Monday, December 21, 2015


WELCOME! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! We're going to do things differently this week. With the holiday season being a bit crazy and our time being not entirely our own, I've decided to keep this installment of FTT open for the duration of the holiday season. So, we will be live until after the new year! I hope that you will find time to fit in a story around the myriad of obligations during the next couple of weeks. You can even fit in two. We will go back to the normal schedule in January.

I have TWO first sentence prompts for you to choose from (or you can do a story for each). I also have FOUR different special challenges you can fit into one or both of your stories. You may choose to do only one of them or all four, whatever (or none, as is always an option).

I will be judging this round, BUT the winner will not be asked to judge the next round (though I reserve the right to ask for another day down the road depending on the popularity of keeping the contest open for a week). The winners of our Holiday Bash will be announced as soon as possible in January, depending on the number of entries.

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. (Allowable alterations listed below)
2. Up to 500 words (exclusive of title)
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 (Dec 21 - Jan 2)
8. Only one (two) entry(ies) judged per round. If you write/post more than one story, you need to indicate which you would like judged. If you fail to indicate, it will be the first one posted.
9. Winner judges next round.

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 Alissa Leonard. (That's ME!) Alissa is a mom of three elementary aged children. She is also a substitute teacher. In her spare time (Wait! I have spare time???) she writes. She is working on her third edit of a YA fantasy novel, and is just about finished with a first draft of a MG fantasy novel. The number of really-cool-books-she-would-like-to-write-but-hasn't-yet is painfully long, but she is determined to WRITE ALL THE WORDS!!! She reads mostly fantasy and science fiction, but enjoys books from across the spectrum of literature. She loves TONS of geeky things, but Doctor Who is her favorite, followed closely by superheroes, Star Wars, and Star Trek. She's also a huge board game fan. You are already on her blog ( ;) ) and you can follow her on twitter @lissajean7.

 Your first sentence(s) for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-25 is (are) (Pick one):

It came upon a midnight clear.

"It'll be different this [year]."

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE(S) from the judge is (are):

Include onomatopoeia.

Include a kiss.

Include any of the following objects: star, bib, glue, thumbprint, journal, staple, platter, egg nog

Include any of the following verbs: thrust, gargle, shimmy, hurl, tiptoe, bellow, warble, lament, flounce, wallow, snicker



  1. Eggnog

    It came upon a midnight clear. A gunshot of moon breaking apart the sky like a huge angel target. My eyes splattered on the wilting horizon petaled with dark clouds. I stood in the crisp air gathering my thoughts as presents under a tree decorated in a baggy brown sweater, jeans and boots. The moments inside me running around vying for attention like children.

    I had been married a year. Routine had developed. A pleasant schedule of morning love-making, shared breakfasts, and the adventures of life picked and chosen for our mutual participation. But we had our first fight. We never fought before at all. We had never even disagreed. I held a bottle with a buzz affixed inside. A hum of a heartbeat singing in my clasped hand. A pulse that gently touched my thoughts with surrender. A star kissed the ground with a sharp light. I gargle the whiskey as if it was a minty mouthwash. A clean fresh beginning. "It'll be different this year," the words broke from my lips like a wish released from its flame.

    I started to think about marriage.

    With marriage, you started at the end - everything perfect with a glow enhanced environment. Then, you went back to the beginning. The trick was to make it to the end, again. Many couples failed.

    It was a new year in 10 minutes. 2016. The buzz continued. Everything was an onomatopoeia. It was a matter of the marriage of sound and meaning. She was a violinist in the New York Philharmonic. I was a writer. I blush when I say something as wildly cliché as we made beautiful music together, but we did. As the world is tuned with seasons & sunrise, the moon became obsessed with my mind. A hollow hallucination of reason. A sort of snicker coming from the head. Peanuts and chocolate. Both healthy and bad. A corrupt police officer. Nothing but unrelenting reflection.

    She tiptoed like her fingers that silently stretched across frets. Came to me with a platter of cookies leftover from Christmas. And some eggnog. God, I love eggnog. I love the word "Eggnog." We named our dog "Eggnog." He was an old sheep dog that suffered from over-optimism; he was always happy and jumping around no matter what. We had a lot to learn from Eggnog. His thick wild yellowing fur wrapping around my legs and my wife's. Spiked with enthusiasm, Eggnog would not allow us to be angry for long. We both looked at him jumping around in the moonlight like some hippie shaman and started laughing. We were ready to start at the beginning like two infants. Inside the house Mozart placed his thumbprint on our souls womb. A fiery universe spun out above our heads. A swirl of infinity grasping at our being. An exquisite note written on the white air defined our destination.

    She reached out and grabbed my hand.

    "Happy New Year," she whispered.

    Eggnog barked -
    and our symphonic marriage was complete.


    (500 words)
    Special Challenge Accepted

  2. Happy New Year

    It'll be different this year. The words scream out of my journal from the very first page — my hopes for the future writ large. But who was I kidding, this is the last day of the year and it’s turned out to be like every other. I started the year poverty stricken and alone, and that's exactly how I'm going to end it.

    A quick flick through the journal reveals my sprawling script recounting tales of despair over the weeks and months, each entry darker than the previous one. I can hardly bring myself to fill in the last couple of pages. Reluctantly I pick up my pen and try to write, but its run out of ink.

    I leave my bedsit and fight my way through the crowds. They're here to see in the New Year. I just want a new pen. The crowd's happiness is irritating to be honest — all that laughter and merriment. I want to tell them their future's already been written. But why spoil it for them, they'll find out for themselves soon enough.

    I cross the river, stopping halfway, glancing down from the bridge into the swirling waters below. Spots of blurred reflections catch my eye, sparkling stars embellishing a rippling surface. I watch them part in the wake of the passing boats. Watch my reflection's fragmentation, feeling as if my very existence is in doubt.

    Leaning further over in search of myself the dark depths call my name. I imagine what it would be like to let the water swallow me up. Would I finally find peace? My question remains unanswered when I catch movement from the corner of my eye. A woman sits on the stone parapet, feet dangling high above the water's surface.

    “Careful! You don't want to fall," I shout, acknowledging the irony of my words.

    "Go away, leave me alone."

    I consider doing just that, but I can't walk away. Instead I move towards her.

    "Don't come any closer."

    "Tell me your name and I promise I'll stay here," I say.

    She stares at me for a while and then answers, "Jenny, my name's Jenny."

    We start talking and I gradually inch closer until I'm sitting right next to her. Close enough to see the dried tear tracks on her face. She tells me her problems, I tell her mine and before we know it Big Ben's ringing in the New Year. We watch people hug and kiss as they wish each other all the best.

    "I only came out to buy a pen," I tell her.

    "Oh! There's one in my bag." Jenny roots around inside her hold-all."Here you are, you can keep it."

    I look at the pen, and then at Jenny, and it dawns on me, everything will be different this year.

    W/C 468

  3. Generous to a Fault

    “It’ll be different this year,” she proclaimed defiantly.

    “What will?” His voice was fading into that tonal deficiency that indicated his brain had moved on despite his mouth attempting to keep up his end of the conversation.

    She noticed and mumbled, “Apparently, nothing! Nothing at all.”

    “I understand, I think,” he said, even though he really didn’t. Couldn’t understand in a thousand years. “Change is so disconcerting,” he concluded.

    She stared at him coldly, but he didn’t notice. “I was thinking about making a New Year’s resolution.” She watched closely to verify he was really mentally checked out of the conversation. Seeing he was, she decided to test the limits. “Perhaps, I’ll find a new husband.”

    “That might be nice. What kind would you be looking for?” He asked nonchalantly.

    She giggled at the question, and especially at the realization that she had never considered what she was looking for. If she traded him in on a new model, what features would she want? “I thought I would go for someone rich.” She continued to study him for any hint that he was faking. “Oh, and of course, he would have to be a fantastic lover.”

    “Yes, I see how that could come in handy,” he mumbled, slipping further into the sports page and out of the conversation.

    “It would really be handy if he was of a criminal element. That way I could save the time and money of a divorce and have the new man do away with, well you know, the old husband.”

    She almost laughed out loud when he responded. “Yes, they must be difficult to dispose of.”

    “Well, I could just hire it done.”

    “How much would that cost?” The mention of spending money was extracting him from his distraction.

    “I hear it can run as high as $50,000.”

    Suddenly, he was fully attentive again. “$50,000? Did you shop around for a good deal? That seems like an awful lot of money.”

    She was irritated now, but chose not to show it. “Don’t you think I deserve the very best, dear?”

    His stern gaze softened and after a moment he answered gently, “Yes I do. Go ahead and pull the money from savings. I would like for you to have it, if you really want it.”

    His sincerity warmed her, and she was moved by his blind, albeit foolish, generosity. She smiled, kissed him lightly and said, “I think I’ll wait. Sometimes the current one shows such marvelous potential, even if he is a little obtuse at other times.” She went into the kitchen for another cup of coffee.

    Back at the breakfast table he asked aloud, speaking to nobody in particular, “He?”

    448 words

  4. Brotherly Love

    468 words
    Special challenge accepted (objects)

    It’ll be different this year … The sentence stared up at him in accusation, the rest of his journal empty, just like the previous 364 days of his life. Fifty-two weeks at his brothers’ beck and call. Fifty-two weeks like those gone before. But Alastair still had the remnants of one more day, a mere hour before he was thrust into the waiting arms of 2016, an hour to make the sentence become truth. He downed the eggnog that had sat waiting for him since dinner time. He could’ve waited until midnight to toast the New Year in but it would have looked unfeeling in the circumstances. Best drink it now and have his own private celebration.

    He did not offer one to the man who sat opposite, a bib tucked around his neck to catch the drool of senility. Blood was the glue that bound them together despite their mutual dislike. Still, Daniel had his uses, could serve one more purpose. Alastair slipped on a pair of latex gloves, stepped over the body on the carpet and picked up the gun. First he wiped it clean and then he wrapped his brother’s hand firmly round the handle, pressed hard to ensure a thumbprint showed up clearly on the barrel.
    Daniel offered no resistance, merely accepted all that was done to him.

    The family gathering, now reduced to the three brothers had become the staple of this time of year. A condition of their inheritance, an attempt by their late father to keep the three men in some sort of dysfunctional family unit but with the added proviso that Alastair would always need his older brothers’ approval in terms of his business dealings; a clause that rankled deeply but which now, like his brother Graham, was defunct. Could their father ever have envisaged how swiftly Daniel, the star of the family name would fade, how the brain of his blue-eyed boy would become addled through prolonged and sustained drug abuse? Alastair doubted it.

    Daniel however, had avoided the fate that had been dealt to Graham. He still had useful moments of lucidity, one of which had resulted in the family lawyer giving Alastair power of attorney over Daniel’s finances only that day. Unfortunately, Alastair would have to inform the police that Daniel had suffered an ‘episode’ resulting in Graham’s death. Such a terrible tragedy, especially at this time of year.

    Alastair picked up the small silver platter from the sideboard and knelt down by Graham, holding the dish close to his brother’s face. There was no mist, no breath.

    One down, one to go.

    Yet despite Daniel’s continued presence behind him, he was to all intents and purposes on his own. At last Alastair had stepped out from the dark of his brother’s shadow. And it was good.

  5. Yellow Is An Attitude
    Dave @ParkInkSpot
    495 words, challenge declined.
    It came upon a midnight clear. I suppose I did.

    Momma scolded, “Drop that this instant.”

    “But the purple tastes like cheese, momma. Please don’t take my colors away again!”


    What happened to the painting?

    Wyatt examined the canvas on the easel. Everything he’d painted yesterday was gone. Nothing but blank canvas and the small patch of background sky and mountains he’d started earlier in the week.

    His thumb encountered the familiar, greasy-tacky paint feel of recent oils, and he examined the spot closely.

    In the area where he’d painted yesterday, canvas was now showing through, like looking through a very thin pane of glass. Except the “glass” wasn’t glossy, and it didn’t catch any highlights or reflections at all.

    There is tacky paint here, but it’s clear? Where did the tint go?

    When he returned the painting to the easel, he noticed the palette. His working palettes were usually messy kaleidoscope-rainbows of blobs, with puddles of mixes and brush-drying strokes around the outer edges.

    Today it was the same clear, tint-free paint. So were the most recently used oil tubes on the storage table. Only the older, dried paint was untouched.

    Any fresh paint from yesterday, even the forgotten blobs around the tube caps, was now entirely free of any color or tint.

    Except there, on the sketchpad, were scrawled letters in neon orange:

    “XO More Plz OX.”


    I hear a kazoo.

    I’ve been waiting for something to happen for a long time. Mostly nothing ever does. So I follow the kazoo, pushing. This way, it’s over here.

    The kazoo is much louder now. I hear other sounds, too. A party horn, a music box, I think a trumpet. It all gets lots louder and I thump into… It smells like dog, must be big.

    I push extra hard against the sound. Do I hear cheese?

    Cymbals flash brightly and I’m through. Made it, yay!


    Wyatt watched from his hiding place in the storage closet. He’d quickly painted a fresh canvas, in big broad strokes of heavy primary colors. He’d left several palettes with fresh paint blobs, and open tubes of oils with the caps off scattered around.

    Near midnight, a thin haze flowed out of the painting. Wherever the translucent cloud brushed against the paint, tendrils of color sucked out of the canvas and dispersed into the hazy translucency. Left behind was only the “clear” paint, absolutely without tint.

    As the figure moved about the room and devoured the available colors, it grew more distinct and looked more solid. She appeared to be a little girl, perhaps five or six years old.

    She was laughing now, smearing her fingers through the paint, sucking globs of color directly from the tubes.


    It’s hard, but I can write a little bit with color from my finger if I squeeze.

    I wrote, “XO Thx Mr. your picturs are yum. OX”

    I pressed back through the canvas to the place with no color.