Monday's Fiction in 58

Witching Hour
He moves through the house like a ghost, fingertips brushing picture frames, book spines, knick-knacks in crystal. It’s that time, the darkest portion of night, when most everything is asleep. The quiet resonates like a vibration.
He’s trying to figure out his muddled future, by touching the past.
Yet the clutter will not speak.
He sighs, concentrates.

Please Stand By

The motions through the house had a finality to them, something creepy to be sure. We made sure lights were out, turned up the temperature, wiped down counters, took out the trash, emptied the last of the milk, fresh fruits, vegetables that would spoil. We put bleach in the toilets and made a reminder to get a couple of those cakes that turn the water blue and sanitize. We drew the curtains closed.
It felt like a death.
It's still very much a life.
On hold.
And it's up to him, really, if the house gets opened back up, milk gets purchased, the furnace comes on.
He's got rehab in front of him, but an attitude of despair. He's earned it, one supposes, but still.
You tell him that he needs to do his exercises to build up strength and spring him from an unfamiliar, slightly sterile room.
"I haven't decided if I want to live or die," he says.
"When you decide, give me a call," you respond, because that's how you always respond. A hint of sarcasm, brutal truth.
Then there's a drive back to your own life, it's problems, it's own set of circumstances.

(And people keep wondering why you're so distracted.)

OneWord - Pit

The word at OneWord? Pit. Hmmm. Not my best.

The angst, anger and rage sank into his stomach, a hollow pit of darkness where he tried to swallow it all, tried to control it. He'd shiver, not so violent that outwardly people would notice, then screw on a smile that no one would call sincere. Checking the mirror, he nodded. He'd fed the pit, satiated its darkness, his face again a smooth, calm sea.

OneWord - assume

The prompt over at OneWord is assume. Sixty seconds and a cloud of words.

He picked up his mobile and paused. She’d been less than specific, saying only to call when he was clean. But there’s so many layers of sobriety, he thought. He assumed she meant when he was over the shakes, past the blackouts. But he wasn’t sure. So pocketing the mobile, he vowed to go on, for now, alone.

OneWord - Habitat

A tough word over at OneWord, habitat. Don't know about OneWord? It's a writer's prompt that gives you a word - and 60 seconds to write about it.

They called it a grand experiment. They chose six children randomly at birth, from different ethnic backgrounds and raised them on the flat, golden Savannah of Africa. They were the children of the Serengeti, equipped with radio transmitters and left to live or die in the harsh habitat where once our ancestors traveled. Funny, they grew to seek harmony over discord…

Monday's Fiction in 58

Life Cycle
Her screams were accompanied by frantic gestures.
“Your leg!”
There on his thigh, a dull bug with bulging eyes the size her thumb. A cicada. It’s casing dirty.
“Kill it!”
He plucked it from his thigh, placed it gently on a tree.
“Five years in the dirt and all he’s looking for is to get laid,” he said.

Sunday Scribblings - Adult

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is “adult.”

Kid’s Table
We’re having a big family gathering, a circling of the tribe, as it were.
Relatives are everywhere, talking, laughing sneaking sips of homemade wine out of plastic cups since gramps hasn’t imbibed in years. Cousins I’ve not seen since last summer slam screen doors. There’s the bachelor uncles who smell funny. I meet a nephew I didn’t even know I had.
Dinner is a conglomeration of what the farm has to offer; a suckling pig, cold fried chicken, corn, salads of all measure and the tea that’s been brewed in the sun in a ginormous clear glass crock.
As the time to eat draws near, there’s instant tension.
We’ve added to leafs to grammie’s ancient oak farmer’s table, brought out all the chairs from various rooms. There won’t be enough seating at the thing, and suspicious eyes begin to dart.
Especially since several wobbly card tables have been arranged in the family room, as well as the screened-in porch.
Grammie doesn’t subscribe to the kid’s table theory.
Seats at the big table are handed out with no general rhyme or reason, although my father says grammie does has a system.
I’m hoping the thank you I crafted for the $13 birthday check stand out in grammie’s fading memory.
It does.
I’m seated near the head of the table, on the prime left corner, since I’m the only leftie in the clan (and nobody tolerates bony elbows in their face while gnawing on grammie’s fried chicken). I feel the hot stares on my back.
That’s when I feel the first of several barrages of spring peas hit. Someone’s shooting hot peas, one at a time, at my neck.
And they’re scoring direct hits.
It’s my father.
There’s a devilish look in his eye, a playful smile on his lips.
He’s jammed into a tiny folding chair surrounded by the youngest children, some of them drinking milk out of cups with lips and spouts.
The bombardment continues.
Plink. Plink. Plink.
“Robert, one more pea finds its way to this boy and you’ll be eating cobbler in the corn crib,” grammie says without looking in his direction.
I turn my head slightly so dad can see and blow him a little kiss.

Status update

Woke up early with a feeling of….
No, that’s not it.
“The feeling of looking forward, usually excitedly or eagerly, to something that is going to happen…”
More like it.
A sense of something good.
Amidst all the chaos.
Looked in at the loft Saturday and the first coats of paint are up on the walls. Cabinetry and appliances are next. Maybe next week.
Then fixtures and the wood floors get a coat of urethane.
The projected move-in date is Oct. 1, a target that’s reachable.
Amid the chaos of life.
Funny how this one thing in life has the power to transform all the other disorder in a life into a crystallizing moment. A time to look forward to; a time to mark a change in one’s life.
For me, it begins with the loft and moves forward from there.
Like this one event has the power knock down other events, a domino effect, which builds and builds and builds. The excitement becomes palpable.
Mornings become fresh, days rich, nights sumptuous.
It’s good to step out from under the storm clouds once and again. See the horizon.
Know that things are OK.
And they're looking up.

OneWord - Coffin

The prompt word at OneWord is "coffin." Sixty seconds and one thought. It's how I prefer to go out.

Frugal in life, his thrift followed him into death with the explicit wish not to be buried in a casket and its sealed vault. His directions were clear: a simple coffin made of woven seagrass, biodegradable and no vault. A plot in an unmanicured field. A simple stone to mark his final place on Earth.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are decay, graceful and riot.

Stimulus Package
The riots were just the beginning, along with the famine, the Ebola scare and that unfortunate incident in upstate New York where the kids died. All of them.
The country had melted into such a state of decay. And so fast, too.
One minute we were up in arms about universal health care and budget deficits and the next thing you know, people are dying, and I mean by the thousands.
It was graceful in its execution, if you think about it.
The exterminations. The control.
The fear-mongering.
It’s all anyone needs to rise to power. I mean, remember Hitler? Hello?
Command and control came swift, too swift for anyone to really do anything about it. It's how we planned it.
I mean, for every one person worried about the rise in ocean temperature (and willing to do something about it), there's 50 who were enraged that the famous pedophile pop star’s doctor got away with whatever he was charged with doing.
Worried about the riots? Sure, some. But most everyone else concerned themselves with the athlete who did time for the thing, signed a fat contract and took his team to the Super Bowl.
It’s all about deception people.
That’s my confession. A last will and testament, if you’ll indulge me. We did it. And you let us, all of you.
Not that anyone will read this anyway. Just a note written in No. 2 pencil on the back of a flier warning people not to gather, stuffed into a glass jar without a lid.
The fires are burning anyway.
The end of days.

Tuesday's NaiSaiKu Challenge

You don't know about the NaiSaiKu Challenge? It's poetry, which can be light and airy, or dark and brooding. I chose brooding. A metaphor for people who take advantage of situations.

they prey on the weaklings,
baring teeth, slick with saliva,
waiting, watching, yearning,
waiting, watching, yearning,
baring teeth, slick with saliva,
they prey on the weaklings

Monday's Fiction in 58

It wasn’t open for debate. It never was.
She’d put her foot down, said her piece and that was it.
He looked like a puppy that’s swatted with a rolled up newspaper, whites of his sad eyes upturned to gain a response.
She mussed his hair.
She wavered.
A crack in the armor.
He went on the offensive.

The American Sentence

An American Sentence is basically a haiku. A thought in 17 syllables.

We raid summer gardens, warm tomatoes off the vine, then back to play.

OneWord - Itch

The prompt over at OneWord is "itch."
See the word, write for 60 seconds, post.
Here you go:

The drugs never could fill the void. They left her tense, edgy. Clawing at her skin at the odd intervals when her emancipated body needed another fix.
She'd have to do things for the money, things that turned her stomach.
But the itch was undeniable.
The high just too sweet.

OneWord - Conditioned

The prompt word over at OneWord is "conditioned."

We're conditioned at an early age how to talk, think, dress. Then, during some bogus ceremony where we get a piece of paper and license to join the world of adults, are told to make something of ourselves, make something of this planet.
But we remain in our candy-coated shells, too afraid to show the real us that bubbles beneath the surface.
Conditioned, as we are, not to fail.
Not to stand out.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three word Wednesday are capture, jinx and qualify.

I am captured by Vikings.
They bind my wrists in slimy ropes and toss me into the bow of their stinking Viking ship, where I can make out the outline of the ship’s dragon head. It’s smiling at me.
I shield my head to cry and fall into an anxious sleep, tears glistening my cheeks.
I awake to the sounds of creaking oars in a synchronized symphony of noise. We’ve set sail and the sun is beginning to taint the sky in pinks and pale yellows toward the east.
We’re headed west.
I stand, try to stretch as much as the ropes across my wrists allow. A crew member growls, leaves his post and comes at me.
I head-butt him, breaking his nose. He wails, twists, sends a splay of blood across the other Vikings.
The Viking leader chuckles. He stands nearly 7 feet tall, dirty red beard to his chest. He’s swaddled in wolf pelts, a rough wool kilt. A heavy iron seaxe hangs from his hip.
He points at me, letting his index finger motion me forward. It seems my violence qualifies me to join their clan.
They untie me, give me a filthy kilt, a moldy goat pelt for warmth.
Lastly, they give me a heavy iron sword and leather sheath, which I take out and run through the leader’s heart, killing him instantly.
The other Vikings sit at the oars, stunned.
I bark orders in a thick, foreign tongue. I tell them to make for land as I clean my blade with the goat pelt.
We’ve got lands to pillage. As long as I don’t jinx things.
I’m prone to motion sickness, and I can feel my legs begin to wobble, bereft of the adrenalin rush of the past few hours.

Tuesday's NaiSaiKu Challenge

The NaiSaiKu Challenge is a writing prompt that lets you create a fun piece of poetry. Try it yourself.

(And I apologize for not getting around to reading some of your blogs. It's been crazy time, which continues.)

a child walks cautious,
crumpled cups on these mean streets,
everyone’s hustling
everyone’s hustling,
crumpled cups on these mean streets
the child wishes, prays

Monday's Fiction in 58

Fiction in 58 is something I came up with to challenge myself to create description in 58 words.


With the shades drawn, the place matched the despair he felt in his heart. Deep, brooding, like dusk in a gathering thunderstorm.
That it was another morning didn’t matter, nor that it was raining. He listened to heavy drops pelt windows and rolled his face to the wall.
Life now was tasteless, odorless.
Where she went, he couldn’t.

Sunday Scribblings, "New"

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is “new.”

His formative years were spent in hand-me-down clothing, cast-offs, shoes plucked from bins and attached together with plastic threads, making trying them on for size almost impossible.
Black canvas shoes, white rubber tips. Never the high-tops he shed tears for, never “real” Chuck Taylors, Keds or even P.F. Flyers with the action wedge built right in to each heel.
He worked hard, scrimped, saved.
And then the day came. The trip to a shoe store, a true fitting with a metal sizer, boxes filled with crinkly white tissue, pristine shoes.
So many to choose from, such exotic names, names of animals.
In the end, he chose the white leather ones with waffle soles and the red “swoosh.”
The salesman asked if he wanted to wear them out of the store. The kid beamed a smile.
And as he walked past a street corner trash bin, he dumped out the pair of frayed black canvas sneakers, the white tissue. He carefully put the lid back on the shoebox, clutched it to his chest – and watched his feet move across the concrete.

OneWord - Brushed

The prompt at OneWord is Brushed. When I saw it, this popped into my head:

He loved the way the subway felt, the heft of the smells, the crowds, the heat.
He liked to begin in the very back car and float through in a rush, and as he brushed the living, drank of their memories, their experiences.

OneWord - Idle

OneWord asks you to write something in 60 seconds. Today's word? Idle.

She wore him down with whining. He went to the meditation class, was told to free his mind, make it clear. He sat on the floor, legs crossed painfully and tried to be idle. He peeked from behind one eye closed. And chuckled at the others who were having similar problems as his.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are accentuate, glamour and pitch. This idea started out with so much promise. I think it got away from me. 

Wishing Well

My mother has built a wishing well in our backyard.
She began with the crap-covered cement birdbath. She ran a hose out to it, then hooked up a little sprinkler that shot water like a mini-geyser.
She accentuated the birdbath with a collection of fired clay pots to collect the spray, as well as the change she kept tossing – one coin at a time.
I ditched my bike by the picnic table and went in for closer inspection.
She was plucking the coins out of a wide-mouth Mason jar and pitched them into the fountain with her thumb, stretched out as she was on a chase lounge under a blue-and-white striped beach umbrella.
She had on this ridiculous white satin one-piece bathing suit. Her brown eyes were hidden by these white sunglasses, with hideous pink palm trees built into the chunky plastic frames.
She’d painted her toes and fingernails a fiery red, like the coating of a carnival candied apple. A floppy, wide-brimmed hat covered her raven hair.
She was really playing up the glamour aspect, much to my horror. Thank goodness for the line of thick shrubs that separated our lawn from the rest of the neighborhood.
Since coming out the backdoor was my dad, his hair slicked back and black, showing none of his natural gray. He wore black Wayfarers and no shirt. He carried a towel over one arm, and a fruity drink in one hand, complete with a pink paper umbrella.
What was most disturbing was the enormous bulge in the front of the rather tight, light green Janzen swim trunks.
She drew down the shades from her eyes and winked.
“Why, it’s a lady’s prerogative to always wish big.”

Tuesday's NaiSaiKu Challenge

Week 25 of the NaiSaiKu Challenge.

toes dipped gingerly,
salty surf roils, carries scent,
spongy footfalls fade
spongy footfalls fade,
salty surf roils, carries scent,
toes dipped gingerly

Monday's Fiction in 58

The idea is to create a complete thought, a slice of story, in 58 words. Here you go:


It was after their lovemaking, in the dull quiet following the playful banter of their frenzy.
Her head rested on his stomach, auburn hair tumbling across her face as he breathed. She traced lazy circles around his nipples with a finger. He put a warm hand on her exposed back.
“Make an honest man of me,” he whispered.

Sunday Scribblings, "Anticipate"

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is “anticipate.”

She stood by a weathered fencepost at the crossroads of two gravel roads, the heat waves glistening on an already hot and humid morning.
She wore blue-and-white flip-flops with plastic daisies on the toe straps. Dust covered her toes, dulling the electric-blue nail polish.
A simple sundress covered her bony frame, the yellow of the dress giving her skin a sullen glow.
At her feet, a half-full, wrinkled brown paper sack, the top folded and creased with care.
Her gaze never wavered; she kept a keep eye to the west, waiting for the dust plume to grow between the rows of corn that stretched for miles.
The plume meant freedom, in the form of a big silver bus with a stretched-out black dog on it.
She sun made her squint.
The black eye, already shifting into rich greens and purples, made her wince.
The gray-brown cloud, just a speck now on the horizon, made her smile, ever so slightly.

OneWord - Icy

OneWord. It's 60 seconds to write something. Today's word? Icy.

He walks with shoulders erect, daring the darkness to meet his gaze. It's an icy stare, full of hate, hurt. His head is on a swivel, daring anyone, anything. Come into the his coldness. Make some trouble. He'll finish it.