The End of the Road

Think back to a moment where you’ve come to the end of the road with something important in your life—a relationship with a lover; moving out of your childhood home; graduation from school; etc. Write a scene wrapped around that moment, describing how you felt (good and bad) and how you closed the door on that chapter in your life.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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142 thoughts on “The End of the Road

  1. rle

    It was perhaps the most terrifying sense of hopelessness I’d ever felt. It was pure bone shattering, dream crushing doom. For thirteen and a half months I’d prayed relentlessly for a miracle, trying to remain optimistic under the worst of circumstances. As I sat beside her and watched her restless slumber, I finally recognized the reality of our plight. The cancer was winning, consuming first her body, her spirit, and then her mind. My wife was dying.

    As I sat watching the seconds slowly tick by, it felt as though I was living someone else’s life, looking through the window into someone else’s hell, still not willing to accept the fact it was mine. Each of her subdued whimpers rocked me to my core. Every flutter of her eyelids gave me hope that I I might have just one more short lucid conversation with her.

    When the ambulance pulled in the driveway, I felt my knees get weak. I did the best I could to stifle the tears. They were here to take her to a hospice facility. I knew without a doubt this would be the last time she would be at her home. They don’t send people to hospice to cure their ills.

    As I followed the squad into the late summer sunset, I wondered how long it would be. How long would I have to watch my love suffer this way? Hours, days, weeks? After settling her in, my in-laws convinced me to go home and get a few hours sleep while they sat with her. I knew it was best after having been up with her for nearly forty-eight hours, but it nearly killed me leaving her there.

    At 3:45 AM her sister called and informed me her breathing had become labored and that the nurse said I should come. I don’t remember the twenty-five minute drive to town. The next thing I recollect was walking in the room. I remember how her skin looked, gray and lifeless. She appeared so small. I sat by her side as she noisily inhaled, then silently exhaled. Over twenty years of fond memories flooded my thoughts as I silently wept. I never fathomed my last memory with her would be here, like this. Then came the questions, the worst one of all, how do I tell our young daughters?

    As her breathing grew weaker and more intermittent, I began thinking each breath she took would be her last, but she continued hanging on. Finally, I leaned down and told her, “if you want to leave this place, you can.”

    And her three final breaths ushered in the end of an era.

  2. dustymayjane

    I sat on a frosty bench in front of the Five and Dime. The immediate chill through my backside gave me shivers. The morning sun at its low winter orbit, barely warmed my face that cold December morning and I closed my eyes against it. My coffee steamed and I held it close to my lips. The warmth of it felt good through the thick foam cup. I’d arrived early. I enjoyed my solitude, as it was a rare commodity in my household full of children and responsibility. My coffee was nearly empty and cold when I saw him. He’d parked his car across the street, in front of the Post Office. As good a place as any I’d guessed. He’d pick up his mail before returning to his car and leaving.

    He was average in looks, intelligence and anything that didn’t matter. He was self-assured, gentle, kind and everything my husband was not, in things that did matter. I would recognize that walk, that build, that clever smile from a mile away. He was surprised when I told him that.

    “You do?” He asked with a questioning twinkle in his pale blue eyes. “Well, I shouldn’t be surprised.” He added. “I’ve noticed you for a long time, truth be told.”

    That made me smile, yet at the same time, uncomfortable. I didn’t know what he’d seen of me. I hoped it wasn’t when I went to Wal Mart in my sweats with hair undone and face free of makeup. I hoped he hadn’t seen me with my unruly children, begging for everything within their grasp. God forbid, he’d seen me with my husband, during one of our less than pleasant moments.

    Oh God! I could be such a mess

    He crossed at the light and made his way down the street to where I sat waiting. His expression, even though obscured by the bright sunlight and shadow, told me enough and I was suddenly on alert. He was walking fast and glancing around nervously. I stood when he reached the Five and Dime and instead of reaching for him, I tucked my hands into my wool coat pockets.

    He glanced at me and I was hopeful for a moment. He started to reach for me but retreated when he looked quickly away, back towards his car.

    “Miranda.” He said. Emotion showed in his eyes and I knew that things were about to change.

    I didn’t say anything. I tried ‘Richard’ but no sound came out. I followed his tensed, frigid back towards the park where we often sat and talked. I was afraid that the loveliest person in my life was saying goodbye.

    “Richard. Wait.” I stopped following and stood frozen, inside and out. He kept walking as if he hadn’t heard me. Maybe he hadn’t. “Richard! ” I shouted weakly. I was choking on my tears.

    He stopped and turned. He stretched out his arm and I took his hand. “It’s alright Miranda.”

    I stepped into his embrace and he kissed my cheek. His cold nose touched my ear.

    His warm breath traveled down my neck. I shivered. He held me tighter.

    “I can’t say goodbye Richard. I can’t.”

    I looked over his shoulder as he held me through the tears. I saw the path that led to the lake. Another that led to the right would take me to my neighborhood.

    I was at the end of a path. One that I should never have taken.

    1. gamingtheblues

      The past two weeks are some of the first times I have read any of your work I think, and it is quickly becoming a delight. Is this real or fiction? If fiction it was very well written and conceptualized and crying with authenticity. If autobiographical, I understand the feeling of not being happy with where you are and wanting to look elsewhere for the things you need. What an incredibly sad and rather disappointing ending.

      This story touched me on a personal level because i do not believe in staying unhappy for misguided traditions or even misplaced loyalty. Hence why I am happily divorced perhaps! I only wish I could speak to the MC and tell her to follow her heart and that she should not settle for anything she does not want!

      Very well done.

  3. ReathaThomasOakley

    The End of the Road
    An Annie Story

    May 21, 1955
    Mod#ss. . . because
    –1950s ad campaign

    “My goodness, Annie Louise Porter! What on earth are you doing, knocking on my door this early on a Saturday morning?”

    “Oh, Miss Jimmie Mae, I’m sorry, I just. . . ” I stopped and scrunched up my eyes real tight, so I wouldn’t cry. “Please. . . ” I couldn’t hold it no more.

    “Annie, what’s happened? Is it your mama, or Brother?”

    “Noooo,” I sorta wailed, and didn’t even try to stop her when she put her arms around me and led me into the front room. “It ain’t nothin’ like that, it’s a whole lot worse”

    “Well, you sit right down in my big chair and I’ll get you a Kleenex.”

    I hadn’t never been to Miss Jimmie Mae’s so early before. I hadn’t never seen her hair just in one long braid, hanging down her back, over the peac@ck on her chenille house coat. Even being so upset, I wondered if she bought it same place where Mama got her chenille bedspread, up on highway 17, on the way to Aunt Gladys’ house.

    “Now, then,” Miss Jimmie Mae handed me a wad of tissue and sat on the ottoman, “blow your nose and tell me what’s got you so discomposed.”

    “Remember I told you all the fourth grade girls had to go to the auditorium and got a talkin’ to by a nurse while the boys got to go outside and play games?”

    “Yes, I do believe I recall that.”

    “And, we got this book all about out insides and how girls get to be women.” I couldn’t figure out why she started smiling. This wasn’t funny.

    “Yes, Annie?”

    “Well,” I was about to cry again, “well, I think I’m a woman now.” Then I was crying so hard my whole heart hurt and I almost couldn’t breathe.

    “Annie, Annie, Annie,” she reached over and hugged me some more. “Why didn’t you tell your mama?”

    “She had to go to work really early, some special dress needed some sewin’ before it could be dry cleaned and Brother’s still asleep and Daddy’s in the garage, but I can’t tell him ’cause he’s a man.” I wiped my nose. “I looked in the window at Aunt Violet’s, but she’s making waffles for Pu’kin, and besides she’d just want me to pray, like she does for any ol’ crisis. So I came here. I didn’t know what else to do.”

    “Annie, did your mama show you where she keeps all her monthly things?”

    “Noooo. . . ”

    “Hush now, no more crying. So, um, what did you do when you saw. . . ”

    “I just put a whole bunch of toilet paper. . . ”

    “Yes, I see.” Miss Jimmie Mae stood up. “I’m afraid it’s been a while since I’ve have what you need, so let me make a phone call.”

    “You ain’t gonna call Mama at work, are you? She ain’t allowed–”

    “No, I’m going to call Miss Kay.”

    “But, her store ain’t open yet.”

    “I’ll just explain the situation, and by the time I get dressed and walk over, she’ll have what you need.” She smiled down at me. “Us women got to stick together”

    “Oh, Miss Jimmie Mae, that’s what I’m cryin’ about. I don’t want to be a woman, I’m only ten.” She sat back down. “Mama’s done told me all the stuff I can’t do when I’m a woman. It’s like I’m on this road just thinkin’ it’s gonna go on forever and ever, but it stops, right in the middle of nowhere.” I started cryin’ again.

    “Annie, we’ll talk about this some more later on, but while I’m gone I want you to think about this. Sometimes when it looks like the end of one road, if you look around you can see the start of another one. I know ten is a little early for all this, but me and your mama and your aunts are going to help you.

    “Now, you blow your nose again and let me get dressed.”

    1. JRSimmang

      Reatha, it has been such a pleasure reading Annie’s exploits. This installment just makes her even more real. The more I read of her, the more I wonder about the antagonist, her real story, the one hidden behind these 500 word prompts. You don’t have to reveal here since I know she’s in a book, but I do wonder something fierce.
      Also, if I may make a quick edit. The name “Pu’kin” has shown up several times. Is this a foreshortening of Pumpkin? If so, might I suggest adding an ‘n’ so it reads “Pun’kin?” My great-grandma called me Pumpkin, but it always came out as Punkin’ in her Arkansas drawl.

    2. gamingtheblues

      Once again you write with confidence and poise. This was beautifully written and I as with all polished writing I saw the scene instead of the words. I love the dialect, though I actually do agree with JR’s sentiment on P’ukin… I keep reading it as puking. 😉

      On a personal note, I am actually quite offended by the profanity filter that has been applied to these forums. I do not think words are something to be afraid of nor censored. I do not filter my words around my children, and I do not think “dirty” words are actually dirty, but figures of expression. While they are not allowed to use them until they are adults, I think it is important they know how to use them when the time is appropriate. 😉

      It also makes submitting a chore, and if they are going to apply the filter, they should add code to the page to tell you what words were offending so that we are sure. Or remove the bloody thing entirely!

    3. frankd1100

      I’ve tried to write dialect, as in the voice of a Boston “Townie.” It probably leaks into my speech after these many years but I cannot capture the authentic sound in writing. You’re good at it. At the same time I see Annie clearly and I too wish I could comfort her and let her know all will be well.

  4. ReathaThomasOakley

    After nine or ten attempts, and lots of ###and*** for possibly offending words, I’m going to try a different approach. Funny, because I don’t think I write anything that should be filtered.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Reatha, you are one heck of a writer packing all of Annie’s emotions in a short story. We all feel like she’s family and want to protect her from realism and danger as she’s only ten. If you don’t mind my saying, she is one adorable child, one that anyone I know would welcome with open arms.

  5. Kerry Charlton

    THE DOOR THAT WILL NOT CLOSE

    I have found out if I write about my daughter Leslie it eases the pain some but it refuses to close the door. I know now in my lifetime, it will never close and so be it. This story is about the last four days of her life.

    Back and forth from home in San Antonio to Dallas Parkland Memorial, I walked into her intensive care room. A happy face I tried but it didn’t work. I had just left two days earlier but when Lori, my oldest had said on the phone,

    “Leslie says she’s going to Jesus today.”

    I had left at four in the morning for Dallas. We contacted Hospice and they agreed to come to the hospital and work there, because :Leslie was too ill to move. A temporary comfort that crumbled before my eyes. The hospital immediately rejected the idea as being against their rules. So I asked for the hospital director knowing I would never see him.

    But thirty minutes later a woman about thirty waked in and introduced herself. She had arrived from India to her new job as director. The hospital was immense and she ran it.

    “I understand your dilemma,” she said, “but I will tell you we will offer any type of service you need for I have met your daughter and her courage and will power is remarkable.”

    Day two, Leslie was given a private room, any medication she needed and the hospital put my other four daughters in the lounge at night to sleep and they rolled a reclines into Leslie’s room for me to stay at night.

    On the third day, she declined dramatically as the Melanoma started it’s final work, cancer in the lungs, brain, kidneys and back. Seven years she had battled the death sentence reducing the Melanoma enough to return to her job at a bank in Mineral Well, 90 miles west of Dallas. But it roared back with deadly power three months previous, despite a 24 hour continuous chemo therapy session.

    One of her best friends had called from Mary Kay, a cosmetic company she worked for as a second job and asked if four of the girls could visit with her .Leslie could barely talk when we told her but her eyes shone with excitement,

    “Tell them to come,” she said, “I’d love it.”

    At seven that night, they gathered in the hallway, all five looked dreadful with tears in their eyes. A booming voice came from Leslie’s room,

    “Come on in girls, let’s party.”

    Giggles and laughter rolled into the hallways and we blocked anyone from entering. I couldn’t believe what she managed to do that night, but that was Leslie. On the last day, she worsened and became unresponsive, are least we thought so. A young man came in to check her and as he entered the room, he said in a loud voice,

    “How are you doing today Leslie?”

    We shook our head to him to let him know and then, she answered him,

    “I’m doing fine today, how are you doing?”

    Not another word from her as evening arrived The director of the hospital arrived around eight and checked on her. Which I thought was so unusual for a director. She gathered around my daughters and I,

    “I doubt there is any brain activity. She’s breathing on automatic, it’s not unusual.”

    Hours went by, I lay down on the recliner and finally fell asleep. Linda, my second daughter shook me awake,

    “Dad, Leslie’s quit breathing.”

    I can just imagine the comet of light she is spreading throughout the heavens as she did on earth. So do you understand why the door will never close?

    ,

    1. gamingtheblues

      Oh Kerry. You know…we have read each other’s stories off and on for what…five years? More? The depths that you write in always touch us and I really do hope that you gain some comfort through the sharing. Your life experiences always shine through your writing and this week you reduced me to tears.

      I can only begin to imagine how you felt writing this. I will reiterate the other sentiments and thank you for allowing us another opportunity to connect with you, the humble and amazing person that I have come to know through your writing. Remember, you can know someone through their writing more so than you can from the words they directly speak to you. It is something about the inner voice always forcing it’s way through.

      Of course this was well written, but I think that is besides the point this week.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I am so glad you understand why. Just for an example, Leslie had passed about four months and I received a letter from a bank holding company. When I opened it was a personal letter from the chairman. In it of course his condolences but also a note describing his feelings he had when he drove to the branch in Mineral Wells. How amazed he was at Leslie’s personality and how much the bank missed her.
        Her footprints through life won’t disappear anytime soon.

    2. frankd1100

      Beautifully heart wrenching, Kerry.
      To live on after losing your Leslie is only possible, it seems to me, because her spirit has a place in your heart and will walk with you every step, every day, until you meet again.

      As for the door, I get it.

  6. Pete

    Well, here we are, at the end of the road.

    This doesn’t make since. This is it.

    This is why you shouldn’t work without your partner.

    Barb, I swear. This is where Mr. Reinbough was holed up. I was here last week.

    When you got stuffed in a trunk?

    I told you what happened.

    And I’d love to hear it again.

    Four guys, all with guns. What was I supposed to do?

    Oh there were four now?

    Yes, four. And I escaped, so..

    You escaped? Or you were thrown in a dumpster and crawled out smelling like week old salmon, red onion, a hint of balsamic dressing?

    That’s pretty descriptive.

    Two years in culinary school.

    Really?

    Yep.

    I swear this is it.

    So, to be clear. Reinbough had the road dug up, buried, seeded with grass, no, a forest, set up a rusted rail guard and littered the roadside with old diapers and decade old beer bottles—

    How do you know ‘decade old?’

    The labels. Killian’s hasn’t used that white backdrop label in at least ten years.

    You really know your alcohol

    I was a bartender.

    Really?

    Yep.

    I swear I saw a road right here last week.

    And I should quit drinking?

    I never said that.

    Want a sip?

    Not now Barb, listen.

    Pileated woodpecker. Any more brain busters?

    No, not that, someone’s coming.

    Kiss me.

    Huh?

    Kiss me now.

    *TWO MINUTES LATER*

    You need to shave.

    Oh my God.

    Yeah, I get that a lot.

    No, I mean, that was Mr. Reinbough.

    Oh, was he looking for his road?

    Can you be serious for one second?

    Somewhere…over the Rein…

    Barb, cut it out.

    Wow, someone is cranky after just getting lucky. And why are we still sitting here?

    Huh?

    We need to tail him. Now move.

    But this is it. I’m telling you.

    Nolan, follow him or you’re going back in the trunk.

    Fine. But it was four guys…

    Sure it was…

    1. JRSimmang

      Pete, was the car a rental?
      For an experimental piece, this has some beguiling aspects. Hemingway had written a dialogue-only piece entitled “Hills Like White Elephants.” Check it out when you get the chance.
      You’ve done a decent job of telling a story through dialogue, revealing backstory, building relationship, but that “Two minutes later” is driving me crazy. If I might suggest using fillers and onomatopoeia to illustrate the time, or reveal how much time had passed in the next line of dialogue. Also, Nolan gets lucky in two minutes? Speed. Racer.
      Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy your stuff.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Well, hell’s bells, what happened to the “60 minute man’? Perte, I was up and down, sideways and then upside down as well. I certainly enjoyed the ride.

  7. ClutteredThoughts

    The van bounced up the mountain road, nothing visible in the darkness. I’d never felt so empty in my life.

    Depression? Maybe. Stress, definitely, worry and heartache. High school had never been rough until now.

    This wasn’t rock bottom, but I couldn’t imagine being any lower. Six other kids in the van, all asleep, the lucky ducks. I jokingly called them my kids, and I was something of a mother hen, but all I wanted right then was to be cared for like I was a scared child. Maybe because I was one, despite my age.

    An old jazz song rewrote itself as the van rocketed through the desert mountain. The driver paid my discomfort no mind, not that I was showing it. I hadn’t been showing anything lately.

    “Summertime…

    “And the living ain’t easy

    “Nothing’s going, and the odds are stacked high

    “Your grandma’s sick, and nobody is looking

    “You’re stuck in a corner, tryin’ not to cry.”

    I didn’t want to listen to that. If I’d hit the bottom of the well, that sick parody was rubbing my face in the stones.

    What could distract me? I looked in the van, barely able to make out the shape of my sleeping friends. The only thing visible was the harshly glowing radio. Outside wasn’t much better; we were headed
    away from the city, so I couldn’t see the lights out my window, and everything else was dark as –

    Oh.

    I looked up. I’d never seen such a sky before, with absolutely nothing to block my view; it was utterly clear.

    I can’t describe how beautiful the stars looked right then. To a child with no hope, a child who was losing her ability to see beauty… their light was faint, but the chords they struck within me were pulling me up, washing me clean of the doubt and despair I’d fallen into.

    I felt calm. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt so calm, been able to just put aside my worries for a moment and… not cry, but let go. It was like being sung a lullaby, but I only knew one, and the stars were saying something else to me…

    “Look, the stars are bright…” a song was beginning, something new and hopeful and simple.

    “As bright as my eyes,

    “When I see a smile upon your face…” I was smiling. It surprised me. I hadn’t genuinely smiled in a long time – laughed, but not smiled, not without forcing it.

    “Happiness, tonight

    “Do you realize

    “That here you are loved, you have a place.”

    We still had two hours before we got home. I never looked away from the stars, and even though the song changed the feeling was still the same.

    I wrote it down, of course. I’d finally reached the end of that awful road. I felt good, content even, for the first time in months, and I was going to continue to soar on that song until I was fully free again.

    1. ClutteredThoughts

      Stupid glitchy internet didn’t save my changes to that last paragraph! It’s supposed to read:

      I wrote it down, of course. End of the road, out of the van, and I finally felt I was at *home.* I even felt content, and I knew I was going to soar on that song until I was fully free again.

      On another topic, I must say it’s nice to be back. If you’re wondering, this is a true story; I’ve reached the end of many a road in my (short) life, but reaching this one was like crashing the car and crawling the last mile with a useless leg and a broken skull. I still listen to that song sometimes…

    2. JRSimmang

      Thanks so much for sharing, CT. One thing I’ve learned is that the road actually never ends; the twists and turns just get in our way sometimes.
      This is a beautiful moment, mirrored sublimely by the starry sky. And, actually, I like the original last paragraph, though I’d fix only the subjunctive clause. “Soar on that song…” didn’t match the previous tone in my opinion.
      It’s great to see how much you grow week after week.

  8. spywriter

    It was one of those occasions where you wished you had a time machine.
    It was 1984 if memory serves, and I was at a New Years Eve party It was at this girl’s house i worked with. Her name was Patricia. She had jet black long hair that cascaded around her shoulders, a lovely Italian face with big green eyes, ample breasts and an hourglass figure, that took your breathe away and made your heart beat like Ringo Star doing a solo. To make her even more of a dream she loved the Beatles even more than I did. Well the evening was fun , with the girl giving her then boyfriend an hug every now and then from behind. He shrugged his shoulders in a sort of “Yeah I like you too.” way. He at the end of the evening left early to go to a club with a fellow worker. I had called home and asked my brother for a ride home. He came over to pick me up along with my sister with my beagle Nicky on a leash, and our cousin Irene for some god unknown reason. Maybe it’s what threw my timing off but when I called to Patty informing her that i was leaving and she came to say “Happy New Year goodbye.” having switched from her incredible green evening gown in which she looked stunning, to something more casual. I had already had put on my winter coat. “You already have your coat on?” she asked with a certain look in her eyes that said she wished I didn’t. I was such a moron I merely said “Yeah”. She gave me a kiss goodbye and I went home. To this day I feel like a Warp Factor Nine dumb ass not taking my coat off. If ever I had the perfect opportunity to talk to her. I could have bared my soul and poured my heart out and who knows how it could have gone. “Nothing you can do that can’t be done. All you need is love.” Now I just look at her picture now and then and remind myself of that Ringo Star song “Photograph.” “All I have is a photograph and it’s telling me you’re not coming back anymore.” End of a story that could have been sweeter.

    1. JRSimmang

      Hey, Spy. Welcome, formally! You’ve been in and out, and thanks for sharing this week.
      Your first line is a great opening line. It sets the mood, and it allows us to start to get a feel for the MC. I think people can easily relate to the story here, age old as it is, unrequited love and all, and there are some standout moments (subtle and valid Beatles and Ringo Starr references, description of Patty, character set-up of Patty’s then-boyfriend).
      There are some points where I think this piece could be stronger. To help us all out, separate your writing up with paragraphs. The block chunks get monotonous.
      Breath and breathe are common mistakes, and I would have liked to have read more of the interaction, the awkwardness between Patty and the MC before he left the party. You could clean up the beginning by combining sentences, eg. “I was at this girl’s house, Patty’s. We worked together, and I had a hard enough time keeping my eyes off her jet black hair…”
      I do think you’ve a great voice we can read easily. Thanks!

  9. ShamelessHack

    The End of the Road

    Rushing
    Where
    Loud
    Panic
    Noise, not part of the
    Where is it coming from
    One down, no two, no ten, no
    Help me help
    Push the fence we have to
    Is he
    Johnnie where’s Joh
    That girl oh God she’s
    Stop when will the noise
    Where is it coming from
    No oh
    Run I’m
    Noise stop stop stop
    Stay away from the Strip just
    Hide here no! Oh God he
    Run
    When will it stop when
    My leg
    My heart
    Where is
    There! From there: the Mandalay Bay
    No it’s
    No!
    Noise please stop
    Please st

    ****

    October 1, 2017:
    For all too many in Las Vegas, that day was the End of Their Roads. Please afford them a brief, reflective moment out of your lucky, lucky day.

    Shameless Hack

    1. RafTriesToWrite

      Powerful Hack.
      It was all over the news these past few days, I couldn’t get it out of my head.
      To think that someone with no past criminal record, nor a terrible deed to his name, did something like this.
      I also can’t help but to think that he was just a fall guy. How could he have a room of more than 20+ firearms and thousands of ammunition to be used by just himself? Plus a gunshot to his head to make it seem like he “shot” himself. It kinda seems far fetched to me. But hey, who am I to say? I’m just a guy watching what was on the news.

      My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims in Vegas.

    2. writer_sk

      It’s so very tragic.

      Your story sounds just like the tapes from eye witnesses I’ve heard on the news.

      For me I’ve had almost a sense of wanting to stop regular life to reflect or grieve. There is a helpless feeling to seeing and hearing violence.

      Such an immense sin. My thoughts are with anyone who was there.

    3. JRSimmang

      Hack, thank you for putting this up here. It takes a certain amount of bravery to put ourselves in their shoes, though we will never (hopefully) know what it feels like to fall victim to senseless, abhorrent crime. As usual, your sense of timing and pacing is spot on. Spread this one around.

  10. rlk67

    I clenched my teeth so hard, while mom alternated from screaming to calming words and back again. She had been warned by experts greater than she that this was the best thing for everyone. I ignored experts, as a rule, since they didn’t really exist. Not in my world.

    Mom tried to comfort both of us. I clenched my teeth even harder. She knew my comfort was of my own making, yet in denial, she chose to destroy a perfectly fine status-quo on the advice of a tortuous nudnick. Deep down, she didn’t want this either. Why was she shattering her own peace with the ruinous consequences of her misguided actions?

    She sat closer. I glued my mouth shut…she wasn’t getting anything from me. It was a battle of wills…this was plain wrong, and she knew it!

    When we sensed the end was near, it was a debate who cried louder. She took me in her arms, knowing we were both entering a different universe. In between sniffs, she caressed my head gently, and as my eyes closed, my sobs melted into whispers.

    When I woke the next morning, the pacifier was gone.

    1. gamingtheblues

      That was a pretty good piece of comedy! As a rule I am not a comedic reader, but I enjoyed how the last line pulled the rest of the story together! I too was unsure what the heck the MC was talking about until I understood!

  11. Russ

    It was the last day.
    I got up from my desk (I had been just sitting there) and gave one last look to be certain everything was packed in a suitcase. In the movies it’s always a cardboard box, but I suppose that this was a prepared departure.

    Everything was packed; I didn’t see anything else. I took a breath. I rolled my suitcase out of my empty office, and prepared to say my last goodbyes.

    Surprisingly a tear came to my eye as I walked down the hallway. And surprisingly, I didn’t see very many people at their desks. There were a few on the phone and some with their backs turned toward me working on this or that. I kept moving. I was in a rush to depart.

    At the front desk I was only expecting to see the receptionist, but it turns out almost 20 people were there. They had balloons and a cake. And there was a sign that said, “We know you will stay clean. We love you!” (We’ll that’s a joke, I thought to myself about that last part).

    Well I paused in the hallway looking at the site, and it brought back some bad memories. I just walked straight past them all, ignoring their hug and handshake offers and rolled my suitcase right out the door.

    Good riddance.

        1. writer_sk

          Russ, Well done.

          I wonder if you could make it a little longer at some point. For instance, I would love to know what he endured there since it’s alluded to at the end that your MC is “clean”.

    1. JRSimmang

      Thankfully, this didn’t happen to you! Sounds horrid!
      I’m with Sarah on this; I don’t think I had enough time to savor the disgust of the MC. You did a great job establishing character and giving us setting, and I think there’s room for more.
      Be careful of beginning too many sentences with “I”. It gets hard to read, especially if they are short sentences, and the use of parentheses is largely unnecessary in first-person.

  12. GrahamLewis

    THE FARM

    Dad died in November, but mom stayed till March, not quite willing to give up the dream. By spring came she was finished with country solitude, so she let us pack move her to a city apartment. The neighbors, good people, promised to keep an eye on the place till we sold it.

    The little farmhouse, which we all called “The Farm,” had been their retirement dream, a rundown place on a dozen acres on an Iowa backroad. They painted and papered, fixed up the old out buildings. Dad spent hours planting trees, thus testifying to the adage that only contented people plant trees, because they are gifts to the next generation. He certainly never saw them get big, but he never expected to.

    They tried raising chickens and ducks, but foxes and tedium took care of that. They settled into the role of country grandparents, hosting family holidays and keeping grandkids over for rambunctious weekends. Their two dogs had the run of the place, dogs who trotted beside our cars as we drove that long gravel driveway. I remember warm, tidy rooms that seemed bigger than they were, scattered family photos and knickknacks, the smells of open fields and Thanksgiving, fresh field corn, hawks circling on lazy summer days, the bray of a distant donkey, the cackle of a hidden pheasant. Hills peppered with cedars, golden brown fields crackling in the autumn breeze. White snow dotted with cedars. A postcard life.

    I stood atop the hill behind their house one autumn, looking over a landscape of hills and woods and cornfields, watching the sunset, thinking that, someday, this would be gone and I wanted so much to remember it. I do.

    A few weeks after she moved out mom asked me to check on the house. As I drove up the familiar but weedy driveway, I felt nothing but nothingness. The screen door banged behind me and my footsteps echoed across the kitchen linoleum. The empty rooms seemed so small, and the only smells were of dust and neglect. Ghosts of memory crowded around.

    I never knew a house could have a soul. But this one’s soul was obvious by its absence. “The Farm” was gone and I wanted to be gone, too. I turned onto the highway, and never looked back.

    1. gamingtheblues

      As a house truly does have a soul, so to does a piece of writing, for as writers we put a piece of ourselves into everything we write, whether we would or not. I felt the soul of these piece and it gave me goosebumps and a lingering feeling of sadness that was heartbreaking.

      There were so many good lines it is hard to pick out ones to mention but my favorite is easily the line “…testifying to the adage that only contented people plant tress…ect.” One of the best lines I have read about future generations bar none. There were a couple edit mistakes in the very beginning, but they were quickly forgotten.

      I can read good writing, comment and critique it, but not all good writing makes me “Feel” on a personal emotional level. This story did. Well done.

      1. GrahamLewis

        Thank you Gaming. I loved that house and I’m glad I could convey some of that. As for the editing mistakes as a retired editor that makes me cringe (and that’s not why I retired). It is so much easier to edit someone else. When I edit myself I tend to see what I meant to type every time.

    2. writer_sk

      Graham: you did a fine job of staying with the prompt as far as telling the story from start to finish without spending too much time on any given section. No questions were left unanswered and the reader was free to feel what the MC felt.

      The paragraph in which you list off attributes of life at the house was exquisite.

      I thought the end was so authentic. You’ve crafted a moving and poetic piece

    3. JRSimmang

      Graham, I’ll have to echo the sentiments of Gaming and Sarah. You’ve delivered a prose piece that reads like poetry.
      There are some nitpicky spots, like Gaming said, at the beginning and in the 5th paragraph (“…familiar but weedy…” felt clunky), but they’re quickly overlooked.

  13. JRSimmang

    FRAGILE BEINGS

    If the sun never set, I’d be okay. I’d be okay if the sun just stayed right there, perched on the horizon, waiting for the first stars, waiting for the moon, waiting for the clouds to sigh gently in its ear that it’s time to go. But, I’d be okay if it sat there a little longer.

    “We’s gonna have t’ go soon o’ lata’, Collins.”

    “We’re going to sit here, Bruce, right now, and we’re going to enjoy that sunset,” I told him. He was always pushing, never really understanding how to take it slowly. His hands were wrung together, the hands that she knew too well. The last hands she would know.

    “I s’pose, but we’s gonna haf t’leave soon.”

    I turned to him. “You know why I brought you out here?”

    “Sho ’nuff.”

    “Why?”

    “I done sumpin’ bad, Collins.”

    “You’re right.” His voice was a match striking, and I calculated the minutes until the sun dropped below the sage bushes and cacti.

    “An’, you mad.”

    I sniffed. “Mad? Nah. I’m not mad. I’m just… disappointed.”

    “Same thang.”

    “No, Bruce. No it’s not.” I rested my head in my hands. “You see, I brought you out here because this is where the dirt meets the grass, where the pavement meets the wild.”

    “I don’ follow.”

    “I know. I know you don’t.” I emphasized the ‘t’ at the end of the conjunction. “You see, this spot?” I motioned to the ground in front of the car. “This spot is where the road we were on stops. This is the end. This is what we call a dead end.”

    “I know that.”

    “Good.”

    “Wha’ do that haf t’ do with anythin?”

    I scratched my eyebrow, got off the hood, and opened up the driver’s side door. I moved the pistol to the glove box, dusted some dirt from the seat, and sat down. Bruce tried the door, but I kept it locked.

    “Lemme in, Collins.”

    I put the key in the ignition and started the car.

    “Collins?”

    Bruce walked over to my side and rapped on the window.

    “Collins? Collins, you open this door you sonofab!tch!”

    I put the car in reverse, looked up at Collins’s face, sighed deeply, then slammed my foot on the accelerator. I spun the car around, and gunned it 200 miles back to anywhere.

    The rearview mirror perfectly captured Bruce’s silhouette against the sunset. His fist, his shadow, the rolls and soft hills. The reds and yellows and pinks and purples.

    “Thanks,” her voice catches my ear. “It looks like a Rafe Terry.”

    “It does,” I reply. And, I remember how she tugged my hand until I looked down at her. She was so fragile, then, and Terry was as close as we could get to the Midwest.

    “I want to be killed,” she whispered looking at Laughing Clouds.

    “I know,” I whispered back, squeezing her hand.”

    “And, I don’t want to know when it’s going to happen.”

    “I know,” I repeated.

    It would take Bruce 8 days to find civilization. But, the coyotes were hungry, and they only come out when they smell death.

    Bruce wore it like a smile.

    -JR Simmang

    1. gamingtheblues

      Oh JR… This was written beautifully. While Rafe Terry is not really my style, I enjoyed the imagery nonetheless. More so, I enjoyed this dark, brooding piece. In fact I see this story as a painting itself. Something with dark shadwows, bright highlights and painted in blacks, blues, purples, greens and whites. Bruce staring at the car.

      What a thought evoking and emotionally disturbing scene you have created. If you have ever considered writing a novel, I would suggest that you start with this as one of your middle chapters.

    2. GrahamLewis

      I think it is hard, and usually counterproductive, to use dialect in stories. In this one, I found it distracting from an otherwise interesting story.

      1. JRSimmang

        That’s an interesting perspective, Graham. Dialect, I believe, has a certain punctuated use. Mark Twain, Margaret Atwood, and David Mitchell use dialect to explain setting and to immerse the reader completely into the experience. Dialect, I have to disagree, is almost as important as character description. It is part of the character, inasmuch as it is part of a person.
        Thank you for the feedback, and I’ll work on making the dialect more readable in the future.

  14. snuzcook

    It looks like Simon’s jacket. Just for a moment, just out of the corner of my eye, seen from the back. Then I see the dog and know it isn’t him. Wrong dog, wrong slacks, wrong shoulders. Wrong everything. I watch as the wrong man walks down the lane and out of sight. Good riddance.

    After all—after everything—Simon himself had turned out to be the wrong man.

    Kipee scratches at the door and I shoo her away. She has given up coming to me politely and asking to go out. Now she whines with that anxious, annoying tone. Her eyes accuse me of my neglect. I know what she wants but I can’t–I won’t–put the leash on her and venture out. I open the door and she darts through.

    Her nails have left shiny streaks and gouges in the paint at the bottom of the door. What am I supposed to do about that? I never wanted a dog anyway. I never wanted someone else around the house to worry over and clean up after and look at me with shaming eyes.

    I go to the window and watch her at the edge of the garden, where the prickly hawthorn fends off the lane. Maybe today she will just leave. There is no fence to keep her here. She looks over her shoulder at the house and I draw back so she won’t see me. She hears or smells something up the lane and trots away to investigate. The soft part of me wants to fling open the window and call her back, but the practical stony voice refuses. Good riddance.

    I walk into the kitchen. Kipee has shoved her empty food dish in front of the cupboard and I almost step on it. Darned dog! I pick up the dish and give it a quick wash and dry. My spine is turning to stone as I open the pantry, and I have to force my hand to put the dish on the shelf next to the other one instead of returning it to Kipee’s corner. Like winter sweaters tucked away for summer, the two dishes are stowed and irrelevant to my present need–Kipee’s dish, and beside it the dish I got for Simon’s dog Tyler so they wouldn’t have to fight over treats. My eyes are filling and I close the pantry door quickly. Good riddance, I tell myself again and try to believe it. Good riddance.

    1. gamingtheblues

      This prompt snuck up on me Snuz. I had to re-read the first paragraph to get a good feel for it, but after that I was taken in. The clipped, no nonsense writing style matches the tone and mood of both the piece and the main character. I am a huge fan of writing matching the story and to hell with “proper” grammar and structure when the story calls for it to be let out the door and set free.

      I loved this story and the images it conjures. I feel like I really “know” the main character and his/her frame of mind and heart. And that my friend, is the most important thing to convey to your reader. This was great.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, snuz!

      Long time no “see”!

      This story intrigues me. It leaves me wondering if Simon left her or if she pushed him away too with a “Good Riddance”. Reading that last paragraph makes me feel like it could be a little bit of both.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      This is great, and heartbreaking. You’ve given clues to the backstory without hitting the reader over the head. The two dog bowls are especially telling. For both their sakes, I hope Kipee comes back.

      I’m also pleased you’re here this week.

  15. Pete

    I take find my seat just as the ceremony gets underway. Silencing my phone and kissing my wife on the cheek. She’s beaming, pointing to our son who stands with his peers. Several squares of light shine in the seats as fellow parents work to capture the moment.

    A few coughs as the music fades and the lights dim. I try to recall the name of the woman taking the podium. I whisper my query to my wife and get hushed for my troubles. I wipe the lint from my pants and settle in for graduation.

    It hits hard, seeing him up there, thinking how only a blink ago he was a baby, resting in my arms and looking up with wide, wondering eyes. Now, seeing him up there, his cap crooked on his head, his shaggy hair hanging over his ears, I feel pulled apart with pride and sadness.

    I find my wife’s hand. She shoots me a look that melts into understanding. I’m not the world’s most sensitive man but something’s come over me as the Mrs. Farrar—ha!—goes on eloquently about the paths we take and the futures we hold. It’s standard fare but that doesn’t make it true. Because we don’t hold the future. The future is like a fist full of sand. It’s a red leaf on a maple tree. One gust of wind and…

    My wife reclaims her hand. Time for roll call. She clicks off several hundred pictures, and I think back to when I was a kid and you got one roll of film—24 shots—to capture the collective chaos of five kids at Christmas. The pictures were as blurry as the memories themselves. Yet, cherished all the same.

    The woman to my left is crying. I pat my pockets for a tissue but her husband has come prepared. She honks her nose and apologizes. I close my eyes and nod. We’re all a bit emotional today.

    Cue the music. This year’s number is about the dawn of a new day. My inner critique is sounding alarms about the poor pitch and tone of the girl singing. But I give her a break because she’s nervous. And it takes some gall to face no less than the two hundred cameras aimed at her. Kennedy had less exposure than these kids.

    My left food is falling asleep. I shift and grimace and catch my wife rolling her eyes. I’m not a young man anymore, something I forget once a week playing basketball with the other geezers. Crying Lady honks again. The bald guy in front of me wipes his head.

    I focus on my son. Such a leader. He stands erect and tall, half smiling and half serious. I wave and get a wrist slap from the serious side for my troubles.

    It starts. The handing out diplomas.

    Abrams…Achman…Anderson…

    As they near the B’s it hits me by surprise. I blink a few times, sneak a wipe at my eyes but it’s too much. He’s up there, on his own, ready for his dawn and new days and future. I’m nothing more than beach sand, trying to cling to his toes as he walks away.

    Oh God, Crying Lady hands me a tissue as they call his name.

    “Our next future kindergartner….”

    1. Kat

      Wow, I loved the end. You had great voice too. Good job!

      “I’m nothing more than beach sand, trying to cling to his toes as he walks away.” A beautiful line.

    2. gamingtheblues

      Hmm…how to respond here. You see, I try to be gentle with beginner writers and those who are still learning. But…I tend to harder when I feel some real potential. The first paragraph felt awkward in sentence structure and the second paragraph was a little cliche.

      But…BUT. Starting with the line “Mrs. Farrar…..” your writing falls into a rhythm that is both thought provoking and filled with authenticity. Your thoughts are poignant and very well written. I really liked the interactions between the audience members and that Main character’s thoughts on all around him. Your analogies hold up and avoid sounding cliche themselves because they are so damn true and as a parent they resonated in a big way.

      There are a few added words/missing words here and there that I wouldn’t normally mention that could be cleaned up with a proof read and some editing before hand, but I mention them because you have some really good writing chops there, a talent for that slice of life style of writing.

      I would personally remove the last line because for me it took away from the emotional power of the piece (though that might be because I have had three kids go through kindergarten) For me it turned a powerful piece on our own mortality vs wishes for our children into something a little tongue in cheek. But that is really just a personal preference.

      This was quite good and I think you have some real talent there. Continue writing and submitting. I look forward to reading your next entry!

      1. Pete

        Thanks for the critique Gaming, I was definitely going for comedy here, trying to build it up and then drop in the kindergarten gem at the end. I feel I missed the mark on that point…

    3. writer_sk

      Pete- your story was simple, refreshing and poignant.

      I felt it had plenty of funny moments and was pleased to learn it was only kindergarten.

      Also enjoyed the beach sand line, great job.

      My little boy is in 1st grade, it is such a sweet age & his world is so fun.

      1. Pete

        Thanks guys, I take these prompts for what they’re worth, something fun to do without too much labor. While I try to edit, I’m awful at it so I apologize. Some are decent, some are bad, but it keeps the ideas flowing.

  16. writer_sk

    ONE YEAR LATER

    Freddie had taken up bike riding while in Puerto Rico. With the money his father left him he could afford not to work for awhile and he had taken more than a year without working. He continued his carpentry and had sold a desk and chair to someone. He’d taken to preparing his father’s recipes at midday for his mother, aunts and brothers. He had basically healed by going through the motions. He had been angry at his father and angry at God and he had slowly but surely turned it around. In the evenings he sat in the garden in his parents’ backyard and let his thoughts and emotions flow. He also allowed himself to think about Cate. If he closed his eyes he could see her hair, her face and her body. He tried not to think of the last night when he’d actually rejected her and spent the night in his own bed instead of hers.

    It was in the garden again the following night that his mother found him and presented him with the newspaper folded to display the offending item. It was the engagement announcement of his former girlfriend to her previous boyfriend. Freddie couldn’t believe Cate was to marry Nate in a couple of months. That night he called her, close to midnight and she answered the phone.

    “It’ll never be like it was with us,” Freddie said, “I’ll never find someone else like you.”

    Cate was already at a different place, though. She couldn’t let herself feel what she’d felt at one time for Freddie. Those feelings were pushed so far down that they were buried beneath the plans for the honeymoon, the invitations, the cake-tastings and the seating chart. She had Nate now, a fiancé, someone who wanted her.

    Late that night, as she lay wide awake, the tiniest shred of truth bled into her consciousness, the fact was she gave Nate a second chance and he changed, what if she gave Freddie a second chance and he changed? She smiled and let the thought lull her to sleep.

    Freddie’s mother smiled at him from the sitting room. It had been crucial that he spend this healing time with his family. It helped him to be near them and it fulfilled some need inside him to do what his father might have wanted. His mother took the news that he was moving back to New York well. His mother, brothers and sisters stood all lined up like a receiving line after a wedding ceremony, each taking their turn to kiss him and wish him well.

    “No te rompan el corazón, hijo” his mother said, which means “don’t get your heart broken, son” in Spanish.

    Freddie closed his eyes when the plane reached altitude and never opened them again until they touched down at La Guardia airport in New York. Back in what was now Felix’s apartment in Greenwich Village Freddie paced the floor holding the phone to his forehead.

    Felix walked in and sat down on the couch with a bag of chips like a spectator at a sporting event.

    “What you should do is just call her and say ‘I’M BA-ACK,” said Felix imitating the movie Poltergeist in which Caroline says “they’re back” referring to the poltergeists.

    “F*ck off unless you’re gonna help me, a$$hole.” Said Freddie

    “Whoa, chill, man.” Said Felix
    “I know, I know.”

    “Look, dude,” said Felix, crunching on his snack, “maybe you just call her, don’t think, don’t rehearse, just call her and see how she seems.”

    “Yea, yea, you’re right, here goes.”

      1. gamingtheblues

        Hello SK. I have haunted these forums for many years now, off and on. As this is an excerpt from a book vs. a submission for the prompt I would handle my comments and compliments differently. While it is my wont to offer praise and advice on the prompts, I wouldn’t presume to do so an a book unless you wanted to hear my thoughts 😉

        If you were just sharing then that’s fine and I enjoyed the piece!

        1. writer_sk

          Hi Gaming! Thank you so much for reading it!

          Not at all, I’d love to hear any creative input or critique/criticism. I wrote it in 2007 and revised and added to it in 2013. Now I am going over it again very slowly adding and revising. It’s not the traditional way to write a book but I like doing it this way because I have zero time to devote.

          Just thrilled you’ve read this little part. Only two people have read and asked to read the whole thing. Thank you. I’m open to whatever because I can and have edited it.

          1. gamingtheblues

            I would be more than happy to read the entirety if you would like. I won’t go all full edit mode right now if you want to share the whole thing in private, but I will mention right now that in the first paragraph you start too many consecutive sentences with pro-nouns. Ie.. he had, he said, he closed, he did ect…

            Just as you should not start too many sentences with “I” in a cover letter, it distracts from the story. It is typically an easy fix where you just slightly change the wording of the sentence. For instance, instead of saying “He allowed himself to think about Cate” You could start it with “Allowing himself to think about Cate, Freddie…blah blah”

            Or even Harken back to the name itself now and again. Just replace a He with Freddie to reinvest the reader with whom you are speaking. In technical terms, after the mention of “God” You should have re-mentioned Freddie’s name so that all subsequent “hes” wouldn’t now be associated with God instead of Freddie, as pro-nouns typically attach to the most recent proper noun.

            As for the whole piece, there used to be a private email system within writersdigest…but I can not seem to find it anymore? Have to find a way to send me the file if you want me to check out the book in its entirety. Either way, keep writing!

          2. writer_sk

            Hi Gaming:

            yea, I would send you the whole thing. I’d be thrilled to have a critique.

            Only if you want:. sarahkohm@gmail.com (I’ve already accidentally put my email on this site a couple times so if you email me when you feel like It I will send the novella)

            In fact anyone on here wants me to read anything more I’d love to, shoot me an email. I am changing shifts at work will have less time, but still.

      2. writer_sk

        Another excerpt if you guys are interested:

        How Cate seemed was insane. Freddie had never dealt with someone planning a wedding less than a month away. She was not focused and started crying after taking a call from her mother on the other line regarding centerpieces for the tables at the wedding reception. It was a short phone call, to say the least.
        Nate worked at his job in Connecticut during the work week and Freddie knew Cate worked at Barney’s during the week. Against Felix’s advice Freddie planned to surprise Cate at one of their old lunch spots. He packed a picnic basket with olives, mozzarella, some slices of Italian bread, some diet cokes and chocolates. He changed three times finally settling on sunglasses, a brown bomber leather jacket, an orange and white three ring t-shirt, dark rinse jeans and bowling style shoes. After waiting ten minutes he realized Cate wasn’t coming. It was sunny out and unless it was freezing she had always come out to the picnic table for lunch. He called her.
        “Cate, how are you?”
        “Who is this?”
        “It’s me, Freddie,” he said, “I’m at the store, where are you?”
        “What my store?” she asked and Freddie wanted to say “our store” but pulled it together.
        “Yea,” he said, already beginning to feel like he had made a huge error in judgment, “I thought I could catch you for a quick lunch, do you still take your lunch at one?
        “Well, yea, look, Freddie, just come to the stockroom door. That’s where I am.”
        As he lugged the picnic basket to the stockroom he caught sight of Cate from a distance and noticed immediately she’d lost all of her delicious curves. She’d already been slim but this was alarming. It looked like she’d gone down another few sizes and the slacks she wore redefined “skinny jeans.” She was smoking a cigarette, holding the stockroom door open to the outdoors, drinking a smoothie and talking on the phone. When she turned in Freddie’s direction and he came into her sightline she felt her stomach drop. He’d sculpted his hair into a faux hawk and let his side-burns grow in while in Puerto Rico. His already Latin-complexioned skin was sun-kissed and his body lean and sculpted from the bike-riding and gardening. He took off his coat and set the basket down.
        “What’s all this?” asked Cate grabbing hold of the stockroom doorknob and sitting down on the ledge.
        “Lunch,” said Freddie as he began unpacking it, handing Cate a napkin and paper plate.
        Being around Freddie might prove to be harder than Cate had originally thought. Hearing his crazy voicemails was one thing but seeing him in person, so alive and well looking brought up a lot of feelings.
        “May, I?” asked Freddie and handed her some of the cheese and bread.
        “So how are you?” he asked taking some food for himself
        “I’m okay,” she said, digging into the olives.
        He noticed she wasn’t looking him in the eye.
        “Well, I wanted to apologize in person, Cate.”
        “Yea, me too,” she said.
        “You know, this is the first real meal I’ve had in days.” She said taking another plate of cheese and bread pieces.
        “You have to eat, cutie,” he said, falling back into the habit of calling each other pet names that’d gone on for years at the store. They fell silent and he stared into the picnic basket for a second then at her. He wanted to pull her hair back from her face and kiss her.
        She dabbed her mouth with the napkin. “Um, so I’m actually quitting here. Yea, Nate and I are buying a house in Connecticut, after the, you know, wedding.”
        He smiled, his eyes starting to fill with tears and looked down. They ate in silence for awhile then said goodbye. He reached for her and she pressed her body against his for a second, playing with fire. They parted ways.

    1. JRSimmang

      I can see the acknowledgment of the prompt with this excerpt, Sarah.
      I’ll echo Gaming’s thoughts here, and I’ll make a few suggestions, since this is part of a book. You don’t need qualifiers when you translate from one language to another. Personally, I think it’s stronger if you keep the Spanish, but hint at the meaning in a new line of dialogue (eg. “‘No te rompan el corazon, hijo,’ his mother said./’I won’t let my heart get broken,’ he always responded.”), and limit the amount of explanation you have for movie references. If people get “Poltergeist,” great. If not, they’ll wonder about the reference.
      I think we’d like to see that book published, Sarah. Cate and Freddie have made a couple appearances here already (I think), and I’d like the story to come full circle.

      1. writer_sk

        JR, wow, thank you. It’s very hard to put parts of it up because it contains my blood, sweat and tears.

        Thank you. Your words mean so much, I appreciate your reading & commenting.

    2. RafTriesToWrite

      Sarah, lovely excerpt. I kinda knew from the beginning that it wasn’t related to the prompt, only towards the end that I confirmed that I was right.
      Enjoyed it. I agree with JR about limiting the explanations, it would make a more easier flow in the story. Otherwise, it was nicely written all in all.

      1. writer_sk

        Thank you Reatha and Raf. After I said it didn’t relate to the prompt I tried to use a section that did, so either way…!

        I will post a little more starting with after the phone call.

        Thanks for your words.

  17. A. J. Kidding

    Now every breath felt painful. As the smoke cleared, the smell that was surrounding me was becoming evermore vivid. The intoxicating flavor of gunpowder and half burned brass casings… the iron-and-salt tasting vapor from all the blood. It was done. Those bastards, all sixty-seven of them, paid in full.

    “Rest easy daughter, it is done.”

    I collapsed, and before the side of my head felt the warm-blooded floor, I saw her first steps, the bicycle she loved, the day she graduated her Quantum Biology class, then her daughter in my hands…I was happy. I am happy. I am coming home baby, I will be with you soon.

      1. A. J. Kidding

        From the Archives of… FictionEvilCorp
        name: Marren J. Whateverson
        Bio: Graduated Danger-Rate Tactics and Strategies, specialized in ancient and modern Guerilla Warfare. Served ten years on and off-world in the infamous “Resolvers Group”, has ended political conflicts in more than fifty economically unstable countries. Transferred in Invis-OPS after final assignment, no record of actions for more than twenty five years. After the birth of Professors Sarah M. Whateverson’s daughter, Marren appeared to be employed in a school in the 10th union district, teaching Philosophy.

        Best I got until the coffee kicks in… It is going to be an interesting day at work today.

      1. A. J. Kidding

        They not only killed his daughter, but also threatened his granddaughter. If the MC didn’t surrender her works, they would kill them for it. He knew that even if he did, they would still erase all who are connected to the brilliant scientist that discovered…

        Hm…

        Oh I got it:
        “My daughter received her first Nobel prize at the age of twenty one, when she discovered the quantum correlation between energy and matter… one of her theoretical works included using photons in a quantum frequency that could affect all biological organisms… To put it bluntly, she could use a special flashlight to heal wounds or a modified common laser pointer to kill someone hundreds of miles away. ”

        I guess… 🙂

      1. A. J. Kidding

        It’s basically a revenge scene I came up on the spot. Good notice on the “quantum biology” I wanted to give it a bit of a futuristic flavor, and a hanging mystery; perhaps the MC’s daughter was forced to develop some type of a biological weapon, and was killed for it?

        I leave this completely open for elaboration.

  18. cosi van tutte

    Elsie Vansing walked down the aisle with a bouquet of white roses and mixed carnations. Her gaze was fixed ahead on her groom, Hildreth Mayhew, but that her thoughts were not on him.

    She thought about the man she had left behind – Ambrose Smith, a vampire with a bad attitude.

    A mailperson had left him on my doorstep. He was weak from hunger and sun exposure. As a vampire hunter, I should have staked him.

    I did not.

    I spared his life. I gave him my blood. I kept him in my house.

    And he tried to bite my neck.

    I loved him and he tried to bite my neck.

    Maybe he would have killed me.

    Maybe he would have changed me. Who knows?

    He ran away and found someone else.

    And I have moved on.

    We have both moved on.

    Hildreth grinned at her as she stopped in front of him.

    She looked up at him and smiled.

    Ambrose is right. That door is closed between us. There is no doorknob. There is no key.
    There is no going back.

    She grasped Hildreth’s hand.

    I can only go forward.

    He mouthed the words “I love you”.

    I will go forward with the man I love.

    “I love you too.” she whispered.

    1. gamingtheblues

      This was an interesting story with just as many questions as answers. Is this part of a larger world that you have already created? It had sort of that feel to it,

      1. cosi van tutte

        Hi, gaming!

        I’m glad you liked it! Elsie, Ambrose, and Hildreth are all characters that I’ve used in previous prompt stories on this site. Lately, like over the past year and x amount of months, I’ve been expanding their story into a full length tale with new situations and characters and just having a total blast. 😆

    2. JRSimmang

      Ambrose makes a reappearance! I know in the past, you’ve made the story about Ambrose, but I the MC here might make a great companion piece to his story. Is Vansing a modernization of Van Helsing?

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thank you, JR!

        Vansing isn’t necessarily a modernization, just kind of a….mmm…inspired borrowing? I was trying to come up with a last name for my vampire hunter and, of course, I thought Van Helsing. I kind of played around with that name in my head until I came up with Vansing. 😆

    3. writer_sk

      Cosi!

      This is so cool. I fell into the world of vampires, picturing a wedding in a dark forest.

      It’s hard to leave the “bad boy” behind!

      I like the peeks at Elsie’s past.

      This was great.

    4. ReathaThomasOakley

      Cosi, what a great continuation. I’m so pleased you’re working on expanding the stories. Love this line: there is no doorknob, there is no key. But, is it the end of the road?

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thank you, Reatha!

        I read over all of the Ambrose and Elsie prompt stories last year and felt that there was a lot of untold story in between those segments. I was going to expand their story off-line, but I had already started one blog. So, I was like “Huh. What if I make a blog just focused on Ambrose and Elsie?”

        That idea was too tempting to ignore. 😀

        I’ve had so much fun expanding the story. My cast has grown beyond the original two (Ambrose and Elsie) to include werewolves, dragons, fey, a scarred vampire, and a vampire butler amongst many others.

  19. RafTriesToWrite

    June 4, 2017

    That was the beginning of the end. I remember that day like it was yesterday. The sun was beaming its hot rays into our window, the wind was silent for once, our Pomeranian laid her tongue out on that heated Sunday as she lay on the marbled floor of our living room.

    My mind was never silent, nor calm that day. It kept rethinking the same two options in my head more than ten times every second. Should I or shouldn’t I go?

    I kept a straight face on my couch that day, contemplating on that same thought over and over and over again. I couldn’t handle the pressure, I couldn’t handle the guilt and I can’t keep my body from fidgeting. I was all over the place. My thoughts are eating me up inside.

    Should I go? But if I go, I’ll have to endure it all alone with my little sister. I used to do this with two friends, but now they don’t even show up. They had valid excuses, whereas for me, my excuse was that my two friends aren’t there anymore.

    I’m shy and an introvert. I’m also fat but this place that I go to keeps me from being that.

    Should I not go? But if I don’t, I’d feel guilty for not going. I might make my coach upset or something and I’d hate to do that to someone, even if I barely know them.

    Swimming was the second most enjoyable part of my weekends, sure it was tiring, but I always had fun together with my two friends. Plus I get to check out hot dudes from time to time.

    Swimming was like our doorway towards friendship, but since they stopped going, I felt alone, left out, lonely and a little bit betrayed. They were the reason why I still continued going after my first course. Now I don’t even know why I should go.

    That’s why I’ve been contemplating whether to still go or not. I didn’t care how much calories I was burning, even if it was a lot, I just wanted my two friends to be there with me to make the experience seem bearable.

    I couldn’t continue going by myself, even if I’m with my little sister. It’s not as fun as before. I miss swimming. I do. But I miss swimming with my two friends even more.

    Up to this day, I still think of going swimming by myself on the weekends, even if my coach isn’t there anymore. But I couldn’t make myself go even if I wanted to. I wouldn’t know what to do or say once I get there because I’m alone, I’d feel out of place, I’d feel stupid for going by myself so in the end I never go.

    1. writer_sk

      Raf, Oh no!!

      If this main character is you I wish you would go back to swimming!

      Would love insight as to why her two friends no longer went.

      I felt the pain the main character had in the back and forth. The anxiety and loss really came through in this story.

      One missed opportunity might be to think about a brief description of how the water felt, how freeing swimming is.

      Great work, I always look forward to your stories they have a quality I can’t pinpoint… They come pouring out and ring very authentic.

      1. RafTriesToWrite

        Yep, the MC is me, and yes, I’m a guy. And no, I think I’m not ready yet to go back to swimming. I am awkward, shy, quiet and an introvert.

        My one friend, who is a girl, needed to go out of the country for work, while my other friend who is a guy needed to review on the weekends (He has work on weekdays) because he will be taking a licensure exam this coming third or fourth week of October. I hope he passes.
        I still have the same feeling every weekend, but it always ends the same. I don’t know if it will ever change.

        Thank you for reading.

        1. writer_sk

          Raf, Oh I knew you were a guy.

          Thanks for the insight into who you are, it’s very honest of you and now I know more about whose stories I am commenting.

          It’s great you’re continuing to write each week.

          And I hope u get to go swim when your friends get back.

    2. gamingtheblues

      I really enjoyed the emotional turmoil in this piece and it was well written, especially as insight into a thought process. It was all good, but you had one truly brilliant line that really stands out. “They had valid excuses, whereas for me, my excuse was that my two friends aren’t there anymore.” Poignant, authentic and a little heart breaking. Excellent.

      One thing, and I am not one to lecture too much about it as I break grammar rules all the time for my own purposes, but there were a couple tense switches that were a little jarring in the beginning of the piece. Not sure if they were purposeful or not. But its a small thing and the rest was great!

    3. JRSimmang

      Raf, this sounds like a page torn from a teenager’s diary, which I think may have been the point. As such, it had a ring of validity to it, and I think it could remain as a standalone piece if it is indeed a journal entry. It sounds just like the conversations that rattle the lockers at my middle school.

    4. ReathaThomasOakley

      Raf, this is such a moving piece, told honestly. Forgive me for going all Mom here, but I also encourage you to go back to the pool. Taking your little sister would make you seem like a kind big brother and that is a very attractive quality. Several times in my life, first day in a new school, or at a new job, or new situation, if I felt shy and uncertain, I’d just pretend it was all a play and my character was confident and self assured. (Hint, hint)

  20. writingdoc

    Last night, I went online and googled my university boyfriend.

    I met Malcolm 30 years ago while in residence in first year. I was studying sciences, and he was in arts. Malcolm was creative, funny, sensitive, and kind, and I could not believe my good fortune that he could see something special in my bookish self.

    Malcolm was wonderful: his eyes sparkled with his amazing smile. We had beers in the Bullring Pub and would stay after closing, when it turned into the “All Nighter”, to dance until dawn. We would meet between lectures at the coffee shop where the artsy kids hung out. I watched him act in several University theatre productions, and listened faithfully to his campus radio show. He played “Sweet City Woman” for me. Whenever I hear that song, I smile.

    Malcolm came to Muskoka to visit during the summer when I worked at a resort. We lay under the starry skies on the shores of Lake Joseph, happy together. One Christmas, I knit him an Icelandic sweater. Took me forever, I poured my heart into that project. In fact, I was still grafting the sleeves on the train on the way to his family’s home. After we were ‘over’ I declared that I would never knit a sweater for a guy again—and never did. Too much of an emotional investment. I stick to socks, now.

    Our relationship ran its course; the differences that once attracted us became more divisive. We both could see it, but I was a heartbroken mess by the end. Malcolm invited me for coffee one last time, months later. I put on my brave face as if to say “see, I’m doing fine”, but the reality was that I was still struggling with the sadness of losing him. He took my hand, saying, “ I miss you”, and I was determined not to fall apart. It was all I could do to respond, “Its nice to be missed” when inside all I could think was “ What are we doing? I still love….”. But no. We said goodbye.

    30 years passed in a whirlwind of new love and loss. Medical school, residency, marriage, a daughter, divorce, and single parenting. School, hockey practice, sleepovers, and work— until you find yourself in a quiet house, daughter away at university, wondering what the hell happened. Life. Life, with its choices. There is a place in the heart where the memories of a special love rest. Memories of only the good, good things. The lingering nostalgia of a simpler, wonderful time shared with a sweet, gentle soul.

    I went online and googled Malcolm. At the top of the results page was his obituary. Malcolm had died suddenly 8 months ago. Gone. I read the notice, hoping against hope that it wasn’t him. But there, at the top of the page, was his photograph, smiling that same smile I knew all those years ago. Same sparkle in his eyes, hair greyed a bit but I could still see the young man I had loved, previously gone from my life, and now, simply gone. I closed my laptop, thinking about Malcolm and the years gone by. And I wept.

    1. gamingtheblues

      Part of me really hopes that this was only fiction. The other part of me really wonders. My goodness, you have captured something sad, strange and beautiful in your story. I said out loud… “No” When I read about his obituary. My kids looked at me like I was crazy. I wanted to weep with you. Even now my heart hurts re-reading the last few paragraphs.

      This was absolutely wonderful. Well written, emotional and the bitterness that is nostalgia. I would not read it more than a few times for fear of depression, but I am glad that I read it at least the once so I could share in the love and the story. Time for me to get some coffee I think! =)

      1. writingdoc

        Blues– Thank you for taking the time to comment. This is my first post on this site, so when I pressed “send” I felt a little trepidation…
        I wish it was fiction…but writing this was the best way I could think of, as a sort of memorial to a special person. It almost wrote itself.

    2. RafTriesToWrite

      Genuinely heart breaking.
      I heard it’s tough losing someone you love.
      I wouldn’t know that though. I’m not there…. Yet.

      Someday I’ll truly understand, but for now, this seems like a good replica of that feeling for that moment when my time comes. Thanks for sharing doc, oh and welcome to the weekly prompts! I hope we see more of you here.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      First, welcome to this site. It’s a great place for inspiration and encouragement and to read some fantastic stories. I’ve also gotten to know some fantastic writers. Plus, I’m also amazed I’ve written so much in the last nearly three years.

      Now for your lovely, and heartbreaking, story. Not only is it very well written, but it touched me personally. I made the connection with the college boyfriend. There was no happily ever after.

      See you next week.

  21. gamingtheblues

    September is a strange time of year for Lower New England. The summer is still gasping out a few days so hot and humid that you curse the fool thought you had of taking out the air conditioner because “the summer is finally over,” Yet the day after has afternoons and nights so cold and filled with the first touches of true autumn that you bring out a sweater and maybe even a light scarf.

    I was in love. That sick to your stomach, aching pain of unrequited adoration, emotional attraction and impotent desire that draws tears and anger, permanent consequences.

    She was one of my best friends, where we would turn to each other for both comfort and amusement, advice and commiseration. Just days before she had come over to swim in my pool. Even now, 15 years later her blue bikini burns hot in my mind as she models it for me. She is spinning and laughing, the water flying off her dark crimpled hair in a spray that glistens in the sun. I loved her so much it hurt, and I lay awake that night whispering her name.

    She had her first real boyfriend. He was in a band, smoked weed, taught her to do the same. My always thoughtful, responsible and steady friend turned into a shiftless stoner.. And…he was her first time. The hate I had for him was bitter and vile, a twisting snake in my heart that I can taste even now. I would have spit on him had I dared my friendship.

    Then came the night at her apartment. I was not much of a drinker and there was too much Goldschläger. The bottle was in the shape of a tear, ironically enough. My hate ended up flashin out wildly, uncontrollably. He…had a stutter and I said things that could not be taken back. The rest, well, might be best left to the imagination.

    I was standing in the shade of the massive 200 year old oak tree in my yard the next day. The sun was beaming down in that somehow amazing September way, where it should have been hot but it wasn’t, and the breezes were so strong my hair was in constant motion. It was truly beautiful out, a perfect New England day. My phone rang then. And with the sun in my eyes, I heard seven words in my ear as my knees struck the broken up tar of the driveway.

    “I never want to see you again.”

    They eventually got married.

    And I still feel the old hate, and the old love. Burning and worming together deep in my belly.

    1. RafTriesToWrite

      Is the apocalypse coming? Mr. Klems posted a new prompt on a Monday. MONDAY!

      Anyway,
      The first paragraph set the scene so beautifully.
      Man, the ending. I can feel it in my heart. Powerful stuff blues! You gave me the blues. I’m having trouble concentrating on my work now.

      1. gamingtheblues

        Thank you for your comments! Heh, I can feel it too =) Though it was not my intention to give you the blues as it were, I am glad it resonated to some extent.

    2. cosi van tutte

      “And with the sun in my eyes, I heard seven words in my ear as my knees struck the broken up tar of the driveway. “I never want to see you again.” Wow! Great writing! I love how you built up the description in that whole paragraph leading up to those seven gut-kicking words. 🙂

    3. A. J. Kidding

      That was emotionally rattling. Beautifully written, Blues!

      I can’t help but wonder (even if it wasn’t required of the prompt) did the guy in love at some point decided to share his feeling to her besides the anger and frustration with her choice? Because if not, this looks like a common case of “friendzoning” 🙂 And if he did, then she was definitely nor right for her.

      You got me thinking, Blues… 🙂

      1. gamingtheblues

        This was autobiographical 😉 Yes, there was a “scene” of hand holding and a admitting of feelings… and a kiss that almost was but never materialized, but that would have put me over the word limit by far. Thank you for reading! I am glad you enjoyed it.

    4. JRSimmang

      This is such a delicate slice of life. You’ve laid it beautifully, full of descriptive language, and the moment is something with which I think we can all identify. There are a few places that need a second look (“…curse the fool[ish] thought,” “…hate ended up flashin[g] out…”), but overall it’s tight and convincing.

      1. gamingtheblues

        Thank you! Yeah, I know some of the word usage was a little….spotty, to say the least but it was actually purposeful that I left them in. This story was pure emotional outpouring and I decided that how I “felt” was more important than the prose.

        Ie…I really do feel foolish and curse myself when I remove the AC and then have to put the bloody thing back in! And the hate really did flash out… I didn’t have the word count for it, but I actually also threw a shoe at someone else during the party.

        Regardless to the anyone else, it would have felt fake and disingenuous to myself to re-write this particular piece for prose’s sake.

    5. GrahamLewis

      Nice piece, Gaming. Good painting of the scene, and it felt so real. Too real. It hurt because it brought up similar feelings about similar times and people.

      I have one minor point — I hate the line, “They eventually got married.” Just too bland and boring, it distracts from the rest. To me. I think the piece would be stronger without it. But if you feel it’s necessary then you should make it a more vibrant sentence somehow. IMHO.

    6. ReathaThomasOakley

      Thank you for sharing this piece of your life with us, and for doing it so well. Even after fifteen years the emotions still feel fresh, and extremely raw.

      1. gamingtheblues

        No worries! Thank you for reading. I am an extremely emotionally aware person, so I can tap into those old emotions whenever I like. But, I am a virgo, so its actually a very conscious choice to feel them, if you get me. Not emotions that dwell with me. Thanks again!

    7. writer_sk

      Gaming: I liked the description of New England weather and the comparisons you used. We’ve experienced that whole AC scenario several times, good call including that.

      The anger came through towards the end. “The one that got away” causes such a unique kind of pain which I felt you captured.

      The fact that he got her into pot bothered me and your portrayal of that situation rang true.

      The very last line of your piece is a strong closer.

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