January 24,2017 – Prompt -A Ball, a Balloon & a Balustrade

I rested my hand lightly on the balustrade at the edge of a balcony on the 23rd floor of New York’s Essex House Hotel. Across 57th Street the green of Central Park stretched away towards the North. The street sounds were muffled by the sleepy quiet of the spring Sunday morning. They were so muffled that we were even able to hear the “clip-clop” of the carriage horses on Central Park Drive. Up by the center of the park, by the lake, we saw youths playing a game of ‘pick-up’ ball. At the lake’s edge a forlorn child lost his grip on the string holding his helium balloon and it glided off across the tree tops.

I picked up my mimosa and gazed deeply into Mary’s smiling eyes.

“Will you marry me?” I asked.

Bob Kelly

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Oct.11, 2016 -Prompt – She stepped on the plane with a passport, no plans and six months to find them.

Maria was twenty years old when she finally got the information she had been waiting for all of her life. She had just been notified that orphanages were now releasing birth certificates to orphans. She immediately called her lawyer and arranged for him to get hers. Upon receiving it, she was amazed to find out that she was not French but Italian. She also learned her real name, her date of birth, her parents’ names and that they were originally from Sicily, Italy. Without even thinking about how she would do it, she took a leave of absence from her job and arranged to fly to Italy.

Filled with excitement, she settled into her seat and thought about how she would find them. One of her friends suggested she look up the name in the phone book and start calling anyone with the last name Nicosia. However, since she couldn’t speak Italian, she realized it would be better to hire someone to help her find out the information she was looking for.

“I can do this!” she thought, “I have six months to get it done and this is my chance to find out who I am!”

Jean Dunstan

Oct. 4, 2016 – Prompt -The shoe factory runs out of glass slippers, so Cinderella goes barefoot.

The shoe factory runs out of glass slippers so Cinderella goes barefoot. She was more used to being barefoot anyway. Who in their right mind ever thought that a glass shoe would be comfortable? She shook her head, personally glad she didn’t have to wear the things. She would have been terrified all night long of stepping wrong and having one shatter and slice her foot to ribbons.

But to go entirely barefoot? She would look like the un-cared for step-child she was. Sitting in her tiny attic room, she was unsure what to do, until she spotted several lengths of ribbon the mice had brought her. Picking one up, she wound it around her ankle and the top of her foot before tying it in an intricate knot. She held her foot out and looked at a moment. It really was pretty and unique, no one would guess it was because she had no shoes.

She quickly tied the other foot to match and hurried off to the ball.

Meleesa Stephens

*****

This was impossible how could she possibly go barefoot to the Prince’s Ball. Surely, her Fairy God Mother could deal with this problem.

“Sorry, girl, but all I do when I wave my wand is transfer a pair of slippers from the factory stock. If they are out, they’re out.”

“But, FGM, OMG aren’t your powers magical. If you can transform mice into horse and footmen why not a pair of my old shoes into glass-slippers?”

“Nope, can’t be done my contract strictly forbids it.”

“Contract! What contract?”

“The one the glass shoe makers of Fantasy Land have with all FGM’s, witches, shamans, genies and others with magical powers, expressly prohibiting the making of glass slippers. There’s a union you know?”

“A Union! Fantasy Land has a union?”

“AAMOF it does. It’s not the only contract. The witches have one with all others of magical power forbidding them from flying with brooms and one with the cauldron makers that limit there use to witches.”

“So I’m to go barefoot to the ball. OMG , I’ll be so embarrassed.”

“Come, girl, think! How can you make those bare feet shine even brighter than wearing glass slippers? Here, put on this glitter nail polish.”

Christine Howard

August 30,2016 -Prompt -Finish Even if It’s Horrible

Finally, I have time to take a painting class.  Reading on the syllabus what supplies to get…. Hmm, what kind of paint? Who knew there were so many kinds… Well…This is the cheaper set.
Boars hair brushes… Those are outrageous! Who knew there were so many varieties… I’ll just get this one. Now, the canvas… Oh, here’s some on Clearance. Yes, I chose the least expensive and it still added up to way too much for a first class. After all, I may not  like painting.
Time for my first class and I’m a leery of my supplies, seeing that the others look professional and with the best supplies listed on the syllabus that I ignored.
“This is a very basic class,’ the Instructor announces, “and I will be showing you each stroke of the brush as we go.”
We start. Well, started, but I guess I didn’t clean the brush off as good as I should have before changing colors. My colors were different than the Instructor’s or anyone else’s!            Thinking, just finish even if it’s horrible. Because I was trying. Halfway through, the bristles started coming out of my brush and sticking to the canvas!  Thankfully I was doing the stream through the scene, and I thought those detaching bristles on my shrinking brush resembled schools of little fish swimming through it. I told myself, finish, even if it’s horrible.
Praying….that everyone else forgot their glasses too.

Susie Scott

 

 

August 16, 2016-Prompt-“Never Name Your Child______!

I have four children, three biological, one adopted.

Each of them calls me by a different name. I don’t know how it happened, it just happened. Some of the names stuck, others went through numerous permutations, some lasting a decade, others lasting only a week or two. So at various times I went through being addressed as Daddy, Dad, Lloyd (from the adopted one), Pop, Pops, Father, Father-In-Law (several of the children’s partners had difficulty calling me anything that implied a biological relationship). These, of course, are aside from other less endearing names such as nitwit, bonehead, peabrain, and other charming appellations of similar ilk (I paid little attention to all this, knowing that someday they would all be out there in the cruel world attempting to earn their own livings and paying even less attention to me than they did while growing up.

In the twenty years or so that these nominal attributions took place, they never did settle upon one standard name for me that they could all use at the same time. Now that they’re in their forties, three of them married, one with multitudes of children, they have finally agreed, completely by accident, on a universally acceptable name for their father.

It began with my attempt to address simple email messages to two or three of them at a time, or even more confusing, to several children and spouses at the same time. So signatures on anniversary cards and email messages began to look like, “Love, Daddy and Lloyd (aka Father-In-Law).” Or, “Merry Xmas, Your Non-biological Father, aka, your favorite Bonehead.”

After a few years of these multiple assignations, I shortened the closings strings to endearments such as, “Love, Pop, Pops, Daddy, Dad, Chief Cook, Pretentious Father-In-Law, Etc.” And, “ Love, Daddy, Dad, Lloyd, Father to one,  Father-In-Law, Perhaps, to the other, Etc.” And it didn’t take long for the signature block to migrate to short forms such as “Love, Daddy (aka, Pops). Etc.”

Then a very strange thing happened. I began getting email messages addressed to, “Dear Etcetera;”. And it caught on like a dust storm in the desert. Sentences would creep into inter-child communications such as, “Got a note from Etcetera yesterday.” And, “Hey guys, hope you haven’t forgotten that it’s Etcetera’s birthday next week.”

It only took a matter of a month or two before there was full agreement. My final, universally acceptable name from all my children, their children and their partners of various origins and genders, for each and every one of them to refer to me as Etcetera.

  1. I can live with that. Especially since I started the whole damned thing (in about five different dimensions — think about it).

But I can’t help but think, every once in a while, that the underlying reason for this universal agreement was payback for the real names that I had a part in giving them when they were, perhaps, something between three days and three weeks sold. Admittedly, it took a long time, but payback had finally arrived. They seem very satisfied in all their smugness.

Of course, I love the whole lot of them dearly, but I occasionally wonder what they would think If they only knew what I would name them if I had it to do all over again.

Lloyd Rain

*****

Never name your child Matilda.

Her mother named her after a long deceased beloved relative.  Unbeknownst to mother was the fact that Great Aunt Matilda hated her name.  So much so that she said she would come back and haunt whoever had the gall to reuse her name.

So this poor innocent babe got the great auntie’s name.  She had to go through life stuck with the name “Matilda”.  All her friends used to tease her and call her “That crazy Waltz kid”.

Her ghostly aunt haunted her mother.  On Halloween, it was especially bad.  All mother could hear all that day was the tune “Waltzing Matilda”.  No matter what she did on October 31 she could not get that song out of her mind.  The worst part was that she even heard it in Aunties crackly, old, wavering voice.

Auntie Matilda got her revenge.  Never in that family was another child ever named Matilda.

Valerie Cook

July 12, 2016 – Prompt – “Cops Bust Drunken Werewolf in Ohio

“Cops Bust Drunken Werewolf in Ohio”

Residents of Gallipolis were stunned yesterday when the owner of Alonzo Volen’s bar turned into a wolf after imbibing his own liquor. Police were summoned after the animal attacked several people, three of whom are now hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. A police investigation discovered that Volen’s whiskey, billed as imported from Germany, was actually moonshine. Mr. Volen was not available for comment.

Christie Powell

*****

The 911 operator could not believe her caller.

“There is a werewolf running loose in town and it appears to be drunk”.

Now I had to notify the cops, and they thought I was funning them.  I could not blame them as I had thought the same myself.

However, being the good guys that they were, they went werewolf hunting in the outskirts of our Ohio city.  Low and behold by the light of the full moon they did see a wolf staggering around the woods in the park.  They managed to net him and hauled him into the station house.  They were getting prepared to call the Animal control officer, when the wolf woke up, sloughed off his fur and became the local mailman.  Everybody knew him and had a hard time believing what they saw.  Since his blood alcohol was still high they arrested him for being drunk and disorderly.

The judge was so shocked when the mailman came to trial, that disbelieving the story, he turned him free with instructions to stay sober and never appear in his court again.

Valerie Cook

July 5, 2016 – Prompt – “You don’t have enough points, sir.”

 

“You don’t have enough points Sir,”

“What?!”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t let you in.”

“I drove two days to get here, had a flat tire, my wife got car sick and threw up on the kids. We had to spend a night in a flea bag motel and got bitten by bed bugs, and now you won’t let us in. Please, can’t you make and exception and just miscount by five points. You know I’ll earn the points before I get  back home. Please, please, please Sir, I beg you, don’t deny us this great opportunity.”

“You call coming here an opportunity?”

“Yes, after all we have gone through, you can’t deny it.”

“Wait here, and I’ll send for the manager.”

We stood outside and watched all the other people go through the turnstile and into the place.

One after the other they entered while we watched with envy. Finally the big boss appeared. He looked at our ticket and calculated the points on his cell phone.

“You dummy,” he said to the gatekeeper, “They have more than enough points.” Turning to us he said, “Sorry for the inconvenience. Welcome to Cosco.”

Ellynore Smith

May 31, 2016 – Prompt – You find a twenty dollar bill tell its story

What is that fluttering in that grassy spot? Holy smokes its a $20 bill. How did it get here? Where did it come from?

 

As I picked it up it started talking to me. “You know lady I was born in the Philadelphia mint and now I am getting old, I’m almost 10 years old. I’m way past my prime. But I have had a life, believe you me. “

 

“My first trip was from the mint’s cutting room to the Brink’s truck and then taken to a bank in downtown Philly. From there I was shipped out to Chicago with lots of my friends. While there we were rebound ad eventually ended up in a tellers drawer.”

 

“We spent most of the day there as people were putting money in and not taking any out. Finally some well-dressed dude came in and cashed a check for $100. So four friends and myself left with him. What a night we had. After dinner where he left one of my friends we headed for a bar. I was the second $20 he spent there. I ended up in this dark and smelly till. Not to happy with that.”

 

“Next morning I was back at the bank. Only now I was not brand new, but a little wrinkled and some worse for wear.   Soon a young mother picked me up, she traded me for milk and some other groceries. The grocer then used me to pay a tradesman for some baked goods. Bread and sweet rolls I think.”  

Valerie Cook

May 24, 2016 – Prompt – Neurotic Sports Mascot

Billy wanted to be a quarterback in high school.  He’d dreamed and obsessed about it since he could talk.  How the idea came to him, he couldn’t have said.  It was just there.

Unfortunately, his sisters reached 5’ 10” but Billy never got past the 5’5” mark.  He pestered each coach every season that passed but the lawyers for the school stated it would be too dangerous and the school would be liable for a suit if someone squashed Billy’s little body.

The very last spring of his senior year Billy finally gave up.  But he wasn’t going to sit on the bench any longer.  He and his mother made up a suit for him.  A huge rabbit suit with very long floppy ears and a bug bushy tail.  He looked ridiculous, which pleased him.  He showed up in the middle of Half Time in the last game of the season.  He danced across the field, doing cartwheels and silly dance movements.  A deathly silence fell over the entire stadium.

Then suddenly the laughter began and rolled out onto the field.  People stomped the bleachers and clapped.  The school team was named The Wild Wolves.  Billy figured if he couldn’t go big—he’d go small.

Pinkie Paranya

*****

I get into my damned dragon outfit for the sixth time this week. Yes, I’m the mascot for the Yankee Dragons baseball team.

As I drive to the ballpark in my Chevy some guy cuts me off and as I pass, I give him a one-finger wave.

You can’t imagine my horror when I realize it is the person dressed as a chicken—the mascot for the other team we’re playing. As soon  as we both get to the stadium the chicken gets our of the car and attacks me, right there in front of all the people waiting to enter the stadium.

A chicken and a dragon fighting draws the attention of the local and national press. Soon we are surrounded by cameras and video tapes. I finally manage to get the better of the chicken and the baseball game begins.

Later that evening I sit in the living room watching the ten o’clock news. When the dragon/chicken fight is shown, my wife and I laugh our heads off.

“Only bad thing about this,” says my wife, “I have to get the damn chicken outfit cleaned again.”

Ellynore Seybold-Smith

 

May 17, 2016 – Shopping Binge

The bags were light, but Corie felt encumbered by them. She hadn’t wanted to go on this trip and the shopping binge she’d just finished weighed her down in her soul.  She usually had a lot of willpower, but she’d felt possessed by something she couldn’t shake off. It bothered her, why would she spend time and money on the stuffed animals and children’s clothes she’d bought? As she walked along to her car, she saw a storefront she hadn’t noticed before. Lives in the Balance was written on the big, red door. Curious, she stopped and peered through the front window. She saw a young woman sitting in a rocking chair holding a small child. An older woman was standing next to them. The women saw her looking through the window and smiled.

Karen Hydock

*****

Ema went on one of her shopping binges.

Scot faced her as she stumbled in the door with all her packages.

“What the HELL are you doing to our budget?” he said. “I saw on the computer that Bank America has a red flag on our account! and what is that red Corvette doing in our driveway?”

“Well,” said Ema, “I’m celebrating my check from Amazon! I sold a million copies of my book, THE DEAL OF THE ART.”

“Oh honey,” Scot replied, I’m so proud of you…. sorry I doubted your talent.  You can go ‘binge shopping’ whenever you like. I’m quitting my job!”

Carol Taylor