Sunday, December 21, 2014

Two for Christmas

Ended up with two prompts today. Prompt words appear after each piece.

Merry Christmas? 

Tinsel—a name she acquired after her hair caught in the Christmas tree and pulled it onto Grandma Mae, who embraced the trunk between her legs and moaned, "Oh George," her memory allowing the impossible to be possible—questioned her spirit this year, with all the families missing members due to the actions of others. (55 words)

Prompt words: question, possible, embrace, tinsel, memory

She'd even given up meat 

Carrie'd always been known as a real nutcracker, regardless the season. Her lips in a permanent pucker, like a bassoonist, her conversations consisted mostly of grunts. But this year was different. She'd even purchased a present for the first time since her parents died in the crash. It was the wise-cracking new guy, Grant's fault. (55 words)

Prompt words: nutcracker, bassoon, season, wise, meat

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Long Vacation

June 2, 2014

Hola de Madrid mi amiga Carla.

Is that right? Okay, my Spanish is rusty, but Charlie and I only arrived in Madrid two days ago. Give me time. It's been a while since you and I sat next to each other in Spanish class. Can you believe we'll celebrate our twenty-fifth high school reunion next year at this time?

As the caption says, the photo on the front of this postcard is of the Parque del Retiro. It was a great place to walk off our jet lag. Well, it was for me. Charlie spent most of the time sneezing, wheezing and complaining. He had a business meeting this morning, so I went back by myself and enjoyed the plants and people-watching. Would you believe a guy hit on me?

That's all for now. Say hi to Frank and the girls for me.

Love, Marci

June 20, 2014

Hola, Carla.

I hope you get this before July 4th. I have no idea how long it takes for a postcard to get from Toledo, Spain to Omaha, Nebraska. Charlie and I spent a week in Toledo. What a fabulous place. I could live there. I love the architecture, the landscapes, and the people. Unfortunately, Charlie spent most of his time answering emails and talking on the phone. Some things never change. Hahaha. Anyway, I had a great time.

If you get this after the 4th, you'll know I didn't come back with Charlie. I decided to stay an extra couple of weeks. He had to get back to deal with some problem only he could handle.

Say hi to Frank and the girls for me.

Love, Marci

July 18, 2014

Hola, Carla.

As you've figured out, I extended my trip again. I rented a car and drove from Madrid to Seville. It should have taken two and a half hours, but I stopped many times along the way to stroll streets and visit with the locals, and it took me about twice as long. I spent a day in Seville, stayed in a wonderful hotel, and then drove to Gibraltar. That is some hunker of a rock. Hahaha. The coast is beautiful, and the water is so blue. I've never seen anything like it. The people are friendly, and they made me feel right at home. I could spend the rest of my life here. More another time.

Say hi to Frank and the girls for me.

Love, Marci

P.S. My Spanish is almost immaculado. Hahaha

August 15, 2014

Hi, Carla.

Remember in the last postcard when I said I could spend the rest of my life in Gibraltar? Well, I decided to. You know I haven't been happy. Charlie's always working. Brent and Amy are grown with their own families. I felt lost and unneeded at home. I haven't told Charlie or the kids yet. I guess I need to do that soon. Certainly before I file for a divorce.

Remember I told you about that guy who hit on me in Madrid? Well, it happened again—a different guy this time—in Seville, at the ocean village along the marina. I was browsing in one of the shops and started chatting with the owner. The next thing I knew we were eating dinner at this lovely restaurant on the water. He asked me out again. At first, I said I couldn't. I was married. But back at the bar in my hotel over a nightcap I changed my mind.

There's a knock on the door. It's Alesander. He's taking me out on his boat. More later.

Say hi to Frank and the girls for me.

Love, Marci

August 17, 2014

OMG! I can't believe it. I slept with Alesander last night. It was great. It's been so long since...Well, you don't need to know that. Hahahaha.

Anyway, I called Charlie today to let him know I wouldn't be back. He asked what he should do with my clothes. Can you believe that?

Alesander is taking me to a nude beach today. What was I thinking when I agreed? I know, you're thinking, that's so unlike Marci. Well, I guess this is the new Marci. Hahahaha.

Hey, if you and Frank ever want to get away, we have an extra bedroom. Oh, I guess I didn't tell you, Alesander and I are living together. I'm going to fry in Hell, and I don't care. Hahaha. Anyway, consider this an open invitation to come visit anytime. And the nude beach is optional. Hahaha.

Say hi to Frank and the girls for me.

Love, Marci

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Smoke rose from the underbelly of the city. A bottle skittered across the deserted street propelled by a wind full of empty promises and lack of action. Broken windows, smashed cars, an unresponsive body dangling from the window of a third-floor flat all revealed the consequences of delirious residents acting out of frustration and despair. (55 words)

Prompt words: flat, underbelly, smoke, bottle, delirious

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Maybe She'll Find Mr. Right on the Bus

A pale yellow kimono, once vibrant, like her life, hung on the closet door. A dusty suitcase lay on the bed, the few clothes she owned folded and placed in neat piles inside. Ellen thought the Cowboy was finally the one who would end her aimless travels. Instead, she needed a one-way bus ticket—again.

Prompt words: suitcase, yellow, dusty, kimono, cowboy

Thursday, November 13, 2014

He's Grieved Long Enough

He's Grieved Long Enough

My stepmother called me an amoral virgin during our latest "disagreement." Say what? Is she really that dumb? Is this woman really right for Dad? Somedays I wish she'd checked into a convent and left Dad alone.

 I know I shouldn't feel that way. Dad's in his fifties, and it's been two years since Mom passed. He needs companionship. And—God knows—help around the house. Still, why couldn't her life-path have taken her in a different direction?

Dad seems happy. That's important—if it's true. I worry he's with her to be less lonely, not because he loves her, or even likes her. Maybe I should have moved in with him after Mom died. Maybe then this interloper wouldn't be in our house. Maybe then I wouldn't have these constant headaches worrying about him.

And maybe it wouldn't have made any difference.

She's at the door in her witch's costume cackling at Trick or Treaters. Dad's around the corner stifling a laugh. When she closes the door he lets loose and laughter fills the house—his and my stepmother's. I hold mine in. Try to look unaffected. But I'm not. He's happy. She makes him happy. I need to let go. Let him live his own life. Be happy for him.

The doorbell rings, and Dad puts a throw pillow over his face. "Trick or treat" echoes through the house mixed with a series of muffled chuckles from the pillow. The door closes. The chuckles turn to laughter, and this time I join in.

* * *

From a prompt to use the following in a story: amoral, path, stepmother, convent, virgin.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jack’s Last Stand

Barry received special permission to visit his Grandpa Jack in the prison hospital. It was a desperate move, but a chance Barry had to take. The old man's pineapple-hued skin showed how fast the toxins had invaded his body. He'd refused treatment for the cancer eating his cells. He was a lifer either way, he'd said.

Barry picked up the brown-rimmed bifocals lying on the table next to the bed. A scratch bisected one corner. He scanned the room, first using the upper lens, then the lower. Everything was a blur no matter which section he peered through. Barry didn't know if the old man, who wasn't really his grandfather, would wake long enough to reveal where he'd hidden the jewelry from their last heist. They'd split up after leaving the store, planning to divide the swag later. Barry had managed to make it to Mexico, where a little money spent in the right places kept the police from arresting him. Unfortunately, a flat tire halted Jack's escape. Barry’d managed to follow Jack’s condition through friends of friends who were in and out of the same prison for the past ten years.

Barry walked to the window to stretch his back. He noticed a '69 Dodge Charger in the parking lot, same model he’d used to get across the state line. This one was black instead of his bright yellow with blue lightning bolts beauty. Seeing the one below, he regretted having driven his car into that lake somewhere in Tennessee on his way south from West Virginia. It was the best car he'd ever owned.

Jack groaned. Barry twisted toward the dying man, waited a few seconds, then rotated back to the window. “Grass is all brown, Jack.” He walked to the bed. “Going dormant. Just like you, old man.” He sat on the edge of the stained, brown chair and took Jack's hand in his. “We had quite a run, didn't we?” Barry leaned in and lowered his voice. "But now it's time to give it up, Jack. You gotta tell me where the stuff is. I understood why you wouldn't do it up to now, hoping you might somehow get out of here, but it's over for you.” Barry squeezed the wrinkled hand. “Even you got to see that." The old man remained silent. Barry grabbed the tube going into Jack's nose and pinched. Jack’s eyes opened wide.

"What was that? What'd you say, Jack?”

Barry put an ear close to the man's lips. "Say it once more."

"Go to hell, kid. You never were any good at nothing."

Barry squeezed harder on the tube. His knuckles turned white.

"Let it go, son," an unfamiliar voice said. "It's over."

Barry turned. Two policemen stood in the door. One held a yellowed pillowcase with mildew spots.

"I believe this is what you came for." The cop pulled a gold and diamond bracelet from the sack. “Jack told us where the stuff was. Said he knew you’d be here when the nurse told him his grandson was coming for a visit. Said he’d rather we have it than you.”

Barry glared at Jack. "You turned me in?" Barry reached down and grabbed Jack by the neck. Four hands clasped Barry's arms and yanked him away.

"You think I didn't see you put some of the small stuff in your pockets?" Jack placed a hand on his neck. "You think I didn't know you were the anonymous tipster who called the police and told them where I was going?” Jack's breathing quickened. “I ain't that stupid." He coughed, spit up blood and lifted a middle finger, as the officers dragged Barry out of the room.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

He Said/ She Said

Jayne Martin issued a writing challenge to pen a he said/she said story based on one she put on her blog. In it a husband is urging his wife to get ready so they won't be late to his parents. When she resists, he leaves the house to wait in the car. Here's my take on finishing the story.


He said, "I wasn't sure you'd come."

She said, closing the car door, "I wasn't either, especially after the way you slammed the screen door when you left."

He said, "I was upset."

She said, "With me? For being late? There was a lot more anger in your voice than the other times."

He said, "I know. I'm sorry. I guess I'm not over losing the baby yet, either."

She said, soft fingers on his sleeve, "Like your mom and dad. They always make me feel so awful—inadequate."

He said, "They don't mean to."

She said. "I know, but . . .

He said, "Once we're pregnant again, they'll settle down."

She said with a shrug, "I hope so."

He said, "Wanna start trying again? It's been six months."

She said, "You mean now?"

He said, "Sure why not."

She said, "What about your parents?"

He said with a wink, "Screw my parents."

She said with a naughty grin, "I'd prefer you screw me."

He said, one foot out the driver's side door, "Last one naked's a rotten egg."

She said, "Hey! You cheated."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

On Vacation

On Vacation

Midnight in New York. Sounds like a song title. Until you see the body outside the theater. Lips blue. Eyes uninhabited.

Piano music leaks from inside a cafe. Laughter from another. No one stops. Except a homeless woman. She crosses herself. Pauses in silence. Moves on. Uneasy. So do you. It's how life works now.

*Prompt words: midnight, theater, piano, lips, New York

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Her Grandfather's Home

Today's prompt words in bold.

The house sat on an old-time graveyard. The lawn provided a broad barrier from the rest of the neighborhood. A webby film produced an eerie aura.

Rumor said no virgin could survive there. So, Sara married Arthur, unaware of the zombie thing until their wedding night. She smiled. Sara knew they'd live forever happily after. (55 words)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

We'd Make It

Today's 5 to 55 challenge prompt words in bold.

It was a homemade problem, nothing illegal, but it required comfort food—popcorn. The stray had appeared on the porch. Dark fur. An omen? I wanted to keep it. Chuck didn't. One more thing to argue about. I waited for Chuck to return. To tell him he was right. To tell him we'd make it.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Better Than The Holy Grail

Today's prompt words in bold.

Erica caressed the brass rail paralleling the narrow passageway to the subterranean grotto. The map indicated it was where she'd find the hero she sought. Once inside, she inhaled the familiar aroma, raced toward the source, tore the plastic wrapper, bit off a large chunk, savored the flavorful meats and special sauce. Scavenger hunt finished.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It Shouldn't Have Happened

The sudden downpour bombarded the ground. Alyssa looked up, let the pellets smack her face, hoping they might cleanse her. She hadn't meant for their friendship to turn into an affair, especially with Madeline. Not that Alyssa wasn't attracted to her daughter's teacher. 

She'd broken it off with Madeline. At least, she hoped she had. The yearning hadn't evaporated from her completely. Sometimes, an urge arose in Alyssa when she smelled perfume similar to Madeline's, or heard the classical music they both liked. Alyssa'd quit smoking three years ago after many tries. Now, that seemed easier than erasing Madeline from her life.

Dan was a stickler for routine. Breakfast at 6:30. Dinner at 7:00. Church at 9:00. Shirts hung by type, then color, buttons to the left. The kids well-behaved in public. Alyssa thought this was what she wanted—needed. She shook her head, thinking about how wrong she'd been, and wondered if being unlike Dan was what she found attractive in Madeline.

Alyssa knew what Dan would think about her unconnected triangle of lovers. She wasn't surprised he hadn't caught on. He wasn't the think-outside-the-box kind. Plus, she and Madeline had become pros at keeping a secret, even in a smallish city. Polite hellos at teacher conferences, quick hugs at the grocery store, hands “accidentally” touching while watching their girls' soccer matches.  

The affair hadn't lasted long, just three rendezvous in a not-so-nearby town, but Alyssa's feelings for Madeline went deep. She knew Madeline felt the same way. Alyssa had cried at their last encounter. Madeline knew why immediately. Alyssa wished Dan was as perceptive. The two left the motel, agreeing not to see each other romantically any longer. Now, standing in her driveway, Alyssa protected the family picture she kept in her wallet from the rain, and sighed. She'd chosen her future. Now she needed to make it work.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


This story first appeared in Microfiction Monday Magazine.

The fake rabbi stood on the frozen sidewalk leading to the Catholic church. He blew each parishioner a kiss as they exited the noon service. A bitter mix of alcohol and cigarettes permeated his breath. He saw her shake the priest’s hand, smile, say something that made the priest laugh. She, the drunk driver, the killer of children, the judge’s wife. The rabbi reached in his pants pocket, felt the knife, took a deep breath, and tottered away. Around the corner, he threw the beard and hat in a trash can. Revenge wasn’t in his nature.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Reluctant Samaritan

Today's prompt words in bold.

She approached the triangular box squirming in the middle of the highway, nervously spun the umbrella that protected her from the mist, wiped a hand on her short shorts three times, and moved closer. She lifted the lid, peered inside, screamed when the toad hopped out, and cursed the laughing boys hidden in the woods.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Winner Take All

Today's prompt words in bold.

Fred inched the antique roadster into the garage. It had been a teenage fantasy to own one, and the joy of driving it blunted the current, bitter divorce from Emma, his third wife. He wiped a spot from the hood before stepping inside. He never saw the wire, smelled the gas, nor heard the explosion.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fixin’ a Leak

This all-dialog story first appeared at Dialogual.

“Whatcha gonna do with that there duct tape, Chet?”

“Fix a leak.”

“Must not be too bad if you can stop it with just duct tape.”

“Bad enough.”

“So, where’s this leak at?”

“It’s all over. Seems like everyone in town has seen it or heard it. Even got to Lucy. She nearly took my head off with her rantin’. Made me real mad when she told me what she heard. So mad I went to the hardware store and bought me a fresh roll of tape. Knew it’d take more than I had to do the job. Here, hold this end for a bit.”

“Sure. So what did. . .? Hey, why’re you wrappin’ that tape around my waist, Chet?”

“Cause you’re the leak, Shorty. You was the only one I told about Mabel over in Sioux City. You was the only one who knew I went to see her last Saturday. You was the only one who could have started the story flowing around town about her and me. The one where everyone thinks I’m cheatin’ on Lucy.”

“I never said nothin’ about you havin’ sexual relations with humum, hrumm hrumummuum.

“There, that oughta do it. Can’t stop the noise, but at least it don’t mean nothin’ now.”

And by the way, that woman over in Sioux City? I hired this genealogist to locate her. She’s the sister Lucy was separated from after their parents was killed in a car accident. Lucy was two. Mabel was six. Made Lucy real happy when I told her the truth. Real happy, if you know what I mean.”

Sunday, July 13, 2014

His Warnings Unheeded, The Truth Ignored

Prompt words in bold. As a reminder, this is a weekly challenge to write a story of 55 words (not including title) using 5 given words.

TC waded through the feculent water, his nose assaulted by the stench. The rubber waders protected him from acids infiltrating the creek. A mint covered the smell of the gin he'd consumed for courage. TC adjusted the plant owner's limp body, their tango-of-death nearly finished, the cave where one of them would find peace ahead.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Aftermath

Today's prompt words in bold.

Jerome climbed from the storm cellar. Extant buildings, crippled and pale, greeted him. The cathedral spire was among the missing.

He remembered the sounds of his new wife's sexual utterances mixed with the siren's warning. Now there were sobs intermingled with silence.

He squatted and rocked side to side. Under the rubble, a telephone rang.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

For Fathers Day 2014

Today's prompt words in bold.

Divine guidance. That's why Dad used a blowtorch to set the jug on fire, its contents the “Devil's elixir.”

"Suicide is what it is. And it's like drinking cactus spines.” He laughed when the flames jumped to his trouser leg, stripped naked, and danced the fire out.

Yep, he's crazy, but he's also my dad.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

No way, Jose

Today's prompt words in bold.

Like his men's line, his female fashions were no ordinary couture. The initial response at their unveiling was a large gasp, as if someone had punctured a pregnant woman holding a balloon. Why? The clothes created an aura of integrity, honesty, civility, and transparency, something no one residing on the Hill would be caught wearing.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Prisoner of Abuse

Sunday's prompt words in bold.

The bucket, pregnant with river water, bounced against her thigh sloshing its overflow on her cotton pants. The drought worsening, fountains parched, crops withered, it felt more like a jail than home. She raised a hand to block the sun and wondered why she'd settled here. Robert's face materialized in her mind reminding her why. (55 words)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Hint Fiction

Jayne Martin issued a challenge today to write a piece of Hint fiction—a story of less than 25 words. Here's my attempt.
She told her boyfriend she needed to visit her sick aunt. She didn't tell him it was a one-way ticket. (20 words)
Want to give it a try? Go here to learn more.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

In His Own Best Interest

Today's prompt words in bold.

My cousin sauntered from the restaurant around midnight and jostled a man carrying a Bible. A packet of drugs fell to the ground. The man pointed a gun. A perfect wheel kick to the man's bongos ended the threat. My cousin pointed out the gun when the cops arrived. He forgot to mention the drugs. (55 words)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

He Had no Choice

The prompt words for today's 5 to 50/55 challenge in bold.

The German lurked in the shade rolling a $100 casino chip in his fingers, his tongue occupied by the piece of dirty rice stuck between two molars. The caller said the information was damaging, something no one should know. The German gripped the gun in his coat pocket. After today, no one besides him would.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fourth Time’s a Charm

First date

We wait for a server to bring our coconut cream pie. His favorite. I hate coconut. Those little white clumps get stuck in my teeth, and I turn into a tongue contortionist trying to extricate the intruders. I’m not keen on sharing a dessert on the first date either, but I won’t say anything. I don’t get asked out very often. My friend Connie says it's because I dress frumpy, not that guys are lined up at her door like she's some sleeping princess.

He reaches across the table, captures my hands in his, and tells me I’m beautiful. Warmth spreads across my cheeks. I'm too nervous to tell him he's handsome in return. Instead, I try not to stare at the dab of catsup on his chin.

Second date

We hold hands walking out of the theater.

“Did you like the movie?” he asks.

I say sure and think, not really. He explains how this version of RoboCop is different from the first. He reminds me of the movie's main character. I smile and nod, ask if we can get some ice cream.

“Okay,” he says. “I hope they have peppermint.” Rocky Road's my favorite.

Third date

He escorts me to the front door of my building. I ask, for the first time, if he’d like to come in. I don't tell him no man's been in my apartment since Bennie broke up with me and moved to California eight months ago.

He says he has to be up early.

It’s nine o’clock on a Friday night.

He kisses me on the cheek. I grab his power tie, pull him to me, kiss him on the lips, and press my body softly against his. He smiles, misses the first step, grabs the railing with both hands, and tells me to have a good night. Frustrated, I go inside and drink a beer.

Fourth date

The coconut cream pie sits between us. He doesn’t seem to notice I haven’t eaten any.

“Do you like my dress?” I ask. It’s the classic little black dress, only in dark green. The hem rides to mid-thigh when I sit. The tops of my breasts peak out of the v-cut neckline.

“Sure. What’s not to like?”

I learn toward him. “Besides my heels, it’s all I have on.” I smile. He sits up, fork suspended. “I’ll prove it once we’re in the taxi.”

He leans back, almost tips his chair over. He’s become a mime, and I don’t understand anything he says.

I look back at the table as I reach for the door. Give him one more chance. A piece of pie slides down his tie like a kayak going over a waterfall in slow motion.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

One Evening Under the Moon

The prompt words for today's 5 to 50/55 challenge in bold.

The gap in their ages no deterrent to them dancing an erotic ballet under a sky sprinkled with wispy clouds, the duo moved to the rhythm of lust. Psychological barriers overcome, friends befriended or unfriended, naysayers ignored, they worshiped only each other. The one question remaining was which one of them the puppies would favor. (55 words)

Sunday, March 30, 2014


This week's prompt words in bold.


His opaque gaze drifted to the empty armchair, the one that she’d occupied since their children’s childhood, the one she preferred to any theater seat, the one purchased at Sears and Roebuck when it still offered its large, printed catalog, the one she’d reupholstered twice, the one where she fell asleep for the last time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


by Jim Harrington
First published at MicroHorror

I zipped my backpack and set it on the floor when Mom entered the kitchen. She wore a short, terrycloth robe and her hair was wet. I was pretty sure she’d shaved her legs, too. After she poured her coffee, I told her I was sick and unable to go to school.

“Do you have a test? Do you have to read something in front of the class? Is someone bullying you?” I answered no to all of her questions. “You don’t have a fever. Your skin color is good. You’re not throwing up. Are you having your period?” The rapid fire questions were typical of Mom when she was agitated. I shook my head. “Then there’s no reason why you can’t go to school.” She threw her hands in the air, splashing coffee on her robe, and strode out of the kitchen. “Be ready in five, young lady. You don’t want to be late again,” she said from half way up the stairs.

You would think Mom would have different questions by now. I tried--unsuccessfully--staying home the first Monday of the last three months. The first Monday was when Daddy flew to Des Moines to his company’s headquarters for some stupid sales meetings. It was also one of Uncle Jack’s days off from work. He wasn’t my uncle, really. He was our neighbor, and he was having an affair with Mom. I knew this because I ran home from school one day instead of eating lunch and peeked into a window. They were naked. Mom was bent over the kitchen table. Uncle Jack was standing behind her, swaying back and forth, his wanker (that’s what my friend Sara calls it) sliding in and out of Mom. My parents didn’t think I knew about sex because I was only in eighth grade, but I’d seen pictures on the Internet. Besides, Sara and I tried it with a cucumber once. We didn’t like it at first. 

I told Mom I knew about her and Uncle Jack, that I’d seen them. She slapped my face and sent me to my room. That was two months ago. I thought if she knew I knew she’d stop. She didn’t. So today it was my turn to be the adult and end the affair. Sara said I should tell Daddy. I couldn’t do that. It would break his heart.

I opened my backpack, made sure Daddy's gun was still there, and zipped the bag shut.

“It’s okay, Mom. I’ll walk to school.”

“Are you sure, sweetie? I don’t want you to be late.”

“And I know why,” I mumbled.

“What? I couldn’t hear you.”

“I have plenty of time. See you this afternoon.”

I heard her voice, but not what she said. I was already out the door.

At the end of the driveway, I turned right and headed for school. Uncle Jack was sweeping off his porch, probably waiting for me to leave. I smiled and waved, certain Mom hadn’t told him I knew about them. “Have a nice day. See you later,” I said. He smiled and waved back.

I walked two blocks and sat on the bus stop bench. I figured twenty minutes would be enough time for me to wait. I rubbed the backpack, felt the gun. 

Daddy will be so proud of me.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

She Thinks Juan is my Gay Lover

Today's prompt words in bold.

She Thinks Juan is my Gay Lover

My aunt yells at me through a stuck window of her third floor apartment while I wait for a taxi. What a fruitcake. Or is that fruitcakette? She thinks I’m having an affair with “that yellow skinned Spanish guy.” He’s not my lover, nor Spanish. He’s the psychiatrist I’m hoping will sign her commitment papers. (55 words)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Note Made It Sound Important

This week's prompt words in bold.

Shadé reached the cliffside barrier where the anonymous note said she’d find a yellow rose. When there wasn’t one, she panicked.

Following the pebbled path to the monument and unsure of what to expect, Shadé nearly had a heart attack when she rounded a curve in the trail and her friends yelled, “Surprise! Happy Birthday!” (55 words)

Friday, March 7, 2014

In the Distance

This story was written in response to Flash Jab Fiction’s recent drabble (a story of exactly 100 words) challenge.

Belinda paused to stare at the distant farm buildings, a refuge she hoped. The ad requested a nanny to take care of three young children. His wife a victim of cancer, he couldn’t run the farm and raise the kids alone.

The sounds of laughter put a smile on Belinda’s face. The smell of dormant fields and the bleats of sheep greeted her from afar. It seemed the perfect place to hide, to escape her own father. She inhaled a deep breath, let it out, and continued toward her new home, the gun in her purse adding to her confidence.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Stranger at the Bus Stop

Gracie recognized the man sitting next to her waiting for the bus. He’d been following her since Ronny disappeared three weeks ago. She smoothed her grey checkerboard, wool skirt and clutched the black briefcase to her chest. He’d never gotten this close.

“W-why are you following me?” she asked loudly enough to cause the woman standing a few feet away to stop texting and look at them.

“Man, it’s cold up here. Why couldn’t you live in Miami?” He blew on his hands, like a shortstop on an October night in Boston.

“I said why are you following me?” She swiveled her head, glared, her face a stony mask.

“What makes you think I am?” Vapor from his mouth filled the gap between them.

“Do you really think I didn’t notice?” She took a mental picture--white male, shoulder-length, curly black hair, green eyes, chipped front tooth, scar dissecting his left eyebrow, three diamond studs in each earlobe.

“Damn, why’d you have to live in Connecticut?” He stomped his sneakered feet, stuck his hands in his arm pits, watched a streetlight flicker and go dark.

“Are you going to answer me?” Gracie said in a loud whisper. She glanced toward the woman without moving her head. 

“You know why.” He slid closer, leaned forward. “You killed Ronny.”

“What? Are you crazy?” This time the woman stepped farther away and looked around.

I’m not,” he whispered.

Gracie rocked back and forth, looked to see if the bus was coming, stared at the boutique across the street.

“It wasn’t my fault.” She rocked faster. “He attacked me.”

“We both know that’s not true. Did he look like your dad? Is that who you thought was attacking you?” He leaned closer. “Is that why you stabbed Ronny?”

“Damn you.” Gracie covered her ears. “Why won’t you leave me alone?” She rocked harder. The briefcase fell to the ground. The pounding in her head grew. She cocked her hand, screamed, swung at her stalker. But hit only air. 

“Where’s Ronnie, Gracie? His family needs to know.”

“You seem to know everything.” She snapped her head to face him. “You tell me.”

“I only know what you let me know, Gracie.”

Her shoulders slumped, like a fighter who knows he’s beaten.

“I. . .I can’t tell you that. He’ll come back if I do,” she said.

The man touched her arm. “If you don’t, he’ll never go away, just like your father.”

“I didn’t kill my father.”

“But you wanted to.”

She covered her eyes with gloved hands. “Ronny’s last words. . .”


“He. . .he said he was joking. Said he’d never hurt me. He held the knife sticking out of his stomach. There was so much blood. His eyes. I never saw eyes so sad.”

Gracie inhaled deeply, blew the air out, watched it dissolve. She turned. The man was gone. So was the woman. She rocked for what seemed like hours.


Gracie picked up the briefcase. It was then she noticed the building across the street wasn’t a boutique. It was a police station. The man stood next to the front door, waving her over. Maybe he was right, she thought. Gracie stood, looked left then right, took another deep breath, and stepped into the crosswalk.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Maybe a Cold Shower Will Help

This week’s prompt words in bold.

Hunched over, hands on knees, a towel over his head, Jerod eyed the bovine audience beyond the east end zone and contemplated his next move. Sprints hadn’t helped. He was too young to buy liquor. He’d never use drugs. But there had to be some way to neutralize the parallax surrounding his girlfriend’s impenetrable virginity.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

They Wore Colored Masks

Today's prompt words in bold.

The quintet stared at an elastic skyline as yellow as a xanthodont’s teeth. Coming from places that spoke in different idioms, they rarely understood each other; and even when they did, they disagreed on everything, like what made the sky yellow in the first place and how to fix it. (50 words)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

He Must Be an Alien

Today's prompt words in bold.

The visitor had a secret hobby. He scrutinized scattered fragments of people’s lives left on street corners, beaches, restaurants, etc, etc, etc.

When I asked why, he said he wanted to know if their lives formed an equinox, a balance.

Is there such a thing, I asked?

Are you crazy? In this screwed up world?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Best Friends

Today's prompt words in bold.

Crouched in the crawl space behind the coat closet, I heard the experimental puppet in the kitchen. Tommy said it was lethal

Something crashed on the floor, perhaps the bowl I’d left next to the stove. I closed my eyes, saw broken faces, laughing, mocking. The door opened. I cried out. 


It was Tommy.