Monday, December 9, 2013


This time of year tends to bring out the best and worst in people, and our judge has a little bit of both in store for you today. Speaking of Christmas... I just now realized that Tuesdays fall on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve this year. Show of hands (or, you know, let me know in the comments) of who's going to be around then...and if you're around, could you judge if you won? Just curious if we should break for a couple weeks OR if you'll be off and have tons of time to write and really want a prompt. :) I'm good with either. Anyway, enough business talk, get writing!

If you need to read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Up to 500 words
2. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
3. Start with the given first sentence.
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Include Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
6. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronouns, punctuation, tense, 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 Rebecca J Allred also known as @LadyHazmat. Check out her blog here. Read her winning tale from last week here!

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #23 is:

This, to me, represents love.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Incorporate a phobia of a physical object. Concepts/emotions (rejection, commitment etc)don't count.



  1. Love in the Time of 2012
    499 Words; special challenge, kind of accepted (wasn't sure if the phobia was for emotions/concepts or that was something different. anyway, the main character has a bit of a phobia that you'll see.)

    This, to me, represents love: when she takes your hand to help you over the mountain-top and doesn't let go after. This is love: when the case is too big to solve on your own so she gladly helps, afterward giving you all the credit, brilliant detective that you are. This is love in its truest form: when she hands you the last twinkie on earth, wrapped in glimmering, shiny, clear plastic, and plummets off the cliff in your place.

    She sashayed into my office one unseasonably warm December day. She hadn't knocked because their wasn't really a door, but I had seen her coming down the street from my perch on the office's lower branch.

    “Hey,” she said in an affable tone, though I could tell she was trying to allure me with her girly charm.

    “Hiya, toots. What's the haps?”

    “Oh, great. I see you are the P.I. again today.” Leaning against my office's trunk, she sighed, but I could tell she was drawn to my brooding, masculine ways.

    “Baby cakes, I am always a P.I.” I raised my eyebrows in a way I knew would snag her imagination.

    She rolled her eyes, but I figured she was swooning inside. “Well, the name's Lucy; it'd do you good to remember that. So, what big case are you working on today? Or were you just waiting for a hot number like me to waltz in, sobbing like a helpless maiden and desperate for your help?”

    “Blue eyes, I would wait for you to...”

    “Can it, gumshoe.” I dummied up; I was always a sucker for Lucy.

    “Seriously, Francis. Are you working on a case?”

    “Well, I was trying to figure something out.”

    “Lay it on me, Sherlock.”

    “Last month something terrible happened.” I paused for dramatic effect. “Hostess went out of business. I know what you're thinking. Who cares? That was my first reaction. But get this. Hostess makes twinkies!”

    “And... they'll be no more twinkies?” she asked.

    “Yes! No more twinkies!” She wasn't getting it. “Maybe you're not grasping the gravity of this situation, Lucy. I didn't start rationing. I didn't realize it until it was too late. Our twinkies are all gone now. All gone!” My heart was beating uncontrollably.

    “Hmm, I think I see the issue. I would recommend a twelve step program, but since it's not possible for you to fall off the wagon, I'm not sure it's necessary.”

    “Go ahead,” I waved my hand imperiously. “Make fun. But I don't even have one left to set aside for a special occasion. I checked online, but they had all been sold, or were really, really expensive. I've lost all hope.”

    “You know,” she said, dismissing her previous casual manner. “I think I've heard of one lost twinkie, buried deep within a secret cabinet somewhere in the neighborhood. It may be dangerous.” She grabbed my hand, “Care for the adventure?”

    1. The voice is really quirky. It's a fun read, for sure. Although, I'm not quite sure about "sashayed." That may be a little much. :p

  2. ouch, spelled "there" wrong. How awful. Please accept my humblest apologies - didn't check closely enough.

  3. Veggies, Innards, and Love
    365 words
    Special Challenge

    “This, to me, represents love,” Lawrence said with a hurt tone. He set down his rifle in defeat and implored me with teary blue eyes that usually got what they wanted. But not this time! My foot was down and I had no intention of budging it.

    I swear, I don’t know what had gotten into the man. Two years of perfectly ordinary marriage, and then he became a health nut. First he had wanted me to grow a garden “for the benefit of our health.” I readily complied. Even I was tired of the wilted greens available in the local grocery. Then came making bread and pasta from scratch because “we have no idea what effect those preservatives have on our bodies.” That one had taken a little more persuading, but a couple research papers eventually did the trick. Just last month he started hunting for our meat, and today, he was asking the inconceivable.

    “Well it doesn’t represent love to me!” I exclaimed, careful to keep my eyes averted from the hulking carcass draped across the front porch. “I will NOT help you dress that…that… thing!”

    His lower lip protruded in a heart-melting pout, "But-"

    “No buts!” I cut in quickly, steeling myself against his experienced offense. I couldn’t even stuff a turkey without passing out, let alone deal with all that gristly tissue and fur. It was terrifying! I felt my face blanch and little black dots crowded my vision.

    “Just the thought of…” I reached out a hand to steady myself against the kitchen counter as the black dots grew bigger and the ocean crashed against my ear drums. I waited until the feeling passed and tried again.

    “Just the thought of…” Nope, I was going to faint. Heat rushed over my body as I broke into a cold sweat and my stomach tied itself up in knots.
    The last thing I remember was Lawrence’s look of alarm as he reached out to try to catch me, gun clattering to the floor roughly the same time I did.

    One good thing did come out of that concussion, though. My meat now comes to me pre-cleaned, pre-cut, and pre-packaged in brown paper.

    1. I shall be around for the holidays and able to judge!

    2. I don't quite understand the ending, although I feel like I really should. The visceral angle went over well with me. I like that approach for flash. Overall, nice work.

  4. This, to me, represents love, and all that I have lost. I pulled the covers up over my head and cried, certainly not for the first time, but most definitely the last. Every day, every morning, for thirty-seven years, it was the same. I'd never been able to tell my family about the terror I felt when the night was coming to an end and the sky began to lose its comforting darkness, but I could tell her. And such was her love for me, that we spent every day inside, a dog-eared copy of Poor Richard's next to the bed, letting me know when that demon of the skies would vanish beneath the horizon, and lived in a world of artificial light and neon stars.

    She didn't leave me alone often during the day, going out only when business had to get done during banker's hours, and was content to share our mutual quietude.

    But now she was gone.

    When I’d been a younger man, I was able to fight through my fears, ignoring the accelerating patter of my heart and the sweat that beaded on my hairline in order to get through the day, but then came a day that didn’t work anymore. For a while longer, as long as it was cloudy, so that the sky was a deep and featureless grey, I could still leave home between sunup and sundown, but then that, too, faded, and I became a denizen of the night.

    When she’d first gotten sick, I was terrified. I couldn’t lose her – she was my lifeline. She had never made fun of me, or belittled my fears, and she was my connection to a world where I wasn’t a prisoner of DNA and neurochemistry, but normal. A man who could love and be loved.

    From my cocoon of blankets, I couldn’t see the lack of dimness that characterized morning in my world, but I knew it was coming. Sunrise was at 6:37:42 today. It would be 6:38:17 tomorrow. For everyone else but me.

    One day without her was enough.

    346 words

    I will not be around on the 24th, but I will be on the 31st.

    1. I see you're continuing your dark streak... :) LOVE this. Beautifully imagined and written neurosis.

      Makes your post script a bit worrisome, however... "I will not be around on the 24th..."

    2. Very nice. The dark literary approach came off elegantly here. You made the protagonist just sympathetic enough to be dismayed by his decision at the end.

  5. “This, to me, represents love.” I held up a dozen cut roses. They had been Valerie’s favorite kind. Yellow in the middle, with red along the edges. I will never forget the day she left. She didn’t say where she was going. She just left a note, explaining she was leaving to find herself.

    “Roses?” Helen laughed. “The ancient symbol of love, and beauty.” She looked at the roses. “And they are beautiful.”

    Helen was a good friend. I sometimes dreamed of falling for her. But it was always just a dream. I knew it couldn’t happen. She was my friend. And love? Well. All I had to do was remember Valerie.

    And remembering Valerie always caused me to hear Dan McCafferty’s voice, screaming in my mind.

    “Love hurts,
    Love scars,
    Love wounds,
    And mars,
    Any heart
    Not tough or strong enough
    To take a lot of pain,
    Take a lot of pain.”

    I knew I’d never fall in love again. I knew I’d never survive that kind of pain again. I could still see holes in my heart where pieces had been. Pieces gone since Valerie left.
    “You think they’re beautiful?” I had to ask.

    “Yes,” she smiled, and grabbed my hand, slipping her fingers between mine. “But, fleeting.”

    “How so?”

    “They’re cut. They’re pretty enough now. But in a few days, they’re whither. Their petals will turn brown, and black, and fall off. And they’ll become slimy where they’re in the water in the vase.” She squeezed my hand. It felt good. I squeezed back, enjoying the simple physical contact. Just being able to touch her. Feel her hand in mine. I always found my smile when we held hands.

    “Yep. Just like love.”

    She frowned, but didn’t let go of my hand. “I know. You’re still wounded from her.”

    I had to stare at the roses. I couldn’t look at Helen. Not right then. I couldn’t let her see the parts of me missing. I couldn’t.

    I was too afraid. Afraid of what she’d see. Afraid of what I’d feel. Afraid of how I felt about her. Afraid of so many things.

    “It’s OK. The roses always grow back.” She smiled again. “Every year, they bloom again.” She put her hand under my chin, and gently lifted it up, looking into my eyes. “Just like love blooms again.”

    I handed her the roses. “For you.” I whispered those words.

    She squeezed my hand again. “I love them.” She smiled. “And I’m not going anywhere.” She kept looking into my eyes. “I’ve got plenty of time. I intend to wait for spring, when love blooms again.” She let me look away, but kept holding my hand.

    “I’ll wait for the roses to bloom again.”

    456 words

    1. Oh. Yeah. Forgot. The song is Nazareth's Love Hurts. :)

    2. I think you tried to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of words. It felt slightly over-encumbered, but otherwise nicely done. It was good as a flash piece, don't get me wrong; I think it could've been really good if the word count limit were higher.

  6. "I Love It"
    310 words
    Special Challenge: Accepted

    “This, to me, represents love,” said Marco. He fished through the contents of his glove compartment. The tail of his blazer flopped in the breeze.

    I smoothed my dress, holding back my smile to a “sane” level. My heart thumped.

    Marco held his clasped hand out in front of me. His face was calm, cool.

    I placed my open palm beneath Marco’s fist. The warmth of his skin reminded me it was freezing out. I blushed, shivering both from the moment and the bitter cold.

    My mouth went bone dry. I stared at the locket in my hand. My breathing flexed from zero to sixty in less than a moment. I peered into Marco’s pale green eyes, then immediately ducked my head in a fit of coughing.

    “I love it,” I said. This time I had to fake a smile. Memories of my mother, found blue-faced in her bed a few months ago, clutching a gold locket in her dead hands, flooded my mind.

    “Open it up.” Marco put a hand on my shoulder. I tried to keep it from twitching.

    With my newly French-manicured nails, the locket was easy to open; it still took a few seconds of determined focus to resist my urge to throw it down and run. If the parking lot wasn’t a sheet of ice I may have done it anyway…

    Inside was a picture of Marco and me on the day we met: Picture Day, third grade. I had pigtails. He had an argyle sweater about as cheesy as his grin. “We’ve sure changed a lot,” I mumbled.

    “What’s that?” Marco asked.

    I pulled him into a tight embrace. “I love it.” I paused. “And I love you.”

    “I love you too, Honey.” The wind helped hide my squirming as he placed the locket around my neck. It’s really very lovely, I told myself.

    Yeah, I could judge. Note: I've never written romance from the female POV before. It's kind of strange, since I'm male...It was nice to try it out here, though.

  7. Two Roads Diverged

    “This, to me, represents love. It’s something visible…tangible. It’s the physical manifestation of our commitment to each other, Calvin. Please don’t dismiss it without at least having a look around. Please?” The imploring tone in her voice cut to my inner core as inexorably as a dagger might.

    I swallowed down the nausea and stepped across the threshold of the house. It was a modest bungalow in a reasonably-affluent neighborhood and would be the perfect starter home for a pair of newlyweds with the financial wherewithal to occupy it. She and I were certainly that. So, what was my problem with it?

    It was the same problem that had seen me rent five different apartments since I’d moved to the city twelve years earlier. It was the same problem I tried, with indifferent success, to control…to subvert with three different psychotropic medications and a dozen hours a week of psychotherapy. It was a problem that had harried and hounded me since my early teens.

    To her, it embodied the future…potentialities and possibilities. To her, it was an opportunity to take two disparate individuals and bind them together as one in purpose, one in intent, one inextricably joined entity.

    To me, it was a prison…an anchor and a millstone. To me, it was a commitment to abandon my identity and be forever subsumed into the inevitable complacency of married life. If she were to have her way, there would be no more “me” and “her” but, instead, there would become this entirely uncertain and unfounded “us”.

    This was not a point open for discussion or dissention. This was, in simplest terms, her metaphorical and her material attempt to draw a line in the sand and defy me to not step over it. We had been engaged for nearly five years. She knew all of my issues…my foibles…my flaws. This was her effort to sweep those to the side once and for all. This was her gambit to force me to choose between indulging my limitations and exorcising my demons. I could make this one great step forward…with her…to her…or I was free to continue to live my solitary life however I saw best without her as a part of it.

    Standing there on the beige Berber carpet, my eyes swept the room. The polished sheen of the oak wood moldings, the strength and solidity of the rafter beams, the smooth plaster of the walls did not impress me so much as taunt me. They defied me to prove myself worthy of their permanence and their comforts. They challenged me to find within the necessary resolve, the requisite stability to put aside that which most threatened my future and bound me forever to an unsatisfactory past.

    I would like to say I met that challenge boldly and bravely. I would love to speak of the triumph of my will over my demons. But such was not to be. I turned and fled it all and have never looked backward without embracing regret.

    500 words @klingorengi

  8. Threadbare
    “This, to me, represents love…” The letter was written to explain why they had to divorce. She shook her head in irritation. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband had no concept of love and staying strong through the hard times. She continued lost in thought when she almost tripped over the child curled up against the wall in the street.
    Streaks of dirt only highlighted the deeper dirt that covered the child. His clothing was threadbare, the patches in the knees worn through. He didn’t meet her eyes. She saw many passed him by giving him no notice. But this was a child. All children deserved notice.
    Kneeling down, she asked him, “Where are your parents?” He tilted his head as if uncertain what she said. He tugged at his ear and then she realized he was using a rudimentary sign language. She only drove into town to straighten out some legal matters. “Legal matters”…such a cold way to refer to the dissolution of a marriage. Still, she could not ignore this child. Decision made, she held out her hand.
    The boy studied the hand with its neatly painted nails. He could not recall a clean hand offered his way. People on the streets would drag him along, making sure he made it to a shelter to get something to eat…most of the time. Sometimes, though, he hid amongst the trash, disappearing. She shook her hand with a little impatience. He saw her mouth move, knowing she was trying to tell him something. Finally, he slowly took her hand.
    She hesitated at first before fully grasping the hand. She could feel the greasy grasp slide over her fingers. She fought against her instinct. She told herself, “It’s just dirt! It’s just dirt!” She pushed back the desire to put a handkerchief between their hands. Shaking away the physical discomfort, she continued walking down the sidewalk. The attorney wouldn’t be far and he could advise her about the child.
    “Odd,” she thought. “My problem with dirt…with unclean things is what pushed my husband and me apart. Even…getting personal makes me physically ill. Yet, I am holding the hand of this dirty child.” She looked over at him as he squirmed a little and caught him scratching. “…this dirty, LICE RIDDEN child.” Reaching the entrance to the attorney, she turned towards him.
    “I know you can’t understand me, but you need to trust me.” He stared at her uncomprehendingly, sniffing. Then he took his hand and dragged it across the offending nose. Fighting nausea, she shakily took that hand back into hers as they climbed the steps. “I can do this…I can do this…” she continued to chant as they opened the door.
    “Hello, Mrs. Sanders. You’re a few minutes ear…” The receptionist cut her statement short. “Oh..oh…ummm…what’s this?”
    “This is a who…and I’m not sure but we need to figure something out.” The boy stared out the window as rain began to fall. At least, he thought, I am dry for now.

    498 words...challenge accepted...this is my first flash fiction. Be gentle. ;)