Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, January 24, 2011

The 4th Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge

It's time of the granddaddy of them all, our sort-of-annual first paragraph challenge! Will your paragraph wow the masses? Do you have the first paragraph to end all first paragraphs?

We shall soon find out.

Let's get to the good stuff. THE PRIZES!

The ULTIMATE GRAND PRIZE WINNER of the SUFPC will win:

1) The opportunity to have a partial manuscript considered by my utterly fantastic agent, Catherine Drayton of InkWell, whose clients include bestselling authors such as Markus Zusak (The Book Thief), John Flanagan (The Ranger's Apprentice series) and Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush Hush), among others.

2) A signed advance copy of my novel, JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW, which is coming out in May:



3) The pride of knowing your paragraph was like the platonic ideal of first paragraphs it was so awesome.

The FABULOUS RUNNERS UP will receive the satisfaction of knowing that they were among the very best, as well as a query critique from yours truly.

There may also be honorable mentions, where still more satisfaction will be had.

So! Here's how this works. Please read these rules carefully:

a) This is a for-fun contest. Rules may be adjusted without notice, but this one will always remain: please don't take the contest overly seriously. This is for fun. Yes, the grand prize is awesome and I would have kidnapped a baby koala bear to have my manuscript considered by Catherine Drayton without so much as a query, but don't let that detract from the for-funness of the contest. For fun. Seriously.

b) Please post the first paragraph of any work-in-progress in the comments section of THIS POST. Please do not e-mail me your submission. The deadline for entry is THURSDAY 4pm Pacific time, at which point entries will be closed. Finalists will be announced.... sometime after that. (Possibly Friday, possibly the following Monday, possibly the year 2032 but probably not the year 2032). When the finalists are announced you will exercise your democratic rights to vote for a stupendously ultimate winner.

c) Please please check and double-check and triple-check your entry before posting. But if you spot an error after posting: please do not re-post your entry. I go through the entries sequentially and the repeated deja vu repeated deja vu from reading the same entry only slightly different makes my head spin. I'm not worried about typos, nor should you be.

d) You may enter once, once you may enter, and enter once you may. If you post anonymously, make sure you leave your name.

e) Spreading word about the contest is strongly encouraged.

f) I will be sole judge of the finalists. You the people will be the sole judge of the ultimate winner.

g) I am not imposing a word count on the paragraphs. However, a paragraph that is overly long may lose points in the judge's eyes. Use your own discretion.

h) Please remember that the paragraph needs to be a paragraph, not multiple paragraphs masquerading as one paragraph.

i) You must be at least 14 years old and less than 147 years old to enter. No exceptions.

j) I'm on Twitter! You can find me at @nathanbransford and I may be posting updates about the contest.

That is all.

GOOD LUCK! May the best paragraph win and may it be rather awesome.






1515 comments:

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Hillary said...

The boy wants to know if I’m okay. Am I okay? That depends. Is he here to kill me? If so, I’ve been better, thanks. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not scared of dying. We’re all going to die—probably me sooner than anyone if I don’t figure out a way out of here. I just can’t die yet. Not until I figure out a way to get to heaven. That’s all I want from the boy: for him to let me live long enough to save my soul.

evalyn7 said...

Into the hole that was now her heart she put her work. Words didn’t just appear on paper. On her desk: the phone logs of the recurring harassment by government officials and the news footage of the press pack camped out on a cable crossed lawn, plugging into the county grid, violating the metal panelled integrity of local street lights, hacked open by some AT&T freelancer, so that the news trucks could fire up, live, for the seething mass of stand-ups, broadcast, world-wide, via satellite. She hadn’t kept Richard safe but it was his choice to die.

JP Garner said...

It's 1:00 in the morning and I'm sitting here staring at a pickle jar full of severed fingers. I think there's like eleven or twelve pinkies in there, I lost count.

A. J. Pompano said...

My first thought when I learned that diet guru Sydney Toles was electrocuted by a defibrillator hooked up to his weigh-in scale was that I was cheated out of an interview. My guilt about the reaction was tempered by my impression of Toles. He was a nasty bastard who only wanted to use my column to push his new book. I write “Cooking with Betty,” a food feature in Compel magazine. I should explain that I write the column in spite of being culinarily challenged, which is a nice way of saying I can’t cook. As if that weren’t enough on my plate so to speak, I have to hide the fact that I’m Betty. To the rest of the world I’m Mark Adams.

Thermocline said...

Ryan pressed back against his headrest when he saw the counselor’s wild dance and the neon ribbons cascading from her glittery tiara. This girl was packed full of crazy, ready to unleash a deadly firestorm of perkiness. Ryan almost asked his mom to throw the car in reverse instead of stopping beside her. Clearing his criminal record might not be worth a week at summer camp with nut jobs like this.

Tracy Button said...

As the door in the other room opens, all her thoughts disappear. Her breath speeds up. Her heart pounds in her head. The heavy footsteps approach closer, getting louder with every hesitant step. They came for her. A tear rolls down her face. She tries to search for something, to hide, but she can’t make herself move. The shadowed figure shows itself. A shriek escapes her cold lips. Eternal blackness.

Don H said...

Thor checked for the man’s pulse. “I think he’s dead,” he croaked.
“I can’t believe you got me to do this!” Don yelled.
“Shut up! What’s done is done. He’s dead, we did it. Come on, we gotta clean up this mess and get out of here!”

Linda said...

Who the heck are you? And what are you doing in my husband’s glove compartment? "Top size small, 36 D; Bottoms size 2; Ring size 5; Love, Megan. Pushing a strand of auburn hair out of her eyes, Laurel Tillman contemplated the scrap of paper in her hand. Just seconds ago, she’d bent over the passenger’s seat of her husband’s car and opened the glove compartment. Her reward had been an avalanche of papers and pamphlets tumbling out onto the gray carpet. The grand prize floated to the top, "Love, Megan."

from Destiny's Kiss

Sybelle Thomson said...

“Why do you do these things, Raven?”
“Because father, in the end nothing really matters.”
“Not even god?”
“I have long lost faith in god.”
“Then why are you here?”
Silence.

jacob a o said...

Old man Jimmy Conkling avoided eye contact with the modest boulder each time he emerged from the mouth of the glacial cave he called home. A bronze tablet stamped the rock and made a grand statement: “According to legend,” on that spot in 1626 Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan from the Lenape. The old man had no taste for history. He believed the rock was bad luck. Yet his roost had been quiet and safe for a decade. The rangers let him be, as he had no record and harmed nobody. The old man loved the cave. Better yet, the cave didn’t give a damn about him.

Henry said...

I findmyself in the dark graveyard just as the journal described. The graves are covered with thick twining ivy that curls and tangles like green tendrils of hair. The cold rain soaked my deep chestnut hair. My eyes whip back and forth across the scene as my heart thunders behind my ribs, skipping a beat at every creak of those creepy crows.

Liana said...

She'd been sleeping with Nathaniel for months when he told her but she wasn't surprised. "I'm engaged," he said. They were laying in bed, in her room, side by side. Her shoulder was slick from his sweat. The moonlight filtered through mostly closed blinds and created a silky glow on the hardwood floor. She didn't dare breathe.

Liana said...

She'd been sleeping with Nathaniel for several months when he told her but she wasn't surprised. "I'm engaged," he said. They were laying in bed, in her room, side by side. Her shoulder was still slick from his sweat. The moonlight filtered through mostly closed blinds and created a silky glow on the hardwood floor. She didn't dare breathe.

MissFango said...

My first thought, at the sight of the pistol leveled at my head was, “I’m going to die a virgin.” Most people say that during a near-death experience, they see their life flash before their eyes. Not me. Then again, I hadn’t really done enough to see anything interesting. Instead I could only see the things that I would never get to do - go to college, travel the world, get past first base with Chelsea.

tg said...

The mailman whistled to himself as he rounded the corner of Jefferson Road and turned onto River. He was throughly enjoying the slight breeze blowing in through the open door of his van, so it was only out of necessity that he stopped at the end of River Road. Stepping out of his van, he looked down at his freshly ironed shirt and wiped the remainder of his muffin off with a calloused hand. He had dropped coffee on his shirt also, and there was a dark stain over the name embroidered on it, obscuring the R and O in Robert and changing his name to simply -'bert'. Robert looked up and smiled to himself, his cheeks turning rosy from the wind. Although it perhaps wasn't the most desirable profession, Robert loved his job and he couldn't imagine doing anything different. The road he was currently staring down, River Road, was a long cul-de-sac, and he had long pondered what the most efficient method for delivering the mail was. When he was first assigned the route, he would park at one end, and carrying all the mail in his long satchel, he’d walk from house to house and deliver it. However this did require quite a bit of walking, and Robert wasn’t as young and sprightly as he used to be, and driving the breezy mail-van was one of his favorite things about the job. So, since he had grown older, he had started to drive to each mailbox and then get out of his van in order to do his beloved job. Today, however, was different.

Meghan Ritchie said...

Though the renowned late-night talk show After Hours enjoyed wild success for nearly a decade, ratings in the show’s first six weeks on air were dismal. Archived memos from ABS indicate that network producers fully intended to cancel the show until the original host, lauded soap opera actor and former philosophy professor Dustin Paulman, walked off the set during an interview with eight year old bassoon prodigy Andy Alvord. Contractually obligated to provide another six weeks of programming to ABS, After Hours producers replaced Paulman with the then-unknown actor Samuel Coulan, whose oeuvre at the time was limited to a handful of commercials for car dealerships and laundry detergents.

mandioyster said...

It was a beautiful summer night. The stars shone like diamonds against the onyx background. I took a deep breath and, like I thought it would, the fresh air helped clear the cobwebs from my head. I felt more invigorated than I had for days. My pace quickened, and I lost all track of time. It had been quite awhile since I felt so at ease. I didn’t have to worry about demons, dragons or evil sorcerers for the first time in months.

elena buckley said...

The school bell buzzed, Toby gasped and his face turned a sickly gray. Then his mom’s and dad’s annoying words began ringing in his head along with the buzzer: “Toby, it’s time to get back on that horse. Toby, it’s time to take the bull by the horns!” Ugh! He knew they were right, but still—and what was with all the animal references?!

J Burk said...

******

Stopping my motorcycle halfway down the hill, I stared down at my new high school. Next to it was the elementary school that I'd gone to until I was run out of town at age twelve. The well worn merry-go-round and jungle gym were still intact, but the huge steel slide had been replaced with something safer. I smiled at the irony as I surveyed the baseball diamond that I'd spent so much time at all those years ago.

*****

Gigi Vernon said...

What’d you expect when you start out life abandoned in a dumpster? A dumpster. Tossed there by my own dad during a blizzard one January night. Shit. I should be dead. And him? He doesn't deserve to live.

Bethany Helwig said...

The neighbors of 713 Oakland didn’t know what to think when the castle appeared. Even with corporate deadlines, unzipped pants, and spilled coffee buzzing in their eight to five minds, the seventy foot shadow cast over their homes was difficult to miss. Cold gray stone frowned at their normal lives behind a ten foot iron fence. Queer gargoyles sneered above flying buttresses and a spiral tower watched over it all from a sinister height. The sudden appearance of the foreboding structure had them in a daze. Keys hung limp in ignitions as they gathered along the curb, whispering amongst themselves. Even the most outlandish conjectures, from helicopters bringing in parts during the night to government conspiracy could not explain its existence. But there was one thing all those on Oakland Avenue could agree upon. The castle on 713 was just as strange as the people that lived there.

Mindy Ruiz said...

New Year’s Resolution #1: Kill Malory! Not quickly either! The use of ketchup and a corn dog should be involved in her murder!
I bit down on my lip as the new resolution mixed with the fury churning in my stomach. Both grew like heartburn after a chili dog from the Santa Monica pier at closing time.
“Don’t worry about it, Cassie.” Malory’s voice played back in my mind, all distorted like she’d been drinking too much victory punch. “I’ve totally got your ride covered.”
If this was my ride—Justin, my ex-boyfriend’s black Suburban rolled to a stop in front of me, the sun glinting off the tinted passenger’s window— I think I’d rather spend New Year’s Eve alone.

Catherine said...

In third grade I was punched so hard in the face that I thought I saw God. As far as I can remember, it was just that one fleeting glimpse. Does God exist? Well, I don’t really know. Can you believe in something you can’t see?

Mark Souza said...

Lisa Bennett wore a perfect preppy smile on her perfect face as she walked down the hall to biology class. Her posse of nearly perfect girlfriends clustered tightly around her like protons, engaging her in small talk, ever mindful of their rank and how much it depended on being close to Lisa. Buzzing around the nucleus on the periphery were the electrons – boys, itching to get close. Not just preps and jocks, even geeks and stoners hovered nearby acting nonchalant, knowing they didn’t stand a chance, yet hoping. How could I simultaneously despise and admire Lisa Bennett so much?

Danny S said...

Like a rising sun, Madeline smiled. This must be what it is like to be a parent. I never realised. I'm fifteen so why would I? She was definitely better than me. What reason does she have to smile? Where can she see any light in the darkness that is our world? But still she smiled. Madeline was only four when the sky fell. She was five when the lights went out for good. She was almost eight when our parents were killed. And yet she smiled. How?

Patrick O'Donnell said...

Each morning, we wake in our beds and prepare for the magical miracle of a normal day. Dad goes one way, mom goes another. The big kids take the bus to school, to their different classrooms and different friends and different schedules, and the little guy is off to daycare. The day works its magic, putting each of us through our tests and games and challenges and laughter and at some point we all take a moment to stop and think a bit about the others who we’re not with and our hearts crack, a little bit of loneliness exposed. But we trust the miracle of normal and go on with our day. We go away, each of us, in different directions and then we come home, each of us, every night – an established routine. Like a five-string yo-yo that takes ten hours to work, the magical miracle of a normal day is that we each find our way back home and that little crack of loneliness gets patched right up. And then came last Tuesday.

Tatiana said...

Acutely aware of every ray of sunlight, the pale faced form of a man walked regally in the daytime shadows, hidden by the oppressive yet beautiful light that came with every day’s beginning. This new era was so liberating in cities where buildings grew so high that no sunlight ever touched the ground for longer than a few brief hours during any given day. The amusement that lit his cold blue eyes did not soften his facial features, which had grown hard and sharp with each passing century. How glorious his life would have been with her in it. Why had she had to refuse him?

Jayne said...

Lulu waxed the top of her board just like she was told to do at the store. She held the square of white Zap wax in her left hand and rubbed it generously over the skimboard. “Momma,” she said, “why am I waxing the top and not the bottom of the board?”

“So your feet will stick, darlin’ and you won’t fall off the board,” I replied. Then I corrected myself, “Well, it will make it easier for you to stay on the board, not slip off.”

Of course she did slip. And fall. She ran down to the shoreline, holding the skimboard by her side, and then flipped it into the shallow salty water. Waves rushed in, engulfing the board, raising the water level, as she hopped with her two wide feet, slightly bent little toes, hammertoes—an ancestral anomaly, poor girl—onto the waxy board, arms flailing out and then swinging behind her derriere as she tumbled to the cold, murky floor.

John Kilhefner said...

Certain existences can be blocked out from the conscious mind. Noises, such as the shrill screams of the live-in prostitute next door, could be guarded against with practice, or ear plugs. Scents, like arid tobacco smoke and three day old Chinese food, a bother only for the uninitiated. Sights, like a blinking alarm clock reading 4:57 a.m., too were swallowed by the dark depths of detachment. Even gross immoralities, such as political scandals and religious brainwashing, could be ignored with impolite ignorance. Some things, however, are impossible to turn a blind eye to. Because, it is in that ignorance where untruths take root and remarkably shitty art is born.

Jeigh said...

Tenny sat up fast and her cheek, stuck to her Mythology textbook, stung as it pulled away.
“Ow.”
One hand came to her cheek and the other pressed against the tiny rip she had just made at the bottom of the page. She ran a finger over the tear as if she could magically fix it if she rubbed it enough times. She felt the Frankenstein-like groove on her cheek and sighed. That mark would probably last all day, and today wasn’t the day to be sporting a sleep crease.

SethArmstrong said...

I shiver as the clock on the clock tower strikes midnight. A man hangs by a thick string under the clock. The man is dead. The string is tied around his neck. The limp body sways with the wind. Side to side. Left to right. Perfect, just as I planned. I turn around, leaving the screeches and sirens behind. This mission is complete. Now follows the next.

JM Leotti said...

Five days after her mother’s death, Alida took her first man.

swarthy-dusky said...

She hiked up her skirt, flung her leg across his lanky frame and squatted, suspending herself just above his loins. In one motion, she tore open his shirt, sending several small buttons scuttling across the feet of the crowd huddled around them. Then, she relaxed her body downward and put her weight on her hands and legs. Her thighs flanked his lithe body and tiny bits of gravel dug into her knees. The villagers edged closer, drawn out of curiosity to the scene of the older woman with auburn locks atop the young man. They pushed and shoved, rubber-necking, in order to get the best view. Glancing up at them, their brightly colored clothing seemed to create a kaleidoscopic pattern with blues, greens, and reds dancing in a vertiginous matrix. She smelled the crowd’s excitement as well as their confusion. “Move back,” she said in French, “Give me room.” She waved her arm as though directing an orchestra. The crowd moved backwards, giving way. Murmurs rippled the crowd. She felt for a pulse on the boy’s neck and placed her palm across his chest in search of his heartbeat. Nothing. It was time to start CPR.

N.B said...

My eyes widen as I read the email one more time.

Nathan, you are going to die today.

Through my whole life as an agent, I have never got a threat like this. The phone rings. I pick it up.

“Hello?”

“Nathan, ” the voice whispers.

“Who is this?”

“It’s me, Nathan.”

“Who are you?”

The door creaks open. I drop the receiver. They have come. I get up from my chair and slowly head to the door.

“Hello?”

No answer. I open the door, letting the cold winter air drift into my home.

“Who’s there?”

I close the door and take a deep breath.

“Nathan?” Warmth runs through my body as I realize its Alison.

Kelly said...

The congressman’s daughter lives in a large white house. It sits atop a hill like a candle on a birthday cake. To the left of the house just off the living room there is a small courtyard surrounded on three sides by a stonewall. One of the walls is built right into the hill. There is a small opening in that wall and inside it, a crawlspace just large enough for a little girl to tuck in with a blanket and read. It may have been used once upon a time to store food, her father thinks, or as a tornado shelter. From her hole in the wall, she has a mouse’s eye view of the glass doors, which lead in to the living room. Often the glass doors are open. That is the case tonight. Tonight many people are in the house and many in the trees. The ones in the trees look like buzzards in their black suits. They murmur into tiny tin cups on their jackets.

Anonymous said...

Sam Lange positioned his naked body across the top of a wire dog cage, his head tilted slightly back on the edge. The borders between his skin and the world began to blur, bleeding a steady stream of delirium into the sunlight, and from faraway, he heard a horse galloping toward him, and then the Lone Ranger approached. The friendly masked face, turning to shadow as the sun’s brilliance dimmed. Robin Martin

MariCruzstillbelieves said...

I stare in the mirror. There is a beautiful smile and shining back at me is a white dress. I try to walk, but I keep staring in the mirror. I cannot scream or cry. Everyone is waiting. I hear the music, the laughter, but all I see is white. I cannot move, inside I am dying. I cannot walk away from myself.

kateelizabeth said...

Dean Martin was born somewhere just like the rest of us. A whisper of the boy from Steubenville, Ohio buried inside the voice of Dino, same way Frank Stevens got under my skin and spread like a bruise.
If you recognise these names then we are having a kind of synchronicity; if you didn’t know them, you know them now so we’ve made the connections. That is not dissimilar to what happened to Frank and me, he made all the connections but by the time I shook him off, he had soldered our wires together without earthing the device.
To make up your own mind about what happened to me and Frank, you have to read the short story I wrote. It’s already published but I’ve prepared a summary to save you time and move this on because I’m operating in a different sphere now, spinning in another vicious circle. I’ve developed a cream that seals the palms of your hands and forms an impenetrable film, concealing sweat until you are in a more favourable situation, perhaps a bathroom or your vehicle. The only noticeable features are a little shininess off your skin and a thin line around your wrists where the cream ends. That can easily be concealed with a long sleeved shirt. Trust me, this is something you may only need once but when you do, it’s indispensable. Who knows if it works out right what this cream might be able to do? To close up the skin pores is one thing but what about the porous membrane separating fact from fiction?

Miller said...

Lightning struck our house the moment Mother died. My bedroom flashed searing white and Father’s wordless cry echoed above the thunder and the rattling glass, announcing the inevitable. She had cheated fate once already, nearly fourteen years ago. Twice was just wishful thinking. The storm didn’t kill her. Father did, in a way.

Paullina_Petrova said...

Do you believe in fate?

Tracy said...

When my great-aunt Eugenia’s ashes showed up on our porch, I thought for sure Mama would let loose with one of the words she’d been trying hard not to use anymore. Instead, Mama took a quick look inside the metal box, as if that was all she needed to identify her mother’s sister, before fitting the lid back on and handing it to me.

JEFritz said...

Later, after the enormity of what happened loomed, ready to lop his head off, Eddie inwardly blamed short-sightedness and outwardly insisted they forced him to act. How could they not expect retaliation for raiding? Shooting them was what anyone would do, right? Once the self-pity cycle was done, they asked what he would do differently and he’d list all the ideas that occurred to him in the days since, ideas, he admitted during the many days he lay awake exhausted and miserable, probably wouldn’t have changed a damn thing. But maybe they’d all be saved. Just...maybe.

tricia said...

“There is NO mystery man! Now, stop!” Alex’s laid back demeanor had unravelled over the past week. Even this morning’s jog was proving to be more than her nerves could handle.
“You know you’ll tell me!” Jillian shouted over her shoulder, unaware of Alex’s discomfort. Fortunately for Alex, Jillian’s compulsive need to win derailed the interrogation. She picked up her pace and ran past her sister, Stephanie. Although it was Stephanie’s wedding day, Jillian had no intention of letting her finish first.

Author: T.M. Swanson
Title: "Between the Cheeks"
Genre: Women's Fiction
Word Count: 60,000

Jenn said...

“Goody Hastings, we’ve finished in the garden.” Two girls with dirt on their aprons burst into the room, startling the visitors in it.

Lacey turned from the kettle over the fire and sighed. She loved working with these girls, but they worked so much faster than the retirees. It was a little harder to keep them busy. “Come over here and stir the porridge.” The visitors in the room started snapping pictures as Lacey stepped from the fire, wiped her forehead with her apron, and turned to the table.

Nate Wilson said...

I wasn’t the first to be stamped. There'd already been three in that very hospital, in the first forty-one minutes of the new year. Within the hour, my brother Lincoln would also join our ranks. Untold others preceded us, beginning first in the Pacific Rim countries and spreading west: thousands upon thousands of newborns all over the world, all marked for death.

Rick Fry said...

Jacob anxiously waited for the head shrink to introduce himself, unsure of what to say. This psychiatrist most likely wouldn’t believe him, just as no one else before him. Previous doctors told Jacob he suffered from a schizoid disorder, psychotic episodes mixed with delusions of personal grandeur. Maybe he shouldn't say anything at all. Better to keep silent than to cast one’s perils before highly specialized swine. They said it wasn’t real, that he was hallucinating The Kid. Jacob himself knew it was outrageous to speak of his electrifying visions of a long dead outlaw, to admit that he communed with the spirit of Billy the Kid. This sort of self-disclosure never got him very far, and was the source of great ridicule and loneliness. Yet, even now as he closed his eyes, young Jacob could feel his head swim as the brutal logic others called reality yielded to the memory of The Kid’s angelic presence. It was a revelation that wrapped around his head and kissed his eyes. And even if the experts were correct in their diagnoses, and The Kid stood outside of reality, Jacob was gonna cast his lot with The Kid over reality. His outlaw presence was the one thing he clung to all the way. The Kid was the only one true and fierce enough to pull Jacob through the dull morass of a world gone coward.

From- Hallucinating The Kid
Rick Fry

M.R.Bunderson said...

The earsplitting alarm and flashing lights wrenched Cassidy from her sleep. She and her brothers only had three minutes to get out of the house before it exploded. Unless, of course, this was another drill. She rolled her eyes but didn’t pause, she couldn’t afford to—just in case it was the real thing.

Sara said...

It was December, four days before our anniversary. Nick arrived on my doorstep, uncharacteristically secretive and mysterious. “I want to talk to you about something,” he said and reached in his pocket. In tandem, my heart leapt and my stomach dropped. He’s going to propose! I thought, electrified. Reflexively, I finger-combed my hair and stared ruefully down at my Sunday-night sweats. Dammit! Why wasn’t I wearing a cuter outfit? Now I’d have a sweatpants-clad, bra-less, make-up-less, less-than-my-most-attractive-self proposal story to tell. I smiled nervously. He took a deep breath and met my eyes. “Sara, I don’t think we should be together anymore.” He opened his hand. It held my key.

Becca said...

Sitting in one of the hard plastic chairs in the main office was a surreal experience for Olivia. On either side of her were other students involved in the incident in one way or another. On one side was somebody who had witnessed it firsthand. On the other side was the brother of the victim.

Kay said...

That was the simplicity of the plan – Everything would be right in front of a person but only that he chose to see would be visible to him and become his reality. It was easy to make the mistake of believing that humans alone were real. After all, there were no visible signs of other life. Except for that man who crossed the street in the blink of an eye or the sudden phantom touch which left goose bumps all over. Or the dreams that seemed so real that one could never truly be convinced that it was just a dream. The strange pull every human felt towards the stars and everything unknown, the ease with which they accepted that there was something more powerful out there - It was all because there was something out there that resonated with every cell within.

Orion: The Reunion

Chris Blanchard said...

Viko watched as waves formed behind the boat. The two hulls that made up the Walker of Winds were 70 feet long, large enough to cause waves that drew dolphins, who jumped and played behind the boat. The dolphins practically flew out of the water, and the ever-present smiles on their faces spread onto his. The joy he got from watching the dolphins rivaled the joy he received from surfing. In fact, part of his excitement at this voyage was the surfing competition happening at the festival. Both the joy and the excitement were inspiring him to compose a new song, which he memorized until he had a chance to write it down.

Jenny said...

Time passes slowly for a princess waiting in a tower for true love to rescue her. Particularly when a prince was there, battling the dragon in true heroic style, and all she could do was wait to see whether he would live and take her away, or die, which meant she would have to avoid looking out the windows until the dragon was hungry enough to dispose of his corpse.

Jenny said...

The Joint closed at 10:00p.m. and afterward there was cleaning. Kelley didn’t hate the cleaning as much as the other two managers, but she hated it plenty. Still, with the chairs upturned on the tables, the grills turned off, and the register change counted away, the place had an energetic peace about it. Like an amusement park after hours. She took her time running her broom beneath the tables, sliding the plastic straws, grains of salt, and shoe dirt out from their hiding places. She lined the broom up with the tile grout and worked square by square -- and tried not to hate her life.

agirlandaboy said...

I met Casey the summer my sister Mary came home from the hospital, where they fed her through a tube in her throat and every Wednesday and Friday a nurse plied her limbs to keep the muscles supple. She was born with something I didn't understand at the time, and although it's been many years now, I've still not made the effort to comprehend all that happened to her before she died during the summer she came home to do exactly that. I was thinking only of myself then, and I suppose I still am.

Jamie said...

Maddie Mason’s sole birthday wish was that the day slip by unnoticed, but her biological clock wasn’t cooperating. It beat a rhythmic thump, thump, thump that started in her core and echoed up her spine until her head rattled. The soft whir of her network router hummed an irregular melody but she heard the words in it all the same. She imagined the rumbling outside her home office window was Cupid himself, singing the horrible song as if he’d written it just for her : Happy Birthday to you, your life smells like poo, your ovaries are shriveling, and your dating pool is too.

katelyngendelev said...

I wrench awake from a nightmare that isn't mine. Ellis reaches for me instinctively, but I flinch at his comfort. Skin on skin is too much to bear right now. I shrug him off, hoping he isn't yet awake enough to be offended. My entire body is trembling, but I control myself enough to slip out of bed and pad quietly to the bathroom. To make too much noise is to risk rousing Ellis fully, and I simply cannot have him near me right now. Not when someone else's anguish still courses through my bloodstream, searing my veins as if injected directly into them. I feel for the metal at the nape of my neck. As if injected directly, indeed.

dan radke said...

I can't see a thing. I'm waving my hand in front of my face and I can't see it. Am I blind or is it pitch black? My eyes don't hurt or anything. Can you really go blind from drinking or is that an old wives' tale? Where am I? Am I in a bathtub? Feels like a bathtub. Why does it smell like shit in here? Oh, wonderful, I'm naked. OK. OK. I was working at the bar last night. I got pretty deep into the well whiskey. There was a girl! Way too interested in me for as hot as she was. Did I go home with her? Did we fuck? I... think I'm sitting in my own shit. That would explain the smell. What time is it? Wait. I don't have a headache. I'm not nauseous. My equilibrium's not off. I'm not hungover. Actually, I feel really good. Well then. This just got weird.

Racquel Henry said...

Wendy came to the house within an hour of the news. She opened the lock with the key my mother had given her and flung the door wide open. I was sitting on the stairs, on the third to last step, with my head resting against the railing, and my “mommy pillow” pressed up to my chest. The pillow was an old cream colored pillow with orange and yellow flowers scattered all over it. My mother had given it to me when I was born. Now, at 23 years of age, I still don't like to sleep without it. I wasn't crying just yet. I was never any good at it. I needed someone else to start crying first, and then I could proceed.

By: Racquel Henry
From the novel: What's in the Fabric

Queen Mab said...

Tatters of light waved through the moth eaten drapes. The air was thick with the smell of decay, like a forgotten chest of blankets that sat rotting in the attic. Taking a tentative step into the house, I paused to let my vision adjust. “This could be really stupid Jo.” The sound of my voice reverberated off the walls.

Ancient Mariner said...

Victoria sits on the toilet tightly gripping the small white wand like a candle, in both hands as if to crush out that damnable red line. She looks at it again. Still red. No change and no doubt.

Rick said...

Carter Collins turned west off the interstate onto the old road into town. Fuck Thomas Wolfe. A late afternoon sun glared below dark, ominous clouds, and he squinted against it. He drove past chain hotels and strip malls that lined the road where cornfields used to stretch. A faded for-sale sign hung askew on what remained of the old drive-in's giant screen. The Avebury of his youth felt distant and dead as that old theater. And ahead, in some kind of nightmare, his family was reaching out, pulling him back into what he'd avoided his whole adult life. Ohio. The family business. Maybe you can't go home again. Sometimes you have no choice.

Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S.E. Evans said...

Lizzie was never the same after that day, that terrible day in May when her father sliced the heads clean off them pigeons with a hatchet. If someone had asked me, I would of said that it wasn't jealousy or greed or insanity or even the seething hatred she had for Abby that made her do it. No, that ain't what made her do it. It was the pigeons. She did it for her pigeons. But no one asked me and now she got acquitted. Lack of evidence, the jury said. Where's the justice in that? I guess that's just the way the law works. At least here in Fall River.

Anonymous said...

I had heard the Garden Green bell before. At the Orendal City University for Men, reasons for its use were manifold. One ring heralded the beginning of a new hour. Two clangs, a call to mealtime. Ten tolls, the welcome of a notable guest or the onset of a special occasion. But I had never heard it like this. Repeated clashing, an unending assault on the bell’s metal face, meant one thing only: alarm.

Allan Petersen

Carmen M. said...

The moon’s pale reflection sank beneath the water’s surface. Water ripped as a shadow swam across the river. His image was reflected in the moving water, his eyes were the color of night and his lips held the rapture of cruelty. He crawled towards the land stopping only to catch his breath. The way back didn’t matter to him, he would other win or die fighting this battle that began long ago. His shadow stood at the edge of the river, overlooking the palace in the soft light coming from the drowning moon.

lotusgirl said...

The bits of cotton fluff floated light and free on the air currents of the sweltering mill. They taunted Leila with the remembrance of snowy happiness as the fibers clung to her sweat-slick skin, wove themselves into her eyelashes, and slithered down her throat.

S.E. Evans said...

Lizzie was never the same after that day, that terrible day in May, when her father sliced the heads clean off them pigeons with a hatchet. If someone had asked me, I would of said that it wasn't jealousy or greed or insanity or even the seething hatred she had for Abby that made her do it. No, that ain't what made her do it. It was the pigeons. She did it for her pigeons. But no one asked me and now she got acquitted. Lack of evidence, the jury said. Where's the justice in that? I guess that's just the way the law works. At least here in Fall River.

Cindy Pavlinac said...

I don’t know if anyone will ever receive this transmission. It’s been three solar years since any contact outside the research station. Two years ago today Dana died in my arms. I wrapped her and left her in the cave, as she asked. She made me promise not to burn her like the others. I visit her every day. She sits in her chair, surrounded by the skeletons of the dogs. They face west, over the dry ocean, waiting for the return of the bees.

Anonymous said...

Prophecies are meant to be ignored. They are mere forecasts of sorts based on what can be read now. The only certain and constant in any world is change itself. Sometimes change happens by accident and sometimes, it requires calculated effort. Either way, destinies change and prophecies fail.

Smriti
raoul_smriti@rediffmail.com

suzy vitello soulé said...

The first time I met The Girlfriend she fawned all over me like I was some sort of organic nut butter. "Liz!" she said, opening her arms wide, wide, wide so her knobby boob nipples pressed into her hemp t-shirt, two emoticons eager to please.

Veronica Barton-Dean said...

The infectious lies begin in 1992. However, the realization of this didn’t occur to me until 1999. To be specific it was only months after I learned I was expecting his first child. Omaha was gay. Although, it didn’t surprise me, it did ruin me. The most sadistic part about it…the lies continue and I do nothing about it.

Jordan McCollum said...

As a Soviet living in Paris, and a woman, I had three fronts to defend. But the most devastating attack would come from a quarter I'd never anticipated. I would remember everything except for the blast.

Cardiff Sparrow said...

From that August my destiny was tangled in Tom’s. Not written in the stars perhaps- certainly into our rosters. Two almost strangers whose lives moved back and forth in the near-perfect synchronisation of pendulums set in motion together. Most mornings, as I arrived at the hospital gates, his auburn hair and suit trousers disappeared into the red-brick building ahead of me. When he was on call, I was on call- our rooms across a landing from one another. Summonsed from the doctor’s sitting room to the same emergencies, our pagers created an electronic cacophony. On several occasions he bought the last portion of curry on the canteen servery as I fumbled in my pockets for change.

Kathy Coats said...

Gracie Krutcher had diamond eyes. Not because they were some exotic shape or how they glistened gem-like when she looked at you. She had diamond eyes because they really and truly produced diamonds, like some kind of African mine. Certainly not an everyday occurrence, but when Gracie cried, her tears calcified into hard, shiny rocks that took shape the moment they leaked from her tear ducts. The only logical part was small tears made small diamonds and big tears formed large ones.

Sheila JG said...

Frank 25 held the top of his head down with one hand, but that wasn’t going to help. Even bolts on the side of his neck couldn’t keep his head attached when he got frustrated. Mix in a dose of panic and a shot of fear and his head was as good as gone, just like his lab book. Poor Frankie couldn’t find it anywhere, and he had first period Biology with Dr. Frankenhammer, or “Daddy” as he called him (but never to his face.) If he showed up without his lab book, Dr. F might make him “Test Subject of the Day.” Of course, if he showed up without his head, that would be problematic, too.

Tristan said...

Across the long oak table lies a progression of disarray, the neat stacks at the far end gradually replaced by messier and messier heaps which, as they near me, have collapsed completely into a formless pile. It’s as good of a description as any of how the day’s research had gone. Is going. I sigh and pick up another book, gagging slightly on the thick scent of leather dust coming from its decaying cover and flip it open with my claw. The title claimed it to be an analysis of pre-accord law, which had elicited a brief moment of hope, but didn’t mention that it was written in the form of a dialogue between a king and his fool. And that the dialogue formed a sequence of sonnets. Which were written (poorly) in some sort of uneven pentameter. Beast’s breath, I’m glad King Jedes died before that practice caught on. I toss it aside, looking out through the tall windows and see the sky dimming. My thoughts turn from apathy to worry as I realize I promised Lord Madrel an answer by morning.

simplelife said...

Present Day
San Francisco, California

Stretched out on the car seat, I thanked God for the millionth time. The Hybrid was nowhere as cool as the Jeep that I so wanted to buy, but at least its roof kept the scorching sun out. Forget the Hybrid; I would have taken any jalopy with a promise of shade. It was a hot 105 F outside; the experts were blaming global warming for the freaky weather. I like the outdoors and the sun. Just not when parked in the middle of a concrete parking lot on my day off when all I wanted to do was sleep. Of course it’s reasonable to presume that I was not in a good mood. If it wasn’t for Kausar, my best friend, I would have been sweating buckets by now. She could always be depended on to make things bearable. The comfortable and cool 77 F inside the car with the ignition turned off was all her doing. Her calm and easy nature had helped her perfect the art of balancing the elements. Maintaining the temperature in the Hybrid was something she could do in her sleep.

- Shif
YA/Urban Fantasy

Bethany Brengan said...

At seven years old, Liam raised the dead for the first time. Ever since, even the vaguest hint of a miracle made him feel asthmatic and trapped.

HMD: Her Mother's Dot said...

It’s like a shot out of a movie. I know it looks like one of those pre-suicide, semi-porn shots: me, naked, legs crisscrossed to be able to fit into this ordinary sized bathtub, breasts only partially submerged so they appear floating (maybe they are). Long hair splayed out from behind my head, floating like a spreading maize colored dye. Dark fingernail and toe polish against winter pale skin. Tears are otherwise unnoticeable on already moist skin, except for trails of black mascara being pulled into the water. My ears are submerged, which of course is the point of this whole ridiculous pose. I am craving silence. I need to make a plan.

Makayla said...

Early morning fog misted the window panes. The sun wasn't even trying to show its face- only harsh white dusted the horizon. A mild chill settled upon the earth. Through thin walls, the cold permeated the dreary apartment. Jeremy watched the wall. He'd been awake for a while now, but couldn't bring himself up. Sleep clung to his conciseness, and faint memories of his dream floated through his thoughts.
The alarm startled him. Its harsh shrieking greeted him every morning. It flashed '7:00'. He threw the sheets off of him, not bothering to make the bed. Heaving himself onto his feet, he tried to muster the energy to face the day. He stared at himself in the mirror. Groggy as he was, he recognized how unkempt he was. The man tussled with his copper hair; attempting to make himself presentable. He needed a shave.

Kim said...

The day the king sold the world and his son with it for a fine pie was the day Mama discovered my curse. She was sweeping the floor boards, beating out a swishy, scratchy tune. My rag doll and I danced, basking in Mama’s smile and the dim, dusty sunbeams. But when she paused her sweeping, her smile ceased and she stood rigid, listening. Though I’d seen only five summers, I knew the sound of slurred profanities and clumsy footsteps meant I was no longer welcome. “Quick now, Rue,” Mama whispered, as I slipped up into the loft and shut myself in a cupboard, where I held my breath and listened to Papa fumbling with the latch.

Danielle Rose said...

They used to come to me all the time… While my friends were playing house or playing soccer, I danced with water sprites and played with the boy who lived in hemlock near our front door. On warm spring days, I’d fall asleep in the arms of a wise old cherry tree, the breeze gusting in my hair. I never understood mankind’s obsession with a logical, rational world. What I did understand were games in the trees, the scent of the wind before a rain, my fingers buried in dirt. But all childhoods must come to an end. Even mine.

William said...

There were thirty-two rats in Vensin's cell. Of those, thirteen were black, seven were white, and twelve were dirt brown. Nine were female, and twenty-three were male. Seven were pregnant. Two had missing eyes. Eleven were good, and twenty-two were evil. Thirty-one were watching him from the barred shadows of the prison. And one, he realized as the sleep drained from his body, was sitting atop his chest.

Angie said...

September 1938

Ruth Loewe organizes books on the shelves nearest the office in her father's bookshop. Normally she enjoys the quiet opening hours in the antique bookstore, Loewe's Books, which sits below her family's apartment on a bustling street in Josefov, Prague's Jewish Quarter. Ruth inherited her love of books from her father Aron; they've spent countless hours in the shop discussing literature and history. However, he's been distant lately. While she works, her father sits in the back office drinking coffee and talking with a friend, excluding her. It's always like this now--the adults whispering away from the ears of the children, sudden silence whenever Ruth or her brother enters a room. Ever since Germany occupied Austria six months ago things have changed.

Kathleen T. Jaeger said...

Stupid wipers. I can’t see where I’m going. They actually smear the bugs onto the windshield, making it impossible to see. The rain pounds. The wipers squeak. And yet, I can hear the swoosh of the passing cars better than I can see them. The bright headlights blind my vision, reminding me of that dreaded night.

Sheila Hurst said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JohnO said...

Chandra stood waiting for the concert, trying to ignore all the red flags. First, every alt-weekly in Los Angeles wanted to have the band’s children, a sure sign they were over-hyped. Second, the club was full of drunken kids from Greek Row shouting and texting each other—the Pabst drinkers of music, she thought. Third, when the lead singer shambled on stage, he looked doped on cough syrup, or something out of a bong. Still, there was hope. Maybe they were introverts who could only express their genius through music. Maybe their music would transport her to a better place, one that didn’t smell like the crowd (too much melon body spray, not enough deodorant). After all, this was why she scouted bands, to find the few rough-cut gems. But as the band’s first notes thundered through the room, her hope succumbed to an assault of power chords, a noise so punishing her phone went off like a car alarm in her pants.

Rick Sand said...

Irving Davies always wished to be a superhero on grand adventures, a role he wasn't quite cut out for. Irving was, in brutal honesty, the physical equivalent to a feather: light, thin, and brittle. His personality earned him the not-so-prestigious titles of “dork,” “loser,” and “dweeb,” none of which made for strong superhero identities. “Dork Boy” didn't exactly command respect or adoration. So Irving took to the next best thing: staring at a wall. Not just any wall, of course: thee wall, infamously towering twenty feet tall around a full city block, locking away a dense segment of forest only urban legend dared explain.

Christine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The tall redhead reached behind herself and extracted the offensive fur ball from her butt crack. She picked her teeth with it, and grinned. She referred to herself as Daisy May, though she usually wouldn't. She handed the elephant trainer a hundred dollar bill she owed him. Fresh, and crisp from her stiletto long, purple painted nails. The bill was obscenely counterfeit. As good as any the government printed these days. She referred to it as Monopoly Money. She burped. A real beauty. Really. And headed back to the pie eating contest with the rest of the lamas.

Rudolph said...

Other than torn hands and an absent sword, my brother seemed unchanged from his night in the forest. When asked what happened, an odd smile flickered about the corners of his mouth, a private one, as if he were laughing at something I didn’t understand--and he said nothing. Now he never says anything. It is a tremendous relief to me, not his silence, but that he is still alive. Tonight I go into the Forest of Brigh.

DL Bernal said...

Devan bolted upright as screams echoed in her head. Darkness surrounded her, disoriented her, then she remembered. She wasn’t in California anymore, or even the United States. She and her Irish companion, Christian, were in Loughcrew, Ireland, at the compound of the Tuatha Dragon Clan. Whisked there by a dragon and its rider, yesterday. Even with Christian’s dreams of dragons, she hadn’t believed the mythical creatures existed until their previous day’s encounter.

Vivi Stutz, Transformations Personal Training said...

It wasn’t a smooth ride home. One moment Mia defended her age against Alex’ assertion of the impending end of her career, “Might as well deal with it now, baby,” he said, then the rain and speed and Alex’ rough handling of the sensitive power steering came together in a near fatal mistake. A narrow bend in the flooded canyon road. Alex lost control. A moment later, the car spun around, skidding frightfully fast toward the steep overhang. Somebody screamed; probably Mia, but she had no recollection of giving in to the impulse. The fog clothed Malibu Canyon appeared in the car’s front window; grand and breathtaking in its rugged wilderness, descending deep into lush greens below. Like a bed of moos, Mia thought with a strange detachment, as if watching the scene from afar. Her heart thumped loudly in her ears. As the overhang inched closer, she wondered for a moment if she could fly. If she imagined the fall as a deliberate free falling jump, maybe it wouldn’t hurt.

Jennifer said...

Flames seethe in the night sky, engulfing the forest to the west of the farm. Smoke billows, filling the air with its sooty denseness. Natalie stands in her bucket line up in the cornfield in her pajamas and an old grey sweater. She takes the bucket from the person closest to her, sloshes it on the flames at the edge of the field, and hands the bucket back. It’s still early, well before dawn. Natalie had been in bed, huddled against one of the barn cats that she had snuck into the farmhouse, listening to the thunder and praying, as lightning fractured the sky and bit into the tinder-dry bull pine forest around the farm. Then came the crack, the shouts and the call, and the outpouring of farm members from their rooms and cabins.

Soup said...

Sooner or later they’re going to notice that the fruit’s been disappearing. Someone’s going to pause in front of those baskets and think, I could have sworn there was a lot more red and yellow in here yesterday. And then they might look up and go, why is that kid in the army jacket here again. Said kid is back to grab his daily portion of four apples and four bananas actually. I tried taking more, but the thing is I have to evenly space them out under my jacket, else I either look like I have man boobs or badly-strapped grenades.

Fran Riedemann said...

Book title: The Implosion
Jeremy took off his Burberry sunglasses, slipping them inside his shirt pocket. He donned a baseball cap that was conspicuously embroidered with his company’s logo in their place. Shielding his eyes with his hand he looked overhead. Large cotton candy clouds seemed to be hanging motionless in the sky and the humidity was high—Perfect! The day was unfolding as though scripted.

jessi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny said...

Not all the dead left everything behind. Some checked their emotional baggage through and found it, never lost or misdirected, waiting on the other side. It therefore seemed only natural to Dana that after three years, she had come to think of herself not as a counselor but as a porter, a lightener of loads, a sharer of final burdens.

Nida Saeed said...

The rainfall pattered at his feet, his bloodied, scratched converses. The city lights shone in the distance, as he rested against the hood of the car.

jessi said...

Five, ten, fifteen, twenty. The steps were small and timid, and his feet would slip every few. Twenty-four, twenty-six, twenty-eight. Skipping by two seemed like it may make this journey pass by faster, end sooner. It wasn't as if he were on a journey, because he had no destination. Really, he was running from something rather than to anything of interest. He didn't care anymore. Perhaps even with this effort, carrying himself up this flight of stairs--it was worthless. Why bother? he thought every ten steps. And all this counting. OCD now, is it? Wonderful, he whined. As I die, I'll be panicking about how my killer's third button was in the fourth hole. Good Lord.

laura said...

The best chocolate in the world? Pink grapefruit Peruivian dark chocolate. Eight dollars a bar at ChocoDesiro in Yorkvile. Unfortunately, Kate only had six dollars to her name. The best eye candy? The clerk at ChocoDesiro.

petal darker said...

Fallacia stood away from the crowd, under one of the many oil-burning street lamps. The oily flames flickered atop their wicks, tossing shadows on the walls of the shops, inns, and taverns, most of which were emptying now if they hadn't already. Even on so chilled a night, the town square was choked by the mass of onlookers. Many pushed and shoved, most talked and gossiped, some laughed. They surrounded the platform in the square's center. As tall as a man, the platform itself was a hundred-year-old stage. Gray wood weathered by pounding sun, howling winds, and driving rain. Rough grain etched, stained, haunted by silent screams and warm blood.

Bingqilin00 said...

After the red brake lights dimmed in the distance, I stood in the alleyway, surrounded only by my six pieces of unmanageable luggage and the faint smell of unfamiliar day-old spices baking in the sweltering heat. For the first time, the muggy air of Taiwan wrapped around me, enveloping me in entirety. It seemed unbelievable that only twenty-odd hours of travel transported me from my comfortable queen sized bed at home in Illinois to this austere alleyway in Taipei. Before leaving my parents at the airport to board China Airlines, coming to Taiwan seemed like the perfect adventure for me, a way to find my identity, to define myself apart from every other sorority girl who graduated from Millikin University, like me. I wanted to build a story of my own. But in this moment, my knees quivered as I released my last American breath and sucked in the foreign air of my new home. Now, even my insides had changed.

Christine said...

James Williamson Bosler followed the American dream of his grandfather when he left Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1851 for the lawless west. By 1879, he built relationships with prominent men such as Grenville Dodge, Buffalo Bill, President James Garfield, and Senator Stephen Dorsey. At the time of his death, Congressman James Blaine wrote to Helen Bosler, "As the years go by I realize more and more how great was my own loss in the death of your husband, and from that I can realize in some faint degree how inestimable was your affection. He was the dearest and most unselfish of friends, and I keep his memory green in my heart."

- Christine

Hilary Sloane said...

The Phoenix heat was so oppressive that Carter Macaulay, driven out of his mother and step-father’s child-packed house, fled to the streets. Outside, he squinted in the hundred and twenty-five degree temperature. He could see the street baking, the intense heat rising like smoke while he wiped his wet brow and pushed his hair away from his face with the tips of his fingers. He walked to the gas station to get a cold drink. Inside the station, he pulled an ice cold can of soda from the refrigerator, paying the clerk with the change in his pocket. As he left the cool, air-conditioned store, a turquoise convertible Impala rolled up in front of one of the pumps. The driver, an attractive, young woman, got out. Carter, leaning against the station wall, stretched his body easily as the woman walked past him into the store. She was wearing stars, stars on the blue sweater covering her full-moon breasts, stars hanging from her ears, stars on her skirt, stars even embedded into her nails. The gold star dangling from her key chain hit her leg, as her left hand swung back and forth past her bare thigh. The woman walked up to the old man at the cash register and handed him her credit card. Outside, in the heat, Carter's blue eyes were half-closed; his longish blond hair was falling in his face; his too tight, gray tank top, wet from sweat, stuck to his chest. The girl returned, peeling the wrapper from a chocolate bar. Carter ran the ice cold can against his face, neck, and over his chest. His hands tightened around the can. She placed the candy bar in her mouth, closing her red lips around it. She closed her eyes. Carter slipped his finger through the metal ring and pulled. Pop. The pressure was released.

Lynsey Newton said...

I’ve watched her for weeks now. Watched her and watched out for her. Ever since the accident, I can’t spleem to leave her side and I don’t want to. I’ve convinced myself that she needs me and somehow I need her too. Sometimes I feel like a stalker or something, but is it still wrong if she doesn’t know I’m there? Don’t get me wrong, I want her to see me the way I see her but I don’t know if I can. I mean, is she ready?

A. Foster said...

You can tell a farmer's wife by her hands. They're just like my mom's--chapped, calloused and knobby knuckled. There's strength in them. A grasp that shows they mean business. It doesn't matter if they're changing a baby's diaper or plucking a freshly butchered chicken, it's all about getting it done so they can move on to the next task.

Bloggadilly said...

My name is Aara Van Morrison and I live in Tucson, Arizona. If you’re thinking Van Morrison is a name only a dead Irish rock star could have, you might be right, considering my real last name is a secret carried to the grave by my mother.

***I hope this isn't a duplicate! I searched all over and can't find it ***

Hilary Sloane said...

The Phoenix heat was so oppressive that Carter Macaulay, driven out of his mother and step-father’s child-packed house, fled to the streets. Outside, he squinted in the hundred and twenty-five degree temperature. He could see the street baking, the intense heat rising like smoke while he wiped his wet brow and pushed his hair away from his face with the tips of his fingers. He walked to the gas station to get a cold drink. Inside the station, he pulled an ice cold can of soda from the refrigerator, paying the clerk with the change in his pocket. As he left the cool, air-conditioned store, a turquoise convertible Impala rolled up in front of one of the pumps. The driver, an attractive, young woman, got out. Carter, leaning against the station wall, stretched his body easily as the woman walked past him into the store. She was wearing stars, stars on the blue sweater covering her full-moon breasts, stars hanging from her ears, stars on her skirt, stars even embedded into her nails. The gold star dangling from her key chain hit her leg, as her left hand swung back and forth past her bare thigh. The woman walked up to the old man at the cash register and handed him her credit card. Outside, in the heat, Carter's blue eyes were half-closed; his longish blond hair was falling in his face; his too tight, gray tank top, wet from sweat, stuck to his chest. The girl returned, peeling the wrapper from a chocolate bar. Carter ran the ice cold can against his face, neck, and over his chest. His hands tightened around the can. She placed the candy bar in her mouth, closing her red lips around it. She closed her eyes. Carter slipped his finger through the metal ring and pulled. Pop. The pressure was released.

Robyn said...

“Well at least Daddy’s dead and he’ll never know,” Margaret spat.
Gen sucked in her breath, blinking back tears. She had waited to tell Margaret last. “Mags, I just said Collin and I are separating. We’re taking a break.”
“Riiiight, Margaret interrupted, “what’s his name?”
Tears of hatred tumbled down Genevieve’s face. “His name?” she squeaked, half attempting to lie. “His name?”
Margaret was silent.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Gen yelled, her turn at furious, hanging up the phone.

Lily G said...

Ben shoved a hand into his jeans pocket and jiggled the medallion, his good luck charm, his link to another time. He scanned the sidewalk again as he paced in front of the Tutti Fruitti Ice Cream shop. Just the usual after school crowd. Waiting out here wasn’t keeping his nerves from frying. He should go in.

Arr Ell Ess said...

Parker followed Sunny into her bedroom. Sunny led him by the hand. Her hand felt warm and soft around his. He wondered what other parts of her body might feel warm and soft. Sunny closed the door and led him to her bed. Parker wondered if Mrs. Harper knew where they were, if she heard the bedroom door close, if she knew her fourteen-year-old daughter had a boy in her room.

Joseph said...

Leo Marston hadn't killed anyone in ten years, but when the man stepped into his coin shop, and the hair on the back of his neck rose, he knew that could change today. He didn’t recognize the man, but he knew the look—of a professional killer, he’d been that man not so many years ago.

Jan said...

The first night after my husband left, I moved my tissue box, my my stack of books and my alarm clock to his side of the bed and staked my claim. Fine buddy,I thought, as I tucked myself in diagonally across my new territory. Be gone. But the bed's all mine.

Anonymous said...

He knew he had lucked out so far. The exam slid in front of him, he clenched his pencil in his hand and looked down at a mass of swirling unrecognizable symbols. Shit. Unless he concentrated and focused on disentangling the spaghetti into some kind of meaningful English, he was fried. His “issue” was back in full force. The other teachers had worked out ways of getting around it; mainly because of his parents. It all came down to his parents. They had been aggressive in dealing with the school bureaucracy. Yes he was lucky but he was worried also. His parents couldn’t do this forever. And they hadn’t succeeded with her. Time was passing and all that was on his paper were smears of sweat from his hands.

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