Monday, February 2, 2015


Welcome back! My son informed me yesterday that it is too cold (he must not remember last year) and that he wanted to migrate to somewhere warmer. He had high hopes that the groundhog would not see his shadow (as it was cloudy here this morning) and spring would be on its way. Alas, the sun ruined his plans, so how about you give us some good reading material for the six extra weeks of winter to come? Thanks. Have at it!

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
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 Nancy Chenier, also known as @rowdy_phantom. Check out her blog here. Read her winning tale from last week hereNancy stumbled into flash fiction when the squidlet was born, as writing time has to be carved out of sporadic nap times and sane bedtimes. When not writing, she's probably doing something outdoors. She's eternally grateful for contests like FTT and the incredible flash community (shout out to #flashdogs) for providing such a supportive venue for writers.

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-31 is:

[It] wasn't supposed to be like this.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Write in second person.



  1. Timothy 1:12

    She wasn’t supposed to be like this. You asked for one that was docile. You specifically requested that her intentions were to please you. And most of all, you demanded—insisted—that she be obedient.

    Instead, she challenges you on all decisions. When you tell her it’s time for bed, she stares defiantly at you. The time you touched her without permission was the closest you came to death.

    You grow weary of her ways.

    The day comes that she upstaged you when your friends were over. Your mates laughed at you. They offered you a spine because they said you were too weak to have your own.

    That night, after they left, you may have grown intoxicated. You may have marched over to her. You may have lifted her off the sofa with the intention of demanding love.

    You made a grave mistake. Razors tear at your skin and teeth rip into your arms.

    Why did you ever get a cat?

    163 Words
    “Special” Challenge accepted

    1. Ha! This made me laugh out loud. Was not expecting that ending.


  2. The end wasn't supposed to be like this, but there she was, sprawled on the hearth, head split on the bricks, life oozing from the wound.

    “It was an accident” you tell yourself, but you know what the police are going to see – your most recent transgression surfaces in your memory like a bloated corpse in a flooding graveyard – you were in a bar brawl, just last week.

    There would be witnesses, probably dozens, each bearing a tantalizing tale of your barbarianism. Giddily bathing in the gasps of horrified reaction, each would be eager to serve up another offering to the god of your condemnation.

    Until this moment, you've stood frozen, staring at her, but you've become suddenly aware of your pulse, telegraphing a psychotic “S.O.S” to your limbs. Now, the overwhelming instinct is to go.

    You put on your jacket, grab your keys, and tuck your cell phone into your pocket. The familiar cadence of the going almost makes you forget the “why” of it.

    You stop.

    The plan appears in your mind suddenly, but you are as instantly certain it is right. You return your jacket, wallet, and keys. Locking the door, you step outside, pulling it closed behind you. Turning, you kick at it until the jamb gives away.

    “He confronted me in the kitchen,” you imagine yourself telling the police, “and we fought there”.

    You careen around the room, wrestling the imaginary perpetrator. Realizing there will have to be fresh wounds, you blacken your eye and re-split your lip on the refrigerator door.

    “She tried to stop us,” you imagine saying, as you and the invisible intruder bounce into the living room, “but she fell backward.”

    You stand still, breathing heavy.

    “He ran out when he saw she was hurt,” you say to the empty room.
    Within the hour, you're giving your statement to an officer who seems to believe your story.

    “Did you know the perpetrator?” he asks.

    Your mind conjures up a convenient face from the bar fight, recollecting the disgusting things he was saying about your wife and her “kind”.

    “Yeah, I knew him,” you say, “It was Connie Brown. You know, the skinhead.”

    “Connie Brown,” the officer repeats, “you sure?”

    “It was Connie Brown,” you say, loud enough to halt the neighbors' whispers. In the ensuing silence, you scream it again, almost believing it yourself, now, “Connie Brown did this! Connie Brown killed my Joan!”

    “Sir,” the officer says, “Connie Brown was found dead this morning. Someone shot him.”

    You turn, slack-mouthed, to the police officer.

    “No,” you say.

    “When did you say you last saw Mr. Brown?”

    “No,” you say again.

    “I'm going to have to ask you to come with me,” the officer says.

    “No,” you say again, as the handcuffs go on, and again as you are placed in the cruiser.

    You say the word over and over, longer and louder, until the sound becomes a wailing cry that no one can hear over the patrol car's siren.

    Special Challenge accepted

    1. Love this. Well done. The psychotic "S.O.S" to your limbs. Great line.

    2. Man, been there, done this.
      Well played sir. A fun comeuppance.

    3. Thank you for your feedback. I am glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Death Before Life
    237 words
    Special Challenge Accepted

    It wasn’t supposed to be like this. You were supposed to be born with wide open eyes, pink skin, and a loud cry that could only bring joy to your mother’s ears. Instead, your skin was pasty gray and mottled. Your face was so perfectly formed, but the blood had drained from your lips.

    You were placed in your mother's arms wrapped in a blue blanket by the doctors. They said you had died days before. You were moving and then you ceased to exist. Dying before you were even born. In the womb, they knew you. Your kicks brightened your parents' days, and they could imagine you as you would be: one year old, six, sixteen, graduating from college. The days you lived in their minds are the only days you’ll have lived on this earth.

    Instead, you’re lying in a wooden box, surrounded by flowers and a blue teddy bear that was supposed to grace your crib. Your brother sits on the pew next to your mother and father, swinging his legs as if the prospect of your existence was just a figment of his imagination.

    Your lungs will never suck in air. Your heart will never beat again. Your smile will never brighten up your parents' days. Your brother will never know you. But, they will never forget you existed, even if only for the briefest moment in time. Your name will live forever upon their lips.

    1. Tragic and touching. Thank you for sharing.

    2. "Nationwide is on your side..."

      Gorgeous and sad. This draws out more emotion than a superbowl ad. Great take on the prompt.

  4. Have Another
    399 words
    Special challenge accepted

    It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

    Every time the second hand ticks you die a little more inside. You haven’t been able to take your eyes off the clock for a solid hour. The professor is still droning on about flora or fauna or something; you don’t care. You can’t even remember what class you’re in right now. You vaguely remember signing up for university in the distant past. Your parents said they were proud of you.

    Would they still be proud if they could see you now?

    You shift uncomfortably in your seat.

    It wasn’t supposed to be like this. “Go on, have another,” John said.

    You like John. John is handsome and talented and sometimes he helps with your homework. You don’t actually need help with your homework but it’s nice to lean over the books with him. You’ve liked him since you met him at the beginning of the year. He’s nice to you. He sits down to talk with you. Your friends like him. He likes your friends.

    “Go on, have another,” he said. He held it out for you. He smiled and you saw that dimple you like so much.

    You took another because you didn’t want to tell him the truth.

    Did the professor just say something about a purple rhinoceros? Why on Earth would any of your lectures involve a purple rhinoceros…Oh. You must be hallucinating. Your body is so uncomfortable it’s trying to amuse itself with whimsical images.

    If only you could speed up time, or teleport yourself out of the classroom. You know if you get up and leave the professor will call you out in front of everyone. You’ve seen it before. You would have to explain, and the explaining might do you in.

    Ugh. Why did you say yes? Is John really that hot?

    Well, yeah. But…

    Tick, tick, tick, says that second hand. The purple rhinoceros winks at you. You consider giving it the finger, but you don’t want anyone to notice.

    No, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. If John would only get his act together and admit that he’s wildly in love with you, you’d be able to start sharing important information about yourself.

    For instance – your lactose intolerance.

    Your stomach rumbles. If you don’t get out of here soon, you’re going to have more to regret than that last slice of pizza.

  5. After the Shouting Stage

    @geofflepard 487 words. Special challenge accepted.

    It wasn't supposed to be like this.

    You found me buried in my book and my insecurities and spilt coffee on my leg. You had me with that first apology. How many apologies does it take to bind two people?

    You shifted feet like slipping sand, like you were unsure of yourself. Was that the first silent lie? But that smile. That held me like no magnet has ever gripped iron, punching air out of my lungs with a boxer's ferocity.

    Did you court me, such an ill-suited companion? Looking back now it was a slow dance of attraction deliberately glacial in speed and its impact on my defences. You knew it would take time to persuade a bookish loner to forget the lessons learnt from the page and accept love as three dimensional reality; but once worn down, you have no prism through which to judge whether the messages the body sends contradict the words.

    You slipped inside and we became one. You held my fears in your soft slight hands and pressed them into joys of touch. You slipped a ring across my reluctant knuckle - I should have heeded its prescient resistance.

    At what point did I sense the invisible shutters close around me, when you took my thoughts and crushed my words into unintended, selfish cruelties? I was twisted and twisting, in a vortex with no end.

    When finally I found my voice – in the self-same cafe where you soaked my leg – you still had the power to deny it oxygen. You said, with that stupid grin of yours curdling on your lips, that I had reached the shouting stage, so you left. No remorse, you walked out, taking my hopes with you.

    The hole you left me in was sheer-sided, bottomless but you don't know you're own strength until you're asked the question, do you? You said you were doing me the biggest favour, didn't you? You left me to find my own light. I didn't know, even as my body mended whether my soul would too.

    And then that call, the stern faces, the assumptions, the expected loyalty, the endless emotions. You would have seen the absurdity – your motionless eyes watching me for signs of meaning. I knew you could see even when they said you couldn't. I held the hand whose fist knew where to hurt, I wiped the brow that knew how to create a torment of doubt with a single crease, I creamed those tendentious lips, smoothing away their cracked insincerities. I knew, as they didn’t, that you wanted to be allowed to go.

    And here we are, you and me, your very existence depending on me. You wouldn't hesitate, would you, to turn the machine off? The ultimate proof of your dominion.

    You left me once, indifferent and on your terms. The next time you go, the final time, it will be on mine. Only not yet.

    1. Excellent example of a flash piece - so few words encompassing many years of a relationship. Very nice work.

  6. @stellakateT
    Challenge accepted
    185 words

    Home Truths

    It wasn’t supposed to be like this. You’d known for ages how it would end. You’d chosen your words so careful and delighted in everyone’s reactions. Watching how some tried to suppress giggles others astounded by your guile. Smoothing the creases in your dress you sat demurely on the over sized chair looking like a tiny child, you’d never been that. Your mum said you’d always had an old head on young shoulders. Remember what you’d told your aunties that they were all sitting in God’s waiting room, they were horrified. Your mum pacified them by saying she couldn’t be cross because you always told the truth, however inconvenient it was for others.

    Today of all days you should have kept your counsel. You were supposed to be my best friend not my nemesis. You looked so beautiful in purple taffeta. Not minding that you outshone everyone, glittering like the brightest star. When the vicar asked does anybody know of any lawful impediment why this man should not marry this woman? You should have kept quiet. No one needed to know let alone the bride.

  7. Flags at Sunset

    352 words - Special Challenge accepted

    “It wasn't supposed to be like this,” you said.
    “What was it supposed to be like,” I asked.
    I swear a corona of regret emanated from you, glowing with dark-fire. Did you think it would last forever, that things would carry on the same. Consequences were never really your strong point. We discussed it several times over the years.
    A ship took off, its roar vibrated through the open hangar door masking whatever you said.
    “What?” I shouted.
    You shook your head and turned away. The wash from the ship was still strong enough to pluck your chador, fluttering it like the flags that hung from Kharoum Tower to proclaim judgement had been executed.
    “Where’s she going?” Jonas asked.
    I shook my head and turned to him. “Wherever she goes when we fight.”
    You came back as the Meuzzin was calling adhan. A shrill voice in the warm evening air, the acoustics from the truncated minaret bounced her voice from a high-sided warehouse.
    Taking the plate of lamb and rice I offered you sat and ate in silence. Afterwards you cuddled against me and whispered your own statement of faith, a steadily diminishing list of names.
    I’ve heard all of them. From the first time we met, when the list was still sixty-four long, and you had yet to receive your new arms, I have heard those names. Sometimes I heard them as you slept, muttered in low gasping tones that dissolved into the screams which would wake you up.
    The next day the fight was forgotten. It had to be.
    “You’re Kateb Zaida?” The officer looked unafraid. The three soldiers with weapons ready behind him were more nervous. “Come with me.”
    They took us both to Kharoum Tower and kept us separate. I didn’t even see you at our trial. When they bought me to the scaffold you were already there. Your sleeves hung by your side, empty.
    “It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” you said.
    “I know.”
    The black flags weren’t fluttering yet. But they had them ready to run up the flag-poles.


  8. Untitled
    391 words, Special challenge accepted

    It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

    The embers continued to eat at the walls long after the flames had died out and the casualties were massive. Gore oozed out and puddled in the streets. The damage was irreversible. A complete demolition was called for and the entire structure would have to be built again from scratch.

    You thought you made a wise choice. You considered the decision so carefully. The measure of a good leader shows through how one delegates the tasks at hand. Your chief builder met all of your standards. You trusted her. And now this.

    You take a deep breath as the fire alarms fade and the smoke clears. You try to tell yourself that it’s not so bad. It could have been much worse. It was just one building. Most of the town is already finished. Only Main Street is still incomplete and you aren’t pushing right up to the deadline yet. There’s time to make this right. You’ll just have to be more directly involved this time around.

    “I’m so sorry,” your builder says for the hundredth time through her tears. She’s taking this as a personal defeat.

    You wrap an arm around her shoulders in a gesture of comfort and hope that your disappointment doesn’t come through.

    “It’s alright,” you say, the words hollow and unconvincing. You mentally tally all of the things you’ll need to move around in the next week to make time for this.

    Your builder picks up on you insincerity and begins to cry harder. As you watch her tears fall, your sympathies flare. She is still so young. And this was her first solo job. Maybe it had been unfair, unwise even, to allow her to proceed without your supervision. Perhaps some of the blame is yours.

    You make a list in your head of the materials you need to pick up at the store again to replace the damaged ones. More flour, certainly, and sugar, eggs, butter. And more of those stupid gummi bears now that the previous population was cooling into a gelatinous mass.

    “Next time, honey,” you say with a heavy sigh as you pull your twelve-year-old daughter (who is maybe not quite Chief Builder material yet) into a proper hug, “you decorate a gingerbread house after it’s cooked. And, for heaven’s sake, set a timer.”

    Erin Blake

  9. Oh, sheesh. Ignore the tense shift in the last line of the second-to-last paragraph. The "was" should be "is".

  10. Sleep wasn't supposed to be like this. You said that sleep would come naturally, like eating peanut butter sandwiches.

    “You’ll love it-won’t want to get up in the morning. It is called ‘sleeping in.’”

    “You’re sure about that? Sleep sounds scary—possibly monsters underneath your bed. Seen a movie about one last week.”

    You said nothing in response.

    Nighttime showed up without a sound. Time to have sleepy-time tea, deep feather pillows and a fuzzy two piece pajama set bought just that morning at Target. The alarm clock was set—six o’clock sharp.

    “What next?”

    “Close your eyes and count sheep. Relax. Sleep only comes if you don’t look for it.”

    Eyes closed. Check. Sheep started to appear, but not white fluffy harmless ones. The first was a deep purple with green eyes and wicked smile that winked before disappearing over a hedge.

    Next one had black razor sharp teeth and danced close to the bed—peering at me. Something red dripped from black teeth—looked like raspberry jam. Soon twenty sheep circled the bed—they looked hungry and not for peanut butter or grass sandwiches.

    “Help! Hungry sheep aren’t jumping over the fence—you said to count sheep! Twenty sheep are circling the quilt and down-filled pillows!”

    You came out of the darkness towards the sheep around the bed dressed just like a sheep with red wool and dark blue eyes.

    “Help fight off the monsters! Thank you for being here. This dream is scary with sheep monsters.”

    But you kept saying, “Sleep is natural. Sleep is easy. It’s like peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Close your eyes.”

    You took the first bite.

    Rose Ketring