July 24, 2018 – Prompt – You’re in a waiting room at a clinic that promises to cure writer’s block.

Rachel’s eyes drooped as she drove down the road. Her head was swimming. When she noticed her car swaying toward the other lane, she knew she had to pull over. Her car coasted down the off-ramp and drifted into a parking lot. She closed her eyes as her head drooped.

HONK!

She bolted upright. She’d hit the horn with her forehead. Staring around as the panic ebbed, she noticed the nearest building. “Writer’s Block Clinic”. That could solver her problem.

The waiting room was quiet and cool. An older woman held a notebook in one hand, but she was gazing around the room. Fascinating, Rachel thought. What quirky earrings. She took out her own notebook and scribbled down a few thoughts. Then she approached the receptionist.

“Writer’s Block?” the woman asked.

“Yes, please,” Rachel answered.

“Sit there until we call your name.”

Rachel found a seat. A middle-aged man came in with a pair of giggling teenagers. Their conversation was fascinating–Rachel hoped they didn’t notice her taking notes. Several women sat in a corner, phones up, lost to the real world.

The receptionist called her name. Rachel walked over. “I can’t sleep,” she said. “I’ve got stories repeating in my head over and over all night long. Please, how do I block them?”

©Christie Powell

 

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October 9, 2018 – Prompt – “I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.” Wm. Shakespeare

This was a take home prompt and limited to 1000 words.

One More Glass of Scotch

The first time I entered this place was in a dream. My life at the time was very ordinary, boring actually. I came home from my office job each night more and more worn down with the utter uselessness of what I was doing.

It was a Wednesday night the mid-week day when we can look forward to the weekend. I hadn’t been enjoying my weekends either. Golf had become more work than fun, none of the football teams I watched were doing well, and my girlfriend had moved out saying, “You know you are not fun anymore, Josh. What happened?”

I drank a quart of Famous Grouse scotch and staggered to my bedroom. I was out before I hit the bed. I know you don’t know when your dreams begin but this one seemed to start as I closed my eyes. I was standing in front of an ornately decorated door, I reached out and grasped the doorknob that was a golden color and shaped like a rose. I stepped into a light-filled room the walls weren’t painted but changed colors every few minutes. The hues were so rich they seemed to seep into my brain through my eyeballs. They filled me with all-encompassing peace. It was so tranquil I wanted to stay forever, but before I could take more than one step. I woke up. I didn’t want to my desire was to return and escape not just my boring life, but the throbbing headache I had.

I couldn’t because my alarm went off and I had to get up and go to work. Thursday was as dissatisfying a day as Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday had been. My headache never left even after Advil every four hours. I thought perhaps what I would need was the “hair of the dog” so I stopped at my usual liquor store for some Famous Grouse. I picked up a bottle then reconsidered and bought a case. Maybe it was the scotch that got me to that awesome room.

When I got home I went right to my bar grabbed a glass and some cold water, Scotch is better with a little water I have been told, grabbed a bottle from the case and headed for my bedroom. I wasn’t going to waste time on other activity or even the time it would take me to walk from my recliner to my bed. It was straight to bed, and after four full glasses, I had emptied the bottle. I was asleep almost before I sat my empty glass on my bedside table. Hallelujah, there was the ornate door. I quickly opened it and walked in. The beautiful colors were there,, and tonight there was a soothing melody playing. It reminded me of a burbling spring and the sound seemed to flow into my subconscious mind and calmed me. I took two steps and woke up.
Friday was much the same as Thursday. Except I skipped the Advil because it didn’t help my headache, and gave me indigestion.

I didn’t have to stop at the liquor store tonight. I drove straight home taking risks at yellow lights and even going through a red light which was accompanied by the honking of horns and the one-fingered wave. They sounded angry to me. I didn’t bother with ice or a glass. I had put my scotch in the freezer before I went to work. I grabbed the frost covered bottle and went right to my bedroom. I unscrewed the cap and drank from the bottle. I emptied it in thirty minutes. It was there again the ornate door, and I burst through it and took three steps then I halted to take a deep breath because the fragrance in the room was so heavenly I thought I would swoon but as I began to take another breath, I woke up.

I was filled with rage. It was Saturday. I didn’t have anything to do. I wanted to stay in my dream and “I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it,” I thought. I hustled to my kitchen and pulled another bottle of Famous Grouse from the freezer. This time I decided to drink slower but had to stop myself from guzzling. In less than an hour, I was again asleep and standing in front of the doorway. When I took four steps, a light breeze caressed my cheek the sensation went right to my brain. As before I then woke up. I had been asleep for less than two hours. I tried to get up but the effects of the scotch were still apparent, and when I tried to stand up I fell down. I must have hit my head on something as hours later I roused with a lump on my temple and lying on the floor. My vision was so blurry it took me a while to focus on my watch and see what time it was. I had spent the whole day on the floor, and it was now evening.

I repeated the ritual of the last two days but added another bottle of scotch. Perhaps I thought two bottles would keep me asleep longer. When I entered the room taking just five steps, there was a table laden with all my favorite sweets I picked up a chocolate truffle and let it melt in my mouth but before I could swallow I woke up. I wept. I didn’t want to leave the room everything in it was magnificent.

I drank again even more and soon entered that wonderous place. This time there was a door across the room, and as I strode six steps it opened, and a tall, thin man in a black hooded cape beckoned to me.

“Come in,” he said, ”you can waste your time here.”

Christine Howard

September 25, 2018 – Prompt – This is the Fifth Door He Has Knocked on

This Is The Fifth Door He Has Knocked on

Funny how things work out. He didn’t even remember how he got there, but he knew he was in the right place. The Halloween party started at six pm, and it was only ten pm. Well, he was just a little late.
First door – no one answered
Second door – lady gave him some candy
Third door – a dog barked and growled, no answer
Fourth door – he could hear a TV, but no one answered
Fifth door – The door opened, and Batman said “where have you been?
The party started four hours ago.”
“Well, you know how it is after several drinks. I have been wandering around lost in the neighborhood, and at least I got a lot of candy.”
“Come in here Dad; you know that you’re not allowed to wander around at night by yourself. We’ve been worried about you.”
“Good grief, don’t get so excited, they told me at the rest home, it was time to turn out the lights and go to bed. I knew that I could do what I wanted to and I decided to sneak out and enjoy Halloween. No one ever missed me. Besides, I have my pajamas on! Do you want some candy?”
Jean Dunstan

*****

This is the fifth door he knocked on
And there was no answer
He panicked because behind him
Was a big fighter
He ran some more
to another door
And pounded like a cop
And finally someone opened up.

A sigh of relief passed his lips
And long arms embraced his hips
“Come in my dear
You are finally here
It’s almost time to eat
Juicy, tender meat.”

The water was boiling
The butcher was toiling
Sharpening the knifes and cleaver
Approaching him like a beaver
The little boy, who found no joy
Running into a stranger’s abode
Not knowing any code.

Now children listen to reason
Do not follow strangers this season
Cannibalism is for real
And children they do steal.

Ellynore Seybold

October 2, 2018 -Prompt -“I couldn’t believe it they had done in again.”

Sales Guy – James Encounter
Sales Guy had come upon hard times. It seemed like months since he had made his last king-sized sale – over one hundred thou. Sales Guy was known for his ability to sell anybody anything, the kind of guy who could sell, as the saying goes, refrigerators to Eskimos..

And so he found himself at the residence of an old friend, one whom he hadn’t seen in a year or two. Even though he would be trying to sell a unique photo of his beloved BD5J jet aircraft, he had reconciled himself to this financial low point, selling off the last of his prized possessions.

He reviewed the names on the mailboxes, and fond the name of his old friend, the owner of the building he had once lived in.. He rang the bell. James buzzed him through.
Sales Guy knocked, lightly. The door opened half way.

Immediately recognizing his visitor, the Owner rolled his eyes, and blurted, ““Not you again, Sales; you half-witted, simple-minded, lame-brained nitwit. What piece of rat-infested dog-shit are you going to try to sell me today? Last year’s piece of unconscionable junk lasted all of a month and evaporated. Now, do I really need another fucking truckload of camel dung to send to my mother for Christmas? Go away dipshit.” And he tried to close the door but was halted by Sales Guy’s boot stopping it in place.
Sales Guy appeared to take this in stride. He swallowed hard, drew a deep breath. He then drew his right arm, fist closed, behind the right side of his head, as far as it would go, and he then threw it forward with all his worldly might, opening his hand just before it made contact. His flat hand smashed against the door with an ear-shattering explosion which had most of the residents curiously poking their heads out of their doorways within seconds. So loud was the thunderclap that it could be heard two stories down. Silence returned after the reverberation of the blast settled down. By the time the curious onlookers had focused on Sales Guy at the Owner’s door, he was smiling affably and saying, “Why James, a pleasure chatting with you.”

Without waiting for a response, Sales Guy sauntered down the hallway and waited for his old friend to join him beside the swimming pool. He knew he had James exactly where he wanted him. He felt so good about his encounter that he couldn’t help whispering to himself, “This is so nice; I could willingly waste a good deal of my time just sitting here waiting to close this one.”

Lloyd Rain

September 18, 2018 – Prompt – I never believed they existed, but this one is staring right at me.

Jackalope

It sat there
Useless….wet
From running
A joke of nature
This thing
With antlers
A bushy tail
Hopping away
I had heard
About them
Read about them
Even the
Occasional picture
This freak of nature
Yes….a freak
Created by what?
You may ask
Isn’t it obvious
It’s the mating
Of a deer
And jack rabbit
And it’s starring
At me right now
Nose twitching
You know it
As the illusive
Jackalope

Tim Segrest

September 11, 2018 – Prompt – “I will see you in a hundred years for my heart is old and I am not like other people.” Charles Bukowski

This week’s prompt was a take home one with up to 1000 words allowed. One of our members requested that we do it. It too was from the Ladies at Reedsy.

 

“I Will See You in A Hundred Years….”

“I will see you in a hundred years, for I am old and not like other people. I was mainstream once, back when my age was less than the number of countries in the world today. That was so long ago I can barely remember the time of it. But even then I was off center. I tell you now, the times on this planet are changing. The speed is faster, the edge is sharper. If you can’t keep up, you perish by the blade. You, my young friend, are leaving today on a fantastic, historic venture and I envy you the thrills to come, the new things you will see and learn. I rather wish I could be surprised once again, I miss that. The sameness sometimes becomes tiring. But you will go, and I will stay, at least for now. Hold on to your humanness, you will transcend as I have if you meet this challenge. But don’t hold too tightly to the known, reach out for the stars, they will be there to guide you and give you a pull in the direction you aspire to go. Bon Voyage, and Godspeed.”

I stood outside a doorway and listened to the one sided conversation, thinking at first someone in the office must have left a radio on, because the voice was deep and lulling. A very good reading voice. But I realized quickly that what I heard was a man in the inner office speaking. I should have made my presence known then, or else moved on, but I was too caught up in the story to abandon my spot. I was hidden from view behind a large fake tree, not concerned about being discovered. Rather, I was more concerned that my view didn’t afford me a clear look at the person who was speaking. I moved slowly away from my concealment in order to get a better look. As I stepped toward the voice, a small mouse chose that moment to scuttle across the carpet directly under my feet. I screamed and jumped, landing against a large fish aquarium, startling an eel who had been gazing at me from his watery home. He backed up under a shelf of rocks, his beady eyes accusing me. I straightened up and came face to face with the man who I assumed was the source of the voice I had been listening to. He didn’t look at all like someone well over two hundred years old. He was good looking in a very classic way, his age not much over thirty, I guessed. I would be thirty-one next week, and I didn’t think he looked any older than I. He smiled at me, then reached out to help me steady myself. I hadn’t realized until he put his hands on my arms that I was swaying side to side.

“Hello, I’m Chad,” he said.
“I’m Joyce, sorry to disturb you,” I squeaked out, my voice much higher than normal. What was wrong with me? Was it the conversation I had overheard? Or the electric pulses that went through my body when he touched me?
“Nice to meet you Joyce. May I ask, why are you lurking in the tree outside my office? Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Just curious. Would you like to come inside and sit down for a minute? You seem very pale, do you feel faint?”
I was, in truth, feeling quite faint, and also breathless, but for some reason, I didn’t want him to know that. I backed away, shaking my head.
“Uh, no thanks. I’m fine. I’m going to go back to my desk and grab my stuff. It is quitting time, and I should go home now.” I realized as I spoke that I really didn’t want to leave him. I felt like our paths had crossed for a reason, and I didn’t want to take my eyes off him ever again. On the other hand, the things I had heard him say were spooky. I may have fallen in love with him at first sight, but I wasn’t in the habit of dating ancient men outside my species.
“I hope you aren’t put off by what you may have overheard while hanging around in the tree.”
“Well, it wasn’t the most normal thing I’ve heard while eavesdropping,” I said, willing myself to break the hold he seemed to have on me.
“Let me explain, I was reading a short story submission aloud. It’s science fiction, not my strong suit, and it helps to hear it spoken. I’m trying to decide whether to give the author a spot in our magazine.” Chad looked into my eyes, and I believed him. How could I have been dumb enough to think what I overheard was anything other than science fiction?
“Thanks for explaining that to me,” I said.
Chad frowned, putting a hand to his middle. His stomach made a loud grumbling sound, echoing in the room. He looked embarrassed.
“Joyce, I apologize. I haven’t eaten since this morning. I was out of town for a while and consequently I have been trying to catch up on my work. How about coming out to dinner with me? We can go to the restaurant downstairs. They serve a duck a l’orange that is out of this world.”
“Well, that certainly seems appropriate. I would love to go to dinner with you,” I said to him, daydreaming about how beautiful our babies would be.

by Karen Hydock

† † † † †

1000 Years of Loving Sophia

He lifted his hand to knock on the door, he hesitated. What would she say? Would she welcome him? Would she turn him away without listening to his story? He straightened the knot on his tie and tightened his hold on the pink roses.
He had been on this same doorstep 100 years ago. It had been the grandest house in the neighborhood. The Victorian mansion of James White was the railroad baron’s showplace.

As he looks the home over he sees it’s lost its luster. The brass door knocker which had been one of the unmistakable fittings of the wealthy was gone all that remained were scars of the screws which had attached it to the door. The house was in need of a fresh paint job. The porch which wrapped around the front and right side of the house sagged, and some of its posts were broken. Some of the window panes in the fourth story tower were broken.

He had loved Sophia for 1000 years, and as his life evolved and re-evolved, he sought her out. In 89AD they had first met. Domitian was the emperor of Rome, and Anthony was a member of the Senate. Domitian had curtailed the Senate’s power, and there was talk of assassination. Sophia was a servant girl in Domitian’s palace, and Anthony sought her out hoping to get her assistance. She would serve the wine with the deadly hemlock in it to Domitian. Sophia agreed to help them with their plan for she despised the emperor and the advances he made on her. She put the water hemlock in the goblet with his favorite wine. She sat in on the table at his place, but Titus having emptied his cup picked it up while Domitian was looking away and drained it. The next morning Titus was found barely breathing and soon died. Domitian’s physician recognized it as poisoning with hemlock.

We had to flee as one of the other slaves reported seeing Sophia putting something in Domitian’s drink. During their planning, Anthony had fallen in love with the beautiful and gentle Sophia. We were captured brought back to Rome and executed by being thrown into the Colosseum with hungry lions. Sophia died in my arms as a lion pounced on my back and bit into my neck.

In 189 they had again been united. Only sixteen when they met. Children of local farmers they encountered each other at harvest time. Madly in love, they were about to marry when a plague struck their small village, and both succumbed to the illness. It was now thought the dread disease was smallpox.

In 889 one of the most tumultuous of their lives. They resided in Strathclyde. They had a small home on the River Clyde. The kingdom was under constant invasion up and down the coast and along the river, Clyde by the Vikings. The Norse men raped, killed and pillages the area. During one of the invasions, Sophia and their daughter Deidra were kidnapped and never again did Anthony see them. He died by his own hand two years later.
In the most recent life in 1889, they had lived the happiest of all their unitings. Sophia’s father James was the wealthiest man in Harmony. At the time Harmony was a small village built along the new railroad. Anthony worked for James as his assistant and was respected for his diligence. He remembered how he had come to call for Sophia in the most elegant carriage the livery stable had pulled by two matched black horses. He would take her to the Easter Pageant practice. She came out in a white lawn dress it fell from her natural waist to her ankles, and she wore a matching bonnet. For the pageant, she was dressed in coarse brown cotton. She portrayed Mary Magdalene on her knees before the crucified Christ. That night he made the decision he would ask her to marry him. He requested her father’s blessing that very night, and it was given. On Easter Sunday after the pageant, he proposed to her. Before the summer was over, they were wed. They lived happily in Harmony fifty years raising five children. They survived into their late seventies seeing the next generations of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Now it was 1989 and the car sitting at the curb was his new Buick Riviera. It glittered in the sun. Its tire fixed. He could have been on his way in the morning, but he had stayed the night, and while having a beer with his dinner he heard a laugh. He recognized it. It was her Sophia, but before he could catch a glimpse of her, she had left. His waitress was an amiable sort and flirted throughout his meal.
“The woman I just heard laughing, who is she?”
Marta batted her lashes, “Oh, that’s Sophia Wills.”
She seemed to have no regrets in telling him who she was or where she lived. “She’s lives in the old run down house on James Street.”
He paid for his dinner leaving Marta a sizable trip, but that was all he left. I’ll go by in the morning. He had thought. I can’t wait to see her again.

Now he was at the door, and it all had come pouring back. He rapped on the door. He heard voices. It sounded like a child crying, “Mummy, Mummy.”
The door opened. It was her. “Sophia,” he groaned.
She looked at him with those turquoise blue eyes. He saw fear in them.
“Sir, do I know you?”
“It had been 100 years perhaps she did not remember their love. That they were soul mates and would always be. He looked down at her swollen stomach.
“Oh, excuse me I thought someone I knew lived here.”
“Someone named Sophia? That is my name, and I have lived in this house all my life. But I assure you, sir, I don’t know you.”
“Pardon my disturbing you, it must be in another town much like this one I know a Sophia. I will take my leave. Good day.” He turned and walked down the cracked and uneven sidewalk to his car. He tossed the roses in a trash bin set by the curb.

“Goodbye Sophia,” he said as he drove away. “I will see you in 100 years. For my heart is old and I am not like other people.”

Christine Howard

August 28, 2018 – Prompt- Lost and Found

Thanks to Arielle & Yvonne at Reedsy.com for the weekly prompts they post for their short story contests. Liking them we are using them now and then for our weekly prompts responses at our meetings. There are always five choices and “No one will ever find it here –you thought,” Was the one we choose for our ten minute write. It came under the main heading “Lost and Found.”

No one will ever find it here—you thought

What am I going to do with this big pile of $100,00 in bills? I know DEA is watching me. I got rid of the hash, but now what will I do with the cash?

Burying it in the back yard is too obvious. I know—a dear friend of nine just passed away.

I head to the funeral home dressed in black, wearing a big skirt. The undertaker was very sympathetic to a grieving friend and he gave me time alone with my friend.

Half the coffin was open and I could admire the good job the make-up artist did. No evidence of the bullet hole in his head. I took the money out of my pants and stuffed it into the coffin. I had just finished when others arrived. I stayed for the service thinking the whole time about digging up the casket after dark.

Finally the service was over and I watched the coffin being removed. It was then I learned he was to be cremated immediately.

Ellynore Smith

July 10, 2018 – Prompt – Strawberry, AR

 
The strawberries were red and luscious. The weather had cooperated this year and fields of sweet, dark red berries abounded. Everything was quiet when David checked his field one final time before he retired for the night. He was antsy because the next day he had set aside for harvesting and packing his strawberries for the strawberry festival.

It was two a.m. when David was awakened by the sound of thunder. He got up from his bed and looked outside to see that the wind was blowing the tops of the trees around. Still, he thought, maybe it wouldn’t be bad enough to damage his beautiful crop. That was when the hail started. Half an hour later, it was all over.

David gave up on strawberries. He opened a petting farm and changed the name of his town to Billy Goat Hill.

©Karen Hydock

July 3, 2018 – Prompt – Flag, Fireworks,Parade & Picnic

It was twenty-nine years ago, yet I can still remember when I close my eyes.

I can’t recall why we missed the parade. I hate standing for those anyways, and she wasn’t there.

Our picnic spot was good of course with her there—anywhere would have been perfect.

Once the sun set it wasn’t the fireworks, but the dark between them I waited for, stealing kisses to avoid my father’s notice.

The flag and the anthem arrived all too soon announcing the end.

©Graymayne

Prompt – June 26, 2018 – Use the following words: drink – call – space – ladder – jam – cliff

Hiking along the trail that led to the Kilauea volcano, I looked forward to experiencing the beauty and peace that I always felt when I visited this beautiful area.  I needed to get away from my hectic life in Honolulu.  It seemed as though my days were spent trapped in traffic jams and crazy nonstop days at work.

Today is my day; I thought as I finally reached a cliff overlooking the island below.  Taking a drink of water, I felt my body relaxing as I inhaled the fresh air and the beauty of this incredible island.  Just for today, I knew that I could forget trying to climb the ladder of success.

Yes!  Aloha!  This is my time!

Jean Dunston

*****

I can see into space

Up the ladder I went

I couldn’t find the name

I couldn’t see a face

But time is short

I mixed myself a drink

I made the call

The man in the moon

Was in a jam

He fell off the cliff

He was

All over the room

I fixed him up

The best I could

I just happen to have

A jar of Elmer’s glue

A fable of time and measure

A fable of just what

Not to ever do

When given a prompt

You can’t pull

Yourself through

©Tim Segrest, 2018