Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Fairy Elf is Officially in Business!

All right, so while I have made my first sale, I don't actually have a "store" up and running yet.  I am still plugging away opening an Etsy shop, but there are so many things that have to happen first.  The big thing is settling on a name.  Thankfully, I've already decided on a staple to start with [crocheted vintage sun bonnets and sun hats for babies under a year] and a brand name [Lady Alainn] but the overall name is eluding me.  If worst comes to worst I'll settle on Heirlooms by Alainn unless y'all have any better ideas!

I also have a basic look and feel of what I want the store image to be.  It's just a matter of time until I relearn Adobe so I can create banners, tags, website images, and all that jazz.  Hopefully I'll be officially, officially up and running by next summer for a little bit of Farmer's Market action!

So why am I celebrating now if I still have a long way to go before it becomes completely legitimate?  As of today I have officially crocheted, packaged, and mailed my first order!  This means I am a professional now, right?  And that's reason enough to celebrate for me!  I took a few photos [forgive me, I'm terrible with lighting] and made a collage to commemorate the occasion.  A big thank you to Katie of Spero Naturals for being my first official client and Ariel of Wrap It Up With Ariel for being the inspiration that started it all!

"Vintage Rose" 17 1/2" circumference (9 MO)

While I'm still working on creating stock and finding a photographer, I am taking special orders until I get things settled down.  I have a variety of available thread and ribbon colours.  If you're interested in finding out more or possibly ordering one just shoot me an email at mary.lynne90@yahoo.com. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ask Jeeves

Finish That Thought #2-23 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: Three strangers appeared on my [doorstep] and in their [hands] they brought death.
Special Challenge: Include at least THREE of the following literary characters: Edward Rochester, Jo March, Harry Potter, Anne Shirley, Sherlock Holmes, Katniss Everdeen, Dracula, Miss Havisham, Rhett Butler, Lucy Pevensie, Gandalf the Grey


Three strangers appeared on my balcony, and in their little blue box they brought death. Oh, not actual grim reaper Death, but a death to all of my delightful plans for that afternoon. I just folded my newspaper to set it aside when the most awful noise came from outside. Before I knew it, a police box materialized on the balcony of my apartment and out stepped a young woman, a ginger-haired man in tweeds, and what appeared to be a Charles Dickens look-alike. What a good prank this was turning out to be! Deciding to play along, I jumped to my feet in agitated excitement.

“I say!” I cried out as I approached the French door, “who are you? And how did you get...? Where did you...? What...?”

“Lucy Pevensie,” the young woman replied cheerily, stepping through the doorway and into my sitting room. She stuck out her hand. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Wooster.” I shook it absently as her companions fell in behind her.

“Look here, you can’t just barge into a fellow’s house-”

“I am The Doctor,” interrupted the ginger-haired man with a wide, sly grin. He did not offer his hand but instead winked and tugged out the strangest little device I’d ever seen and pointed it about the room. I stared at him in bewilderment.

“Doctor Who?”

“No, no. Just The Doctor, mate.”

“Good God, you’re Australian!” I exclaimed.

“Haven’t I a right to be? It’s not like this is BBC.” The Doctor, whoever he was, then tucked his bizarre stick back inside his suit jacket and turned his gaze to me again. “We’re here to see Jeeves, is he around?”

“What, do you know Jeeves? What the devil do you want him for?”

“Oh, it’s the most horrid thing!” Lucy set down the photograph she’d been examining. “Pip has hired Sherlock Holmes to discover his benefactor!” My look of utter cluelessness must have been evident for she continued in equal passion, “There won’t be much left of the book if he finds out Miss Havisham isn’t his benefactor now and poor Mr. Dickens’ book will cease to exist! We desperately need Jeeves’ advice.”

I looked at the silent, bearded fellow then in absolute bafflement. This was quickly getting out of hand for a joke and quite possibly a result from a trip to the club. Had I gone already? I must have. I needed Jeeves’ tonic. In a daze I wandered out of the room in search of my valet.

---

A short time later all was explained, remedied, and I had my flat to myself again. Kicking my feet up, I exclaimed, “You are marvelous, Jeeves! How did you convince Holmes?”

“Yes sir, thank you, sir. It was relatively simple, I merely told Mr. Holmes who the benefactor was.”

“What, that’s all?”

“Yes, sir.”

“He dropped the case?”

“Completely, sir. It no longer intrigued him.”

“Who is the actual benefactor, Jeeves?”

“Well, sir, I suggest you read the book.”

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Chasing Red

Finish That Thought #2-22 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: As quickly as [she] appeared, the [woman] in the red dress vanished into the [woods.]
Special Challenge: Include at least FOUR different words for shades of red.  "Red" doesn't count.


Taken from http://nollaig.deviantart.com
As quickly as she appeared, the woman in the red dress vanished into the cluttered abyss of cyberspace. The ruby dot blinked once, twice, then disappeared as static overtook the 42” screen.

“Dang it, she’s gone again!” Murphy cursed into his headset. Fingers flattened from many years of typing on keyboards gripped the scuffed edge of the roll top desk in annoyance. The woman in scarlet always did this, always got away just in the nick of time before he came onto the scene. Like clockwork.

“Where d’you think she’ll head next?” inquired his partner on the other end. “Morocco? Venezuela?” Her southern syllables dripped with a calming patience. However, Murphy had worked with this mysterious woman—known only by her code name CrimsonHater and honeysuckle voice—long enough to recognize the subtle difference between her indifferent tone and her I’m-about-to-blow-a-gasket tone. This was definitely more towards the latter.

“I’m not sure, I didn’t find any clues this time,” he admitted sheepishly. Pulling out his datapad, Murphy licked the pad of his forefinger and flipped through the top sheets to his scribbled notes from this case. “At some point she’s got to go to Portugal to meet up with her contact there, but that’s only after she gets her hands on the Damask Files. As far as my contact here knows, she hasn’t gotten them yet.”

“Should we consult W.A.L.D.O.?”

Murphy grimaced. He hated having to resort to W.A.L.D.O. [Wayfinding Agent for Locating Distributed Objects] for any reason. It made him feel like a cheat. Besides, he’d misplaced the flash drive containing the program the last time the maid decided to do a surprise spring cleaning of his office and digging up the search engine online just irked him to no end. No one had the time to find W.A.L.D.O., least of all him.

“Negative, Crimson. We can do this ourselves. There’s got to be a clue we’ve overlooked, a question we haven’t asked. How did your interrogation go?”

A long sigh sounded through the headphones.

“That bad, huh?” Murphy turned to the world map hanging on the wall to study the scattered cherry-topped pins symbolizing red-coat sightings. He pinched a green pin from the side of the board and pressed it into Munich. Their woman wasn’t in Germany after all. “There’s got to be some sort of pattern I’m just not seeing-”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, use W.A.L.D.O. already!”

“Fine...” Sighing in defeat, Murphy pulled up his web browser in another window. The hourglass cursor rotated again and again as he waited for his search query to bring up answers. Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lifted Up

A break from my writing to bring you the refreshing words of the lovely MurMade.  This short piece of fiction features the same characters from my published piece "Once Upon a Christmas Feast" in the Tales by the Tree anthology.  In fact, the Fairy Elf, the Mermaid Princess, and the Dragon Queen are none other than yours truly, Miss MurMade herself, and our good friend Theresa! [I featured one of Theresa's short stories not too long ago here.] There is nothing we like better than turning an ordinary walk into a fantastical adventure! Please enjoy!

I am a mermaid who delights in life underwater. Who collects pearls. Who stops to look at the coral. I lure fish from their anemones to play with them. I get lost in seaweed. I bask in sunshine at the surface. While lounging on a riverbank in the woods I chatter the day away with my friend the fairy elf. From the salt-splashed rocks I visit The Dragon Queen, with grand, powerful wings and scaly beasts at her command. Often we rendezvous on the shore to go adventuring. On the beach their flapping sends hot sand swirling in warm air. It dehydrates my skin. In a brief but excruciating moment my fin rips deeper and deeper. It divides into two separate limbs. Scales pull away from the fresh raw skin of pale, unsteady legs. Then I am ready.

Today a dragon also joined our party, for we were going by air. With help, I climbed atop the enormous beast, settling onto its back just as I was told to avoid the scathing heat and pinching joints of dragon scales. All at once he stood, his powerful legs pressing and lunging off the ground without ever returning. Long, blond tendrils whipped away from my face and shoulders and flowed behind me, almost dragging me backwards. Unpracticed legs desperately squeezed around the shoulders of the dragon mount. The land below shrunk, growing ever more distant as I cowered atop the huge creature, my fingers clutching to his scales like mollusks to a ship’s hull. Even my face, which must have been desperately pale, was pressed against its smoldering hide. This was no place for a mermaid.

I have no idea how I let them talk me into this. The merry laugh of the fairy elf cut through the constant rush of air past my ears. “Dragon got your gills?” my blithe companion teased, her iridescent wings easily keeping her alongside.

To the dragon, it must seem a leisurely pace.  Scowling back at her I bit my lip, but had been shaken from the fear just enough to take a deep breath through my nose.  Now to sit up.  Convincing my limbs to obey was going to be more difficult than expected.  

Just dive in and do it,’ I told myself.  

But that was a poor choice of words and my eyes slammed closed faster than a clam’s shell.  Rising to the same altitude the dragon queen herself offered words of confidence. 

“No need to look back, is there?  We will always have tea in the fairy elf’s tree house, take shortcuts in the woods, and hide from the giant worms that live in the mountains as we have done.  But now we can visit the cloud cathedrals, look upon starlight from the valley of crystal flowers, and show you the waterfall of mist, without a pool, which no sea creature could ever behold.  What have you to worry about?  NOTHING.  And you have everything to enjoy.” 

She was right.  If I were to slip, there was a dragon, fairy elf, and winged dragon queen all ready to catch me mid air.  Death by falling was not my fate.  But somehow my ragged breath convinced the rest of my being otherwise. 

“Just think of it, the first mermaid to fly!” the fairy elf beamed. “You’re the only one to even consider the realm of air when you could be dominating the ocean or on land catching men.  Why, you’re no longer bound to the adventures of your kin!  What fun we shall have!”

“I can’t do this,” erupted the confession to my dearest of friends. 

“You already are, just open your eyes!” her majesty insisted, not putting up with a moment of unnecessary selfish cowardice.  They would help me beat this.  I felt absolutely ridiculous.  This was so simple for them, so natural, why couldn’t I just enjoy it with them?  After longing for the same abilities, hanging on every word they spoke of flight, we had finally found a solution.  

I could bravely face the pressures of bleak ocean depths, race whales and dolphins, outwit sharks, play amongst pounding waves and crawl from the surf to take human form and traverse forest and mountains.  I opened my eyes.  What danger was there here?  In the wide open spaces with, not water, but air flowing over and around me and a dragon firm and true holding me up.  Straightening my back, both arms stretched out to feel the wind.  Now I am a mermaid who flies.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Now Available to Own: In Creeps the Night Anthology!

I am beyond ecstatic to announce that yet another collection of tales shall sport one of my flash fiction pieces!  With beautiful design work by the talented Blue Harvest Creative, this anthology will grace any coffee table, bathroom counter, or bookshelf and get you in the mood for this spooktacular time of year.  A big thank you to Laura Jamez and Marissa Ames of J.A.Mes Press for their hard work in editing our stories.


There are so many amazing authors featured within these pages, but the most fabulous thing about this anthology is that all profits are donated to Mothers Without Borders.  This organization seeks to provide programs for orphaned children around the globe.  [For more information visit their website: http://www.motherswithoutborders.org]

I'm looking forward to snapping up a copy for myself!  Don't forget to leave the lights on tonight.  Mwahahaha...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Your Wish is My Command

Finish That Thought #2-12 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: Two wishes wasted; this third and final one was [our] last chance.
Special Challenge: Include at least two of the following: a genie, a magic carpet, a magic lamp, a magic ring, a Grand Vizier, a clever woman named Morgiana, a talking bird, Cerebrus, a Cyclops


Two wishes wasted; this third and final one was their last chance. I wasn’t going to cross my fingers and hope, though. Disappointment had long ago been replaced with indignation. I’d been so careful, researching down to the last detail, in picking the targets for my experiment and these college students were completely botching it.

“All right, you had your joke, where’s the trick wire?” the female one asked. Cass, at least that was her name on her Facebook profile, stood poking the magic carpet she’d conjured up with the first wish. The rug folded its tasseled corners as if they were arms and wiggled in a mocking manner. I’d had such great hopes for Cass, too. She was an active member in three campus support and relief groups, always posting things online and shoving petitions in people’s faces. How many times had she started out her statuses with “I wish?” Surely, she would have used her wish for something grand, no? And now she had a pet carpet. Typical.

Almost as soon as Cass had blurted out her wish, Matt, her companion and fellow activist, had laughed and wished for a Cyclops as big as his thumb. Boom, granted. Of course, it showed up on his thumb and had half the nail nibbled off before the man realized it was real. Matt flicked the poor creature off and stomped on it. Might I also take the time to point out that Matt is also an avid member of the “Fairies Are Real, Protect the Rainforests” group?

What were these two humans doing? Applauding. Asking me when the Aladdin production was starting up. Laughing at their “so smart” wishes. The guy just ruthlessly murdered a Cyclops! I was too dumbfounded to speak. They had one last wish between the two of them. Surely, surely they’d take a gander and do something good with that last glimmer of hope.

“Hey, genie! I wish for a lifetime supply of bacon! Now conjure that one up!” Matt crowed. The courtyard exploded with uncooked bacon.

I buried my head in my hands. No, no, no! This wasn’t supposed to happen. I could feel my frustration building and building until it unleashed in a colossal outburst.

“You idiots!” I shouted. Thunder rumbled, clouds darkened, and the winds howled overhead as my temper escalated. “You could have wished for every person to have access to clean drinking water! You could have ended poverty! You could have wished for world peace! And what did you accomplish? You have a magic carpet, a squashed Cyclops, and a lifetime supply of bacon. Congratulations! You have completely ruined my faith in humanity. May all your bacon burn.”

I vanished in a puff of smoke as their jaws dropped.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Last Piece of Pi[e]

Finish That Thought #2-11 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: Little did we realize that the peace and quiet of our country afternoon picnic was soon to be rudely shattered.
Special Challenge: Include a pie fight in all its gory detail



From Lindraxa's cooking blog
Little did they realize that the peace and quiet of their country afternoon picnic was soon to be rudely shattered. We felt bad for them, really. They had their checkered blanket all laid out and large, whicker basket propped in the grass. Whole-wheat sandwiches sat on brilliantly white paper plates and an opened bag of red grapes spilled across the sheet. But unfortunately for them, there wasn’t a cloud in the never-ending blue sky.

We strolled past the parked car on the edge of the field where the family of merry picnickers gathered and snickered at the B.C. license plate. Yup, they were clueless. Chester jabbed a thumb in their direction. “Should we warn ‘em?”

I shrugged. “Nah, let ‘em experience Alberta in all its glory.”

We snickered again and walked on by.


Fifteen minutes later we trekked to the field again, curious how our picnickers were making out. The sandwiches had vanished and when I squinted, I could just make out a slice of lemon meringue all by its lonesome. Around it hovered two teenage boys about our own ages, a younger girl, and what we presumed to be their dad. They were red-faced about something, and it wasn’t from the sun. Shooting curious glances at each other, Chester and I slipped our hands into the pockets of our overalls and slinked on over to get into hearing distance.

“3.14159265358979!” shouted the older of the two boys.

“3.141592653589793238!” countered the girl.

The father said something we couldn’t quite catch.

“3.14159265358979...323846264!” yelled the younger boy in triumph.

Chester and I took the momentary silence as an opportunity to blink at each other. Were they seriously fighting for the pie... with pi?

“3.141592653589793238462643383.”

“3.1415926535897932384626433832795!”

Round and round they went, tacking more and more numbers onto the end.

“Hey, Josh...”

I turned to my buddy, “Yeah, Chester?”

“There’s a cloud on the horizon.”

I looked where he pointed. Sure enough, a fluffy white cloud broke up the blue sky.

“Five minutes?” Chester asked.

“I’d say more like three. We better run to your house or we’ll get soaked.”

The rain came pouring down just as we jogged into Chester’s garage, soaking us as if we’d been standing out in a downpour for hours. We stood under the edge of the roof line, peering out at the dark clouds booming overhead.

I ran a hand through my wet locks. “Wonder how the pi[e] went.”

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Tragedy of Mrs. Chibbles: A Tale from Persimmon Hallow

Finish That Thought #2-10 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: The day [Anna dyed her hair purple] was the day the news broke that notorious mass murderer [John "The Chef" Baxter] had escaped from police custody.
Special Challenge: Incorporate some type of life lesson or moral



The day Mrs. Chibbles dyed her fur purple was the day the news broke that notorious mass murderer Evil-Eye Kinevil had escaped from police custody. Of course the former news out-rivaled the latter news by far in Persimmon Hallow. Kinevil had a habit of eluding Sheriff Hopsalot’s brute squad on a daily basis. Well, eluding or eating them as the case more often was. This unfortunate fact of life was one of the main factors in our continually electing the rabbits as our police force against the nefarious hawks. It didn’t matter how many brave, young lads the birds carted away, there were always 10 or 12 more bright-eyed, eager bunnies to take their places. Rapid breeding and all.

Now, where was I going with this? Oh yes! Mrs. Chibbles, the newest bride of Harry Chibbles the hedgehog, went into Selma Salamander’s Salon on Tuesday as usual to get her fur trimmed. This was a weekly habit of hers as the paparazzi hardly ever left the poor chinchilla alone. She didn’t mind the attention much, fame and food were two of the reasons she consented to the inter-specie marriage after all. She came from the city, where she had her own human servant to wait on her hand and foot. What brought her to our little community? I’m not sure exactly, though I think the “leaked” story, if you pardon that phrase, is that she grew tired of the glamour and decided to travel the world. Personally, I believe she fell out of a car on the way to somewhere and the human didn’t bother to retrieve her.

Ah, here I am digressing again. Anyway, Mrs. Chibbles went into that salon grey and came out purple. It was the most beautiful shade of purple I’d ever laid eyes on, a deep purple, like an eggplant. The horrors! The sacrilege! Never before had such a colour been seen in Persimmon Hallow. Beautiful though the colour was, we townsfolk found it extremely offensive. Well, those pesky mosquitoes swarmed on her in an instant with their microphones shoved against her snout and the fireflies stood by with their cameras flashing away. Mrs. Chibbles was in raptures. She preened her fur and strutted down Main Lane in all her rebellious glory.

Then, just like that, she was gone. Timothy Fieldmouse claims he saw old Evil-Eye glide off into the trees with a mass of purple fur clutched in his talons. As for me, I believe the Maker snatched her disgraceful hide from the earth. After all, chinchillas have no business being purple.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Requiem For A Soul

A bit of flash fiction from the person who taught me the ends and outs of the beautiful, diverse, imaginative world of Role-Playing.  I absolutely love Theresa's style of writing and the way her words create puffs of imagery that swirl around the mind and tickle the imagination.  Please enjoy!


The torrential rains of April birth more than flowers into summertime. For me they herald gloom, death, and despair. The memory is crisp--- as if fifteen years haven’t gone by. I remember it well.


Dawn treaded swiftly on the heels of April 30th. I was twelve and preparing for examinations. Weeks had been devoted to diligent study to ensure my position of top student from the only classmate who challenged my academic reign. After dressing in uniform ensemble that fateful morning, I started down the stairwell with my briefcase. As I descended I noticed my brother, only five, displaced on the bottom step and nestled against the wall in his pajamas. Upon examination, I found him fast asleep, his rosy cheeks pressed against the cool surface. I had brushed the loose strands of sloppy hair from his forehead before observing the eerie calm. Maids usually bustled about, but not today. I rested my briefcase at the base of the rail and sat beside my baby brother to lightly rub his back. The house was pin-drop quiet. I scooped the little one up and stood upright, considering putting him in bed before heading to school.

I had placed my foot on the first step when I heard the sound. It was faint and at first I thought my foot had creaked against the polished wood, but then it came again. Had a bird flown into a window? The still air caused the third echo to zenith louder than the two previous. My curiosity exchanged the idea of returning my little brother for discovering the origins of the odd thumping. The sound didn’t come again, but it didn’t have to. Turning down the open corridor, I walked past the family portraits to Father’s private study. Silence even stronger than before lingered as I pressed my ear against the cherry-wood door. I held my breath as I distinguished muffled voices-– Father’s overpowering Mother’s. The walls and door were sound proof, protecting their words from my ears. There was no keyhole to peep through or hole through which to listen. I knelt down to prop the sleeping boy beside me against the wall. Standing again, I tested the doorknob with a cautious twist. It unlatched easily.

Up until now I was extraordinarily calm. I hadn’t realized this until a constricting nervousness harried my heart. My hand jerked away as regret consumed me. If father caught me, he’d… but the door steadily opened until a sliver of light shone through. Suddenly their voices were clear, crisp and audible and I could do naught but spy.

“I will not let you do this to my sons,” Mother’s voice came, shaking and strained, through gritted teeth. “I will not –”

“You have no say in the matter,” retaliated Father in a voice unshaken but elevated, “I will do as I must for the security of this family.”

“It’s not this family you care about!”

I strained to see, but only the back of Mother’s white gown and elbow-length, wispy black hair was visible. She took several steps backward into full view. Her face was stained with cosmetics and tears. Her arm tucked close to her side and behind her.

“I’ll ask you again, put it down.”

“I will not let him have my boys,” her voice shook. She backed out of my vision and Father entered next. His composure was calm as always.

And then it happened. I was so eager to see what had become of Mother I took a step forward unconsciously. The door pushed open with a creak. Both heads spun. Four crazed eyes bore into me.

Mother moved first, revealing a long knife clasped in her fist. She leapt towards me like a doe through mist, her hair blowing in the wind of her precise motion. Time ceased as she gained proximity. Her eyes focused on mine, some unforeseen passion driving her. My legs froze in place, hypnotized by the sight of her loving face obscured into this twisted mask. In the same timeless motion, Father grabbed Mother’s shoulder and upper arm, yanking her away before she could strike. At that moment I fell to my knees and watched an angel struggle against a devil, though I knew not who was which.

Mother kept her eyes on me, fighting against Father to lunge in my direction every chance she had. Her strong grip on the knife proved useful as she sliced at Father who powerfully defended. She pushed with all of her might against his grip as they tangled within each other. The sight was menacing and I sunk until my bottom hit the floor. Tears flooded Mother’s eyes as a moment of weakness finally broke her. She stumbled back, crumbling to her knees.

“My children!” she cried, the knife still held high.

She lunged for Father this time. He forced the knife from her white knuckles and plunged it into her throat. They stood like statues, Father looming over her, both shocked and locked in motion, until her hands slowly moved towards the hilt. Her once crazed eyes were now sorrowful and empty. Her lips moved but no voice came, though I knew she called my name. Then she fell to the ground in a cascade of white like petals of a wilting flower. Everything stilled once more.

I was too shocked to speak. There was a lump in my throat, as if I had re-swallowed my heart after regurgitating it. Father’s shaking hands balled into fists as his angry eyes turned on me.

“Out!” he shouted, “Get out now!”

Scrambling to my feet, I fled, the door slamming vehemently behind me. Snatching my briefcase, I dashed out the front door as fast as I could, my brother forgotten.


To this day I wonder why it had to happen. Why was I so helpless to defend her? A heart full of rage and confusion converted into ambition. I now strive towards one goal: to someday return my beloved mother to this earth.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Terror of the High Seas

Finish That Thought #2-5 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: [She] whisper[s], "I forgive you," as [her] hand slip[s] out of mine.
Special Challenge: Invent two words and use them in your story.


Wes whispered, "I forgive you," as his hand slipped out of mine.

“Forgive me for what, boy?” I grunted with a tousle to his sun-bleached curls. “It’s just the ship’s doctor, ain’t it? Just a routine physical, ain’t it?”

The doe-like eyes of the cabin boy blinked pleadingly at me as the doctor dragged him into the captain’s quarters for his examination, but I disregarded the entreaty with a spit of tobacco and stomped off.

“Mr. Perkins, I do hope you intend to clean that up.”

I whirled to face the captain himself, decked up in his usual black attire, and snapped to attention. He regarded me through his mask with a steady eye and a thin scowl spread across his lips. Even as first mate I was still privy to Captain Roberts’ lectures and reprimands. His ship was his lover and anyone caught disfiguring her or disgracing her got it in sevenfold.

“Oh yes, Cap’n,” I stammered, tugging my snugget off my head. “Just going now for a mop now, Cap’n. Old habits die hard ye know, Cap’n.”

“Yes, well see that this habit dies quickly, Mr. Perkins, or you will have to find yourself other employment. We may be pirates, but we are not animals. Do I make myself clear?”

“Perfectly, sir, perfectly,” I bobbed.

“Oh, and Perkins,” the captain gestured to the knitted accessory in my hands “try to keep in touch with the seasons. This is summer.”

“As you wish, Cap’n.” I hastily tucked the bugger into a trouser pocket and scurried away for a mop.

In truth, I was plum lucky to get away with a reprimand and didn’t want the man changing his mind on me before I could remedy my evil. Got caught spitting once before, I did, and had to stand at attention for a full half hour as crew members lobbed slimy projectiles any time they passed my way. No way was I going to have a repeat. 


Captain Roberts had himself a legend he did. Terror of the High Seas, The Black Plague, and The Dread Pirate were just some of the titles he’d inherited over the years. Giants quaked in their boots just by looking at him. His name made grown men weep. Lucky was I to be one of the few men to see the great terror and live. But that was only because I was crew. Expendiary crew.

I hurried my pursuit of a mop, all the while praying that the sun wouldn’t bake the tobacco into the deck. No telling what punishment I’d get for staining his lady. Death likely. One thing was certain, Captain Roberts may be the greatest criminal alive, but he’d always be my idea of a gentleman

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Two Brothers and a Wedding

Finish That Thought: #2-3 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: The scent of wedding cake, flowers, and [decay], assail [me] as [I] approach the table.
Special Challenge: Include a deception that backfires



Photo courtesy of jusone @ sxc.hu
The scent of wedding cake, flowers, and champagne assail them as they approach the table. In matching black tuxes with paisley print vests, burgundy bowties, and silk cummerbunds, the Winthrop brothers slither inconspicuously past evening gowns and rented tuxes to the laden buffet. Upon it rests silver platters of fresh fruit mostly of the exotic variety, two large crystal bowls boasting freshly tossed salad, and towering tiers of dainty crab cakes, lobster canapes, and bacon-wrapped scallops.

Percival Winthrop rubs his long fingers together with glee before picking up a porcelain plate. “What a feast we have today!” he chortles to Wilfred. His twin twirls his sophisticated whiskers as a smile stretches from ear to ear.

“Indubitably, my dear Percival.”

“Have you tasted the champagne yet?” Percival asks while emptying the scallops from the top of one tier onto his plate.

Wilfred pats his lumpy cummerbund and his grin widens to encompass half his head. “It is sublime. Of course, I would not expect any less from the van Hortons.”

Percival’s hand hovers over a crab cake. “Dearest Wilfred, you know the bride’s family?”

“Read about them, read about them,” Wilfred assures Percival. The crab cake joins two others and the scallops as a buxom lady dripping in furs and diamonds thrusts herself between the brothers to unload a tier of its lobster canapes. She eyes Percival’s plate and chuckles.

“You eat like a van Horton, but you don’t look like one!” she observes.

“We’re merely indulging in the eating customs of the bride’s family to make them feel welcome,” Wilfred interjects.

“Ah, so you’re on the groom’s side?” the lady asks.

“Yes, dear madam,” Percival says.

“How are you related?” she queries.

“We’re brothers, madam,” Wilfred explains smoothly. “Identical twins, if you could not tell.”

“I mean to the groom,” she persists.

“Second cousins on his father’s side,” Percival adds. “To which side of the family do you belong, madam?”

“I am the groom’s mother,” she says pertly. “And I don’t recollect any second cousins on the list.”

“This is a sticky wicket,” Wilfred says with an arch to his brow and a twirl to his whiskers.

Percival slides the scallops into his jacket pocket, much to the surprise of the lady. “Shall we depart this scene, my dear Wilfred?”

Wilfred links his arm with Percival’s. “Indubitably, my dear Percival.”

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Waiting Room

Finish That Thought: #2-2 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: [Many days had] gone by,and [he] remained [enslaved] in the [small cabin].
Special Challenge: Change the weather as the story progresses.


Half the day had gone by, and I remained sprawled across the thinly papered table in nothing but a stiff, backless nightshirt. Twice a woman in scrubs came to check on me and let me know the doctor would “be with me shortly.” I folded my hands over my abdomen and gazed at the florescent flickering over my head, silently counting the dead flies trapped inside. One, two, three, four, nope that one twitched, four, five, six...

‘That’s boring.’ I rolled my head to stare at the wall next to me and was surprised to see a window with a nice view of the parking lot. ‘That’s funny, I didn’t notice this room had a view when I walked in.’ I switched from flies to cars and made it to 17 before I couldn’t distinguish one from the other anymore. ‘The sun sure is hot today. I can see the heat just radiating off the hoods.’

There was nothing more to see out there so I raised my head a little to look at the jungle print that ran around the bottom panel of the stark white room. ‘Aw, what a cute baby elephant. And monkeys, can’t forget the monkeys. Oh, and there’s a tiger, and a gazelle, and an orangutan, and a green snake all twisted up in the vines hanging between the palm trees. How nice.’

I looked out my window again... and blinked. Storm clouds had rolled in and the rain battered the coloured leaves off the trees. ‘Wait... the leaves changed colour? It’s Fall? How long have I been in here? I’m imagining things.’ I went back to examining the wallpaper. ‘And there’s a whale, and a dolphin, and a jellyfish, and a lobster, and a starfish...’

A sudden crash jolted me onto my rump and I consciously tugged the paper about my torso, exposing more and more of me the more I tried to right it. ‘Oh dear me, I hope no one’s in the parking lot...’ I frantically turned to the window only to find snow pelting the glass in large, smearing snowflakes. Snow?!? ‘All right, that does it-- this doctor is taking too dang long of a time getting here.’

I swung myself off the table and started stumbling about the room in search of my clothes, but I couldn’t find them. Panic constricted my throat. When did they take my clothes? The walls caved in around me and stars clouded my vision as my world spun. Trapped in the doctor’s office! Hands emerged from the wall, hundreds of hands, grabbing my shoulders, groping my feet, and pulling me down, down, down into the dark abyss and there was nothing I could do. Years must have gone by and this... this was the end!

“Ms. Keister, I’m sorry to keep you waiting...”

I opened my eyes. There was no window, my clothes draped across the chair, and the parchment gown still covered as little as it ever did.

“Dang right, you are.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Teacher, Teacher

Finish That Thought #2-1 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt:  [He] paused and said, "[Fine], [inspire] me," arms crossed and eyebrows raised in disbelief [that I could do any such thing].
Special Challenge: Macgyver[ism]
Festive Challenge: Include one or more party items



He paused and said, "Fine, then teach me," arms crossed and eyebrows raised in disbelief that Courtney could do any such thing.

“I will!” she retorted, shoving an empty cardboard box at him and pointing to the papers hanging haphazardly from the conference room ceiling. “In the meantime, put that 6 foot 7 of yours to use and take Cassiopeia and her friends down.”

A slow smirk seeped across Jamison’s lips as he took the box from his assistant. She was so much fun to rile up, and he seemed to do it naturally.

“Well? Wipe that stupid smile off your face and get to work!” she fumed. “You’ve tied up this room for long enough.” Courtney began scooping the mass of papers all over the tables and floor into another box. Jamison reached up to tug a paper off the ceiling, inspected it, dropped it into the box, inspected it some more, and then looked up at the next piece.

“Faster,” Courtney prompted.

“Why the hurry? It’s not like anyone ever uses this room.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s your playground!” she snapped. “You’ve held up two committee meetings and you’re about to postpone a third with your dilly-dallying.”

Jamison sighed and removed the second paper. “I make exceptional stick figures. Want to see?” he held it out to Courtney for her perusal. She snatched it from him and threw it into her box. Jamison pouted. “I worked hard on that one!” Courtney bit her tongue to keep from encouraging him with a reply.


“I really don’t see what the big deal is,” Jamison complained a little while later. He had succeeded in adding five more sheets to his box. Courtney had cleared off two tables and was working on filling her fourth box. “My back is starting to give out. I’m hungry. My arm hurts. Can I go to the bathroom?”

“No!” Courtney slammed a stack of papers into her box and paused to glare at Jamison. “You’re going to keep at this until you have your mess cleaned up.”

-------

The following morning, Jamison slid his key into the lock on his back door entrance and twisted the handle only to find it wouldn’t budge. He frowned and tried again. It didn’t move. He backed up, aimed his shoulder, and shoved. Still nothing. That darn Courtney.... He walked around the building and entered the complex by the front door. He stalked down the hallway until his little office was in sight. And what a sight! It stopped him dead in his tracks, mouth gaping.

“Court!” he finally bellowed.

“Yes?” Courtney asked innocently as she pinned the last streamer in place. With a satisfied smile, she brushed her hands together and hopped of his desk to survey her work. His boxes of papers had been shoved against his back door. Streamers criss-crossed from wall to floor. Half-filled water balloons littered the floor, the filing cabinets, and rolled off his chair.

“Don’t worry,” she said pertly “you hardly use your office.”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Trash-bagged Bootlegger

Finish That Thought #51 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: [Stupid] [gnomes], you'd think they'd know better.
Special Challenge: Trash bags


“Stupid broads, you'd think they'd know better,” Jimmy growled under his breath. He sat huddled under the basement stairs with a bottle of brandy tucked under his arm and a burlap sack draped across him. “Trash bag ain’t stopped no one before from going to jail.”

Heavy footsteps paced across the creaking floorboards above his head followed by the light clip-clop of several pairs of high heels. The basement door groaned open, letting the words of one of the clip-clops filter down.

“...no trouble at all, Sarge,” came the light twang of Marlene’s baby doll voice. “Here’s the basement if ya want to check it out.”

“Stupid, stupid broads,” Jimmy repeated. He shuffled his weight around to try to blend in better with the trunks and other paraphernalia hiding under the stairs with him. The heavy footsteps thudded down the stairs. Marlene’s clip-clops followed suit. The second pair of clip-clops ran in the opposite direction.

“You know what’ll happen to you if I find any alcohol here,” the booming voice of the policeman echoed in the cement cellar.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I ain’t worried, I ain’t got nothing here. You ain’t got nothing on me neither.”

The policeman said no more but clicked on his flashlight. Jimmy cursed.

“I’ve had reports that you’ve been smuggling liquor, Miss Hennigan. You also have a bootlegger sneaking in and out of here.”

“Bootlegger? What the heck is that?” came Marlene’s shrill reply. Jimmy winced. The beam of the flashlight drew dangerously close to his hiding spot. He stiffened.

“I think you know, Miss Hennigan.”

The beam came millimetres away from his nose.

“It’s true I got a man always coming and going all secret-like. But it’s...personal.”

The beam wavered.

“Do you like... personal, Sarge?”

Even Jimmy could smell Marlene’s cheap perfume from here. He hoped he didn’t sneeze. He could feel beads of perspiration forming on his forehead and starting to trickle down his nose.

“Miss Hennigan, I’m here on official business,” the officer reprimanded.

“Of course, Sarge, of course. But if you ever want to get a little... personal...”

The beam disappeared.

“Thank you, Miss Hennigan, I’ve seen enough.”

Heavy footsteps thumped back up the stairs. Clip-clops followed behind.

“Stupid broads,” Jimmy cursed in relief.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Kitten by Any Other Name....

Mr. M and I have a new housemate, and by the title of the post you can probably tell who it is.  Little Itty is approximately 8 weeks old and full of energy!  Any writing apart from flash fiction might get overlooked over the next few days/weeks as I adjust to full-time mothering this little attention-demanding squeaker.  [You just have to step out of the room for a second and she'll cry and whine as if she's been abandoned for months]

A social butterfly, snuggler, trouble-maker, and lover of plastic springs and music, this little bundle of meowing still has no name.  Mr. M and I have thought of a few but can't decide!  What do you think we should name her?

  • A] Venice {Vinny}
  • B] Maggie
  • C] Pipsqueak {Pippy}
  • D] Narcissa
  • E] Sonnet
  • F] {Insert name here}


video

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Why You Should Not Listen to a LoTR Soundtrack and Write Flash Fiction

Finish That Thought #50 (Judge's Comments
Prompt: Dead ants [were everywhere].
Special Challenge: Spiders


Courtesy of ak_nemati @ sxc.hu
Dead ants, that’s what they’d be soon enough, but not right now. Clove watched with fascination as thousands—no, millions—of ants marched in neat little rows down the hallway of her apartment. Like the hoards of an invading army, each tiny soldier wielding a crumb twice their size, they traipsed through enemy territory to headquarters.

Clove pulled her head back and quietly closed the bedroom door on the invaders. She wandered over to her wardrobe. Hanging inside was a black suit and a cat-eared mask. The silky cloth slid easily over her clothes and zippered up the side. The mask fit snugly over her head. She glanced at herself in the door’s full-length mirror and purred at her reflection. A black gloved hand with cat claws reached up to remove the spray can of pesticide and a gas mask from the top shelf.

“Purrrfect, darling, you look simply divine,” she murmured to herself as she caressed the reflection’s masked face. She was ready.

With a kick from her stiletto boot, the bedroom door flung open, scattering hundreds of ants off their course.

“Prrrreparrre to die!” she screeched, aiming the spray can and pushing down the nozzle. A grey, misty substance billowed out. As the toxic gas filled the lungs of its enemies, they crumpled one by one into writhing balls of agony. Clove turned left and right as she slowly made her way down the long hallway, spreading the deadly poison and crunching dying ants under her heels as she went.

It was then she noticed the ants increasing in size the farther along she went. Though they were still affected by the toxic fumes, crunching them under heel was no longer an option. Some of them even came up to her knees!

“Die, you ants!” she hollered in frustration as she sprayed, kicked, and trampled the juicy bodies. “Die, die, die!”

Then she saw it. The ant general. Almost as tall as herself and with spindly legs like a spider, it slowly turned to face her as she approached. She faltered a step, the spray can momentarily ceasing its steady stream of death, and launched herself at the hideous creature. It screamed with rage as the poison burnt its flesh, but it did not go down.

The ant turned on her in an instant, dislodging the can from Clove’s paws. They were forced into hand-to-hand combat. Duck, weave, kick, punch, block, kick. One punch from the ant sent Clove flying into the wall, knocking the air from her lungs. She sat gasping and gagging until she staggered to her feet again. She would not be defeated by an ant!

“I. AM. CATWOMAN!”

With her strength renewed, Clove unleashed her claws on the beast and scraped, scratched, and tore the beast apart until it was an oozing, decapitated mess on her floor. She bent down to retrieve her spray can, gave the general one last puff of poison, and sauntered triumphantly back to her room.


She was victorious.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

One Misstep Too Many

Finish That Thought #49 (Judge's Comments)  
Prompt: The wizard's apprentice scratched [his] head, staring at the beetle in consternation.  
Special Challenge: Include a magic spell gone horribly wrong

  
The wizard's apprentice scratched his head, staring at the beetle in consternation. 

“Ten seconds remain,” the wizard prodded gently from her side of the examination table. In one hand she held a silver pocket-watch. In the other, a purple lace fan that fluttered lightly in front of her face to drive away the roaring fire’s heat. Her pale robes swooshed around her ankles as she pivoted on a bare foot to glide to the other end of the table. One footstep for each second. Her violet eyes never left the unruly brown-haired head hunched over the insect. 

Ryad bent his head closer to the magnifying glass to study his beetle in greater detail, looking for any clue to tip him off on its identity. It looked so natural, so real. How was he supposed to tell which of his 10,000 classmates it was? What kind of final examination was this anyhow? 

“And...stop.” The pocket-watch snapped close and was deposited in a pocket. Ryad moved away from the table and stood straight with his hands folded behind his back. 

“Have thee an answer?” the wizard asked her pupil though she already knew he didn't. 

Ryad chewed his bottom lip. He could always guess. Lucky guesses had saved his sorry hide many times before. In fact, a lucky [or unlucky he was coming to find] guess was the reason he was here, now, apprenticing under one of the greatest wizards of his day and age. Unfortunately, Instructress Zulu knew that and his entire apprenticeship so far had been dodging one trap after another. 

“I’m waiting.” Her voice may be soft like silk, but it carried an air of command. Now it was laced with the smugness of success. The odds were not in his favour and with his inability to pass his final exam, he would be dismissed from the school and sentenced to four years of hard labour until blood, sweat, and tears erased all memories of this place. 

“It’s Porgy,” he answered with confidence. When her gleaming smile started slipping into a frown he added as an extra barb, “Instructor Barnelm’s apprentice.” 

“Thy luck hast stayed with thee, young one. Pray, tell me how thee knowest this?” 

“My next task is to restore this beetle, is it not? And if I fail, he is the least likely to be missed since he is scheduled to be dismissed anyway.” 

“Aye, thy wit has surmised correctly,” Instructress Zulu held her arm out and gestured to the beetle with a sweep of her fan. “Pray, continue.” 

Ryad cracked his knuckles behind his back, relieved to have the first part over with. He resumed his place at the examination table and picked up his wand. If his luck stayed true, whatever nonsense words he babbled next would hopefully be a restoring spell. His wand hovered over the beetle while he murmured something unintelligible. 

Thunder rumbled overhead. A sound not unlike a train spewed from the wand. 

“Fool!” Instructress Zulu shrieked above the howling winds.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Boy's Dragon

Finish That Thought #48 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: "I will be a real [gnome]," [she] said, hoping no one remembered [her] vehement protestations to the contrary for, well, [her whole life.]
Special Challenge: Include a flying, steam-powered contraption


"I will be a real dragon," he said, hoping no one remembered his vehement protestations to the contrary for, well, forever. The three foot long, shimmering blue drake propped his snout on the window ledge of the dorm room and peered at the humans wandering below. Behind him, Jireh’s human friend gently pushed his tail off the desk before dropping textbooks down.

“What, are you an otter now?” Tye teased. “You look pretty real to me with those scales, leathery wings, smoking nostrils...”

“You know what I mean!” Jireh humphed. He rolled onto his side and twisted his neck around until he was eye-to-eye with Tye. “I want to do what dragons are supposed to do!”

“And what’s that?”

“I...I don’t know.”

Jireh set his head on the ledge again and puffed a bit of smoke into the passing breeze.


This restlessness started on one bright morning when a ruby streak zipped past the window. Of course Jireh had poked his head out of the second storey window to catch another glimpse. The creature circled back until it hovered nearby. It was a female dragon not much bigger than himself!

“Are you a prisoner?” she asked.
“No, I’m a dragon.”
“What are you doing with humans?”
“I live here.”

Jireh pulled his head in so she could land on the sill. The sun glinted off her wings as they folded into place behind her back. She sniffed the air, the desk, and finally Jireh himself.

“Well, you *smell* like a dragon. And this place reeks of human,” she concluded with a delicate wrinkling of her snout.

“It’s called a university. Lots of humans live here.”
“What do they do?” she asked curiously.
“They sit at tables and type on machines all day.”

“*All* day? What a waste of time,” she snorted. “At least it keeps them from dragon hunting.”

“Why would they be dragon hunting?”
“Why, it’s what humans *do*!”
“Not here. I grew up here.”

“So you’re a pet.” The way she pronounced “pet” made it sound like it was some awful, fatal disease.

“Tye’s my friend...”

“Humans aren’t friends,” she snapped. “They always have to own things! How old are you?”

He puffed up proudly, “Two years.”

“Two years? I’m three months! You’re a stunted, brainwashed, human’s pet. You’re not free!” And with that, the dazzling female stretched her wings and flew away.


Jireh snapped to the present as Tye scratched him under the chin.

“What’s been eating you, boy? Why the moping?”

Jireh closed his eyes, savouring the tingling sensation. Oh how he wanted to stay and keep things the way they were! It was impossible. Haltingly, fearfully, he ventured to convey his yearnings.

“I want to leave and find out what it means to be a dragon.” Jireh winced, waiting for an angry reply, but it didn’t come. When he peeked at Tye, he only saw a small, sad smile.

“Then go. I’ll miss you.”

For the first time since the dragon’s visit, Jireh felt free.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

iPod Roulette

Finish That Thought #47 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: Sometimes it seems like whoever's arranging the soundtrack to my life is watching the wrong thing.
Special Challenge: Include a Billy Joel song reference: lyrics, title, whatever


Sometimes it seems like whoever's arranging the soundtrack to my life is watching the wrong thing. I sat on my bed with my report card in hand wondering what my dad would say. As if to mock me, the headphones draped around my neck started pulsing “Well my heartbeat is running wild-” 

“I’m not a problem child!” I shouted at my iPod as I hit the next button. “Geez, can’t you give me some encouragement or something? I’m about to be fed to the lions!” 

Well my soul checked out missing as I sat listening 
To the hours and minutes tickin' away 
Yeah just sittin' around waitin' for my life-” 

That track got skipped, too. I yanked my headphones off and threw them across the room. The crash brought in my mom. 

“Kelsi! When did you get home from school?” She stood in the doorway with a mixing bowl propped on her hip. “Do you want a snack?” 

I got up and retrieved my headphones. They immediately went around my neck again and I crawled back onto my bed to save my report card from Mom’s prying eyes. 

“No thanks,” I muttered. 

“Oh, is that your report card? How’d you do?” 

The headphones went back on. Mom sighed and left. I don’t know how long I sat there skipping music tracks, returning to a skipped song to listen to it in full, and forming what I would say to Dad when he got home. Eventually the front door rattled as keys unlocked it and Dad’s voice echoed in the hall. 

“I’m home!” 

“Welcome home!” Mom’s voice echoed next as she rushed to the front door. Even the smoosh was audible. Yuck. 

“Kelsi home yet?” Whispering. Great. I rolled over on my stomach and waited for the onslaught. Good Day Sunshine blared away in my ears. I gave up trying to match the music with my mood. 

“Report card today, isn’t it, Kels?” I looked up and saw Dad leaning against my doorframe. 

“Yeah.” I handed it to him when he stretched his hand out for it. His brows furrowed as he studied it. Uh oh. 

“My English teacher is retarded.” 

“Is that why you have a D?” 

We drown our doubts in dry champagne 
And soothe our souls with fine cocaine 
I don't know why I even care 
We'll get so high and get nowhere-” 

“Ok, I get it, I’m a drunk loser!” I realized a little too late that Dad would take that personally. 

“What did you say, young lady?” 

“I wasn’t talking to you,” I mumbled. 

“Oh, is there someone else asking you about these low grades?” 

Sarcasm. Great, I was in trouble. 

I don’t want to be your beast of burden...” 

“Shut up!” Oops. Dad’s face went livid. 

I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know where I’ma gonna go when the volcano blows.” 

Oh great, my iPod was finally on the right track.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Family Ties

Finish That Thought #46 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: If my dad was willing to forget the last few seconds of his life, well then, so was I.
Special Challenge: Include the words: fate, top, trace


If my dad was willing to forget the last few seconds of his life, well then, so was I. Then again, it would be unethical to. I folded my arms across my chest and leaned back in the guest chair of my dad’s office, staring hard at the man whom I resembled in so many ways except for the essentials.

“You’ll have to pay me if you want that to stay forgotten,” I threatened. “I’m thinking nothing substantial, just enough so I can actually go to college.”

“Don’t make this any more difficult than it already is,” Dad sighed as he rubbed his temples.

“More difficult?” I scoffed. “You started the whole thing!”

“Howie-”

“It’s Jamison,” I interrupted.

“Jamison?”

“Yeah. Jamison. I can’t help being related to you, but after what you pulled, I’m dumping any other ties.”

He sighed again, suddenly appearing like an old, withered man rather than the strapping middle-aged man of 50 he was.

“I don’t blame you.” His defeated tone with a trace of regret unnerved me. “Just…please… forget it happened. For your sake. For your brothers’ sakes. For your mother’s sake.”

“Will she forget it happened?” I asked pointedly.

“Most likely not.”

“Will you act like it didn’t happen?”

“It wouldn’t be natural to,” he admitted.

“Then why should I?”

We had arrived at an impasse--- the first of many I was about to find out. It was the fate of every Jamison male to be stubborn, demanding, and poor at communicating. After a few silent moments of hard staring, Dad finally looked down at his hands in his lap and broke the tension.

“What are you going to do?”

I continued glaring at him while I mulled it over. Honestly, I hadn’t a clue what I should do. Dad and I had never been best friends. Granny used to tease I was his enemy from the womb. It wasn’t my fault really. He was the one who had named me after the family dog “on accident.” With five brothers to take advantage of that, well, it makes it hard to forgive a person and Dad was especially good at making himself unforgivable.

I never understood how an angel like my mother could have been persuaded to marry a scoundrel like my father. While she was blissfully ignorant of a lot of things he had gotten into, this big secret she deserved to know. She deserved the truth. My mind made up, I braced my hands against his desk and loomed over him.

“I’m going to my editor.”

Dad blanched. “You wouldn’t!”

“I’m a journalist. Reporting scandals is what we do.”

“Can’t you just forget-”

“You were locking lips with your secretary!” I bellowed, slamming the desk with my fist. “How can you ask me to forget that?”

Not bothering to wait for an answer, I whirled on my heel and marched out that door. I didn’t stop until I reached my own office.

“Hey boss, we finally have a top story for tomorrow.”

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Training Troubles For Hetty

Finish That Thought #45 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: You should've stayed on the path
Special challenge: Include either an enchanted or haunted forest


‘You should've stayed on the path!’ the pixie-in-training reprimanded herself. Her pink, gossamer twitched nervously. Pouty lips pulled down in a frown as she examined her forested surroundings. Back and forth, back and forth she paced under a rhododendron leaf with the tulip bulb clutched firmly to her bosom. 

The assignment had been simple: Find a bulb and bring it back. It was only recommended to use the well-worn trail from the pixie students who had gone before. Nothing had been said about ferocious beasts in the enchanted forest, which of course was the reason one now blocked her exit. 

“Oh, what’s a poor pixie to do?” Hetty lamented aloud. She set the bulb next to her on the branch to wipe the beads of perspiration away and wilted beside it. Leaning against the bulb, she tucked her knees under her chin and watched the large, black furball snooze in the sun by a clutter of clay potting jars across the grassy forest clearing. Her portal. 

“Ralph, have you been eating my tulips again?” a voice boomed from far above. Hetty scrambled behind her bulb with a shriek and peeked out. 

“Ralph!” The giant lumbered into the clearing, casting a horrendous shadow over the land. Slowly the beast yawned, stretched, and sat up. It didn’t seem to be afraid of the towering giant until it bent down. Instantly, the beast bolted through the giant’s legs and into the trees where Hetty hid. She held her breath as it sulked in the shadows only inches beneath her. 

“You naughty cat! Come back here!” 

Hetty cowered as the giant whacked something against the trees to scare the beast out. She clung to her bulb tightly as the earth shook and trembled beneath her feet. The next thump sent her spiraling to the ground. Hetty landed in a heap on top of her bulb. 

“Meow…” 

The little pixie raised her head just enough to see two green eyes glowering in the shadows. 

“Eeeek!” she cried as it batted her with its paw. Quickly righting herself, Hetty snatched the bulb and dove for the clearing, hoping the giant would not be able to see her. She cried out again as the beast swung another paw in her direction. 

“Oh, you naughty cat!” the giant shouted. “Stop playing with my tulip!” 

Hetty didn’t dare look behind her, but ran as fast as her legs could carry her toward the pots, the bulb securely held on top of her head. The giant lumbered after them, and the beast was almost upon her when she reached safety. The portal opened wide against the side of one of the pots and she lunged for it as the giant snatched up the beast to give it a good shake. 

Hetty tumbled to the floor of the garden lab with her bulb. Professor Puffly looked up from his textbook in surprise at her unorthodox return. 

“Trouble?” his whiskers twitched. 

“No, no trouble at all,” Hetty said breathlessly. “Here’s my bulb.”

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Prison Break

Finish That Thought #44 (Judge's Comments)
Prompt: The notion was irrational, but when I became conscious of the fact it was already too late.
Special Challenge: Stars, space ships, planets, aliens, robots, fantasy


Courtesy of talajbeg @ sxc.hu
The notion was irrational, but when he became conscious of the fact it was already too late. Guards encircled him with spears aimed at his rotund belly and torches held high against the starry sky.

“What is the meaning of this?” Francis asked in his most grandfatherly voice.

“I’m sorry, Father Malloy, but I must ask you to de-robe,” the captain of the guard said as he stepped forward. “The prisoner escaped and you were the last person to see him.”

So much for Francis’ brilliant plan. Disrobing here would be immediate death for Jack and the gallows for him. It was unlawful to impersonate a monk. The robes were getting hot with Jack’s body heat radiating off his back and if Jack’s arms kept in that cramped position for too much longer he’d start choking Francis as well. Francis’ mind whirled with options of escape.

He could refuse and storm out. It was the death sentence for any man to touch a cleric. However, there was no law against shoving a spear through the belly. He chewed his lip as beads of perspiration trickled down his face. If only there was a way to shrink the number of guards they might stand a chance! Perhaps…

“De-robe? In public? That is sinful!” Francis exclaimed at last.

“You are required to comply while the prisoner is free.”

Francis heaved as holy-sounding a sigh as possible. “I don’t doubt your honourable intentions, my child. Perhaps you may search me privately?”

The captain considered it a moment and nodded.

“Follow me.”

Francis wallowed after him as a second guard closed in behind. They escorted him to the guardroom where the second guard barricaded the door. Francis counted four windows and a door presumably leading outside. That was their exit.

“Now, de-robe, please.”

Raising shaky hands, Francis loosed the hood and let it fall back. The guards gasped.

“You aren’t Father Malloy! You’re an imposter!”

Francis took advantage of their surprise by lunging for the captain’s spear while Jack unhooked his legs and arms from around his partner and tumbled out of the massive robes. Straw spilled after him until the billowing robe slipped off Francis’ scrawny body. Jack rolled to his feet and tackled the second guard.

“The prisoner is escaping!” the captain yelped as Francis backed him towards the door with the spear.

“Jack, open the door!” Francis ordered. Jack dealt his guard a knock-out blow and ran to jiggle the door handle. It was unlocked. As the guards in the courtyard rammed down the barricaded door, Jack and Francis slipped through the doorway and tore off down the passage. Footsteps and shouts echoed in the stone corridor behind them.

“Now what?” Jack hissed.

“There’s got to be a door some---Ahhhhhh!”

As Francis spoke, a trapdoor swung open beneath him and they tumbled down a flight of steps. He righted himself and shook his fist at the ceiling.

“That’s it, I quit!” he yelled and promptly walked out of the story.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ms. Douglas

A piece I wrote for consideration for an anthology that never took off the ground.  Enjoy!

I was six the spring my training wheels came off. Daddy took me to the old church parking lot every evening until I proudly rode home with him running beside me. I was given the privilege of fetching the Sunday paper from then on.

After church the following day, I hurried into play clothes as Daddy pulled my bicycle from the garage. A basket was acquired for the handlebars and a dollar for the paper. Hopping onto my bike, I waved and took off down the sidewalk. Four houses later I toppled over.

“You okay there, darlin’?”

The voice belonged to old Ms. Douglas. She sat in a white wicker rocker on her porch with a glass of sweet tea on the matching table and a porcelain vase holding thorny stems. The lady had skin like chocolate, hair grey as smoke, and teeth white as baking soda.

“Yes, ma’am,” I exclaimed and hastily got back on my bike, cheeks burning.


Every week after church, Ms. Douglas sat out in her rocker. Sometimes she had sweet tea, sometimes lemonade, but those thorny stems were always there. The fourth week she called out when I pedaled by.

“Fine day, ain’t it?”

I replied, “Yes, ma’am” and pedaled on.

Week five she invited me up for a glass of lemonade. I declined. Mommy would worry if I was late. She told me to ask if I could stop next week for tea and cookies. I said I would and thanked her.

“She must get lonely there all by herself.” Mommy said. “You should go and cheer her up for a bit.”


Therefore, on week six, I found myself sitting in Ms. Douglas’ second rocker snacking on gingersnaps and lemonade. After a few moments of silence, I risked a glance at her. Her eyes roved in my direction, causing me to avert my own. When I dared peek again, I saw they were vacantly gazing above my head. She was blind.

“Is Wilbert in that tree over yonder?”

“Who?”

“The whippoorwill living in that there tree.” Ms. Douglas raised her cane and gestured behind me. “Got himself a pretty little lady named Wilma.”

I wiggled in my seat. “I don’t... Oh! I see him!”

“That’s Wilma.”

I whirled back in surprise. “How can you tell if you can’t see?” I blurted.

She wasn’t offended, but laughed heartily. I liked how it rumbled in her belly and sent warm prickles from my toes to my ears.

“Why, darlin’, jus’ cuz I can’t see don’t mean I’m dumb!” She thumped her cane on the porch. “Wilma! You be quiet a piece an’ let Wilbert sing a few notes, you hear?”  Immediately one hushed and another started its mournful tune.

“Now listen real good,” Ms. Douglas said.  I obeyed, straining my ears so hard they started hurting.

“Wilma, you give it a go now.”

“I don’t hear a difference.”

“You lookin’ at them?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“That’s your problem! You’re getting distracted. Close your eyes, concentrate, and we’ll do it again.”

The second time was more successful and on the third, I could tell them apart.

“You’re catching on right quick,” Ms. Douglas beamed at me. I beamed back.


Ms. Douglas and I swiftly became friends. I stopped by every Sunday on the way to get the paper and every Sunday I learned something new about her, myself, and the world around us.

“Guess how old my eyes are,” she said one day.

“Um…” I was keenly aware how impolite an answer would be.

“You’re blushing, ain’t you?” she asked with an earthy chuckle.

“How do you know?” I demanded before sipping sweet tea.

“I don’t give all my secrets away!” Her pearly whites glinted. “My eyes are eight years old. Lost ‘em to a bad fever.”

“Don’t you miss seeing?”

“Some days, but when this old body goes, I’ll see for all eternity.” Her eyes moistened. “The first face I’ll see will be my dear Saviour.”

“Aren’t you mad at him for not making you better?”

“Mad? Why no, child! He gave me new, spiritual eyes and He done walked with me every day since.”

I figured her spiritual eyes must be the ones that let her know things about people, like my blushing. I wanted eyes like that.


One Sunday in early June Ms. Douglas wasn’t quite herself. Her eyes were dimmer and she had a bad cough.

“Let me tell you about these here thorns,” she said after a hacking fit passed. She waved her hand until they rested on the thorny stems.

“I come out trimming these stems every Sunday. They remind me I’m ugly with sin right now. Anything good I do on my own is nothing better than these thorns. Only thing I got worth anything is Jesus. He’s the only one who can make a thorny stem pretty. When I leave this here body and go to Heaven, we won’t be ugly no more.”

The next Sunday, Ms. Douglas was in the hospital and wanted to see me.

“Remember those stems?” she asked in a breathy voice as I crawled onto her bed.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I want you to have them.”

I promised her I would take care of them.


The Sunday following we buried her. After the service I hopped on my bike and pedaled to her place. People were coming and going with boxes. I sneaked up the front steps to claim my stems, but someone replaced them with roses! I crept closer. The vase was the same. The leaves looked the same. I closed my eyes and ran my fingers over the thorny stems. They were the same, too. Opening my eyes again, I saw a sticky note with my name. The stems were pretty now, like Ms. Douglas. I took them home to plant in Mommy’s garden.


Years later, I still have those roses. When I grow old I plan to take a few stems, trim them every Sunday, and teach another little girl about birds, thorns, and friendship.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sunday

Well folks, I won last week's Finish That Thought so no 500 word story today!  [Yes, that's right!  Someone liked my story!  You can read the winning piece here.]  *ahem*  Instead of the usual fresh snippet, I thought I would dig through my repertoire of old Flash Fiction pieces to share with ya'll.  1,500 words is still considered Flash, right? 

Anyway, I wrote this piece my first year in college after a young man kept dropping his undergarments on me during a laundry room excursion.  Sadly, we were both shy and so a bit of this piece really is fiction.  [My husband is relieved that this incident didn't actually involve dialogue and frankly, so am I. ;)]

After you read through this, you should peruse the amazing stories I was honoured to read and judge over on Alissa's Finish That Thought #43!  And maybe next week try your own hand at a little flash fiction, eh?

Ladies and gentlemen, for your enjoyment, Sunday.


It was an average afternoon on an average Sunday at an average college campus in an average town. The skies were clear, the sun golden, the fragrant breeze permeated the cool air, lighthearted birds chirped in the nearby trees, the flowers in the fields by the sidewalks raised sleepy faces to greet the day, and I was hauling my overflowing bin of sullied garments towards the dilapidated shack called the laundry room. 

Step. Stop. Pick up fallen underwear. Walk. Stop. Switch arms. Step. Step. Pause. Breathe…the cycle continued on and on, each agonizingly slow footstep bringing me nearer to the sizzling room where I would spend the next hour and a half of my life. Petite blonde girls danced by with their T-structured, foot-ball playing mammoths shuffling behind them carrying their loaded baskets under one arm. I stopped and set down my heavy burden to take a breather and watch in envy as the girls flitted along the sidewalk without a care. It almost made me wish I had dyed my hair blonde and joined the cheer-leading squad. Almost.

As I wallowed towards the leering structure of crumbling brick with my aching arms clutching my basket close, I was passed by yet even more people. Single guys carrying their small piles, girls helping each other with theirs…I sighed again and shifted the weight. The laughing sun engulfed my back in flickering flames as I toiled on. 

Upon finally reaching my destination, dismay crept over me. Not a single washer was free! The rumble of the cackling machines and whirling clothes in the shrieking dryers gloated at my inconvenience. Frustrated, I dropped my basket on a nearby chair and wearily leaned against the cracking stucco wall. The preps chattered aimlessly, propped up on the knees of their Goliaths who were guffawing at each other sitting on top of the washers. A band geek sat in the corner with her flute, two nerds were comparing plastic lightsabers, and one lone guy sat by the doorway playing his guitar. Oh, the bliss of cacophony on a sacred Sunday morning! It was enough to drive one mad. 

After not long of a wait, a washer in the far corner opened up and I was able to lug my cumbersome tote down the row. I have to admit, the laundry part itself isn’t so bad. I love the smell of detergent and fabric softeners and dryer sheets and the feel of warm clothes when you pull them out of the dryer. It’s just the grueling walk to get here that’s so unbearable. Fishing quarters out of my back pocket, I was surprised to find I had enough for two wash loads and the dryer. Too bad there weren’t two washers open. I shrugged and slipped the quarters into the yawning slot, opened the lid, and poured a cup of detergent into the machine. Just as I bent down to pick up the first handful of clothes, a pair of dirty grey socks landed by my hand. 

“I-um…excuse me…” 

I looked up into the alarmed grayish-blue eyes of a red-faced young man with his arms full of clothes. Smiling wryly, I plucked the socks out of my pile with my fingertips, draped them across his arm, and went back to sorting my clothes into the washer. Completing that task, I immediately slammed the lid down and the washer started humming as the water began to fill inside. I groped around in my bag for my apple and half-read book (The Sword of Shannara, great book if you ever need anything to read) and comfortably settled myself on top of the washer to begin the half-hour wait. 

For some reason, munching on apples always makes the time go by faster, and I found today to be no exception. It seemed I had just started into the gripping tale of the young elven hero when suddenly the washer began beeping for me to stop. Sighing, I set the book down and dropped the apple core into the trash can next to me. One dryer on the other side of the room was open. Hallelujah! Grabbing my laundry basket, I dodged through the mobs of people, shoving some aside, and skidded to a stop by the machine, panting, as a guy came up behind me and threw a shirt into the open dryer. 

“Excuse me, buddy, I got here first,” I hissed, reaching into the dryer to drag the offending piece of laundry out of my territory. 

“My bad.” The guy took his shirt back and held up his hands in surrender, motioning to the appliance. “She’s all yours.” 

Nodding my thanks, I reached into my bag to pull out a dryer sheet and flipped it into the machine to claim it. It only took a few seconds to collect my wet clothes and fight through the crowd back to the dryer. Huffing and puffing, I managed to heave the pile of clothes into the dryer and leaned against the door to close it. I fumbled around in my pocket for my quarters, found them, jammed them in, and pulled out my book again. 

The rest of my time in that stifling room of contraptions was extremely uneventful-- until it came to clawing the hot clothes out of the dryer and into my tote. To my annoyance, a couple articles of clothing missed the basket completely and fell to the floor, and I could almost swear they were smirking at me. Well, fine, let them smirk, squatting down with aching legs was nothing compared to the extensive, merciless hike back to the dorms. I yanked the rest of my clothes out, stuffed them in with the rest, picked up the rebels, then buried my face into their fragrant warmth and sighed happily. Crazy, I know, but I love doing it. 

It was then that something warm and clothy flopped onto my head and slid down my face. Startled, I peeled off the fabric only to find it was a pair of boxers. Behind me, someone gasped. 

“I-I-I…” 

Amused, I turned my head slightly only to see those distressed grayish-blue eyes again. 

“Is it a habit to drop your clothes around girls?” I laughed. The poor guy blushed. Or was “blush” even the right word? I watched in amazement as the redness spread from the tip of his head, to his large ears, down his neck in deep red splotches, and over his slightly muscular arms. I’m sure if he wasn’t wearing jeans, I would have seen it creep down to his feet as well. Immediately I felt guilty for laughing at him and handed his boxers over.

“I…um…would you mind…I-I-I,” he stuttered and fixed his gaze on the large tub in his arms. I smiled and got to my feet. He was kinda cute, with his large eyes, unruly chocolate hair, and ears Dumbo could be proud of. With not so much as a giggle, I ceremoniously laid his boxers on top of his pile. 

“I’m really sorry about that…” 
“You know you owe me now. That’s twice!” I teased. He shuffled his feet nervously and bit his lip. 

“What do I owe you?” he asked carefully. I thought for a moment and an awful, devilishly sweet idea entered into my mind. 

“It’s not that big of a job,” I paused to bite back a laugh “but I wouldn’t mind some help lugging this basket back to my room.” He blinked a couple times, then set his tub down. 

“Sure, I can do that…” his voice lowered into a mumble as he grasped my basket effortlessly by the hand grips and situated it on top of his load. Without so much as raising his head, he heaved both totes up and rested the rim of my basket under his chin. 

“Where to, ma’am?” 

I smiled to myself. He was getting cuter by the second-- nice eyes, shy personality, and now manners to boot. 

“Oh, not too far. Just across the parking lot, down the road, and over the sports field."

He hesitated.

"To the brick dorms on The Circle," I clarified to ease his anxiety. His features immediately looked relieved and he gave me a preciously awkward grin. He was quickly becoming the Dopey to my Snow White. Or was it Bashful?

“S’long as you don’t expect me to carry you as well, I think I’ll manage.” 

Delighted, I led the way out of the building, enjoying the stares I was getting as my bell-hop trailed behind me with his massive load. I stopped for a moment outside the door to let him catch up and then we set out towards my home-- me with my small bag swung over my shoulder and he hauling our totes. The sun beamed down on us as the birds frolicked and twittered in the trees and the sweet perfume of flowers filtered by us in the breeze.

It was just an average Sunday afternoon.