Cover

Title

Flash 500

 

Anniversary Edition of Writer Wednesday Blog Hop # 1

 

Edited and Compiled by Nicole Pyles and Carrie K. Sorensen

 

Copyright

Original content published on writers’ and photographers’ websites. All the stories and photographs were reprinted into the anthology with permission for one time publication rights only. All rights belong to the photographers and the writers.

 

The words had no choice. 

They never do.

 

Cover Art by Nicole Pyles and Carrie Sorensen, photos used in the cover belong to the photographers, Copyright © 2013

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not engage in or participate in the piracy of this book and other materials.

 

 

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

 

- Albert Einstein

 

Introduction

Introduction in 500 Words or Less by Nicole Pyles

 

I started my blog back in 2011 as a way to document my journey as a writer. I had just graduated from college and wanted to blog about what I learned about myself as a writer, searched for inspiration, and kept on writing. I have been regularly blogging for two years now and I am still on that journey.

 

But since starting my blog, a lot has changed. It's amazing how much can happen over two years. My blog has taken a different shape and my posts and approach with blogging has changed over time. However, one thing has remained a consistent -

 

My weekly writing prompt.

 

The prompt began six months or so after starting my blog. That's when I met Carrie, who joined me in the new adventure. Initially, it was just a way for writers to find each other and read their blogs. But then, I felt like it was time for a change. Luckily, Carrie was right on board with this next idea and we turned a simple "blog link up" to a writing prompt.

 

One year later, many of the writers who have joined us along the way, have been the biggest teachers about the writing process. I have learned a lot about the writing process myself and while I may not always have the time, I feel like the stories I write as a result of this prompt have so much spirit and life in them, that I forget they are just under 500 words. I find this inspiring.

 

I have loved reading all the stories contributed each week and I am so proud to be part of this creative process. Whether it's one writer or five, I am touched by the stories that have come about by this simple idea. Each week, I look forward to bringing everyone together and seeing what can be created from one photo, five words, and a five hundred word limit.

 

I hope you enjoy what we have compiled together. If you happen to be inspired by any of the writing prompts you see here, let us know and we would love to see what you have created. At the end of the anthology, you will find the links to the (now) four co-hosts of the writing prompt. Carrie and I were lucky to be joined by Leanne and Tena for our weekly excursion. So, please stop by and see what we have going on this week and join in on the fun!

 

A special thank you to the photographers and writers who agreed to appear in our anniversary publication. An extra special thank you to Carrie for doing so much work in bringing this publication together.

 

 

 

Introduction in 500 Words or Less by Carrie K Sorensen

 

When Nicole asked for co-hosts for this new weekly blog hop challenge, I thought it would be a great idea to get involved, but was terrified of participating myself. My history with flash fiction was always writing 2-3,000 words, then having to hack it to pieces to fit into the predetermined restraints.

 

Since then, I've been successfully writing the flash in under 400 words. It has made my novel writing more concise as well and has helped me look at beginnings in a new way. When you only have 500 words to tell the whole story, you can't spend them all on an introduction, after all.

 

Then the crazy idea for this publication came up last year in the Autumn. It was a great idea I wasn't sure was going to work, but we plugged away at it anyway in our free time. At some point this new year, we realized it could actually work and take shape and have going full steam ever since.

 

We are so grateful to all the artists and writers who contribute to our weekly prompt and in turn have agreed to be featured in Flash 500, hopefully just our first volume. We would like this publication to help promote their fantastic blogs and other publications while introducing you to their creative and unique works.

 

And thanks to Nicole, for her super crazy ideas that always turn out fantastic once made real.

 

Also, as a side note. Any typos, random characters or other strange occurrences throughout the ebook can be blamed on my overly helpful one year old, who would also like to grow up to be a writer one day. Or, at least, grow big enough to use a computer.

 

 

How it Works

How It Works

 

Each week, a group of blog hostesses led by Nicole Pyles put together a weekly prompt made of one photograph and 5 words. Participants must include the five words and the photo in their flash fiction. They should keep it to 500 words, then link up with their hostess to share their work and their blogs.

 

Not everyone quite sticks to the rules (as you may see while reading), but the spirit of the Writer's Wednesday Blog Hop remains in each piece. One of our rules, after all, is don't stress, just have fun and write.

 

We weren't able to feature all of our favorites here, but we have an amazing selection, nonetheless. The stories are presented in order of prompt post date. We also have an Index in the back that will list the stories by author for you. So please read on, and feel free to visit your favorite authors as you discover them.

Week of 4/10/2012

Week of 4/10/2012

 

 

Words Required

 

Ham

 

Spike

 

Parity

 

Girders

 

Sale

 

 

 

 

Darling, What is that Smell? by Nicole Pyles

 

Rava entered into the ballroom, keeping close to Bruce. She hated the lot of people in this place, all blubbering snobs dying to lay in a bed of their own money. She was here only to fulfill Bruce's wishes to rub elbows with the men who drank their whiskey out of enormous glasses.

 

"Darling, I'm off to find ..." Bruce didn't finish his sentence, only waved her off.

 

"Fine." Rava needed a drink if she was going to make it through the evening. She wandered towards the open bar, her only saving grace in this place. Only a few steps away from Bruce, Rava was yanked back to Bruce's side.

 

"Bruce, what are you doing?"

 

"Darling ... what is that smell?"

 

Rava sniffed. She put her nose to under her arm, and sniffed again. She leaned up and sniffed Bruce's neck. "Smells like cologne to me, darling. Must have been the one I bought you on sale."

 

Bruce kept his eye on the crowd, as if warding off an attack. "No, it does not smell like cologne ... it smells ..." Bruce sniffed again. "... Like ham."

 

"Ham? Darling?"

 

Bruce nodded. "Ham."

 

Rava leaned in closer, and brought her voice down to a whisper. "Why does it smell like ham?"

 

"Damned if I know! Go spike the punch."

 

Rava motioned to the open bar. "But darling there is an open bar ..."

 

"I can't chance anyone to be sober in this party. Go spike the punch."

 

Rava walked towards the punch table, and muscled in between two women with enormous behinds. "'Scuse me, ladies." Alone at the table, Rava reached into her handbag and brought out a tiny bottle of vodka she kept handy, and poured it into the bowl

 

Bruce raced over to her, weaving in and out of the dancing couples. "Did you do it?"

 

"Yes, darling. Why are you so concerned about the ham smell?"

 

"Don't be ridiculous. Now be careful with the alcohol tonight Rava. I don't want you hanging from the girders again."

 

"Girders?"

 

"Rafters."

 

"Ah, of course." Rava leaned her head against Bruce's shoulder. "You know one day, darling, we will achieve parity with these people."

 

"Parody?" Bruce looked down at his wife, confused.

 

"Parity. Equality."

 

Bruce turned, and pulled Rava closer. "One day we will, my love. I promise you Rava. But damn it, darling, what the hell smells like ham?"

 

 

About Nicole Pyles

 

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Communication in 2011 and works in marketing. When she's not daydreaming about the California sunshine she grew up on, she's writing about fantasy, horror, and science fiction (and sometimes all three at once). She's currently editing a fantasy novel she started when she was 15 (and just finished just l Most of her editing work is done on her smartphone during her bus ride home. You can visit her blog World of My Imagination or find her on Google Plus.

 

 

 

 

Picassa's Bridge by Carrie K. Sorensen

 

The small fire at our feet crackled. My brother poked at it with a metal spike he had found buried in the dirt. He said it was better to use the spike than another piece of wood that would be better to burn. I knew he just liked to hold its weight in his hand while he played with the flames.

 

"Can you get my book for me, Mason?" He poked the fire again before climbing into the girders of the bridge where we kept our favorite things. The climb was too difficult for a short girl like me, but my brother's long limbs made it easily.

 

I slipped a dirty, wrinkled piece of paper from my pocket and smoothed it over my lap. It was a black and white picture I tore from a brochure showing the two stars of some old movie playing at the historic theater downtown. I loved the sharp lines of his black suit, how her necklace seemed an extension of the gems adorning her pale gown. They looked happy, like they didn't have to worry about a thing.

 

I liked to stare at the picture and pretend they were our family, that there had once been parity

between them and my brother and me.

 

A scraping noise from above had me quickly folding the picture and putting it away. Mason did not like my daydreams.

 

"Here you go, Picassa." I stuck out my tongue as I took my sketchbook. My name was really Amy, but he liked to call me Picassa because it was the girl form of Picasso. Mason thought it should be my artist name. I told him I liked Amy Winkle just fine.

 

I took the broken crayons Mason swiped for me from the kids menus in restaurants and began my nightly drawings. The sale of my sketches earned us pennies here, a dollar or two there. Tonight we had earned enough to get a few ham sandwiches from the convenience store on the corner, the one where they didn't always kick us out at first sight.

 

I worked for a few hours while Mason pounded the spike into the dirt a few times. "It's a good thing we have you, Picassa," he murmured, glancing at my latest sketch. "One day I'll get you something real to draw with and on. One day, people will pay a lot more for your stuff than a few pennies."

 

I smiled at Mason in thanks, knowing he meant it, trusting his promise. If it wasn't for Mason, we wouldn't be here, together. The bridge wasn't much of a place to live, but it was a home because we shared it.

 

"I think it's time to sleep now," Mason suggested, easing the notebook out of my hands. I didn't resist, realizing I'd already fallen asleep over my sketches. He moved quickly, putting my book back in place, then sitting down beside me, his arms around my shoulders as the fire cracked a lullaby.

 

 

About Carrie K. Sorensen

 

I am the mommy of two fantastic little boys, three boxers and one mutt. My husband and my story is truly a fairy tale of modern origins. I attended Arizona State University for a B.A. but am lucky enough to be a stay at home mother to my amazing brood.

 

I write in whatever free time I can steal for myself, mostly fantasy or paranormal. I have lived in the country, the city and the suburbs, and I definitely prefer the suburbs. Still, the forest is what inspires me most, with velvet shadows, hidden nooks and possible fairy circles around the next corner.

 

http://chasingrevery.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

Sam and Janet Evening by Randy Lindsay

 

What I present to you is the dialogue from Sam and Janet Evening.

 

"Oh, darling." Janet batted her eyes. "Isn't that a delightful buffet table?"

 

"I suppose it might be," Sam responded coolly. "If a person was into such things."

 

"Don't be that way. This is a party. And you know what that means?"

 

"It means Harold Smithers will boast about the record-setting sales for his abysmal home furnishing stores. What a colossal bore."

 

"You silly boy. A party means – Free Food!!!"

 

"There is that as well. With any luck someone will have spiked the punch. That should bring a little parity to the participants. The inebriated and the incompetent will be able to hold conversations on even terms at last."

 

"Pshaw." Janet waved away the comment. "Be a dear and fetch me a platter full of those ham and cheese h'ordeuvres. They look simply ravishing."

 

"Do you think that is wise?" Sam gave her a sideways glance.

 

"No, but I simply must have them."

 

Sam sighed and made his way to the buffet table, muttering under his breath. "I do hope that the girders are up to the task of supporting both my wife and her appetite."

 

 

About Randy Lindsay

 

Randy is a native of Arizona. In his spare time he likes to play games with his children, fish, and conduct family history research. His stories have been published in Gentle Strength Quarterly, The City of the Gods: Mythic Tales, and Penumbra. Two more have been purchased for publication this year; one for the second City of the Gods anthology and the other for the Once Upon An Apocalypse anthology by Chaosium.

 

http://randylindsay.blogspot.com/

Week of 4/25/2012

Week of 4/25/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Newcastle Wedding Photographer

 

 

Words Required

 

Steering Wheel

 

Corner

 

CD

 

Video

 

Diving Board

 

 

 

 

Rough Tides by Carrie K. Sorensen

 

No one parked straight in the concrete lot. It rarely mattered since no one else came to this beach. People thought it was too rocky and the tides were too rough. There were softer sands and more predictable water a few miles down the highway.

 

For us, it was perfect. Laughter filled the sky with our arrival, startling gulls away, but only for a moment. They knew we brought food and that we often got caught up in a game of ball or some sort of chase, giving them ample opportunity to snack on a few sandwiches.

 

There were ten of us today. The girls grabbed bags of towels, the baskets of food and the CD player while boys struggled with beach chairs. I watched Connor from the corner of my eye as he approached Leslie. Everyone knew he was going to propose to her today out in the water. It added an extra energy we needed to keep up the joy.

 

This would be our last trip to the beach, at least like this. It would be the last time Travis braved the sawgrass to grab the flotation donut off the old, faded safety sign and pretend it was a steering wheel. It would be the last time Rachel snatched it from him and tossed it Frisbee-style to Tammy who would somehow squeeze her skinny frame into it and wear it like a belt until two or three of the guys wrestled it off her.

 

The food was spread out, but it would be ignored for the most part. Jess and her boyfriend Sam manhandled a blown up mattress from the back of her SUV and they threw it out of the water. It was immediately pushed out and person after person fell with a laughing scream while they tried to use it as a diving board.

 

I walked the beach, a bubble separating me from the laughter and fun. There, Sam was grabbing a sandwich, dripping salty water over the rest of the food. Connor was proposing to Leslie who started crying, nodding furiously in answer. Analeigh nudged Jess as they watched the two kiss from the bobbing mattress. Others played football in their canvas shoes. Alice called to me for a game of volleyball.

 

I was leaving for Princeton tomorrow. It was a few hundred miles north off the same ocean, yet it might as well be halfway around the world. I would lose my friends just the same. Tammy was certain we'd stay close with the Internet, but I knew better. Up until now we had shared everything. Once we left this beach, our lives would start to diverge.

 

I think only Garret felt the same way I did. This was the first time he brought his camcorder. I would ask him for a copy of the video before we left.

 

Alice called again and I smiled, then rushed ahead, Garret's lens following my desperate steps toward the last moments of childhood.

 

 

About Carrie K. Sorensen

 

I am the mommy of two fantastic little boys, three boxers and one mutt. My husband and my story is truly a fairy tale of modern origins. I attended Arizona State University for a B.A. but am lucky enough to be a stay at home mother to my amazing brood.

 

I write in whatever free time I can steal for myself, mostly fantasy or paranormal. I have lived in the country, the city and the suburbs, and I definitely prefer the suburbs. Still, the forest is what inspires me most, with velvet shadows, hidden nooks and possible fairy circles around the next corner.

 

http://chasingrevery.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

Back to the Beach by George Beckingham

 

Megan could almost smell the salt air. It had been four years since she had visited the beach house, but now that she was headed back there, she could remember every sound, every smell, every sensation of the beach. She hungered for it now, despite the events that had led to her long absence.

 

She turned off the Interstate onto the small county road that led to the village of Hilo--named in honor of the owner of the only gas station in town, who had inexplicably moved away from the island state to an area that actually had winter, even if it was shorter and milder than Megan had grown up with in Minnesota.

 

Megan cruised through Hilo, then turned the corner onto the last road in her long journey. The pavement ended and the rumbling of gravel under her tires brought back a vivid memory of the song she was listening to the last time she drove this way. Sweet Emotion, the best song Aerosmith had ever recorded. She had listened to it on an old CD at the time, but now she pressed a few buttons on her satellite radio and had Stephen Tyler's voice blasting out of her speakers in half a minute.

 

The shore was just ahead now. Megan passed by the first beach house in a row of eight, and saw the diving board that marked the location of the derelict pool of her former neighbor. A beautiful house near a perfect beach, and he had a pool! Well, not anymore. The steadily shifting sands had filled it almost completely, and appeared to have filled half the living room that was visible through the remains of the glass doors.

 

The next house was hidden behind a high stone wall. Though not visible from ground level, Megan knew that wall was topped with ground glass. She remembered Hector's cries of pain when he had discovered that extra touch of security.

 

The next two houses were neatly shuttered against the possibility of storms or vandals. With their neutral color, they looked much as they had four years ago. Of course, Megan knew that nothing was the same as it had been before ...

 

Megan slowed her Sunbird and weaved back and forth around the potholes that had taken over the last part of the road. She ignored the other houses in the row as she remembered that summer. It had been a perfect vacation, two weeks of complete relaxation until ...

 

Would there be anything left to find? If the computer was still there, would she be able to recover the video from the hard drive?

 

Megan stood on the brakes. The house was still a hundred yards ahead, but a black Charger was parked in the driveway. He had arrived first. Megan sat motionless for almost a minute, then slowly removed her hands from the steering wheel, picked up the nine-millimeter automatic from the seat beside her, and got out of the car to meet her destiny.

 

 

About George Beckingham

 

Born in the small town of The Pas, Manitoba, I've lived in southeast Africa, Japan, Vancouver, and southern Ontario. I've settled in Edmonton, the heart of Alberta's oil economy, and expect to stick around here for a while. I've been writing for as long as I can remember, although much of my early writing has been lost due to many moves, floppy disk destruction, and hard drive failures. Thanks to Google's online storage, my current work should be a little less ephemeral—until the Apple-Google war of 2038 leaves the US west coast a wasteland of charred optical fibre and reduces the world's electronic information into a single one or a single zero, depending on who wins. When I'm not writing, I enjoy spending time with my family: my wife and three boys, who I try to pull off their electronic entertainment once in a while to enjoy the great outdoors that provided my entertainment during my computer-free childhood.

 

I share my fiction writing on my speculative blog: The Why, the How, and the What If

http://whyhowwhatif.blogspot.com/

 

I also share my non-fiction writing on my risk management blog: Assess IRM

http://assess-irm.blogspot.com/

Week of 5/9/2012

Week of 5/9/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Hamed Saber

 

 

Words Required

 

Diary

 

Joke

 

Whisper

 

Lead

 

Printer

 

 

 

 

Conversation with an Ex is Bad for You by Nicole Pyles

 

I knew it was him the second he sat down beside me. I smelled his cologne. I took a peek from my paper and there he was. His newspaper was pulled close to his face since he had poor vision and hated wearing glasses. A lot of our lazy Sundays were spent with me reading the smaller print and teasing him about what it would be like when we got old. I pulled the paper closer to my face as tears welled in my eyes.

 

"Tara?" He noticed me.

 

I pulled my sunglasses over my eyes, put my paper down and plastered on a phony smile. This moment would definitely go in my diary. "Roger! Good to see you!"

 

He covered up his left hand. He got married three weeks ago and he didn't think I knew. Thanks to Facebook it took me less than a week to discover his brand new wife and both of them posing for the camera. That was supposed to be my life.

 

"How are you doing?" He asked with a whisper like I was dying.

 

"Good, good. I heard you got married." I decided not to make this a comfortable moment. He ducked his head and rubbed the back of his neck as if I was accusing him of stealing cookies.

 

"I did, I did. I can't believe it either." He chuckled like I told him a joke. Why can't the bus come? "How's work?"

 

Idle conversation with an ex can kill you. Did you know that? "It's fine. Journalism is always the same. Always trying to find the next lead."

 

There was an awkward pause as he tried to find something else to ask me. I looked down the road for my escape. With no bus in sight, I decided to ask him what I really wanted to know. "Where did you guys meet?"

 

His eyes narrowed and he pressed his lips together to form a straight line. "Tara ..."

 

"No, I want to know." I was sincere too. I wanted to know where he could have met someone to marry when I couldn't stand the idea of moving on.

 

"Office Depot. I was shopping for a printer." He checked his watch. I wondered if he sat down just because he saw me here.

 

I laughed but it was more of a gasp and a cry. The sound of rumbling caught my attention and I noticed my bus headed my way. I stood. He did too. He reached to hug me but I stepped away. The bus paused in front of the stop and the doors breathed open. I took a step towards it and didn't look back when he called my name. I flashed the driver my pass and headed to a seat in the back next to a man doing a crossword puzzle. For the moment, I was glad for the sunny day so I could keep my sunglasses on.

 

 

About Nicole Pyles

 

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Communication in 2011 and works in marketing. When she's not daydreaming about the California sunshine she grew up on, she's writing about fantasy, horror, and science fiction (and sometimes all three at once). She's currently editing a fantasy novel she started when she was 15 (and finished at 25). Most of her editing work is done on her smartphone during her bus ride home. You can visit her blog World of My Imagination or find her on Google Plus.

 

 

 

 

 Cow Whisperers by Randy Lindsay

 

"We need you to come in," said Ned.

 

The wind rustled the newspapers the two men held in front of them. Ned repositioned himself on the bench.

 

"It's me. Ned!"

 

"I know who you are," said Joe. "You can just head back to the agency and tell them where they can stick this assignment."

 

"Can't do that. This is a top priority mission."

 

"Then you do it." Joe turned to the next page. "By the way, your newspaper is upside-down."

 

Ned fumbled with the paper. When he'd finished it was still upside-down. "Don't worry about my newspaper. We need to discuss the situation with the cows."

 

"Cows?"

 

"Yes, cows. Those things that sit in the middle of our burgers and say moo."

 

"Are they planning a revolution?"

 

Ned's paper lowered enough to allow him to glance over at Joe. "How did you know? That's classified."

 

"I was being sarcastic," said Joe. "Stop with the jokes and get on with the briefing."

 

"You need to understand that a conspiracy on the part of America's dairy producing population is no laughing matter."

 

"I'm not laughing."

 

"Good."

 

"Can you put your paper back in front of your face?" asked Joe. "We're not supposed to be seen talking to each other."

 

"I'm glad you're finally taking this serious," whispered Ned. "A herd of Holsteins in Iowa have taken over a lead mine and are using it as their secret base."

 

"Okay, now I'm convinced this is a joke. Can we just skip to the punchline?"

 

"The punchline is that you've been chosen to infiltrate the suspected bovine terrorist organization and find out what they plan to do with all that lead."

 

"Maybe it's a new method of fortifying the milk they produce," said Joe.

 

"Lead is poisonous."

 

"I didn't say it was a good idea. Besides, I was making another joke."

 

"Well, next time you tell a joke make sure it's funny."

 

"Then what do you think they're up to?"

 

"Our scientists think they could have stumbled upon a formula for creating heavy-milk; a key component for bio-nuclear weapons."

 

Joe folded his newspaper and set it down on the bench.

 

"What are you doing?" asked Ned.

 

"I'm going to the nearest printer and order a couple dozen resumes. I need a new job."

 

"I wouldn't do that if I was you."

 

"Why? Is the agency going to do something to me if I quit?"

 

"No. It's just that a subversive group of swine escaped from the pork factories south of here and control all the printer operations in town. They're working with the cows and may be on to you."

 

 

About Randy Lindsay

 

Randy is a native of Arizona. In his spare time he likes to play games with his children, fish, and conduct family history research. His stories have been published in Gentle Strength Quarterly, The City of the Gods: Mythic Tales, and Penumbra. Two more have been purchased for publication this year; one for the second City of the Gods anthology and the other for the Once Upon An Apocalypse anthology by Chaosium.

 

http://randylindsay.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

 

You Never Know by Sydney Aaliayah

 

There he is again. Same time, same place. Doesn't this guy have someplace to be. Probably not. Look at him sitting there without a care in the world. Sitting there in his faded jeans and scruffy high tops. I wore those shoes when I was in 2nd grade. Grow up already.

 

Every day, he is just sits there, relaxing. Reading his paper, smoking his cigarette.

 

"I hate you," I whisper to myself.

 

Because, I come here every day, too. But, my demeanor is far from relaxed. I am pretty much in a constant state of panic because I am looking for a job. And have been since I graduated two month ago. Pounding the pavement everyday wearing this uncomfortable outfit void of personal style. But, this is what I am supposed to do.

 

I scour this paper daily for a job. At this point, I would do anything. But, there is nothing out there. Oh, wait. Here's something. Wanted: Printer Repair Man.

 

That's it. That's the perfect job for me. If I hadn't have gone to freakin business school for four freakin years. I am going to be living with my parents forever. I will be 30 years old. Still living in my childhood bedroom. Reading my diary where I portrait my future life as one with a husband, career, children, dream house and a perfect 4 carat asscher cut diamond solitaire ring.

 

You see, this is life's cruel little joke. Go to school, get an education, find a job, have it all. In that order. No one told me that most of the time, it doesn't happen like that.

 

And this one here. He probably didn't even go to college.

 

He's probably one of those laid back, go with the flow kind of guys who will never be successful at anything. And the worst part is he probably doesn't even care. I could never be like him. Or, could I?

 

I could. I could take his lead. I could sit on this bench all day. With no worries. No problems. I am going to do it. If he gets to do it, why can't I.

 

"Hello," he says into his cell phone.

 

He has a cellphone. How does slacker boy afford a cell phone?

 

"Yeah, I am in the park. She kicks me out of the room for a couple hours each day." He says.

 

Yep, even his girlfriend can't stand to be around his laziness.

 

"There is nothing more they can do for her."

 

Is he crying?

 

"If you want to see her, you need to come soon," he said, "I gave up everything to spend these last couple of months with her." He pauses, "Yeah, it was worth it." He hangs up the phone wipes his eyes and smiles at me shyly.

 

I said the only thing I could think of. "Can I borrow the classifieds section?"

 

 

About Sydney Aaliyah

 

Sydney Aaliyah Michelle is a writer of fiction and a blogger of movie quotes, tattoo stories and stories about her life as a reformed ex pat trying to gain her traveling mojo back. She has lived and traveled to over 20 countries outside of the United States including a 5 1/2 year stint living in China. She has penned three novels, which range from New Adult to Women's Fiction.

 

Although, she has not been published, yet, as long as she is still pursuing her Happiness, Passion, Love and Faith, she will continue to enjoy the process.

 

Connect with Sydney on Twitter, Facebook and on her blog at sydneyaaliyah.com.

 

Twitter - https://twitter.com/sydliyah

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/sydney.aaliyah

Blog - http://sydneyaaliyah.com

Week of 5/16/2012

Week of 5/16/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Brad Fults

 

 

Words Required

 

Masking Tape

 

Chameleon

 

Hand

 

Computer

 

Lipstick

 

 

 

 

Alicia's Soul by Carrie K. Sorensen

 

Down, down, down the harlequin stairs. One hand on the snake-like rail, the scaly indentions feeling like speed bumps to her fingertips. A tube of lipstick in the other was wearing down to a nub, the bright berry color marking each turn she took, arrow pointing to the exit like they did in mines. There hadn't been many turns for a while, except for the smooth curve of the narrow staircase.

 

Alicia had been at work on her computer, sorting through emails and arranging projects by priority. A note scratched in pencil on masking tape pressed to the underside of her keyboard had caught her attention. It was an odd place to leave a note. She had only found it because a few paper clips had spilled on her otherwise neat desk. Once she read the words, she ripped it off quickly. Shredded pieces found themselves in different waste baskets around the office.

 

Easily destroyed, they were not words to ignore. They stayed with her through talking to clients, laughing with co-workers and taking notes at meetings. She packed up as the clock rolled onto the 5, calling out goodbyes from the elevator. Behind the wheel of her car, Alicia closed her eyes, whispered a prayer, then headed downtown.

 

She handed over her keys to the valet, then nodded to the gatekeeper of the Chameleon Bar. Insults were flung at her back by people waiting in line as Alicia pushed through over-sized doors into a low-lit den of shifting colors. Weaving through bodies projecting sticky warmth, she made her way to a door that blended perfectly into the aubergine walls.

 

"Don't lose your way," warned words so decorative they could only be separated by the damask sheen in the paint if you knew where they were. Alicia had dug out her lipstick, then headed into the tunnels.

 

Left a dozen times, right at all the lines. Down the tiny turns, back to where it burns.

 

The words penciled to her on the flesh-colored tape, directions through the LED-lit maze. Now she was at the bottom, passing under an arch painted with leaves, a symbol of the life that never found its way this deep.

 

There, in a round chamber, sat an altar in the middle, a fire kindled along the surface. The fickle light was no match for the LED's, but it was the heat that mattered.

 

Alicia stepped forward softly. Orange light danced over her without the benefit of shadow. Her hand reached into the flames, pulling out the vial. Without the contact of the vial, the alter lost its fire, growing cold as Alicia turned her back, clutching her prize to her chest.

 

She had it now, much better than any of the others locked in her freezer at home. This would be enough to make all her dreams come true, and even a few more.

 

After all, a soul on fire was worth much more than one on ice.

 

 

About Carrie K. Sorensen

 

I am the mommy of two fantastic little boys, three boxers and one mutt. My husband and my story is truly a fairy tale of modern origins. I attended Arizona State University for a B.A. but am lucky enough to be a stay at home mother to my amazing brood.

 

I write in whatever free time I can steal for myself, mostly fantasy or paranormal. I have lived in the country, the city and the suburbs, and I definitely prefer the suburbs. Still, the forest is what inspires me most, with velvet shadows, hidden nooks and possible fairy circles around the next corner.

 

http://chasingrevery.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

At the Top of the Stairs by Sydney Aaliyah

 

"Let's go up there," he said.

 

"Go where?"

 

"Up there." He pointed to the stairwell at the back of the room just past the kitchen. Looking at the stairs gave her a weird feeling. From this vantage point she could see the first four steps. But after that it was grey and dark. Like the light wasn't allowed to illuminate above the fourth step.

 

He took her hand and lead her towards the stairs.

 

"We shouldn't go up there," she whispered.

 

"Why not?" He didn't wait for her to answer. "We have to."

 

"But, what is up there?" She asked.

 

As they reached the bottom of the stairs, she looked up and couldn't see the top. There was no light. Strange. No light and no sound.

 

He stepped on the first step and his hand went cold. He looked back at her. A scream got caught in her throat. His eyes were changing change colors, like a chameleon. First, brown, then green, black, blue then brown again.

 

"It is your choice." He said.

 

She tried to back away, but couldn't move.

 

All of sudden, there was a high-pitched ripping sound. Like the sound that masking tape makes when you remove it from a hard surface.

 

He took off running up the stairs; taking two at a time. He was still holding her hand, but her feet were no longer touching the ground. She was floating. And, she was in pain. It hurt so badly and she was screaming and pulling. He stopped.

 

He turned towards her again.

 

"If you choose to come, it won't hurt as much."

 

His kind blue eyes had returned. She recognized those eyes; the ones that made her stomach flip and made her fall for him. And, that made her cry.

 

But she continued with him this time. And when she did, her feet hit the ground and it didn't hurt as much. He was right. He was always right.

 

They arrived at the top of the stairs. At the top was a table with a computer on it. Beyond the table was a closed door. On the computer screen, there was a question:

 

"Do you dare?"

Type 1 for yes and 2 for no.

 

He let go of her hand and typed on the keyboard. She couldn't see what he typed, but sudden the door opened and he walked in. She tried to follow him, but the door shut before she could go through.

 

"You have to choose." He said from a distance, "I can't do it for you."

 

"Choose what? Dare to do what? I don't understand." She screamed.

 

Then she heard laughter. It was distant at first, but then got closer and closer and closer. It was horrible and the pain returned.
The screen kept blinking in lipstick red:

 

TYPE 1 FOR YES AND 2 FOR NO!!!

 

She felt like she was going crazy. With all her effort, she reached out and pressed 2.

 

 

About Sydney Aaliyah

 

Sydney Aaliyah Michelle is a writer of fiction and a blogger of movie quotes, tattoo stories and stories about her life as a reformed ex pat trying to gain her traveling mojo back. She has lived and traveled to over 20 countries outside of the United States including a 5 1/2 year stint living in China. She has penned three novels, which range from New Adult to Women's Fiction.

 

Although, she has not been published, yet, as long as she is still pursuing her Happiness, Passion, Love and Faith, she will continue to enjoy the process.

 

Connect with Sydney on Twitter, Facebook and on her blog at sydneyaaliyah.com.

 

Twitter - https://twitter.com/sydliyah

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/sydney.aaliyah

Blog - http://sydneyaaliyah.com

Week of 5/23/2012

Week of 5/23/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Derrick Tyson - derrick.tyson@gmail.com

 

 

Words Required

 

Stars

 

Envelope

 

Wave

 

Nail

 

Desert

 

 

 

 

Deal with the Devil by L.T. Dalin

 

I sat down at the table and eyed the food greedily. I hadn't eaten in forever - walking through the desert had me dehydrated and starving, but I'd conquered it.

 

"How long were you out there?" she asked, and sat down opposite me.

 

"I lost count," I answered.

 

My throat was sore, it begged me to ask for another glass of water, but I was pacing myself.

 

"We hardly ever get any visitors."

 

I looked around the room, and tapped my nail against the table. There was a black envelope on the table; I wondered how they got mail out here, an oasis in the middle of nowhere.

 

I'd thanked my lucky stars when I'd seen it. I'd thought it was another mirage at first, the way it shimmered as a wave of water.

 

"I can imagine," I replied, but a knock on the window had me turning around.

 

A man stood there, staring at me. I felt uneasy, queasy even, but I nodded at him and turned back to the woman. She looked absurdly healthy, wearing a red polka-dot dress.

 

She smiled. "They've been waiting for you."

 

Her pearly white teeth turned rotten, brown, and her lips cracked. I blinked once, slowly, and everything changed.

 

Her skin was now flaky red, her scalp was showing, and the interior of the house was in the same condition as her teeth.

 

"He's coming for you." Her gaze went past me and through the window. The way she nodded made my stomach churn.

 

I turned again, and another man had appeared, wearing all black.

 

"You made the deal, now you stick to it." She rose gingerly to her feet.

 

As I watched she went over to the door, and opened it.

 

The green scenery outside had changed, and instead the desert came rushing inside.

 

"Your soul for a glass of water."

 

The last thing I felt was a pair of cold hands piercing through my chest. The last thing I saw was the sky above me, and the stars mocking me with their beauty, winking goodbye.

 

 

About L.T. Dalin

 

L.T. Dalin started writing at a young age. Her favorite thing to do when growing up was handing in essays. She learned a lot about writing, the art of writing and more importantly; how not to write, during her time studying Broadcast Journalism at University in England. She started writing seriously five years ago; four of those dedicated to her Fantasy Trilogy.

 

http://chessnysilth.blogspot.no/

 

 

 

 

Payback's a Bitch by Nicole Pyles

 

Seven hours on the road, four arguments, and three bathroom breaks later, we arrived at the cabin. By the time we dragged in all of our bags, argument number eight began. Myself, my best friend Tori, her boyfriend Lance, and my roommate Brittney all chipped in for a week in a mountain cabin and I was beginning to think this was a mistake.

 

I busied myself with claiming one of the beds while argument eight finished. Meanwhile, Brittney cried out over a broken nail and I sat down on the lumpy mattress and took a long breath. Soon the arguments would die down and all of us would be laughing over a glass of wine. Or two.

 

Behind my closed eyes, I heard the sounds of footsteps. The steps paused. And then I heard a scream.

 

"Becky, the window!"

 

My eyes flew open and at the window was a man. The clouds and snow building up outside gave his face a ghoulish look. In the distance, I saw another. He wore a heavy cloak and white mask as he stood facing the cabin.

 

"Lance!" I yelled out. Brittney and I watched as the strange man headed in the direction of the front door.

 

"Tori shut the front door!" Brittney yelled. Lance stepped into the bedroom and lurched backwards as Brittney and I raced for the door's exit.

 

"What the--?"

 

I raced passed Tori who stood frozen in place. I made it to the front door just as the door knob turned. I barreled my body against the door and pushed against it.

 

"What is your problem?" Lance heavy footsteps thudded as he headed for the front door. He used his weight to push against it.

 

"Someone was outside looking in the window!" Brittney said, her hands covering her face.

 

The door creaked open an inch and Brittney screeched as a hand reached around the opening. I heard someone grunt.

 

"The stars at night ..." The voice whispered.

 

"Are big and bright ..." Lance grunted. It was then I knew something was off. I stood back and watched as Lance pulled the front door open. The man who stood at the window, his cloaked friend and Lance stuck out their chests and sang in unison.

 

"Deep in the heart of Texas!" They shouted.

 

"You assholes!" Brittney shouted.

 

The guy at the window doubled over with laughter. "God you are so easy. I wanted to wave but I figured that would have killed it."

 

The cloaked guy pulled off the white mask and gave me a huge foolish looking grin. "We found out about your vacation through an envelope Lance left behind and Lawrence and I thought ..." He motioned to the guy who had stood at the window. "This is better than Texas. It's hot as a desert there anyway. We'll just join you in here."

 

While the three buffoons continued laughing about their ultimate prank. Brittney and I exchanged glances that said one thing - it was payback time.

 

 

About Nicole Pyles

 

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Communication in 2011 and works in marketing. When she's not daydreaming about the California sunshine she grew up on, she's writing about fantasy, horror, and science fiction (and sometimes all three at once). She's currently editing a fantasy novel she started when she was 15 (and finished at 25). Most of her editing work is done on her smartphone during her bus ride home. You can visit her blog World of My Imagination or find her on Google Plus.

 

 

 

 

In a Room by Sydney Aaliyah

 

Sarah woke feeling disoriented and her body ached all over. Where ever she was, it was hot and dry. Like desert heat. But, her clothes were wet and she smelled like she had been wearing them for several days.

 

"How long I have I been here?" She thought to herself.

 

She couldn't really move, either. She tried to lift her arms, but it felt like they were nailed down.

 

The last thing she remembered; the stairs and her boyfriend David. He was dragging her up the stairs. And, she vaguely remember the pain and the computer.

 

Sarah also remember making a choice. Obviously it was the wrong choice.

 

"I need to open my eyes." But, still they wouldn't budge. She tried to stretch out. Both Sarah's arms and legs hit the walls on each side of her. The room was smaller than she expected. And there was warmth coming from somewhere.

 

Feeling a bit stronger Sarah sat up, but a wave of nausea overtook her. She had to lay back down.

 

"Where am I? Why did I push #2?" These thoughts ran through her head. What she didn't think about was how was she going to get out of here?

 

Sarah tried to sit up again. This time the nausea wasn't as bad. She rubbed her eyes and the light was starting to seep in.

 

Her eyes began to adjust to the light, but she was still seeing stars. Sarah looked up to see a strange man staring at her through a window.

 

"I think she's awake." Sarah could hear his voice, but couldn't see who he was talking to. "She is moving and stuff."

 

"Sh, I don't want her to know I am here," said another man's voice. Even though he was farther away, his voice sounded familiar to Sarah.

 

"Oh shoot, she can't see us," the strange man said. It was his sunken eyes and stringy wet hair that really creeped Sarah out. He looked like he had been standing out in the rain for awhile.

 

"Really, come look. I'm telling you, she is about to get up," the strange man said. "I think she is going to try and get out."

 

"Shut up," the man said, "Just watch her. Let's see if she will do it."

 

What is this, some kind of joke? Sarah thought to herself. Sarah looked at the man in the window and yelled, "Get me out of here!"

 

He started laughing. Sarah couldn't believe it. He just keep laughing. She had heard that laugh before.

 

Sarah couldn't take it anymore. She was going mad. She curled up in a ball and started crying.

 

"See, I knew she wouldn't do anything." Sarah looked up. It took her a minute to register what she was seeing, but there was David, staring at her through the window.

 

The creepy man handed David an envelope.

 

"It is a pleasure doing business with you." And, with that, David turned and walked away.

 

 

About Sydney Aaliyah

 

Sydney Aaliyah Michelle is a writer of fiction and a blogger of movie quotes, tattoo stories and stories about her life as a reformed ex pat trying to gain her traveling mojo back. She has lived and traveled to over 20 countries outside of the United States including a 5 1/2 year stint living in China. She has penned three novels, which range from New Adult to Women's Fiction.

 

Although, she has not been published, yet, as long as she is still pursuing her Happiness, Passion, Love and Faith, she will continue to enjoy the process.

 

Connect with Sydney on Twitter, Facebook and on her blog at sydneyaaliyah.com.

 

Twitter - https://twitter.com/sydliyah

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/sydney.aaliyah

Blog - http://sydneyaaliyah.com

Week of 5/30/2012

Week of 5/30/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Kristoffer Sorensen

 

 

Words Required

 

File

 

Chair

 

Nest

 

Pirate

 

Winner

 

 

 

 

Right of Passage by Anne Organista

 

Today was an important day. He had looked forward to this day ever since his son was born and years later, his grandson.

 

"Grandpa, Mom said to come in to the house," his grandson called.

 

The breeze was cool as he brushed his cardigan closer together across his chest. He followed the two figures walking across the field in the dark. He pulled up a chair and continued to watch. The taller figure was showing something to the shorter one. Earlier that day, his son had asked for a shovel, explaining what he had to do. Now, he was doing it, like a pirate in search of his gold. The shorter man was his eldest grandson. He had not been too keen in joining the family this weekend. The countryside, he said, was too boring for him. But it was time; and like it or not, he had to be here.

 

"Dad, it's freezing out there! Please, come inside!" his daughter-in-law pleaded.

 

"Just a couple of minutes more, Laurie. I want to see what Michael will do," he remarked, eyes still glued to the two figures in the dark.

 

"Michael will do as your son did back then. None of this impresses him. You know that!" Laurie scolded.

 

Still, she wondered if Michael will do exactly what she thought he would. Or might he surprise her as the old man believed?

 

It was an hour later when father and son got back. He looked at them expectantly, waiting as a child waits for Santa on Christmas Eve. The two walked in quietly. He wondered if he had somehow lost his sense of hearing.

 

"So Michael, what do you think?" he asked, finally breaking the silence.

 

"It's cool, Grandpa. But do you really believe all that?" Michael asked.

 

"Did you tell him what it means?" he asked turning to his son.

 

"It's a rite of passage, Dad. Of course I told him," he answered impatiently.

 

"Now can we sit down and have our dinner?" Laurie's voice called out from the kitchen.

 

After dinner, he went out to the patio and sat on his favorite chair. He had just closed his eyes when he heard footsteps.

 

"Dad, are you asleep?" his son whispered softly.

 

"I'm awake, just resting my eyes," he said.

 

"I'm sorry about Michael. I tried to explain but ..."

 

"That's all right, son. Nobody's fault," he cut him short. He had grown accustomed to all his excuses, had filed them all in his memory.

 

"It's an empty nest out there, Dad."

 

"You think? For a minute though I thought Michael would be the winner."

 

He smiled ... a weary smile. The hole in the ground carried his treasure. For years it laid there, waiting for his son, his grandson to claim. But neither saw his treasure. All they saw was an empty nest.

 

And that is perhaps what it was ... for the birds of the air to find.

 

 

About Anne Organista

 

Ever since she was a child, Anne remembers getting lost in her reading and writing. She graduated from Trinity College Dublin in Ireland with a Masters in Education. Despite being an English and History teacher for most of her professional life, Anne never got rid of the itch to write.

 

It continues to be her biggest passion. Her short stories, poems and personal reflections are showcased in her blog www.anne-writersspace.blogspot.com for the sole reason that she wanted "to test the waters and see if people will even read it."

 

Anne's biggest dream is to write a book and get it published someday. After 5 drafts and the first 21 pages completed, she continues to dream and hopes to see her work to its final stage.

 

Today, Anne freelances between ESL teaching, writing educational scripts and editing academic textbooks. On occasion, she facilitates seminar workshops for teachers with a team from the Mentoring the Mentors Program (MMP).

 

She lives with her husband in Manila, Philippines.

 

 

 

 

Window View by Randy Lindsay

 

The view hasn't changed. It hasn't changed at all in the last thirty minutes I've spent staring out it; except for the shortening of the shadows. It hasn't changed much in the three months I've been working on my "break-out" novel. In fact, other than seasonal variations it hasn't changed that much since I moved here.

 

So then why do I continue focusing my attention through it rather than on my writing?

 

I tear myself away from the window under the pretense that I need to pull a file from the cabinet across the room. The micro-break from the view outside opens a crack in my creativity and the ideas begin to flow once again. Pirates. That's what every good book needs is a crew of scurvy pirates.

 

By the time I sit back down the ship of ill-mannered brutes has sailed away. My eyes creep towards the window view. I adjust my chair so that my back is directed toward the window as much as I can manage and still hope to write.

 

My fingers linger lightly on the keyboard. Then not so lightly. Within five minutes my arms are crossed over my chest and the faint sounds from outside beckon me. So I close my eyes.

 

The tree is there, on the back side of my eyelids; complete with last year's bird nest and the initials carved into its trunk. Just as I curse my decision to have selected a writing spot with a view the image changes. The tree takes on a ghostly aura. Shadows morph into menacing shapes that dance upon the ground contrary to the stillness of their owners. Through the window of my mind a story takes shape.

 

A broad smile spreads across my face. I have a winner.

 

 

About Randy Lindsay

 

Randy is a native of Arizona. In his spare time he likes to play games with his children, fish, and conduct family history research. His stories have been published in Gentle Strength Quarterly, The City of the Gods: Mythic Tales, and Penumbra. Two more have been purchased for publication this year; one for the second City of the Gods anthology and the other for the Once Upon An Apocalypse anthology by Chaosium.

 

http://randylindsay.blogspot.com/

Week of 6/6/2012

Week of 6/6/2012

 

Photo courtesy of QueenNaveen

 

 

Words Required

 

Manners

 

Pin

 

Chameleon

 

Thermometer

 

Birthday

 

 

 

 

Age is Just a Number by L.T. Dalin

 

I stared at the note in front of me, reading it twice. The pin he'd left on the letter was beautiful and felt smooth under my touch.

 

"It's worth the wait," he'd written, and added a poem below.

 

I was anxious to see him; this was my birthday and the only day I got my way with every decision. The one day we spent cuddled in bed all day, and all night.

 

This morning I'd woken up and he hadn't been there. I'd felt immediately disappointed, but his note had made me curious.

 

I got out of bed and into the shower. He'd placed a vase of fresh roses there. I inhaled their scent, marveling at the very thought of having such a man.

 

Once my hair was dry, I contemplated going back to bed. I wanted to rebel - I wanted it my way, but I had manners. He'd left me a note telling me to get dressed and meet him in the park. I would do that. It was fun. It was new.

 

The thermometer indicated it would be a very warm day, and rather than pants and blouse, I went for a dress. It had blue flowers on it, and I'd had it for years – but he loved it.

 

I turned and noticed a panty line. I smirked and removed them completely. He'd enjoy that.

 

I'd never felt my age, and as I entered the bus I blended in with the senior citizens just like a chameleon. I smiled again and remembered my secret naughty streak. The man with the sixpence in front of me would've had a heart attack had he known.

 

I got off the bus at the right stop and walked down the path into the park.

 

A pair of hands circled my waist as I walked past a tree, and a deep voice whispered into my ear. "Happy sixty-fifth birthday."

 

I smiled and leaned into his embrace.

 

"Happy fortieth anniversary," I replied.

 

It always fell on the same day, but this day was different.

 

He'd shown me I'd still gotten my way: I just hadn't known it was what I wanted.

 

That night when we got home, I had a new tan without any tan lines.

 

 

About L.T. Dalin

 

L.T. Dalin started writing at a young age. Her favorite thing to do when growing up was handing in essays. She learned a lot about writing, the art of writing and more importantly; how not to write, during her time studying Broadcast Journalism at University in England. She started writing seriously five years ago; four of those dedicated to her Fantasy Trilogy.

 

http://chessnysilth.blogspot.no/

 

 

 

 

I Hope it's Worth the Wait by Sydney Aaliyah

 

"I hope it's worth the wait." Emilynn said to John before he boarded the plane.

 

"It will be. Trust me." John gave her a kiss. It was an 'I am going out for milk' kiss, not an 'I will be in Africa for 6 months' kiss. This was all new for them.

 

When he first told her about his plan, she was supportive. She had to be. It was the first time he had actually had the courage to do what he wanted.

 

Emilynn and John had grown up together. They were elementary school sweethearts. As long as she had know John, he had always been concerned with what others thought.

 

His friends used to tease him because he was the first one to get serious about a girl. So, he would downplay their relationship in front of them. But, Emilynn knew the truth. John loved her since the second grade.

 

His mother thought he was too young to be so serious about a girl, so their plans to get married after high school were postponed. "What was the hurry anyway, right?" John said. "We will be together forever."

 

His dad wanted him be able to take care of himself before taking on a wife, so he enlisted in the army and the wedding was put off again.

 

It pained Emilynn to watch John change his own thoughts and beliefs much like a chameleon changed his colors to blend in with his environment. John just wanted to please everyone. He didn't want to stand out. He didn't want the people he cared most about to be disappointed in him.

 

That was why this news was such a shock to everyone. When he told his mom she went and got a thermometer to make sure he wasn't sick.

 

The pressure from his family and friends and probably a little from Emilynn had been building up for a while. The pressure finally forced John to take some time to decide what he really wanted for himself. Why that had to happen all the way in Africa, Emilynn wasn't quite sure. But, it was what John needed to do.

 

John had told Emilynn on her birthday. He was so excited. Emilynn couldn't help but be happy for him.

 

He had given her a pen. "What is this for?" Emilynn asked.

 

"Write me." He said. He thought he was being clever. They both loved the movie Say Anything, but John never did quite get the significance of why Diane gave Lloyd the pen.

 

She couldn't fault him, though. It would have been bad manners on her part. He was trying. And, she knew he needed this. So, she was going to be supportive and wait. Wait for him to come back as the man she knew he wanted to be and not the man that everyone expected him to be.

 

Emilynn had been waiting all her life for John. She was banking on the real him being worth the wait.

 

 

About Sydney Aaliyah

 

Sydney Aaliyah Michelle is a writer of fiction and a blogger of movie quotes, tattoo stories and stories about her life as a reformed ex pat trying to gain her traveling mojo back. She has lived and traveled to over 20 countries outside of the United States including a 5 1/2 year stint living in China. She has penned three novels, which range from New Adult to Women's Fiction.

 

Although, she has not been published, yet, as long as she is still pursuing her Happiness, Passion, Love and Faith, she will continue to enjoy the process.

 

Connect with Sydney on Twitter, Facebook and on her blog at sydneyaaliyah.com.

 

Twitter - https://twitter.com/sydliyah

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/sydney.aaliyah

Blog - http://sydneyaaliyah.com

 

 

 

 

The Magic Pen by Yolanda Tong

 

It was the best birthday present she could have asked for, a seemingly magical pen from a great aunt from a rather curious shop in an old alleyway in the city. For the first time in her life she didn't have to write in code, mixing up letters and numbers in a form of jumbled nonsense that even she had difficulties interpreting later on.

 

All these years she had been frustrated at the lack of privacy she had endured, with each discovery of his secrets on her pages, a pillaging invasion of her inner world unfolded, the thermometer in the room would rise a couple of degrees as anger seethed heat from his pores. She would stand stark still in horror while he read each word out loud, then cornered her for more as he scrunched up the precious secrets with his calloused yellow fingers then cut up the crumpled pages with dirty scissors and threatened the same treatment to her wrists or neck next, anything to make it stop.

 

A volcano, that's what she felt like, all that hot lava swishing around inside, burning, spewing, bubbling, but she was never was the erupting type. She knew deep down anger was not the best way to deal with things, it was not the best approach, most especially with him. She had been taught manners, and how to be polite, like all good little girls are. So she folded her hands together, pressed her lips tight, fought back tears, and when he had exhausted himself in his cruel attempts at extracting more, she excused herself from the room.

 

The words flowed from the new pen, so fine, the letters entering the page as if she were writing from a pin. As the letters formed the ink turned as white as the page, the camouflaged words of a chameleon, that only she could see.

 

The pen flew faster and faster, the secret words had grown wings of a bluebird and moved with speed and grace across the lines in her notebook and melted into the white fluffy cloud coloured paper. She thought of flying and becoming one with those clouds, like the angels that she heard from above, but never actually saw, and only ever on cloudy days. She heard singing from above mixed with the gentle patter of rain, and knew that they were right, it was worth the wait.

 

 

About Yolanda Tong

 

Yolanda Tong is originally from Canada, but travelled extensively before finally settling in Melbourne, Australia at the base of the Dandenong mountains. She is inspired by nature, driven by emotion, and loves to write about all that is sensed but not seen.

Week of 7/4/2012

Week of 7/4/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Kristoffer Sorensen

 

 

Words Required

 

Froth

 

Sole

 

Gallery

 

Warship

 

Motorcycle

 

 

 

 

The Corner of Vine & 85th by Scott Taylor

 

The gallery of on-lookers told Stella and her partner Charlie that they were nearing the scene of the accident as the pair maneuvered the ambulance through the busy downtown streets. Faces on the spectators said it all. They were both horrified at the scene that lay before them, but relieved to hear the blaring sound of the ambulance's siren as it came to a stop at the corner of Vine and 85th.

 

"Oh hell," Stella groaned as the crowd parted and they spotted their victim, or what was left of him. "Looks bad."

 

"Yeah, nice way to start a shift, huh?" Charlie said as he parked the van and opened the door. The ambulance lights illuminated the trees across from where the accident took place. Clouds still hung low after depositing their liquid contents on a city in desperate need of a bath. But no amount of water could wash away the view that met these two public servants as they gathered their emergency medical kids and ran toward the single man lying at grotesque angles on the wet pavement.

 

Stella reached the doomed rider first and she knew any attempts to save a life were futile. Comfort would be the sole gift she could offer this man. She knelt at his side.

 

"Sir," Stella said with a mixture of reassurance and authority. "My name is Stella Johnson. I'm an EMT with the city. Please do not try to move. We're here to help." Stella watched the rider's chest under a ripped leather jacket rise and fall slowly and she heard raspy breaths emanate from the man's cracked helmet. He couldn't move, even if he wanted, Stella thought as blood from a compound fracture in his right leg formed a froth as it mixed with the rainwater being dragged by gravity toward the street's storm drain.

 

Charlie joined his partner and began to open his medical kit as gawkers hoped these two public officials could perform a miracle.

 

"What a mess," Charlie whispered so only Stella could hear. "Must have skidded in the rain and dumped his bike there," Charlie said as he motioned to the curb at the other side of the street. "You can see where the bike hit the lamppost then flipped." Charlie pointed to the mangled remains of something that was once a beautiful motorcycle. Stella could just make out what looked like a warship painted on the dented gas tank, the only thing left of the bike's custom paint job.

 

"He must have been flying," Charlie said. "Damn shame…"

 

As the two went to work, the rider tried moving his arm to his helmet. "Whoa, there," Stella said as she stopped the man from raising the plastic shield. "Let me do that." Stella slowly lifted the bloodied shield and saw his tired eyes. They did not meet hers, but stared off toward a light at the end of the street. Stella followed the man's gaze and wondered if he saw what she saw.

 

 

About Scott Taylor

 

Scott William Taylor lives and writes in Utah. He grew up living on the side of a mountain and lives on that same mountain today, with his family and a dog that loves cheese. Scott is married, with four children. He received his undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Utah and a Masters in English from Weber State University. Scott's story Little Boiler Girl was part of the steampunk anthology Mechanized Masterpieces published by Xchyler Publishing in April 2013. Scott is the creator and producer of A Page or Two Podcast. He also wrote the award-winning short film, Wrinkles. When not writing and working, Scott enjoys participating in community theater productions with his children. Follow Scott on Twitter @Hyggeman or at his author site: www.scottwilliamtaylor.com.

 

 

 

 

A Sign by Yolanda Tong

 

I think I had completely lost my mind, for I don't even remember the events which have led me to this dark drab place so far away from anything normal.

 

Her death was so sudden, so instantly painful, and felt like a warship had blasted a cannon through my heart. I remember getting a phone call at work, and then my memory went blank. That was also the last time I saw colour. The stamp on my passport says I arrived here two weeks after her death. The Qantas ticket stub says I'm in Tokyo. I guess shock has a way of royally screwing a person up by taking over their mind, their body, and then waking them up sometime later in a whacky black and white foreign film.

 

We had lots of plans, and we were working our asses off to afford them. Plans to have kids, travel to Europe, and buy a cottage in the North part of the city. She wanted a country style kitchen and a little veggie patch out back. I wanted a decent sized garage so I could tinker with my motorcycle.

 

She was so pretty, always smiling and smelling like the ocean. She always dressed up nice, and never minded me going off and watching a footy game with my mates. She was going places too, her paintings of rainbows hung in galleries all over the country. I still can't believe she's gone, everything has gone so dark. She brought colour into my life. I'm so messed up right now, I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Each day I question why Japan? And yet I don't leave.

 

Day after day well into the night for weeks I walked the grey streets alone, numb, wondering, stumbling, passing one concrete building after another, uncaring which way I went, often getting so lost I would sit down on a bench and cry. I stopped all that walking last week though, or was it the week before? The soles in my shoes started cracking so I walked into a shoe store and learned my Australian feet are too big for Japanese shoes. So I went back to my dodgey closet sized hotel, lay down on the hard futon and went to sleep. I feel like I slept for two weeks. I've been such a zombie. I need to snap out of this and get my sh*t together.

 

The weirdest thing happened to me yesterday. I walked into this Irish pub sometime in the morning, one with a sign on street level, but was actually located in a windowless basement. A soccer game was airing on a big screen TV in the centre of the pub. I sat in a dark corner and tried to pay attention but I could barely focus. The pub was mostly empty save for a few older foreign blokes, and a couple of Japanese men in black suits. So I ordered another frothy beer and willed the drunkenness to come take away the pain.

 

There was this guy sitting not far away. He had long white hair tied back in a ponytail. He saw me, picked up his lunch and sat down in front of me. I was not in the mood for company, but there was something about this mans face. Was it the lines, the odd grey colour, or the fact that he was a foreigner like me? I couldn't quite figure it out. I decided to humour him. He said his name was Jim, came from the UK. He bought me another beer, and that seemed to loosen me up a bit.

 

For the first time since she died, I actually remember talking about it. Once I started talking, the words started tumbling out. I told him about the car accident, how I found myself here and don't even remember arriving. I told him how broken I am, how I can't seem to live without her, and now she's gone forever and taken all the colour in this world with her.

 

Jim sat back and listened, then when I was done talking he said, "Tom, what you need is a sign, a sign that she's not gone, she's still here with you, just not physically. You need to get your life back together, you need to start moving on and you won't be able to without a sign."

 

"You really believe that?" I asked.

 

"I do!" Jim said. "The sign is different for everyone, it has meaning to you, and only you, and you'll know it when you see it. Go on, ask for it, call to her in your mind, tell her to send you a sign."

 

I looked at him still a little unsure. "Go on, give it a go, come on!" coaxed Jim. I decided I had nothing to lose. I closed my eyes and I said in my mind "Babe, if you can hear me, send me a sign that you are not gone for ever, and that I'll be ok."

 

Jim had to go but I sat in that pub until the game was over. I climbed up the steps into the bright afternoon light. The ground was glistening like diamonds in the sun. It must have just rained. I turned the corner onto a bigger street, looked up and stopped dead in my tracks. There ahead arched over the street was the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen. After having seen so much darkness, the colours were stunning.

 

 

About Yolanda Tong

 

Yolanda Tong is originally from Canada, but travelled extensively before finally settling in Melbourne, Australia at the base of the Dandenong mountains. She is inspired by nature, driven by emotion, and loves to write about all that is sensed but not seen.

Week of 7/11/2012

Week of 7/11/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Jose Maria Minarro Vivancos

 

 

Words Required

 

North

 

Gutter

 

Padlock

 

Herald

 

Sky

 

 

 

 

Escape by Heather Musk

 

Marina sat on her bed, awaiting the arrival of her father. He would be here soon with the car, ready to take her to the church. She stood up and looked at herself in the full-length mirror. The dress he'd chosen was pretty she supposed. She wouldn't have picked it herself but she was never allowed to make these decisions anyway; it wouldn't have mattered either way what she'd wanted. The simple white cotton dress clung to her body as she swung this way and that, flowing around her feet. She had to arrange her hair herself, a single flower pinning it up on one side, away from her face. She hoped it met with their approval.

 

She turned to the window now, wondering how things would have been different if she'd managed her escape. No way to know now, the padlock and bars made sure she wasn't going anywhere.

 

She heard her father's footsteps on the stairs, across the landing and then they paused outside her room. The key turned in the lock and the door swung open gently. 'Ready my dear?' Marina didn't bother with a reply, it would be a futile effort. She took his arm and let him lead her down the stairs and out the front door. The sun shone high in the sky making her squint, too long she'd been cooped up in the house.

 

In the car she watched the houses go by, shops filled with people, the park where the children played. Nobody cared that this was her special day. She doubted anyone even knew. It was to herald a new phase in her life, father said. A new chapter filled with excitement. At least it was for him. This marriage would seal the biggest deal in his career, a solid link with the most powerful family in the country. She'd never even met her groom. She guessed he may be handsome. She needed a good match, father said, to look after her and keep her from the gutter.

 

She looked at the church as they approached, it's grey walls uninviting. There were no crowds awaiting them, no family and friends to celebrate with. Just her groom, his father, her father and the vicar. Was it really only her that noticed the oddness in that?

 

The ceremony would be short, she was told. A quick blessing afterwards and then they were to head north, to their new home. She had no idea where, but wondered if she could get lost somewhere on the way. There had to be plenty of places to escape to, or from. She lived in hope.

 

 

About Heather Musk

 

I wish I could say that I've been writing ever since I can remember and it's been a part of my life since I've been on the planet, but the truth is I can't.

 

It has taken the best part of 30 years to find this hidden thing within me, which is the need to write. It's my own kind of therapy, a way to engross myself in something else away from my life, my own bubble of the universe.

 

I'm still at the very beginning of this journey, learning and honing my skills. On the way I also have my husband and five year old daughter to contend with, as well as working towards an English degree with The Open University and working nearly full time for a science research institute. What can I say? I like to keep myself busy.

 

To join me on my travels and follow my progress head over to readingwritingeverything-heather.blogspot.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

Cult of the Fang by Randy Lindsay

 

The old church faced north. Except that it wasn't old and it wasn't a church. The building permit for this architectural throwback had been filed six years ago. And who ever heard of a church as big and grandiose as this building that didn't display any religious symbols.

 

No, this was a sanctuary for the Cult of the Fang. Heaven only knew why they faced their dens of death to the north.

 

A gleam from the gutter caught Jim's eye. He bent over and retrieved a necklace with a small silver cross. No doubt, cultists had stripped it from some poor soul before dragging them inside. Jim put the necklace into his pocket and then slunk towards the property.

 

With the sun low in the sky it wouldn't be long before the cult's master arose. When that happened no place within twenty miles would be safe for Jim. He had to strike now.

 

Jim decided against climbing the wrought-iron fence surrounding the property and chose to pick the over-sized padlock that secured the gate. After checking the street to make sure it was clear he pulled out his lock-smithing tools and opened the lock in under a minute. The front door of the faux church proved no more of a challenge.

 

Slipping inside, Jim listened for activity.

 

Nothing.

 

As quiet as a tomb and it smelled like one too.

 

He snuck along the walls, using what furniture and trappings there were for cover. If the cultists had followed tradition when designing the sanctuary, the next room would be a huge, fancy hall and beyond that the private sanctum of their master.

 

Jim slid the door back without making a sound. The reek of blood assaulted his senses. He paused for a moment, watching for movement inside, adjusting to the smell. The way appeared clear.

 

He had made it halfway across the central room when doors opened all around him. Cultists stepped inside, cruel smiles on their faces.

 

"Herald," one of the cultists called out in an old, raspy voice. "You crossed the line. The Pact forbids you from directly interfering in our affairs. Now that you have, the clause that protected you is void. It seems that you have reached the end of your participation in our millennium old conflict."

 

"It is a stalemate that has continued for far too long," said Jim.

 

The cultists tightened the circle around the Herald and he feigned a break through their lines. As they wrestled him to the center of the room he retrieved the necklace and placed it in his mouth.

 

They positioned him over a huge mahogany bowl and spilled his blood.

 

Jim let the necklace fall out of his mouth and into the bowl. With the last of his life energy he mumbled the prayer that would purify the blood and poison the cult's master when he drank it.

 

The rules of the pact hadn't changed, just their understanding of it.

 

To defeat evil – sacrifices had to be made.

 

 

About Randy Lindsay

 

Randy is a native of Arizona. In his spare time he likes to play games with his children, fish, and conduct family history research. His stories have been published in Gentle Strength Quarterly, The City of the Gods: Mythic Tales, and Penumbra. Two more have been purchased for publication this year; one for the second City of the Gods anthology and the other for the Once Upon An Apocalypse anthology by Chaosium.

 

http://randylindsay.blogspot.com/

Week of 8/1/2012

Week of 8/1/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Dawn Ellner

 

 

Words Required

 

Wallet

 

Circus

 

Kid

 

Cruise Ship

 

Slide

 

 

 

 

Where Innocence Blossomed by Anne Organista

 

"What would you do if you had a million dollars?" Katy asked.

 

Ally remembered how, since first grade, she and Katy would walk down by the old railroad track while everyone took a nap after lunch. Like most children, they loved imagining things by asking each one the most ludicrous questions they could think of.

 

It was their last summer together. Both girls were leaving for college, though to different universities.

 

"If I had a million dollars, I'd ride a cruise ship and go around the world," Ally beamed, hopping on one leg down the tracks.

 

"I'd go to a circus and ask the magician to teach me all his tricks," Katy said, as if talking to herself.

 

"Seriously?" Ally peered at her friend. "A million dollars for a circus?"

 

"Wouldn't it be great if I was a magician? I could be anything I wanted to be and do whatever I wanted to do," Katy sighed, as she brushed the pebbles along the tracks with her right shoe.

 

"What ... what would you want to do?" Ally asked hesitantly.

 

Katy had that look on her face again. It wasn't a pleasant look. There was so much pain, Ally couldn't stand it. It also scared her a bit. She had asked Katy about it a couple of times but she just looked away.

 

"To be a kid again," she answered and this time, looked at Ally with deep sadness in her eyes.

 

"But you're barely out of your teens!"

 

"Oh, you know what I mean, Ally! A real kid!" she insisted. "A kid who doesn't know anything. A kid who can just play without a care in the world."

 

"We can do that! Look!" Ally started to hop on one leg again, hoping to convince her friend that everything was all right.

 

But Katy was crying, pools of tears now gathering around her big blue eyes. Ally was scared. Her friend was telling her something she didn't want to think about.

 

"Katy, please!" Ally asked, rushing to the slide under the old sycamore tree where Katy now sat.

 

"I had a dream last night. It was my 7th birthday and Ma and Pa were beside me, blowing out my birthday candles." Katy's voice was hushed, tears streaming down her pretty young face.

 

"Oh Katy, not again! C'mon, it's been years! Let it go!" Ally pleaded.

 

"He's still out there, Ally. I need to go after him."

 

"But, why Katy? Why?"

 

"Because I have his wallet. It's the only thing I have to prove what he did to me, what he did to Ma and Pa. It's the only thing I can do to stop him from coming in my dreams."

 

Clouds hovered in the sky and small drops of rain splattered on the dusty railroad tracks. Ally knew Katy would never be the same again.

 

Like the old railroad tracks where innocence had blossomed but was now worn out, the vibrant friend she used to know had been rudely torn to pieces.

 

 

About Anne Organista

 

Ever since she was a child, Anne remembers getting lost in her reading and writing. She graduated from Trinity College Dublin in Ireland with a Masters in Education. Despite being an English and History teacher for most of her professional life, Anne never got rid of the itch to write.

 

It continues to be her biggest passion. Her short stories, poems and personal reflections are showcased in her blog www.anne-writersspace.blogspot.com for the sole reason that she wanted "to test the waters and see if people will even read it."

 

Anne's biggest dream is to write a book and get it published someday. After 5 drafts and the first 21 pages completed, she continues to dream and hopes to see her work to its final stage.

 

Today, Anne freelances between ESL teaching, writing educational scripts and editing academic textbooks. On occasion, she facilitates seminar workshops for teachers with a team from the Mentoring the Mentors Program (MMP).

 

She lives with her husband in Manila, Philippines.

 

 

 

 

Dreams Lived and Forgotten by Yolanda Tong

 

I

Each day she followed the train tracks on her long walk to and from town. Her young daughter would complain about the distance, her small legs struggling to keep going. She could have taken the road, and she did when it rained, or when the snow was too deep. Out here she was left alone with her adult memories of secret childhood dreams of exploring the world.

 

"Mommy, how far do these tracks go?" Her daughter asked one day.

 

"They go very very far stretching from sea to sea. In that direction the train goes to Vancouver at the Pacific Ocean." She turned and pointed in the opposite direction. "In that direction, it goes very very far. Past the Rocky Mountains, past the prairies filled with wheat fields, past the Great Lakes and eventually it ends at the Atlantic Ocean."

 

"Can we go to the Atlantic Ocean too Mommy?"

 

"No sweetheart, it is too far."

 

Her daughter was only momentarily disappointed, still a young kid, and too little to understand the enormity of the distance. She wasn't surprised, even she had no idea how far it actually was. She'd lived her whole life in this small town, and hadn't ventured too far away.

 

II

Five years passed, and she still walked with her daughter along these tracks whenever she could, though she was usually alone as her daughter now attended school. She had hoped things would get easier, but they never did. So she continued her walks along the tracks and nursed her dreams that were slowly drifting away like a melting ice flow.

 

"Mommy, wouldn't it be fun to climb onto an empty train car like the Littlest Hobo on TV and explore the country, stop in new towns and meet new people?" Her daughter said one day after they had stopped to watch a long cargo train pass.

 

"Yes it would be, but you know we can't do that."

 

"Why not?" said her daughter in a demanding tone. "It would be fun to see new places, travel around like a circus. We never get to go anywhere."

 

III

Her daughter was now a teenager and preferred trips into town with older boys who had cars. She never knew where her daughter was half the time anymore, or got a straight answer when she asked. Her husband had started drinking and her daily walks seemed to drag out longer and longer as she stopped more often to feel sorry for herself and the life she'd wasted. If only ... But it was too late now.

 

It was summer holidays and a rare day that her daughter was home and looking bored so she knocked on her half open bedroom door and said "Let's go for a walk into town, we can stop for coffee."

 

"Yeah, sure," mumbled her daughter.

 

They walked along the tracks in silence. The bright sun was at it's fullest point in the sky, and they stopped in a patch of shade to rest.

 

"Mom, did you ever want to leave this town?"

 

"Sure I did!"

 

"So why didn't you? Why did you stay in this hole?"

 

"Well, sometimes things don't happen the way we'd like them to, and we have to just accept what we've got." she said with a hint of sadness.

 

"That's not going to happen to me. As soon as I graduate, I'm leaving this stupid town."

 

IV

Her daughter had moved to Vancouver two years ago. She rarely came home. She called every now and then, talked about all the exciting city things she was doing, but she didn't understand half of what her daughter was talking about.

 

"Why don't you catch a bus and come stay with me for ahwile?" her daughter asked.

 

"No, no, it's too crowded there for me, too noisy. I'd just get lost! Why don't you come home for a visit instead?"

 

Her daughter seemed frustrated by her response. She couldn't figure out why.

 

V

Her daughter was moving again, this time to New Zealand, it seemed she had grown tired of her job on the cruise ship. She couldn't understand why she kept moving. It seemed like with each move she was sliding further and further away from her. Her daughter had no intentions of coming home it seemed. Two and a half years ago when she was living in Taiwan her daughter offered to pay for a plane ticket to fly her out for a visit. Taiwan was so far away, she was too scared to make the trip alone. She politely declined and asked her daughter if she was coming home for Christmas. She no longer reacted in surprise when her daughter said no.

 

She put on her winter coat, and walked to town, her usual way along the tracks. Stepping out of the way for a train to pass, she stood next to a lone tree, it's leaves long since fallen. She did not notice the direction the train was headed.

 

 

About Yolanda Tong

 

Yolanda Tong is originally from Canada, but travelled extensively before finally settling in Melbourne, Australia at the base of the Dandenong mountains. She is inspired by nature, driven by emotion, and loves to write about all that is sensed but not seen.

Week of 8/8/2012

Week of 8/8/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Kristoffer Sorensen

 

 

Words Required

 

Skyscraper

 

Bet

 

Reform

 

Balcony

 

Surface

 

 

 

 

Touch Me Not by Carrie K. Sorensen

 

It grew between one day and the next. The depths were green, fading out to a pale yellow and pointed tips sharper than glass. It was unlike any plant my parents had ever seen. When Grandpa saw it he glared.

 

"Don't go looking too hard at that, Jules."

 

"Mama and Daddy are looking," I snipped back.

 

"They ain't young. Now reform that attitude."

 

"So you know what it is?" Grandpa scowled at the thing in the middle of our field.

 

"It's a Skyscraper," he said. "It's best if we just stay away."

 

Before the afternoon was through, neighbors and travelers had come to see the Skyscraper that was now twice as tall as a man.

 

"I bet it will grow up to the clouds." I say, hanging out the kitchen window. Grandpa didn't look up from his whittling.

 

"I suppose it may."

 

"Has it grown here before?"

 

"When I was about your age," he answered reluctantly. "Now get back in here. That ain't no balcony to be hanging over." I huffed and continued cleaning dishes.

 

I was in bed when Mama and Papa came in, exhausted and upset about the damage done to the crops by all the people wanting to see the Skyscraper.

 

"Don't you worry about that field," Grandpa's voice rumbled so deep I could feel it in my chest. "You worry about that girl. Make sure she stays in bed."

 

"I'm sure she will," Mama replied.

 

Grandpa harrumphed. A chair scraped closer to my door and I heard the whisper of knife over wood.

 

Outside never really got dark. I watched the sun go down through my window. but a soft yellow light kept the air glowing. The moon must be out, reflecting off the Skyscraper. I had to see it.

 

I got up, easing the casement open, listening to Grandpa's snores as I slipped out the window. I walked through the tall grass around the house, gasping when I saw the light was coming from the Skyscraper. It was tall, reaching all the way to the heavy clouds covering the sky.

 

Each step took me closer, each blade of grass bending out of my way. I walked reverently around the Skyscraper, studying each pointed leaf. Only the ends looked sharp. If I was careful, I should be able to feel the surface of the smooth blade without hurting myself.

 

The strange leaves parted, giving me more room to explore. The leaf I was tracing began to curl back, changing from a sharp edge to a hand. I looked up in surprise, meeting a pair of green eyes, a face framed with spiky yellow hair. His hand wrapped around mine, pulling me in. The Skyscraper cracked, each leaf fracturing, crinkling and falling like broken glass. I had to get away, to get out from under the falling shards, but my eyes were trapped in his.

 

He pulled me in as the Skyscraper fell around me.

 

 

About Carrie K. Sorensen

 

I am the mommy of two fantastic little boys, three boxers and one mutt. My husband and my story is truly a fairy tale of modern origins. I attended Arizona State University for a B.A. but am lucky enough to be a stay at home mother to my amazing brood.

 

I write in whatever free time I can steal for myself, mostly fantasy or paranormal. I have lived in the country, the city and the suburbs, and I definitely prefer the suburbs. Still, the forest is what inspires me most, with velvet shadows, hidden nooks and possible fairy circles around the next corner.

 

http://chasingrevery.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

 One Last Gift by Melissa Gardiner

 

She was still wearing his t-shirt when the blue box arrived. The postman handed her the

parcel, not meeting her gaze. They had been playing this game for the past two weeks - the postman and the woman. Every day he delivered condolence letters and "Sorry for your loss" cards, and every day he would avoid her red, swollen eyes. And she would will him to look at her, burning holes into the top of his head as he fumbled in his bag before whipping out the thick wad of pastel-coloured envelopes tied together with an elastic band. But, he couldn't look at her. Nobody could.

 

The death of a loved one is a tragedy.

 

Suicide is worse.

 

This morning there were no envelopes, just the parcel - no label, no card, no letter saying where it had come from. She waited for the postman to scurry back down the garden path before shutting the door and placing the box down on the kitchen table.

 

She wasn't sure how she knew it was from him, but she did. There were no tears left so she cried dry, crusty sobs, her body shaking with grief and anger.

 

On the surface, life had been good for a while. But, she had always lurked on the outside of something dark. A man trapped in his own nervousness, she had tiptoed around his neuroses, his panic attacks, the fear that somebody, somewhere was out to get him. He was a reformed drug addict when they had first met (so was she), but she hadn't realised the extent to which the drugs had rotted his brain until he started having the attacks after their first year of marriage. He had been to see doctors, who prescribed pills.

 

It was the pills that brought on the depression.

 

"You know that feeling of falling you get sometimes in your sleep?" He would whisper in her ear, as she lay on his chest, her head rising and falling with each breath he took. "It's like being pushed off the top of a skyscraper, and you just feel like you are going to fall forever. But, you can't. You know that one day you have to land. One day you'll be nothing but a splatter on a pavement. And after falling for so long, you start to crave that release ... the crack of your body hitting rock bottom."

 

She wondered with an empty laugh, whether he had lived long enough to hear his own body crack on the cement pavement below the hotel balcony he'd thrown himself from.

 

The medics had said, "Dead on Impact".

 

They found nothing in the hotel room - no suicide note, just his empty wallet and an old bet slip from Paddy Power. He had won a fiver the day he killed himself.

 

She picked up the last ever gift from her dead husband, and threw the box and its contents out of the kitchen window and into the flowerbed below.

 

 

About Melissa Gardiner

 

Melissa Gardiner was born on December 11, 1985. She grew up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and attended Collegiate Girls' School. Melissa began writing at an early age, typing short stories on her grandfather's rusted typewriter at her family's dining room table, and continued to write throughout her school years, winning various academic awards for her written work. Melissa describes herself as an "observer with a love for detail" and it was this quality together with her love for the writing that led Melissa to study towards a degree in Journalism and Media studies at Rhodes University, where she graduated at the end of 2007. Melissa is currently living in London and writing her first novel. She blogs about life as a 'wannabe writer' over at My Unpublished Life (http://unpublishedworksofme.blogspot.co.uk/)

Week of 8/15/2012

Week of 8/15/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Uday Phalgun

 

 

Words Required

 

Creation

 

Mime

 

Balcony

 

Kidnap

 

Loaf

 

 

 

 

Like Mother, Like Daughter by Heather Musk

 

Celeste knew that sooner or later, her daughter would be drawn to the same dark powers that had once seduced her. She had tried to put it off, but Emma was as strong minded as she used to be. She'd hoped that by escaping and taking her away from it all Emma would never be involved, never be tempted into that other world. But Emma was of her creation, and so the risk was always there. It was out of her hands now though, Emma had chosen her path and all Celeste could do was wait and see if she survived.

 

She sat nervously in the balcony, not wanting to watch but drawn nonetheless. She used all her power to send encouragement and help, but the invisible barrier surrounding them sent it all straight back at her. Emma was on her own. She couldn't even mime any instructions to her, the viewing balconies completely hidden in the arena. The poor souls didn't even know they had an audience.

 

There were three of them down there, strangers to one another, all competing for the single prize of freedom. Celeste knew the other parents were somewhere near, watching to see if their only daughter was going to make it. It was a rite of passage into the unknown world, and you either made it, or you perished. There was no opting out. Once you walked through the doors, across the seal of the sacred symbol, there was no going back. All who entered did so of their own free will, much to their parents distress, willing participants in their own kidnap.

 

The three girls headed in different directions, towards doors that only they could see, Emma's directly beneath where her mother sat watching. Celeste crossed to the other side of the balcony to see her daughter enter her own personal challenge. She couldn't see Emma's reaction as she approached a table with two chairs facing each other. She sat down as a dark hooded figure approached and sat opposite. There was bread at the table and they each took a bite of loaf, neither taking their eyes from the other. Celeste could barely contain herself, wanting to dive in and help.

 

She didn't hear the people come from behind to grab her.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Emma stared into the eyes of her father and could sense his fury at her being there. She had managed to deceive her mother, taking her place for this challenge. Emma knew she would never have survived, she didn't have the strength in her any more. It was her mother that he wanted though. To take his revenge. She couldn't allow it, it was his own fault that she'd left, his own fault he'd never seen his daughter.

 

A door creaked open in the shadows and she saw two figures carrying a third in against their struggles. She looked into her mothers eyes and then she knew. It was over for both of them.

 

 

About Heather Musk

 

I wish I could say that I've been writing ever since I can remember and it's been a part of my life since I've been on the planet, but the truth is I can't.

 

It has taken the best part of 30 years to find this hidden thing within me, which is the need to write. It's my own kind of therapy, a way to engross myself in something else away from my life, my own bubble of the universe.

 

I'm still at the very beginning of this journey, learning and honing my skills. On the way I also have my husband and five year old daughter to contend with, as well as working towards an English degree with The Open University and working nearly full time for a science research institute. What can I say? I like to keep myself busy.

 

To join me on my travels and follow my progress head over to readingwritingeverything-heather.blogspot.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

The Fallen by Rome Taylor

 

As Prince Lotus looked out at his kingdom, he had a feeling of sadness. For his kingdom was empty. The bandits of Mime had come again, leaving nothing but destruction and despair in their wake. They even kidnapped all the sheep, no food remained in the land of Gnit.

 

Prince Lotus left his balcony to stab himself with his family's sacred dagger. What else could he do? No food, no water, no way of replenishing. He was going to die anyway, why prolong the inevitable?

 

He walked through his castle, each morsel bringing back memories. The drapes he used to climb on, the secret staircase behind the bookshelf, leading to the dungeon where he would torment the prisoners. All those memories seemed so long ago. Yet only two weeks ago they took place.

 

King Loaf passed away two weeks ago. Prince Lotus was next in line for the throne, but the bandits of Mime came before the coronation could take place.

 

The family's sacred dagger was said to lay in the Jester's Catacombs. Just below the dungeon. None had ever entered for fear of ambush by an escaped prisoner. No such fear laid in Lotus's heart.

 

The staircase wound down, growing narrower. He remembered when it was built. day after day of continual labor.

 

He reached the bottom, but saw no dagger. He saw short, round pedestals in a half circle, surrounding one. Each with a symbol. Prince Lotus recognized the symbol of the center pedestal, a snake hanging from a tree.

 

The symbol of King Loaf.

 

Prince Lotus looked at the opposite side of the pedestal. More symbols. Yet these symbols were not that of a family or of any one person. They were the of the language of Creation. Prince Lotus knelt to read them.

 

If you are reading this, my son, I trust you will know what to do in this situation. Reading these symbols from his father brought tears to Prince Lotus's eyes. These pedestals have been placed so that you may read the symbols and bring back those you have lost.

 

Of course. King Loaf knew the language of Creation and must have consulted his soothsayer who foretold this event. And wrote words that could create anything so long as they were spoken. The other pedestals had their symbols toward King Loaf. Prince Lotus stood and read them aloud. His voice echoing off the empty walls.

 

"'Those who came and served us well, had lives to live, stories to tell.

Yet they left this world all to early, leaving behind all things worldly.

Oh spirit of Creation, bring back peace to our nation.

Those fallen from fighting in war, return them here, to fight once more.'"

 

The ground rumbled. The pedestals grew into human shaped statues. The stone cracked. The statues exploded into flesh colored warriors with battle armor.

 

Lotus's father was standing in the center. Lotus embraced him with a ferocious hug. The land of Gnit could begin again.

 

 

About Rome Taylor

 

Rome Taylor is a budding writer with a hope of becoming a full-time author. He has participated in many plays including: Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors and Romeo and Juliet, as well as Sam Club Private Eye and the Case of the Malted Falcon. You can visit his blog at MiStoryTime.blogspot.com to see more of his writing under his pen name: Skeletal Gadget.

Week of 8/29/2012

Week of 8/29/2012

 

Photo courtesy of IvyMike

 

 

Words Required

 

Zoo

 

Necklace

 

Tonic

 

Shelf

 

Turtle

 

 

 

 

A Cowboy's Grace by L.T. Dalin

 

This is the last time, I thought, and glowered in his direction.

 

Just an hour earlier we'd been at the zoo. I'd seen a pair of giant turtles who'd been happily married for the past seventy years. I thought they were cute, Mike didn't. Not a surprise as we didn't see eye to eye on anything.

 

He'd gotten bored and decided to get drunk; he always had his special tonic at hand, and at home he had a whole shelf full.

 

On our way home he nearly drove us off the road, and when I grabbed the steering-wheel he rewarded me with a shiner. I got out of the car after that. I fiddled with the necklace around my neck as I closed the gap between us.

 

A truck slowed down behind me and pulled in behind Mike's car.

 

The sun was blistering hot, and I'd chosen a bad day for wearing black. I hoped it wasn't one of Mike's drinking buddies.

 

I walked alongside it, heading for Mike's car. A man jumped out wearing a cowboy hat, with matching rugged, dirty jeans.

 

"Car trouble?" he asked, and flashed me the whitest set of teeth I'd even seen.

 

I was momentarily speechless, and blinked twice before opening my mouth.

 

"Not that I know of," I replied, but Mike cut me off as he opened the door and stumbled out.

 

The cowboy's smile slowly died as he looked from me to Mike and back to me again. I ran a hand through my hair, trying to think of something to say. My right cheek was probably starting to change color, though he never slapped me hard enough to bruise properly.

 

"I'm Joe," he said.

 

"I'm Mike." His speech was slurred, and he shoved a hand forward.

 

"And I'm sick of this," I said, and leaned in through the window, fetched my jacket and left both men and cars.

 

"Jen! Don't be like that!" Mike yelled, and I glanced over my shoulder just in time to see him fall over the hood of the car.

 

Fucking jackass, I thought, and continued walking.

 

The pickup cruised up on my side, and Joe the Cowboy rolled down the window. "Need a ride?"

I was sick of men, but I wasn't sure if I was up for two hours of walking. "Probably." I looked up at the sun.

 

"Come on. I'll drive you home." He stopped the car, leaned over and opened the door for me.

 

"I won't be good company; I'm in a foul mood," I warned, feeling it was only fair that he knew.

 

"Maybe I can do something about that too. Nothing like a damsel in distress to make a man feel like a Knight." He grinned broadly.

 

I got in the car, and Joe handed me a bottle of water just as my favorite song came on the radio.

Gotta love cowboys, I thought, and then I told him about the turtle.

 

 

About L.T. Dalin

 

L.T. Dalin started writing at a young age. Her favorite thing to do when growing up was handing in essays. She learned a lot about writing, the art of writing and more importantly; how not to write, during her time studying Broadcast Journalism at University in England. She started writing seriously five years ago; four of those dedicated to her Fantasy Trilogy.

 

http://chessnysilth.blogspot.no/

 

 

 

 

The Phone Call by Scott Taylor

 

"Yo…it's me."

 

"Hey—where are you, man? We thought you'd be here ½ hour ago."

 

"Yeah, so did I. The car died again!"

 

"Again! You've gotta get rid of that thing once and for all."

 

"No funds, man!"

 

"Well, where are you?"

 

"On Prewett Loop, about a mile past Highway 1."

 

"I'll send Smalls to pick you up—stay cool, we'll get you."

 

"Thanks."

 

"So, when you getting some new wheels? That turtle you drive needs to be permanently retired."

 

"Tru dat. So, how long's the party gonna last?"

 

"Jimmy says he'll keep it cranked all night."

 

"Good. I didn't want to miss the whole thing. What's everybody drinking?"

 

"The usual, but some dude brought some home brew—tastes like hair tonic so I'd avoid it."

 

"Thanks for the advice."

 

"Man, I wish you were here—this place is a zoo right now. The music they're playing is off the shelf!"

 

"Hey! I feel bad enough about the car…don't make it worse."

 

"Then I probably shouldn't tell you that Natalie's here, and she's looking lonely."

 

"Aw, man!"

 

"Sorry, sorry…my bad. That was cold, I know."

 

"Ah…so, did Natalie come by herself?"

 

"I think so, dude. What? You still got something for her?"

 

"Never stopped, man. I just wish…wish things were different."

 

"Why'd you guys stop going out?"

 

"It's complicated."

 

"What else you gonna do?"

 

"Good point."

 

"So, tell me man. What's the deal with you two?"

 

"Things were going pretty good. We were hanging out, like, every weekend. Then her brother died."

 

"Her brother died? You never told me that. Did we know him?"

 

"No, he was older—we never knew him. He was in Afghanistan. Their Humvee hit a landmine. Four soldiers died."

 

"Man, that sucks."

 

"Yeah, tell me about it. After that things kinda changed."

 

"How'd things change?"

 

"I don't know, and I don't think she even knew."

 

"So what'd you do?"

 

"I did a bunch of stupid stuff. I tried to buy her things—spent a ton of money. I even bought her a necklace."

 

"A necklace?"

 

"Yeah, and other stuff, but…I don't know…she just couldn't get past it."

 

"Well, she's still here, and pretty much by herself, as far as I can see."

 

"Do me a favor."

 

"What?"

 

"Go tell her that I'm coming and not to leave. I really want to talk to her and see how she's doing."

 

"Alright. I'll do it, but you owe me, man."

 

"You name it—whatever you want."

 

"How 'bout a necklace?"

 

 

About Scott Taylor

 

Scott William Taylor lives and writes in Utah. He grew up living on the side of a mountain and lives on that same mountain today, with his family and a dog that loves cheese. Scott is married, with four children. He received his undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Utah and a Masters in English from Weber State University. Scott's story Little Boiler Girl was part of the steampunk anthology Mechanized Masterpieces published by Xchyler Publishing in April 2013. Scott is the creator and producer of A Page or Two Podcast. He also wrote the award-winning short film, Wrinkles. When not writing and working, Scott enjoys participating in community theater productions with his children. Follow Scott on Twitter @Hyggeman or at his author site: www.scottwilliamtaylor.com.

Week of 9/6/2012

Week of 9/6/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Carrie K Sorensen

 

 

Words Required

 

Fin

 

Vitamins

 

Trousers

 

Toothpick

 

Creeper

 

 

 

 

They Need an Older Brother by Tena Carr

 

Little Jimmy sat on a large rock by the river's edge, watching a creeper wave make it's way across the water's surface. He knew he was in trouble, that he had screwed up badly when he had gone into Old Lady Gloria's yard and cut a whole bunch of her roses to prove he had been there. He knew as he did it that it was wrong, but he couldn't very well be the laughing stock of the neighborhood could he? A group of neighbor boys, the youngest barely a year older than himself, had goaded him into doing it, saying that he was a "sissy" and a "scaredy cat" if he didn't. The "leader" of the group was the oldest of all the boys, but he was only a few years older than Jimmy himself. He always had a toothpick dangling from his mouth 'cause he thought it made him look like a tough guy.

 

Slowly, Jimmy turned his head to face his mother. His Gramma Mindy was always telling him that it was important to face up when one did something wrong and to take the consequences of their actions like a man. He had expected a long lecture about how what he had done was wrong and maybe even a spanking. Instead his mother had silently led the way to their "special spot" down by the river. It had been there special little place every since his dad had run off and left them for another woman just a few years older. They hadn't heard a word from him since. Sure Mom had brought his 2 younger twin brothers (Jason and Jeff) down to the river a number of times, but never to their "special spot." He had an older sister named Jenny also, but she was a lot older and was off at her last year of college. Jenny was dating a guy named Brian and they were suppose to be getting married soon.

 

Jimmy's mother stood facing him looking more sad than angry. "Jimmy, you know mom hasn't been feeling too well these past couple months don't you?" Jimmy fidgeted his fingers playing with a small hole in his trousers as he stared out at the fin of a small fish swimming around in the river. He had noticed that a lately mom hadn't been up and about to greet him (or his two twin brothers) as they got off the school bus just down the road from his house. In fact a lot of times when they got home Jimmy had been responsible for making a snack for his younger brothers and himself. Usually he just made them all peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but sometimes he made peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

 

Jimmy's mom sat down beside him on the rock. "I haven't told Jason and Jeff about this, only your sister Jenny knows because she's going to be taking care of you when I'm gone ....."

 

"Gone??" Jimmy asked, "Like on a trip or something"

 

"No, Sweetheart," his mom replied, "The reason I've been so tired lately is because I've been sick and there's nothing the doctors can do to make me better."

 

"Jenny has already agreed to take care of you guys, but Jason and Jeffrey are going to need an older brother to look out for them and help them remember to take their vitamins every day so they can grow bigger and stronger every day just like you are."

 

For a moment Jimmy stared silently out across the river, thinking about what his mother had just told him, then slowly he nodded his head. "I promise I'll try to do right," he said, "And mom, I'm sorry about what I did to Ms. Gloria's flowers."

 

"I know you are, sweetheart," his mom replied, "but I think it would be a good idea to go tell Ms. Gloria that."

 

 

About Tena Carr

 

I am a 41 year old wife and mother. I have one son who is eleven and going through those wonderful & adventurous tween-age years. My husband has an SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) and has been in a wheelchair since before we met. Before you go oohing and aaahing about what a saint I am, let me assure you that I have my moments of frustration and anger of having to constantly help out with something or another.

 

My main interest/passion is that which is related to Fire/EMS Service. At one point in my life I did take an EMT course and was state certified (in Oregon). I didn't keep current it with it however - a major regret of mine.

 

When I get the chance I also enjoy trying my hand (trying being the operative word) at blogging & writing (though I have yet to get that ramble around in my head down on paper).

 

http://jottingsandwritings.wordpress.com/

Week of 9/19/2012

Week of 9/19/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Shirl

 

 

Words Required

 

Dictionary

 

Ladder

 

Sparrow

 

Spinach

 

Café

 

 

 

 

Unnoticed by Leanne Sype

 

It's hard to imagine the dark space blanketed in dust and cobwebs sits only steps above the town's most popular café-- vibrant and alive with the buzzing chatter of young people drinking sugared espresso and talking about the latest movies and music. Their fancy digital devices snapping pictures, pinging friends, and lighting to life with each ring, I feel like I live within the bowels of a mechanical toy.

 

Back when I lived, this place was the old bookstore. It smelled not of organic spinach salads and hearty soups, but of paper and ink swirled together with the sandalwood candles Mrs. Mathaney used to light every day. The musty fragrance and cozy ambiance was inviting, warm, and comforting. This place embodied a different kind of life. Thousands of lives, really. The shelves were lined with tales of adventure, romance, and mystery. Each book held its own world told through vibrant language, woven together like the most beautiful cloth you've ever laid eyes upon. I would read book after book, wrapping myself up in the colorful stories of people and places far away and long ago. This was a place of quiet peace. A refuge away from reality.

 

I spent hours composing prose up in the attic. Mrs. Mathaney was like a grandmother to me, and one day she set up an old writing desk and rickety chair for me in the upper space. I am still confounded as to how she got it up the narrow wooden ladder. She encouraged me to write about my own world and to create new ones. There was a window right above my desk, round with four rectangular panels etched into the glass. As I leaned back in the chair one morning, pondering the next great American novel, I watched a sparrow land on the outside ledge of the dirty pane. I found myself imagining the freedom it must've felt being able to glide through the world and landing wherever it wanted to. I remember thinking, if I were a bird I would fly to all the wonderful places I had read about.

 

The sparrow became my muse as I wrote stories of the lands I would travel and the adventures I would experience. My characters became the people I dreamed of becoming—fearless and confident with their words, sure-footed and carefree in their actions, and known for their heroism. I poured my heart and imagination on to the pages, secretly hoping that someday someone somewhere would want to know my soul. No one ever asked. No one noticed.

 

I loved writing. The desk still sits up there in the dark with nothing but a dusty dictionary sitting upon it. My stories live inside the drawer with the broken handle. The building has new life, but for me I wander the familiar upper space living in the past—a refuge in my eternal reality. As I was in life, I am unnoticed in death.

 

 

About Leanne Sype

 

Leanne is a coffee-addicted freelance writer and editor who believes happiness is found in large slices of chocolate cake. Her favorite color is orange, and she loves connecting in community with other writers. Leanne is the founder of Pen to Paper Communications where she indulges her passion in helping individuals and businesses find their story and tell it well. She lives in Portland, OR with her three elderly cats, her husband, and her two adorable kids, all of whom constantly give her good writing material. You can connect with Leanne through leannesype.wordpress.com or on Twitter @pentopapercom.

Week of 10/3/2012

Week of 10/3/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Carrie K. Sorensen

 

 

Words Required

 

Weather

 

Cemetery

 

Lump

 

Printer

 

Recipe

 

 

 

 

Do You Believe in Fairy Tales? by Heather Musk

 

Terri crouched down behind the bushes to keep out of sight, she didn't want them to know she was here. She'd had to wait all week to come back, the weather keeping her away with its continual wind and rain. She peered down into the pool below, the noise from the waterfall filling her ears. There was no sign of anyone yet, but she was patient, she could wait. She'd heard all the tales of this place since she was in high school, but like everyone else had thought them nothing but folk stories.

 

That was until the night her and Steve had come this way, looking for a good spot. All the usual places to go were much too crowded these days so they'd had to seek out their own space. It was purely by accident that they'd found their way here. She could still feel the lump on the back of her head from where she'd fallen halfway down the hill.

 

Steve had come racing down after her like some sort of sprinter to see if she was alright and they'd both been stunned to see the reaction from the water. They'd seen nothing until that point, when three huge splashes were heard and three dark figures disappeared under the waterfall. Ever since then Terri had been captivated by what they'd seen, or thought they'd seen anyway, and was determined to find out what they were.

 

After a few visits at different times of the day she soon realised they would mostly come out at night, and would sit quietly in her hiding place and just watch them. Her friends never knew where she was, they were more interested in hanging out at the cemetery, trying to decide what the occupants had all done in a previous life. She was more fascinated by this other world that was thought non-existent. She brought her flask of tea and her homemade muffins made from her nanna's recipe, and tried every now and then to get a bit closer.

 

One night she'd left a muffin out on a rock to see if it would attract interest. The only interest there was came in the return of the muffin sailing through the air in her direction. She was pretty sure she knew they were watching.

 

It had been too long since her last visit and she'd worried they'd moved on, but she didn't have long to wait to be assured of their presence again. They were all out tonight to bask in the fresh evening air, the first night without rain for five days.

 

Tonight Terri had moved a bit further down towards the waters edge, the closest that she'd ever dare go. She was so intent on watching across the water she didn't even notice the figure watching her from nearby.

 

 

About Heather Musk

 

I wish I could say that I've been writing ever since I can remember and it's been a part of my life since I've been on the planet, but the truth is I can't.

 

It has taken the best part of 30 years to find this hidden thing within me, which is the need to write. It's my own kind of therapy, a way to engross myself in something else away from my life, my own bubble of the universe.

 

I'm still at the very beginning of this journey, learning and honing my skills. On the way I also have my husband and five year old daughter to contend with, as well as working towards an English degree with The Open University and working nearly full time for a science research institute. What can I say? I like to keep myself busy.

 

To join me on my travels and follow my progress head over to readingwritingeverything-heather.blogspot.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

Friends and Enemies by Melissa Gardiner

 

The weather was just starting to turn as the party reached the falls. They had been hiking since 5:30am and their bodies ached with fatigue and the weight of their supplies.

 

"How much farther do you think this place is?" Sally asked, as they came to a stop at the base of the river.

 

"It should be around here somewhere. Keep your eyes open." The Leader yelled over the sound of water crashing down over the lip of the flooded river.

 

"What exactly are we looking for?" The fat one called Norma wheezed. She reached into the pocket of her jeans with one chubby hand and pulled out her asthma pump, sucking on the end of it until her bloodshot eyes bulged out of her head like a cartoon coyote.

 

"I would have thought that was obvious." The Leader sighed irritably, already annoyed that it had taken them two hours longer than planned to reach the falls because of Norma's phlegmy hacking.

 

"Tombstones right?" Sally asked, reaching for the binoculars around her neck and scanning the dense, wet landscape in front of them.

 

The Leader rolled her eyes, "What else would you expect to see in a cemetery?"

 

"I don't understand why we had to come all this way. There are perfectly good cemeteries back in the city. The Number 4 bus takes you right past Horizon Place." Norma choked, smacking her mammoth chest to loosen the thick build-up in her lungs.

 

"Horizon Place?" The Leader spat, glaring at fat Norma, pink and putrid in the early evening light.

 

"Horizon Place is filled with nobodies. Pathetic, parasitic human corpses that never mattered. Why would I want to connect with any of them?"

 

"Who is in this particular cemetery that you want to 'connect' with then?" Norma challenged, folding her fat arms across her chest and glaring back at The Leader.

 

"I see it, I see it!" Sally squealed from behind her binoculars.

 

"Where?" The Leader yanked the binoculars from around Sally's neck and pressed them to her face.

 

"There, just below that curved tree … do you see it? It's that statue of the 3-winged angel you told me about, that's good right?" Sally yelped with delight, hopping around The Leader like an excited puppy.

 

"That's excellent, Sally." The Leader smiled triumphantly. "Come on. If we're lucky we will make it there before dark."

 

"I'm not going." Norma said suddenly.

 

"What did you say?" The Leader glared back at her, watching as beads of sweat trickled down the side of Norma's bulbous face.

 

"It's a recipe for disaster and I'm not going." Norma hesitated slightly under The Leader's penetrating stare. "I don't feel too good."

 

"You don't feel too good?" The Leader hissed, "Listen to me, Norma May Printer. You are coming with us. You are the crucial part of this ritual."

 

Norma frowned, swallowing a fresh lump of phlegm that had risen in her throat, "What ritual? I thought we were just doing another one of your stupid séances?"

 

The Leader looked at Sally and they smiled knowingly at each, "Poor, sweet, naïve Norma. Honey. There will be no séance tonight. Just a human sacrifice."

 

 

About Melissa Gardiner

 

Melissa Gardiner was born on December 11, 1985. She grew up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and attended Collegiate Girls' School. Melissa began writing at an early age, typing short stories on her grandfather's rusted typewriter at her family's dining room table, and continued to write throughout her school years, winning various academic awards for her written work. Melissa describes herself as an "observer with a love for detail" and it was this quality together with her love for the writing that led Melissa to study towards a degree in Journalism and Media studies at Rhodes University, where she graduated at the end of 2007. Melissa is currently living in London and writing her first novel. She blogs about life as a 'wannabe writer' over at My Unpublished Life (http://unpublishedworksofme.blogspot.co.uk/)

Week of 10/17/2012

Week of 10/17/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Kristoffer Sorensen

 

 

Words Required

 

Bird

 

Kid

 

Loom

 

Soldier

 

Ostrich

 

 

 

 

Traveling Man by Carrie K Sorensen

 

A storm loomed in the horizon, threatening the delay of flights later on in the day. Peter checked his watch. He was supposed to leave in an hour. It was a race now. Time against a wind carrying heavy clouds.

 

Peter walked away from the airport window, deciding to grab a seat in case he was stuck and the airport began to pack in more than it could hold. He threw his coat and bag in the seat next to him, then dug out his laptop. He didn't turn it on, though. Not yet. They should be calling his plane soon if it was going to leave.

 

Peter's attention turned to some artificial gun noises and laughter. A couple kids were playing soldier around a small group of chairs. He was surprised kids still played that game these days - even more surprised their parents let them. Then one of the kids shouted, "I'll get you, Spiderman!" and their play made a bit more sense.

 

Peter jumped up when his plane was called. Looking out the window showed the wind hadn't been fast enough. He should be able to get out on time. He shoved his laptop in his bag and slung it over his shoulder without even zipping it closed. Coat over his arm, he got in line to claim his first class seat.

 

Peter settled in next to the plastic window, watching the clouds, not quite convinced the slowly filling airplane was still going to get off the ground in time. He finally closed his window, deciding to take a page out of the ostrich book. He didn't often take a bird's philosophy, but today he could do with a 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality.

 

Peter closed his eyes and took in the sounds around him. They would take off. They were heading away from the storm. He would be on time, make his presentation, then head home later in the day.

 

"Would you like me to stow your jacket for you, sir?" the flight attendant asked. Peter was already asleep.

 

 

About Carrie K. Sorensen

 

I am the mommy of two fantastic little boys, three boxers and one mutt. My husband and my story is truly a fairy tale of modern origins. I attended Arizona State University for a B.A. in Family and Child Development, yet am lucky enough to be a stay at home mother to my amazing brood.

 

I write in whatever free time I can steal for myself, mostly fantasy or paranormal. I have lived in the country, the city and the suburbs, and I definitely prefer the suburbs. Still, the forest is what inspires me most, with velvet shadows, hidden nooks and possible fairy circles around the next corner.

 

http://chasingrevery.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

A Gift by Tena Carr

 

Sally walked over to the large glass window that looked out over the tarmac of the large metropolitan airport and stared out into the sky as if she could somehow see Jason's flight arrive, some how will it to arrive quicker. She knew that was impossible, however. The latest look at the monitors that were placed overhead throughout the terminal had stated that the flight would be delayed at least another 30 minutes due to "inclement weather" and this had been only one delay in a string of several. After sitting in the airport terminal for nearly two hours, Sally was beginning to get antsy to see her husband who had been deployed overseas.

 

They had been barely older than kids when they met and quickly fell in love. A lot of people cautioned them to slow down, that they were going too fast - some had even tried to discourage them, but Sally and Jason had stayed true to each other through Jason's basic training and subsequent first deployment. She could still remember clearly the day he had come back from that first deployment. How he had strode down the gateway towards her, swooping her up as if she had been no heavier than a hummingbird, and spinning her around in front of everyone. He then asked her to marry him. Sally had been teary eyed as she nodded her response. Jason had kissed her then - like he had never kissed her before.

 

They were married 6 months later and even after four and a half years of marriage, Sally was filled with the same sense of excitement when he returned home from deployment. She didn't think she'd ever lose the thrill of seeing him again after months of separation, of being held in his arms. Each time she grew more and more proud of her soldier.

 

It had become a tradition, between them, to exchange gifts whenever he returned home from a deployment. They hadn't planned it that way it had just happened that way, starting from when Jason had been in basics. This time, Sally had something extra special for him. She glanced over with pride to their one year old daughter, Abigail, who was sitting on the floor playing with a stuffed ostrich and smiled. She knew that Jason was looking forward to meeting their baby girl for the first time. She remembered the day she had told him she was pregnant. Jason had been "through the roof ecstatic" He had been called away a couple months later, but had hoped to be back for the birth of their first baby. It hadn't worked out that way, instead he had gotten deployed again.

 

Suddenly Sally felt a large presence loom over her. She had been so lost in thought, except for keeping an eye on Abigail, that she hadn't even noticed that Jason's flight had landed. He stood beside her now holding his new daughter in his arms as if she were a precious package. Tears that Sally knew were tears of happiness filled his eyes. She had to swallow the lump in her throat as Jason slowly lowered his lips to hers in a long lingering kiss.

 

"I love you" Sally whispered.

 

"I love you, too" Jason responded. Still holding Abigail in one arm, Jason tucked Sally against his other side as they walked through the terminal and headed home.

 

 

About Tena Carr

 

I am a 41 year old wife and mother. I have one son who is eleven and going through those wonderful & adventurous tween-age years. My husband has an SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) and has been in a wheelchair since before we met. Before you go oohing and aaahing about what a saint I am, let me assure you that I have my moments of frustration and anger of having to constantly help out with something or another.

 

My main interest/passion is that which is related to Fire/EMS Service. At one point in my life I did take an EMT course and was state certified (in Oregon). I didn't keep current it with it however - a major regret of mine.

 

When I get the chance I also enjoy trying my hand (trying being the operative word) at blogging & writing (though I have yet to get that ramble around in my head down on paper).

 

http://jottingsandwritings.wordpress.com/

Week of 10/24/2012

Week of 10/24/2012

 

Creative Commons photo, taken by SEIER+SEIER

 

 

Words Required

 

Bullfight

 

Island

 

Mouse

 

Verse

 

Savior

 

 

 

 

Letting Go by Leanne Sype

 

He felt lost. The beauty of the view from the balcony was invisible to him, for the pain he felt blinded him from what was real. Though the darkness draping his spirit like a heavy blanket was absolute, the truth was he was the only one to blame. Sure, he'd fought a good fight the way battle ensues within the ring of a bullfight, but in the end he'd given up. He wouldn't become the savior he'd envisioned.

 

She had been his companion for over 50 years. They lived a beautiful life on their own little island of happiness, yet everyone was invited to see. Their love for one another was no secret, and most people envied the kindred connection they shared with longing warmth. She'd caught his attention at 19 years old, singing a solo verse of Amazing Grace at the annual community picnic. Her long, golden hair shimmered in the afternoon light the way sunshine glistens upon the gentle waters of a lazy river. The softness of her skin, the pink of her lips, and the sound of her angelic voice riding the melodious waves of his favorite hymn was entrancing. It wasn't until her deep green eyes locked with his that he realized he was in love with her. Love at first sight was a myth until that moment.

 

Late that afternoon they had met under the big birch tree. It was serendipitous as he had been playing ball with Mrs. Riley's son, and the ball rolled over to where she was reading. He could still remember how his heart pounded with excitement as their eyes met, and the corners of her beautiful mouth had spoken the sweetest 'hello' he'd ever heard. They sat under that tree and talked until the rising of the sun. As the dawn of the morning rays glazed the tips of the hills, he'd kissed her with gentle passion, igniting a full flame of love between both of their hearts.

 

They had been inseparable after that day… until yesterday. He let her go. Oh, the searing pain within his heart cries out 'how could I let her go!'

 

Yet, there was nothing more he could have done. As an angel spirit, she watched her grieving husband weep and felt the burden of guilt gripped around his soul—a guilt that was not his to bear for it was her time to go home. Letting her go had been a gift. With a whisper no louder than the patter of a mouse upon the softest grass, she gave her husband the forgiveness he sought. He lifted his head to the sky with tears streaming down his cheeks and whispered, "I love you."

 

 

About Leanne Sype

 

Leanne is a coffee-addicted freelance writer and editor who believes happiness is found in large slices of chocolate cake. Her favorite color is orange, and she loves connecting in community with other writers. Leanne is the founder of Pen to Paper Communications where she indulges her passion in helping individuals and businesses find their story and tell it well. She lives in Portland, OR with her three elderly cats, her husband, and her two adorable kids, all of whom constantly give her good writing material. You can connect with Leanne through leannesype.wordpress.com or on Twitter @pentopapercom.

 

 

 

 

The Neighbor and Secret Lives by Scott Taylor

 

"He's at it again," Mattie said to Sid, her husband of three months. The upstairs neighbor was drunk, of that there was no doubt.

 

"How can you be so sure?" Sid asked with a smile as he tried for the umpteenth time to ignore the rants emanated from the apartment above theirs.

 

"Well, he's either drunk or learning how to be a preacher. I swear he just quoted something in the Bible.

 

"What did he say?" Sid said lifting himself up from the couch.

 

"I don't know…something about rejoicing in God."

 

"I'll bet he's quoting St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verse 47: "And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."

 

Mattie turned and stared. "How did you know that?" In the three months of marriage and 28 months of courtship she had never heard her husband quote anything, the least of which, the Bible. Sid just shrugged his shoulders and returned to the couch.

 

"No, I'm serious," Mattie said as she came to stand before the relaxing Sid. "Where did that come from?"

 

"Oh, there's a lot you don't know about me." Sid said smiling.

 

"Like what? You used to bullfight? You own your own island? You have super powers?"

 

Sid knew he had to tell her and now was the time. "Listen, there's something I never told you about me."

 

"Uh-oh," Mattie said with obvious concern.

 

"No, it's nothing like that." Sid sat up and Mattie joined him on the couch.

 

"Back when I was a kid," Sid began. He knew one day he would have to tell his new bride about his past. He just didn't think today was that day. "I was part of a Christian Commune."

 

"A what?"

 

"Right after my dad died, my mom hooked up with a traveling preacher." The words sucked the oxygen from Mattie's world. She had a million questions, but she let Sid continue.

 

"He was traveling through Oklahoma where we used to live and my mom fell in love—instantly. We sold the house and joined them on the tour. For five years, from when I was 6-years old to 11, we basically lived on the road. I didn't go to public school, but instead, went to Bible study, full-time."

 

"Sid," Mattie finally said. "I can't believe you never told me this."

 

"My mom eventually got sick of that preacher's lying to her about marrying her and we left. She told me as we drove away to live in Chicago with her sister that we were to never talk about what happened to us, and we never did."

 

"And just when were you going to tell me about this part of your life?"

 

"Honestly, I thought I might not have to. Since my mom died before we met, I wondered if it would ever come up."

 

Mattie smiled and shook her head as the neighbor upstairs screamed at the imaginary mouse that was scampering about his kitchen.

 

 

About Scott Taylor

 

Scott William Taylor lives and writes in Utah. He grew up living on the side of a mountain and lives on that same mountain today, with his family and a dog that loves cheese. Scott is married, with four children. He received his undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Utah and a Masters in English from Weber State University. Scott's story Little Boiler Girl was part of the steampunk anthology Mechanized Masterpieces published by Xchyler Publishing in April 2013. Scott is the creator and producer of A Page or Two Podcast. He also wrote the award-winning short film, Wrinkles. When not writing and working, Scott enjoys participating in community theater productions with his children. Follow Scott on Twitter @Hyggeman or at his author site: www.scottwilliamtaylor.com.

Week of 11/7/2012

Week of 11/7/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Carrie K. Sorensen

 

 

Words Required

 

Tar

 

Lollipop

 

Courage

 

Figure

 

Parasite

 

 

 

 

A Mother's Musing by Leanne Sype

 

*sigh*

 

Off to swimming lessons, followed by gymnastics, and then the grocery store. Please, for the love of everything that is good in the world, let there be some sort of lollipop selection for Jordan. Susan wasn't normally a big fan of bribery, but the promise of a sweet treat was the only way to coax Jordan off the play structure at the park without a scene so they could get his big sister to swimming on time. They had already been late twice this week. After both kids were buckled and satisfied with a snack in one hand and a juice box in the other, she put her keys in the ignition. Just as she turned the engine, a whimpering voice came from the back seat, "Mommy, I have to go potty."

 

*sigh* Of course you do.

 

"Okay, sweetie. Everybody out. Let's hit the bathroom before we go."

 

Susan hated park bathrooms. She'd seen too many scary movies about serial killers hiding out in in the maintenance closets. In fact after she'd seen Rest Stop, it took many months and a lot of courage to step foot in an outdoor public restroom again. The thought of it gave her the heebie jeebies.

 

"Jordan? Kate? You about done? Need any help?" Susan called out.

 

"I'm done!"

 

"Me too!"

 

Both kids came scampering towards her with the creaky, metal bathroom doors slamming shut behind them.

 

"Alright. Back in the car. If there's no traffic, I figure we'll make swim lessons with five minutes to spare," Susan said, delighted at the prospect of actually being early.

 

As the blue SUV cruised down the interstate, Susan reflected on her days before children--the days when on a whim she could book herself a luxurious deep tissue massage and a pedicure. Oh yes. Thoughts of the peaceful ambience in a dark room filled with the scent of minty eucalyptus and the soothing sounds of Enya lured Susan into a dreamy state. She imagined the comforting, firm hands working the tired knots out of her neck and shoulders; the warmth of a rose-perfumed foot soak easing the tension from her feet.

 

"—OH YEAH? I could beat the tar out of you AND your stupid transformer!!" challenged Kate to her brother, breaking Susan out of her trance.

 

"Kate-"

 

"Whatever! You're nothing but a parasite. I could take you easy," scoffed Jordan in response.

 

At this rate, thought Susan, I'd be happy with 10 minutes of silence in the locker room restroom at swimming lessons.

 

 

About Leanne Sype

 

Leanne is a coffee-addicted freelance writer and editor who believes happiness is found in large slices of chocolate cake. Her favorite color is orange, and she loves connecting in community with other writers. Leanne is the founder of Pen to Paper Communications where she indulges her passion in helping individuals and businesses find their story and tell it well. She lives in Portland, OR with her three elderly cats, her husband, and her two adorable kids, all of whom constantly give her good writing material. You can connect with Leanne through leannesype.wordpress.com or on Twitter @pentopapercom.

 

 

 

 

Good Bye by Melissa Gardiner

 

It took the doctors 6 months to realise there was something wrong with you, but I knew it from the moment they placed you, wet and sticky and screaming into my arms. The relief my body felt at having squeezed you out of me after 44 hours of pulsing, aching agony dissolved almost instantly into cold resentment, and a sick feeling that shook the very core of me. I didn't see you as my daughter, my first born, the proverbial apple of my eye. Instantly, you were a parasite – something alien. From my body, but not of my body. You weren't mine. You belonged to a memory, a momentary explosion of evil thrust uninvited into me 9 months earlier. And I hated you.

 

They said it was just the 'Baby Blues' and that I would 'snap out of it', but they didn't know me. The depth of my loathing, and the thick tar-weight of your constant screeches smothered anything maternal that may have been hiding in the crevices of my DNA. For 6 months I watched you scream until I knew the hole of your mouth and the shape of your tonsils better than I knew myself. The midwife they sent round once a week, a rotund woman named Bertha with a despicable habit of sucking lollipops, showed me a trick of gently drawing a figure-of-8 on your forehead to make you stop crying.

 

But, I could barely touch you. Running my finger across your baby-soft skin filled me with repulsion and you might as well have been covered in scales. I couldn't stand to be near you. I would rather listen to you cry yourself to sleep than touch you.

 

When the doctors finally diagnosed the problem, it was the perfect exit strategy. My way to erase you. I told them I was not equipped to deal with the repercussions of your disorder. I was 16 years old with no family, and barely a roof over my head. It was for the best, I told the social workers, if you were put into care. It took time to convince them this was the best thing for you and eventually they agreed to take you away. The nurses hugged me and complimented me on my bravery. They thought me courageous, a selfless heroine sacrificing my own happiness to give my child the best chance at a near-normal life.

 

But, putting my keys in the ignition of my old VW Beetle that day took no courage at all. It took no bravery. You were gone and I could almost taste the delicious silence as I drove away.

 

 

About Melissa Gardiner

 

Melissa Gardiner was born on December 11, 1985. She grew up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and attended Collegiate Girls' School. Melissa began writing at an early age, typing short stories on her grandfather's rusted typewriter at her family's dining room table, and continued to write throughout her school years, winning various academic awards for her written work. Melissa describes herself as an "observer with a love for detail" and it was this quality together with her love for the writing that led Melissa to study towards a degree in Journalism and Media studies at Rhodes University, where she graduated at the end of 2007. Melissa is currently living in London and writing her first novel. She blogs about life as a 'wannabe writer' over at My Unpublished Life (http://unpublishedworksofme.blogspot.co.uk/)

Week of 11/14/2012

11/14/2012

 

Photo Courtesy of Tawny Campbell - www.operationangel.org

 

 

Words Required

 

Peaked

 

Geothermal

 

Livestock

 

Mutual

 

Hydroelectric

 

 

 

 

The Story Behind the Photograph

 

For the week of Veteran’s Day, one of our blog prompt hosts, Tena, found a beautiful photograph to inspire our writers. When Carrie and I were putting together the anthology, we searched out the owner of the photograph and reached out to her for permission of use. She agreed and also agreed to share the story behind the photograph. The following was printed with permission by Tawny Campbell.

 

I took that photo back in 2007. The soldier in the photo is a Latvian Soldier who lost his leg in Iraq a day or so after Christmas. The girl in the photo is my 3 year old daughter, Ceilidha. I started a Charity called "Project TLC: Serving Those Who Serve" and it has three sub charities, Operation Angel, Project Rudolph and Project Portrait.

 

For Operation Angel, my daughters and I have visited nearly 20,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. We hand them "Angel Bags" 2-3 times a week to help keep up morale and show our love for them.

 

Project Rudolph started in Dec 2006, and we give Christmas Bags to deployed, wounded and deploying servicemen and women. We started wanting to do about 50 bags the first year, and ended up creating and handing out more than 3,000. Last year, our 7th year running, we handed out nearly 15,000 bags to our deployed servicemen and women.

 

The third part of the charity is "Project Portrait" - for this charity I take free photographs of families prior to deployments as well as photograph babies that are born while the dad is deployed.

 

It costs nearly $10,000 p/year in shipping and operating costs, no one is paid and all monies either are donated or are paid by myself and my husband (He is an E-5 Flight Medic in the US Army) or my parents, who are retired and living in the most humble of means.

 

Helping support our wounded and deploying veterans means so much to us. My husband has spent 27 months in Iraq and Afghanistan helping evacuate the wounded, so these charities are very personal to us.

 

The website is www.operationangel.org, www.projectrudolph.org or www.projecttlcserves.org

 

 

 

 

Angel's Kisses by Tena Carr

 

"Daddy you're looking awfully peaked." Little Angelica said to her father, Lt. Jack Ramone, her little face wrinkling with obvious concern as they made their way down the hospital corridor. "You need to go back to your bed and rest." Angelica insisted. For only being four years old, Angelica was extremely bright and perceptive.

 

"Peaked? Where did you learn such a big word?" Jack asked.

 

For a four year old, Angelica was extremely bright.

 

"My Aunt Cindy." Angelica replied. "She was always saying that I looked 'peaked', so I asked her what it meant and she told me it means that I look sickly and tired. But I don't look like that anymore, do I Daddy?"

 

"No Sweetheart, you don't."

 

Jack was thankful that his sister had agreed to take Angelica after his wife Bethany (Angelica's mother) had died in a terrible car accident just before he had called up for active duty. Jack and Bethany had made the mutual decision that if anything was to ever happen to Bethany and Jack found himself unable to care for Angelica that guardianship would be given to his sister Cindy. Cindy and Bethany had gotten on well together right from the start and had formed a strong bond.

 

Being out in the country with her cousins and the livestock had done Angelica a world of good. Each time Jack had seen Angelica via an online link, each time Cindy sent a new picture he could see that she was looking healthier and healthier. His plan, after finishing his call of duty, was to get a place in the country – Maybe even on the river so he could use hydroelectric electricity. His job in the military had been in finding and harnessing various forms of energy and he had had no doubt that he could use that knowledge in his own place. That is he hadn't had any doubt before a terrible accident had left him badly injured with the possibility that he might not work again.

 

The accident had taken place at a geothermal plant where Jack had been stationed. Everything had happened so fast that he'd barely had time to comprehend what was going on as the proverbial 'shit hit the fan.' Without thinking Jack had immediately acted to ensure the safety of the others in his group making sure that everyone had gotten out safely. He was just moments away from safety himself when an explosion had ripped through the building. Something had fallen hitting him across his lower back. The last thing that Jack remembered was one of the other guys pulling him to safety.

 

Doctors hadn't given Jack much hope that he'd ever walk again. He didn't know how he was ever going to be a father to little Angelica. The dream of having a place of their own in the country now seemed an impossibility….

 

"Come on Daddy," Angelica said, interrupting Jack's thoughts. "I'll help you"

 

"All right sweetie," Jack responded, "We'll head back."

 

Angelica helped her father push his wheelchair back to his room, her red tap dance shoes clinking on the linoleum as the fairy wings of her favorite costume flapped behind her.

 

"You know you're my little angel girl, don't you?" Jack said as they rolled into his room.

 

"Yes Daddy," Angelica responded as she climbed into his lap for his kiss.

 

 

About Tena Carr

 

I am a 41 year old wife and mother. I have one son who is eleven and going through those wonderful & adventurous tween-age years. My husband has an SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) and has been in a wheelchair since before we met. Before you go oohing and aaahing about what a saint I am, let me assure you that I have my moments of frustration and anger of having to constantly help out with something or another.

 

My main interest/passion is that which is related to Fire/EMS Service. At one point in my life I did take an EMT course and was state certified (in Oregon). I didn't keep current it with it however - a major regret of mine.

 

When I get the chance I also enjoy trying my hand (trying being the operative word) at blogging & writing (though I have yet to get that ramble around in my head down on paper).

 

http://jottingsandwritings.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

Fulfilling a Promise by Leanne Sype

 

Stephie's rhythmic footsteps echoed down the sterile hall of the VA hospital as she pushed her Uncle Joe in his wheelchair towards the courtyard. She'd worn her special ruby shoes to help Uncle Joe feel better. The sparkly red always made her happy, so surely the shoes would make her uncle smile too. She loved Uncle Joe so much and was sad when she heard he was hurt. Mama always said Joe shared a mutual bond with Stephie. She didn't really know what that meant, but every time Stephie sees him her heart feels like it's laughing, and she just wants to crawl into his comfy lap. It would be easier now that he was sitting all the time.

 

"I'm gonna push you to the garden Uncle Joe. It's sunny out there. Okay?"

 

"Thanks Stephie," replied Joe, discretely helping her by pushing his chair from the front side of the wheels.

 

Sweet girl, thought Joe. Every time he thought his love for her had peaked, he found his heart only grew deeper in love for her. He loved Stephie as his own.

 

His brother's daughter was a wise and sprightly girl. After a hydroelectric accident had killed his brother, leaving baby Steph and her mom alone, Joe swore he'd watch over them in honor of his brother. He'd bought land near the girls to operate a lucrative livestock business in an effort to build financial security for all three of them. He was successful in setting up a solid, growing foundation before being called overseas when the war began. Joe was devastated when he got his deployment orders, but he'd been able to get his affairs organized for the girls in case he didn't return. They'd be alright.

 

Thank God he did come back. The problem was the girls were now taking care of him. He had no choice but to swallow his pride and let the roles reverse, for it was the only way he could follow through on his promise to watch over them. They worked so hard to care for him. Stephie and her mother even took him to a nearby geothermal spring for his therapy once a week. He felt like a burden, yet could not bear to be away from them.

 

"'K, Uncle Joe," Stephie said cheerfully. "Isn't it pretty? Let's look at the pond." She suggested and curved him a few feet up the stone path.

 

"Perfect idea. Thanks for wheeling me out here, honey," Joe replied with a warm smile, hoping the intuitive youngster couldn't read his mind.

 

"Uncle Joe? Can I sit on your lap now?"

 

"Of course. Come on up here."

 

Stephie climbed into her uncle's lap. She breathed in his soapy scent and rested her head on his shoulder as he wrapped his strong arm around her petite four-year old frame. They sat in silence, each thinking of ways to make life better for the other.

 

 

About Leanne Sype

 

Leanne is a coffee-addicted freelance writer and editor who believes happiness is found in large slices of chocolate cake. Her favorite color is orange, and she loves connecting in community with other writers. Leanne is the founder of Pen to Paper Communications where she indulges her passion in helping individuals and businesses find their story and tell it well. She lives in Portland, OR with her three elderly cats, her husband, and her two adorable kids, all of whom constantly give her good writing material. You can connect with Leanne through leannesype.wordpress.com or on Twitter @pentopapercom.

 

 

 

 

Through a Child's Eyes by Scott Taylor

 

"Mommy," Jamie said as ran down the stairs to be with her mother in the kitchen. "When daddy gets home, he's going to take me to the park!" The words of the 3-year old cut as literally as if a knife blade were drawn across Melissa's pained heart. The mother closed her eyes and waited for the tears to return.

 

"Honey," Melissa said as Jamie ran to her and wrapped her tiny arms around her. "You remember what I said about daddy, and that he had an accident in Afghanistan."

 

"Yeah, so?" said the creature who knew only innocence.

 

"So daddy won't be able to take you to the park when he gets home, at least, not right away." Melissa dried her soapy hands on the dish towel hanging from the handle on the stove and bent down to stare into her daughter's brilliantly blue eyes. "The accident hurt daddy's back and, well ... he's ..." Melissa knew her smile would soon disappear and her daughter would see her resolve crack. No! Melissa thought, she had to stay strong, for both of them ... it was an unspoken mutual pact.

 

"Daddy will need to spend some time in the hospital when he gets back, but he's still your daddy and he loves you very much."

 

"But he will play, won't he?" Jamie said confused.

 

"Yes ... yes he will. Now why don't you go clean up your room. I want that room cleaned before dinner. Remember, grandma and grandpa are coming over."

 

"Yeah!" Jamie screamed in joy as she left the kitchen and went back upstairs. Melissa didn't know whether she felt better that Jamie was gone, or worse that the source of her inspiration and strength was no longer by her side.

 

"I'd better get back to work," Melissa said to herself. "These dishes won't clean themselves." Melissa resumed her task and her mind wandered. If it weren't for that hydroelectric plant the army was building on the Amu Darya River, Mark would be safe and unhurt and whole. He shouldn't have even been there in the first place ... Mark was an expert in geothermal power, not dams. But the army thought the area had potential for both and so he was called up.

 

"And why would terrorists want to destroy a power source?" Melissa asked herself for the thousandth time since she received the call in the middle of the night seven weeks before. This, above all, peaked her rage, not at the attack, but at the sheer stupidity of it all. Do they want to live as livestock in a stone-age world? Can't they see we're trying to help them?

 

"Mommy!" This time Jamie yelled as she ran downstairs. "Look what I found!" The couple's only child held up a set of wings she wore as part of her Halloween costume. "Mommy! With these I can make daddy fly!"

 

"You sure can," Melissa said, and this time, she didn't even try to stop the tears from falling.

 

 

About Scott Taylor

 

Scott William Taylor lives and writes in Utah. He grew up living on the side of a mountain and lives on that same mountain today, with his family and a dog that loves cheese. Scott is married, with four children. He received his undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Utah and a Masters in English from Weber State University. Scott's story Little Boiler Girl was part of the steampunk anthology Mechanized Masterpieces published by Xchyler Publishing in April 2013. Scott is the creator and producer of A Page or Two Podcast. He also wrote the award-winning short film, Wrinkles. When not writing and working, Scott enjoys participating in community theater productions with his children. Follow Scott on Twitter @Hyggeman or at his author site: www.scottwilliamtaylor.com.

Week of 11/28/2012

Week of 11/28/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Carrie K Sorensen

 

 

Words Required

 

Iron

 

Moon

 

University

 

Bee

 

Bench

 

 

 

 

Hard to Let Go by Heather Musk

 

I let Jackson get a little way ahead of me with Chester, I didn't want him to see the tears in my eyes. This was one of our favourite places to walk, at this time of year the leaves crunched noisily beneath our boots. I'd let him get as far as the bench up ahead and then I'd have to sit down with him and explain. I wasn't sure if I could keep myself together for long enough but I was going to have to try. I had to stay strong for him, it would only make things harder otherwise.

 

I've been looking after Jackson for just over a year, the longest resident that I'd had since entering into the fostering programme. They'd warned me that sometimes it could be hard to let go once a more permanent home had been found for them. The last two children I'd looked after were only babies, and I was surprised how easy it was to hand them over, knowing they were going to a loving family. But with Jackson he was quite a bit older, we could actually talk and get to know each other. He'd been very quiet when he first came to me and had terrible trouble sleeping. Quite often I'd check on him in the evening when he'd gone to bed, and he'd be sat at the window inside the curtains staring up at the moon. I tried not to think too much about what had happened to the children before they came to me, I just had to concentrate on helping them to feel safe. He settled in nicely after a few weeks, and we established a nice routine that worked for both of us. He'd hit it straight off with Chester, the pair were inseparable now. Something else that would only make this process harder.

 

I hadn't even thought about how I'd approach the subject with him. I needed to be careful, I didn't want to undo all the good progress we'd made. He'd told me about his dreams, of growing up in a loving home, eventually going off to university so he could get a good job and look after his own family properly. He was already sure he didn't want his own children to grow up like him. Listening to him melted my heart, and in this business that wasn't always a good thing. You were expected to lock your emotions away in an iron vault.

 

As we reached the bench I called for him to sit down with me, my mind trying to calm before I started. In the trees behind me I noticed a lone bee rustling in the leaves and I thought to myself what a simple life they must lead.

 

 

About Heather Musk

 

I wish I could say that I've been writing ever since I can remember and it's been a part of my life since I've been on the planet, but the truth is I can't.

 

It has taken the best part of 30 years to find this hidden thing within me, which is the need to write. It's my own kind of therapy, a way to engross myself in something else away from my life, my own bubble of the universe.

 

I'm still at the very beginning of this journey, learning and honing my skills. On the way I also have my husband and five year old daughter to contend with, as well as working towards an English degree with The Open University and working nearly full time for a science research institute. What can I say? I like to keep myself busy.

 

To join me on my travels and follow my progress head over to readingwritingeverything-heather.blogspot.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

Mama's Songs by Leanne Sype

 

Mama died a little while ago. I don't know how long, but it seems like forever. But sometimes it feels like just a minute ago. Daddy still seems sad. Even though he tries to hide his sad face, I can tell he misses mama. So do I. Everything changed when she went up to heaven. Our house has no more music. I miss that the most. Mama always hummed when she was takin' care of me 'n' daddy. When she would iron daddy's work shirts, or brush our dog, Felix, or even that time she put medicine on my bee sting, she would just hum these soft pretty songs. Her songs made me know she loved us. I never knew the words, but I know she did cuz even though she only hummed, I could tell she was singin' in her mind.

 

When mama got sick, she couldn't do as many things. I think that made her cry. One time I couldn't sleep, so I went to look out the window. Sometimes when I look at the moon, I can think about stuff better. I saw mama sitting on the bench under our big birch tree. Mama loved that birch tree. She said birch trees were her favorite because they reminded her of the human spirit: beautiful and mighty in stature, yet made with many delicate layers. I think maybe she learned that at university school or something. Mama was pretty smart. I watched her on that bench. Even though it was real dark, I could tell she was cryin' because the moonlight made her tears all shiny on her face. I wanted to run out and hug her. Maybe even hum a song to her so she could know I loved her even though she couldn't do as much stuff for me 'n' daddy.

 

Daddy came out to be with her. He walked over real slow and gentle like. Mama seemed happy to see him cuz she smiled, so he sat next to her. They didn't say any words to each other, but it seemed like they were talking somehow. Mama leaned her head on daddy's shoulder and he wrapped her up in his arms like a big comfy blanket. I fell asleep watching them that night.

 

Three days later mama went to be with Jesus.

 

I sure do think about her a lot when I'm all by myself. It seems to be takin' a long time for the sad to go away. Sometimes, when I am extra sad, I bring Felix on my walks through our field. I think Felix understands me better than anybody even though he's just a dog. Plus he doesn't seem to mind when I hum mama's songs out loud in the times I miss her the most.

 

 

About Leanne Sype

 

Leanne is a coffee-addicted freelance writer and editor who believes happiness is found in large slices of chocolate cake. Her favorite color is orange, and she loves connecting in community with other writers. Leanne is the founder of Pen to Paper Communications where she indulges her passion in helping individuals and businesses find their story and tell it well. She lives in Portland, OR with her three elderly cats, her husband, and her two adorable kids, all of whom constantly give her good writing material. You can connect with Leanne through leannesype.wordpress.com or on Twitter @pentopapercom.

Week of 12/12/2012

Week of 12/12/2012

 

Photo courtesy of Matt Brown

 

 

Words Required

 

Parking Meter

 

Stomach

 

Magazine

 

Chart

 

Olive

 

 

 

 

I Have a Bad Feeling About This by Nicole Pyles

 

"I have a bad feeling about this," Marco knew these were famous last words. His goofy, and seriously off the chart, magician friend Figaro brought them to the college campus and Marco stood behind a large oak tree, waiting for the next disaster his friend would think up next.

 

Figaro set up the door prop on the grass and opened it up.

 

"Oh ye of little faith ..." Figaro said, leaving the door slightly ajar.

 

Marco suppressed a heavy sigh. "How about the time we ended up taking two strangers back in time?"

 

"Ssh," Figaro join Marco behind the tree and giggled to himself. "Wait, how much did you fill the parking meter?"

 

Marco rolled his eyes at the question, until he realized its implication. "Why? How long are we gonna be here?"

 

"Ssh, ssh, look."

 

Marco followed Figaro's eyes to a cluster of students on what seemed like a campus tour. The crowd of parents and hopeful teenagers watched the oblivious tour guide at the front of the crowd.

 

"Here we have our campus park, where you can hang out with friends, try our tasty olive pizza at the food truck or ... or ... see a piece of ..." The tour guide's right arm remained frozen in the air and directed at the mysteriously placed doorway in the middle of the open space.

 

Figaro snickered. "Here it comes."

 

Marco's stomach twisted like a knot at Figaro's comment. He watched as the tour guide stepped closer and closer to the curious object.

 

"Wait! Wait!" Marco shouted. He ignored the harsh whispers from the oak tree that called out his name and smiled at the crowd. "Ha ha, sorry. I left my ... my ... latest project here." He took the arm of the tour guide and awkwardly shook it. "Thank you sir for monitoring my latest piece. It's about to be featured in ... in ... You Design Magazine, you know!"

 

He shut the open door and lifted the doorway off the grass as the tour guide began to explain the school's elaborate modern art program.

 

"Darn you, Marco!" Figaro shouted. One thing that Figaro hated the most was having his schemes interrupted. He burst out behind the tree and ran for the doorway in Marco's arms. Figaro jumped on top. Marco collapsed to the ground with the extra weight. Enraged, he shoved off the door and pushed Figaro who returned the favor.

 

"We can't have this type of activity happening in front of prospective students and their families!" The tour guide shouted. He joined in the scuffle and attempted to pull the two apart.

 

Without either of them paying attention, the doorway collapsed to the ground with the door wide open. As Marco pulled Figaro away from the tour guide who pulled at Marco, Figaro tripped - either accidental or on purpose - in the direction of the open door.

 

"Bibbity - bobbity- boo!" Figaro shouted. Like a flash of a camera, all three of them disappeared into the doorway, leaving a lone door prop lying flat in the middle of the park.

 

 

About Nicole Pyles

 

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Communication in 2011 and works in marketing. When she's not daydreaming about the California sunshine she grew up on, she's writing about fantasy, horror, and science fiction (and sometimes all three at once). She's currently editing a fantasy novel she started when she was 15 (and finished at 25). Most of her editing work is done on her smartphone during her bus ride home. You can visit her blog World of My Imagination or find her on Google Plus.

 

 

 

 

 The Photo Finals Project by Scott Taylor

 

Jenny had exactly 57 minutes until her class final in her university photography 101 class was due. "Why?" Jenny screamed to the sparse crowd at the Common. "Why do I always wait until the last minute on these things?"

 

She had planned on doing her final project earlier in the day, and it would have worked, too, but the call from her sister Olive disrupted her world, like only her little sister could. "Okay," Jenny said when Olive called. "I'll come over, but I can't stay long. It's finals week and I'm already behind. Really, Olive? Stomach flu? You have the worst luck of anyone I know." Jenny hung up the phone and spent the next two hours across town comforting her only sibling.

 

Things didn't improve as she left Olive's apartment. "Crap!" Jenny yelled as she noticed the unmistakable yellow paper attached to her car's windshield. "I mean, come on! I fed the parking meter! I can't believe this!" Jenny ripped the ticket from the windshield and jammed it into the back pocket of her jeans. A quick look at the clock on the dash of her car as she started the engine told her just how late she was.

 

I've got just under 90 minutes until my project's due, Jenny thought. That means, as long as I take the pictures in the next 30 minutes, I'll have just enough time to download and photoshop them and hand them in. It'll work. She drove following an internal chart in her mind of where she needed to be in order to accomplish her scholarly goal.

 

After parking the car (this time safely at a student lot to which she had a parking pass), she headed off across campus. "What the ...?" Jenny said out loud as what appeared to be a modern sculpture caught her attention. That might work.

 

Jenny snapped a few pictures, checked the results in the small digital viewer attached to the back of the camera and was satisfied with the magazine of pictures she captured. The photos made her smile. "I could do this," Jenny said to herself. "Yeah ... I could be a professional photographer, unless, of course, they have to keep deadlines."

 

 

About Scott Taylor

 

Scott William Taylor lives and writes in Utah. He grew up living on the side of a mountain and lives on that same mountain today, with his family and a dog that loves cheese. Scott is married, with four children. He received his undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Utah and a Masters in English from Weber State University. Scott's story Little Boiler Girl was part of the steampunk anthology Mechanized Masterpieces published by Xchyler Publishing in April 2013. Scott is the creator and producer of A Page or Two Podcast. He also wrote the award-winning short film, Wrinkles. When not writing and working, Scott enjoys participating in community theater productions with his children. Follow Scott on Twitter @Hyggeman or at his author site: www.scottwilliamtaylor.com.

Week of 1/9/2013

Week of 1/9/2013

 

Photo courtesy of Ian Sane

 

 

Words Required

 

Engineer

 

Muscle

 

Spider

 

Race

 

Machine

 

 

 

 

First New Steps by Heather Musk

 

Eleni's landing was smoother than normal, not the usual drop and bounce that made this kind of travelling so uncomfortable. She glanced down at her feet and noticed the surface she now stood on, glistening and slightly spongy. This seemed to be the reason for the landing and she made a note to mention it to engineering, they could look for this substance in the future. She took her scanner out to record its composition before moving on.

 

The ground beneath her became noticeably firmer as she walked onto the red and yellow carpet leading away from her landing site. As she walked she glanced around at the tunnel of green surrounding her. She'd never seen a place like it, in all her years of travelling. She came from a race of nomads, always on the move and never spending more than a few centuries in a single place. She bounced lightly on the spot, flexing her knees and testing her muscles. The magnetic pull of the planet seemed to agree with her physiology, she certainly didn't have any discomfort like she had on the last planet. She spent days there just trying to shuffle her feet along the ground. Here she was light of foot and was sure she could've ran if she'd fancied it.

 

She walked a little further on, scanning the area as she did so, and her fascination was drawn to a strange noise coming out of the air above her. A series of high pitched sounds emanated from somewhere high above her, regular in occurrence and with a second, lower in tone, almost sounding in response. She mused on the sounds for a while until she concluded that they could only be some form of communication. She made a note, certain that life forms were close by.

 

Continuing on, something caught her eye just behind one of the columns ahead. An odd thing, such that she'd never seen before. A tall creature, very pale in colour but covered mostly in an odd outer skin. Not very much in the way of fur and with only two ocular organs that she could make out. She held up her scanner for a more detailed look, curious as to what kind of machine this could be. She held its gaze for a long time before it seemed to turn and bolt.

 

************************************************

 

Jane stayed hidden behind the tree as she tried to comprehend what she'd just witnessed. She was heading down to the river for some water samples when she'd heard the low and the beam of light. It disappeared and in its place was an odd creature, human sized but spider-like with its four legs and wiry arms.

 

She watched in awe as it studied its surroundings, and almost forgot her footing as it looked right at her. She held its stare for an eternity, before turning as quickly as she could and ran. There was no way the lab guys were going to believe this.

 

 

About Heather Musk

 

I wish I could say that I've been writing ever since I can remember and it's been a part of my life since I've been on the planet, but the truth is I can't.

 

It has taken the best part of 30 years to find this hidden thing within me, which is the need to write. It's my own kind of therapy, a way to engross myself in something else away from my life, my own bubble of the universe.

 

I'm still at the very beginning of this journey, learning and honing my skills. On the way I also have my husband and five year old daughter to contend with, as well as working towards an English degree with The Open University and working nearly full time for a science research institute. What can I say? I like to keep myself busy.

 

To join me on my travels and follow my progress head over to readingwritingeverything-heather.blogspot.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

Dangerous Pleasure by L.T. Dalin

 

As an engineer, Sharon rarely got to go outside.

 

She was crouched by the edge of the water watching a spider hurrying across a log. Everyone had somewhere important to be. Even the spider, which by popular belief was not even sentient.

 

Sharon stretched to her full length, watching the machine do its magic by the edge of the waterfall. She had spent four years working on it, and this would, hopefully, be the final test before showing it to the board. If it worked she would be able to provide the companies with endless electricity and power. Sure, there had been some glitches along the way. Not to mention the loss of three labs due to unexplainable explosions..

 

A twig broke behind her and she whirled around, her hand on the hilt of the stunner she was instructed to wear.

 

"Hello?" she called, feeling cautious.

 

A shadow moved behind the thicket, and she lifted the stunner accordingly.

 

"I very rarely see people out here," said a deep voice.

 

Sharon's eyes widened.

 

He was tall, tanned, and beautiful. He raised his hands and gave her a wry smile.

 

"Sorry if I startled you," he said. "Are you going to shoot me?"

 

"That depends," Sharon replied. "Why are you here?" A muscle in her neck ached from tension.

 

The man lowered his hands but Sharon indicated he should keep them up.

 

"I am a surveyor. I came out here to watch the waterfall. It's one of the last ones not tampered with." He shrugged. "In this region, at least."

 

He turned to the waterfall. "Well," he muttered. "It used to be."

 

The machine started beeping. It stood out as a monstrosity against the serene background.

 

"It's temporary," she assured him. "It goes back with me. I'm only borrowing the waterfall for an

experiment."

 

"What kind?"

 

The man turned toward her, and she put the stunner away.

 

"That's classified."

 

After a moment of silence the man lowered his hands. "The human race has come far," he said. "But sometimes I wonder if we shouldn't have stopped somewhere along the way."

 

It had been a long time since Sharon interacted with an actual human being. She felt out of practice.

 

"Advancing is good." She hesitated. "It makes things easier."

 

"Easier yes, but not at all better," he disagreed.

 

He regarded her for a moment, then walked toward her at a brisk pace; dipped her back and placed his lips on hers.

 

Sharon was too stunned to act. His lips melted against hers in a most pleasurable way, and his tongue felt warm and inviting.

 

He jerked her upright and took a step back. "You can shoot me if you'd like," he said. "But that kiss was worth more than all the technology in the world."

 

"Who are you?" she whispered, her brain feeling addled.

 

"I work for Greenpeace."

 

Four words and everything changed.

 

They were the enemy.

 

 

About L.T. Dalin

 

L.T. Dalin started writing at a young age. Her favorite thing to do when growing up was handing in essays. She learned a lot about writing, the art of writing and more importantly; how not to write, during her time studying Broadcast Journalism at University in England. She started writing seriously five years ago; four of those dedicated to her Fantasy Trilogy.

 

http://chessnysilth.blogspot.no/

Week of 1/23/2013

Week of 1/23/2013

 

Photo courtesy of Carrie K. Sorensen

 

 

Words Required

 

Flamenco

 

Spotlight

 

Mud

 

Runway

 

Tragedy

 

 

 

 

Imaginary Adventures by Cindy Cagle

 

Michael and Jamie were always on an adventure. The possibilities were endless. Some days they would use their imaginations to sail to an island full of pirates looking to take back stolen treasures to return to the rightful owners. They would put mud on their face to blend in with the terrain. It had been a long day on the mysterious island and Michael's Mom knew it. Milk and cookies brought them back from the South Pacific and into the familiar backyard in their sleepy little town. Days like these were some of the best days of Michael and Jamie's lives. It was a mere tragedy to have to make a day like that come to an end, fortunately there was always tomorrow.

 

Jamie would always be the first one to wake up. It's almost as if he never slept at all. At least Michael never saw him sleeping, but he never really gave it much thought. Michael slowly raised out of bed and rubbed his sleepy eyes and as the world around him started to come into focus he saw Jamie jumping with excitement.

 

"Michael wake up! We have to catch a plane out of here. We have to go right now! Pack your bag and let's go!"

 

Without hesitation Michael was up and dressed. He had his Ninja Turtles backpack filled with a loose change that he found in the couch cushions, Jelly Beans for snacking, and a map of some unknown place.

 

Before his Mom could stop him he was in the back yard waiting on his flight with Jamie. Michael's Mom threw him a blueberry Pop Tart and a wild strawberry Capri Sun as they boarded the plane. It wasn't exactly the breakfast of champions, but there were things more important that only Michael and Jamie knew about. The wheels of the plane hit the runway and before they knew it they were in the air defying gravity.

 

Seconds later the plane landed. The boys were climbing down the ramp and suddenly a blinding spotlight hit them in the face. Michael and Jamie squinted at each other and nodded in agreement that the only thing to do was to run through the light. Suddenly everything became dark and they fell on the other side of the light onto a wooden porch heavily shaded by trees. They picked themselves up and saw a blue door begging to be opened. They heard unfamiliar music from within. Their curiosity was running wild. Right as Michael reached to open the door he heard a familiar voice yell, "Flamenco Dancing! I can't dance! I can't even walk without tripping over my own feet."

 

Distracted from the voice, he turned away from the door and saw his Mom on her cell phone. They caught each other's eye in the distance and he noticed a plate of food in her hand and with the other she waved for him to come in for lunch.

 

 

About Cindy Cagle

 

Cindy is from Birmingham, Alabama. She is a sweet tea connoisseur, intellectually curious of all things, and the best aunt in the world according to her nieces and nephews. When she's not dressed in full costume trying to save the world Cindy spends her time creating short stories, daydreaming, hiking at Ruffner Mountain, or reading the next best book. You can visit her at www.thewoodenrollercoaster.blogspot.com.

 

 

 

 

Dancing for Vincente by Randy Lindsay

 

Mom and Dad wanted to see the great Vincente Montoya perform the Flamenco at the Druid's Retreat. They kept talking about how it was "a rare opportunity that few had the fortune to attend." That usually meant boring.

 

When the lights went out and the spotlight followed the dancer as he marched down the runway it looked as if this outing might not be as bad as most. Vincente swung his hands to his side and stomped his feet, making more noise than an entire room of kindergarteners. This would definitely be the guy to get if you had a bug problem at your house.

 

Then it was over. Watching the Flamenco hadn't been boring at all. Dad wanted to wait in the foyer and meet Vincente. Let him. There were better uses of time than standing around for the rest of the day hoping that Mr. Stomps would come out so that his fans could gush all over him. Yeech.

 

A trip to the bathroom turned into a stroll through the building and then outside where there was plenty of tempting mud. Straying off the path could only end in "tragedy" and there was really no need since a stone path led out to a strange hedge in the back.

 

The path ended in a green door that was set in the middle of the brush. It opened easily and revealed a beautiful garden inside. This was a perfect place to spend an hour, or so, while the parents sought an audience with the King of Dance.

 

All of the trees, flowers, and chirping birds belonged alongside elves and pixies. Those thoughts in turn led to images of fantastic creatures dancing in the middle of this green heaven.

 

Tap. Tap. Tippity-tap.

 

Unheard music inspired an impromptu dance.

 

Tap. Rappa-tap. Tippity-tap-tap.

 

Of all the ideas Mom and Dad had come up with over the years, this one had turned out to be the best.

 

The internal music stopped.

 

"Bravo." The voice of a man came from the entrance of the garden. It was deep and friendly. More importantly though, it was Vincente Montoya.

 

 

About Randy Lindsay

 

Randy is a native of Arizona. In his spare time he likes to play games with his children, fish, and conduct family history research. His stories have been published in Gentle Strength Quarterly, The City of the Gods: Mythic Tales, and Penumbra. Two more have been purchased for publication this year; one for the second City of the Gods anthology and the other for the Once Upon An Apocalypse anthology by Chaosium.

 

http://randylindsay.blogspot.com/

Week of 1/30/2013

Week of 1/30/2013

 

Photo courtesy of Carrie K Sorensen

 

 

Words Required

 

Bill

 

Chisel

 

Title

 

System

 

Bicycle

 

 

 

 

Summertime Dreaming by Krystal Wade

 

All I wanted to do was ride my bicycle, but the snow prevented me from stepping foot outdoors until I dressed in layers of warm clothes. I missed the sun, the energizing warmth on my head and skin. I missed the green on the trees and the sounds of spring peepers singing their evening songs.

 

Last night's storm system packed a powerful punch, blanketing the streets and lawns in a fresh layer of white powder. Ensuring I wouldn't see the blue sky for at least another day while the clouds lazily passed.

 

Instead of daydreaming all morning, I donned my coat and headed outside to chisel ice off my car's windshield. I had work to do. Bill collectors to pay. Traffic to navigate. And there would be a ton of that. Always.

 

Snow crunched under the weight of my boots as I plodded to my Jetta. I unlocked the doors, then dug around the glove box for my scraper. Service receipts. Owner's Manual. Insurance cards. What's this? Why is my title in here?

 

Ugh. I had to get better with organization.

 

Ahh. Finally. I grabbed the purple and clear plastic ice machete and hacked away at the glass while the heater warmed the inside. Once I was satisfied I'd be able to see, I wiped my hands and went back in the house to grab my purse and coffee.

 

My husband greeted me in the family room, still in his pajamas, wiping sleep from his eyes. "What are you doing?"

 

Same thing I do every morning, Pinky: Taking over the world. "Going to work."

 

He laughed and walked to the kitchen, straight to the coffee pot, then poured me a nice hot mug full. "Do you know what today is?"

 

"Monday."

 

Nodding, he held the coffee out to me. "Yes. That's right. But it's something else, as well. Think about it."

 

The man was off his rocker. Totally looney. "I'm going to be late! Tell me the rest of this joke later."

 

"Fine, but when you get to work and remember it's Martin Luther King's Day, don't say I didn't try to warn you that the office would be empty."

 

Sigh. Maybe today would be a good day to get organized. I ran out and turned off my car, removed the umpteen million layers I wore, and went back to daydreaming about the sun.

 

Summer would be here soon enough. Right?

 

 

About Krystal Wade

 

Krystal Wade can be found in the sluglines outside Washington D.C. every morning, Monday through Friday. With coffee in hand, iPod plugged in, and strangers--who sometimes snore, smell, or have incredibly bad gas--sitting next to her, she zones out and thinks of fantastical worlds for you and me to read. How else can she cope with a fifty mile commute?

 

Good thing she has her husband and three kids to go home to. They keep her sane.

 

www.krystal-wade.com

 

 

 

 

Oh, Edward by Scott Taylor

 

"Gina! There's snow on the satellite dish!" William yelled at his wife who took the advantage of a college football game to escape from her husband for a few hours and cozy up (for the third time…) to Volume One of Stephanie Meyer's world of teenagers, werewolves, angst, love, and redemption.

 

"Well, Bill! Go outside and brush it off!" Gina answered back, matching her spouse's tone, volume, and emotional timber. "Use that invention of yours," Gina said. The housewife enamored with young adult literature heard her husband get off the couch in a quest to re-establish communication from the game being played in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, beamed to a satellite 275 miles above the surface of the earth, then down to their home in Hannibal, Missouri.

 

William cursed as he rose from the couch and stomped through the kitchen. He moves pretty fast when he wants to, Gina thought as Meyer's words transported her to a world of arboreal wonder. "That dish system is worse than cable!" William's screamed, as he slammed the door to the garage.

 

Gina knew William's string of obscenities would likely continue once he entered the garage and tried to find his homemade satellite cleaning implement stashed somewhere in the clutter. Swear words, muffled through the rather thin walls separating the home from the garage, proved Gina right.

 

As she tried again to lose herself in the pages of Ms. Meyer's story (the title of which is known worldwide…) Gina heard a crash coming from inside the garage. After a moment of silence, William's profanity began with renewed vigor. If the silence continued, Gina knew her husband was hurt; his resumed tirade told his wife that he was unharmed. Gina next heard the sound of objects being thrown about…a box, a garden hose (maybe…), the bicycle William just had to have but has never rode. That thing must have been buried good, Gina thought as the sound of items becoming airborne continued.

 

"Must have found it," Gina said to herself as she turned yet another page and heard the sound of the garage door opening. William didn't like being outside, especially in the cold. He'll get that dish cleaned and he'll be back soon. Oh Edward…, Gina thought as a printed page gently fell upon one previously read.

 

As Edward wooed Bella Gina heard the garage door close, the scraper-thing tossed back into another heap, and the door from the garage to the kitchen open. Her husband had slain the beast—humanity triumphed once again over the cruelness of nature. The wife heard her husband make his way to the couch.

 

"You get it cleared off?" Gina asked, her tone exactly matching her indifference.

 

"Yeah," William said as his excess settled into the overburdened furniture. "The snow froze on the dish so I had to chisel it off. "Damn dish! It's worse than cable!"

 

"That's nice, dear," his wife responded. Oh, Edward… Gina thought again.

 

 

About Scott Taylor

 

Scott William Taylor lives and writes in Utah. He grew up living on the side of a mountain and lives on that same mountain today, with his family and a dog that loves cheese. Scott is married, with four children. He received his undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Utah and a Masters in English from Weber State University. Scott's story Little Boiler Girl was part of the steampunk anthology Mechanized Masterpieces published by Xchyler Publishing in April 2013. Scott is the creator and producer of A Page or Two Podcast. He also wrote the award-winning short film, Wrinkles. When not writing and working, Scott enjoys participating in community theater productions with his children. Follow Scott on Twitter @Hyggeman or at his author site: www.scottwilliamtaylor.com.

Week of 2/13/2013

Week of 2/13/2013

 

Creative Commons Photo taken by Felipe Micaroni Lalli - micaroni@gmail.com

 

Words Required

 

Carpet

 

Definition

 

Sponge

 

Wardrobe

 

Pudding

 

 

 

 

Cloaked by Leanne Sype

 

Resting upon a carpet of eternal sky, the sun invites me to lift my face out and away from the confines of my internal world. I close my eyes, letting the rays wash over me and absorbing the winter air through my senses. The darkness tinged around my spirit reaches up toward the light, yearning to be seeped away into a sponge of oblivion, exposing the definition of who I could be. There's a fire that burns bright within my core, yet it suffocates, cloaked in a heavy wardrobe of confusion, doubt, and shame. As the spoil of suet pudding in summer heat, so do my inner thoughts feel rancid within my spirit. For this brief moment under a winter's sun, I shed the cloak and accept hope that my brokenness will one day be made new again.

 

 

About Leanne Sype

 

Leanne is a coffee-addicted freelance writer and editor who believes happiness is found in large slices of chocolate cake. Her favorite color is orange, and she loves connecting in community with other writers. Leanne is the founder of Pen to Paper Communications where she indulges her passion in helping individuals and businesses find their story and tell it well. She lives in Portland, OR with her three elderly cats, her husband, and her two adorable kids, all of whom constantly give her good writing material. You can connect with Leanne through leannesype.wordpress.com or on Twitter @pentopapercom.

Week of 2/20/2013

Week of 2/20/2013

 

Photo courtesy of Patrick Feller

 

 

Words Required

 

Pocket Watch

 

Cosmic

 

Ghost

 

Vegetable

 

Train

 

 

 

 

This is Where the Nightmares Started by Nicole Pyles

 

This is where the nightmares had started and why they continued.

 

The train had long since driven on, and hadn't returned in years. Nothing but the ghost of its tracks remained behind. Janet walked down the side of the tracks, the gravel crunching underneath her feet. She hadn't known why she returned, except she remembered this was the place she saw them first.

 

She sighed deeply and shuddered. The kept her eyes forward on the city up ahead, refusing to look down.

 

A soft creak broke her thoughts. No, it couldn't be. He couldn't still be here.

 

She turned her head and looked into the distance. It was an old house, the type you usually would see out by these old train tracks. It nearly blended in with the dust and the dirt. She felt hot underneath her windbreaker. He was waiting for her.

 

She stepped away from the tracks and walked towards the vision. It was her cosmic calling and time she faced him.

 

The wind picked up as she walked. A wind that seemed to urge her to go back. To turn away.

 

It was the same wind she felt when she was seven. Playing with her friends. A game of tag. A flash of something metal on the ground. A hidden pocket watch under the old wooden train tracks that made her stop. The memory flashed before her eyes like a piercing needle in her mind. And when she knelt down ...

 

... Janet tore herself back to the present. The house was closer now. Clearer. She could see him on the wide porch, rocking back and forth. He stopped. Stood. Ready to face her.

 

... at that time, when she knelt to pick up the watch, she screamed. A terrorizing scream that filled the air. Yet no one else saw. When her friends ran forward, they didn't see what she did....

 

The steps to the house were broken and torn up. The weeds from a dying vegetable garden clung to the sides of its walls. If she looked, she could see underneath, but she kept her eyes forward. When she got closer, she noticed his eyes. They were the same. Those eyes that had nothing inside them. The eyes of someone not even human. The hatred. The evil. He was the reason she saw those bodies under the tracks.

 

And why no one else did.

 

At least, not until they searched the house at the end of the tracks.

 

 

About Nicole Pyles

 

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Communication in 2011 and works in marketing. When she's not daydreaming about the California sunshine she grew up on, she's writing about fantasy, horror, and science fiction (and sometimes all three at once). She's currently editing a fantasy novel she started when she was 15 (and finished at 25). Most of her editing work is done on her smartphone during her bus ride home. You can visit her blog World of My Imagination or find her on Google Plus.

 

 

 

 

A Ghost of Herself by Emily Jean Roche

 

Her calves start to burn. She looks back along the train tracks. Back past the overgrown bushes. Back the way she came. Back to where she doesn't want to return. She looks beyond the overpass and through the summer haze. She walked too far today. She can't even pick out the hospital from the other buildings in the skyline. Hours spent thinking and walking make her mind as sore as her legs. No one ever wonders where she is. Nothing is ever different when she returns. Maybe she should stop for flowers on the walk back. Not that he would appreciate them.

 

She turns his scratched and dented pocket watch in her hand. Looking at the unmarred side, she recalls the day she gave it to him. It was silly to be nervous. She just wanted everything perfect for their first Christmas together. Sitting in her parents' living room, she had been unsure if he'd like it until the moment he opened the box. He never was a traditionalist, but he understood what tradition meant to her. All the men in her family owned pocket watches. He loved it, of course. She knew by the way his face lit with true appreciation--not the fake, polite kind. He only ever wore it on special occasions. Didn't want anything to happen to it, he said.

 

She flips his watch over in her hand and rests her thumb in the dent. Why he got it out that day, she'd never know. What was so special? He was picking her up for lunch like every Tuesday. That bus silenced him, and she would never know. All the watch got was a dent. She opens it and checks the time. Noon. Cosmic irony, she calls it. Here, she stands on an abandoned rail line—a ghost of herself, alive and unable to live. There, he lies in an antiseptic hospital room—a vegetable, living and unable to die. She walks back along the tracks, turning his pocket watch over and over in her hand.

 

 

About Emily Jean Roche

 

Emily Jean Roche (@emilyjeanroche) lives in Kentucky with her husband, baby and cat. She works as an elementary school literacy coordinator. The best part of her job is encouraging the next generation of young readers. The second best part is getting to read kids books. Emily enjoys YA and MG fantasy fiction. An aspiring author, Emily has drafted the first book in her YA fantasy series. She also does freelance writing on the side. Website: emilyjeanroche.blogspot.com

Week of 2/27/2013

Week of 2/27/2013

 

Creative Commons Photo

 

 

Words Required

 

Cook

 

Help

 

Relatives

 

Tears

 

Finger

 

 

 

 

The Distant Mountain and the Barren Tree by Tony Roberts

 

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help?"

 

The verse flowed from Joseph's lips as tears trickled down his cheeks.

 

Joseph reached in his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief, wiping away the tears. Out of his other pocket, he pulled out a letter, already opened. He began to read through his reddened eyes, following each word with his finger as if trying to decode a hidden meaning.

 

Dear Joseph,

 

I never expected I would be writing this to you. I want you to know how much you have meant to me. The last thing I wanted to do is hurt you, but I suppose that is exactly what I am doing. I have met someone else. We are getting married. What more can I say?

 

Please forgive me,

Leila

 

Joseph stared at Leila's name and an image came to his mind. The day he said goodbye, just outside her house. He was on his way West to work as a cook at a summer resort. But he wanted to see her one last time. She pledged her love for always. He simply replied, "Thank you." Not "I love you, too." Just "Thank you."

 

She looked hurt, as if she had fallen and no one was there to pick her up. That was just two months ago, but it might as well have been an eternity. Time is so relative when you are young, when your whole life is ahead of you like a distant mountain. Only, there is no way to cross. Joseph stared at the snow-covered mountain in front of him. He stepped to the edge of the cliff.

 

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help?"

 

The question kept repeating itself in his mind. There had to be more, but he couldn't think of how it went. He just stared at the distant mountain and imagined Leila's face.

 

He took another step with his right foot. Suddenly his left leg gave way and he fell to the ground. Reaching out, he grasped hold of a hitching post and pulled himself up. He lay on the ground, heaving for breath.

 

Then the words came to him. "My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber."

 

Joseph lay on the ground silently. He looked up at the heavens and took a deep breath in. Relieved. Grieving, but grateful.

 

He climbed to his feet and walked back to his car. He fumbled for the keys and started the engine.

 

Before pulling out, he looked over and noticed a tree near the cliff.

 

Its branches were nearly barren, but it was standing firm.

 

 

About Tony Roberts

 

Tony Roberts is a balding middle-aged Midwesterner with an unquiet mind who has "A Way With Words" (http://www.writingforfoodinindy.wordpress.com) where he writes about life, faith, mental illness, and recovery. He is currently working on a spiritual memoir - *Delight in Disorder: Meditations from a Bipolar Mind* and a short story trilogy *Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness*. Despite his neo-Luddite convictions, he can also be found on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001664066109&ref=tn_tnmn) and Twitter (@indy_tony).

Index of Authors

Index of Authors

In Alphabetical Order

 

Sydney Aaliyah

You Never Know - 5/9/2012

At the Top of the Stairs - 5/16/2012

In a Room - 5/23/2012

I Hope it's Worth the Wait - 6/6/2012

 

George Beckingham

Back to the Beach - 4/25/2012

 

Cindy Cagle

Imaginary Adventures - 1/23/2013

 

Tena Carr

They Need an Older Brother - 9/6/2012

A Gift - 10/17/2012

Angel's Kisses - 11/14/2012

 

L.T. Dalin

Deal with the Devil - 5/23/2012

Age is Just a Number - 6/6/2012

A Cowboy's Grace - 8/29/2012

Dangerous Pleasure - 1/9/2013

 

Melissa Gardiner

One Last Gift - 8/8/2012

Friends and Enemies - 10/3/2012

Good-Bye - 11/7/2012

 

Randy Lindsay

Sam and Janet Evening - 4/10/2012

Cow Whisperers - 5/9/2012

Window View - 5/30/1012

Cult of the Fange - 7/11/2012

Dancing for Vincente - 1/23/2013

 

Heather Musk

Escape - 7/11/2012

Like Mother, Like Daughter - 8/15/2012

Do You Believe in Fairy Tales? - 10/3/2012

Hard to Let Go - 11/28/2012

First New Steps - 1/9/2013

 

Anne Organista

Rite of Passage - 5/30/2012

Where Innocence Blossomed - 8/1/2012

 

Nicole Pyles

Darling, What is that Smell? - 4/10/2012

Conversation with an Ex is Bad for You - 5/9/2012

Payback's a Bitch - 5/23/2012

I Have a Bad Feeling About This - 12/12/2012

This is Where the Nightmares Started - 2/20/2013

 

Tony Roberts

The Distant Mountain and the Barren Tree - 2/27/2013

 

Emily Jean Roche

A Ghost of Herself - 2/20/2013

 

Carrie K. Sorensen

Picassa's Bridge - 4/10/2012

Rough Tides - 4/25/2012

Alicia's Soul - 5/16/2012

Touch Me Not - 8/8/2012

Traveling Man - 10/17/2012

 

Leanne Sype

Unnoticed - 9/19/2012

Letting Go - 10/24/2012

A Mother's Musings - 11/7/2012

Fulfilling a Promise - 11/14/2012

Mama's Songs - 11/28/2012

Cloaked - 2/13/2013

 

Scott Taylor

Corner of Vine & 85th - 7/4/2012

A Phone Call - 8/29/2012

The Neighbor and Secret Lives - 10/24/2012

Through a Child's Eyes - 11/14/2012

The Photo Finals Project - 12/12/2012

Oh, Edward - 1/30/2013

 

Rome Taylor

The Fallen - 8/15/2012

 

Yolanda Tong

The Magic Pen - 6/6/2012

A Sign - 7/4/2012

Dreams Lived and Forgotten - 8/1/2013

 

Krystal Wade

Summertime Dreaming - 1/30/2013

 

 

For your chance to appear in our next anthology, please visit the following blogs and catch us each Wednesday for our writing prompt.

 

World of My Imagination blog by Nicole Pyles

 

Chasing Revery blog by Carrie K. Sorensen

 

Jottings and Writings blog by Tena Carr

 

Writings and Ruminations by Leanne Sype

Imprint

Release Date: 05-10-2013

All Rights Reserved

Dedication:
Dedicated to the participants of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, the fantasic writers photographers who agreed to take part in this anthology, as well as all of our families, friends, and supporters.

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