Monday, September 21, 2015


Welcome! We're glad you could join us for the fun this week! If you haven't, make sure you check out the rules. Otherwise, go read the prompts and get writing! :)

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 Danielle Donaldson. Read her winning tale from last week here! Danielle writes from Southern California where she lives with her husband and young son. In addition to currently being a human incubator and body host to her second son, she uses her afternoons and rare spare moments to write young adult and contemporary romance. Her poems and short stories have been published in various literary magazines. She has an upcoming paranormal romance novella release this Halloween. Keep up with her work on Twitter @WriterDonaldson or

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-12 is:

"[I] practically died."

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include a theme or aspect of romance and/or someone on a carousel. ;)



  1. The Marine of Memory


    I practically died. Maybe I did.

    The trucks were filled on the way out to the desert; the Mojave, in California, can reach 110 degrees on a regular basis.

    I joined the marines as a way to get training as an engineer and to serve my country. That is what I told people. But in reality, I joined because I didn't care about living anymore. I was 6'4 and an easy in as a soldier. My fiance had died of breast cancer. Now, the sun points a lonely finger in my direction beckoning me to providence.

    6:00 am. We unloaded about 10 miles from anything. The commanding officer was an idiot who was a professional puppet for the service doing all the odd jobs no one wanted to do. He looked like Kermit the Frog with no chin and a slightly green completion. He sent us out, 50 of us, in separate directions to perform a task.

    Anything could bring her memory up; sand, like her golden hair running though my fingers the way time could slip away with the scent of Herbal Essence ticking a full flora of heart stopping memories. An angle of light reminding me of the curve of her smile. The breeze of her voice chastising me for watching too much Breaking Bad.

    I performed my task and returned to the checkout point. I had been assigned the furthest point away because of my size and strength. The heat was rising quickly. No one was there. The truck had left.

    We would go to the beach together. Coney Island is run down with memories and the sand darkened with the pollution of time. The Wonder Wheel climbing the sky with the Cyclone ticking notches up a wooden track to a vista of screaming blue. Bizarre sandcastles we made together that looked more like efficiency apartments.

    How could they forget me? I saw tires tracks in the sand leading away. Anger gave way to realization that there was no way I could survive. I started to walk.

    Memories can keep you alive even if you are not actively remembering. The body holds experience like a lover. Every nuance a spectacular embrace of a moment lost. Her memory made me walk.

    Today the hottest day of the year, as my luck would have it; 121, thanks to global warming. I covered all parts of my body to prevent burning. I had no water because that was part of the training.

    The horizon blurred like a white washed hospital. Internal voices. The body stuck in the reflex of life. Then I thought of carousels. For no reason at all. Carved wooden horses painted with dusk. Her laughter a second hand galloping on a watch face. Then collapse into the fire of arms.

    I woke in the hospital. Her golden hair falling in front of me. Vision gently speeding into my eyes . Her smile.

    The clock on the wall followed its tracks home to the Herbal Essence of dawn.

    (500 Words)

    1. My email is:

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Booked


    I practically died.

    I bought the coffin myself. Solid Oak. Silver furnishings. A heavy-ass thing. Perhaps I did it to give the situation more weight. Perhaps it was to give myself more weight.

    I booked the church. I might have lied. Clergy don't really appreciate forward planning in this regard. They don't look too kindly on lying either for that matter. Well, forgiveness is in their line of work. I'll remind him on the day.

    I wrote a Eulogy. Resonant. Profound. Occasionally appropriate. It might even be true, I haven't decided.

    I wrote a will. Then wrote three more. It was fun, doling out money I didn't have to people who didn't care.

    I considered cremation. Going up in flames was appealing. I decided not to book it. Some things are a little awkward to explain.

    (136 words)

  3. @OpheliaLeong
    347 words
    Special Challenge accepted!

    Marian's Tea

    He practically died. Or close to it. When Alfred didn’t say anything after taking a sip of her newest herbal tea blend, Marian looked up from her teacup, worry freezing the words stuck in her throat. Suddenly, Alfred was limp on the ground, his red hair a bright flame against the green grass.
    Marian poured out the contents of her teacup and ran to his side.
    “Alfred! Oh, Alfred, was it really that horrible? Please say something!” She was frantic and her dark brown hair escaped it’s tight bun and framed her face with soft curls.
    If she, the only daughter of the best-known herbalist in the town, poisoned Duke Chester’s youngest son, then her whole life would be ruined. It wasn’t her fault he had come over that morning and insisted on trying her newest mix, was it?
    She held him in her arms, happiness at feeling his body so close to hers warred with her anxiety about his well-being.
    “Oh, what did I put into that tea again?” Marian looked up, searching for her supplies on the table next to them.
    “Mint, Chamomile, cloves, and something that tasted like pepper.”
    Alfred’s bright blue eyes were open and twinkling, and his mouth was raised in that teasing half-grin she’d come to cherish so much.
    “Come now, do you really think that anything you make would cause me or anyone else to collapse in pain?”
    Marian blushed. “Well…”
    “Marian…” Alfred said, fingers reaching up and tracing the curls around her heart-shaped face. “Your herbal teas are the best around. Believe in yourself.”
    “Thank you, Alfred,” Marian whispered, her blush deepening when she realized he was still in her lap.
    He sat up and moved onto the grass close to her. “Now, what exactly did you put in that tea?”
    Marian met his grin with a deep one of her own. “Never you mind. Just let me know if you start feeling fanciful and giddy.”
    “I already do,” and with that, he leaned over and kissed her, his sweetly-scented breath wrapping her in a cloud of joy.

  4. The Best Friends

    I practically died laughing when I saw my brother, Roger, holding Jen’s pink sweater and a couple of handbags. The disappointment on his face was palpable. At the last minute, Jen had made him dismount the most regal galloping horse of the Carousel, and dumped all our belongings on his shoulders. The theme of Beauty and the Beast played in the background. Jen and I giggled and waved every time we passed Roger.

    When Jen left that evening, Roger turned to me and bellowed, “That was your cockamamie idea, wasn’t it.” I giggled again confirming his suspicion.

    Jen was my best friend since the first grade, and Roger wasn’t going to separate us. I grumbled when she chose to go for coffee with Roger rather than hang out with me after school. Was it my fault that Roger was getting more handsome every day in his senior year? I could see all the girls crushed on him. The head cheerleader Geena stopped me yesterday and invited me to her birthday party. “You can even bring your brother if you like,” she added. Yeah, right!

    But Jen was supposed to be different. We had been friends for the last ten years. We knew each other’s test scores, likes, dislikes, favorite songs, favorite malls, and even boys. She never mentioned Roger until a few months ago when he came back that summer from the football camp. I will never forget the look in Jen’s eyes when she saw him the day he arrived wearing his new league uniform. Didn’t she look at me like that in the first grade?

    I drift back to the first day of the high school. Jen and I stood in the auditorium, belting out “As long as he needs me.” I felt a sense of warmth like never before. The best friends trying out for the part in the school play, sticking together as one. One soul, one heart, one mind, one rhythm! I was ecstatic when we both were cast in the play. We spent every day together in rehearsals, nudged each other to memorize the lines, to keep the rhythm going.

    All I can do now is reminisce. Jen is distant, not because she isn’t my best friend, but because she had turned into a lovely woman and can’t help liking my suave brother. I think I am supposed to be happy for both of them, but their budding romance had become a thorn in my flesh.

    That summer after the carousel incident, Roger was accepted to UCLA.

    He comes home every summer. He and Jen are inseparable. The day, I see grandma’s ring on Jen’s finger, I fall apart. My tears drop like autumn leaves. Suddenly, I realize, I dream of putting that ring on Jen’s finger myself. Oh, my lord, I love her, and not just as a best friend.

    477 words
    Special challenge accepted.

  5. Angel Of
    497 words, challenge accepted
    Dave @ParkInkSpot
    “I practically died.”

    “Don’t be so dramatic. The explosion was on the far side. Besides, your time won’t be up for ages yet.”

    Ernie decided to spend the day playing hooky from work, because he was a firm believer in cultivated leisure. He believed it to be his one true calling, the mission of his lifetime, to spend the absolute minimum number of minutes working as necessary to generate the maximum time for seeking pleasure. Ernie viewed it as a sort of lifehacking min/max problem, to skip work exactly as often as possible without scoring the Big Exit Boot from his tight-assed boss.

    He’d set out this morning for his local carnival in his very best Slob Friday Casual with Unwashed Holy T-shirt.

    It wasn’t much of a carnival, just the “standard two day layover in a strip mall parking lot with six rides” affair. It was dilapidated and even the scruffy carnies looked bored. Still, Ernie grooved on the classic popcorn and cotton candy smells. He didn’t enjoy the tilt-a-whirl much, with that “Foghat should stay buried in the seventies” music blaring from the over-amped and crackling speakers. Still, even that’s better than working, right?

    Calliope music grabbed him by his earlobe and dragged him into the queue for the carousel. Then the ancient and poorly maintained steam tank blew up exactly four minutes later.

    Ernie awoke gazing up into a pair of fascinating pale turquoise-gray eyes.

    “Are you all right?”

    The haunting eyes were surrounded a halo of auburn hair, mussed by the breeze and backlit by the noon sun. Her smile managed to express both “genuine” and “concerned.” She wore a tank top with bare shoulders, smallish girls, and mid-thigh white shorts. Nice legs, too. (If you’re like Ernie and keeping score, that all adds up to, “Humma Humma.”)

    Ernie sat up. “That was an explosion? I practically died.”

    “Don’t be so dramatic.”

    The crowd was still milling around and screams rose from the other side of the carousel.

    “It sounds like someone was hurt,” he said.

    “The ride operator, I’m here to pick him up. Good thing the carousel caught most of the shrapnel, or this would be a multiple job. Lucky for you, too.”

    “What do you mean, pick up?” Ernie climbed to his feet and tried to get a better view.

    “Oh. His soul, you know. His essence or spirit or whatever you want to call it.”

    “He’s dead?”

    “A big old steam valve took off most of his head. You can’t cheat my boss.”

    “What’s it got to do with your boss?”

    “Death. You know, the Grim Reaper. I work for him, run some errands sometimes, make the odd pickup.”

    “You work for a myth?”

    “Please, it’s ‘Anthropomorphic Personification.’ He’s not a myth, or I wouldn’t be here.”

    “Why not?”

    “I died in 1927, Ernie.”

    “Wait a minute, didn’t you just say…”

    “Right, you can’t cheat Death. But when I do a good job, He does let me have encores.”

  6. Roughriders

    "I practically died." He paused a moment, stooping to recover his hat.
    "Mighty kind of you to stop this here stage coach and help a feller out. Least I can do is tell you the tale to kill the miles to town." Slinging his wayward hat round his neck by the drawstring, the cowboy pulled himself up.

    "My pardners and I were headed this way in to town, looking to live it up a bit after our time out prospecting. We'd been plenty lucky," he said, giving them a cheerful grin that was lacking a few teeth, "And that there gold was plum burning a hole right through our pockets. We thought our run of luck was continuing, when we saw a passel of broncs jest up ahead of us. I was all fer ignoring them for I could just about taste the grub in the cantina, but the boys convinced me it'd be worth it."

    "Worth it my ass!" He spat on the ground then continued. "Gunsmoke - my damn fool hoss - got the bit between his teeth, and afore I knew it had pitched me to the canyon bed. Tarnation, but did it sting! That there herd wheeled and turned right past me almost endlessly it seemed. I musta banged a rock but good when I came off, as I swore sure as shooting I even did see a unicorn galloping past. Them lowlife no-good mates of mine just ran off, leaving me spittin' and a squallin' in the dust. I can still here their sniggering ringing in my ears. They've prob'ly gone and spent my cut of the haul already, lower than a rattler's belly the lot of them! Some folk's are greedier than Ole Scratch hisself."

    The music wound down and the horses rose and fell slower then came to a stop.
    "Want some of my fairy floss to cheer you up?" she asked the boy in the cowboy outfit.

    That's dad-gumned kind of you little Missy, right neighbourly like." He reached out and took a pink tuft before tipping his hat to her.

    "Much obliged. If'n you're ever passing through Santa Fe, look me up - Two Gun Paul."

    360 words
    Special Challenge Accepted

  7. Thank you all for participating! I loved reading the stories and I'm so happy to see such diversity, from the paranormal to the historical to the psychological and even a western! Thanks again. This was great fun.