Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lasagna

Ten minute prompt for today from Sarah Selecky: Write a scene that includes reheated lasagna.

I stumbled into the kitchen, swiping my hair from my face and tucking it behind my ear. Opening the fridge door, I searched through the shelves full of green, red, and orange healthy things. I finally glimpsed what I wanted and reached past the lettuce and peppers to the Tupperware with the red lid in the back, the only thing not fresh.
  Ah, lasagna. The perfect breakfast. Or lunch. Eh, it was 2:00. Linner?
  I popped a corner of the lid off, then slid the lasagna into the microwave. Forty-five seconds would be perfect: just enough to heat the middle, but not too long to warp the cheese.
  "Good morning, Margaret," a deep, male voice said behind me.
  That voice didn't belong to anyone who lived in this house. I spun.
  A very handsome man, dressed impeccably in jeans and a dress shirt, stood before me. His hair was short, brown, and his eyes a clear-as-a-crystal-lake blue. What on earth was this man doing in my parents' kitchen at 2:00 in the afternoon?
  "Who are you?"
  His gaze slid over my over-sized black hoodie and polka-dotted pajama pants. A curled strand escaped its prison and fell into my face. I forced it back behind my ear with a huff.
  "I'm Greg."
  I fell back against the counter. How had I forgotten that my father had invited the son of a friend to stay with us for a few weeks? I knew my father and mother well. This wasn't just a friendly visit. They were hoping something romantic would happen between the two of us.
  The microwave beeped and I yanked open the door. Grabbing the lasagna, I spun back around to get a fork. Greg stood in the way.
  "Excuse me. You're in my way."
  "Oh. Sorry." He shifted to the side and I yanked open the drawer. All the forks were the large size, and I only ate with a small fork. I rummaged until I found one that would fit in my mouth, then shut the drawer with my hip.
  Greg watched me. I hated when people stood around and watched me. Didn't he have anything better to do?
  "Buon Appetito," I muttered, plopping into the chair at the table.
  "Altre Tanto," he replied.
  I straightened up. "You speak Italian?"
  "I studied it a little in school."
  "Hm." I loved Italian. It was the language of music, of art, of--food. I cut into the lasagna and stuck a large bite into my mouth.
  Greg sat down across from me.
  I frowned. "Are you going to watch me eat?"
  He shrugged. "I don't have much else to do."
  "I prefer to eat without an audience."
  "You want me to leave?"
  "No. I just don't want you to watch me chew my food. Or listen to me. I hate when people make those little noises as they chew and I'm sure I make them, too."
  "I can go." He started to get up.
  "Yes, you probably should. Unless you want to sit with your eyes closed and tell me a loud, long, engrossing story. Those appear to be your two options."
  He smiled. "Oh, so I do have options." I stopped chewing. His eyes had lit up in the most charming way. And a small dimple appeared next to his lip.
  I dropped my gaze and shrugged, cutting another bite from the lasagna.
  He sat back in his chair. I peeked up at him.
"Once upon a time, in a land far away--"
  "You've got to be kidding me."
  He shook his head and closed his eyes. "...there was a cow."

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rose

Its petals ranged
from white to darkest pink.
The green of its leaves
was a shadowed emerald
with no glint or shine
but perfect all the same.
It was in the middle of its bloom,
open and beautiful,
but with the lingering promise of more.

Her skin ranged
from white to palest peach,
as smooth as porcelain
or unblemished stone.
Her nails were unpainted
but still glistened in the light,
barely distinguishable from her skin.
Her touch, alone, appeared warm,
like the promise of a caress.

Together each distracted the viewer from the other.
The eye wandered from pink to peach to green and back,
unable to focus or keep still.
The black sleeve, velvet, faded unless focused upon.
Yet the rose made Rose's hand look like wax,
While Rose's hand made the rose look like silk.
Both beautiful.
And both false in their beauty.

The Floor

Sarah Selecky's prompt for the weekend was: Write a scene that takes place in the cereal aisle of a grocery store.

  White quick steps, on his tip toes.
  Black slow meanderer, feet firmly planted.
  Ooh, yellow jittery meanderer. A heal walker. I haven't seen one of those in a while.
  Pink tapper, small, next to a larger--what color is that? Pinkish blue?
  Runner, red and black. Running flat. That's going to cause problems later.
  Oh, man. Smelly, dirty--FEET?! Didn't they know they weren't allowed to shop naked?
  White, pristine and new. Practically dancing, lifting onto toes, settling back down.
  Uh-oh. Little ones. I can hear them coming....  Yup. Green is fast, pounding. Yellow following--oops, not just yellow, yellow with hints of blue. Ah, and pink comes last, small. Don't stop. None of you stop.
  Too late. Green stopped. And... Yellow has disappeared.
  I braced myself for the impact less than a second before it came. I should have been prepared. Whenever the little ones came in groups, there was always a--KABOOM!
  I flinched.
  The kids landed first, but I had braced for them. It was all the boxes that started hitting me, jabbing me with their sharp corners, that truly hurt. I tried to make myself hard, to keep from being damaged, but each cereal box corner felt like the wires of a cleaning brush digging into me. This number of boxes falling meant only one thing--the shelves were going to come, too.
  Green and yellow were back up, running. But pink one stopped. Tiny trembling hands touched me. And I was suddenly alert. Pink one was in the wrong place. Pink one would get hurt!
  I shifted, flexing, buckling, moving, and pink one slipped. Ooh, unicorn pocketed jeans. I angled up behind the jeans, just enough to get pink unicorn with the trembling hands sliding. And I moved until I slid her out past my end. I couldn't go any further, but I nudged main aisle until I felt his acknowledgement of her safety.
  I ached. I hadn't moved like that in years.
  And then the shelves came crashing down.
 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Home

  I lingered in the clouds and the darkness, watching the activity below. Everything was just as I remembered. The palace stood bathed in both sunlight and shadow, the numerous waterfalls producing a mist that, when needed, could enshroud the entire edifice. A scouting party of golden dragons was just returning, sailing on the wind that always hovered a hundred feet above the roof. Birds, excited by the activity, rose halfway up to meet them. The feeling of hope that always arose with the return of the scouts pulled at me and I drifted nearer. But then a dark dragon shot out below me, angling to intercept the scouts, and I pulled back to watch. When the dark dragon entered the light, a green stripe running from his head to his tail and branching onto his winds glinted in the sun like a million small emeralds.
  Blazar.
  I pulled even farther away, into the stormy clouds as I fought the darkness threatening inside me. Blazar, the queen's most trusted advisor. Blazar the traitor.
  He was supposed to be gone on a secret errand for the queen. His absence was the only reason I had returned.
  Seeing him again awakened the ache of the scar along my back and left wing. My wing faltered from the memory of the wound and collapsed upward, sending me into a spiral. I found against the blinding pain, shouting that it was only a memory, that it wasn't real. Just as I was about to plummet into sight of the guards, the memory of Zoran's voice cut through the darkness. "Ellya, let the light in."
  I opened my mind and found a hole in the darkness, a small seam of light. I mentally reached for it and clawed my way through. Then I was blinded by light and my wing caught and I soared back into the clouds. But not before I felt a guard probe my presence. I had been discovered.

Check out Sabrina's response to the 10 minute prompt, too.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Toothpicks

Writing prompt for September 25: Write a scene that includes the unconventional use of a toothpick (from Sarah Selecky). Are you ready for this one? Photo from here.

  "No, Carl. You're supposed to stick them up in the carpet like this." Joey took the toothpick and put it end up in the carpet so the point stuck into the sky. "That way, when she steps on it, it'll go into her foot."
  "Okay, Jo-jo. Like this?"
  Joey tensed the muscles in his hands and arms, then slowly relaxed them. "Carl, step on that. Right there. That one you just put down."
  "But, Jo-jo, won't it hurt?"
  "Step on it."
  "Uh, okay." Carl's shoe squashed the toothpick, breaking it into two. "I didn't feel nothin'."
  Joey blew out a slow breath. "You need to take your shoe off, Carl. Take your shoe off."
  "Oh, right." Carl slid his foot out of his sneaker. "And my sock, too?"
  "No, Carl, your sock can stay on." The words were said slowly, with a little pause between each one. "Now, I want you to place another toothpick on the ground. Just like the last one. Yup. Now step on it."
  Carl shot a doubtful glance at Joey. "Why do I want to step on it?"
  "Because I told you to."
  "Right." Carl lifted his foot, then placed it gingerly onto the toothpick. "I didn't feel nothin' again."
  "That's because you're putting the toothpicks FLAT! Now pick up that toothpick and place it up on its end, like this. Good. NOW step on it."
  Carl set his foot down, then sprang back. "Oww! That hurts!"
  "That's the whole point, Carl. Put the toothpicks into the floor so that it hurts when she steps on them."
  Carl shook his head. "That's really going to hurt her. I don't want to really hurt her. I thought we was just supposed to--"
  "The boss said to let her know it was him what sent us. This way, she'll know."
  Carl's shoulders drooped. "All right. But maybe we should warn her that they're here. Or we could just leave a sign that says, "Beware. Big Boss is about to pick your teeth," like we normally does.
  Joey shook his head. "We only leave the notes when it is too late. The boss only wants to frighten her, get her to see that his way is the only way."
  Carl bent over and placed a toothpick on end into the carpet. "Fine. But I still don't like it."
  Joey shrugged. They weren't around to do what they liked. They were around to do what the boss liked.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Fence

  I am not so old that I do not function. I serve a purpose--the same purpose I had when I was first created. Although I may not do it as well as I once did, I serve as a reminder to those on both sides.
  Do not cross.
  I used to keep people from even seeing. But time has put holes in me, as it does many things. I am no longer straight and tall and seamless. My edges have rounded, my knots have dissolved, and parts of me are missing. But I am still useful.
  If I was not, I would no longer exist. But I do exist because I have something to add to the world. I keep things safe. I keep people safe.
  I am not insurmountable. If you wanted, you would climb over me. If you wanted, you could cut me down. But you don't. I am tall, and I have just enough holes in just enough spots that people peek through to the other side and then leave. If I were as I once was, without blemish, people would wonder. People would climb. People would need to see the other side. But I have learned that a few glimpses of what people want to see satiates them.
  The interesting thing is that when they look they do not see everything they could see if I didn't exist. They do not see it all. And yet, they see enough. They find the balance between needing to know what I hide and needing to obey the unspoken rule that I create--do no cross. They enter with their eyes, catch a glimpse, think they know what it is I truly hide, and then leave, never to wonder again. They do not see which things change and which stay the same. They do not know that I hide much more than is visible in a small hole.
  There is a larger hole for the children than there is for the adults. Children are not so easily pacified by the belief that they know everything. Children will wonder until they pry boards loose or make holes bigger. Children don't want to just see; they want to experience: to touch, to hear, to taste, to smell. Children see, but know they don't understand and need more.
  There is a smaller hole for adults. They no longer want to touch, to hear, to taste, to smell. They know the feel by sight, the noise irritates them, they are afraid of dirt, and of the dirty. It is enough for them to see. But they don't see. They glimpse and think they see and think they understand and don't want more.

Deb and Sabrina also responded to the prompt.

Photo

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The door

I sat down to write about this picture and immediately knew it had to be a continuation of one of the other prompts I've done. So, if you missed the first introduction to Tryvan and Jack, you can find them here. Deb has also written about a Jack, continuing from other posts she's written.

 We stopped.
  "Are you sure this is ryerrr-it?" Jack asked, croaking out the last word. Since the change, he always had one word that croaked.
  I rolled his eyes. I liked being a rabbit and having eyes to roll at the stupid things he said. "It's a tree with a door in it, just like she said."
  "But, Tryyyy-van, croak, how can we be sure it is the tree and the door?"
  "Look around. Do you see any other trees with doors? Come on."
  He grabbed my arm. I flinched. When he had been lichen and I had been moss he didn't have fingers to grab me with. I still wasn't used to the tiny suction cups sticking to my hair. "Let's just be cerrrrr-tain this time. Not like last time."
  "Last time turned out perfectly. And The Lady even found a new recruit."
  "We still messed up--crrrroak."
  I sighed. "Fine."
  I leaned over and, placing my paw on the moss surrounding the tree, I sent my mind down, through the pink pads of my hands. The moss wriggled under my pressure and I lightened my touch. Its relief came as a collective sigh. My nose twitched as I formed the best image I could of the beast we were looking for: large, round nose, large, round eyes, triangle ears, and red. That was all the description we had.
  The moss giggled and tittered; I had never been met moss so silly. But then it sent an affirmative shout and went still. I rose back up on my hind legs. "This is the place."
  Jack nodded. We hopped to the door. I knocked with a hind leg. Then we waited.
  After many minutes the door creaked open, but nothing was visible from inside except two dots of brown light. I cleared my throat and said, "The Lady sent us."
  The door opened wider and my body shook in terror. Before us stood a round nose, round eyes, triangle ears, and red--but it all stood on the body of a fox.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

You have probably all read this already. If you haven't, I would recommend it. The story is great, but the voice is FANTASTIC.

From Goodreads: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Opening Scene: Support Group
Theme: Living our best lives today
Inciting Event: Meeting Agustus
First Act: Hazel Grace set-up
First Plot Point: Augustus gives her his wish for Amsterdam
Second Act--first half: Hazel is a grenade
Midpoint: Arriving in Amsterdam
Second Act--second half: Van Houten and Gus's illness
Third Plot Point: Augustus in the hospital
Third Act: Gus's death, Hazel's decline
Climax:
Final Scene: Gus's Eulogy for Hazel

I could read this book all over again just for the dialogue--internal and external. It's it so AWESOME.
  We could hear everything through the dear. "Are they here, Peter?" a woman asked.
  "There are--Lidewij, there are two adolescent apparitions outside the door."
  "Apparitions?" she asked with a pleasant Dutch lilt.
  Van Houten answered in a rush. "Phantasms specters ghouls visitants post-terrestrials apparitions, Lidewij. How can someone pursuing a postgraduate degree in American literature display such abominable English-language skills?"
  "Peter, those are no post-terrestrials...."

Or:
  Augustus Waters turned to me. "Literally," he said.
  "Literally?" I asked.
  "We are literally in the heart of Jesus," he said. "I thought we were in a church basement, but we are literally in the heart of Jesus."
  "Someone should tell Jesus," I said. "I mean, it's gotta be dangerous, storing children with cancer in your heart."
  "I would tell Him myself," Augustus said, "but unfortunately I am literally stuck inside of His heart, so He won't be able to hear me."

The whole book is like this. It's witty and true and sad and funny and heart-wrenchingly good. If you've debated reading it, read it. Even though it is popular. Even though there is a movie (which I haven't seen yet). Even though....  Read it. Then let me know what you think!

Wanderer

Today's ten-minute prompt provided by Sabrina. Deb and Alison both wrote great things.

I have never been lost. Oh, I'm not speaking about being physically lost. I'm been stranded on the back roads of Zion National Park with a car stuck in the mud. I've been alone off the main trail with a shredded tire and pitched camp for the night. I've found myself in an empty café with a man in a foreign country who wanted more than I wanted to give. I've picked up hitchhikers and I've been the hitchhiker. I've ridden in numerous tow trucks with giant men and sometimes giant dogs as well. I've been stranded on the beach for weeks with no one to talk to, lonelier than I've ever been in my life (Tolstoy and Dostoevsky became my friends). But I've never been really lost.
  I've never wondered who I am. I've never wondered about my importance to my God. I've never questioned the path of my lift. I've questioned moments, wondering what to do, but not who to be. I've never wandered.
  And I wonder if I have missed something. Don't misunderstand. I've made mistakes--sometimes I've deliberately chosen the wrong. But I did so knowing what was right for me, knowing I was betraying myself, knowing that I would pay for it later. I've never wondered if there was a different way for me to live my life. I've never floundered in the dark, wondering if the path I was treading was the correct one for me.
  I am not a wanderer.
  I wonder what I've missed out on, what adventures I could have had. But I don't believe that I would be happier for wandering. I don't believe I would be different. I like the place where I am. I like my life. There are things I would like to change, mostly about myself, but they have to do with becoming more of the person I know I am instead of changing the person I am. And they give me the opportunity each day to live a little more honestly with myself and my God.
  To those who are wanderers, I take my hat off to you. Yours is a beautiful path. One I would love to hear about.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Abondoned Places

My writing group likes to take the weekends off from writing prompts, but I really liked this prompt from Sarah Selecky, and I've missed not writing a prompt today. So . . .


  Places I don't go anymore:
  The lake.
  Angie's.
  The world of secret doors and hidden traps created by laying bricks on their sides and building a labyrinth, then trying to maneuver 1980's star wars figures through while my brother decided that this wall moved or that door shut right before I got there.
  Into Tron. Or Tetris. Or Pit fall.
  The Salvato's.
  The sugarplum ball on Christmas Eve.
  Lisa's.
  The gelateria near the intersection of Via del Corso and Via dei Leoni nor the pizzeria between il Duomo and Piazza Santa Croce.
  Up the canyon with the Frankies.
  Camping alone.
  The dreamland of a limitless future where anything is possible.
  Portrait drawing class.
  With Steve to ballroom dance lessons.
  Sliding behind cars on snowy roads.
  Work.
  The courthouse to support my mother and say hi to Brent.
  The east side of Bountiful.
  Visiting the Hammonds.
  Toilet-papering.
  Haunted Houses.
  Bed with my hair wet.
  Hawaii.

Time's up. But this was fun. Both Sabrina and Deb decided to join in. Check out their lists.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Sign

One of my friends tagged this photo on Pinterest and I thought it would make a great ten minute prompt. Mostly, I'm excited to see what my fellow writers have to say. Here are Sabrina's and Alison's.

I studied the sign, my face within the shadows of my dark cloak. Someone knocked my shoulder and I pulled the shadows closer around me, rendering me unnoticeable.
  I glanced once more at the little coffee shop. Thousands of happy customers. Hum. I doubted that. Thousands of anything in this town was a bit extreme, unless mites or graves were the topic of conversation. But one creepy dude.
  A movement on the road caught my eye and I glanced up. A bit of brown whipped behind a dirty yellow taxi. I moved closer to the wall and huddled against it, waiting.
  A stream of shoe clad feet traipsed by on the brick sidewalk. I studied each one. Short, cutoff jeans with fraying edges, florescent pink tanks, blue suits with white shirts and red ties, a skateboard, a--ah, there it was. A dash of brown. A glimpse of bare feet with yellowed toenails.
  I counted to seven, then seven again, and once more. On exactly the third seventh count, I spun and grabbed the shadow of the tall man walking by, using both my hands, knowing he would struggle. The wrist twisted in my hands, jumping between shadow gray and tawny brown.
  "Relax, Tyron," I muttered. Then I yanked and threw the shadow into the wall next to me. His head smacked against the mudded stone and the shadows that had covered him fled, leaving him clearly visible, his dirty brown feet showing under his bark brown cloak. The hood of the cloak fell back and I studied the mud streaks on his face, the tired bags under his eyes, the way the whites of his eyes had turned yellow. A drop of spit slid out of his mouth and down his chin.
  I shook my head, then sent my breath to the dot on his right temple. He blinked, then glared at me. "What do you want, Synder?" he rasped. "How did you find me?"
  I lifted my eyebrows and jerked my head to indicate the sign. "One creepy dude. Looks like I'm not the only one who's noticed you lurking around."
 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Deer in the Path

This picture is today's ten minute prompt. And when I think of a deer in the road, I automatically think of Travelling Through the Dark by William Stafford. I was young when I first read it and my feelings about it are so conflicted that it still troubles me.
  However, this is a less traveled path (Yes, Robert Frost, that is for you--look, the wood is even yellow!) with no visible cliffs on either side. So, a different angle is necessary.

I stumbled out onto the road and glanced behind me. No one seemed to be following. Although I wasn't sure who I wanted to come. Father might try to offer me comfort, but there was no comfort to be found; he knew that, so although he might utter the words, they would ring hollow and linger bitterly between us. Daniel might come, but anything awkward made him uncomfortable, so he would make jokes and try to laugh. It would be a mockery to me. Mother wouldn't come. She never came this far into the woods. But Alice might come.
  I glanced behind me again and slid down the road a few more steps. I did not want to see Alice. If Alice came I would have to smile, I would have to pretend that everything was okay. I would have to act pleased with the arrangement and tell her how excited I was. I would do it better than father--she would never be able to detect the falseness in my words. But I did not want to lie, to pretend to a joy that I did not feel.
  I wanted to mourn.
  I walked down the old road some time, watching my feet, the sun filtering through the trees, touching my back without warming it. The road would eventually wind back around to the lake, but it would take hours. I wished it would take days.
  I clenched my teeth. I would run, if I had somewhere to run. But I, a woman with no possessions of her own except a piano that could never possibly be moved, had no where to go. Except back.
  I glanced up to see if I could find some comfort from the sky, but my gaze was caught by a deer standing in the road. It was so still, staring at me as though trying to figure out my soul. Its gaze made me uncomfortable and I shifted my weight to my other foot.
  We regarded each other for what seemed like a long time. I wondered if the deer would look upon my life as something to covet. But, really, our lives were the same. We both ran as though free, but at any moment the freedom would end--his with his death, mine with my marriage.
  I wished I was that deer. I would take the gamble of life and death for the chance to run through these woods forever.
  The deer shifted and disappeared, taking away the light with it.
  "I could have got that one if I'd had my gun," Daniel said from just behind me.


That's all. It would be interesting to take this further, but I have kids in different states of nudeness that should be fully clothed. Ah, writing. Maybe I'll get to enjoy you more tomorrow.
  And you should totally read Deb's because it is FANTASTIC! And Alison just wrote one, too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Written on the Sky

Today's ten minute writing prompt is the song Written on the Sky by Max Richter. Please play the song as you read and let me know what you think. You may need to read slowly. After you're done, check out Deb's, Alison's and Sabrina's--they're worth the visit!

Once upon a time I had hope,
a hope that brightened each day like the sun,
that washed over me like pure ocean waves,
and warmed me like a fire.

Once, I flew through the clouds,
lighter than air;
everything I touched turned to gold,
and the scent of blooming flowers filled the land.

My heart had never been so secure,
so whole,
so full,
like a being all its own that knew only happiness.

My smile was once large and sweet,
honest and pure,
full of delight
and joy.

But then hope died.
And love fled.
My heart has holes
and I no longer smile.

Everything around me is brown.
It is empty,
and malicious.
The scent is foul,
the air sad;
the earth mourns.

I see the clouds,
my heart beats,
my lips occasionally curve.
But my lips only curve down,
my heart has broken,
and I walk on the hard ground.

There is no sun,
no pure ocean wave,
no warm fire.

The only fire left is cold and blue,
like ice water one is forced to swim in,
under the light of the moon.
 

Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

This turned out to be better than I thought. The first act dragged for me, although it did a good job world building. And the initial meeting of Nyx and Ignifex was weird. However, the story became hauntingly beautiful about a girl who wasn't as nice as she should be falling in love with a man she should hate.

First scene: The night before the wedding.
First act: Leading up to the wedding.
Break into second act: Nyx stepping into the castle and the door shutting behind her.
Midpoint: Ignifex takes Nyx to the Heart of Earth
Break into third act: The Heart of Air
All is lost: Nyx loses her husband and time makes it so they never met.

This story is a beautiful love story about a girl who doesn't believe she would be loved if people knew who she really was and a boy who is quite similar.

The point of reading this book is for the love story. There could have been so much more done in the background story of Nyx trying to kill her husband, the searching for what she needed, trying to free the land Arcadia, etc., but there wasn't. The main character makes a huge sacrifice, although it didn't evoke tears, which means the love bond wasn't as powerful as it could have been. Although there was a real love between the two main characters, there wasn't that bond of need, of "I'll die without you," that would have made the sacrifice more powerful. It seemed that Nyx would go on living--it was a sacrifice, but she could learn to love someone else. However, the story does end very well--it isn't the happily ever after with everything perfect, because the main characters have to relearn about each other, but the ending fits.

I liked Shade and Ignifex. I had no clue as to their secret. And I liked the ending. I just wished the non-love parts of the story had been better fleshed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Happily Ever After

Today's ten minute prompt is sponsored by Sabrina: Begin a story with "And they lived happily ever after. The end." Here are Alison's and Sabrina's.

  And they lived happily ever after. The end.
  I turned and walked away, away from my joyful family, the town, the only life I knew. Because I no longer had a part in their story. Everyone else had gotten everything they ever wanted. I had become an extraneous part, a reminder that not everyone was happy with the ending.
  I kicked a pebble with my toe. It bounced to the side and rolled off the path. I scowled at it and trudged on. I refused to fill the roll of the lonely one, the old bachelor in town. No, I was off to seek my own adventures and to forget the girl my brother had married.
  Suddenly everything darkened like the sun had disappeared behind a cloud. I shivered, the hairs on my chest standing on end. I rubbed at my chest hairs, trying to get them back to their dark, curly selves. But then something grabbed my shoulders and my feet were swinging in the air. Sharp pricks dug into my skin. I glanced up and received a face full of black feathers. What in the world--
  My thoughts were drowned by a screech so loud it vibrated through me. I shut my eyes, afraid I would fall, certain that the only thing worse than falling from so high would be watching myself fall, the ground rushing up to me. I clenched my eyes tighter. I tried to reach up to grasp the bird's legs, but because of the way the bird clenched me my arms wouldn't move. One slip and I was a gonner.
  And then it happened. The bird opened its claws and I fell. Much to my dismay, I couldn't keep my eyes closed. I watched as the ground rushed toward me. I started twisting in the air, my feet no longer below me but to my side. Then I was upside down, and the land was my sky. I finally found the power to close my eyes.
  My legs were suddenly jerked so hard I was sure they had both been dislocated. I peeked and found that the bird had caught me again. It tilted its head down and peered at me, made a clucking sound, and seemed to smile. Which is ridiculous, because birds don't smile.
  Then it let go again. I opened my mouth to scream but landed on my head while my mouth was still mostly closed. It hadn't hurt nearly as much as I'd thought it would. I must have only been a few inches off the ground.
  I rolled over to my stomach, but one of the giant claws closed around my waist, pinning me to the ground. I looked up and found the bird tilting its head and staring at me with one of its eyes. It snapped its beak, but the straightened up, ruffling its feathers and looking around, as though settling in to wait for something, or someone. I pulled myself forward on my elbows, but the claw tightened more. There was no escape.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Josie

Today's ten-minute prompt was Caitlyn's idea. If she happens to write a response to her own prompt, I'll post the link here. Sabrina's could be the other half of mine.

I hate this contraption in my mouth. And on my back. Someday, I will be free again.
  "Josie, stop." The fairy on my back yanked on the straps attached to the bar in my mouth, wrenching at my already sore corners. I hissed, but quietly. No good came of voicing objection to the treatment. It would only keep the fairy suspicious.
  The fairy shifted in its saddle--the one on my back that made me ache. My tongue shot out, tasting for anything near. I had just slid out into the open riverbed, although half my body was still encased in the warmth and safety of the grass. If the fairy had any brains at all, the whole of me would still be hidden in the grass. This fairy was going to get us both killed, although I would definitely make sure she went first.
  "Nothing, I guess," she muttered. Then, "All right. Let's keep going. We have a long ways to go." Her wings flapped as though to propel me forward. I blinked, then put my head down and moved over the dirt and the rocks. She could be flying. All fairies can fly. But this one was too lazy. She would rather take me prisoner and make me travel miles from my home than risk flying and be mistaken for a tasty morsel. Umm, she probably would taste delicious. All her magic and skin and insides--except her wings. Wings were horrible--they never went down right. And more often than not, they got caught somewhere too far down to hack back up and not far enough down to get rid of. Blasted fairies.
  Suddenly a toad landed beside me and flicked its tongue out, grasping the fairy's leg and yanking her from my back.
  I reared my head. No stupid toad was going to free me--I would rather remain a slave forever than have to pay homage to a toad. I flicked my tongue down the toads face with a hiss. "Llllet herrr goooo, my fiiiiiine frrrrrrriend, and I willlll lllllet you lllllllive.   Sssssssssss."
  The toad blinked twice, then opened its mouth to yank the fairy in. I was there first. I bit down on his tongue--enough to cause pain, but not enough to damage anything. The toad croaked hoarsely and dropped the fairy. "You'lp pay for this'lp," it said.
  "I doooouuubt iiiiiit." No toad army would come after me when the toad's offense was so blatant and my retribution so light.
  The fairy clung to my neck, panting. Once the toad had disappeared she turned her face into my scales and sobbed, "Thank you, J-J-J-Josie." Blubbering fool.
  "Llllllet's goooooo," I hissed. She nodded, but didn't let go, her arms tightening around my throat. "Nooooow," I urged. I glanced around uncomfortably. I flicked my tongue out. Something else was drawing nearer. Something that made my scales stand on end.
  "Yes. Of course." Her grip loosened, but she hadn't let go before a large shadow fell over us.
  We were too late.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dark House

There are so many great pictures out there. This is the inspiration for today's writing prompt and I'm trying to incorporate Agitation as the emotion of the day. Read Sabrina's and Alison's as well!

My feet were frozen, but I still didn't step out of the stream. The house stood only a little ways from me; I would be there in mere minutes if I moved.
  I looked down. The water rippled around my ankles, unperturbed by the temporary barrier my legs created. The stones around me glistened in the moonlight.
  A cry sounded above the gentle roar of the water. To my left. From somewhere in the forest. I stared into the blackness, scared that something would come for me but terrified that nothing would.
  Another noise sounded, but this time from farther away. I swallowed and turned my attention back to the house. I was going to have to do it. It seemed that no matter how I exposed myself to risks, fate was forcing me forward like providence administered by a devil god.
  I took a deep breath. I would do this calmly. I would walk up, knock on the door, and wait until someone--no, not just anyone. There was no point in pretending I didn't know who would answer the door. I would wait until Granny Julia opened it. And then I would step inside. And by doing so, I would receive the magic I so desperately needed.
  I stepped onto a rock, my bare feet prickling now that they were released from the numbing water. I took another step and slipped back into the water. I flinched and quickly stepped out again, this time keeping my eyes on the stones before me instead of the house.
  It didn't take as long to find myself standing on the porch as I had hoped. The pain in my feet bellowed my stupidity in hesitating in the water for so long. My teeth chattered from the cold although my armpits began to feel wet with sweat. It was now. I had to do it now. No doubt she already knew I was here.
  I took a deep breath, lifted my hand, and moved to the door. Just as I was about to touch it, the door swung open.
  My mouth dropped open and I stumbled back. It wasn't supposed to happen that way. She knew the protocol, knew that rules. I was supposed to knock, then she could open the door. By not initiating the meeting with a knock, any promise of power I'd hoped to obtain was obliterated.
  "You took too long, Amyhrist," Granny Julia wheezed.
  Amethyst. My stupid name was Amethyst.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Departure

Alison is in London this week. Yesterday she visit St Pancras Railway Station and sent us this photo of The Meeting Place by Paul Day. So, in honor of her, this is the ten minute writing prompt for today.

  He clenched his hands behind his back. "So, this is goodbye."
  She nodded. "Yes."
  He followed her movement, his own head nodding slightly, and looked away. "Well, then . . ." This was it. In five minutes she would be gone. He barely registered when someone jostled him. Instead, he glanced back at her.
  She turned and looked at the large clock on the wall. A train horn blew. She looked amazing with her hair down, her shirt hanging lightly about her knees, her high heels making the muscles on her legs pop with definition.
  "Should I--"
  "Maggie--" he stopped. "Sorry, please continue."
  She gave him a half smile and a small shake of her head. "What were you saying?"
  He swallowed. "Just, goodbye. Be safe."
  Her eyes started to glisten. "Yes. You too."
  This was ridiculous. He should just turn around and leave. His train was going to be boarding any minute. And the longer he stood, with her in arms reach, the harder it became to leave her.
  He nodded, then turned. He heard her sharp intake of breath and the little cry that escaped her. He couldn't leave her like this, with her not knowing--without either of them knowing, for sure.
  He turned back around to find that she had stepped forward, her arm outstretched, her eyebrows knit together.
  It undid him. Those creased eyebrows, those watery eyes, those parted lips.
  He grabbed her wrist and pulled her to him. "Maggie. I can't. I can't go without telling you. I--I love you. I have since the moment I saw you. And every moment I'm with you--I don't know how I lived before you."
  She reached up and touched his face. He wrapped his hands around her waist, pulling her closer until their bodies met. She felt so good, here, in his arms. Never mind the onlookers, the clock, the noises of the train and the station. Everything inside him--all the endless chatter, the worries, the fears--they all dissolved into a beautiful calm.
  "I love you, too," she whispered.
  He leaned into her and she brought his face close. "Wait for me," he begged.
  She looked directly into his eyes. "Forever."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Swinging Shadow

The ten-minute prompt for today's writing is this picture. Alison's and Sabrina's are both definitely worth reading.

Who among us has not experienced loss? The loss of a beloved animal? The loss of a parent, either through death, divorce, or some other means? The loss of a friend, the loss of a sibling, the loss of a spouse . . . These losses stay with us, mark us, and make us who we are.
  Sometimes the losses in our lives come not from what we had and lost but from what we have never had at all. Some feel the loss of a parent, not because they have fond memories upon which to reflect and wish for more, but because they never knew that parent's love in the first place. I read an article over six years ago that has stayed with me. I don't remember the author's name; I only remember the thought it conveyed. The lady who wrote it spoke of being raised in a fatherless house and never having felt the loss of her father--until she had her own children and saw how her husband interacted with them. Then she understood all that she had truly missed out on--all that she had been denied.
  We do not only suffer one loss. Instead of by time, life could be marked by the losses suffered. And some losses affect us more than others, even when it seems they shouldn't. Loss is not about reason--it is so much more.
  As some may know, I lost twins at 15 weeks gestation a little under a year ago. Most days I don't think of my loss. I don't often look at an empty swing and imagine them laughing as they fly higher into the sky. Most days I am too busy with my three other children to spare them a thought. But some days, some moments, I miss them. And sometimes I do look at a swing and wonder what they would have been like. They were never born, but they are still a loss. There is the loss of carrying them to term, of being so big that I couldn't fit through doors. The loss of trying to handle five little children five and under. The loss of even knowing what gender they were, of choosing names for them, of scrambling through life and being forced to change in ways that I never will now. I will never hold their hands, never hear them laugh, never see them romp and play and fight and scream along with their siblings.
  However, I am grateful for the few weeks I knew I had them. Although I do not wish for such a loss for anyone, I am grateful for the tenderness of the experience--it still brings tears to my eyes. Because of my loss, a somewhat small loss compared to some, my hugs are a little warmer, my compassion a little nearer the surface. I have more to offer humanity because I have lost.
  To those of you who have losses, still so raw and wounding that going a day without tears is too much and life isn't about living day by day but moment by moment, I am sorry. If I could I would hug you. There are no words to ease the pain of a loss.
  Because a loss, a deep loss, a sad loss, never goes away. It is a part of us, it is who we are, who we have become. We have crossed a threshold and can never go back. I cannot go back and reclaim what I have lost. But I can move forward with the empathy that is inside me and stand with all the others. Together, we can be each other's shoulders to cry on and arms of support. Together, we will not forget, but we will learn to smile again.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What the Mirror Would Say

This picture is the writing prompt for the day. Check out Alison's and Sabrina's as well.

Have you ever wondered what would be shown if a mirror reflected your soul? Would your soul, so well hidden now by your body and worldly cares, be shriveled and black from too many selfish choices? Or would your soul surprise you with its size and beauty, and you would wonder how it is that such a thing is contained in your small body?
  The word soul is often viewed as a metaphysical thing and some doubt its existence. But there, inside each of us, is a little bit of otherworldliness, a little part that doesn't belong in mortality. We recognize it when that part of us responds to a beautiful sunset or reads a passage that moves us to tears; it inspires us to dance in the midnight rain, kicking our feet through the streams of water, jumping into puddles, and turning our face skyward in defiance of what we should do, which is duck our heads, pull our coats around us, and be warm, safe, and dry.
  I fear what the reflection of my soul would look like. I fear the words it would speak if given voice. For surely those times when I chose darkness over light would be exposed for all the world to see. But not just all the world. I would be the one looking into the mirror, and it is myself that would be looking back. It is a frightening thought. And so I wonder, would it be better to have no soul at all, so that if a mirror was held up nothing at all would show in the reflection?
  But, no, I would not choose that. For along with the black lines tattooed on the arms and torso of my soul are the bright eyes, the nimble fingers, and the beating heart, giving me life, promising change, taking in a world full of such wonder and beauty that I know, if only for an instant, that though I am of this world, I am also something more.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Girl Named Shake

Today's writing prompt: Write about a girl named Shake. So, here I go. Here are Alison's and Sabrina's.

  "Daphne Cooler?"
  "Here," answered the blonde girl one aisle over and two seats in front of me. She looked kind of nice, but a little too sure of herself as she wrapped her hair around one of her fingers and blew a bubble with her gum.
  "Bobby Dunkin?" The teacher looked annoyed to be calling names. Her brown hair was pulled into a tight ponytail, and one of her long fingernails tapped the board with very syllable as she called the names. I wondered briefly if she enjoyed her job, and if not, why she was doing it.
  "Yo." I glanced at the kid behind me. Shaved head, red patch. He bobbed his nose in the air at me, as if to say, "Sup."
  "Shake Hium?" Titters of laughter flew around the room.
  "It's Shaké, and I'm here," I replied.
  The teacher stared blankly at me for a moment, then continued. "Ahem. Jasper Lemmon?"
  "No way, dude." Bobby poked me in the back. "Your name is Shake?"
  "No," I muttered over my shoulder. "It's Shaké."
  The blond mohawked kid next to me with the tiger tattoo on the shaved part of his scalp and four piercings in the ear on the other side turned and faced me, even sliding his legs around into the aisle. "I like Shake better. I mean, like, Shake Rattle and Roll, right?"
  I blinked. As if I hadn't heard it all before. In every single class.
  Bobby huffed. "Not at all, man. That ditty is sooo old. Get with the times and Shake your booty!" My eyebrows rose, but I didn't turn around.
  The kid next to me smiled. "That's a good one. But I got a better one. 'Shake me up, shake me down, shake me anywhere you want to, baby.'" This was going to get out of hand, quickly. I glanced around the room and spied an empty chair on the aisle farthest away.
  "Eric Weller?"
  "That's me!" the blond mohawk kid said, then turned back to me. I avoided eye contact, but he wasn't deterred. "So, how about it. 'Your the cutest thing that I ever did see. I really love your peaches, want to shake your tree.'"
  "Dude, I totally call first dibs on any tree shaking," Bobby piped up, poking me in the back again.
  "All right, class. Please pull out your math books and turn to page 5. We'll be working on...."

Photo from here
 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Smelling the Forest

Using only this photo and the sense of smell is the challenge for today's writing prompt. Yikes!!

  Umm, smoke. I could smell it all around me. I knew that my hair, my clothes, my very skin would smell like the fire for days, until I could become clean again. But this time, I didn't care.
  The smell lured me closer. I took a few steps and realized that it wasn't just the smell of smoke tantalizing my nose--there was something cooking in the fire. I sniffed again and took another step closer and suddenly I no longer smelled smoke. I smelled the aroma of cooking food--a medley of delicious smells that wafted together. It wasn't just hare--I'd eaten that enough over the past weeks to know the smell of cooked hare instantly. No, this was something different, richer, more subtle. My stomach roared and I clenched an arm over it, trying to shush it's angry, eager noise.
  A breeze hurried at me from my right and I caught the smell of something else. Something incredibly stinky. Something that smelled worse than I did. And the smell was strong.
  I scurried back to my hiding place among the trees, careful not to step on any of the dry twigs and pine cones that littered the floor. My bare feet had toughed admirably, but a sharp prick was sure to break through the calluses, and I couldn't afford to lose any more blood, let alone to smell it again, to scream and reveal myself. Not until I knew who would find me. I knelt behind a low-growing pine. It blocked my view and filled my senses with evergreen. I could no longer smell the fire, the food, or the stinky thing. My stomach growled again in protest, and I huddled down further, shielding my stomach with my legs in an attempt to quiet it.
  Evergreen. Pine. Dirt. The smells wafted up, and then disappeared, replaced by an odor so pungent I fell over backwards.
 "I wouldn't lie down like that if I were you. Might get a tick. Then you'd die."

Check out Alison's and Deb's!

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Being a Rescue Dog

Write a scene from the point of view of a rescue dog.

 
Hurry. Hurry. Sniff. Nothing.
  Dig. Dig. DIG.
  Sniff. Still nothing.
  I turned my eyes to Jake and whined. "I can't find her."
  "Come on, boy. You can do this. We've got to keep looking." He patted my head as he searched the canyon around us. "Maybe she's a little farther up."
  A little farther up. Yes. But then-- 
  I pricked up my ears. I heard it. A scratch unlike the scratches of the field mice and ravens. From behind us.
  Hurry. Hurry. Sniff. Nothing. I stood still, listening, trying to listen. "What is it, boy?"
  A low growl emanated from my throat. Jake needed to be quiet. I needed to listen. Luckily, he was a smart human. He stood still and cocked his head.
  The scratch came again. Just to my side. How could scratching come from within the red rock walls?
  I barked and clawed at the stone, but nothing happened. I sniffed around and around, up and down in the sand and water that covered the ground. My paws slipped once in a hole and I tumbled forward, but quickly resumed my search. But there was no opening. And the only scent I could get was from last night's flood, water and dirt and trees. No scent of human anywhere.
  I went back to the place of the scratching and whined. "Sampson, this is nothing but rock." I whined again, trying to get him to understand what I knew--the girl was behind the rock. Jake squatted down next to me. I licked his face, then turned my nose to the rocks, hoping he would understand. He cocked his head to the side and studied me, then stood and called, "Hello?"
  "Help," came a small sound from behind the rock. Jake's eyes grew wide, and I knew then that he had heard her, that he knew where she was. "Good boy," he said, patting my head as he examined the wall. His hands moved up and down, over the wall, touching places I would never reach. Then he started to climb. I barked and jumped, but I couldn't follow him. My legs wouldn't move like that.
  But I had to do something. So I started to dig. Each paw-full of sand I moved away was quickly replaced by water, but I dug anyway. I dug until my belly was in water, and then I couldn't dig any more. But I didn't need to.
  "Sampson, look!"
  I gazed up to see Jake shimmy into a crevice and disappear. Oh, no. How was I going to get to him? I had to get to him. I scrambled on the rock but slipped back down into my puddle. I barked and heard a muffled sound in reply. I barked again and jumped. But there was nothing I could do. I lay my head down and whined.
  Then I went completely still. Someone was coming. No, some more than one.
  I crouched and growled as two men walked around the corner of the canyon and came into sight. They stopped when they spotted me. "Look, Alez. A dog. What is a mangy dog doing in the canyon? Alone?"
  The other man, the evil one, sneered. "Perhaps he's not alone."

Dog photo from here.
Slot Canyon Photo from here

Check out Deb's and Alison's, too!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Forest

This picture is the writing prompt for today. You can also read Alison's, Sabrina's, Julie's and Deb's.


  He elbowed me.
  "Shh," I hissed. "I think I hear her coming."
  "It doesn't matter. You're nothing but a bit of dross moss on the side of the tree. Not like me."
  "What, like she'd choose small, pitiful lichen over beautiful green moss? I don't think so." I struggled to be as big as I could. Next to me Jack did the same. We were about the same size. I rammed him with my shoulder.
  "Hey." He rammed me back. I shoved him, and we were lost in our quarrel until the voices around us hummed, "Here she comes."
  I glanced down through the trees, straining to see her. Jack's head popped up, blocking my view. I shoved him down and peered over his side. At first there was nothing but trees and green and shadows. But one of the shadows grew bigger.
  "It's her. She's going to choose me," Jack said.
  "Shh," I replied, sticking my elbow into his back. He squirmed, but at least he shut his mouth.
  As she neared I saw that her hair was dark, like her cloak, but that her skin was almost white. Her lips were a red I'd never seen before, but I couldn't make out anything more; the cloak covered the rest of her.
  "She isn't choosing anyone yet. What if she passes me by?"
  She was almost in front of us, so I released Jack and stood as tall as I could. "If she passes you by, it's because she is coming for me."
  "She is not. She'd choose a hundred lichen before she'd choose some moss."
  "Take that back," I ordered, wrapping an arm around his neck.
  "Never," he muttered, struggling against my grip.
  "Then let us--"
  The lady's eyes peered at us, the center as deep a blue as any raindrop, the outer edge the brown of trees. I quickly released Jack, wringing my hands because I hadn't realized she had been so close, nor that we had been so loud.
  "What are your names?" she asked us.
  Jack trembled next to me. "Tryvan," I said, wanting to sound brave and sure, but my voice cracked. Jack still didn't say anything, so I added, "This is Jack."
  "Hm, moss and lichen. Very interesting."
  "We're sorry, ma'am," Jack finally squeaked. "We didn't mean to be disrespectful or--"
  She held up her hand to silence him, then raised both hands above her head, as though addressing the entire world. The cloak slipped, exposing her long fingers and thin wrists.
  "Hear me, oh forest. I have chosen. Let it forever be remembered that I choose Jack the Lichen and Tryvan the Moss. They shall serve me until I come again. Honor be upon Lichen and Moss in this forest." Light grew around her hands. I watched until it became brighter than any light I had ever seen, even brighter than when the tree next to us had fallen and the sun bore down upon us and we had shriveled and almost died from the exposure.
  Then all was black. And I knew I was dead.
  Until Jack's elbow found my ribs.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

SCREECH!

Prompt: Write a story that starts with a screech.
Deb, Erin and Alison did writes, too. Check it out!

The girl's screech drowned out the owl's. I glanced behind me, back to the little wooden house I had just left, making soothing crooning sounds to the owl on my arm.
  "Shh, Joshua. I know." The owl swiveled its head, looking between my eyes and the house. He screeched again.
  He needed to be quiet. If he kept this up, he would give us away. But I could tell he was worried. The girl's screeches had turned to cries for help. It was a dream, but it was a bad one. "Would you feel better if we changed her dream?"
  Joshua shut one eye, then opened it before shutting the other, as though regarding my words. His feathery whiteness shone brightly in the moonlight and I glanced around; I saw nothing but darkness and heard nothing beyond the click of his eyes. Until the girl cried out again.
  "All right. What shall it be? Soft snow or white sands?" Snow this deep in the forest would probably just make the girl cold, so sand it would be. I stroked Joshua's head softly and started muttering the words. Glittering light floated from my fingertips and Joshua twittered. The light swirled once above our heads, then shot in the direction of the house. The girl cried out once more, but it turned to a sigh. 
  My gaze left the shadowed house and glanced once more around the forest. "We are done here. She will rest peacefully. Let's go." Joshua ruffled his feather's and climbed to my shoulder. I swished my cape around us both, and we disappeared into the night.
becausebirds:

*parliament blinks*

Beautiful !!! \O/

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