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Friday
October 24, 2014
4:29am EDT


Rated: 13+ | Short Story | Mystery | #932796
These are for Captain Colossal's Daily Flash Fiction Challenge.
Please drop by my webpage:


{http://karenriggin.com/my-blog.html}

My blog is a writing blog, where I add chapters.

Currently in its rough draft stage is my NaNo 2013 novel: The Downside of Solar Panels -- a young witch decides to install solar panels on the cottage where she lives. But how can she achieve her goal of financial independence when a warlock, werewolves, ghosts and a neighborhood vampire keep intruding?




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Now, enjoy my shorts ~~~~



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The following stories are for:
ID: 896794 (13+)
Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 
Enter your story of 300 words or less.
by Arakun the twisted raccoon


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Write a story that includes the words: thunderstorm, search, drive


The Mother-In_law




A thunderstorm in space should be a mighty rare occurrence. But my mother-in-law could drive a saint clear off the ship with her temper. In search of tranquility, I’ve learned to become agile as an acrobat, trying to avoid being in a room with her.

She seemed perfectly placid, smiling and full of pleasant platitudes -- until the moment we left Earth’s orbit. Then cosmic space or solar radiation or something, just plum roosted in her hair, sent it electro-statically wired, and ever after, the sparks went flying.

It started when I joked that first morning about the absence of gravity smoothing out all facial lines. How was I to know she’d take offense? Then when I merely mentioned the room had filled with dandruff, why did she assume I meant hers? Never did I mean to say out loud that blubber released by freefall expanded.

The storm darkened and brewed as things went from worse to worstest. I swear it wasn’t my fault the exercise machine broke when my mother-in-law sat on it, the coffee machine spit hot water at her, or the seatbelts of the chair she was reclining in refused to unclench her for four solid hours.

Just because my wife and I were tied up in a rather private way, doesn’t mean I scheduled it to happen!

It wasn’t I who meant to say any of those things or do anything of them, or. . . well, okay, maybe the last one . . .

, but now, here I sit in the lowest hold of the ship, hiding, hiding, hiding.




265 words


The Prompt: Free

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The Predator



She glanced back as she ran, her breath heaving in shallow gasps. It hurt to breathe. Her calves were stinging, but she couldn’t stop. It was getting closer.

Her throat was parched from the run and from her screams. She couldn’t yell for help any more. She was past that now, past hope that someone would come to her aid. No one was going to save her. She knew that now, just like she knew the thing was gaining on her, each stride narrowing the gap between them.

Up ahead was the forest. It wasn’t a good place to go. In fact, it was the worst place she could head for, but the thing had herded her in that direction. What choice did she have? It was going to get her, kill her, tear her a part.

She sobbed, dry-winded, soundlessly, and sent forth a prayer of confession.

She looked back again. She shouldn’t have. She stumbled and fell, a rock twisting under her foot. Her hands spread to catch her, but they couldn’t save her. She hit hard, the breath knocked out of her.

And then it was upon her, its saliva dripping down between sharp, pointed teeth, teeth that lowered to rip and tear at her throat.

Her air came back. She gasped, took in air.

The wolflike, bearlike monster with eyes red and evil, stood over her, panting as it stared down at her, its breath reeking of death.

She gasped again, this time not from lack of breath, but from cold, stark terror.

Once more the thing lowered its muzzle. She would have screamed then if she still had sufficient air or voice, but instead she closed her eyes and waited.

But again it didn’t bite her. Instead it whispered into her ear, “Gotcha.”


(298 words)


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The Prompt: CD, garbage can, rubbermaid tote -- Situation: making a phone call



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The Rainbow Arch



         My CD player lives on repeat, playing over and over the song we used to sing. Yesterday, I tossed the CD into the garbage can, disgusted with my melancholy self-abuse, but I could not endure the silence.

         Although I keep my other CD’s in a Rubbermaid tote near my bed, I cannot bear to take one out. “You are my rainbow” must be heard once each hour, each wakened minute. The words haunt me; they pounce at me, attacking my stability:

                   I will walk the rainbow arch
                   And tread among the clouds,
                   Gazing fearlessly down at Earth
                   If only you keep your hand in mine.
                   I will cross from red to violet
                   And skip across the blue,
                   If only your lips will play that song,
                   The breathless music of your touch.
                   We will always be together
                   No matter rain or sun
                   For the rainbow lives inside us,
                   And the colors are our love.


         I can no longer help myself. My fingers dial your number. “My rainbow lover,” I whisper, and you answer me, “Yes, I feel the colors, too, bridging us together.”

         We whisper thoughts and warm enchantments, and the music once more surrounds our hearts. “We will always be together, no matter rain or sun for the rainbow lives inside us, and the colors are our love.”


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Word Count: 222 words
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Prompt: write a story where an inanimate object talks


The Butler




         I would have spoken sharply to someone about the mess on the carpet, but this time there couldn’t be any quick clean-up. The blood and the dead body belonged to Mrs. B, the housekeeper.

         Count Emmet, the man whom I served, was drinking himself under. Since he had already spoken to the police I left him there in the library, his slippers, pipe, and a flask of scotch in attendance.

         I meandered through the house, steering, of course, to the scene. Detectives scurried about, but they had over-looked the one piece of evidence that told me the entire story: Mrs. B’s list. Neat checkmarks were beside each note, except those starting with the dismissal of the young Todd Depore. From that point rather, uneven and somewhat shaky checkmarks had been placed using a pencil point almost as fat as the count’s cigars. One of those marks indicated that the library had been cleaned. I had, myself, tidied that room. Obviously, Mrs. B. had never made it that far.

         I walked over to the head detective, delivered the solved case into his rather obese lap, dusted my hands off, and left to put Count Emmet to bed.

         A good butler always takes care of the details.


208 words

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The Fateful Bridge Episode



He was leaning against the wooden bridge, looking down into a small, gurgling waterfall. One sneaker-clad foot was resting against the other. If someone had given him a gentle push he might have fallen in, but he didn’t. He turned and faced the other direction, gazing down into the stream that flowed rather speedily underneath the bridge. He didn’t notice that his plastic/cloth lunchbox was perched precariously atop the edge of the railing. He never saw that the strap, the one he’d fastened a moment ago across his shoulder, was dangling over the edge of the water. And when the rail jiggled just slightly because he was studying a goldfish as it swam beneath the bridge, he cried out with a futile grunt.

The lunchbox didn’t hit the goldfish. It didn’t even glide in its direction. It merely sank. Bubble, bubble, squeak.

Squeak?

The man’s mouth opened. He blinked. He shook his head, but the cries continued. In fact, he heard quite plainly, “Help me, help me, you fool!”

The man was a nurse, a skilled and intelligent nurse. He jumped down off the little wooden bridge and leaned over to try to catch his lunchbox before it completely sunk beneath the slightly brownish water.

“Use the strap, fool!”

The nurse ignored the scratchy-little voice. He tugged at the soggy lunchbox and lifted it up, even shaking it a bit, although his efforts splattered his uniform.

“It’s about time, fool! What were you thinking?”

Unfortunately, that last was rendered with such a high-pitched and loud voice, the man blinked, dropped the lunchbox and took a step backward. The lunchbox, free to travel, flung itself over the mini rapids and floated on down the stream. Whatever the squeaky voice said then was lost among the gurgles and splashes of the water.


(300 words)

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Prompt: write a story about living next door to difficult neighbors

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Ugly Neighbors



I used to live next door to the Cruthers. They were like apple pie with ice cream on top. They were the shine of sunshine across ripples of pond water. The Cruthers, you see, were human.

Then one day the apple pie moved out – bound for Europa, I think it was. It doesn’t really matter where they went, though. The important part is that after they left, the Frghjmn moved in – all sixteen and three-fourths of them. (I bet you’re wondering how there could be three-fourths of a neighbor, well, keep reading and you’ll understand.)

It was a cloudy summer day when the Frghjmn started transporting their stuff into the house. It didn’t bother me that they each had nine legs. You get used to that kind of thing when you live on an interglobal space station. But then that three-fourths of a neighbor started writhing from inside its father’s frontal pouch. Out popped a couple more legs, then an eye socket dangling down a bit, and finally, just when I was beginning to feel sick due to the dangling eye socket, out jumped its hipoling. Now, I later learned that Frghjmn only have that for a few weeks, but the sight of it turned me pale, and when my stomach started cramping, lime green.

Now, I know that doesn’t mean they’re difficult neighbors, not anything as bad as the orangutan-like Stephmires who live across the way, but you try putting up with three-fourths of a neighbor, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not just the missing parts, but that hipoling and the dangling eye socket. There ought to be a law against such things. I’d sue for reparation, except, alas, the neighborhood judge just happens to be Frghjmn. So, I sit and sigh as I mourn the Cruthers.


(300 words)



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Prompt: use the words: fish bowl, a deck of cards, and a necktie

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Wet Neckties and Fishies




I’d just come home from my day at work, exhausted and ready for a nap, when my two-year old son galloped into me.

“Daddy, Daddy! home!” little Kyle screamed.

I’d have leaned over to kiss him if he hadn’t rammed his Tonka truck into a vital organ – a low one, if you know what I mean. I bent over, but it wasn’t for kissing. “Ugh,” I said when I could breathe again.

Kyle, not at all put off with my lack of discourse, whirled about in circles next to me. The truck collided -- this time with my knee.

“Kyle,” I snapped, holding him still and taking in a deep breath of calm. “Settle down.”

I guess I sounded gruffer than I intended; my wife, Sally, gave me one of those looks. I sighed and tried again, “Kyle, why don’t you sit down and watch the telly with me.”

Kyle flung himself at me with such enthusiasm it knocked me down and into the recliner. I scooted my son into place, plopped my feet into position, and prepared for a spell of restful cartoons.

But the moment Mickey Mouse came on, it was like truth serum. My son started babbling. “I dwopped Mickey cards in the fishies. They swum but the cards didn’t. They falled. But it’s okay,” he said, patting me on the cheek. ”I fished them up.”

Sally was dusting. Was her loud sigh due to fatigue?

“So your deck of cards got wet?”

“In fish bowl. All wet. Mommy thowed them out. She thowed out dat tie too. It got wet.”

“My necktie?”

Kyle nodded, slobbered a quick kiss on my neck, and ran off. I rubbed at my bruises, pondered the subject of depleting ties, and then wondered just a little bit about poor Sally’s morning.


300 words


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Prompt:Write a story about a snowball fight

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It Sounded Like Such a Good Idea




We’d read about snow. It was hard to imagine on Quiperar, a very dry and hot planet, but if we squenched our noses, shut our eyes so tight colored balls of light flitted across the blackness, we could almost visualize it.

One day, Cuba, my older brother born a full 2.45 seconds before me said, “I bet we could make snow.” Of course I agreed.

We rushed into our lab, got beakers, tap water, and some Gurgleon that we swiped from one of dad’s cooling machines, and started our project. We were a bit startled when the snowballs came out kind of bluish-green. In hind sight I guess we should have double-checked our recipe or the equipment we’d used. But as we stared down at those four flaky and rather lop-sided balls, all we could think about was how much fun it would be to throw them at our know-it-all big brother, Scotland.

Giggling, we each picked up two and went on the prowl. Scotland was heading out on his daily jog when we ambushed him. He let out a howl, sat on his butt, and batted at his face. Only the stuff didn’t come off like it was supposed to. It clung. He started screaming. That’s when Cuba and I knew something had gone wrong. We pushed the emergency button on the side of our jeans and clambered down the hill to help.

Dad gave Scotland an injection, cleaned him up, (although Scotland’s face still had a bluish-green tint,) and lectured us about our chemistry experiments. Mom just shook her head and said, as she always does, “You twins are going to be the death of me.”

Afterwards, our parents made us promise we’d never attempt another snowball fight. Luckily they didn’t think to forbid snowmen . . .


(300 words)


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Prompt: Open prompt--write a story about anything you want as long as it follows the other contest rules
Have fun and Merry Christmas!

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Warning: I’m sorry, this is not a happy piece. I can’t help it. I usually take off and journey to space to escape, but this is my reality.


Christmas Day





I walk into the ICU room, hoping . . . praying . . . visualizing, but my mother is still sagged against one side of the hospital bed, head vibrating, lips compressed, body struggling against the straps that hold her down. It’s Christmas Day, but no miracle has happened here.

I move to her side, kiss the saggy flesh. She feels cold, lifeless. My eyes dart to the monitor. Temperature normal. Pulse strong. Heart fluttering. Long. Short. Short. Long. Wiggy-waggy lines up and
down -- high peaks and valleys.

I begin to speak. My mother’s eyes are closed. Does she hear? Does she recognize the voice of her only daughter?

“I watched three squirrels chase each other around the apricot tree. The old cat sat watching with me. She talks to sparrows and swallows, but she is wordless when squirrels or crows come.”

I squeeze my mother’s hand and wipe a tear sliding mutinously down my left cheek. I push the button of the CD player. Christmas music warms the room. If I shut my eyes, it seems so normal for Christmas day -- choir voices, violins and cellos, Deck the Halls. Except the gurgle of the oxygen unit dispels that image. And the smells – chlorine, medicine, sickness.

A nurse enters the room. She darts out and returns with a second nurse. They lower my mother’s bed – head down. Mom groans as they tug her corpse-like body toward the top. I want to rush to her, to help somehow, but I have no soothing balm and I know the time of miracles has passed.

I wipe another tear and sit. Then I tell my mother about the squirrels and how my old cat passes her time sleeping by the window, just waiting for something to happen.



(296 words)

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Prompt: the story must include a reindeer


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RudolphRedNose



I’d never seen a real reindeer. There were holographs of them on Planet Forest. On Chrysanthemum, they had a full-sized bio-tech model in the Earth Mammal Hall. But, I wanted to see a real one – a Santa deer, a RudolphRedNose.

Throughout childhood, I always peeked into my stocking only to sigh and pretend I’d gotten what I wanted. My parents never understood. But my fascination in the species is why, at the moment of my Majority, I booked myself on a Sleepership bound for Earth.

Travel Sleepers usually have to be enticed to open their eyes and sit up. Not me. I bounced out of my tube and ran unsteadily to the nearest portal. Not an hour later, the ship shot me downward onto the upper regions.

Now, inside a Warmthbus slowly chugging toward North Pole, I peer out at snow mounds and up at the shimmering sky. My body trembles. My hands shake. My lips are chapped from biting them.

Finally, I see it -- Santa’s cottage! It dangles with icicles of peppermint-colored snow and is ringed by very small brown men in green suits. Through the Warmthbus’ speakers, I can hear their shoe bells, their giggles, even the crunch of their teeth as they chew candy canes and gingerbread men and prepare to greet tourists.

But then the breath inside me all gushes out. A RudolphRedNose stands beside the door, his eyes a soft, unblinking, gentle brown.

I cry out and rush to the Warmthbus exit, only to freeze into stillness when I see the sign beneath the animal:

“Last reindeer,” the plaque says.
“Species now extinct.”


The RudolphRedNose that I’m seeing is merely another exhibit, a stuffed carcass from a distant time. I climb down from the Warmthbus, lay my poinsettia wreath at his feet, and weep.


(300 words)


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Prompt: Write a story that takes place in a school


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One Fine Day at School




I was probing the computer for the word “sex” when my teacher moseyed over.

“How you doing on your sharks report?” she asked, tapping one ugly brown moccasin as if she were giving warning – rattlesnake-like.

I flipped back to an article on sharks. The teacher waddled closer and peered down at the monitor as if I were up to something.

“Good,” she croaked.

Her shoes squeaked gratingly as she moved away. I waited a minute before switching back. I don’t why I bothered; as usual the district had barred access.

I glanced over the shark article for a minute, then went on exploring. When I found an entry entitled Student Magic, my lips bugled a silent hurrah, and I darted from topic to topic until I read:Altering a teacher’s appearance.

My teacher’s twelve layers of fat, and her red-splotched nose, and prickly-haired chin were so horrid I could never focus on anything she was teaching. I scratched my head and studied the spell:

When a teacher’s a creature
Cast her down from lecture preacher
Into wonderous fashion feature.
With a Thwepure, Swepure and, Pash.


I swung about to see if the magic really worked and practically fell out of my chair. Ms. Clay had suddenly become ravishing -- sweat-dripping, mouth-watering, tongue hanging gorgeous!

Her new slinky red dress gave delectable clarity to a perfect figure. And her face – what a knock-out!

“Josiah, what are you doing?” Ms. Clay demanded, as she swung about to glare at me.

I licked my lips, smiled for the first time all year, and said with sincerity, “Why, Ms. Clay I was just listening to your teaching. I really do want to learn about factors and multiples. Couldn’t I return to my seat now?”

The radiance of her smile almost made me drool.



(299 words)

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Prompt: Write a story that includes a stairway, a rock, and a bell


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The Rock



What was I doing carrying a rock, one almost boulder-sized, up the stairway of Jeff's apartment complex at midnight?

It was because of his doorbell, the one with the short that kept going off in the middle of the night. I'd decided to get even. With a rock from the quarry.

Now Jeff wasn't my boyfriend or anything. He was just the guy who lived in the condo next to mine, but there was something between us -- a love-hate kind of thing. The rock was to get even for the time he'd pulled out my phone cord. And for the stupid bell. I wasn't going to throw the rock, of course. I was just going to leave it at his front door. I figured he'd know who'd put it there.

But the police didn't think I should be lugging a rock up the stairs at midnight. They stopped me halfway up. Heavy searchlights in my face, circles of blue rotating down below. Their siren even went off once. That's what probably woke up Jeff.

Anyway, just as the cops were putting the metal bracelets around my wrists, Jeff came out, saw the rock thing on the ground at my feet, and rushed over to me.

"Sweetheart," he said. "You found a great doorstop!" Then he hammed it up. He threw his arms around me and began kissing me as if we were lovers. It was an unbelievable kiss.

The cops got a call for a burglary and took off, but Jeff and I just kept doing what we were doing.

We did it so well, in fact, that eventually Jeff sold his condo and moved into mine. Mine had the bell that worked.

Oh, and we kept the rock. We had to. That's the rock that brought us together.


(300 words)


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Prompt: Write a story that includes the line "It was right there a minute ago."

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The Button




"It was right there a minute ago," my brother said to me, and I looked all around but still couldn't find my button.

"Where?" I asked again, but he was too engrossed with his book to answer me.

I checked on the ground by his feet. I searched all around the bench where he was sitting. No button.

"Chris, wake up. I need my button!" But Chris just shrugged. He had his.

To have yelled would have served no purpose. I dropped down on the bench, put my face in my hands, and thought. Without that button, I couldn't get home. Mom and Dad would scold me. My teacher would give me a fluster on my report card, and I'd be stuck for who knows how long on a planet too primitive for words.

A minute later the call came. Our field trip was over. Chris gripped his button and whippled out. I sat and scanned the dirt again, but all I could see was the casing of a tree seed, something Earthlings called an acorn. I picked it up and enfolded it in my hand, trying to imagine that it was my button.

Sure as fleepers have seven orange eyes, I whippled back to my classroom.

"Why are you late?" my instructor demanded, so I had to explain what I'd done.

"Congratulations, Carrie," the teacher said. "You have just graduated to third level for discovering that it is not the button that powers the trip, but your concentration."

All the kids were staring at me. Chris' face paled to old ashes. He wasn't reading his book anymore. In fact he was holding it upside down.

I waved goodbye to my glowering twin brother, the teacher, and my cluster of friends, then proudly whippled upstairs to the higher level class.


(300 words)

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Prompt: It's the night before Christmas. Include an animal, a food, and a stocking.

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On Christmas Eve




Out in the meadow two cows, one shaggy little pony, and an old sheep huddled together chatting.

"On Christmas Eve," the sheep explained. "Children hang up Christmas stockings so Santa will fill it with goodies."

Bessie tossed her head and mooed, "Who cares! Santa never visits animals, everyone knows that."

"You're wrong," the sheep said crossly. "He did once."

"Tell us about it," the pony neighed, stomping a hoof in excitement.

"Christmas Eve was cold that year," the sheep said, "but we animals were snug and warm in the barn. One of the children had hung a stocking on each of our stalls. We hardly paid attention to it since it wasn't any good to eat.

Both cows stopped chewing their cud to listen. The pony stepped closer.

"A noise woke us up in the night - like someone up on the roof. The old donkey started braying, but we hushed him, and everyone soon went back to sleep. In the morning we discovered all the stockings had been filled with oats, carrots, and apples."

"Santa came for YOU?" the pony neighed, his nostrils flaring with excitement.

"Yep. And if only we had stockings, he'd probably come again," the sheep said.

Farmer John soon whistled. The cows, pony, and sheep left the pasture and walked back into the warm, winter stable. Inside the animals found fresh new straw -- and on their stalls, each had an empty Christmas stocking.

"Do you like them?" asked the farmer's visiting niece.

The animals neighed, mooed, and baaed, but the niece couldn't understand animal speech. She just giggled and closed the big barn door.

The next morning, Farmer John scratched his head. "I don't understand why the animals aren't eating this morning."

His niece smiled. "Santa Claus," she whispered. Then she winked at the animals.

(300 words)



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Prompt: Write a story containing a seashell, a computer disk, and a mirror

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Accentuate the Positive




Loren sat at his computer desk, regarding the seashell Aaron had given him. You could hear the sea inside it. Aaron taught him that. And so many other things, too. "You gotta spread joy," Aaron always used to say.

Loren sighed as he put down the shell. He raked his uncombed hair with fingers that shook. Then he turned to face the mirror on the other side of the room. If he tilted his chair back just so . . . Yep, there it was, a scar so big it looked like a big, fat worm crawling across his cheekbone.

"Handsome, ain't I?" he mumbled, his lips twisting into a snarl.

The jazz record he'd put on half an hour ago had stopped, but he'd never noticed. Too busy staring at the seashell. Too busy being angry about the accident that that had taken Aaron from him. Loren poured himself another whiskey and gulped it down. Then he reached up and touched his face, feeling the raised hardness of the scar. "I should have died when you did, Aaron. I wish to God I had."

"Let it go," a voice whispered. "You've gotta start living again."

Loren bolted from his chair. "Aaron? Is that you?"

The old phonograph suddenly started up, and Ella began singing, "Accentuate the Positive." That song wasn't even on the record he'd been playing.

"What are you trying to tell me, Aaron?" Loren cried out, but he knew.

"I get it, Aaron. Accentuate the Positive, spread joy. But how?"

The room was silent, the song over. Loren gave a heavy sigh and walked over to the sink. He poured out the rest of his whiskey. Then nodding once, he saluted the mirror, and for the first time in over a year, he headed out the door.

(300 words)




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Prompt: Write a story that includes a ghost

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The Friend




I'm always haunted. Some evenings when the bats fly out of the cave, I sit up abruptly and look out, wondering if he'll come.

My parents say it's not possible. They laugh at me, but I know. Strange twistings of the fabric can slip the impossible into the ordinary. Besides who are they to talk? They with their fangs and capes of black.

I don't know how I erred so greatly. I was young. It happened when everything was new - at least to me.

Darwin and I met in the gully where the hawks search for rabbits. When we first bumped into each other, it was almost morning, and I couldn't stay, but there were other nights. He became my first, my only friend. That's why I studied up on it, so I could fang him properly. I wanted to pull him into the family. I think I did it right, but afterward he wouldn't drink. He wouldn't dine from me, so in minutes his body turned to dust.

My parents have left already. They'll prowl for hours, so I sit at the entrance, waiting. He cries, you know. Cries like a banshee, wailing because I took his life. When he visits, sometimes he sits with me, his ghostly pallor no whiter than mine. Last time we talked about girls. I won't make that mistake again. He sobbed loudly, telling me he'd never get a girlfriend now. Then he rattled his chains at me when he soared away.

I hear him coming.

"I hate youooooo," he groans.

I turn and give him a smile.

He swoops down, almost hitting me, then wails in my ear at high soprano.

I sigh. He's angry.

"I'm sorry," I tell him again. "I thought you'd like being one of us. I'm really, really sorry."


(300 words)


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Prompt: Write about planning a surprise birthday party.

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The Birthday Party




As my wife approached fifty, she started making comments about being old. She began to buy prune juice at the store and subscribed to "Seniors Magazine." Her lips turned down, her eyes grew dull, and she aged right in front of me.

I had to do something. I decided to throw her a surprise party.

Asking folks to come was no problem; my wife had scores of friends. I involved her best friend, Carol, in the planning. Decorations were simple, crepe paper and a few balloons. Chips, dips and a few store-bought platters of veggies. Carol ordered a cake. I picked out a diamond-studded watch, hoping that Jody would be rejuvenated by seeing how much we all loved her.

"Happy Birthday!" we shouted as Jody walked in.

Drinks were passed and we had cake with pink roses, topped by a huge ൺ" candle. My wife smiled throughout, but I could tell she was still feeling glum.

Jody opened the presents: a book on retirement investments, a heart-healthy cookbook, a plant, and the watch I'd given her. Nothing cheered her. I could see that underneath, she was still crying.

Then Carol handed Jody a card. "A coupon for flying lessons?" Jody said, her eyes glowing like a child's on Christmas morning.

"Remember when you wanted to be a pilot?" Carol asked, giving her a hug.

Jody glanced at me, her pupils wide with shock. I guess a dream come true is the best tonic in the world. I winked at my ladylove. "You can fly me anywhere you want, baby," I told her, leering so badly everyone laughed.

Jody's eyes sparkled. Just like that, she looked young again. My heart pitter-pattered like when we were teens, and I chuckled. Then Jody smiled, and this time, I could tell, she meant it.


(300 words)



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New Prompt: Your character has been given an impossible task to perform.


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The Trojan War




There's this really hotty at school, but her dad is like wacko. I asked him if I can take Francine to the movies. The dude just stares at me like I got six heads or somethin'. Then he stands up taller than Big Foot and tells me I wanna go out with his daughter, I got to get me a job. That man just doesn't get it. I try to tell him how it is, but he don't listen. You see if I get me a job, I won't have no time to take Francine out. Well, I can tell there ain't no way he's gonna listen to what I got to say, so I decide I just gotta go do the impossible.

It takes me six nights to find me something. And then, wouldn't you know, the dumb job's at the movie theatre. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday they got me tradin' candy for money and pourin' paper-cup cokes. Just like I figured, I never get a weekend off.

Like that's not bad enough, just as I'm passing the popcorn to a customer, who comes in? Francine -- on the arm of another guy. Shoot, I almost throwed the bag of buttered popcorn at the little junior high kid reachin' out for it. Francine's dad practically promised her to me, and now she's going out with someone else?

My boss made me dye my hair so it isn't green anymore, take out five of my nose piercings, and bathe. Now Francine don't want to bother with me?

At school we're learning ‘bout some girl called Hellen. And just like Francine, that girl is fine. I know exactly how the Trojan War started. I understand it real good.


(287 words)

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The Decision



"Her teeth are yellow, her hair is like a boy's," the matchmaker snarled. My father not only didn't defend me, but glared at me.

I stared out at the courtyard while he and the matchmaker discussed me. They acted as if finding me a mate were all that mattered.

A groom was working Battlespear. The young stallion tossed his head and lashed out with sharp-edged hooves. If I were still allowed to train, I'd never school him so near the mares.

"Daughter, come here," my father commanded, and I stood obediently, smoothed out my long skirt so it would not trip me, and returned to my father's side.

"Ah, she walks like a lady," the matchmaker said.

Knowing it for a lie, my father's eyes darkened. I saw then that he found me unworthy.

"Use this," the matchmaker said, handing me a small brown bottle. "Apply it throughout the day to whiten your teeth."

I took the bottle and opened it. "Phew, it stinks of piss."

My father slapped me. His handprint stung, but the stench of ammonia was undeniable.

"Use it anyway," my father growled. Then he sent me to my room.

Upstairs, I looked down into the courtyard below. Battlespear was pawing holes in the training yard, his trainer still going about everything wrong. The stallion never caused me trouble. We understood each other. Both of rebels.

His trainer took out a whip and laid it across the horse's haunches. I made my decision. I changed into riding clothes, packed my things in a bag, scooped up the dowry my mother had left me, and ran down the winding back stairs.

When dark came, I stole Battlespear and galloped away toward my brother's abode, far off in Scotland. I prayed that two rebels would be safe there.

(300 words)

Historical Note: The Romans brought the story's urine-based formula of teeth whitener to England. It was actually used frequently by nobles, but with long-term usage, of course, it completely robbed the teeth of enamel.


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The Parrot Problem




Bumbles, my yellow streaked, psychedelic green parrot often stands in the way of deep, romantic friendships. I mean, who would get involved with someone who owned a bird that kept screeching out, "He's a liar and a cheat."

Bumbles, when my sister owned him, listened to a Country Western station 24 hours a day. A short time ago, he'd mumble a whole sequence of equally flavorful jewels. Unfortunately, "Liar and a cheat" is his favorite.

The first time it got me in trouble was with Carla. I'd just turned the lights down low. Bumbles had been put to bed, the old gray towel wrapped over his cage so he wouldn't get cold in the night, but apparently he wasn't ready to sleep. The moment I puckered up and moved my hand into position over Carla's most lovable two spheres of joy, "Liar and a cheat . . ." became a non-stop chant. Carla finally stomped away and never once returned my phone calls.

I went through a series of females after that, each horrified by Bumbles' words. I almost suspected that the bird had been programmed by my mother, except she couldn't stand him. That's why I'd been the lucky recipient when my sister passed on, and also the reason I didn't want to part with him. Memories, you know.

I thought I'd solved my problem by playing Barry Manilou over and over. I taped "It's a Miracle," and set it on a loop. But that backfired. "It's a Miracle" didn't replace anything, Bumbles just added it on, making the chant sound even worse.

The vet just told me that Bumbles is going to be around another thirty or forty years. Celibacy for the next thirty or forty years? Forget memories. My sister would understand. Anyone want a free parrot?


(300 words)



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Thirteen Fairies




Thirteen fairies were flapping their wings, hovering like hummingbirds, over the bassinet of the new princess of Balderdash. The baby, suitably dressed in pink satin, was clutching her pink baby blanket with its small embroidery etchings of gold-threaded crowns.

"Look at those wondrous eyelashes," cried out Cassie, the most beautiful of the fairy sisters. "I gave the princess those."

"Checkout my gift of the long tresses of golden curls," said Esmeralda, the oldest, whose wings were now slightly frayed and held tiny holes where she'd stitched them together using a needle and magic.

The fairies all swooped and fluttered, each bragging over the gift she'd brought, while the queen and king glowed with happiness. When the declarations and congratulations had all been given, the guards showered the fairies with gold dust and small silver coins. Then each fairy swept them into invisible pockets, and one by one soared into the summer sky, shooting up to the top of the clouds where they sat down to laugh over the spectacle.

"I can't believe we got away with it," Esmeralda chuckled as she counted her coins and wrapped the gold dust in silk hankies. "It was so easy, this time."

"Mortals are all fools," Grisella snickered, giggling into her dainty white sleeve.

"Remember how irritated they were with us at Stormingdom just because we didn't take away their princess' buck teeth?"

"Yeah, boy did we have to talk around that!" Priscilla sighed. "How much longer do you think we can keep pretending?"

"Well, it's either that or get regular jobs," Cassie suggested.

All the fairies groaned. "Not that," they cried out. "Anything but that."

Cassie nodded her head, then smiled. "Then, who's our next mark? Which lucky princess gets thirteen empty wishes?"

Thirteen fairies opened the Future and peered in.

(300 words)


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Temporarily Dependent



"Hello? Hello? The phone went dead...." I called out to my brother, but I could hear the grinding of gravel against tires as he headed off for work.

I searched for the kitty, needing to feel the warmth of her fluff, but although it was dark as a crow's wing outside, she'd deserted me, too.

I hobbled to the stereo, cursing my broken leg. The cast was heavy and itchy, but with the wind howling like a deserted puppy, I felt imprisoned and helpless.

I reached down to turn on some music, but the moment my finger pushed the stereo's on button, the lights went out.

I screamed, then slapped at my tears of self-pity, too angry at myself to search for a flashlight. A window upstairs rattled, and I jumped. Balancing, as clumsy as a seal on a circus ball, I hopped about in search of a light.

Someone banged on the door. There were white drapes over the window; I could see the shadow of a man.

"Hello?" a deep baritone called out.

My eyes toured the room, searching for a weapon.

Then I heard a key in the lock. The door flew open. "Debbie, where are you?" my brother called out.

"Stevie?" I hopped toward his voice.

That's how I crashed into the baritone. His arms reached around me. He lifted me up and carried me over to the couch.

"Whooooo?" I tried to ask, but my teeth were chattering too badly to speak.

"This is Bill," my brother told me as he switched on a kerosene lantern. "I came back the moment I discovered the electricity was out, Sis."

Once I would have been offended, but this time, I didn't say a word about equality. I smiled up at my brother and Bill and said, "Thanks."


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The Forger




In Duewood on the inner prism of the Marsian Plains, I interviewed a forger
who'd faked Earth coins and sold them to unsuspecting tourists. As the guard wrestled the man to the gray oak tiles of my royal chamber, the forger mumbled about aliens. With a wave of my hand, I sent the guards away, drew the man forward, and bade him to give me his tale.

Thus, Marvin, the Forger, described how he had dug deep, deeper than even the mining machines. He'd dug for months until he came to a small underground chamber, one filled with the treasures of another race.

"You would have been paid ten times over for artifacts of the ancient ones," I told the man, but he shook his head.

"No," said he. "Not those coins; they were only plastic."

I laughed bitterly, shaking my head at the man's stupidity.

I jiggled the coins. They were light it was true, but they no longer looked plastic. Marvin had coated them with something. They looked like Terran coins, the coins found now only in museums.

When I told him so, Marvin glowed with his pride. "I melted down the parts of an old space derelict and covered each coin with the metal. Then I carved them to appear Terran."

Again I shook my head. With all that work, he'd destroyed something rare and valuable; the United Worlds would mourn it always.

The site of the crime was searched, but the soldiers found no more treasure. Of course, Marvin was beheaded, but I didn't watch. I sipped my Mountain Dew and munched on the pastrami sandwich my wife had made me. Then I wept over forged coins, the only coins we'd ever found of the once powerful Martians.


(298 words)


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The Unusual Addiction



I was reading an unusual fantasy novel when Twister meowed in his sleep, cracked upon one eye, and glared at me.

"I didn't move," I assured him.

He flapped his tail a couple of times, did a half-stretch, and soon closed his eyes.

I picked up my book again, thumbed through the remaining pages, and thought about what I'd read so far. The giants were after my heroine. Big deal! I

"If giants are so bad, why did the dumb girl enter the forest? Giants are probably big pussy cats, not mean at all," I muttered outloud.

"You think we not mean?" inquired a booming baritone voice, one coming from a man so tall he had to bend halfway over to fit inside my living room.

Twister, of course, fled, leaving behind tiny holes in my legs.

"Uh," I stuttered in shock as much as in pain.

"Yeah, nobody like us. They mean about us."

"I see. Why do you think that's so? I asked, massaging my chin like the thoroughly amateur psychiatrist I was.

"I don't know, he said, scratching at his three long strings of black hair. "Cause we eat people?"

I nodded. "Yes, I imagine that might do it. Have you thought about becoming a vegetarian? It would make you more popular."

"What a vegetarian?"

I explained the principle.

The giant nodded, bumping my chandelier. "Ok. I do that."

I waved goodbye, hoping he wouldn't break something on his way out, but the giant simply vanished.

"Charlene, could you please help me a moment," my husband called.

I sighed, put down my novel, and stood up. "I'm so proud of myself for getting that A' in Psychology. My ego and my Id love to feel needed,"


(300 words)




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New Prompt: Write a story in which someone falls. (300 words)

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The Klutz




I was soaping my body, lathering really well since I'd just come from a long, hot ride on my horse. I dropped my bar of soap. Of course, I bent over to pick it up.

Slam! Crunch! Crack! Owwwww!

A leg bone was suddenly poking its way through my skin. I screamed. Little Tiffany came running, but, the bathroom door was locked.

"I'm hurt, honey. I fell. You're going to have to call 911."

We'd practiced emergency procedures, but I was thankful to hear Tiffany's four-year old voice sounding loud and sure.

I tried to turn off the shower, but I passed out. When I woke the fire department was pounding on my bathroom door.

"I can't get up," I yelled out. "And I'm naked!"

The next thing I knew a hand was reaching in to shut off the water, a towel had dropped over my body, and the most gorgeous paramedic you've ever seen was bent over me, examining my leg.

"Multiple fractures, bone exposed," he called out. Then he splinted my leg and lifted me up. My towel fell to the floor.

I remember little of the transport. "My daughter!" I moaned at one point.

"Your neighbor is watching her. She's fine," someone told me.

At the hospital they forced me into consciousness with questions and paperwork. I remember signing something. But everything else was a blur, except for the paramedic. I dreamed of his kind gray eyes.

When I woke, after the operation, I thought I was still dreaming, for he was there, flowers in his hand, that same smile lurking just beneath the worry.

My leg recovered, the paramedic started visiting regularly, and, I guess one could say, the moral of the story is that sometimes it's a good thing to be a klutz.




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New Prompt: Write a story in which someone lies about their occupation. (300 words)


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Lies and Confusion




"I'm a plumber," he told the girl, figuring it wasn't a lie since he did work with water.

Lucinda was impressed. "Oh," she gushed. "I absolutely adore plumbers."

She entwined herself around his tubby middle and began to whisper sweet things into his ear.

Theodore enjoyed every minute. He dangled his arm across her lithesome shoulder, and glanced about, hoping everyone at the party would notice his sudden popularity.

"Do you have a snake?" the young woman suddenly asked.

Theodore scratched his chin. Did she mean a pet snake, or could she mean . . . Theodore blushed to think of it, yet his heart sped up.

"Anything for you, Lucinda," he told her.

"Do you have it here now?"

Theodore knew she couldn't be speaking of the kind of snake that rattled and hissed. She had to mean . . .

"I'll be glad to show you," he whispered low, hoping he sounded suave.

"How about in my apartment?" she asked. "Would you get it out and use it if I needed it badly?"

Theodore's snake began to writhe. He blushed and nodded his head. "Now?" he croaked.

The two sped off in Theodore's truck. When they reached her apartment, she demanded, "Where's your snake?"

"Let's go inside first," Theodore said, but she kept insisting.

At last, he sighed and started to unzip.

"What are you doing?" Lucinda screamed.

"But you said . . ."

"I want you to fix my sink, not . . ."

Theodore tucked himself back inside, then squirmed with embarrassment. "Uh, uh . . .I'm real sorry. I must not have understood. I'm not really a plumber, you see. I wash dishes down at Franco's Bar," he admitted sadly.

Lucinda bolted out of his truck, slammed the door, and stomped away.


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New Prompt: Write a story that includes the following words: postage stamps, funeral urn, and gray sweatpants. 300 words

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An Excerpt From the Book, Of Memories and Music




I hung my gray sweatpants on a make shift clothesline in my yard. The pants were damp from their recent washing; the dryer had just quit on me.

After the dryer episode, the doorbell rang. It was the UPS man with my father's funeral urn. Why had it been sent to me? I signed on the line for signatures and brought the thing inside. The steel plate at the bottom gave my father's name and dates of life. Fifty-eight years. Such a short life!

I glanced about my one-room apartment. Where should I put him? Did it matter? I plopped the fake marble urn on the floor next to my piano. Dad had hated my practicing, but I doubted he'd complain anymore. "Sorry, Pops," I told him. Then I called my sister to find out why I'd been the lucky recipient.

Susie was just about to feed the baby; she put me on hold. I listened while she cooed to baby Francine; I sorted through the bills on my desk. Then I sighed, glanced at my father, and almost heard him lecturing about "putting off for tomorrow what you should do today."

"All right, Dad," I said, as I took out the checkbook. I even had time to lick and place the postage stamps before my sister came back on.

"Dad wanted you to have his ashes," she informed me. "He requested it."

After I disconnected, I called the repairman for the dryer and washed all the dishes in the sink. Then I sat down at my piano bench and started to play, but I couldn't concentrate.

"All right, Dad." I said.

I got out my earphones, stuck them over the urn, and sat back down. That's when I composed my fourth opera, the one that brought me my fame.



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New Prompt: Write about a writer's wild and unfruitful attempt to get published. The following is 292 words.


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The Book




My book was finished. I cried each time I read it. It was brilliant!

I didn't show it to my friends. They didn't deserve it. Let them see me on the talk shows, I mumbled to myself.

"You can't string ten words together without misspelling something," Charlie had said.

Charlie was the villain of my book, the man who raped and pillaged.

My office manager had said I was just pretending to be a writer. She was the mutilated victim.

I had other friends, too, scattered among the pages. They would all read my book -- read and weep.

"Writer's Revenge," I'd named the book. Brilliant!

I chuckled as I wrapped the manuscript in a grocery sack and twine. I crayoned the name of a publishing firm, knowing they'd love my book.

It took six months before I heard it had been rejected. I laughed at that. They probably hadn't read it. But I was ready. I sent my manuscript out again.

And then again. And again.

Curses! What was wrong? I'd spent a fortune on stamps. How could this be? Why didn't they read my book?

But then I knew what to do. I would self-publish. People wanted my book. They needed it!

I wrapped my manuscript and sent it away, this time with a check for $1,489.95.

But, sadly, once more I'd been rejected; they sent back my check. I fell into bed, weeping.

The next morning I picked up my pen and began to write. My next book would be even more brilliant, I vowed.

Charlie pickt up hise shufel he slamt it down on Henriette.Wamp! Wqamp! She sunk down. I'm dide she sed. Charlie laft he lickt the shufel and put it way then . . .



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New Prompt for: 11-27-05 (Sunday)
~~Write a story with this sentence somewhere in it:
I sat at the window, my tears matching the silent rain drops that fell. . .


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Gray Whiskers and the Loss of Johnny
(300 words)



I sat at the window, my tears matching the silent raindrops that shimmered like broken shards of glass.

Johnny had declared that this time we were through. But why? What was it I'd said that had severed the relationship so completely?

Gray Whiskers slinked herself into my lap, purring her way into my awareness. My hand automatically stroked her soft, warm fur. I bent over and hugged her. Her raspy tongue stroked my cheek.

"Ah, kitty," I said. "Was it when I called Johnny a lazy, good-for-nothing?"

Gray Whiskers responded with a questioning meow. Her eyes stared into mine, intently penetrating.

"No, it wasn't that," I told her as my fingers curled under her vibrating chin. The decibel level rose. Gray Whiskers twisted her head slightly, changing the location of my rub so I'd cover the entire area.

"Maybe it was when I called him an idiot?"

The cat changed position again, this time, urging my fingers toward the sides of her face.

"No, Johnny didn't react to that. It wasn't until I told him that I loved you more than him. That was what did it!"

Gray Whiskers suddenly halted my scratching, seized my hand in her sheathed paws, and began to bathe my wrist. I jerked to pull away, but she growled at me.

"Meow," she ordered, low-voiced and strident.

I stared down into the cold green of her eyes. I couldn't move; I was spellbound.

When Gray Whiskers finished with my wrist, her tongue moved onto my hand and then, later, up my arm. Several times, I attempted to pull away, but her claws were no longer sheathed, and her teeth were barbed with sharpness. As the cat continued grooming me, I sighed several times, looked out at the rain, and grieved for the loss of Johnny.



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New Prompt: Write about a mystery solved through the discovery of an ancient sword.


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Viper Sword






I lifted her up and whispered, Carintha. Her metal sparkled in the morning sunshine. A rainbow painted her shine; someone had rubbed her with oil for her long sleep.

I held her against my forehead. "Slay me now with your razored-edge, or accept my need of your assistance, oh, noble Carintha."

Perhaps, she still slept. I could not be certain; I took her silence for acceptance.

Most likely, she was satisfied, for I sacrificed my life in taking her up. She would drink of my blood when it was done, yet I had no choice. The young girls from my father's kingdom were all being stolen away. No one knew why, or how, or where they were being taken. The Carintha, the mystical sword of legends past, must guide me.

I slung the ancient sword across my shoulders. Leaving its viper-like nest, I strode forward. Already I knew the direction I must head. I felt the knowledge within me.

The forest darkened. Tree limbs reached out with moss-heavy limbs, yet onward, I walked. Deeper than any of my people had ever gone, I went. At last, I saw it, the monkey god with the town's maidens all prisoners at its feet. I drew the Carintha and cut through their leather binds. Their tears of joy awakened the twigglies. Their mouths twisted into grimaces, their fifteen arms each writhing with hatred, the twigglies shuffled forward ready to fight. But I was strong with the Carintha in my hand. Those twigglies all fell one by one and shriveled into dust.

The maidens cheered me. I smiled and collapsed. My long, golden hair slipped from its cover. Thus they saw my gender and identity, and they wept.

"I am ready, Carintha," I whispered.

Then the blade, like an asp, struck once -- deeply.



300 words




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Prompt:

-an insane editor

-a rescue attempt

-the joy of stamps

Bonus GPs will go to the winner if s/he includes all three prompts in one story.



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The Insane Editor and My Guardian Angel



You can't understand what it's like to work for an insane editor. Every item has to be corrected repeatedly, and then when the book's perfect, he decides that he really doesn't like the atmosphere and wants it reworked, or he pinpoints an error in the solution that I've laboriously woven into the whole book.

Only my husband's kind rescues - at least, his attempts at a rescue -- keep me from running madly into the cul de sac where we live, screaming in despair. The first time John interfered, it was with a book entitled, "The Joy of Stamps." It was filled with stamps that the government had rejected. What a riot! John and I laughed for hours, as we viewed it . Afterward, even though I still had corrections to face, they didn't seem as overwhelming.

Another time, my husband rescued me from insanity with a kitten. No one can remain mad for long when something small and furry wiggles into their heart. I told John that I needed a kitten like I needed a second editor. But I was wrong, and John knew it. That kitty added exactly what I needed - levity.

The third time that I blew up, not even an adorable and playful furball or a book of crazy stamps could relieve my stress. John realized that at once. He whisked me into the bedroom. There are other ways to let off steam. John is my guardian angel.

Still, one must always return to the problem, and after each mini escape from torture, I buckled down and tried again. My editor is insane, yet, he's good. Three of my past books have been published, and the fourth is being sent out.

Thank goodness, though, my husband wears the wings in the family.


300 words



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Write a story in the friendship genre:


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My Best Friend



I sat, tossing one stone into the river after another. None of them skimmed more than twice. I sighed, tired of waiting.

I took off my sweatshirt and tied it around my waist. Kurt always said that was a girlish thing to do. He never wore sweatshirts, preferring to shiver in the morning breeze.

I picked up a twig and drew faces in the mud. All the faces looked like Kurt's. The first one was him looking disgusted ‘cause I'd done something stupid. The second was a smiling Kurt - the way I hoped he'd look when he saw the goodies I'd brought for our lunch.

"Hey, you gonna sit there all day?" Kurt jeered, coming up behind me.

I leaped up, but worked on smoothing the smile off my face. I didn't want Kurt to think I cared that much whether he showed up or not.

"About time," I said, snidely, slinging my backpack over my shoulder.

Kurt gave me one of his looks. "Yeah, I had to cut the lawn first. Dad wouldn't let me come otherwise. What's in the bag?"

"It's for lunch, or whenever we get hungry," I told him, falling in behind as headed up the hill.

Kurt stopped, turned around, and looked at me. "How about now? I'm starved."

I opened the backpack to show him, and Kurt grabbed at a granola bar, stuffed half of it in his mouth, thanked me, and said, "You know, Steph, for a girl, you're pretty cool."

I stopped and stared at him, but Kurt was already pushing forward. "You really mean that?" I asked, scurrying forward to catch up with him again.

Kurt looked down at me and smiled. That was all it took. I was his forever.

297 words


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Prompt: Write a story about an evil overlord (feel free to base it on one of the 100 guidelines). Remember to keep it 13+ or under for me.

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Rebellion in Rhyme



The evil overlord has called us to hear today's announcement. I tire of his tirades.

"You may not compose or recite poetry," he declares. Everyone groans, but we say nothing. We have become cowards, we who still live.

But this time the overlord has gone too far. We glance at each other. Smirks ride the faces around me. I wink and nod. No poetry? How would he know?

"Twinkle, twinkle little star," I hum. The man beside me picks it up. Then the song passes from vocal chord to throat. Our humming grows into a chant. Then we sing openly. The overlord can do nothing; Twinkle, twinkle little star is our anthem.

Maybe the man is too stupid to catch on. Maybe he'll ignore it, but we thrust our chest high for once as we voice our insurgence.

It almost works. Then we hear the wolves of the overlord. The baying halts our song. We still our voices and grovel in the dirt.

He is placated. The overlord calls his hounds back. He lets us go. We crawl away.

I am shaking. When I finally stand, my legs barely support me. Too quickly the energy of rebellion has died, yet still I feel it deep inside me, simmering.

That night, with the windows barred and draped, I light a candle, take up the feather and ink, and plunge myself in deeper.

In the bitter land
Of Colonel Flay
Hope was banned
Throughout the day
But . . .

A knock on the door comes before I've finished. I hide my poem, but it does no good. I'm found out and hauled before the overlord.

"Any last words?" says he.

I know he grants no mercy to those who disobey. I raise my head and shout, "Humpty dumpty sat on... "


300 words

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Prompt:Write a story that takes place near a railroad track.

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Peabody, the Dwarf, and the Mighty Train



The dwarf wiggled his nose as he crawled up out of the hole at the side of a hill. Something was different. He sniffed deeply and looked all about him. Somewhere in the vicinity, the stench of metal alerted him to mankind's presence.

Peabody sat down in a patch of grass and scratched at his head. He'd been this way only a couple of centuries ago. It just didn't make sense that humankind would have reached this deserted area.

Suddenly the dwarf bolted up. The ground was rumbling. The air was filling with smoke. Peabody eyed the top of the hill. Something was coming.

The dwarf's short legs climbed him up the side of the rocky obstacle. When he reached the top, he saw two snail trails of metal, and a huge ugly, smoke-breathing THING coming at him. Peabody darted to the side, slid down over the top, and tumbled the rest of the way until he'd landed in a heap.

He was just in time. The metal monster passed overhead and rumbled on.

After it was several feet away, Peabody stood up, clutched his fist in the air and yelled, "Ack, you're nothing but a coward! Come back and fight me!"

The monster continued to growl, but it was obviously fleeing, chugging faster and faster over its double metal slime trail.

The dwarf shook his head, sighed with relief, and wiped at the fear-sweat dripping down his forehead. He stood another moment, bravely but fearfully, watching the horizon for any signs of its return. Then, satisfied, Peabody limped back into his hole, closed the hard-earth door and scurried down the tunnel, hardly able to contain his joy as he began weaving a tale about his extreme bravery that he would soon recite before the town council.


297 words


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Note:I watch very little T.V., but I once saw a small section of Buffy, the Vampire, so I decided to write about her. Here's my story. If you're a Buffy fan, and I have something very wrong, I apologize.

Prompt:write a story that includes all of the following: a pair of boots, a mug and something purple

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Her Mother's Advice



Buffy, fashionably dressed in shiny, black boots and a sophisticated short, short dress of purple linen, is drinking from her mug of coffee when her mother walks into the kitchen.

"Buffy, how can you fight vampires in that dress? If you have to kick, everyone will see your underwear."

Buffy laughs, almost spilling her morning brew. "Oh, Mother, you're so quaint," she says. "That's the idea. If the vampires are looking up my crouch, they won't notice I'm driving in the stake."

"Oh," says her mother, as she adds an abundant sprinkling of sugar and powdered milk to the coffee she's just poured. "I guess you know best, but it doesn't seem quite right, does it? Couldn't you recite poetry or the Gettysburg address instead? Wouldn't that cause the same level of distractibility?"

Buffy shakes her head and smiles. She adores her mother but fully understands why the vamps have deemed her "too square for blood-letting."

That afternoon when Buffy, as usual, is attacked, she heaves a karate chop with her left heel, but the vampire is not at all interested in her wide expanse of thigh. Buffy strikes a new pose, one leggier and sexier, but the vamp only coughs with boredom.

At that moment, Buffy remembers what her mother had said. Could she be right?

Buffy takes a deep breath. "Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers. . ."

The vampire stops. He tilts his head. His tongue hangs down. His fangs drip with interest.

Buffy slides in the board and watches the man shrivel into dust. She removes a splinter from her pointer finger and ponders.

Later that night, Buffy salutes her mom. "You are so cool, Mom," she declares, kissing her.

Leaving her father and mother trading mystified looks, Buffy heads upstairs to start her homework.


300 words



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Write a story that takes place in another time, it can be past or future


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The Future




My dad used to talk about how wonderful the future would be. He said we'd have flying cars and robots.

But 2025 brought the Moralists into power, and they declared a moratorium on progress. We weren't allowed to take a single step forward. Everyone had to back into things and slow down. Poor Dad got awfully tired of repeating Mondays over and over again.

I didn't mind our standing still for the first five years. Sixth was a cool grade, anyway -- top of the heap, lord of the playground. But when the desks started hurting my knees, and I'd memorized my social studies and math books, I left during recess one day and never went back.

I stayed home for a while, but my beard started getting in Mom's way. She got tired of dusting under it, so I set out on the road. One day, I got tired, I crawled into a cave, and took a long nap.

When I woke up the Moralists were out of Power, and the Progressives were in. The moment I stepped outside, an instant city grew next to my foot. My eyes bugged out, and I started to wheeze. Smog was pouring from it like smoke from a chimney.

Well, Dad used to say the future would be shiny as a new coin, but the only thing shiny that I saw was a polluted river glowing from chemical waste. So I climbed back inside my deep, dark cave, and I snored a bit more.

I just woke up because the sun was filtering its light in like a feather tickling my nose. I'm thinking I may mosey out and look around. I sure hope a new party has taken over. I'd love to see that future Dad used to tell me about.

300 words






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The following is a melodrama. Remember to say: "ah, and ooh," and to boo and hiss.

The Clever Heroine



It was a pale night, not a cloud in the sky, when Tom reached up to turn on the shower. The water never started, never heated, never fell, for Tom was destined for death. Instead of soaping his body, he hung in the cold, damp room, twisting in his battle for air.

Clarence, the aide who discovered the body, let out a series of screams that bounced from wall to wall and woke all the inmates of the mental hospital. Then he collapsed in hysteria as the murdered man hung there dangling and the doctors and nurses gawked. An ambulance arrived, but, of course, it was too late for Tom. The coroner declared the death a suicide. But the soap-edged tub, which gave no toe-grip looked mighty suspicious to the eyes of Clea Wagner, a young woman who'd been falsely imprisoned in the hospital by her avaricious uncle.

The clever girl hired a detective, who disappeared days later, leaving her to suspect another round of foul play. But Clea, undaunted, seized upon a ouigi board to find the murderer.

That very night, all the patients gathered round. Thunder blasted the sky, but Clea's strong-will held them entranced as she asked the question, "Who killed Tom?"

The ouigi began to move. The lights failed. A whimper. A movement. Moments later, the generator came on. Several screamed. Poor Clea was dead. Yet in her hands, the ouigi board continued to spell out: "Clarence."

"No!" the aide cried out, but Clea's neck revealed the imprint of his hands.

"All right," he cried. "But Tom raped me. He deserved it."

No eyes shed tears for the poor, dead girl. The patients shrugged and went into dinner; the doctors returned to their offices. Only the avaricious uncle came when they buried the heroine out back.

300 words



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New Prompt: Write a story about buying something

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The Treat




"Don't say it. I'm gonna do it no matter what you say."

Kevin's nose twitched, and his lips separated, but he didn't say anything. He stared at the ceiling.

"I plunked my money down on the counter and counted it out, just like I was five years old. Twenty-five, fifty . . ."

The clerk wiped his hands on his apron, and said, "Which one you want?"

I froze.

I'd been on a diet for seventeen weeks; I'd lost the excess weight, but I'd been dreaming of this day the whole time. What should I get? The Snickers? My mouth watered. I started to tell the clerk, but then I saw the Almond Joy. Real almonds. Coconut. Dark chocolate. Then there was the Mounds Bar. More dark chocolate. More coconut. I licked my lips.

Kevin tapped his foot on the floor. The clerk rolled his eyes. Another customer entered, ringing the door chime.

The smells and flavors of candy were dancing ‘round my head: cherry nougat, caramel, peanut butter, walnut . . . I could hardly breathe. But I started to speak. Then I stopped. Only one, I told myself. But which one?

The customer walked over to the counter. I saw the clerk's eyes shift from me to her. She was huge, weighing in probably around three hundred.

"I'd like an Almond Joy, a Hershey's Bar, one Snickers, a package of red licorice, a Mounds Bar, and one of those packages of toffee nuts," she said.

My eyes traveled from the pile of candy to the woman herself. Then when she walked out, clutching her goodies, I said, "Just a pack of gum, please."

The clerk nodded and pushed back most of my money. "What kind?" he asked.

I froze.


291 words




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Write a story that takes place in the rain.


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Dark Skies of Sadness



It was raining, and I was full of cold, so I grabbed a taxi. The driver turned out to be one of those foreigners; I could barely understand him, but he took pity on me and drove me to a local bar for a strong, hot toddy. That toddy turned into straight whiskey, and the Pakastani and I became the best of friends. He even took me to his house and introduced me to his daughter.

Naveeda was as beautiful as an angel. She put me to bed and began to sing. Watching her as the rain drummed staccatos on the roof, I slipped off into sleep.

When I woke, I rose up, holding my head in my hands, and discovered that I had a brand new family, for somehow during the night I'd become a husband.

Of course, I raged. "You have taken advantage of my drunkenness," I told the family. "I will have you all arrested." My young bride calmed me down with the sadness of her almond eyes and the sweetness of her heart-shaped face. She led me back to her bed. Then she sang to me, and I again fell into a deep slumber.

When I woke the second time, I was back at my own house. I looked all over for my lovely bride, but Naveeda was not there. I sat down and wept, for the truth is I'd fallen in love with her quiet, gentle ways.

I looked up "Patel" in the phone book, but there were twenty pages of them. I called the taxi cab stations, but each of them told me they had no Lewani Patel with a daughter named Naveeda.

The skies have not stopped raining since that day, and my heart is as heavy as those dark and cheerless clouds.

300 words





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New Prompt: Write a story in which the main character is filling out a form


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Children





"What do you mean, I have to fill out another form?" I ask the employee.

He doesn't answer. "Use a pen, please," he reminds me.

This is my fifth form in a row, and I have used a pen on each one, but I say nothing.

Diligently, I fill in the repetitive questionnaire. Then I get back in line, bringing all five forms to him. "Now can I speak to the supervisor?" I ask.

He picks up each paper and reads them, searching for misspellings, but he finds nothing wrong. so he sets them down and picks up his phone. He speaks too quickly for me to follow, but when he hangs up, he points to the door, and says, "Take your forms and knock."

I follow his finger, passing the line where I've spent the past three days. Many of the people glare at me, but one lady claps. I nod and proceed.

Inside the supervisor's room, it's dark. I stumble over a chair, but I don't dare sit.

"May I help you?" the metallic voice of a robot asks.

"My wife and I would desperately like to have a child," I tell him.

"Petition denied. We have stopped granting births this year. You may return on August 5, 2422."

"But this is my fifth time here," I plead.

"Duly noted. Good day."

That night I fix a special dinner for my wife, but she sees from my expression that the answer is again "no." She sags into her chair and weeps. "No one is being granted children. I think the robots don't want us to have more."

I nod Let's make a child tonight, anyway. What can they do, if the deed is already done?"

The robots come in the night; afterward, I never again see my wife.

300 words


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Write a story in which the main character is trying to convince someone of something


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Giving Up Blue Jays




If you don't go, you'll regret it, he kept telling me. He repeated that every Saturday at our weekly baseball game. He told me about it at church on Sundays. He talked about it at the movies and in the restaurants. That went on for months. I didn't listen.

Then one day, he bought the ticket. A one-way ticket. He didn't tell me that he'd done it, but news travels fast. Bonnie at the bakery told me that evening. Sarah told me later at the gym. The mailman brought the news the next morning, followed by Sammy, my best friend, who came by to give me her opinion.

"You have to do it," Sammy lectured me. "You know you love him."

"But... but..." I kept sputtering but she never gave me a chance to argue. So, I sat at the kitchen table, holding onto my mug of coffee, and for the first time, I thought about it.

Sure, I loved James. I'd be the last to deny that. I loved him enough to do anything - except that.

I glanced through the window and looked up at the pine tree in the front yard. It was dripping sap again. But a blue jay family had built a nest in one of the branches. I could see them from my chair. The wee ones were scolding Mom for being slow to feed them.

James was being cruel. He was asking me to give up blue jays and pine trees and baseball games on Saturday.

But I loved him. I poured a second cup and thought about it some more. Then before the office closed, I drove downtown and bought the last sleeper bunk on Spaceship Orion, leaving in two months on a "Homesteading Flight" for the newly discovered Planet Hope.


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Prompt:Write a story in which something is forgotten.

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The Investment



I forgot my helmet. I laid it down somewhere, and when I climbed back into the ship, I remembered. But I'd rather buy a new one than get gnawed by the ravenous, fang-toothed-monster - one that had saliva that looked like it would melt skin. Let the thing munch on it; of course I hope it gets indigestion.

I lifted up as soon as the ship readied itself. The planet was frankly the prettiest one I'd ever seen. Clouds of pink drifted about a slightly purple sky. I broke through the atmosphere and sighed tragically. I almost had a choice real estate deal. Darn it.

Then I got to thinking. Suppose I could advertise the place as a dangerous planet, one that only daring and adventurous folks would like? But darned that monster. What if he ate somebody? What if I got sued?

As I shot toward my home on Clandor 2, I percolated ideas. Hunters might like the planet. Maybe I could advertise the place as a "test of super skill and intelligence." Think what a trophy that monster would be hanging over someone's mantel.

I landed on the outer edge of the spaceport. It was cheaper there. I slid down the exit pole, still thinking about the beautiful planet and the ugly fangs. A red-suited mechanic saw me and scurried over.

"Want some maintenance?" he asked. "Sure wish I could afford to fly somewhere. But with taxes the way they are, I never can afford anything. Heck. What I wouldn't do to be rid of taxes..."

That's when it hit me! I had my great idea. That planet might have a slobbering, acid-tongued monster, but it had no TAXES.

"Well, listen, Sir. Do I ever have a deal for you," I told him, and his eyes lit up.


299 words


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The Right Result




Mating season in our neighborhood is hard to endure because all the folks have cats. We'd complained several times about the noise, and they had promised us that it would stop. But it didn't.

One night the darn cat kept meowing right under our window. I hit the pane with my hand, but that only stopped the varmint for a minute. About the time I got my pillow all plumped up and was just closing my eyes, the yowls started up again.

Of course, Charlie snoozed steadily regardless. He rolled over once, but that was because I elbowed him. It barely stopped the rhythm of his sawmill.

"Yowowow," it came again.

"That's it," I cried out, and I blasted out of that bed like someone had just poured ice water on me.

Ice water? Yes.

I kept some in the refrigerator. No problem at all. I simply brought the whole pitcher into my bedroom and sneakily slid open the window.

"Yowow," the cat started up again, but I waited for just the perfect alignment.

"Yowowowow," it played its rasping vocal chords like a warped violin, but still I waited. Then.

I tilted the pitcher and . . .

"What in the world are you doing?" asked my husband.

I jumped clear out of my skin, right through the ceiling, and all the way up to the moon, he scared me so bad.

But you should have heard him; that poor guy got a pajama bottom full of ice water. I bet he never sneaks up behind me when I'm peeking out the window in the middle of the night again.

But anyway, although the scenario didn't quite go the way I'd envisioned, that cat never did come back to howl under our window. My husband's scream plum scared him away.



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On the Side of the Hill




He was one of the hill people. We used to never associate with them. But one day I grew curious.

See, I looked up, and there he was, clear at the top -- this youngish man wearing his hair in a strange manner -- all curled and longish. Our men have hair that's straight as corn stalks, so you can imagine why I had to take a closer peek.

That's why I was I sneakin' up the hill. I had no idea that he was slinkin' down to get an eyeful of me. We met on the side, he peerin' ‘round the same tree I was. Let me tell ‘ya, I backed up faster than a hare flees a fox, but it weren't quick enough. That man reached out and snatched me. I spat at him, but he didn't retreat. He just pulled me closer and grabbed himself a kiss.

Things could a gone from bad to boilin' -- but they didn't, ‘cause you see he kissed real good. I flung my arms around his neck and bent into it. Unfortunately, his pappy saw us and come runnin'. Mine weren't far behind, and they startin' in a arguin'. Paddy and I just slipped away. Then we went on doing that thing we was enjoying so much.

That's when our mommas started fightin'. They was both down the hill on opposite sides of the creek, washin' their clothes. They looked up and saw what we was up to, and they come a runnin'.

So Paddy and I had us a weddin', and my relatives and his filled up that hill so full you hardly saw the poppies all a bloomin'.

And just ‘cause we got hitched, now nobody seems to mind which side of the hill he be on. Ain't that grand?

300 words




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Write a story that has a box with something in it different than what the character believes it to have.

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The Box



It isn't hard to guess his intentions. Brandon told me to wear my black, slinky gown. He made a reservation at Chez Rouge. Then when he arrives to pick me up, he has a lump in his left pocket -- one just the right size.

On the way to the restaurant, we talk about the day before when we walked along the beach looking for sand dollars. We didn't find any, but that didn't matter as we strolled hand in hand and squealed each time the icy waves splashed our feet.

Brandon bought us ice cream cones -- vanilla -- our favorite, and we sat under the sole beach umbrella in front of a funny, old ice cream stand. He finished first and sneaked licks at mine. We laughed, and then we kissed, tilting the umbrella so nobody could see.

~~~~~~~~

That night, when we arrive at the restaurant, I see a different side of Brandon as he banters about wine with the garçon in French.

Our life together is going to be absolutely perfect.

"You're glowing tonight," Brandon tells me. "I don't know if it's the color in your cheeks from all that sunshine, or whether you're in love. I hope it's the latter," he says, taking my hand.

I wonder what the ring looks like?

"After we eat, I have a surprise for you," Brandon tells me, kissing my hand.

Will he get down on his knees?

We breeze through dinner. I hardly eat.

Then he pulls out the box.

Plastic?

"I bought you a sand dollar," he says, smiling into my eyes.

I thank him and exclaim over its beauty, but the rosy light inside me has just blinked out.


288 words




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New Prompt: Write a story in which all of the following items appear: a bag of almonds, a green pen, and a pair of chopsticks

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Gary's Eyes




I am eating spaghetti with a pair of chopsticks, the result of a new diet idea, when Gary comes running over to my table at Frank's Diner. "Hey, wait until you hear this," he says.

I put down my chopsticks and grab a handful of nuts from my bag of almonds. They aren't on the diet unfortunately, since they're the kind with pastel sugar coating all over them, but they're my favorite.

Gary doesn't notice. "Dad agreed to let me drive again!"

I groan. Gary's driving has already crashed the family car, run over my ten-speed, and flattened a neighbor's fence. The only reason he hasn't destroyed my little Honda is because I won't let him near it.

"Gary," I say. "You and cars are bad luck."

"But Dad said I could," Gary whines. Then he flashes his dimpled-smile and looks at me with those big, puppy eyes of his.

"That's a bad decision on Dad's part, but if he wants to risk the family car again..." I shrug.

"Yeah, there's only one little condition," my brother says, plopping his chin down on his hands.

I start to tell him to get his elbows off the table, but curiosity overrules. "What's that?" I ask, balancing noodles on my sticks.

Gary studies me. "You want a fork?"

I repeat my question. "What's the condition?"

"Well, Dad says I have to get you to agree to give me some driving lessons."

My load of spaghetti falls. I don't say a word to my brother. I reach into my purse, pull out my St. Patrick's Day green pen and scribble a giant "NO" on my napkin.

Gary's body sags. His dimples disappear.

I fight for clarity, but Gary's eyes are tearing, and I hear myself saying, "Well, maybe . . . "


299 words




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Write a story in which a secret is shared

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Not Meant to Be Told




"Tell me," Peter demanded.

I shook my head. "Can't. It's a secret."

He teased me, and then he ignored me for a while. But later, he made his way over to the sand pile where I was building a spaceship.

"Can I play?" he asked, plopping down beside me.

"I'm your very bestest friend, ain't I?" he asked.

I nodded and dragged a fork over the path in front of my ship. I wanted it to look like people were coming and going.

Peter watched. "My mommy and daddy are gettin' divorced."

I started to tell him I already knew that, but Peter had tears in his eyes, so I kept quiet.

"They keep fightin'. Daddy keeps hitting, but mommies shouldn't yell," he told me.

Peter had started using baby talk again sometimes. Mom said that was because he was going through a bad time.

"That's awful," I told him. "You wanna' get an ice cream cone? Maybe Mom will let us have one."

Peter shook his head. "Later." Suddenly he got busy fixing one of the sides of our ship.

He didn't talk for a while. Then he said, "I told you a secret. Now you gotta' tell me one."

I turned red and ran away. Peter caught me by grabbing my shirt.

"Don't," I said. "Mom will get mad if you rip it."

But Peter didn't let go. "Tell me," he ordered.

Peter's freckles glowed in the sunshine. I sighed because he was so cute. Then I heard my shirt tear.

"The secret is that I love you," I blurted out, then ran off.

Peter's mother came then, and he left. The next day he didn't come back.

I never saw Peter again. I guess some secrets just aren't meant to be told.

295 words


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Write a science fiction story:


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Flying Lessons




The ship crashed on Venus, not a serious event. The ship's shock absorbers always protected him from serious injury. Jody bit his lip, but he knew he was okay. He could fix any problem with his ship. No sweat.

Except, Jody was sweating. Puzzled, he checked the instrumentation on his spacesuit. Everything seemed fine, but he was getting hotter.

He tapped the suit's meter. As he did, he noticed something strange. The ship was leaning like it was caving in on one side. Jody didn't laugh at that. What could be wrong with the ship's stabilizer?

Reaching forward, Jody brought up the outer screen. The space cameras, inscribed on all sides, displayed a most unpleasant-looking planet. Jody rotated the cameras to a different focus. What he saw made him sweat even more, because the outside of his spaceship was melting.

Jody was no longer laughing. An alien planet with an atmosphere so hot it melted the exterior of plastic-resonated metal? He gulped, but he still didn't panic.

"All right. I can handle this," he said to himself. Then he switched on the icemaker. As the ship began to cool, Jody worked on repairs. He utilized the exterior robot tentacles and patched the destroyed shield units and the sprung bilicoda. Then he put in a brand new stibawada.

After double-checking the success of his repairs, he flipped the engine on, backed up two spaces, shot out a super pellet from his anti-gravitational cannon, and ejected his ship into and out of the upper atmosphere of Venus.

"Well done," his mother said through the earphones.

Jody smiled, pulled his gearshift toward him and headed for home.

"Hurry up, Jody. It's time for lunch," said his father.

The young boy nodded his head, and then he slid into the trajectory back to Earth.



300 words

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Write a story that takes place in the kitchen.

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Kitchen Kapers



So, I've never learned to cook. I can take an engine apart and improve it. I'm fully capable of conducting a seventy-member orchestra. I win blue ribbons in equestrianship and play a mean game of chess. I just can't bake a cookie without the oven blackening it into soot, or fix a salad that doesn't end up looking like chop suey, and any meat dish - well, let's just say, cooking and I don't get along.

That's why Theodore has vowed to conquer my fear and teach me how to cook. I worry about that. He doesn't understand my history - the failures, the fires, the numerous discarded meals. . .

"Stop thinking that way, Sweetheart," Theodore orders, slapping me on the back. "All right, first thing -- wash and tear the lettuce. Don't cut it. Tear it," he says handing it to me.

I grab the soap. I'm scrubbing off the bugs and chemicals from the lettuce when Theodore turns around from frying the meat.

"What are you doing?" he yells.

I wonder how I erred as he tosses out the lettuce.

"All right," he says. "New task. Open this can, pour the olives into the dish, and place it on the table."

I'm shaking, sure that something will go wrong, but I open the can, carefully remove the lid, and pour. Some liquid overflows onto the floor. I wipe it before Theodore sees. Then surreptitiously, I tilt and pour a little down the sink. When I finish, the olives still look okay to eat. I place them on the table.

"Wonderful," Theodore says when he looks up. "Perfect. Now rest while I finish."

I beam. Theodore's right. Cooking isn't hard. Why next time I'll be ready for fillet mignon, baked Alaska, even crepes . . .


296 words

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New Prompt: Write a story in which something is lost ---

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City Singer




In the background were some dancers who played music extra loud. They were waving with their hands and bopping with the beat. They sang a song that had no meaning, except to black-clothed teens with ears and noses and belly pierced and anger on their face.

But the crowd ignored the bounding rhythm and stood about a lad, one who sat upon a stool singing melodies, while the tears streamed down his cheeks.

I couldn't take my eyes away. He was dressed in an olden style with shoes that pointed up and were red as lobster boiled.

He finished up his ballad, and then he wiped at both his eyes. All the listeners were clapping. They tossed him many coins. I threw in a dollar, then I added another five. That drew his eyes, and he said, "This one's for my lady."

He sang like a troubadour, transplanting me in time. I saw the English countryside, a dusty road, a pretty woman. I spotted her proud, young man who carried all the bundles. I smelled the summer flowers and the wine on a drunkard's breath. But that drunkard was a nobleman and armed with a silver sword. He slew the peasant man, and he took the fair, young woman.

And when the song was ended, my tears fell to the ground. Everyone applauded, except the singer and me. We were staring in each other's eyes, remembering the scene. For we had been the two so injured. Those lovers had been us.

I lost my heart that day. A handsome, city singer picked it up and put it on. And now you'll find us both on that dusty, sidewalk corner, singing of our past and the love we'll always have.


289 words


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New Prompt: Write a story titled "Freezing"

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Freezing



"You're always freezing," my husband complained as my teeth chattered like bongos.

He was hot as a Franklin stove. I clutched at his body, bending myself into him. "Ah, heat," I said, smiling. My rabbit house slippers couldn't keep my feet warm, nor did the heavy rope Adam had bought me. In fact, under my robe, on top of my long john underwear, I was wearing my sweats.

"I'm a California girl," I repeated once more. "You knew that when you married me."

Adam laughed, "Yeah, and you were aware that it snowed in South Dakota. You've just got to adapt."

Adam turned away to pour the coffee. I looked out through the window -- another day of snow, another day of freezing cold.

"Couldn't we turn the heater up?" I asked.

Adam shook his head. "Go grab my coat, my thin-blooded Californian."


Everyday that winter, it grew colder. My nose and cheeks became permanently red. But then the spring came and the summer. Fall was a spectrum of oranges and red. I fell in love with South Dakota.

The second winter was not as bad. I layered and stayed by the fire, but I didn't shiver as much. "You're adapting," Adam told me, proudly.

The third winter came. I molted layers like a real South Dakotan. For the first time I was no longer freezing. Then one day, Adam sat me down. His eyes were frowning; his voice was sad.

"The company is transferring us back to Southern California. I'm afraid we'll have to sell our house."

So we moved to Anaheim where it's eternally sunny, but everyone wears coats, except Adam and me. "We'll just have to adapt," Adam and I laugh to each other as we sit in front of the fan and dream of snow.


299 words


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The Hide-a-Way




Under an oak tree lay a hole eleven centimeters in diameter. A tunnel retreated inward for a full meter. Although it was sometimes cramped by an invasion of roots, still, I found the space sufficient as a suitable hiding spot where I could escape from the teasing of the other elves.

I was reading a book one day in this hide-a-hole when I realized I was no longer alone. I listened for a moment, but I heard no sound. I sniffed, and then I tilted my head to use my eighth sense. Someone was in my hide-a-hole.

Then my eyes saw the small, young elf woman, curled tightly against the wall. She hadn't seen me yet; tears absorbed her attention. I didn't move from my spot, but I closed my book and asked, "Are they teasing you?"

Her eyes, round with terror, were greener than the first leaf of a spring rose bush. My heart thumped strangely.

"I won't hurt you," I said. "I, too, have fled the barbs of others. They jeer at me because I do nothing but read."

"They make fun of me because I'm too small," she sobbed.

I smiled warmly. "I think you're perfect."

Her eyes flitted away nervously. "So many books," she commented softly, eyeing my bookshelves..

"Would you like to read one?" I asked.


She nodded her head and settled in. As the weeks passed, Karina and I spent many hours of contentment reading. But then her body started growing again, and one spring day, Karina didn't return.

I tried to ignore the silence of my aloneness, but reading no longer enthralled. A week passed before I admitted it; I loved Karina. The time had come to leave my hide-a-way for at last I discovered there is more to life than reading.

299 words



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Prompt:Combine horror and love

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My Last Valentine's Day




On Valentine's Day Corey smiled at me. Finally, I thought. I flashed him back one of my best grins. It wasn't until later I discovered I had a small piece of black licorice caught in the crack between my front two teeth. I turned valentine red.

One of my second grade students brought me flowers. After school, I was carrying them home in their pretty, pink vase when I tripped and fell. Water splashed all over me. Daisies dotted my blouse. Corey walked over and helped me up. His hand touched my breast when he pulled off a yellow daisy.

"How about a cup of cup of coffee to make up for all this?" he laughed sweetly.

I sighed, looked down at the splotches across my dark crimson blouse and shrugged, "Why not?" I said.

We first stopped at a fast food restaurant, and then Corey took me to the park. There we sat inside his car and watched the squirrels chasing each other's tails around the trunk of a tree. I sipped my coffee. He sipped his. We talked, and the windows began to fog.

Corey scooted over. I puckered up. Love at first sight, that's what it had been - at least for me, though Corey'd been teaching in the room next to mine and never once acted like he noticed me.

He bent his head down over my neck and blew warm kisses. I moaned. Shivers played hocked on my back.

"Yes," I sighed.

And then he bit. My coffee spilled; I hardly noticed. Pain swallowed me. "I have tests to correct," I gasped, but Corey continued sucking.

Outside, the sky thundered. Lightning scored the trees. The squirrels ran inside to hide, but I didn't see them through the fogged-up windows; my eyes had already clouded.

299 words


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Every Flower




Every flower in a fairy's garden has a fat, radish body and long, slender, frilly petals like a saggy-maned lion. The stem is unique, as well, for it's crooked as an old man, and it sways from side to side, dancing to the rhythm of the sunlight.

I know all this because just this morning I fell into an acorn and landed in the astonishing Garden of the Fairies. How did that happen? I'm still asking myself, but there doesn't seem to be an answer, for even when I was there, every time I asked, the fairies only giggled and fluttered their wings, then bounced up and down in their glee.

One little fairy, an elderly man, courteously taught me the quaint, fairy manners. Since I very much wanted to blend in, I learned to cavort and flutter my arms -- which actually allowed me to fly as long as I stayed within the grassy borders of the garden.

Throughout the day, everyone feasted on the many-hued radish flowers, gobbling them sometimes like greedy piglets and other times with all the grace of the beautiful Fairy Queen enthroned on her purple mushroom who was watching us with great rippling pearls of mirth.

Then the night sky burst into song, and my yawns became as rude as shoed feet. My friend deserted me, and I decided to go home. I crawled back inside my acorn. Then I catapulted up into the air and discovered I'd returned to my normal abode.

It was lovely day in the land of the Fairies, but I nibbled all day, and now I have the most dreadful stomachache. Perhaps humans are just not meant to dine on every flower in the Garden of Fairies. I think I'll eat a pink carnation and go to bed.


300 words



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In Grandma's Attic



My grandma died a week ago, leaving an attic full of magic. My parents won't go up there, since they say it's only filled with spider webs and dead flies, but I know different. There's adventure and mystery, and a heap of old love letters that I can slide into and wish on.

I was sorting through Grandma's old, love letters when I found, buried underneath a pile of sheets, blankets, and corsets, a simple, handmade, wooden box. I pushed, slid, tugged, and jiggled, but no matter what I did, the cedar box wouldn't open, even though I could see no lock.

I thought about taking it down to Dad. He'd probably pry the box open with a screwdriver. He had no time for mysteries. Mother would only sigh impatiently and say, "Get that dirty thing out of here. Can't you see I'm cleaning?"

So, that left me to puzzle it out. I tried repeatedly. Finally, frustrated, I tossed it down on the sheets and turned to search through another pile. When I looked back, the box had popped open. I guess, in a way that was disappointing. Mysteries are so much better when they're hard to solve. However, I ran over to retrieve the box and to check the inside. There were more letters, and underneath them, something wrapped up in a piece of shiny, green silk. I opened the bundle and gasped.

Mom and Dad were frazzled with worry because the taxes on Grandma's house had gone unpaid for years. That's what had turned them into grumps. I was pretty sure that what I held in my hand was their solution; the ring had an emerald the size of a walnut and diamonds all around that.

"Mom, Dad," I called out as I ran down the attic steps.


300 words


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[size:5}All the Excitement I Need



We used to dash across the galaxy to Termeron, find us a sweet young thing, ‘nap her, and fly out. It had all the ingredients three guys could want: challenge, excitement, and a sweet reward when we sold the girl.

Yet, it all went sour when Filop fell in love. There was nothing unusual about that captive. She had long brown hair that teased the soft hills of her buttocks. Nothing different than all the others before her, except for whatever Filop saw. He refused to part with her.

That was bad, but when he said he was through, that was even worse. Throng and I gave him a parting pat on the back, and his girl -- the one we'd just captured -- slipped her hand in Filop's, and wiggled her cute little bottom as she walked away, wrecking a really good friendship.

Filop's warning was on our minds when we made a run the next week: "Be careful. We never know when they're watching, anymore," he'd said, getting the tip from his girl.

The little jewel we caught that day was barely fifteen. She was a redhead, and I saw within the first five minutes that she was trouble. By the time we reached base, she and Throng were hand in hand.

They almost got me on my final trip, but no one had ever told me that a girl could grow hair of gold. Willow's eyes held ripples of water, and she had dimples, too. My heart thundered; my palms grew wet. We were married that night before the second sun set on Meister.

Termeron still rides the sky, but I won't be journeying there anymore. I've found enough challenge and reward in Willow and in the sweet excitement and of love.

294 words

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True Friendship: The Real Story




Sarah and James were only friends, or so they kept telling everyone. They walked to school together everyday. They ate lunch under the shade of the old oak tree -- keeping to themselves so they could discuss the important stuff that had happened to them in class. They even spent their evenings on the phone with -- guess who -- why, each other, of course, because they had so much to discuss that just couldn't wait until the next day.

Sarah's big sister made fun of their friendship. She kept calling James, Sarah's boyfriend.

James' big brother made fun of the friendship, too. He kept saying that the two of them were in love . That made James really mad.

This continued all through grade school, all through junior high, and finally into high school, and then one day, Sarah met the "love of her life." She called James to tell him all about it. He laughed and kidded her and then told her he was really happy for her.

The next year when James fell in love with someone, he called and told Sarah about it. And their friendship continued.

One year both Sarah and James got married, James to Mariah and Sarah to Sam, and their friendship continued in the years that came -- through three children, two divorces and a sex-change.

And even though James became Jasmine, and Sarah married again, the friendship of the two went right on blossoming and becoming warmer and friendier than ever, because you see, that's what true friendship always does.

260 words


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Fame



Hornlet's ears were always cold -- except when he wore his striped pink and orange socks on top of them. They kept his little tuffs warm as briquettes, and since the nights felt like the inside of a freezer, that was wise

Hornlet tried to ignore the snickers of the opossum family hanging upside down one tree over. He attempted to tune out Racoon Robby's comedy act about flying rabbit ears. Hornlet even turned his head completely around so he wouldn't have to look down at Skunk Skowie who kept cracking jokes about "alien antennae."

"Oh, I wish everyone would stop making fun of my ears," Hornlet said to himself, and with the thought, a huge tear swam down his face and splashed onto his brown breast feathers.

"Oh, woe is me!" he cried.

Just then the wind carried a strange pamphlet into the forest. All the animals, even the daytime sleepers, woke up to watch its flight. Hornlet, seeing that that the leaflet was about to crash into his friend's tree, intercepted it in mid-flight. Then he scooped it up in his beak and returned to his tree.

"What's it say?" everyone wanted to know.

Hornlet read it outloud: Strange animals wanted for a T.V. show. If you know anyone who fits our bill, have him or her show up to earn a year's supply of warm, juicy mice.

I won't go into details; I'm sure you can guess how Hornlet became the new star of Animal Kingdom. Maybe it was his dashing good looks, but I think it was his beautiful pink and orange ears that brought him fame. But whatever the reason, since then, all the animals have been copying him, hoping that they too will find their own spot of fame.


295 words

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Water Bottle in the Park



I stashed my bottle behind the park bench. Stupid, I know, but my earlobes were killing me, and I had no other place to put the earrings. I didn't think anyone would notice an almost empty water bottle nestled among the foot-high weeds, and I only jogged around the sidewalk twice. But when I returned, the bottle was gone.

The swings and sand held a couple of kids. Their mothers were involved in a conversation about toilet training.

I spotted a bum peeking into a garbage can. He fished out a half-finished sandwich, stuck it into his backpack, and dug deeper. I slinked closer. The guy was searching way down inside the over-flowing can. He pulled out a half-finished apple, wiped it on his pants, and bit in. I knew then, he wasn't the one who'd found my water bottle.

A teenager whizzed by on a skateboard, ears entwined with headphones. I watched him skate on down the sidewalk.

Then my eyes did a 180. That little boy playing in the sand -- he had a water bottle. I hunkered down to study the situation. Another kid tried to pull the bottle away from him; the tyke wailed. His mother ran over, gathered him up, and tossed the dirty bottle to the side. Quicker than a cat jumping on a mouse, I scooped up my bottle and ran.

About a quarter of a mile later, I opened it, poured out the sand, and found what I was looking for -- my mother's earrings. "Ahhhhhhh," I sighed. I took a couple of deep breaths to still my racing heart. Then I massaged my ears, reminding myself how much they hurt. No way could I wear those earrings. I tucked the bottle back under my arm and jogged on home.

298 words


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New Prompt: Write about how a couple spends their last day together...they know they are about to be separated because of one of the following: a)the relationship is not working, b)impending death, c)one is about to move far away or d) another reason you, the author, create.

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The following has 300 words.

Charlie




"Let's just stay home today," I said softly to my husband.

Charlie tried to respond. His words died in a coughing spell, one that left him limp and spent.

I picked up the washcloth, squeezed it out, and draped it across his forehead. "It's okay, my love. I know your thoughts. You're trying to tell me to get out and enjoy the world again, aren't you?"

Charlie's red-rimmed eyes opened. I thought for a moment he was going to attempt to speak, but he didn't. He closed his eyes.

I lay down, eased my hand across his chest and breathed in the smell of him -- menthol from the lozenges, the slightly acid odor of rubbing alcohol, and the medicine smell of sickness.

I pushed my hand underneath the flannel of Charlie's pajama shirt. His skin felt clammy. The small hairs of his chest no longer scratched my hand. Most of them had fallen out from Chemo.

Charlie's eyes opened once more. His eyes spoke clearly.

"I know, Charlie," I whispered. "I will."

Content, he closed his eyes and slept.

A tear fell. More would follow soon. The doctors had warned me. Today would probably be the day.

I had given Charlie my word. I would move on with my life. Like a bee whose stinger is imbedded in the victim, I would fly away. A bee rips out its inner parts in doing so. It dies. But I had promised.

How could I keep that promise? Ripped apart - how could I keep on going?

My hand lay on Charlie's chest. It barely moved with the intake of each breath. And then it lay still.

Charlie did not want to be resuscitated. There was nothing I could do.

Ripped in two, like the honeybee, I closed my eyes and cried.


497 words


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© Copyright 2005 Spooky Shaara (UN: shaara at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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