December 11, 2018 – Prompt – What do you think Santa’s Elves do on there day off? Write a story about an elf that gets into trouble on his day off.

Pinkey was an elf, different in every way from all the other elves. To begin with, Pinkey was aptly named for the fact that his nose would turn a bright neon pink whenever he did something that would put him on Santa’s naughty list if he was an ordinary human. But he wasn’t. He was an elf, not just an ordinary elf. Pinkey was the son of Santa’s brother and an elfin witch. Perhaps that’s why Pinkey was always in trouble and Santa didn’t fire him.

It was days before the Christmas rush, and Pinkey was bored of all the work. So he went to the reindeer stable and “borrowed” Rudolph for a joy ride. Pinkey misjudged the distance when he rode Rudolf too close to the North Pole. Rudolph hit the pole and hurt his nose and wouldn’t be able to lead the reindeer through the dark polar night.

Santa was furious with Pinkey whose nose glowed an exceptionally bright neon pink. Santa thought that if Rudolph couldn’t guide the sleigh perhaps Pinkey’s nose could.

And so it was that Pinkey with his own the pink nose led all the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh to make the rounds on Christmas eve. However, true to his mischievous nature, Pinkey ate all the cookies and drank all the milk that was left out for Santa.

Linda Scott

 

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December 4, 2018 – Prompt – A man enters his house and notices several things are just slightly out of place.

November 27, 2018 – Why I Write?

November 27th, 2018

Today as I write about Tito a beloved Communist leader after visiting his Parliament in Belgrade last May, I remember the smell of the pink with yellow center rose that was named after him. Learning about his funeral that was attended by many dignitaries on Both sides of the Cold War. It was said no funeral rivaled it for five years by Pope John Paul II, then thirteen years later by Nelson Mandela.

I was sitting writing these facts in my NaNoWriMo novel, as I received a text from a neighbor saying she had just heard our neighbor down the block didn’t make it out of surgery. It was a sad day in our neighborhood, as we’ll miss Jerry’s smiling face. He was a retired Air Force officer. I saw Jerry walk across the street as I was on the way to meet a friend for church. I’d been told he was leaving the next day for Palm Springs as it was a dangerous surgery requiring at least four specialists. He had a hernia of the diaphragm that needed repair. I impulsively jumped out of the car and hugged Jerry so hard it broke my dollar store glasses, I had tucked into my blouse.  Saying I hoped to see him home soon.

When I told my friend of his passing, she said, “I want to go to the movies.”

My thoughts were she needs, “Calgon take you away time,” (an old bubble bath commercial). I prefer to feel the raw emotion, “That’s why I write!”

Carol Bouchard

 

November 20, 2018 – Sunsets and Heartbeats

This week we had a take home prompt. We were to use the sentences below as your prompt make one the first sentence and the other the last sentence but use both. Limit to 500 words or less.

*Sunsets will never be the same again

*Heart beats shouldn’t be this loud

Sunsets Seen Differently

Heartbeats shouldn’t be this loud. I said in that bleary stage before my mind grasped where I was. I woke in the dark of the night, alone. I felt a mighty massive fist clasping my heart and squeezing it trying to wring every drop of blood from it. I could sense it pulsing in my ears, and I feared when I would no longer hear it. My breaths which had been weak gasps now diminished to shallow gulps. I was descending into a black hole and as I fell I spun and all around me a high pitched shrieking scream rose and fell, rose and fell, rose and fell. Then vanished.
Hours later I revived to find myself surrounded by beeping, throbbing, susurrating machines. Perhaps the scream I’d heard had been the shrill sound of an ambulance’s siren. Who had known? Who had called? Who was the angel that saved me from a death for which I was not yet ready?
I will see things differently from this day forward, and sunsets will never be the same.

Christine Howard

November 9,2018 – Prompt – circle,cliff, jewel,paper and lamp

Five Innocuous Words
Lloyd Rain Yuma AZ 11/9/18

(Based on Prompt “Circle, Cliff, Jewel, Paper, Lamp”

True story; however, the five words above have been changed from those used in the original interview.

My short-term memory has been failing for several years. This became most noticeable as I turned 80 years old a few weeks ago. Even though I had taken an Alzheimer Test about three years ago, now it was time to get serious about it – take another one and see if anything has changed.

The session went like this. My family doctor’s nurse at YRMC (1) sat in an interview room with me. At the beginning of the assessment she told me she was going to give me five words and would ask me to repeat them sometime later during the interview. No tricks, no subterfuge, no circumlocutions, no pranks. Just memorize five common words and repeat them a while later when asked. She pronounced them slowly and distinctly – Circle, Cliff, Jewel, Paper, Lamp. I used my own memory ploys based upon years as an air force pilot memorizing ten if not hundreds of checklists and then memorizing various lecture templates when I was a university professor some years later.

Checklists for everything especially when flying high speed jets were the essence of survival. They had to be known and, when necessary, activated instantly. Pre-start, Start-up, Warm-up, Radios, Nav instruments, Pre-taxi, Brake checks, Pre-take-off, Post take-off – some of them ten or twenty items long, each of them just to get the aircraft off the ground. Then a slew of others; Control-alignment, Under-carriage-stuck, Bomb-rack release, Speed brake checks, Fire-warning lights, engine failures of various kinds, and on and on and on. No sweat. Five little words. I had them locked within a few seconds, but just to make sure, I used three extra memory enhancement techniques. They were:

1) I repeated them aloud about five times so regardless of their meaning, simply the memory of the sounds, just as if they were a foreign language, would embed them in my memory.
2) I then visualized a picture of a circular butte-like cliff topped with a jewel printed on paper under lamp.
3) I quickly made a sentence containing all five. (“I circled the cliff with my jewel on paper under a lamp.”)

All this only took perhaps ten or fifteen seconds and I nodded to my nurse, “Done.” knowing that I probably wouldn’t forget those words for at least a month.

We went on with the interview as she asked me a variety of standard cognitive tests (I was later to discover that these were called the “30-question test”, standard initial trials to ascertain if more comprehensive tests should be done). Easy stuff. Other typical questions; my birthdate, seventeen plus 19, day of the week, name of a ship that had sunk, my middle name, 43 times two, graduation year from high school, the last movie I saw, last book I read, recite a short nursery rhyme, and a bunch more, all of which seemed innocuous – geared for the mind of a five-year-old.
And then we were through. But just as she was gathering her paperwork to leave, she said, “Oh, and by the way, what were the five words I asked you to memorize at the beginning of our chat?”

So, I said to myself, Ah-ha. Easy as pie. And I rattled them off as if I were reading them right off the page…except when got to the fourth word…it was gone. It was totally gone. I was stumped. I asked for more time. Placed my head in my hands closed my eyes and repeated the word sentence that I had constructed. Nothing. I mentally repeated the five words in order but the forth was gone. I couldn’t believe it. I tried to recall the mental picture I had concocted. Nothing there either. It was as if someone had reached into my head and plucked that work right out of my brain. I smiled weakly at the nurse and ask for another minute. She said, “Certainly, no hurry. Take as much time as you wish.” By this time my skin was clammy, bordering on perspiration. I stood up and turned circles as I recited “Circle, Cliff, Jewel, Lamp. I’m missing one, aren’t I.” I pleaded. But it was gone. It was as if I had only been given four words, not five and they were all there in perfect order – except for one. I tried standing, sitting, looking at the ceiling, tapping my foot, mentally repeating the first line of the French National Anthem, my very first truncated pre-landing check in a conventional aircraft, gear-fuel-carb-mix- pins-flaps-brakes-seatbelt-radio-lights, Mary had a little lamb, – my fists were tight by this time from gripping my hands. Nothing came. That word was just gone. GONE. Nothing but silence. Finally, I gave up. I told her there was another word but I just couldn’t recall it at this moment. She smiled, thanked me, said goodbye and left the room.

I sat there alone, fuming, angry, devastated. Suddenly I realized that I was now waiting for the bad news. I knew I’d remember the word by the time she came in. But I couldn’t. It seemed like an hour but it was only five minutes later that my Doc came in to discuss my condition. All was well, she said. Nothing to worry about. But I was sitting there rigid waiting for the other shoe to drop. And it did. But not exactly what I was expecting. Not disaster. But not pleasant either.

She never even mentioned the missing word. What she did say, was a question. She asked, why did you want to take this test? And I spewed out a litany of my current memory failures. Walking into a room a forgetting why I went there. Forgetting where I left my coffee, my car keys, my phone. Forgetting to close a window at night, forgetting to take out the garbage. All small stuff but irritating. One time I even switched the last four digits of my address for the last four of my phone number (my phone number last four are 0405 and of my address is 4067, and after I had given what was supposed to be my call-back number, I realized that I had actually said 782-4067! Same thing had happened one time when I gave my social security “last four” as the “last four” of my phone number.

She then gave me the good and bad news. I had scored 30 out of 30 three years previous, and my score today was 27 of 30. Not bad. But definitely worth following up. I asked, based on that scale, what kind of score would indicate a serious deficiency. The answer, anything less than 24 would require additional consideration. Perhaps a more intensive test.

In the final analysis, she said there is nothing to be done at this time. Live your life, be happy.

She diagnosed me as having age-related, mild cognitive decline. “(Stage 2 on the 7-Stage CGS Scale (2) – if you need to know the numbers).”
“But,” she said, we’ll do the test again in a year or two and see how you’re doing. In the meanwhile, use notes. Mostly Post-It notes and put them in those places where you think they’ll probably be of the most use.”

A few more words and that was it. We hugged “goodbye” (our usual substitute for a handshake) and agreed to meet again in six months.

Now, every time even the tiniest memory lapse appears, I attribute it to age-related cognitive degeneration. One time I forgot to feed the dogs for a couple of hours. When I realized that I hadn’t fed them I was mortified. Note on cupboard. Note to watch SNL – Note to buy a John Le Carre book – note on computer to look up keyboard replacement. Notes everywhere: buy toilet paper, Tina’s birthday, dog shot appointments, buy gas, must see movie, check on public record request from Washington, return book to library, call daughter re Korea trip, checklist for leaving house on garage door (wallet, phone, gum, glasses, address, etc.). And on and on. It helps. But it doesn’t make me happy.

Fifty-five years ago, I crashed a jet aircraft due to pure stupidity. No harm done. (except a multi-million-dollar aircraft up in smoke). Now I wouldn’t trust myself to memorize a simple three-item check for fire-warning-light display because when that happens you don’t have time to walk around a room with clenched fists trying to recall a simple patch process. You either know what to do instantly or you’re dead. Now I barely trust myself to drive. Now I know that the devasting day I have to turn in my driver’s license is creeping up from behind and it could grab me at any moment.

And writing. One of my strongest skills – the English language. My use of the Thesaurus and Word Web and Rhyme Zone are increasing noticeably. And there’s not a damned thing I can do about it. Yep, that word recall day and that driver’s license day, which used to be way beyond the horizon, are now just around the corner.

And every day I’m watching for them. Watching very closely. Constantly looking over my shoulder.

October 23, 2018 – Prompt – The Condemned Cell stank of cats.

My first moment of awareness came abruptly. I saw flickering shadows as my eyes adjusted to the faint light. What looked like columns covered the far wall. Then my nose honed in on a sharp, prickly odor. At first I thought it might be my own body odor or the smell of my damp, sweaty clothes. But as I concentrated on the smell I suddenly recognized it. I had smelled that distinct odor before. My Aunt Dori’s house was permeated with that same odor. She was a “cat lady”. Echoing sounds just beyond the wall suddenly interrupted my memories of visits to her house.

Where was I? A closer scrutiny of the wall revealed a door with a small slot and a large lock. What I thought were columns were actually bars. I must be in prison. Who knew a condemned cell stank of cats? Or stank of the fear of the condemned? Why was I here? What did I do? What was making the echoing sounds outside of the wall?

The echoing sounds were replaced with the sound of metal on metal; a key turning in the lock The door creaked as it was pushed in. The guards were coming for me and I can’t remember why.

JoAnne Mowczko

October 16, 2018 – Prompt – Courage

It takes courage to raise nine children as a single mother. My grandmother not only did that but brought them to America. Before World War I and II broke out, she and her family lived in Austria. When she heard about the German takeovers and her family encouraged her to immigrate to Poland. Packing up the youngest five children, she found passage across the Atlantic on a steam ship in steerage. Steerage was the bottom of the ship where cargo was stored.

She and the five children made it to New York and from there joined her relatives to live in a small apartment. She worked as a seamstress and a cook to save enough money to return to Poland and bring back her older four children. The recession and during the wars were tough on her family. My mother, number seven and her brother, number eight, had to be fostered to live with another couple. The older children had to get jobs to support the whole family when my grandmother couldn’t work.

Today, I’ve always thought about visiting Europe to see the land where my grandmother came from. I finally was able to do that this summer. The amazing part visiting the cities which had been rebuilt after the war to the same grandeur they once had. I could never imagine what she had gone through to bring her children to the United States. Some asked, ‘Where was her husband, my grandfather?’ We don’t know. The last thing my cousin found out was Max spent some time in South Africa and Canada during this era.

Nancy Nation

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