Saturday, December 22, 2007

~The Mistress of Watermelon by Ann Walters~

Singing wisdom, she works her garden like an aria. Forgetful tunes, tomato forks, the slick white capsule of the cicada grub just emerging – an astronaut gripping the edge of space. Sitting back on her heels, she waits for its accompaniment. The smooth melon in its infancy is a thick green egg veined with hope. She hums a soothing lullaby and swindles the soil with fish oil and pennies, with magic in the form of worship. With hymns and love.

~Off the Path by Comrade Kevin~

We decided to take a slight diversion from the path. The illustrated trail map provided for all hikers at no additional cost proved to be largely inaccurate and ineffective. Copyright 1974, it seemed to have been made by an high school student for a civic project.

It's not as though getting lost was ever an issue. The desert is flat as a pancake, spreads out for miles and miles, and does not provide a vast amount of landmarks which obscure one's vision.

Jane scaled the bluff in ancient gardening clogs which I initially expressed doubt could provide her enough foothold to scale to the top. She proved me wrong by her slow, methodical approach, digging her heels into the each raised ridge and slowly pulling herself to the top of the sun-soaked boulder.

~Thanatos by Rion~

At the museum I wanted to straddle the mummies. At 12, I didn't know what the straddling would lead to, but it felt happy-dirty, like imagining french-kissing Jesus during services at Sacred Heart.

I still brush my hand up against the glass case when I visit the old man. What history, all distilled into a wizened form! If I could suck that up into me somehow, get wiser, I could make more money or at least not care if I made any less.

My aunt is dying and it makes me cry just a little, but it passes. Would that she could carry the same living meaning as a statue taxidermied in our hearts.

~Dancing with Myself by kj~

See, this is why I hate bringing cameras into the club. Because it's not about how you look, ok--yes, thanks, my butt looks gigundous here, like nobody ever points that out when they see the picture--but it is about what you *do*.

Fuck you and your little high-school glittery stuff around your face, ok? And those shiny four-inch heels you can't dance in? Because while you're over there leaning against the wall and posing like a spoiled diva and pretending like you don't care whether or not That Guy Is Looking At You, *I'm* out dancing, ok, and feeling the sound get under my skin and ignite, and while *you* end up pouty and drunk and out $30 from your stupid trendy cranberry-and-vodka-and-Red Bulls, *I* end up dancing like the wind, and having a glorious time.

Even if you think my butt looks big.

~Liftoff by kj~

"Momma! Look! Look at our spaceship!"

She turned a page of her magazine, and did not look up. "It's lovely," she said.

"Mom!" cried Javier, as the spaceship lifted off, and the roof folded aside to let it pass. "You're not even looking!"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We encourage your participation in Six Sentences

Check out Six Sentences and be in the book! Tell McEvily that Rion at RF sent ya.
COLOSSAL NEWS IN THE WORLD OF PUBLISHING! The submission period for Six Sentences, Volume 1 – a literary tour de force scheduled to be published in February – is officially underway! If you’d like to be part of the action, just send your work to the 6S email address, and make sure the subject line of your email is 6SV1 SUBMISSION (or 6SV1 SUBMISSIONS if you're sending more than one – you may send up to three). Your work must be previously unpublished, and the same 6S Writer's Guidelines apply. The deadline for inclusion in the book is Monday, December 31st, 2007 (at midnight EST). So... when it comes to being published in the book... what will you say in six sentences?

~Madonna by aredsand~

They were waiting to cross over, the immigrants were. Waiting behind the great wall where the lipstick madonna watched them. And they had their dreams, and they made them come alive there while they waited. Alive in blue with outlines of black and of hope, of yellow and of courage. Because it is hard to cross over. But they want it so much.

Trinidad, she wants it, but not, because it means leaving home. So she leaves a little of herself behind, there on the wall, and she asks the madonna to watch over that piece of herself and over her dreams so they might come true.

Waiting for the coyote to arrive and take his money, Guillermo, too, leaves a sign that he was here. And that he wanted to leave, but just please not his name. Because when he crosses over, he will no longer be Guillermo; they will call him Willy.

And the madonna witnesses it, but she does nothing to help.

~Ornament by k's mumbo jumbo~

This little ornament. This one little piece. It is all I have left from my childhood. The final concrete reminder of a mother and father.

Every year when I unpack the ornament and the lights and the tinsel, I think "This is the year I throw it away. This is the year that I move on." But I just can't seem to drop it in the garbage. Letting go sounds so easy, but I know that I am afraid to.

So every year this one small ornament goes onto my Christmas tree to remind me.

~Bear by Dragon~

Sascha doesn't usually let anyone know. You can't get close to him, so you'll never stumble on his secrets. He wasn't always a confirmed bachelor, though.

He didn't look so tough when he married my mama. He looked clean-cut and well-groomed, and he used to smile then. He smiled a lot, big, happy grins. He bought the bear when mama got pregnant with me. For a long while it sat, pristine and fluffy, in the white bassinet they bought. He was ready. Sascha would have been a great father to me.

But I never came, not so you would know. I got close, but all I did was take Mama away with me again. After a while, Sascha took the bear from my empty bassinet, put it in his bed, and stopped being friendly.

~Ink by Comrade Kevin~

I admit to never understanding the predilection for ink that utterly consumes certain folks. As it is, he proudly points to the massive work that adorns the length of his chest, gesticulating towards it by curving the index finger of his right hand inward. It's an impressive study in spiraling letters and flowing cursive that cost him a mere five hundred dollars.

I don't think of such things as remotely artistic and can't help thinking about better ways to spend my money. It seems wasteful, particularly when so many people are going hungry in the world. The design reminds me of airbrushed first names designed to be displayed on the front plates of cars, the kind sold by beach front vendors during Spring Break and sported by women with no conception of how to tastefully apply makeup or properly maintain their hair.

~Pretzels by kj~

"Kelly!" her mother cried.

"What are you doing!?"

Kelly looked up. "Pretzels, mommy," she said, as if the answer were obvious.

"I'm doing pretzels."

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Help Wanted

My loyal and talented authors,

I need help managing this site. I read every single piece and think about which to select for the feature, as well as looking for a variety of interesting/evocative/whimsical images as prompts. However, you can see that I've slowed in my fervor as I become busy with other pursuits.

I'm looking for a co-editor for the site who would be willing to trade weeks with me. That way we don't have so much down time between publications. Any takers?

Much love and respect,
The Management

~Convent by kfad~

My convent. My place of peace, reflection, harmony, commune with God. Maybe I never had the calling. Maybe mother was right and I was running away. Always just running away.

I don't think I can be happy here anymore. Doing Gods work is tiring, and unrewarding. They all just want more. More food, better shelter, more drugs. There is no contentment with them. I had thought that I was spreading my joy of the lord with them. Turns out they just want the joy of the flesh. And they are willing to use the lord to find it.

More and more my convent feels like my prison.

~Turkey by Dragon~

"You're going to screw it up," said Sister.

"You're going to screw it up," said Brother. "You don't have the slightest idea how to use that baster. Give it to me."

"The hell I will." Sister squirted him in the eye with hot turkey juice, but brother ducked. Sister put the bird back in the oven.

"Why are we even bothering with this?" asked Baby. "Mom and Dad are gone. We never got along without them. Thanksgiving as a family is stupid."

"Just make the fucking pie," said Brother, peeling potatoes.

They bickered for five hours in the empty old kitchen. They told each other over and over how much they hated each other, how they were glad they'd never have to spend another moment in such miserable company now that they didn't have Mom and Dad to please.

The turkey came out perfect.

~Sex Appeal by K's Mumbo Jumbo~

"Sometimes, when I look at you, I think I am trying to touch the sun, catch the sun and hold it with my bare hands." she said, and then she bit her bottom lip, in that way she though was coy. Really, it was just kind of sad.
He knew what she thought of him, and that was what got him off. That she equated him with a star, and that she would melt from the slightest look from him. He knew he could get her to do anything and she wouldn't bat an eye. Sex appeal that could disolve morals and ethics.

~React by Cynthia~

My neighbors think I'm crazy. I'm not, I just like dancing on rooftops.

In the morning I get the kids off to school, making sure everything is in their backpacks. My husband goes to the office. I drink my second cup of coffee in silence. I then clean a room for that day. Each room is assigned a certain day, it doesn't vary. After the room is cleaned top to bottom, I take a short nap.

When the alarm sounds, I take my outdated CD player and an assortment of CDs to the roof. I plug the player into the building's electricity, turn up the volume, and move. I'll dance to anything. Nothing is planned in advance. I listen, feel, and react.

When my neighbors scream to knock it off, I know it's time to go back to my apartment. I'm back in time to prepare the after school snacks and to start dinner. I welcome my family back to a clean, happy home.

~Approval by Comrade Kevin~ ~Movie Star by Dragon~

My daughter has lived her life on a cultural divide. The very pious Muslim family to which I was born objects to Western forms of dress, as viewed here in this snapshot. Upon our yearly visit back to Saudi Arabia, Arianna must cover herself foot to toe in black muslin and most certainly never walk around in public without a burka covering her head.

My detractors and supporters alike denote me as a strong woman. Being subservient and ground underfoot, talking only to my husband when engaged in public conversation, never speaking directly to those around me, and always deferring to his will at all occasions was an indignity I was never willing to indulge. My long-lamenting father characterized me as wickedly willful at a young age.

So it was that I married an American citizen who brought me back. He was, at least to the comfort of my family, Arab and Muslim, and though his devotion to Allah had lapsed, he was good to put up suitable pretenses when he met my family. My father, no doubt relieved, approved of him.

~~~Two very different takes on the same image~~~

Krista knew better than to go inside Mr. Allison's house without telling her mom, but Mr. Allison was such a nice old man. He walked his two poodles around the block every morning and gave Krista Lifesavers from his windbreaker pocket.

She knew better, but he was so nice, and he let her play with the dogs, and he brought her presents: dolls to keep in his living room for when she came to visit, and makeup, which her mother wouldn't let her wear.

Mr. Allison had a big trunk full of fancy clothes and pretty ribbons for dress up, and he had a camera. They played such fun games: fashion model, movie star...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

~Start-up by Cynthia~

Driving home, I thought about the presentation I made to a potential client. The group included six men, three women; five gung-ho company people, two wanna-bes, two know-nothings. Nine skeptics. Nine people who could make or break me. Nine I needed.

As I was reassessing, and doubting, my effort to drum up more business, I saw a pick-up truck in front of me.

"No, it couldn't be. I haven't seen one of those in decades."

Speeding up, I got close enough to see it was the same kind of truck my father drove to take us fishing.

Suddenly, I was eight years old again. My father was starting the engine, my brother and I were sitting in the front seat with him. This truck was finicky; you had to start it just right, or else it defied you. After the third turn of the key, it sounded like it was ready to go. Instead, the cab of the truck filled with a thick, acrid smoke. We bailed, leaving the doors open to clear the air.

My father waited a few minutes and tried again. The truck started up fine.Looking at us, dad said, "See, just keep trying. It'll work."

We made it to our fishing spot. We were quiet as we watched the lines - didn't want to scare the fish away. But when dad cleaned the fish, he'd talk. That's when we learned about his childhood, his dreams, his real world, his way of getting by.Now, as I passed the pick-up truck, I didn't look at the driver. I wanted my father to be driving. One more time, I needed him to tell me, "It'll work."

***What fine work all writers did on this piece. Please read Cynthia's gorgeous piece, then continue on to the additional writers' pieces in the comments section.***

~Ivan by Dragon~

I knew Uncle Ivan's shell, a withered corn husk wired to boxes that beeped and scratched evidence of his half-life. The few words he spoke were obscene. I filed those expletives for further examination even as my mom hustled me out to the candy machine.

He hung on for a decade.

And then, knowing there is nothing a teenage boy likes better than cleaning, Mom sent me to Ivan's abandoned cabin. Angry at the loss of my summer freedom, I threw dust-covered artefacts willy-nilly onto the lawn, delighting in the sound of broken glass. Then I stopped to look.

There was a 12-inch-long hunting knife with a keen edge and a bloodstained handle. Guns, countless guns in the bathroom, the kitchen, the foyer. A wardrobe holding 6 moldy tuxedos. A box of women's underwear. Used women's underwear. Desk drawers stuffed with stock certificates, land deeds, smoldering love letters dated 50 years ago. Large diamond rings for men's hands. Pornographic German magzines. Animal bones. A full set of mechanic's wrenches. Eight identically bulky and ancient walkie-talkies. Now I excavated the past, tripping over a child's rocking horse and life-sized framed photograph of a naked woman, until I reached the motherlode, the vein of precious metal: in the bedroom, 100 notebooks, neat handwriting, a life.

Diamond mines in Africa, gold mines in Canada, opal mines in Austalia, Uranium mines in the desert. Smuggling in South America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East. Political leaders and mafia bosses, merchants and marines, professors and scientists. Women on every continent, including Antartica.

There was nothing Uncle Ivan had not seen, nothing he had not done. The sum total of all that drives a man filled the lined pages. On the filthy bare boxspring, I read until the light failed, and dreamed myself an adventurer pursued by the French Legion, the mob, a thousand woman, state secrets locked to my wrist, a fortune in gemstones sewn into my collar, until my cell phone buzzed me back into my own prosaic reality.

My mother worried on the other end. "This could take a while," I told her. The power had been cut years ago, but I found a kerosene lamp and read on.

***Such wonderful, telling, chewy details.***

~Bastard Bill Kowalski by Al E. Yus~

Long about last August that bastard Bill Kowalski moved his sorry ass in. Parked his mattress at the top of the stairs, set his TV on a couple of cinder blocks and called it home. He'd sleep through the Today Show, but wake in time for Truth or Consequences and the soaps. Then he'd nap until the cartoons came on.

He had a little kitchen set up there in the hallway; a mini-fridge with a hot plate on top. This is him chowing down to his favorite meal, Chef Boy-Ar-Dee. See that lady's leg? It's a cardboard cutout he fished out of a dumpster behind some porn shop. His idea of art.

His rent money dried up by October and we had to kick him out. I heard he's living at the Rescue Mission now. We couldn't peel the naked lady off the wall, so she's still there.

***What makes Bill a bastard? We are so curious...***

~Together by Guy Anthony de Marco~

Bob loved taking Carole to the lake. Their whole history together could be seen etched in the shoreline like rings in an ancient redwood.

Here's where they first met, arguing over who owned a particularly abundant fishing hole. His hat glinted with lures tied by his father. Her overalls rolled up to expose ballet-strengthened ankles.

This is where they drove off together, shedding Prom clothes as they chased each other across the sand; where their first fumbling lovemaking stripped away virginity. Bob proposed to Carole over by the worn flat rock jutting from the surface, their heads rising and falling rhythmically to their dogpaddling, until he slipped the ring on her finger under the surface.

She would laugh for years, claiming he duped her into marrying him. Their children would beg for the story to be retold, and they passed it on to their progeny like rings rippling out from Bob and Carole's exuberant presence in the water.

And today, Bob and Carole held hands until the sun set over the trees, staring out over the liquid book of their lives. With her final breath, he kissed his wife of sixty years and carried her out, buoyant with the help of the spirit of the lake, the water closing over the couple, welcoming them home.


***A big life in so few lines.***

~Marc Antony by Dragon~

Kira told Devon that Joni was going as Cleopatra.
"That bitch thinks she's so hot," Kira told him. "Think I'll go as a snake and bite her stupid ass."
Of course, we knew that Kira was going to go in sexy lingerie with some kind of fluffy ears and tail. But it gave me an idea anyway. I got together this great Julius Caesar costume, with laurels and everything. And when I saw Joni at the party, beautiful even under that awful wig, first thing, I called out to her.
"Your majesty," I said, and she looked me up and down and started to shimmy right there.
I might have had something too, but that punk, Devon just had to nose in. We thought he wasn't even coming. He didn't actually show up until the party was practically over, but he went all out with the costume anyway.
He came as Marc Antony.
***We love that bit about the snake. Other whimsical pieces in the comments.***

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

~Pink Motel by Cynthia~

"Pixies, my ass," the maid said to her reflection in the mirror.
She ripped off the sheets from the double bed and left them on the floor. She continued into the bathroom to scrub the tub, clean the toilet and empty the wastebasket that held several condom wrappers.
"At least she had the sense to use a rubber."
As the maid worked her way around the room dusting and vacuuming she wondered who was in here last night. It looked like it must have been some party - beer and vodka bottles, soda cans, pizza boxes, a white powder on the nightstand.
She just shook her head and kept on cleaning.
"Don't know why I work so hard. It's not like the people who come in here would even notice."
She put clean sheets on the bed and smoothed the thin bedspread until all the wrinkles were gone.
As she bent to pick up the dirtied sheets, she noticed a piece of paper under the bed.
On the crumpled piece of paper were the words, "Help me! I don't want to be here! Please help me!"The exclamation points all had little hearts at the bottom.

~At the Powwow by Ann Walters~

With a scattering of light in the eye the boy dances, his feathers weaving the colors of stone and corn, his head cocked in an attitude of supplication. His feet singe the ground where they touch.
Too many of the old men drink beer and shuffle from pickup to pickup comparing the size of their tires or the weight of the abandoned hopes that push their truck beds so low they threaten to scrape the road.
Some mothers busy themselves with costume changes and last-minute beadwork. Others sit on plastic chairs in the patchy grass and watch the girls with their subtle sways and hops, remembering vaguely what it feels like to flirt with only a flick of the hand.
A few old women sit in a circle, chanting softly to themselves. Whatever their words are, only they are meant to know. Behind them a baby crawls in the dirt and a pair of dogs mate quickly before chasing down stray crumbs of fry bread.
Back in the central ring, the boy bends. His fringed kilt sweeps the earth like a broom until he stops and kneels, quivering, on one knee. He would kiss the ground if he could, would love it into being with his breath, but a smattering of applause is the only answer to his prayer.

~Pilgrims by Dragon~

Papa said we was gonna be pilgrims, and I was even gonna get to cut school, but don't tell my mama. Papa says, don't tell your mama nothing, Punkin, cause your mama trying to take you away from me, that's how come she got them judges tie my hands with these restricted visitation rights.

Papa says, we're going to Graceland, Baby. You pack Suzy doll and John Bear up in your school sack and I'm gonna swing by for you Monday morning before they ring that first bell. You can have chicken nuggets and chocolate shakes all the way to Memphis.

Mama don't let me eat McDonalds much.

So I better not tell her how me and Papa's planning on being pilgrims.

~Resolution by Clarke O'Gara~

“How long does it take to feel the effects?”

He shrugged, “It’s probably worked already.” I didn’t feel any different though.

”I don’t feel any different.” I admitted. It was my friend who told me to try this guy, some weird mix off hypnosis and mind drugs to get over my ex-husband.

”Tell me about your ex-husband then.”

”He’s handsome.” I sniggered.

”What does his face look like?”

”I don’t know it’s kind of… he has…” I couldn’t grasp onto it, it was like a dream fading, where ever detail you try to focus on seems to disintegrate, the harder you try the more the details fall apart. Then the other details break up as well. His face was gone, I couldn’t picture anything.

“Shit it did work.”


That particular summer I had signed up to perform as part of the Pirates Extravaganza! show at Busch Gardens, just about 20 minutes from my parents’ house. I had a clear and selfish reason for choosing this particular summer job—Katie Winchester. Katie and I had gone through school together since kindergarten. I’d never taken particular notice of her, but then she went away to college. She slimmed down, got herself a pair of fashionably funky square-rimmed glasses, and streaked her shoulder-length blond hair with flashes of bright pink. The new Katie Winchester was first revealed to me at Mickel’s Dairy—she was enjoying a low-fat vanilla custard over Memorial Day while visiting her family.

When my buddy Matt told me she was playing the Pirate Princess all summer long I knew what I had to do. I seriously began to ponder switching my major to theater come fall. Or maybe switching colleges entirely. It would depend on how the summer ended…

Friday, September 28, 2007

~Pirogue by Dragon~

I didn't intend to travel to the edge of the world. Call it a sacrifice on the altar of love. Or call it temporary insanity. They are not mutually exclusive. They may be one and the same.

She said to me, "The man I love must be willing to travel to the ends of the earth."

And I, thoughtless, young, said, "This I am willing."

Then she said, "The man I love must be strong enough to return from the ends of the earth."

My blood ran red and hot, my arms ached to hold her, and my vocation pressed me on into the pirogue. It was a trinket she desired, a curio from the east, a meaningless nothing, and it became my all-consuming desire. I saw what no man had seen before, and fought battles with men, monsters, and myself. I proved my own strength and devotion. I satisfied my own quest. I became worthy of her.

And now, at the end of the world, I wonder, should I return? Should I deliver her heart's desire? Is she, finally, worthy of me?

~Tomorrow by Rion~

Dear D,

At gramma's house this week. Mom and Dad are doing their usual tour of their old high schools and stuff, old places where they'd barfed from too much beer or driven too fast. Gross.

Gramma's napping in the easy chair, head slumped, with the volume of Walker, Texas Ranger turned up so loud I Can't Believe she can sleep through it. I love gramma, too bad she doesn't watch any good tv.

Just decided to take a bath in the tub. A narrow one, but deep enough to cover my knees without draining water. And I put my hand, Just There, while thinking about Shane Pederson. Then I sortta started thinking about Marjorie. I actually moaned.

Diary! It felt so nice but now I'm worried that I'm a lezzie. And my hands are pruny.Maybe I'll take another bath. Tomorrow.

~Not Leaving by Cynthia~

Forty nine years ago I gave my hand to you in marriage. Now you give your hand to me in sickness.

You reach for me from the bed placed in the living room. You can no longer make it upstairs to our marriage bed so I sleep on a love seat next to you. I'm not leaving.

Our hands may be veiny, dry and a bit swollen with arthritis but they have built a good life. Our hands still fit together.

As you sleep, your pain must ease because you smile often. Every once in awhile you mutter words about our life.

When you start to awaken, your hand reaches out. I'll always be there to hold it.



There had been so many jokes about it—what would you bring to a deserted island? Who would you want with you there? What food would you miss most? What cd would you play over and over again? And etc. The questions floated around the internet, across drunken nights and through friends like little pebbles bouncing their way down a river.

Emily had one thing and one thing alone. It was her copy of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, speckled with chicken scratchings and flashes of pink highlighter from her college days. The corners were tattered, and there was a coffee stain on the inside cover from the time she loaned it to a boy she was dating. It reminded her of late nights discussing topics in Nihilism with her study group at the Burger King down the street from her apartment.She packed it specifically in case this cruise would unexpectedly land her on a deserted island. And surprisingly, here she was, feeling fully prepared for the journey ahead.

***Multi-layered and thoughtful.***

~Sugar-Coating by Comrade Kevin~

I possess a particularly nervous kind of personality. This was quite evident that afternoon when I felt the roaring, gutteral vibrations of a nearby explosion in the floorboards underneath me. It was a jarring and ragged feeling hard to easily articulate.

Like an unexpected obscenity, the shock waves rattled the wooden deck first, transformed the water of the swimming the pool to a choppy, frantic, swirling mass of waves, and then a fraction of a second later pulsed through the carpeted floor of the computer room, where I was writing.

I felt it through my legs first. Raw, vibrating, jagged. It made the inside of my head buzz. Two seconds afterwards, it was over. I could still remember it clearly, however, and remember the sense of disquieting dread and discomfort which remained.

There was nothing particularly gorgeous whatsoever in the blast except for the mere force behind it. We're used to cushiony things in this society. We're used to sugar-coating. We're used to being eased into things.

We're used to easy-clean linoleum and rack and pinion steering.

The blast was none of these things. I was examining the photograph I'd snapped of my girlfriend swimming in the pool. I'd taken it about a minute or so before the explosion. The calm before the storm was supremely deceptive.

~The suspense in waiting for the blast, divine.~

~Likeness by Ann Walters~

Lydia was thinking of a thousand different ways to draw a face. She wanted a name like Chanterelle or Sunita. Her eyebrows were too thin, too thick, too indeterminately shaped like a question mark. Her forehead became a series of dots and dashes, her cheek a smear of ink on a wanted poster. Looking sideways into the mirror, she could almost see that girl from the mall, the one with the pert nose that turned down instead of up at the tip, the one she had followed for two hours. There was a hint of unconformity in Lydia’s chin. Too many shades of aqua overshadowed her muddy eyes with their clarity. Lydia painted her lips a deep blood red and placed a single kiss on her bedroom wall, labelling it #213 with a black marker. It made her think of the name Greta. She wiped her face clean and began again.

***A great big story in such a tiny space.***

Tie for First


It isn't as hard as it looks.

You just have to give up a few things that you're probably not using anyway. Your mind, for instance, and your free will. You give up your independence, and you give up your individuality. That's about all. It's not a lot.

I haven't had to think in years.

It's so liberating!


"Still Life with Marionette"

Polly hates the strings. They’re always getting caught in zippers or snagging on parking meters.She can’t drive a car unless it’s a convertible. There is something invariably dull about her footsteps, as if she never truly touches the ground. Everything is approximate. Polly has a hard time remembering which string to pull so that by the time she extends her hand to the cashier, her change has fallen through the cracks in the counter. She’d rather leave it down there than make the cat’s cradle that will let her kneel. A special knob opens her mouth to receive the communion wafer. Another closes her legs at appropriate moments, like sitting at the DMV when the driving instructor enters. Polly can remove her eyes and walk all the way to her apartment from the strip mall where the license plates are stored because the strings have memorized the route. As long as there are no entanglements, this gives her more time to dream about scissors.

-Ann Walters


Rupert's gallery would be opening on my birthday. He announced it to me over reheated tuna casserole. "There's nothing I can do, dear," he said. "It's the only time I could get the space, and this is primo space." He put the emphasis on primo as if it made him somehow more European, or cultured, or something equally ridiculous.I had just moved to New York from a lifetime in St. Louis when I met Rupert. Like the city, he had seemed so strange and exciting--unlike anything I'd known before.

Now, a year later, I find Central Park to be a glorified lawn, New York bagels to be oversized, salty puffs of stale bread, and to be honest, I really do not like Rupert's art at all.


***A remarkable trio, thanks ladies!***

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

~Obgyny by Jess Wundrun~

There are days that I really do like being the chief OB/GYN at Bethesda. I've a crack staff (that's one of my favorite jokes) but there are the other times, the sad times.

I know what you are thinking but that's not what I'm talking about today. No. Today is Lynne Cheney's exam day. I couldn't force any of my underlings to do it, and her husband has been known to shoot. It fell to me.

Did you see the x-ray? She doesn't need a doctor, she needs a cleaning lady and an Orkin man.

Please don't tell I told. Confidentiality dictates.

***We just couldn't help ourselves.***

~Damn Drum by Cynthia~

"Why do I always end up next to the damn drum?"

He blows a few more notes, squelching the need to cover his ears. The signal comes for him to take a solo, a short one because revelers have short attention spans.

As he plays, he looks down at the open instrument cases. He tries to take a fast count of the money collecting in the banged up receptacles but there's too much movement. When his solo ends, no one notices.

He keeps playing, backing another's riff. As the musical notes slide into each other, his eyes shift to the right and he sees his wife and children. They're all looking at him, clapping to the beat and smiling.

"I will get us out of this hell hole," he vows. "I will make them smile even more."

~Helpful Citizen by Cynthia~

The local news camera zoomed in for a close up.

"Hi. I'm Joe Catalano. I've been working for the city for over thirty years. Now I deliver documents for people trying to get into our low income housing."

"Joe," said the new (and in her mind, better) reporter, "what's the best part about your job?"

"Well, that's easy. When I see the kids going into their apartment and yelling about who gets what bedroom."

Hoping to get a better sound bite, the reporter responds, "That's very nice. What's the worst part of your job?"

Joe stops pushing the cart filled with hopes. He looks down, takes a deep breath, and, ignoring the camera, looks at the playground filled with children, looks at the bedroom windows covered with cartoon characters, and then looks directly at the camera.

"I help to get them in here. I help. A bad part is when a kid I helped goes bad. The worst part is when someone's kid is just sleeping and a bullet goes through their window."

The reporter says it's a wrap.

"Thanks, Joe. This will air tomorrow on the 11 o'clock newscast."

Joe nods. He looks up at the windows. He hopes this will help.

***We're certain it helped.***

~The Castle by Comrade Kevin~

The refugees arrived on our shores in a slow trickle which quickly became a raging flood. When enough had established a solid presence on the island, they decided to painstakingly reconstruct all the amenities of the Old Country. Stonemasons, forced to transform their occupation into building houses for the wealthy elite, now used their talents in the manner in which they had been originally taught.

What they produced was a none-too-shabby facsimile of the castle that had for centuries defended their home nation from invasion. Everyone, regardless of age or stature, participated in scooping dirt from the soil--digging deep enough into the ground to fashion a suitable moat.

~Wrestling Erections by Comrade Kevin~

I don't think I'm the only person who thinks that wrestling is an extremely homoerotic sport: two men in tight, form fitting pants-- pants that prominently leave nothing to the imagination regarding private parts; two men grunting, sweating, and attempting to wrest the other into a compromising position on the floor.

Nor do I think I'm the only one who finds the sight of wrestling comical. I picture two homosexual space aliens clad in polyester attempting to throw each other to the ground. Their bizarrely shaped helmets function as antennae.

I wonder why wrestling hasn't become a spectator sport for gay men in the way that the WNBA is for gay women. I have friends who can't watch the action without getting an erection.

***It's the lack of fashion sense, Kevin, we're sure of it.***

~Satterfield by Cynthia~

That's my great-grandfather, fourth from the left in the top row. The newspaper didn't know his first name but it was James. James Satterfield.
When I was a child I called him Pop Jim. I didn't know him but my grandmother, his daughter, told us a bit about his life. Looking back, his life was interesting but when I heard the stories he was an embarrassment.
For most of his life he was on the run. Running from the law, women who trusted him with their hearts and futures, and men who trusted him with their money. His "business deals" involved whiskey, card games and, let's say, manly pleasures.
James met my great-grandmother, Gertrude, while he was moving from one town to another. She was sitting on her daddy's front porch cooling off after tending chickens and cows, washing clothes and helping her mama cook the big mid-day meal.
James walked by, covered in dust and stinking to the heavens, and he thought, "Here's a free dinner."
He asked for a glass of water, and she invited him to come through the gate. As James watched Gertrude gracefully and kindly get his water, he knew he was done running.
He stayed at her daddy's place, sleeping in the barn, for six months. He worked as hard as the family. He fell in love with Gertrude. Gertrude fell in love with James. Daddy gave his permission for them to marry.
They bought a small farm in the next town over. They had six children - four boys and two girls. Every so often James would think about his past and shake his head. He got lucky on the run but he still missed the whiskey.
My grandmother told me this photo was taken in town with some of his neighbors. It was taken after the men grudgingly attended church. She told me the women back then may not have been vocal about their wants and needs but they usually got what they wanted. The women just had a way.
She also told me that though her father was a good man and a hard worker, she always felt there was something dangerous about him.
Just look at his right hand. He's instinctively feeling for his gun.

~The Fool by Diane~

We met in Central Park. I was out for a morning run, and he was walking two of the cutest dogs I had ever seen. I’d find out later he had his wedding ring slipped off and tucked it into the pocket of his pants.
It’s been two years now and I can’t seem to get out.--despite knowing what I am doing is not right, despite knowing that there is not just a wife but also a child, and despite knowing I am not the only one. He doesn’t buy me expensive presents or take me out for extravagant dinners and order a bottle of the finest wine. He is not movie-star handsome, and he doesn’t have an exotic job that has him traveling the world. All in all he could really be anybody’s husband. Except, of course, he couldn’t be mine.

~Cheering! by Xegbp~

He had made it to the pinnacle of his career. He was the President of the most powerful country in the world. He commanded one of the strongest armies ever to exsist. He had it all. Or so it seemed, but underneath it all he was a simple man. He liked hanging out with his friends and being on his ranch. When he looked in the mirror he did not recognize the old man who looked back. God, this job was way more stressful then anyone told him it would be. He really just wished he could go back to that time in his life when he had been the happiest. Cheering! Cheering! Cheering!

***A cheer for you.***

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

From the Management

***We promise, NEW CONTESTS TOMORROW!***

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

~Buff by Diane~

Stan was never sure which was the more bothersome problem with time travel—the shaky, dizzy, nauseated feeling he experienced upon arrival, or the fact that despite his best efforts to focus his mind on his destination he sometimes did not end up where he planned to go.

The bigger problem with his misplaced arrivals was that he attempted to dress in period costume for wherever…or whenever…he hoped to land. Stan was a bit of a history buff, to put it mildly.

Abandoning his youthful desire to become a history professor one day, he followed in his father’s footsteps and pursued a career in medicine instead. But his true passion, along with an unbelievable collection of historical artifacts his surgeon’s salary had helped him obtain, kept him well equipped for his travels around the world and through time.
Anyway, on this particular day, he knew he was not going to last long in 2005 New York City wearing a particularly ridiculous wig he had donned in the hopes of visiting the French Revolution.

***Anything with revolutionary wigs is alright in our book!***

~Laughing Water by Cynthia~

As the boat carrying tourists cut a smooth path through the ocean's waters, its quake extended to the local's small craft.

On the tour boat, the waves were slight, and the party was going full force. The bartender hustled to keep up with the umbrella drink orders, trays of food filled with island delicacies, as well as lemon chicken, were brought out, and the vacation laughter bounced off the water.

No one noticed the man fighting to regain control of his simple vessel.

***What happens next?***

~Excerpt from Three Fallen Women by Amy Guth~

"As legend goes, Sedna, an Eskimo goddess, selective in her men, refused to marry any local suitors, or at all, until a Fulmar bird offered to take her across the sea to his home. Once she arrived, she became miserable and was poorly-treated and begged her father to come take her home. As she and her father were crossing the water, a flock of birds caused a violent storm, and to save his own ass, Sedna's father threw her into the water. Struggling to live, she clung to the edges of the boat, only to have her father chop off her fingers. As Sedna ascended into Eskimo heaven, the severed extremities became the wales, seals an other mammals tht now live i the ocean.

Helen wondered what her own crumbled empire would become as it washed away into the same ocean. She tried on the possibility of a few worthless images, but none of them fit just right. She snuck a few tears once in a laundromat, once in a cab, but stopped both times, as she found herself too confused to voice any of it even to herself."

***We plan to read this book. You caught us.***

~Requiem for Hope by Ann Walters~

Sadly sighs the wind and in his arms a butterfly still wrapped in its silvery cocoon. He wouldn’t cry for any other lost particle but this. This was his lover and her wings should have unfolded in kisses. Her brilliant bands of gold and green were to have been the gems upon his fingers but now the scales fall from her body like fragments of rainbow. He holds her close, tosses her high among the trees until she snags and catches there, held forever in her crib, her crypt.

***We are overwhelmed by the choice of this contest. So many different directions, interesting, moving themes, all.***

~Frayed Quilt by FranIAm~

Harold never meant it to get this bad. He didn't mean to kill anyone.

When he thought of returning to the place where he was from, he thought of green hills, trees, fresh air. He thought of food that tasted fresh and clear. The snap of the pea pod, like a small firecracker. The color of the tomato like a red badge of courage.

Harold thought of his mama and his papa; of his sister Nancy. The life they led in the country. It was as if they were in a cocoon and that cocoon provided all they needed.

The warmth of love felt there was beyond words. The fraying edge of the quilt made by his grandmother like a feather rustling against his nose. The sag in the bed, like the valleys in which he hiked, only smaller and more comforting.

Knowing that once he walked in the door, no matter how tattered the house, he was safe.

And the house was tattered. The windows, even closed, allowed a breeze at all times. The stairs creaked as if to say "stop walking on me, I am tired." The furniture threadbare, hard to sit on.

Nancy lived there now with her man George. She never escaped. Harold went to college, went to the city. Shed his old life like a snake sheds its skin.

Not so for his sister. George was cruel man; Harold couldn't quite sort out why Nancy... Nevermind, it wasn't his business, he thought.

Pushing thoughts away, like he would push the ragged curtain that acted as a door to his childhood room. Enter. Exit.

When he returned and saw what George had done, Harold entered into a place he had never been.

Darkness closed his heart like a great coal-covered hand clasping his chest. In his mind, images of warmth and comfort dissolved in the flood of black ink that some might call rage.

When he took the torch to it, he had no idea. Nancy was inside.

***Very nice, Fran. Again, what a wonderful collection. Please read this, then continue to the comments.***

~Bastards and Diners by Xegbp~

She threw the car into gear and roared out of the parking lot leaving him stranded at the god foresaken hole in the wall diner. She smiled to herself, lit a cigarette and turned up the volume on the radio. As the miles passed you would expect her to feel the beginnings of guilt, but she felt no guilt for leaving the bastard at the diner.
***Amen, sister.***

~Graced by Good Fashion by Comrade Kevin~

I can't say that my childhood was graced by the presence of good fashion. Case in point, when I was fourth grade, we visited the science museum. I took the opportunity to waste my entire allowance on the purchase of two articles of clothing, a t-shirt and sweatshirt.
Both bore the same identical design, which prominently featured the surface of the world. It looked like the surface of a globe that had been shaved off and then awkwardly glued to the cloth.
I wore both articles of clothing, one underneath the other, quite deliberately. Even if I spilled something on the top layer, I could take it off and in effect could still show how enamored I was with the image itself.
Naturally, I took every opportunity to show everyone. Adults feigned interest and other children were less than impressed. It didn't matter. It made me happy.
***This really brings us back.***

~History Lesson by Comrade Kevin~

While cleaning out my attic, I found some long-forgotten snapshots taken on one of my trips abroad.

The neo-hippie craze of the late 80's had finally crashed ashore in Beijing. Tye-die was the fashion craze of the moment, and every child proudly wore his or her own tribute to it. I knew that, had they observed it, the aging hippies of San Francisco, circa 1967, would have cringed.

Never in their wildest fantasies could they have anticipated that what was once a form of rebellion had become mainstream. Nor could they have ever dreamed that it would adorn the bodies of a younger generation of kids who spoke no English and had no conception of the Love generation.

Back in the days of flower power, Chinese citizens were forced to wear drab Mao suits, which were designed neither for comfort nor style. These bulky contraptions looked good on no one and gave its wearer the appearance of Frankenstein on the prowl.

The government had recently relaxed its standard of dress, which meant that Chinese citizen were free to adopt Western styles of dress. Massive shoulder pads and the lumpy squarish suits rapidly gave way to t-shirts and jeans.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Flasher Bio: Comrade Kevin

A native of Alabama, Comrade Kevin is a proud member of the southern writing loyal opposition. He refuses to write stories about nature, coon dogs, plantations, wide sloping foreheads, pickin' and grinnin', Mee Maw's Cheese Straws, wicker brooms, mint julips, good country people, and open-air thrift markets. He believes that Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner are severely overrated. His hobbies include guitar, thinking deeply, and making sarcastic wise cracks.

He can be found at

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Flasher Bio: Easywriter

Easywriter blogs and blogs some more over at Writer's Blog her place for practicing descriptive writing and creating character sketches.

***Management Note: If your piece is featured, please send us a bio that we can post (to If you want, we can post your web address, as well.***