Monday, August 4, 2014


Can you believe it's August already?!?! Where has the year gone? My kiddos started school today (Monday). It was the twins' first day of Kindergarten. (I'm doing fine, thanks.) The prompt today made me think of finishing chapters in our lives. When one chapter closes, another opens. I am looking forward with excitement to the twins learning to read and write and making new friends. This is going to be a great year. Now go check out the prompt and tell me what it makes YOU think about! :)

If you haven't read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Start with the given first sentence.
2. Up to 500 words
3. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Stories submitted must be your own work, using characters and worlds that you have created. Sorry, no fanfiction.
6. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
7. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronounspunctuationtense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Michael Simko. Also known as @michaelsimko1. Read his winning tale from last week here! Michael writes Adult & New Adult Thrillers and Mysteries. He is just beginning querying his storm-chasers-on-a-mission novel. He can be reached at @michaelsimko1 where he tweets about writing, technology, and tornados.

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-5 is:

[She] whisper[s], "I forgive you," as [her] hand slip[s] out of mine.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Invent two words and use them in your story. They should come across as natural. Extra difficulty: No proper nouns or food names.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. CMAstfalk
    465 words
    special challenge accepted

    Sorry! Part of mine was accidentally cut off in my previous post! Please feel free to delete it.

    She whispered, “I forgive you,” as her hand slipped out of mine. I lunged forward, and my fingers caught her wrist, but not before her feet had slipped from the narrow ledge. Pain seared my chest as I watched those blasted stiletto heels slip from her left foot and then her right as they plunged into the water ahead of her. The sound of the shoes hitting the water was too soft to reach my ears, but the crash of her body and its outstretched arms made a smack that would reverberate in my ears for years to come.

    I would never forget the look on her face as she fell. Her last words bespoke a peace that he eyes contradicted - haunted, hurt, and lost.

    Had it been a simple suicide - if there were ever such a thing - perhaps I could have moved on. Given time, I may have been able to accept what she had done. But there was nothing simple about her. Or us.

    In the days and weeks that followed, even as they dredged the river for her body, I heard what was being said. The whispers and the grostlings intermingled with the hollow condolences. She was guilty. Why else would she have done it?

    The fact that she had ended her own life was pain enough. That fact that she had done it for me staggered me. If I had a fraction of her gunswagger, I would have take my own life as well. Not on a bridge after a tearful goodbye, but in the privacy of my own home like the coward I am.

    It wasn’t until months later, when I allowed myself to recall the look on her face that I wondered for the first time if she had done it not for me, but to me.

    She could have confessed. Three words would have cinched her alibi. “I was with him.” I had thought it was her own pride that kept her from admitting it. That hurt less than the possibility that she had done it for him. That it was her love for him that kept her from speaking the truth.

    Perhaps that was it. At least in part. After all, he was still her husband. And I was . . . I was the one left grasping at air when her body sunk below the surface, her hair encircling her face before it descended into the murky water.

    If love was part of the answer, then the other was hate. Only hate would sentence a man to a lifetime of guilt. False forgiveness for an act he’d never repented. Her empty words meant nothing. Her eyes told me everything. For the rest of my sorry days, peace would slip through my grasp just the same as her hand.

  3. She whispers, “I forgive you,” as her hand slips out of mine. I sit next to her for a few more seconds although she isn’t looking at me anymore. I close my eyes. I am a coward. I was never as brave as she was, and I cannot watch as she dies. As they all die. I let myself go and float up even as the plane rushes towards Earth. I can hear their screams. Young, old, children...all of them except for her. She was always the braver of the two of us. Then, just like that, they are all quiet.
    When I open my eyes I am standing on the edge of a tall building. The lights of the city are competing with the stars. It is beautiful.
    “See, it really isn’t easy.” She says. She calls herself Caroline, caro-LINE, but that really isn’t her name. She’s been called a few other things. Nothing as mundane as Caroline though.
    “Maybe some will survive.” I say, hope already dying in my voice before I finish the sentence.
    Caroline snorts, “ Never think that. Even if it happens, you never want to have the hope that they will.”
    “She forgave me. I held her hand, and I told her what I was, and why I was there. And she forgave me.” I drop my head in my hands. I am not worried about losing my balance even though I am several stories up.
    “Stop being so weak.” Caroline says.
    “Weak? I just killed my sister.” I look at Caroline and I want, desperately, to shove her off the building. My hands itch with the longing.
    She laughs, “Go ahead. I probably deserve it,” she pauses and shrugs, “you would know that better than I.”
    But she doesn’t deserve it. No more than I do. She just quit and gave the job to me. Got tired of being insulted she’d told me, when we met. She puts her hand on my shoulder and tips my chin up with a finger, “They all won’t be like this. Most of the jobs are easy. Some even fun. But these, these bloody ones, they are rare.” I watch her. She tilts her head in sort of a bow, and disappears.
    I stand alone for a few more minutes. A soul, one from the plane, floats in front of me. It is a man but I don’t remember seeing him when I was talking to my sister on the plane.
    “Hey! I know you! If was you, this…” he points to the sky and I know he is referring to the airplane, “but what did I do?”
    I stare at him. I know that he knows what he did. If he hadn’t done it, and if he hadn’t gotten on that plane, my sister would be alive.
    Finally, he shrugs, gives in, “What goes around comes around, I guess.” He spins, floating away before I can answer. But I do anyway.
    “Karma’s a bitch, my friend.”
    500 words
    Michael Seymour

  4. Special challenge accepted. 474 words
    It whispered, “I forgive you,” as its hand slipped out of mine.
    The collectors dragged it away leaving me feeling confused and vaguely guilty. Why should I feel guilty when I was only obeying the anti-moalf laws like a good citizen should in reporting it? I rationalised the guilt because it had looked and sounded so much like a child. I knew it wasn’t a child but a moalf, not that anyone really had explained what they were.
    They had started turning up about eleven years ago, but no one knew where from. The first ones looked hideous and they would survive in groups in the wild places eating the wild life and sometimes taking the pets or animals from neighbouring farms. The first theories were that they were some kind of Bigfoot, even though no proof for the existence of Bigfoot had been scientifically proven. The farmers did everything they could to put them down and government officials took the carcases away and did all kinds of tests on them.
    The first moalf law was brought in and it seemed like they had been wiped out. Then the second wave of moalfs appeared, they were smaller, often looking like some native animals. They didn’t seem as dangerous as they were primarily vegetarian and beyond reporting their existence to the authorities, we mostly ignored them. They called that group qualfis, which was short for quasi animal life forms but they were clearly more intelligent than animals. The theory then was that they’d escaped from some government laboratory but of course they refuted it.
    Government representatives pointed out that the outbreaks were occurring all around the world. They exterminated the critters, capturing a few alive. But the third wave of moalf had appeared a few years later, these often looked like children although no child could do the things they could. Some people even adopted them, until they found out how strange they were and reported them to the authorities. They seemed relatively harmless but it was against the law to harbour them.
    Now the rumours were that they were some kind of alien life form evolving to try and fit in on our planet. The government denied that too but gave no rational explanation to what they actually were.
    I spotted this one hiding out in the old tree house I had built for my kids, now long grown up. At first I thought it was a neighbouring kid who was visiting to play in the tree house and ignored it. Then I realised it did not return home at supper time and I knew I had to report it. They had brought it down while I watched and it had latched onto my hand. It looked just like a little boy I wanted to look after it, but the law is the law.

  5. The Employee

    She whispers, "I forgive you," as her hand slips out of mine. But hanged if those red lips don’t twitch into a grin, undermining her pretty little speech as she watches me fall three hundred feet. I should have seen it coming that morning at breakfast, the way she simpered and kittied all over me. I should have seen it coming the week before, when I caught her reattaching her oh-so-famous quarter-mile braid with pins.

    I should have run six months earlier, when the Witch first approached me about her.

    Before that, we’d had a decent working relationship, the Witch and I. I did my part at all her princess gigs, and she kept me dressed in silks and riding Arabians as I preferred. Not a bad job for a minor king’s fifth son with no prospects.

    “Raven hair, skin white as snow,” the Witch might say. “I need you to go kiss her. She’ll look dead—that won’t freak you out, will it?”

    “Nah,” I say. “I’ve kissed enough cold fishes in my time.”

    And I’d follow her instructions to a T, down to making myself scarce at the first flutter of dark lashes. I was poor, not stupid.

    Or the Witch might announce, “She’ll be wearing glass shoes and smell of campfire. You must chase her until her gown turns into rags.”

    Or, “She’ll drop her ball in the well and you’ll need to fetch it. Also, she’ll think you’re a frog.”

    She never elaborated on her schemes, nor did I ask. She needed a prince; I needed cosseting. We suited each other beautifully.

    On that sunny winter morning six months ago, her proposition sounded the same as any other.

    “She’ll be locked high in a tower, but she’ll lower her hair for you to climb. Convince her you’re there to rescue her.”

    At first it seemed we’d hit it off. After her initial shock faded, the princess curled on her sofa beneath quilts and violet-tinted lappans, cooing as I made up stories about life in the outside world. No difference whether what I said was true, I figured, as long as the yarns were good. Then the demands started coming.

    “Could you bring me a basket of fresh peaches from Out There, dearest?”

    “Princy, my love, would you bring me a bottle of wine from your world? A ’58 red. You made it sound so yummy.”

    Up the braid, down the braid, up the braid I went, even after discovering the hidden trap door, the phony hair, and the dozen romantic novels stashed in a cookpot. I stayed til the Witch showed up, that was the deal, and weeks went by without a sign. So I stayed, and the princess and I dreamed phony soaring dreams together we both refused to admit for fake.

    And after all that effort, “I forgive you,” she says.

    “I forgive you” and a blasted grin, like I’d done something wrong.

    Like she was in charge.

    Like she knew something I didn’t.

    500 words
    Special challenge accepted:
    1) kitty, v, to fake affection in order to get what you want
    2) lappan, n, a comfy thing nice for snuggling under

  6. @melinagillies
    499 Words
    Special Challenge accepted. Words: Swiney and Goo-ya.

    She whispers, “I forgive you,” as her hand slips out of mine, though her eyes—bruised and bloodshot—hold no emotion. I am the Devil.

    I look down at my hands—raw and battle-scarred like my soul—and I want to tear them off my body for touching her. Rising, she crosses to the kitchen and calmly bends to pick up the broken dishes from the floor, placing them gently in the trash.

    Each clink of the porcelain shards in the bin make my breath hitch and rage creeps up my throat. It burns like the whisky I use to try and push it down. My fists clench, breaking the rusty scabs open again.

    I begin to pace—to rationalize. I know it’s not her fault for spending more grocery money than we have; the baby needs food. That swiney baby always needs food but she should have known we don’t have the cash! I take a step towards her.

    “No you bloody don’t.”

    The familiar voice behind me, though weak holds more honor than I ever will. I spin around frantically and drop to my knees as I see the baby’s father where my couch should be. Clink, clink goes the broken plates into the trash behind me.

    Andy is sprawled on the ground in front of me, Tac Vest shredded and exposing parts of his insides which should be safely tucked inside his body. His rifle—propped against his good arm—is trained on me.

    “No you bloody don’t,” Andy repeats.

    Grief claws at my heart like the animal it is, and I stare at my best friend, who I should have been able to save that day. It should have been me instead.

    “I’m sorry,” I choke. I can still taste the acrid smoke from surrounding firefights overtaking the space in my lungs.

    “I took her from you,” Andy jokes. The laugh makes him cough and a trail of blood runs down his chin. “It was never me man—she loves you—always has.”

    “I can’t—I—“Argument and defiance fills every word that I can manage.

    “Yes you can!” Andy screams and his eyes roll back in his head; He’s breathing heavily now. “I’m giving you my family—you honor that gift!”

    “I have no honor,” I whisper. I want to claw my eyes out so he’ll go away.

    “Your honor was in stepping aside when I wanted her for me. I’d take that mortar again a hundred-fold for you. Be the Daddy my girl needs you to be.” Andy reaches out his tattered hand, laying his rifle aside. “It’s okay dude. Goo-ya.”

    I grab Andy’s hand as hard as I can—one more solid grasp. “Goo-ya,” I repeat our Unit's call and he disappears.

    “I’m sorry!” I scream again with my head in my hands.

    A firm touch—delicate and sure—cradles my shoulders. Her warm tears caress my neck as she rocks me.

    “I forgive you Sam,” she whispers again. “I forgive you.”

  7. @QEisenacher
    495 words

    She whispers, “I forgive you,” as her hand slips out of mine.

    But it is not her voice. This, alone, is enough to make me want to step back from the bed, to retreat from the room entirely. And yet I cannot leave, not while I suspect some vestige of herself may still be there.

    Her eyelids flutter as her head lolls back on the pillow, but it is her throat I watch, the small flicker of life that pulses beneath the skin. It will stop, I think, before I draw another breath. And another. I dare not blink, and there — There! — the slightest of pauses stretches into something longer, and I take to counting out the seconds, my own measure accompanied by the tick of the clock on the mantelpiece.

    Now, I can move away. One of the maids will need to be fetched, and someone will need to be called. A doctor, perhaps? I’ve no idea what the protocol should be in such a situation, but surely there is nothing more that I can do. Indeed, I have already done far, far too much.

    A step, a single step is all that I can manage. And then I feel a change, so subtle at first that I could easily attribute it to my imagination, but no. It is warmer now, and before I can raise my other foot to further my escape, the air in the room becomes so heated, so sultry, that I can hardly draw another breath.

    It is always cold, they say, when the spirits are present. A cool chill across the tabletop, the slide of icy fingers along one’s neck. But the warmth that is around me only increases, and I am already perspiring, my breath coming in short, heated gasps when I look towards the bed and see her eyes snap open, her gaze fixed on mine.

    “What did you do?” the voice asks me. And it is still not her voice, and I wonder for how long she has truly been gone. “You thought you could draw me into your world… thought you could control me, like a game or a parlour trick.”

    I cannot move. My eyes… My eyes will not close, and so I am forced to bear witness as she rises from the bed, her head tilted to one side as she appraises me.

    “I am not to be ordered about,” she tells me, in the voice that is not her voice. “Especially by one such as you.”

    She is closer now. I can still smell her perfume, her fingers sparkling with the jewels she wore to this evening’s sitting.

    “This is what happens,” she says, so softly, such a promise held in her words. “You should have known better than to pretend you could play with monsters.”

    A gasp, I think. That is all I can manage, and then her fingers wrap around my throat, and then I am on fire.

  8. She whispers, "I forgive you," as her hand slips out of mine…

    Dandelion Daffodil Violet Perriwinkle was my daughter. It’s true, trolls are not normally referred to as beautiful, and generally are given names of less exotic themes (mine is Igneous Pyrite Obsidian Tuff and her mother was Breccia Dolomite Flint Travertine), but the moment she was born, still wet and new and tiny and pink, folded up like the bud of a rose at her mother’s breast, my beloved Breccia whispered one word - ‘camillana’ (for humans, that would be the dew that forms on the burgeoning flower). I went right into the forest and gathered the sweetest smelling most colorful bouquet I could, and the name of each flower was written into our mandavadel as the title of the newborn princess of the trolls of the Morganite Caves.

    She grew into a beauty, getting mostly her mother’s features, thank Numina for that. Her skin was the color of alabaster, her hair as rich and deep as beryl, and her eyes shone like lapis lazuli. Wherever she went, she brought only sweetness and took only love. It would be her gift, and her curse.

    My Dandelion was a curious thing, inquisitive and bright, never content to sit and polish gems with the other females. If any male troll had tasted her stone soup, I’m certain I would have received only a fraction of the trouwsawaar proposals that I had to respectfully decline. It seems from the time she blossomed from a fresh faced trolline into a stunning young trollaue, someone was always trying to take my daughter from me.

    In the gudestalt season, when the air is clear and the world is being reborn, trolls experience a case of cabin fever, we call it hepsterfaben. We like to get out and see what’s been going on in the world after a long winter spent in hibernation in the caves. Dandelion’s favorite spot was a babbling brook not far from our caves. There were pink flowers on the banks which she wove into her hair, and a willow tree whose tired limbs sank into the crystal water causing the fish to nip at the needles. It was peaceful and serene (we trolls can be a raucous lot, particularly when the barrels of meade roll out).

    Little did she know, this was also the lair of a water dragon called Achnantes. Hidden under the water’s surface, he watched Dandelion day after day. He grew to love her as all did. He came to me begging me for her hand, promising me riches and protection. Then, when I refused, threatening to destroy us with fire. We fought valiantly, but our casualties were severe, seventeen hundred of our own and the near destruction of the Morganite Halls.

    In the aftermath, for the good of everyone, I have had a secret cave prepared in the finest luxury. She will be safe, I’ll see to that. No one will ever look upon my Dandelion again.

    500 WORDS
    Special Challenge Accepted

  9. Giving this a go. Special challenge accepted-500 words

    She whispered, “I forgive you,” as her hand slipped out of mine. My calloused man hands instantly missed her velveteen ones. She didn’t forgive me, but I think I’m okay with that.

    The delicious smells had faded on the now cold plates between us. I cooked for hours trying to make this dinner special and memorable. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

    I pushed my chair away from the glass table and blew out the candles. She stared down at her hands in her lap. She didn’t move or say anything as I removed the plates and brought them into the kitchen.

    I never cooked. I never cleaned. She could be freaking grateful at least for that. But, nooo.

    I threw the dishes into the sink. They made a loud clanging sound, when they hit the metal. Damn. I almost broke them. She’d never forgive me for breaking her great grandmother’s china.

    My baby cleared her throat. I twisted my head and saw her standing in the doorway. Her ebony hair cascaded around her porcelain skin. The things I wanted to do to her.

    “What happens now?” her emerald eyes shifted around the room.

    I shrugged. “What do you want to happen?”

    She threw her hands into the air. “What in blazell happens if you get caught? I’ll be alone in this fripping world.” That was my love’s idea of cursing, so I knew she was mad.

    I rushed to her. “Baby, I’m not going to get caught. I won’t ever leave you.”

    Her lips met mine for the briefest of seconds—too brief. Did she believe me? Did she truly forgive me? What the hell did that kiss mean?

    She rested her head against my chest. I felt her breath on my neck. Is it wrong that I want to take her to my bedroom right now? I buried my face in her hair. Her vanilla-scented body spray infused my air. She pulled away. I grasped for her, silently begging her return, but she turned away.

    “Can we get rid of it now?”

    I nodded, but I realized she couldn’t see me. “Yes. I thought it would make you happy.”

    “I think it will once the shock settles. I mean, I can’t be hurt anymore, right?” She peeked over her shoulder.

    I nodded and pulled her back to kiss her cheek. We wobbled, locked in our embrace, into the dining room.

    “Did you get any of the mess on the floor or my ivory chairs?”

    I released her. “No, babe. It’s blood-less. I drained it before I brought it into the house.”

    She nodded. She stared at the floor, not moving from the spot I let her go. Maybe she didn’t want to see it. Maybe that’s where I went wrong.

    I picked up the silver platter that held her father’s head and brought it to the kitchen. I dumped it into a separate garbage bag.

    “He won’t touch me again?”

    “Never,” I told her, and she smiled.

    1. Forgot to include my Twitter handle: @JessicaCheramie :)
      Two made up words in case you missed it. Blazell and Fripping

  10. I whisper, “I forgive you’ as his hand slipped out of mine.
    I didn’t of course, what normal woman would tolerate such deceit and treachery. To be fair he’d always been scrupulously honest about his faults. He’d written each one in his own blood on a tablet of stone. I was being a tad loose with the truth; he’d used a cheap ballpoint filled with red ink and wrote it on the wall above my bed. At the time I thought it was the most romantic gesture in the world. I had to cover it with the huge poster of Donny Osmond that normally was on the opposite wall. Donny was the first thing I saw each morning when I opened my steel blue eyes. My mum would have hit the roof if she’d read “I don’t always pee straight “. He told me he needed me to know that he wasn’t perfect. I know that now.

    The night of the prom I thought I’d die of excitement. Mum had made me a dress out of one of Nana’s old taffeta ball gowns. My hair was plaited with tiny rosebuds and I felt like Princess Diana. We danced all night and my school friends looked green with envy when he kissed me passionately at the end of the Beatles rendering of “I saw her standing there”. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven until all Hell erupted.

    He’d been gone quite a while. Susie Legume, that’s French for vegetable, we call her Susie Sprout, had started sniggering behind her left hand and pointing at me with her right. I wanted to punch her lights out but mum had made me promise that I would be more ladylike. So I flounced out of the hall with as much dignity as I could muster, looking for my Prince.

    To this day I sincerely wish I hadn’t found them in the cloakroom, half hidden by the winter coats we’d all had to wear that night. My Prince was whispering sweet nothings to Patsy Quinn and I mean nothings I’d heard them all before.

    My Nana had told me never to think let alone say these two words together else all Hell would be let loose.

    “Yampy Yangish” escaped from my mouth.

    I felt my immediate world split in two. My Prince spun past me, I managed to clasp his hand but the weight of Patsy colliding with him made me let go. The story in school is that they ran away together or were abducted by aliens. Nana says it’s best not to think where he is so I don’t.

    Challenge accepted
    438 words

  11. She whispers, "I forgive you," as her hand slips out of mine. Falling, like a leaf from a branch onto the scarred wooden floor. The syringe in my hand, its contents already frizting her veins, transforming them into toxic highways.

    Some might say that I’ve just murdered the love of my life.

    Yet she never truly was.

    Unwinding the tourniquet from her arm, I brush back dank blonde hair from her face. The lines that had deepened around her eyes gone, as if she has discovered peace, finally figured out the universe.

    We first met in English lit at university, the outgoing blonde bombshell, me the introverted boy. Classic Hollywood odd couple, yet it was a shared love of John Hughes films, The Smiths and Converse hi-tops that brought us together. In this strange new world we clung together, limpets on the same rock.

    It was at a house party that we first stumbled onto the stranger that would transform our twosome into a permanent threesome. I recall little of that first moment. Just her eagerness, her desire to do something new, this jacker offering up a hit, steel teasing in the dirty light.

    It would be comforting to blame this whole druggernaut path on something else. To deal out a hand of abusive parents, nefarious friends and a system that failed us, yet we were simply here due to one thing:


    Uni soon became a blur as we swapped dorms for squats, selling off most of our stuff once our student loans were gone. Not that we were unhappy, far from it, hell we were definitely aware of the track we were on.

    Its just we loved our addictive ménage a trois more than anything else.

    I pull an eyelid back, greeted by a yellow moon laced with scarlet. The health worker had said she had a month left in her at best. Shortening that to moments seemed a kindness.
    A cough, her body shuddering, I press my ear to her chest, her heart still beating, fragile as a bird.

    Don’t get me wrong our families did their best, leading us through the dance of rehabilitation, the two-step of denial and confession, intervention and disappointment. So many days spent sat on a sofa, a counselor, notepad on knees listening in as my ashen faced parent’s pleaded for their son to return. Every time I left them with assurances masquerading as truths.

    Yet later that same day the bite of our true love would feed our souls. Disrobing our assurances, mocking the tears of those who proclaimed they loved us more than it ever could.

    I listen again, her heart silent this time. Yet I feel nothing, no Romeo and Juliet theatrics, just time out between us as I cook up and the hunger deep within my soul.

    My last vein bulges, the tender bite of steel.

    That perfect kiss.

    481 words
    special challenge attempted ...

  12. Slipping Away
    Posted on Tuesday, 05 August 2014
    She whispered, “I forgive you,” as her hand slipped out of mine.

    It was a lie. We both knew that. She remembered everything I’d done. Whatever it was I’d done. It was funny how I never knew what I’d done. I always said something, did something, wrote something, that brought an end to a friendship, or job. Something that forced me to leave another club, another church, another gym, another whatever.

    With me, everything ended.

    I never knew why.

    But I knew people. I knew what they were going to do. What they were thinking. What they were feeling. I had to. It was what kept me alive.

    I looked squarely in her eyes and studied their color. I saw the bottled rage hidden behind the façade of tenderness and caring. I saw the tension at the back of her jaw line. Subtle, covered over, disguised, so most would never see it. The nearly invisible lines to the sides of her eyes, caused by stress.

    She was putting on her best face. Acting polite, caring, and forgiving.

    I replayed what happened in my memory. I heard every word I’d said. I watched her listen. I watched her stand once more. I watched her stomp her left foot, one time. I heard her say, “Really?” And I watched her walk out of the room.

    I knew every word I’d said. “They’re all like. Inside. Beneath the surface. Like cars. Pull off the decorations, the bumpers, the paint, the fenders, the seats, and all the cars become an engine with a drivetrain. That’s how they’re all alike.”

    “They think the same. They laugh at the same things. They eat at the same places, and they eat the same things. They vote the same every election.” I’d looked into her hazel eyes, “I can tell you who they voted for. Every last one of them. And none of them told me.”

    “You don’t mean that.” Her words echoed in my memory. “You don’t mean that.”

    “Yes. Yes, I do. Because it’s true. And you know it.”

    That’s when she’d stood up, and left. “Really?” It had been an accusation. Not a threat, not a question. An accusation. I’d never seen it coming. Her reaction was a surprise. I’d stood, unmoving, like a statue, for ten minutes. I’m not sure I’d even breathed. I didn’t move, as I wrestled with myself, in my head, trying to grasp what had happened. What I’d done, what I’d said, how I’d said it, that elicited such an angry, harsh response from her.

    I had no clue.

    The only option I’d had was to apologize for the words I’d said, and bury what I felt, what I thought, what I believed, inside, where no one could see it again, and hope she accepted my apology.

    She hadn’t. Everything I saw when I looked at her told me that.

    Another friend. Slipping away again. Soon, she would be gone. And I would be like always.


    497 Words

  13. On the High Seas

    Wes whispered, "I forgive you," as his hand slipped out of mine.

    “Forgive me for what, boy?” I grunted with a tousle to his sun-bleached curls. “It’s just the ship’s doctor, ain’t it? Just a routine physical, ain’t it?”

    The doe-like eyes of the cabin boy blinked pleadingly at me as the doctor dragged him into the captain’s quarters for his examination, but I disregarded the entreaty with a spit of tobacco and stomped off.

    “Mr. Perkins, I do hope you intend to clean that up.”

    I whirled to face the captain himself, decked up in his usual black attire, and snapped to attention. He regarded me through his mask with a steady eye and a thin scowl spread across his lips. Even as first mate I was still privy to Captain Roberts’ lectures and reprimands. His ship was his lover and anyone caught disfiguring her or disgracing her got it in sevenfold.

    “Oh yes, Cap’n,” I stammered, tugging my snugget off my head. “Just going now for a mop now, Cap’n. Old habits die hard ye know, Cap’n.”

    “Yes, well see that this habit dies quickly, Mr. Perkins, or you will have to find yourself other employment. We may be pirates, but we are not animals. Do I make myself clear?”

    “Perfectly, sir, perfectly,” I bobbed.

    “Oh, and Perkins,” the captain gestured to the knitted accessory in my hands “try to keep in touch with the seasons. This is summer.”

    “As you wish, Cap’n.” I hastily tucked the bugger into a trouser pocket and scurried away for a mop.

    In truth, I was plum lucky to get away with a reprimand and didn’t want the man changing his mind on me before I could remedy my evil. Got caught spitting once before, I did, and had to stand at attention for a full half hour as crew members lobbed slimy projectiles any time they passed my way. No way was I going to have a repeat. Got caught spitting once before, I did, and had to stand at attention for a full hour as crew members lobbed slimy projectiles any time they passed my way. No way was I going to have a repeat.

    Captain Roberts had himself a legend he did. Terror of the High Seas, The Black Plague, and The Dread Pirate were just some of the titles he’d inherited over the years. Giants quaked in their boots just by looking at him. His name made grown men weep. Lucky was I to be one of the few men to see the great terror and live. But that was only because I was crew. Expendiary crew.

    I hurried my pursuit of a mop, all the while praying that the sun wouldn’t bake the tobacco into the deck. No telling what punishment I’d get for staining his lady. Death likely. One thing was certain, Captain Roberts may be the greatest criminal alive, but he’d always be my idea of a gentleman

    Word Count: 493
    Special Challenge included

    1. Snugget: A cap-like article of clothing that fits snuggly on the head with ear flaps that tuck into a collared shirt. Usually knitted.

      Expendiary: One who is expendable but also necessary.

  14. She whispered, “I forgive you,” as her hand slipped out of mine.

    The bedside manner finally dissolved.

    “You forgive me? For not believing your delusions and playing along with the hallucinations? That is the most sensible thing you have said since I met you.” I scoffed.

    “I forgive you for not remembering our past.” murmured the woman.

    “I have never had a relationship with a patient. There has not been, nor ever will be, an ‘us’” My finger jabbed at the air in front of her face.

    “Do not point that at me.” She said warily.

    “Why not?” The tip hovered just above her nose. “Is it going to start spewing magic? Is that how your wizard performed?”

    “It could.” She pushed my hand aside so that nothing obscured her gaze. “So could I.” Flicking her wrist to the side, her voice bore command. “Claudo.”

    The door swung shut, a gust of air beat against my back as the lock clicked into place. I looked for the source of her cotley trick. Not a wire could be found running away from her bed, nor connecting to the exit. Without a second glance in her direction, I knocked on the door.

    “The word you want is ‘eximo.’” She advised quietly.

    “Then say it and get your accomplice to let me out.”

    “You should say it. You are the one who wants out.”

    “I will not play along with your cheep ‘magic tricks’ either.”

    “You knew all the excessive spells. I merely have household magic.” She stifled a yawn.

    “I have other patients to attend to.”

    “There are other physicians. I spent hundreds of years in a tower, protected from time, waiting for you to come cure me. You have very strong magic, and I do not know how else to convince you.”

    I called the nurses’ station on my phone. They jiggled and twisted every set of keys they had and finally hired a locksmith to come out. The woman slept.

    “Eximo.” I muttered under my breath. Nothing.

    “Eximo!” The sound echoed around the room, but it had no result.

    A fly balped into the window for the hundredth time, it’s organic buzzing unique among the beeps and whirs of machines.

    “Eximo.” I whispered at the poor thing, trapped inside just like I was. The hum of wings immediately disappeared. The fly bounced on the breeze and flew away beyond the view of the window. My heart leapt.

    “Eximo.” I called to the door and it burst open, the breeze ruffling the woman’s bangs, awakening her. “I solved the problem, it will not happen again.” I assured a nurse before closing myself in once more. Returning to the bedside, seeing her for the first time with old eyes, her smile was familiar. “I am sorry to have kept you waiting.”

    “You always were a stubborn man.” She admitted, sliding her fingers between each of mine.

    “You are a very patient woman.” I whispered, setting a kiss on her lips at last.
    Word Count 500
    special challenge accepted: cotley, balped

  15. The Handoff

    She whispers, “I forgive you,” as her hand slips out of mine. The hand I had held for the last twenty years was no longer my responsibility. Now it would be up to that boy, practically a stranger, to protect her from the world, to treasure her, and to share her days.

    I had taken my job very seriously; would he?

    I had always wanted to raise her to grow up. And she did. Then she moved away and found a person she wanted to share her life with. I tried to vet all her other dates. So I was surprised, and disappointed, that she didn’t tell me about this kid until their plans were laid.

    I had enjoyed my little interviews with all the previous boyfriends. I would invite them downstairs for a little chat. Some ran away screaming once they saw the gun collection. Others would refuse to sign the contract. But the few that passed my tests never got her home late. I suppose I might have been a little overzealous by some standards, but daddies want to protect their little girls.

    I didn’t get a chance to vet this man. I don’t think he would have made it all the way down the steps. He would have bolted when he saw the crossed machetes at the top of the stairs.

    Of course, there were other things I had to do to keep her safe. I interviewed every single person who worked in her elementary school. I led a motion to have the principal fired for replacing a janitor without telling me, so for two weeks a man was in that school I had not done a background check on. When she went to junior high that educator sent a letter ahead warning the next principal about my crazy level of involvement. Other men would have been offended. I found it to be a useful tool. I obtained a copy, laminacoated it and bragdisplayed it.

    Then she got a part time job. I ate at least two ice cream cones a day until the manager fired her because I was scaring off the customers. Next was fast food burgers, much more to my liking. I gained 60 pounds, but that too could be useful in my job as her protector.

    I even swept her room for bugs and hidden cameras. First her room at home and later her dorm room. Of course these technology sweeps could also be used as surprise inspections. Of course this made it hard for her to keep a roommate, and she did drop out of college after the first year. But I would not let her down, I had a job to do.

    But now that job is done. The mantle will move on to the man she chose.

    I wonder what she meant by, “I forgive you?”

    476 words

  16. Vodka whispered “I forgive you” as her hand slipped out of mine. She turned away looking to the horizon and the dirigible as it lumbered ever nearer. I said nothing until she faced me.
    “You forgive me?” I snorted. “Good luck with that because I don’t forgive you. Ya little shit.” She’d given us up.
    “Go to hell.” Sasha put both hands on my chest and shoved me hard enough that I stumbled back knocking my head against the wall. She looked at Vodka and spat at my feet. Before Sasha could run, I grabbed hold of her wrists and wrenched her close that she could smell my putrid breath.
    “Vodka was wrong and you know it. I’m not the one who needs to be forgiven. Fuck that. I’m not the one who sold us out and I’m not the one who made the bad deal to begin.” I wasn’t. But I also hadn’t voiced my objection.
    “You—“ Vodka halted at my look.
    “That dirigible isn’t bringing us supplies. We both know why the Polaris is sending the troops. To clean the rebel scum. Us.” I snapped my head at Sasha’s tug on my shirt sleeve. The lights on the transport were flashing meaning they were readying to drop trough. We heard the crunch crunch of long guns loading their bombbags. Death was imminent if we didn’t flee quickly.
    “Make your choice Vodka. You can still run with us or you can face—“ I jerked my head toward a sure fire death by burning metal. “There’s a slim chance we’ll escape and can try again.”
    She stiffened, stood taller, and smoothed down her ruffled dress against the strap holding her side piece. Her posture spoke her answer. I didn’t stop her when she marched toward the fray and a guaranteed end of conflict.
    “Two weeks wasted for what?”
    Beside me Sasha shrugged.
    I checked the display on my comblaster. Then I covered a gasp with a cough realizing the damn thing was still connected to MOTHER. My last mission was to infiltrate their outer base, connect to Mother Of The Home Eternal computeR, download the plans for the defense logistics, and find a slip so the assassin could end a life. And stop the destruction of our entire planet by a governing body who was stripping our every natural resource to the bone. My bone.
    In exchange for my talents, the rebels (Us. The indigenous species) would have a voice on the council and a hope for continued life, sans captivity. I knew we’d be double crossed. There was no honor amongst thieves. We’d swap one invading alien presence for another on our planet. But held it. And up until now, I’d believed Vodka had given our location just as I’d completed my analysis of the retrieved data. I hung my head in shame and let my knees buckle.
    I was still connected to MOTHER and it was clear from the approaching troops, they’d followed me back.

    500 words
    Challenge accepted