herself out of the corner of her eye. She stops and looks at herself for a long minute. She smiles, admiring her perfect teeth, thanks to Doctor White, and starts her morning knowing this is going to be another great day.

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